Rush Limbaugh has his . . . well, here is mine. This is my record of news stories and issues that interest me. You can also find more headlines at the site where I serve as editor: The Common Voice.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wheels for Meals Charity Ride

No, this blog is not going to be replaced by all video. However, while I'm trying to figure out how all this works, you might find a little bit more over the visual stuff here. This is a short video of the Wheels for Meals ride.

Lessons learned? It is best to mount the camera. Two reasons 1) it keeps you from dropping it and 2) some of the times when you most want to be recording, you need to have two hands on the bars!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Testing, testing, one, two, three

I got my hands on a helmet cam. This might or might now work... Right now, I'm using to get the video out. Please forgive the audio. I'm still working on that!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Feeling bad about 18th

There was a sanctioned race today at Donaldson Center. That means we get points and the races count toward moving up to new categories. Just getting a finish would help me toward moving to a new level. I wanted more.

I started to the event with a little bit of a timid feeling. Thursday night's ride was with me and my legs were feeling pretty sore even this morning. Plus I knew that this was going to be a combined category 5 race. That means I would be racing kids to granddads. The granddads didn't bother me too much. Even the kids didn't strike fear into me. It was those 20 something guys that had me worried.

As we lined up, I was feeling a little better. It wasn't raining and it was actually warm. Sure there were some younger guys, but there were also quite a few fellows who looked about my age or older. Besides, if you are good... it shouldn't matter.

Yep, right off the bat some younguns went off the front. I mean right away. I wasn't worried about that. I knew we would catch them. Before the first lap was complete, we did.

It took us 19 minutes to finish the first lap. Compared to Tuesday night rides, that is even slower than the B group. It was almost frustrating, but I patiently sat in 15 or 20 riders back.

The second lap was about the same though this time three or four riders went off the front. The main group just kept up their slow pace. The gap continued to grow. I was riding near Jimmy around this time and he said, "We don't want those guys to get too far up the road."

A couple other Spinners were around at that time and I said, "Let's go bring them back Spinners." We ramped up the pace a bit and before too long neutralized the break. Jimmy was right on my wheel as the pack moved forward. As we approached the breakaway riders, I heard him say, "Ease off now." So, I backed off to let some other riders take point.

On the first three laps, I crossed the start/finish line between 5 and 10 riders back. I worked so hard to be patient. If I ever perceived myself pushing a little much, I eased off. Jimmy was a guide to me for learning where to place myself to avoid the wind.

As we went into the fourth lap, there were about three guys that broke away just as a downpour started. I knew one of two things were going to happen. 1) We were all going to sit there like we had been the entire race and those guys were going to get away clean, or 2) everyone would sit there and realize we had to bring them back on the last lap and we would all kill ourselves trying to make it happen.

I rode up to the front and said to one of my team-mates who had been near the front most of the day, "I really don't want to chase these guys down on the final lap." My reasoning was I would be in better shape for the finish if we brought them back and then recovered for a final push.

Several us almost pulled together a pace line. Before long we brought them back, though I have to admit it took a little more work than I had hoped. So, halfway through the fourth lap we were all back together.

I immediately started second guessing my strategy, but it felt kind of neat to have taken control of the "peloton" twice in the race. It was salve to my ego to have riders mention to me during the ride and afterwards that they appreciated me helping to get the group moving. Of course, maybe that was a veiled way of saying they were thankful I had worn myself out before the finish!

Going into the final lap, I was sitting in second place. I didn't intend to stay there. I just wanted to get into that first turn without a lot of riders around me. Once we make that turn, riders typically make some sort of attempt to accelerate away from the group. I wanted to make sure I was in position to counter.

No true break formed. That could well be because by this time it was raining cats and dogs. I could hardly see because of the spray coming up on my shades. I kept working to stay in the top 10 or so riders and waited for the finish.

I was fully recovered from the lap four bridge -- at least I think I was. My legs were a little tired, but I have certainly felt worse. This might be a good day -- younguns or not.

After crossing the rail road tracks it was obvious that one rider made a significant attack. I was not in position to follow. At that point I figured a win was not in the cards for me. Still there was second.

Before going into "the dip" there was a rider who pulled away into the gap between the leader and the main group. I set it in my mind to beat that rider. I really believed I could take second at that point.

We started to climb and I stayed in the group. Up to this point I had ridden nearly the entire race in the small front gear. This worked well for me when I got a third place at River Falls. My goal was to climb moderately in the small ring. Once I reached the chain link fence just before the fire station I would shift to the big ring and turn on the afterburner.

Well, just as I was catching the second place rider, I felt things start to go away. I needed momentum. Earlier than I wanted, I shifted to the big ring. Sure enough, I surged forward. Then I plateaued. I was going pretty fast, but I wasn't increasing in speed.

At first when I glanced back I saw I had a decent (but not comfortable lead) on the pack. I tried harder. I really did. Then I heard it. It is a wonderful sound when you are in the middle of it, but a horrible sound when you hear it about to overtake you... the whirring of dozens of wheels.

I knew at that point my second place card was out of the stack. Fifty yards from the finish I was overtaken. It was like I was sitting still. Bikes were going around me on both sides.

Foolishly, I didn't fight. I think I was so shocked by the speed of the bikes passing me that I didn't even think. I just let up (obviously, not to the point where I was a danger). So, did I have to settle for that 18th place finish? No. I came back to reality near the finish line. I increased my speed, but by that time it was too late.

I really don't feel so bad about my attempt at the end. Hey, it could have netted me a second place finish. It was a gamble I was willing to take. It just didn't work out. What really makes me feel bad is the difference between 18th and 15th. I quit. All it would have taken was a little more guts and I could have had a better finish.

Race line

Distance: 35.9 miles
Average speed: 22.09 mph
Average HR: 165 bpm (Tempo Zone)
High HR: 187 bpm (Max 196)
Finish: 18


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Putting the fun back into riding

Tonight about 15 of us headed on a ride that would ultimately take us over Paris Mountain. Our Thursday night ride always seems to draw us like flies to the lantern that is Altamont Road. It was a good, fast group. It was going to be fun.

The story is very much the same as every other time we do this ride. Everyone just kind of "hangs out" until we get to the base of Altamont on the Furman side. We get there about 10 miles into the ride. Maybe later in the year we'll start adding to the beginning portion of the ride by going around Furman.

We started off the climb with Boyd Johnson and Bob leading us out. Boyd I knew could cruise up. Bob was kind of surprising me. I knew he was riding better than I had ever seen him ride, but to keep up with Mr. Johnson would be impressive.

The funny thing that happened to me is that I was working to maintain a reasonable 10 mph average up to the water tower. Once past it and into the first left turn I accelerated to pick up some time. I looked down at my Garmin and saw 158.

"Wow!" I thought to myself, "I'm doing pretty well to have my heart rate at 158 bpm at this point in the climb. This is going to be good!" Not long after that, I looked down again and realized I had been looking at my average speed and not my heart rate! The new arrangement of the data panel had thrown me off. I located the heart rate data cell and saw 186 bpm!

Oh well, might as well give it a try. Maybe I could concentrate and recover a bit and still salvage to decent time. I started spinning and laid back some. I reached the halfway point in about 6 minutes and 10 seconds. My average speed was above 11 mph.

I kept climbing along keeping an eye on Boyd and Bob. Not long after this, Art came by me and I had a third rider to keep an eye on. Then I started slowing once I reached the dreaded blue power box. Bob and I had started see-sawing back and forth around this time and then he went back in front.

The three guys stayed in front of me until we reached The Wall. At first I gained just a little on Art and Boyd (though I am certain the DLP rider was just taking it easy) and then the gap firmed. Bob and I rode along side-by-side for a bit and then I pulled away.

Turns out Art finished just behind Boyd with a time of 12 minutes 50 seconds. I crossed the KOM line in 12 minutes 59 seconds. When we started talking about the climb, Art said he had already climbed the road twice today!

Down the other side the group split up. Some went on down and finished the ride with a straight shot off the mountain. Art, Mike, Bob, Doug, and I turned off onto some of the spurs that go off from and return to the main road. We ended up doing around 3000 feet of climbing.

It was fun. No pressure. Just getting on the bike and having fun with the guys. It was fun talking a bit about the Garmin 705. I handed the second one over to Matt and he is going to do some testing of the networking capabilities of the device.

I also learned that Boyd was going to be getting one as well as the CinQo power meter. I'll be interested to see how it turns out for him. He'll be keeping track of his training rides using the device. You can check it out at his team's Web site (Boyd's Data / DLP Racing)

Me? I've just got to recover before Saturday.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I got an F on that paper

I feel like a student who worked on his paper the night before and knows he is going to turn it in for a failing grade. Still you have to turn that paper in... well, maybe you could say the dog ate it. Can I say my cats ate the Garmin?

Ride result in the A group: got spit out the back like a sour grape on lap 2.

There, I got that out of the way.

I was looking forward to the ride because I it would be my first ride with my new Garmin Edge 705. After I have some time to play around with it, I'll be sharing more about the device here and on the Cycling Blog. It is pretty cool!

The Spinners team was going to do the B's. However, I had forgotten to check the blog and didn't realize that was the plan. Besides, I had a hankering to do the A group. So that is where I was when we rolled out for the first of five laps.

That first lap seemed slow. Oddly enough, it was my fastest lap of the night. We crossed the lap marker in 17 minutes and 26 seconds. Perhaps I was lulled into my mistake by this pace.

Lap two things turned up significantly. A group of about six riders went off the front. I recognized that there were some decent riders up there and started wondering if they might be able to get out there and stay away. I told myself to sit in and be patient.

Then we approached a slight climb and the group started getting really squirrelly. People were braking and swerving. I started getting kind of nervous. I decided I didn't want to be that far back. Moving up toward the front things smoothed out, but then I found myself nearly on the front row.

Some other strong riders started making moves across the gap. That is where I made my mistake. I reasoned that with those riders moving over there was a good chance that there could be a lasting breakaway. Looking back, I realize that it was still WAY to early for something like that to work.

I started to bridge over and tried to lessen the risk by not going full throttle. I figured that I could steadily make my move. Even so, I was holding steady in the 185 bpm range and I knew that wouldn't be good.

By the way, one of the great things about the 705 is that it is so much easier to read the screen. First of all, it is larger. Also the contrast is much better. A definite "thumbs up" on the display.

Then I got the tail of the group. However, there was no time to recover and really no group to sit in with. It was basically a single file line with me trying to hang on. There was some basic accordion action going on, but for the most part I was still working pretty hard.

When we reached the track, I eased off thinking I could just slide back into the main group and recover. Unfortunately, the pack had caught us and by the time I realized I had slipped back to far I was dropped off the back. I guess at that point I should have just suffered to bring myself back up to the group, but I didn't.

I started the third lap alone. Then I saw Scott Oglesby up ahead and I connected with him for about a half a mile. I rode on from there passing a number of riders - though I don't know if they had been dropped by the A group or what.

My goal at that point was not to get caught by the B group. Things seemed to be going pretty well until I started cramping in my right calf. Well into lap four, my calf was wanting to knot up on me something terrible. At about the same time I looked back and saw the blinking lights of the B group pace car. Oh no!

They caught me just past Kitty Hawk. It was like a brand new world. I was able to get in the group and before long I was feeling great. It was easy to move up through the group. Of course, I wouldn't be able to join the sprint (this was their last lap).

I saw Kirk and told him I would be glad to pull him up into the mix before I pulled off for them to fight it out. I don't think he understood what I said. So, I just gave it a push up toward the fire station and then moved out of the way.

The fifth lap was still left to do, so I kept on going as the B group started their cool down. It was an awful lonely last lap. I determined it was my punishment for the bone head move earlier in the evening.

It is funny, there is no doubt that I could be in the mix in the B group every time. I'm not saying I would win every one. However, I don't doubt I could be right there. I also know I can hang in the A group, but I would have to be one of the field fodder guys. I guess tonight showed where I really am -- somewhere in between the two groups.

I know what John is going to say, "I could have told you that is what you were going to do. You can do the A group, but you have to ride smart and not try to run up there with the Pro 1/2 guys." I know, I know, but I don't seem to be able to learn that lesson... what if they get away?


Monday, April 07, 2008

Waiting for my Garmin 705

I'm kind of excited today. UPS should be delivering two Garmin 705s with all the works. The timing couldn't be better. My 305 has been acting a little flaky recently and the cadence meter seems to be shot.

This all started months ago when I made contact with Garmin to see if they would allow me to do a pre-production test of the new product. I was surprised to get the response that they would arrange something for me. Then began the waiting process...

While I was waiting, the folks over at Quarq announced they were going to release a new power meter that would send data to the Garmin 705. So, I contacted them to let them know I was going to be testing the Garmin and it sure would be cool to do so with the Quarq CinQo power meter.

Again, they were very willing to make this happen. Actually, they were looking for people to test the two devices together. They were very communicative keeping me up-to-date on their development.

However, the wait has been months. Garmin finally did get the device shipped to me, but it was after the first production run. The CinQos still are not in production. I'm on the list, but it could be summer before I am actually able to start reporting on the how the two products work together.

I'll be reporting on the Garmin as soon as I can get it charged up! Because they sent me two of them, I can test the networking capability of system. Perhaps Donaldson Center tomorrow night will be the first time to really give it a try.

Stay tuned...


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Okay, that hurt

To be honest, I wasn't real excited about going out to Donaldson tonight. Sure, the weather was beautiful and my Garmin was working again (at least for the most part it was). There was every reason to expect a wonderful evening.

Still, my legs weren't so sure about it. I was still feeling some stiffness from the weekend. I did go out on an easy ride Monday and that helped, but pulling up to the course I wasn't so sure how I would do in the A's.

The Spinners Team had decided it was each man for himself this evening. I guess we would work together where we could, but team tactics weren't in the mix as we started to roll out. I was glad to see Peter there and hoped I'd get a chance to work with him some.

We were going to do four laps. I rolled from the start about halfway back. I was right in the middle of a bunch of POA guys -- right ahead of me was Louis talking with Peter. I didn't feel like talking.

That first lap was a warm-up lap. It took us about 18 minutes to get around it. Even then I found myself feeling out of sorts. I felt heavy is the best way to describe it. So, I just hung out near the back to see if things would come to me.

As we went into the second lap, I made up my mind that my goal was to finish in the group. I didn't think a win would be in my future - especially considering that a bunch of 1/2 guys went off the front and left us. The only thing we could go for would be the leftovers.

About halfway through, I even started to wonder if I would be able to finish with the main group. We were on a pace to set the fastest lap time of the evening, but it still wasn't that bad. Yet, there I was spending an inordinate amount of time with my heart rate up around the mid-180s.

I pulled over and let the group start sliding by me. Finally, I felt myself getting in gear. By the time we reached Kitty Hawk Road, I was back in line believing that I could make it to the end.

The group typically starts accelerating after then pass the railroad tracks. Next, you hit some nice pavement and things pick up, but then slow just before everyone starts diving down a gentle slope before it kicks up toward the finish.

At this point, they would take off again. In this section, I found I could pick up some spots. I kept that in mind for later.

This happened as we headed into the third lap. By the time we made it up, past the start finish, and then through the first right turn; the field started to spread out. At one point in that lap I found myself in a group with a pretty good gap between us and a breakaway. I decided to help bridge us over.

I waited until we reached a slight downhill and then started to roll. I was hoping that Peter would catch on and I could bring him up to the group ahead. Once I got there, I decided it was time for someone else to mix it up with the lead group.

Someone behind didn't like it, I reckon because I heard someone yell, "Keep going, Jonathan." I think what they were meaning was "keep pulling us even though you brought us up to the group." Right.

I did pick up the pace a little bit until I saw Chris Gundling over to the right going a little slower than the rest. I worked my way over behind him. My thinking was that Chris was not going to finish last so if I just hung with him, I would be okay.

I did stay with him until we got well into the fourth lap. We were motoring along the white line and it was great. We were passing dozens of riders. Then all of a sudden the door shut in front of us. Chris and a third rider who had been with us slipped through. I got stalled.

That was the last I saw of Chris close up. The next time I saw him was on the back side of the course up on the front. Once we got to the tracks, he and another rider were off the front. I'm pretty sure that is where they finished the day.

My day wasn't over though. I figured I would put into play what I had learned earlier in the day. I set up behind Rodney and let him bring me to the new pavement. Then the group started doing its yo-yo thing before the dip.

I stayed in line until we started to come out of the dip. Then I accelerated. I was doing the same thing I had done earlier. At this point, I probably should have got back in line and saved that last bit for the finish. However, I kept going.

Then I got lazy. Sure, I could have kept pushing it until I hit 190 bpm. However, I was 15 or so back in a spread out field. Live to fight another day. I got out of the way and pull up near the fire station.

Peter had gotten caught in a bad spot himself and was coming up behind me just as I let up. We rode in together. I spent some time afterwards talking with some Spinner guys. It was good to also give Kevin Dunn a big thank you for the fun I had this weekend.

So, you might think I went away not so happy with the ride. Actually, I was quite happy with it. With the way I was feeling going into it, I exceeded my expectations. I was also happy to see that while I was getting up to 185 bpm with my HR, I was able to quickly bring it down to the 160s when I could sit in.

That bridging business was my one stupid move of the evening. I don't know why I do that sort of thing. I should learn from Chris. He was expending the least amount of energy possible until that final lap.

Race line

Distance: 29 miles
Average speed: 25 mph
Average HR: 169 bpm (Tempo Zone)
High HR: 187 bpm (Max 196)
Finish: Who knows - in the main field