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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Video from BMW Performance Center Series

Here is the video I said would be coming. Sorry there is no voice over telling you what is going on. I'm still learning about the video stuff... Enjoy.

This is some video from the Masters & Juniors race.

Here is a longer video from the Cat. 3, 2, and 1 race.

If you have any suggestions about how to do a better job with these videos or something you would like to see in the videos, please let me know.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Spinning a tale

Go team!

That is about all I can say about the race last night at the BMW Performance Center Test Track. In our 4's and 5's combined race, three Greenville Spinners finished in the top four. I'd like to think I had a small part in it. If I didn't, don't tell me. I will enjoy my fantasy.

Work got me off to a late start. By the time I got there, signed in, and got my number on I only had a couple of minutes to warm up. Then we were called to the line.

The track is like a cross between a road race and a crit. It is too long really to be a traditional criterium, but it has some corners that definitely give it the crit feel. What else to you expect at an automobile test track?

This made me a little nervous. The last time I raced in a crit, I went down. As we went into the first left turn which then turned into a right turn and then back to a left, I was on the inside. Wow, you really have to trust people in there!

I have to admit, I wasn't very trusting! Each time through for the first several laps, I lost ground as I tried not to be the cause of a crash. Thankfully, I never even came close.

Then we hit the back stretch. This is a long straight away that leads the length of the entire course and then ends in a sweeping left turn that puts you onto the front stretch. From there it is a pretty straight shot to the finish -- though it is also an incline.

The race was to ride for 35 minutes and then two laps. For the first 10 minutes I was wondering what I was doing out there. Not being able to warm up meant I was feeling pretty rotten. Honestly, I was just hanging on. Add to that the turns and I was ready to go home.

As we hit the 20 minute mark, I started feeling a little better. My legs were coming to me and I started riding to the outside of the pack going into the turns. Not only did that allow me to avoid some of the close quarters, but it also allowed me to make up quite a bit of ground.

Before I knew it, there was only two to go. I knew there would be another bunch sprint if things continued the way they were. If I was to stand any chance at all, I would need to be near the front.

Coming onto the back stretch, I passed a good part of the field by going wide out of the turn. Then I settled in until we reached the final two turns. As we were going through the turns, I heard someone telling me to "Go! Push it!" Then I found myself in the awkward position of being right on the front -- three abreast.

I had a choice to make. I could check up and force the pack to come around me making someone else take the lead, or I could lead out a Spinner's train into the final lap. In just the few seconds it took for me to think it through, I decided to pull.

My reasons were 1) while I figure I could get a top 10, I don't think I was in shape for a top three -- which was all that counted; 2) I did not relish going into that first group of turns in a pack -- if I was on the front, I could pick my own line; and 3) it would be kind of cool to play a part in a Spinner win.

So, as we came out of the final corner, I pegged it. The one time I glanced back, I saw a bluish purple kit and a Spinner's kit. At least, I knew I had one of my guys back there. Hopefully, there were more because if there was only one, we would be in trouble.

I'd like to think I stretched the field out a bit as we headed down the front stretch. I went into that first turn alone and pulled through that section. As I came off the corner onto the back stretch, I knew I had to get out of the way. I went wide right.

Several riders went by -- including Spinners -- and then I heard the sound of a crash behind me. Suddenly there were riders jumping to take advantage of the pause. I just kept going at my slower pace. Then three quarters of the way down the straight, I started feeling a little recovered.

I even picked up the speed to jump into the main pack. But as we came around the final corner, I pulled up to look ahead and see how we finished. A Spinner got second. I believe it was Brian Flinte. It was cool to see Tony get fourth.

It was fun. Next time, though, I'm going to sit up and make someone else do the work! All I would have to do is survive that one section and I think I could have made up for it on the back stretch and final turns.

There was some other racing going on. I plan to mention that later in the Cycling blog.

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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


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My first race as a Spinner

I arrived late for the Tuesday Night World Championships at Donaldson Center. That answered the question for as to which ride I would do. The A group was tempting but they had already started down the road and a couple of my riding buddies egged me on to chase it down and leave the B group.

However, one of the reasons for going was to ride with my new team: the Greenville Spinners Bicycling Team. I hadn't gotten word which group they were going to join, but looking around at the jerseys it appeared that the majority of them were there in the B group.

Before I had a chance to introduce myself, we were off. I felt kind of odd as I rode by a couple of the Spinners guys and they didn't say anything. I'm kind of a shy person and normally wait to be spoken to before speaking. Then I came across Kirk, a friend from past rides who was also decked out as a Spinner. I immediately felt more comfortable.

I went to the front expecting a higher pace. Before I knew it, I was off the front. I was up around 20 mph and realized the group was behind me. I let off and moved over to wait for them to bring me in. No use killing myself this early!

Once back in the group I started looking for Spinners. I believe there were about 8 of us and we started to control the group. First one teammate would go off the front and other teams and unattached riders would start to bridge. The other teammates would control the break and before you knew it we would be back together again. Then another Spinner or two would go off the front... etc., etc. until the third lap.

The second lap was the fastest between the three, but strategy started to enter into the picture on lap three. Kirk and his brother Brian went off the front and the rest of team settled in to slow the pack. I think I made a mistake here by seeking to catch up with Kirk - Brian wasn't wearing a Spinners kit and I thought we needed to bring him back.

Randy, who I believe is the team captain, pulled up to me to let me know Brian was our man and that we didn't need to chase. I backed off at that point. Unfortunately, a rider went to catch him. Another rider went by. It was Web. I told Randy not to worry about Web because he certainly couldn't maintain that speed for a lap and a half.

I don't think he heard me because he rode up on Web's wheel to neutralize his move. This, of course, brought everyone else along and before we got well into the fourth lap, Brian was swallowed up. Now the mass was once again setting up for the final push.

Randy started to spread the word through the Spinners that we were going to do a lead out. This is where a team will form a line and each rider in the front sacrifices by giving everything to help the last rider get across the line to win. He said we should be set up for the attack by the new pavement.

Two thoughts crossed my mind... 1) where was the new pavement, and 2) who were we leading out? I finally decided if I stayed with Randy things would begin to develop and I would not make a fool of myself when the time came to do my part. So, as he began to move his way toward the front of the group, I did as well.

Once we reached the railroad tracks, Randy really picked up the pace. I stayed on his wheel assuming there where Spinners behind us ready to lead the chosen one to victory. As we crested the rise after the tracks that would lead us into the decent before the final climb, I sneaked a look behind me. There was a dark kit. Nothing else.

Okay, so we were in a breakaway of three riders. Randy moved over a bit and as I went by he said, "Pick it up a notch." So I tucked to avoid the wind and tried to pedal in nice smooth circles - giving about 70 percent effort. We were hitting about 25 mph before cresting the hill. On the way down we lost our form as I heard Randy speaking to the black kitted rider behind us.

Turns out it was a Hincapie rider and somehow it came up that it was her birthday. Randy told her we would give her the win if she would pull to the finish. She passed on that, but it put us in a lull as we waited for her decision.

Finally, Randy told her to hop on and we went. I figured at this point I had the green light to let it go. I put out of my mind anything happening behind me and started up the hill. I was climbing at about 26 mph. I was feeling really good.

Before I reached the fire station, I looked back. There was no one there. I don't know what happened to Randy and the Hincapie rider. They were probably there but I couldn't pick them out from among several riders of another group we had overtaken.

I slowed and started glancing back. Finally I saw the main group coming over the rise just as I passed the start/finish line. Wow. I was surprised.

Turns out the team worked in my favor. Randy had given me a great lead out and Kirk and the other guys were making the group mad as they disrupted the finishing pace. Randy got me the lead and the other guys helped me extend it.

Wow, that was fun! I enjoy riding, but riding with a team adds a whole new dimension of fun. It was good to get to know the guys just a little bit as we rode and it felt awesome to help bring a victory to the team. Really, when one wins it is as though we all won. I have to admit though, I am glad this time it was me :-)

Race line

Distance: 29 miles
Average speed: 22 mph
Average HR: 165 bpm (Tempo Zone)
High HR: 190 bpm (Max 196)
Finish: 1