Saturday, July 25, 2009

Greased Lightning

Its been a slow week. I have been in a funk of sorts – been having a real hard time getting up to go to the gym in the morning, things like that. I didnt do very much this week- a whopping five miles of running and a half hour on the spin bike. I did make an attempt to ride last night with Dom and Mike at Brandywine, and you’ll see as you read further, the gods were conspiring against us.

The story starts out with something as simple as trying to get home from work. I bagged out of the office a bit early, in order to get down to Brandywine by 6- sounds simple enough, right? Everything was going to plan until I inadvertently got on the wrong train- the R2 instead of the R3. Problem is, I did not realize that I was on the wrong train until I was at the Eddystone  Station(I was engrossed in my book and I had my mp3 player on; I couldnt hear the conductor announcing each of the stops). I happened to look up form my book just in time to see an Amtrak train fly by my train, and then I quickly came to the conclusion that I was not on the R3, because Amtrak trains do not run on my line.

I hopped off the train, and quickly got my bearings. I wasnt too far from my gym, so I started walking towards Chester Pike, while at the same time, I called the wife and asked her to come pick me up.

So, fast forward and I am finally at my car at the RIGHT train station. I am running late but I am still on schedule to get to Brandywine around 6:00. The sun is shining and its beautiful outside, and the conditions are contrary to what the forecast had predicted when I checked before I left the office.

I get down to the park, and when I arrive, I see Dom’s truck parked, but no Dom. I am figure he had gotten to the park early and decided to head out on his own for a bit until Mike and I got there. No more then 5 minutes after I arrive, Mike comes bolting into the lot on his bike. As we’re getting ready, Dom finally heads back to the parking lot, but there is a problem – he’s got a flat.

0724091825a Classy as always

So, he starts changing his flat tire, and I give him a spare tube, but the problem is that the holes in his rims are drilled for Presta valves and I only had a tube with a Schraeder valve. If you dont know what a Schraeder or a Presta valve is, google it. It’ll be easier than me trying to explain it. I am not sure if I am spelling the word “Schraeder” correctly.

So without making this story any more convoluted than it needs to be, we decide that the easiest way to remedy this situation is for me to remove the tube from my front wheel, which has a Presta valve, and replace it with my spare tube with the Schraeder valve (my rims are drilled wide enough to accept either valve styles). Dom could then install the Presta tube into his wheel and everyone would walk away happy. Simple plan in nature, extremely difficult in execution. The picture clearly shows the two of us on the tube-switching exercise.



You see, Dom rides a bike that has “tubeless” wheels. Unlike conventional wheels, which have an inner tube installed within the tire, some of the newer mountain bikes run “tubeless.” The tire is sealed to the rim- there is no tube to replace. There are a variety of reasons why one would want to run “tubeless” and that can be explained later, but I want to stay on track with this story, because I am getting bored typing it.

For whatever reason, we couldn’t get the friggen tire back on the rim once we got the tube in the tire. Dom broke three tire irons in the process of trying to shoe-horn the tire onto the rim.


Now, while all this nonsense was happening, the skies had gone from sunny, to cloudy to downright nasty. A storm was coming – that much was obvious. We were racing against the clock to see if we could squeeze a few miles in before the rain came. With each passing minute, we were loosing the race against the clock. Finally, Dom got to a point where he realized that try as he might, he wasnt going to get the tire on the rim. By this point, the sky was almost black, the wind was howling, and it was starting to spit.

 Photo0111 Photo0110

0724091830bFrank Says: “This dont look so good”

Mike and I said f*ck it, lets do it. It was obvious that we were going to get drenched. As we left the lot, the thunder was booming and the sky was periodically lit by bolts of lightning – perfect mountain bike conditions. It started to become even more obvious that there was a good chance that my @ss was going to get hit by lightning.

As soon as we hit the trailhead, the skies opened up and it started to pour. We were cruising along a piece of singletrack adjacent to a corn field – I was about ten feet behind Mike- and suddenly, I hear this awful booming cracking noise and I see a tree branch come crashing down about 15 feet in front of Mike. We both come screeching to a halt, and we’re both screaming our heads off.

0724091839a Someone get me some clean undies please

Our reaction was a combination of shock, and the pure awesomeness of riding in a lightning storm and having a tree branch fall squarely in front of your path, and knowing that if you were riding just a tiny bit faster, that you would be under that branch. After the shock of the moment had passed, we continued on, and the rain started coming down in sheets. We rode a section of twisty single track that parallels the Brandywine River, and with each passing foot, the water level on the trail got higher and higher. I couldnt see a friggen thing from the mud splatter from my front wheel hitting my face. We finally popped out by the bridge on Thompsons Bridge Road and decided that it was time to head back – enough is enough. The thunder was really cracking, and the thought of riding next to a large body of water in the middle of an electrical storm was starting to loose its fun factor. We started heading back on a double-track trail that had turned into a stream. Its normally a fast piece of trail, but I had to really take it easy, because now, I was practically blind – the rain was hitting my head on, directly in the face, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Finally, we popped out where we had started and headed back to the lot. Mike hitched a ride with me back to his house, and I immediately headed home to dry off. Talk about a fun ride home: I didnt bring a towel with me, so I had to ride home in a pool of my own dampness, covered head to toe in mud. Awesome.

So, if you thought I was kidding about the gods not wanting us to ride thing, you can see that I wasn’t kidding at all, and luckily, they didnt send a bolt of greasy hot lightning straight at me, just to prove the point.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Le Tour

I do not proclaim to be an expert on pro-cycling. I know enough to be dangerous with respect to the tactics. I know enough about the names – Sastre, Contador, Cavendish, etc – to be knowledgeable, and to intelligibly follow the race day to day.

This year marks the return of Lance Armstrong, after a three year layoff after having won seven consecutive Tours. There has been a lot of hype surrounding his return- what kind of shape is in… Does he have the legs to win another Tour.. is He crazy etc etc.

Now that the Tour is in full swing, the hype surrounds Lance – the Michael Jordan of pro cycling- and his heir apparent, the 2007 Tour winner, Alberto Contador.

On paper, its a wash, in my opinion. Lance brings year of experience to the Tour – that much is obvious. He has also shown that he performs well under pressure, and he has fended off some of the greats in pro-cycling to claim the Tour victories. We also know that he has the best cycling engineering people in his corner; in years past, Lance has assembled a team of folks called “Project One.” Nike, Giro, HED, and Trek all came to the table with their best and brightest R&D people. Lance uses technologies so cutting edge that most of it will never be introduced to the consumer market. We’re talking stuff like skin suits with a super-low coefficient of drag; new types of frame materials and construction; extensive wind tunnel testing. He has one of the best trainers in the world – Chris Carmichael. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

However, Lance is 37. That’s old (very old) in a sport dominated by young riders.

Alberto Contador is 26. He has a Tour Victory under his belt, and he was some Grand Tours as well. He possess all the talents that Lance had in his prime, and he has got age on his side.

So the hype has been growing and growing for the last two weeks – Contador versus Armstrong – who will suceed. What complicates this argument is that they are on the SAME TEAM. And what makes the situation even better is that the Director Sportif (team manager), Johan Brunell, is Lance’s former manager from US Postal and Discovery – the two teams with whom he won all seven of his victories. So one has to ask who’s “side” Johan is on.

In any pro-cycling team, there can be only one leader – the rider who is expected to be in contention for the victory. Everyone else on the team works for the leader and there are many roles that each individual team member performs. Going into the Tour, the question on everyone’s mind was “Who will be the leader of this team?” It was an open question as the Tour began, and through the first ten stages, there was no clear answer. The stages in the first week of the Tour are usually flat and boring. The real fun doesn’t start until the race enters the Alps, about mid-way through the Tour.

So here we are, at Stage 16. Yesterday, on Stage 15, which was the first day in the Alps, Contador took the yellow jersey by out climbing Lance. The cycling world was ablaze with the news that Contador attacked, and the invincible Lance Armstrong couldn’t counter. A day after, Lance is quiet. He says he didn’t have the legs he thought he would have, as he historically has had in the Alps.

In my opinion, he’s too quiet right now. This is not the Lance that won seven Tours. I cannot imagine that at this point, Lance is going to put his tail between his legs and cede the race to Contador. There’s something brewing… I can feel it. Lance has shown, in years past, that he is patient to a fault. He’ll wear you down slowly, minute by minute, mile for mile. He’ll crack you mentally and physically. I think now is the point that he’ll start playing the patience game, waiting for just the right moment to pounce – to find an ungodly climb in one the upcoming stages, and stick right on Contador’s wheel the whole way up- so close that the kid will hear Lance breathing in his ear. Lance will start playing his mental mind tricks. He’ll never grimace in pain, even though at his age, he might be suffering worse then he has in any other Tour previously. He’ll be as cool as cucumber, all the while in his mind he’ll be telling Contador that this is his race- Lance’s race. This is where he made his bones, and you’re not gonna win unless you pay the Boss his dues.

And Alberto will know that this is exactly what Lance is thinking, and that’s the mind trick.

And only when Lance has had enough, only when he feels Contador has paid his dues, will he relent, and let the kid have his victory.

Lance might not have the legs to win, but his end-game is to show everyone that he still can go to toe with toe with this young punk, case closed, end of story.

Regardless of whether I am wrong or right, I don’t think Lance is as done as the media portrays him to be, or has he portrays himself to be.

Stay tuned. This might (hopefully) get interesting. We’re now in the Alps, and this is Lance’s territory – it’s his “home field.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I hate DIY projects. When I first moved into the house, we dumped a lot of money re-doing just about every room in the house, and now some of those rooms need re-doing from wear and tear. The short list of what I have done myself or has been done by others:

  • New Pergo floor in my living which I did myself and didnt manage to cut any of my fingers off with a band saw
  • Complete re-painting of the living room (done by painter)
  • Painted the upstairs and down stairs hallways
  • New kitchen counter (installed by your’s truly)
  • New kitchen track lights – me
  • Complete re-do of the playroom, which had one time been an office. There was a lot of demo in this project.
  • All bed rooms upstairs repaint (others)
  • Re-cushioned the dining room chairs.
  • Re-painted the powder (that needs to be done in about two weeks)
  • Tiled the kitchen sink and oven backsplashes
  • New retaining wall in the backward (others)
  • Complete demo of the backyard. This involved heavy machinery, and the landscaper wouldn’t let me give the Bobcat a whirl
  • New heater (others)
  • Annual drive-way re-surfacing (which I haven’t done yet)

The project that went south halfway through was the playroom. We wanted to install pocket doors between the playroom and the dining room. I found an odd-jobs contractor who came in, did half the work, then disappeared. $500 down the drain. So I had to find another guy to come in and finish the job. Other than that, of all of the projects I have done myself, the ones I am most proud of are the living room floor, and the kitchen tiling. I had never installed any type of wood flooring prior, and to install 400 square feet of the stuff on my own was rewarding. The kitchen tiling project was the same – a “never been done” project by yours truly. While on the surface these projects do not seem complicated, I have absolutely no hands-on skills. What I do have is an extreme cleverness of how things work. Put something in front of me and give me enough time and I will figure it out (or break it). Its why I like to take things apart when they break. I once built a PC from scratch, just to say I did it. Not rocket science by any stretch, but rewarding none the less.

So, let’s get to the point of this post: I am in the middle of painting my laundry room. The wife wanted a project to do on her own, so she ripped up the existing laminate tile and replaced it with new laminate tile (but much prettier). Now, its my turn to paint. I got the splacking done on Saturday, and started painting last night around 6:30. I got most of the first coat on, and since its a laundry room, I don’t think I am going to do a 2nd coat- looks good as is. Heather ripped up off the baseboard and I sanded it down so I can put a fresh coat of white paint on it. After that, I have to paint the door and figure out how I am going to get behind my water heater and boiler. The beauty of this being a utility room gives me the freedom to do a less then perfect job, only because a) it will get banged up alot and b) no one will see it and c) its a huge improvement on the condition of the room over the existing condition.

The downside of this project is moving everything that was stored in that little room elsewhere. My dining room looks like a bomb hit it. I am amazed at how much stuff/ crap we we’re able to fit in that room. There will be a major “cleaning out” of a lot that stuff, with some of it going to the attic, trash and possible future yard sale. But, when its all said and done, the room should be a shadow of it’s former self.

When I do get it into DIT vibe (it takes me a while to get motivated), I usually can’t stop, so after this is done, I am going to roll right into the powder room. I just re-painted this about two years ago with a nice light purple/ lavender color. It didn’t hold up. Since that little bathroom gets about 80% of the foot traffic from the girls and me, the walls are all banged up. So I am going to not only re-paint it, but smash up the existing floor and re-tile it or pergo it. I was going to pay for someone to do this, but its a really tiny room. I could have the re-flooring done in about a day or two, and then its a matter of re-painting.

When the laundry room is completed I am re-staining my outdoor wooden door steps. I re-stained them two years ago, but I dont think I put enough water-seal on because they started to get really dinged up. Luckily, I invested in a small hand sander, so that project is just a matter of sanding and re-staining. Its a one day job. Since its a quickie job, I’ll probably bang that out before I do the powder room.

There’s a guy sitting in front of me listening to music, and he is not only nodding his head to his music, he is in full-scale nod similar to what what the orthodox Jews do at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. This dude is going to give himself a headache.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Crack@ss of dawn…

Written Friday – didn’t a chance to post it until this morning:

The title more or less pinpoints the time that I left the house this morning to go and run – 5:30 am, to be precise. But man was it a gorgeous morning for a run. I took a pic with my phone when I passed by the farm at Linvilla Orchards. There was this low-haze floating over the tops of whatever crop was growing in that field. I am not sure if the picture captured the scene the way I saw it – its hard to tell on the small screen on my phone. I’ll post it up later

I wound up banging out 7 miles in just under an hour. If you take a look at the right hand side of the screen (---->) you’ll see that I added a gadget from my online running log ( that displays the stats from my most recent workouts. One hour at an 8:30 pace aint too shabby – fastest I have run that distance in a long time. I had to stop a handful of times because I got lost. I normally run an out and back look through Middletown, but when I got to the turn-around point, I decided to extend the route out a bit and try to make it a loop back to the house. I crossed over Rt. 352, and started down a nice road with a good, wide shoulder and very little traffic. The plan was solid, and I found myself running through a very quiet neighborhood, until I wound up back on Rt. 352

Rt. 352 is a four lane state route that is more or less a highway. The posted speed limit is 45 mph. Most people (like me) drive closer to 60-ish. Yes, I have been cited by the PA State Police for excessive speed…

The problem with 352 is that there is no shoulder. Zilch. Zero. I never ever ride or run on 352. As a matter of fact the route that I normally run puts me on roads that parallel 352, but on the opposite side of where I found myself now (which is how I started today’s run).

When I got to the intersection, I had two options. Turnaround, and try to find a cut-through road that would parallel 352 and put me closer to home, or take my life in my hands and run the 1.5 miles on 352 back to my house. I was feeling frisky so I decided on the death run option.

Luckily, I only had to run about 3/4 of a mile, until I found a cut-through, which put me back onto my old trusted route (I had crossed over 352 so I was running against traffic, not with traffic – standard operating procedure on most busy roads). I finished out the run, lesson learned. Later, I’ll download the  route from my Garmin Forerunner, and locate any cut-through’s that will keep my off of 352 if I decide to run that same extended route again. You gotta mix up the routes. Out and backs are nice, but boring, unless you’re really getting a good variety of scenery. With where I live, it’s a lot of quiet neighborhoods – not much to see.

Anyway, I made my way home, and If I had run my normal straight back to my crib, I would be just short of 7 miles, so I looped out through the neighborhood. When I hit 7 miles, I did some sprints (about 3) and the walked the remaining tenth of a mile.

Oddly enough I was not “feeling it” this morning when I first set out. I had a small case of the “runners trots” when I woke, and I was a bit tired. Before I started, I did two striders to kind wake-up my legs up. I gotta start doing more of those before I start – they really shock the legs into “let’s get your @ss in gear” mode. My run starts with hills almost within the first two-tenths of a mile. As I started ascending, I felt fast so I quasi-sprinted up the hills, and I tried to do that for the remainder of the run, with recovery runs at the crest of each hill.

FYI the runners trots is a nice way of saying that you are suffering from some gastrointestinal distress, as Alex Maa likes to put it. You can apply the condition of gastrointestinal distress to any number of lovely stomach/digestive issues. Lets just say that I have been on runs in the past where I needed to sprint home because I had an extreme case of the trots.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I got a really good variety of activities this week. I did 7.2 miles of running, 45 miles of road riding, 11 miles of mountain biking, and 45 minutes of spinning. Granted, I wish the running mileage would be a bit higher, but what can you do. All 7 miles of the running was banged out in one day – Friday.

Today’s ride was the much anticipated re-union ride at Valley Forge. Schoutens is in town for work. Me, Lou, Rob and Matt hooked up and banged out an old-school 11 miler at Valley Forge, more or less doing the entire park (with the exception of a return trip through the Blair Woods). We blew through the Park at 1:15:00 – not to shabby (that does not include rests). Luckily, Lou still has his old Trek FS, so we were able to get Schoutens setup on that. Only one problem: no one brought him a spare helmet, so as an act of kindness/ I cant do anymore damage than what I have done already – I gave my Rob my helmet and I went without. I can see why the pro road riders like going helmetless- very refreshing, not having that bucket strapped to your head. I wasn’t sweating as much as I would have. Nice.

Of course, the Drexel Cycling Rule of Three was obeyed – whenever three or more former members of the Drexel Cycling Team go on a mountain bike ride, someone (usually me) has to get a flat.

Near the end of the single track on the VF side, I popped a flat. Lou got some pics – see below.

Riding Pics

Aside from my flat, the rest of the ride was uneventful – no mechanicals and no one went ass over tea cups, and Schoutens didn’t try to run me off the trail on a way-too-tight-for passing downhill. I put together a compilation of some video I shot today as well, and Lou had the helmet cam on today, and I’ll link to that whenever he gets it uploaded



Sounds like we might try to hookup again on Thursday night after work – sans Matt. Schoutens is here until the weekend and I think he’s going to bored out of his gourd.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alligator Boy

Before I get into “Alligator Boy” I want to mention that I went out on a little 20 mile jaunt with Mike and Dom last night through the beautiful roads of southern Delaware County – Cheyney, Thornbury, etc. Beautiful scenery, not alot of traffic, and relatively flat. I’ll admit that I got dropped on two hills – dropped like a dead corpse in the Atlantic ocean. But in my defense, it was my fourth road ride of the year, and I rode 45 minutes in the morning if mostly hill drills. The elevation of our path is shown below. It felt good to go fast again. For as much as I love mountain biking, you dont get the speed of flying down an open road at 30 mph while your on the trails. Mike and Dom were taking it easy on me. I didn’t do any pulling and I go dropped on the hills. But I wasnt expecting to perform any differently. I dont have the pure mileage that those two have under their belts right now. To go out and expect to take 2 minute pulls at 23 miles per hour and stay on Mike’s wheel on the hills is unrealistic. Rather, I did alot of yelling and screaming and performed alot of general jack-a$$ery. I sort of made it clear that this little ride was a one-off (since I dont own a road bike) and I wasnt taking it all that seriously. I think I got the point across.

Road 7-15-2009, Elevation - Distance 

So I had mentioned Alligator Boy in yesterday’s posting there is a guy at my gym that I like to refer to as “Alligator Boy.”

If you have ever watched any of the Discovery Channel nature shows with Alligators and Crocodiles, you’ll have noticed that alligators tend to float in the water with just their eyes barely breaking the surface.

I have a guy at my gym that gets in the pool and will just plop himself at the end of one of the lap lanes, with his head just above the water line, and he just stares. And he is a creepy looking dude to begin with. Kind of fat with a weird uni-brow thing going on. He’ll sit there at the end of the pool, lurking, and then he’ll swim to the other side of the pool completely underwater, which, on the surface doesn’t seem all that odd until you couple this behavior with the fact that he is swimming under people who are doing laps. Imagine you’re in the pool, doing your laps, and you see this beluga whale passing underneath you.

Dont judge lest ye be judged. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit left of center, so take that self-observation into account before you read further.

There are some people out there that are just plain creepy, and you can tell on first glance that they are creepy. All outward signs and appearances scream “creepy.” That’s exactly how Creepy Smoker Guy and Alligator Boy come off. Creepy. I wonder if people look at me standing on the train platform waiting my Septa chariot to take me home and say to themselves “that’s one creepy motherf*cker over there.”

I think I am going to stop taking the Quiet Car on the way home from work. I think its a great concept on Septa’s part, but I got a chicken sh*t conductor who doesnt enforce it. He looks kinda mousy to begin with. Anyway, the Quiet Car consumes me, only because of the principle – get on the car and shut up. You can tell that some of the offenders are regular commuters who should know better. I’ll be frank (ha)- it’s not like the “offenders” are having a raucus party on the train – its the principle of getting on a car and shutting up. You know its the quiet car, so why bother getting on when you’re intention is to have a conversation. It seems counter-intuitive to me. And what’s more amazing are the people that sit around and do not speak up with a polite “hey this is the quiet car.” I have already had to politely remind a few folks that they are on the Quiet Car, and I damn near got into a fist fight last week with someone. No joke. It was some punk kid who make some wise a$$ comments while my back was turned. You got something to say, you say it to my face. We had words….

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Old School

Today’s early morning workout had me on the spin bike, alone, in a dark room. I took a visit to the pain cave this morning. After a brief warmup ~ 5 minutes or so, I started cranking up the flywheel resistance on the bike. About every 30 seconds I would increase the resistance about 1/4 of a turn of the resistance adjustment knob. I did that routine over the course of 6 minutes. Essentially, I did a hill workout with no rests and a constantly increasing grade. By the end of the 6 minutes, I could barely turn the cranks because the tension was so damn high and my quads were burning.

I followed that fun little exercise with a series of 30-second sprints, with 30-second rests in between sprints. Again, I would increase the tension slightly with every sprint, and then back it off for the rests. After a long rest period of about 5 minutes, I did another sprint session, only this time, I did each sprint at a high tension. This particular type of exercise is fairly close to what I would experience on a mountain bike on a typical ride. Unlike road biking, where there is a propensity to get into a gear set and crank away at a constant rpm for a long period of time, mountain biking is alot more dynamic. The trails are rarely long, flat and straight – they undulate, they twist, they turn, and therefore mountain biking requires alot of quick, explosive bursts of energy to crank up a small incline, or sprint out of a corner. Since 99% of all the riding I do now is on a mountain bike, it doesnt make any sense for me to do alot of time trailing exercises, but I throw them in anyway, and that’s how I ended my routine this morning. I got the tension on the bike to a point where my heart rate was in the mid to upper 150’s, and just cranked away at a high rpm for about 3 or 4 minutes, adjusting the tension in minor adjustments to keep my HR steady, and then I cooled down for another 3 minutes or so. I logged about 45 minutes this morning.

I *might* give a short run a try tonight.. The strained oblique is feeling much better. I was thinking about joining the Delco RRC crew over at Swarthmore for the Wednesday night run, and humping out the 3.5 mile course.

Looking back on Sunday’s race, I take away one really good memory from the day’s events. The race definitely had an old-school vibe to it. I am talking about a period of time, about eight years ago or so, where there was a group of us racing mountain bikes all over the place. We raced at some really cool places – University of Massachusetts, Univ of Vermont, Penn State, Bucknell…. And after college, most of that same group raced a local race series. At the time, we were riding under the sponsorship of a local shop in Narbeth – Mainly Bikes. And if we weren’t racing, we were riding. When I was still in school, there we weekend rides where there would be close to 15 of us out on the trail. I remember Thursday night rides at Valley Forge, where we would have a consistent contingent of riders – guys like Matt Shafer, Jay Hall…. I remember when Schoutens and I started the team in 1996 and there were only six of us filling the ranks. And the best part: we never took ourselves seriously. It was all about riding, having fun, f*cking around, busting b@lls

Sunday’s race had a lot of those same vibes. We had the race compound set up in the parking lot and there here was plenty of sh*t talking leading up to the race, and a lot of ball-busting before, during and after the race.

I am lucky in the fact that a group of us have managed to keep that vibe going to a certain extent. Me, Dom, Lou and now Mike – we all do MTB rides (and road rides) fairly regularly and we still keep that “have fun” attitude. And I remember a point in time, not all that long ago, when we were all on top of our game. We were all greasy fast, and some of our rides were an all-out hammerfest. But even on those suffer-fest rides, we were still having fun and breaking each other’s stones. And, after every ride, one of us (usually me) would write a race report, and those “reports” were nothing more than a cheap way to break some balls even after the ride was over…

This Sunday, Schoutens is making a return to the States, and we’re going to get the group together (minus Dom) for an old school ride. We got Schoutens hooked up with Lou’s old Trek FS; Matt is coming down from upstate, and we’re going to meet at our old stomping grounds at Valley Forge. For as many years as we called “The Wiss” home, Valley Forge has become our home field for the past couple of years. We know every inch of that park. You could probably blind-fold me and I could ride just about every bump, every route, every turn without breaking a sweat.

And you have to pay it forward. Its the reason why I try to go to some of Lou’s races even when I am not racing. Although we’re no longer on a team together, guys like Lou, Schoutens, Shafer, Dom, Zajac, Jay Hall, Danny H, Joey K – they will always be my teammates. We’ll always be the *DFTC or the Mainly Bikes crew. Even Mike – although he’s relatively “new” to the crew, he’s part of the crew.

The last time Schoutens came to town over the winter, I was without a set of wheels. My bike was on an extended stay at the shop getting the rear shock replaced. I still came to the ride, but I ran the trails while those clowns rode. I managed to hang them, oddly enough, over the first two miles of the trails, only because it was hilly, and I could run up some of the hills just as fast as those clowns could ride them. But, as soon as we hit the singletrack, they were gone, and I ran out the last section of trails alone. It will be nice to actually join them on the ride. The mountain bike is in good shape –the shock is new, the bottom bracket was just replaced, and I spent a fair amount of time on Monday giving the bike a general looking over – adjust the brakes, adjusted the shifting – the usual stuff. I am not sure how much riding Schoutens has been doing over in Switzerland, but I dont think its very much, so I would be surprised if this thing turned into a hammerfest, although with this crew, anything is possible.

FYI creepy staring dude is sitting about ten rows ahead of me. He sits at the end of the car, in the seat that is in the opposite direction of everyone else. He just sits there and stares like a wooden Indian. Really creepy. Tomorrow, I will tell you about alligator boy at the gym….

Monday, July 13, 2009

Journey for Joann Tri Pics

I took these pics yesterday. Lou’s dad took a ton – I should have those soon.

Journey for Joann Triathlon

The Day After

Its the day after the tri, and I am feeling more or less ok. The legs feel good but physically, I am tired. I got a good seven hours of sleep last night. I do have one nagging pain – a strained oblique on my right side. It was aching me a tiny, tiny bit in the days leading up to the tri, but today it’s really wailing. Speaking with a guy I work with who is a trainer, he figures I probably did it training for the swim, and aggravated it during yesterday’s swim event. He figures it was probably the overhand motion of the free style stroke that did it.

Regardless, I tried to do a light recovery run this morning at the gym, and made it all of ten steps before it felt like someone stabbed me in the side. This pain is not the same pain that one would normally get running – the famed “side stitch.” What I have actually hurts when I press on it. Since I couldnt run, I jumped on a spin bike for twenty minutes and spun with light/ moderate tension. It looks like I am going to have to lay off the running for a couple of days. I got myself all slathered up with Tiger Balm, and Jay suggested I do some light oblique stretches throughout the day.

Tomorrow is the next weigh-in at work. The past weeks havent been going well. I havent lost weight, but I havent gained weight either, so at least there is a bright side. I did a quick weigh in this morning when I got to office, and I am exactly the same as I was last week. So, if I really behave today, I might be able to drop a pound or so, but nothing earth shattering.

I have to wonder if my time would have been any better yesterday if I weighed a bit less. Last year, according to my running log, I was floating around 174/175. I wonder what, if anything, it would have gained me? Another minute on the run? Minute or two on the bike?

Here’s some very preliminary pics from yesterday. These pics came courtesy of Mike’s facebook. I have more pics on my camera, and Lou’s dad took a boatload, and I am waiting on those. Most of the pics Mr. L took were on the bike course, at a really cool corner. So lets hope that I at least look fast in those pics.

0712091024Post race, contemplating my performance

FrankTriMr. Classy

FrankTri2 The Race Compound

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Today was the Journey for Joann, which looks like its going to be a perennial race day event for a few of us in our little group. I did this race with Lou and Alex last year, and for 2009, Mike decided to jump into the action was well.

First, the results:

Swim: 11:32 for 1/4 mile. Its the exact same time I posted up last year, down to the second.

First Run (3/4 mile): 4:35-ish (I left my Garmin on through the first transition, and I figure I was in there for about 30 or 40 seconds).

Bike (9.6 miles): 28:57 for 9.6 miles.

Last Run (5k): 26 minutes-ish (I kept my Garmin on after I finished, so it read 27 minutes and some change)

Overall, I clocked 1:13:08 time. That time put me in 15th overall out of 50 finishers.

There's some interesting metrics that can be observed, comparing this year's results to last year's results. Firstly, I shaved more then three minutes off my overall time. Let's break that down by event:

First Run: I ran this leg of this year's race a little slower then last year, give or take a couple of seconds. My Garmin sports watch allows me to break out the split times for each event, but I didnt start the "new"split until I was completely out of the first transition. I dont think I was in there for more then 30 seconds. The Garmin says I ran the first run in 5:43; deduct 30 or 40 seconds from that and that puts me at a 5:00 time.

The Bike: My training log from last year says I did this portion of the race in 31:08, at a average speed of 18.58 mph. This year, I killed that number with a 28:57 and bumped my average speed up to 19.6 mph!! I think the time is also a good 30-40 seconds long, because I didnt start the "new" split for the last run until I left the bike transition. So, my bike time is probably closer to the low 28 minute range. Assuming I did keep it in the low 28's, I think I might have broken 20 mph average speed. FYI, a graph of the bike course is below. As you can see, its not exactly flat

The last run: This year, the Garmin said the course was long -3.25 miles. Last year, it had me at 3.14. So, to keep things even, if I just look at average pace, in 2008, I logged an 8:36 (min/mile) pace. This year, I logged an 8:23 min/ mile.

So, in summary. I broke even on the swim. I killed the bike. I killed the run.

The funny thing is, I didnt have a lot of bike training going into this race. I have been spinning alot, mountain biking here and there, but last year, I had alot of dedicated road miles in on the old Fuji Tri bike. So why did I do better? Well, the bike I used this year - Tim's carbon Klein - is a huge upgrade on the bike from what I used last year - the Fuji TT bike. The Fuji climbed like a lead weight, which is typical of most tri-specific bikes. The Klein climbs and accelerates like a dream. If I ever splurge and get a road bike again, I will definitely go with carbon. But the equipment only gets you so far - its the engine that matters, and the fact is that I did not have anywhere near the bike training going into this year's race, relative to what I had last year.

Running: I have to admit I felt like poop for the first run. I ran it 30 seconds slower then last year. But, I ran the second run faster and I felt better as the race went on. Why? No speedwork. My legs werent conditioned for an all out blitz, but, I have been doing enough longer-ish running that benefited me for the last 5k.

The fact of the matter is that I dropped three minutes off my time, and I dont care how I got there :)

I have to mention something about the swim. I had exactly two swim workouts prior to today's race. Thats two more than I had going into last year's race, and my time was exactly the same for 2008 and 2009. So, if and when I decided to do this again next year, I can either a) train and try to better my swim time or b) dont train, swim in 11 minutes, and devote more training time to the bike and the run

Also, friggen Mike did some kind of half-assed doggy paddle/ freestyle/ frogleg breast stroke thing in the pool, and he beat me by 30 seconds!!! This is an outrage!!! I took a ride to Delaware on Thursday morning to train with him down at his YMCA. I did ten lengths in the water in the same time it took him to do six!!! I smell a conspiracy!! I demand an immediate investigation!! There is collusion at the highest level!!! This is an abomination!!!!

After the race was over, I wanted to challenge him to a one-on-one swim-off in the pool. Mark my words, there was some kind of tom foolery going on today, and next year, I am going to be watching the people timing the swim very closely. Very, very closely....

When it was all said and done, Mike, Lou and I came within a minute (or so) of each other's time. Mike would have really smoked me if he decided not to stop and have a sandwich in the second transition, given how time he had put between us on the bike leg. He passed me at the top on the bottom half of the third lap of the bike course. He must have put at least 45 seconds of time between us going into the transition. Upon my arrival into T2, I see him sitting on the ground fumbling with his shoes. At first, I had thought he hurt himself. Ok, so he wasnt really eating a sandwich but the point is that he took a long time to change his shoes and put on his dress. I mean running shoes. All along the last run, I could see him about 60 or 70 yards ahead of me, but I could never close the distance. As the run progressed, he, like me, was getting faster.

Surprisingly, Lou never passed me on the bike. We ran the first run dead even. We got into the first transition at the same time, and I was out first, but I am not sure by how much. So, Mike killed the both of us on the bike. And if he hadnt cheated on the swim (conspiracy I say!!!) he would have blown us out of the water in the overall results.

Mike took 2nd in the age group. Lou and I came in 4th and 5th respectively. Alex took 2nd in his age group with a 1:20:17 time. I think we all won a door prize - I got some kind of canvas bag that I will add to my collection of bags I use for dirty gym clothes. I really had my heart set on a tea pot gift basket that was donated by one of local stores. I would have taken that tea pot home and filled it with beer.

Pics are coming shortly.....