Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mountain Bike Racing version 2013 Is Underway!

The 2013 mountain bike season began with the WVMBA series opener at Mountwood S.P. in Waverly, WV.  Without many training miles and fewer mountain bike miles under the belt, I headed out Rt. 50 to gain some early race season fitness and try out my new mountain bike, a Cannondale Scalpel 29er from Pathfinder bike shop.  What better way to do this than a 20 mile trail ride at race pace. 

Everyone in the expert field was amped up to begin their race season as well.  Once the race started a near pile-up occurred in the first turn...still on the asphalt.  The first few miles saw a lot of elbows-out racing, despite being on gravel double-track.  After that the pack of racers stretched out and the race became more against the narrow, off-camber, tight switch-backed course than it was against the other racers.

Fellow Dynamic Physical Therapy p/b Pathfinder teammate, Derek Clarke, was pulled up along a singletrack section five miles into the race holding his new Cannondale Flash with a taco'd front wheel after a spill.  This was obviously not the return to mountain bike racing that he had expected.

My race was relatively uneventful, but no less fun.  My finish was not a podium spot.  In fact, it was the same finish (12th) in the Expert-Vet class as in 2012, with less pre-race fitness, and less fatigue and soreness thanks to the full-suspension 29er rig.  

Mountwood finish...finally!

One week later, the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team p/b Pathfinder would be represented by myself and Derek at the Big Bear Classic in Hazelton, WV.   Once again, all of the excitement of the race would happen in the first mile.  A pile-up racers due to a bottle-neck from double-track to a rocky uphill singletrack section would force me and Derek, as well as a few others, off of the trail for a little mountain bike bushwhacking to avoid the congestion and gain a few spots on the Expert field. 

Coursing through some of the most amazing and technical singletrack in this region, the race took us through the root-covered Beaver Trail, the rocky Crack Trail, Pine Forest Trail, and the newly cut trail with more 3-4ft drops than you can count, Gene Vance Trail, to honor the memory of a local mountain biker and fallen Special Forces Guardsman.  This race had it all!

I completed the race with a satisfying 11th place finish, much better than expected after spending the day prior trying to sleep off a week-long cold--and with much less fatigue and soreness than I would have on my old hard-tail 29er.   Derek would suffer another unfortunate fate by losing a pedal in the first half of the race.  However, he would get it fixed and finish.

Two races in the books...the Scalpel is
looking forward to some ProGold lovin'

The month of May looks to be the busiest month of racing yet, with three consecutive weeks of multi-lap relay mountain bike races (12hrs of Lodi/6hrs of Brady Run, 6hrs of Arrowhead, and the 9hrs of Cranky Monkey), the much anticipated opening of the ABRA mountain bike series (The Wisp XC Challenge) on May 11th, and the grueling Tour of Tucker County Road Race, another fine ABRA event, on May 26th. 

A big  to thank all of the sponsors that are making the 2013 season happen for us:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Its funny how quickly attitudes can change. My last post was about me feeling sorry for myself and about feeling like I let the team down in a couple races. And while its true, they were disappointing results, in the grand scheme of things, I was still racing my bike, even if I wasn't riding well. I've always said that any ride on my bike is a good ride, but I'd lost sight of that recently and started taking it too seriously.  I had forgotten that riding is just a distraction from all the bad things that happen in life, and shouldn't add to all the negativity.  And I was reminded of that, this past Wednesday, after racing at the oval. 

After the race, Amber, Mackdiddle, and a friend from work went down to Primanti's for a post race meal. I was STARVED, and looking forward to crushing a ribeye sandwich and a brownie sundae. Turns out, I wasn't the only one who loves sundaes!
"Give me that spoon back!"--not at all happy I wasn't sharing that spoon of  ice cream with her!
Then we headed home to get ready for bed as our 5AM wakeup comes all too early. By 1030, Amber had just put the baby down for the night when her phone rang and it was her aunt with some bad news about Amber's dad. He was riding home on his motorcycle on Rt 51 at the interchange for I-376, a driver of a car in the left hand lane decided she needed to get off at that exit, and cut across his lane to do so. Without ever stopping, she forced him to dump the bike and hit the pavement.  He was rushed to Mercy Hospital, and Amber, Mackenzie and I were back out the door and on our way to Mercy as well, moments after receiving the news.  Turns out, he was OK. He was banged up and had some minor road rash, but nothing was broken or severely/permanently damaged. The gouges on his helmet are proof that the helmet kept things from being a lot worse than it was. Shortly after 130AM, he was walking out of the hospital, albeit gingerly, but walking on his own none-the-less. (thanks for everyone who read my facebook post and said a prayer on his behalf). 

As a result of the unexpected late night/early morning hours activity, I decided to take the day off from work. Since Amber is only part time and can't earn sickdays, she was to take the morning off but was going to try to work the afternoon shift so she wouldn't lose the whole day's pay. I was hoping to sleep in a little, but Mackdiddle, despite not ever falling back asleep until well after 2AM, was ready to get her day going at her usual time of 530. So I got up with her, changed her, and gave her a bottle. In an effort to let Amber get a little more sleep, I grabbed the "new" stroller I purchased at Red White and Blue second hand store the day before and went for a walk.  ** As a side note, PROGOLD products are perfect for more than just bicycles. I used ProGold Towels to wipe the down the frame and wheels. Then I used the ProGold Helmet Cleaner and Deodorizer to clean the seat area. Finally, I put a few drop of ProGold Extreme Lube on the bearings of the three wheels and the Baby Jogger II was looking like new and ready to rock and roll!

Hangin' on for the test drive!
It was bright and sunny but still a little on the cool side as Mackdiddle and I went out the door. I wasn't sure how things were going to go since she had never been "off roading" before. I took her down to the Chartiers Creek Watershed access road and then the fun began. As we first turned off the pavement onto the bumpy gravel road, she was quiet and holding on to the frame as she bounced and bumped down the trail. After about 5 minutes, she had relaxed and was giggling and talking up a storm. We waved at the trees, we waved at the squirrel, we waved at the El Beebee's (L.B.B or little brown birds), we waved at the trees, we even waved at JR's Wood Duck!   All told, we walked a little over 3 miles and bought Amber and extra hour of sleep.    But more important than that, I was refocused on what is REALLY important in life.

Hi Mr Wood Duck!
(far and away her favorite stretch of bouncy trail)
While racing for the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team powered by Pathfinder is a very important part of my life, its not the most important part. Thanks to an unexpected day off, I was reminded of what IS important and what I should be focusing on rather than better results.  Thanks Amber. Thanks Mackenzie. Thanks to everyone in the team area for making racing fun! And most importantly, thanks to God for helping me get grounded in reality again.  Every ride on my bike is a good ride...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Addie & Daddy Sunday Fun day

Addie & Daddy Sunday Fun day

Yesterday Addie and I had a decision to make on how to spend our day together.  The decision was pretty easy to make…..biking of course.  Our day started off with a nutritional breakfast of Honey Stinger waffles and coffee / chocolate milk on the way to church and then Addie singing in kid’s choir at church.  After church let out we rushed home and changed into our Sunday best.  FYI………our Sunday best includes a Dynamic Physical Therapy cycling kit powered by Pathfinder of WV and made by Nalini custom apparel…………just saying’.  We then hit the towpath to begin our journey from Canton up to Akron.  This is about a 28 mile one way trip following the Tuscarawas River and filled with God’s beautiful creations.  Although a bit chilly it was actually a beautiful day with the sun shining.  We probably counted over 200 turtles sitting on logs sunning themselves.  (Yes we really were counting them.  This is what you do to pass time when cycling with a 7yr old beautiful little girl.)  We also counted all 80 bridges that we either crossed or went under. 
Once we made it into downtown Akron we headed straight for Jimmy John’s and home of the 45 cent day-old loafs of bread.  We bought 4 loaves and ate 2 loaves there.  Note – Addie ate more than me no lie!

 After we got our fill of bread we headed down Main Street in Akron to catch the last few innings of the Akron Aeros game.  Yes true cyclists wear their helmets and cleats into the baseball game!

(The had an inflatable slide at the ball park.)

After hanging out in Akron for a couple of hours we decided to start our journey back to Canton before we ran out of daylight.  I noticed at about 30 minutes into our trip home that my little princess who usually talks your ear off, “yes she gets that from her dad”, was being very quiet.  It was at this point that I had to start yelling at her every 5 minutes to stay awake.  It amazes me how she can actually start to doze off while riding behind me.  This part she definitely gets from her mom who can fall asleep just about anywhere.  So we finally made it back to the car and before I had even finished loading up the bikes and changing my cycling buddy was fast asleep in the truck.


My Addie girl ended up sleeping in the car all the way home and continued to sleep there while daddy cleaned up the bikes and applied some of ProGold ProLink to the chain.
Thanks for reading and thank you to all of our sponsors.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sponsor Highlight: Mylan Pharmaceuticals

Did you know that private pharmaceutical companies are spending more money on biomedical research than the entire rest of the world combined? Without this funding and support, many of the important discoveries that are made every year may never get discovered at all. One of our Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team powered by Pathfinder sponsors Mylan Pharmaceuticals is at the forefront of this research. Not only that, but they are an important local employer for Morgantown, West Virginia. I encourage you to check out this great company 

The United States, through organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), contributes more funding towards medical research than any other country in the world, but it still is far behind that put into R&D work by private pharmaceutical companies, like Mylan.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Domestique: Morgantown Road Race

I raced the Morgantown Road Race again this year.  My 2nd year; actually really this is only my second real season of road cycle racing period.  I've been riding a bit, but was struck with one of the worst chest infections of my life about 3 weeks before, and was suffering right up until the race.  I'd say I was 97% going in, but couldn't ride at all for 2 weeks and my fitness, and much more my sharpness, suffered a little.

So going into the race, with it's "rollers" at the beginning, and it's 3 major climbs and kicker finish, I was on domestique duty.  Todd and Jonathan were the stronger riders, with Jeff, Shawn, and myself left to do what we could to help in the 4/5 race.

That morning I had my bagel with peanut butter, then stopped at the Rising Creek bakery for a cookie, and a brownie for later. Before the race started, I had a Honey Stinger bar, waffle, and drank a bottle of electrolyte drink.  Other than that, just some water.

It was a very nice day, and my new Nalini gear and Swiftwick socks made me feel like I was racing in my pajamas.  No really.  I'm not kidding, I like the new stuff we have so much, it's like lounge wear.

At the start, we all decided: everyone needs to stay up front.  In a field of 75, slipping to the back could finish you really quick.  My job on the day was to get Jonathan and Todd to the climb in the top 10 or so,  and then hopefully get over the first climb with them or near them so if there was trouble I could sacrifice myself to get them back into the race.

Did a good warm-up with few of the guys on the team, and made sure to line up early so I was up front.

The first portion of the race has a bunch of "rollers" which are seriously painful if you ride them hard.  Which is what happened.  The first 10 miles of the race was much faster and tougher than I really had expected.  I wasn't at redline, but I was putting in some effort for sure.  People were getting dropped almost immediately, which was surprising.  I actually decided to take a gel after only 30 minutes as the effort was hard and I knew later I might not have the chance.

However, as we rolled along 218, I started to realize I was hanging in pretty well.  I was doing a great job staying in the top 5-20 guys in the pack of 75.  I was often right near team mate Todd, and we chatted a little too.

Can you find me?
When we hit the first small climb, the kicker as everyone refers to it, I was right in the front, and feeling good.   Things were going well.

And then I almost wrecked.  Yikes.  I was flying down the other side and just lost a bit of concentration and went over the white line and caught the dirt.  My back wheel went sideways, and I started to slide at 35 mph.  Someone yelled crash, and I wasn't even down, and the whole pack flew into the other lane.   The bike came around and the the front wheel slid a little, but I just stayed calm and didn't touch the brakes.

I kept it upright.  Somehow.  I felt like such a jerk though.  Everyone was eyeing me and and I felt so stupid.

It took a little while for me to recover, but I got back into it.  Todd rolled up to me at that point and said he had seen me almost go down.

Not long after that is the first real climb.  It's a good one.  But first, you take a right and have a pretty steep little kicker.  Right before we got there Jeff rolled up next to me and I asked if Jonathan was still in the race, since I hadn't seen him since the beginning of the race.  He said he was, and I had a decision to make.

I was in a good position in the field, and I was feeling good again.  But, I knew my job was to get Todd and Jonathan over the climb.  And if Jonathan was in the back, he was never going to be able to react to any moves made up front.

So I pulled out of the field, and drifted back.  I found Jonathan, told him, well, yelled more like, GET ON MY WHEEL.  And I took off.  I pulled him up the whole group past everyone, hammered hard to the top of the steep climb, and slotted in at about 5th position.

This was a little of a mistake.  Since I knew there was a downhill and corner at the bottom, and I know Jonathan isn't as comfortable descending, I should have gone right to the front with him.

So leading into the climb, I was in a good spot.  I hoped Jonathan was too, but I was watching for attacks and we concerned with someone taking off early to hit the climb.

But no one did, not really.  Once someone half-heartedly tried and me and a couple others shut it down.

So at the bottom of the climb I was probably in the top 10.  But as soon as it went up, I went back.  I was happy to see Jonathan was at least close to the front, at the back of what looked like was going to be the lead group (it was).  Todd also slotted in on the back of that group.

As they pulled away, lots of rider passed me.  But, as we continued up the climb (it takes something like 12-15 minutes if I remember correctly), I started to reel them all back in.  And then I started passing folks.

Next thing I knew, we were getting towards the top, and I was in a great position.  I actually caught Todd and as I swung by him, I yelled to him.  I knew what we had to do.

"Jump on Todd!"

I then put some power down and tried my best to get by some stragglers and pull Todd towards the lead group.  We could still see them.

There is a good descent and then some rolling terrain.  I was very happy with my position in the back, given last years trouncing.  So I was thinking- if I can get back in that main group...I might have something here.

But I also knew I had to really work for Todd as that was my job.  So I did do some longer pulls and kept the tempo high.  We picked up some riders, but nobody really wanted to work or get organized.  I just kept coming to the front.

Before the turn towards the next climb, I just burnt out.  In retrospect, I probably should have just buried it and gone for broke, especially for Todd, but at the time I was concerned with finishing "well".

So I fell off that group.  I dangled for a while in no mans land before they eventually did ride away.

At the finish.  Always concerned about data,
I'm trying to stop my Garmin.
Check out those high Swiftwick socks!
I rode by myself for a while, and when I was at the base of the next climb I looked back and there were two riders behind me coming up on me.  So I slowed up to let them catch me, thinking we could work together...

...but then my chain dropped from my inner chain ring and jammed.  I had to get off and pull it out, and the little metal gaurd that protects the chain stay was stuck in the chain.  I took some effort to get it ripped out.  And as I was cranking on it, the two riders passed me.  Damn.

Got back going now, and probably went a bit too hard.  Got caught and passed by 3 more riders.

After I calmed down a little and got my head back into it I caught those three again and passed them up the second climb.

Then on the descent I caught those two riders that had passed me.  We worked together all along the rolling section at the bottom, all the way to the final climb.  At this point, I was shelled.  I was so done.

I let them ride away.

On the climb I looked back and it was a string of solo rider as far as I could see.  I kept my effort hard but steady, and at the top I was ready for the race to be over.

The rest of the race is flat and actually trends downhill I believe.  I went into TT mode but really my mind was out of it- my job was done for the day.  I got caught by two more riders, and tried to keep in contact with them as we roared towards the finish.

The finish is right after a small steep hill.  As I flew up it, I was gaining on the two in front of me. I had them!  But then...

...dropped my chain again.  Damn.  Why was I even trying to shift to the little ring anyways?!?!?!

So I rolled across the finish line alone, just coasted across.

Turns out I was 34th.  Last year I was 56th, so I'm ok with that amount of improvement, given that road racing is not a strength of mine.  Total time was about 2:08.

But- what really mattered was Jonathan got 19th and Todd 20th in a stacked field.  I feel I had a part in both of those places and I'm happy with that.  I think they both wanted to do better than that, but things happen and to 20 in a field of 75 with lots of strong guys is certainly not bad.

In retrospect, I should have gone harder to try and get Todd back to that lead group.  But I was being a little selfish and wanted to save something.  Also, I think if the on the rollers the group had been organized, we could have caught that lead group.

But, I did my job, and it's on to the next race!

All photos courtesy of Fred Jordan's Photography


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Wouldn't Say I'm a Crit Guy...

Well, last weekend, I raced my first criterium of the season (unless you want to count the training race, but it wasn't all that critty); The Clarksburg Grand Prix.  Our team's strategy was for me to ride like Billy did for an earlier race, and chase down all the breaks, I was down with that, and was looking forward to helping out the team.

I wasn't riding fast, but I still looked fast!
 While I was preriding the course, I felt good, I had plenty of power in the legs, and was excited to race, but a little after the first lap, I picked a bad line through a corner and got 'pinched' out, I had to hit my brakes, and didn't see the pack until the end of the race, when I (and the chase group I was in) got lapped.

I wouldn't consider myself a strong technical rider, but I was still expecting to do better than that.  In a few weeks, I'll be racing the McKeesport Grand Prix, and from what I've heard, the course is much better suited to my strengths: climbing, and my technical deficits.  

On the road race front, I competed in the Morgantown Road Race in April, what a way to start the RR season!  I was aiming for a top 10 placing, and I think I would have been able to attain that if I weren't dropped from a the breakaway group on a descent.  A descent!  I really need to work on those bike handling skills.  

Prior to the first big climb of the race, Sugar Run, teammate Jerry (or is it Gerry?) dropped back to pull me to the front of the paceline so I would be in a good position for Sugar Run, which I was going to attack on.  He set me up in a wonderful position, but before I could attack, some Pittsburgh guys beat me to it, I jumped out of pack and gave it my all up the climb.  I make it to the top right up front, and made it to the top of the second climb Pitcock Run in a really good position too.  

I was really feeling good about then, having just eaten my favorite flavor of Honey Stinger Waffle; Lemon.
This is the face of death
That feeling soon left me when everyone else rushed past me on a rather technical descent.  I tried to catch back on on the rollers following the descent, but a horrific headwind made it impossible.  

I continued riding tempo in a dejected state for a few miles until teammate Todd and a few other guys caught up with me.  I integrated into their group and we pacelined to the finish.  I ended up 19 out of 75, and Todd was one place behind me.

After the race, I realized that I'm climbing really strong this season, thanks no doubt to Rob of Performance Coaching Services, and his customized training plan.  But I also realized that my bike handling skills really need work, and since I have a awesome Cannondale CAAD10 with Kenda Tires, I can't blame it on the equiptment!

On a different note, I have discovered a new use (at least to me) for ProGold Chain Lube, It works perfectly to keep my Speedplay pedals from creaking, it doesn't attract grit, and lasts way longer than the wax lube I was using before.  

The 2013 Dynamic Physical Therapy Team powered By Pathfinder is working like a well oiled machine.  

Congratulations to Derek & Anne on their wedding!

Having A Blast in 2013 (Clarksburg Grand Prix)

So, I can safely say that I am having a blast this year riding and racing with my mates on Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team Powered by Pathfinder.  I have been racing bicycles since 1991, and this is definitely the most fun I have had on any team hands down (N’ @).  We are definitely a family and look after one another, not only on the bike, but off as well.  In order to build good team relations, it’s important to do other activities as a group off the bike, and this year has been great. Also, it’s the little things we do while riding/racing together that are important as well like 1) the pre-race ritual bum grabs (Devin) 2) pre-race team meetings and the most important, 3) posing next to JR in a team photo.

Hmm, where is Billy?

I digress, so The Clarksburg Grand Prix was a good example of how teams should work towards a common goal and achieve that goal.  During this race, no one rider was selfish or only thought of themselves in any fashion, it was one team with one goal in mind…..WININNG (thanks Charlie).  The race started off as most CAT 3-4 races do, fast.  The first 15-20 minutes of the race was non- stop action and shed some of the weaker riders.  I looked at my Garmin at one point and saw that our average speed was about 26.7 MPH with an average power of 300 Watts (thank you Devin Corboy for the 2x20 interval workouts ALL WINTER). 
After the initial pummeling at the start of the race, we settled down and took a breather for all of 1-2 minutes (insert sarcasm) after another rider crashed (for the first time?!?!?) in the starting straightaway.  Enough time for some attacks to launch off the front, but nothing too serious.  I was quite enjoying shouting race tactics at my teammates during the race, especially you Billy Slutz!!  When I said to move up in the field, I didn’t mean for you to go off the front…LOL.

Go Billy Go!!

Ok, my ADHD just kicked in, so where was I. Oh ok, so midpoint of the race Todd ‘The Masher’ Hauber jumped out of the pack and joined another rider or two off the front (never saw them again)for what would be the decisive and winning move of the race.  Now our turn to earn our money as teammates was about to kick into high gear.  At that point, we needed to be defensive of Todd’s position off the front and chase down any move(s) that attempted to bridge to Todd and his breakaway companions.   So we did……..Then, there was another crash (same guy for a second time!?!!?) so the field backed way off the pace and the last lap of the race was so slow and not hotter than heck as usual.  Again, I could ‘shout words of encouragement’ to my teammates and to watch for possible counter attacks.
So, to sum up the race in a nut shell:
1.  A plan was made
2. We all suffered alot
2. A plan was executed
Next up for the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team Powered by Pathfinder, The McKeesport Grand Prix.

Pain Is My Friend, Pain Is My Friend...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

According to the legend, the Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder Cycling Team rode the race of the year this past weekend at the Clarksburg Grandprix.  As the story has been passed down, no mortal man could make a move without having one of the superheroes that comprise the team, use their superpowers to counter the moves and neutralize the field and their efforts. And when all of the cards had been played, the strongest of those superheroes simply rode off the front of the field and attempted to bridge the gap to the lone break that was able to get away.  In the end, Todd Hauber crossed the line in 2nd place over all in the talented 3/4 field, and Jerry finished 2nd in the WV State Criterium Championship.
Todd Hauber representing Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder on the Podium in 2nd place overall

Jerry Audet representing Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder on the Podium in 2nd place in WV State Criterium Championship 3/4 Race

JR, Jerry, Billy, Todd, and EJ all raved about how well the team worked and how happy they were with the end result. "A true team effort"... "the best we've ever ridden"... "so awesome to be a part of that"... etc.  But I wouldn't know, I had been dropped like a bag of hot dog poop. After about lap 8, the only time I saw any action is when I finally got lapped by the leader with 5 to go, then Todd and his VT coworker with three to go, and finally the field with 1 to go. I still can't put into words, the feeling of disappointment and despair that I felt following the race.  Our team area was all stoked because of the fantastic end result. I was thrilled for the efforts of my teammates, but I quietly hung my head and felt ashamed that I had let the team down.

And I know when they read this post, or we talk about it prior to the next crit, or as we discuss it in one of the countless facebook threads we share in the course of a week, everyone is going to be like it doesn't matter.  It may not matter to the team, but it matters to me. I do not like the feeling that I haven't carried my fair share. I didn't expect to be on the podium, but I certainly didn't expect to be dropped like I was... time to step it up. Im going to channel this disappointment and let it fuel my efforts in the weeks to come. I'm going to let it eat at me from the inside out and drive me to work harder to become faster, stronger, and a more well rounded teammate.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Strange Breed

I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botanise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view - get hot, juicy, red - like a grilled chop. Get me on that machine and I have to go. I go scorching along the road, and cursing aloud at myself for doing it. --H.G. Wells

When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” -- Arthur Conan Doyle 

Watching Paris Roubaix earlier this week has me waxing poetic about everything cycling.  

Lots of things run through your head the morning before a race, even a practice race with nothing at stake.  Rituals calm the nerves.  Those committed to racing bicycles have adopted a lifestyle full discipline but on race day it’s escalated to a sadistic and maniacal level.  We have a toolkit similar to a Comanche Indian’s weaponry.  Instead of a finely sharpened hatchet to claim the scalps of fallen opponents we have carbon wheels to slice the air and help us save small amounts of effort in a headwind or maintain speed in a paceline.   Instead of applying war paint we remove body hair from legs and arms (don’t let anyone convince you of a performance benefit, for me it’s mental preparation and a symbol of my dedication to the sport).   We will comb over our machines looking for mechanical or aesthetic imperfections then apply the necessary swipe of a rag or drop of grease (preferably Pro Gold) before finally declaring its readiness.  This morning I started thinking about the sub culture we racers immerse ourselves in.  It seems to happen subconsciously, then applying lotion or embrocation to a freshly shaven body part, you realize that you just finished shaving your legs! What?! Now you’re applying some type of lubricant to help avoid skin irritations and wondering how you got here.  I do believe these strange rituals help us mentally prepare.  It’s the final goodbye to our normal life, maybe we shave that most outward facing layer of flesh and hair like a snake sheds skin, a sort of tangible way that we transcend into the primal mindset required to not only accept but to invite the pain that comes along with racing.  They say that you can’t duplicate your race level efforts on training rides or workouts,  if that’s true than we really do become something different from our normal selves on race day.  I started write down some of these thoughts on Wednesday before the ACA Oval kick off race.  I went out hard on Wednesday per my coach’s direction.  I had to execute a breakaway or two that should last two laps, I was supposed to pull at the front at least twice and I was supposed to accept that this type of effort may lead to a bad result or possibly getting dropped.  I was able to read the race very well on Wednesday.  Our team worked well together without ever speaking.  There was a synergy to our riding that didn’t require verbal dialogue.  I got my pull done with in lap 1, my solo breakaway lasted around 6-7 laps, and I had enough energy to contest every prime sprint winning 2 out of the 3.  Thanks to the efforts of my teammates I was able to come away with the win only out sprinting Devin at the line by half a wheel or less.  I hope many more races this season will end with DPT teammates battling for first and second.  Cheers to Dynamic blue covered podiums throughout the season.

When its time to change, You've got to rearragne!

I grew up in the small town of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.  Yes, I had running water, electricity, and even sea-ment sidewalks, you could say we had ALL the creature comforts you wanted from civilization. But where I grew up, I was only ever a 3 minute walk from being in the woods. As a result, a large part of my childhood was spent exploring the hillsides and crick bottoms of rural Western PA. When I was young, I was limited to venturing only as far as I could hear my mother's calling. But as I got older, my adventuring took me further and further from home.  Being in the scouts, I had lots of opportunities to go camping through out the tri-state area. Once I got into high school and got my driver's license, my adventuring expanded even further, and I was only limited by how far I could go on the gas I could afford, and gas was cheap! I love that time in my life...

Ever get the feeling you are being watched
So when I moved to a suburb or Pittsburgh last fall, it was a bit of an adjustment for me. Instead of looking out the window and seeing fall foliage, everywhere I looked, the only thing I could see was fall decorations on my neighbors homes. Granted, many were pretty decorations, but you just can't beat what God has blessed us with in nature.  This winter was rough on me too, because I felt trapped and cramped in a small one bedroom apartment. In February, I got a little encouraging news from Punxatawney Phil, but we know now, just what a horrible predictor he was and Winter has been stubborn with us and until just recently, hadn't relinquished its icy death grip allowing for spring to arrive to the area.

But alas, spring has arrived and the temperatures are starting to creep (or jump) up the thermometer. Break out the shorts. Break out the sunblock. Break out the sunglasses. I love it. While I never put the bikes away for the winter, on several occasions, I did opt for a shortened ride or even a ride on the trainer instead of doing what I knew I should really be doing for my workout. And as the weather continues to improve, I find myself missing the countryside of Greene County. So as a result, I'm making it a point to head out and explore a little in my new surroundings.

Last night, I went for a walk in Whiskey Point Conservancy in Scott Township  I'd seen it several times this winter covering a school bus run for Chartiers Valley but I had never made time to stop and check it out. Since Mackenzie was with her father, Amber joined me in my foray into the woods... completely outside her comfort zone, but very much appreciated by me. (Its awesome to have someone who is willing to do things you love just because you love to do them.)  Our walk was short, roughly 2 miles, but it was great to get out and explore a little in our own back yard. The only thing I didn't like was the big "No Bikes" sign right at the entrance. I'd been eyeing it up as a place to possibly do a little MTBing close to the apartment, but no such luck. I will keep looking for some singletrack that isn't forbidden.

It was muggy and I was in trouble for just her shoes getting  muddy.  
Wonder what she'll say when she sees this photo. :-)

On a completely different adventure yesterday, I did finally see the bald eagle in Pittsburgh.  The photos are hard to make it out, but I swear its Eddie.

if you want to see for yourself, take the southside rail trail from the Hot Metal Bridge towards Homestead. When the trail ends at the chainlink fence, turn to your right and look up in the trees on the hillside. There is a  huge nest about 1/2 to 2/3's of the way up the hillside. You can't miss it. Eddie on the other hand, (or maybe she is Edie) is  not always as easy to see, especially if he is off looking for a fresh dinner of rabbit.