Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gee Willikers - What a Great Team!

My first legit team picture
Near the end of last season JR contacted me and invited me to join Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team Powered by Pathfinder. It was an honor to finally be invited to a big team, with people that could help me grow and develop more as a person and as a cyclist. While I was extremely excited and honored to have been invited to a new and bigger team, I was unsure about leaving Team Citius, a team that I had been on for four years. I knew that I would be comfortable with DPT, but I was sentimental about Citius. I did decide to make the move to DPT and boy has it been great!

I had never really switched from one team to another before in my entire six years of racing,so I wasn't sure how easy or hard it would be to get to know all the new people and new team practices. I was a little nervous going into team camp that I might not fit in as the only junior racer on the team. However, I quickly realized that it was nothing to stress over when, at least seemingly, nobody was annoyed by my presence. If they were, they hid it well. Seriously though, the team is full of awesome people, which made my transition onto a new team much easier. Thank you to everyone on the team for that! The awesome experience I had at team camp reassured me that I was in for a great year of racing my bicycle! I was and still am extremely happy with every part of the DPT powered by Pathfinder experience!

My first race as a DPT team member

First and foremost, my awesome teammates! They are some of the coolest and radest bikers out there. I can’t wait for the great races and other gatherings that I will experience with them throughout the rest of the season! I know there will be plenty of opportunities for me to laugh, grow, and occasionally question the fact that I am the only child on the team.

All and all, I could not be more happy with my new team. All of team members were extremely welcoming and happy to have me as a teammate. Also, I got some awesome ProGold bike cleaners and things of the like, so now my bikes can be clean for every race I ever do! A new team is a new experience, a new crowd, and more great racing! #ExcitedForTheFuture. Can we use hashtags? Oh well!!
The magic of ProGold - Before/After
My first win on DPT - Thanks for the help teammates!

Getting Epicly Lost on the West Penn Trail

On April 8th I helped escort the relay baton as a part of One Run For Boston which was an epic non-stop running relay from LA to Boston in aid of the One Fund Boston.  I rode my bike on Stage 273 to provide light and water to Dave Deming on the 12.5 mile run starting at 9:30pm between Saltsburg and Blairsville, PA.

I decided to get some extra miles in I would park at the finish then ride my bike to the start to meet up with the runners (Dave, Jeff, Dave, Andy and Dave "The Kenyon") and other bike rider (Erin).  Since it was a marked trail I assumed it would be easy to follow even at night.  However, I was mistaken the trail had a lot of forks and crosses a lot more roads than the map shows.  It may have been easy to navigate during the day when I could see all of the signs or see when the trail veered off the road but at night it was easy miss the signs, miss a turn, and get turned around.  Within the first 2 miles of my ride I made my first wrong turn when the map had the trail going to the right but when I went to the right I ended up riding into the river.  There were about 3 times that I had to guess which way was correct and luckily I made all the right turns.  Until mile 9 when I was on a road to get between trail heads.  The trail veered off the road but the sign was missing and I didn't see the trail because it was dark.  So I continued straight down the road and got to a gate that didn't have an opening for pedestrians to go around.  At this point I knew I missed something but didn't know where to go so I called Dave and started back tracking.  It was hard to describe where I was and while I was back tracking I got to an intersection that I did not know which way I came from.  I've never had that problem before because I typically have a good sense of direction.  I continued to try to describe where I was then my phone died, so at this point I was very worried that I would be out there all night. After a few guesses I found a house, so I was less worried because I could go there and ask for directions but I kept trying to find my way before I went there.  Finally, I recognized where I came from and found the trail again.  When I was coming from this direction on the road there were 3 signs pointing me to the trail, why couldn't one of those have been facing the other way on the road.

Then after another mile I had to make one final guess about which direction to turn (I guessed right).  I was riding down the trail looking around to make sure I didn't miss anymore signs, but I hit a rut and fell (which was the cause of my leg wound that many people have asked me about).  Then after a couple of more miles of riding I found the group of runners and the other bike rider coming down the trail!! I was very excited and then followed them back the way I came until we got to the other side of the dam, where the trail split in 3 directions with no signs I told everyone that I came from the direction with the black gate, but Dave was sure that it was a different way.  As we continued on the trail and started bushwhacking, I commented "No one trusts the person who already got lost today."  We bushwhacked our way back onto the real trail then finished up the journey a few miles later.

All in all it was a stressful journey to meet up with everyone but over all it was fun and I was happy I did it.

From Dave Deming the day after the run:
"It was truly an EPIC run for me last night. I want to thank you all for sharing the experience and, more importantly, pulling me through to the finish.  I definitely hit my limit (well before the finish!).  I don't think I could have done this alone and having your support all the way (and especially that last mile!) was wonderful.  I was able to disperse the deep chill with a hot shower, and several long walks today have worked my twisted ankle from hobbling pain down to just a bit of a nag - my theory of running through a sprain still holds (may even run tomorrow).  

Thanks Jeff and Dave for the fruit and libation at the end (bananas and beer is definitely a race-end staple in my future!).  Thanks to Stephanie for "finding us" and lighting my way.  You gave blood for the cause - hope your brush wound heals quickly.  PS - watch out for those that enjoy bushwacking!Thanks to Andy for helping me hold it together.Thanks to "The Kenyon" for setting the pace.Thanks to Erin, always finding the positive in those dark moments (dark 12.5 miles of moments).
And thanks for your generous donations to the Boston Marathon victim's funds."

A Winter Wonderland

With winter all but out of sight of the rear view mirror. I can take a look back at the fun I had through the winter, without upsetting to many of those who dislike winter (there seems to be more after this winter). I myself enjoy winter but even so this winter was a bit difficult, but kept reminding myself to just enjoy the cold because when the summer hit I'd want it back.

First lap, dropping down the steep descent.
I ended my cross season at the Ohio State Championship, finished 12th out 25 after pushing too hard the first couple laps to break into the top 5. With the snow, frozen ground, frozen ruts from the day before, all of which ended up thawing out during my race making it quite slick, plus some fun wide single track, made for quite and interesting day.

from the summit of spruce knob

I ended 2013 with the 3rd NYERRUSK (New Year's Eve Ride Up Spruce Knob). This was the first time doing this ride, I had no idea what to expect just that it would be cold. got out of the car's it was 26 degrees not too bad, until we went down the first descent then it started to hurt. Then the steady climbing started for for about 25 miles. as we approached the summit the temps were 8-12 degrees, the tree line started to separate and you could feel the wind. there were spots on the road the the snow had been blown off, but those sections were the most dangerous as the was black ice, plus a good cross wind. I felt accomplished when I saw that I was at the summit but the cold temps plus the high wind chill left me cold and wanting hurry and get back to the cover of the trees. I had the most I've worn at once just to descend the first couple miles from the summit. even so it was so cold it started to hurt. it got to the point where we started to head back in small groups of which we could keep our own pace to get back to the cars.

hard packed snow made for smooth riding
A small shelter at the summit we were crowding in

who needs a fat bike, as long as your motivate
just a snowy solo ride

it's not all riding through, went out to Raccoon State Park to hike around the frozen park

A build up of icicles 
They build up to giant pillars

Grew out a beard to help keep warm through the
winter, though was often mistaken for a leprechaun or Amish 
It's a bit difficult to swim when the lake is frozen over

Thursday, April 24, 2014

With a Little Self-Confidence

Its truly amazing what a little self confidence will do for your psyche. A couple days after feeling like I was ready to turn the corner, I finally got the results I was looking forward to. On Tuesday, I went to the Oval and  entered the Masters race. It was 25 laps and I was just hoping that I'd make it to the end without getting lapped.There were a total of 13 racers including Nikki Bee and 2 other female competitors. And with the ABRA's Steel City Showdown just days away, it was evident that a few of the guys were using this as a tuneup for the competition they'd face this weekend.
Coming to Pittsburgh on 4/27/2014

The whistle blew and of the front went 2 riders. We did our best to chase them down, and with a collective effort from Al Meder, Fred Gohh, myself as well as some others, we brought them back just a couple laps later. The pace slacked for a few laps and I got pinned against the white out of bounds line when the two attacked to the outside again. I had to watch them go as only 1 person attacked to try and catch them. When I had a chance, I tried to attack and bridge as well. I was closing on the rider in front of me and decided to take one more hard dig to get on his wheel and catch my breath. As I felt the effects of silpstream kicking in, I glanced over my shoulder  and saw that we were 50 yards from our chasers and only about 25 yards from the two leaders. We were sitting in a good position to re attach with the leaders and then my partner just eased up. I went around him, but without enough time to get a little recovery, I could see the front two riding off and feel the chasers gaining ground. And with that, we were soon back in the field. As the laps wound down, 2 more riders went and I made the mistake of waiting for someone to respond so I could jump on their wheel and work with them, but everyone just looked around and was content to let them go. 

Eventually the two leaders lapped us and kept going. When I saw this, I jumped on their wheel and went with them. We had a little gap and they started conversing and felt comfortable that they were far enough ahead that they wouldn't be caught by the two chasing, so they sat up and decided to roll back to the field. A few minor attacks happened in the final laps but nothing stuck or was all that serious. It was simply a test of the legs and a way to check to see who was really ready to react.  I took my last pull on the front with 4 laps to go and drifted back and found the back wheels of the 2 leaders. I was banking on the fact these two were obviously in great shape and still had their own battle to fight. I was planning on jumping their wheels and hopefully using them to launch my own sprint. I was really hoping the the rest of the field in front of us wouldn't go early and leave me out of the mix for 5th. And thankfully it all happened about the same time. I jumped and really put the hammer down for the first time in a very long time. It felt good to feel that deep muscle burning in my thighs as I gave it all I had. And my efforts were rewarded with a field sprint win and a fifth place overall in the masters race. I finally found my way to a pay day. 

And I felt so good on the bike that I decided to double up and ride with the C's. As a former winner of the series, I had no intention of going for any results, I just wanted the extra miles of race pace training. And after driving the pace at the front of the field as we started the last lap, I flicked my elbow and let the C field roll through and finished comfortably  in the back of the pack. It was mentally challenging to not stand and sprint for a position, but I think that the C's races are for the beginners and I will no longer race it competitively, even though I am still technically eligible to do so. 

And as I sit here this morning and reflect on the last week of riding, I am all smiles. Its a great feeling to have confidence in myself again. Now more than ever, I am excited for the summer of racing that awaits me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Second Chances

As many of you know, over the last couple years I have been struggling with motivation to really bear down and go for good results. Yes, I still love to ride my bike but between feeling burned out, feeling out of shape, and feeling stressed with work and personal issues, I just couldn't get myself geared up to get and stay fast. It was a self fulfilling prophesy... I wasn't fast so it wasn't worth training because I was too far behind to see benefits, but I couldn't get fast because I wasn't making the effort to do so. This fall I was silently considering stepping down from the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team because I my heart wasn't in it anymore. I decided to give it one more year and to see how I felt this coming fall before making a decision to hang up the race bike for good.  This spring has been more of the same, I was starting to feel good when I got hit by the car and basically lost a month of riding because I couldn't grip the handle bars and/or brakes. I thought it was a sign that maybe I was meant to quit racing, and just stick to riding recreationally.
Silently contemplating whether it was worth it...

But then along comes the Greene County Road Race....it is always my favorite race of the year. It takes place on some of the very roads I grew up riding on back in the day. Occassionally, like last year, a new variation is thrown into the mix, and I finally learn where "THAT" road goes, but for the most parts, I could ride the routes blind. This years course was probably my favorite race design yet. I have literally done that exact route (minus the double loop) at least a dozen times in my life. I can always mask the pain by looking around and seeing things along the way that sparks fond memories of my childhood, like the picture below. It was the last time I got to ride with my Grandfather (far right) and we in fact rode out the Oak Forest Road from Waynesburg to Brave (but came home via Blacksville and 218). I can still remember some of the stories my Grandfather told to Dad, Bob Faddis, and me. 
Circa 1985... check out those shorts I'm wearing!

So when I lined up with the other 40, 50, and 60 plusers and Women's 1/2/3, I knew my day with them was going to be short lived because a steep climb awaited us just 4.3 miles in. We rolled out and I found my self chatting it up with Gary Rodosta & Ted McPherson. About a mile from the climb, the three teammates from World Cup Ski & Cycle (the eventual 1st and 2nd place finishers in 50+, I knew that things were about to get animated. And it did. I knew better than to try to stay with them, I just don't have my climbing legs these days, so I set a tempo I thought I could feel comfortable with and kept pedaling. I fell back through the field and found another rider who was riding at my pace. I just rode his wheel to the steep section and when he finally cracked, left him behind. When I finally topped the climb, there were 3 riders a short distance up the road from me and I knew if I could make it to them, my day would be a lot better than riding the rest of the race by myself. I first reeled in Jeff Palm (I think) of Flood Valley Velo, then Traci Rodosta of Breakaway Velo, and then finally we worked up to Chris McElhinny (eventual 60+ winner) of UPMC. A small groupetto of riders was just up the road from us and looked to be around 8-10 riders and I knew from the color of the team kits, I new that there were some strong riders in that group. I wanted to work with my group and chase down the other group, and so did Traci, we worked hard but never got things together enough to ever close the distance. We did pick up another rider who was caught in no mans land, so we charged on across Bluff Ridge Rd 5 strong. About the time we brought Scott House into the group, a hard charging single caught and passed us like there was lion chasing him. try as we might, we all missed the opportunity to get on his wheel and he was gone.
Almost to the top... but almost off the back
(Photo Credit to Fred Jordan)

No help back there... better look ahead and see who I can string together for the next 40 miles
(Photo Credit to Fred Jordan)

We lost sight of the group in front of us, except for an occassional glimpse of the tail end of their group as we curved in and out of the hills. But as we finished our first lap and started up the second climb, we had virtually given up on our chase. And as we topped out, I was about 50 yards back from my group. JR was marshalling at the top of the hill, and was giving me directives to close the gap, so I gritted my teeth and closed the gap. The second lap was more of the same, we tried working cooperatively but 1 rider just didn't have the hang of a paceline and tended to throw off the cooperation. but about 2 miles from the base of the final climb, there they were... the main group was back in sight. I knew I would be toast on the final climb either way, but for Traci, I decided to put her back in the field (that hopefully contained the leader of the Women's 1/2/3 field). I started squawking to the other riders to just help a little and I'd get them back to the group. I took long hard pulls at the front and over the next couple miles drug our group of 5 back to the field. Mission accomplished. As the road went up, I sat up and set a tempo that would carry me over the top as I watched the much larger group slowly roll away from me.

While I ultimately finished last in my field again, it was the first time in well over a year that I actually felt like I was in a race. So many times before, I'd start with the field and would find myself in a long solo time trial to the finish after the first climb, but this was different. With less than 5 miles to go, I had made it back to the wheels of the riders I have been chasing for the last 2 seasons... finally. And in the back of my mind, I knew that the month I lost after the accident had probably kept me from riding to the finish with them. On the drive home to Pittsburgh my mind kept rolling through the race like it always does and it was a great feeling to actually find myself smiling about racing again. And by the time I got home and started unpacking the car, I was feeling excited to have stuck it out this year with racing. My cup was no longer half empty, it was now half full. And with a lot of work over the next couple weeks, that cup will be filled to the top and overflowing again. Mind you I will never drink from that cup, because it will most likely be filled with the a collection of sweat, dirt, and grime, but I look forward to the day when I can successfully string together a series of podiums, instead of a series of DFL's. Keep checking in here, and I will pull you along my journey as well.

Toast... but loving life. :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

And Racing Is Now Underway!

My 2014 racing season has finally gotten underway with a couple of MTB races and the ABRA Greene County road race.  They say April showers bring May flowers, however, knock on wood thus far none of my April races have included rain.  Plus, after all the snow we have received this winter I would think our water index should be doing quite well.  So I started off the season by racing my new Cannondale F29 from Pathfinder of WV and I was not let down whatsoever.  In fact, it even got me on the podium in a couple OMBC M30-39 Sport category races.

(OMBC MTB race rockin’ the big black boots with the DPT kit.)
(OMBC MTB race.  No boots, but still rockin’ the DPT kit & the innertube belt.  Thanks Jeff!)
Everyone knows that spring time mountain biking equals dirty bikes.  It is times like these when I am so glad that the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team powered by Pathfinder has ProGold Lubricants as a sponsor.  Nothing cleans and lubricates a bike like the products sold by ProGold. 
(A clean bike after a very muddy mountain bike race and using ProGold products.)
This past weekend was the ABRA Greene County Road Race.  Although I got dropped rather quickly in the Category 1,2,3 race it was still a great day to be on a bike.  The weather was great and seeing teammates that I haven’t seen since training camp weekend was even better.  During the race I had a lot of support.  In fact, at one point I passed JR and he held up a bottle of Coke and I thought I heard him say “Have a Coke and a Smile.”  For the younger teammates on DPT that would be a quote from the 1980s Coca Cola Coke commercial. For a brief second I thought about snatching the bottle, but then I realized that it was probably intended for my teammate Jeff, “The Coke with no ice” guy, and by taking his Coke it would be risking my life.  So I passed on the Coke and continued on the second lap completely out of the race, but having a nice ride with my buddy Dave Friedman.  As I rolled across the finish line my beautiful and supportive wife was waiting on me and asked me if I had a nice training ride.  (Thanks Arryn you always know exactly what to say.)  I then made my way back to the team area and my teammate E.J., knowing that it had been a long ride, immediately gave me some love.  (Thanks E.J.!)
(DPT team area at ABRA Greene County RR)
Unfortunately we had to held out from the race rather quickly do to it being Easter weekend and we had family events to attend to.  However, before heading out I got to spend some time with a very special little girl. 

(Macdiddle with her game face on!)
Hope all had a Happy Easter and thanks for reading.
God Bless,




Friday, April 18, 2014

Morgantown Brewing's hidden gem

Last Saturday, after the Clarksburg Grand Prix, several of the team members and I headed north to for dinner at Morgantown Brewing. We had just sat down at the table and hadn't even had our drink order taken when I heard someone mention the team blog. It dawned on me that it was Saturday night, the end of the week, and I still hadn't tried a new food yet. I thought to myself that I did still have something in the fridge at home but the quick math reminded me that I 1) wouldn't really have time to eat dinner and get home in time to prepare it and eat it before it was actually Sunday, and 2) I didn't plan on leaving MB hungry and wouldn't want to eat when I got home. I resigned myself to just double up this week with 2 new foods to try. And then I opened the menu... as luck would have it, the very first thing on the menu I saw was something I had never eaten before. No, it wasn't one of their wonderful craft beers, I've sampled them all before and have yet to figure out which is my favorite. Its always too much fun to have something different of something I haven't had in a while. Instead, my eyes were immediately drawn to the words "Beef Tongue Tacos". I closed the menu, knowing that fate had decided my dinner selection. Maybe I would be getting home hungry enough to eat the other new food that awaited me in the fridge, after all.

Tongue Tacos at Morgantown Brewing... two thumbs up from me (not so much from the cow though)

My dinner arrived and looked and smelled like any other taco. When I looked up from my plate, seemingly all eyes were on me to see what I was going to say. I found a big piece of meat, speared it with my fork, held it for a moment in front of my face to look things over and causally placed it in my mouth. I don't know what I was really expecting texture wise, maybe gristley or chewy, but was pleasantly surprised that it was like almost any other meat I'd ever tried. And unless someone had told me I was eating tongue, I wouldn't have known any different. My only complaint about the whole dinner was that there was a lot of Cilantro, and I am not a huge fan of the herb. It wasn't too overpowering, just too much for my tastes, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my meal. I ate the entire contents (4 tacos) and left the table with a desire to try cooking tongue on my own sometime.  Sorry Amber, but I'm not going to tell you when I try to slip it onto your menu, but I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised just as I was.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Here’s to the Heavy 20’s…

                When I started working my coworkers introduced me to what they call their decades…There’s the light 20’s…mid 20’s…heavy 20’s…or whatever decade of existence you’re in.  Well this weekend I entered my heavy 20’s at the Clarksburg Crit, but that’s not how I started out my birthday week. J

                The week started with an awesome group ride with Jeff, Shawn, and JR out in Morgantown.  Jeff and I needed some pre-ride fueling so we headed to Rising Creek Bakery for some baked goods.  Making a decision on what to get was a little difficult since everything looked and smelled amazing!  Still wishing I tried one of those macaroons, but the banana bread with icing was just what I needed to keep me going for three hours.

Just a few of the delicious treats from Rising Creek Bakery

                Last year, I opted to work on my birthday.  This year I opted to take a four day weekend!  Probably one of the best ideas I’ve had lately.  I don’t think I stopped moving the entire weekend. 

                Saturday was the Clarksburg Crit.  It was a perfect day with sunny skies and weather we haven’t seen in Pittsburgh in over half a year!  Dynamic Physical Therapy had a great day with multiple podium finishes.  I don’t think I could have asked for a better birthday present then going 1 - 2 at the crit with my teammate, Cara. 

Sunday started a little rough with a 630 wakeup call after a night out celebrating at dinner with my girl friends.  Dinner at Eleven was a blast!!!  Wine, good food, and great company is always the perfect combination!  Let’s not forget about Chocolate Stout Cake…. (I may have eaten it for breakfast this morning--thank you Christine).  But after some coffee (and prayers that I wouldn’t die) I was ready for my first ride.

What a good looking group of ladies, right? ;)
JR, Shawn, Jeff, Stephanie, Gerry, and I headed out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Stephanie said at the beginning “it’s always an adventure on a JR ride”.  Man, was she right!  I went to bed last night thinking “what the heck did I just do?!” …”wow, I’m glad I survived”.  I don’t think anyone realized that unless you tell me to get off and walk because it might be a little too difficult for a first time ride, I’ll just follow the group and try to do whatever they’re doing.  Having JR say “you are the best first time mountain biker I have ever seen” makes me feel pretty darn good.  Who knew 18 years of gymnastics would make me a somewhat decent first time mountain biker!  I’m very thankful for good body awareness.  Nothing like endo-ing for the first time and being able to catch the bike before it lands on your head.  (Sorry about crashing your bike multiple times, Stephanie.)  I will say I’m a little disappointed Jeff didn’t have the GoPro with him; we would have had a couple nice falls on tape…Next time.


Water break post endo.  Stephanie said "we need to see blood today"...There was definitely some blood shed. :)

 (Yes, that is a My Little Pony on Gerry's bike..he's a Brony)

It’s been five years since I’ve been on a team.  While I never thought anything could compare to the companionship and camaraderie I had on Temple Gymnastics being on DPT has surpassed all expectations and the season is just beginning!  Can’t wait for more adventures.

                Tomorrow it’s back to business, but I can’t thank everyone enough for making this one of my best birthdays yet!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

“Why Do You Race Bicycles?”

So, the most common question I get from friends and co-workers is, “why do you ride your bike and train so much?” There are many answers I could give them, but there is only one REAL reason I spend countless hours in the winter doing Zone 4 and 5 intervals and pushing my body to its limit and beyond.

I could tell them that it’s because I find a sense of balance, in a sometimes hectic world, when I am riding on my bike and that I can suspend reality for just a few hours.

I could tell them that I just simply enjoy riding my bike and it’s something I have done for years that I love and have a passion for doing.

I could tell them that I just love having those really, really cool tan lines all cyclists get each season.

I could tell them that I enjoy spending countless hours shaving my legs each year. I don’t know if they may believe that however (insert sarcasm)

However, here is the true reason why I ride, train, and race my bike so much:

And This:

For me, it’s not about the individual praise that I may receive. It’s about the satisfaction and accomplishment I feel personally when the team does well and I can share in that feeling with my teammates, that I do this. Knowing that I have pushed myself as hard as I could for someone else, and that all my hard work and sacrifice means that someone else can feel that sense of accomplishment, means more to me than anything……

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Beet-down!

So I alluded to it in a previous blog that I had purchased Golden Beets and was going to give them a try. Jeff Curry, of Koele's cycling recommended that I cube them and roast them in foil.  Since he is a devout vegetarian, I took his advice and gave them a shot. HOLY COW they were good. Not asparagus or sweet corn good, but I would pick beets over many other options in my usual menus.

After cleaning the beets in cold water and peeling, I cubed them into roughly ¾" cubes. I put them in foil, drizzled with EVOO, and seasoned with sea salt, garlic and a little cayenne pepper for a little kick.I put them in the oven at 450° for about 40 minutes and patiently waited... When I checked them, they weren't quite done, so I put them back in, uncovered for another 10 minutes.

The beets had a bit of an earthy smell and my first thought was that they were going to taste like dirt, but what a pleasant surprise. I ate the entire contents of the foil package and when I was done, wished I had a few more beets to eat. But the good news is... I pass the grocery store where I found them every work day, sometimes twice a day. I will be hitting McGinnis Sisters in the very near future with Golden beets on my mind... or maybe I'll just try another new veggie instead.

Weekend at Billys

This past weekend was a weekend free of racing, so I decided to tag along with Billy and head up to his dad’s farmhouse on the shores of Lake Erie. Even as the weather was finally starting to warm up, I was really looking forward to getting away from the Burgh for a little R&R.  The plan was to head north and ride my trusty Cannondale Caffiene in and around the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.  There isn’t any single mile of singletrack, but there are miles and miles of dirt and gravel roads that are closed to automobile traffic, as well miles of mowed paths.  It would have been ideal for a cross bike, but as mine was trashed in the car accident, we were forced into using our second choice out of the stable.

Saturday morning, we departed Billy’s home and started making our way to the northwest corner of Ohio.  After a brief stop for breakfast, we arrived a little after noon to the farmhouse.  The brutal winter took its toll on the house and as we arrived to find the water lines had burst in the basement, even with waterline antifreeze in the system. Billy’s dad was going to head to town with the girls to get parts while Billy and I headed out on the bikes.  Despite the early forecasts for mild temperatures, it was downright cold as we headed out the door. Somewhere in the mid to high 20’s, depending on who’s thermometer you wanted to trust. But it wasn’t the cold that was memorable, it was the WIND.  Blowing in directly off the lake, the cold air bore right through even the thickest of layers. 
Gotta love some beach time!

We parked, jumped on the bikes and started straight into the wind. As you can see from my Strava file, even the trails are mostly arrow straight.  We couldn’t ride all the trails because there were several  nesting sites for Bald Eagles in the refuge area that were roped off and access was prohibited. But we eventually made our way out to the shores of the lake.  The water along the shore yards was frozen solid to at least 100 yards out.  If it looks like our smiles are forced, they are.  Just taking my glove off to hold the camera and take the photo was painful. BITTER COLD.

After riding in the cold, I was looking forward to a hot shower… until I remembered that we still hadn’t fixed the water line. That became my first priority… we cut out the broken section, glued a new piece in place, turned on the water and the water poured out of the pressure regulator and the expansion tank… ugh!  A quick phone call and we found the parts we needed, but as it was after 7pm, and we hadn’t eaten since around 10am, we were all starting to get touchy.  We combined our trips and grabbed the parts, and finally got some good food in our bellies.  After dinner, we put our efforts together and finally got the new regulator, expansion tank, and pvc pipe in place.  It was a bit disheartening when we turned the water on for a third time and heard water rushing, but to my relief, it was on the line to the outside spigot and on the “other” side of the ball valve and it was easily isolated. By 10PM, we finally had water, but my hot shower was going to have to wait, I was too tired to wait up for the hot water tank to heat the water.

We woke up Sunday to Sunny blue skies and relatively no wind. Temps were still hovering around freezing, but without the wind it was really pleasant.  Billy wanted to get in some extra riding so he rolled out a few minutes earlier than I did, but I had a general idea of where he was headed so I decided to just try to catch up to him.  I followed his tracks in the snow for well over an hour and I thought I had him trapped on a large peninsula and knew he would have to ride back past me to head somewhere else, but found out that there was an unmapped levy on the peninsula that took him over to even more trail options.  As the snow had melted by this point, I lost his trail and had to pick what looked like the path I would have expected him to take, but guessed wrong. I rode for a little while longer and then headed home to wait for him.As it turned out, he was out for another 2 1/2 hours and we had to go pick him up when he flatted and then discovered his spare tube had a large slice in it.
For the record, this is not Dynamic Physical Therapy's handiwork, but it did the trick!

It was great to get out and ride again. Because of the thumb, I wasn’t able to shift the rear derailleur without out letting go of the grips and using the palm of my hand to select the gear.  Thank God the trails were as flat as they were and with 45 miles of riding in two days, I registered ZERO vertical feet of
climbing.  Shifting was at a minimum and only required with a change of direction because of the wind or when the trail cover went from gravel to grassy stubble.  It was just what the doctor ordered. Thanks Billy, Arryn, Addie, and of course, Rich for putting up with me for the weekend.   Can’t wait to get to do it again!