Hmm, this has got rather sporadic hasn't it? Ah well. I've been trying to make sure I keep the English Cycles site uptodate, and this one has gotten a little left behind. Still, right now Misha and I are in New Zealand enjoying some winter sunshine, and so I have a bit of time to catch up. Here are some photos to start with:
We took the tandem on a short camping tour on the beautiful (and very hilly!) island of Waiheke, which was fun (and good training....). Mum and Wendy came over to meet us for lunch at a fancy Vineyard. And we found a spaceship in a field....
Having reported in October that I planned on doing some running, I can now confirm that I did - culminating in running a half marathon in November. This was the furthest I had ever run, and I hadn't really done enough training (twice a week for six weeks, with the longest run being 7 miles). So it hurt. A lot. But I was fairly pleased with my time of 1:26, which was good enough for 26th out of over 400. Plus I didn't do myself any favours by getting the day muddled up and only realising it was on Saturday not Sunday thirty minutes before the start.... Still, the idea was to find out if I could maintain a decent enough pace (ie under 7 minutes/mile), which I could, even when the last four miles were death march mode, so with a bit more training I have a little optimism about being able to survive a marathon (for that elusive Ironman idea at some point in the future...).
So a bit of race round-up needed here; quick recap: Back in May we put a composite team together and defended our Oregon Team Time Trial title, winning by over a minute in wet and windy conditions. Then in June I had a much tighter, but still successful, defense of my individual chamionship - I won the 40km test in a relatively slow 52:16 (I had been hoping to get under 51 minutes), by the slim margin of 6 seconds. Managed to beat a Bissell pro (he took third) in the process too, which is always nice.
Then no racing for a while, busy building frames and trying to keep the training going. At the end of July my friend Duncan happened to be over from Switzerland for a conference, and so I suggested we race the Co-motion Classic tandem stage race - we did our first ride on a tandem together the day before, then managed to win the thing on our small wheeled Bike Friday (thanks for the loan Peter!).
Which brings us to last weekend and the last event of the season, my 'home' race, the Eugene Celebration. I've won this the last two years and really wanted to defend it - with a good five rider team I had the backing, and when I smashed my course record by 21 seconds on the hillclimb prologue I knew I had the form. Just ten seconds behind me was a Trek-Red Truck rider from Canada, then my teammates were a little further back in 3rd and 4th. The road race was a whittling down process and I had to do more work than I probably should have, given that I only really needed to watch one rider. Unfortunately I cramped near the top of the final climb and lost a few seconds to the canadian; he made it to the next group and I didn't, meaning I lost 40 seconds by the line, and the GC lead. Making up for it was my teammate Paul winning the stage. Fortunately the time trial was next, and I was able to do a reasonable ride to take the lead back by 23 seconds with just the criterium remaining. I ended up in a counter move to help my teammate Davis move up the GC - which worked as he jumped from 8th to 6th and I extended my lead. So a successful defense to take my third win, and a good weekend for the Hutch's team with Paul in 3rd and Davis in 6th.
Now it is time to get caught up with other projects - I'm building a special bike for the Oregon handbuilt show next month, then a new tandem for me and Misha, then there is a mill to get set up and other tools/organising in my shop, plus prepping the velomobile and Misha's recumbent for the winter. But I don't need to worry about trainig for a while - though I am planning on doing some running this fall....
Yes it has been a long time since I last posted an update, but life was thrown hugely out of kilter in June and it has taken some time to attempt to come to terms with it and be ready to write something here. My brother-in-law Andi had been fighting cancer for the last three years; we finally thought he had it beat at the start of the year, only for it to return in April. And at that point there weren't really any treatments left to try. Despite that, he and my sister Wendy expected to have some time left together, but this was cut short when his health worsened dramatically in June and he very sadly passed away. Misha and I went immediately to New Zealand to offer what support we could and to be there for the funeral. Andi was a great guy, and I couldn't have asked for a better addition to the family. It is still very hard to believe he is gone, and it really isn't fair that Wendy has lost him. Andi, we will remember the good times, but you will always be missed.
If there is anything to be taken from this it is to be happy now; do what you want to do, be with who you want to be with, because you never know how long you have got and modern life seems to do a good job of making everything into one big rush. Take time to appreciate those you love.
May already! Racing news update: After King's Valley I went a little quicker on the McBeth hillclimb the following Tuesday - clocking 11:06. Then the week after that, after a hard weekend's training, I missed the hillclimb to be rested and ready for the Cherry Blossom stage race that started on the friday. My Hutch's team had four riders racing, and we drove up on Thursday night to The Dalles to be ready for the 9am start the next morning. This first stage used the four lap, 75 mile course that I had previously raced on the recumbent, so I at least knew what to expect in terms of terrain. Narrow roads made it hard to move up the bunch, and despite some attacking racing, at the end of the day there was one lone escapee who finished almost two minutes up, and the rest of us in the pack finishing together. I was fortunate to do that, as my crank broke the last time up the hill. The carbon gave way at the pedal insert; fortunately it didn't pull out completely, and I was able to soft pedal my way round to the finish. I borrowed the crank from Paul's TT bike for the next road stage. Which was an awesome course! Only 70 miles, but with over 8000ft of climbing - including four times up a 1.5 mile dirt road climb. There were three riders on a different level to the rest of us who disappeared up the road on the second lap, leaving a chase group of about 15 of us behind. It came down to mostly a race of attrition; at the end I was just outside the top ten, about 30 seconds down on 5th place.
Sunday morning was a 10 mile time trial; different doing this after two days of hard racing, but I was reasonably pleased with my 9th place, which also moved me into 9th overall. The final stage was a downtown crit, which was actually quite fun - it was relatively easy to stay up front and out of trouble, and I even got myself in a three man break with ten laps to go; I then broke a spoke in the front wheel and the resulting rubbing on the brake pads made it a lot more effort to hang onto the bunch to the finish, but I did so and thus maintained my top ten position.
By Tuesday I was still tired, but went out to do the last hillclimb anyway - as it was raining I rode my winter bike; over twice the weight of my race bike and with rather large jumps between gears for racing, but I was grateful for having the mudguards! I finished about two minutes down on my usual times, in an unaccustomed 6th place overall, but still won the series.
I rested up the remainder of the week to be ready for the Eugene Roubaix road race yesterday - this is the big local race, and is so named as it features about a mile of dirt road. Last year I instigated the winning break of six, but only managed to finish 5th. This year I wanted to do better! The formula ended up being about the same though - with two laps to go I used the hill to bridge to what was left of a break that had escaped earlier in the lap, which formed a six man move that quickly gained a good gap over the field. With one of the State's best sprinters in the break I tried to use the hill to get rid of him, but as no-one else came with me we all came back together. On the final run in attacks got the group down to four, and I ended up third in the sprint. So I moved up two spots - if I can do the same next year perhaps I'll get that elusive road race win!
Otherwise things are much the same; keeping busy with Bike Friday and English Cycles, plus working on the garden with Misha; we have a couple of new beds this year, so hoping to increase our vegetable crop!
So I guess I should rewind a few weeks to report on the road race I did after the TT in the last post. I was able to attack at half distance, and ending up forming and driving a lead group of five. On the last lap I whittled it down to three, but was unable to get rid of the other two, then didn't have much of a sprint, so took third. But still very happy with the result and more particularly the legs for first time out!
Then today was road race number two for the season. This was King's Valley, which as the big 'spring classic' for oregon attracted a large, high quality field. Dry rolling roads but very windy, making for some sketchy cross wind sections. It was pretty cagey on the first of four laps (for a total of 75 miles), but by lap two I was staying at the front and making some efforts to get away - which eventually worked when I bridged up to a 2 man escape (one of which was Austin, who was in the break with me last time - and who went on to win....). It was mostly Austin and I doing the work, and we got the gap out to a maximum of 45 seconds, ahead of a chase group that had splintered from the front of the peloton. We were out on our own for a complete 20 mile lap before being caught by the large chase group, which included my teammate Paul. There was now about 12 miles to go, and yet surprisingly the group just kept rolling through, with nothing much in the way of attacks. With a talented young pro (Jacob Rathe), known for his sprint, in the group, this didn't make sense to me, so I tried a couple of times to get away on the last stretch, but was always chased down. Then on the finish climb, Pro mountain biker Chris Sheppard wound it up from the front, taking Jacob with him. I think I had the legs to go with them, but was further down the line, and by the time the gap opened, despite passing everyone else I couldn't close them down. Austin was the only one to stay on my wheel, and he just edged past me on the line, meaning I took fourth. After being away in the break I was fully expecting everyone to leave me at the finish, but to my surprise it was the other way around; from this I can take some confidence in my strength at the end of races, apparently it is pretty good right now! All looking good for the Cherry Blossom stage race in two weeks.
The other bit of race action was the first McBeth hillclimb last Tuesday - the picture is of me crossing the line. Yes it was cold! And a bit of a headwind, so not fast times - I did 11:15 compared to 11:00 for the first one last year and my course record of 10:37 (hot and with a tailwind....) from back in 2007. Hopefully we'll get some good conditions for at least one of them this month, though next week's forecast doesn't look very promising at the moment...
Otherwise just have been busy as usual - English Cycles updates over on that website. The weather has been pretty harsh for the last couple of weeks; hopefully it will get more springlike again soon!
Hi! This might be my longest gap in this little journal since it started - since getting back from New Zealand (some pictures here), things have been very busy and I have concentrated on keeping the English Cycles site updated. But time to play catch up a little here now!
So winter training for this year - I didn't follow a strict plan this time, but here is my record of what I actually did. Being in NZ for three weeks certainly helped, and a relatively mild January and February in Oregon too. All done this time on my belt drive winter bike for no maintenance riding!
New team this year - riding for the local shop Hutch's, after the Midtown team didn't continue for 2010. We have a good solid team so should have some fun at the races. The boys tried to get me to race twice in February, but too early for me - still too early now really, but today I opened my account for the year with a 12 mile time trial at Mcminnville, just South of Portland. Fantastic day - bright sunshine and warm enough for shorts. My ride wasn't terribly good technically; bit rusty in riding the TT bike, but the form was pretty good in that I rode reasonably fast for a very rolling course. I was off early and there was no marshall on a tough-to-see corner, meaning I overshot and had to brake hard to turn back the correct direction. Probably about a 10-15 second loss, and looking at the results just now I see I lost the race by 8 seconds.... And another rider only 6 seconds behind me, closer than I am used to for an Oregon time trial! Still, about where I should be for the time of year. It takes a few of those efforts to remember just how hard to ride in a TT, I didn't really hurt myself much today. Which is good in a way, since I have a 66 mile road race tomorrow!
Misha wanted to put some curtains up, and so we were wanting some sort of recycled curtain rail - unused tubing from work and some customised scrap sprockets and - ta-da!
Well it has been quite a lot below freezing for a week or so here - makes training kinda hard, but I have still been able to ride to work in the velomobile, with it down to -14 C a couple of days! And the little brook out the back of Bike Friday froze solid. Which meant the ice-bike was pulled out the rafters and dusted off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc4GnkHWE0I
Yesterday it warmed up a little, and we had freezing rain, which made it all a little slick, but got home safely despite wheel spinning my way up the hill... had to walk up the driveway though. Off to New Zealand soon though, bring on summer!
Well I have been keeping busy during my short off season (training starts again in two days - bit behind in actually having a plan ready though....), but have just enjoyed a lovely four day weekend for Thanksgiving. Back to work tomorrow, but then Misha and I are off to New Zealand for Christmas/New Year, so only a few weeks until sunshine!
English Cycles is being kept busy - I have orders through until May now, which is great. Just need to make sure I still have time for my own projects too! Speaking of which, I have made a belated update to my bike collection page - cheated a little by just linking to the English Cycles pages, but helps keep track!
In other bike news, Misha has been pretty much car free for the last month or so - she now has a long wheel base recumbent (Thanks John!), with a 600W electric motor, so she can do her hilly 10-miles-each-way commute everyday with no problem. And drop me at will! Very entertaining to see her go flying past.
Not too much else to report, very happy to have the velomobile one year on - made an interesting discovery about tyres though: previously I had the tough-but-slow Schwalbe Marathon Slicks on there and my speed consistently topped out at 55mph on the morning downhill. I switched out to the faster Stelvios for PIR races in May, and now am consistently hitting 58mph. I'm tempted to switch back to more bullet proof tyres for the bad weather, but nice to have an actual numerical test rather than just the usual feeling of sluggishness!
Good news! I was approved for my Green Card today! Misha and I had to go for an interview in Portland, but apparently we were convincing, and I should have the actually card in a couple of weeks. Nice to FINALLY be done with all that - a lot of paperwork, angst and money to get this far, but now I am legally resident.
I've been back a week since the great Moab vacation - I had a great time, cheers to Joe for organising a stellar itinerary! Lots of pictures here, words to follow....
Off to Portland again next weekend for English Cycles show debut at the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show. I just about have everything ready to go, then we'll see what people think of my creations!
Well as the picture shows, Misha has done great with the garden this year - we are getting this many tomatoes every few days! Lots of sauce making and canning to be done - and plenty of eating!
Otherwise it has been a combination of being very busy at work and busy at home - I just finished my folding mountain bike and took it on it's first off-road jaunt last night. Everything worked well, but unfortunately when we were stopped at one point I must have inadvertently disturbed a hornets nest, as I ended up getting 7 or 8 stings, which have left me rather swollen and itchy. AND I then got a thorn in my front tyre and had to change the tube on the way home....
Some sad news to report - one of Misha's cows, that she had rescued from slaughter and raised from a baby eight years ago, had been unwell for several weeks. After a couple of vet visits, we transported Willy up to the vet school in Corvalis for further treatment. Initial prognosis was that a simple operation would be able to put him right. But unfortunately, once they got inside him, they discovered too many problems for him to deal with. So very sadly we had to take the desicion to have him euthanised. Rest in peace Willy.
The English Cycles workshop has been busy - a couple of new bikes just completed, check out the pictures at www.englishcycles.com. I have a couple more to get done for the Oregon handbuilt bike show in October, so gonna be busy for a while yet!
Last weekend was the final big race of the year - with my local stage race the Eugene Celebration. I went in as defending champion and with a strong team, so hopeful of repeating the victory. Things kicked off well on Friday when I won the prologue hillclimb on McBeth road, finishing one second off my all time best, despite a headwind. The team also did great, with Galen, Dave and Brendan taking the next three places behind me. Going into the Saturday road stage, our goal was to try and keep the race together to maintain our GC dominance before the time trial on Sunday. But plans went a little awry on the first lap when Galen punctured. Marc, true pro that he is, immediately stopped and gave up his wheel, enabling Galen to get back on after a short chase. Unfortunately the neutral service was a little slow, and Marc was unable to make contact, meaning we lost our team captain with a long way to go. Half way through the stage there was a lot of attacking. I tried to chase things down, but nobody would work with me, very frustrating, but Galen made a great move to jump across and make the resulting break. With Galen up the road maintaining the GC, I didn't have to worry too much. He went on to win the stage solo, whilst the pack closed in on the last lap to finish just over a minute behind, meaning I was only down to third overall with Galen leading. Sunday morning was the TT, and I was again able to use my local course knowledge to take the win and with it the overall lead by almost a minute. That left just the afternoon crit, where the team kept things together and there was no change in the GC, securing my win!
Hurrah, State Time Trial Champion! Nice and hot and just a light headwind on the way out. I got to the turn in just under 27 minutes, then averaged 31mph on the way back to stop the clock in 51:13 - new personal best by 34 seconds and clear of second place (a team Bissell pro no less) by 23 seconds. In a nice continuance from the team time trial, the four of us that won gold there all won a medal today - Nick won the Masters 30-34, Paul won the Masters 40-44 and Galen was third on the podium with me in the Senior Men 1/2. Boy was it hard though! For the first time in a TT I started cramping a little in the last 10km, then it was the usual difficulty in getting in the car with the gluts locking up afterwards - it seems like however hard I train in the position it is never quite enough to mimic the pain of an actual race.
In other news we have had a bit of a heatwave here, with several days over 40 degrees, very nice. Busy at work and with English Cycles - I am pretty much booked up with orders until the end of the year now, so plenty of things to work on!
So, the day before the CreamPuff and once again I won't be there - despite my best intentions. Two weeks ago I went out and rode the course (one lap, about 50 miles, had 2600m of climbing.... and lots of super fun singletrack!), and was getting all psyched up for it, but then last weekend we travelled to Seattle for a family 'do' and I came back with what turned into a really nasty dose of the 'flu. Three days in bed with a raging temperature, and although I am up and about now, not in any condition for a 100 mile race. On the plus side, the weather is going to be cooler, with chances of showers and thunderstorms tomorrow, so not my sort of racing conditions (I like it hot and dry!) anyway as it turns out. So the focus moves on to the next thing - getting well first of course - but then the State TT champs in three weeks, which I would very much like to win this year. I would also love to get under 51 minutes for the 40km, though that is very dependent upon the wind out there. We shall see. They have also just announced a time trial the week after on the local Thursday night course - 27 miles that starts right outside my house! So that will be fun.
Not having a television was looking to be a problem for watching Le Tour, but fortunately a friend is recording it and passing the discs on, albeit a day or two late, so as long as no-one tells me the result then no problem! With Lance back the US coverage is even more over the top than normal.....
I realised I missed some news the other week! The weekend before Mt Hood was the Oregon Team Time Trial Championships. My Midtown team didn't have four riders available, so we ended up making a composite team with Galen and I from Midtown and Paul and Nick from Hutch's (I thought we should be called Mutch's....). We did one very brief practice ride together, then we just rocked up on the day. The course was about 27 miles, comprising four laps of a flat circuit with several corners and it was nice and hot. We had a good ride, despite losing Nick with one lap to go, and were elated to win by a scant 11 seconds from the semi-pro Orbea-LandRover squad. My first State title!
Back to this weekend and my first mountain bike outing of the year with the Test of Endurance 50 miler. I did this two years ago (and got 2nd) in heavy rain that made it a slippery mudbath. Sadly it rained again this year - not as bad, but still really slippery and I did not have suitable tyres for it... Also spiced up by the apperance of top pros Adam Craig (rigid singlespeed!), Barry Wicks and Ryan Trebon. I took off from the start and no-one came with me; I rode solo to the top of the first climb before a small group of the pros plus some locals caught me on the first singletrack section, where I was already having trouble staying on the track. I slipped back to the second group before crashing hard a couple of times and deciding it wasn't going to be my day. So I took it easy to ride around the rest of the 25 mile lap, by which time my hip was starting to hurt from the crash and I decided to stop there. Real shame, as the course would have been super fun either in the dry or with better mud tyres! Ah well. I'm now not sure if I want to put myself through doing the creamPuff again in three weeks, will have to see if I have the motivation....
Sorry for the updates somewhat stopping abruptly, I was feeling a bit down after Stage 3 of Mt Hood. Although with a week's perspective and lots of people telling me how impressed they were with my ride, probably I needn't have. It was a reminder of my like/dislike relationship with road racing. With time trials and mountain biking, you go out and ride and the strongest rider (plus some skills!) wins. I sometimes enjoy the tactics of road racing, but when there is a big team controling things and you are riding unsupported, just following wheels all day isn't too much fun! I have never done so much fast freewheeling downhill in a race before! We lost 10,000ft in order to come back up it. Bissell had their five man team on the front all day, just riding tempo - that combined with the wind prevented anyone from getting anywhere. After dehydrating on Thursday I made sure to drink a lot, but then had to lose some fluids; I tried peeing on the move, but haven't practised that enough. In the end I stopped in the feed zone for bladder relief, then chased back on. Kind of fortunate timing as just as I got on the back there was a big pile up across the whole road, which I was able to avoid. Otherwise it was just follow the leaders until the final climb, then go as hard as I could to the line. I started a bit far back, not knowing the route well enough, but moved up a bit and wasn't passed by too many to end up 37th on the stage. This bumped me up to 25th overall, or one of the first non-pro local riders. Then it should have just been the criterium to go on Sunday. But with the race being late in the afternoon, with a three hour drive home and having to be at work early on Monday, plus my not particularly liking crits and it being unlikely to change the GC, I decided to bail and go home Saturday night. I felt kinda bad to be quiting, but there were crashes and it was good to have a day to recover.
Now Mt Hood is done, it is mountain bike time! Not that I have really ridden off road since last summer, but nevermind... Next weekend I have a 50 mile race that I was second in two years ago, which is my warm up for my return to the Cream Puff 100 miler next month....
In other news we finally got my green card application submitted, and I have been busy building frames; about to send one to England to be the first English English!
Another lesson in humility today - I've been winning all the local TTs by a big margin; but here I lost almost three and a half minutes over 18.5 miles! Are these guys just more talented or just better because they are riding full time? Probably some of both! My placing was 25th, moving me up to 30th overall; if I can have a good climbing day tomorrow then I might be able to get myself back into the top twenty, just have to see. The TT course today was fantastic though, got to be one of the best I have ever ridden - very technical, hilly, and incredibly scenic. What made it interesting was the very strong, gusty headwind coming right off the gorge - I was really struggling to hold on to the bike at times - if I'd known it was that bad I might have made a different choice of wheels! Speaking of which, I carefully got everything ready this morning, then failed to put my disc wheel in the car, not realising until I unloaded at the start. I was able to borrow a phone and scramble to find Paul's number and ask him to bring it (he was starting later than me); he duly arrived with less than five minutes to spare, leading to a super fast wheel change and a sprint to the line - I arrived with about 45 seconds to spare! Not knowing the course probably cost me 15 or 20 seconds, but not too big a deal. Tomorrow is the big one; a big 90 mile loop finishing on the slopes of Mt Hood, more butt kicking in store for me!
What happened to May? Apparently I was busy.... Tuesday nights in May are the local 15 mile TT. I got my best time down to 31:11 - will have to wait until next year to try and get under 31. Then there were the recumbent races at Portland International Raceway; I raced both Hachi and the Borealis - interesting to see the speed difference - in the TT I average 30.3mph on Hachi and 28.6mph in the velomobile, so not too bad for a commuting vehicle! Mind you, it is mostly staying in the garage now, it is still chilly enough some mornings that it would be nice to ride, but too hot at night to get it back over the hill!
Right now I am in Hood River for the Mt Hood Classic stage race. The prologue yesterday was a 3 mile time trial, and I was relatively happy with 18th, given that the guys in front of me were all pros! But today was a little disappointing - 85 mile road race and I was doing fine all day until the final climb, where I cracked and lost a minute. So dropped to 38th overall. I think I needed to drink more, judging from the headache I still have from getting dehydrated! Will do better with drinking on the next road stage on Saturday. Before that is a technical, hilly 18 mile time trial tomorrow. I wanted to go pre-ride some of the course today, but there were thunder storms, so I'll be hitting it blind tomorrow....
Picture to right is from a photo shoot of me frame building - more can be seen on www.englishcycles.com. More news tomorrow after the TT...
Well it has been a busy April! The current downside is that the Williamette stage race that I had been looking forward to and training for for the last couple of months was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of entries. Rather disappointing, it would have been good doing a stage race in my own back yard. But ah well, taking the time for a bit of R&R instead. Last weekend was the 'Eugene Roubaix' which was a local road race featuring a mile stretch of gravel on the five lap course. This was my first road race of the year, and with my team organising the event, I was racing by myself (along with helping with registration before and after), so had to play off the back of a couple of big teams. I managed to instigate a six man break at the start of the fourth lap, and we stayed away to the finish. As expected, I didn't have much of a sprint (I've been training for stage racing, where placings don't matter!), but was happy with fifth.
Tuesday nights this month have been the local hillclimb; I was hoping to break my two year old course record this year, but no luck so far (that year the hillclimbs were in May, so it was hotter and I was fitter!). Still, my times have been much better than last year; one last shot next week....
Chick update: Misha's friend's kids named them for us - Tiny (for the injured one) and Fluffy.... Tiny has been struggling, and is about a third of the size of Fluffy, but she is a fighter and now seems to be making progress, so hopefully she will figure out a way to work with her disability and be just fine.
Otherwise it has been very busy at work and Misha has had some very stressful cases to deal with; fortunately we have had some lovely weather too, and with the days getting quite long now it all gets much more manageable.
Another year down; I turned 32 on Monday.... but I still seem to be getting faster, so I'm not getting over the hill yet! Nearing the end of base training and the intensity work has begun, I feel like it is going well so far; my friend Joe termed the weekly group training ride the 'Thursday Night Worlds'. Which makes me Thursday night world champion, at least tonight!
And we have new additions to the family! Misha was at the feedstore to pick up horse food, and one of the new chicks had a bad leg and the owner thought he would have to put it down. But Misha to the rescue - he set her up with a heat lamp and food (gratis), plus a little buddy, and we have two little fuzzy peepers living in the spare bedroom. Assuming (hoping...) they are both female, my vegan diet may be adjusted slightly to accomodate fresh home laid eggs....
Still waiting for spring to kick in properly here, but in the meantime here is a picture from sunny riding in Arizona:
Greetings from Arizona! This week Misha and I have been riding through the desert with a group of Bike Friday owners on PAC TOUR's desert camp. It has been a great week, with Misha enjoying the five longest rides she has ever done! I have gotten some great training from pedalling the DoubleDay, along with some supplementary rides on my speeding tikit. We have mostly managed to avoid getting too burnt too.... Things were a little hectic last week before we left, with Peanut being a naughty cow and getting out a couple of times, leading to us having to set up a more powerful and reliable electric fence to assure he would remain contained whilst we were gone. That combined with trying to get everything organised and in place at work for being away this week meant my training suffered somewhat, but I think this week has made up for it. When I get back it is time to start the more specific race preparation - I start next month, and the Willamette stage race isn't too far away....
Apparently I spoke a little soon last time - my body has asked for a rest this week, despite my training plan calling for a heavy workload. When in doubt, rest - so I won't be meeting my target this week. But, reassuringly, I am still way ahead of what I had managed to do by this time last year, so I'm not concerned. Today though I did use the turbo trainer for the first time; the Tour of California prologue was showing on cycling.TV, so it seemed appropriate to set up the TT bike to pedal whilst I watched. I wouldn't normally start riding this bike until late March, but I have an eye on the final TT stage at the Tour of Willamette at the end of April, so a bit of early acclimitisation won't hurt.
Couple of site updates - pictures of the DoubleDay recumbent tandem and Borealis velomobile added (finally!). Misha and I will be taking the DoubleDay to Bike Friday's Desert Camp in Arizona in a few weeks - bring on the sunshine!
I've added a news section to www.englishcycles.com too, as well as some customer comments.
Well things are going pretty well; halfway through this year's training plan and keeping mostly on track so far. In fact I'm feeling that I need to throttle back a bit with the intensity as I seem to be going far too well for early February: Today Peter and I climbed Gimpl hill in 6:33 on the tandem at lunchtime (my summer time best on my own is 5:00), then after work I did the local hillclimb course of MacBeth in 12:20 (on my new bike). Which is a bit quick considering my best race time last year was 11:25.... I need to keep working on the base for a few more weeks yet; first major goal is the Willamette Stage Race at the end of April. Now featuring three hilly road stages and a final stage of a 14.5 mile TT, yeeha! I just pulled the TT bike out to start thinking about training on it. Modified the rear brake a little with new linkages and it now works much better with more pad clearance at the rim. It might be getting some new cranks for this season too....
Lots of new pictures up at www.englishcycles.com, pretty happy with my first go at a fade paintjob on the latest frame. Also finally got around to posting a picture of my rennovation of Stumpy 1. Still rides as good as it ever did!
The Borealis (I will get some more pictures up soon!) is working out great for my commute - no more stressful icy-road descents, just a 55mph roll down the hill every morning! Nice.
Finally back in the groove with my training, mixing it up between the Borealis, my road bike and the DoubleDay tandem with Misha. And with bike number three about to leave the workshop, it is time to launch English Cycles as an entity - click over to: www.englishcycles.com to see!
I'm in the paper this weekend! See the online article here: Register-Guard article. If you click on the Photo tab at the top there are pictures too.
Happy New Year! Just added a few updates - last year's racing results and this year's training plan. We had a week of snow here in Eugene before Christmas, with temperatures down to -11 centigrade, which rather curtailed that week's training - I was just about able to get to work on the mountain bike! We were able to get away to Phoenix for a few days, continuing our tradition of traveling on christmas day, where I enjoyed four days of training in the sunshine, even if it wasn't very warm for three of them (!), and getting to know Misha's family better.
Also managed to get my first custom bike frame finished and shipped off - this is for my friend Cameron in New Zealand who will be using it for Ironman NZ in March! Hopefully he likes it.... Gradually getting the workshop set up to do everything here, I almost have frame number two done (also going to NZ as it happens), then I will spend a few weeks working on tooling and getting things more organised.
Quick update on the Borealis - today I switched out the cranks and gears; it came with a 24/42/52 170mm cranks with an 11-32 cassette, and thus was horribly undergeared (about 87" top gear) and I haven't been using the granny. I changed to 155mm cranks with 36/46/56 and a 9-34 cassette (about 115" top gear) and it has totally transformed the bike! It really is like a different machine - my average speed riding in and out of town tonight was 28km/h, or a tad faster than I would be on the road bike, despite the hill each way. I now have the gearing to carry the momentum on the downs and flat - going through town I was easily keeping up with the traffic. I don't think I really need the 34T on the back either, will probably switch to a 30 to keep the spacing tighter. Will get some more pictures of it up soon.
Oh dear, two months gone by.... Well, busy times, what can I say.... Quite a lot been happening - bought a chainsaw (by bike of course - was quite a heavy load riding back up the hill with the saw, and a gallon each of petrol and oil in the panneirs!), and used it to stock the woodshed from fallen trees on our property, so all ready for the winter now. I have several custom frames/bikes to build from my fledgling home shop - the first one, a recumbent for a chap in Canada, is almost done, then it is straight onto the next one. New website to create for that side of things too.... Mum came to visit over Thanksgiving, which was really nice - she also took home with her a new tikit, and I took her for a ride on the tandem - proof in the pictures below! It looks like RAAM is likely not happening next year now - Bacchetta had to pull the plug on sponsorship with the current financial climate, so maybe another time. And I just took a trip to Canada last weekend to pick up my velomobile! Read about the trip here. We are off to visit Misha's family in Arizona at Christmas, so hopefully I'll have more time for updates then.
Well, been off work today with a nasty cold that had me in bed all day yesterday and most of today :-( I assume I caught it at the Oregon Manifest bike show this weekend - had a very busy week leading up to it, then people will insist on shaking hands with you all the time....
I did get to show off my bikes on the Bike Friday stand however - yes bikes now, I just built myself a road frame to match my TT bike. Several people told me they thought it was the best bike at the show, which was very satisfying. Now to ride it (once I'm well...)!
I am also going to start building wheels again - blatant plug for the website: www.bikerevuk.com
Not too much other news, just been very busy at work as usual, somewhat enjoying not training, but doing a little running for a change. We have spent some time chopping up the fallen trees on our land, ready to feed the fire for the winter!
Another busy month or so... Today I was meant to be with Misha at the third wedding we'd been invited to in the last few weeks, but having not really had a break to catch up with myself I cried off to stay home and chill out a bit. Which has been good - and gives me time to write here! We are finally getting autumn-like weather after a glorious extended summer - it was still hitting thirty degrees on Monday so we took a last chance to go swimming at the lake after work, very nice. I'm not looking forward to winter; starting to need lights in the morning for the ride to work already, but c'est la vie.
Backing up a little though, after the TT champs we went off to Seattle for the following weekend for Misha's cousin's wedding; it was a nice weekend even though a lot of traveling (bus and train) for a short visit. Fun to actually converse with my in-laws after the blur of meeting everyone at our wedding (speaking of which, some photos now up here). Then we moved Misha into her new office - she is now working for herself and her new office has windows, with a view and everything! She is already much happier there. I was feeling pretty tired again during this couple of weeks, not helped by some long days at work. So I was very unsure of my form heading into the Eugene Celebration stage race - a three day, four stage event that starts pretty much outside of our house. Last year I was second, losing four seconds in the time trial which I wasn't able to get back. So this year at the very least I really wanted to win the TT, and hopefully the overall. In my favour, assuming my fitness was okay, were two things - firstly having a team to race with; Midtown had a full five riders in the Pro/1/2 group, a nice majority with the field only 20-something deep. Secondly the last hilly stage, which last year was one lap of 42 miles, was this year extended to two laps (which I asked for last year, thinking I could have won if it was that way), which should make it more selective. Being very uncertain of how I would handle three days of racing, I planned on just sitting in for most of the first stage (three laps making 78 rolling miles) and seeing how it went. The team's plan was to get someone in the breaks and watch the couple of strong riders who placed well last year. So on the third lap I found myself not having been out in the wind at all and feeling surprisingly good. There were a couple of riders up the road and so my teammate came alongside to ask me how I was feeling and if they should shut it down - and could I handle the pressure? I said okay, and so three Midtown riders went to the front for twenty minutes and pulled the break back. Then it was my turn - I attacked, and it felt great to go fast. And on the third attack the move stuck and I ended up away with two other riders with about five miles to go. The other two weren't much help, so only being interested in time for the general classification, not the stage placing, I just buried myself all the way to the line. I placed third, but more importantly gained 27 seconds on the field, and thus headed into the TT with a handy buffer. This was the next morning, being 8 flat miles on the road outside my house. I had a good ride, going 13 seconds faster than last year and taking the win by 8 seconds, thus putting myself into the overall lead. The third stage was the same day, being an evening crit. Here the team took care of me, keeping it together and assuring no one that mattered gained any of the finish line bonuses. And so I headed into the final big hilly day with it all to lose.... On the first lap a soft break went away, which seemed to be perfect. The bunch trundled along behind, before ramping up the pace somewhat over the big climb of Wolf Creek. On the backside my teammate Marc slipped away to join the break, and then we made a mistake by letting the guy in second place overall get up there too. No one in the group would ride, and so the time gap went up and up.... I started to fear I had messed it all up. One teammate (Galen) spent the whole long flat stretch on the front to at least maintain some pace, then I started doing some attacking to try and lift the chase a little. But still, we approached the second climb over four minutes down and I was worried it was all over. My teammates Dave and then Orion set a wicked pace up the climb, and not only did a couple of riders from the break come back, but it blew the bunch apart and we were only four riders by the top. I hammered the downhill and soon the break was in sight - we bridged and then we had eight of us in the lead, including three Midtown riders. On the penultimate climb with a couple of miles to go, Marc attacked which prompted a counter which I followed - I ended up away with two riders, and used my GC lead and my teammates behind to sit on all the way to the finish climb. I attacked at the bottom, but didn't quite have the power to hold on from there, so I waited for the wheel, then sat in and was ready to go for the sprint for the stage win - but then with 200m to go my front tyre went flat! So I rolled in third for the stage, but not to worry as the overall lead was safe. A nice way to end a tough season, and super fun to race properly with a well organised team.
Since then it has been wind down from racing and very busy at work, but in other news I now have my very own lathe at home - the workshop slowly takes shape! I'll post a picture of my new toy later. I've been using it to make frame parts for my new road racing frame; hopefully will get it put together in the next week or so, then I can do all my racing on bikes I've built myself.
Oh dear, two months gap? My biggest hiatus since I started this thing.... ah well, my excuse is the whole mono thing and the small matter of my wedding.... Yes, I have a wife now! Pictures will be up soon here; it was a lovely day.
So to backtrack a little... Report on my trip to Philadelphia here, it was a fun city to visit, even if I wasn't really well enough to be racing. By the end of June I was beginning to feel that I was starting to pull out of the sheer exhaustion that was mono. I took a few days off and did some work from home which helped, and in July I was mostly back to full time and riding my bike again (hurrah!). When I got tired I had to back off for a few days, but finally the good days were more frequent than the bad. Which was good timing with the wedding at the end of the month! We had various friends and family arriving the week before, and I had organised to have my cycling mates ride out to the wedding venue with me the day before the ceremony - a very scenic 65 miles which was great fun. The week after the wedding, I finally got to ride my mountain bike when three of us rode the McKenzie River Trail - a wonderful 26 miles of singletrack. But by the end of the week everything was catching up with me and I had a bit of a mono relapse, which meant doing nothing much (apart from work...) for almost a week. This wasn't great timing as I had entered the State TT championships, which took place today. On Thursday I was feeling quite a lot better, so did a hard ride on the TT bike; that went well so after two easy days I rocked up at the race this morning. Last year I was second with 53:26 for the 40km, compared to Seth Hosmer's winning 52:42. At the start of the year winning this race had been one of my goals; but having been ill and not raced for three months, I had little idea of my form. I did have my new bike though, would it be faster? Warming up I was unsure of how my legs felt, but as soon as I started I knew I was on a good day - I set off at 29mph into the headwind and the legs felt fine. I got to the turn in 27 minutes, to get a check and find I was 4 seconds down on Seth. I averaged over 30mph on the way back to finish with 51:50 (only 3 seconds outside my all time personal best); but not quite good enough as Seth did 51:34 to best me by 16 seconds. But still, all things considered, happy with that - closer than last year and I have actually built a faster bike!
The last month has been a big departure from my usual routine, as I have had to throttle back to allow my health the rest it needs to recover from the virus. The good news is that I feel like I am starting to be on the way back to my normal energy levels. The only riding I have done in the last month has been the four miles each way to work, followed by trying to work no more than 40 hours a week and take a nap every day. So I missed the entire Eugene Time Trial series and the Team TT championships, and have pulled out of defending my Cascade Creampuff titile at the end of June - there is no way I could do an 100 mile mtb race justice after a month off training, plus a nine hour race might be rather too much stress for my system..... Fortunately my entry is being deferred to next year, so my getting my 29er all pimped up means my bike is ready to go a year early!
Right now I am on a plane to Philadelphia - Bike Friday is sending me to do a couple of (short! so hopefully I should be able to do them despite the mono) races, one with a folding bike class. This is a hillclimb, on a course in the British style - 1km at 17%, and less than two minutes, so should be good for me! For this purpose I lightened up my Speeding tikit, getting it down to 18lb. The second event is an 8 mile TT; so it should be fairly comedy having me rock up with my full skinsuit and aero helmet on my little pink bike to race against 273 big wheeled bikes! I haven't been to Phily before, so it should be fun, plus I'll get to see the biggest one-day Pro race in the US on Sunday; and the weather is meant to be nice, yay!
The main thing to report here is my health - which is mostly covered here in the WASCO race report. In short I have been diagnosed with mono - or glandular fever as we know it in the UK. Which goes some way to explaining why I have been feeling so damn tired for the past several weeks! So now I will mostly be resting.....
So, racing started this month. My first event was a local hillclimb on 1st April - last year the hillclimb series was run in May, and I got gradually faster each week, ending up breaking the course record twice; so a good hill to test myself on, although tough comparing times with a month later last year, both because of temperature and fitness! Therefore I was very pleased with my time of 11:25 - way off my record of 10:39, but ten seconds better than my worst time last year. Then two days later it was straight into the Willamette stage race. Kickoff was a 6.6km prologue on Thursday evening, so the first time to try my new bike. The Pro/1/2 field had over 80 riders, with teams from Canada, Washington and California coming into town for the event. The weather was beautiful for this first day, and I had a reasonable ride to finish 8th, although almost 30 seconds down on the winner. Stage two was a single lap of 43 miles with a hilltop finish. I went to work first thing, before running out to race - on the drive out it started raining hard which did not bode well. We did manage to start in the dry with a bit of sunshine, albeit with soaking wet roads. The rules here dictate that there is absolutely no crossing of the centre line; with a large field and a narrow road this means it is almost impossible to move up the field. Therefore even if I had wanted to attack there was no way I could do anything apart from follow the wheels in front. But once we hit the climbs the field strung out and I was able to get up to the front. It rained on and off the rest of the race and I didn't really have enough clothes on - and when my legs get cold they don't work so good; on the final climb I was struggling to stay with the group as we closed down a small break. But I was given the same time at the finish line, and the break only got a few seconds; I slipped one place to 9th on GC. The descent back to the HQ was freezing; I got straight in the car and cranked the heater all the way back to finish off the work day. Stage three was a criterium in downtown Eugene, and more terrible weather. The course had a tight turn which brought us pretty much to a dead stop, so every lap involved a painful acceleration to get back up to speed. Not my type of racing, so I just hung tight and counted down the hour; I finished safely with the pack and preserved my GC placing. The final stage was a very hilly 83 mile race, with more bad weather.... this time I dressed for it - with winter bibtights, a long sleeve thermal, two jerseys, vest, hat, winter gloves and overshoes! I have never worn so much clothing in a race before... but it worked out well as I was comfortable the whole way round. Some guys were racing in shorts! On the first lap I rode tempo at the front of the pack on the climbs - basically because I wanted to be sure to be first down the descents; wet roads with a lot of gravel and a big pack aren't the safest. Otherwise it was sit tight and wait for lap two. Here I followed a strong attack by two riders on the first of the two big climbs; I wasn't able to join them, but was still away at the second climb. This is where the race all blew apart, and on the descent a couple of small groups joined together to make five of us away chasing the two guys in front. On the long flat run in to the finish I knew I was going to be in trouble over the last couple of rises, and sure enough when the attacks started I got dropped and just had to struggle the last 3km on my own. I got 7th on the stage which left me 7th overall - and first Eugene rider.
After the terrible weather of the Willamette stage race, the following weekend was very different - fantastic sunshine and really hot, I got a little sunburnt! Misha and I went out to the wedding site to check out what would be going where, we need to start getting ourselves organised now..... And then this weekend it is back to snow; go figure! We are up near Seattle where Misha is doing an Animal Sanctuary course; the theory was that I would do lots of training. In practice the weather hasn't been very condusive and I have been pretty tired so it has been more about relaxing. Nice to see another part of the country and where Misha grew up; have to come back another time in the summer to enjoy it more.
Guess what? It is snowing again.... We were taunted with a week or so of spring and then back to freezing... I haven't written in a while as the last six weeks or so have seen me sicker than I have been in ten years - I don't think I've been to the doctors in that time, and now I've been through two courses of antibiotics in a month! Not a whole lot of fun, and as you can see here my training has pretty much tanked. Ah well, just have to use the first few races to get going!
What with both of us having been sick, and Misha generally having to cope with me being very grumpy with it (me not being able to ride my bike doesn't leave me too happy...), my surprise birthday trip away was just what we needed - Misha took me to Breitenbush hot springs up in the mountains and we just relaxed and recovered. Pictures here. And I have finally been able to finish my new TT bike - feels like it has taken FOREVER, but in reality there was a lot of little bits to make, so maybe not so terrible. Pretty pleased with how it turned out - much lighter than expected and hopefully it will be fast!
I have finally got some pictures up - look here for NZ pics, and here for some Oregon pics.
Training has been fairly up and down - the snow curtailed things for several days, then I have been struggling a bit with my health; me who is very rarely ill had three and a half days off work with the 'flu, basically writing that week off training wise. Then I felt better and was able to get one good week in before now it has come back and I have had to take another half day off work to try and get well. Very frustrating. It has also further slowed me working on my new TT bike - I am pretty close to having something rideable, which will mean I can test it before doing all the finishing work. With the first races only five weeks out, I need to get it done asap! Which is also the bummer about being sick - I am going to be racing seriously sooner than expected this year because they have brought back the Willamette stage race this year. With a prologue time trial and two hilly stages AND being right here in town, I couldn't very well miss it! The first weekend in April is a bit harsh to be racing that full-on, but there you go. I have been invited to race with Midtown Racing Team so we should have a strong team.
Being stuck in the slight conundrum of not wanting to spend all my spare time at the shop, and having to set things up each time I have a few minutes to work on my projects, I have decided I need to get moving on getting a workshop set up at home. I have ordered my first piece of equipment (grinding belt/polishing wheel) and will start looking for a lathe and mill next. Then I will be able to just pop out to the garage and make things!
Well I haven't written much becuase the weather has been so cold and wet that I didn't feel I had many happy thoughts to share! However, it at least warmed up to above freezing this weekend, so training was a) possible and b) bearable. Which makes me feel substantially better..... Last Sunday we woke up to a couple of inches of settled snow, and it continued to come down for most of the day, leaving us with about 10 inches by the evening. So training was on the turbo trainer and on Monday morning I very carefully rode the mountain bike to work. It wasn't actually too slippery, since it stayed below freezing; later days in the week were much worse when the snow melted and then froze again, making it very icey; some very careful, slow commuting this week!
Three weeks ago there was a 5hr group ride planned, which was an out-and-back over a couple of big local climbs. Fortunately it wasn't too cold (ie above freezing!) and although it rained on and off it was reasonable weather for January. All went well, nice to ride in a group at a steady pace with mandatory mudguards (and flaps!), and so when it was suggested by a few riders to extend the route to a bigger loop, I tagged along. Five of us went on this extended adventure, which got rather epic when there were a LOT of trees down across the roads, making it a bit of mountain bike ride in places! The loop ended up being longer than expected, and as soon as we crested the final climb and were back in cell phone range, we all had to call in to our other halves to let them know we were still alive - and to call for assistance! We were met by a car at the bottom of the hill, where sodas and snacks were gratefully received. Three of us then got a lift back to town; one other guy and me decided to ride home and thus I ended up with 120 miles, almost 8 hours and a LOT of climbing! A good day out.....
STILL need to post New Zealand pics, haven't got to it yet.... Have been working on building my new bike though - I am building a custom time trial machine to race on this season. Construction is taking place in small installments when I have time, but progress is slowly being made. I should have something to show for it in a few weeks.
No other news for now, generally just very busy with work, training, projects and keeping warm....
Happy New Year! We got back from NZ on Thursday, and this weekend it has been snowing, so a bit of a shock! Vacation was great - except for doing something funky to my back/ribs - the weekend before we left I had cleaned out the barn, and the twisting motion with the pitch fork had caused a slight twinge in my side. Wasn't a problem during a busy week of work and training, but then four hours into the flight I must have moved oddly or something as it suddenly got a lot more uncomfortable. And then after christmas dinner, I sneezed, and dislogded something enough to put me on the floor, unable to move. I had to be very careful how I moved and not to sneeze or cough for a couple of days, but then it fortunately started to get a little better; but it did rather change my riding/training plans! On the other hand, it got me properly into relaxing holiday mode, so maybe not too much of a bad thing. We had a good time visiting with my sister, brother-in-law and mum, plus plenty of quality living-near-the-beach time to ourselves. I'll get some pictures up at some point soon.
My poor uncared for original Bike Friday (bought seven years ago) has been showing it's age a little this winter - on the last ride before we went away the freehub seized; turned out to be the pawl spring in the campag cassette had broken, so that was easy to replace. Then on the first ride back the rear rim split (worn through the braking surface), which meant a careful ride home and rebuilding the wheel. It will keep going!