Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Less Lawn

The old primary garden from back in the day
After many years away from the perils of home gardening, team Two Adventures has decided to jump back in, this time on a slightly smaller scale and slightly more sophisticated. Years back we got into gardening in a big way. It started out small but over the span of a few year grew to include one 20x30' garden as well as a secondary 10x20' plot. Our primary crop was potato though we also grew squash, radishes, tomato and various other things.

We never had great success with much of anything, save for the potato, green tomato and summer squash. Neither of us are huge fans of summer squash and there are only so many things that you can do with green tomato. The potato was good though and kept us from having to buy almost all fall and winter. We also used the remnants as seed for the next season.

Alas, our passions changed and we bought a vacation house in Maine, which sealed the deal on the garden. Simply no time for the nearly constant upkeep of a traditional garden, what with the weeding, watering and all and so we raked the gardens back over and planted of all things, grass. Nearly every season without fault since then we have looked longingly at other folks gardens.

New raised bed garden space
With the nearly persistent reminders discreetly coming from a MTBing Facebook friend I finally decided to dip a thumb back into the soil and see what we can get. This time though we went above ground, with a small and controlled raised bed system. Last week I put together three raised bed borders out of simple pine 2x8's with a pine strapping rail on the top to dress them up a bit. Each bed is 32x96x8" and is held together by simple lag bolts at the ends. I had a whole bunch of Danish Tungoil from some furniture builds years back so treated the frames with that in order to help slightly weatherproof them, assuming that little bit of sealant wouldn't leach badly into the soil. Guess we will see.

We have a reasonably decent size lot at our house with a full half of an acre. Unfortunately there are few spots that get constant direct sunlight due to the number of trees that we have and of course, because of the shade cast by the house. With that in mind as well as ease of watering, which we plan to do via rain barrels from the gutter down spouts on the back of the house, our choices were somewhat limited. We settled on a spot that was fairly close to the where the barrels will go and still gets a good amount of sun. The middle of the lawn gets the most but isn't really that practical. This will probably have an effect on what we grow but it is still a good compromise.

Sort of reminds me of coffins
Rather than dig a whole ton of sod in order to get to bare soil I took the easy way out. I chose to border edge the plot where the beds will go, mow the grass really low, put landscape cloth over the entire area then mulch it once the frames were back in. I then put a layer of peat moss down followed by a full yard of screened compost between the three beds. Once I have the rain barrels I will plumb a hose fed (manual) irrigation system and we should be ready to plant. We plan to do cucumbers as the cats can not get enough of them. I'm thinking that I will make a slanted wire mesh screen for them to climb up on one and of one bed and plant lettuce in the other end. We will also do winter squash, but are thinking about starting a small natural garden out back for that and just letting them go. Lastly, I think we are going to try potato in a hanging bag and see what happens.

Who knows, we may end up with nothing but at least it will mean less lawn to mow.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What's for Dinner

Picked up a rack of pork spare ribs this morning at the grocery store. We haven't been buying them very often lately but instead we've been getting individually sliced country ribs. The latter are typically rubbed and cooked on the grill sauced. The former however, work best on the smoker.

Mid day I rubbed the rack with a traditional blend of spice and brown sugar and let them sweat in the fridge for a couple of hours. At the same time I cut up some maple and apple into small pieces, threw them into a bucket and added water so they would soak. At about 2PM I cranked the smoker up, loaded the wood and then put the ribs in for the afternoon. With a couple hours to go I threw some sauce on so it could candy a bit to the good bark that I had going already.

2hrs sweating in the rub, 5hrs in the smoker and viola
Just before 7PM I pulled them out, let them rest a bit and then we ate. Very good stuff, nothing terribly fancy, but well worth the effort.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Vault

It finally sort of resembles the vault that it kind of is, now that I added some actual doors to the area in the basement in which we store the bulk of our bicycles. The area is a small three and a half sided room that sits under the mudroom and spare bathroom addition to our home.

We have used the alcove, for lack of a more descriptive term, as the storage for most of the bikes, hung even and alternating from hooks. However, the logical closure to the rectangle footprint was not even and putting a door on required framing and hanging at an angle, making an actual five sided room when complete. Give this and the fact that there was duct work running through the space anyhow, I opted over the years to leave it open save for a shower curtain which I pulled shut when doing woodworking in the main part of the basement addition, off of which the bike room sits. This worked fine and did the trick if not looking very finished.

Last year I threw together a couple of cheap and easy 72x30" door panels using 2x4" fir with 1/2" x 1" deep dado cuts on one edge and 7/16" OSB panels. The dado served as channels for the OSB panels to sit in as well as the groove for a tongue and groove joint, for which I cut the matching tongue for into the top and bottom pieces of 2x4", to fit into the side pieces of 2x4" making up the door frame. I held it together with glue and finish nails and let the OSB float for different expansion and contraction. Not exactly finish work but functional and for the past year, I used the as a free standing screen to keep sawdust away from the sump pumps by holding them together with a set of hinges in the middle.

I'd decided that the screen was in the way and some quick measuring showed that the two panels would fit nicely with some light framing into the hole that would be the doorway to the bike room. All I needed were a some PT 2x4" to be bolted to the concrete walls via lag shields, then I could frame off from those. The angle ended up being 23 degrees so in order to frame out to that from my "L" shaped PT corner caps in the smallest amount of space I had to rip a 2x4" edgewise on the table saw. Tack that onto the corner caps and I was now less than a couple inches from the rough dimension for the doors. Unfortunately that left little room to trim and true but realistically, I didn't want that big an investment at this point anyhow. My door panels were not exactly square anyhow and if you aren't starting square, finishing square is really hard. So for this project it was tool-shed square. Basically the doors open and close evenly but the hinges would be integral in the alignment process.

With that I pulled it all together. The door panels hung, though with some protest, and are set to give tension against each other, holding the two shut. To afford some adjustment in the tension I put screws into the matching door edges that would butt against each other and could be drawn in or backed out to increase or decrease tension. I used scraps of PVC lattice to visually close off the areas over the top of the door frame on either side of the duct work, plumbing and wiring that ran between the sections along the open ceiling.

Nothing fancy but it will help keep the sawdust off the bikes and didn't cost much of anything.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Racing Bikes

Pretty much right back into the thick of the race season. The weeks in general have slid back into the familiar pattern of recovery Monday, Turkey Vulture smack-down ride Tuesday, endurance Wednesday, SS MTB ride Thursday, endurance ride Friday and Saturday with a couple short bouts of intensity then race on Sunday. Or something like that at least.

So far it has been a good season, though it already seems like it has been long or at least, perpetual. One thing is for sure, I will be headed for a solid departure and break once the weather gets a bit nicer. Probably around Memorial Day we will back away from racing and just do a bunch of fun rides. We are very much looking forward to some MTB and road adventures up north.

In terms of recent races however, there was a good string of competition to be had, one which has left me a bit on the tired side I must admit. It all started with the Hop Brook MTB race a couple weeks back on Sunday. That following Saturday was the Tour of the Battenkill, a solid 65 mile road race that featured numerous sections of gravel road as well as many challenging climbs and rollers. A race that I've never really had much success at in the past but which for which I had some optimism for this year.

For just about the first time ever in a masters road race for me, we actually had a team. It was a small team with Kyle, Mike and myself and Cathy in support but a team none the less. A team made up of individuals that were all of similar ability level and all of whom rode together frequently. Some of us even car-pooled together and get common lodging. The long trip out to the race, which was in Cambridge, NY, was made longer by the fact that we had to drive through a freak ice and snow storm. Conditions were terrible and the driving brought back memories of the trip to Louisville earlier this year. Lucking we'd left early and were in no hurry so I took it very easy. No stress, at least for the driver. Kyle talked pretty constantly the whole trip, which is his normal MO. Eventually we made it to the venue, registered then changed up for some course recon. Luckily it was mostly dry in NY, though a little on the cool side.

Kyle and I rode the first 17 miles of the course including one of the decisive hills while Cathy kicked around town for a bit and then drove out to meet us on course. From there we were off to the motel in Manchester, VT. Check in, shower, and then head out for some food. We settled on Mexican at a place that was OK. Unfortunately Kyle likes to drink beer and I can't say no so we both drank too much for the night before a long race. To compound the issue, we stopped at the motel bar to meet some more friends and had a couple more drinks. Finally in bed I for one of the first times ever in a strange place, slept well and woke a bit sore from the drive and a bit dehydrated from the beers. A good breakfast at the motel and we were off to the race.

This season is my first in the 45+ age group. As such, I chose the masters 45+ race, a race comprised of some of the most seasoned veteran racers in the region. Many names that I knew and respected greatly were there as well as many that I didn't know. A full field of 126 racers pre-registered but given the conditions the day before, a number would surely not show up. The start was cold but the sun was eventually supposed to come out which would certainly make it warm. As such, I opted to dress on the cool side, cool at least for the start of the race, knowing I would eventually get warm. Reality was that I was freezing for the first few miles, literally shaking uncontrollably which fed into the handlebars causing the bike to shake. I almost had to pull over to the side it got so bad on one slight descent but kept it upright to the first small hill and made my way to the front for the upcoming covered bridge of doom.

I stayed in front long enough to generate some body heat then slipped back a bit to sit sheltered in the pack. Mayhem followed on the approach into Perry Hill. As always, everyone swarms to the front only to then implode when it gets steep and drift to the back. We made it over near the front but while the back of the bus was busy swarming the front of the bus, well known OA/Cyclemania strongman Fred T. rode off the front. I later learned that at least one of the numerous Finkraft team tried to go with him but couldn't. Bad sign.

Over the Juniper Swamp climb it looked like there may be some gaps but nothing materialized and soon it all came back together. From that point on the Finkraft team spent the bulk of the time on the front setting pace. It seemed that nobody else wanted anything to do with doing any work and were content hovering near but never on the front. Eventually I got sick of it and started working with the team, many of whom are great guys for which I have tons of respect. Kyle wisely asked me what I was doing as I have a tendency to not_race_very_smart when it comes to the road. I explained myself and he agreed that we would both spent our time setting pace while Mike sat in the pack waiting in reserve.

The rest of the race was a blur of forgotten sections of rolling pavement and gravel and cursing the weasels, some of which were entire teams of weasels happy to sit on the back until the end while move after move goes up the road. Eventually on Mountain Road, a long rolling dirt section initiated by a fairly robust climb, things started to heat up. KMS's Peter V. (senior), a great guy and feared competitor with a stellar road racing pedigree pushed a huge gear past me over the crest of the climb and surged ahead. I didn't dare follow and apparently neither did anyone else as Peter rode away. At the very end of the road Finkraft's own Roger A., who is a multi-time National champion in multiple disciplines attacked hard exactly after I'd done a hard turn on the front. Another racer went with him and they too were now up the road, making the rest of us racing for 5th.

When we turned onto RT40, a started a gently paved ascent which marks the long approach to the most decisive segment of the course, Meetinghouse Rd., I was at the front and a racer I knew rolled up to me and started chatting. I hadn't seen him all day and didn't even realize he was in the race. Between that and watching Roger a hundred yards up the road from us, a fuse blew in my tiny brain. I attacked hard and just kept going, trying to distance myself as quickly as possible and hopefully bridge up to the group ahead. I soon noticed another racer with me, who had also seen time on the front of the race. I asked pointedly if he wanted to chase them down and if he was willing to work, he affirmed and we went into a good rotation pulling back some distance. A while later we were joined by a couple more including CCC/Keltic racing's Andy R. and another two that I did not know. Finkraft also had strong guy Troy K. covering as well. Soon the group, minus Troy of course who had a teammate up the road, worked into the rotation.

Unfortunately by the time we turned to hit the first climb on Meetinghouse I was pretty well spent and got blown off the back of the crew. A couple of people drifting just behind us came by me as I lumbered over the top, eventually, and descended down only to head back up the other side. This allowed me to recover enough to hit it hard and catch back onto my group and ride through them, only to get caught back at the top. The final climb on Meetinghouse was hard but I remained fairly tight but got caught out a bit by the massive surge down the corkscrew descent. A gap formed that I couldn't close as the front of the race, minus Fred, was coming back together. Eventually I hooked up the two dangling just behind me and we made it back into the now fully integrated group.

The run in to Stage Rd., the final climb of the race and arguably the hardest saw some attempts but nothing going away. Stupidly I did a little too much not thinking enough about what still to come. At the base Roger launched hard and with a teammate rode away ahead while the rest of our pack pushed up the climb. The pace was brutal and I was literally digging deeper than I think I ever had to remain attached to the back of the group. Finally we crested together and made the final, mostly flat run to the finish. This involved lots of cat and mouse with nobody wanting to pull the rest into the sprint. That translated to one guy trying to jump with an 800 watt sprint surge for 50 meters and then they would sit up and try and get others to come around. That on the gas full, off the gas cycle at that point in the race was the death blow. I think had we done a constant 400 watt rotation I would have been better but by the time the real sprint opened I could barely accelerate at all. In hindsight I'd have been better off just trying a super long sprint I suspect but the reality was that was all done and just able to hang on for 12th, 9th in the group of 11.

Another hard race but this marked the first time ever I'd made it to Stage Rd. with the (virtual) head of the race. Kyle was literally just behind me finishing in 16th, having spent lots of energy with another racer trying to chase his teammate down. Good for him that it didn't work else he would have walked home. Mike was just being Kyle in 29th making for an excellent team result in a fiercely competitive field. It was fun and I'm glad that I did the race, but am also glad that it is over and I can get back to the MTB. As for the weasels, in this case and in this race, the reality is actually that weasels are few and far between. Most of the guys who spent time at the front during the race were near the front at the end of the race. Most of the guy's who held back, did so because they were barely hanging on, trying to just make it to the finish rather than being fresh for the sprint at the end. Some times it's just hard to recognize that fact when you are bleeding from your eyes and have been for the past couple of hours.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


This past Monday, Patriot's Day here in Boston, Cathy and I had the day off and planned to spend it low key, together. Initially we'd thought we may get up early and head to the reenactment in Lexington at the battle green. As the early hour came and subsequently passed, we decided to stay in bed instead and sleep. The  weather was on the cool side anyhow and we were pretty certain we knew the outcome, having attended many times in the past.

While putting away groceries from our morning shopping expedition I noted an overabundance of beef brisket in our freezer. I'd planned to cook one of the two corned beef brisket leftover from St. Patrick's day to get that out of the freezer. However, I also discovered another pot-roast style brisket that was in dire need of use. A quick defrost of the latter brisket and both received an ample dry rub as well as a bacon covering and then made their way to the smoker for the day. I wasn't sure how the lean pot-roast would fare but gave it a try anyhow.

In the mean time, Cathy and I went out for a couple of hours on a mild CX ride through the middle of the day. As we arrived back home and started checking back in we became aware of the horrible incidents that had just recently transpired at the Boston Marathon. Needless to say we began to take stock of friends who were at the event. Despite some anxious moments, we later determined that they were fine, having missed the disaster by about a half of an hour.

The remainder of the day was spent pretty much glued to the television and internet and tending the brisket in the smoker. I used a combination of mesquite and apple wood chips for the smoke. In hindsight, mesquite produces a very distinct almost harsh, pungent flavor which seems especially pronounced in beef. I need to remember this moving forward and opt for more subtle flavor.

The brisket came out pretty good. The corned beef brisket is an excellent choice for the smoker as it remains moist and juicy due to the higher fat content. It also retains much of its corned flavor as well. The pot roast brisket had good flavor but being a thinner and leaner cut, the ends dried out a bit. All in all not bad though.

Last night I diced the remaining pot roast brisket and threw it into the frying pan to saute with some garlic, onion and BBQ sauce. Layer that over a bed of Monterrey jack and mayo on a roll and it made for some really good dinner post Tuesday Turkey Vulture ride. The best thing is that we are two full meals in and still have some leftovers in the fridge.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Without order there is chaos. This simple principle is often true in life but never so true as when you live with animals. In our house, we may as well live with a hoard of raccoons. Our once lovely, playful kittens are now full grown cats whose sole purpose in life seems to center around seeking out food.

I think that this stems from the fact that they are on fairly restrictive diets and as such, they want that which they can not have. The worst is the girl. She is the ring leader, crafty as a Capuchin and strong as a black bear. Remarkably adept at opening the pull out cabinet that contains the kitchen garbage so as to rummage through looking for tasty morsels, all the while strewing filth about. The boy is usually but the reluctant accomplice and often just the innocent bystander, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A few months back we purchased automated electronic feeders that dispense kibble at scheduled intervals and in prescribed quantities. Despite some initial kinks to work out, they have been working pretty well for a mid-day feeding of 1/4 cut of kibble each. We also have a water fountain for them and have for some time. This means we have three electronic devices on the floor in the kitchen. That creates some clutter and is an easy target for people, often whom have been drinking, to trip on them.

The other issue is that our cats delight in molesting the kibble dispensers, very much like a squirrel ripping apart a bird feeder. When finesse and the paw up into the delivery chute trick fails they result to brute force and just start tearing. Right past the squirrel, over the raccoon and onto the black bear tactics. The pure escalation is swift, sure and often effective, which is the worst part. It gives them hope and positive reinforcement. They learn that all they need to do is keep pushing and keep tearing and eventually, succulent kibble will probably flow from the mouth of the reverent god of lunch.

The core theme is that they can move the feeder, which then allows them to disembowel it. My theory is that if they can't move it or get under it to tip it over, there will once again be order in the kitchen. With order will come peace and quiet rather than the sounds of destruction at 2AM or 10AM or 3PM. As such I built a organizer tray to hold their feeders and water which has sides to it, making it impossible (I hope) for them to move the pieces.

The whole unit is far too heavy for them to move, again I hope. They seem to be able to move the dining room table and all eight chairs, but that is another story. I built the organizer from a bunch of oak that I had in the shop, remnants of an old table I'd built years back and subsequently dismantled. A thick coat of urethane will hopefully protect it from the perils it is sure to face.
Nothing fancy, but hopefully functional.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Where do I Belong

I ask myself that question often. Frequently the unfortunate response isn't wholly evident and that in fact, there really isn't one clear cut answer. That is pretty much where I am right now in terms of avocation but it is also where I find myself in terms of bicycle racing, particularly MTB racing, as well.

Over the past few years I've been working hard on training technique and more importantly listening to what is going on inside to make the call as to what I need to be doing on the bike. This and a bunch of time riding my bicycles has resulted in some success at the races, at least on the MTB and the cyclocross bikes. Truth be told, there are a number of other factors that have contributed to the results, one of the biggest of which is that I got older and was able to race against people none of whom were younger than myself. I've also been steadily learning over the years since we started racing, so am still in the natural progression mode some what, at least on the cyclocross bike.

When it comes to the MTB though and racing, I'd have to say that my performance probably hasn't changed all that much since we picked racing back up in 2008. The cast of characters in the age graded 40-49 Cat1 (Expert) field was a little different then and the competition was stiff but until JB and Kevin came back into racing, my results were often near the top end and the battles were primarily between three or four of us. Even after they came back I was usually within reach, though never quite close enough to displace their results, which I could live with, if never be content with.

With those results and a bronze at Nationals that season I decided to start competing in the Pro/Cat1 open category the following season. That season I was taking things very seriously, training like crazy and trying to see just what I could do. I even enlisted Frankie Mac as my coach to try and do all of the right things. The season was met with relatively good results with 7th in the first race and a 3rd in the second race of the season, both of which drew deep fields of well respected racers. With that I requested a license category upgrade but because USA Cycling had just shuffled category designations and done away with the Semi-pro, the next step was Pro. I was reminded by the nice folks at USAC that I was not, in fact, a Pro regardless of results and I should be content being a Cat1. You see, their plan was for the Cat1 field to stack up a bit, which would make it a stronger field. I took it personally and lost a little motivation.

When my  results tailed off as those who hadn't spent the winter training like mad came into form, I became disenchanted. The open race was hard, really hard, and often a little longer than my body could handle. It was common for me to be physically sick after a race, having to make frantic stops on the way home. The limit seems to be about two hours. I can go at or just above threshold for just over two hours. Much more than that and my body revolts, though usually not until an hour or so after the race. It then lasts up to a day until the residual effects dissipate.

Along the way in 2009 I had a conversation with JB and he really put things into perspective. He reminded me that you need to be doing the things that help keep you motivated to continue and not those that eat away at that motivation. Winning is a great motivator. For me, it is a huge motivator because of the unfortunate truth that there is only one direction to go from there, the wrong way. Killing myself to be mid-pack was fine when I was younger but just wasn't as much fun now that I was in my forties. Who was I kidding, I wasn't a Pro and I wasn't 25 years old. I couldn't rebound from the punishment and I just didn't have the physical ability to ride within my limits for that period of time while chasing people who were dramatically better than I was. It was a great experiment but I came to the conclusion that it was the wrong place for me.

So with that in 2010 I went back to racing my age and category and ended up doing far fewer races, taking things much less seriously. I did venture into some of the EFTA Elite races, where I had relatively good results on occasion. For 2011 the offroad racing was again limited with us taking part in even fewer races all together. Last year however I finally decided that road racing was a losing battle, one for which I simply wasn't smart enough for, so I did very few road races. I also decided that I was a fair weather racer, so I only did select MTB races. Part of the reasoning behind this swing was that I'd plan to focus primarily on cross last year. That was where the bulk of my goals were laid as I knew that because I was the youngest guy in the age category (45+ men) that my chances were as good as they would ever be. It worked and things went well, but that is a different story, though arguably with a common theme. Anyhow, last season went very well on the MTB as well. In the seven races I entered, I either flatted out, which happened two times or was successful. A number of those races were also some of the hardest fought battles that I'd ever had. That said, some of the races were not quite so close.

This season I've been riding pretty hard and am seeing some pretty good indicators so far. With that and the fact that some of the closest MTB competition in the old men's category are currently on the disabled list, I'm left wondering what to do. This past weekends Root 66 series opener at Hop Brook had me flipping back and forth between doing the Cat1 40-49 race and the Pro/Cat1 Open race. The decision came down to the fact that I'd been going really hard the past couple of weeks and felt that I couldn't afford an over the top effort on Sunday if I expected any reasonable performance the following Saturday at Battenkill, a secret stretch goal of mine. I also looked at the long list of registered racers and knew that if I had a really good race and really pushed myself hard, I could probably crack the top ten. The answer was simple, I'm too old for that sh!t.

Shortly after registering for my age category race I saw a newly minted 40 year old had also registered for the race, one with whom I have had numerous battles in the past. John turned the corner and is now in the 40-49 group. I'd raced John in the elite races a few years back and also have had countless 35+ cyclocross races going back and forth with him. This gave me pause and I was a bit nervous, not that there was a lack of competition from the others, which is not the case at all, but more about it being unknown. As in all walks, confidence is a key component to success. I like the feeling of confidence though try never to cross the line in to arrogance. I fully understand that anything can happen at any time and that the bottom line is that there is also someone better at any given thing than you are. I'm continually reminded and humbled by how many people right here in this area are drastically better than I am and use that as grounding.

So this years Hop Brook race started off fast and frenzied as people sprinted for the hole shot. I chose to sit back, start from the second row and follow. Rob took the lead and got a gap on everyone in the single-track early. I was back in 4th or 5th and John was a couple spots ahead. Though there were lots of other men to keep tabs on, he was my main concern. When we hit the pavement after the first single-track he jumped. I followed suit and tucked in behind him. When we hit the climb out of the field onto the rocky off-camber single-track, John passed Rob. I did as soon as I could also, following closely. When we got back on the short pavement I pulled ahead wanting to hit the longest climbing section of the course in front. I was overdressed and melting down, the climb though short was brutally steep and excruciating painful and John was right on my wheel. We finished the lap in lock step and started the next the same. Coming into the climb the second time I was going unsustainably hard and knew it. I never looked back and kept grinding up the hill, passing a rider from a different field on the way.

At the top I could hear John right on my wheel and I knew that it was over. He matched my hardest effort, an effort I couldn't sustain. It was with pure shock and utter joy that I saw the racer from the younger group come by me as we started to descent from the top. I'd started to compliment John in fact and had to correct myself. A quick check back showed that it was just the two of us so I recovered briefly then passed the rider back and charged forth with a renewed confidence. From there I could race my race, at my steady and conservative pace, and not have to worry about putting the digs in to try and wear down another person, the same digs that took their toll on you.

In the end the new bike, the 2013 Cannondale Scalpel 1 worked great on it's initial full length race, save one incident with the remote lockout getting pushed and riding with the fork locked out for about half a lap. I really do think that lockout is stupid and wish that there was a good way to remove it without needing new shocks. The bike is crazy light and super fast but also handled the rocks and abuse without issue. I'm very happy with it. This was also the first race where we were able to rock the new Bikeway Source/Bell Lap Racing team kits. Very spiffy and they actually match the bike, which is ultra pro.

Speaking of ultra pro, Cathy had a phenomenal race in a huge field coming in third in the Cat1 35+ and fourth overall amongst all of the Cat1 age groups. That is a super result for her and hopefully an indicator of things to come this season. The longer races suit her well and in reality, she was killing it on the climb, ironic given that she loves to say she can't climb. It's just about watts regardless of whether up, down or flat and Cathy has the watts. Hopefully she will realize that for good and once we get her technical confidence back to where it was ten years ago, she will be crushing.

Lots of words and a big meandering post. My point to start was that I'm not sure where I belong. I've had very good success where I am, but does that make me a sandbagger and should I move on? Is there competition in my field right now? Tough questions. I know that depending on who shows up at any given race is what dictates what the competition will be and that there are a whole bunch of 40-49's out there that are really fast and show every once in a while, in addition to those fast guys that show every race.

Right now and in reality for the past few years, the Cat1 Men's 40-49 race is the biggest, the fastest and the deepest of the Cat1 fields. But where does that leave me? Should I suffer through the Pro/Open races, physically exhausting myself for mid pack finished and again become disenchanted? Should I just stop racing all together and just ride for fun? Isn't racing fun though and if not, why do it?

Or is it reasonable to think that building up the Cat1 field will draw competition back in for those old guys like me that don't feel the need to claim we race at the elite level? I guess that I'll see how it goes the next race or two, see who shows up and see what people think. I don't want to take anything away from anyone and if I'm doing the wrong thing than so be it.

As a footnote, my time from Sunday's race would have put me in 12th in the Pro/Open race, by the way. The last time I did Hop Brook was in 2009 in my first Pro/Open race and I finished 8th in a similar field. I was happy with that result. Not sure I'd be so happy with this one.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Still Waiting for Spring

It seems like it has been a long time coming but my hope is that spring really is just around the corner. Each week we seem to be getting more and more glimpses of a reprieve. That said we were back into the 20's overnight and in the low 30's this AM. Couple that with the cold wind and it's down right cold. We had a few good days though, last weekend and then Thursday and Friday of this week. Of course the Tuesday night Turkey Vulture road smack-down finished up with just above freezing temperatures.

I know, this is just a good old fashioned winter but the contrast from the past couple of years feels so harsh. For instance, the spring flowers are a solid two to three weeks behind. We only started to see the crocus starting to poke their heads out last week and the daffodils just came out the later part of this week. Again, that I'm sure is actually the norm but we got used to seeing the first signs of spring earlier, in March rather than into April. Those signs give hope of the seasonal change to a more temperate climate. I guess last year doesn't count really, as it pretty much never got cold and we had consistent late spring conditions in February.

I put the snow-blower away yesterday and rearranged the garage. I also cleaned the vehicles and swept an unbelievable amount of road salt from the garage floor. The reality is that I need to now wash the floor to remove the remaining powdery white film which delights in tracking everywhere. I can see why so many local towns ran into budget issues trying to keep ahead of the roads from all of the winter storms. Apparently they did not spare the road salt. It's unfortunate that they can't reclaim some of that. It does a number to the vehicles as well. I noticed chunks of rust flaking off yesterday as I washed the undercarriage of my 2005 Toyota Tacoma, a truck known for premature rusting and failure of the frame. I fully plan to drive it until it buckles, dies, or they recall and buy it back, which they did of course with the model years directly preceding mine.

Anyhow, as the dates slip by on the calendar we surely march forward into spring. It is after all, inevitable, and will at some point arrive for good. I'm ready for it and for the renewal. Many projects are on hold at present waiting for the warmer weather. With luck, it will be here soon.