Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Lost Month

Howdy Ho!

I have not posted a new entry in a while. It's been a very busy and depressing month. The death of a beloved family member will do that. Nothing seems to be very important. However life goes on and things are starting to return to normal. My wife is hating life at her new job, but like a trooper she's hanging in there. Money helps and she's making a pretty decent wage for someone who's never had a real job before. She'll get used to it eventually. As our debts disappear she'll be even more motivated to keep at it.

Allot has happened training wise this month. I have fallen behind schedule on weight loss and the Hunter/Coogan training plan. I'm still hovering around 205 pounds and haven't gone up or down in about 3 weeks. This is because I have stopped tracking my food consumption in the Training Peaks journal. I need to get back to that right away because I am eating too much. Fortunately I'm riding enough to even it out.

Fitness wise, It's been a so so month. Since the last posting about Greenbelt I have done 2 BAR events and did not do well at either event. I have also been sliding backward on the Davidsonville Ride. My tempo pace is increasing, but since I have shirked the training plan, I have not been getting in any quality VO2 max intervals or any sprints. This was painfully obvious at Bike Jam and RFK. It's also comes to play on the D'ville rides too. I cannot respond to the repeated acceleration. I'm OK initially or if I stay to the front. But once the race wicks up, I'm spit out the back.

In light of this I have decided to go ahead and volunteer at every BAR race left on the calender as a moto ref and only race at Greenbelt, and hit the D'ville rides for the rest of the season. I can be of more use to ABRT in this capacity since I earn BAR points for officiating. Weight loss needs to be my focus for the rest of the year. Hopefully I can come good for Cross. I really wanna try that! Right now I need to put the miles in and get the weight off once and for all with out the added stress of high intensity training. I should have done this over the winter. But I didn't and so there it is. This winter I will be more motivated to stay on the bike to maintain the fitness.

No point in recapping 2 DNFs at Bike Jam or RFK. Needless to say I raced them both not very smart. Bike Jam more so than RFK.

On a more positive note, I did do well at Greenbelt last night. I remembered my mistake from 2 weeks ago and did my damnedest to stay on the front. My only spot of bother was the prime with 3 to go, but I was able to close that gap on the downhill and get back on the front for the final 2 laps. At the end of the last lap, I sat up. As a Cat 4, I should even be in the C race, so I wont contest anything. I figure another couple of weeks in the C's and my power to weight ratio should be good enough for a right proper suffering in the B race. All in all, I was very satisfied with my ride even thought I am technically sandbagging it. Practically speaking, it still kicked my ass.

Next week I will be back on track with Week In Review.



Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fatguy, You Big Dummy!!!

Note to self:

Stay up front.

On a whim and since I had my Jeep and my stuff, I decided to blow outta work at 10 till 5 to beat traffic to G-belt instead of just training local roads and going home. I wanted to get there early enough to see if i could weasel my fat cat 4 ass in to the C race. I was prepared to deal with suffering thru the B until they dropped me. Thanks to the Rt-1 guy who said OK for me to ride the C. I hadn't done a race there since 1999. Back then I suffered badly enough on that stupid hill in the B race (they had stopped doing the C for a couple years and I was Cat 4 anyway) that I lost all desire to wanna race there anymore. This season my training has been pretty good and I have resolved to cast out old demons by entering races that I know I will suck at.

How'd it go?

Well...Not bad. I spent the first 7 laps on the front, staying outta trouble and outta the wind. I was pretty comfortable just staying in the front 10 riders. And I was thinking that maybe, I shoulda signed up for the B race after all. I had 2 teammates in the race, Alex and Mike. Alex is riding really really well this year and he was on the front or near the front the whole race. I pretty much sat on his wheel. It's a weasel thing to do, but I know my limitations. One the 8th lap i started drifting back a few spots to take on some water and found myself getting outta the saddle way too much to maintain the gaps. That's when the wheels fell off. I had blown psychologically as my old demons on the hill came to haunt me and I gave up let myself get gapped off. To tell the truth, my legs were feeling like bags of wet cement. It's not easy hauling 207 lbs up that hill 11 times. On the downhill, I snapped out of it and gave chase to get back on. I knew the pack would coast down the hill, so I actually closed some of the gap to within about 100 feet by the time the bottom of the hill started. I did my best to get up there, but the psychology of that fracking hill just works my head over into a pile of goo. Well there was no coming back for me, but I has passed a whole bunch of guys who came off and guys who were already lapped and I decided to do my best to keep the group in sight. For the next 3 laps I did my best to keep up the tempo and I really did keep the pack in sight right up to the end. My last trip up the hill, I was completely blown, physically and mentally. I kinda just slowly drifted across the line, glad that my odreal was over. But I was very happy that I didnt give up. I managed 16th outta 25+ starters.

When it was all done, I kinda felt pretty good about myself. I never do that well here. But tonight I got a nice moral boost. I can do this race after all. Tonight, the only thing that kept me from staying with the group the whole race was my own stupidity. If they'll let me, I want to ride the C race maybe 2 more times and then move myself to the B race. And let the suffering begin anew.

Shout out to Alex, He managed to win the race. I think it was his first race to boot. He's been training really hard too and looking good at all the D'ville rides lately. It was no surprise to any one on the team that he did well. He'll be in that B race soon enough too.

Just a thought.

Perhaps the rules at Greenbelt can be bent a little to let 200+ (Clydesdale) Cat 4 guys into the C race without question. I think I speak for allot of us when I say, that staying in a race for more than 3 laps is a wonderful morale boost. It makes me really wanna drop the pounds off and get where I should be.



Monday, May 12, 2008

F U Speed Channel - The Monza Edition

Two races in row with this Sunday race 1, Tuesday race 2 shit? Repeats of Pinks and Two Guys Garage can be rescheduled so you douchbags can air BOTH WSBK races. One the same day. One after the other.

It was fecking M O N Z A you dolts. The Holy Land of WSBK.

You guys at SPEED suck so much ass you need a Listerine enema.



PS - Thank you for the continued live coverage of F1.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Ride From Hell. My Day At The Races - Ft. Ritchie, MD

Last time I wrote about my adventures as a new moto ref at the Poolesville road race. That was a great day. One of the things that made it great was the weather. It was sunny and warm most of the day. It wasn't supposed to be, but it ended up that way. No complaints from me.

Fast forward one week.

I volunteered for the Cascade Crit Race, promoted by the AVC team, and was assigned to be a moto ref for this new crit on a now closed Army base called Ft. Ritchie. I turned out to be the only moto ref on the day. No problems, I love to ride. As long as I get 5 minutes between races to pee or grab a bite and sip of coffee, I'm good to go. Put me in Coach!

About 2 weeks before the race my wife, Dana, tells me she would like to come along for the ride. Not as pillion mind you, but on her bike. Long ago her exact words were, "You ain't getting me on the bitch seat, I'll ride my own thank you very much!" Again, no problems there either. She can ride and ride well at that. Besides, I could use the company on the ride up and back. Not to mention a friendly face to say hello to during the breaks.

After yesterdays event, my wife informs me that she will no longer be accompanying me to any more races that I will be a moto ref.

What an awful day it started out being. We both awoke at 4:15 am to get on the road by 5:00 am. The event staff and officials needed to be there 1 hour before the first race starts at 8:00 am. I loaded the route in my Garmin GPS. It was 88 miles one way. That works about to about an hour and forty-five minutes with my wife in tow. Maybe an hour fifteen had I been going solo.

It was raining. Hard. No worries. I was expecting this and prepped the bikes and gear the night before for a rain ride. We both geared up, put on our rain wear and hit the highway. For the next two hours it was a brutal slog from Annapolis to Ft. Ritchie. The only saving grace of this ride was the hour we were doing it. There is not much traffic anywhere that early on a Saturday morning. My allegedly waterproof gloves were indeed not waterproof. I decided to forgo electrics that morning because it didn't seem like I'd need them. So I left them in the side case. Needless to say that by the time I was halfway there I was cold and wet not very comfortable at all. Dana was doing much much worse. She couldn't find her rain pants and decided to wear her over pants over her jeans. She ended up getting soaked to the bone. Her boots were not very water resistant either. Wet feet and socks. I on the other hand fared much better. My rain gear was first rate except for the collar area. It wouldn't stay closed and thru the course of the ride water seeped into and down my neck and shoulder area. The top of my t-shirt and Craft windproof turtle neck were soaked. As was the collar area of my Olympia Airglide jacket. My Revit Ergo 2 boots were very waterproof and continued to stay that way all day. Phew.

We arrived at Ft. Ritchie after getting very lost somewhere on Rt-550. Damn Garmin had me turning up Ft. Ritchie Road instead of staying on Rt-550. This duped two others heading to the race. Eventually we made our way back to the front gate. But not before riding some seriously twisty, sketchy roads in the pouring rain. Not exactly my idea of fun when my wife is along for the ride. As soon as we parked the bikes the both of us stripped down to assess how soaked with water we were. I managed to get lucky as it was only my gloves, t-shirt and turtle neck that got affected. Dana's jeans were about seventy percent soaked thru. Along with her socks. We brought our small tent for her to hang out in to stay out of the weather. The Easy Up we own is too big to strap to a scooter. It turned out that she never came out once set up and in there. She had her pants off and was wrapped in the blanket she brought sitting in the folding chair we also brought along. I checked on her a couple times and brought her some hot food I picked up while getting gas after the 30+ race. She had managed to hang up all wet stuff hoping for it to dry during the day. I even caught her napping a couple of times too. She's such a trooper. I think I'll keep her.

While Dane was getting set up, I got my bike and myself prepped for the races. This time the electrics came out of the case. My Gerbings jacket kept me warm and toasty until the sun came out. One of the added benefits of the dry heat, aside from keeping me from freezing from windchill, is that it dryed out my Craft turtleneck baselayer. By the time the sun came out close to noonish, my stuff was dry. I brought a couple of extra helmets with me too. Normally I sport a Shoei RF1000 helmet for all riding. But last year I bought an HJC skid lid with a removable ear and neck attachment. It looks like a motorcycle cop's lid. I got it to be able to take photos at cycling events since its easier to put a camera eyepiece up the my eye with an open face helmet. Since I need to be able to work a mic and talk to riders and more importantly, hear them talking to me, I drafted this helmet for moto ref duties. I also brought, on a whim, a third 3/4 helmet with a flip up full face shield in case it rained. Turned out to be a good decision as this was the helmet I used for the morning races while it was raining. Normally I don't advocate wearing anything other than a full face helmet on the on the street, but for races they are perfect. I feel less vulnerable at bike races speeds when I'm wearing them. I think I will purchase a Shoei modular for next season. I mounted up my stop watches on a RAM mount between the clip-ons and broke out the divers writing slate and strapped it to the tank bag mount on my gas tank. Neat little item that is. Lets me write down the numbers of all youse guys and gals who end up OTB in the pouring rain. Works in the dry too.

I was doing allot of writing lemme tell you. Ft. Ritchie is one hellava race course. Fast and selective. It's a 6 (4 rights and 2 lefts) turn crit in about .8 mile around a lake. This is a course you need to pay attention on and not let a gap open up in front of you. If you do, your done. There was quite a bit of that going on. The first two races, the Cat 5 masters and Cat 5 open were brutal. I filled my small slate with numbers in both events. More guys were off the back than were left in the main groups at the finish of both races. One of the guys who placed in the Cat 5 masters race ended up in a bush after the dumpster in the chicane section. He was OK, but his bike's rear brake/shifter was toast. That was the first of only two crashes the whole day. I like that. The other occurred on like lap 2 or 3 of the 1/2/3 race and he remounted and got back in from the wheel pit. The wheel pit got alot of use yesterday. Wet courses have a way of making that happen. Next up were the masters 50/60 the 40+ and the 30+. I'm quite happy to say that the boys in blue and green from the mighty ABRT ruled the roost in those events. I'm so happy to be part of that team. Great bunch of guys and gals, all. During the 30+ race the rain started to let up. Buy the time the women's races were going, the sun came out and much to my relief started drying up the course. I was hoping for this because I knew on this parcours I would need every once of grip I could get once the 1/2/3 boys started hammering it out. Speaking of the women, I have to admit that following them was probably the highlight of my day. You ladies really look good from my vantage point. I'm sorry if this sounds sexist, but so what. You all look great so deal with it. Turns out that women's race had the fewest numbers marked on the slate-o-doom. The big split aside, they kept their groups together pretty well. Speaking of big splits, What the heck happened in the 1/2/3 race? I mean, I know what happened, but fellas, before the split I was kneedragging thru the corners. You guys were fricking fast as shit until that split. Even thru the firehouse section, I never hit the brakes. I was having the time of my life out there on the Duc. It was like being at a free track day, but without the high speeds. I was getting down to bidness out there, especially on that last turn on to the home stretch. The chicken strips on my Contis are almost gone and I even managed to round off my rear tire again. Yeeeehawwwww! Then the split happened, you all sat up and no more fun for the Fatguy. Boooooo!

Just kidding. You guys really rock. It was a pleasure to work your event. You guys taxed my moto the least and never let me get bored. Except of course when I was stuck on the back with the laughing group.

The last two events, the Cat 4 and Cat 3 races were pretty good too. Nobody crashed. The cat 4 race was pretty standard stuff. No breaks got away and it came down to a field sprint. The cat 3 race was pretty wild. The break got established early and on to lapping the the field in short order. I thought they would ride thru and finish for the glory, but they didn't and the race came down to a field sprint.

Oh well.

Once the races were done, Dana and I packed and loaded the bikes for the sunny evening ride home. I got my check, said my good byes and off we went. I was never so glad to be home. Both of us. That was a long day. We climbed off the bikes and left them were we parked them until morning. My total mileage for the day was about 400 give or take a couple miles. We left home at 5:30 am and arrived back home at 8:30 pm. The only thing that hurt were my wrists. They still hurt.

I was supposed to crank out a 3-4 hr ride today as the capper to my rest week. I didn't do shit. My wife and I hit the sack at 9:30 pm and woke up at 5:30am. She went to work at the ice cream factory and I turned on the tube to watch GP2 and the Turkish GP. Later that day I hooked up with my dad and my wife's dad and the three of us went to see Iron Man.

That movie rocked! Go see it.



Papa's Got A Brand New Bag

As of May 3rd, 2008 I am a professional motorcycle rider. Note I said rider, not racer. The Poolesville RR was my first gig as a USA Cycling motorcycle referee. After the race, I got handed a check. For riding a motorcycle. I was so happy, I couldn't stand myself. It wasn't a big check, but a check none the less. Thank you, NCVC and USA Cycling! Woot!! Truth be told, I would probably do it for free. I love riding my moto. Finally, after years and years of throwing money away on bikes, parts and entry fees i have found a way to sustain my pass/fail racing and pay for maintenance on the big Duke. Valve jobs and timing-belt replacements on Ducati 4-valve watercooled engines ain't cheap. Lucky for me I know how to do everything else.

Anyway, lemme reflect on my first day as a motorcycle referee. Number one, it's a hard job. I used to make fun of the those fat guys on the Beemers, but no more. I have a new found respect for them all. Riding a moto all day is not for the faint of heart. If i get picked to moto at the Tour of Washington County, I'm gonna check to see if the mileage and time will qualify for an Iron Butt category. While you don't need uber cardiovascular fitness to ride a motorcycle all day, you do need stamina and a strong constitution. In a 12 hr work day a rider can easily burn as many calories as a competitor does in one race hour. So while the effort is not nearly as intense, it is a slow burn that eats away at a riders endurance. Riding the same roads over and over and over and over and over wears away at your will and concentration. I found my self yawning yesterday at Ft. Ritchie during the Cat 4 race. Must be something about Cat 4 races, as I tend to yawn during them as a competitor too.

Poolesville was an interesting event to work for my first time. Before the race, I was as worried as the racers about the dirt section. A 120hp Ducati ST4s with grippy Conti Sport Attack tires is not exactly the perfect tool for off road riding any more than say a Colango C-50 w/Zipp 404's. I was also loathing the wash job I would have to do on my shiny red bike after the day was over too. Dirt like that gets everywhere and that means stripping the fairings off the bike to get it cleaned out. That's never fun. It's time consuming and every time I do it I find that the wellnut fasteners that hold the fairing sections together get wore out a just a little more with every removal.

I can say with out reservation that I was worried about nothing. The bike handled that section of the course with aplomb. The stock suspension on an ST4s is 2nd to none in sport touring circles with fully adjustable Showa Ti-Nitride coated sliders up front and a fully adjustable, remote preload, remote reservoir Ohlins shock on the rear. The bumps and potholes were barely noticeable. Judging by the number of ejected water bottles I saw, I don't think the riders can say the same thing. My first time thru the woods, I had thought there had been was a crash in the 40/50+ race that our caravan was following. There were so many of them in one particularly bad spot. There were a ton a pot holes too. As the lead moto I was doing my best to point them out with my foot and talking the best line down the road. I hope that helped them a little. Here's a tip fellas, take the same line as the moto. My partner for the day, Duane, pointed out to me after the morning session that the Cat 4/5 racers we were escorting were fastest thru the dirt than anywhere on the parcours. He was seeing 30+ mph allot on his speedo. I wasn't really paying attention to mine since I was too busy picking my way thru the potholes on that stretch of River Rd.

The rest of the loop was pretty to look at and pretty uneventful. Except for the 2 crashes that I had the misfortune to attend too. The first one involved NCVC rider Drew Armstrong. Drew took a flyer in the 2nd mile of the 4/5 race and after one full lap had built up a 45 second advantage over the peloton. However before the turn onto West Offut road, after cresting the little bump that leads to the fast downhill section before that turn, I found Mr. Armstrong lying on the side of the road almost in the ditch. I was thinking he had run into one of the OTB 40/50+ guys, but no, he had crashed solo.

Here and now, Lets put a rumor to bed, that I understand from Drew himself, that's going around the local blogs on the interwebs.

I did not crash him out.

Drew was a victim of his own misfortune. He told me at the scene that he had one hand on the bar and one hand reaching for a bottle and hit a bump that sent him ass over teacups onto the tarmac. He looked pretty bad too when I got there seconds after he fell. I got to give a big shout out to the corner workers for helping me relay radio messages to get help. And thank goodness the EMT was following the 4/5 race too, they were on the scene pretty quick. It was quickly surmised that Drew would need alternate transport, so I called 911 on my cell phone to get it there. They got there pretty quick too. Drew turned out to be OK and only suffered a busted chin and lots of rash. Tough kid. I saw him at the Ft. Ritchie crit yesterday not looking any worse for the experience except for an ugly scab on his chin and road rash in the usual places.

While Drew was being tended too, A couple two, three fellas in the Masters 40/50+ race decided that racing was no fun anymore and promptly crashed themselves out right in front of the ambulances that were tending to Drew. How convenient is that? Two guy put themselves into the weeds and one guy hit the road. Two of them were OK and rode the mile and a half back to the school on broken bikes. The third guy got a trip to the E-room. He's OK too.

By the time all the roadside fun had been cleaned up, I remounted and caught up to my race in time for it to be over. Awesome! My first race as a moto and I barely get to ride. Just like my racing career as a Cat 4.

It didn't get any better for the afternoon session. After a very long break, Duane and I took on the Women's 3/4 race. Once again after what seemed like only one lap in (it was probably more) we came upon a nasty crash. This one was about as far away from start/finish as it could be. On an uphill section, a Cat 1/2/3 race participant, Steve Black, was lying on the road pretty banged up not looking well at all. They tell me he lost consciousness at least once. The problem with that part of the course is that radio messages again had to be relayed. After what seemed like forever and several more anxious radio calls later the EMT finally made it there. I let my race go up the road with Duane and I stayed behind to direct local and race traffic around the accident scene which took up the whole road save for a small opening up on the left side. There were some non-racing cyclist doing the Team In Training thing in the area who had sag support with them. The saggers stopped to help out too. A shout out for them! Bravo guys and gals from Team in Training.

Once the crash site was cleaned up and the EMT off and running with Steven Black I remounted to rejoin my field. The field had been well shattered so I took up station with about 4 ladies who were working well together after being detached from the main field. We finished up and I rode back on to the course to pickup another field. I ended up shadowing what turned out to be the winning break in the Men's 1/2/3 race. Damn those guys are fast. I like riding behind these guys. Very steady and not allot of need for braking and riding the friction zone, wearing out my clutch hand. Did I mention that my ST4s has a dry clutch? A Ducati dry clutch is a thing of beauty, but the pull at the lever is a bit much. The winner, David Fuentes of Battley HD elite team, broke away from his 3 companions on the hill leading to penultimate turn for the home stretch and just rode away from them. I followed him in to the finish and parked the bike. The day was finally over. And what a day. Great fun. I couldn't wait to do it again. I didn't have long to wait. The Cascade Crit at Ft. Ritchie was in 7 days...

Some observations.

1. Races don't look nearly as sketchy when viewing them from a moto as they do when your in them. But you can still pick out the problem riders easily. I cant believe Ii race with some of youse guys. Catting up to 3 is high on my list of cycling goals for the next season or two.

2. Bib shorts are not the best thing to wear under moto gear. That's allot of gear to remove just to take a piss. I don't own anything but bib shorts, so a trip to Performance for some regular cycling shorts is in short order.

3. Cycling shorts are a butt saver when the day calls for sun up to sun down riding.

4. Race day is not the day to find out your newly acquired radio headset gear don't work.

5. A Ducati ST4s can go slow if it has too. So can it's owner. And both can do it without much complaining.

6. I don't know why pro teams don't use spotters on motos to help develop race strategies as the action happens. You can see more and better from a bike than you can from a team car in a caravan. On the other hand, maybe they do, and I just don't know about it.

7. I need to ditch the stock clutch slave for an easier pulling Evo unit. My clutch hand gets quite a workout. My brake hand, not so much. In fact I hardly touched them.

Look for a Ft. Ritchie write up latter. That was a truly epic day on the moto.



Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lois Wall-Krawczyk 1925-2008

Bye, Lois. You will be sorely missed by me, Dana and Nancy who have seen the joy and happiness you've brought Dad these last 15 years. Your memory and sprit will always live on thru him and us.

In Loving Memory Lois O Wall-Krawczyk
08/05/1925 - 5/5/2008

Wall-Krawczyk, On May 5, 2008 Lois O (Nee O'Connor) a member of the liver transplant team at Johns Hopkins Hospital who retired in 1993 and a group therapy counselor for HIV mothers. beloved wife of John E. Krawczyk, devoted mother of Michael J. Wall, Patrick T. Wall, Richard L. Wall, Elizabeth J. Kerley, Julie A. Healey, John E. Krawczyk, Jr, Nancy T. Waldrip and Jessica Williamson, dear sister of Kathleen Norteman, James O'Connor, Marge Lucas, Grace Kidwell and Marian Bolle. Also survived by 12 grandchildren. Relatives and friends are invited to call at the family owned and operated MCCULLY-POLYNIAK FUNERAL HOME, P.A. 3204 Mountain Road (PASADENA) on Wednesday 3-5 and 7-9 P.M. Where family and friends will gather on Thursday at 9:00 A.M. and proceed to the Our Lady of the Chesapeake Church for a 10:00 A.M. Mass. Interment Meadowridge Memorial Park Cemetery.

Contributions maybe made to:
Parkinson's Disease Foundation
710 West 168th Street
New York, New York, 10032

No Week in Review this week.