Thursday, April 24, 2008


Sorry for not posting for 3 weeks--it has been a very busy time!  I will keep this one short in anticipation of a longer one after Easterns at Dartmouth this weekend.

Second of all: I got 11th at Battenkill after leading out the sprint!  I was one of only 19 guys to make the final selection . . . the race was awesome and went very well for me, I am definitely finding my racing legs.  In case you have never heard of this race, here is a great description from

Largest one-day US race set for April

The 2008 Tour of the Battenkill Cycling Race in Salem, New York has become the largest one-day race in the United States, organisers announced Thursday. With 1200 current registrants, the race has already surpassed Monterey California's Sea Otter Classic, and more than 1600 racers from across the US and Canada are expected to race on April 19.

The event, which is hosted in cooperation with the Towns & Villages of the Battenkill Valley will benefit Farm Team Cycling of Cambridge – an area Junior-level cycling team, and the Public Libraries of Southern Washington County, NY. Starting and finishing in the rural village of Salem, New York the race features one of the most challenging and unique race courses on the North American calendar with a single 55 mile loop, rolling countryside, direct passes through small villages, covered bridges, and the un-paved roads that have become the race's trademark.

Challenging sections of the course include Juniper Swamp Road in the Town of Salem – a 1/4 mile un-paved climb with a 15% grade, Meeting House and Becker Roads in Easton – four very difficult un-paved climbs that come late in the course, and the challenging climb up Willard Mountain at mile 30.

The Elite and Professional Men will race on an extended 82 mile course that will feature the rarely-traveled McKie Hollow Road in the Town of White Creek – a half-mile unpaved climb that averages 12-15% in grade, and a final seven mile circuit in the Town of Salem. Along the way, racers will pass directly through the Villages of Cambridge and Greenwich giving spectators several opportunities to see the race.

There are 17 separate races from Junior to Professional Men's & Women's races. Among the Professional teams attending are the Advil/Chapstick Women's Professional Cycling Team, Kenda/Raleigh Men's Cycling Team, Calyon-Litespeed Professional Cycling of Montreal, Target Training Elite Development Team, Team RACE Professional Cycling of Ontario, Fitness Together / IF pb Lionette's Men's Elite Cycling, MetLife Pro-Am Cycling, and VW/Trek of Quebec.

Third: I got 7th at the Lower Providence, PA criterium against a stacked field of Colavita and Rite-Aid riders after being off the front for 13 laps with Chris Ruhl (PA Lightning) and Luca Damiani (Colavita), with a 30 second gap, but Rite-Aid gradually pulled us back.  The final 10 laps had many attacks but the field was pretty much whittled down to Colavita, Rite-Aid, and a few guys not on those teams including my teammate Jackie Simes.  We worked well together covering moves, but it was gruppo compacto for the final lap.

I went into the fast penultimate turn in perfect position, 7th place, and knew that I was feeling really good for the uphill, headwind sprint after the final turn . . . until a car pulled onto course and I narrowly avoided DEATH by only ripping off its driver's mirror with my forearm and hip!  I then kept on the gas a bit and made it back up to the lead 6 guys for a decent placing . . . mostly I was just incredibly scared, grateful, and pissed about the car incident.

Here are some photos from

After stringing out the field for the first few laps in pouring rain, the elastic snapped and Ruhl, Damiani and were were three for the road, getting up to 30 seconds.

We worked pretty well together, and put in a valiant effort, but the gap started to drop about 1 second per lap as some people chased hard . . .

Who missed the break??  OOOOH, Rite . . . ;-)

Rite-Aid set some tempo, and there were a few attacks in the final 8 laps, but we all came together in the end, just in time to almost crash into a car at 35mph.  I just tried to wait it out and make sure that any dangerous break had Jackie or me represented . . . and of course I know which sprinter's wheel to follow!

I should mention that the previous weekend was the Boston Beanpot, the best weekend of collegiate cycling all season.  We won the TTT handily, by over 40 seconds on a 20 minute course, and then later that Saturday we played our tactics to perfection, getting Nick Bennette off the front with Toby Marzot (Dartmouth) and Jamey Driscol (UVM) helping out--Bennette won.

Princeton: 2.  Everyone else: 0.

Then on Sunday we raced in the infamous Tufts Criterium, a very technical and extremely difficult race with a poorly-paved steep climb and some bad cobble crosswalks, not to mention a 30+mph downhill, off-camber second corner.  I had won this criterium every time I had done it, in 2006 as a freshman and in 2007 as a sophomore.  I knew the race was from the gun, with a break of strongmen always winning.  Ben Showman (Army) and I decided to go from the gun, and I got the holeshot and led the first lap at a blistering pace.  Then Ben came around for the second lap, and then we had only one more with us: Isaac Howe (UVM).  We worked well together, and were soon joined by Josh Lipka (Penn State).  We were just drilling it thinking the pack was close by, when after 20 minutes of racing we saw the pack . . . IN FRONT OF US!  We lapped the field, I quickly moved through to the front, and then we started attacking each other for pretty much the remainder of the race.

Josh countered one of my attacks, and everyone looked at each other and let him go for a little bit . . . give Josh a leash and HE IS GONE.  With the win already sealed up, I tried to get away a few more times, but in the end it came to a sprint and my legs were cooked, well-done.  I got 4th, but definitely had good sensations and put out a HUGE power file that now dwarfs every file I have previously recorded.

Princeton: 2.  Everyone else: 1.

SKETCHY second corner!

Three for the road . . . Ben, sorry about those wheels!  :-(

Four for the road . . . Josh is a beast.

Driving it through the chicane.


Beanpot TTT . . . 351 average and 389 normalized for 20 minutes, not bad considering my ride at nationals last year was also 351 average but just 356 normalized!  We worked together very well, and even though we just had three guys (teams are four), second place was still WAY behind.

First five minutes of the Tufts Criterium--I TOLD you we went hard those first few laps!  420 average and 461 normalized are close to my highest ever five-minute recordings.

Tufts Criterium, the whole race.  Definitely the biggest hour I have ever done.  In the words of Mike Chauner, "that race was like a really hard test--you know it is going to suck and you just sit in your seat and do it."  I don't know that I have ever experienced that much pain during an exam, Mike . . .

The breakaway at Lower Providence with Chris Ruhl and Luca Damiani.  Notice the huge 30-second efforts: those were when I pulled from turn 4 through the uphill, strong-headwind finish and into turn 1, every single lap.  We worked pretty well together, but it was not to be :-(

Thanks a lot for reading, I will have some more updates after the Eastern Championships at Dartmouth this weekend and then fly down for the ARMED FORCES CIRCUIT RACE MAY 4TH IN D.C. WITH TIME PRO CYCLING!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Well, right after camp I got down to business with some serious and seriously hard training . . . and forgot that I had scheduled 4 days easy/off at the tail end of Spring Break!  Now I am not one to declare that I can predict the future, but I know myself pretty well by now and I NEEDED that break in order to build back up through April and race strong in the Armed Forces circuit race on May 4th.

I went really easy on Wednesday and Thursday for around an hour or so, and was WHIPPED!  I could barely get up from my chair to mess around with this stupid robot that the Fantastic Four (Sol Cycles founders, Tom Yersak, Will Watts, and Doug Wolf, that is!) had to get to autonomously follow a light.  That is a whole other story that is too depressing to talk about now . . . let's just say that not ALL of our classes are stimulating and inspiring!

So I do some good openers on Friday morning and then we all caravan to State College, PA for what should have been an AWESOME weekend of racing: tons of climbing in a decently-long road race, a sweet and windy ITT Sunday morning (short, but hey, I'll take any ITT!), and then a cool 60-minute crit later that afternoon.  Well, after crashing <10>

Then things got interesting: I took Tylenol on an empty stomach, after a demanding race, and then by dinner time I was feeling the need to pray to the porcelain gods.  Well, none were to be found, but an alleyway outside the race banquet suited me just fine!  Needless to say, I missed dinner and had to cram down some gas station sandwiches just before a terrible night's sleep on sore hips and road rash before waking up at 6:30AM to suit up and warm-up in sub-freezing weather for a prologue TT.  Yeah, this is collegiate racing.

I was throwing up in my mouth while pre-riding the TT course, and wisely decided to call it off before it started.  I cruised back around town found some breakfast, then went back to our awesome host house and proceeded to crash on their futon for over 3 hours.  The whole day is pretty hazy to me--I was just completely whipped from a too-long stint of training and racing, some serious stress from school and crashing, and not enough sleep in the previous few days.

As cyclists, we tend to push through things because to get good, you have to know how.  That said, it is very important to listen to one's body and think days and weeks ahead and KNOW how different training and races are going to affect you, as well as quantifying non-cycling stresses which play just as large a role in your performance.  After looking at my performance manager and seeing the blue Chronic Training Load line just flat for a long time, near my peak-to-date of 135 training stress points per day, that tells me a lot: I have been holding on to a lot of fitness for too long without a break and another build-up period.  I know I could have stayed with that front group up the climb because when I was with them and watching the watts, they were easily 40-60 below what I can do for 20 minutes.  However, I could definitely NOT do it that day!

Now I know what to watch out for in the future, and I know at least a ballpark limit for myself: when I get above 130 TSS/day, I should only hold it for a week or two at most before taking a nice break and recovering.  Your fitness as an elite cyclist is not the kind of "fitness" that 99% of the populations talks about--rather, it is an incredibly high level of stress that your body has adapted to for a finite period of time.  The hardest part of cycling is not getting to that point, it is figuring out how to arrive at that point on or during your most important events, and then doing it multiple times throughout the season.  I am not talking of a "peak" because those are often far too difficult to predict, I am just talking of having an overall form of 7+ on a scale of 1-10.  From there, you just have to do a lot of events and know that you will really hit it out of the park in only a couple.  It is a LONG season, after all!

By the way, look for big things from Sol Cycles in the coming couple of months . . . those bamboo bikes are getting quite a lot of interest!