Lunch Ride

Ride data at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/14802363 .

Today, I joined Boris (a co-worker at Model N) on the Lunch Ride. It's an excuse for all of the local fast riders to go for a spin every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The ride is quite fast, just under race pace. I was the youngest and least experienced rider out today, and that's saying something.

The level of experience here is really something. The stronger riders in today's ride seemed to be Cat 1 and Cat 2 racers. In terms of speed and experience, there is a big jump from collegiate racing to Pro/1/2 racing. I'm imagining races full of clones of Josh Lipka and Nick Frey. I'm looking forward to climbing yet another steep learning curve.

I spoke with some members of the SugarCRM/Los Gatos elite team. It's one of the teams in the area that I'm interested in joining; I'm still in an information gathering phase. This is probably a good time to discuss some of the things I'm looking for in an elite team, in no particular order.
  • Mentorship. Racing bicycles at a high level requires many years of experience. An elite team can have, between its members, well over a century of race knowledge. I've just begun to notice trends in races - the pace in a points race slows after a bell lap, most of the breaks get caught in road races. Though discovery is fun and useful, learning through shared experience is way more time efficient.
  • Structure. I'm pretty good about setting aside time to ride, falling into a routine, and achieving training goals. Still, having a well matched group is beneficial in setting a training and racing plan.
  • Transportation. A subtle but key point. I don't own a motor vehicle, nor do I want one. I'd like reliable carpool buddies to races. I think it's a crying shame that we need to burn so much gas to race our bicycles, but like flat tires, it's part of the sport.
  • A Compatible Approach. I couldn't think of a good single word to describe this. As a cyclist, I'm very detail oriented, and heavily favor the use of technology in obtaining real-time and after-the-fact data. I've learned so much from cyclists who are also detail-oriented and willing to patiently share what they've learned, instead of sharing generalizations and vagaries.
  • Friends. Enjoying the company of teammates on and off the bike is key to performance. Race weekends can feature 6 hours of racing, 12 hours of driving, and 10 hours of down time. I race best when I'm happy and just out to have fun. When I asked Mike Garrett why he rode with Kahala/La Grange for so many years, the answer was simple: "they're a good bunch of guys."
With all of collegiate cycling behind me, it's time to start thinking about the next level.


Track Nationals Results

Full track nationals results are now online at the USAC Web site.

More Photos from Track Nationals

I just received some links from some teammates.

Nick Loomis sent some photos from the weekend and a video of the men's team pursuit. Matt Blackburn sent in his own photos from the weekend.

I'll post more as it comes in.


Track Nationals: Day Three

I woke up this morning and checked the weather. Rain at 5pm! Uh oh! As a result, today's schedule was heavily altered. The men's tema pursuit qualifier became the finals, the women's match sprints all happened in the morning, and the points race, the headline event, was bumped forward to 4pm. A highly unusual move for a highly unusual situation.

The 3km team pursuit was not our finest. We had a mechanical at the start, and were unable to stay together. Our first two laps were reasonably fast, and I think that if we were to do it again, we would be faster. Our time did not give us a podium position, but did fetch us some team omnium points.

Laura Ralson made it into the match sprints. She won one of her heats in the reps, but was relegated after coming out of the sprinter's lane for the second time. D'oh! It was a really impressive performance nevertheless.

Mike Garrett and I were in two separate points race qualifiers. The points race awards points to the first four across the line every six laps. The top 15 (out of about 25) in each qualifier made it to the grand final. Mike more than qualified - he lapped the field twice! I managed to get a single point, qualifying for the real race. How cool is that?

The 30km, 90-lap points race final was fast and furious. My goal of scoring a single point was unattainable. I was able to work for Mike, helping to block and to establish his break. Mike and four others lapped the field, with Mike placing fifth in the points race.

Our distributed strong results put MIT in a strong position for the Division II Team Omnium standings. We earned some 900-plus points, with the second place team earning some 500 or so points. (Full results will be on usacycling.org shortly.) Our points lead means that the members of the 2009 MIT track nationals team are...


I got a stars and stripes jersey and a gold medal. We all did our part, and it was a fantastic weekend. I'm so glad that I made the trip.

I can also obey USA Cycling rule 1N5(e), regarding national champion regalia. I can't wear my jersey when racing anything other than collegiate track, but I can wear Stars and Stripes trims on my race jerseys, forever!


Track Nationals: Day Two

"It's only forty-five pedal strokes!" This was my realization today, regarding the number of pedal strokes needed to get around the 333m velodrome once. I'm glad I figured this out in time for our collegiate team pursuit (two women, four men). We got a silver medal! Take a look!

The second day of track nationals was a good day for MIT. Guo-Liang Chew (Chewie) placed 16th in the 200m flying sprint competition, good enough to enter the match sprint competition. My time, of 12.625 seconds, was enough for 19th place. This did not get me into the match sprint competition, but did earn us some team points.

Our collegiate sprint was a success. We demonstrated beautiful teamwork and placed second in the qualifying round. This got us into the final, gold medal heat. We held on to second and won silver medals for our effort. The women (Laura Ralson, Yuri Matsumoto, Martha Buckley) placed fifth in the women's team pursuit, another good strong result.

MIT has a good lead in the Division 2 Team Omnium competition. If all goes well, we will hold on to our lead in tomorrow's men's team pursuit and points race. Stay tuned!


Track Nationals: Day One

I've received an unusual number of requests to be prompt with information about Nats. I'm glad that so many people are interested in this race!

I graduated from MIT in August, but I'm here with the MIT team at track nationals. Since I was a summer student (working on my thesis), I am still eligible to participate at Nationals. I'm happy to be here - it's a good chance to see some old friends and have some fun on the bicycle. I had to fly out just for the race, on the velodrome here in Trexlertown, PA.

Today's events were the individual pursuits. In the morning, the men raced the clock over 4km (12 laps), the women over 3km (9 laps). In the afternoon, the men chased the kilometer, and the women, 500 meters.

Our results were strong. I raced a 4k time of 5m10.246s, enough for 19th place (top third) in a strong field, and just enough to earn some team omnium points. I did not race the kilo. My gearing for the 4k - 50/14 - made me faster, but it will take some time for me to really dial my gearing. Of course, I'm not a track specialist, certainly not a sprint specialist, and far from top form. I'm happy to post competitive times.

MIT's results today:

4k (3k) 1k (500m)
Mike Garrett 4:57.222 1:10.975
Jose Soltren 5:10.246 null
Tim Humpton 5:33.604 1:19.940
Nick Loomis 5:44.101 1:16.155
Guo-Liang Chew 5:43.416 1:16.760
Zach LaBry 5:24.666 1:20.814
Matt Blackburn 6:11.296 1:25.957
Martha Buckley 4:27.192
Laura Ralston 4:18.380 42.x
Yuri Matsumoto null 44.x

We're in the Division 2 team omnium lead after the morning's events, with our closest competitors Kutztown performing very well. We're looking forward to tomorrow.

For complete results or more information, please see usacycling.org.


Roubaix Warranty?

(I'm being delinquent about posting the many fun things that I've done in the past month. I'll add more updates later this week.)

My primary road bike, since March of 2006, has been a 2005 Specialized Roubaix Elite. Much like the Ship of Theseus, I've replaced every single part on the frame but it's still the same bike. It has at least 15K miles on it, including two cross-USA bicycle tours, many races, and several NYC to Boston trips. No problems yet.

I was surprised on Saturday when the cable stop nearest to the rear hub on the drive side chainstay snapped, making it impossible to shift the rear derailleur. Some older Roubaix models with a single-rivet cable stop were subject to a recall earlier this year, but my bike is not covered under the recall. I brought it to my LBS in haste on Saturday, and am waiting for a response. I'm very glad this happened at home, and not while climbing, say, King Mountain Road.

It's times like this that I am glad to have multiple bikes. Geez.


Cross Country Drive Photos - Geotagged!

I'm still very busy with work, moving in, and riding. I found a little time to geotag all of the photos we took on the drive from Boston to California. We used our GPS log to assign a latitude/longitude to every photo we took. I'm working on a "best of" album that will show the whole trip, but for now, have a look! I think the map feature is really neat.



California - Quick Update

After a drive across the US in a rental truck, I've relocated from MIT to Menlo Park, CA. I'm working on a longer post, including a neat way of posting all of my geo-tagged photos from the trip. For now, feel free to drop me a line if you're in the area.