All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.
- Rod Dixon

I'm feeling rough. I'm feeling raw. I'm in the prime of my life.

Week of 07/02/07

2 hr ride

Just did Falls nice and easy with tank.

Baltimore to DC Regan Airport
5.5 hours

I decided to ride down to Washington DC to visit some friends for the 4th. I was going to stay with my friend Zach who lives in Arlington, VA. The total distance from my place to Zach's place in Arlington, Va is about 55 miles according to Google Maps off-highway measurement. I figured there would be some missed intersections and so I planned on riding 60 miles - my usual Saturday distance. I would have to do it twice in 3 days but I was ready to push my limits a little bit. A nice easy 3.5 hr ride through the hills of Maryland right? Ha!

In typical fashion I didn't start finalizing directions till about 2 pm with plans to leave at 3 pm. I found the following
map, looked up some other ones to get to and from that route to my final destination and left work at 4pm.

On my way out as I was kitting up in front of work and the director of the Space Telescope Science Institute where I work walked by and mentioned that I looked like a pretty serious cyclist. I couldn't help myself and casually mentioned that I was riding my bike to DC - he knows who I am now :)

And I was off!

50 minutes later I had made it to BWI airport 10 miles away through the heart of Baltimore. I had bus-drafted, track-stood, dodged and bunny-hopped bike-eating potholes, ridden through some straight-up ghettos and crossed a bridge on what I'm fairly confident was a highway (with parallel grating).

I was pretty sketched out - but excited.

The next 40 miles required a 2 page long cue sheet and were more of an urban orienteering adventure then anything. It was quite an act of faith. I had directions that were unverified by anyone I knew, posted by some guy I had never met, on a website I'd never heard of and suggested to me by some guy on the listserver of a team I'm not really on. I had lived in the area for less than a
month and knew no one with a car who could come pick me up in case of a mechanical and I was racing the sun.


Every intersection I found was a cause for celebration. Sometimes I had to retrace my steps two or three times while mumbling prayers to myself. I rode everything from bike paths n
ext to horse ranches and the Maryland Woman's Correctional Facility, to on ramps I was positive were going to feed me right onto the interstate. But all I had was the map, so I trusted the map.

But thankfully the on ramps were never highways and when I backtracked and looked carefully the intersections were always there.

Eventually at about 9 at night I pulled on the National Mall letting out yelps of joy. I made a few calls and snapped off a few quick pics before calling up Zach. He told me I was still a ways away but having come this far I was determined to see this out. I had a rough idea of the lay of the land and a few postage stamp-sized maps on my Google printout. After getting some directions from some pretty stunned police officers (I couldn't help myself and casually mentioned again that I had ridden in from Baltimore) I made my way towards the Jefferson monument.

At this point it was dark, I had clipped on my lamp but it was starting to drizzle just the tiniest bit.
Still, I was going to see this out. In the dark I made my way around the banks of the Potomac until finally I cyclo-crossed up a flight of stairs and found myself on a bridge! As I was crossing the river with the biggest of grins I reached back into my backpack where I had my map stashed away to figure out my next step but... IT WAS GONE.

Now I was really up the creek as I crossed over into VA.
To be fair I never had formulated formal directions from the mall to Zach's but still - this was getting comically more desperate by the minute.

Still, I pressed on. I was facing south and wanted to go south - good enough.

I found myself following a commuter on a bike path that I knew was taking me in the right direction along the river. I shielded my eyes as best I could from passing cars on the highway that ran next to the path and I pushed on in the dark on nearly numb feet. After a few miles I found that the path ended at...the airport?

Now I was in the Avis rent-a-car parking lot of the Regan International Airport, it was nearly 10 pm, I had no map but I knew I was within a few miles of Zach's but there was a sizable mess of interstates between him and I. I looked at my watch - I had been riding for 5.5 hours, already my longest day in the saddle.

It was finally time to throw in the towel.

With a sigh I rolled over to a very confused looking
parking attendant and asked for directions to the taxi stands. The man looked to be Indian and by talking to him I got the impression that English was not his first language - nor one whose nuances were completely familiar to him.

These suspicions were confirmed about 7 sec into his directions when I found myself staring at a 2m long stretch of sidewalk that dead-ended into a brick wall...

I found one of his co-workers who had been here longer and he told me the "shortest way".

This involved going through the airport.

So it's now a little after 10 pm and I am on the underground moving walkway gliding at 3 mph into terminal A in full UW kit, clompy cleats, my rode bike and nasty from the road while smooth jazz drifts down from the PA. Aside from my backpack and the fact that I was a human I looked about as out of place as a person possibly could.

How the hell did I end up here again?

Stuff like this always happens to me!

An 8 min $13 cab ride later I end up at Zac's and ate a whole pizza.

For the record the train from Baltimore to DC takes 45 min and only costs $8.

Rest Day

231th Birthday of the oldest democracy in the world. It turns out it takes more than 3 hours to make a Vodka watermelons.

Rest Day

Most of the fun of Tuesday's ride had been in its novelty. Today thunderstorms were threatening and the thought of meandering through back roads of Arlington/DC/Baltimore for half a day didn't seem so appealing anymore. I decided to just take a conventional method of transportation back and have some time to go to work.

Well, the MARK train flat out won't let you take bikes. The Greyhound allows bikes but only in boxes and doesn't sell bike boxes. Amtrak allows boxed bikes and also sells the boxes - but it's a $50 ticket including the box.

As I looked at these options and looked at the nasty weather moving in I knew today w
as a good day to head over to DC and look over the art museum.

Arlington, VA to Baltimore, MD
6 hours

Today, I reluctantly made my way back to Baltimore after a great 2 days in DC. I knew the route better this time and recognized most of the landmarks. However, to complicate things I had to cross the interstate near Zach's house and read all the directions backwards. I had realized while kinda fun this was a tiresome route and not good training. It took me over an hour to make it to Regan (about 5 miles) and then over 2 hours to get out of central DC (about 10-12 miles).

I was about halfway home when Tank called me to see if I wanted to do a crit...tomorrow.

Of course I said yes! Tank and I had been putting of our East Coast racing for far too long now and after a month of solid training we were ready to put UW Cycling on the local radar.

Had to get back to Baltimore first though...

By the time I got to Central Baltimore I was pretty beat and cranky. My toes had been numb for a few hours. I was covered in bike grease from a flat I got about 5 miles outside of Baltimore and dust which was sticking to all my sweat and snot. My eyes burned, my palms burned and as I squinted at my directions after having doubled-doubled back I found myself cursing out the most ridiculous things for the most absurd reasons.

'"Why can't they pave over these damn potholes!!!"
"Why is this stupid traffic light going to change now! I'VE BEEN RIDING FOR 6 HOURS DAMN YOU!!!"

Most annoying of all of course was the rational voice in my head reminded me that I DID decided to ride my bike from DC to Baltimore and there's a reason not many people do this and the answer is not just "Because they're not as awesome as me".

I made it home in the end though. Ate a delicious Chipotle burrito even though I could barely stay awake during it. I was beat but not too sore and excited about my first bike race with some proper training tomorrow.

Went to bed still without any feeling in my big toes.

Nissan Faulkner Criterium
Somewhere, PA

Woke up without any feeling in my big toes.

Tank showed up his usual 20 min late and we made the hour drive to Pennsylvania just outside Hersey and Harrisburg for the Nissan Faulkner Criterium.

We were in high spirits - singing along in the car with the windows down. It was a gorgeous day and we were ready to throw down.

After the usual bike assembly, registration, changing in the parking lot, and pin up we rolled out to warm up. We went out and did a few rounds of sprints, power climbs and ramp ups. We were feeling OK. Not great but as I put it - "I'll be OK as long as I'm not outclassed".

After the pro 1/2/3 race wound up we lined up for the 4/5's race. The race was a technical course with 8 corners including 2 chicanes and 2 straightaways. The race flier repeatedly said "this is not a course for beginners and riders who can't hold their line through corners". We had 25 laps for a 20 mile course with 13 winner-take-all primes and about 40 guys rolling out at the line.

Well I hadn't raced in a few months and this was by far my most technical course I had ever been on. I went right to the back of the pack from the gun and spent the first 5 laps relearning how to corner a hard line and ride in a tight paceline.

After a while I started to get used to the course and started to make my way back up the pack. At some point I was
going through a hard corner and


My rim hit pavement. I don't know if I hit a bounce or what but it jarred my bike. I quickly aborted my line because I was worried that I had pinch flatted my rear tire (the same one that went flat yesterday). I was speeding to the curb so I maneuvered onto the sidewalk. I glanced down and my tire looked OK. I bunny-hopped back into the street - glanced at my tire again - and began my chase.

So for about 5 laps I gunned it, pounding against the wind, trying to pick fast lines through the corners and reeling in the pack.

Finally, nearly exhausted I get on the back of the pack. Only to find the at guy I got on - is dropping off of the pack! Exhausted, I had no kick in me to jump around him and I wasn't feeling 100% confident in my bike to take a harder line than him on the corner.

So I waited until the next straightaway to pass and told him to get on my wheel. And then I was back at it again, chasing down the pack on my own for 2 or 3 more laps.

Finally, I gave up. They were too strong as a group and I was spent. As I was just rolling through my last lap to the finish to pull myself from the race I noticed that the pack was getting...closer?

Their cadence was relaxed and they were definitely slowing up. Was this a neutral lap? I didn't waste time figuring it out and the half lap of rest had allowed me to catch my breath a little. After less than a lap I was amazingly back in the pack thanks to some amazing blocking by a local team for a rider off the front.

Scared of falling off again I slowly worked my way up the pack and sat in the top 10 for about 7 laps. To be honest I really didn't know what to do. I didn't want to go on a bonehead attack and end up plowing into a wall or taking out the field so I just sat pretty and waited for something to happen.

Oh and happen it did!

With 3 laps to go however the field jumped into action. The race for the finish was on and everyone kicked it into high gear. I tried my best but with 2 laps to go I was completely out of the pack again. I had been in the drops for 40+ min and my back was starting to hurt, with 2 60 miles rides in my legs they just didn't have the spark to take up the last chase and I rolled in DFL.

I was furious at myself for 'giving up'. Tank had finished in the top 15 but was still pretty pissed at himself.

As we pulled out of the parking lot we were pretty quite as I cued up Nine Inch Nails's 'Hurt' on the radio.

45 min run

Still sore today. I was hoping to get an hour to 75 min run in but one step out the door told me that wasn't going to happen. I tried for 30 min but I was still feeling ok at the 15 min mark so I did 45. I was pretty tight and stretched out a bit.

The tips of my big toes ate still tingly and I've got some awesome tan lines.


Bike: 14 hrs 45 min
Run: 45 min
Total: 15 hrs 30 min

My volume was pretty inflated by the riding into DC but this is my highest volume ever.

1 comment:

  1. Damn I miss you guys.

    Sounds like an amazing time there Alex, I wish I could've joined you guys ... if only for the Trio of singing in the car ride!

    Only a couple more months will you are back in Madison, right? :D