Friday, May 22, 2009

line up

UPDATE: We now have the route:

Here's the list of competitors for this weekend's invite-only Rapha Gentlemen's Race. Lots of strong folks listed here. We're honored to be taking part as we know they've invited some premium competitors.


9:30 AM

The Eastmans: Capt- Dara Kiese
Ira Blumberg, 26 cat 4

Neil Cooper, 39 cat 4

Scott Blau, HC
Roland Freund, 40 no cat

John Trotter, 48 no cat

Dara Kiese, 38 cat 4

Team Fifth Street: Capt- Keith Plunkett
Mark Taylor - NO ROAD CAT

DAVE PRYOR - NO ROAD CAT (though he is Mr. FitChick Selene's husband )
Matt Allyn CAT 4

Christine Fennessy women's CAT 4

Jamie Huber NO ROAD CAT

Keith Plunkett CAT 4

9:40 AM
HUP UNITED: Capt- Scott Rosenthal
Scott Rosenthal, cat 4
Jeff Bramhall, cat 4
Stephen Jablonski, cat 4
Megan Bilodeau, cat 3 (I think)
Mark Bernard, cat 4
Tom Needham, cat 5

9:45 AM
The Bicycle Depot: Capt- Mike Newman
Mike Newman - Cat. 5 on my best day maybe Cat. 3.
Danny Brennan - Cat. 5 - He's our sandbagger.
Patrick Clifford - Cat. 3
Travis Turner - Cat. 3
George Swain - no cat. - he does these 24 hour races and stupid long randonneur events.
Alex Sherwood - I think cat. 4. he has won the S.O.S. event up here and is a badass tri guy.

9:55 AM
Gotham: Capt- EW
Dave Nazaroff- 3
Colin Prensky- 3

Chris Long- 2
John Raheb- 3
EW- 3
TBD- 3

Rapha Racing: Capt- Piers North
Tom Hinnershitz - Cat 2

Phil Riggio - Cat 2
Peter Hurst - Cat 2
Piers North - Cat 3
Patrick Wilder - Cat 3
Greg Fowlkes - Cat 4

10:05 AM

Bicycling: Capt- Cush
Mike Cushionbury (Bicycling/Mountain Bike Deputy test Director, mtb pro)

Joao Correia (Rodale Associate Publisher, road pro for Bissell)

Chris Lambiase (Rodale VP, Group Publisher, Cat 3 roadie)

Selene Yeager (aka The Fit Chick, elite level triathlete and mtb racer)

Brad Ford (Men’s Health on-line, Cat 3 roadie)

Mike Yozell (carpenter for Rodale bike racers, former Expert cross-country National Champion)

Rapha Continental: Capt- Jeremy Dunn
Jeremy Dunn, cat 2
PVB, cat 3
Sam, cat 2
Graeme, cat 2
Kansas, cat 4
Spinelli, cat 1

Adler Racing: Capt- ?

Reed Albergotti, cat 2

Christoper Chaput, cat 2

Matt Cuttler, cat 3

Kevin Brubaker, cat 3

Tony Slokar, cat 2

Laurel Gitlen, cat 2

10:20 AM

Embrocation: Capt- James Morrison
James Morrison- 1/2

Peter Bradshaw- 1

Josh Gunn- 1/2

Jay Combs – 1/2

Peter Smith- 1/2

Matt Roy- 1/2

EMPIRE: Capt- Mike Sherry

Mike Margarite- 1

Mike Mathis- 1

Alex Bremer- 1

John Loehner- 1

Matt Johnson- 1

Daniel Zmolik- 1

Friday, May 15, 2009


I used to take a lot of photos in high school and college. I had fancy cameras, lenses, and development supplies at my disposal. Now that I have a digital camera I seem to take fewer and lower quality pictures. Maybe it is because I enjoyed the challenge of getting a good shot with limited ammo or because I liked the delayed discovery of said shots when I had to develop them myself.

In Peru I managed to shake my aversion to digital photography. I can't say the quality is there, but I wasn't shy about snapping away. Since people have asked, here is a link to the mountain of photos I took while in Peru in April.

Peru Photos

Yes, it was an amazing trip. Yes, I would recommend it. Yes, I want to go back already.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Strong Men Also Cry

I got really excited when Colin (self proclaimed resultsboy) invited me to join his scheduled assault on the infamous VT 6 gaps ride this past weekend. I got even more excited when I realized I could attend. Like Battenkill, D2R2, and a double century, the 6 gap ride has been on my to-do list for a long time. Also, with Sunapee and the Rapha Gentlemen's Race on the near horizon I figured some serious hill work would be great for my diet.

Since I was without transport, I made desperate pleas to the other attendees and was able to convince Cary to shuttle me back and forth. Having already raced Sterling on Saturday afternoon Cary's day was looking pretty full, but he was right where he said he'd be at 8pm to pick me up. We set off for our swanky hotel in White River Junction at 8:15 and almost immediately we were hit with a torrential rain. Ugh. It continued to pound us on and off for the next 45 minutes. As we crossed into NH the rain let up and we put the car on auto pilot, arriving to White River Junction around 10:45 I think.

Our companions for the 6 gap assault were already comfortably tucked into bed but they were nice enough to leave some floor space between the multiple bikes stacked around the room. No sooner did I fall asleep than I heard Colin's annoying (because I have the same one) Blackberry phone alarm alerting us that it was 6:30am. I was impressed with the expeditious packing of personal effects as we vacated the room by 7am and made our way to the greasy spoon Colin had scouted out for us.

We slowly awoke from the weekend slumber as people poured cup after cup of coffee and debated on the quality of our waitress's mullet (is it a mullet when it is that long in the back?). The service was good (and quite cheap), and the food was ok. With loaded stomaches it was time to get back in the cars and continue to Rochester, VT to meet our last ride member at the launching point.

Despite an intended start of 9am, no one was eager to get rolling because we had cold, overcast skies and insufficient clothing. The scramble to find every spare piece of cycling clothing saw people mixing and matching (Landry's kit with Embrocation shoe covers, HUP kit covered with Castelli wool jersey, and Embrocation kit with Cambridge Bike shoe covers). It was closer to 9:30 when we finally left the parking lot. There would be six of us tackling the Gaps:
Linnea Koons
Sara Bresnick
Kate Harris
Joe Cruz (ahem, Dr Cruz)
Cary Fridrich

Resultsboy was providing neutral support/sag duties as his knee continues to slow him down. The first Gap we tackled was Brandon Gap. Despite his claim that he would take the first two very easy, Cary was sitting on the front most of the way, turning out a nice tempo while chatting with Joe. Half way up Brandon the mist started, then the light rain, and by the time we hit the summit, it was a good 10 degrees colder than our starting point (which was already cold). We regrouped at the top, searched around in the sag wagon for any remaining items of clothing that had not already been donned and then set out on the descent. Brandon Gap offers a great, twisty descent but when it is wet it is not much fun and so I found myself riding the brakes much more than I would have liked.

As we came into the valley, the skies cleared a bit and the road was dryer. As we worked our way towards Middlebury Gap, we took a moment to refill (or fill for the first time if you're Cary) our liquids and make sure we ate. We also discovered that one of the roads we needed to take was closed to vehicle traffic (thanks Colin for the advance notice) but it was actually quite easy to get through on bikes so no detour was necessary for us. Middlebury Gap was a bit more of a climb than Brandon, especially at the beginning. Luckily the rain was holding off so the long climb was a bit less uncomfortable. It's a long, steady climb, but not the worst of the 6 by any means. Colin was waiting for us at the top of Middlebury Gap and as we crested we felt the mist return. We waited a bit hoping to regroup at the top but in the interest of staying warm, we decided to descend and regroup at the bottom. After a long wait, we heard from Linnea that Kate had broken the cable stop off her frame, resulting in a single rear cog (12 tooth!) which is not sufficient for cresting Middlebury Gap. Colin and Joe had reconfigured the cables, routing the rear derailleur cable on the other side of the downtube and removing the front derailleur cable so Kate had a 1x10. Much better than a 2x1!

From Middlebury to the start of Lincoln Gap (the monster of the route) we had about 15 miles of "recovery" terrain. We had regrouped at the base of Middlebury in order to paceline it a bit before Lincoln and to pull Kate since she was limited to her 39 in front. Unfortunately the weather continued to torture us and we were all wet and chilled to the core when we arrived at Lincoln Gap. Linnea was so chilled that she opted out of the climb and joined Colin in the cheerleading vehicle. The rest of us set out to endure the torture. Sure enough, the climb started in earnest after the dirt turned back to pavement. Cary and I caught up to Sarah and Kate on the steep climb but soon enough we were all "delivering the mail" as we weaved from side to side in hopes of reducing the pain of the 20+% pitch. Almost half way up the most brutal section I cracked. The chamber was empty, no more gears beyond my 39*25, and my arms were screaming from muscling the bike up that pitch. I had to stop, let the arms and legs recover and then try to finish. While stopped, Cary pulled past me, not showing any ill effects from his effort in the break at Sterling nor from his large amount of work on the front of this ride. I remounted, wiped away the tears, and summitted what is easily the toughest climb I've ever attempted on a road bike. Waiting at the top, taking pictures to document the pain were Linnea and Colin.

The descent of Lincoln Gap, despite the misty weather was worth every moment of suffering on the climb. The mostly dirt road sprayed mud all over me in an enjoyable and fitting-of-this-day way. Unfortunately, as my confidence grew and my speed increased, the descent flattened out and the fun ended as quickly as it had begun. I'll be back to do Lincoln Gap for sure.

At the base of Lincoln we thawed out in the general store while retelling the adventure we'd just had. Extra large hot chocolate helped warm up my core but my soaked feet were helpless. With three more gaps to go, it was not looking good. Our time and spirits were running out.

The spin from Lincoln to Ap Gap includes Baby Gap which is not a big challenge after what we'd covered but it is still enough to sting the legs. As we climbed Ap Gap, it was nice to see the Km markers that are left over from the Green Mountain Stage Race. It gave me something to pace myself by which was necessary after my explosion on Lincoln Gap. Seeing 3 Km to go I was in a rythm so I climbed and climbed until I rounded the corner inside of 1 Km and saw the steep finishing pitch. My spirits were crushed momentarily but luckily I could see Colin and Linnea at the top so I knew it was only a short bit of suffering until I was there. When I finally did summit, the wind was strong and I'm pretty sure it was a mixture of sleet and rain. As I waited for the others to crest Ap Gap I noticed that the hills just above us showed signs of recent snow. It was definitely in the 30s and wet.

The ladies (Sara and Kate) joined Colin and Linnea in the neutral support vehicle as they were too frozen to safely navigate the wet descent. I think Joe would have taken a ride as well had there been room. Joe and his aero wheels would have to endure the windy descent with Cary and I. In Waitsfield it was decided that Colin and Linnea would go retrieve Joe's car while the rest of us ordered pizza and tried to thaw out. There would be no 6 gaps, only 4. As each person recounted the day's adventure, spirits lifted, core temperatures rose, and my previously missing spare socks turned up. The folks at the pizza place were nice enough to let us loiter while we waited for Colin and Linnea to complete the nearly 60 minute shuttle run.

It was nearly 6pm by the time we left Waitsfield and we still had 3.5 hours of traveling ahead of us. Cary was a champ, doing all the driving and enduring some annoying traffic just south of 95 on 93. Plus he dropped me off at my doorstep, which at 10pm is much appreciated!

In the end, it was a wise decision to reduce ourselves to 4 gaps. Besides it leaves me with a reason to do it again this summer.

Lessons learned:
- start earlier (like 7:30 or 8)
- pack a 26 on back or a compact up front
- bring everything you could possibly think of to wear because the weather will be different than Boston
- hire Colin to be your neutral support

So for now, the 6 Gap ride remains only partially crossed off of my to-do list.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Overdue - Teammates are the best (Reparto Corse #3)

This past Saturday (yes now 6 days ago) I woke up even earlier than I do on a weekday in order to catch the mythical HUP Arlington road ride. Not being a fan of Arlington and more specifically the route I have to take to get there I've shrugged off this ride all spring.

I've missed riding with the HUP originators like Stephen Jablonski and Mike Salvatore so I finally made the effort to get up early and head over to Arlington for what promised to be enjoyable company, long miles, and acceptable weather. In attendance was Stephen "I know every awesome side road in MA" Jablonski, Yasushi "it's sooo cold" Katsumi, Jeff "I swear, I've never ridden a century despite the fact that I am ripping your legs off at mile 125" Bramhall, and Graham "my beard is better than your beard" Dimmock. The plan was to ride casually to Harvard and then decide whether or not to continue to Wachusett Mtn. The overnight rain left the roads wet for the first hour but as the sun went to work, the roads dried and the temperature rose.

We took the normal route to Harvard and everyone (except Graham since he was racing on SUnday) decided to power on to Wachusett. I've only ridden to Wachusett once before and that was following the CRW Climb to the Clouds route so I defered to Stephen who had printed out some options. I also had google maps on my crackberry to supplement the decisions. I don't know how he did it, but Stephen got an absolutely awesome backroads route from mapquest (usually my least favorite direction site) that we only screwed up once. When the four of us arrived to Wachusett, there was no doubt that Stephen, Jeff, and I were going to ride up to the summit. Yash said not to wait for him because he didn't plan on summitting. We waited at the summit anyway and Yash came rolling in just as we were about to head down. I think he impressed himself the most.

We took the same general route back to Harvard and then took the usual (with a few excellent detours compliments of Stephen) route from Harvard. We stopped for a crummy lunch in Sterling and delicious pastries in W.Acton before cruising into Arlington. The final numbers are a bit daunting but surprisingly the spirits were high and the sense of accomplishment from the group was through the roof. I'm really looking foward to the Gentlemen's Race with Stephen and Jeff. If this ride was any indication, we will have a strong, positive team in New Paltz.

On Sunday we were invited to retell the experience at Chip's place while he and his wife Pam put out an impressive food and beverage spread for us. Thanks to Tom's wife Gretchen for the Hupcakes and to Rob for the H1N1 guacamole. Thanks as well to Pam for letting smelly bike people invade her house and use her hot tub.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reverse the Curse

I originally posted this during the winter when I was fed up with yet another FSA crank failure. Since then, I've accumulated some Campy Ultra Torque cranks to replace the FSA garbage I had on my bikes. The last remaining K Force crank was moved from my sunny day ride to my everyday ride when I bought my first set of Ultra Torque cranks. Even though I have a second set of Ultra Torque cranlks waiting for install on the everyday bike, I've been lazy this spring, not wanting to change the cranks because I need to replace cables, chain, and bar tape and figured I'd do it all at once. But who wants to do that when you could be riding (or surfing the internet on the couch) instead? Well, this morning, after noting last night that the crank arm felt a bit loose I did some closer inspection of the FSA K Force crank. Low and behold, the pedal insert on the drive side is loose. That is now the third pedal insert to fail on two K Force cranks. My father also had an insert fail on his one K Force crankset. At this point it is just comicle. I have the FSA phone number stored in my phone and may even remember their address by memory. No more being lazy, time to overhaul the bike and (finally) rid myself of the FSA curse.

I can no longer hold my tongue about FSA's piece of sh*t cranksets. I've owned 4 FSA MegaExo style cranksets. Three of them have failed and the only reason I think the fourth has yet to fail is because it is babied on my sunny day bike.

I bought my first set of FSA cranks (Gossamer MegaExo) while working in the cycling industry. The non driveside arm used to loosen every 4th or 5th ride so I always had to be attentive. I finally ignored their recommended torque range and just tightened the snot out of them. That seemed to hold things together for a good season or two. Eventually though the torx wrench requiring bolt that helps to snug the non-driveside arm tight against the driveside arm spindle wore down to a round hole. Hey FSA, good idea to use
a. soft aluminum
b. a small hole with a less than standard torx fitting
After two years of use these cranks were removed and relegated to spare/emergency duty. As a side note, if you own FSA cranks, I would suggest having a spare or back up set handy because your cranks will inevitably fail. I recently re-installed the Gossamers when my FSA SLK cranks failed for good (see below). The loosening problem is back and the stripped tightening bolt is not helping things.

I bought these cranks when I built my sunny day rider. At the time, they were high end for my budget and they were fairly lust worthy (in my eyes at least) since they were new technology and carbon. On my maiden voyage, despite suspecting they may loosen (um, see above...) they stayed tight. I torqued them to factory spec after each of my first 3 or 4 rides and everything seemed good. On my 4th or 5th ride, I was about 20 miles from home when I noticed the non-driveside beginning to loosen. I didn't have an 8mm allen wrench (no stupid torx head needed on these) so I limped them home as best as I could. Ever since then the cranks have acted like powercranks with the non-driveside arm slipping forward and backward on the splined driveside spindle despite not being loose side to side. For a while I thought it was play in my pedals or the crank arm loosening again. It honestly took me most of the season to figure it out. Fortunately, about the same time that I figured it out I also be-friended a very nice FSA employee who got me the hook up on some K-Force cranks. The SLK's were initially shelved for a year and then shifted to the Gossamer bike when I got sick of the Gossamers loosening. Confused yet?

This winter, after a season of 'cross racing with the SLK cranks I finally called FSA to see what can be done. They were very familiar with my problem (because I am willing to bet it happens a lot) and have offered to replace the non-driveside crank arm. Apparently the aluminum insert on that arm is susceptible to greater wear (again, great thinking there) than the steel driveside spindle on which it is mounted. Thankfully I have those POS Gossamer cranks to use in the meantime. Oh, and yes, the Gossamers continue to loosen almost daily.

Being the cream of the crop, I expected the K-Force cranks to work without issue. Since they were on my sunny day ride, I never really put them through any tough conditions but I still felt they were the most expensive and therefore the best. When I saw the super dooper close out deal from my FSA employed friend I jumped at the chance to get another set. They were to be used on my 'cross bike as it was reconfigured for a cross country adventure. The compact gearing allowed me to avoid the need for a triple ring and the bonus of being lightweight seemed like a great idea. Luckily they didn't fail until I was in the middle of f'in nowhere Indiana. I noticed some play in my pedal and thought it might be the cleat on my shoe. Nope. Maybe my pedal was unthreading. Nope. In fact, the pedal insert was coming unbonded from the crankarm. When I finally figured this out I called all the area shops to see if any of them might have a similar K-Force that I could purchase. Oh, did I mention I was in the middle of nowhere so I had very limited cell reception? When I finally got to Ft Wayne, IN I found my way to a shop that allowed me to take a new non-driveside arm from their inventory while my FSA friend sent them a warranty replacement. Honestly, if I didn't have that FSA friend, I probably would have been out some serious $. Then again, I never would have bought the K-Craps to begin with...
Thinking the worst was behind me, I continued on my journey. Within shouting distance of home (Hopkinton, MA) the other pedal insert came loose. FUCK! When I got home, I mailed the cranks back and requested a different model (SLK Light). Those went on ebay and I've been slowly working to eliminate all FSA cranks from my fleet.

Although some might say I am failing to accept blame, I think it is pretty clear when a company makes a shitty product. I've used dozens of other brands without ever having problems so I think it is fair to say, FSA CRANKS SUCK. Ask Ryan Kelly, he'd tell you the same thing.

Oh, but did you hear FSA is going to release a new 11 speed drivetrain? Yeah, remind me to rush out and buy that.