Saturday, July 30, 2011

Running Around Racing v.2

Finally back in Seattle! I just got done traveling for a week and some to Cascade and the Northwest Regional Youth Development Camp in Forest Grove. It was a killer week with approx. infinity new experiences and friends made. First, a photo recap of Cascade. We'll start where we left off, after the first stage that I unwittingly won. Here's one from the TT where I lost my yellow shirt.

(explanation: my pre-tt food is a handful of Sourpatch Kids)

Per usual, I have tons of excuses for not winning the TT. First of all, I had no Skrillex to listen to. Second of all, they didn't give me a yellow skinsuit to race in! Instead of riding with the strength of 10 men, I was riding with the strength of one Colin, which was not enough, and I dropped a bunch of places. Next!

(making a face at Davis Shepherd. what face exactly? see below.)

(this face! explanation: pre-crit food is chewing tobacco.)

(3rd in the crit = more beer! plus, no castelli belly = PRO! photo

I was real pleased with the crit, partially for the special performance sprint I made in order to get close to the gold-sequined dress-wearing podium girls, and partially for the four bonus seconds I netted in the process. I also got a peanut butter prime!

Sunday, I did listen to Skrillex before the race, and look what happened:

(I think I'm at the "k" in "Fuck yah!")

Definitely the best weekend I've had on a bike in a long time, especially in terms of luck. Some of my teammates have had it real bad this year, breaking collar bones and fracturing skulls, so I'm quick to count my blessings, but this weekend, everything really came into place in a way that it didn't at several other potentially good races this year. After the last stage, I also moved up to 2nd GC. 24 bonus seconds over the course of the weekend. Pro!

Before heading out of town, I made sure to hit up Thump Coffee:

(sipping the 'spro at Thump, the very shop where my blog was born a year ago!!!)

After the racing, I booked out of Bend to Forest Grove. I got the sweet opportunity to coach at one of USAC's regional youth development camps, this one in Forest Grove, Oregon. Jim Anderson runs this one, now in its third year with 36 riders. Jim has been involved with racing, race promotion, and rider development for a long time, and he's also a real nice guy and super easy to work with. The camp was Sunday-Friday, with lots of riding, lecturing, eating, and track stands. The kids were great, the other coaches were great, and the dorms were especially great. I spotted this gem of a warning above the toilet in my bathroom:

(what the hell am I supposed to brush my teeth with now?)

(turns out I <3 Willamette Valley)

(Jim talking to the group on day 1)

(the riders on the last day in their new German National Team kits)

(sitting in, getting ready to attack the S out of these kids)

(riding with Phil and Butch, about to motor-pace that guy)

That week was effing rad. Special thanks to this song:

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Lemme cut to the chase:

I won the first stage of Cascade!!!! Booyah! I just got back from the TT, where I managed 9th place, :58 down on the winner. Now I'm 7th GC, which is okay, because I didn't really want to have to defend the jersey anyway. Womp Womp!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm On the Map!

Ok world, big news in the world of bubblewrap bartape. Recently, not only did three different people tell me that they had read my blog, but one of them even critiqued it! I'll get to the critique in just a moment, but first let me say that I think the "traffic sources" function on blogs is pretty funny. Just look at my top-4 sources of Google traffic this month.

(Jamie, stop googling yourself and go take a nap.)

I'm proud to say that people searching for my blog marginally outnumber people looking for actual bubble wrap.

Okay, on to the critique. Avid readers may remember that back in February, I posted a little post about a TT I did down in Oregon. In it, I mentioned that Tom Broderick's tubular gluing advice gave me such confidence in my tires that I dove into a corner faster than I should have and ended up getting slapped with a 30-second penalty for crossing some cones set up by the officials. Well, when I was talking to Tom the other day, he called me out for giving him and his employer bad press! I had two reactions. 1) "Oh snap! The joke was that it wasn't his advice, but my illegal cornering tendencies, that were the problem," and 2) "Oh SNAPPZ!!!! Tom Broderick reads my blog and thinks that it could influence customers! YEEEAAAH!!!! I'VE HIT THE BIG TIME!!!"

I tried to contain my bulging pride at the second realization, and promised a redaction if further review merited it. After all, I appreciate that Tom wants to maintain his reputation as a stone cold human-bicycle interface:

And not something less confidence-inspiring:

(photos courtesy of

Well, even if it isn't really funny, I'm leaving the original post up, but here's a clarification: Tom Broderick isn't a bad mechanic. He isn't a mediocre mechanic. He's a pretty effing good mechanic.

For instance, I once brought Tom my busted up Zipp Predator track disc wheel made in 1990, and he fixed the hub using strange, arcane techniques after he got an email from Zipp basically telling him to forget about it.

Another example: did you know that he has a small metal plaque declaring that he is Shimano Di2 certified? It is proudly displayed under the glass next to some track hubs, so that when you ask if it's for sale, (I assume) he can kick back in an armchair, cross his hands behind his head, and say, "Son, that's not something you buy, it's something you earn," eliciting a sort of sudden awe and respect not unlike this:

(obviously, I'm Coop and Tom is Gene)

As an oft-penniless racer, I'm always searching for clever ways of getting more out of my equipment to save money, and when I've got a puzzler, and I've exhausted Sheldon Brown's website, Tom is the first person I'll bother with my issues. So Tom, thank you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Circle Racing, Hand Holding, and the Limitations of my Volvo

Circle racing! Two weeks ago, racing got rained out, turning what would have been a high octane, h-core night of 45-50mph racing into a guilt-ridden trip to the beer garden followed by a penitent Saturday A.M. coffee shop ride, captured for the first time by National Geographic photographers in my last blog post.

Not this time! Cloudless skies the last two weeks meant I got to hit the BG trail on my track bike, getting my competitive juices flowing on the way to the track by racing anyone who so much as looked at me the wrong way. Last Friday, I learned that I was waaay behind in terms of my weekday Seattle racing from Joe Holmes. Joe had been competing against a pretty formidable field in the relatively unknown Seattle Stage Race. Here's a link to the race website.

That night, we got to do some scratch racing and some miss-n-out-ing, with me, Joe, Logan, and Waz ready to go. We set things up well: Joe lulled the field into a false sense of security before the race by talking about how bad his legs felt, and he also created a smart diversion on the 2nd lap by dropping his chain, allowing Logan to attack. I thought I had a good moment to jump up to Logan about halfway through the 15-lap scratch, but ended up just chasing Logan back because I didn't go fast enough. Oops!

(me, probably chasing Logan down in a jealous rage. Dennis Crane is a badass photograhper!!)

We collected our bearings after the race, and got ready for the miss-n-out, where I had a much more plush job. I led in the pole lane with Logan on my wheel for as long as I could, until I got le tired from riding 32-second laps and he was left to fend for himself. Quotes from miss-n-out:

Logan, lap 2: "Go!"
Logan, lap 10: "Colin, GO!"
Jamie, lap 11: "Dance, monkey!"
Me, lap 12: "I'm Effed!"

Then we waited for 2 hours until our last race, a 30-lap scratch with a few primes. This time, I waited until after Logan came back to attack, jumping up to a group with Jamie, Matti Herz and Zach Jones about 10 laps in. We rolled it okay and kept a half-lap lead to the finish. I tried to stay relatively fresh, and unleashed a pretty underwhelming all-in attack with 2 to go. Despite having no gas, it was the only way I could see beating Jamie, who kicked his illness and is back looking strong. He took the sprint, and I edged Zach out for 2nd.

That was fun, but yesterday was even better: hand holding night! I talked Grant Boursaw into being my partner on the basis that we're about the same size. Grant replied that I'm a little fatter, but he'd still be my partner.

There was decent turnout, with 10 teams for the 5x8 points race. We figured if we were gonna win, it would be by staying with Jamie and Ian and beating them in the sprints. We did okay for the first half of the race, by which time we and KR had lapped most of the field, but shortly thereafter, we got caught up behind some traffic during an exchange and Jamie got a gap on us. Waah! It was pretty effing crucial to get back up to them, and I managed to close the gap to Ian's wheel at one point, but I got to him right as Jamie came in and attacked straight away. Their gap sat at around 50 meters for the rest of the race, so we wound up 2nd. But look how cute we looked doing it! Thanks to Amara Boursaw for the airbrushing.

(Grant: "I have no upper body, sooo.....")

(Shortly before the ruh-roh.)

(Joe shouted "KatJAAAAA!!" with every exchange.)

Okay on to my volvo.

I'll be clear: I really like this car. Without racks of any kind, this car has "successfully" carried two riders and all their gear to a stage race. One of them was Steve, which saved us 5-10 cubic feet of packing space over the average human*, but the Volvo was still impressive.

That said, there are attributes of this car that force you to drive in a certain way. First, it doesn't like to go above 68mph for more than a minute at a time. 68mph is its jam, and it can hold that speed all day, but above that, it gets cranky. This means that long trips usually take a little longer in my car. My response is to mitigate the low maximum by driving 68mph at all times, rather than engaging in the reckless inefficiency of accelerating and decelerating depending on the speed limit, much like an Ironman triathlete who chooses to go slowly for 10-20 hours on account of a lack of ability to go fast for any shorter period of time.

Second, my car's low top speed is accompanied by a lack of "spark" or "jump." Uphill on-ramps make me sweat. However, I see this as a blessing in disguise, as it forces me to hit on-ramps (and hills) with as much speed as I can safely carry through them. While other cars have the luxury of slowly navigating clover-leaves and then accelerating on the straight, I am forced to lean hard into turns while flooring it to avoid scrubbing any precious speed. Again, I'm proud of the efficiency, but it's not always so easy. Often, I'm railing my way through a turn because I know there's a 200m section at 1% coming up, and I come up on a car who's never even thought about the dire consequences of me not carrying speed through the turn. Like seeing a 1984 Volvo DL in his rear-view mirror didn't even carry any significance. Times like these, I either double down, merging early across the double-white, or I touch the brakes, which will take a few minutes to recover from.

Sometimes, it's not other drivers that mess with my strategy, it's the roads themselves. When it comes to passing on two-lane roads, my advantage is on technical sections, not on straights or uphills. The problem is that you only get passing sections on straight roads with lots of visibility, which means that the cars you want to pass might actually be going only 1mph under the speed limit, instead of the 10 under that is common whenever there is a 45 degree bend in the road. So most of the time, I ride behind a long line of drivers unable to navigate anything other than a straight line, then when the solid yellow goes to ticked, everyone accelerates to the point that I can't pass. Catch-22 kind of situation.

*Steve is little.