Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome Spring!

Last week was the first spell of real nice weather in months in the Pittsburgh Region. It was a great prelude to the official coming of spring and hopefully the start of much more fine weather to come. The weather was so nice, that I was actually able to do my bike commute to work all week long. To me, there is nothing better than starting or finishing a day at work by being on the bike. Additionally, it is a great way to get in a lot of riding without taking up a bunch of free time.

With no close races to do on the first weekend of spring, I decided that doing a hard, long road bike ride on Saturday would be the best choice for my race preparation. Additionally, I wanted to test out my newly built Salsa Podio Road Bike. I don’t think that there is any better way to test a bike than to build it up and then take it on a super long ride the very next day. Anyway, to find some riding friends, I posted a message on Facebook looking for volunteers to join me for my planned hell ride. My recruitment of other riders only generated two other people that were crazy enough to join me: Rob Lochner and Justin Pokrivka. Brian Wieczorek and his work colleague Zack did join our small group for a little more than an hour, after they rode down from Ligonier on their bikes to my place.

My ride plan was to do a very difficult road bike route, in preparation for the start of the NUE Series in about a month. The three of us all seemed to be in agreement with this plan and the ride was executed just as I had expected it would be. After doing many long mountain climbs, riding at least 10 miles of sketchy dirt roads someplace in WV, we ended up with over 7 hours of riding, 112 miles and 10870 feet of climbing. It was indeed a good early season challenge for our legs and we all seemed to pass with flying colors. It was also an absolutely perfect ride to welcome the first day of spring.

To make the weekend even more special, sometime last week I found out about a bootleg road race going on in a town very close to me from my long time friend Brian DelVecchio. The “race” seemed very interesting to me because of the multiple stage format of racing up 8 climbs, while at the same time riding one big loop. I didn’t commit until the actual day of the “race” because I was not too sure of how my legs would feel from my hard effort the day before. I can certainly say now that I am very happy about making the choice to do the event after riding my Podio to the (undisclosed) starting point and meeting up with all the other riders.

After everyone threw a little money into the registration pot, the event started with a kind of crash-up-derby style event for bikes. The rules of the event were that all fifteen of us would start in a small circle and the last man standing in the circle without putting a foot down would be declared the winner. I ended up third in this stage because I did my best to avoid everyone until Don Powers decided to take me out. Thanks, Don! The real racing up the hills started soon after this fun and from this point the race leaders were determined by awarding points to the top 7 finishers on each designated climb. But, to make things more interesting, points could also be accumulated by finding things during the ride on the side of the road like panties, porn or a Pontiac Fiero. I tried my best to score some bonus points but with expert underwear hunters like Jason Mahokey in the group, I had no chance for any extra credit points. Fortunately, I was able to do well enough on the actual riding portion of the event to score the overall win of the “race” without collecting any bonus points or my inability to score any points at the PBR Beer Chugging Stage.

After completing this crazy event of cycling madness in about 3 hours and since the weather was super nice, I decided to continue my awesome weekend by doing some more riding. My wife was planning on meeting me at my mother’s place for Sunday Dinner at her home near Mars, PA. Initially, my plan was to have Brian give me a ride there in his car, but with the nice weather I could not resist riding my bike back instead.

The ride to my mom’s ended up being a pretty tough one because of all the climbing on the route that I took and because my legs were shot from sprinting up eight tough climbs during the race. And, I am sure that the 112 miles in my legs from the day before did not make things any easier for me. In any respect, I completed the ride, feeling like a beat down man after logging 88 hard miles for the day and a total of 200 for the weekend.

I can’t imagine that I could have welcomed in the spring in any better way than I did this weekend. Thanks to my friends that made it so much fun, including you Mr. Todd “insane race promoter man.” Oh, and BTW, if you are considering a new road bike this spring, the Salsa Podio is very, very sweet! I could not be more pleased with how it felt after just building it and taking it on such a hard test this weekend.

Happy Trails….

1 comment:

  1. We all have our skills... Some can climb, some can sprint, etc., I have finding road side panties. It's a gift that I would be TOTALLY OK with either NOT having, or trading for some real on the bike skills!

    Nice to know it only took 200 miles in 2 day for you to feel a bit like a human.