||Shawn "bega" Blumenfeld||dccourier.com and CMWC archives||photos||
updated: March 26 2017
Shawn "bega" Blumenfeld
USA Cycling Certified Coach (Level 1)
What's in a name? Shawn Blumenfeld, or fully: Shawn Adam Blumenfeld, but i'm maybe better known as Shawn Bega. bega is actually just a nickname i picked up when i was in my teens and it stuck. it doesn't mean anything. at times, ive used it as a nom de plume, and it serves as the moniker for my company. but legally ive always been Shawn Blumenfeld, which i now sign Shawn "bega" Blumenfeld with the quotes to specifically denote the nickname. Called "blumie" throughout my childhood, ive actually had a lot of names for just being one person. To make matters even worse, my mom and sisters have 2 additionally different last names from me, Fienberg and Bauman respectively. In college, i was sometimes referred to as "woodstock" like the festival, not the bird, though i wasn't even alive when it happened. and my sometimes joyous performance of the "snoopy dance" shouldnt add any confusion here either. My brother's friends sometimes called me "little Lane" but im not sure they meant it as a compliment to either of us. when you see me in person, either shawn or bega will do.
What's in a race career? i consider myself one of the most successful unsuccessful bike racers of all time. ive been paid to race in many areas of cycling competition including road, cross, messenger racing, despite never really being individually successful at any level at any time. ive been sent all over the world so that i could race. not so that i could win, because that would have been a fools errand. but just so that i could race. when i was in my 20's, i had a brief moment where i may have had a chance to accelerate through the ranks and become one of those guys you might have heard of, but for various reasons, i never really reached that plateau. but what i did do was work my ass off for my sponsors, and i worked my ass off for other racers. ultimately, my best glory has come from what other racers have accomplished under my management. but most importantly to myself if not the reader, is that i have truly enjoyed my personal racing career for a long time, and will continue to do so long into the future. i love racing, and it takes commitment and sacrifice just to get onto the race course, and that is a drive that i still have regardless of my results.
What's in a cycling career beyond racing? i have been in cycling for over a quarter of a century and have held virtually every job related to racing, peppered with over a decade of being a messenger. ive been a racer of course, a manager, a team director and owner, a mechanic, a coach, an event promoter. im probably most known for my work as director/owner of "hub racing", a women's pro team and the RFK criterium that went with it. and maybe for "dccourier" and "team bega", my messenger company and team, that came in the years before. and for my work on many messenger championships. after years of working at various positions in the sport of cycling, i now coach full time.
What's in a shoulder? a long time ago on a mountain far far away... in a 3 rider breakaway, descending the catoctin mountain roads on our way to a nice victory, i slipped. i dont remember the accident at all, but my comrades have described it to me in great detail. i slid across the tarmac, going full force into the guard rail along the cliff, putting the metal rail support through my shoulder, out my lower rib cage. amongst the injuries were a partially crippled left hand, 2 permanently damaged shoulders, the loss of muscle use in part of my back, and a really cool scar above my left knee that represents the big and little chain rings from my bike. while i dont outright blame the crash for "ending my career", it certainly set me back a little. perhaps more importantly though, it changed my perspective. the joy of riding became just that, joy not work, and everyday im on my bike i remind myself of the guard rail that while doing so much damage, also kept me from falling off the mountain. and of course, i learned to descend a little better in the years following.
March 26 2017
to paraphrase gretzky, you don't finish 100% of the races you don't start. so i took the start line of yesterday's celie-cat. while my competition was young and strong and aggro, all appropriate qualities as the current crop of dc's hardcore messengering crew, they're just not alleycatters yet. i, on the other hand, have several decades of being willing and able to do the things apprentice alleycatters are not and this time that experience and bravado paid off. at one point during the race, i jumped onto the freeway. the risk was rewarded as i passed the 2nd group between checkpoints 4 and 5 as they muddled through pedestrians on the mall. i crushed the finale and took 4th. amongst those that beat me: old man bruce beran. at (age redacted because he is ageless), bruce is certainly one of the best alleycatters ever anywhere. ill take 4th to his 3rd any day and twice on... and ill be very happy with it.
February 28 2017
i'm still moving through the winter but my students are already racing. so my own competitiveness is starting to simmer. i probably won't hit an actual race til late april, but the vasa ride is mid march and will mark the official opening of my outdoor season. while i have been outdoors a little and did some organized stuff at training camp, i find circling a specific date offers me an encouraging countdown. and if youve followed me over the years, you know i love the blueberry soup that comes at the end of vasa. tastes like springtime.
January 25 2017
went for a training camp. while i certainly got some excellent off season benefit being immersed in a cycling fantasy camp for a couple of weeks and it was much warmer than my home grounds so i got to ride outside, i was there to do the bike fits on my students and that takes time and counts as work so it also takes precedent over my own riding. so i didnt get the full riding experience. but it was plenty for my schedule at this period of my off-season. i rode a full imperial century gran fondo. competed in a 40km time trial. rode intervals on the wheels of several who are much faster than me all of the time. shredded on a fat bike on the beach. but for sure off-season has turned and experiments have ended. time to map a serious path towards the season. ok not too serious. must be fun or i wont do it.
December 22 2016
off-season training is a fun mathematical adventure. watching my numbers fluctuate as i go in and out of hard days and soft. i allow my diet and my sleep patterns to be more erratic and less functional. i do other stuff like skiing and dancing and rowing and boxing. and i'll recreate new charts based on all of it. all new math for next season. ignore nothing. require nothing. this is about recalculations, new discoveries, and even some new equipment (i long for my sponsored days when i didn't have to pick anything out it just showed up at my door). i'll experiment with riding style, position, clothing, liquids and food. and then i'll slowly revert to a more structured cycling life. but slowly. it's the off-season. and i don't need to be ready again for several months. i will attempt to time my winter's nap correctly. and if i do so, i might be able to come out firing next spring. cheers to hibernation.
November 30 2016
officiated some local cross. had fun giving back. raced some local cross. had fun getting dirty. but cross racing is not my forté. and while time trialing may not be either, i'm certainly much better at it than i used to be. as i continue up the age groups, especially the last couple of years, i've gotten better at following the mathematics that i preach to others. races against the clock have become races against other racers against the clock. so in that light, it's time now to turn to the off-season. rest, miles, basic fitness. mathematical laziness and joy riding. goals for next year? more consistency against the clock. if only i had a variable speed clock. that would make the process easier.
October 15 2016
delayed 2 weeks because of a flood, i raced the final time trial of my local series today. and what a great way to finish the season! my 8th place today gives me the points i need to move up to 9th place in the series! ka-bam! top 10's on the day and the series! let's say that again. top 10's! while admittedly partially a participation award, i did go and get the points when they were available to me including in the rain. and i came out and participated all season. so a mixture of happy results with showing up and there i am in 9th for the series. oh and since i'm a numbers nerd, i'll note that i also hit new personal bests in various mathematical metrics like sustained power and maintaining power within max range. and my speed was pretty good today too. lest we forget: we race for time and distance, not wattage. so i'll celebrate tonight. and probably tomorrow. then gotta try to motivate for cross.
September 7 2016
while august was quiet with necessary recovery rides and some cross practice, september is a quantity month and i'm already into it. 4 charity ride marshaling gigs, my 1st cross races of the season, and while it takes place the morning of october 1, i'll include the final time trial of the road season on this list as well. there is no let up either as the naccc is just a little further down the calendar. with 1 marshaling gig down and the weight of the ending road season pushing down on my proverbial shoulders, i'm already resting more than i should during the week. but my speed and endurance are what they are and there is little i can do to purposely affect them during this packed-with-events month. measured mathematical training will have to take a back seat to rest and recovery on the weekdays between the rides and races. but still i need practice on the cross bike. dismounts and remounts. tight dirty turns. powering the ride-ups. cross skills practice.
August 1 2016
some great racing in july. not all great results. but some great results. let's call it an up and down july from a results stand point. took a dfl in an alleycat. the lantern rouge of the finishers, beat a bunch of non finishers. won some prizes. took last in a hilly time trial. i chose the road bike. my competitors chose tt bikes. i need more practice on the tt to feel comfortable on the downhills especially. it was the correct bike for me, but i wasn't competitive on it. took 10th in a timetrial! boom! top ten! another really hilly tt, this time the road bike was both more comfortable and faster and i needed the gears for sure on the uphills and i passed several sketchy tt guys on the descents. while i have one more tt ahead, and a chance to put myself into the top ten in the year long series, i have indeed moved my spirit already towards the dirt. cross practice starts today.
June 4 2016
a weekend of riding, racing, officiating. and i think i'm helping lead the group ride tomorrow? friday, did a solo metric century ride that included niagra falls, crossing rainbow bridge to canada and peace bridge back. i mean wow. seriously. wow. 100 km of nothing but incredible views. hard to ride fast while looking to the left the whole time and i paused frequently to stare at the river.
and i designed the race format for saturday's central termin8er and chief ref'd it. and got to race in it too! nothing's more fun than designing an obscure new maybe race format on a great urban and i mean potholed sidewalked graveled and glassed urban race course and then getting to enjoy the creation as well. too often event people are on the sidelines of their own events. so i as raced today i was thinking of all of them. i did not qualify for the finals.
May 21 2016
update: i got up and saw the rain storming down and i went and raced anyway. snagged a 9th place! gained a bunch of points in the local tt series. usually, you race against those who show up. and i beat a couple of those guys today. but on a day like today in a season long series scored as an omnium... well you're racing against those that fail to show up as well. frequently in the rain that's me: giving points away just by staying at home. but i feel i turned the tables just a little on a rival or 2 today as i braved the wind driven water and several of them did not. pat on my own back thank you. tomorrow's rain will be less in quantity and i'm sure the easy pace of the ride, not race, will be more forgiving. still have to wake up early though.
May 20 2016
i might not race tomorrow (saturday) because of the impending rain storm. i did actually go practice on the timetrial bike in wet conditions last week. but it's not like dropping out of a crit. alone on the road, the added safety issue isn't a concern. i can handle my bike in water. i just don't enjoy it. but it's part of my schedule and i'd like to stick to it. i'll force myself to at least wake up and make a last minute choice. either way, i have to ride sunday as a marshal for the local big ride. might be raining then too, but that's a job and i don't get to choose a "did not start".
May 3 2016
with my next race now less than 20 days away, i'm settling into the season's work. regular 80% workouts with some distance rides at around 70%. the hardest efforts must mostly be saved for the races themselves. and rest. i cant forget to rest. the 2 days before each race will hopefully be nothing but sleep. oh and i did get to ride the verrazano bridge in nyc and cruise around buffalo with old friends. so its not all work by any means. keep the training fun and the races will be funner. sorry: "more fun".
April 17 2016
quick drop in as the season starts to ramp up: 15th at my opening timetrial. earned a point in the local series. will rest a little then will mix continued tt practice with normal stabalizing training.
March 28 2016
with several charity and social rides getting my juices flowing, its that time of year to return to actual competition. just a little over 2 weeks until my first target of the season. a time trial. how weird starting the season with a solo race. im clearly getting older. as i indeed progress further into the age groups, i continue to adjust my style of training and racing, my goals and aspirations. but even as i lower the bar for what is success on the bike, i dont want to lower my passion for the effort. so lets end this off-season crap and get racing.
February 25 2016
starting to set a 2016 race schedule. last year signaled a return to more structured racing for me. in the old days, the early season created worthwhile targets at which i was relatively competitive. many of my victories and podiums have come in april and may. but the winters arent as kind to me as they used to be and it felt last season as if my current slate of near-equals were stronger than i out of the gate. maybe this was more about the lack of dedicated race seasons in the couple of years before, but no matter. its the most pertinent and recent data that i have and thus the data that i will use.
so i will forgo the big targets and big dreams that i might otherwise aspire to in springtime until further down the line. instead this season will be more even and steady as i attempt to race up to the quality of those im "equal" to. ill look towards the local race series. with no one race being more important, at least early on, i hope to create a smoother path towards, well, towards beating the guy tomorrow that beat me yesterday.
January 20 2016
pending local snow storm. getting the mountain bike ready. gonna shred the neighborhood.
if youve read my entire blog below, youve noticed me complain about winter once or twice before. but this year's frost has been late to show. some travel to warmer places mixed into the winter will give me a good break as the weather turns, but in the meantime im getting used to the indoor trainer again. im being relatively mathematical this off-season. but if the fluffy stuff is on the ground, some non-training-specific riding will be necessary. and in a constant struggle to stay off cabin fever, i might even try to toss in a winter race or so. maybe an alleycat. but this weekend ill throw myself out of my element and go play on the mtb.
December 22 2015
a gift for all y'all: andy zalan's 2016 courier calendar is ready for printing. really large pdf like 225mb or something print version only. in fact, get on the indoor trainer while you're waiting for it to download. even better, warm up while downloading then do intervals while printing. one month on one month off.
November 30 2015
like many of my road racing students, i let cross season go on by without racing at all and instead slept through november. i participated: i will have had a full-ish officiating slate by end of year, but no dirt racing. so be it. the full road season (top 50 in my local time trial series final standings -mostly reporting not glorifying though ill accept a little glory for my first consistent season-long foray into the race of truth) was certainly sufficient to satisfy the competitive bug for the year. so with an upcoming alleycat or 2 ill close the calendar year. november being about rest, both as a biker and as a coach, i cleaned up some website stuff including archiving the beautiful cmwc guatemala 2010 webpage. of course thinking about guatemala just makes me want to go climb hills. winter be darned, time to go ride.
October 31 2015
the transition from road to cross has taken a little bit of time this year. truthfully, this has been a function of racing a real road season for the first summer in several years. i dont have the growing anticipation for cross that ive had in the previous couple of seasons. quite frankly because my body needed rest. closing the summer with naccc, and then another gran fondo and another full century, didnt exactly leave me wanting to go get dirty right away. so now with some appropriate rest ill have to see if im ready for fall season competition or if im ready for winter recovery and training. in the meantime ive stayed involved, officiating several cross races and working an alleycat. staying involved will hopefully help keep me enthused as i either get dirty or dig into the winter studio. today im just going riding. ill wake up tomorrow and have to make a november choice on the grander picture.
September 12 2015
a short fast and simple qualifying indeed left me on the outside looking in at the NACCC finals this year. my 34 minutes and change fell just 2 minutes long of the cutoff. there wasnt enough time or confusion for me to take advantage of my messenger racing smarts. several of us that navigated the race correctly still failed to make the finals. you had to be accurate and super fast. i was accurate and sort of fast.
in my 2 week trip from here to there and back, however, i did manage over 600 miles of riding and 12 thousand feet of climbing. so thats certainly something to smile about.
time to get muddy. road season over. cross season begins.
September 1 2015
NACCC Denver: while making the finals this coming weekend may be a worthy race goal, my real desire for my time in Colorado is to climb mountains. pave the road and point me uphill. today's ride, a 114 mile loop from Denver to Nederland and back, included a 17 mile 3000 foot climb and a total of 5500 feet of uphillness. tomorrow ill try to stay with the young messengers up to Lookout Mountain with about 2500 feet of elevation gain. thursday features a mere 2000 feet up but another 80+ miles. by race time on saturday, ill be ready to rest.
July 28 2015
mid summer break over. season part 2. did an alleycat in philadelphia. love racing the streets of phili. a partner race, i teamed up with my long time nemesis andy zalan to a happy 15th place. i actually pulled on the hated "team rush" jersey. 10 separate 2-4 mile sprints to different checkpoints, waiting for andy to do similar in between. the constant attack and recover took twice as much from me as the mileage would have on its own. the social fun at "dispatch" made up for it. a party inside a race. 15th felt good for us old farts. no age grouping in alleycats.
did a time trial. same course as one earlier this year. knocked a very noticeable several minutes off my time. placed 18th. been practicing on the tt bike. getting comfortable with the position, used to the steady pace, more observant of my wattage allowing me to keep it more consistent. nowhere near a timetrial specialist yet. gimme another winter. if i choose to dedicate to it, i can go faster in timetrials just on technique and metrics.
will be opening next month with a 100 mile granfondo and there is another tt race down the line. no big serious specific future goals set, just steady racing and improvement. purposely mixing it up. september brings the naccc and october brings cross racing. ill have to make the transition soon to the dirt. i need to practice my off-road skills.
June 19 2015
feeling unsatisfied with my races in canada, i went out and did a couple of extra timetrials the last couple of weekends. got some results. nothing to shout about, but nothing im overly unhappy with. so now as i sit out several weeks to recover from the spring, its time to recalculate both the mental and physical status. i feel im regaining that "cyclist lifestyle". training regularly not just riding. eating right most of the time. racing a somewhat full schedule. but im not consistently competitive yet. the progress is slow but noticeable, at least mathematically if not yet in my race results. legitimate bike racing is not like alleycatting. i cant hide behind my street skills or my navigational skills. there are no fluke road racing victories in my future as there could be with messenger racing. so ill just have to keep plodding along as i fight time and gradually return to the peloton. but i think the proverbially hardest step has been made: i have decided to keep going.
May 24 2015
not all dnf's are equal
i suppose there are multiple methods to judge one's level of success in a bike race. with low expectations but wanting my best day at what has been my target for the spring, i had to make a choice as to how i would judge mine, and thus how i should race it. on the one hand, i could try to comfortably settle into groups off the back as we fell away from those who were racing towards potential podium places and make sure to stay within my metrics resulting in a finish and a placing and a time relative to the winner on which i could appraise my performance.
on the other hand, i could go well into and beyond the red, over maxing my efforts, trying desperately to hold the tail of the peloton until i was well beyond done and then continue to chase until my muscles wouldnt move anymore most likely taking some sort of did not finsh. i could then judge myself perhaps on distance i guess or perhaps how close i felt to death.
but judging oneself after the fact aside, at some point i had to pick a strategy with which to race. of course i chose the other hand.
i fought hard to stay within the group into the headwind on the long drag towards the climbs. old criterium elbows helped a little here. i raised my power and stood aggressively on the pedals during the first hill and stayed just barely in sight. and though i faded from the lead group before the top, i kept a fast rhythm and was still in range. i no-fear'd it on the descent and reconnected. i repeated the minor triumph over and down the next mountain, still barely holding onto the group, falling off, getting back on. but the effort was destroying me. i started to feel dehydrated and hungry. i knew there was a growing gruppetto behind and of course i began to question my tactics. if i held up now i might still be able to ride with them all the way to the finish. instead i pressed on forward, trying to pedal faster. i rejoined one last time and maxed out as i tried to hold the draft. but i couldnt make the speed into the 3rd hill, and the peloton was gone. before i was even settling into gear the leaders were long out of site. my hotel was beckoning. i made it 35 of the 80 miles. im not sure how to judge that. ill leave that for tomorrow.
May 22 2015
those that have ridden under my management im sure can attest to my superior level of preparation. im not talking about training here, but rather all of the other race day stuff. everything from making sure you have your license and food to both left and right shoes to your helmet and a towel to getting the best parking spot and having dinner reservations for afterwords. well, despite my mastery of preparedness for others, and usually myself, it is here that i failed tonight.
dnf'd in the time trial due to mechanical issues. not disappointed. sometimes we just have to laugh at ourselves. ill try to go farther in sunday's race than the 0km i made it today.
May 21 2015
UWCT qualifier up in Canada. top 25% in my age group will move on to the UCI amateur world championships.
these last 2 races, a time trial tomorrow evening and road race sunday morning, will signify the finale of my spring season. since i began my recommitment to serious training, i believe ive made worthy progress towards once again being competitive in (read: "able to hang on to") road races in my age and category. but its a long road back and im not there yet. in what im calling my 3rd serious bike racing career (first a criterium racer then a messenger racer - yeah i know ive dabbled in cross and some road and even some other more unique stuff along the way, but im talking about my forays into serious dedicated training) i will have to decide whether i have the drive to continue towards truly lofty goals. i think i do. but its a long long road back and im not there yet.
ill still attempt these 2 races even though i should be less than pack fodder. i should get slaughtered. they are the target races for this early part of the path, and results be darned im gonna come to the start line and do my "job". support the race that i hope will be part of my future goals, and add to the quantity of racers so that more people may qualify for the worlds. those of you that have followed me over the years know my joy of bike riding has never faltered but my joy of competition has. but now that i have the bug again, taking my lumps in these early stages of the reconditioning process will just have to be part of it. appropriate expectations should help temper the lack of success on the finish line. ill wait til monday to decide the next step.
April 29 2015
some early season results: a 28th, a 96th, a 14th (with a 4th in the king of the mountain), and a dnf. the results themselves don't say much, so here's some simple analysis: one was above my ability, one was below, and a couple were appropriate. i won a prize for the kom, so that's always on the good side. victories and other prizes aside, results can be difficult to categorize. i won't worry about the specific placings themselves in these early races, just my own progression in both training and competitive spirit. bigger races with more important results are rising over the horizon.
March 30 2015
first charity ride down, some mtbing, some basic group riding, some social rides. all are mixing in with my regular training now as i find other cyclists equally itching to ride outside again. it's definitely springtime on the calendar and my outdoor miles are outdistancing my indoor miles, but the weather hasn't really cooperated. it's not nearly as much fun in the crappy cold rain and the excessive continuation of winter has certainly put a damper on my progress. future goals may depend on current training, but i'm long since past being willing to ride if it's not enjoyable. i'm sure i'll find more pleasurable days to ride in the coming april sunshine and hopefully enough to make up for the misery of the march cold. my first competitive event of the season is just a couple of weeks away. so whether i'm fit or unfit, its almost time to test the legs against other racers.
February 28 2015
ride the trainer til you blow it up. if you're anything like me, right about now you should be tired of winter. get those tires changed. put on new cleats. get outdoors. time to reap the rewards of all of that indoor work. first organized ride is coming. gonna get out riding in public showing off that increased power and never-ending endurance. ok it's not a race that's first up, but even still: gotta get psyched. 2 weeks until the vasa ride. blueberry soup is calling.
January 30 2015
while some of my roadie students are down in the southern hemisphere already beginning their 2015 campaigns, and cross racing is just finishing for those on the world level, it's still off season winter training for me. as i progress toward early season goals, i am beginning to organize my logistics that accompany my future racing. while i don't want to commit yet to a full schedule of any kind, some major targets have been specifically written in. by arranging some of those logistics now, i can be choosy about my travel, my accommodations, even my soigneur that i am hiring to join me. at my major target race, i'll want everything as perfect as possible. each little task completed and monetary investment made also serves as a deeper emotional investment in the target race, which helps encourage training. self encouragement can be especially necessary during the more boring rigid mathematical indoor riding that i'm doing during the doldrums of this winter. with the race date itself still so far out, anything i can do to keep my eye on the ball will get me closer to my goal.
December 7 2014
8 hours officiating a cross race in the cold drenching rain, as i did yesterday, counts as a race day towards my stress score. and with that i end my 2014 season and enter an off season i am unusually excited for. for most of those coming off a year filled with consistent tortuous competition, the off season is a time for necessary rest. but my lack of consistent training and racing has essentially sent me into the next phase. ive already begun to lay out specific major race goals (cmwc, uwct, naccc - making the finals in any of these would be a worthy accomplishment). ive begun reestablishing real base fitness. my numbers show i have a long way to go. but i also know where i can get to. i have a great endurance base, my power is rising, and ive adjusted my diet. oh and i got a new pair of stylin italian leather shoes. new cycling stuff to show off in the park is always inspiring.
October 31 2014
miles upon miles in september. an excellent way to begin a long dedicated training period. and the period has to be longer now, though the progression is slower. such it is as one ages. charity rides last month gave way to officiating this month, but i did get dirty in several cross races. but my fitness doesnt match those that have been more committed and my skills dont match those that practice in the wet mud. thus predictably my results have been, shall we say, less than impressive. but im having fun muddling through. but even as i just begin to regain my fitness through proper training, instead of the mere fun on the bike that dominated this past year, the time has come to set real goals down in proverbial stone. so while i ponder exactly what i want to shoot for, where i want to go, and ultimately how to train my body to join my spirit, ill keep adding up miles.
September 3 2014
North American Cycle Courier Championships 2014 Minneapolis:
thursday: race 1: the "poker run". the chicago kids dragged me around the city for a couple of hours. i drew high card nine. not a winning hand. i was on my singlespeed, so it was a weekend of power up and chase the youngsters. i found myself reaching for my non-existent shifters several times.
friday: race 2: alleycat. i started the race following the fast group out of the gate. i hammered to stay with Kym NonStop and friends but my head was down heading into checkpoint 3 and i blew past it. in the extra moment it took me to turn around and get my stamp, the rest of the group was in and out. i failed to catch them on the climb to the next stop. now lost and hopeless, i bounced from group to group trying to find others going the same way. ultimately, i found my way to the finish: middle of the pack i think but i was too tired to stick around for results.
saturday: race 3: cargo race. skipping the main race, this would be my only "championship" competition of the weekend. 8th place in the cargo! its always nice taking a top 10 at your national champs. i passed 2 others on the final lap to earn my place. neatly packed in my bike trailer: a pop-up tent, a chair, a water barrel, a bike wheel, a stack of tires, 6 boxes, and an 8ft 2by4. with my 8th place in hand, my racing was done for the weekend. luckily, there was still more partying to do.
August 20 2014
i'm putting in the miles upon miles to get "ready" for september (mulitple ceturies as a charity marshal) and october (my foray into the next age group of cross racing). the metrics are getting better as expected. my conditioning is getting better as expected. now its time to turn towards power and skills. so if you look closely, you might see me out there doing intervals and riding around in the dirt. despite years of messengering, i know i need practice in my dismount and remount. and i need to practice staying over the rear wheel for traction on those "run/ride ups". i think it was g.i.joe who originally said "knowing is half the battle". well then, im at least halfway ready.
July 7 2014
the lack of a monthly blog entry in june should say enough about my season. no serious racing to write home about last month, though i did get my feet wet one weekend. but ive been getting on the bike at least a little 3-4 days a week, and i am returning to watching my numbers again. with no racing results, it becomes impossible to judge training progress without the mathematics. of course if one has no specific goals, progress may not be important. ive let my season go this way on purpose, feeling i needed the mental break from the rigidity of training with metrics and from a determined race schedule. but now my mentality is shifting and im slowly thinking about competing more consistently and thus the numbers are coming back into play. goals are starting to establish themselves in my head and will soon be put to proverbial paper. ill want to ride this wave of fresh enthusiasm and turn that into good consistent training. even still, must be patient. the dedicated conditioning needed to race every weekend doesnt return over night.
May 27 2014
sticking to my lack of plan and having fun with it. i skipped the MayHem triple crown this year. this is certainly a traditional race for me, having invented it long ago and then won it more recently. but i didnt feel up to it and that needs to be ok. and i passed on CMWC 2014 in mexico. ive done some good racing and some good charity rides this year already, and ive got the 108 mile tour de cure charity marshaling gig coming up next weekend. so it's not as if im not riding. im just taking a break from being so rigid. of course, a victory already under my belt early in the season is helping me relax as well.
but those that know me must be aware that ive got something in my future that im starting to think seriously about. i won't go into detail just yet, except to say that i go up an age group next season. gaining years aint so bad in cycling. every 5 years, you get suddenly younger. look out older people, im going to be joining you soon.
April 19 2014
yeah, i still got it. 1st place today at the Mumbo Madness. solo breakaway.
i trailed the lead group of about 10 riders into the first checkpoint, but exited with a group of only 5. when i clicked to an easier gear going up the steep hill to stop 2, 3 riders pulled ahead. but they went straight at the left turn, and now there were 2 of us in the lead. really early to be going it without a group, but in an alleycat you make your jump when the opportunity presents itself. so off we went. into stop 3 together, but my nemesis leaped out ahead of me. i chased at first but then took another way. and when i saw him heading north a couple of blocks later, while i headed south instead, i knew i was now alone in front.
checkpoint after checkpoint i heard the same thing: hey bega, youre the first one here. perform an air guitar. do the harlem shuffle. a game of i spy. i pounded the pedals. im not as fast as i used to be, and i dont take the same ridiculous chances. but i can still flow with traffic better than most, and i can navigate better as well. so all i had to do was hammer and hope the youngsters couldnt chase me down.
then with 2 stops to go, i "caught" another racer. how was he ahead of me? i chased him to the far west side of the city. thinking 2nd place, not first, now resided in my future. the penultimate stop. but only for me, not for him. he had missed a checkpoint. so while he pulled out into traffic ahead of me, i was really ahead of him. i gasped for my last breath of oxygen as i climbed the hill to the finish. alone. in first. solo breakaway. best way to win.
March 31 2014
the winter lasted too long here (snow as recent as yesterday) and my motivation for off season training isnt what it used to be. so as the ice melts off the tops of the local mountains, ill have to be careful not to get spring fever. as i look back on previous years for clues as to how hard and far i can ride, ill have to remember that im starting later. the comparison has to be to the matching period in training, not the same point on the calendar. but even still, ill allow myself some extra miles these first couple of nice days, if for no other reason than to remind myself that i love riding outdoors. and i have already marshaled my first long charity ride of the year, the vasa blueberry soup ride. i suppose regardless of my status, the rides need to be marshaled, the races need to be competed, the roads need to be ridden. so im glad the weather is starting to cooperate with my outdoor dreams.
February 17 2014
a quick shout out thanks to everyone who came out to "A Volta do Distrito de Columbia Sister City Alley Cat" yesterday and made my day so much fun. i love giving away prizes. the alleycat benefitted CMWC 2014 Mexico City. i think it's time to commit and put mexico on my schedule. can i make another cmwc final?
January 3 2014
normally now id be posting goals for my 2014 season. not this year. im sticking to the (lack of) plan. there's snow on the ground so im going out mtbing in the neighborhood. im not recommending such a lax non-mathematical winter for my students of course. im amazed at how short the rest period is for cyclists these days. while my cross racers are still racing and havent even thought of a winter rest yet, most of my dedicated roadie students are already targeting early season races and are well into mid-winter base training. "do what i say not what i do" i suppose is my best advice to all of them. im going out to play not to work.
November 30 2013
i think its fair to say that my competitive juices flowed through others' legs this past year. similar to my hub racing days as a director, i found my thrills in those i coached more than through my own racing. i raced a little. i rode a lot. i completed 9 charity centuries as a bike marshal. is this a long term change for me? following hub, i found myself racing more. but this year i pulled back and not just a little. i had 14 less racing weekends in 2013 than in 2012. im not sure how 2014 will progress, but i must say i was happy this year on the bike, and i was happy in the previous season as well. so i wont force it either way. but i think i will want to race more again. or at least i want to want to race more.
October 16 2013
September 28 2013
August 31 2013
as the summer "racing" season ends and i look back, i notice that it wasnt really a racing season for me this year. the summer has been filled with marshaling charity rides, officiating, several coaching trips, and some racing mixed in. all in all, several fun and happy cycling months. at times my competitive juices got flowing. but truthfully, i was satisfied to just ride for much of the year with no finish line. the result has actually been a fantastic endurance base. now with just a couple of charity rides to go, ill need to add more power if i want to transition to a competitive cross season. and skills. gotta practice my skills in the dirt. i dont know how all out gung ho im going to be at the races, but i know ill spend time getting muddy whether i can ultimately keep up or not.
July 11 2013
made the finals at the naccc. qualified 22nd in saturday's race. not bad for an old ex-messenger. so i got to race on sunday. love racing sundays!
went for the special "dfl" title in sunday's naccc final. not the normal drunk competition where the guy who does nothing wins something. but rather like the main race, we had to work our butts off to collect negative $'s. i tied for the prize, but in a moment of fun and revelry the organizer dq'd me on the podium, and gave the bag to the other guy. unlike my younger years, i care more about the ride than the title or prize. got beer poured on me and a hug from NACCC overall champion Christina Peck. totally worth it.
July 3 2013
just a quick drop-in to say im in seattle for the naccc. honestly, i dont feel "race" competitive. i should make the finals: i still humbly believe that im a smarter messenger racer than most. but the messengers at these races just keep getting younger (at least comparatively). ive been training for endurance with back to back to back weekends of charity century rides later in the summer. and im trying to set a base for cross. so while my endurance may help in a super long finals, its really sprinting and stopping and sprinting and not screwing up that wins the race. i can avoid screwing up (hopefully), but i might not keep up with the speed. but we dont decide our placings on the start line, we decide them on the finish line. so at least those that beat me will need to faster than me to do it.
May 27 2013
mayhem alleycat omnium stage 3 Richmond (Mayhem).
i was all in and on fire today in richmond. the alleycat started with groups splitting in 2 directions. i picked the one heading over the bridge and followed the local to our first stop. i danced from group to group as we crossed paths with other riders, picking my way around the 1st manifest, up and down the hills. made it to the exchange still feeling fresh, and racers with me to attack manifest 2.
the group i was with now was much more cohesive, and we pace lined across west RVA. i felt i was much stronger than the group as a whole, though not every individual in it, as was proved to me on several climbs. regardless, we quickly formed a completely unspoken friendship and strategy. the locals told us the way, the new yorkers figured out the answers at the checkpoints, and i pulled at the front of the line. we rode at the redline and pushed ourselves as a group. smooth and fast. but not in the lead.
2 days earlier in baltimore i had made a decision. (have you read below?) i stand by it even though the result told otherwise. i said id make the same choice. and sure enough, today, once again, i chose to leave the comfort of my group and take off after the next potential prey. i urged my fellow riders to pick up the chase, and one of them took the bait, sprinting away with me on his wheel, leaving our comrades behind. but i would soon drop him as well with the next group up the road in my sites.
i was 2 blocks shy of my target when they disappeared around a right turn. i cut the corner desperate to keep them in sight. not sure of the way to the penultimate stop, i had to catch their wheel. i stood and sprinted as they made the left turn onto some major blvd, and snatched the draft just as the almost-highway dipped down into the valley. 45 mph down the ramp, and fully past any conceivable maximum effort. but as we climbed out of the valley, it wasnt my legs that i began to question. it was my manifest. uh oh, i still needed a lottery ticket.
bounding around the tight off-camber corners in residential east richmond, i ducked into a store. no lottery tickets sold here. up the block, still trying to keep my new group in grasp. store closed. no choice now. i had to think of another way to acquire a lottery ticket. into the park we sprinted, and i beat my competitors to the finish table. the organizer had a stack in front of him. my eyes glared at the red scratch off tickets. i would have to act cautiously now lest blow my whole race. i whispered into the organizer's ear: "ill give you $10 for a lottery ticket." he took my $10, checked off the lottery box, and put my manifest in the pile.
that glorious personal victory feeling welled up inside of me. on the final day of 3 days of alleycatting, a hammer fest of a ride through richmond. i would never bother to learn my actual placing, but it didnt matter. while i was outside of the prizes and not in the omnium results, i had certainly raced my very best race on the final day of the weekend. not all victories require a prize or a placing.
May 26 2013
mayhem alleycat omnium stage 2 DC (one leg up alleycat).
and then sometimes you get dq'd. i went for everything today in one move. before the race. at 410pm, the manifests were handed out, including the first checkpoint. it was a point to point with clues at each stop stickered on no parking signs directing us to the next checkpoint. but the first stop was there for everyone to read early. and the 2nd would be right near it. not fair of the organizer to tempt us so. with the start at 430pm, everyone began to gather at one side of thomas circle waiting to head east. "do you have the manifest figured out yet?" a friend asked me quietly as i picked up my bike. "yeah i got it. im going for a quick warm up" i replied as i snuck out of the circle and invisibly headed out towards stop 1. 15 minutes now until the real start.
the plan was simple, and fully within the realm of legitimate cheating in an alleycat: get the first 2 stops, get back to thomas circle. start with the group, but sneak out the back of the peloton and turn towards stop 3 alone and ahead in the race.
i put everything into my pedals as i came back across the city from north cap and rhode island towards downtown. i was watching the time tick away on my computer. 5 minutes to go. then 3 minutes. 6 blocks to the circle. if i made it back, everyone would see me at the start and id have a huge advantage. my clock read 430pm. times up. i glanced to my left, 2 streets over, and i could see the group starting down massachusetts av. i was late.
there was no way i would get away with this now. not cleanly. you have to complete the illusion. and you have to be willing to tell the race organizer that you cheated, how you cheated, and let the cards fall where they may. hitting the checkpoint before the race i might be allowed. just being smart. just between me and the organizer. no one knowing, no one complaining. a laugh between friends and an "i was just smarter" alleycat story for later days. but missing the start, i knew the dq was coming. everyone would know i started early. it was just too obvious, too blatant. the organizer would have to disqualify me. no choice now but to ride out the race, admit my guilt, and take my just punishment. "my first hint that you cheated" the organizer would say to me later, "was that you won".
indeed my fake time would have won tonight. my real time would have been around 17th. no more omnium hopes with the disqualification, but ill still race richmond tomorrow. love RVA bar-b-q.
btw, some guy took a top 10 that cheated with me, but he didnt man-up and admit it like a real alleycatter. his beer cozy prize is now cursed.
May 25 2013
mayhem alleycat omnium stage 1 baltimore (the ghetto blaster).
i started off following the main group, which became the 2nd group into the 2nd checkpoint. maybe 25th place or so into stop 3, but only a couple of minutes behind. as the big group split into small groups on the climbs, i bounced forward from wheel to wheel, moving up through the racers. by stop 5, well over an hour in at mile 25, i was with 8 riders in what was then group 2. now carrying an empty beer can still spilling in my bag, a brick, a log, a box. we split up again, and now with only 3 comrades, we rode into stop 7, 2 hours in the saddle at mile 35. informed that we were fighting for 6th place, and only 5 minutes back, but i didnt want to sprint against these guys. i ducked a left turn off the rear of the train, and flew off on my own.
at stop 8, i caught the lead group. they were just running up the rocky hill; at the bottom was the checkpoint. i bounded down, and ran back up, road cleats and all, just in time to see the leaders take off. i felt i could reach out and touch the rear of the paceline. but then they stood up. they took off, sprinting towards the finish. i stood up to chase, a top 5 in my sights. but i had no power remaining in my legs, and even the down stroke seemed impossible. i would lose ten spots (almost 15 minutes) in the final 5 miles to the finish for 16th place. oh well. would make the same choice again. 40 miles, 2.5 hours. thats one heck of an alleycat.
im not out of the omnium yet. while the math is against me, i won the omnium in 2011 with a 13th place on the first day. so 16th will just have to do. im certainly still in it enough to keep trying. dc on sunday (hometown advantage). richmond monday.
May 22 2013
cmc list of mistakes
hello messenger email list. as promised, and longer in the making than i had anticipated. having parsed many an email from past organizers and racers, gone back and read old archives and blogs and webpages, looked at old results and manifests and compared them to the cmc handbooks and rules, re-read my own journals and studied my own memories. some are general some are specific. all are derived from actual mistakes we have made over the years, perhaps tweaked in their telling for better understanding of the mistake instead of given in its historic actuality. some are applicable to all cmc's. some only in specific situations. some imply easy solutions, some are much more complicated to prepare for. i'm sure i've left some out by accident or lack of thinking of them. some suggestions i've left out on purpose because i thought they were too specific or were covered somewhere else in another way. or weren't mistakes, just someone whining. some mistakes can be found rephrased in multiple entries. i've stayed away from 2 major topics that i believe are a separate conversation: budget, and how to get people to register and pay early.
any implication as to "you have to do it this specific way" or "you have to have this thing at your cmc" is entirely unintentional. any specifics like this are meant as examples to illustrate the mistake that was made. for example: its not a mistake to allow a fixie rider to use a brake in the finals and still win fixie king if your rules allow it. its only a mistake if your rules don't allow it. i don't wish to make any implication on which way your rule should be, or even if the finals are included in fixie king, or even if you have a fixie king, or if you have a fixie king that i could win on the road bike if you'd just let me into the skid competition.
good luck future cmc organizers. may the mistakes of your grandparents not be yours. i'm sure you all can come up with plenty of new mistakes to complicate the championships to come. i hope you all will make efforts to pass on the knowledge to your grandkids as well, so when im really really old, cmc's will still be around and as fun and new and fantastic as ever.
maybe this will even make the guide book at messengers.org if said webpage is ever updated. feel free to edit first, i says to no one in particular.
1. What gender are you? (#1 solution: ask people what gender they are.)
2. How many people make the finals? (#1 solution: don't tell
people in advance how many people make the finals)
3. When and where is the bunny hop? The track stand? The skid?
(#1 solution: have a single form of communication with the racers such
as social media, website, texts. Pick one method and post all time and
location changes without fault. #2 solution: assign a leader to each
event who doesn't have any other concurrent responsibilities so at
least that event is ready even if the previous one runs late. #3
solution: never ever hold an event earlier than listed. #4 solution:
stick to your darn schedule. You've had over a fricken year to plan
this thing. Stick to your schedule!)
4. Do I have to go in order? (rules mistakes) (#1 solution: print
rules on top of each manifest. Never have a race specific rule,
especially a change in rules, that's not in writing somewhere such as
on the start table or the manifest or the book. Verbal rules aren't
5. What team am I racing for? (#1 solution - confirm team names
including spelling at packet pick up, sort database by team names with
riders to make sure that the teams conform to rules, make team assign
a captain at packet pick up for communication if issues arise later)
6. Where do I stamp this manifest? Which package do I give you?
(checkpoint issues) (#1 solution: for organizers: assign and teach a
checkpoint captain for each individual checkpoint beginning at least 2
weeks in advance. Empower that captain to run their specific
checkpoint including knowing what packages they need for giving out,
what they are receiving, where they are stamping, all in advance of
the race, and trust them to teach the day-of volunteers to work at
their specific checkpoint. #1 solution for checkpointers: run your
checkpoint the same for every racer from the beginning of the day
until the end even if you learn from some racer midway that you are
7. So what now, should we just add up the points for all 600
racers by hand? (database issues) (#1 solution: design and integrate
early. Build general and specific. Don't trust your race designer.
What's a minor change in race rules could be major in your scoring
database. Save time stamped copies all of the time so you can go back
and recreate from any given point including during the race. Back up
the files. Have a fully computerized version and a fully manual
version ready to go. Many races end up utilizing a little of both on
the finish line.) Practice with you scoring system! Remember it has to
work for hundreds of racers, so 5 minutes per racer might not be fast
I'm sure i missed something.
-- Shawn "bega" Blumenfeld
May 16 2013
quick shout out for dc's "bike to work day" tomorrow. my 17th year leading the mt pleasant to freedom plaza convoy.
April 30 2013
patience has its down side. having done some officiating, some announcing, some one-on-one coaching sessions with a couple of excellent students, my own competitiveness is starting to simmer. its time to get out and race. im targeted for the end of the may and then the beginning of july, and its been an exact target this year. i usually caution against this. zeroing in on a single event can lead to great disappointment. but every so often, there is a single race that will stand out amongst others in my desire for glory. so going contrary to my own long standing advice, i will bank my season on mayhem and naccc. while the mathematical training isnt really that different, the mental difference is greatly pronounced. i think i may be putting too much pressure on myself to perform well in these solitary races. oh well. worst case scenario is that i dont have good results this year. best case is i win them both. most likely im somewhere in the middle. only one way to find out. train then race and see where i place. but for sure, my patience is running out and its time to compete.
March 29 2013
spring charity rides aside, i find myself without my normal early season goals. i had to take joe martin off the table to (gasp) actually work that weekend, so my first real racing target isnt until the mayhem. given my winter softness, i could certainly use the extra time. just like most other humans, as i get older, my lifestyle and metabolism change. my ability to recover, and thus my ability to train consistently, diminishes. but truthfully my winter just ended too late. i stayed in shape via off-the-bike exercise through the cold times. so while im fit, im not cycling fit. my season will benefit from the willingness to recognize where im at, and the patience to wait until my capabilities match my goals.
February 7 2013
as a good friend noticed me out on my bike, ill come public here too. indeed off season is over and im back out training on 2 wheels. my friend also asked me if i was training for something specific. riding without specific goals is just riding. which is great and i highly encourage you to go riding even without some race in mind down the road. increase your fitness, your endurance, your joy of the bike. but to take advantage of scientific training, well, you have to be more specific.
im looser with my goals than i used to be in my younger years, but ive certainly picked some events for the season. as well as needing to be in proper shape to lead long group rides like vasa, ive picked some races to target as well. joe martin is a maybe. just want to be competitive if i decide to go. but my dreams for the mayhem triple crown are loftier. nothing but a victory will satisfy.
early season goals defined, youll all see me on my bike now, despite the cold, from here on through.
December 27 2012
as i settle into my off season now i remind myself to set a schedule. off season training can be difficult. you might need both mental and physical rest from a long stretch of racing, but you cant completely let your fitness go. i dont even know my goals for the next race year yet, and some of my friends are still racing cross as i become a couch potato for the winter. so i need to set a schedule to make sure i dont become total fluff. regular soft exercise, with lots of fun mixed in, works well for me. staying off the bike, ill use rowing, a heavy bag, weights, and a treadmill, even video games, to stay active. ill make sure to do something everyday to maintain a minimum fitness. then ill have to sit down and pick some good goals for 2013 to shoot for. and of course, i get to watch my friends go for national and world titles on the dirt and grass. thatll keep me motivated.
i dont spend a lot of time reflecting on the past year, but i will study my metrics from the whole season to see where i can alter the science part of my training for next year. and i do rebuild my trophy case with all of my new awards.
November 4 2012
a tale of 2 alleycat races
50+km through mexico city in the darkness of night might not sound like fun to the normal bike racer, but to the street racer like me, well, lets just say 3 hours of pure joy. when i race a live traffic race in an unknown city, i usually try to follow the locals. when i race in a city where i dont know the language, i absolutely have to follow the locals. but following locals isnt as easy as it might sound.
so on friday night at La Carrera de los Muertos, i started by chasing the fastest of the riders out of the start, arriving at the first checkpoint just behind them. these guys were fast, but even in this foreign land where i dont know the traffic patterns, i took the intersections smoother than they did. but i knew i wouldnt stay with them on the longer stretches, so i made the hard decision. i didnt try to win. theyd leave me behind eventually and id be lost in mexico. so i let the fast guys go and waited for the next group. the choice paid off, and i was able to enjoy a fantastic race with my new found mexican comrades as we pedaled through this huge maze of a metropolis. but i couldnt resist the opportunity near the end, when i recognized the way straight to the finish, to leave some of them behind. making my way to 13th place, i won a can of beans. all prizes are good.
amongst my cheats:
i came clean about my cheating to the drunk organizer, not the sober one. this was my best move of the race. much easier to gain the good graces of the drunk organizer. to my credit, i came clean without prompting, as soon as i finished, and stated i would of course hold no ill will if i was dq'd. i put the organizers to a difficult choice. ultimately, they decided they would have dq'd me if i had won, but allowed my 5th place to stand. it must have been my smile.
November 3 2012
thank you all. ive been trying to think about what to say about this honor, the Markus Cook Award, and its taken me a couple of days. im rarely at a loss for words. i found some. sorry.
i sit now in the shadow of the teotihuacan pyramids, waiting for the sunset and contemplating what brought me here. 30+miles north of mexico city and certainly stuck for the night: the alleycat last night and today's riding having taken all of my energy. 27 years since my first messenger run and 6 years from my last, yet i hold onto my connection to the bike messenger community with the tightest grip i can manage, for you all are my only salvation, the only group of anybody i have ever felt comfortable with.
what brought me here, what brought me everywhere, are my fellow bike messengers.
i have been extremely lucky. i survived 20 years on the streets delivering nonsense from one office to another. and now i get to enjoy the fruits of the friendships i have made through nothing more than a shared occupation. no other job creates these friendships. ask bartenders, the secretaries, the security guards, the lawyers, anyone we interact with on a daily basis. how many of them have traveled across the world just to party with people they dont know? just because they have the same job? we are perfectly unique.
messengering creates a dicotomy in all of us. we frequently hate doing the job yet love being messengers. messengers are amongst the hardest working and laziest people on earth. we consistently show great disdaine for all others, yet readily accept those that appreciate us. we shun the corporate greed we see around us, yet make our livings off that same greed. we reject becoming billboards, yet take pleasure when we win prizes. we refuse outside help yet seek it vigorously when it creates a bigger celebration. we preach safety while working then throw ourselves into traffic for fun. we take great pride in riding in the worst weather, and then hope for sunshine and warmth.
no job creates a community the way bike messengering does. we all could have found other mcjobs when the time came, but for whatever reason, we each chose to put ourself on a bicycle, throw a bag over our shoulder, and deliver packages, suffering in the worst of weather and enjoying the sun when it shines on us. and enjoying the freedom the job affords us. it is both the torments and the pleasures of the job that have kept us together, and kept us searching for eachother in the farthest reaches of the globe. now as our numbers dwindle in many of the most traditional messenger cities, we are finding new companions in places we never thought to look. and we get to travel there too and share the joys and pains of messengering in great celebrations.
keep throwing alleycats and championships. they bring us together in the best possible way. and always look out for those loosing their skin on the streets for some dumb package.
- Shawn "bega" Blumenfeld
October 31 2012
any time i step to a start line, my desire is to give it everything i have. and while it's my hope that my preparation has been appropriate, i know i can't always change my long term training for a single race. and if you have another "job", even your race day prep can be affected. i announced at DCCX, so any real consideration of a proper race in the tandem class at the end of the day was out the window for sure. but when i step to a start line...
my captain and i indeed put it all into the bike. andy zalan has great handling skills: his urban fixie and bmx background with many years as a messenger has given him extraordinary balance and technique. so i felt extremely comfortable in the stoker seat. i gave him all the power i had left after a day of dehydration and adrenaline filled yelling into the microphone. while im sure my comparative numbers werent anywhere close to my norms, i was able to push the pedals hard enough for us to ride the triple run-ups, with AZ making the u-turns cleanly at the bottom. we got great screams of appreciation from the crowd as we negotiated and powered our way around the most difficult parts of the course, a section that most individuals couldnt ride earlier in the day. and the screams and cheers were just an appetizer, as we rode well enough to grace the 4th step on the podium. i love getting on podiums.
September 29 2012
September 19 2012
sometimes everything goes right in a stage race and you win it (mayhem triple crown). sometimes it all goes right, and you just do ok (joe martin). sometimes you do everything right except one little thing and you're out of the race after the first day. i slipped in the prologue time trial at the ECMSR, on a turn i've taken 1000 times, on my home tt course, going about 3 mph. as my good friend sheba is fond of reminding me, it's not how you fall; it's how you land. a bruised bone on my wrist kept me from starting day 2. i felt bad for abandoning my teammates Greg Addo and Kevin Porter, but an injury is an injury. and racing isnt about one race, no matter how psyched you are to do it.
injuries can restrict your body, but they shouldnt restrict your effort. rehabilitation starts immediately. follow doctors advice, and set goals for your return to various levels of training. my first week had me walking off the hip bruise and babying the wrist and cheering on my teammates on their way to boston. my 2nd week had me back up on the trainer and beginning to use my hand. now going on 3 weeks, im heading back outdoors. as they say, get back on the horse.
August 28 2012
the big race for me in august was cmwc. chicago threw us some great parties, a filmfest including "Line of Sight", a velodrome day, and a really complicated race for the championships itself in the shadow of soldier's field.
i rode to the track on velodrome day. totaled 70 miles all on the fixed gear. chased my friends from japan all the way from the hotel to the track. raced on the track. rode home. great training. great fun. exhausting. i won a t-shirt from the chicago cutting crew. an excellent addition to my trophy case.
the cmwc qualifying contained more boxes than usual as packages. i rode with the trailer. the extra speed through the checkpoints for not having to load my bag made the difference. i qualified for my 8th cycle messenger world championships final. not many messengers, or even ex-messengers like me, can say that. andy zalan can. but i barely made it: 80th, a mere 2 minutes within the cut.
no boxes in the finals so no trailer necessary, and i went all out. several hours of short sprints. with time counting down, and my entire day on the line (dq'd if you didnt make it into base within the time limit -all work would be lost), i went for one more delivery. ripping my number off my bag and leaving the bag at my final stop (kind of like dropping a water bottle for you pros out there), i sprinted with what strength i had left and crossed into the dispatch base with about 20 seconds left. maximum time used. maximum effort. 71st fastest messenger in the world.
then i put the trailer back on and went for the cargo championships. heavy heavy bricks, several large pallets, a couple of (fragile!) eggs. at one point, i had over 200 lbs behind me. i made a directional decision that put me ahead of last year's cargo champ, janis from latvia, and slid my way into 5th place.
then i came home and slept for several days.
now im awake again, and putting in mega miles getting ready for the ecmsr that starts next week. ecmsr will be 700 miles in 7 days. dont be impressed yet; wait til im finished. then i will expect all of your accolades.
July 5 2012
i did everything right for my time trial on tuesday in west grove pa as i continued the chesco series. a hard 10.5 miles of steep rolling hills. i rode just above my max numbers the whole way, peaking my heart rate at the very top of the final climb. a respectable 13th place, and definitely near my best possible time for the course. even though it was only around 30 minutes of racing, it took everything i had in the tank. very happy with my time trial race.
chesco isnt a stage race, or even an omnium, just a series. so each race stands on its own. my decision to even do the time trial would cost me the next day in the road race as many of my competitors sat out. and going all out just 12 hours before the much longer road race could well have spelled doom. but i really wanted to race 2 days in a row for these, and i would start the road race and give it my all regardless of the rubbery legs.
so what do you do if on the start line you know youre not going to make it through the day? attack on the first climb of course! the field generously gave me leeway and i gained about 15 seconds on the initial tilt upwards. feeling much stronger now than i actually was, i stretched the solo breakaway lead to close to, but never over, the magic one minute mark. i got cheers galore from the families sitting on their front lawns as i came over the 2nd and 3rd climbs alone. but the longest of the climbs would end the glory ride as the "chasing" peloton "finally" grabbed me, still on the first lap of the 5 lap/65 mile race. i thanked the group for letting me have some fun and wished them a good race as they went by. the competitive part of my day was predictably over, but not without a ton of fun out front.
ill skip thursday, and will head back up for the final criterium on friday. but i wont have anything for more than a parade lap. ive had my minimalistic glory for the week, and will be satisfied just to wave to the crowd.
btw, they fed us barbq on the finish of the road race. results are always secondary to good home cooking.
July 2 2012
Rode at the front in phoenixville on saturday evening. well, for a short while anyway. with 2 steep hills in this less technical criterium, i did a good job "convincing" the field to let me set my pace early on. i pedaled steady and hard but i certainly wasnt shedding all of the big sprinters off the group. then the field jumped for a prime, and i went backwords to the tail as the sprinters first took over, then joined me at the back. eventually i trailed off with a group of some big boys, and even as the field slowed back down in front of us, my comrades couldnt help me on the climbs to get back on the group. i finished a crowd pleasing 29th.
again no 2 days in a row for me yet at chesco. and in fact a rest day in the series has me off until tuesday's tt and wednesday's road race. ill have to buck up and grin and bear that back-to-back.
June 29 2012
After what felt like quite a long stretch of officiating throughout june, i really had the bug to race. So i signed up for the week long Chesco Grand Prix series up in pennsylvania. 8 races over 9 days sounded like a lot of fun. i only fit into the category events though, with no aged-group masters available for me. racing against the younger guys in a technical criterium, i prioritized safety over results on day 1 in oxford. i wisely sat just off the field as i watched several risk-taking kids slide out in the turns in front of me. while the strategy kept me upright, it did mean i had to sprint out of every turn to catch the group. eventually of course, the high-power, short efforts caught up with me, and my day came to a relatively quick end. not unhappy, though, i felt i raced hard and had fun, and in fact i felt strong and fresh. id be back tomorrow, with more comfort with the field and id spend more time within the draft, so id likely last longer in the race.
until i woke up "tomorrow" (today). barely able to stand enough to walk to my computer, i checked my power files from the previous day's race. having hit more than my sprint max more than several times, the reason for my pain was clear to see. everything was wrong about the strategy from a mathematical perspective. i was way over my limits despite the short amount of distance and time. i had no cool down, but rather a sudden drop. my final attempted "sprint" to catch the field was merely 75% of my previous successful one. and then the numbers just collapse from there. while i had fun and felt good, the numbers dont lie, and neither does the intense soreness this morning. i hit the wall. interestingly perhaps, is that i never came close to maxing my heart rate. the individual efforts were never long enough.
so ill take a day off and be back "tomorrow tomorrow".
May 31 2012
video from NACCC Richmond. ton of fun. they fed us barbq all weekend. excellent result: qualified on the front row via the early chance friday night. medium result: took 20th in the "rush hour championship" saturday night. not so good result: failed to make the 2nd manifest in sunday's finals. played polo for my first time on monday. ate a lot of barbq all weekend. check out the video.
May 17 2012
its getting close to summer, and we're full swing into the charity ride season: with vasa and the maryland spring century already behind me, you can find me leading my trdational Bike to Work Day convoy from mt pleasant to freedom plaza, (new route this year: check out waba.org). then look for me at sears sucker, as well as officiating several usa cycling races. finding races for myself amongst this sort of schedule can be difficult, but i will of course be racing the NACCC in richmond.
May 5 2012
i wasnt sure about by my comparative level at Joe Martin. ive had some decent results in some early season training crits and some messenger races, but nothing really serious. and i made the decision to close out my april at the famed arkansas stage race only a week before the race. i didnt know the other riders besides perusing their results. i havent really been training for hills, and the climbs around fayetteville were indeed straight up and long. it was a national level race, and while im in the amateur ranks, these types of races do indeed attract some of the best riders within my age and category. so i think its fair to say my confidence of a top result was low. if you set your goals too low, you cheapen the achievement. set them too high, you will be too frequently disappointed. i try to set my race goals to something i can only achieve if i give it my all, both physically and mentally. my goal at joe martin was to finish the 2 day/3 stage race on sunday with a general classification placing. for those of you without your rulebook out: that would require first surviving saturday's time trial and road race, and then completing at least 50% of sundays criterium before being pulled for getting lapped by the field. it would indeed take all i had to even attempt to accomplish this seemingly pitiful goal.
ignoring the fact that a race of this difficulty really should be a target of specific long term training, i really feel i did pretty much everything correctly in my short term preparation: i left for arkansas right away; i made slight but reasonable adjustments to my diet and dropped a couple of pounds; and i went out and watched the pros on thursday and friday. nothing gets your blood going for your own race like watching the really fast riders tear it up.
and i studied my numbers. given the distances and climbs id be racing, id have to limit myself on saturday to my maximum. sounds logical doesnt it? actually, in a single day race, you may want to frequently strive above your tested maximums. but to "finish" on sunday, id have to be able to recover over night, mostly regardless of how i compared on race day to my competitors. so before you give me crap for my lost time to the leaders on day 1, note that several racers who finished ahead of me on saturday didnt even start on sunday. just sayin.
it indeed took all of my strength and strategy in sunday's crit to make it half way through. the full story of my criterium is longer in the telling than my time on the course itself, so ill hold back here and let you ask me in person.
ive taken last place in races before (emphasis on the plural of races). in a messenger race, this might be a position of pride, but not really amongst more traditional racers. ive never liked the sometimes awarded "red lantern", embarrassingly given to the rider who "most hung in there with his head held high despite being in last". id prefer this to a dnf, but still. ultimately, i took "not last" in all 3 stages and in the final general classification. while maybe nothing to brag about, i was certainly gleaming on the inside. i finished joe martin.
March 6 2012
video from WABA's 2012 Vasa Ride. mmm mmm blueberry soup.
January 28 2012
alleycatting in the winter is normally about fun in the cold, but the 50°+ in richmond for the nighttime "Too Fast Too Trashed" alleycat was certainly more to my personal enjoyment. as the race started, the lead group sprinted up the big hill away from the river, dodging the cars coming down the oneway as their bikes flexed wildly. being from out of town, i was afraid they'd leave me before the 1st checkpoint, and i didnt want to get lost in the richmond darkness. so i led out the 2nd group at a more endurance like speed, and they steered me right. but as we climbed the 4-story parking lot spiral, i found myself leaving my comrades behind. i had to chase the lead group or settle for a slower race. i chose to chase.
checkpoint by checkpoint, i picked off riders, too anxious at the beginning, and now falling to my steadier pace. i kept directions at the front of my mind and found myself playing cat and mouse with the podium spots. i would catch mike going into the checkpoints, but the tasks at each stop (name the stars, get naked, find a beer buried in the sand) kept me from ever achieving his wheel.
at the finish, curtis the winner was laid in out in a drunken stupor well into his celebration. but mike, having arrived a good 5 minutes before me, was still frantically looking for his final beer in the sand. a wave of sympathy came over me and i pulled a beer out of my bag from an earlier trip to the beach. i buried it, and pointed mike to his treasure. he picked it out of the sand, handed it to race captain stu for 2nd place. i found another beer for myself and completed the podium for 3rd overall, taking the prize for top non drinker. i won a pound of coffee from richmond's lamplighter roasting company. there is no off season in messenger racing.
January 6 2012
a top ten at happy holidaze was a nice way to close my season. and while i won't wax poetic right now about the 2011 year (victory at the mayhem, finals at both naccc and cmwc, a couple of top 10's, raced against the big boys in the dirt), i will take this moment to remind myself that there is no off season this year, no rest period. training starts now for 2012. and while some of it may be softer during the next months or so, consistent riding will help stay off winter doldrums and create good form for the early races. good results early will help encourage me to race more through the season, and will of course make it more fun. i will take advantage of every nice day to get outdoors, because the wind trainer can just be dull.
also, got to marshall the tweed ride last month:
November 5 2011
its been a fun, event filled cross season, but not with a lot of racing. ive officiated several races, announced at a few as well, most notably DCCX. and ill be announcing at the mabra championships on november 27. ill be officiating several times throughout the rest of the season, and ill get my feet a little muddy also.
i did get to race kinder kross last weekend, and i guess i was hoping the photos would be out before i posted, but i cant wait any longer. i went to kinder with the intention of testing my upgrade. i opted to race in the masters 1/2/3 instead of any of the combos that included the cat4s. i mean, why upgrade if youre still going to race with the rookies? i held on well to the super fast old guys through the first several technical turns. i chose wisely to run instead of ride the muddy up and downs and this helped me stay in touch with others who slipped trying to ride them.
i hung on to the second group for the first lap, and started to fall back with the third group through the 2nd lap. there was a water pit in the middle of the course, and not wanting to crash out, my group took it carefully and one at a time. but i didnt stay with the group long, and was alone for my final lap as i cruised towards the hazard. thinking "im alone, this is easy, i have all the time in the world", i cassually drove my bike into the foot and a half deep puddle. however, i failed to set my left pedal in front of the apex of the stroke and couldnt power out of the mud. i slowly tilted, then fell softly to my left. i landed sideways, fully submerged from head to toe, still straddling my bicycle.
but like a good cross racer, i got back up and continued to ride. i came through the finish line, hoping to see a zero on the lap counter, but there was no salvation for me. it still read 2 laps to go. frozen and wet, i had no choice but to end my day early and accept the DNF. oh well, not the last cross race of the season. i will continue to test my upgrade. results be damned, no more rookies in my races.
October 10 2011
i qualified well on saturday at the north american cycle courier champioships in austin tx. i made no mistakes on the manifest, and rode hard to a 19th qualifying place. the rain (its not supposed to rain in austin, but this weekend somehow it did) was brief during my heat and the distance (around 11 miles for me, more of course for some others) played to my messenger racing strengths. with the short ride and very specific manifests, only one mistake could cost a rider a full 2 mile lap. i placed ahead of several much faster riders.
but that advantage can disappear in a messenger championship finals. in sunday's final, i again rode mistake free, and that kept me in the running for a top 20 for the first half of the race. but the rain kept coming in a steady mist (rain in austin texas - im just saying'...). eventually, the more recently hardened messengers (yeah im soft now i admit it - my hardness is all gone) started to pull away from me, and others caught me from behind. by the end of my 45 mile race i was dropping into the small ring even on the flats. cold and wet, i had trouble getting my heart rate into my work zone.
indeed, i feel i left it all on the race course. i ended up the 40th fastest messenger in north america. ill take that result home any day.
October 4 2011
anytime im racing for a championship, i take it a little more seriously. well, not everytime, but most times. so for the naccc in austin, im bringing 3 bikes, 2 cross and a road. i dont trust the organizers who claim its a road course, and i can always put skinny tires on the xross as a roadie pit bike. its one of the few advantages ill have from driving instead of flying. ill have all of my equipment with me: extra wheels, a stationary trainer, more water bottles, a folding chair. its going to be hot down there in texas, so im already starting to focus on hydration. the body can take several days to climatize, and ill only have one day once we arrive. but temperatures will be rising the whole drive across the country starting wednesday so the shock to my system won't be as much. and oh yeah, i have to go riding today. last hard day before the weekend.
October 2 2011
freezing rain for my officiating gig out at fort ritchie yesterday. i guess it was cross weather, but 8 hours standing in it hurt. i wanted to go out to apple harvest to race today, and my friend sol offered to let me join him on the tandem, but i had to recover instead, and spent the day under the covers. i didnt even ride on saturday, but the cold certainly tortured my body as if i had. when thinking more about a future race, the way i am about next weekend for the naccc, one might choose to skip a day like yesterday. but officiating is a job, so i cant bail on it the way i would on a race. its unfortunate for me. a wet cold day can set you back several in a training plan. ill have to make up for it the next couple of days before heading to austin for the north american cycle courier championships.
September 29 2011
no swim at nations tri bummed me a little, and i took a week off the bike. at my age, i have to be careful. a break can be good for the psychology, but not for the pounds. my weight fluctuates a lot more than when i was younger, and a week off feels more like 3 or 4.
but its cross season and if i want to race, i gotta keep putting in the miles. im officiating on saturday, and will probably race on sunday but i havent pulled the trigger on registration yet. (as a cat3 master in cross, i can actually pick from 6 different categories to race in.) ive missed all of the dcmtb clinics (rain sucks), but i think im at least fit enough to get on the course and get dirty.
and then there is the NACCC next weekend. i love championship messenger racing, and so i might be making the trip to austin. from a fun perspective, its ok to be indecisive and decide at the last minute. but from a racing perspective, well i have to get focused if i want good results in cross or naccc.
September 8 2011
and nations tri just updated with no swim because of the hurricanes. not sure how i feel about this. its certainly not the same race. im not trained for nor excited about a bike tt and the race is no longer a challenge in and of itself without the swim. ill have to decide if im even doing it.
September 8 2011
getting set for nations's tri on sunday. the swimming is what really has me worked up. totally new experience. the training for this has really been "leanring" not training. its my first triathlon and while i barely remember my first bike race, the emotions are certainly similar. i am well versed in triathlon speak, but its not first hand. i'm a cyclist and always have been. i only started running and swimming for the first time in my life this year.
cmwc was more fun than race, and i ate my fair share of polish sausage across the month i was there (they just call it sausage in poland). im not used to training for single events like a triathlon. when i train for cycling, even if i have a race or 2 in mind to target, im thinking about the entire season. so a little up and down is not only acceptable but quite frankly necessary to keep from me getting burned out. but when training for a single event like my first triathlon... well, i should have targeted my weight better for sure.
that being said im in decent condition and im not worried about the endurance for the olympic distance, even if my times on the bike might be longer than they could be. but the swimming kills me. i cant do the crawl because of my shoulders, so im slow just from technique. using the upper body at all is new to me, and even the leg motion feels contrary to my 3 decades of developing my bicycling pedal stroke. and this will be my first large group open water swim.
if i can push through the swim, i should be able to finish out the bike and run within the time cutoffs without issue. but honestly, im clueless as to my own expectations for time. so ill give myself the same advice any good cycling coach would give to a first time bike racer: "just try to hang in and dont crash. try to finish. worry about times next race."
July 31 2011 some personal results from cmwc:
43rd in the uphill time trial. andy duncan outsprinted me at the top to win our match.
i qualified via the guerilla race, and went for that title during the finals. but strom from switzerland put a crew together on behalf of the german mafia and they jumped me, taped up my wrists, cable-locked my legs and took all of my bandito$.
main race finals: 109th (DFL - but i was in the finals for the 7th time)
July 16 2011
went north to PA for a race. was with the front group in the until about 5k to go, but i was racing with some 20 something years young guys and i couldnt hold the speed in the line. i went into the red zone to stay with them for about 10 minutes, and then as my heart rate creaked beyond my tested peak, i hit the proverbial brick wall. i was passed by the chase group, then the peloton. then the masters 50+. i finished somewhere in the fodder off the masters group that started 5 minutes behind us. it took me about 20 minutes to cover the final 5k. i think i was credited with 51st.
oh well, thats racing. i gave it everything to stay with the leaders, and there was no reason to save anything. i was really close to having a great day. with cmwc now just around the corner, at the very least i know what i need to clean up in my fitness to give myself my best chance. i was still able to ride strong the following day, and my training rides have been mostly endurance based, tending towards my minimal talents. so im confident i can ride the distance in the finals. but to race the messenger championships you gotta have speed. you have to race fast in qualifying just to make it. and you have to stay with the leaders early in the finals until endurance starts to matter late in the day. so for the weeks leading up to cwmc, its been all speed work. its not a talent of mine, and i cant sustain the training for it. but if my timings right, ill be in the best possible condition for the messenger championships. of course even veterans now are 10 years my junior, but im still younger today then i will be tomorow, and ill only be 2 weeks older come cwmc 2011 in poland.
June 9 2011
every so often i return to my roots. well, probably more than every so often, lets say about twice a year or so. while i rode before i was a messenger, my love for cycling really took off that high school summer when i first took to the streets. and out of that, i grew a passion for alleycats: live traffic messenger racing. but its been years since ive raced an alleycat outside of guatemala, and i turned my organizing to more legitimate races like rfk and the cmwc even years before that.
but if you look through the dccourier.com archives you'll find many of these ridiculous races that ive been at least some small part of. the MayHem, born in 1997, was my real baby though, designed originally to be as complicated as possible: using points systems, bad addresses, larger than life packages, nude finishes on 18th st. and those that have taken on organizing its namesake since then have really done it credit. so when some friends of mine revised the MayHem Triple Crown Alleycat seires that i helped create with AZ, i had to take it on. a mayhem stage race in baltimore, dc, and richmond across memorial day weekend.
and i won the series. how bout that eh? 13th in baltimore, 2nd in dc, and 4th in richmond. my co-winner, kate schrock, and i could not have been a more perfect picture of contrast of messenger styles. she rode a steel flat bar, a t shirt, a bag too big for her small body, cut off shorts. i was all kitted up in full team bega uniform, pink shoes and a carbon bike with zipps. just goes to show: in the bike messenger world, its not how you look, its how fast you deliver. of course, im retired from messengering, i just go back and play one on the weekends again every so often. kate still pounds the streets.
mayhem video featuring "dirty bike" by who killed teacher (from "welcome to the big ring - the cmwc 1998 compilation cd" rememer that?)
May 19 2011
starting to really ramp up the training. spending time at skyline doing serious hills and distance. leading 2 group rides per week, an endurance ride on sundays and an entry level training ride on thursdays. registered for my first tri in september so im learning how to swim. im not worried about the run part, just have to learn to deal with the distance and the pain, but you can drown if you dont swim. my bike times now put me near the top of my age group, but thats without swimming first. i need to learn to swim forward instead of down. if i can get out of the water, this might be a fun expansion for me beyond cycling. the jury is still out.
and tomorrow morning i get to lead "bike to work day" from mt pleasant to freedom plaza. 15th year leading this convoy. better not rain.
February 27 2011
getting some time outdoors on the bike. the earlier you can get off the trainer and out into the real wind the better for the year. almost all riders start to get out around the same time as the weather gets nice now and then. but preparation isnt just about having the mid-weight jacket ready. if your bike is still in the basement with last year's dirt, youre not ready to start with the early season miles. i got my bike all cleaned up, appropriate upgrades done, way back in january, and put on the finishing details just in time to go lead waba's lincoln ride (a mere 18 miles slow paced through dc) a couple of weekends ago. a great way to start the marshalling season. too many riders wait until march or even april to get their bikes ready.
next weekend im leading the annual waba "vasa ride" out of the swedish embassy. lets hear it for the blueberry soup! but topping the distance scale over the metric century, i have got to get miles in this week. or i guess the kilometers if im going to claim the century.
at at the same time, im pulling the trigger on poland for the cmwc in july. 5 weeks in july/august will see me going to poland followed immediately by the earth cycle tour in maine. its going to be all about endurance this summer.
January 11 2011
time to wrap up the year i guess. i went and raced one more day of cross races at schooley mill, but sometimes even i can be disappointed with results. i dont really care how i do against others, but i do want to do my best against myself, and i didnt on that day. i came to the line all 3 times, but only managed a finish in the first race, and it wasnt anything to write about. yet here i am.
but then i did get to announce at the mabra cross championships at tannytown. big honor announcing a champs and it was a lot of fun to call bobby lea and champion wes schempf to the finish line as they battled lap after lap. and justin the junior is going to be something special, and ill get to say i called him to a couple of podiums when he was still a kid.
so as i plan for this coming year, i see warsaw the cmwc on the horizon in july. if i go itll be to race all out this year, not to organize. i have a couple of tours for earth cycle tours. there are definately some rides to lead, some races to announce and officiate at, and even some road races to race in. just getting the schedule together now. looking towards the fall: i should have my upgrade in cross i think despite a less than stellar year in 2010. the upgrade from 4 to 3 is on experience, and is equivelent to the cat5 to 4 upagrade on the road that you really have to get at somepoint even if youre just looking to race masters. im not looking to race the 1/2/3's in cross, but i dont need to race with rookies anymore either.
November 19 2010
So after announcing at DCCX, i of course caught the bug a little for the season. But with limited racing left out there for me, and working at shops in bethesda and toronto, i had to triple up. i took on the all hollows cross and entered 3 catagories. in the first race i held my own and finished middle of the pack, but in the 2nd i had little left to really compete. but i stayed with the laughing group and though i took last place in the race, i wasnt gone from back of the riders i was with and i was only lapped once by the leaders. but the third race i really shouldnt have been out there. after getting lapped about half way through the race, i was no longer in contact even with the laughing group and i had to ask the officials to pull me. they told me just to stay out of the way of other racers as they lapped me, but with some single track on the back side and 2 long sand pits, i was just in the way. so they they pulled me at my request and officially listed me as only one lap down, but 2 or 3 would have been more appropriate if i had ridden it out.
so i take on 3 more at schooly mill, then announce again at the mabra champs next weekend.
October 11 2010
The CMWC and Gran Premio in Guatemala are over, and i think i can fairly say it was an epic experience. everything we planned essentially collapsed in front of us. the roads were closed because of mudslides so participants had to walk down the mountain. a hurricane washed la ocho into the river. the website crashed from too much traffic. the photo guy didnt show. yet the crew pulled it all together and everything went off with more success than we could have possible dreamed.
I personally didn't win anything except 1 heat in la ocho; the organizing took it all out of me. But i did get top 100 in the cmwc main race, and 50th in the gran premio, and team bega won 4 more championship titles.
im really proud of the work i did to get everyone to panajachel. and especially proud of the work to get results out on the cmwc website and messenger email list. the cmwc never saw results and updates like that before. every night, every event. az and luk really worked their butts off redesigning every race given the circumstances on the start lines, and my results crew with lola, brad, and cookie went all out to help me get the information right.
the cmwc 2010 website has my blog entires and updates from the 2 weeks, and full results with photos. check it out.
i announce at dccx on october 24th, and im going to try to get in some cross racing for myself over the next couple of weeks.
June 23 2010
i redlined on saturday. i didnt back off they way i was supposed to, i pushed instead. sometime around on the steep climb a couple of laps in (five 6-mile laps total), i started to feel the sugar running from my body. my eyes were watering, and my heart rate was climbing. i told myself to back off, timetrial the last couple of laps, make the time cut and race on sunday. i said it to myself over and over. but my legs didnt slow or pause and i didnt drop to an easier gear. instead i fought to stay with the front group over the hill. i knew it was over, that i was about to hit the wall. but i didnt back off. as the salt poured from my pores, i told myself again to back off. but i wasnt listening to myself. big mistake. i lost focus, concentration, the ability to pedal. i touched the wheel in front of me and shot out the back of the field like a rocket. i came to a standstill on the hill and then the legs cramped. completely stopped. frozen. take it easy, ride it out, make the time cut, i said to myself. i didnt listen. instead, i pushed to chase. i kept the caravan in sight ahead of me for a good solid lap. then i cramped again trying to chase over the same steep hill. i lost a lap sitting on the side of the road trying to get my cramped tight legs to move. some artemis guys cruising the course getting ready for a later race stopped to help me out. i drank some water. got back on the bike and rode out the distance, finally finishing almost 30m minutes back.
33rd technically, and though the results list me as "33rd, DNF, +29min", they should read "33rd, out of time, +29min" cause i indeed finished. not everyone did. big ups to jim who waited for me at the officials table so he could score me.
but i didnt get to race on sunday. the lesson? listen to yourself, back off, ride it out, and race on sunday. redline and youll blank a manifest, and be watching on sunday.
btw, 15 years almost to the day since i fell off catoctin mountain. and i turned 40 on sunday. next up i have some big officiating duties at the cap crit in dc, and the mabra masters champs following that. and its time to sit down and evaluate the training and reorganize for the final push towards guatemala.
June 12 2010
so i pulled the trigger on registration for the tour of washington county stage race. road race saturday morning june 19 and a tt followed by a criterium on sunday june 20. joe jefferson and his gang have put forth a masters 35+ cat III/IV which really is my ideal competitive category. aged grouped and cateogrized. and im throwing in the global gutz alleycat back in dc saturday afternoon. the weekend should be a real test for me, and almost identical to the kind of stress the cmwc race will bring the body. just like cmwc, ill race saturday morning and afternoon, and then have a long sunday to try to complete the task.
my hardest struggle next weekend will be the road race on saturday. i have to be able to hang in the saturday opener race even though my training has been dedicated to the long haul. my training has really built my endurance, but im still not comfortable with my top speed, and i really want to race on sunday. if i blow up trying to keep hold of the field on saturday, i actually risk getting dropped, hitting the wall, and missing the cut. but if i make it to sunday, my endurance might take hold by the end of the crit, and my lack of speed might not be as much of a factor. this is the same risk as going all out trying to qualify at cmwc. you go all out making sure to make the finals, but have nothing left for sunday. or worse: blank a manifest as your heart redlines in panic. you have to assume you will survive saturday regardless, and train for sunday if you want to win it all.
but like i said, this is a test and i wont have the answers until after the weekend.
May 24 2010
so last friday was bike to work day. i got to lead the ride from mt pleasant to freedom plaza for the 14th straight year. shout out to rick morgan who is the only one i know who has done these rides for more years, though ive done more consecutively. tons of fun. got some press for my bike shop. close to 200 people came into freedom plaza with me this year.
this didnt count as training in and of itself, but since i needed to ride in from silver spring md to lead the ride in dc, i ended up with close to 60 miles before i got to work.
and yes that was me officiating in the pit in that video from the leonardtown crit with all the tacks on the road. and i think i let bryan back into the field with plenty of time. 2 hard crashes in 2 days just took the wind out of him i think and he couldnt make it back in while others from the group had less problem rejoining.
May 17 2010
So officiating is pretty exciting, but not always worth putting here in my training blog. except to say ive learned a tremendous amount from some of the great veteran officials in MABRA, and i cant wait to use that gained knowledge down in guatemala at the cmwc. for those that dont follow the inner workings of this year's cmwc organization, im heading up registration, results, and awards. so officiating these hectic crits, and a tt also, has given me great insight into how to score, tally, and post results fast and accuately. count on it in guatemala.
but while ill be officiating some races going forward and you'll still see me out there with a clipboard, its time to turn back to the racing that i need to prepare for september. the 25 mile thursday night conte's ride in bethesda is now a mark for my qualifying round, but itll be racing on sundays thatll complete my training.
April 12 2010
well i got a chance to race afterall. with a last minute schedule change before i went into my officiating stretch, i jumped again to new jersey for the Blueberry Circuit Race in Hammonton. another low fan fare, well run, fun, friendly race, mostly flat with a 6 mile loop. the masters race was fast fast fast and i got to really test my speed. i didnt want to drop off from lack of full effort, and i have plenty of time to recover, so i redlined to stay with the front group. and there was notable success for me. instead of drifting off, recovering in the turns and with a paceline of others in the same boat, i burried myself to hold the wheels of the fastest group as they accelerated. ultimately, i probabaly could have stayed with the 2nd group for the full distance and i would have gotten a result. but this was better for my final goals. gotta get and maintain speed. i made several laps with the top 25 or so, before i hit the wall. and hit it hard. thats why knowing your redline is so important. you can cross it to stay on the wheels in front of you, but not for long. if you stay above your redline, you will hit the wall. so i scored a dnf, which i dont like and usually i would prefer a placing even lower down to none at all. but i prefer a dnf off the front group than a dnf off the 2nd group.
March 29 2010
so i passed on jefferson cup because of the weather again. this isnt race season for me yet, its still training. my target is in september. so i dont have to be getting wet right now. but it is a missed opportunity to sit on some really fast wheels, and with officiating dates filling at least some of the next couple of weeks, it might be a while until i get another chance. but wet and cold can take a lot out of the body and set the training back days if not weeks if you really hurt yourself. this is a plus/minus vs current messengers for me. riding in the rain day in and day out ultimately hardens you up, trains your body to recover faster, and makes you immune to the bitter weather. but it can also drain your body of needed resources, especially as we get closer to the cmwc in septmeber. while i cant count on 70° and sunny necessarily in guatemala, well, im counting on it.
March 22 2010
the weather looked iffy so i never went down to the dismall dash. its was a tt anyway, and while they serve as a worthwhile measure, they don't help increase speed or endurance anymore than a solo training ride.
but i felt really good following the thursday contes ride so i pulled the trigger on the south jersey training series #2. it was a fantastic 3 mile curcuit in harrison nj, and matt and team independence put on a fine event. with little fanfare the masters race still had around 25 racers.
a race like this for me is all about top speed. my endurance is acceptable at this point, and the outdoors training with the nice weather this past week has aided that, but until im sitting on the wheels of the cat 1's and 2's in the masters fields, i wont gain the top speed i need to compete at cmwc. and this race was fast for me.
i sat in fine with the group early, but while i didnt redline the heartrate, i couldnt match the acceleration of the top riders when the group split in two. but i stayed comfortable with the 2nd group as the paceline formed. several riders foolishly attempted the jump to the first group, and the accelerations caught me out 5 or 6 times. but each time i was able to grab the wheels of the smooth cyclist 54 guys (not really sure of the team, that logo just stood out). eventually, the jumps caught me one too many times, and i rode the final distance alone. i passed at least 2 others who fell off after me, but also got lapped by the leaders just before their finish. results not yet posted, and not really important, but i was somewhere between 17 and 23 i think. not sure how many dnf'd ahead of me.
next up for me is either saturday for a small road race up north in pa that might be just my style or the big one down south in va on sunday that will have a lot more riders to group with. i think ill flip a coin just before reg closes. i cant imagine trying to do both.
March 11 2010
so "leading" a ride like the vasa ride from the swedish embassy is really more like following the ride. with hundreds of participants, way more than expected, me and the other marshalls on the ride had to depend on experienced riders like arley kemmerer and heidi goldberg and mark plotz to hang in with the front group so we could follow and fix flats and such. it went off with out a hitch, and i rode the 60 miles moving from one group to the next, helping those on the side of the road as i went.
but since this is about my training, ill properly relate it to that topic: 60 miles in this format is actually a pretty good resemblance to the finals at cmwc. every group i was with was moving pretty fast, but i wasnt settled to just stay with anyone. id make sure they were ok, then accelerate to the next bunch up the road. the stopping and starting for lights, intersections, conversations, mechanicals (other's mechanicals, not mine of course, though my new pedal/shoe combo was squeaking a bit) all have a similar strain on the heartrate as hitting the checkpoint at cmwc. up and down, try to recover instantly, and try to stay in control of your breathing and muscles the whole way through. any exhaustion would be a bad sign right now. i wasnt pushing race pace or anything, and kept my heartrate below the redline. so how was i at the end of the 4 hours? fresh and ready to go again. just where i want to be right now. the endurance feels good, the winter hours have paid off. next comes speed. im going to have to race to really get that. im thinking about the dismall dash tt this sunday. tt's are a great measure, and the 25 miles in southern virginia will be a good test for me. but it will take crits, and riding off wheels like dave osbourne and josh frick to really get my speed up. still a long way to go, but i feel the training is on the right path...
February 25 2010
so trade zone got cancelled last weekend, so my first real officiating slot probably wont be til the (possible) trade zone again on march 21. but i get to do a couple of more gamjams computrainer races at contes. so thats at least a little practice in running an event from an officials point of view.
but i did get to test my legs. with the open sunday, i did a small training crit. stayed with the 2nd group, but had little left at the end of the 45 minutes. these crits require a similar fitness needed for qualifying at cmwc. and i dont need to be winning these, or attacking or nothing like that, to meet the standard i will need to make the finals in guatemala in september. i only need to be in these groups at the end. but i gotta have something left. i should be finishing these strong even if not fast. if i can finish these crits strong over the next couple of months, i know ill have enough to make the finals at the messenger championships. regardless of my results though, the concetration in training has to continue to be on the 4 hours needed for the finals. i gotta trust that ill make the finals, and continue to train for that likelyhood. with the cold here, its a lot of time on the trainer. wanna ride with me? im doing skype video conference rides with some friends, and im always looking for ride partners...
February 18 2010
got to officiate at the gamjams computrainer throwdown at contes last weekend. threw up some video also (check the link up top eh). get to officaite outdoors for the first time of the season on sunday at tradezone. the tradezone series will probably be a mixed game for me this year. im officiating at at least 2 of them: feb 21 and march 21. and ill race maybe 1 or 2 of the others. and i get to lead the waba "vasa" ride coming up on march 7th. blueberry soup at the end of a 56 mile trail ride. cant wait. more info on the vasa ride at waba.org
February 8 2010
catch my interview with biker bill on 10-9 radio - episode 3 (link no longer available sorry). we go into some detail about the messenger email list and cmwc guatemala and other messenger community history stuff. download for your ipod, he plays music throughout the broadcast as well.
February 6 2010
big ups to jim and lew and judy and ruth and im sure im missing someone... they held the officials update clinic online in a webinar. so maybe we're going backwards on the race course techno-wise with the radios going bye bye and all, but we're all 21st century for our meetings. so along with some racing, youll see me out there on the sidelines wearing officials blue some this year as well. remember - no throwing bottles in a crit!
February 3 2010
theres no better time to retire from being a team director. usacycling has followed the uci in banning racer radios, meaning team directors can no longer yell at their racers through a little ear piece during a race. well, that just takes all the fun out of it for a td, and its just one more reason why im happy ive turned hub racing over to the women. i mean, who wants to direct a team if you cant scream and shout at them during the race?
in the old days, my director used to hold up signs for us to tell us what to do. i guess that works in criteriums, but usacycling has taken a backwords step here technology wise. the theory is, put the race in the hands of the racers. level the playing field, so that big teams with coaches and stop watches cant dictate the race from the sidelines. but the truth is this will backfire. big teams can dictate a dedicated plan, but lessor teams need to react. now that reaction must come without the information. oh well, im not a director anymore, and they still allow radios in messenger racing. hopcroft and i are gonna clean up at cmwc in guatemala...
January 27 2010
so we had a 60° day on monday. i literally stood on my porch waiting for the rain to stop so i could go riding outdoors. it dropped to around 40° or so by the time i got home but it was worth it. did about 15 miles of my 50+ following sheba. she pulls her baby in a trailor while i draft the 2 of them. kind of evens it out, she's faster than me. bigs ups to andre? and his friends who pacelined with me my whole way home. should get outdoors again thursday as well.
indoors on the wind trainer is good for getting that winter base. i just work heartrate and cadence, and i can really feel the benefit when i go back outdoors. my pedal cadence is high, i can easily sense my heartrate zone without looking. all good for when racing starts. but outdoors is the enjoyable part of cycling. maybe i should move to guatemala instead of just visiting. always seems to be 75 and sunny down there in panajachel... ah well, itll be sligo creek park tomoro if the temp stays up.
January 10 2010
so we've had some snow and im not really a cold weather person. so its mostly indoors on the trainer for me. its a mixed blessing. the training is consistent and hard, and theres no lazy coasting down the hills. but the boredom starts to take over and i find myself putting in old race vids and taking on merx and anquetil. should be into the 40's later this week and we might actually get a thursday night ride... one way or the other, i gotta be putting in miles now if i want the form in september for the cmwc. mesengers are on the road right now so summer can seem like a picnic to them in comparison and their bodies will feel great in guatemala with even a few days of not riding against cars, like a vacation almost. im an ex messenger, and need to duplicate that long term form and constant sprinting if i want to hold up over a 3 to 5 hour finals of contast stop and go and go again at the cmwc.
the other evening i got to "watch" (that is "read the live text commentary") josie and her new zealand national title road race. even from half way around the world i wanted to shout at her in the radio to tell her to go with the counter. at least once according to the commentary she trid to counter attack. but no one was reaching rushlee. wish i could have been there for josie, but this is a new season for me. almost 15 years since i thought about my own racing first and everyone else's 2nd. the doctors say my shoulder is good. i can do upper body work. i can train consistently. i made it through the cross season. can a 40 year old ex messenger take the cmwc? this might be my best shot...
December 2 2009
i took 44th in the championship on sunday. made my goal of top 50 and then some! a great cross season for me, in what was really a return after many years to any kind of consistent organized racing (on the bike that is - ive done a lot on the sidelines!). through the season, i got mabra points, stayed on a lead lap, and finished top 50 in the champs. im happy with my results, so i dont really care what you think :).
next up for me? well the big ones are masters nationals next august, followed closely by the cmwc in guatemala in september and then the 2010 cross season. i want to race the masters individual and tandem tt's, and i want my best chance to win the cmwc in guat. for cross, ill want to make the move to the cat 3's. so ill start serious training next week or so, with those races in mind. ill probably do a bunch of tt's throguh the season and will definately do some alleycatting to get ready for cmwc.
November 25 2009
rockburn cross sunday november 22 2009
i finally stayed on the lead lap! seeing 2 laps to go, i could feel the leaders behind me. my comrade gary and i hammered the next to last lap, knowing the long 10+ minute laps at the rockburn cross gave us a real chance to stay out the full length. the officials were generous to us, and held the counter at 1 to go as we came through. with the leaders on our tails as we crossed the line getting the bell, we knew the job was done, and we went on a glorious final lap with the mens b race warming up right behind us. they cheered for us as we fought it out for 75th place. i think i crossed ahead of gary, but it didnt really matter to either of us. we had stayed on the lead lap!.
only the mabra championships to go. next sunday november 29. can i take a top 50? we shall see.
November 19 2009
my first mabra cross series points.
my 5 points from urban put me into 60th overall in the 2009 series.
November 15 2009
urban cross charlottesville va. Monticello Velo Club and the bluewheel bike shop put on a great race definately with a city feel.
21st !!! i had a rocking race. with a good start, i was near the front as we turned from the concrete to the mud, but an early chicane up around this little tree caught the whole group and almost all but the 1st 5 out of the hole shot had to put a foot down. i stuck to the middle of the field and found a group of about 4 or 5 to race with. i hammered the several parking lot sections, and this gave me good luck on some of the technical stuff as i was frequently clear of other riders when we turned out of the parking lots and into the mud. very much a messenger style course with curb jumps both up and down. but somehow, i still got lapped (in sight of the finish no less). i cleared the sand pit on every lap, but lost traction on the steep climbs (turning them into run-ups for me). i kept stable and safe on the downhills that almost always dropped into a turn. and i took 21st!!!
the ncvc and rt 1 velo guys (danny k, chris c, elliot) were shouting for me the whole way. and big ups to the altius racers. several of them passed me during the race and everyone of them had something nice to say like "keep going" and "youre doing great". which i did and which i was!
next sunday Rockburn Cross in elkridge md. cross season's almost over.
November 14 2009
saw the boss with my brother the other night at verizon center. ive now seen bruce in each of the last 3 decades. he definately puts on a great show and he hasnt aged at all. but i think it might have been almost the same set list as 10 years ago. nils lofgren is an amazing guitarist and his brother matt is a really good general contactor. shout out to the local boys.
got urban cross on sunday down in charlottesville. should be a smaller field with everyone going up to nj for mercer. and the urban environment might make me feel more at home. only 3 to 4 more cross races total this season. going to try to get with the lead group at the beginning and fall into the middle group instead of having to chase from the back. some bump training with brian walton the other week, and more coaching from arley has me looking for my first good start.
November 9 2009
i had spent time with arley this week learning some more technical aspects of cross racing, and i put my tire pressure down to 30lbs at her demand. i felt good on the course, and the low pressure definately makes you feel more secure once you get used to it, but the lap was really short and really technical. the downhill off camber turn made me nervous, and i knew i would loose time there and through the mtb trail on the back side. several longer road sections would help me against people of my level, but would only help the leaders in the their quest to lap me.
i started well at the back, but moved up carefully to somewhere in the middle. the 55+'s caught me early, about 2 laps in, and i was sure i was in for at least 2 laps down by the end to the 35+ leaders. but the moment never came, and i just kept hammering up the hills and playing it safe in the technical stuff. and when i came through the line with 2 laps to go, i still had almost a half a lap on the leaders. but they double timed me from then on, and caught me on a straight away about a mile from the finish.
so one lap down, and 68th in the huge 110 racer field. i had pre-ordered sausage and french fires, so they were waiting for me after my race and i didnt even need to go get money or anything and sausage and french fries can make anyone feel like a winner!
thanks to jim mcneely and squadra coppi.
photos of me on the internet!:
November 8 2009
racing today at Tacchino Ciclocross . sorry bout the late notice. i know youre all setting your schedules by my racing, ill try to post earlier :). my goal now: try not to get lapped. really big field, close to 120 riders pre-reg'd. ill try to catch the middle group and stay upright.
October 13 2009
i made the internet!
photographer joel requests donations to the special olympics. least i can do is put up the link:
October 12 2009
hyattesville cross sunday october 11th 2009
rt 1 velo pb arrow bikes put on a stellar race realtaively local to me. only a 15 minute drive, i was able to race in the morning, turn around and get to work at conte's by early afternoon. now thats how every day should be.
a flat grassy course meant technical turns. the double helix spiral ( 4 circles in, turn around, 4 circles out) was a little bit daunting. you really felt as if you were head on into the other racers. i popped the little hills really well, never loosing a step, and i cleared the natural barricade logs on the back side on the bike. but it was the sand pit that got me, and i actually lost some spots because of it. 4 times around in practice, i took the sand clean without missing a pedal stroke. and i was fast through it. but the adrenaline made it harder to hold in the race, and 4 of 5 times i put a foot down 6 inches deep into the sand.
i had a real chance to keep from getting lapped, and ulitmately it took real class from the winner Stephen Robinson who was about to catch me with about 300 meters to go. with plenty of distance on 2nd place, he held up to let me cross the line ahead of him so i could stay out another lap. but the officials called it right, and with the leader in sight of the line, they turned the lap card to 0 and ended my day. the results will list me a lap down, but reality is he never passed me and i was still on the lead lap.
i took 37th. another move up in my field. and i beat the pants off of "cup-cake" sol who couldnt stay with me in the long almost road-like strethces.
next race for me is dccx october 25th 2009. announcing and racing. and ill be on the mic at the startline of bikedc this saturday october 17th. so i get some mic time and riding time. who else likes fall?
October 6 2009
ok ive added hyattsville to my race sched. this sunday october 11th. gotta keep racing. race at 10am, then off to work at 1pm. no time for football..
October 5 2009
"Kelley Acres" Cross - Middletown Md October 4th 2009
so let me start by apologizing to janelle and chris. as i was in my personal fog of mental lapses as i went to register, chris and janelle switched places at the registration table and i never really looked up. i called janelle by chris's name. ive only known the 2 of them for maybe a combined 25 years, and i cant believe my faux pas. sorry you all. i feel like crap.
the race was spectacular. in the words of joe jefferson, "like mountain biking on a wet golf course". the short cut grass that dominated the race course was slick for warm up, but would dry by race time just enough to be really fast and smooth. some of the descents would have felt more comfortable on a downhill bike, but it was the climbs that would break up the race at the front. i was able to stay seated the entire time up the steep embankments, but i never tried to clear the bunny-hoppable logs as the winners surely were doing. the fly-over was cool, a 40 foot ramp down at about 20 degrees, but real fun would have been up the ramp and down the stairs! and the bridge at the creek crossing was just scarry.
joe on the mic jokingly called me as if i was off the front as i got lapped through the start area, and i put it into the big ring to justify his stating that i was "on fire". i rode safe and clean, but never found a race partner like charm city. big ups to the dcmtb and artemis riders: each one said something nice as they lapped me, granting me the encouragement to finish it out. i dont believe in not finishing, and it certainly reinforces that feeling to have friends on the course.
i finished 48th, just 43 spots off the podium. im moving up baby! but i gotta admit, its kind of a brick of a hammer of the pending mid-life crisis to be listed as 40 years old in the results. cycle cross aging is weird.
ill be at bikedc next on october 17th, working the mic and running comms. then look for me at dccx on october 25th announcing and racing!
September 24 2009
next up for me is the kelley acres cross on oct 4th and then DCCX on october 25. ill be announcing at dccx, and we're setting up to do a remote "in the race" announcing for my race - so no cursing when riding next to me!
also - i got BikeDC on oct 17th. dc's largest community ride. ill be on a microphone and a bike somewhere for this. sheb's threatening to put me at the iwojima memorial, but i want to be on penn av.
September 22 2009
so i busted out my first cross race at charm city on sunday. gotta say, im addicted right off. its similar to messenger racing and not just because of the skills involved (dismounting, technical turns, on and off road) but because of the crowd. the field gets spread out, and no one really seems to care how you're doing. they just cheer for you as you come around, yelling your name loud and clear. feels like the old days off the front of some local crit, but its for everyone, not just the one or 2 leaders. lot of passion about the ride. and its close and personal to the fans. you can reach out and touch your friends as you ride by, and even talk to them (ok maybe im the only one who does that). even mimi and judy officiating had cheers for me, and my club (mark matt, jennifer) all were at the sand pit trying to get me to ride through it. i cleard the bottom stair of the stair case on my last lap and slammed my front wheel into stair number 2. i think im the only one who even tried to ride up the stairs.
big ups to big jim of coppi's who raced with me almost the whole way. he caught me on every downhill, i caught him back on the uphills, and we finished just about together. 83rd and 84th maybe? im not sure they do results that far down.
September 14 2009
so im gettign ready for my first cross race in charm city.
so before this blog, most stuff i wrote about me and what i was doing was tied into hub racing, various cmwc's, other messenger and race stuff. check the archives listed on my home page.
||Shawn "bega" Blumenfeld||dccourier.com and CMWC archives||photos||
updated: March 26 2017