Friday, January 27, 2017

Want to see Donald Trump on a bicycle? Me, too. But that's not going to happen. Amazingly enough, he was a bike race supporter and said his "Tour de Trump" was going to one day be bigger than the Tour de France. He may have been a reality TV star, but he has great difficulty staying in touch with reality. Are you too young to remember the cycling and political aspects of the Tour de Trump? Here's a refresher:

George W. Bush was a horrible president and Donald Trump is most certainly going to be worse.

Donny is rapidly working to accelerate man's destruction of our environment. I don't wish him good health, but it would be cool if he lived long enough to watch his Mar-a-Lago home/club be submerged in the ocean by his own pen stroke.

Good luck, America.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm such a bad "blogger" that I literally forgot about this blog and started another one. I'm not riding or writing as much as I used to, but there are definitely more recent posts at "Father Dan's Church of Cycling" here:
If I have things set up properly, will also forward to that page.

Our "big" cycling trip this year was to go to the third of the big three grand tours, La Vuelta de España, which we saw part of in the Costa Brava region of Spain. We got to ride on the time trial course while the pros were warming up on it. See photos here:

See you on the road. Keep the rubber side down.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Whoa. Almost 2 years and no blog entries. OK, I'm not a blogger. I'm not dead, either, so I'm doing a quick entry to brighten the tone after my last grumpy entry.

True, I lost my cycling mojo. My mileage went way down. But I still love cycling. I tackled 2 more cycling-related bucket list items:

  1. Climb Mt. Evans in Colorado (highest paved road in North America) with friends. 
  2. Do a "century" on the local velodrome with nobody. (Because nobody but me is crazy enough to do something so monotonous and call it "fun.")
So much has happened in the cycling world since my last entry, too. Lance finally confessed. I never thought he'd confess, but I'm glad he did. I think we have Greg Lemond, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton to thank for helping to tip the scales. Tyler's book is quite good. It will be interesting for me and another buddy to share an RV with Tyler as we do RAGRBRAI in July, a mere 29 years after I did my last one at age 26. 

Thanks to George Hincapie for inviting me to a local ride recently, where he and Christian Van de Velde-Velde (and some cycling fans who paid a lot of $$ to ride with them) tooled around the local rolling hills. I'm glad to see guys like Big George still enjoying the bicycle long after the ups and downs of the "Lance Era." 

After a long absence, I'm trying to do the SDBC club ride every weekend. The A-ride shows me how far I have to go to get back in shape (and also clarifies that this doesn't get easier with age).

I wish you all a million miles of safe, happy riding. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saving My Cycling Mojo & The Golden Rule

The title of this blog was originally “Cycling Dicks,” but I thought I’d keep the lewd words out of the title to paint my latest literary wreck in a slightly more positive tone. In keeping with the blog theme (“An old cyclist’s rants and raves...”), I got some motivation to blog again during a club ride several weeks ago. I’m one of the weaker riders in our club’s “A” ride and I was having a less-than-fantastic morning trying to hang with the guys hammering down Highway 1. A regular fellow rider (we’ll just refer to him as “Ron”) didn’t like something about my riding. I’m not sure what his gripe was. I’m pretty careful about trying to avoid quick lateral moves that might sweep somebody’s front wheel. (I wish everyone in the group was.) I don’t like seeing anybody hit the deck. 

At any rate, when the pace slowed down a bit, I joked to Ron about how pathetic I felt trying to hang on. Ron, in keeping with my previous encounters with him where he takes on the air of a self-appointed supreme ride leader, found no humor in my comments and said that if I did that (whatever “that” was) again in the future he would run me off the road. FYI, this is not a good thing to say to me, whether it’s about running me off the road or running another cyclist off the road. Given how often a cyclist’s safety is intentionally and unintentionally threatened out on the road, I would never expect a fellow cyclist to make such a threat. When I’m not following my Two Commandments (see below), I think the appropriate response to such a threat is a swift 2x4 to the face. However, in the interest of packing light for the club ride, I didn’t have a single piece of lumber with me. So instead of the Pine Therapy approach, I loudly shared my observation by saying, “What a dick!” It’s not creative, but I thought it accurately branded his behavior. 

This encounter is one of many that has opened my eyes to a sad reality. Some cyclists are real dicks. As much as I love cycling, and as much as I generally love all cyclists, some cyclists—just like regular people—can be real dicks. 

I tried to brush off this unpleasant encounter before enjoying the traditional coffee stop on that ride. (Forgive and forget, right?) Unfortunately, the conversation at the table I sat down at only rubbed salt in the wound. Another cyclist (we’ll just call him “Fred”) was complaining about how some slow riders come to the front of the pack at stop lights. Fred said he told one such rider that he should go on the “B” ride instead of aspiring to hang with the “A” ride. This commentary was especially disappointing to me because I really like Fred and would like to think he’s friendlier than this. I didn’t say anything, but my thought was, “Why not use their recurring presence at the front as practice?” Racing in a crit involves a lot of getting around and ahead of other racers, so let them come to the front and let’s practice safely getting around them again. While I was thinking these thoughts, another rider at the table joked about how the riders that bunch at the front at stop lights probably learned about it as a ride strategy in Bicycling Magazine. 

Boom. It was at this moment that I experienced a subtle but significant epiphany:
     I’m surrounded by what can fairly be referred to as "cycling dicks."
These are the guys you might read about in blogs or publications targeted to not-so-overly-serious cyclists who are out there to have fun and stay healthy. The cycling dicks tell you to go on another ride rather than welcome you on their ride. They are less likely to give you a nod or wave in response to a friendly greeting. And God forbid if you’re wearing a t-shirt or a souvenir Tour de France yellow jersey or a kit that doesn’t match, because that makes you unworthy of riding anywhere near them. 

I was pretty bummed after that ride. This revelation even put a damper on my overall enthusiasm for cycling for a short while. (The weeks of coastal clouds hasn’t helped...I clearly prefer sunny rides.) Fortunately, I know now that this damper was temporary. Despite my age-induced back aches, slower riding and general deterioration, I know I still love cycling. All I need to do is stay clear of those who can’t ride for the sheer joy of riding, whether it’s competitive or easygoing. 

I haven’t been back to the club ride since then, partly because of conflicting weekend activities and partly because I’m less excited about that particular group ride. I was going to give it a try tomorrow, but I just got a call from a friend who invited me to join him and a couple other guys to do a solid, hill-climbing ride the same day out in East County. Of course I’ll do the “friends” ride because I know they’re doing it for fun and fitness. I’m sure it will have some competitive moments, but all in good fun. I think I can also count on sunny skies that far from the coast. And, in a sick way, I sort of miss Kitchen Creek Road. 

Nobody actually reads this blog, but if you’ve just found you’re an exception to this rule I’ll leave you with my new, simplified set of  TWO COMMANDMENTS to live by. (You’ll be disappointed with these if you were hoping I wasn’t going to use the slang term “dick” again, but hang in there...we’re almost done.) 

  1. Remember—and live by—the “Golden Rule.” Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
  2. Try not to be a dick. This one helps me be a better person because I know I’ve exhibited dickish behavior when I’ve lost my temper (usually when someone else forgets the Golden Rule or just does something incredibly stupid). In a way, this is a reminder to follow the first commandment above, but there’s something gentle and encouraging about this phraseology that I like. “Try.” The assumption is that if you’re being a dick, you’re probably not of a mindset that is very good at taking commands from anyone. So it’s set in a softer, more pleading tone. Just try.
So, please...give it a try. Smile. Say hello. Be friendly. Be welcoming. Stop for stop signs and red lights. (This one might confuse drivers who are accustomed to cycling dicks flying through stop signs, but let’s give it a try.) Clear the right turn lane at a stop light if you can stay out of the way (you’ll be thanked by some of the drivers). And never, ever threaten to run me or any other cyclist off the road. I don’t want to break commandments or noses, and I definitely don’t want to bring any lumber on my next club ride.

PS: No offense is intended to anyone named “Dick.” Two of my three friends named Dick have resorted to using “Richard,” and I applaud the brave one who still uses his old nickname despite the popularity of this slang term. (Lots of people named “John” never stopped using their names just because of the “bathroom” or “toilet” connotation.) I’ve tried to think of another word that carries the subtle connotation that “dick” does and haven’t found it yet. Our language is rich in hues but unfortunately no other derogatory term I’ve thought of seems to have the right balance between usability on a public blog and a term just slightly more crass than “prick.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Big Helmets for Cyclists With Huge Heads

How’s that for an exciting blog title? I stopped blogging for almost a year and this is my big reentry? If you had as much difficulty finding hats and helmets that fit your head as I do, you would understand what’s going on here. If you don’t know anybody who rides their bike and has a big head, then this blog is not for you. Have a nice day. On the other hand, if you—or someone you know—has a very large head and has difficulty finding bike helmets that fit, I have really good news for you. I found the helmet!

As I was leaving the vendor area at the Sea Otter Classic bike festival this past weekend I stopped by a small dealer’s booth because they had some helmets stacked on a table. I’m always trying on different brands of helmets because I have never found one that fits my huge melon. Some of the brands I’ve tried sit on the top of my head like a beanie. Usually the sales rep looks at me in amazement because he or she has never seen the helmet look so small. 

But lo and behold, when I put the Kali Chakra Plus (M/L size) on my head, I finally found a helmet that “fits like a glove.” With the twist-tighten control, there’s plenty of room (in case my head decides to grow some more). They were selling them for only $40 at Laguna Seca, and the regular price is only $50. This is half what many helmets go for. I bought two (one white, one black) because I couldn’t believe I found something that fit after years of searching. 

How big is my head? I don’t know, but I know that size 8 hats are barely big enough. As you know, a hat or helmet that is tight when you try it on will cause headaches. Previously, the only helmet that I found that was reasonably comfortable was the Bell Triton. My head is not terribly wide, but has a long front-to-back dimension. The Bell Triton is wide so it’s a good choice if you have a big round head. But if you’re like me and have difficulty with the front-to-back fit, you have to try the Kali Chakra Plus on. The styling is XC/MTB, but I’ve used it on the road and it works just great. 

Here’s a link directly to the helmet on the manufacturer’s site:
They have a dealer locator on that page. They’re not in every shop, but hopefully you can find a dealer nearby to try one on. Good luck, and happy new year. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Your CRACK is Showing!

There are plenty of expressions familiar to the experienced cyclist. For example, you know to say “on your LEFT” when you’re forced to pass someone in close proximity on their left so they don’t walk or ride into your path. (You also know to expect the newbie or drunkard to get confused and drift to the left rather than move right or stay steady.)

Other handy expressions, which should always be shared loudly enough to be clearly heard over the wind and traffic noise, include:

  •  “Runner up!” when a runner is approaching your fast-moving peloton in the bike lane. Smart riders gently drift left a bit to help avoid a collision.
  • “Hole!” when a pothole or crack large enough to cause trouble is looming ahead. The riders who want to keep their collar bones intact make sure they have both hands on the bars when this is heard and prepare to “bunny-hop” the obstacle. The new rider who doesn’t care if all the riders behind him spend the night in the hospital will prepare to swerve wildly to avoid the obstacle, sweeping at least one rider’s front wheel with his back wheel in the process.
  • “Your crack is showing!” when the spandex on the back of a cyclist’s shorts has worn thin enough to reveal the rider’s butt crack while riding. The smart rider will quickly look away from the wardrobe malfunction to avoid nausea and vomiting in the peloton.
Once upon a time I thought that last expression might be inappropriate, and it may not be familiar to every cyclist. I became more comfortable using this expression after my wife subtly mentioned that my SDBC team shorts were wearing a bit thin. I looked in a full-length mirror at my derriere while crunched in a riding-like position, then fell into shock. “That’s my ASS!” came out of my mouth loudly and involuntarily. I felt like writing a formal apology to my fellow club riders and a formal complaint to Pactimo (our clothing provider). After one short year, one panel of these shorts essentially became transparent. I wish someone had mentioned this to me earlier, but I understand. I once noticed some guy in our club who apparently wanted to hang onto an old version of our club’s logo shorts even if they were barely hanging onto him. His hairy butt showed through so clearly that nobody could ride right behind him. It was a sickening sight but nobody was brave (or nice?) enough to kindly suggest he check out the transparency level on his shorts when he got home...or at the next bike shop we passed.

Now I’ve been on both ends of that equation. I’ve checked all my shorts and from now on if you hear someone yell “Crack!” get some clarification. Cracks in the road can be called out as “Hole!” and if your hole is nearly showing then “Your crack is showing!” is perfectly acceptable.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Year’s Registrations

I've never been interested in "New Year's Resolutions." All of humanity makes a mockery of them. Let's base our plans for improvement upon how long it takes our planet to swing around the nearest star. Then let's forget what they were by the time our little dirtball called earth makes it through 10% of the trip.

Nope, no resolutions for me. I'm into new year's registrations. Sometime in December, I register for all sorts of stuff. It doesn't matter if I'm sure I can go. It doesn't matter if I'll want to engage in those activities once the calendar throws them in my face. What does matter is that even in southern California, the weather in January isn't always nice for cycling. As a result, the weekly training miles go down. Even though I'm not much of a bike racer, I know that our club rides are going to speed up and I will want to get into better shape as spring approaches.

If I have a New Year's resolution, it's to remember to make my New Year's registrations before the year gets underway. Those registrations include:

  • Renew membership in San Diego Bicycle Club (SDBC)
  • Renew membership in USA Cycling
  • Register for Stage Coach Century (by Shadow Tours), a nice kick-start to the training mileage with almost no traffic to worry about
  • Register for the 3-day King of the Mountains camp by Planet Ultra in the Santa Monica Mountains.
  • Make hotel reservations that shadow the SoCal portion of the Tour of California so I can ride and watch a great weekend of pro racing
  • Register for any other bike event that sounds appealing and is organized enough to have their registration process up and running by December
If you haven't already, give this approach a try. There's something about paying the nominal fee and putting the event in your calendar that stops you from turning off your alarm clock and going back to bed that morning.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cervélo Nightmare? Néver Again!

Are you thinking of buying a new bicycle? The good news is there are a lot of great choices out there (see list of manufacturers at the bottom of this post). The more you're willing to pay, the broader the selection becomes. Unless you're a top pro, you can get a bike that easily exceeds what is warranted by your riding or racing talents for only a few grand. For $7K, you can get an awesome bike (including custom wheels) that you simply don't deserve.

Given the broad selection available (and my willingness to buy bikes I don't deserve), my last few purchases have been partially based upon aesthetics…how sexy does the bike look? Apparently I made the right choice when I bought a black Colnago CLX a few years ago. Before the start of one of our SDBC club rides, a lady there said, "That bike IS sex!" Strange choice of words, but I didn't disagree with her.

Despite my emphasis on "looks," I also demand great performance out of a bike that costs thousands of dollars. So when I took my 2010 Cervélo P3 time trial bike out for a spin, I was immensely disappointed when I encountered problems with the seat post. I was also angered when my contact at the bike shop refused to help me with this issue. (Due to ongoing relationships between the bike shop and a local bike club, I'll leave the name of the shop anonymous here.) In a nutshell, here's what happened…

After riding the P3 for about 20 miles of TT training, the seatpost slipped down. In the process of slipping down, the poorly-designed seat post clamp shredded a bunch of carbon fiber right off the back of the post, making my brand new seat post look like crap. I can hear you saying, "Well, that's just a seatpost clamp torque issue, moron!" This was also my first assumption. If that was the case, then the bike shop just messed up by not using sufficient torque and/or carbon fiber friction compound. But when I brought the bike in, the guy who sold me the bike declared that the bike shop couldn't possibly be at fault and insinuated that I must have messed with the bolts on the seat post clamp (which I certainly had not) because nobody else had. He suggested that "someone" had over-tightened the clamp bolts after the bike left the shop because the sharp edge of the seat post clamp cut into the seat post when the seat post slipped down. This was a demonstration of "How to piss off your customer 101." After selling a very expensive product that fails, accuse the customer of being at fault.

Why would I dedicate time and effort to whining about this unpleasant experience? Because I want anyone out there who may have had a similar experience with a Cervélo seat post to know the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would say. If this has happened to you, don't let the bike shop or Cervélo tell you it's your fault or that they've never heard of this problem before. Don't be a victim.

The bike shop staff eventually confessed that some of the seat posts fall out of spec. (This didn't come out until I pushed back again and again, threatening to work with Cervélo to get a complete refund if the bike shop wasn't going to help.) When the bike shop finally provided me with a replacement seat post, I confirmed this with a caliper right there in the shop, measuring the two seat posts side-by-side. The seat post that originally came with the bike was not as wide as the replacement was. Cervélo had allowed a crucial part to fall outside of a functional tolerance range but never issued a recall and never admitted there was any problem. Their poor clamp design exacerbated the problem by making it look like the clamp had been OVER-tightened when the post slipped. In reality, the clamp should have been over-tightened to try to compensate for the poorly formed seat post. After hearing two different versions of every story from the bike shop, I lost confidence in them and will never step foot in that shop again.

If the replacement seat post was going to slip and shred like the first one did, I knew there was no way this unreliable, untrustworthy bike shop was going to provide me with a third one. Since the seat post clamp bolts were starting to strip in the frame, I bit the bullet and applied epoxy adhesive to this post before inserting it for the very last time. Now I can't adjust the height of the seat, but I will finally not have to worry about the seat slipping down during training or competition. The bad news is that this permanently fixed seat height dramatically reduces the resale value of the bike. The good news is that I'm still comfortable with the permanently fixed seat height.

Yes, Cervélo makes beautiful bikes. But would I ever buy one again? Never, ever, ever. Getting stuck with inferior design by a given manufacturer just once is unfortunate. Going back to that same manufacturer again—especially after such poor customer service—would be stupid. There are so many great-looking bikes that are also well-designed, including legendary American brands used by the pros: Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Scott, Felt, Ellsworth, Jamis, Independent Fabrication, Serotta,and Kestrel.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Faster Time Trial Tips

If you're a podium-prancing, trophy-winning bike racer, you don't need to read any of these "tips" on how to race a faster time trial. Go wash down a layer cake with a case of beer before your next race so us slower guys get a chance at a stitch of glory. If you're a slow bike racer like me, you're probably still searching for tips on how to get faster. Since I just scored a new PR (personal record) of 29:06 over a 20-kilometer race this morning in the Fiesta Island Time Trial Series (run by SDBC and sponsored by Moment Cycle Sport), I thought I'd share my tips while I'm feeling pumped up about my modest accomplishment at age 52.

I don't care if you use these tips to beat me. This "race of truth" is between me and the clock. As long as other guys in the 50+ age group continue to scorch me by a couple minutes, I don't need to worry about approaching the podium any time soon.

Here we go…the list of time-tweaking tips below is in order "perceived impact" on my new result.

  1. Training & Tapering – I took notice last year when my 71-year-old riding buddy improved his TT results by a couple minutes. All he did was step up the TT-specific training then REALLY, DRAMATICALLY tapered. He stayed off the bike for a couple weeks, which you won't see in any coach's training manual. Five weeks before this race, I started two weeks of intense, TT-specific training with lots of intervals. I also rode the High Sierra Century, but that wasn't really part of the training plan. Then I barely rode for the week before the race. I find it's easier to "barely ride" by training on the stationary bike when tapering. That way I don't get tempted to "kill it" in my training like I do out on the road. Last spring I did a TT when I thought I was in decent shape. I was in decent hill-climbing shape but not decent TT shape. (It was my second-worst TT result ever. The only worse time was my first TT which I did without aero bars.) Given the different position and different muscles used, it's worth doing lots of training in the aero position if you want to improve your TT result. The full week of tapering helped my legs feel really fresh even after the first lap on the TT course.
  2. Reverse Splits – I've tried and tried to do a reverse split in previous TT attempts. (This TT is 3 laps; a reverse split means I would do the 3rd lap faster than the first one.) Today I used a bike about 25 meters in front of me as a "governor" of my first-lap effort. Instead of following my old instincts to attack and pass them (it was a tandem), I told myself to chill and stay fresh on the first lap. I got nervous towards the end of the first lap that I was losing precious time by not attacking, but based upon my final result I now know that the self-restraint really paid off on laps 2 and 3. I've read about reverse splits so many times but I don't think I ever got it right before today.
  3. Focus & "Rabbits" – I've always known that a "rabbit" (a closely matched racer 10 or 20 bike lengths ahead of me) works really well to motivate me to go faster. That competitive killer instinct blocks the pain when in pursuit, potentially sending my heart rate way into the anaerobic zone but also helping me go faster. I'm not always lucky enough to have rabbits on the race course. I had a few rabbits on the course on laps 2 & 3 today. I reeled them in slowly, not noticing the pain in my legs and lungs while I stayed focused on the hunt. You can't draft in a TT so you need to steer to the side of them when you get to about 5 bike lengths, but the motivation to catch them helps you focus and go faster if you don't go too far into your red zone in the process. If you don't feel like you're about to throw up at some point during the race you're probably not focusing and pushing as much as you could. If you don't have rabbits ahead of you, pick a point on the course (e.g. a post or sign) and reel it in like a finish line, then find another similar focal point ahead of you again.
  4. Warm-Up – Of course we all know we need to warm up before a race. Previously, I warmed up on the TT bike out on the road. The change today was that I had a stationary bike inside my humongous Sprinter van so I could warm up at a pace that that felt just right without any coasting, stopping or road distractions. I did two very short, intense bursts (enough to really feel it!) during my fairly gentle 50-minute warm-up so the legs could do their complaining before I started the race rather than during the race. This is typical protocol, but it felt better not having to focus on the road. I could just focus on my pedal strokes and breathing.
  5. Equipment – OK, I switched from an aluminum TT bike to a carbon one. Maybe that helped, but since it's a flat course, I'm not too sure that was a big factor. There are two other changes that I think had a bigger impact on my speed:
    1. Carbon wheels with tubular "sew up" tires. I've been into bikes since I was a teenager, so obviously I've known about sew-ups for a long time. The inconvenience of dealing with flats on tubular tires has steered me toward clinchers for decades. Well, when I bought my new bike I took the plunge to all-carbon, tubular wheels. I LOVE them!!!!! I feel like an electric train on smooth rails. And since I've never had a flat on Fiesta Island, I figured I'd deal with the potential hassles of tire repair for my TT bike. Despite the flat course, my GPS record shows notable variations in speed. Lighter wheels/tires makes any acceleration easier. The biggest motivation for my wheel change was that I didn't want to catch another cat in my HED tri-spoke wheels. That freak accident was years ago, but I don't want to be the guy who amazingly had such bad luck twice.
    2. "Straight block" cassette. This is a biggie for a flat TT!! Everyone doing Fiesta Island at any decent speed should run a rear cassette with gears that are just one tooth apart from each other (or as close as possible to this). This may be a special order item (Shimano only has the Dura Ace with this gearing). It is SO nice to have such slight adjustments of your cadence available when you hit a slight headwind or change gradients slightly. When you succumb to downshifting as your legs burn, you won't be giving up as much speed if it's only a SLIGHTLY lower gear. It took me a long time to discover this slight advantage, and now you know, too. Of course, if you do hilly time trials, you'll need to put a standard cluster back on your bike.
  6. Nutritional Supplements – I'm an old fart. Some mornings I feel like I can barely stand up, much less race a bicycle. I'm sleepy before my first cup of coffee and my legs don't feel very athletic. I've found three things that I think really help me get pumped up for a race while I warm up on the stationary bike/trainer:
    1. T-minus 45 minutes: Sportlegs. They do seem to take the sting out of the lactic acid burn early in the race. Maybe it's my imagination. If so, these are better-than-average placebos!
    2. T-minus 30 minutes: Ibuprofen (any brand). Between my deteriorating disks, spinal stenosis, burning thigh muscles and general decrepitness, I can find all kinds of pain in competitive and long-distance cycling. This takes the edge off the pain to help me stay focused.
    3. T-minus 15 minutes: Nodoz (caffeine pill). Caffeine is the most widely used legal stimulant in sports. (There are NCAA and Olympic limits on how much can be in the bloodstream.) I take one tablet to take advantage of any sports performance-enhancing benefits and to make sure I'm fully awake and alert. According to Lance Armstrong (the famous supplement expert) this is the best thing you can do to help your race or century finish faster.
  7. Sleep – I finally went to bed really early so I'd get a full night's sleep before the race. Yea! It feels nice to prepare for a race without the strong desire to crawl back into bed. As you may know, sleep is the greatest legal means of getting faster. You produce human growth hormone while sleeping and naps really help in this regard. Maybe if I can get myself into a napping habit I'll be even faster next season. Maybe not.
  8. No Pressure – With such a horrible TT result last spring, I wasn't thinking in terms of setting a new PR. I was thinking it would be easy to beat my last result. So I wasn't feeling any pressure. I knew that my recent training (back to item #1 above) would improve upon that result. You'll naturally have enough adrenaline at race time. I think extra anxiety doesn't make me go any faster. It just takes away from the positive energy that needs to find its way to the pedals.
  9. Mustache – I'm five years older than I was when I raced my first time trial. But at that time I didn't have a TT bike or a mustache. Dave Zabriskie has demonstrated the importance of having the most aerodynamic facial hair possible. (It must have the same effect that those "dimples" have on golf balls and overpriced Zipp wheels.) Once in a while Z shaves off his mustache and his times get worse. His wife probably complained…like mine has recently. My mustache has been growing for only about 4 weeks. With a new PR under my belt it's going to take a LOT of complaining to get me to shave this "Lucky Caterpillar" off my face.
Despite all this "expertise," I'm still not one of the fastest guys out there. I'm not one of the slowest, but I sure would like to improve. One thing I need to do this winter is weight training. I simply need to get more power into these old legs. (Do I hear Father Time whispering, "Not a chance"?) All I can do is try…and get feedback from my friends in cycling.

In case you're a fan of the Fiesta Island Series, I have one final tip for you. Stick around for the awards ceremonies. One racer broke the course record this morning, but because he didn't stick around after the race, he didn't get the $150 cash prize awarded to new record-setters. (The good news is he's racing for SDBC in 2011!) Also, since we're sponsored by Karl Strauss, even slackers like me can walk off with tasty prizes. Jon Benson had a couple six-packs left over at the end of the awards ceremony, so my proximity to the prize table paid off even more than my racing efforts did.

Footnote: Sometimes the race of truth seems like it's between me and the wind. Fortunately it was calm this morning, which probably helped a few people achieve a new PR today. I didn't bother including "race on a calm day" to my list of tips above since you don't have control over mother nature.