Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ninigrit Training Crit

If this is a Training Crit for everyone else, fine. For me it was a race (and generally I think this was the case for most of the field) The positives of it being labeled a training race is the casual warm up, the friendly nature of the pack, and perhaps the controlled risk taking, particularly around bends. It was my first criterium and I was nervous. Not unlike the first time I raced cyclocross I had the feeling that I would be terrible and most likely cause a crash or disrupt the race with poor bike handling. That wasn’t the case at all. I was super comfortable in the pack, cornering with ease, and taking long and what I thought were very aggressive pulls at the front, particularly into the wind. A group of 3 broke away and I was in the chase group with many Arc-En-Ciel team mates. We chased hard but couldn’t bridge. I tried a few times myself but the effort was too much so I’d settle back into the pack. With 3 laps to go another guy broke and tried to bridge over, I caught his wheel after an all out effort but neither of us had the steam to continue the attack. In no mans land we tried to hold off the chasing pack and survived until about 50m before the line when 2 or 3 guys passed us. The race was a huge effort and I really enjoyed it. Like after a hard 5km on the track my stomach was knotted and I had lactate swimming throughout my body. This is a very blissful feeling but not being able to enjoy a beer after, not so much. Next week I am going to sit in a little bit more and take shorter pulls at the front. Learning the tactics and all that lark. It’s a great event to break up the week and it certainly replaces a solo interval session.

I’ve been living in Boston for 2 months now and only been to one show? Not great eh? (little Canadian there for my friends up north) I will be making this whole situation right soon but theres just not much happening. Frankie will come down for Moonface and before that a couple of gigs perk my interest. I would have liked to see White Lies but work commitments prevented that. Bell X1 is most likely the next gig I’ll attend and that’s in 10 days time. Explosions In The Sky  announced a Fall tour and I’ll certainly be attending that gig. They play the Orpheum in October and it’ll be fantastic.

Weezer is one of the last acts I'd expect to cover a Radiohead classic like Paranoid Android but they did. Being the purist I am, expectations were pretty grim, but I must admit they did a pretty good job. Staying very true to the original Rivers vocal delivery is spot on. He doesn't try and sound like Thom Yorke (impossible) rather he clearly sings a song he loves and does it justice. Check it out.

Love Kel

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lake Sunapee RR

On Tuesday of last week, still mulling over the race at Wayne Elliot I decided to contact USA Cycling and upgrade to Cat. 4. I had the win at Battenkill and leading the race last week showed me that I am strong enough to be a 4. It was approved and I entered the Lake Sunapee RR as a 4. Joe Savic and I traveled up the night before and given the stories of other people leaving at 5:30am I'm glad we did. The course was 2 laps around Lake Sunapee with some nice climbs. Certainly more up my ally in terms of course profile. The distance was 46 miles which is ok, I prefer longer. Learning my lessons from last week I opted to hide in the pack and feel out the first loop. After the two back to back hills on the opposite side of lake Sunapee I was pretty confident that I would win. Guys were pushing at the front and other guys were struggling while my HR was low and I was perfectly relaxed. Patience is not one of my virtues so it took a strong effort to focus on staying in the pack until the next time we hit these two hills. The pace was dropping all the time and I was getting very restless. Finally, after what seemed like eternity we arrived back around to the hills. The first kick is 11 miles out from the finish, I went hard and broke clear. Surprised that no one came with me the hammer went down and I pushed all out for home. By the second climb I looked back and I could see no one. I chased the lead car to the finish and won by 1:07 shutting down the last 1km. Bottomline is that when it comes to hilly courses I can compete with the cat 3 racers so I need to get myself in that group. Soon enough.

Other exceptional news this week includes the announcement of a Moonface tour. Frankie and I will be going to many of these gigs and I am certainly going back to Montreal to IL Motore for more good times. I imagine the show will be improved (not that it needs to be) and hopefully extended. Spencer gave us a tune to mull over. It was the second last track on the night I saw him and it was the song that Camilla joined him of stage for. He is releasing his album titled Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped (Great title I think) on August 2nd. Its 5 tracks and comes in at 37 minutes. More of an EP. The tune below is called Fast Peter and is beautiful.

Peace and Love,


Monday, May 16, 2011

Bike Racing

On Saturday morning I participated in a bike race up in Merrimac, MA. If Battenkill was a 10 in terms of course and performance, the Wayne Elliot Circuit Race was about a 3. The trip back from Montreal was pretty smooth and I thought things were feeling great. I mean, the buzz and energy from the show would surely propel me around the course to an inevitable victory in the cat. 5 race. Well that was not the case at all. The loop was 6.2 miles and we had 4 laps which is essentially an all out effort. There were no real climbs to break things up, just some bumps that even the most novice of climber can handle in a slipstream. I sat in for 3 miles and the pace was slower than training so I figured I'd hit the front, hammer and drop everyone. Lesson, don't ever be so cocky and arrogant and assume just because its a cat. 5 race that no one can ride with you. I hammered and hammered but couldn't drop the guys. Admittedly I was felling very off, no legs as they say in cycling. Despite pushing as hard as I could my speed was slower on the flats than many of my training efforts. I was clearly tired and dehydrated. Either way I continued to attack, settle, attack, settle all the way home. Eventually on the last circuit we were whittled down to a group of 8. Finally, my attacking and relentless pushing was breaking everyone (apparently a small crash took out 2 guys) so I grew in confidence that I would surge over the last mile and win. Not to be! I pushed up the last false flat but had no power and when I made a big push with 200m to go my right calf cramped and the 7 guys in my slipstream all came around me like I was in quicksand and beat me to the line. Horrible. But nothing more than I deserved. I wouldn't let anyone else lead because I wanted an all out effort and with bad legs and general fatigue I was never in a position to try and solo on a flat loop. The only positive take away was the fact that all 7 of the guys who swallowed me up before the line told me that it was great being pulled along. Being recognized for doing the lions share of the work was satisfying. That and the early am hard session I most likely would have avoided if there was no race to go to.

In the masters race my buddies Joe Savic and Eddie O both kicked ass and finished with the bunch sprint in a highly charged and competitive race. Kudos to both of them. I drove home and drank coffee, jogged 2 miles to remind myself why I must bike and not run, and finished off the day with some Pinot Noir. Very nice.

I have fallen behind on what is new and exciting in music. Kind of got in a bit of a same old rut, listening to the reliable music and revisiting old albums like Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights, Blur - Think Tank, and a lot of old Techno. I need to check out some new DJ's too. Its been a while since I stood in the middle of a dark room listening to a DJ play minimal techno to a clued in crowd. Boston's not the best city in the world for that action but it does exist here and I need to find it.......

Peace and Love,


Sunday, May 15, 2011

J'aime Montreal

On Thursday I drove up to Montreal. Its not the first time I've been to the city, in fact over the last number of years I've visited a few times, including once to do some passport/visa stuff which involved Frankie, Hamish, and I missing a summer school exam and writing a bit of a bullshit excuse in the lobby of a McGill University Dorm building. Happy days they were. Radiohead played Montreal a couple of times over the last number of years and I caught both of those gigs. Every time I came away from Montreal the city failed to live up to the hype.......until this time.

Since I was going to see Moonface (Spencer Krug) on my own I figured a cheapo hotel near the venue would suffice, and given that the venue was about 5km outside of the city the place could have been in any type of neighborhood. Either way it didn't bother me. The trip was about the music not the place I'd be resting my head for 7 hours. As luck would have it, the area was AWESOME. Located on the opposite side of the hill that McGill sits on, away from the city and the tourists, this was real Montreal. Wine Bars, Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, and great shops littered among apartments and low budget lodging, all inhabited by students, artists, transient folk, hipsters, locals and everyone in between. No one chose to speak English but they were cool if you said you didn't know French. It was like being in Europe and only the money told me I was in Canada.

Terry and Carly Shea suggested a pub to me. It was a place they visited when they traveled to see Sunset Rubdown in the same venue. I got the address, typed it into Google, and its location popped up around the corner from my hotel. 5 minutes later I am sitting at the bar drinking a Double IPA explaining to the bartender how important it was for me to travel up to Montreal to see Spencer Krug perform a solo show. He was totally into it (or at least let on he was) and welcomed me in with open arms (and lots of beer samples). I was the only person in a packed bar that wasn't speaking French.
A few pints later and it was off to IL Motore for the gig. The venue is located about 2km up the road and the weather was beautiful so I strolled passed the numerous bars and coffee shops in the Latin Quarter and wondered why in all my times in Montreal I stayed down town. Il Motore was not what I was expecting. The Paradise Rock Club or at least the Middle East was the kind of place I was looking for. What I found was basically a store front of what may have been a clothes shop at one point. Inside the venue had capacity for maybe 150, a small bar and no seating anywhere. Awesome. I felt like I had just been invited to a private party. And I thought to myself that I really wished Francine was here because she would have been in her element. Spencer and Camilla mingled with the crowd like they were fans of a band about to take the stage as opposed to being the band that I traveled from Boston to see. I chatted to both of them briefly before the gig.

Moonface is one of the many side projects Spencer Krug is involved in. It is his "solo" moniker.  However for the live show he had a Percussionist named Mike Bigelow(formerly of Wintersleep) who rocked. He reminded me of the dude on percussion for Jonsi,  completely in control of so many sounds and loops, making no mistakes. The opening act, Sean Nicholas Savage were a lot of fun and created a really nice laid back atmosphere before Spencer took to the stage.

Anticipation levels were very high when Spencer started setting up his gear. After the last Wolf Parade show in Austin I wondered when I'd see any performances by the guys again. I've was treated to a Handsome Furs show in April and now this. Spencer is my favorite of the Wolf Parade singers and his style of music and lyrics really do it for me. I only wish I had Frankie there to experience it.
The music is amazing. Lots of synth and baseline loops played by Spencer mixed with Mikes percussion which included marimba. Everything was looped and sampled over each other creating a very intense, primal, and truly emotional mix finished off with Spencer's voice, the most important 'instrument" in the show. Only 6 songs were played, each lasting about 10 minutes. The closing song was a track by Swan Lake called All Fires. Camilla (Sunset Rubdown) joined Spencer on vocals for the last 2 tracks including All Fires and it was beautiful. Some reviews from the previous Brooklyn show were really down on this version but I was completely taken away and I begged for it not to end. Alas, one hour after it started the show was over. Epic and powerful. Like sitting in someones apartment watching one of my favorite singers perform new music that makes me so happy. The lights came on, the bar was still open and most people left. I had a beer and chatted to Camilla. She gave me a high five for being an enthusiastic customer. I've never been one to hide my emotion or feelings when seeing my favorite acts perform so it is nice to feel appreciated. I told Spencer that the experience was incredible and very moving. He joined his hands as if in prayer and bowed with a very gracious thank you. We spoke briefly about a potential tour but he was reluctant to say for sure, opting to smile, take a deep breath, and say maybe. Good enough for me. I floated down the road, had a nightcap at a dodgy bar housing a few dodgy characters speaking French, then retired to my very comfortable bed in the 11/2 star hotel. A near perfect night.

Peace and Love,


The video has really bad sound. My kodak couldn't handle the mix coming out of the speakers but you'll get the picture.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brookline MA

Thats where I live now. Decided I needed change and more importantly decided I wanted to stop driving so much. I can't help but think 2 hrs a day in a car is not good on the old body and that the time would be better served on a bike (or running if that was possible) So thats what I do now. I ride to work and ride home with an add-on. Tom and I found a route to work that is pretty decent and runs about 15 miles. So either in the morning or afternoon I can add-on and get a nice double day. Hopefully it helps me get fit for the bike. The three days I've done it so far have left me feeling like I'm training hard. This morning I rode up the Blue Hill access road. I kept my backpack on and riding my old bike I still managed sub 5 minutes. I guess that is a benchmark although the record on the climb is about 3:45 or something like that. Brentacol will let me know but I want to attack it for real on my current bike and not at 8am and not with a backpack containing a change of clothes.

There are some good people left in the world. On Sunday night I went out planning to ride a steady 40 miles. The route took me out Beacon street, past BC and through Newton and Waban. After 8 miles Beacon connects to Washington (Boston Marathon RT) and a left takes you across 128 (95N) toward Wellesley. It was while crossing 128 that I hit something in the road and blew out my back tire. Not a puncture, I actually tore through my tire so a new tube was useless. A couple of quick calls to Tom and got me no answer so I started walking. After a mile I took off my bike shoes because that was getting silly and strolled in my socks. Just as I was loosing hope and planning on calling someone who would have to go WAY out of their way on a Sunday night to pick me up a mother named Sharon and her daughter invited me into their home, gave me water, and told me to wait while some veggies were thrown in the oven before they would drop me home. Awesome. In a fear monger time when its taboo to just invite someone into your home (there was no dad present) they had no issue. She rode a bike herself and they happened to live in a house once occupied by Ted Williams (a big deal if your a Boston Red Sox fan which I'm not) I plan on sending some Reebok shoes to say thank you.

So the best bit about living here, even better than riding to work, is that the Paradise Rock Club is across the street. I plan on attending so many gigs that my concert ticket book is going to need a partner very soon. Speaking of concerts, Thursday night sees me drive to Montreal for an intimate show with Spencer Krug. Excited doesn't even touch what I'm feeling. Francine's absence will be very noticeable since she would give anything to see Spencer solo in a small venue but  a loosely planned summer tour should appease her. The solo drive to Montreal will be good for clearing the head and catching up with the many phone calls I need to make.

So a good start to the week of cycling kicked off with some serious Mt. Bike thrashing by John Lawlor during my last 5 days in Ireland. There is talk of a race on Saturday and if its not a crit I'll jump in and hammer. Hammering is awesome. So is Spencer Krug. And I plan on thoroughly enjoying being in his company on Thursday night. Camilla from Sunset Rubdown will be joining him. Its all a bit too much to take really.

Peace and Love

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Out Of The Cloudburst

Spent a little over 2 weeks back home and it was great. The trip was only supposed to be 10 days with 4 of those spent in Geneva with Frankie. However, the horrible place that is the US Embassy decided to hold onto my passport for a week rather than pop it in the mail when they said they would. It sickens me, the lack of accountability and the fact that you can't even call up, only email. I had to not only change my plans to travel to GVA but had to change my flight to BOS. The delay was not because of a backlog or anything like that, its about control. They had my passport and my visa and rather than give it to me they said the protocol changed and they had to mail out passports. Obviously to someone this process makes sense. To me it makes no sense. The security risks of a passport with a valid visa going out in the mail surely must be pretty significant. Not to mention the cost and general extra layers of work. Anyway, I told the dude I was going to GVA and then back to USA on Tuesday. He assured me I would have my passport by Friday (a day after my planned trip to GVA) "Nothing I can do about it sir" is what he said. Fair enough, Frankie flew to Dublin and it was all good, even though deep down inside I really wanted to ride the mountains as planned. And the Tour Of Romandie was finishing outside Frankies house on Sunday. Either way the weekend was wonderful and far too quick. My Passport was still missing so I had to change my flight. Since the flight back is in the AM I couldn't fly out until the following day so eventually it arrived on Thursday, almost a week late and I flew out on Friday. There will be no getting the $275 off the embassy for my troubles thats for sure.

Since I no longer run and since no one on the planet can tell me what is wrong with my knee I've turned my hand to a spot of coaching. I never thought I'd be into the coaching game, I tried it before and while it is awesome to see people do well, I was simply not ready. My own running came first and I think when coaching, the athlete must always come first. Fortunately for me I am not working with an ordinary athlete, I am working with a good friend and extraordinary talent in Martin Fagan. We have ben working together for 3 months now and its been great. I never thought I would feel the anxiety of racing again but when Martin races I get those same feelings. I could barely focus on my Battenkill warm up because of my inability to find a cell phone reception that would provide me with the results of the Bupa Great Ireland Run In Dublin. Martin finished 3rd, out kicked by two sharper athletes. Not a bad first race and very positive for him. Last weekend he ran the Broad Street 10 Miler. This was originally on the schedule but we decided against it because of the travel/financial commitments etc. A bout of spring wind however destroyed the training and Martin thought it prudent to go to Philly and race anyway. So in the midst of some hard and frustrating training he went out and ran 46:42 for 10 miles, 17 seconds outside John Treacy's Irish record. Excellent stuff. Next up is Manchester 10k and I have no doubt that if Martin deals with the travel he will run another great race. This is a really strong field so no pressure on Martin to do anything except race. After all, the running game is about racing, not time trialing. Its about getting out there and enjoying the spirit of competition. Some of that has been lost given the focus on times. Everything is about the perfect race and hitting the time. Qualifying standards are very important, no doubt, but running happy and with a sense of enjoyment is more important. Thats the way Martin will race from now on. Fitter, Happier, and More Productive.

Peace and Much Love

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tour Of The Battenkill

I rode the tour of the battenkill a couple of weeks ago. It was my first bike race but everything about it being a race ended when the whistle blew. If that sounded cocky it wasn't meant to be. I was wrecked at the end but I am better than Cat. 5 so I found the early pace woefully slow and after an hour of what felt like a warm up I asked Donny Green - another Providence bike rider who is much better than Cat. 5 - to go on a break with me to get something out of the day.

The tour of the battenkill is awesome on so many levels but none more so than the fact that the route is littered with dirt road sections, some of which are very steep - both climbing and descending. Fortunately we had a dry day (although part of me wanted some bad ass Belgian rain, lick of Belgian toothpaste would have only enhanced the experience). It was on one of the early dirt road climbs that we broke away and within a few miles we were gone. Again, no disrespect to the Cat. 5 racers but Donny and I are certainly Cat. 4 level and perhaps even Cat. 3 on a course like that. So we belted away and took 2 min pulls each for the next hour. I felt so much better riding hard and had to remind myself that there was still 40 miles to go, after all I put the A in Amateur when it comes to bike racing. But still, I felt really good. Donny was stronger than me on flat road sections, this was evident in that his pulls on the flats were faster than mine. I was stronger on the hills for the same reasons. Everything was shaping up nicely for us to race in. I wanted to get an idea of what it was like to spring finish (although Donny would have destroyed me in a sprint) With 18 miles to go Donny lost his chain and I waited. We are not team mates but it made more sense to wait because we rode hard for the previous hour. On the next climb a few minutes later I was doing my turn at the front and I didn't notice that I dropped him. I just kept pushing hard (a little adrenaline from stopping maybe) and after my 2-3 minute pull I turned and there was no sign of him. (Donny actually punctured soon after which is why he disappeared) So I put the head down and slammed it home

In running - especially the marathon - we talk about "hitting the wall". Cyclists call it bonking. I thought I bonked on the bike a few times but with 5 miles to go in Battenkill I realized what I thought was a bonk was actually exhaustion, and that bonking is a different level altogether. I rode the last hill and suddenly my quads stopped working. My HR was dropping and I could not generate power. I got over the climb which left me with 6k downhill and flat to the finish. I tucked aero as I could on the downhill and put everything into the pedals over the last 5km flat. Everything meant about 21 mph and rather than make sense of the information on my bike computer I felt like I was on acid (double dipped strawberries is what I believe they were called when we were teenagers) Not that I ever took acid. I couldn't read it and actually started laughing. I was so happy to be bonking knowing that I was going to finish in a few minutes. When I crossed the finish line the town started spinning and nothing mattered to me except fluid - any kind of fluid. I lashed down some water, then Dan Action gave me a beer which I took down in a few minutes and followed that up with the best chocolate milk I ever tasted.

I've no idea why I bonked given the race was only 64 miles and I ate a huge breakfast. I'll put it down to a big effort out front, lack of muscle strength specific to biking, the fact that my training heading into the race was weak at best. The four weeks before Battenkill looked like this:

March 14th to March 20th
Monday: 60 Minutes Trainer w/ 6 x 5 min very hard efforts
Tuesday: 60 Minutes Trainer recovery ride
Wednesday: off
Thursday: 2HRs Scituate Rez - Tempo Loop 35:40 95% effort - solo
Friday: off
Saturday: 3:15 Northern Hill Loop - With Dirt Roads - Joe and Pat T. - Knee Dodgy
Sunday: 90 min Trainer Ride easy spinning to save my knee.
Total: 8:45 Hrs

March 21st to March 27th
Monday: off
Tuesday: off
Wednesday:Trainer Ride 75 Minutes
Thursday: 90 Minute Trainer ride with reps
Friday: off
Saturday: 41 Miles Very easy hilly ride. Mid Atlantic Multi Sport Group 2.5 hrs
Sunday: off
Total: 5:15 Hrs

March 28th to April 3rd
Monday: 80 Minutes Trainer Ride w/ 5 x 5 minutes Hard efforts
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: off
Thursday: off
Friday: off
Saturday: 3:00 ride with 2 laps race effort around Scituate Rez - 1:13:20 - Joe + Pat
Sunday: 4:00 Hrs slow riding - solo - about 75 miles
Total: 8:20 Hrs

April 4th - 10th
Monday: 60 min spin on trainer
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: off
Thursday: 60 min spin on trainer with 30 min tempo
Friday: off
Saturday: 75 minutes on Battenkill course
Sunday: Tour of BattenKill 3:01
Total: 6:16 Hrs

The training was minimal at best. I used to run more when I was just keeping fit. So I have to admit my confidence got a boost because if I can ride well off 4 days a week on the bike I will be able to ride very well off 6 days a week. I fully intend on getting on the hunt over the summer to get back into great shape. My constant stop/start will hopefully turn into consistent training. Biking is not bad.

Big shout to Dave Kellogg, Joe Savic, Dr. Brad M, and Eddie O (who has the best blog on the internet for biking - Fast Eddy's Flandria Cafe) Read that site often and it will make you happy. These guys rode Battenkill with me and all had great efforts. Dave K was on his way to winning the 50+ race but crashed on some very soft sand at the base of a big climb 20km from the finish. She still finished 12th but missed the break off the front. He is an animal. Joe Savic had an excellent day too, finishing 35th. He was hanging on to Dave's group but lost touch on one of the mid way monster climbs. Missing the break cost him a top 20 but he achieved his pre-race goal. Eddy snagged 54th to round out the three 50+ guys in the top half of the field. Awesome. Brad finished 12th in his section of the 45+ cat.5 race. Again, top half of the field and a great performance over the awesome climbs. A great weekend.

Peace and Love