Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Excited about space...

As many of you know the past few years of my business life has been dedicated to exploring asteroids and meteorites. As part of this I lurk on a meteorite newsgroup. The list traffic is mostly garbage about items for sale but every now and again something interesting pops up.

This past weekend the Japanese spacecraft Hyabusa returned to earth after a very long trip to asteroid Itokawa and back. One goal of the mission was to collect material from the asteroid for analysis. Over the past few days the list has been buzzing with video links of re-entry and the associated spectacular fireball. NASA probably has the best video:

But this morning I read a posting of that said simply this:
Is it just me or did it sound like they were having sex while watching the
With regard to the following video:

I'll let you decide for yourselves.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Race updates...

Hey all, It has been a while between updates, but I've been busy racing my bicycle.

The plan at the start of the year was to step back from the bike a little bit, race less, spend more time with friends etc. As my co workers would say the goal was to let "fun Jamie" live a little more this spring and summer. Thus far I think the mission is going well, and surprisingly I'm racing as well or better than ever. I've had a handful of top-ten finishes including a 9th place dig at my first NRC crit of the year. In addition to personal exploits, the team has been killing it. We've won a few races and had been on the podium every weekend up until a week ago. Furthermore we've got a little swagger and are driving the race action.

A few weeks back I went up to Delaware to race a crit solo. I had forgotten how the dynamic changes when you are the only person from your team in the race. I liked the course, despite a spooky last corner with oncoming traffic (like the Marian crit). It actually reminded me of the winfield twilight with a less technical downhill. In any case I figured it was a day to let small groups go and use the climb to launch bridging moves. A little over halfway in a group of 4 rolled off and got a good gap. A few laps later I bridged solo. Two more came across a lap or so later and all teams were represented so we rolled away. With two to go John Minturn took a solo flyer from our group and stuck it to the line by ~10 sec. I took the sprint for second. For my efforts my teammates awarded me with the "brass balls". We've been passing these around amongst the team all season.

Race like you got a pair.

Two weekends ago several of us rolled north for the Bear Mountain spring classic in Harriman state park, NY. Our drive took us through NJ and really close to my old hood. So close that we took a detour to stop at my favorite bakery Calandra's in Fairfield. I had tried to explain how awesome this place is, but Jake was dumbstruck when he walked in. Cookies, pastries, bread, gelato, coffee, you name it. It took us 15 mins of browsing to decide what to get. I opted for the traditional Italian canolli and sfogliatelle while Jake grabbed cookies and gelato.

The course was a 21 mile "out and back" of which we did 3 3/4 laps. Each lap had a fairly steep 2-mile climb. This is where the action would go down for sure. The race never got too aggressive until the last time up the climb (which occurred with 18 or so miles to go. We hit the base of the climb and things started to heat up. I started to fade and just couldn't keep the pace. This is a strange experience as most of the races we do have short steep climbs. On those you pretty much ride all out until you pop. here I just couldn't keep the pace and slowly drifted out the back. I ended up in a chase with my teammates Jeff and Nate (who was in a break that got caught at the base of the climb). Up the road, Jake, Kevin Todd and Blair did battle. A two man group slipped away and despite our boys chasing with AXA, and Jamis the gap was never closed. They set Jake up for the sprint and he ended up taking 8th. Not his best result, but it was good enough to get him a free ride to the Nature Valley Grand Prix this summer. Super pumped for him.

This past weekend was the start of our big east coast crit season with Wilmington (NRC) and our home race, Bike Jam.

After getting shelled last year (save rick who was in the top 20) the rest of the squad was out to redeem themselves at Wilmington. The course was changed from last year to include an extra one-block square turning the course into a figure-eight. I welcomed this change as it would give a little respite from the long uphill and downhill false flat stretches that are always strung out single file.

I officially returned to bike racing by hitting the deck with ~15 laps to go. It was a low speed crash in a corner but i got run into by another rider (i think) taking a knee (?) to the head. I've never been so dazed after a crash. I made it to the pits and got pushed back in only to have it start raining a few laps later. Apparently I'm a trend setter and the entire top 20 of the field decided to fall en mass on the rain slicked downhill of the course. I was able to slip by without any trouble and stayed in the top 20 for the rest of the race. A few guys took flyers off the front a got away. It was just too hard to chase as a group with the wet turns. I ended up 5th in the sprint and 9th over all. The rest of the guys got shuffled back in the crashes and todd was just out of the money in 31st.

Sunday was our home race, Bike Jam. The team had some great results with Nima wining the masters 35+ race out of a 4-man break including Rick. Probably the most impressive win of the day was by Michael Choen in the Cat IV race. He went solo with 5-6 laps to go and stuck it by 8 seconds at the line. Alex and a few other teammates did a great job defending the break, somewhat unusual for that level of racing. It was great to see our team represent at home.

In the P/1/2 race the plan was to be aggressive and try to spring a break that we could win from. We were aggressive but the pro teams there were looking for a field sprint so despite our best efforts it just wasn't to be. We certainly animated the race with lots of attacks, and Evan and Nate were able to grab some primes along the way. We all got a bit bunched for the finish and ended up 14th (me), 15th (Jeff), 19th (Jake), and the rest of the squad back in the bunch. I'm really proud of the way we raced and think that we are going to get some great results at the upcoming big races (CSC, AirForce Classic, etc).

The highlight of the weekend has to be racing at home in front of friends. I have to give big shouts out to my Housemates Laura, and Stacy who showed up with signs.

I love my girls.

Stacy was also bold enough to bring her Father (visiting from out of town) and her Beau, Chuck to the race; they all had a good time. Lastly the crew from Team That's What She Said was there in force. While they are mostly runners they always have a good time watching us ride in circles.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


That is pretty much my only response to the news that Dewey Dickey is likely to receive a 2-year (actually probably lifetime) ban because he refused to take an out of competition doping control. I raced with Dewey for several years while in the midwest. Note that this was after he served a 2-year suspension for testing positive for banned substances in 2001/2002; thus the possibility of a lifetime ban. Dewey was always a gritty, hard nosed racer who was always willing to push the pace and animate the race. Despite his former doping offense I've always had a good amount of respect for him. This is partly due to his style of racing, but mostly due to the fact that he was generally a nice guy.

The last time I saw Dewey he was on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance at the Tour of Ohio. He had not crashed, rather he was weakened due to blood loss related to the removal of his colon several years prior. Knowing that he is no stranger to adversity I knew that he'd be back. Since that time I've seen his name at the top of the results pages at several races in the midwest including a win at last year's Snake Alley Crit.

So back to the main question...Why? It sucks that USADA was dragging ass with processing his updated (Therapeutic Use Exemption) TUE, but why refuse to take the control? Dewey said that he refused the test because he knew he would test positive due to his medications. Had he agreed to the test (and he was only taking the meds specified on his TUE), the worst that could happen is that he tests positive for the drugs that are listed on prior TUE's and the one that is (was) currently being processed. At least then he could fight the positive on grounds of procedural issues. Now we are left to wonder if there were more nefarious reasons for refusing the test. It is possible that he's using a banned substance that is not on his TUE and he figured it was better to hide behind his pending TUE. I hate to say it but to me that sounds like the most probable situation.

Dewey's life revolved around cycling, and he was a fighter. He's come back from the abyss several times, why not fight this comparably small hurdle? Sadly we'll probably never know the real story, and as a consequence many people will question all of his accomplishments on the bike. Dewey, If you did fear testing positive for something else, come out and say it, and do so soon. That may erase any respect I have for you on the bike, but it will reaffirm my respect for you off of the bike.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fuggin BS...

WOW, I was not at this race but the majority of our local racers were. Apparently some one took the liberty to throw tacks on the course several time throughout the day. Below is a video of a rider flatting his tire (tack was still in the tire after the crash) just as he enters a corner. I think that most everyone came out without any serious damage to body or bike, but I hope that the people that placed the tacks are caught and brought to justice. If anyone popped a collar bone and the idiots get caught I figure the tack dropper(s) are gonna get sued by the insurance company.

Leonardtown Crash from Bryan Vaughan on Vimeo.