Monday, January 31, 2011

La Vuelta, 1st report

Finally able to get to a place where I can check e-mails and do a post of the ride.
Sitting at a Starbucks watching people buy their 600 calories coffee like me, but the difference is, I earned it.
I'll do a longer post with my pictures once I get back home, right now I'm copying and pasting from the Vuelta Facebook page.
First day, 565 riders, lights blinking a police escort that rivaled the TDF.
A small group of the escort. These guys where experts at stopping and moving traffic out of the way for us to roll by.

Goup B rolling along, ride captains in green

Small road, big peloton

See the two guys on 29er's? They did all 375 miles on fat tires training for the South Africa "Cape Epic" mtb stage race. Great guys, I rode with them all 3 days in group B. And i invited them to the Manatoc race and they are going to make plans to make it. We are going to turn the Manatoc race into and international affair.

First day we rolled 40 miles to breakfast and watch two riders get married during the Vuelta in a short ceremony.

The "B" peloton rolling along until the Canadiens with the maple leaf jerseys decided
 to go to the front with the captains and drove the pace at 26 plus for over 6 miles. The peloton split and we got to the rest stop there was only about 50 of us.

I always positioned myself in the top 20-30 to be able to manage the accelarations without killing myself
Anyways, first day after the peloton split into the 3 groups we took off from el Conquistador hotel/resort, I estimated about 175 riders in the "B" group to start the first day. The first 89 miles where flat to very short rollers until you hit a very long 2 miles going up to the light house. The climb is hard because it comes after 89 miles. many people that didn't belong in group "B" walked it.
view from the light house.

 Myself, I was surprised at how good I felt and that was when I realized that all the miles I put in until the end of November and all the roller sessions I put in in preparation for the ride were working. I was really surprised at how good I felt all 3 days except for a short time during day 3 that I had to close over 15 gaps in a short period of time because the pace was so high that riders were falling off the pace at a very high rate. Once I moved into the top 10-15 riders I was able to rest and maintain the pace because I didn't have to cloase any gaps. They announced that the pace for "B" group was 18-20...well, at the end of the day the average may have been that but we rode well over that most of the day. We  made it to Ponce, long shower and time to eat.
Music waited for us at almost every rest stop

Very festive and fun to hear the music you grew up with.

The second day we took off from the town square and within 2 miles Wulfran my niece husband had a flat and I heard him and our team stopped to change the tire. Note: the Peloton doesn't stop for flats, they keep going and you may be able to catch up at the next rest stop if you hurry. I changed the tire in no time and another rider next to us had a flat and I saw him having problems and being the nice guy that I am, I fixed the tire in no time, re-mounted the tire and it was head down hands on the drops, push the pace, all of a sudden an explorer pulls next to me and it is Edmundo, a good friend of the family that had stopped to help us with the flat, he proceeds to tell me that "Rossie" the firecraker called him and told him that I needed to slow down because I left the group and if I didn't slow down she was going to take me out. I tell you what, you don't want to double cross "Rossie" you'll know what I'm talking about if you meet her. I'll post her pic. once I download my pics from the camera. I inmediately slowed down for the group to catch up and Edmundo gave us an escort all the way to the caravan of cars and we caught up to the peloton at the first stop. It takes a cyclist to drive a vehicle the way Edmundo did, flawless piece of pacing I have done in a long time, a big Thank You Edmundo.
By the way, the "B" group had a lot less people on Saturday.
Did I mentioned this ride feels like the TDF or the Giro, a long caravan of cars follows the ride from start to finish, sag wagons, bike shop vans with tools and parts, complete families, music at the rest stops, even the town majors come out to say hello and greet the riders riding through their cities. It is a great way, the only way to ride around the island. When the peloton passes by an elementary school on Friday, the teachers and the kids are already waiting for you to high five you and cheer you on.
Last rest stop before my home town rest stop.
La Parguera

15 miles to go to the next rest station, good narrow rolling roads led to a race to the next rest stop. The pace was never under 20 and that was when we were climbing the gentle grades. Once again I knew what was coming because these are the roads I ride when I vacation at my parents. I moved around the peloton until I was in the top 10 for when the pace picked up. 1-2 miles after the Parguera stop the pace picked up and the race was on. Every short or long roller it was down on the drops, race to the top and keep pushing the pace. One of the few times I was brave enough to look at the speedometer we were doing 29 mph on flat roads.
We made it to Mayaguez (B group), our stop for the night at around 11:30, a /most 45 minutes before we were scheduled to get there an indication of how high the pace was.
The roads where ours.

Mayaguez lunch and last stop before heading to the hotel.
This was built for the last Caribbean games in 2010.

Dessert anyone, flan and cocunut cream.

I ate 5 cocunut cream pies and 3 flans, yummy.

Third day I debated whether I wanted to ride the b or C groups, but again, Rossie the firecracker and her dad, Mr. Schnabel "kind" of told me that if I started with the B I needed to finish with the B. Once again I didn't want to go against  Rossie so I waved group C goodbye at 6am and waited for group B stat at 7:30.
On the last day group C goes first then group B and finally group a at 9am. The first 2 days group A starts first then B and C.
Any was, I was glad I followed Rossies "advice" to ride the B group, I was still feeling strong other that the way I explained early in the post. Many long rollers and a few short and steep sections split the pack once again. riders would be rolling in to the rest stop when we wre getting ready to go. Many women, pretty women if I may add, rode in the B group and they were strong. I complemented a few in the way they rode and how well they behave in the peloton. I gave a girl a complement (she looked like early 20's) and she proceeds to tell me "I've been racing for a long time" cocky kind of way, so, being the nice guy I am I told her, me too just 35 years of having fun. She then looked at me for the first time and realized what she had said when she saw my sunburned "kind" of old handsome face.
6 miles from the last rest stop in the town of Dorado I got a flat and the peloton just spat me off the back and kept on going. 2 minutes flat and the tire was back on, 2 cops on motorcycles stopped to watched traffic while I chaged the tire and I asked one of them to pace me back to the peloton. I told him to keep the speed at 25 which he did for all of 2 minutes and then left me to suffer in a very strong head wind. I had adrenaline flowing and wa able to hold 22-25 for 3 miles and as soon as the rollers started went down to 18-20 the rest of the way. Caught many riders from both the B and C groups and they were suffering, felt sorry for them because it was very hot and windy. Made to the rest stop 10 minutes before they were scheduled to take off. Had no time to fill up or go to the bathroom. Our group, we took off before the peloton and rode for many miles in a vey strong head wind and it also rained on us for about a half hour which was great, cooled us off.
Jorge and I waited for the peloton on a side street while the rest of the group kept going. Once we joined the peloton we were able to stay at the front were many pictures were taken. We made our entrance into Old San Juan and the streets were lined with people, entire families came to greet their sons,daughters, husbands, friends every body clapping and cheering, it really made you feel " Mission Acomplished"
What voice did I hear first when we hit the last 100 meter stretch, my good old, wait, let me refrase that before she hurts me, Rossie "the firecracker" just like Bill Gifford said in his Vuelta article screaming out of the top of her lungs PUERTO RIIIIIIIIIICOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. What a great way to finish the ride.
Jorge, I feel for you.
I'm very thankful to my niece and family for inviting me to ride representing the "Clasificados Online" team. many thanks also goes to Jose her brother for taking the time to travle with the peloton taking many pictures and video of all of us.
To Elizabeth (Chabe) my niece and Juan her younger brother who has been riding less that a year, I'm very impresed and proud of the way you rode all 3 days and finished strong.
To Wulfran, Jorge and Eric I'll ride with you any time, keep it up you are all very strong riders.
To all our support people that followed us:
My sister Lindy and the girls, Vanesa and company.
And last but not least, Mr. Schnabel for all the help and for putting up with me talk about bikes, racing touring, and excercise in general, Margaret, the "quiet" one of the family, thanks for all your help.
Did I forget anyone?????????????? Oh yeah the little woman with the big voice, Lissete aka "Rossie The Firecracker" thanks for all your help and encouragement. It was great to meet and spend time with everyone.
If I forgot anyone, my apologies I'm at a Starbucks and the music they are playing is making me sleepy.
Again, a BIG thanks to everyone and leta's do it again some time, somewhere.
Sorry for the long post and blabering but a ride like this cannot be described in two words.
Signing off, safe, sunburned and with a head cold form PR.

ps. more pics coming soon.
few more pics.
Rider from Iran


All riders ride with the Vuelta jersey the last day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In San Juan waiting

I'm in San Juan waiting to go to our hotel in the afternoon. I'm still debating wether I want to take the lap top with me. My niece told me that thieves walk by cars with some type of device that lets them know if there's a computer in  the car by detectin the battery. They break the window and your lap top is gone. I may have to post from the hotel guest computer.
Safe and waitnig in San Juan. (still sunburned)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

News for the Manatoc race in September

Yes I know is only January but thge news are good.
My wife's Godson Eudaldo "Bebe" Asencio was just signed by Team Jamis mtb team to ride in their squad. We are all very happy for him, he has worked very hard to get to that position.

He has been the Puerto Rican National champion and has represented the island on numerous competitions.
Anyway, I have invited him to come participate in the Manatoc race representing team Jamis and I'm very
happy to announce that he is considering taking the trip. His parents are really exited to come visit and spend time with us. Last year team Jamis Blake Harlan attended the race and hopefully this year we'll have two riders from team Jamis if both can make. Let's hope they both attend.
Signing off, safe ans sunburned from PR.

Tuesday / Wed

Stopped at the favorite coffee shop yesterday to have my usual late afternoon coffee and my lap top battery died. Forgot it didn run without power...duh. Anyway I'm always complaining about the way people drive here even though I lived here for 25 years, well, yesterday I found that the rules for right of way have changed dramatically since I moved. I'm coming up to a light and it changes to green before I got there, I turned my signal light on to turned right and almost got broadsided by a car turning left. Now you tell me, If you are turning left and I'm turning right on to the same road I have the right of way, right. Apparently not here, the car turning right has to be faster and challenge the cars turning left. can you figure out what I'm saying, it's kind of confusing for me to. Stopped at the light and the lady in the car I basically had to speed up so she wouldn't hit me rolls the window down and proceeds to tell me I had to stop and let her go first. I told her I had the green and therefore the right of way. No she says,I was turning before you did so I have the right of way. The good thing about all this was that the conversation was very civilized and it ended up on both of us believing we were right. Whatever, I never cease to amaze myself.

Back to what I came here for, La Vuelta. Rode for another 2 hrs yesterday and my feeling is that I'm not going to be riding in group A. I don't think I have the legs after yesterdays ride I was left suffering under the sun. I'm not getting used to the heat as fast I thought I would. I have never had any problems when I visit but this time I'm hurting. I put my time in on the rollers and trainer and rode outside any time I could but right now it looks like I may even slide to group F, G or H.
I'm driving back to my sisters house tonight and meet with our riding group to plan the 3 days. I didn't even ride today, opted to stay at my parents and spend the time there.
I'm really going to have to save energy and become the best "wheel sucker" of the ride.

UFO's any one?????????????
Maybe this is one of them!!!!!!
This guy chased me during my ride yesterday, I smelled like death limping home.
A great frozen treat after the ride to revive.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Last night it rained for a couple of hrs and didn't need to turn the ac on, just the ceiling fan. Slept in until 7: 30, read the daily news, warched sportscenter since I forgot about the Pitt. NY game, got ready and rolled out the door at 10am for a planned 2-3 hr ride.
Riding aginst traffic is nothing here, cars going by at 5o 60 miles an hr.

It was so windy plus climbing a grade my HR was at 160 within 5 mins of leaving the house. Took the usual route I always take when I visit but my Mom said it had not rained in almost 3 months and there's been a lot of grass fires.

Tsunami area.

This is a new Catholic church built like in the old days with very colorful colors.

After 2.5 hrs under the sun I was wasted, got home took a bath ate lunch and even took a nap, something I very seldom do.
I'll take more pics tomorrow when I feel better.
Sounding off from PR safe and SUNBURNED.


Finally made it to a place with Wi-Fi. Left Cleveland where it was 5 degrees and arrive in PR where it was 83. Right now sitting at a sadwich coffee shop place in sunny 85 degrees. Sunday morning I joined my niece and her husband for a 40 rolling miles with a 2 mile climb where I tested the legs and they were not there. Very heavy. Was chased by dogs that would not give up, emptied both my bottles on their faces and until I finally pulled the can of maze and sprayed them didn't go away. Dogs here are like african wild dogs. Going out for 2-3 hrs later today and will post pictures later.
Safe and warm in PR.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's the big deal??????????????

Got up, got ready 5 degrees outside and here I'm at the airport waiting to board. My ? is, what is the big freaking deal with the body scanners. Such a big freaking deal was made of it that I was waiting for my violation report to come out saying I needed to go into an office or something, cops to come out running with guns drawn. As you can tell is my first time through a body scanners, I don't travel a lot and I was expecting something different. I walked in half naked after I took half my clothes off, heard the guy laughing behind the computer and I was free to go. It all happened so fast I didn't even have time to fix my underwear, no wonder he was laughing, I had a wedgie. Then it was another 15 minutes by the time I finished dressing myself. It all took less than 15 minutes to go through the line, of course it helps to be at the airport 2 hrs before you are suppose to take off and then sit around writing nonsense and surfing the web for bike deals.
Hope my bike makes it with me, they just announced that this is a small regional plane. They told me is big enough for the bike but you never know. I may ene up working as a volunteer at the ride.
Later, have a great cold, gray, snowy day, I'll be thinking of you when I'm drinking a mojito at 6pm today in shorts and flip flops showing the rican girls my white six pack abs.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Packed and ready to go

Took the bike appart and boxed it for Saturdays flight to warm weather for 10 days.
Jamis box, Specialized bike. Suntour wheel covers..some of you probably don't even now what Suntour was. Don't need a hard box, Regular card board box with 1/8" plywood on each side and yuo have a hard box, less that 30lbs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Waiting is over

 I've joined  Edge Outdoor mtb team and we'll be riding Jamis Dakota D29's.

It finally shipped and I'll have it after I come back from PR.
My new wheels. Under 23lbs. Jamis Dakota D29 Team.
Thanks to Jason at Edge Outdoors.

winter pics

Courtesy of The Augger.
My favorite, Buckeye trail run.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Change of plans

My trip to PR to do La Vuelta is around the corner and I was leaving on Tuesday the 25th but I decided to change the flight plans and fly out on Saturday. That'll give me a few more days with my parents and 5 days of 2-3 hrs each day of warm weather riding before the ride. Warm weather riding at the end of January, I love it. It is going to be great, maybe I'll be able to ride longer with the Hammerheads in group a before I slide back to group B,Cdefg. The bike box is ready all I need is to finish packing.


What goes through your head before you get on the trainer/rollers?
Do you have a specific workout planned?
Do you just spin at a certain rpm's?
No plan at all.
There are days when I don't even know what I want to do when I get on the trainer or the rollers.
Your head starts spinning...maybe I'll do and easy spin to recover from yesterday. But yesterday wasn't that least you'll be spinning your legs. How many times I'm I goin to watch the same "Cake Boss" rerun? ESPN today? How about NCIS? Or...I hate to admit this, take a peak at the stupid spanish soap that my wife watches every night...all I need to do is watch 10 minutes once a week and I know everything that happened during the last week...sick, very sick bordering on insanity. What is it with spanish soaps that eveything is about how deep the cleavage is? I'm sure there's a big male following. Yeah, I know what you are thinking...looks who's talking when he takes a peak once in a while.
Anyway, back to the trainer. Yesterday I got on te trainer and all I could think about  was, take it easy you had 2 hard spinning classes yesterday, just watch the game and put in an easy hr. Well, I spun for about 10 minutes and ended up with one of my best workouts this winter season. I did 4 10 minute hill intervals with 4 30sec. and1 minute pick ups in each of the 10 min intervals. I started on the 17 shifting up to 15, 13, 11. After I finished the 4th interval I shifted down one minute at a time until I reached the 19 and spun at 80-95 rpm's for another 10 minutes. In all 1hr 20 minutes for my longest trainer/roller workout so far and I have to say, It was hard but it felt great at the end.
No plan at all, pc of cake, go with the flow.

Friday, January 14, 2011


If you like the smell of coffee take a ride with me. Every (well most) M, W, F I get up at 4:30am to workout at home. First thing I do is read the daily devotional and make a pot of coffee, ahhh coffee. After I finish eat breakfast and get ready to leave I pour the rest of the coffee in my "trusty" coffee mug and head for work. Stay with me, it gets better...Most of the time I don't finish all of it and leave the "trusty" coffee mug in the car and when I get home I take it in to get washed. A couple of days ago, wednesday to be exact it was the same routine except when I picked it up it fell on my front seat all over my gloves, scarf, the hoodie I keep in the car in case I have to walk. I'm screaming at myself trying to soak it all up with the gloves the scarf the hoodie, I run in the house, I'm really PO now, my wifes asks what's wrong, I'm still screaming at myself, she doesn't ask again, I run outside with paper towels...the coffee is gone into the depths of the passenger seat. I soaked as much as I could and left the windows down. I threw the "trusty" mug away since I don't need to drink coffee in the morning on my way to work now, all I have to do is take a deep breath and I'm good for the day. Today is Friday and the smell is still there. Who needs air fresheners, just let me take a ride in your car with a "trusty" mug and I'll set you up.
Coffee it does the body good...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Buckeye Trail

No mountain bikes on the BT but the hired deer hunters are allowed to tear it to pcs. on their quads.

Doesn't look like they are going slow and taking their time to get to their tree platforms, you be the judge.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Courtesy of the ToadKing,

A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas. He said the expression "going bananas" is from the effects of bananas on the brain.. Read on:

Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!

This is interesting.

After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia : High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance.. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills.. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"


PS: Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I will add one here; want a quick shine on our shoes?? Take the INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe....polish with dry cloth.. Amazing fruit !

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter pics

Courtesy of the Auger

Ice forming again on the river

Red barn in the valley

Saturday, January 8, 2011

From Winter to hike to Winter ride

After this mornings hike I went home had something to eat posted pictures of the hike and got ready to go out again for a bike ride. The path had about 2" of fresh fallen snow on it plus lasts nights snow but it was good to ride on. I went up H... hill on my way out and on my way back and it was harder with more snow on the road. The road up the hill is closed for the winter with no cars, great for 1 mile long hill repeats.
Tried riding off road but with a 34x16 gear and so much snow it was slow going.

Winter hike

Up this morning at 6:30 to take the car for an oil change. Came home, the temp gauge said 17 degrees, snow falling, the sun trying to peak through the clouds...time for a hike. Drove down to H... hill and headed out, almost 3 hrs later and close to 5 miles I was happy. Dressed perfect for the weather, didn't get hot or cold, heater packs in the mittens, perfect hike. The hiking trail is close to the highway and this time of the year the noise is louder because there's no vegetation to muffle it, but there's something about a morning winter hike, doesn' matter where that perks you up. Nobody on the trail and my tracks where the first ones to cut the snow and even with the far away low road noise, silence. If you stop long enough to let your heart beat rest, you can almost hear the snow falling.
I hear so many people complain about the weather it's frustrating because they don't try to make the best of it. Yes, I admit it can be depressing once in while even fo me, but let's make the best of it. Look for ways to have fun and enjoy it and I'll guarantee you before you know it, spring is here. That's why I'm going out again in a couple of hrs to ride my bike for as long as I can stand it.

A squirrel ran from one end to the other on a down tree