Tuesday, June 06, 2023

TDL Local

The Cat. 4/5 group on Lakeshore Drive

After being basically disinvited by Covington after last year's Tour de La, likely precipitated by the small fields and resulting difficulty justifying closing down the city streets that long, it was again time to re-think the race format. Around mid-October I was over in Chalmette to officiate the annual Swamp Otter CX races and when I drove past Torres Park I thought, "that looks like it could be a criterium course. After checking out the distance I contacted Howard, who is on the parish council, to see if it would be feasible to close off the streets and the parking lot that constituted one side of the course, and he said it probably wouldn't be a problem. So I thought that maybe we should try to have all three stages here on the southshore since there are probably 150 people out on racing bikes on any weekend day around here and maybe some of them would come race if they didn't have to spend most of the weekend across the lake. It was basically an experiment. So around February I contacted the Orleans Levee District about the possibility of closing the east end of Lakeshore Drive for a circuit race and time trial. I had thought that should be less expensive than the seven or eight deputies we usually have for the road race course and the three or four that we usually have for the time trial on the northshore. Turned out it wasn't, but by that point the wheels were in motion so we went with it. For the record, the Lakeshore Drive police cost was just under $3,500 for police and the extra $500 fee. That turned out to be practically all of the pre-registration revenue, but more on that later. I'd wanted to have the course turn onto Franklin Avenue to make an L-shaped course but then they told me that I'd need to get a separate permit from the City of New Orleans for that little 900 feet of city street. We'd done numerous races using that section of road before but this was the first time they wanted us to get a city permit that, I had no doubt, would be a huge PITA and might increase the already high cost. So I worked it out with the Levee District to have the course make a U-turn just before the flex-post obstacle course at Elysian Fields. I didn't really like that, but it was the best I could do at that point, and at least it increased the lap length to about 3 miles. Anyway, as we got closer to the race date I contacted BikeLaw and they generously offered $1k in sponsorship. Then Joe Paul called on some of his contacts on the Westbank and came up with another $1.5k. That helped a lot, even though I was still figuring the club would lose $2,500 - $3,000 (which it did) if turnout wasn't higher than last year (which it wasn't). Robert had suggested making the criterium also serve as the LAMBRA criterium championship, so I went with that which meant allowing riders to race individual stages of the stage race rather than requiring them to register for and ride all three. I knew that would cause some complications and confusion since only those who registered for all three stages would qualify for the prizes, but what we really wanted was more bodies on the starting line and figured this might help.

So then I started promoting the race with help from Mignon and a number of local racers and clubs, especially Semi-tough, who all want to see the racing scene get back on track. It was especially nice to have a few people contact me an offer to make donations to the event. That's pretty rare and it added another $150 or so to the cause. The final result, judging by pre-registration, was definitely disappointing. We had only 45 people register for the full stage race and a total of 62 for at least one stage, all of which was below last year's number. In 2009 we had over 200 riders and were supporting a much larger prizelist as a result. On the plus side, we didn't need as many volunteers and didn't need to bring in as many moto-refs and didn't need motel rooms for officials and me. 

Saturday:  Having a race on Lakeshore Drive is always a roll of the dice. If the weather is good, it's great but if a thunderstorm comes through it can be a disaster. Fortunately the weather was good and with the small fields everything went pretty smoothly. I think we cut the Cat. 4/5 race short by one lap since we were running a little bit behind and didn't have much time between the circuit races and the time trial. I was back home with Ricky and Steve, the referees, by mid-afternoon. I think riders were OK with the course, but a lot of us kind of missed having the real road race.

The 1/2/3 field was bolstered on Sunday by a few people who had already ridden in
the Masters or Women, plus a couple who were registered only for the criterium.

Sunday:  The course in Chalmette turned out to be excellent. Howard had gotten most of the more significant cracks in the concrete fixed, although I'd missed marking one of them on the inside of Turn #1 because it was under water when I was there. I think there were two minor single-rider crashes the whole day and the police were great with keeping the course closed. Steve drove lead Moto which is always helpful just in case some local person is walking across the course to get to the park or something. At one point he had to get a turtle off the course. I had put the start/finish on the west side of the park in the shadow of some big Oak trees, which really made the officiating as pleasant as you could possibly hope for. The police were fine with us, and ultimately a bunch of other people, parking on the neutral ground, which was great. The criteriums turned out to be really competitive and fast and interesting. Everything went great and feedback on the criterium course was extremely positive, so that course is definitely a keeper. Pat and Mignon and Ty did a great job with the awards and podiums which were kind of complicated since we had both the overall GC prizes and podiums, some "bonus" categories that had additional prizes and podiums, and then the LAMBRA championship medals and podiums where only LAMBRA riders were eligible.

Right now I'm thinking of trying to do the RR and TT on the northshore on Saturday next year and then the criterium in Chalmette. For that, though, We're really going to need significantly more sponsorship and hopefully more riders. We were missing a number of very strong riders who are out there every weekend at the front of the group rides, and I really don't know what has to happen for them to actually race. I feel like COVID really hurt the smaller areas like ours because the field sizes were already on the smaller side and when you cut that down by like 40% people start to wonder if it's worth entering, which of course practically guarantees that the field sizes will stay small. Riders need to step up and register and get their friends to race. Bigger fields are much more fun, especially if you are riding basically as pack-fill like I usually do nowadays. I'm clearly the world's worst fund-raiser and promoter, so all I can do reasonably well is organize the actual racing parts of the event and then just hope someone can help with sponsorship and the other things that make the event fun like food and drinks and stuff.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Family and Fractures

Friendly Friday - finally some light in the sky

The last ten days or so have been a little complicated. We had my dad's memorial service on Saturday so of course I didn't ride that day, and various family members were in town for various times from Wednesday through yesterday. Other than skipping my ride on Saturday, though, the riding didn't suffer much at all. I can't say quite the same for eating habits since there was a good amount of catered food, wine, beer, more wine, champagne, crawfish, crawfish pies, and even paella.

The weekday rides were as the weekday rides usually are, which is consistent, although I did manage to screw up my timing last week on the WeMoRi. I was running a little late, rather than go all the way to Lakeshore Drive and maybe get there just after the group went by, I instead turned down Toussant to Marconi which guaranteed that I wouldn't miss them. Unfortunately, the group came flying around the one curve between Toussant and Lakeshore Drive just as I approached, so I didn't have any warning. I made a quick U-turn behind them but it was immediately obvious that I wasn't going to catch, so I went straight down Marconi and got into the group after it came around the corner from City Park Avenue. So I missed a little bit of intensity, but that happens sometimes.

On Friday I arrived at the Museum of Art for the Friendly Friday ride to find an unusually large group on hand, and I knew what that meant. Sure enough the fireworks started around Bayou St. John and didn't let up much for the rest of the ride. Just as well, because I knew I wouldn't be riding on Saturday anyway and would get a nice but unscheduled recovery day - something that I'm sure I should do more often. My headset was feeling just a bit loose, so that night I slacked off the stem bolt and when I went to tighten the compressor to preload the headset it basically broke off. The threaded aluminum section had corroded enough from sweat dripping down through the hole that it finally separated. Not wanting to steal the compressor from my cyclocross bike, I just ordered a new one and spent the next few days riding the Orbea.

On Sunday I was good to go for the Giro which had a fairly typical turnout. The weather was good with a mild headwind on the way out. As expected from spending pretty much all of Saturday afternoon and evening eating tasty and salty stuff while drinking wine and even a beer or two (red wine doesn't really go with boiled crawfish), I wasn't feeling particularly sharp so I positioned myself toward the back of the group and planned on staying there. It was fairly fast on the way out, but steady, and as usual the speed starting creeping up as we got within a couple of kilometers from the Venetian Isles sprint. 

Somewhere inside of the last kilometer a gap opened up somewhere ahead of me, as often happens, so I went around a couple of people and kept the pressure on but didn't make the effort to close the gap which by then was virtually un-closable anyway as the sprint was starting. Then, up ahead, I saw an unexpected cloud of dust off the the right and thought initially that someone must have pulled off across the shoulder and slid out in the grass over there. As I got closer, though, I could see that Brandon had crashed and was sitting on the shoulder about ten feet from his bike. As I heard it, Brandon had led out the sprint and when he started to slow the rest of the paceline started coming past him on the left, but one rider decided to go past on the right, squeezing between the rumble strip and Brandon. Well, of course they collided and Brandon apparently bounced back and forth like a pinball before going over the bars pretty hard. It looked like he landed squarely on the back of his head and left shoulder, then came down onto his hip. They were probably going somewhere north of 30 mph at the time, so he was pretty banged up and his helmet looked like someone had taken a sledge hammer to it. I asked him right away, "What day is it?" and he immediately replied, "Sunday," so I took that as a good sign. As he explained to me later, however, he was feeling quite confused and when I asked him the question he thought, "This is a test. I'd better get it right!" which he did. He was able to call his wife so we waited around for her to arrive. The whole time, though, he never tried to stand and definitely seemed out of it, so when his wife came and asked me which Urgent Care he should to go I told her I thought he needed to go to an ER because he probably had a concussion and would need a CAT scan, plus there was a 90% chance he'd broken his collarbone (which he had), and his hip didn't look too good either. 

It was almost nine hours later that his wife called me to say that they were still at the ER at University Medical Center where I guess his trauma wasn't traumatic enough to get much attention from the Trauma Center people. At that point I emailed Tulane orthopedist Buddy Savoie, who is quite familiar with my own collarbones, and asked if he knew anyone over there who could move things along. That had a significant impact and a little while later I got a call from one of the doctors there. So anyway, he did indeed have a concussion and a broken collarbone, and after a followup visit early this week with Dr. O'Brien at TISM he is scheduled for surgery next week. Things appear to be moving in the right direction now, at least.

Danielle was still in town - she flew out yesterday - and since Candy's birthday was the 15th and the neighbor's birthday was also the 15th (or something close to that) we had a nice dinner over at the neighbor's house that featured paella and of course wine and champagne. 

The rides thus far this week have been good but otherwise unremarkable except for the fact that we are clearly getting into summer. I got the Bianchi back in action for this morning's levee ride that was mostly just me and Martin trading pulls with some help from Steve who joined in at the Big Dip. I don't know why, but it felt harder than it should have, perhaps just because I wasn't getting quite as much recovery time in-between pulls. I felt sorry for Martin who is, I'd say, literally twice my size and certainly wasn't getting much of a draft behind me, or Steve for that matter.

The Tour de La arrangements are more or less done now that I got the permit from St. Bernard for the criterium course. Our cost is going to be pretty high for the weekend. The police detail for Saturday on Lakeshore Drive is going to run $3,000 plus another $500 in fees, and the criterium will be around $1,200 or so, so venue costs will be nudging $5,000. Other costs for officials and permits and cash prizes will bring total expenses up around $9,000 of which entry fees, assuming a reasonable turnout which these days is a tenuous assumption, will offset only about $4,000 and sponsorship at this point only about $1,000. 

Monday, May 08, 2023

Summer Sun, Summer Storm

It is such a relief to have enough light at 6 am to see more of where I'm going than the little spot of road in the headlight beam. Now that summer is essentially here the early morning wardrobe decisions are quick and simple, and the only delay in getting out the door is time spent cleaning yesterday's sweat out of the inside of the sunglasses.

Tuesday's levee ride had a nice group and even nicer weather, which kept the outbound leg a bit faster than usual. I think it was the last day that Michael Laiche was in town and riding with us before jetting back to Seattle. Wednesday's WeMoRi seemed likewise pretty fast - certainly fast enough to quickly quash any ideas I might of had about putting my nose into the wind at the front anyway. Thursday's levee ride was pretty normal, although I felt like I was suffering a little bit more than I should have been. Sometimes it's that way - no real obvious explanation. That led to Friendly Friday which started out friendlier than it ended. The last segment on Lakeshore Drive got pretty fast, as did the usual drag race down Marconi to the infamous Mount Wisner KOM. That particular Strava Segment has always seemed kind of screwy. If you look at the KOM detail it shows average speeds for a number of people, including me, of 35.6 mph, and although the segment does include a fair amount of flat road prior to the actual climb to the top of the overpass, 35.6 mph doesn't make much sense. For example, looking at my actual Strava data for the day on which I supposedly went 35.6 mph, which was back in 2014 before the overpass was demolished and re-built, my maximum speed for the entire ride was only 33 mph, which was clearly on the downhill side of the overpass, which is not part of the segment. Go figure. Another KOM for basically the same segment but established later shows Jordan with a speed of 42.8 mph for the same day in 2014 that the other one shows 35.6 mph. Looking at his actual Strava data for that day, his maximum speed was never over 32.2. 

But I digress.

Friendly Friday

So all of this is leading up to the Saturday Giro. The evening before it was looking like the Giro might be rained out entirely, but when I got up that morning the approaching storms were way off to the west and the hourly forecast was looking quite favorable until about 10:00 am. So of course I headed out to Starbucks from which we rolled out with a somewhat reduced group. Some people, I guess, just didn't want to risk getting wet. Others apparently decided to ride with the 6:45 SaMoRi group to maybe get a little jump on the weather. Also, it was Jazz Fest weekend.

Shelter from the storm

So despite our relatively small group, the pace going out was fast and steady. I wasn't worried at all about rain, and thought that, at the worst, I might get some light sprinkles on my way home. On the way back, Chris flatted on Chef just before the turn onto the interstate, so we all waited for that, which was really a pretty brief delay. Heading down Bullard a few miles later the sky to the northwest started looking considerably worse, and when we turned onto Hayne the sky in front of us was blacker than black. Somebody at the front put the hammer down just after the turn, which immediately opened a gap. Chris put his head down and made the bridge, but Jaden and I didn't. I looked over to Jaden and commented, "Do they think they are going to outrun that rain??" I mean, we were heading straight into it and already clearly doomed and could already feel the rain starting. Then, just as we got to the overpass, all hell broke loose. The temperature dropped, and the wind started gusting at easily 40 mph, and the rain and likely hail was coming down so hard I wondered if it would draw blood on my arms. I was down to maybe 6 mph going up the overpass, struggling to keep the bike both upright and moving forward. We were lucky that it was more headwind than crosswind, because if it had been a direct crosswind it wouldn't have been rideable. 


Anyway, as I coasted cautiously down the overpass on the shoulder I saw the whole front of the group (we were by the down to maybe seven riders) stopped at the bottom. They'd decided it was too dangerous to try to ride over the Seabrook bridge with its steel grate at the top and were going to hide out under the over pass until things settled down. As it turned out there was a big open abandoned trailer next to the overpass, so we all piled into it. Eventually the wind settled down a bit and although a few had already called for extraction I headed out again with Jaden, Kenneth, and VJ. Naturally I was well soaked by the time I got home but at least it was warm enough that I didn't get too chilled. I quickly put some lube on the chain, put my shoes out to dry, and jumped into a hot shower. That afternoon a new helmet (Lazer Vento) I'd ordered on sale arrived. It had been a very unusual impulse purchase for me since usually the only time I buy helmets is right after I have broken one by whacking it on the asphalt with my head inside. I was pleased to find that it fit fairly well. My head is always right in-between the small and medium sizing, so buying a new helmet without being able to try it on beforehand is kind of a roll of the dice. I'd spoken with Lisa earlier about hers, since that's their team helmet, and she said that the small wasn't too small, so I guess that gave me a little extra confidence. 

A quick store stop on the Talisheek ride

By Sunday the weather was great and I'd earlier decided to drive across the lake to join the regular northshore Talisheek ride, mainly just for the change of scenery. That ride is getting to be kind of the northshore Giro, since the route seems to have been selected specifically to keep it almost entirely flat. It was a nice test ride for the new helmet, which didn't present any problems at all during the ride. 

The ride itself had a particularly good turnout that day with probably twenty riders at one point or another. The pace was brisk but not super fast, and with such a long paceline I had just a few opportunities at the front. Much of the first and last parts of the ride were on the Tammany Trace, so those sections were just conversational speed anyway. I was a little edgy on the Trace because there was a fair amount of debris on the bike path from the prior day's storm, plus there are those yellow posts at the intersections that you can't see if you're behind someone. Not having ridden there in a long time, I was constantly trying to look around riders to see what was coming. It was a nice ride, though, with a bit of intensity here and there. I was glad I'd loaded the route onto my Garmin because I don't think I'd ever ridden some of the roads on the second half of the ride.

This morning's Mellow Monday ride turned decidedly un-mellow once we were on Lakeshore Drive. That sometimes happens. Looking at who was in the group during the warmup segment, which itself was faster than usual, I could see the handwriting on the wall and decided to stay protected as much as possible because I figured it would get fast on the way back along Lakeshore Drive and, later, Wisner. So I did, and so it did. 

Monday, May 01, 2023


Tuesday on the levee

It's finally the first day of May when there's a bit of light in the sky at 6 a.m. and I need to charge my headlight battery only once every few days rather than practically every day. We put on the LAMBRA Time Trial Championship yesterday for what I think was the twelfth consecutive year out on Highway 51 near LaPlace. This morning as I rolled the commuting bike out the door I sighed as I glanced around the basement that is littered with post-event stuff - water coolers, tents, podium, traffic cones, P/A system, stopwatches, clipboards, caution signs, tables, chairs, etc., etc. It will probably be a few days before I get that all sorted and put back into some semblance of order so it's ready for the 52nd annual Tour de La that is now only a month away. It will be only the third road event in LAMBRA this year, which is kind of weak. 

Anyway, the Time Trial went off remarkably well this year, not that we set any records for participation. I had gone out the weekend before to re-mark the turnarounds, and then spend much of Saturday setting up the start list and results workbook, and generally organizing what I would need to pack into the car in the dark on Sunday morning. Most of the LAMBRA equipment, and some of the NOBC equipment, was in the trailer up in Jackson, so I was missing the nice digital race clock and, as I discovered at the last minute, my collection of safety vests. One little surprise was that when Robert dropped off the USAC championship medals on Thursday I discovered that there were not enough gold ones to cover what we needed. They were just the leftover medals from 2022. I called USAC and they promised to send our 2023 allocation this week, so I will be mailing medals to a few riders after those arrive. On the plus side, participation was up a bit from last year, when it was quite low, but it was still a far cry from its peak years when we would regularly expect about 100 riders (there were 66 registered this year). In the weeks before the race I had been worried about having enough volunteers. Branden would be racing mountain bikes up in Ruston, and Mark would be out of town. Fortunately, after a few pleas for help on various platforms, enough people stepped up. On race day we had Mignon, Pat, Ty, Christian, David, Boyd, Randy, Kale, and Charles, so all of the key positions were easily covered and there was lots of backup for the timing over at the finish line. I was up that morning around 4:45 am, in time to make some coffee, eat a somewhat stale scone, and load stuff into the car. Josiah rode over from campus for 5:30 so I could give him a ride to the race. I'd lent him a pair of aerobars and Russell Bernard's old Campi Bora time trial wheels for his first-ever time trial. We arrived right at 6 am, unloaded the car, and set about putting up the tent, flags, caution signage, etc. The weather forecast was predicting a strong northwest wind so I wasn't expecting to see a lot of very fast times, even though some of the fastest riders in the area were on the start list.

The one good thing about having a smaller turnout was that the last rider was on the road by 9:15 and therefore back before 10:15, and with Mignon shuttling back and forth between the finish and the results tent we were able to get the results and awards for the earlier categories and age groups taken care of relatively quickly. Most years we have a little bit of confusion about one or two or three riders. Maybe the times don't look correct, or there were a few whose numbers couldn't be read, but this year there were no problems there and results went remarkable smoothly. 

It turned out that I was quite wrong in my prediction about the times being heavily influenced by the wind. In fact, Matt Govero turned in a new LAMBRA and course record of 49:32, besting his own LAMBRA record for the prior year by a healthy margin and putting his name in the record book as our first rider to go sub-50. He wasn't the only one with a fast time, either. In all, there were 21 riders who went sub-hour on this windy day - 34% of the 61 riders who raced. I was impressed. 

Afterward, our hard-working race crew headed down the road to Frenier Landing for a nice lunch before making the short drive back to town. I was happy to have Pat and Josiah to help unload the car(s), which probably saved my back quite a bit of strain.

So next I will start trying to promote the Tour de La, for which we currently have no actual sponsorship outside of the regular club funds. We will be doing everything here on the southshore this year, substituting a Lakefront circuit race for the usual long road race, and following it with a short 3 km time trial immediately afterward. Then we'll finish up with a criterium over in Chalmette around Torres Park. So basically everything is new this year, which has entailed quite a bit more work than usual. We'll be doing the stage race on points rather than time this year, so I'll have to set up an entirely new results workbook, and I'll need to write up a new race bible of some sort as well. I'd hoped to have the circuit race go up and over the levee at Franklin Avenue like we did a couple of years ago for the Lakeshore Scramble criterium and the weekday summer series, but for some reason the Levee district insisted that I needed a City permit in order to use that 900 feet or so of Franklin Avenue, which was kind of ridiculous. I ended up keeping the route on Lakeshore Drive and making a somewhat inconvenient U-turn just before the Elysian Fields traffic circle (to avoid the flexpost obstacle course the city installed last year). They'll still need to race over the levee each lap, just in a different location, so we'll see how that goes. I think the ultimate cost should be a little bit lower than usual since we won't need as many police as we do for the road race, but on the other hand we will need the ones we have for longer. 

Looks like I will have to miss the evening criterium in Hattiesburg on the 12th since we will be doing the memorial service for my father the following morning and family will be in town. There are no other actual races currently on the calendar in Louisiana or Mississippi, so I'm thinking about signing up for the Cheaha Challenge fondo on May 21. After the Tour de La I guess I'll have to think about doing some travelling if I want to actually race bikes!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Seasonal Changes

Saturday Giro cool-down on Lakeshore Drive

Down here in New Orleans this time of year can be the best of times or the worst of times. On the one hand, the days are finally getting a little longer so I'm spending less time riding in the dark, and although I haven't yet been able to permanently put away the arm and knee-warmers, we're definitely done with the long tights and heavy gloves and thick wool socks. On the other hand, we keep having these weather cycles where a cold front is heading our way, all sorts of dire warnings about rain and storms go out, and then maybe it rains or maybe it doesn't. At the beginning of last week is looked like it might be raining practically all week, and yet all of my regular group rides stayed dry except for the Sunday Giro. The cold front that brought heavy overnight rain that ended shortly before the Sunday Giro starts brought with it a few chilly mornings where the temperature was down into the 50s. That had me reluctantly pulling out the knee warmers and full-finger gloves for a couple of mornings. Yeah, I could have left those at home and just been cold for the first thirty minutes, but really, what's the point of that?

My turn-around point on Sunday

Looking at the hourly forecast last Friday I thought that the Saturday Giro might be a wash-out, but like I said, you can't really trust the forecast this time of year. Saturday morning was a little cloudy but the rain forecast just kept being pushed back farther and farther so it turned out to be a perfectly fine Giro Ride. Eventually, of course, the line of thunderstorms came through in the middle of the night with the rain ending right around 6:00 am when I would normally be heading out the door. Looking out the window, however, I could see that the streets were still soaking wet and full of puddles, and then looking at the radar I could see that in a few hours the sky would be clear and everything would be dry.

Spillway whitewater, and a dead fish

So Sunday morning I pulled the covers back over my head for an extra hour, made coffee, and finally rolled out the door around 9:30, by which time the streets were nearly dry and the sun was up and everything was wonderful ... except for the 12-20 mph northwest wind. I headed for the levee and rode upriver a few miles past the Spillway, turning around at 30 miles or so. The wind kept my speed, and motivation, in check most of the way, which was fine since Saturday's Giro had already provided a decent workout. The river has been rising again lately, and it is now high enough that a good amount of water seeps through the Spillway control structure. There are a few places along the Spillway road where the engineers have designed culverts with pipes underneath the road, which keeps the road nice and dry but still allows for quite a bit of water to flow through to the lake. The culverts are lined with big rocks, so it makes for some artificial whitewater. On the other side of the road there were a lot of people fishing. Anyway, it was a good solo ride, and like all long solo rides it took a fair amount more effort than an equivalent group ride, despite my attempt avoid over-doing it. 

Stopped for a long train

I was surprised Monday morning that I was still feeling Sunday's ride in my legs when I rode out to meet the Mellow Monday group. There were a lot of people who showed up for this one, and from the start I knew it was going to get fast. Which it did. There was still a significant north wind blowing and when Chris and Donald, who was on his TT bike, started pushing the pace things started falling apart. I eventually ended up in no-mans-land until I felt my rear tire going flat as I went through the Elysian Fields traffic circle, where I had to stop to fix it. I took the shortcut down Wisner and that got me back to the Museum of Art in time to meet back up with the survivors, anyway. Even with the flat, that ride was a bit harder than I really wanted under the circumstances.

Tuesday's ride had a small turnout and by the time we were past Williams Blvd. it was just Martin and I. It was chilly and a little windy, and we were taking long pulls on the front at a moderate 22-23 mph most of the time. I felt sorry for Martin who is big enough that I was probably providing a significant draft for nothing above his knees. That turned out to be a pretty good workout anyway since I was spending so much more time in the wind than usual. There was a train crossing Oak Street on my way back and for some reason there was a lot more traffic than usual on Oak Street and Carrollton, perhaps because the damned city has Broadway, Pine, and Lowerline closed off following a big water main break on Audubon that resulted in them putting a temporary above ground water pipe across about four blocks of city streets.

It was a little warmer for today's WeMoRi - a bit over 60°F - so a base layer and arm-warmers were more than sufficient. For some reason the ride had started off with a somewhat smaller group than usual, not that it made the pace any slower. In fact, it seemed quite fast and I was happy when we had to stop briefly for a couple of red lights.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Long Week

Last week started out as usual with a nice Mellow Monday ride, followed up the next day by a nice Tuesday levee ride and then a pretty fast WeMoRi on Wednesday. Thinks went downhill from there, though. 

Arriving home Wednesday morning I learned that my father had been taken to the hospital around 6 am with blood in his stool. I jumped into the shower and then headed over to Touro hospital to meet my sisters Patty and Ginger. 

By mid-day they had found and presumably fixed a duodenal bleed, so we all breathed a cautious sigh of relief. I went by the hospital briefly that evening for a quick visit where they were giving him a second bag of blood. By 1:30 the next morning the hospital called. He was in the ICU having difficulty breathing, feverish, and presumably septic. He'd just been in and out of the hospital a couple of weeks prior with a UTI that required a stint and a lot of antibiotics. The hospital advised us to come to the ICU because it was not looking good. They worked all night to support his falling blood pressure and administer antibiotics, and by early morning he seemed just a little bit better, but that was probably because of the norepinephrine and vasopressin. Soon, however, they resorted to straight epinephrine as well. Jay was on his way down from Jackson by then. An hour before he arrived around 1:30 pm it was becoming obvious that we were running out of options and that dad was in kidney/organ failure. Lactic acid was off the charts and prepared ourselves for the inevitable. He passed away around 2:30 pm that day at 95 years old with his four children at his side. We'll have a memorial service on May 13 so that most of the grandchildren and great grandchildren who are scattered across the country can attend. 

We spent a long time at Lake Lawn funeral home on Saturday morning making arrangements, but by afternoon the weather was nice enough that I went out to the levee for a somewhat windy ride out to Ormond and back. Sunday was a regular Giro Ride, still windy. There's a disturbance in the Gulf just south of us now and the weather is going to be sketchy for a while. 

On Monday the streets were wet and there was a mist falling, so I aired up the tires on the old Pennine and went for an easy ride on the levee. At least it was as easy as it can be on a full-fender bike in a 10 mph wind. Tuesday morning's levee ride was equally windy and with only three of us continuing beyond Williams Boulevard we decided to turn around at The Dip which cuts out eight miles. Nobody complained about that. I ended up having Candy drive me to work and back because the forecast was showing nothing but rain all day, which of course meant that it never actually rained. This morning I woke up to wet streets but, looking out the window it didn't look like it was actually raining. I kitted up and stepped out the door and immediately felt the heavy mist that was falling (and was showing up on radar). I briefly contemplated riding in it but ultimately decided it just wouldn't be worth it. Again, the forecast was predicting rain all day but I rode to work anyway and I don't think a drop has fallen yet as of 4 pm. More rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning, so odds are we will eventually get something.

In the meantime I got the event permit and BikeReg pages done for the Tour de La coming up on June 3-4, and people are beginning to register for the TT championship that will be on the 30th of the month. The Time Trial is pretty simple, so assuming we get a few volunteers and the weather is OK, that shouldn't be a problem. The Tour, however, is an entirely new thing this year. We'll be doing everything on the southshore, there will be a circuit race on Lakeshore Drive instead of the long road race, the TT will be on Lakeshore Drive immediately following the road race, and the criterium will be in Chalmette on Sunday. GC will be based on points rather than time, riders won't have to ride all three stages, etc. There are still some loose ends to tie up for both venues, and as usual there's no solid sponsorship in place. I'm just hoping we get a good turnout since there will be few valid excuses for the local riders this year!

Monday, April 03, 2023

Summer Again

Sunday Giro heading out along Lakeshore Drive

By the end of the week I was thankfully back to just jersey and shorts in the morning, which probably saved me ten minutes and got me to the rides a little earlier than usual. Tuesday was a little odd in that I skipped riding in the morning because things were a little wet and road in the afternoon instead. It was, at least, warm, but there was a strong north wind blowing which meant mostly crosswinds out on the levee. The wind kind of kept me a little more honest than I'd otherwise been since it required a certain minimum amount of power just to keep from falling over, and meant that what might have turned into an easy evening sightseeing ride was instead some kind of a moderate zone-2 thing. 

Wednesday was a little cooler, and although I did pull out the arm-warmers and base layer, I could have gotten by without them. The WeMoRi featured some of the same generally north wind as had the prior day, which resulted in the group being somewhat split up somewhere along lakeshore drive before I got there. There was still a decent enough sized group when I jumped into it, but I wondered for a while why there weren't more riders. When I jump into the group along Marconi I never know if it still includes everyone or if it is some kind of breakaway or if the group just shattered along the lake and that's all that's left of it. In this case, I think the latter was the case. Anyway, it was a good enough workout. Thursday we started with five or six and ended with two or three, which made for a harder ride than you might think if you looked only at the speed. 

The weekend for me was just two Giro Rides. With the wind now shifted around to the southwest, Saturday's Giro seemed fairly fast with the speed rarely dropping below 25 mph all the way out to Venetian Isles. I did a fair amount of work on that ride since the group wasn't quite as large as usual.

Sunday was noticeably easier than Saturday had been, but probably just because the wind had finally died down a bit. The group was smaller than usual, but there were still enough people at the front looking for a workout that it was still pretty fast. I made a couple of big efforts along the way, particularly at the turnaround and between the bridges on the way back. In both cases I was basically closing, or trying to close, big gaps that I was on the wrong side of. I was feeling pretty decent on the way back along Hayne Blvd., and went up the first overpass fairly easily, but as we came over the top someone ahead of me let a gap open as the speed suddenly ramped up to 36+ mph. I put in a hard effort but was losing ground until Brandon came by and I jumped onto his wheel. He pulled me up to about 50 meters from the front group before pulling off, and although I may have closed it a little bit more I never really got close enough to catch the draft. I still made an effort over the bridge, rolling past a few riders who had blown up before the top. It was a good ride, but I found myself all weekend wishing I'd been racing instead.