Monday, September 27, 2010

Hub on Wheels, TD Bank Mayor's Cup and a new sponsor

Last summer and fall in Boston were particularly rainy seasons, unusual in both frequency and volume of rain. I remember it well because starting with the day we moved in to our first apartment here, it seemed to rain in Boston on every day we did anything significant. We move in; it rains. We explore town; it rains. My first triathlon and road races in Boston? Yep, it rains.

Last year, on this same weekend I did my first tri out here, and it was pouring at 7 AM, and was still raining at 8 as the cyclists road by on Storrow Drive. I remember taking Rachelle to work before I drove out to Nantasket Beach for the Fantastic Nantasket Sprint Triathlon, and watching the rain slowly dissipate into a sprinkle just as I arrived. The rain picked up again later in the evening and I woke from my nap to the sound of rain on the window. We then journeyed down to watch the professional cyclists ride in the first race I'd ever seen in person.

Flash forward a year to yesterday, and you get a much different picture. A bright sunny morning greeted the riders of Hub on Wheels yesterday as we milled around the "Boloco Block Party" prior to the start of the ride. Wheelworks was supplying race support, and I had a mechanic give my bike a once over as I talked to Gary, our team liaison, about racing and the clubs upcoming "Tri Night". Several of our team members arranged to meet up and start the race together, and before I knew it we were in the starting chute ready to leave.

Riding bikes is almost always more fun to do with someone else than it is to do it alone. Having several teammates around to start the ride made it all the more enjoyable as we took off from downtown and up along the river on Storrow. The reason I say "to start the ride" is apparently, they're all a LOT faster than I am, at least over longer distances. We started riding at about 19 MPH and my poor legs were able to keep that pace up for just about 5 miles before I started getting dropped. Clearly, I haven't been riding enough since Timberman, because I should have been able to hang with them at least until we got off Storrow. 

Once I got dropped, my plans changed. I had been waffling a bit about doing the 50 mile ride anyways, but feeling that my legs didn't have it to stick with the gang for the long ride, I decided I'd do the 30 mile middle distance ride. And because I was now not beholden to keeping with a group, I could stop at the apartment to get my cell phone, which I had forgotten at home. Being that the apartment is basically right off Storrow, I simply took the exit I normally take when I'm driving home from work, grabbed my phone, and got back on by riding back up the off ramp. Convenient, eh?

The couple minute break to grab my phone seemed to give my legs the time they needed to adjust to a harder day in the saddle, and by the time I had finished with Storrow, I knew I was going to be able to finish the 30 mile ride. I started feeling stronger as I got through the first 15 miles, only to encounter hills as we made our way to, and through, a cemetery. If ever there was a metaphor for feeling "dead" after a climb, this was it.

Thankfully the well apportioned rest areas made recovery quick and easy. Generally the ride was uneventful, other than a near miss by a "handicapped" driver in a high-end SUV who in no way was paying attention to what was going on around her. The only handicap I could see was potentially blindness as she almost hit me pulling out of her driveway. And I'm not an easy target to miss.

I've been most of the places the 30 mile route took me, but some of them I haven't been to in a while, and it was nice to see areas like Pleasure Bay and the harbor walk on a sunny day day in early fall. There were sections I wish I'd made more effort to pay attention to, but I was focused on being safe and really just getting a good ride in. Some of the areas that I hadn't ridden before, like Dorchester, I probably wouldn't ride again due to the condition of some of the roads.

When I got back, I changed, had a burrito and a well earned beer, and waited for Rach to finish working. She got down to government center just as the women's race was starting. After a quick bite and the beer I lured her out of the warm house with, we watched most of the women's criterium. With Rach joining the BU Cycling Club for the year, she'll likely be riding in at least 1 criterium sometime this spring, and I wanted her to get a glimpse of what she'd be doing. It's a fun kind of race to watch, as the riders hustle for the line in order to pick up lap-ending cash prizes.

Here's where I get to today's big news. I've been looking for sponsorships for next years racing season as many of my sponsorships for this season are ending shortly. I've got some folks already lined up for next year due to existing deals, and I've had some renewals as well. I'm also really excited to announce that Mountain Khakis has come on as a sponsor for the 2011 season. What I didn't know when I signed on with them is that one of their racers, Adam Myerson, is from right here in Boston. He, along with 4 of his teammates competed in the Men's race yesterday, and did pretty well. I was able to get a picture with Adam and his teammate Eric Shildge prior to the men's race.

Quiz: Which one is NOT a professional cyclist?
That's Adam on the right and Eric on the left. Both of the guys were super nice, and it turns out Eric and Rach have a mutual friend-of-a-friend. As part of the sponsorship, Mountain Khakis was kind enough to let me pick out a few products, gratis, from there web store, and send them to me. They arrived this week, and being the giant dork I am, they're the clothes I changed into after the hub ride. What's funny is that I honestly had no idea that Team Mountain Khakis was participating in the race, as they did not attend last years event. Another lucky "Forrest Gump moment", as Chuck would say. Team MK wound up having a pretty good race, and four of the 5 guys from the team, including both Adam and Eric, placed in the money. I don't know if they won any of the mid-race primes, but I wouldn't be surprised. 

In all, it was a really nice weekend.


- The stuff Mountain Khakis sent me was the first product I've received absolutely free since I started getting sponsorships, so I guess I'm slowly moving up in the world of sponsored amateur athletes. I guess that means effort and a good attitude, and not just results, pay. Now it's time to start putting results in there too. 

- I'm always easily inspired, so imagine how inspired I was after a day of riding and racing! I'm chomping at the bit for this weekends Club Nationals, and I can't wait to get some more training in before the race. 

- A lone member of the Trek-Livestrong U23 team owned by Lance Armstrong participated in yesterdays race. Without a team to help him, he was still able to finish second, and bring home some decent money for 90 minutes work. It just shows that there are lots of different levels of talent in cycling, and the truly elite can stand out even without a team behind them.

- I got in a pretty solid run on Saturday. I really think I have a chance at a PR for the sprint distance, even if I can't hang a 20 MPH average on the bike portion.

- I'll finish today's post with a couple more pictures from yesterday:

Gary Wood and friend getting a better vantage point for the race

Team Mountain Khakis rider David Gutterplan warming up

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