Why I Ride

Ryan Newill wrote this wonder piece for Velo News titled “Suffer No More“. Go read it.

Is it truly “suffering” to be on a bike ever? I agree; even though I spent hours and days on a bike “training,” at no time was I truly “suffering” like those who have no food to eat, or who are being oppressed by their governments in slave camps, or locked away for committing no crime. And given that I’m now getting to the bottom of the climb where I’ll start to regain just basic function of my right leg, I’ll be forever grateful that I can get on a bike and I can go the places it takes me and I can spend time with my friends and I can coffeeneur. All that “suffering” is really just training, or just making the fun easier.

So the rest of this is a Picture essay on “Why I Ride”
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Injury Annoucement

So this evening watching the local news, there was a report about a local college football player missing an entire season of football, and was inspired to do the same:


Rookie racer Peter DeNitto was looking to improve on a learning 2015 season when he was out for a training ride and crashed into a truck and broke his pelvis. After surgery performed at Inova Fairfax Hospital by Dr. Steven Malekzedeh, Pete will unfortunately miss the entire 2016 MABRA Road Race season. Dr. Malezedeh put Pete’s return to racing not until the 2017 season. “6 weeks until he’s able to bear weight on his right leg, 6 months until I expect him to be able to get back on a bike, and probably not until October of 2016 will he be able to be back to racing form,” the Dr was paraphrased as saying.

Dr. Malekzedeh repared DeNitto’s acetabular joint in his pelvis, requiring 4 hours of surgery and a week-long hospital stay. DeNitto crashed hard on his right side while trying to avoid running into a moving truck while out on a training ride. DeNitto was preparing to ride the Amish Country Century in Dover, DE, and then the Seagull Century with his wife, who was preparing for her first century ride herself.

“I promise to do everything the Doctor and therapists tell me to, in an effort to get back on the bike and resume normal life,” DeNitto said. “I hope that things go better than expected and I might be able to race the last few races of the 2016 season, but if I have to make the 2017 Richmond International Raceway race to be my next race, then that will be what happens.”


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I don’t think my in-home physical therapist has ever had a cycling patient before. 3 days a week for 30-45 minutes, she arrives and puts me through a series of exercises. Every time we add one to the circuit.

At first it was an ankle flex exercise:

Next is a Quad flex (aka: try to put your knee through your bed):
quad sets

And a Glut squeeze. All sitting up in bed.

Next is a leg lift with a pillow under my knee:

And last but worst (at the time), is an abductor/adductor exercises. I couldn’t do this at all without her assistance lifting my leg.

Then each time it was an added exercise.

First was to keep my foot on the mattress, and then flex my knee and slide my ankle towards my butt. Normally this wouldn’t be bad, but because of the pin they put into my leg for traction, any Quad exercise is pain and limited motion. Next was adding the abductor/adductor swing while standing up with the walker. Then taking my foot and sliding it back behind me, as if I were ice skating. Then a leg lift getting my knee to a 90 degree angle — again difficult because of the pin in the leg.

Today’s add was, while sitting in my chair, keep my foot flat on the floor and flex my knee to a > 90 degree angle. Man the pain because of that pin. Everything else is fine, but that pin.

But she was impressed with how I was able to keep going just that extra bit, and I told her that pretty much she would have difficulty finding a sport whose athletes pride in being able to suffer and cause themselves pain, so going that just a little bit more is normal for me.

In a race with no tactical advantage, the cyclist who has the ability to endure the most pain for the longest usually wins. So being able to endure more and more pain is a competitive advantage, so hopefully this will be in my advantage for recovery.

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The Big Crash

Going to write this up here so I can stop repeating it so many times.

I crashed…. Hard. I almost got run over by a truck and had my melon popped. This didn’t happen, but it was not a crash I was able to walk away from with just road rash. I couldn’t even walk afterwards.

So it was Friday the 4th, but really it starts on Thursday the 3rd.

I had an operational maintenance that night, starting at 11pm. The remote hands were slower than any I’ve ever worked with, and happened to cause a secondary issue that I had to spend more time fixing than the actual maintenance. I finally completed maintenance at 6:30am — 7 1/2 hours later, which was about the time the rest of my team was just getting started in Ottawa.

My team lead told me to take the day off, not that I was going to ask — I was fully 24 hours awake and I’d do no good thinking without some rest.

I rolled into bed around 7:15am, and slept until about noon. Had lunch with my wife and daughter, and was going to go roll out and do a double Arlington Loop, just so I could get some more mileage in my new saddle before the Amish Country Bike Ride on the 12th of September.

I put on my team kit since I was going out during the day and might see a lot of people and wanted to represent the team. I grabbed a full two water bottles, put 3 gels in my back pocket and set out.

I made my normal route out going towards the W&OD Trail — a route that I’ve ridden probably 500 times. I turned onto Graham Rd, then onto Terry Lane, then left onto Wallace Drive.

I’m on Wallace Drive for less than 750 feet. There’s a slight climb up from Terry Lane, then a small decent into the turn from Wallace onto Jefferson Ave. At the top of the hill, it’s possible to start lining up the right hand turn, and pretty much until the last 75 feet, you can see the entirety of the turn, except that there’s a tree not in the apex, but further down the turn.

So, I look down the street – no one’s coming. There’s a car parked after the driveway, but that won’t be an issue. The Pho powered SRX is where it normally is. Nothing else looked out of the ordinary — I did not see any moving vehicles. Pretty much I’m 30 feet from the intersection.

As line up the turn I pick my line and then realize that will put me into a but of a pothole in the road, so I adjust, and then look up.

And I see what so far has been one of the biggest surprises in my life — A big huge pick up truck is now there in the road.
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2015 Jefferson Cup

Race #3 on the calendar this year is the longest running race on the MABRA Calendar – The 2015 Jefferson Cup.

The Jefferson Cup is a road race held on a 9.8 mile loop just south of Charlottesville Virginia — the home of Monticello and Thomas Jefferson.  And a Jefferson Cup is a pewter cup style that Thomas Jefferson designed and had created in 1810.  Generally in this part of Virginia, they’re given to commemorate events (graduations, births, awards, etc).



The drawback is that I was going to have to drive to Charlottesville — almost 3 hours away, but at least my race was at 12:30pm, so I didn’t have to wake up at 4am like I did for Richmond.  My aunt was in town having just flown in from Grand Cayman, but this time, I had a list to check off of what I wanted to bring, and in which bag I had placed it.  To make things worse, we were going to have a nice wonderful beginning of Spring cold snap on the day of the race.  It was going to be below freezing here in Northern Virginia, and figuring Charlottesville was at the foothills of the mountains, it could be cold on race day.

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Black Hill Circuit Race p/bTeam Bike Doctor

In the week after my first race, there was a scramble of race registrations to make, but I had already registered for Black Hills, and because we raced in Richmond, I missed out on the route recon.  It was probably best that I didn’t; the primary feature of the race is indeed a long nasty climb with the finish line up the top quarter of the hill — 7% climb with a couple of 10%  bits.


So I signed up for two races; the Cat5 only field, and the combined Cat4/5 race, figuring the quickest way to get out of Cat5 was to double up as often as possible — pretty much the goal of the team as well.

Lets just say I thought I could do decent on the hill, I just hadn’t factored in race speed.

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RIR Criterium p/b Richmond Velo Sport

Because of the amazing winter we’ve had, the Tidewater Classic was postponed to a date that I could not attend.   So instead, my first race would be the Richmond International Raceway Criterium put on by Richmond Velo Sport.  The Flyer for the event has the Cat 5 mens race at 8:30am for some respect.



The Saturday before the race we did an indoor trainer team-spin.  I rode hard for the first half-hour, and just put in a Z2 effort after the middle sprints.  I’m unsure how much pre-day effort I need to put in, so this was a bit of a benchmark.  I talked some with Sean and Clay and Thom about what to expect, goals, etc… Basically my goals:

  1. Don’t Crash.
  2. Don’t Crash.
  3. Really, Don’t Crash.
  4. Finish in the pack.

Though Thom did say “Lots of people are going to give you advice, even me, and you should ignore all of it.”

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Bike Racing

I guess in the natural progression of the MAMIL is that you eventually think you’re good enough to start racing.  Well I’ve watched the pros, and I’ve even spent time on shop rides with sometimes racers, and I realize I’m not all that great, but I want to see what this body I’ve earned can do.

But first I needed to figure out what it was that I wanted out of bike racing.  I think this is the philosophical question one whom is not so keyed by competition as I am.  For some, their competitive nature would have led them to racing and competing a long time ago.  For me, I had a bit of that competitive juice squeezed out of me in High School.  I learned that I could get over obsessed by winning, and when I finally stepped back and looked at myself, I didn’t like what I saw.  I was always someone who was there to support the team, be quick to be a good sportsman, and took more joy out of playing the game than the outcome.  But somewhere in high school, that flipped, and I stopped being a good sportsman, and got furious at not winning, or not making the team, or would look to cheat to win, so I stopped playing.  I kept being a good team supporter, and took joy in that.  I eventually settled on games/sports where you competed against yourself and competition against others was tangential; Bowling, Golf, Computer Games (not First Person Shooters, or anything that involved Player-Versus-Player).

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Coffeeneuring 2014

With all the traveling that I’ve had to do in the last couple months, I was pleased to be able to complete the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge.  Now, Mary’s rules require that each coffeeneur ride be

You have to go to different locales, although you may ride to multiple locations of a chain, if necessary.

For an extra challenge, and forcing me to learn new places of caffeine purveyance, I added my own addendum to this rule:

You have to go to 7 different locales That you have never coffeeneured to before, although you may ride to multiple locations of a chain, that chain must not be traded on a stock market.

As much as I visit Starbucks (i.e. Best Buns in Shirlington, or inside the Target in Merrifield), I was forcing myself to make it a bigger challenge.

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Skyline Double – Northbound – Part 2

_DSC731850 miles to go.  Now, I have ridden down to Mount Vernon and back in 3 hours, but that was fairly un-hilly and un-trafficked.   Sunset was around 6:30, so I would really have to rush to get to Front Royal and Spelunkers before Sunset.  I knew that I was near the top of Skyline Drive, and that the majority of the route was downhill from here, but as I looked up from Spitler Knoll Overlook, it was uphill.

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