Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Break Update

Click on Cheryl's blog wolfmoonserenade to see what we've been upto. Great photos and great narrative including an eventful 36 hours dealing with a skunk close encounter.
Also, started my off season training this week after quite a while off the bike. Finaly feeling motivated again!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Wanna Ride 'Cross!!!

Check out his short film of cyclocross racing. Man, that looks fun!

Gran Prix of Gloucester - A Cyclocross Film from Benjamin Eckstein on Vimeo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Season: Excuses, Excuses!

My season is way over! I came out strong with a really good off season program that lifted my fitness, reached a goal of completing a century, but otherwise it has been a frustrating and disappointing season for me.. This may sound petty and it may indeed be, but I can't help being competitive. It's in my blood and how I was raised. The good news is I still had fun riding and competing here and there and every year I ride at a decent fitness level is another year with miles in the legs, lungs and heart which I can build on for next year. I just wish I had not gotten injured (plantar fasciitis on July 4th and still plagues me today) and had a more favorable work schedule to ride and compete more. The KHS train keeps adding more freight to the work load and rec time is being squeezed severely. My last opportunity to race at the Great Osprey Challenge was canceled, which is OK, since I've only trained six times in the last three weeks. It would have been ugly.
I didn't get to do any mass start races (well, I did one training criterium with Wheels way back in April) and not any mtb races either. Grad school in the summer is good for the career, but not so good for the bike racer. In the Maine Time Trial Series I finished 11 out of 56 riders in my age group (see below). That may sound good, and it is for me, but it could have gone better. The injury compounded by mechanical/tech issue during one race, extreme race day fatigue due to late nights in dorms followed by 5am wake-ups for race day travel and other assorted boarding school obligations that piled on at two other races. Also, a screw-up on a start time (I was WAY early) that had me over cooked for the race as I decided to get a good pre-race warm-up whereupon I got ridiculously lost and rode too far and too hard before the race. I rolled up to the start seconds before being a DNS and rode best I could considering I had no time to refuel with a carb drink per usual. I bonked about 12 miles into a 15 mile TT. I limped to the finish without any gas left. I chalked up the day to a good century preparation ride. Aside from a cervelo P4 TT bike appearing under the Christmas tree (hell, I'd be happy for any level TT bike!) I don't think I'll be able to sneak up much more than top ten in my age group considering the dudes that are ahead of me are cycling freak shows with $5,000 TT bikes to boot. So, If can break the top ten in my age group next year and hopefully top 25 overall, I'd be pretty happy. The goal this off season is to keep my weight manageable, continue working on the power and pile up some more miles this winter on the trainer, on the snowshoes and on the XC skiis. I know I'll be rearing to go next spring!
I'll aim for the stars to eventually land on the moon. All told, I can live with that.
Peak Performance Maine Time Trial Series - 2009 Final Standings
Men 35-44
1. Fred Thomas
2. Seth Brooker
3. John Meerse
4. Mike Golay
5. Jim Barry
6. Bruce Diehl
7. Steve Connor
8. Andy Haskell
9. Timothy Bryce
10. Bob Turner
11. Matt Moore
12. Joseph Ewings
13. Mike Spangenberg
14. Greg Goodhue
15. Thomas Connor
16. Matthew Sudduth
17. Paul Coluccio
18. Sven Lohse
19. James Karcanes
20. Patrick Ruane
21. William O'Brien
22. Norman Morgan
23. Guillermo Herrera
24. Mark Spottiswood
25. Scott Marr
26. Lucas Hubbard
27. Keith Loiselle
28. Robert Hetzer
29. John Caswell
30. John Kachmar
31. Armand Pantalone
32. Jason Callari
33. Jeff Yingling
34. Ron Colavolpe
35. Matt Fowler
36. Alvin Bugbee
37. Derek Hilton
38. John Tipping
39. Mark Burns
40. Paul Demerchant
41. Richard Brown
42. James Johnson
43. Peter Leavitt
44. Rick Durgin
45. Rick Scott
46. Jim Dunn
47. Bill James
48. Tom Murray
49. Richard Long
50. Ed Maillet
51. Tom Scontras
52. Chris Kein
53. David Richard
54. Troy Goss
55. Thomas LesBosquet
56. Paul Weiss

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dempsey Challenge Century, 10/4/09

I rode my first century on Oct. 4 at the Dempsey challenge in Lewiston/Auburn a couple of weeks ago. Since becoming serious with riding the last few years I have always wanted to complete one of these. I have mapped out a couple of routes over the last two years to complete on my own, including a ride to Bethel, Maine and back which would be a good ride to do perhaps next year.

I was psyched to see the Dempsey Challenge come around as it would be a fun event and for a good cause, The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Treatment. In short order I raised about $460 from Kents Hill School and was proud to represent the school for this charity ride. Thanks to KHS for its support of the charity and to me to ride it and to Cheryl for the support and encouragement to make it happen. This day meant a lot to me.
Cheryl and I woke early Sunday and headed out to the event which turned out to be a decent day with temps in the high 50's and partly sunny. this was after three straight days of heavy rain and it cleared early enough for me to keep the rain gear at home. We arrived to quick a spectacle! A few thousand people ready to ride various distances and even a 5K running race. There were vendors, performers, spectators, news crews and of course TV and Movie Star Patrick Dempsey himself decked out in a Specialized kit ready to ride the 50 mile route. Dempsey seemed really at ease and very happy at the turn-out and true to his native Mainer roots, was down to earth and very approachable, signing autographs and chatting with folks. There were plenty of young women and girls squealing away at his every word and Cheryl got a few pics of him as we were just a few yards from him. At one point Dempsey walked right past Cheryl and she said "Thanks for doing this for Maine" too which Dempsey replied with a smile, " You bet!" After a brief swoon, Cheryl composed herself and took some pictures at my request of the stars I was interested in: Elite Pro Cyclists George Hincapie, Ted King
and David Zabriski. It was way cool for me too see these real deal euro tour pros. They looked much like elite cyclist anywhere, just more polished and very lean, though not gaunt or sickly looking like some pros.
after some standing around we were off on the 101.8 mile ride and I soon found a good tempo and settled into a long day on the saddle. I only was off my bike for just a few minutes to take a bathroom break, other than that I was riding for 6hours and 20 minutes over 108 miles. that's right I added SIX miles to the ride due to a missed turn where upon I found myself in no mans land, alone and wondering where everyone was. i motorist informed me I missed a turn after ridden a few miles to another intersection. Thanks to the good Samaritan, I didn't get way of course. Every turn but this one was properly marked and had course marshals to alert rides of the turns. This particular turn was at the bottom of a steep hill, which I bombed down at about 55 mph (seriously. I sometimes top out at 60mph on steep descents. 210 lbs going down hill helps) and flew right past the turn which was in the middle of a personnel change and for just a minute no one was there to show the way. That was the only glitch on an otherwise great day of riding. I covered 100 miles in 6 hours flat, which was my goal, averaging just over 18 mph for the ride. It was VERY hilly with about 6500 feet of climbing. I may go very fast down hills, but up them is another matter.
After a recover week of easy spinning i was supposed to crank up the training again to prepare for my last event of the Year, the Great Osprey Challenge at Wolf Neck Farm in Freeport, Nov. 1, but school work piled a bunch of obligations on me and riding time has been very slim. Two weeks to go, so I'll see what I can get in and just try to hang on and have fun and not get lapped by fellow KHS rider Todd Wheelden.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

West Branch Penobscott River Fishing Trip

Narration coming soon. Time to watch the Pats beat Denver!
So, the pats lost! ugh!
Dave Pearson, Eric
Turner, his friend Taft and Eric hunt and I headed up country last June after end of the year meetings were done for a few days of well deserved down time and fishing in a world class land locked fishery near Baxter State Park. We loaded up on provisions and made the 3 1/2 hour trip north mid0day Monday morning and were fishing the "Big Eddy" by sunset. People come from all over the country and even beyond to fish this river and its eddy in June to time up with the caddis fly hatch. It did not disappoint this year. As you all know June was a very wet one with weeks straight of rain, but we lucked out and got four days of sunny skies and warm temps, which was the last good weather until August came around. Eric and Taft came for the superb whitewater kayaking and the rest for the fish. Eric Hunt and Dave concentrated on the big eddy as that is where large fish are caught. The down side is that you can be elbow to elbow with other fishermen and the the open water is crammed with boats. In an area of a few acres of water there can be 25 people and 12 or more boats out competing for prime spots and casting space. Catching fish is important to me, but the experience is even more to me. I went on my own and bushed whacked up river to get some breathing room and enjoy some beauty and solitude. I spent the next few days fishing the more remote pools and catching a couple decent salmon and even a couple of brook trout.
The highlight of the trip for me was hiking to a back country pond, borrowing a small row boat a local had left (I was careful/respectful with it and used a log to pole myself around the shallows of the pond) and enjoyed a few hours of being the only person on this 100 acre beautiful pond. I was fishing with my old friend Guy Wheelock's fly rod, which he left to me after he passed away the previous fall. It is a custom made rod with his name on it and I tried to take a picture of it with me. so he could enjoy one last , sunny day on the water fishing. This proved to be a bit emotional for me as I fished with his fly rod while looking out on a mountain I know he knew so well. This was Guy country and he spent many years fishing these waters and exploring the waters below Ripogenous dam as a young man. Thanks for the memory, Guy!
Anyway, I hiked back from the pond, got hungry, caught a small brookie, contemplated eating it raw like a sardine, but put it back to catch another year. All told it was another great Maine experience and I can't wait to get back again next June!

Back From the Dead

Hello friends and family! It's been a long time since my last post and a lot has gone on. Losts of grad school work, a little fishing early in the summer, now lots of KH school work and football coaching, a lot of rain and even a little bike riding here and there. I am trying to get back to at least one post per week this school year, as it seems doable and frankly, good for me to do something besides grade tests and lab reports and blow the coaching whistle (I don't even want to mention football again. Yes, it's that bad). A couple of catch-up posts regarding an awesome fishing trip I took, a summer riding recap, a couple race reports and that should get me back up to speed. Thanks for reading and feel free to forward the blog to others who may be interested (old friends or other bike freaks).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life Is Rich Yet Too Busy

No riding for several days. Actually my last exercise was 3 hours of pushing a lawn mower around our place up near the woods at the back of KH. Seems we are last on the list for mowing, so last Sunday I mowed about two acres of WILD lawn. It was high! Being a freak, I checked my heart rate often and I was working hard enough to keep it fairly aerobic. I was actually sore the following day. Achy knees and sore tendons/stiff muscles! I chalked it up to an afternoon of effective cross training. Since then it has been end of the year faculty meetings, social events (pretty much mandatory. They serve us beer and wine, so I'm cool with that.) and year end paper work/ grade reports and closing up the classroom. This spring has been the busiest yet in my nine years at KH and I guess there is little I can do to change it. I'll try to ride a few times the rest of this week to buffer the loss of fitness before I go on a much needed fishing trip up north with a few colleagues. Actually I'll climb Mt/ Katahdin while I'm up that way, so that will be a good workout, then I'll come back and just let 'er rip for the rest of the summer. When I start Grad School again this summer, I will actually be riding a lot because I'll be commuting to UNH from Stratham both ways most days. Last year this was great for my fitness, as I lugged about 20-25lbs of gear in a back pack and I rode like a mad man to limit my time on the very busy roads of southern NH. I also look forward to training for the Stratham Fair road race and the Yankee Homecoming race I'll run with my sister, Heather again this year. So, in the meantime, I enjoy the moment and relish the extra time with Cheryl, Murphy and Huck afforded me now that school's out. I'll sneak rides in when I can.