Will it Fit

“Will it fit”, Renate asked?


The boot of the Fiat 500 is quite small and is perfect size for lunch, a raincoat and a briefcase or a small grocery run. That is about it.


“No Problem”, I replied.


Create necessary space buy folding back seats forward and then the same for the passenger seat.


Cover the leather and possible contact points to safeguard against soil and abrasion. I used a furniture pad.


Easy to insert with rear wheel intact.

In the early eighties I drove an acid yellow ‘72 super beetle that I loved dearly. I could be seen pulling my ’83 Ciocc Mockba 80 out of the backseat in preparation for the weekly club time trial.  When I returned to cycling in 2009, I was transporting that same Ciocc and later my Mooney in the boot of my 2008 Audi TT. I know how to fit a bike into tight places.

To my delight, I was able to fit the Mooney into the Fiat with the rear wheel intact. No hitch to be installed, No rack required. Perfect.


Front wheel is secure.


Plenty of space for my Rapha soigneur bag containing my cycling gear and post ride change.

Yesterday is the first day on the bike in 2016. The routine was a bit rust
y, finding this, collecting that, was a clumsy exercise in preparation. I took the bike trail from Galbraith Rd to the golf course. The ride is a false flat descending to Newton, Ohio. The wind on my face welcomed me to the ride, my legs quickly found their cadence and the bike performed flawlessly. The green canopy was a most appreciated barrier to the sun and the gradient was perfect for the first ride of the season.

I concentrated on cadence and form rather than power and pace. It was easy to find the gap in the stroke as the absence of feeling the power transfer from foot to pedal indicates the kinetic chain is broken. The back, when rounded, puts unnecessary stress on the disks. Extending the back slightly, and then arching the head and neck by imagining that a string is connected to the forehead and is pulling the head forward, provides a more relaxed and comfortable riding position. This also improves power transfer by providing a strong, solid platform for the hips to leverage the strength of the legs against. Scrunching the shoulders causes tension and expends unnecessary energy. Relaxing the shoulders and pulling them down away from the ears provides a relaxed form. The hands should be resting on the handlebars or hoods with elbows bent, prepared to absorb the shock from the road. Change hand positions often. Finally, keeping the cadence high minimizes the stress on the joints as the body becomes accustomed to work again. Addressing these failures in form early in base training guard’s against injury and accelerates improvement. It is a lot to focus on at once and honestly I cannot. I cycle through them like a recurring checklist.

After the ride, I made haste to satisfy my thirst and hunger. It has been a long time since I was able to down a burger, soda and fries without the subsequent lead belly and regret that follows. As Peter Mooney reminds, “Ride to eat, Eat to ride”

Ride On


Finding Inspiration

I received a reminder to renew my Training Peaks membership last night. With little deliberation I paid my $119 for the right to develop training plans, record my results and analyze performance.

There is just one small problem. I have not ridden my bicycle since last summer. I have not ridden in earnest since 2014. My fitness, as entered into Training Peaks, is weak and my force of will is tepid at best. Inspirational start, well no. To make matters worse, I fear that I am spending money based on my hope to ride, my intentions if you will.

I cannot help but be inspired by the ridiculous climbs and high speed descents while nestled comfortably in my sofa watching the Tour. At points last week I even felt the thrill of descending while the breaks and peloton rode serpentine along the fall lines. Seeing Froome decidedly drop the lead group and pedal “like a man possessed” in that crazy top tube position was like honey for the soul.

I have no delusions of grandeur.

It is time to get on the bike and ride.

Zero to Five Hundred


It has been seventy days since I last turned a crank while gliding over tarmac. No wind in the hair or sun on my face. A few gym work outs and fantastic intentions to ride my trainer have resulted in exactly two indoor rides for a total of forty five minutes. My legs are thin and my abdomen resembles that of ol’ Kris Kringle himself. And so, delusions of grandeur I have none, and failure is imminent.

Is forty miles each day for eight days straight really so difficult?

The mind can be fooled to believe that anything is possible…

Before The Five Hundred begins.


Mad at You

“I was mad at you”, she paused.

“I know”, I interrupted.

“When you returned to work in less than one week after the accident it really made me mad”, she said with conviction and then continued, “Most people would have stayed home for three weeks without a having a second thought”. “Yes, I know”, then explained, “but I had business associates from Germany in Miami for a meeting, besides working in a large organization is like bicycle racing. Everyone works more or less together towards a common goal, like in the peloton. Yet within the race, there are races between teams and then between individuals, even if, they are on the same team. Give someone an opportunity to take your place… and they will.”

No one is taking my place.

I mean, did you see Contador get back on his bike with a broken tibia at the Tdf? He retired the Tour and then came back seven weeks later to win the Vuelta. How? Well that is still a mystery to me, but do you think Cavendish, Martin or Phinney took their injuries lying down? Cavendish will return to racing in 2015 a more mature person. Tony Martin came back in 2014 from having his face crushed by a motorist on a training ride. Yeah, he nailed a solo victory in stage 9 of the Tour. Taylor Phinney is still courageously working the miles back into his left leg after having been hit a pace motorbike during the nationals.

These guys are not most people and neither am I. Get up, dust off and get back into the fight.

When I heard the news about Taylor I was sullen. Upon receiving my Rouleur issue 49 with the cover illustrating Taylor lying in pain on the Tarmac I am not ashamed to say that I became a little misty.I stared at the cover, feeling sympathy for the young American professional. This sudden twist of fate laid waste to all those years of hard training, discipline, and hope. He speaks optimistically about next year’s comeback, but I fear his road to recovery will be longer than he hopes. Godspeed Taylor.

So I am back to my profession pushing boulders up the mountain but my thoughts still wander to the ride. A week after I accomplished some minor bicycle repairs, I am no longer poisoning my body with Oxycodone. So with great care I mount the Mooney positioned on the indoor trainer. There is a fan whirring in front of me and an hour’s worth of music on the playlist. As I begin to spin, my heart is full and my mind is focused on completing a sixty minute ride.

Within Twenty short minutes, I am too anxious to continue and so retire to the pool where I perform fluid movements from side to side in an attempt at rehabilitation. Soon, I am lying in bed exhausted with no real fight left, staring at the ceiling, wishing none of this had ever happened and her words washing over my head…

“Mad at you”.

Repair the Man

A melancholy melody embellished by the baritone voice of Sean Rowe travels into my brain through headphones while I disassemble the Mooney’s rear derailleur. His voice is a bit haunting and his lyrics inspire reflection. This peaceful moment of music induced meditation is interrupted by the constant recollection of aerial flight into the windshield and rearview mirror of the Chevy pickup that drove through my rear wheel without braking and without remorse. Trucks don’t feel.

I landed face down in the tarmac unable to lift myself. My breathing was labored and shallow. “Ribs”, I thought. I bellowed in pain like a harpooned walrus. It seemed to help. I tried to lift myself but the pain from the broken clavicle was enough for me to surrender to the generosity of a stranger as he thankfully redirected traffic until the arrival of the ambulance.

Three weeks into recovery I am compelled to ride. The Oxycodone makes me anxious, my mind lacks focus and thoughts of over 6 months of base building followed by 2 months of power building in the mountains of Georgia weaning away, weigh heavy on my mind. Idle time furrows the mind preparing for planting the seeds of despair. I feel broken.

The violence of the impact is evident in the dents and shape of the rear wheel. My rear wheel had been ripped from the drop outs and the chain was mysteriously pulled through the derailleur cage.  After a brief inspection it appears that the rear derailleur may be designed to allow this to occur. I made a couple attempts to open the cage wide enough to put the chain in the proper position. I needed to disassemble the cage. This led to cleaning then repacking the bearings, reassembly and adjustment.

While performing the repairs I became too tired to ride but my thoughts turned to riding and my mood improved. I lay back in bed satisfied for the moment with having accomplished a simple task. The Mooney is on the indoor trainer prepared for the ride.

It occurred to me as I wandered off into drug induced bliss, that when you repair the bike, you repair the man.

Shut Up Hour

Today, I am inspired by the mere attempt at the hour record by 43 year old Jens Voigt. History, of course, points to the record breaking attempts of Boardman and Obree on similar bikes prior to UCI acceptance. Yet, I am still impressed.

“I knew it was the last time in my life that I had to push like this. Because it was the last time, it was easy to turn myself inside out”, Say the Jens.

51.115 km

31.875 miles

400 plus Watts

Just Amazing!


I can’t wait to get on my bike and reroute my commute to Key Biscayne and do an hour of Big Gear training.


Two Italians

“You look good”, said one of two riders whose wheels I caught while riding solo, south towards Bayside Marina.  We were stopped at the intersection of SW 168th St and Old Cutler Rd when I exclaimed, “Well, this is the very first time I have seen two riders in Miami wearing Rapha”!

“And now there are three”, the older of the two quipped. Both gentlemen were dressed in Rapha’s Super Lightweight Jersey , white with a grey arm band, Rapha’s Pro Bibs and tall black Pro Team Socks. It was a sharp look made better in duplicate.

We spoke briefly, sharing our mutual admiration for Rapha kit. When I finished with, “I like the lack of egregious logos” the older rider concluded, “We are Italian, we know about logos”, then rolled on.  While riding second wheel, I noticed their Bianchi frames had been painted over in matte black providing the underlying logos a discrete, monochromatic appearance.

We cranked it up to 22 MPH and held it solid all the way to Black Point where we were engulfed by the All4cycling group ride. Separated by the confusion, the Italian gentlemen turned off while I continued to Bayside carrying with me, some regret for not stopping to introduce myself and perhaps exchange information.

I remember thinking, “only an Italian guy would complement another man, a total stranger, on his style”.

2014 Rapha Rising Complete


Six Rides in Eight Days

291 Miles

30,282 ft/9,200 m elevation gain


Week long challenges always seem to end a bit anticlimactic. With less than 200 meters to climb to meet the challenge, the motivation to ride no longer came from the challenge but instead the need to spin the waste out of my legs left behind from yesterday’s ride.


So the wine route it is.

Renate and I drove out to enjoy some excellent southern BBQ before returning to the cabin to pack up for the road trip home to Miami.

Southern boys know how to smoke there meat.

Southern boys know how to smoke their meat.

It was great to see my fitness improve over the course of the week. The trick will be keeping the momentum going as I prepare to return to GA for the Six Gap Century.

Slaying the Hog



79.3 Miles

9,163 ft Elevation

It is Thursday morning and the Mojo is nowhere to be found. My Weapons Grade Hydration drink mix, EFS, was empty and there was only one rice cake left in the fridge. Four consecutive climbing days and these three excuses were all I needed to announce that today would be crowned a rest day. Queue the Angels and part the clouds, there will be no suffering today.

Nothing quite like a massage in the forest.

Nothing quite like a massage in the forest.

We drove to downtown Dehlonega only to discover the local bike shop had been closed six months ago. Some locals indicated the next closest shop could be found twenty minutes away in Gainesville. What we found was Bike Town USA in existence since 1978 and still operated by the original owner, Tom Hughs. Renate and enjoyed listening to Tom tell us the story of a small shop surviving the years continually re-inventing it to fit market trends.

Delicious morsels of energy, rice cakes satisfies when you go long.

Delicious morsels of energy, rice cakes satisfies when you go long.






The rest of the day was spent making stacks of rice cakes and receiving a well deserved high quality massage.

Morning View on Neels

Morning View on Neels

Friday morning and The Hog is on my mind.

The Mooney at the Mountain Crossings Outfitters.

The Mooney at the Mountain Crossings Outfitters.

Another ride up and over Neels was still difficult yet manageable. The legs are adapting to the strain of mountain climbing and a day of rest was just what they needed to recover in preparation for a hard day in the saddle.

A view of Hogpen Gap from the Valley between Neels and Jack's Knob

A view of Hogpen Gap from the Valley between Neels and Jack’s Knob

Jack’s Knob was a little easier today. While resting on the crest a woman completes the climb and announces, “I hate that climb”, as she stops in the middle of the road and stares down at the tarmac. “It’s a tough one”, I respond while I fill up my bottles. She stands in the middle of the road staring down at the tarmac in post climb meditation. After introducing myself, she returns in kind, “it’sss Slaura”. “Slaura?”, I asked a bit slowly to indicate I was unsure of my pronunciation. “Laura, I slurred a bit”. Laura launched into a full on explanation of what she was doing and why she was doing it. Laura explained that she was training in the six gaps in preparation for the Six Gap Century in September and continued talking about all kinds of difficult riding she has done in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. This woman was certainly fit and boy she could talk. I stopped listening to what she was saying and started listening for a pause, however brief. When it came, “I have to go” was all I said and I was gone.

Descending Unicoi became a bit precarious when a truck with horse trailer in tow passed

Youngsters enjoy the cold river on a hot day.

Youngsters enjoy the cold river on a hot day.

me before the descent. This meant I was not going to enjoy the ride down. In an attempt to allow space between us, I reduced my speed but still it did not take long for me to close the gap on the trailer once I released the brakes and flowed freely through the cambered switchbacks. To make matters worse, I had a Toyota clinging to my wheel like he was getting some draft advantage from it. Once the road straightened and no joy could be squeezed out taking a descent turn at speed, I pulled to the side to let the impatient motorist pass in order to increase my margin of safety while reducing my stress. At the bottom of Unicoi I stop at the bridge while some kids were enjoying a hot day while tubing on the Chattanoochee River.


And then came Hogpen.

It will be my third ascent of The Hog in four years. The first two ascents were in preparation for Ventoux when I was in, what seems like today, great shape. And now, carrying an additional thirty-five pounds, I suffered from the onset touching my cleat three times during the climb. Each touch was like a knife slash to my ego. Death by a thousand cuts, as it were. I had to adjust my expectations and be satisfied with surviving the climb. You are either going forward or moving backwards comes to mind as I grind at the pedals and virtually inch my way up the steep gradient.

View from Hogpen Gap.

View from Hogpen Gap.

I spent a good twenty minutes gathering my marbles on the crest of the Hog.

The descent off Hogpen is notoriously steep. Even with aluminum rims, I feathered my braking to avoid overheating them. The extreme gradient and the condition of the tarmac would not allow for a caution less descent but I took the speed where I could do so safely. After all, I had paid dearly for the opportunity to do so. I travel through the valley, up and over a series of rollers and begin the low gradient that carries me to Wolfpen. The heavy machines, operated by sweaty, oil covered men, were out working Wolfpen. I like it fresh, but not still hot, and steaming with the pungent odor of petroleum. Sucking petroleum fumes while ascending Wolfpen felt like a potential health hazard and so I quickly decided to move on and return over Neels.

Neels again

Neels again

Neels would then be the last major ascent of the day. It was difficult and slow going for I was already exhausted. Two miles from the top I noticed my front tire was slowly becoming deflated. The breakdown lanes were thin and bordered by ditches so I kept riding with my weight over my rear wheel meanwhile hoping that my luck would continue until I reached the safety of the parking lot at the Mountain Crossings Outfitters before tire was completely flat. I sat down at the picnic bench and leisurely replaced the tube while thankful the flat had not occurred on the descent of Hogpen.

I savored the descent off Neels knowing it would be the last mountain descent of the week. I returned to the cabin hungry, tired and satisfied that the Hog had been slayed.

Chasing The Hog



Ride Four


56 Miles

6,774 ft elevation

It is my fourth ride of the Rapha Rising Challenge and even after posting some decent elevation and mileage I still need to make some sizable advancement to close this puppy. I start my ride just after one o’clock with the intention to make it over Hogpen. I have used my time here in the Georgian mountains to progressively increase the training volume to slay “The Hog”.

Heavy Equipment at rest on Wolfpen

Heavy equipment at rest on Wolfpen

On day two I rode the Neels, Wolfpen, Woody loop. It was a difficult ride but 38 miles was over relatively soon while rest and relaxation filled the rest of the day. The third day of the challenge I took it easy by doing the 23 mile vineyard route. This gave me two hard days followed by one easy day. The extra time was spent on Renate’s massage bench, sleeping and eating.

Recovery ride day with Renate

Recovery ride day with Renate

Neels is always better the second time. The switch backs become more familiar

View from Neels

View from Neels

allowing me to anticipate the subtle changes in gradient and then dose the effort accordingly. I reach the top in good spirits and enjoy a rice cake before topping off the bottles. A deluge accompanied my ride down the back of Neels. With about ten feet of visibility and a death grip on the brakes levers, I descended at about 20 mph. I silently debated the merits of my choice to ride with my lightweight jersey sans gilet as the cold mountain rain poured while the perforated strip of material running down the center of the jersey offered no real protection for my back.

Delectable morsels of energy, I carry rice cakes whenever the ride tests my will.

Delectable morsels of energy, I carry rice cakes whenever the ride is sure to test my will.

Then like magic, the rain stopped upon reaching the valley. The roads were dry as a bone and the valley was warm getting warmer. I take a right onto Rt 180 and feel instantly the resistance from friction produced by its gravel embedded tarmac. The feeling of resistance is further enhanced by the long section of false flats that precede the climb up Jack’s Knob. When the climbs come, they slowly work away at your will. There are no switchbacks; there is just a series of long then longer climbs separated by short descents. That’s when it happened, like an engine losing compression, I watch as the mph slowed to less than 2 mph. An ominous feeling of failure, and then impending doom, follows a virtual sound of a single, deep base, and penetrating beat, as my cleat touches ground. I visualize the boot plant on the LZ in la Drang Valley as Lieutenant Colonel Moore exited the chopper in the movie We Were Soldiers. I move to the side of the road to avoid unsuspecting traffic while I hydrate, refuel and allow myself a good ten minutes of rest. When I roll on, I am surprised at what ten minutes of rest can accomplish. Climbing at 5-6 mph I crest Jack’s Knob, locate my water stash and sat down for a proper rest.

Today’s ride was a constant negotiation with time. First, attention on work stole valuable vacation time and delayed my ride start. Then, heavy rains delayed and slowed my descent of Neels and now my fitness was being challenged by Jack’s.

A long rest spent staring deep into the forest on top of Jack's Knob while I contemplate my options.

A long rest spent staring deep into the forest on top of Jack’s Knob while I contemplate my options.

My long recoveries were eating away at what little time I had left and so I am forced to consider alternatives. I can turn around, descend Jacks and return over Neels, or can continue on over Unicoi then choose to reroute around Hogpen and out of the barricade of mountain ranges known as the Six Gaps should the day be slipping away. My force of will does not allow me to completely give up and yet somehow I remain hopeful that my original goal of cresting Hogpen today is still possible. I reflect, “This is how adventure seekers get themselves into trouble”. The roads at night, in the mountains covered in forest, are dark, thin and winding. I decide to continue on, still fooling myself there is a chance for the Hog, knowing full well, I will bailout. There just isn’t enough time.




So I cruise down Jacks, ascend the switchbacks of Unicoi then descend them in the rain, ride around Hogpen and head back to the cabin. I was less than thrilled and a bit deflated from having failed, but there was now another 6,774 ft in the books and there is still more time left in the week for…

chasing The Hog.