Saturday, November 29, 2008

telly time

Karl Grossman does his magic! Sit through 30 minutes of difficult reality about health "care" in 2008 or fast forward to 17 minutes for a giggle..

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

cyclocross coverage from the hamptons

Paving the way to better cycling in sag harbor Omigawd.. so much coverage, much to do..draft of letter to sag harbor village, proposing to recind laws currently on the books forbidding bikes on main street.. meeting village on Dec 9th: wish us luck!! To: Sag Harbor Village Board Date: November 25, 2008 Re: Cycling on Main Street / Village code 50-7: sections B, C As founding members of Spokespeople (an East End cycling advocacy organization), and following consultations with Chief Fabiano and Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris, we wish for the board to consider revisiting this code, especially section B, for the following reasons: To facilitate movement of cyclists in Sag Harbor Village by allowing access to Main Street by bicycle in the normal traffic flow, in accordance with New York State traffic law. To facilitate greater use of bicycles in the Village in conjunction with the goals of the group 725 Green, and toward a reduction of carbon emissions, energy consumption, and traffic congestion, as well as the Mayor’s mission to promote Sag Harbor as an example to other local towns and villages. To coordinate efforts of SPOKESPEOPLE and the Sag Harbor Village Police Department in educating the general public about the shared rights and responsibilities of all users of Village roads. To increase motor vehicle drivers’ awareness of the presence of non-motorized road users, leading to the enhanced safety of all users. Proposal: To delete the following sections of the Village code, 50-7: Section B: “(or) to ride a bicycle or any other wheeled vehicle propelled by gravity or the use of the rider’s feet;” and Section C: ‘it shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the activity commonly known as “jogging” on any public sidewalk or pedestrian footpath along Main Street from the southerly line of Spring street to the southerly line of Bay street. As a group, we propose to promote the change in this ordinance with cycling safety clinics, demonstrations, and a regularly-scheduled community bike ride (over 12) in the Village. The Sag Harbor Police Department has graciously offered bike-patrol officers to assist with these rides. Press will be invited and local businesses will be offered the opportunity to sponsor refreshments in an effort to both publicize the events and increase participation of interested Village parties in “greening” Sag Harbor Village. Yours, Sinead FitzGibbon, Dennis Loebs for Spokespeople

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Cyclosnot": or, "small fish, big pond"..

OK ok, I finally did it: I spectated at the first (bitterly cold) day of the Whitmores supercross cup at SYS in Southampton, and raced on the second..Inspired by the professional CX racing women staying with Dennis and I, I trundled my bike to the start line and waited for a call up.. and waited, and waited, until last place.. Having not raced in 4 years in this dicipline, I have earned absolutely no UCI points, the requisite for a good starting position, so was at the very back of a national level, high calibre line-up with 10 seconds to go..
I had no idea that I would be so nervous with my first 'cross race this season (and coming in so late, possibly the last one of 2008). I had risen with the girls at 7am, had coffee, porridge, read the paper, stretched, donned my skinsuit and gone to watch valiant Dennis battle with himself in his race.. really, I mean battle, and I also mean with himself.. Neither of us have raced or trained at the super-threshold intensity needed to race well, so he rode the course in his own silent world of pain, as we screamed at him and rang cowbells in his ears as he rode and ran over obstacles, on the run-ups, through the corners, onto the asphalt, right to the finish line. All the while, I was counting the minutes to my own race, running to the bathroom every 30 minutes or so, and feeling the day pass in ultra-slow motion as I took a warm-up lap before the final call to line-up.
Literally shaking on the start-line, and not from the cold, from pure adrenaline and fear-aline in my veins, I knew it could only get better once I started. How wrong I was...
The gun, yes a gun, went off, and so did we, a gang of women powering off the asphalt, onto the grass and into the woods. The 3k circuit crossed sand, 2 kneecap high wooden barriers, wooded singletrack, more sand, lumpy hard-pack grass, off-camber crazy uphill and downhill sections, then more of the same... for 45 minutes, at full belt.
Foaming snot and lung-rasping aside, I was able to hear the announcer throughout the race, giving a blow-by-blow account of the race, which was just as well, since I couldn't see a thing from my position at the back of the field..I cheered my new Cx buddies {Amy Dombrowski (4th), Kathy Sherwin, ?15th and my old friend Anna Milkowski 20th??} on while I suffered in my secret world of pain , and wished Anna good legs as she blew past me on a straight section of grass. As I crossed the line on the final lap, I rolled to a stop by Dennis and a few of my local friends / fans (!) and wondered out loud, what the h*** was I thinking, to jump into CX racing again..
As my heartrate settled, and blood started to flow into my peripheries again, I was suffused with a warm glow of achievement.. Jen ( has been doing wonders helping me prepare for long distance MTB racing this year, but we had barely even spoken seriously about CX until last week. Since taking a break from this dicipline, to train for 1/2 IM and MTB racing, I have been reluctant to return to my most favourite cycling sport, weirdly procrastinating from year to year. On the start line, I was fully aware of the main reason for my hesitation in returning to the skinsuit and the narrow knobby tyres, I was dreading the reality check, the drop to back of the pack, the anhillation that I was to suffer on the return to racing with the "big girls" of the sport. Seeing the emotional rollercoaster that my racing girlfriends were going through, hearing their stories of the season to date, Nationals, plans for possible World Championship selection, I was inspired to put my ego and fears aside, and race for the pure joy of it..
I can honestly say, at no time during the race was I enjoying it, (at one point, hoping for a flat so I could drop out!) but as anyone racing CX knows, this feeling ensures that there is nothing more in the tank, that I had pulled it all out for the race, even just this one race. That feeling brings with it the true enjoyment of racing. I am hooked again, making solid plans with Jen for the 2009 Cx season. Finally, having suffered a solid trouncing at the hands of the best in the nation, I am ready to suffer some more, this time, in happy anticipation of the line up in the cold and the wind..

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


We had a terribly successful meeting at my office this week: 30 attendees, 10+ regret RSVP's:
here are the statements du jour (with many thanks to darling Dennis who made sense of my ramblings and put this all in order..)
• Environmental benefits: reduced noise, pollution, & carbon footprint.
• Reduced traffic congestion on roads.
• Enhanced public safety.
• Enhanced recreational opportunities for all ages through road and trail riding.
• Improved health of individuals and community through routine physical activity.
• Stronger social ties within the community through increased human interaction.
• Economic benefits: easier access to village businesses, increased use of public transport,increased local spending on bikes and related purchases, reduced taxpayer spending on carrelatedinfrastructure.
• Greater choice of travel modes, especially for kids and seniors.
Vision of Spokespeople:To enhance the quality of life on the East End of Long Island via the promotion andfacilitation of road and trail cycling, among citizens of all ages and all physical ability, forrecreation and transportation.
Proposed Goals:
• Provide safe and convenient bike access, bike routes, on‐ and off‐street bike parking facilities, andlow speed streets. Local cyclists to identify specific needs and target areas.
• Establish public information programs to promote cycling of all kinds, and communicate benefits tothe community. Create and distribute maps, create public awareness campaigns, organize and leadregularly scheduled neighborhood rides (“Ride with the Mayor”).
• Develop special programs to encourage bike use by the non‐driving population, e.g. Safe Routes toSchools programs, Senior Trike Program, etc.
• Encourage bicycle use among local village and town employees by providing preferential parking,showers and bike fleets. Use these municipal initiatives to encourage private businesses to adoptsimilar approaches. Encourage municipalities to provide financial incentives for private businesses toreplace car parking with bicycle parking.
• Ensure that all village and town codes include bicycles in existing and future transportation plans, incommercial building codes, in local schools, hospitals, and recreational facilities.
• Achieve a target level of bike usage within discrete timeframe. Establish current level of bike use bychildren, in schools, and villages and towns. Measure improvements in total hours riding time,adoption of bike commuting, or number of short bike trips.
• Review local traffic laws, and encourage enforcement of traffic laws to improve the safety of cyclists,with particular focus on behaviors / attitudes that cause motor vehicle‐on‐bike crashes (not“accidents”).
• Educate all road users to share the road safely. Increase the safety / visibility / confidence of cyclistsby coordinating road construction/maintenance with cycling education/awareness programs.
• Promote “intermodal” transport, between public transport and bicycles. Encourage installation ofsecure bike racks at train and bus stations, and bike racks on buses. Improve bike access to trainsand buses.
Proposed Action Plan:
1. Create annual media campaign focused on road safety including:a. Spring media campaign (local newspapers and radio) about Rules of the Road;b. Distribute Rules of the Road to bike shops, retail outlets (e.g. Starbucks), and schools;c. Encourage realtors to include Rules of the Road and Spokespeople’s “Eyes on theRoad/Hands on the Wheel” cyclist awareness letter in summer rental welcomepackages.
2. Create “Connection” media campaign: the cyclist (in your way) is your physical therapist / doctor/ child’s teacher / plumber / etc.
3. Organize annual Bike Lighting campaign (“Light Up a Roller”) to collect and distribute free lightsand reflectors for night & winter riding to commuters. Link with bike shops, local business, andlighting manufacturers for sponsorship, and to promote awareness through print and radioadvertising campaign.
4. Organize annual Helmet Drive (“Keep a Lid on It,” “Save a Melon”) to collect and distribute freehelmets to commuters without helmets. Link with bike shops, local business, and bike/helmetmanufacturers for sponsorship, and to promote awareness through print advertising campaign.
5. Liaise with trails groups to facilitate and encourage cycling on trails. Educate groups re:construction and maintenance of sustainable trails via partnership with C.L.I.M.B. Establish trailmaintenance crews and assign to areas throughout East End. Partner with local trailspreservation societies to fight trail damage caused by illicit users.
6. Organize school locker campaign to ensure schools have sufficient locker space available tocommuting students.
7. Promote the creation of bike clubs in each local school by organizing and providing leadershipfor extracurricular rides on both road and trail. Liaise with athletic directors, emphasizingbenefits of cross‐training. Progress to competitive cycling and creation of school road cyclingand mountain biking teams.
8. Organize festive monthly Critical Mass –style ride (“Critical Awareness Ride: Facilitating Ridingon the East End” [C.A.R.‐F.R.E.E.]) in each village and town. A one mile loop on local roads withpolice escort, preceded by a meeting reviewing rules, drills and stops / turn practice. Encourageparticipation by diversity of people and bicycles, and emphasize social aspect of event. Createcontests (with prizes) for best costume, heaviest bike, etc.
9. Organize monthly press‐covered Ride with Mayor in each village. Encourage local delis andstores to sponsor and provide food.
10. Initiate campaign for installation of bike racks in villages (a la NYC). Create open designcompetition with special award for designs based on village‐related themes (e.g. whaling in SagHarbor, fishing in Montauk). Enlist local metal shops to sponsor fabrication of racks.
11. Identify every municipality, trail group, community council, transportation committee, naturesociety, and environmental group on East End. To each group, assign dedicated liaison to attendall group meetings, represent cyclists’ interests, and issue meeting report to Spokespeople.
12. Create and maintain a website that provides news and information about rides, fundraisingevents, races, etc. Provide links to partner organizations, elected officials, etc. Provide a tool toautomate letter‐writing to politicians on cycling issues.
13. Establish regular letter‐writing campaign to local newspapers to increase public awareness ofcycling. Letters can comment on local news, focus on effects on the cycling community.
14. Organize a bicycle versus car race from Southampton Village to East Hampton village on asummer weekend. One car and one bike in each direction, with media converage.
15. Organize multi‐day mountain bike ride from Pine Barrens to Montauk Point to raise awarenessof Paumanok Trail.
16. Organize charity rides on the road for local causes and needy families.
17. Create a Senior Trike campaign to promote intra‐village riding by seniors. Encourage localbusiness to sponsor purchase of tricycles with shopping baskets. Study similar initiativesestablished elsewhere. Establish storage sites and develop free rental program.
18. Encourage cross‐membership and coordination among like‐minded groups.
19. Organize free skills clinics/rides for road riding and mountain biking.
20. Initiate program of providing free bicycles to local families in need.
Proposed Nuts & Bolts:
1. Executive Leader: to be determined.
2. Board of Directors: to be determined.
a. Purpose of Board of Directors: Establish and review goals and direction of organization.Develop general strategies and assist Executive Leader and others in creatingcommittees, appointing committee leaders, and task forces to achieve specific goals.Establish by‐laws concerning executive and non‐executive positions, elections,meetings, financial management, membership structure and dues, and by‐lawamendment process.
3. Proposed officers: Treasurer, VP, and Secretary, to be determined.
4. Proposed Committees:a. Membership & recruitment
b. Bike Routes (road)c. Trailsd. Schools. Fundraising and Special Eventsf. Media Campaigns. Public Awareness & Education
h. Racing
i. Retail
5. Proposed Positions:a. Media & Communications Coordinator
b. IT Manager/Webmaster
c. Legal Counsel
d Ride Coordinator
e. Race Promoter
6. Proposed Liaisons:
a. 725 Green
b. East Hampton Nature Preserve Committee
c. East Hampton Trails Preservation Society
d. East Hampton Town Planning Departmente. East Hampton Town Board
f. Southampton Town Board
g. North Haven Village Board
h. Noyac Civic Council
i. Chambers of Commerce (via RetailCommittee members?)
j. Sagaponack Village Board
k. Sag Harbor Village Board
l. Shelter Island Town Board
m. Southold Town Board
n. ?
o. Southampton Bike Lane Advisory Committee
p. Southampton Trails Preservation Group
q. Southampton Town Parks Department
r. Group for the East End
s. Suffolk County Parks Department
t. New York State Parks Department
u. The Nature Conservancy How about THIS for a Santa list!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Serpent's Back Snotfest

The LAST MTB biathlon this season: we collected in the field at Navy Road, lined up like in the school-yard and waited for the high-tech "ready steady GO"!
Again, I promised myself that this race would be different, that I would start calmly in the pack, build intensity as I warmed up, and not blow up like the previous three weekends, but again, I found myself chasing down Ed Cashin, Mikey Bahel and a few other billygoats, sucking wind at the one mile mark as their heels disappeared around a tree ahead of me, and I felt the blood in my breath..
We use to call this hypoxic state "cyclocross lung", but now I have to broaden the term's use, as I haven't done a single cross race this year yet..
The run was beautiful: along by the shore for a fast 1/4 mile, then into hilly twisty trails through the autumn trees in Montauk, the leaves thick on the ground covering the baby-head rocks, the ankle breakers! I suffered well on the run, managing 16.30 for the 2.3 miler, then calmed down a tad as I buckled the helmet and struggled into the bikeshoes.. on the bike, hoping that my heart-rate would settle somewhat over the next 10 miles: I felt strong and was able to pick it up for a few hundred yards at a time, not super powerful on the short climbs, but able to build some nice tempo on the longer easier gradients. I resolved to call Jen Gatz, my wonder-coach, and talk to her about doing some short hard efforts in this coming couple of months, all the better to suffer on the hard kicks in the local 'cross events. The bike course took us on a tour of the gems of eastern Long Island's MTB trails, opening up over the bay to get a brief view of the clear waters and golden beaches, then ducking back into the woods to dodge and weave the overhanging locust and pine trees. The Ho-Chi-Min trail (giving serpents back race its' name,) was famoulsy hairy, fast, scrabbly, gruelling and more fun than a barrel of monkeys..The fall is slightly past full glory now, and there are holes appearing in the canopy as the windy afternoons clear out tons of vegetation, I love this time of year, and it makes me look forward to the winter rides even more, through these naked woods, piled thick with winter gear, sweating and with foaming snot as we shift back into single-speed mode.. all the better for strength-training..outdoors!!
The second run was a blast, it always seems to be smoother once the blood, adrenaline and Gu is flowing, I eased into my own rhythm, having not had anyone pass in a while, able to finally settle into my own race! I approached the last mile, I caught a glimpse of a fellow racer, Marty Ross, ahead through the trees. Ever the comptitive one, I was able to pick it up a notch, eeking up onto his heels as we came out onto the last stretch on Navy road.. I think I still had some juice left, and thought that I could possibly pip him if i took the risk and sprinted for the line..a second thought crossed my mind.. that I might lose a hamstring in the process (the initial cramps were hinting in my legs..) but I figured it would be worth it!! I pulled it out, barreled up the field and with a whack on his backside, passed him by a nose on the line.. wipe the foaming snot off, photos, prizes, pizza and beer.. What a way to spend a morning with your budddies!!
On a sadder note, I read of our fellow athlete Sam, who is scheduled to have an amputation of his hand in 3 weeks, following survival of a devastating bomb blast in Iraq. Sam is one of the superstars of our sports world, and I hear he has already entered an Ironman next year, to aim for with his new hand.. Sam, you are an inspiration.. I was thinking of you as I swam this morning, bubbles up my nose, aching arms, tired lungs.. I look forward to your new limb, and your continued success. You make us all push a bit harder and dig a little deeper.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

schiff-scout pantathlon

This weekend saw us sailing into the sunset on the bay, for perhaps one of the last times this year: we wrapped up well in light foulies, got Aisling ready and cast of fthe mooring into 10 knots of westerlies: fail winds for htis time of year.. We sailed in silence to Mashomack Point, to better observe the seals that like to haul themselves onshore at high tide, but as we got within eye-shot, I soon realised the "seals" had become rocks.. oh boy.. Time to reconsider the Lasik surgery.. Undeterred we tacked back and forth in the lee of North Haven before returning to the harbor, putting Aisling in her "pyjamas" and heading back to shore.. We packed hastily for the next day, a return to one of our favourite races on the East-End: the Schiff-Scout duathlon: a 2/11/2 miler off-road race at the boy scout camp in Wading River, just west of Riverhead. We had not been here since Shari sold Bikehampton several years ago, and both Dennis and I had mixed feelings about returning. Brian, the race director, is one of the most fun, generous directors in the business, and his smiles upon seeing us quickly made us welcome. We also immediately reconected with some of our old cycling mates, warmed up briefly and lined up for the casual start. 45 degrees, windy, felt like 30. I dropped in behind Joe A., Bob C., and Chris R., all the while promising myself to NOT run with these jackrabbits, and instead, run my own race: The gun went off, the adreneline rushed and I found myself on Joe's heels, a mile into the race, chest heaving, heart racing, exertion headache settling into my thick skull. I glanced down at my watch ( NO HRM here, I was too scared to see the numbers!) and noted the one-mile time.. 6.31 I was in trouble, there was NO WAY I could keep this going, and finish the race well without blowing up so I had to back it off and kiss the heels of the boys goodbye.. I settled into my own race, suffering through the ups and downs of the new course and getting ready for the bike: the transition went well, I was glad to chill a little and lose hte hypoxia as I got into my bikeshoes adn helmet, then settled further into the race as I enjoyed the whoop-do-do's of the bike course: the wooded twisting singletrack was wonderful: Fall (Autumn) at its most glorious, I was regretting not having raced here for so long! Dennis blew past me on the 2nd bike leg, looking strong, though unable to talk to me! I knew he was pushing it! I tried to keep him in my line of sight as I picked up the pace for the final 2 miles, then raced into the transition area, not quite looking forward to the second run! Suprise, surprise, the legs didn't object too heavily, in fact, I felt comfy with a 7:00 pace and quickly caught Dennis before the first 1/2 mile was by. He hung close by, and we dodged the trees for the last mile, scrabbling up the steep gradients for a strong finish: I was the first female in, and made 15th overall in 1:25-ish, Dennis was only one minute down in 1:26: HE is getting stronger as he races and trains with more brains, short hard efforts, plenty of recovery.. and I think that these great ales that we have enjoyed recently must also be assisting. Despite the pounding headache, and the sudden need to eat everything in sight, I feel stonger form the last couple of weekends of racing, and I am sure we are both feeling the remnants of our trip, in our legs, our lungs, our spirit!. We both resolve to return in 2009, and more frequently.. Is is definitely not the same since S+M are no longer in participation, but it is a short burst of huge effort with some of our most favourite people in our sports world. The aftermath of the race was also fun, when Brian announced the winner of the 50-59 age group, rider #47: pictures to follow tomorrow.. Even my friend Susan, loony triathlete and adamant NON-mountain biker, might be tempted to try it out if she knew who was hanging out in the wings at these little races..