The following article I wrote in the spring of 2010. All seemed good in the world around me. I was having a great time towing my 4 year old daughter around in the bike trailer, my wife was pregnant with our 2nd daughter and I was enjoying some of the best early season fitness that I ever experienced (I managed to win a Spring Series race and the CRCA power points race against a few AXA guys in Central Park). However, the weekend after that Power Points race my family was shocked by the news that my father in-law had terminal cancer. It was hard to believe. He was super energetic (think Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack). Just about everything in our lives was put on hold as we tried to cope with this devastating news.
My father in-law ultimately lost his battle with cancer a little over a year ago. I miss him dearly. If it wasn’t for the countless hours that he came over to watch my daughter so I could go out and ride my bike I would have never achieved the fitness necessary to manage some of the racing success that I had. He loved spending time with his granddaughter and was proud whenever I did well in a race. With that in mind I dedicate this article about riding with my daughter to him.
My Favorite Training Partner: By Mark Alden
I was pedaling hard and breathing deep. I could feel the heat of the sun through my sweat soaked jersey as I slowly gained on the rider in front of me. Bringing my chin as close as possible to the stem I forged into a headwind while heading south on 9W. As I got nearer I could see that rider was on a TT bike – arms tucked in on the aero bars. Closer still I could see that he at least appeared to be reasonably fit. I finally caught him (noticed that he was on a high end looking Cervelo) and I let out a somewhat out of breath “hello” as I passed him. My hello was followed immediately by my daughters cute little “hi” as she sat comfortably (Groovy Girl doll in hand) in the trailer that I was towing. This prompted an exaggerated double take from the rider on the Cervelo. I bumped it up a few more notches and occasional glances over my shoulder during the next few miles revealed a smaller and smaller rider as I pulled away.
I have been towing my daughter around in our Burley trailer for nearly five years now. The experience has changed quite a bit over the years. At first when she was only about 1 -2 years old she would pretty much nap but then a beautiful thing started to happen as she got older. It was no longer me riding around with a sleeping kid in the trailer. It became and interactive experience that has opened up a whole new world of father – daughter bonding. One of the first experiences that made me realize that this was much more than training with my daughter in a trailer was the day I noticed a nice crescent shaped beach on the Hudson just off River Road about1/4 mile north of where Palisades Ave. drops down to the river. I have ridden by this spot hundreds of times and never thought to stop. I guess that I was too busy training for that elusive masters 35+ pro contract. Now that I had my daughter along it was time to stop and check out this beach. It has since become one of our favorite places to stop on a ride and we have accumulated a pretty nice collection of (hopefully not radioactive) sand glass. It’s a great place to sit and relax – feet in sand – and listen to the waves lapping at the shoreline and hear the occasional ticking of a freewheel as a cyclist passes by.
My favorite place of all to take my daughter is Harriman State Park. I am fortunate that I have a schedule that allows for me to go up there mid day during the week. One of the great things about riding up there on a weekday is that there is practically no traffic. That and it is just plain beautiful. We will usually do 2-3 laps of the race course and I have found a few nice places to stop and take in the scenery. Our favorite stop is a small boat launch on Lake Tiorati near the top of the Tiorati Brook climb. There is a concrete slab that angles into the water that we like to sit on with our feet in the water while we watch minnows dart around and the occasional snake glide by.
I have to admit that sometimes my competitiveness comes out when I come across other cyclists while towing the trailer. This is augmented by my daughter regularly asking if we will catch up to the rider in front of us. She will also frequently ask if we are “winning” so of course I have to try to oblige. One time I was at the circle near the base of the Alpine boat basin climb and 5-6 riders cued up on my rear wheel as I started the climb. I started to ramp up the pace pretty quickly and at first I could hear the clack clack of frantic shifting which became quieter as the climb wore on. Eventually I didn’t hear any noises from behind and a glance back revealed that all of the riders had been dropped. Another time I caught a rider (also on a Cervelo TT bike) just before the state line climb heading south on 9W. I dropped him on the climb and continued to ride as hard as I could. After chasing for a long time he finally caught up with me somewhere around E. Clinton road. The cool thing was that he was having a good time chasing me. He expressed how surprised he was that it took him so long to catch up to me. I didn’t detect a hint of crushed ego.
This brings me to another thing that I enjoy about towing my daughter around in the trailer. It is the overwhelmingly positive encouragement that I get from fellow cyclists. I get lots of thumbs up and it’s pretty common to have a pleasant conversation with riders that I meet out on the road. Occasionally I’ll come across a rider who can’t handle being caught by someone towing a trailer and they will turn themselves inside out to try and pull away from me. But for the most part it’s all good natured fun.
I’m bummed because my daughter will soon outgrow the trailer. She is riding her own bike now but of course we aren’t doing laps in Harriman just yet. I do however have kid number two on the way. Years ago I was riding somewhere near Piermont when I came across one of the crazier cycling set-ups that I have seen. It was a tandem with a halfwheeler (a single wheel kid’s bike that attaches to the seat post of an adult bike) attached to it and a trailer attached to the halfwheeler. The whole contraption was being piloted by Glen from Piermont Bicycle Connection. I just might try that (with a regular bike instead of the tandem) so I can be out on the road with my girls and enjoy sunshine, stops at the beach and precious time together. Although it is unlikely that I will be able to catch the rider in front of me when my daughter asks.
“Big John” Raheb, has been a one man wrecking crew this season, but nothing solidified it like winning the New Jersey Cat 3 Crit Championships and then going 5 for 5 in Campmor H2H series. John has also amassed a series of results in other races this year; a few of which from the Spring can be found below:
Winding Trails Fat Tire Classic ( Ct ) Masters 40-49 – 2nd
Bethel Spring Series – 7th
Augusta Training Series – 4th ( Masters ) & 7th ( 1-2-3 ) ( Had 2 flat tires )
Wilmington Grand Prix – Masters – 5th
Greenbrier Challenge – MTB Maryland State Championships – Cat 2 – 1st
Bearscat 50 MTB Race – Masters Open Class – 2nd ( 5 Hours 7 mins )
New Bethelem Crit ( PA ) – Masters – 7th
BLP Grand Prix ( NJ ) Cat 3 – 4th ( Won Field Sprint )
Giro Del Cielo Criterium – Cat 3 – 2nd
Lewis Morris MTB Race – Cat 2 – 1st
New team member Zach Koop wasted no time in getting on the team score sheet winning the CRCA A race on Sunday in what was a very well ridden team effort. The race started with extreme aggression and on the 1st lap a group of about
15 slipped off the front, which Mark Alden bridged to, unfortunately in vain as the break was caught less
than a lap later.
Almost immediately another break of about 15 went and this time the team had Alden,
Eddie Espitia and Big John Raheb in it. The representation was good with all the big teams
having multiple riders in the move. The group was too big however and had no
cohesion. Eventually solo-rider got off the front and stayed about 12sec.
in front of the group for several laps as it would accelerate and then fan out
across the road, resulting in the break being reeled in with about 1.5 laps to go.
As soon as it was caught however the team brought (a fresh from sitting in the field) Zach up to the front where he promptly
attacked on Harlem Hill; a group of about 6 formed. When it came down to the end Zach won handily, beating his breakaway companions by a good couple of bike lengths to cinch the win, in what extremely satisfying day that saw the entire team ride brilliantly
Mark Alden: Today was a day to remember at Bear. When I was driving up the Palisades I was happy that it wasn’t raining. However, when I got off the exit and drove into the mountains a think blanket of fog was obscuring the countryside. When I pulled into the Lake Welch parking lot visibility was down to about 20’. At first there wasn’t a soul to be seen and I was half expecting that there would be someone sitting by registration telling me that the race was off. But when I got close to the building cars started to come into view. I walked over to registration thinking that the race might be cancelled. I was told it was game on so I suited up and tried to mentally prepare for battle.
The weather kept a few guys away but I still think the field was 70+ guys. The first time down the decent was insane as we hurtled down into a foggy abyss at 50mph. Roger Aspholm drilled it the 1st time up the climb and the race blew up into several groups. I dug REALLY deep and made it over the top in the 2nd group. Roger was away with 8-10 guys. I felt so crappy the 1st time up the climb that I contemplated pulling into the parking lot conveniently located at the top. Sure enough most of those guys got shelled trying to stay with Roger. As the race wore on I started to feel a little better but for the most part I was trying to be as conservative as possible because in reality I felt pretty close to my limit the entire time. Each time up the climb our group got smaller and by the last lap Roger was by himself and one masters and one 18yr. old cat 3 were between Roger and us. I think there was only 1 or 2 with us at the end. With a few miles to go Erin Korff attacked I thought he was reeled in but with the fog he got out of site and none of us seemed to realize that he was still away. Erin ended up taking 3rd and Troy finished just in front of me putting me in 5th. Overall I’m pretty happy, and I did exactly what I set out to do and as I get some more miles in my legs I should be more competitive as the season goes on.
The team was in action again this weekend in Prospect Park, this time with Mark Alden, Thomas Pennell, and Jason Parkin, to contest the last NYC spring series race of the season. The team was heavily out gunned with Brauer having their usual 10+ guys and Axis with about 7 guys. Thomas and Mark had to try to cover every move and the attacks started from the 1st lap and never relented. Finally, with 5 laps to go Alden could sense that guys were starting to suffer so he put in a huge acceleration on the climb. Head down looking under my elbow as I attacked I could see the peleton exploding behind him. At that point he thought to himself “Oh yeah I’m starting to feel like myself again!”. Over the top there were a few groups of 3 or so guys and on the downhill it eventually became a 10 man group. The field was shattered and gone. With about 2 laps to go a Rapha guy attacked with Gerry Martinez from Brauer. Alden’s fitness is coming along nicely but he didn’t have enough to go with that move. In the end those 2 guys stayed away and he timed my sprint perfectly and beat what was left of the lead group to take 3rd; another podium.
Mark Alden took the team’s first podium of the season taking 3rd in the 35+ Master’s race in Central Park today; part of the New York City Spring Series. The race, typical of many Spring Series races, became somewhat chaotic as three different fields became one large group on the course. The large mass of riders made for bedlam of racing, which prohibited any sort of established breakaway, or attempts given all of the confusion, but when all was said and done it came down to a field sprint. Once the Master’s racers were finally left to their own devices (having one more lap than the other fields) the race became fast and furious, but in such a short distance everyone was together at the finish, and Alden showed that he still has some jump from last year to finish the race off nicely.
BlueRibbon kicked the 2011 season in fine style at the Central Park Spring Series race on March 13th. Less than halfway into the first lap the break of the day was established. BlueRibbon was well represented in the 10 man move with Xavier, John and Eddie. Thomas and Mark patrolled the front of the field to minimize the chase. By the end of the race the break had blown apart and Eddie hung tough to finish 5th while John finished with the next group in 9th and Mark took the field sprint for 10th. Not too shabby for a team that has limited training in their legs at this point of the season.
Results keep pouring in for the team. Eddie Espitia hasn’t been the only rider to win races lately as Paul Levis also won the Harriman ITT, in the P/1/2/3 category, as well as the Team Time Trial with Espitita.
Also continuing his fury of results, a very youthful looking John Raheb took 2nd place in the 45+ NJ State Road Championships as well as 3rd place, winning the field sprint, at the brutally hard, Tour of Highbridge this weekend.
Eddie Espitia just won his 4th, yes, fourth race of the WEEK today in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Espitia made it into the winning move and beat the group to the line just as a charging field approaching. The win comes after taking a solo flyer to with the Tuesday night Floyd Bennett Field race earlier in the week and winning the 40+ Individual Time Trial at Harriman State Park last Sunday, and the Team Time Trial at the same race.
Teammate Paul Levis also joined in the win in the Team Time Trial and Paul also won the P/1/2/3 ITT as well. This is by far not only best start, but mid-season for the team since it’s inception, and look for the results to keep coming in as the summer racing heats up.