I’ve witnessed a number of crashes and other incidents while bicycling: bikes running into other bikes (usually on accident, but not aways), cars running into bikes on accident. I’ve never seen a car intentionally hit a bicycle. Until last Wednesday. As far as I know the victims suffered only minor injuries and property damage.

A group of around 20 riders was traveling west on Champaign county road 1100N, ½ mile East of county highway 6 (Seymour slab). I had just rotated to the back of the group when a short while later I heard a car horn honking several times in rapid succession. There was already enough room for the car to pass, but as is customary in this situation (even if the driver is an asshole), I was preparing to hug the shoulder to provide the driver an excessively wide berth. I don’t like to take chances.

The driver had different plans. Just a very brief moment after I first heard the honking (and I was at the back of the group, so I heard it before anyone else) the driver was already up along side of the rider next to me, passing within maybe a foot or two. This scared the hell out of me. As the driver continued passing the group he (I’m assuming it was a he, I’d like to think women aren’t this stupid) moved closer and closer to each rider. As the car moved up I could see a good four feet of pavement and at least one or two more feet of solid grass shoulder to the left of the car. It was absolutely, unmistakably clear this was no accident. This was intentional.

I obviously don’t know whether the driver intended to hit anyone or just to drive really close to teach us a lesson for daring to travel on his road, but after passing within inches of a few people he finally bumped one (who managed to stay upright), then struck the next one pretty hard knocking him halfway across the road into the other riders. Fortunately, they all also managed to stay upright. Then, as would be expected from any individual this classy, he sped off, leaving in his wake at least three crimes, 20 witnesses, and one photograph which clearly shows his car and license plate number. What a fucking idiot.

Taking a look at Illinois state Rules of the Road we can see the following:

On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users. Bicyclists are prohibited on limited-access highways, expressways and certain other marked roadways.

Following are laws and safety tips you should know:

  • Drivers must yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist just as they would to another vehicle.
  • When passing a bicyclist do so slowly and leave at least three feet of passing space.


Offenses for which your driver’s license may be revoked include, but are not limited to:

  • Felony Offense – A vehicle was used while committing a serious crime.
  • Leaving the Scene – Leaving the scene of a crash that killed or injured someone (minimum three-year revocation).

Offenses for which your driver’s license may be suspended include, but are not limited to:

  • Traffic Crashes – Refusal or neglect to report a traffic crash.

As of now the incident has been reported to the police and the police have identified the owner of the vehicle. Hopefully, this reckless driver can be brought to justice in the near future.

Stay safe out there.


I have an old time trial bike, but it’s showing it’s age… and more importantly it uses a non-standard (650c) wheel size. I wanted to get a nice(r) set of wheels for both road races and time trials/triathlons so last October (on my birthday) I purchased a new frame, planning to build the bike up over the winter. Winter came and went. Spring came and went. I finally got around to ordering the parts last week. I wanted to do my first Seymour TT of the year on Tuesday of this week, so Monday night I spent five hours assembling the bike. I was missing a few parts, so I had to scavenge some from two other bikes… but I made it work.


16 pounds of titanium, carbon, & aluminum

The time trial was my first actual ride on the bike, which may not have been the best idea. I did figure out pretty quickly what adjustments I still need to make. My time was actually the slowest I’ve done for the course by a couple seconds. I haven’t done this time trial in nearly two years. Last year I was injured and I’ve trained very little on the bike since Will was born. I’m rapidly gaining fitness on the bike at the moment, so I think by the end of the summer I’ll have a new best time.


Urbana Grand Prix

Starting line

The weekend of racing concluded on Sunday with the Urbana Grand Prix, another criterium, this time in downtown Urbana. The course was shorter than Saturday’s course and it was actually modified at the last minute to include a 180˚ turn (the course was shaped like the letter “b”). This would be tricky to navigate.

Frenchy in the 180˚

Mark rounds the 180˚ turn in the cat 3 race

Slow motion video of 180˚ turn in cat 3 race

Another situation to deal with was the heat. It was unseasonably hot at 80˚ on Saturday, while on Sunday it was even hotter at 90˚. With two hard races in my legs the day before, this race had disaster written all over it.



Alexei & Luke

Alexei & Luke

Fortunately, I had a few things in my favor. Despite the previous day’s efforts I felt somewhat fresh. Also, Sunday’s race was cat 4 instead of cat 3-4 like the previous day. I would not be up against many of the fastest riders from yesterday’s race. Also the field was smaller, so it wouldn’t be quite so crowded in the corners.

Despite my best effort to start a little farther up the field I ended up about 3/4 of the way back at the first turn and I gradually drifted backward from there. I wasn’t off the back yet, but I was dangling there pretty quickly. The first four turns each loop went fairly well, but the 180˚ was a killer. The group accelerated really hard out of that turn, and at the back this effort was even further exaggerated for me. I would slip off the back, chase for 2/3 lap, catch back on just before the 180˚, the slip of the back again.

I wasted a lot of energy this way, but I hadn’t completely popped yet. A dozen or so short laps into the race a guy crashed in front of me in the 180˚, forcing me to swing wide and nearly come to a stop. At that point I had no chance of catching back up, but I hammered on. I chased solo for a few laps, then I started working with another rider, then another. We would catch up to another dropped rider around the time someone from my group would slip off the back. I spent the rest of the race in a pack of 2-5 riders. I think I was taking longer pulls than the others, but I didn’t really mind. At that point I was in it for the workout and the race experience. I wasn’t going to finish high up in the standings.


Rob chasing alone

Rob & Erik

Rob chasing with Erik

Chase pack

Chase group. It’s kind of funny how my face never changes.

Before too long we got lapped by the field. Not too long after that we got lapped a second time by the lead breakaway of two riders, including my teammate Jason (2nd in the cat 4-5 race the previous day). He looked very strong. He pulled away from the other guy and went off on his own. It was the last lap before the rest of the field lapped us the second time, apparently the other Wild Card riders did a good job at disrupting the chase, bettering Jason’s chance of staying away. He won by a sizable margin. Three other Wild Card’s finished 4, 6, & 7. I ended up 21. Of the 10 or so criteriums I’ve raced, I only managed to finish with the lead group once. This type of racing does not suit me… but I feel a lot better about it now than I did one week ago.

Razzle Dazzle

Jason finished 1st in the cat 4 race

Later in the day was the cat 3 race, featuring Wild Cards Mark & Nick. Both were active in breakaways early on, but eventually fell off the pace and both dropped out.

Frenchy working hard


Nick out of the 180˚


Hot day

The heat was brutal

The cat 3 race had a photo finish, which I captured with the high speed camera. I guess this wasn’t a great angle because I still can’t tell who won. The judges awarded the victory to the rider nearest to my camera (in the orange).

Thanks to Melissa for the photos of the cat 4 race.

Tour de Champaign

Following the Buffalo Trace trail race on Saturday morning I took Will for a three mile walk in the hot sun (hot for me, he was covered) to get a smoothie and some lunch. The smoothie really hit the spot. After we got back home I packed up my camera gear and headed over to the Tour de Champaign, the first of two days of bicycle racing in town last weekend. I had already pre-registered for the Sunday race. I didn’t plan to race on Saturday because of my running race that morning. Plans change.

Wild Card

After getting there and watching my friends in the cat 4-5 race I just had to do it. I borrowed some money, registered for the later cat 3-4 race, rode home on my commuter bike, changed clothes, swapped the wheels on my race bike (which also involved swapping the cassette and brake pads), rode back to the race, pinned on my race number (thanks Karl), handed my wallet and phone to Melissa (who had since walked over to the race), and went straight to the starting line with just a few moments to spare. It was hectic–probably not the best way to prepare for a race… particularly my second race of the day… in this heat… with this many good riders (I’m a cat 4, but this was my first race against cat 3 riders)… after walking three miles… I’m getting good at making excuses.

Needless to say, I didn’t have a stellar performance. I stayed with the main pack for a few laps, but the brutal accelerations wreaked havoc on my tired legs. I popped off the back and began chasing. Eventually I started working with my teammate Scott who was in the same position. Frankly this was probably better for us as we both have a lot more experience with time trial racing than with criterium racing. We worked hard together, though Scott was a little stronger than I was. After 20 minutes or so the main pack lapped us, at which point we stopped. It was too hot and I was too exhausted to keep racing that far behind.


It was fun anyway, and good preparation for Sunday’s race. I haven’t raced a criterium in almost two years. I was definitely not accustomed to the fast cornering in the pack and the accelerations out of every corner. So, if nothing else, it was good practice.


Alexei in a breakaway in the cat 4-5 race


Art in the cat 4-5 race


Shea in the cat 4-5 race


Luke finished 3rd in the cat 4-5 race


Jonathan (Olympic silver medalist speed skater!) in the cat 4-5 race

Jason catches back on after wheel change

Jason finished 2nd in the cat 4-5 race

Buffalo Trace

Back in 2002-2003 I used to run on the Buffalo Trace trail at Lake of the Woods Park in Mahomet every Thursday evening with the Buffalo. We used to live on the northwest corner of Champaign, and it was quicker and easier to get to Lake of the Woods for the Thursday night runs than it was to get to Meadowbrook Park in Urbana for the Tuesday night runs.

The running club eventually started a race on this course, apparently in 2003. I didn’t run it that year and I have no recollection why. I must have been out of town. The following year I had just torn cartilage in my knee. The next two years were the same story. The year after that we were in Nicaragua. The year after that I opted for a bike race instead that day. Last year I ran the Rockford Marathon instead that day. To make a long story short (too late), this morning I finally got the chance to run the nearest trail race to my home in its eighth year.

I won’t bore you too much with the details, because it turned out like pretty much every other race I’ve run in recent years (with a few exceptions). I started too fast. I gradually slowed down. I felt dead by the end. My last mile was over one minute slower than my first mile. Decent race, but not great. I ended up about 45 seconds slower than my fastest time on that trail. I finished 5th overall (out of 188) and 1st in my age group.


Cham-Pain County TT

This morning was the Cham-Pain County 40km Time Trial bike race organized by Wild Card Cycling. It would have been really great to participate, but I’m still not 100% recovered from the marathon and I’d probably just injure myself if I tried. I may be up to racing again by next weekend… we’ll see.

Anyway, I showed up to see if I could help out and to take some photos. I ended up taking around 500. Whoops. I normally don’t like to dump every photo I take somewhere online (I prefer to just post the best ones) but this was simply too many to sort through in any reasonable amount of time. I also figured the racers would like to see all the photos I took of them rather than my favorite one.

Here’s a few of my Wild Card teammates.

Dr. and Mr. Ragfield

Melissa was officially awarded her Ph.D. this morning at the UIUC social sciences graduation. She was “hooded” (whatever that means) by her advisor Steve.


It’s been a long and challenging road (for us all), and I, for one, would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Ragfield on her tremendous achievement.

Dr. Meli & Will


I find running a marathon to be a lot like eating at Pizza Hut. Every so often I crave it. Midway through I realize what a terrible decision I made. I finish out of shear stubbornness. Afterwards I vow to never do it again.

The marathon is a harsh mistress. Of the six previous marathons I have completed I would say two were good, two were mediocre, two were awful, and all were painful. I hoped this year’s Illinois Marathon would be good. But we don’t always get what we want.

Last year I ran the Illinois Marathon and it didn’t exactly go according to plan. Six weeks later (and with a completely different outlook) I ran much better at the Rockford Marathon where I set my marathon PR of 3h09m. I then promptly spent most of the summer recovering from a knee injury. In August I reset and started over from scratch. I trained and raced well throughout the fall and winter, and by spring I was looking to run another marathon PR. My marathon training went very well. I was prepared.

Marathon Expo

The race day forecast called for rain (which didn’t particularly bother me) and relatively high temperatures (which did bother me). I awoke on race morning to wet roads, muggy air, overcast skies, and a temperature of 64˚F… which at 5:30 AM was already too hot for running a marathon.

When the race began at 7:30 AM the humidity was 93%. After one mile of easy running I was drenched with sweat. I looked at my watch at the one mile mark, expecting to see a heart rate in the low 140’s. It read 162. The good news was that my perceived exertion was pretty low. The bad news was that either my heart rate monitor wasn’t working or the extreme humidity was having the effect on me I knew in the back of my mind it would. I chose to believe my heart rate monitor was broken and I cruised on.

Aside from the massive sweating, the early miles were really very easy. I ran much of the way with the 3:10 pace group. I ate and drank reguarly. At no point was I running hard… I could comfortably breath through my nose the entire time (though I didn’t). The clouds disappeared, the sun came out, the temperature soared into the mid-to-upper-70’s. Now, not only was it ridiculously humid, the sun was beating me into submission. Around the halfway point I started to feel terrible. Really terrible.

Rob at mile 11 of Illinois Marathon

I wasn’t dehydrated, I had been drinking frequently. I wasn’t lacking energy, I had been eating regularly. I wasn’t lacking fitness, my training went superbly and both my long and short runs had been right where they needed to be. I wasn’t tired, I stayed fairly disciplined in my 2-3 week taper prior to the race. I wasn’t running too fast, I was absolutely certain I could maintain the current 7:10-7:15 minute per mile pace for much longer than I had. I just felt terrible. The combination of the heat and humidity was simply more than I could handle.

I desperately wanted to quit. I’m still not exactly sure why I didn’t. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I guess I just don’t like seeing a DNF next to my name in the results. Of maybe 150 or so races I’ve done in my life I can only think of one I didn’t finish, and that was a triathlon where I got two flat tires on the bike.

I slowed down to around 8 minutes per mile, knowing the slower pace would be the only way I could finish. Then at mile 17 I just started walking. I needed to collect myself. About a quarter of a mile later I began running again, just a little over 8 minute per mile pace. I stopped at each aid station (one every mile or two) and walked through it while I drank vast quantities of water and gatorade. Then after I gulped down the liquids I ran on to the next aid station.

After the 20 mile mark, where most runners (including me) typically fade away, I actually started to come back to life. I had already hit rock bottom and I had nowhere else to go but up. I still walked through the aid stations, but I was able to run slightly faster between them. Finally, after reaching the top of the hill on Armory street, less than two miles from the finish, on streets I have covered dozens of times before, I picked it up. I ran the final miles around 7:30 pace. It was the first time in the race when I actually felt like I was running hard. It hurt.

I finished in 3h28m, even slower than last year when I thought I had a bad race. But whatever, I finished marathon #7. Looking at the results today I noticed the average finishing times seemed to be around 15-20 minutes slower than last year. Talking to and hearing from many other runners, I don’t think anyone had a good race. The conditions were just too poor.

Illinois Marathon 2009 v. 2010

Blue: 2009 finishing times, Red: 2010 finishing times

So now I’m sore all over, sunburned like crazy (I chose not to wear sunscreen due to the supposed likelihood of rain which somehow never materialized), and a bit disappointed. If this were last year I would vow to run another marathon to redeem myself. But this isn’t last year. And I’m not going to run another marathon to redeem myself. And I’m never going to eat at Pizza Hut again. Until I do.

Feel the burn

Many thanks to my parents for watching Will while both Melissa and I ran the marathon.

April 2010 Stats

Photo of the Day


Marathon Expo

Long runs early in the month, taper for the marathon late in the month.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 109.05 Mile 10 10.905 Mile
February 76.18 Mile 8 9.5225 Mile
March 84.86 Mile 10 8.486 Mile
April 83.15 Mile 9 9.23889 Mile
Total 353.24 Mile 37 9.54703 Mile


The boys

Will went on his first few bike rides in April. My one race (Hillsboro) sucked, but my training has gone much better. I’ve been feeling stronger and stronger each week.

April 2010

Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 112.05 Mile 8 14.0063 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 206.93 Mile 5 41.386 Mile
Total 318.98 Mile 13 24.5369 Mile

January-April 2010 by bike

Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 172.8 Mile 21 8.22857 Mile
El Fuego 40.9 Mile 11 3.71818 Mile
Pocket Rocket 31.27 Mile 2 15.635 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 889.76 Mile 29 30.6814 Mile
Total 1134.73 Mile 63 18.0116 Mile

January-April 2010 by month

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 166.25 Mile 20 8.3125 Mile
February 140.67 Mile 12 11.7225 Mile
March 508.83 Mile 18 28.2683 Mile
April 318.98 Mile 13 24.5369 Mile
Total 1134.73 Mile 63 18.0116 Mile


Rio Grande

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 28.66 Mile 9 3.18444 Mile
February 51.45 Mile 16 3.21563 Mile
March 34.7 Mile 10 3.47 Mile
April 44.35 Mile 11 4.03182 Mile
Total 159.16 Mile 46 3.46 Mile