Thursday, May 28, 2009
...my favorite periodical in the whole world by far continues to be Geico Direct Magazine. However, as a cyclist and loyal reader, I have to say I was quite disappointed by the cover of their latest issue:
Really, there isn't much more that could be wrong with this picture. Firstly, who rides a bike on the beach? Not only that, but there are two people on the bike, and neither of them are wearing shoes. The whole thing looks really painful. Why wouldn't they just take a nice romantic walk instead? This is the equivalent of the next Performance catalog featuring a photo of a couple tearing through a park in a Honda Accord. Both doors would be open, the guy would be driving barefoot with his seatbelt unbuckled, and the girl would be sitting on the roof. They might even be plowing through a picnic.
Stage 3 was an amateur version of a mountain top finish. The race was scheduled for 49 miles with 9 climbs, 5 of them being significant. The finish line was at the top of a 1 k 10% climb. It started as a controlled rollout at the bottom of the big climb and the official made sure everyone was together before releasing the go. Our team goal was to place 3-4 guys over the top of the climb the 3rd time through so that we could control the peleton there on after. The first lap was pretty uneventful as everyone got use to the course and the pace was about 25 mph. I think everyone knew that the peleton was going to split on the first climb and that’s exactly what happened. Even though the first climb was at a slower pace the climb broke the group in half. SISU had 4 in the group on the first climb, Tyler, Jesse, Tom, & Tim. That wouldn’t last long as just at the bottom of the descent Tom got a gash in his tire which just about ended his day. The pace picked up a bit with every lap as the lead group knew we were dropping people and didn’t want to give them the opportunity to bridge the gap. We approached the 3rd climb with about 30 people in the lead group and KOM points on the line. We reached the base of the climb and no one made a real effort to gap but the pace had been increased from the prior climb. Jesse & Tyler positioned themselves in the middle of the group to make sure that if an attack happened we wouldn't be left out. About half way up the hill Tyler decided to go for the KOM points. The tempo picked up and 1 man followed. Just as the grade kicks up to 10% Tyler stood to make an attack. He held to lead until 50 meters left and was passed at the line and took 2nd place points for the first KOM. The group was brought back together on the descent and we all realized that the group was now down to about 20 riders. Our goal was almost met as we had Tyler and Jesse still in the lead group with Tim just missing a wheel and dropping of the back ever so slightly. The pace was pounded again in attempt to keep the dropped riders off the back. The 4th climb approached and Jesse and Tyler played this one smart sitting in the middle of the pack and just answering anything that was presented to save energy for the 5th and final climb. It was a huge boost of confidence for both Jesse and Tyler to have each other in the climb to push up to the top. That climb reduced the group to 10 riders and the final laps pace stayed high. We approached the final climb and Jesse sat in the middle and Tyler sat in the back trying to bank every bit of energy to put forth for the finish. The climb started modestly as you could tell everyone was nervous to make the first move. About ¼ way up the climb the pedals were being pounded an at ½ way point 2 riders really pushed the pace. Jesse responded and Tyler took his wheel. The two attackers were making a gap slowly and both SISU riders went for the answer. At that point Jesse pulled back and encouraged Tyler to attack. Tyler attacked in efforts to bring in the front two but was unsuccessful but was successful at gapping the rest of the field for a 3rd place finish. Jesse finished out a strong climb and kept 5th position.
My apologies, but I do not have a story for the rest of the riders. I know that Tim, Danny, and Glen were all split up and worked with other riders the rest of the way. Tom’s day ended when his chain broke. The judge informed him that he could fix it and would have to finish to race the next day. He let the filed purposely lap him and was allowed to take an estimated time for his final lap. Results: Tyler, 3rd in 2:03.47; Jesse, 5th in 2:03.47; Tim, 27th in 2:10.10; Danny, 38th in 2:12.30, Glen, 48th in 2:24.26; Tom, 56th in 2:51.19.
Day 4 – 3rd SISU Podium – 3rd Place
The final day of competition was a .7 mile criterium course. It consisted of a fast down hill with a right hand turn leading into a straight stretch that bended back to a climb which was about 150m long at 8% with the finish about 200m from the climb. The race was scheduled for 35 minutes which turned out to be approximately 20 laps. All SISU riders represented the field at some point in the race. For the most part Tim, Tom, Jesse, & Tyler kept themselves in position to control the field. Tom and Tyler were able to take two merchandise sprints in the middle of the race. About 10 laps in Tom once again had mechanical problems and rejoined the race 2 laps later. Like most criteriums the field went back in forth with the leaders but unfortunately let a 2 man attack get away so it came down to the last 3 laps for the rest of the field to battle for 3rd place. The pace picked up and our main goal was to protect Jesse’s 10 second lead for the 5th spot in the GC. With 1 lap left Tom was in position to protect that for Jesse and sacrificed himself all the way to the hill to make sure Jesse had a good finish. Because of Tom’s sacrifice it set up Jesse, Tyler, and Tim to make a jump at another podium. The hill approached and Tyler and Tim attacked, Tim got cut off and Tyler was able to gap the field enough for a 3rd place finish. Most importantly Jesse attacked with Tyler and was able to come in right behind for a 4th place finish. Results: Tyler, 3rd place; Jesse, 4th place, Tim, 8th place; Tom, 19th place; Danny, 28th place; Glen, 39th place.
SISU Cycles had a remarkable weekend and were more than happy with the progress we have made in little time. We were able to take home a top 5 GC, 3 podium finishes, and a team full of hard workers.
For full results from the Duluth Classic Stage Race, look HERE.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
To set the stage for the whole weekend the Duluth Classic started with an individual Time Trial. This discipline was completed on a 16.2 course. Each rider was sent out in 30 second intervals and Jesse started the day for our team followed by Tom, Danny, Tyler, Tim, and then Glen. Nobody was lucky of enough to be on a TT bike but some of us were sporting TT clip on bars. By the end of the day we all found out the significance of a TT bike. Despite our instant disadvantage to other riders SISU performed well and set ourselves up for a positive weekend. Jesse put down the best effort of the evening handing in a time of 40:22 for a 17th place finish. The rest as follows: Tom, 40:49 in 24th; Tyler, 41:29 in 31st; Tim, 41:53 in 36th; Danny, 42:44 in 42nd; Glen, 44:05 in 51st.
Day 2 - 1st SISU Podium - 2nd place
Stage 2 was set up for the sprinters. This was a 36 mile course with flat road and 2 small climbs. The race started with 65 racers which made for a very tight peleton and white knuckle racing. The pace was easy as the peleton climbed the first hill and as it flattened out the pace began to rise. Our goal was to place a few riders in the front to cover any attacks and to set a few back to either hold the peleton off or bring back any lost teammates. Through the next few miles several attacks were attempted but failed as the peleton was just too jumpy and didn’t let anything get away. In hindsight, as you will see later in the story, it may have been better to let a few people go to split the peleton up a bit. Throughout the first half of the race SISU jockeyed a few team members (Jesse, Tyler, Tim, and Tom) up front just to let the peleton know we were players in the race. The group was still in tact at about the 15 mile marker when “Crash Fives” lived up to there name. The first lap was coming to an end and Tyler dropped back to gather the team members. Tyler, Tim, Glen, Jesse, and Danny all came together in the middle of the peleton as Tom hammered the pedals up front. Just as we all came together an attack was happening at the front and I noticed it was Tom that was doing the attacking and I turned to our team to let them know. Not two seconds later bike parts started to scatter on the road followed by bodies. We all did our best to avoid the wreck and Danny was fortunate to find an alternate route through the ditch but Jesse, Tyler, Glen, and Tim were not so lucky. Tyler, Glen, and Tim managed to make a SISU pie and Jesse hit some other riders on the outside. After the each rider assessed the damage to our bodies the next focus was the bikes. Jesse broke some spokes, Tyler twisted some handlebars and the other two managed only minor mechanical problems. Jesse was the first back on the road losing about 30-45 seconds. Glen and Tim were the next to get back on the bikes but had lost significant time to the leaders. Tyler had to retreat to the support vehicle to straighten his handlebars had had lost another minute to Glen and Tim. Tom was on the front of the peleton during this whole fiasco and didn’t know that the crash happened and kept plugging away at the lead. The remainder of the race Jesse worked with the GC leader and other riders to bring in the lead pack but they were unsuccessful and finished 23” behind. Danny was careful not to do too much work with his group knowing Tom was up front and helped protect that lead. Tyler worked with a SPBRC rider to bring in the 3rd chasing group and were successful at doing so with about 10 miles to go. The group managed to set a good pace but was way too far behind to even think of bringing in the leaders. So we set our own goals and tried to set Tim up for a bunch win. Glen had some hard pulls and set up Tyler to do a lead out for Tim with about 1000 meters left. Tyler pulled off a bit too early at about 500 m but fortunately the lead out didn’t cost him the sprint and he took the bunch win. As all this was happening in the back of the race the real drama worked out in the lead group. Tom did a lot of work for the lead group and realized his chances of winning the race were very favorable. He controlled the group to the finish line sprint and managed to take home a 2nd giving SISU Cycles there first podium finish of the year and weekend. The results are as follows. Tom, 1:27.13 in 2nd; Jesse, 1:27.36 in 22nd; Danny, 1.27.36 in 25th; Tim, 1:32 in 35th, Tyler, 1:32 in 39th, Glen, 1:33.34 in 47th.
Day 3 and Day 4
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Yes, everyone including me. My career at Nissan was moving along quite nicely. The company was great to work for and I really enjoyed my job. The pay was great and the job was very challenging. I even lived in Japan for 3 months (while I was engaged to Angela, now my wife) to be trained on emissions controls. Then about 2 months before my last day I received a promotion ahead of schedule. My last day at Nissan, I was shaking I had so much anxiety. I said to myself about a million times . . ."What the @#$% am I doing???"
If you have been up to Marquette then you know there is something special about the area. When customers come up to take delivery of a bike we usually go out on the trails that I use to help design and test my frames. The south trails in Marquette are some of the best in the country. The biking guys up here that developed the trail system really deserve all the credit. I just feel fortunate to have such a great place to use for r&d. The other part of what goes into my bikes is SISU. This is a Finnish word that doesn't have an exact translation to English but can be summed up by combining English words such as determination, spirit, resolve, courage, persistence, guts, tenacity, mettle, stubbornness, steadfastness, and perseverance. Growing up, my best friend's grandmother referred to sisu as "more guts than brains" ....in a good way of course. At times having sisu in your blood can get you into trouble but when applying it to a positive outlet like framebuilding you can get some of the most beautiful bikes that are easy on the eyes. My whole life I have been applying the principles of sisu to different situations in my life. . .as a youngster I started racing BMX at age 10. I trained my but off . . . .I remember my parents driving me 30 minutes 5 times a week to train on the closest BMX track. The training/practice paid off and I became a state champ at age 12. Then in my junior year of high school I took X-country skiing more seriously and applied the principles of sisu to my training. It paid off as I skied to a MI High School State Championship. At Michigan State I studied my but off to graduate 3rd in my class. Which, I felt was a huge accomplishment due to the fact that 90% of my time and energy when into Formula SAE. My senior year at State our Formula Team finished 3rd at the World Championships and we won the Road and Track Competition. Then at Nissan I again used sisu as a model for my career. Now, I figure what better way to acknowledge my Finnish heritage than to place it on the downtube of every frame I make. Each and every frame that I craft has heart, sweat, blood (sometimes), tears (usually), and SISU ingrained into the cuts, bends, braze and welds . . .that is what makes my frames special.
The moments that stand out in my mind are when I unwrap a prototype frame from the paint shop and complete the build. Hours, days, weeks and sometimes years go into developing new frames. Sometimes, an idea is spawned and I immediately bring it to production, but usually new ideas mean new designs, new tooling, test, design, test, design, test, etc. So, when I deliver the first new design to a customer and he or she sees it for the first time, their reaction is always burned into my memory. I love riding with customers when they are on the bike for the first time when they come to grips with the performance (which I pride myself on) of the bike. It is a true feeling of accomplishment....there is nothing like it.
The local roads in Marquette offer a lot to the bike culture here. You are either road biking on the roads or the trails are located off of some of the roads. It is a special feeling when you are rocking out a ride with a SISU 550 on the trails that the bike was named after. Recently I have expanded the names of my frames to include other landmarks near Marquette such as Hogsback, Huron, etc.
The 553 is in the works. Its a 26" MTB full suspension with Reynolds 953 Stainless tubing. Yes the "Xroads" is definitely in the running for a cross frame. I'm diligently working to release a few cross frames this summer before the season starts.
5. What's your top speed coming down the hill by Marquette Mountain?
6. Is there a name for that hill?
The ski hill. This is where I do most of my hill workouts. I either do repeats on the road or up the service road on my mountain bike. Either is pretty tough. . .I would say the road is tougher in the spring because you can't bike on the shoulder due to the sand. This year a some dude in a truck ran me off the road, into the sand and almost hit me. I learned something really quick. . . for some reason 23c tires don't track well through 3" deep sand.
Monday, May 18, 2009
2009 WORS Race #1 -- Iola Bump N Jump
See Photos Below
Tom, Matt, Glen, Tyler and Jesse were representing the team. The pace was high right out of the gate as everyone found their spot. Jesse and Tom stayed in the top 4 for most of the first lap and jockeyed for position for the rest of the race. Tyler was close behind early on, but had a mechanical that put him an unrecoverable distance back. Glen had an unfortunate blowout resulting in a DNF. Everyone had pretty good legs despite the previous day's race and we all enjoyed the course which was very fast and sufficiently gnarly. It was good prep for the Duluth Classic Stage Race next weekend.
Tom & Glen lining up at the start
full results here
Sunday, May 17, 2009
SISU Cycles fielded a 7 man team in the Men's Cat 4/5 race. The winds were brutal and the first climb blew the race apart. Two guys rode off the front on the first hill and the field split in two. Wes (from Team Ace) and a couple other guys organized a chase, but were swallowed up by the field near the end of the half lap. At that point Tyler, Tom, Jesse and Matt were all in the main pack. By the top of the first climb only Tyler was left in the chase group. Tyler was our top finisher in perhaps 7th place. Tom and Jesse crossed the finish line together with Matt just behind. They finished around 11th, 12th and 13th.
The team didn't work very well together...we lost Matt on a downhill where we could have easily brought him back, and we were not efficient at forming a paceline to chase the leaders. This was our first shot at racing as a team though, so we have a lot of learning to do. Every race will be a great learning experience.
Friday, May 15, 2009
We expect to have 7 guys in the cat 4/5 field tomorrow at the LaRue/Denzer/LaRue race. The course starts out with a monster climb that will likely split the 4/5 field right off the bat. Jesse got dropped like a hot mop on the hill last year, but he'll try harder this time.
Sunday will be another great day. SISU Cycles Race Team will be strongly represented in the WORS race in Iola. We're hoping for several podium finishes and will be sure to provide updates on the blog when we can.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I get on the bike and start pedaling. I’m cold. There is a constant headwind, but I keep the cadence at 90 as I warm up slowly. I do a few 1 minute intervals of fast pedaling, then 10 minutes easy again. The scenery doesn’t change. Time for the hard stuff. 5 minutes 100% effort. Ouch. Another 10 minutes easy. I don’t think I can go hard again, but barely make it through the 20 minute threshold test. I literally yelp with the last hard pedal stroke.
I spin easily again and start to think about the nice hot breakfast I’ll be devouring after a recovery shake. As I dismount the bike my skirt hooks on the saddle and I almost tip over the trainer. I turn off the fan that has been blowing in my face the entire ride and gingerly climb the basement stairs. I know the Ace hardmen will be riding outside later this morning and consider joining them. Instead, I loosen the waistband on my skirt and enjoy a big breakfast. Ah, Saturdays.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
They told me that the wheel was built with spokes that were slightly too short and this caused the spoke breakage. Reynolds rebuilt the wheel with new spokes and it arrived on Wednesday.
Reynolds builds thousands of wheels a year (I'm assuming). It seems like by now they'd have the length of the spokes figured out. How do they screw that up? Isn't that wildly embarrassing for them? Wouldn't they try to kiss some ass to keep a customer from sharing with the world that one of the world's largest cycling wheel manufacturers can't choose the correct spoke length on their top end wheel? Or to at least give the me, the customer, something positive to blog about?
If I had to rate my satisfaction with how they handled the problem, I'd give them a 4. On one hand, they admitted responsibility for the problem and fixed it at no charge. Also, the turnaround time from when they received the wheel to when they shipped the wheel was short. That's good. On the other hand, I was without a primary training tool (PowerTap) for about two weeks and was unable to get invaluable data from the three races and all the training I did during that time. The least they could have done would have been to overnight or 2nd day air the wheel back to me. Or, they could have sent me complimentary wheel bags, or a t-shirt, or a couple of zip ties to use to replace the next broken spoke. I don't know. I'm not thrilled.
Let's compare to Mavic. My Mavic R-Sys front wheel was recalled. I had to send in the wheel for replacement. However, Mavic says the new front wheels won't be available for several months (which is "Mavic-ease" for up to two years). The good news is that the company provided an COMPLETE AKSIUM WHEELSET for me to KEEP (forever) so that I have a complete wheelset between now and when the R-SYS wheel is available.
So, Reynolds responds much more quickly, they return calls, they're friendly and they fix the problem quickly, but they lack in the kissing ass department.
Mavic is exceptionally slow. They don't return calls. They don't communicate well. They always understate time frames. BUT, they gave me a free wheelset! Fortunately, the R-Sys is no longer my primary wheelset. If it was, I would be very unhappy to be forced to race on an Aksium wheelset for months (or years) on end while Mavic figures out how to build a front wheel with carbon spokes.
In the end, neither one is all that great when it comes to service. I really like both the wheelsets though. Based on these experiences, I'm not 100% sure which company I'd sooner do business with in the future. As of now, I'm a bit displeased with both.
WHEEL BEfORE SENDING TO REYNOLDS
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Flash forward 15 minutes to the start of the Masters 4/5 race. My legs were still screaming as we rolled out. I knew immediately that I would be lucky to just finish the race. The field split and I was in the second group of about 10 riders. I just hung in the pack trying to rest and recover for the entire first lap. I rode the whole group off my wheel on the second lap though. I started bridging and ended up in a group of three and then six, then four. I was riding with three guys from a bike shop team and in great position when I dropped my chain on a climb. I couldn't shift it back on and had to get off the bike. I gave 100% to catch the three guys I had been riding with, and didn't make it. Quickly got sucked up by the pack and then spit out. Rode the last 5 miles alone in a brutal head and crosswind. Rolled in 22nd with nothing left in the legs.
The course was much hillier than I expected...my GPS says there were 12% grades and about 900 feet of climbing per lap. The winds were ridiculous. You were either climbing or getting blown off the road the whole race. I'm not happy with my results, but it was a great workout and a good learning experience.
1) don't jump into a race you hadn't planned to do with no warmup, course preview or pre-race routine
2) use inhaler
3) don't shift like an idiot
On Sunday I did a leisurely 50 miles in the Green Bay area. The roads were beautiful and the flat terrain was perfect for a recovery ride. I feel great today and am looking forward to a recovery week this week. Only 8 weeks until the SBF!