Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I've dropped back to reality, my temporary full time job of cyclist is over for the season. It's great to get away for two whole weeks of the summer and only worry about riding my bike and what I'm going to eat. If only that could be my entire life, I hope that day is in my future.
For those of you that don't know, I've officially reached "BALLER" status since the start of my adventures at SupwerWeek.(click on my picture if you don't understand) I've had a lot of success over the past two weeks, just missing the overall podium by 3 points.
The last two days I was accompanied by my mom on the trip. She's a great supporter and knows when I just need her to get out of the way and let me do my thing. On the second to last day I had my two great teammates JBell and StreetPlaya by my side.
I had one goal on this second to last day, get in a break and make it stick. Let's cut to the chase, it didn't happen. I was in sixth place overall and a break may have secured a podium finish for me. Not only did I not get in a break after a failed first attempt, I was tailgunnin' it all day. Jesse was on the front driving the pace, this course suited him well and he was just smashing it. Little did he know, I was on the back suffering a bit. It came down to a group sprint and though I didn't win it, I came in for a fourth place. I wasn't positioned well and it was a tricky snaking finish stretch. Somehow I managed to get around though and finish well.
Bill got pulled after being lapped with just a few laps to go and Jesse flatted and continued to ride the last two laps with the technical difficulty, whether it was unnoticed or to secure a finish I'm not sure. The results of the day launched me into fourth place overall, just seven points from third and fourteen points from second. I needed to finish 6th the final day to even think about a podium.
So the final day was slightly ceremonial and filled with a lot of fun and drama brought to you by the Blue, White, and Orange squad, the team I've often said I'm not a large fan of without dropping their name again. We started the race with a COMPLETELY neutral first lap, with the first few top GC contenders receiving champagne glasses on the back stretch and toasting across the line before the fun began. Some hooligan from the aforementioned team thought he'd be cool during this lap and sprint away from us, even though the pace car had a flashing yellow light for "neutral." Idiot. Oh well, we all yelled at him, put him in his place and basked in our glory for one lap and then let things begin.
Since there was a close battle for the podium, I had my guys marked and any attack they put in I matched it, knowing I'd have the kick at the finish to do well in the sprint. I chased down my marked man three or more times during breakaway attempts. Each time he realized what I had done, let up and we drifted back. He obviously learned his lesson and sat in the rest of the day, I wasn't letting just him get away.
A breakaway did manage to get away and I found myself on the front doing some work. I still wanted a victory and I wasn't gonna let anyone just walk away with it. ISCorp tried to block, and I mean BLOCK, on the front but I yelled and gave them some words of encouragement to make them pull through so others could do the work. It worked and I didn't see them on the front anymore the rest of the day. That made me happy, just a little.
The last two laps had to be the fastest laps in a Cat 3 race that I've ever experienced. EVER. It was really cool, and I really enjoyed the chance to test my handling skills and my ability to move around the group at those speeds. I impressed myself and after a 10th place finish to round things out at Superweek for, sadly, a fourth place overall I am proud to announce that I have applied for my Cat 2 upgrade and will hopefully be racing the Glencoe Grand Prix and Cherry Roubaix as well as possibly the Gateway Cup in Missouri at the start of September to get a feel for what things will be like with the big boys.
I'm very excited, and anxious, with a side of nerves for the upgrade. I'm confident that I will do well, but I am mentally ready for a slight bit of a rude awakening. I know it will be tough and I'm going to do my best. Having my team, my girlfriend and my family behind me as well as a few friends is a great help. I'm anxious to let you all know if I get my upgrade and can't wait to test my abilities!
Friday, July 23, 2010
As things begin to wind down here at the ICC SuperWeek tour, things are just beginning to wind up for me. I've reserved myself a bit for these last few days and my points are starting to add up quickly in the overall standings.
This week started with the race in my last update, Whitnall Park, which was a very tiring day and start to the long week of racing. Tuesday was a road race again in Milwaukee, The Bucyrus Cycling Classic. It was a lap course, each lap containing two good power climbs high winds and good technical corners. I managed to get in a breakaway that packed some major horsepower, but sadly it didn't succeed. Three of the four of us in the breakaway were all in the top 10 overall and I'm sure the peloton sensed some urgency with us all out front. A few people escaped again and the sprint was for fifth or sixth place. I ended up eight in the sprint and settled into 8th place overall.
Wednesday was another road race, this time it was a bit longer compared to all previous days, we set out for 70 miles on a 4.5 mile course setting out for 16 laps. It was a super hot day and it was to be my longest road race ever and I was a bit nervous. I'm happy to say I felt extremely good despite having to pee for the last 2/3 of the race. Even though we were neutralized a few times I was a bit too shy to do my duty on the lakefront in Milwaukee. All minor dificulties aside, the race came down to a group sprint despite many breakaway attempts throughout the day. Bill tried to position me up the right side but as things closed up quick on that side I swung over to the left side and less than 300m from the finish a hole opened up and I took full advantage going from about 13-15th wheel to a podium finish in third place!
Thursday it was time to get back into crit racing mode. I felt like crap that morning. I had slept just fine, gotten a full 8 hours of sleep and even though I had done that I woke up feeling so tired I could've stayed at home and napped all day. Tony and I watched the tour to its finish that morning and seeing Schleck win must've motivated me a slight bit as I felt great as soon as we arrived in Racine for our race. Not to mention the fact that I had two teammates by my side for the day. Jesse and Bill were there and helped as much as possible to keep my in the top of the overall.
I didn't get much of a warm-up which made me slightly nervous at the line but once we got rolling on our 42 laps on the .8 mile course I started to feel great. Jesse and Bill were taking turns on the front trying to help catch a break that started very early in the day. All organization was out the window and 3 guys were up the road with between 10 and 15 laps to go. I made desperate attempts to close down the gap myself on the front and got it as close as 10 seconds but as I pulled off no one else could pull through as fast. With about 5-8 laps to go I decided to fall back and leave it to the rest of people at the front. With less than five laps I learned that Jesse had dropped and I hadn't seen Bill for a few laps. He came up to tell me the news about Jesse and he looked quite tired. I still felt rather fresh but I wanted to save it for the sprint. I couldn't close the gap to the break by myself and got into position for the last two laps. A move came on the second to last corner on the outside which I covered and got position on the inside of the last corner with two guys in front of me. I passed one and came in just behind the other for sixth place as there were 3 in the main break and one other rider went on the second to last lap.
My form really seems to be coming around, my power numbers have not been that impressive yet, however I know I am quite fatigued and expect things to swing back up for crit "nationals" in two weeks. With only two days left I am still very hungry for a victory, keep posted as I will be taking more risks to get in a winning break or make a winning move within the last few laps.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Things started off a little backwards from what I wanted to. My friend and I were staged right outside the start/finish straight, waiting for the course to be opened for a warm-up lap. As we were waiting a group of cat 3 riders, from a particular team I don't truly care for, rode through the start/finish while the course was CLOSED to all riders except those in the race in progress. The officials scolded them with a slap on the wrist and no more. After the last rider rode through the finish, the course was opened and Tony, my friend, and I headed out for a quick lap around the course. No one was at the start/finish but us and a couple others that headed out for the same warm-up lap. Now we didn't take a slow lap or a fast one either, but we definitely weren't sitting still. We all cruised up the last hill expecting to see the whole field at the line and ready to start. You can probably guess where this is going and I'm sure you're right. There was no one there but on official in a car. He called out "what are you guys doing? The cat 3's already started!" And you can only imagine the anger that arose. The few of us first thought it was a joke but there was no neutral support car, no official lead car and no riders. We soon realized that it was not a joke and the race had started, without us.
So there were a total of six of us that missed the finish and there was only one way we were going to make up, what we found out later, a minute time gap. After one lap, we lost one rider, after another lap we lost yet another rider. At this time we had the gap down to around 30 seconds. Going into our third chase lap we could finally see the group, but do you understand how much work it is for only four riders to overcome the sheer power and speed of the peloton? We simply smashed it for 4 laps, averaging somwhere around 28 mph and I know when I was pulling on the front I was pushing over 400W of pure anger. After four laps of chasing, roughly 20-25 minutes of pure teamwork, we made it to the group.
I can't even express how tired I was when I got to the group, we had all done just about a 20 minute time trial. I played recovery all day. Nothing special happened for the rest of the day and I positioned myself very well for the finish. I was poised to AT LEAST get in the top 10 and when I stood up to sprint it out after the uphill before the somewhat flat finish there was nothing there. My legs screamed, NO MORE and I sat back down and hammered as hard as I could in the saddle until the last 50m where I got up again and did what I could which wasn't much.
I came in for 14th and it was a well deserved check in my mind at the end of the day. I impressed myself and I know I could now survive in a break with at least 8 miles to go at the end of a race. I'm very excited to get the power data on the computer to analyze how well I truly did in the time before catching the group and then after catching them.
Another road race tomorrow, hopefully a better start and a better result to report tomorrow.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I had some trouble finding a place to stay. Luckily the guy I stayed with last year, a ZIPP sales rep, found me somewhere pretty close to last minute in Chicago for the first few nights. I struck out in Milwaukee for week two so I am now staying with my friend in Madison, Tony Phillips. The people that housed me in Chicago were great, they had a nice house, let me watch the Tour at will and even fed me. I couldn't have asked for much more.
On the racing front, things started out on a decent note. Day one was a criterium in Richton Park, IL through not what I would call a "ghetto" or a "project" but lets just say I was the minority on this particular occasion. I did this same race last year and it is a tough course. I played it safe since it was early in the series and finished 14th, just in the money for 20 bucks. The next day was the Willow Springs Road Race. We raced through a forest preserve on pretty decent roads. There was a climb and an uphill finish which provided some excitement every lap. We raced for only 30 miles compared to the previous days 35 mile, 80 minute crit. I got in a couple breakaways but had no success. There was a 2 man breakaway with only 2 laps to go. No one thought it would stick and when organization fizzled it managed to do so. The finish was uphill and I sat 5th wheel up the hill for the finish line and as soon as it leveled out slightly, the line was in sight I flew out to the left and up that side. I held my sprint just high enough to out sprint all but one member in the field for 2nd in the field and 5th overall. The next day, was a pretty fun criterium in Lake Geneva, west of Kenosha. There was a good climb, a good hill and a perfect fast finish. I sat in all day, it was extremely hot and I just wanted to make it to the finish. I did just that and we caught every breakaway attempt. It was super windy and I should probably not have ridden my 808s but they paid off in the sprint. I was poised for a 2nd or 3rd but a minor tangle with a rider from ISCorp slowed me down for another 5th place. The next day was a rest and travel day from Chicago to Madison.
I arrived in Madison and Tony and I unpacked the truck and we set out for an easy hour ride while our dinner baked in the oven. When we got back it was Stouffer's lasagna on the menu, we caught up for a while then headed off to bed. We woke up early for our drive to the race in Milwaukee.
The race was in Brookfield, a lovely suburb of Milwaukee. Tony's rear brake broke before the race, causing it to rub constantly. He decided to race despite the technical difficulty and we both set out in the heat again. I made it one lap further than Tony did. He finally had pushed high enough watts for too long and popped off the back. I had found myself in a breakaway and after taking a pull I found myself in a high need of recovery. I got forced to the front of the break and popped soon after. I fell back to the group and tried to hang on to the back. I dangled off the back there for about a lap like a dingleberry just waiting to be wiped off the back. It happened pretty soon, I tried to recover on the back of the group then I popped. I took one easy lap and it was over. I dropped out of a race for the first time in over 2 years. It hurt me mentally but I swore to myself I would come back stronger the next day.
That next day was a super tough crit with a very steep climb after the start/finish line then an even bigger downhill and two technical corners at very high speeds. It was a left hand turn course, which is my style and I knew I could do well in a sprint finish if positioned well. A break got out sadly and organization fizzled with just four or five laps to go. The hill was killer EVERY lap but I got a good system for a high cadence all the way up in the big ring. By the top I was almost grimacing every time through.
I stayed up near the front, safe and sound all day. We flew around the corners and when it came time for the last lap, things were pretty tense in the group. I positioned myself in the top 15 for the finish, there was a big crash on the outside of the last corner and luckily I was on the inside. The group was pretty strung out so I had some ground to cover, it was a drag race finish. I put out some good power numbers, not my best but close at almost 1400W instantaneous and just over 1300 for 5 sec. I came in for 11th place, not as far up as I had hoped but even though I was on the inside I lost a bit of momentum from others taking the turn tighter and me having to grab the brakes.
So far I'm quite pleased with my results. This week I have 3 road races in a row, Monday through Wednesday followed by a crit on Thursday where Jesse will be joining me. I will take Friday off from racing and then race Saturday and Sunday to finish out the series. I am currently sitting in 9th overall and I'm hoping this stretch over the week will help me climb a bit higher. Sorry for so much to update on, I'll hopefully keep this better posted.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Michelle and I drove down to Eau Claire, or as she likes to say, "You-Claire", "Oo-Claire" or "Eee-Claire". She refuses to pronounce it correctly to deny me the satisfaction of having taught her the correct pronunciation. I still correct her every time she mispronounces it and then I smile. I guess its a fun little game.
Arriving at about 1 pm, we headed directly to the race venue for a quick pre-ride. Michelle opted to sunbathe while I rode the course. I had raced this course a couple of times before, so I knew what was in store: a ton of fast, smooth, twisty, fun singletrack, very little climbing, and a couple of pretty serious rock gardens. Following the pre-ride, we immediately indulged in Panara Bread, picked up some needed cycling supplies, and checked into the hotel.
We rode our bikes 5 miles to the Northwood Brewery for dinner. The service was appalling, but the beer was delicious. We should ride to dinner more often.
In the morning I put together a couple of yummy bagels with cream cheese and mung bean sprouts, but my stomach was still calling for more, so I had a couple of blueberry muffins, some raisin bran, an orange and a bunch of coffee. I tried to find a bleed kit for my Avid brakes, which were seriously rubbing in the rear, but had no luck on a Sunday morning. I figured the extra work necessary to overcome the brake drag would help grow hair on my chest, so I gave up on fixing them.
After watching Lance lose Le Tour, we went out for more shopping. I succumbed to some clever marketing and ate a Cuban pork sandwich 1.5 hours before the race. As I ordered it, I said, "I could regret this decision". And I did. I burped constantly as I warmed up and seriously considered purging, but I knew that wouldn't make me feel all that great either. No matter, the race must go on.
I got my customary last row start (when will I learn to get to the start line early?) and was near the back of the pack going into the first corner. See me at about :26 in this video.
I made up some spots before the first section of singletrack, but had little to no hope of moving up much. I rode a pretty steady pace throughout the race picking up a spot here and there and getting into a group for a while, which really beats riding alone. I was happy to not surrender any positions in the last two laps, which is where I usually fall apart. I made it through Mr. Hyde (the nasty rock garden) 3 of 4 times. I dropped my chain in dramatic fashion the first time through, but killed it the other times. Its actually pretty fun...watch my arms act as suspension in this video:
So in summary, I got my ass kicked as usual, Michelle I had a wonderful trip and we're looking forward to the next trip, which will include a Brewers' game.
To Troy Meives, Jim Chapman (both fellow Sisu Cycles owners) and the rest of the volunteers who put on this race, NICE JOB. The course was fantastic! I'm already looking forward to it next year.
Friday, July 2, 2010
I will be racing for a total of 11 days over the course of exactly two weeks. The first two days are near Chicago while the rest of the series is based around Milwaukee this year. I'm sad that one of my favorite road races of this series has been removed from their schedule but I know there are plenty others in there that will be challenging and still suit me. I wanted to make my schedule for SuperWeek this year public so here it is!
Mon. July 12th - Richton Park Criterium
Tues. July 13th - Willow Springs Road Race
Wed. July 14th - Lake Geneva Criterium
Thurs. July 15th - Rest Day
Fri. July 16th - Brookfield Criterium
Sat. July 17th - Schlitz Park Criterium
Sun. July 18th - Rest Day
Mon. July 19th - Whitnall Park Road Race
Tues. July 20th - Bucyrus Road Race
Wed. July 21st - Lakefront Road Race
Thurs. July 22nd - Racine Criterium
Fri. July 23rd - Rest Day
Sat. July 24th - Humboldt Park Criterium
Sun. July 25th - Whitefish Bay Criterium
As always, stay posted for updates along the way.