Monday, June 29, 2009

Hyde Park/ Tour de Grandview

After a couple short recovery days in St. Louis with Lauren I drove to Ohio for a couple crits with some good money and pretty decent sized fields. The usual guys were there with pretty big squads. Kenda, Roadhouse, Aerocat and our team made up the majority of the numbers. Saturday's race in Hyde Park, Ohio was a twilight crit on a pretty cool course with a 180 degree turn in it. We didn't race terribly, but weren't agressive enough either. The 90 rider fields on this tight course lead to a lot of people getting popped off the back. The whiplash effect was so severe at the back that some pretty quality guys were falling off the pace. Coming down to the finish with one lap to go I was sitting in the top ten wheels through the round-about on Chad B. of Kenda and he was on Paul's wheel and Paul was following a pretty well known rider from a pretty well known local team. This rider is also pretty well known for his yelling at other riders in races and generally being an ass to people who are riding in an manor that he deems unsatisfactory. So when said rider thought it was a good idea to try to pedal his bike through this 180 degree corner and crash out a handful of the top 10 including himself, me, Paul and Chad... I found it quite ironic. But as they say, that's bike racing. Maybe said rider will worry less about others' riding and more about himself from here on out. So the team got some guys in the top 10 and just outside of it, but that little spill definitely hurt our end of the race situation.

Sunday was the traditional Sunday of Grandview crit with the nice little big-ring climb in it. We did 40 laps, for a total of 45 miles. It was pretty hot and most of the major players from the previous night were still around. Traditionally this race has broken up quite a bit and ended up with a big group of 10 or so off the front. I tried to be in all the promising moves and make sure I didn't miss the inevitable move that was going to go. The team did a much better job of being aggressive and instigating some of the moves and riding a much more offensive race. It took a while, but the break did go. It had lots of the big guys in it and I missed it initially but got across in a group of 3 shortly after. Andy and Dan from our team also came across after, the group ended up being 13 strong. We had 4 guys including Paul, so once I was recovered Dan and I went to the front and pulled the break around for the last 5 laps so that Paul and Andy could rest for the sprint. What we didn't know was Paul was cramping and it may have been a better option for us to work for someone else, but how often are you not going to work for Paul Martin? Anyway, Dan and I were toast and couldn't really sprint at the end. We ended up taking 7,9,10,11, and 17 on the day. It was nice to get 4 guys in the move, but we would have played it a little bit differently if we could do it again.

Now Greg and I are staying at Chartier's place until we leave for Fitchburg tomorrow morning. We're about to head out for a little tune up on our TT bikes and then do a whole lot of nothing for the rest of the day.

The next update should be from Massachusets, or somewhere on the highway along the way there. Wish me luck.

Photo's courtesy of Jeffrey Jakucyk

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tour of America's Dairyland Wrap-up

I'm typing this from my phone as I speed through Illinois, away from Dairyland and towards St. Louis for a few days.

So you probably guessed that by my lack of an update yesterday, the road race didn't go so hot. Well, you were right. Well it was really hot, just not from a performance standpoint. It was literally 100 degrees and we were supposed to race 80 miles on a 10 mile course.

A break went pretty much from the gun and we hand Greg in it and so we were pretty much chillin in the field as a team. It was actually cooler to get out in the wind a bit, so I would occaisonally go to the front toride in the wind, rather than sit in the stagnant air in the middle of the group. The racing gradually got more intense as the laps wore on. I was getting at least one if not two bottles every time through the feed zone, and I'm not even much of a drinker in races.

Eventually I saw a group going up the road with Andy Crater, Frank Travesio, Ben Raby, and Pat Lemiux. It looked promising, so I dragged my weak legs across to it. I don't know what I expected, but it was really hard. Travesio and Crater were literally pulling at 35mph all the time. I was sitting on chewing on my stem, praying for mercy. I felt a bit better when I saw Raby was hurting as bad as me though. Eventually all the groups on the road had exploaded. The break was shelling guys and we soon cam upon Greg's corpse rolling along. He was totally shot. I got popped out of my group. The field caught me and it was tiny, but I went right out the back of it too. When my lights went out, they went out real hard. I pedaled squares back to the feed zone and called it a day. Dan and Vince were the only Panther guys to survive the day. Dissapointment was abundant as we went and sat by lake Winnebago until we felt like getting back in the cars.

Today we were all a little salty from the road race, so were we determined to get some.The course seemed like it was gonna be an easy one, but I don't know about the other guys, but it was harder than I thought it would be. Lots of attacks went and came back for about 45 minutes of racing, but one actually got a nice gap and we had Dan in it. A 2 man move with Frank "the tank" Travesio. They worked well together and got a nice gap. I ended up in a 7 man chase group with a bunch of former PRO's aiming to beat me down. Ben Raby (Kodak Sierra Nevada), Chad Hartley (BMC, Jittery Joe's) and Adam Bergman (Colavita). Since I had a guy up the road, I wasn't pulling through. They didn't like that. They were trying to ride me out of it every time one of them pulled off. So these gaps would open up and we would all be forced to close them or get dropped from the chase. This wore on me pretty good. With 4 to go, a group of 4 more guys came up and so now our group of 11 was sprinting for 3rd. Andy Moskal of our team was in the group of 4 to join late. The attacks atarted immediately. It was all I could do to cover them and when the sprint came I was totally smashed. I ended up in freaking 13th. Andy was 6th and Dan got beat by Travesio, but still it was a good day for the team.

As I was driving, I was getting pissed at myself for botching that situation so hard, but I also realized I'm at the emd of a 9 race in 18 day period. I'm seriously due for some rest before Fitchburg. But I guess if you told me I'd be able to race this much this month and not be feeling sick, I would have been pleased just to participate as much as I have.

My GPS is telling me that I'll be in St. Louis in 153 more miles, so it looks like I'll have time for a bit more reflection before I hit the hay.

I hope this mega long post from my phone actually works. Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tour of America's Dairyland- Manitowoc Crit

Last nights crit was another 90 minute race on a four corner circuit. It was pretty wide open through the corners so the speeds were pretty high and it was tough to get much of a gap. After our poor showing in Grafton, we decide to get to the front and ride like we actually belonged in the race. The team was able to get someone in every move that went off the front, even though they we're all pretty short lived, we just wanted to play it safe and be represented anyway. We mixed it up in a few of the prime sprint and took home a little extra cash that way.

The crit was going along in pretty standard fashion, without much of a lull in the racing. Greg flatted and was coming back into the field after getting a neutral wheel when he got about 3 pedal strokes into his attempt to get back up to speed and he literally ripped his handlebar in half at the stem. the whole left side of his ALUMINUM bar came off in his hand and he went over the bars and his bike came flying into the field. Luckily everyone dodged it successfully and Greg was ok. After that he got a complete neutral bike and was back in the game a lap later.

The team did a much better job of communicating in the closing laps of this race than we did the night before. we helped take each other to the front and made sure that we weren't moving around in the pack without the purpose of helping one of us get to a good spot for the sprint. When we got the sign for 7 laps to go, the field collectively flared their elbows and starting duking it out in the battle for optimum position. With wide open straights, it was hard for any one person or team to keep the pace high enough to prevent swarming at the front. I ended up on Tilly's wheel with 2 corners to go and was pretty pleased with my spot. I got bumped off when I had to hit the breaks to avoid swinging into the curb coming out of the 2nd to last corner. It wasn't terrible, but at that stage in the race it hurt my chances to really get up there. I ended up coming across the line in 8th and Derek was 9th. Tilford took 3rd, but he's always been a pretty slippery wheel to follow in the closing laps of a bike race. All and all it was a much better day for the team, but we're gonna keep at it with hopes a getting a stage win. Tomorrow's Road Race is a pretty good chance given the two oxen we have in Greg and Dan.

Today was a pretty successful rest day, with maybe not as much rest as we should of had, but pretty fun none the less. If you're ever in Milwaukee, I highly recommend a tour of the Lakefront Brewery. For $6 you get 4 glasses of beer and a nice pint glass along with the tour of the micro-brewery.

Alright, enough for tonight. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report from tomorrow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Giro D' Grafton

Well the team is up in Wisconsin for some of the Tour of America's Dairyland. Last night was a 90min crit in Grafton with some solid riders and some good fan support. There were lots of parties around the course and the fans got pretty into it as the laps wound down.

The team had a pretty sub par performance across the board, with no one really riding very well. We were definitely all kicking ourselves on the ride home, but we just didn't get our asses into the right spots at the right times. We all got near the front with a few laps to go and then just didn't stay positioned well for the finale. This is the first race of the year where we've raced poorly from top to bottom. Personally I was as guilty as anyone of a trash performance and am hoping for some better legs and a little more bike racing sense tonight.

We just went for a spin with the 3 guys from the other host house. We've got a pretty nice situation here in Wawautosa, especially when you consider the price... free. Sorry for the short update, maybe I'll have some more after tonight's race. Time for a shower and some foam rollering. Happy Fathers Day.

Annnnddd, this just in: Lauren got 7th in Womens Open (1,2,3,4's) race at Winghaven today. She probably got a nice chunk of that $2K for the ladies. Tiiiight!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Le Tour de Mont Pleasant

Sounds pretty official huh? Le Tour de Mont Pleasant was an awesome race in a pretty cool area of Michigan. It was also an opportunity for my to race with my full squad for the first time.

Graham Howard, Me and Dave Williams give it a go.

Saturdays crit was a nice little 75 minute affair, with a few technical corners and a long Start/Finish straight. We had 8 of our 9 guys (sans Jeremy Grimm, probably one of our best crit-ers) there for the crit and face some good numbers from Bissel and Priority Health. Kenda Pro had 3 strong guys too. We decided that we wanted to be aggressive from the start and so that's how it went down. The team rode really well, constantly shooting guys off the front looking for the right combination to form the days move. It was never to be. Greg had a nice solo attempt from 9 to go all the way to 1 to go. It took about 6 guys from assorted teams to drag him back just before the bell lap. As he came back, Graham Howard from the Bissel Pro squad attacked from right in front of me, so I wasn't about to let one of the strongest guys in the field ride away alone, so I jumped on his wheel and he dragged out a nice little gap real quick like. Unfortunately for us, Kenda kicked it into gear and started chasing us down. We were gobbled up with 2 corners to go and I jumped on the back of the Kenda mini-train but was pretty toast and had to pull off and hand it over to Paul out of the last corner. Chris and Paul chased after Renkema, but he had gotten a good jump and a great leadout and they came up just a bit short. Another 2nd place for the Panther squad. That's something like 6 in a row for us. We gotta get over that hump.

Getting the bell

Saturday night we stayed with a professor at Central Michigan University and it was plush, let me tell you. There baked up cookies, brownies, and let us have our pick of his 60 some different home brewed beers he had made. His wife made us a huge spread for breakfast and we hit the road for the start line.

105 miles were on tap, with some KOM's and some Sprint Points too. A break with lots of horse power went about 10 miles in and we only had Greg in it. Graham Howard, Rytlewski, Renkema and some other studs were up the road, so I worked for a while to try to bring the gap down enough to bridge another of our guys across. Dan Campbell made the bridge look like cake and then we were sitting a little bit better.

After an hour of riding 15mph in the field, the break had a sizeable gap, so Paul Martin got the racing started for the second time, with some solo moves. We all took turns getting guys up the road by the handful. The field was too fresh and there were too many Priority and Bissel guys who weren't letting it happen. The racing stayed alive for pretty much the rest of the day. Coming into the final corner we got our guys to the front and set Chris up for the bunch kick. We had a few minor communication issues, but those will be corrected with more time together as a team. everyone did their part and Chris took the sprint for 8th, I was 14th and Paul Martin was 17th. Once we caught up with Dan and Greg, we heard the Greg had been 2nd and Dan 4th. Graham Howard had beaten Greg after sitting on the break for 80 miles or so. Panther had 5 riders in the top 20, but once again we were just off the top step of the podium. Soon we're gonna get these runner-ups turned into victory's.

There weren't all just 2nd places on the weekend, Lauren picked up her first win in the crit on Saturday and got 4th on Sunday. Hopefully I can get some of those "WIN" things.

I'm off to Tour of America's Dairyland this weekend and early next week for a handful of races, then Hyde Park/Grandview and our to Fitchburg for finally my first stage race of the year. If you need me, you can find me practicing up on my TT bike.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Getting My Numbers Up

That was my goal for this weekend. In every sense, get my numbers up. My number of races on the year, my number of watts, my number of miles ridden, my number of dollars in my pocket. To accomplish this, I decided to try to do the Indiana State Road Race Championships on Saturday morning, the Winfield Twilight Crit Saturday night and the ABR Crit Champs on Sunday. A fairly tall order considering I had 5 races in my legs for the whole year leading into this weekend.

The state road race was held on a relatively flat lap that the group would do 12 times for a total of 88-ish miles. It was only Greg Christian and I from Panther/RGF in the race, with about 10 Texas Roadhouse guys, so we knew we would have our hands full. Greg did a great job of covering tons of moves and I tried to do my part as well. I ended up in a break with 4 laps to go, with all the important teams represented. The break wasn't working very well together so it ended up coming back to the field with 1 lap to go. Just as the break came back Greg broke his chain and his day was over. I tried to salvage a result for the team by trying my hand in the sprint. It was a long, wide open drag race style sprint, hardly my forte. I ended up in second place, but just couldn't quite come around Kirk Albers from Roadhouse at the line. I would have loved to pick up the win, but was pleased to salvage a result with such little form.

After the race I pounded some Recoverite, slapped on the compression socks and took off to Chicago. With 80-some miles in my legs already that day, I wasn't really sure how my legs would hold up, but I thought I might be have some value to the team. I actually ended up feeling better in this race than I did in any race of the weekend. The team rode well and everyone took turns throwing attacks and trying to get a break to go. Chris Uberti was smashing the field at every prime opportunity, netting the team a cool $300 in primes on the night. The race was all together with one lap to go. Greg went to the front and lead it up the final climb with Chris on his wheel and me a little further back. I knew I needed to get closer to the front by the top of the hill, but in my legs 110th mile of racing on the day, they were feeling a little crunchy. I ended up 6th and Chris 2nd. Greg rode like 4 people, as he always does and Derek was always right there at the front too. A solid day for the team. After the race we went to our host's house and then out for some Mexican food. I think I used my last bits of energy chewing my food, because once we were done I could hardy hold my head up. We finally got the check split 14 ways and got out of there and into bed around midnight. I suffer from extreme car-lag anytime I leave the eastern time zone, even by 1 hour, so with it being 1 AM Bloomington time, I was out in no time.

The sprint in the Twilight Crit. Josh smacked us all around pretty good.

The moment I stepped out of bed on Sunday I knew it was going to be a tough one. The legs felt like cement blocks at best. Luckily the team was awesome and were always there to cover any attacks that I wasn't feeling up to. As the race developed, Chris ended up in a break with Josh Carter and Mike Sherer. With those 3 guys in the move, the three biggest teams best sprinters, we were all content to let them go and fight it out for the win. The rest of our day was spent covering moves and trying to control the race. At then end of the race my legs were screaming every time up the hill and surely every time I had to cover an attack. I wasn't sure if I could do much in the sprint but tried to get my self to the front regardless. In the sprint for fourth I positioned myself pretty well and tried to hold off my move as long as possible because the sprint was another long one. At the line, Ben Renkema had taken the bunch gallop for 4th and I was second to take 5th. Chris ended up 2nd on the day, with Derek in 8th. Greg did the work of an 8 man team by himself again and rolled in in the field after burying himself to keep the field together. I've still got a long, long way to go to get back to the fitness I had before mono, but I finally feel like Im going the right direction.

As always, it was great to catch up with Ben and his girlfriend, whatever her name is. Christy maybe? seriously though, congrats to Christy for winning "the jersey" on Sunday.

This weekend we're getting the whole squad together in Mt. Pleasant, MI for a little omnium with some good cash. Can't to race with an almost full squad.

There are a few pictures from the weekend floating around so I'll try to add those a little later today.