Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Gift Ever!

Two days after Christmas I received my best Christmas gift ever. I never thought anything would be better then my Lions Matt Stafford Jersey I received a few days earlier, but the surprise entry of Madelyn came 10 days early. It has been a long couple of days and I don't have much time to update, but here are some photos. Katie and I are very blessed and happy, and so is our family.







Breeze On

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A whole lot of nothing

Well as for myself, not much has been going on. Last week we did have a couple of very nice December days with temperatures in or near 40's which was amazing. I got out for some nice rides, the kind you don't get to do when stuck inside riding. Then Saturday came and it's been miserable since. Just wet, snowy, and cold.

This past season I started working with Andy Applegate as my coach and I think it really started to pay off towards the end of the season last year. Now starting off the season with him I think it is going to help tremendously. He has already gotten me my best result at Iceman, and a victory at the Gravel Grovel. Though I must be honest we didn't plan for the Gravel Grovel, as he didn't know I was doing it till the week of. No need to peak for an event in November.

So far the training has been different from what I am use to doing, but I have never felt better about going into a season. Hopefully I will be able to continue to get the training in consistently like I have been over the past two months this offseason. I think that alone will make a big difference. But we will see.

Another good thing this offseason has been riding on the weekends with my teammate Chad. It makes the cold miles go by faster. We also have teammate Rob going to Marian College which is just down the road so we will all be able to get together and train. To bad though for the next two weeks I am on my own as Rob went home, and Chad ducked out and headed to Florida. Now I sit here at my computer staring out the window at the snow wondering if today will be an indoor or outdoor ride. Sweat or freeze? Either way I'm going to get wet. On the bright side though, daylight hours just get longer from here, as yesterday was the first day of winter.

Breeze On

News

Here is some news from the team.

First an interview with our new director Frankie Andreu.

Next we signed a new rider, Luca Damiani. Luca comes over the Colivita team. He is going to add more speed and aggressive riding to the Kenda team which is always wanted. The final roster has been officially set now. I can't wait to get to camp to meet the new guys and get the season started in Taiwan a couple weeks after.

The Kenda Pro Cycling Team p/b Gear Grinder roster:

Professional Roster: Chad Burdzilauskas (USA), Chad Hartley (USA), Chris Monteleone (USA), Jake Rytlewski (USA), Jim Stemper (USA), Jonny Parrish (USA), Jonny Sundt (USA), Luca Damiani (ITA), Nick Keough (USA), Nick Waite (USA), Phil Gaimon (USA), Rob Bush (USA), Scottie Weiss (USA) and Stefano Barberi (BRA).

Elite Roster: Geoff Godsey, Jim Baldesare, Marco Aledia, Rich Harper, Rob White and Ryan Gamm.

Breeze On

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chad and myself before our Ride

I've seen a couple of these animated videos that people have made themselves and found them quite funny and entertaining. Some sounded so familiar and like things you really would expect to hear. One of the best things about it, is there like a cartoon mostly revolving around cycling which you don't get very often.

Well a couple of days ago I decided I should make my own. The best scene I could think of was the trash talking and jostling Chad and I go through before we ride. The funny thing is the video doesn't embellish or change anything at all. It's exactly like this. Chad agrees.



Breeze On

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Day Off

Nothing really do with cycling, but yesterday I got to go to the Lions vs. Bengals game in Cincinnati because my wife and father in law bought me tickets for my birthday. I was so pumped to go, and my dad made a trip down to go with me. We had an awesome time, even though they didn't win, yet again.

Our seats were in what you would call the 'nose bleed' sections as it was as high up as you could get. I was a bit nervous at first with my little fear of heights. I've been high up in stadiums before, but this was the first outdoor one and I was a bit freaked out. It didn't take long though and I was over it.





My dad and I went to Red Lobster after for a delicious seafood dinner. I rarely get to go to seafood places as Katie doesn't like the look, taste or smell of seafood, and that's putting it lightly. Thanks for dinner dad, and once again thanks for the tickets Katie and Joe.

Breeze On

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gravel Grovel

So just when you think you've had enough racing for one year there is a new event that takes place 3 weeks after Iceman. Racing in November is pretty brutal no matter the event, but the Gravel Grovel in southern Indiana brings to meaning to pain. All I knew going in was that the race was 100km, rolling hills, and gravel roads. Couldn't be that hard right?

Well a few weeks ago I put my cross bike together thinking I was going to do the Icecross (the day after Iceman) but I never did. I hung it on a hook in my room and hadn't touched since putting it back in the car to head to the race.

I got to the race site nice and early to get registered, figure out what I was going to need to wear as the coldest air of the season had arrived, and also get some info on the course. The first thing I noticed was the number of mountain bikes rolling around. Hmmm, maybe most don't have cross bikes, which was partly true, but I would soon realize that wouldn't be a horrible option. Finally Greg Strock showed up and I started discussing the course with him as he pre rode the two previous weeks.

Some of the highlights from that conversation that really stuck out where, 4-5hrs to preride the 100km, the deep gravel, single track, dead cows, and creek crossings. Maybe this was going to be a little more then just riding some gravel roads.

So with well over a 100 riders at the start, and not many really knowing what to expect, this day would turn out to be brutal, epic, unprecedented, and rewarding to finish. Who started off the fastest, no one other then Birdman, but as fast as he took off is about as fast as he went back to the draft.

The first hill of the day started only a few miles down the road which had soon turned to gravel. I would encounter my first mishap of the day, the kind that would not be a problem if I did that whole riding the bike before you race it thing. Also known as a shake down cruise. But anyways before I knew it I was shifting the rear cog and ended up in my big, big and apparently my chain was not long enough and it locked up. After getting it unjammed I sprung back up to get to the front of the group which was quickly shattering. I managed to tag on the back of the front group which was pulling away.



Soon enough the real fun of the day began when we hit the 8km section of single track. It was muddy, tons of leaves, creek crossings, log crossings, rocks, and gravel. It would be rough on a mountain bike, and most where on cross bikes. Personally I felt like I was bouncing off trees and rocks and falling into lines that didn't exist, but at least I wasn't the only one. Only one rider looked good going through it, and he was pulling away. I just happened to catch on the back of him going up a good climb, but then there was a giant log that we had to throw our bikes and body's over. It was straight down the other side and again he was pulling away. Off a few more trees and my rear wheel skewer had come open. So a quick stop to fix and I was back on my way only loosing a place or two. We were getting to the end of the single track and my bike felt weird and something was off. I looked down and my stem was cocked off to the right. As soon as the road opened up I stopped and twisted it back into place.

There was a bit of regrouping at this point and I went straight to the front to bring it all back. We started a bit of rotating, but most of the group was hesitant. Eventually we got to a long uphill drag and I put some pressure on the pedals and pulled away with Greg. We had a good gap and worked together. Unfortunately though my stem had swung to the right again and at this point I knew I was going to have to tighten with an allen key. As I stopped to straighten it out again Birdman had caught up with one other rider, and I handed him my glove so I could get my tool out of my pocket and tighten on the fly. I got the top bolt tightened and went to tighten the bottom and I dropped the wrench. Crap. I stopped, flipped it, picked up my wrench and tightened everything down, and had been passed by two riders.

I got back on and started to chase. My main motivation to get back to the front group was to get my glove as it was barely 40 degrees and my hand wouldn't last another 40 miles. Luckily I was able to get back up to them after 5 miles of pain. Of course as soon as I get back up we're about to start a nice little climb and Chad looks back goes to give me my glove, but drops its. Ughh. I stop to get it and start the climb with no speed, as Chad decided he had enough fun riding hard. Luckily the chase back on this time wasn't as long and only took a couple of miles.



The three of us continued to work together for a long while. Heading down roads, dirt/gravel roads, closed roads, over barriers closing off bridges, and so on. At one point we were going down a gravel road, which was no different then any other and started to pitch up on smooth black top that was oddly out of place. More pressure was put on the pedals and Greg and I were gone again. We immediately picked up the pace and headed for a turn around. Coming close to it with 20 miles to go we hit yet another gradual climb and I ended up pulling away just before the turn around. I make the turn around and notice the 3rd place rider not that far off of Greg, so there would be no waiting and I would go at it alone.

This may have been some of the most painful 20 miles of riding I have every done. I just grounded away only thinking about getting to the same single track section we started with. I figured if I got there I knew it would be a touch easier. After what seemed like an eternity I had arrived. Unfortunately it didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped. Being more tired it felt like I was crawling through it. Then I hit the climb with the log at the top. As soon as I got off my bike to get over I could really feel my legs. I popped on leg over and ended up just sitting there for sec and thinking how I could stay here for ever. But I pressed on, had my legs completely burn up on the last climb, and rode to the finish alone with time to spare. It's been a while since I felt that completely worn down.



The awesome Trophy. It looks good next to my toasters. I really enjoy getting the exotic trophy.

The better part of the day came when more riders finished and we headed to the bar which was in the basement of the store on the start/finish line. Riders would trickle in with that worn down look, getting food, beer, and telling war stories of the day. It was turning into a full days event as the 100km took myself 3hrs and 15min full on and so others were still trickling in 5 hours after the start. This had to turned out for everyone to be just that little bit harder, but more rewarding challenge then ever imagined. I would recommend anyone doing this, either to race, for fun, or just a sense of accomplishment. What a fun way to get out the day after Thanksgiving and enjoy some beautiful riding and great company.

Breeze On

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Director

Starting cycling young in Michigan during the 90's meant that the "Guy" you looked up to most was non other then Michigan native, 7-11, Motorola, and USPS road racer Frankie Andreu. I remember how awesome it was to see Frankie race the local spring series occasionally, then a few weeks later see him racing the classics followed by the Tour in the summer. He was so kind and would always say hello.



Here I am standing next to him. I believe this was around '98. So I must have been 16. I know you and I would guess 13, but it's just the way I've always been. I probably just got beat up in the B race and was getting ready for the junior training course. Wow what would it be like to be that fast!

Years would past and who would have thunk, but I made it all the way into the A races. Not only was I in the A races, but I had even finished in the top 10 once or twice. Then came the first race in the spring of '02. I remember my dad I talking before the race about just going out there and being aggressive no matter what. Just ride hard, get off the front, rah, rah. Like it's easy, but that was the idea.

Well as luck would have it I found myself off the front with the strongest master of the time Nick fairly quickly. Soon enough who makes an appearance, Dave Koesal, and non other then Frankie Andreu. I couldn't believe who I was in the break with.



On the front with Frankie sitting 3rd wheel. It was all going swimmingly and we had a huge gap that would not come back, but the sprint for myself was anything but smooth. I just so happen came out of my pedal and took Frankie off course, but lucky he made it safely around and I didn't go down.

It would be another 3 years before I turned pro on Advantage Benefits Endeavour. Now my 6th year, 11 years after meeting him, and 9 years since racing against him, I find myself on the same team as him, as he is our team director. I am very excited to have him on our team and look forward to all the things he can teach and show me. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and I am really thinking this is a huge step for our program. Chad Thompson is putting together one serious program. Watch for the Kenda Pro Cycling Team p/b Gear Grinder this year.

Breeze On

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Threads

Here's a look at the new threads for next season. FYI there will be red shorts to match!



Breeze On

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Past

Just cruising through some old photos. This was probably my first Iceman. Finally my dad had confidence in me to be able to make the LONG 27 mile mountain bike race. I believe my first time was around 2hrs and 40mins. I've shaved a bit over an hour over the past 10 years.



Never Quit. Stay tuned for a picture of a certain youngster standing next to his idol of the time who may be this youngsters new race director.

Breeze On

Friday, November 13, 2009

ICEMAN

Finally, my Iceman report.

Once again we made a fun weekend out of it starting off with the pre-ride on Friday through a new event on Sunday, the Icecross.

So Friday I did my first real mountain bike ride since last year's Iceman race when I pre-rode the course. The first few miles where interesting going through the sand and feeling the bike move underneath myself. It was definitely a different feeling. After taking just about every bad line whether in be in the single track, through sand, around corners, or on the downhills I think I had it all figured out how to ride it the following day. The hard part would be to remember everything in order, doing it behind riders, and at least 5mph faster.

Friday night continued on with going to the expo and registration. After walking through the expo and my dad talking with just about everyone there we went to a pasta dinner held by a mountain bike team that my dad had previously ridden for. Even I was on it briefly back in the day, The Midwest Cannondale Cycling Team. It was put on by the Scurr's, and Sherri was right when she said it was the best buffet in town. To bad I filled up on lasagna, ravioli, bread, and salad before tasting the most delicious and out of the world chocolate chip cookie and brownie piece. Thanks so much and I am looking forward to next years feast already. I'll save more room for dessert this time.

Saturday morning I got up nice and early 6:30 for my race that didn't' start till 2:30, and was a short 30 min drive away. But since my dad started at 9am my brother and I got up to join him and Nick for breakfast and drive them to the start. The amount of people that do this race is amazing. There are waves of starters every 5 minutes for 2 1/2 hours and each wave is between 50-200 riders. Absolutely incredible. Although the thing that might have been slightly more incredible was the amount of guys that would be in a road areo tuck killing it 300meters after the start on the pavement. Check this guy out.



My dad started off at a more reasonable pace, some may call it recreational, but who am I to judge. Word is he picked it up to a more race like pace and came through with a reasonable time for someone who only started training 3 weeks prior. Here's an action shot.



After his finished we loaded up and headed back to the hotel so he could grab a quick shower and I could get some food and dressed for my race. As I walked out of the room to head to the car I realized how warm it had gotten. The temperature was 63, and for northern Michigan in November at race that has seen as many snow days as sunny days, it was very pleasant.

My goal was just to hang on to the group as long as possible and do my best to make it through the tricky sections, and by tricky I mean mountain bikey. The first open section of single track I got slightly off the back as it felt like we were going 100mph and I just couldn't follow right on the wheel. No biggy as I was right back on as we hit the 2 track.



To bad my luck would change as the single track section 8 miles in was a touch tighter. I got about halfway through before a gap formed. A few guys past and I was left to chase again. After a chain drop and bit of chasing I brought a few riders back. By this time we were on some open two tracks, but only one rider, a fellow roadie, Graham Howard, could hang on. I had no idea how far up the front group was, but I just rode it like a TT. After the excitement of heading through Williamsburg Rd. I was starting to feel the burn. It was at this time we hit a bit of a straight stretch and what do I see, the front group about 30 seconds up the trail. Unfortunately other then catching one rider dangling on the back of the group I never saw the 6 leaders again for the final 9 miles.



Coming through Williamsburg Rd. Thanks for all the cheers.



After catching Derek Graham and loosing Graham Howard on one the last hills we came to some more dreaded single track and the last finishing stretch which was sort of tight. The inevitable happened as I took a bad line and Derek past me in the last 500 meters. But I was like a turtle and he was the hare as he went a bit to fast into one of the last corners and crashed. I went by not overlyjoined, but not disappointed to be finishing 7th.



The way I see it if I had made it through that single track section with the leaders there is a good chance I would have finished 7th anyways as the would have flown by me in the last two miles of it. Maybe next time I'll get on my mountain bike a few times before.

Well that night we headed to the awards ceremony which usually takes hours, but had a new format which was rather pleasant as the evening flown by. A lot of guys usually go out partying, but we were just plain out by 10.

The next day was the Icecross and after much himhowing I decided to sit this out and just enjoy watching. Although as my race started I was wishing I was in it as it looked like fun. My brother went out in the B race and showed off his skill at the barriers.



To bad his skills start and end there. Although if he keeps at it soon enough it will all come and you won't catch me on the same cyclocross course as him .

Ok off to my cold, snowy, and long winter. With a baby coming in less then 2 months though that should make things more interesting.

Breeze On

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Racing

Oh boy it's been a while, but I'm back racing. Even though just for a day it brings back the feelings of joy, anxiety, and nerves. A bit more nerves because of the fact it's on a mountain bike, all of which I've ridden twice since last year and those times were on snowy roads.

Anyways there's more then the race itself. It's the company of traveling to the race with my father and brother, it's the enjoyment of the pre-ride, the expo Friday night, running into so many people you haven't seen in months, then watching my dad race and thousands others, racing myself, and finally the parties afterwards. Going to be a good weekend.

This year I'm going to add to the excitement and pain by doing the cross race the next day with my brother. I don't know why, other then there isn't much to do and why not. I haven't done a cross race since last year on my birthday where things like, "Your to fast to be riding this slow!" were shouted out. To my defense it was icy and I didn't want to crash.

From there I'll be staring into 4 months of winter misery. Cold, wind, snow, and the very exciting rollers. Luckily for myself, not so much for them, teammates Chad and Rob are all about being my training parter for the the winter. It makes those long cold days go by faster when you're in good company. Chad does have the next two weekends to recover from the past few weekends of awesome rides, as I'll be gone this weekend, and he will be gone next weekend,

Ok I have to pack and get ready. As long as I remeber my mountain bike shoes and not my road shoes I should be ok.

Breeze On

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Longer

The long season just got longer. USPRO road race championships were moved back to September 18-19th, instead of the last week in August to first week in September. Sometimes I think having the US championships around the same time as the rest of the world would be cool. If you won you could race the rest of the season in your new jersey. All is well though as I guess you get to bring out the fresh jersey for the following season. I do enjoy racing and riding in September though as the summer heat is fading.

The rest of the racing calendar is finally coming together and there are a few new races, along with the old stand ins, which should all lead to a very exciting year.

Good to see Breezer making race bikes once again. They have always been into making bikes for transportation as that was thebicycles real purpose, and it's always a good decision to use one for that purpose. I think I wouldn't mind replacing my 1998ish Jet Stream with a new 2010 Lightning. Could we see a 2011 Venturi? For now I will stare at this.



Breeze On

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hilly Hundred Weekend

Well the big annual event that is know as the Hilly Hundred has come and gone. Ever since moving to Indiana for college this is the weekend that has marked the start of my new training season. Although since doing Iceman last year and this year it's turned into just a fantastic weekend to get some good training in as the preparation for Iceman continues. Funny thing is that one of the guys I was riding with Shawn asked after I told him I was doing Iceman if that it was the end of the 2009 or the beginning of 2010. After some thought I guess it's sort of an early kick off to 201o as my break for 2009 is over and all focus is on 2010.

The weather on Saturday wasn't quite ideal, but as long as you were moving it wasn't so bad. I had met up with Chad, his wife Whitney, and a few of our friends. It's the kind of ride that you usually don't ride hard, but is to fun to ride hard as you will find yourself passing a line of cyclist from start to finish. Like I also jokingly would tell people as I saw them on course, "No time for chit chat, working." We took the first half of the 50 mile loop rather relaxed and stayed as a group. Then stopped for some fried chicken and cookies at the stop before taking off again.

Certain circumstances led to a few of us picking the pace up a bit and before I knew it we were cruising down the road at a good clip. Arriving to the finish pretty quickly Chad and I decided to venture out for another quick 50, and a quick 50 it was. Luckily by the time we had made it back to the halfway point they had some jugs of water as I was out and needed something as the poptart I had for breakfast wasn't lasting. After that quick stop I got my second wind and we're back at the start/finish 35 minutes faster then the previous lap.

That night a friend of ours Greg and his wife had people over at the house for a get together. It was pretty awesome as they had some awesome food. Ribs, pulled pork for sandwiches, beans, coleslaw, corn muffins, cookies, and some kind of peanut butter cheese cake. I sure made up for the calories missed during breakfast, burned and then some. The rest of the evening was just a chit chat session mostly about nerdy things like biking.

The following morning after having cookies and a bowl of cereal for breakfast, Chad and I headed from Greg's to the hilly and hopped on the course and started to ride backwards to meet up with everyone who drove to the start. I can't explain how annoying it was to hear others yell out and tell us that we were going the wrong way. As if the thousands of cyclist going the other way wasn't enough of a clue. Once we met up with everyone we took it a bit easier, but soon came up on Bean Blossom, a local climb. After going up that hard it turned into much of the same as the day before. Chad I and I told ourselves we weren't going to ride hard, but we both just love it. Don't let him fool you either. I rag him alot, but he loves to go hard as much as I do, but most the time he needs someone to start for him. We make the perfect training couple. We did regroup at the halfway point for some more chicken and cookies though, just enough time for Todd Lee to switch our bottles, helmets, and gloves around on our bikes. Good one.

All in all it turned into a pretty hard weekend of training for October. Actually it would be pretty hard in July. We finished with 9hours of riding and 8200 Kj's.

So I made it home finally around 4pm on Sunday after what I considered to be my busiest week in a very, very long time. Working and riding on Monday and Tuesday leaving home at 7am home at 8pm, then riding Wednesday morning before driving to Michigan that night for funeral services Thursday and Friday, driving home Friday arriving in time for my father in laws surprise 50th, driving to the hilly on Saturday, going to Gregs party after, and finishing with the hilly on Sunday. Now I know what normal people feel like. Especially my dad who I spent Thursday with, or at least part of it as he arrived home from work at 12:30am, getting up at 8:30 am, putting my mountain bike together in the morning, going out to lunch with his brother for my dad's birthday at noon, and being back just in time to catch his ride for work at 1pm. Repeat weekly. Wow.

Breeze On

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sad News

Unfortunelty I had to make a quick trip up to Michigan last night after hearing one of our families friend had lost his long bout with cancer. Josh Jasman was diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 14 and fought a very hard battle for 5 years. He lived strong and no matter how hard things got he always looked forward. Josh has set a great example and can be inspiration to anyone on how to fight through pain and livestrong.


So while up in Michigan I decided that maybe I should get my mountain bike and start preparing for Iceman, which is only 15 days away. I headed out this afternoon and rode the trails around the State Park here in Bay City. It wasn't anything challenging, but still I could tell my handling is so out of whack. I'm hitting the stronger breaks to hard, overstearing, and creeping around corners. And all that was just trying to get out of the driveway. Luckily there's no single track at the park or I might be still there lying on the ground hurt. Ok it wasn't that bad, but I'm going to need at least 2 more days on the mountain bike, which I guess can include my preride on the course Friday.

I saw the new paint scheme for our Masi 3VC Team Issue frames for the 2010 season and they are pretty sweet. Our bikes will be geared up with Sram again which is awesome. I've grown to like it very much. If you're not on Sram maybe it's time you take the leap. Also our new team kit designs are in the final stages, I personally haven't seen them yet, but from what I hear they are going to be pretty outlandish.

Two more days till the Hilly Hundred, not to be confused with the Breezer True Hilly Hundred. This one is far more popular, less hilly, and half the distance. But they have fried chicken.

Breeze On

Coaching

I've received a couple of comments about coaching. If you are interested in coaching just send me an email. My email is jakerytlewski@gmail.com I'd love to help you out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

tuesday

Had a substitute gig for the day. The morning started off rather different as they had an assembly in the morning. The school actually hired this act of three dancers to perform for 40 minutes. It was like watching the first additions to any reality show such as Americas Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol. I don't watch those shows, but Katie does and thats how I know. It was pretty funny and I laughed inside the whole time.

The rest of the day was horrible as it was marked by lying and annoying kids. Including the time they told me they had to leave earlier for another class before they had and basically storm the door I was standing in front of. I held my ground and let them go when it was the correct time. Then another kid asked if he could get a drink of water well over 100 times before asking if he could use the batheroom another 100 times. And this was all in a 45 minute time frame. He said he was going to go right there and I told him to do what he needed to do, and he didn't. I called his bluff. I should play poker sometime.

After school Katie wanted a snack so as I tried to cool off from my day we drove to a pizza place so she could eat some breadsticks, then headed for home.

Once home I needed to go for a ride, not because Andy put it on my schedule, but because I just needed to get out. It was a very pleasant ride and it was awesome to get out and enjoy the nice weather. I just cruised at Birdman's speed (200watts) and took it all in. It was just peaceful and pleasant and made me realize how lucky I am that this is all I have to do 90% of the year.

The best thing on my ride was seeing a boy playing with what appeared to be a giant dog from far away. As I approached I saw it was no dog at all, but a goat, yes a goat. I wasn't really in the country either, it was a western suburb of Brownsburg, just before the country, but it was a nieghborhood. There's nothing like seeing a boy and his goat.

I came home had a shower, made dinner, and plopped in my recliner with a blanket and got set for Monday night football as it was already 8pm. I made it through about half the first quarter before zoning in and out and after halftime I called it quits before taking Lucy out and heading for bed, as tomorrow is going to be another long day. I give mad props and always have to those with full time jobs and families, that can ride at a competitive level. It's no easy task.

Breeze On

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Post Daily

Is it possible to post something daily or at least semi daily. Maybe. I shall try.

Yesterday was the Breezer True Hilly Hundred. It was another exceptional ride and so glad that those who came did come out. Maybe next year someone will actually return as no one from last year showed up this year. Interesting. A real entry on this one later.

Rode early this morning. Wanted to get out earlier to be back in time for the football games, but I'm not quite ready yet to be riding in sub freezing temperatures. Waited a bit and just cut ride a bit shorter since yesterday was a big day. Of course by halftime of the Lions game it was over. Actually after the first Lions first series it was over. Still fun to hang with Katie's family at BW3 while watching the game. Katie was even in Lions apparel, which made the walk of shame more manageable as we left at halftime of a 23-0 game. Only a loving wife would do something that nice. Also I want to know when did the Vikings get so popular in Indianapolis?

Tonight Katie's mom had family night at her work. The families of the employees can come get some food and buy things at an incredible discount. Lots of them seemed to get a bit of Christmas shopping done. I've never been in a Hallmark store for more then 5 minutes let alone the 2hrs that we spent tonight. Luckily the white cream covered chocolate balls of heaven helped ease the pain.

Bed early tonight as I have the whole real job gig tomorrow, that actually isn't so much of a real job as I'm filling in for the person who holds the real job, but still I have to be there at a certain time and leave at a certain time. Substitute teaching and bike riding that's what Jake Rytlewski does.

Breeze On

Monday, October 12, 2009

Breezer True Hilly Hundred

Breezer True Hilly Hundred is this weekend (October 17th). Ride starts from Martinsville, IN at 10:30am from the Starbucks right off of highway 37. So far looks like there will be a good size group going. Weather is looking decent as well.

Here is a map and some gps info from last years ride.

Breeze On

Friday, October 09, 2009

Lame

Checking out Velonews the other day and this quote has to go right up there in the things NOT to say.

"As I looked up from my power meter after completing an interval session, I saw a runner coming right at me in the bike path."

First of all it wasn't me. I love my power meter more then most, but l I don't and recommend that you don't do intervals on a bike path. Also I don't look at my power meter on a bike path as those are what I now refer to as Birdman rides, slow and social. Third off all this was probably not a specific "bike" path, but multi trail like most. I could be wrong though.

This reminds me of one of my other favorite never say quotes during my colleges years. I will keep the name anonymous.

"As the field was coming around to lap me..."

Never a way to start off a complaint to the chief official.

Keep your eyes up and be safe.

Breeze On

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"You say Goodbye, I say Hello"

Today at 5:18 summer officially comes to an end, which brings in fall and soon enough winter.

Goodbye racing. Racing is now only a memory and a dream. You can sit and think about the races you did and then dream about doing better in them next year. Everything you do now is focused on the races to come, and they can't come soon enough. Group rides will have to surfice for now, but they are just not the same.

Goodbye to long summer days and not leaving for some rides till after 5pm. Riding with the working world becomes now tough as they tend not to get out of work till night fall. Also goodbye to those tag alongs. That random person or two you run across while riding that rides in your slipstream that appears has no particular place to go.

Goodbye to those fabulous tan lines. I'm not saying that I will miss them as they really are not that flattering, but there are two things I do appreciate about them. First of all I see them as sort of a battle scar of being constantly out training and riding my bike. I even get the helmet strap line which is like the top mark you can receive. Secondly anytime a pant leg rolls up or if you have the will power to walk around without a shirt they make for a great laugh for others.

Goodbye to my bike. Time to let the bike collect a bit of dust. Although this year I'm finding it harder to set it down as I just find myself out on it goofing off for an hour or two. It can be quite enjoyable to go out without much of a purpose or plan and just roll for fun not worrying about heartrate, power, speed, Kj's, blah, blah, blah.

Hello to my bike. It's been to long away from you. No matter how much time I take away from my bike I instantly begin to miss it. My day's just don't seem complete. I guess that is what happens when you've been consistently training on it for over 7 years.

Hello to clothes with these words, "warmer", "fleece", and "thermal". Anything that had a tan that is fading will soon be gone as it will be covered by one of these. That big heavy jacket in the back of the closet that has just been in the way is going to be making a regular appearance. Where it took you 5 minutes to get ready for a ride will not approach the twenty minute time frame with the abundance of clothes, hats, booties, and gloves you have to fit on.

Hello wind. Yes there is wind in the summer, but it is not even close to the same as it is in the winter. Any amount of vegatation such as bushes, trees, and corn fields are now bare and there is nothing to slow it down. You find yourself either riding 50kmh or 20kmh.

Hello to indoor work. The first thing this includes is rollers/trainers. You can put them off a long time, and trust me I do now. But soon enough the temperature will drop below 30 and when that happens rain freezes and turns into the precipitation known as snow. Snow makes if very difficult unsafe to ride on the roads. The second this includes is maintenance. The roads are constantly salty and usually wet and salty. You must stay on top of keeping your bike clean or it will never make it to spring working properly.

Hello to living the dream. Who would have guessed I would be able to race my bike for this long. This doesn't happen without a huge supporting cast. I'm very grateful that on most days the only thing I have to do is get up and ride my bike. There is nothing I'd rather be doing.

Breeze On

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Breezer True Hilly Hundred

It's that time of the year again. I'm not exactly sure on the date yet as I want to try to get the best date available for everyone. Last year I had a great turn out and appreciate those who came out. Once again this is not a race and we all stay together through the whole ride. Any suggestions on dates?

The follow dates don't work:

October 17-18th: I have a wedding to go to.
October 24th-25th: Hilly Hundred. (everyone including myself like doing this)
Novermber 7th-8th: Iceman

So either:
October 10th, October 31st, or November 14th.

I've been hearing alot this year about how Levi Leiphemer started his own ride. He has 3,500 people registered for his ride to show off his training grounds. I hope to get a percent of that for my ride to show of what surprises southern Indiana has to offer.

Breeze On

Monday, September 14, 2009

Univest Grand Prix

I've only competed at this race one other time during it's ten or so year span, but from what I know it is a very unique race. From my experiences it is a mix of a European classic with a splash of American flare. You are racing on curvy, twisty, hilly roads out in the country of eastern Pennsylvania against many foreigners for 100km, then you come into the town of Souderton and do a 5.5km circuit 11 times that is like a hard criterium.

This year's event was even more unique. They made the race into a stage race by adding a team time trial on the day before the road race in Allentown, PA. To even out the competition the use of any time trial equipment was not allowed, and you were only able to start with mass start legal equipment. I don't really think they need this event to make the road race exciting, as it seems that it works itself out, but I do believe that this stage was an awesome race in itself.

The time trial was held on a 7km circuit through town that we would do twice. It included a number of corners and a couple of short hills. With this being the first team time trial in a major event in the US over the past two years not many teams get to work on this skill. As our team rolled backwards to check out the course before our start we saw other teams having some of the same problems we would soon encounter. Of course the weather on the day was no help with rain showers, wind gust to 30mph, and temps at best just touching 60.

Teams were composed of 4-6 and the time would be taken on the 3rd rider across the line. We were a man short on the start and went out with 5 riders. It wasn't long before we started, not even 300 meters, before we were out of sink. Unfortunately for us we were never able to find the chemistry needed to put out a good result. We had a decent first lap split, but we were soon down to 3 riders and you're only as good as your 3rd rider on the day.

So Saturday came and the weather hadn't improved much other then the wind died down, but I wouldn't have mind a bit of wind. Most of the time this race is full on from the start and very aggressive with 3 sprints and 2 kom's in the first 50km's. The field usually finds itself in a few groups as it enters the circuits. This year was slightly different as there was a break of 4 followed by the peloton which was largely intact, other then a few stragglers and those, including myself who never made it through the neutral start.

That's right, I never made it through the 3km neutral start. As we were all bunched up rolling down a slight hill one guy goes down and just like dominoes 25 or so more guys are down. The rest of the race rolled to the real start and waited for those who could gather themselves off the pavement and get their equipment fixed. I rolled there and was in to much pain to continue. My day and season was done.

On that note it is onto 2010 where I'm hoping to grow on the end of the 2009 season. See you all on the road next year.

Breeze On

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Richmond Twilight

Last Saturday night was something you don't see everyday, a local twilight crit. There are a few staples in cycling in the Midwest during the Labor day weekend with the Gateway Cup in St Louis and the series in Michigan that includes Erie St. Crit in Canada eh. But with being away from home the past 5 weeks I decided a nice weekend at home would be nice and I could still get a race in.

I got a nice ride in the morning and spent much of the afternoon just waiting to leave while watching college football. Eventually the time did come to leave and Katie and I were off to the race in Richmond, IN. The course looked fairly tight, and word on the street was that it wasn't all that safe with pedestrians, dogs, and frisbees making there way onto the course throughout the day. I also noticed that lack of light fictures concerning me as I knew we would be racing in the night.

I sat on the side of the road as I watched the 5 women race growing tired and not feeling like warming up, but more like getting ready for bed. As there race ended I entered the course to take a lap or two, and not only noticed the ligths going up on the course, but the light going on in my head telling me I was ready and excited to race.

It was a smaller field as I'm sure the previous races mentioned took a bit away, but still there were plenty of quality riders. Jim and I just had to be with everything and see how things would unfold. He covered the first few Panther and Texas Roadhous attacks, and soon enough strong man Paul Martin took off. I knew it was my turn and one of us better get on it. So I went after it with Greg Strock and another rider on my wheel. We bridged up in a lap and soon our advantaged built up quickly.

Soon it was just Paul, Greg, and myself rolling around the course which was very fun to do, especially with just the three of us. The only thing that was giving us difficulty was the pace car getting in our way. Just over halfway through the race we did make it around and lapped what was left of the field.

From here Paul and I each took a couple of chances of attacking, but neither one of us really gave an inch. Some how with less then 6 laps to go I found myself alone with Paul and Greg who each had one teammate as what was left of the race was just in front now. The last few laps I spent thinking of how I could win the bike race. I haven't really won sprint latley so I thought this would be the time I'd try attacking. With a lap to go I took my chance opened up a slight gap, but Paul's teammate Greg, brought me back into the fold a half lap later and it would come down to a sprint that I would not be ready for. So I ended up 3rd. I took a chance, but this time it didn't work out, maybe it will next time.

So that leaves me with one road race weekend left which is this weekend in PA at the Univest Grand Prix. Friday is a team trial, Saturday is the famous road race, and Sunday is the Doylestown criterium. I can't wait for Sunday, crits are my thing.

Breeze On

Friday, September 04, 2009

Next Year

I'm happy to announce that I will be continuing to race with the Kenda Pro Cycling Team next year. The program is very much on the rise and I am happy that I will be able to be a part of it. I can not give out any more information then that, but as soon as the information comes out I will be sure to post it here as well. Thanks for another year of support and I'm going to need another.

As always,
Breeze On

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Not Quite Yet

My 5th year at the USPRO Road Race Championships finished up much like the last 4, slightly more then a bit off. This past weekend was my fourth race in Greenville and unlike the past two this year I didn't encounter any mechanicals (that hindered my result), but just didn't have the legs on this particular day.

The Kenda Pro Cycling team came prepared with a strong lineup of 10 riders only to be caught out with 5 as the first 30km's left half the team out with a crash, and a couple of mishaps. Then the five of us pressed on only to miss out on a silly split coming back into town after the first lap. Scottie, Matt, Chris and Ty backed myself and Justin up well as they took to the front to bring the split closer so the race would come back together. After 15kms of chasing, a trip over the mountain, and back down the 4 minute gap was wiped off and we were all back together.

After the 3rd ascent I was on my own in a much smaller group as the field had been fallen apart from the fast pace being set. Unfortunelty on the final ascent I didn't have the position, nor the legs to stay with the front elite group. After all was said and done I ended up in the third group on the road, attacked out of it coming into the circuits to try to get to the next group, only to be brought back with 2 circuits to go and finishing up 19th. Not what I had in mind going into, and not what I'm only capable of. Just didn't have the legs on this particular day and everyone else road strong. I had a great team to back me as well. Luckily for me I will have another shot at it next year as the race will remain in Greenville and I really believe this is a course that suits me very well.

Thanks for the support,
Breeze On

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crit Specialist

It appears that I am no longer a road racer/gc/climber dude. The first step in actually be one or any of those would be racing in such an event. Secondly you would need results in that event to be classified as that type of rider. Did you get that? Confusing I know.

Last weekend I had a couple more crits on my plate. First with a few guys at the Marion Crit which was an NRC event and the following day with Chad in Carmel, IN.

The Marion Crit didn't start off to well and almost didn't start at all for myself. With a little rain falling on the 10 corner crit I was a bit hesitant about racing with nationals around the corner. I didn't want to risk injury. I decided to feel it out and take caution to see if conditions would improve. It didn't take long before I heard riders hitting the ground on the first lap. This particular incident took out teammate Bennet and left him with a season ending injury. Heal up fast. I didn't actaully see the two crashes on the first two laps, only heard them, so I was able to put it out of my mind and continue as my Kenda tires seemed to be holding really well in the wet like last week.

So this crit is simple to explain. It was single file basically the entire time with Colivitia sending a rider off the front non stop then sitting up in the corners. It always seemed like one team or another missed out, which would lead to either Kenda, Kelly, Menzies (his own team), AeroCat, etc. chasing. It wasn't till under 15 laps to go that a Colivitia rider took off solo and was never seen again. Chad hooked up with me and we headed directly to the front. Kelly was chasing with an AeroCat rider between the field and the Colivitia rider. I took a pull to bring back the AeroCat guy and as soon as that happen Menzies went off the front and I grabbed his wheel. Soon enough I was with him, a Colivitia rider, and Mt Kakis rider as Chad took a nice sit up in corner and we were off. We held off the field for the remainder of the race and my sprinting skills took me to 5th. Kenda write up.

The following day I hopped on my bike and rode up to Carmel to meet up with Chad to do an awesome local crit. I just wanted to get a good workout in and ride hard, and that is what I did. Chad followed the first few moves from the gun like the past 5 weeks and I eventually got up there. I ended up in break with 6 others, eventually it widdled down to 4. I rode it hard, tried attacking at the end, didn't work and either did my sprint. I ended up 4th. Still had tons of fun.

I'd like to give a shout out to two guys though. One is Steve Godbey. He is one of my Avon posse members who still rides with me. He mostly does Brevets (long 3-5 day rides between 600-1200km's!) Late this summer he started partaking in crits, so the complete opposite. He has been getting a couple of top 10's of late. Great work man! Must be all the motorpacing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The other is Jeff Rhodes. He is the guy who supplies myself and team with the best rollers in the world, TruTrainers. He has been rippin the 4's up as of late with a couple of top 10's and few podiums to boot. There must be something about training on the trutrainers in the Indiana winters.

Well up next for myself is the USPRO Road Race Championships in Greenville, South Carolina. I'm actually feeling pretty confident about this race and think some good things could happen. Kenda p/b Spinergy is bringing plenty of strong riders and we are there for one thing only, the jersey. I'll just have to remember to pack my climbing legs and pull them out along with a big bag of courage and I should be just fine.

Leaving tomorrow.

Breeze On

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Rainy Delight

This was my 5th time racing the USPRO Criterium Championships in Downers Grove. Not being a sprinter or usual criterium allstar my job is to take care of my teammates who are and set them up for the finish and chance at the jersey. Things happen in a wet criterium and just as in 2007 lots of things happened.

After a beautiful morning the skies opened up during the elite race, which is before the pro crit, and the madness began. The rain breifly stopped before the end of their race, but with very threatning weather approaching the officials postponed the start of the our race first by 30 minute but as it continued to lightning it wasn't until another 30 minutes till we actually started.

With it just lightly raining our race got underway. Slick roads kept the pace of the race down as most were not into crashing, especially early on. A Colivitia rider got a way and built up a huge gap. As he wasn't American there was very little concern, especially on such a long course. He did manage to build up a gap of close to a 1:30. As the race went on the pace picked up and attacks would go off the front. I found myself attacking a couple of times and sprinting to win two primes. One for $50 and one for $400. Our team was doing good in the first half as Parish was off the front for a few laps and Bennet was following a few moves as well. There were a few crashes along the way, but I was lucky enough to avoid them. The only mishap I had was flatting as I was trying to get across to a move. It was a bad time as the field was in three groups and of course the officials push into the third group. Didn't matter as it all came back.

The Ouch team eventually got to the front with around 20 laps to go to bring back a break of 5. The kept the pace nice and steady and most teams were content to sit behind them and wait. With 15 laps to go I was trying to get as close to the front as possible as I knew the pace would pick up and the group would start to take risk as the finish was fast approaching. It was tough fighting with the line up of Ouch, TT1, Colivitia, and Kelly, but I would just get as close to the front, fall behind them and do it all over again.



Just keeping it upright.



Careful. Careful.

Soon enough Ouch, with help from Chad, the break came back and Kelly Benefits took over. The pace did pick up slightly and a few seemed more confident as they tried to go through the corners faster. As it wasn't any drier a few of these guys hit the deck and gaps were opening up. The field was shrinking fast lap by lap. With three to go there may have been 25 guys in the field. Then the early leadout guys started to sit up and gaps were really opening up. A few split off the front and really turned the last two laps into full gas time trialling. It was pretty awesome. I was in bad position in the second group and was never able to make the move back to the front as we caught back on. I ended up finishing 6th, 5th American. So basically I was able to stay upright. This was my highest finish since the 2007 raining addition. it's pretty amazing to me as I am no fan of racing in the rain at all, and criteriums, well I think you know how feel about those.

Next up, two more criteriums. Yes!

Breeze On

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mass Ave Criterium

On Saturday I headed to downtown Indy to help my teammate Chad defend his title at the Mass Ave Criterium. It was just the two of us for this one as the others were up in Chicago preparing for the Pro-A race at Downers. The original plan was to do both, but...

It was a pretty standard race tatics used on the day, don't miss the break and if it's a field sprint take Chad to the line. We were pretty good right from the beginning in not really missing any moves and being close enough to one or two we didn't get into to bring it back quickly. After a quite hard 30 minutes of racing with the tight 3 corner crit, Chad got up the road with 2 others. For the longest time they only had a 12 second gap or less, but the teams not represented couldn't bring it back. Eventually the field sat up for a lap or two with 9 to go and the gap ballooned to over 25 seconds with Chad drilling the break.


Picture from one of my riding buddies in Avon, Steve. Thanks.

In the end Chad took off a bit to soon in his sprint and Texas Roadhouse Jon Grant was able to come by right at the end. I took my hands at a field sprint and sat behind the Texas Roadhouse train to the last corner and after getting bumped a bit I ended 3rd in the sprint.

After the race I decided that was a good enough openar for me and I didn't want to push it to much before the big crit day the following day. I really wasn't feeling awesome so I figured a short hard day like this should work out great.

So we drove up to Downers and watched the Pro-Am race and got ready to take part in the USPRO Criterium Championships.

Breeze On

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meijer Grand Cycling Classic

This past weekend myself and my Kenda boys were split up between the Meijer Grand Cycling Classic in Michigan and the NRC races in the southeast. Being a Michigan native I enjoy being able to do races back in Michigan whenever possible, especially well run events like this one.

I did this race two years ago and this year the course was slightly different in that it wasn't as long, and it was run in the opposite direction, but the brick sections where still there in full. Luckily for us the rain had let up before our race and the course had dried up throughout the race.

With strong squads from Bissell, RGF/Panthers, and Subway in a small field we knew that we would have to be attentive and not miss a break. After Chad, Bennett and myself covered a ton of Bissell moves for the first half I found myself off the front wtih arguably the best time trialist in the states.



Once I saw nobody was on our wheel I hit it because I knew if Zirbel was up for going hard everyone else would have a hard time catching up. Soon enough a chase group of 5 had formed and the one guy that I expected to be in it was, Paul Martin. Luckily this time he and the others weren't able to catch up. Bennett and Chad were on the other moves from there to make sure they were there in case they caught up.



I ride with a lot of guys who complain they don't get much of draft. Nobody I believe has been at more of disadvantage then the 6'5" Zirbel. I on the other hand was loving it behind him.



Cruising the bricks in downtown Grand Rapids.



Rounding a corner. Zirbel ended up taking the win, but it felt good to finally be out front of race. I've been trying to get in a break for a while and it was nice that it went to the line. I also ended up taking the most aggressive rider award for the efforts on the day. I know a few of you may find that hard to believe. I did score a sweet Bissell Spot Vot Cleaner that my wife absolutely loves.



I'm planning on doing 7 more crits this year, but the biggest one is this Sunday. Hopefully I can put myself in the same position or at least one of my teammates for what would be the biggest win of the year.

Breeze On

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

On Tap

So here's what's on tap.

This weekend is the Meijer Grand Cycling Classic in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I did a similar race two years ago, but the course map looks slightly different then it was, but the start finish seems to be the same on some nice bricks. Three weeks ago I did a crit with some bricks on it so I'll be use to that. There is some decent money so I excpect a good strong field with plenty of regional representation, and plenty of Bissell riders as it is sort of their home turf.

The following weekend is Downers Grove. Saturday is the Pro-Am race in Sunday is the USPRO Criterium Championships. This will be my 5th time at the event. I think this is a race where we could create some surprises so keep an eye out. Also on Saturday is the Mass Ave crit in downtown Indy. I think they time out well enough that I might try to do the double on Saturday. I LOVE CRIT RACING.

The weekend after is, you guessed it more criteriums. First an NRC crit just north of Indianapolis in Marion, IN. Then the day after is another local crit on the north side of town in Carmel, IN.

After having done more criteriums in a month and a half then I have done all year it's time for the biggest race goal for myself of the year in the USPRO Road Race Championships in Greenville, SC. I'm really looking forward to this on this year. I feel like I'm riding pretty good right now and my teammates are riding great as well. So we should be up to the challenge once again to do something special.

Most likely finshing out the racing season will be the Univest Grand Prix. I've only done this race once before and that's a shame as it is a really nice road race that I could do well at. This year they have added a short team trial the day before for some excitement. It's always fun doing one those. To bad there aren't more of them. Finishing out the weekend is the Doylestown Criterium.

Breeze On

Elk Grove Finishes

Sunday was the Elk Grove Criterium and the last stage of the race. The course has changed from previous years in that this year there was only one 180 and 4 other corners in the 1.2 mile course. On tap was 55 laps or a short 66 mile criterium.

The pace was fast from the gun especially when a dangerous 9 man break took off on lap 3 which got a quick reaction from Ouch and the pace jumped. Sitting anywhere near the back was no picnic as you would be doing a full on sprint from the last corner to the start/finish line which was 500 meters away. After 10 or so laps that break did come back and a two man break took off which leveled the pace of the group.

From this point Scottie and I just played leap frog keeping each other towards the head of the race. Staying up front wasn't to bad as I was on a good day. The annoying part was the dudes taking to the sidewalk cutting the 180 corner and would end up 10 places in front of you. As the race went on it just turned into almost a train of riders cutting the corner. I refused to cheat that way, I know it's part of racing, but I would just use my legs and pass them back on the home stretch. It started to get a little hairier with less then 5 laps to go as one guy even t-bone Heckman as they were coming off the sidewalk back onto the road and caused a wreck. Winstead came flying up in the last 5 laps and battled it out for a top 15 which was pretty stellar.

Now I am officially ready for 3 more weeks of crit racing with all the sprints I have done over the past two days. It's basically enough for a whole season. Maybe my peak power will creep up. May I tickle 1200 watts. Time will tell over the next 3 weeks.

Thanks for reading
Breeze On

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Elk Grove Continues

What was that? It's hard to even come up with an explanation of the so called 'road race' at this years Elk Grove. I can only image it to be like a sock being washed. First you get tossed around in the wet, you try to hang on as you go to the drier, then you deal with a bit of heat and wind, get tossed around a bit more trying to stay coherent, and finally you try to hang on again to make it out.

So basically it was just a 150km criterium. There were plenty of attacks and occasionally a couple of guys would get off, but nothing to serious as the wind was a tough battle and few of the other teams wanted a field sprint to grab crucial time bonuses in the sprint. Sure enough Ouch took over in the last two laps to bring back the finally break of 2 or 3 riders and lead it out for Menzie's to take the overall lead. We tried to set up Chad again for another sprint, but he just didn't have it at the end so we were left a bit behind. Matt did manage to squeeze out a solid top 20. Hopefully tomorrow with the shorter distance and more fluid course we can work something out. It's only a 110km criterium as opposed to the 150km one we did today.

Onward and Upward

Breeze On

Elk Grove

Last night was the short bomb around Elk Grove with the 7km time trial. I had no grandeur of really being super competitive in this one as I haven't been focusing much on high end time trial efforts like this and without super fast tt wheels I knew it would be a struggle to even make the top 20. I was right on. However though it was a great opener and I am ready to take on the next two days with my teammates and hopefully we can score some results.

Today is a "road race" or at least that is what they are calling it, but according to the map it looks more like a giant crit as there are 26 corners in the 15km circuit that we will be completing 10 times. Should be a very interesting and hard race with guys sitting so close in the GC race, and the race for the money in the individual race.

Wish us luck.

Breeze On

Friday, July 31, 2009

Crit Season

Crit racing is in full swing now. I've done criteriums for the past two weekends and have 4 more weekends of crit racing to go.

Currently I'm in host housing here in Elk Grove, IL a suburb of Chicago waiting on the boys to go for an early morning cruise before the TT. Elk Grove is a pretty sweet race because of the boat load of cash available to win and the support the town seems to put out. I wouldn't rate the course's as the best or even on par, but I know they are trying. Basically you race on the same roads that are used for the tt, curcuit race and criterium. The tt has 3 u-turns and an additional 2 corners, the circuit race has 26 corners per 15km lap, and the criterium actually has been down graded from two u-turns to just one, but at a length of 110km still very challenging.

A quick run down of the past two weeks. First I did the Indiana State Championship Criterium in Bloomington. It was a tough trying to get away and in the end it was field sprint that I wasn't excited about getting aggressive in. Two of the more exciting parts of the race were Ryan Knapp getting taken out as he was trying to pull through and Jason Follwer rolling a tubular. Everyone seemed to be ok which was good. The followind day I met up with the boys in Ohio for the Ohio State Championships. It was kind of painful to look over this flat course and look over the river to see a wall, and wishing we went over that. It was ok though as we had a handfull a super sprinters in Marco, Chad, and Ben. We had a plan that was working perfectly and had everything ready to take the win till we had a mishaps in the leadout with 500 meters to go and 4 guys on the front. Oh well it was only Tour de Burg and nobody was hurt to bad.

This past weekend was the Chicago Criterium. There was a huge field at this even with 170 some starters taking to the line. It's a pretty wide open course so easy to move around in. If it had been a tight course it would have been wicked. We were just trying to be in every move in case anything went away, but again another field sprint. I did my thing where I help position the sprinters up front and take them as close to the line as I can and get out of the way. It worked out pretty well as Chad was 5th. We were pretty happy with that and ready to improve on it. We seem to be getting better and more organized every weekend.

That brings us to this weekend at Elk Grove. Hopefully we continue to improve.

Breeze On.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

HA Swan

After coming back from up north my father and I got to spend a couple of days with Will, who is recently retired. Will hasn't changed much from before retirement, but now instead of having no time to do anything, he has all the time to do anything, but less money. I'm starting to think being a pro cyclist is a lot like being retired. You get to travel, ride your bike, go places that aren't busy because everyone else is at work, but of course you don't have much money to do it.

But of course you can still have fun. We went for a little cruise on the bikes on Monday morning.



(Note: Not the first attempt at getting this priceless image. It only took us three tries)

After that we went out for Margaritas. I held off till later that night when I realized I wouldn't be making the drive home that night.



(Note: Will is NOT enlarged to show texture)

Later that night the bonding continued in the bike shop in the basement as Will worked on a couple of bikes.





(Note: Photos are not from this week. However things haven't changed much and this is a well representation of the night.)

Happy Retirement Will!

Breeze On

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fitchburg-Longsjo

Finally starting to get settled down from my trip out to Fitchburg to compete in my 6th Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic. It's hard to believe that I have raced it 6 times in the Pro 1,2 category since 2002, starting at a sprightly 20 years of age.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the race that is run in honor of the Fitchburg native Arther Longsjo who was a dual sport Olympian in speed skating and cycling. The promoter made a celebration out this long run event and recognized past champions of the race throughout the race and with a special dinner Saturday night. As a past champion this was very awesome and it brought me back to my glory days in 2007.

The racing itself was pretty much the same as it always has been on the streets of Fitchburg fast, furious, and challenging. Racing kicked off with yet another new time trial course. A 15km out and back course that gently rolled along and even over a lake in the country side. I had a good ride on the way out, but unfortunately not as good ride on the way back.

Friday was the circuit race. This circuit race and I have never gotten along. I've done it 6 times and one year I had flat, another year I had a snapped cable, and this year two guys went down in front of me and ended up over the handlebars in the grass. On this course that mostly equals getting yourself a lap behind. So as I said I crashed with 8 laps to go, luckily my collarbone held up this time, but after getting off the ground and a wheel change I was completely off. I just rode hard to finish just in front of the field 8 minutes down.

Saturday was the usual road race with a different twist. With not being able to use the road up to the summit of Mt Wachusette the finish this year would be at Princeton Center, which is near the feed zone. I wanted to be aggressive in this race as I was so far behind in the overall. I did find myself off the front a few laps in with a couple of others, but it was only for a lap before being reabsorbed. I spent the rest of the race riding the Bissell train as there were trying to protect Zirbel's overall lead, and watched as the field was shrinking with each time up to the feed zone. I didn't hit the finishing hill near the front, so I didn't finish near the front.

Sunday was the downtown criterium. I would have loved to be more aggressive in this race, but I really didn't start coming around till halfway through and was out of position at the end. Our young guest rider Adam did get off the front at the start, and Winstead was just to the break of the day before fallen back. They gave it a go for Team Kenda and that was good.

Directly after the race we started our long drive back. We stopped at Midnight for the night and started back up the following day at 9am arriving to Indy at 9pm. So some quick unpacking, laundry and repacking I was in bed by 1am and up by 7:30 driving up to Michigan for a bit of a vacation that starts today. I hoping to get some sweet riding in the UP of Michigan.

Breeze On

Friday, June 26, 2009

Game On!

Racing again this weekend. Once again I will be spending the weekend with Chad as we head east one state to Ohio for a weekend of racing with some of the other fellas. We will be racing Hyde Park Blast in Cincinnati and Tour of Grandview in Columbus. Both days should be good old hot and fast American criterium racing, the perfect final prep before the 50th Fitchburg Longsjo Classic.

Training has been going really well lately and I've finally started to feel like I did before the accident. I've also been able to finally come to terms with the heat and feel much better riding in it then I did two weeks ago. I felt pretty comfortable doing some time trial efforts yesterday in the 90 degree heat.

Well starting tomorrow the next 8 days should be and will be exciting and busy. Two races this weekend, pick up my dad from the airport on Monday, drive to Fitchburg on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the racing begins again on Thursday with a new TT. I'm a bit bummed that this year we will not be making the final acent up Mt. Wachusett due to some construction as it is the only 'uphill' finish all year.

Easy riding in the morning tomorrow then it's off to Ohio with Chad. I'll keep you all posted. More frequent updates, pictures, and maybe a video or two to follow over the next week.

Breeze On

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tour De Mt. Pleasant

Day 2 Road Race

The race today had us taking to the streets of Isabella County in central Michigan for a 105 mile road race. Anyone familiar with the area knows that there isn't much in the way of elevation gain or really anything other then flat farm fields and nice straight roads.

The plan was simple for Kenda, and that was to be in the break and try not to be out numbered by any other team. With other teams having as much as 8 the 3 of us knew that it was going to be tough. The first sprint of the day came up early, very early within the first 3 miles. I absolutely forgot all about it and couldn't figure out why everyone was sprinting so hard.

A mile later a few attacks started and by mile 10 I found myself off the front with Greg from the Panther team and soon enough Ben had came across. Greg and I just hit it and opened up a good gap for the break of 6. Two more riders did come up in the next 5 miles and one was Dan from Panthers and that was soon. From there it was Greg Christian and Dan Campbell (Panthers) Tom Burke, Brett Stewart, and myself doing the work as Ben, Mark and Graham sat on. We basically had two on two and with Ben sitting on with the others guys I figured this was a good situation and I would roll with it even though the others were just sitting on.

It took a while for the gap to snap wide open, but it eventual did and the 5 us just continued to work and stroll through Isabella county doing some excellent echelon on the open roads. Around 60-70 miles into the race a couple of others started to miss pulls and sit a little longer. Eventually once again it turned into Greg and myself doing much of the work, but also Tom doing a good amount. Once Dan started to sit a bit more I started to get a bit worried, but with Ben sitting on I figured we were good to go.

20 miles out from the finish Dan took a couple of digs and we got on it quickly. Then he did more of an attack and got clear for a mile or two. Once that was brought back Greg attack and that was brought back. Then I decided to go on the offense and counter, but that to was brought back. A quick sit up and soon Greg was back off with Mark and Graham in tow.

Unfortinelty Ben at this time was getting a few cramps. I tried chasing and got some help from Ben, Tom, and Brett, but we weren't closing fast enough or at all. I took some harder pulls and found myself going at it alone till Dan would come back with the others in tow, until the third time. I got a gap he came across and then it was just him and I chasing the other 3. I just didn't have the horsepower I normal have at this time and couldn't do enough to close the gap. We were within 10 seconds the last few km's but just didn't have enough at the end. Great job to Greg who rode like a hoss on the day.

Even though the day didn't finish off to well, Ben after finishing 6th on the day ended up taking the overall omnium at the Tour de Mt Pleasant and that is very nice cap to the weekend of racing. This was a great weekend of racing with a good amount of spectators and awesome support from the volunteers and the city itself. Hopefully it will continue next year and be even bigger.

Overall I was pretty happy with how I felt coming back after the injury lay off and really believe I'll be ready to go in couple of weeks at Fitchburg.

Breeze On

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tour De Mt. Pleasant

Day 1 Criterium

A new event this season to the Michigan circuit, and what wants to be on the national scene is the Tour de Mt Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant is home to the Central Michigan Chippewas and is in the middle of Michigan. All the local teams showed up with their 'A' rosters this includeds the Bissell team along with a few Regional Elite teams and of course yours truly Kenda Pro Cycling Team with Jim Baldesere, Ben Renkema and myself. We were a bit undermaned compared to the teams fully represented with 8, but we knew if we raced smart we strong enough to win.

Sixty or so guys took to the line under cloudy skies that soon cleared out and gave way to a beautiful sunny sky. The race from the get go was fast a furious, and from the very first few pulls on the bar I could feel a bit of pull on my shoulder. It took myself a few laps to get the feel of it and build some confidence as the race went on.

The Panther cycling team was very strong today and never let up sending one of there 8 guys up the road which attracted much attention from Bissell and Priority Health. Nobody on the day wanted anything to get to far up the road. The biggest and most worry some break of the day was the last solo rider of Greg a Panther rider taken off with 8 or so laps remaining in the race. He hung strong as a few riders from several teams took a pull to bring it closer and closer. It finally came back in the closing laps as Howard and another Panther rider took off on a lap and a half flyer.

Jim, Ben and myself had been riding together the last few laps close by and made our move heading into the last lap. I was the first to go and I caught up and passed the last two break away riders through corner 3 and into 4. At this point I had opened up a bit of gap which turned out ok as it put Paul Martin from the Panther team in the position to close it down while having Jim and Ben on his wheel. I swung off just before the 5th corner and Jim took it from there and dropped Ben off halfway through the finishing stretch. By then the field was lined way out and Ben just punched it and no one could get close to his wheel as he took the victory for Kenda.

Tomorrow is the road race and since we are no longer a tad under the radar it will be a bit tougher. We are up for the challenge and ready to go.

Breeze On

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Time to Racce

So I'm throwing myself back out there this weekend. I'm driving back up to the mother land for the Tour De Mount Pleasant. It looks like a really sweet event back in Michigan that is looking to be a top regional event. So myself and hopefully a few teammates will be there supporting the inaugural event and hopefully can come away with some stellar performances. So just an FYI for the field there will be no crashing aloud any where near me.

I've been back on the bike trying to find some fitness that I had before my accident and it seems to be taking it's sweet time. This should be the first real test considering I haven't done any thing that would cause me to pull on the bars hard i.e. climb hard out of saddle or sprinting. I have been able to get out and ride with my posse which has been helpful and they are always more then willing to attack me or make things harder on me. It didn't matter that I just broke my collorbone or that I just finished an interval they just saw those as opportunities to hit me while I was down. Thanks guys!

This past weekend I did a group ride in town that had options of a 11, 24, 42, or 65 mile routes. I have never seen so many riders at one ride around here. I believe anyone with a bike and a helmet in the area showed up. The best part of it was to see some younger guys, probably high school age, out on mountain bikes with flat pedals on the 45 mile route. I couldn't believe how far they were riding. I also some real youngings probably under 10 on the 24 mile route. It was pretty awesome to see people out enjoying themselves. Then there were some still riding after I completed the 65 and 42 mile routes! Talk about a long day for some.

So for my buddies back in Michigan I'm looking forward to getting back out there and seeing you guys. It should be a great weekend of racing. I haven't raced up there since last May and they always have a few really good races a year.

See you guys Saturday

Breeze On