Friday, November 23, 2012

I'm so far behind on this blog thing and so many awesome things are going down right now. Some highlights include a trip to Colorado Springs for the director/promoter summit @ USACycling and being the director and racer for Astellas Oncology Cycling Team for 2013.

Getting ready for my first real mountain bike ride. My dad and I had no idea what to expect and were hoping to not just go out there and hurt ourselves.

Here are some pictures from our trip to Colorado




We had a very successful day out on the trails. Nobody got hurt and we were all smiles. Even though the rockies were a little rockier then we thought we didn't mind. 


Doing an early morning ride at the Garden of the Gods one day. It is some beautiful riding around the park. 


I would have loved to ride into the high mountains but there just wasn't enough time. I would just have to enjoy the foothills and the view. Nothing to complain about that is for sure. 














As for the Astellas thing. Everything is coming along great. We even have a website now. Be sure to check it out at www.astellascycling.com We have also finalized our roster for 2013. Be sure to follow along. I really want to keep my blog update with stories from being a racer and director of the team. So now it will be a little insight into both worlds.

Breeze On

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This past weekend I had my first true experience as being a team director. I was giving a budget and had to get 5 team members to McAllen, TX for the 5th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Ride which we were invited to attend back in June.

For those that don't know, and that I now know McAllen is as far south as you can get in Texas and there is no easy way to get there. The best situation I found was to have everyone fly into Zach's hometown of Austin, TX while I drove the van down and met them there.

When I finally arrived home and put the van in park it just so happen I went a half mile over 3000 miles for the trip.










I left plenty early which gave me time to ride on the way down, stop early one night and have over half a day in Austin to ride and chill. I arrived at Zach's house, but as he was busy in the afternoon I took to the streets of Dripping Springs, TX, gateway to the hills, and went for a ride.



The following morning we picked up the others from the aiport and headed to the bottom of the United States. Not much down this way, which makes it easier to make the speed limits like everything in Texas, BIGGER.



We arrived to our awesome hotel which was across the street from the start of the ride the following day. The ride started early and unfortunelty it was the coldest day down there in forever. Every local kept telling us it's never like this down there. Quite frankly we were all pretty lucky we brought enough close because who would have thought.


The ride went really well. We did 60 miles. The first 20mile lap was pretty chill with us just cruising and talking to everyone. We had to stop for a bathroom break after that as we ate breakfast basically minutes before the ride and hadn't had time before. So this gave us our first opportunity to team bond for next season as we would pace line back up to the group. To bad we caught up so quickly, but I also think this brought out some juices as we continued to pick up the pace occasionally. Nothing got crazy, but we all must be well rested after a long season because it seems everyone is ready to race even though we are over 4 months out.



After the ride we loaded up the van and headed back to Austin. I quickly dropped everyone off and kept heading for home. This time I didn't stop for any riding as I was just trying to get home quickly. Sunday was a good day for driving with all the football games on our Satellite Radio. It was made even better with the Lions pulling out another win.

So my first weekend in charge was a success. Everyone made it there and back. Our presence at the event was appreciated and we loved being there. 

Breeze On


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I won my first individual national championship. It was the ABR Master Men 30+ Criterium National Championships. So yeah it was one of those....

I also drove the pace car for the first time this past weekend.



Breeze On

Thursday, August 02, 2012

RAGBRAI

(Blogger getting on) I really don't know how I went through all of my cycling life without hearing about this ride till last year when I dad did it. Ever since he told me about it I was all in and we made plans on attending this years event.

(Rough Grammer and Spelling Ahead) For those that don't know it is a 7 day ride across Iowa with mileage each day ranging from 50-100 (if you don't add extra). There are 8,500 registered riders and I imagine a few thousand that aren't that ride each day to a new town that is turned into a big outdoor festival including an expo, food vendors, and concerts. FYI for those that don't know RAGBRAI stands for Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

So my dad drove down to my place and we loaded up his truck (picture left) and headed to Iowa. We would meet others on the east side of the state before dropping our stuff off with a charter group and hopping on a bus to the west side. I knew it was a 7 day bike trip across Iowa, but didn't realize how big of a state it was till it took 8hrs on the bus to get to the other side. (picture right) That was rather unpleasant.


I could drag this blog on by describing each day, but most of it would be redundant and most of it is now a blur. RAGBAI is not a race, but by the second day I was fairly certain most people race to leave and be the first on the bike. I couldn't figure out if it was either to avoid the traffic full roads of riders, to show you didn't need sleep, or try to be the first at the finish. I heard of riders starting by 4am and by 5am it was hard to sleep as most were up and tearing camp down.

(Slowing)This picture came from the first day. If I only knew getting up 5 minutes before 6 am was actually over sleeping.(Picture left) (Hole in blog)







It's not very often that I wake up and the first thing I put on is my riding clothes, but during RAGBRAI that is what you do. As soon as camp was taking down (maybe 15 minutes) then it would be time for breakfast. This was from the first day and other then 6 days later would be the only time we actually ate before we rode. (Picture left)




There really isn't any reason to eat at camp before you ride because as soon as you get a mile or two down the road their are vendors selling all sorts of food. The best deal I found was the all you can eat pancakes and sausage for $5. With so many riders doing the same thing it made me always want to go a few more miles to get out of the masses before I stopped for breakfast. I figured every time I passed a vendor or a whole town was about 500+ less people I'd have to pass later. This led to very light and quick breakfast. Here I am a mile into the ride and like most days the road is jammed. (Picture right) Check out the length of my shadow.(Picture left) You know the sun must be low and it's not low because it's going down, it's because it's just coming up. Just another early morning on RAGBRAI




Eventually things would clear as most were going slower, starting later, eating, or drinking. On the shortest day of RAGBRAI I decided I'd take an easy day ride with my dad and Will and take in the full RAGBRAI experience. I think a lot people thought of doing the same thing and was on the same time schedule as the roads were clogged to walking in some places.(Picture right) Although not uncommon for some of the early towns on RAGBRAI. (Joke ahead) Either would be walking into a bar around 9am to find it full like it was on this day. (Picture left)

So most days I would ride at my pace and arrive to the finish town pretty early. Most of the time around 10am or earlier. I would usually then add on some extra miles to take up some time as our gear hadn't arrived to the next camp site yet. Eventually it would show up, get unloaded from the truck and I would set up our tent and wait for my dad and Will to arrive. The good thing about arriving early was being able to pick out the nicer areas and most importantly the shaded areas. (Picture left)


Once they arrived we would have drinks and then figure out how to get cleaned up. You could either pay $5 for a shower, which is basically the going rate for everything on RAGBRAI or you could find an alternative. Alternatives included the mucky bottom lake, the nibbling minnows river and the well. (Joke Back) (Picture right)I tell you what though all those choses sure in the hell beat out standing in the old man naked lines for the showers in the community centers.


Then we would go into town and find something to eat for lunch and Will would find is next demo bike for the day. You see Will rode a nice touring bike out from Oregon including fatter tires and racks and all and wanted something a bit lighter and faster. Don't be impressed that he rode from Oregon as the first 3 people he met in the starting town the day before the ride started did the same thing, they all just took different routes.


Eventually we would need a break from all the sweating and head out to dinner. Most churches in town offered up a hot dinner and more importantly a break from the heat with some air conditioning. Once again it was all about timing to minimize the wait time, and of course to get in before the food would be sold out. Here we arrived to this church at 4:45 and waiting in line for a while before entering the church to only have to wait in the pews which served as a second line.(Picture right) Each row would be let up as roomed allowed. By the time our turn was up the pews were all filled up and the line out the door was around the block.

Then it would be back to camp and some more beverage time. Naps would have been great or going to bed early would have been nice, but with the heat it was practically impossible to get into the tent before the sun went down. Even then it was quite uncomfortable for all but the last two nights. 

Even though RAGBRAI is not a race I am pretty sure that I won. How do I figure? Do you see anyone else from the ride posing with a trophy? (Picture right) (Blogger off)






Breeze On

What's with all the parentheses? Well just like everyone does on RAGBRAI I wanted to give you all a warning for everything. (STOPPING)


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So one of the few upsides to riding out in the farmlands of Indiana is that you can see any changes in weather. Most of the year my time is spent trying to avoid the weather, however today with continuation of sweltering 2012 I was trying to ride towards the rain clouds. I failed miserably and instead of rain I spent most of the day bathed in sunshine. The wife even called as she was driving and asked if I wanted her to pick me up as she was spotting lightning in the distance. I responded I don't see any, but wish I could get to the many rainy areas I could see.

One more ride out in Indiana and then it's off to Iowa for RAGBRAI. If I think there are some flat open areas here I can't wait to see what Iowa has. At least there will be over 8,000 other cyclist to keep things exciting. I'm pretty certain though that I will be more annoyed by the 5km mark then anything. I saw more riders then I have in long time riding around here on Sunday and I got really annoyed when I had to slow up around a corner for one and another one started drafting me. I'm certain non of that will happen all next week.

Hopefully there will be some good stories, pics, and videos to come from it. I'm pretty excited about spending the week with my Dad and Will. They will keep things interesting.


Here are some pics from the Indy Crit. Photo Credit goes to Jeff Liebovitz.



Breeze On

Monday, July 16, 2012

There are time outs in cycling just not because everyone is attacking and it's hard.

The last two stages of the Tour have found the big mighty Team Sky calling for a time out. Although there is really no such thing there are times to back off the pace.

First was yesterdays stage where many riders punctured because of tacs that were placed on the course. Not only was this a very dangerous situation as riders found themselves getting punctures on a fast decent, but it left may scrambling to find a spare wheel. Sky quickly gathered information on what was going on and called a 'timeout' to allow those who had the misfortune to puncture to no fault of their own to catch back on. This is great sportsmanship and what goes around comes around.

Today's stage was a different scenario. The race started off fast and many riders found themselves trying to get into the early breakaway. After the breaks have found some success over the past few days I'd imagine many teams saw this as their opportunity at a stage win. After the first hour of full on racing the break had yet to be established and the peloton was getting tired. Team Sky was starting to get upset as they wanted a break to go so they could just sit back, rest up and ride at a softer pace. Two Sky riders at separate occasions tried to call a timeout to let the breaks go, but nobody wanted to miss out so it would keep coming back. After nearly 2hrs of full on racing the break finally got away and for all their hard work were awarded the days top prizes.

I say good for those that kept attacking and for the teams that wouldn't stop till they got what they wanted as well. There is no reason to stop racing because the leaders team wants you to. They have a different objective in the race then the others and there is no reason to follow theirs. They have the yellow jersey, second overall, and already a couple of stage victories, some teams have nothing yet and saw this as an opportunity and took it.

I've been in races before with the same situation before. It really only happens in stage races with an overall leader and team wants the action to slow down, especially at big events like Tour of Missouri and California when the Pro Tour Teams want it to stop, but the smaller teams are fighting for just that little bit of glory. I remember a stage in Missouri where it went on and on and  Levi was getting angry. He actually swerved at someone trying to continue the action. Then in California I remember the big teams making fun and hollering at anyone trying to get across to the break when they decided it was over.

This is part of the reason I miss Belgium Kermesse racing. Everyone has teammates in the race, but you really wouldn't know by racing it. It is just full gas for 120+km's. Even if a teammate is up the road in a break everyone else is going to continue to try to get up there. In the US I find it that a break of 8-12 guys can get up the road and everyone, I mean everyone stops racing and is content on letting it get 10+minutes and then racing the last 2km's. Ok let the break get their time, but then race on. But of course as soon as you do that there will be those guys that start hollering and heckling.

Of course maybe it's just me or riders like me who like to shut their minds off and just ride hard. No tactics involved. I feel good I must ATTACK!

Breeze On

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Back to work.

A couple of weeks ago I knew I wanted to do the Indy Crit and that I would be around for it. So I checked with the team to see if anyone else wanted to do a nice local criterium in downtown Indianapolis. Frey got those who were game for racing registered as the race grew near. It seemed like everyone else was getting registered as the race grew near. Quickly the small local crit registration was from a nice size field of 40 up to a quality size of 70. Oh but it wasn't done there as it grew to massive size as it went to 100+. The good news is that the course is wide open so it wouldn't be much of an issue, but the bad news was that some  teams would have 10 riders.

The week of training leading into the race went well and I was finally back on a schedule which felt great. I did some sweet spot on Tuesday, a short endurance ride on Wednesday, followed that up with a few Vo2 efforts on Thursday and did a light spin on Friday. Wednesday was the first day that I started to feel normal again as the heat this summer has been brutal. I did an easy morning spin the morning of the race and then later in the afternoon cruised to downtown for the race. I made perfect timing as the family arrived at the same time so I changed to my race wheels, got my number, pinned my number and removed my frame pump after my old Marian teammate Kristin reminded me. It wouldn't have been the first time I raced with one.

The race went fairly well. I started the race winning move by attacking and taking one Nuvo Bissell rider with me. It was Mac who is riding really well. He is a super strong and bigger guy which made for a good draft. A few laps later we were caught by a few riders and then a couple more. Soon there seemed to be quite a few Nuvo Bissell riders in the break and everyone stopped working. Soon it turned into covering moves to not miss a winning break. Luckily after doing that to many times Brandon appeared out of no where and said he'd get the next ones. I made my way to the back of the break to finally get an idea of who was there, how far back the break was, take a drink and a breather. As I thought all the strong guys made the move with 4-5 Nuvo Bissell guys, Birdman with a teammate, 3 RGF guys, Davo, Liebo, and a couple others.

It wasn't much later after I went to the back that Mac attacked for a prime and was riding solo. Everyone continued to goof off in the break and wait to see if someone else would pull them around so they could win. Quickly the officials showed us 5 laps to go after only 60 minutes of racing in the 75 minute event and the chase was on. I told Brandon to sit on with everyone else and I would try help chase down. I was up there with a Roadhouse guy, an RGF guy and with two to go Davo joined in. Davo took a monster pull into the bell lap and then I continued it into a half lap to go when Birdman jumped. Nobody responded quickly enough as he held on for second nipping at the wheels of the lone chaser and everyone else sprinted it out for 3rd. Brandon ended up finishing in 5th. I tried to get him in the position where he could have won the race. We got close, but need a bit more time or a little more help from the others just hoping someone else would do the work for them.

After the race we headed to a Bru Burger on Mass Ave. I've never been there before and can't wait to go back. It was delicious. I had a Pacific Rim Burger which has shrimp, pineapple and guacamole. I either thought it was a race or was really hunger as I had my burger finished off before I even noticed my wife hadn't received her dinner yet. Oops.

This morning Matt got up early to meet me for a ride, which also meant I had to get up early. We talked about doing 2hrs together but after 40mins of riding at the same average watts of his 45min race the previous day he said his feelings wouldn't be hurt if the ride came up short of 2hrs. We rolled back to my place and I filled up with water and headed back out for another boiling 90degree ride. I was lucky enough to get back just as the wife was so I was able to help carry the groceries up the stairs. In need of sweet relief Madelyn and I got our swim wear and floaties on and headed to the pool.

Next weekend starts the RAGBRAI. I am doing the ride with my dad and Will. We've been looking forward to this one ever since he finished the ride last year. It sounds like an 8 day Hilly Hundred that is 100 times bigger with much more going on.

Breeze On

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mid-Season Break

 We went to a carnival in town one night. Here we are on the carousel. By the end of the night my head was spinning from watching here and riding these rides that go around in small quick circles.
 On the morning of the 4th Brownsburg puts on a parade to celebrate the holiday. They also happen to throw out candy during the parade and Madelyn came home with a big Easter style basket full of candy, pamphlets, a couple of flags, and even a CD.
 That night we went to downtown to have dinner with some friends and their two boys. Then we found a spot on some grass to watch the fireworks. Madelyn loved them and they were nice, but nothing like the Bay City ones. Hopefully we can make it back up there for them next year.
 One day we headed to the waterpark. We did a bit everything including my favorite the lazy river. The name sums it up pretty well. You hop in a tube and let the current take you around. Anything that doesn't take any work I'm a fan of.
 Here we are the pool at the apartment. Madelyn is getting very good at swimming. She has no fear of the water and just goes out and floats on her floaties. I'm trying to teach her to kick and paddle.
Of course I couldn't stay away from the bike. I did a few easy days and even a nice 120km ride up to a birthday party north and east of town. I felt like I really needed to do that as it was one of two parties and I knew there would be plenty of cake consumed. This picture is from an evening cruise to and from the in-laws on evening. It's only a couple of miles away, but it was finally not 90 or more out so it felt great.






Breeze On
Finally a bit of down time. I think I've raced every weekend since late March in Florida up until two weeks ago in Ohio.

Two weeks ago was one of my favorite 3 criterium weekend, if there is such a thing,  with Madeira, Hyde Park, and Grandview.

Madeira is not the greatest course with it having two 180degree corners, you cross a set of railroad tracks twice, and it gets really dark on course by the time the finish rolls around, but I guess those are also all the things that make it exciting. Once again I found myself on the ground after running into a guy who slid out on one of the 180's and that was with 8 laps to go. By the time I got pushed back into the back there wasn't much time to move up.

Hyde Park is awesome because I really enjoy the course and the atmosphere. It has one wide 180, followed by a good length straight, a sharp left up a hill which is lined by spectators, a easy right and quick right back downhill into a fast right onto the home straight which is long and fast. I worked my way to the front after being called to the line at the back and tried to make a few moves, but once again it was the one after mine that went and was the break of the day.

Grandview is a challenging course with a long uphill drag and rolling downhill section. By the time I found myself at the front again I attacked. I ended up by myself hoping that some guys would come across. After 8 laps solo a group did come up, but it was quickly followed by the remaining field. Then things got really serious and again and a split went and after spending a few bullets I hadn't quit recovered enough to make it.

But the best part of the weekend was having my family there. Not only was my wife and daughter there but so were my in-laws, my dad and our friend Mr. Murphy who came down from Michigan with my dad. I love having a cheering sections at the race and good company like family and friends at dinner after the races.

After the weekend I took a quick mid-season break with a small amount of easy riding. Although with the heat sometimes it didn't feel as easy as it should have been. So glad the triple digits are finally gone. One nice thing about living in the apartment is the access to the pool for a quick dip after these hot rides.

Breeze On

Thursday, June 28, 2012

For every bike race I've won there are a lot more that I have lost.

Nationals was this past weekend were in Augusta Georgia. The youngins picked me up with the team van on their way through from Chicago and we headed south. On the way we actually ended up stopping where I raced my first Under 23 road race 10 years earlier in Saluda, NC.  Riding the course, thinking about the race ten years ago and where I was I'm still amazed at how far I have come. I couldn't have done it without the great support system I have. That being said I am also very excited to see the guys we have on the team now that are Under 23 and seeing how much better off they are physically now then I was and trying to share everything I know in helping them get to where they want to get.

I used the criterium for more of a warm up and open up for the road race which would be two days after. I knew it would be difficult to pull of a result on the open fast course. I tried racing from the front and following a few things. I never made a good move or got into one. I missed the big move at the end and then even worse ended up on the ground in the last corner with 12 laps to go. I really didn't feel like jumping back into the race, but I did and really didn't do myself any favors to get a result.

Two days later came the road race. I haven't really been so nervous for a race before. The nerves didn't totally take control of me, but there were two things that really made me nervous. One, I knew I had a great shot at winning and was on form. Two, I've never done the race and there really wasn't any decisive section of race so knowing where the race might happen was almost impossible.

The race started off rather aggressive and after the first of seven laps a group of 12 had formed off the front. I tried jumping across at the top of the feed zone climb, but the field was on me. The following lap I did the same thing and this time got away with 3 other riders. Once we got to the group I went straight to the front to help get the group going. After a few miles I ended up yelling at guys for the first time in a bike race. Nobody really was working and a lot were sitting on. I was just really frustrated that we had 15 guys off the front at nationals and nobody wanted to work. Sure a few teams had multiple riders, but we could deal with that later.

We would hang off the front by a minute or two for much of the race. Guys would attack and then sit up. A few would rotate, most would sit on or attack. It was the most disorganized and discouraging break I've ever been apart. A few laps later another smaller group caught up, but things didn't change much. Going into 2 laps two go the attacks from the lead group came more often. The break was starting to split and I was doing a pretty decent job staying up front and following things. Soon enough I sat back as a group of 3 went up the road with 1.5 laps to go with the field a minute back and barring down. The field would catch us after receiving the bell for one to go. The 3 just sat out front with a 30second lead, which would hold to a 17sec lead by the finish. I didn't really get a great position before the finish and was far from the result I was looking for. I was happy though that I did race from the front and put myself in position to win, but just missed the right move. You can't make every right one.

Next up are three crits this weekend and then some much needed rest. Maybe not physically, but being able to leave my bag unpacked for more then 2 or 3 days will be nice.

Breeze On

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"It doesn't get any easier, you just get faster." - Greg Lemond

There is a sticker with this quote in my dad's basement that I read every time I either rode the rollers or did some weight lifting (I'll give you a minute to stop laughing at that one) and until now have I really came to the same conclusion.

After I completed the Lumberjack 100 this year I said this was the hardest race I've ever done and I realized that I have said this quite a bit of late. I think just about every race can be that way if you ride it as hard as you can, but in this mountain bike race there isn't much hiding.

We drove up to the race Friday afternoon and rode a bit of the course after completing registration. We ended up doing 11 miles and it took an hour. After that ride is when I realized that the following day was going to a brute. I knew the winners took over 6.5hrs normally, and I would be out there for a solid 7. It didn't seem like such a bad idea in February on the couch but as the week went on I started to think about how long of a time that was going to be on a mountain bike. Unfortunately I hadn't been able to get much time on my mountain bike before the race as I was gone racing on the road every weekend, and the last time I actaully was on my mountain bike I crashed and broke my collarbone in March.

The race starts early to give everyone enough daylight time to finish and I eventually made my way to the start with 10min to spare. By the time I got there it was 20 rows deep and spread across the whole road and onto the shoulder to the edge of a ditch. I did my best to squeeze on on the side and waited for the start thinking maybe on the 2 mile road section I'll race to the front. Well that never happened as it stayed edge to edge the entire way till we hit the right hander into a van that was blocking the entrance to the trail head parking lot and finally onto the trail. I entered around 60th into the woods which was mostly single track. There were riders bossing off everything including each other.

One of my biggest fears of the race came into play not even 5 miles into the race. We hit a faster downhill section and soon enough there was that dueshbag who said, "Don't use your breaks." Followed shortly by, "Go faster." Irritated by this and considering there was 95miles to go I yelled back, "Shut up as$whipe." Then I proceed to take off on the next hill and never saw him again. It's not like I yell at people to go faster on the road section, flats, hill sections, and etc. I know your not out there purposely blocking the trail and going slow.

I spent the first lap going from group to group. I would sit on the tail end of guys in the single track and let them pace me. I few times it was pretty wild, especially when the trees are close and you are right behind the rider in front of you. Things seem to go by really fast. Then if we hit a hill or one of the few wider sections I would take to the front and go hard up to the next group. By the end of the first lap my dad said I was in 30th.

The next lap I was on my own the entire way until I caught a few guys here and there. I would let them hit the single track first but soon realized that they weren't going as fast as they lap before and that I could faster through it on my own by keeping pressure on the pedals like I do out training on the road. Of course there were a few times when you do long sections of tight single track that I start to doze off and the speed drops till I realize oh yeah this is a race! I'm not use to cruising through the woods on my own. Also that's the thing I love about road racing. I can just turn my mind off and go hard. I can't do that mountain biking. I have to stay focus or I'll crash or hit the same tree twice with my arm like I did.

By the start of the 3rd and final lap my dad said I was sitting in 15th place. I got pretty excited about this and continued to cruise on my own. I started to pass more guys and started to count what place I was in. By the time I got to 12th I was really excited about the possibility of finishing in that place. Then I hit 11th place. Funny thing about that was the guys who I passed for that was sitting on and asked me if I had a mechanical or something because I was flying. Then I soon caught up to 10th. Eventually I passed 9th and 8th on a wide section and they didn't even bother trying sitting on.

Then I hit the last hour of the race with no water left and temps in the 90's. I started to fade a bit, and then really started to slow a bit with 30minutes to go. I guess I can get through 4-5hrs without eating on the bike, but after 6hrs it really catches up, along with having no water left. I just did my best to keep pressing on. Soon enough I got to the finish and was so excited to get off the bike.



How tired was I after the race. Never in my life have I chose walking somewhere as opposed to riding. No matter how close something is I usually rode, but not after this race, I walked. Of course my dad asked if I wanted to do that again directly after and I didn't have a positive answer for him. But driving back to Indy the next day I actually started thinking of the next one and how I could improve and maybe get a top 5. I must be really stupid.

Breeze On

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Le Tour de Mont Pleasant

I always love being able to race close to where I grew up. Not only do I get to spend the time with my family up there, but I also get to see all the great guys I've grown up with in Michigan. My dad was there supporting us at every race, my Uncles made it out to the criterium, my mom was hollering during the road race, my former junior teammate and fried JB filled up bottles was in the feed zone and took pictures, and two of my favorite Michigan crew were there in Papa Tony and Big Ray. And that is only the tip of the iceberg as there is also the deli, pasta, and ice cream shops I love up here, just ask my teammates.

The time trail was pretty straight forward. It was a short 4.1 mile course that went through the campus of Central Michigan University. The only rule was that you must start with equipment that was mass start approved, so no time trial bikes and etc. Of course just about everyone showed up with a time trial helmet as those are pretty standard in mass start races. Anyways I felt really good in the time trial, but maybe took a few of the corners a touch slow and finished of in 6th. Not as good as I wanted, but I was happy with my effort.

The following day was the criterium and it was all about not missing a move that would hold some of the stronger riders. The race was fast from the get go and never really let up. I got away with 20 or so laps to go and had one Nate Williams from Bissell chasing between me and the group solo. With a ways to go in the race and Bissell being the biggest teams in the race I decided to slow up and wait and hope we could work together to stay away. Well it didn't work and we got caught with 8 to go. Then it was field sprint that was led out by the Panther team. I was hoping I could take Brandon into the 2nd to last corner first, but there was no going around Paul Martin who was leading out Chris before that corner. Chris had a great jump out of the last corner and basically coasted to the finish as Brandon finished off on the podium in 3rd and I was 4th.

The last day was the 120mile road race. One of the longest, if not the longest road race of the year for just about everyone. That didn't deter anyone from attacking from the start. The pace was high. After 5miles however the field was stopped and warned not to cross the yellow line or they would be DQ'd. The pace quickly continued with moves rolling off and coming back. The wind was making things difficult. Even though not overly breezy it was enough as there isn't hardly anything out there to slow it down.

After a quick neutral pee break we had caught Brandon who was riding off the front solo and the counters went. It was awesome to see a few teammates up there as well ready to go and the ones countering. I took my turn and got a small group going. A few bridged up and then I went again. This time I ended up by myself. I rolled it for a while till I noticed a group of 3 in between. Just as in the crit I waited as there still was almost 90 miles of racing to go.

I took a few harder longer pulls which I think deterred the others from really pulling through. They wanted it steadier, but I really wanted to get a gap opened up. I got a bit of help from one other rider for the first few miles and the gap increased from 30sec, to a minute, and ballooned to 4 after 10 miles. We hit the feed zone 60 miles into the race with around 5minutes. From this point forward I was pretty much on my own for pulling. I'd occasionally swing off and look at the others and they would either just quickly pull through and swing off or just sit up behind. Every few minutes I tried to take a breather.

Around 80 miles into the race I had just taken one of my long pulls and looked back and noticed that we had lost two of the other riders. I asked the other rider, Derek Graham of Bissell, and he said that they just gave up, and this was with 40 miles to race. Derek told me I was a machine and that gave me a bit of more motivation to keep rolling. By this time our gap was down to 4minutes.

We rolled through the last feed zone with 30 miles to go and our gap was still around 4 minutes, but with a solid headwind to go back south into Mt Pleasant for the finish. All I could think about was Paul Sherwan's formula for catching a break, for each 10km they can bring back 1minute. I knew if I could get a few more miles in without the gap coming down to much I'd make it to the finish. I had been doing some pretty solid power the whole day, but in the last 30km it wasn't coming as easy as it was earlier.

We really didn't get much time gaps from point on. I was just hoping that if I kept the pace high enough and the power at 300+watts, that there would be no way they could close the gap. We got one last official time check at the last sprint line which was with 15km to go, which was 3:30. We knew from there we had it. I rolled across the line solo and exhausted for the win. It is weird though for that last 500 meters there was no pain, but 50 meters after the line I came back to reality and the pain set back in. My legs have never hurt that bad in a very long time.

Even though I was the one off the front for most of the race it was a big team effort. With everyone following moves earlier on it made it easier not to do to much in the first 50km of the race. It just so happened that it was me who made the move. Then the team got to sit back and enjoy the ride behind the chasers.

It was also awesome having the family there and for them to see the whole thing. I really makes the wins more enjoyable. I mean who wouldn't love this.

No official podium as there was a mass disqualification of the field with 10km remaining for crossing the yellow line apparently 10km before that. Confusing, I know, and I still don't exactly know what happened or why. But anyways Maddy and I still wanted our photo opt.



Next up is Mountain Bike Endurance Event with the Lumberjack 100. It will be my second time on my mountain bike since breaking my collar bone on it. The first time will be the pre ride the day before. I really wish I would have gotten out more, but I've been on the road so much this season. There will be some more mountain biking as the road season schedule lightens up after nationals. There should be some good stories to come.



Breeze On

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How did I miss the snake?

So the morning of the snake following the win at the Burlington Road Race the guys and I were heading out for a morning spin. I was spinning, or at least trying to spin my cranks backwards to calibrate the powermeter. However the crank was barely rotating. So I quickly took off the cranks and check the bottom bracket. The non drive side bearings were frozen.

It really turned out to not be that big of a deal because after making a few phone calls I found a shop only 2 miles from the course that had what I needed. We headed to the race with time to stop at the shop. I wheeled the bike in and they had the bottom bracket set aside. They whipped out the old one and installed the new one. Their experience in this was a bit low as they were studying the directions step by step. Everything was reinstalled and we headed to the race.

We got our numbers and started to get ready for the race. I spun my crank and noticed that it really didn't feel better at all. I took the crank off and noticed that the same side of the bottom bracket was locked up again. Now what? Well the race was 30 minutes from start time so I knew my day was done. I headed back over to the shop to get it fixed. A new problem would occur. They couldn't get the crank off.

Some how the bolt that holds the crank on had stripped and was just in there spinning. You can't get the crank arm off with out getting the bold off because of the self extracting bolt. The guys at the bike shop had no idea how to get it. So I just left and watched the last 15 laps of the race dreaming of what could have been.

After the race the boys were all about helping me find a way to get the bike fixed for the rest of the week. I noticed that there is a bigger hex bolt that is the ring around the inner bolt. I thought maybe I could find a big allen key to get it off. We all rolled to 3 stores to find one. Finally we went a farmers hardware store and they had exactly what I needed. It happened to be a 16mm hex. I asked the guy if we could just borrow it and after asking his manager it was no problem. We removed the outer ring, and then the inner bold came out. Now to get the crank off.

Back to the bike shop, which had just closed, but they were kind enough to let us back in. We got a new bold put it in and then remove the crank arm to get at the bottom bracket. The mechanic that was looking at it now was a bit stumped why the bearings weren't spinning. He then came up with the idea that the inner shell may have been put in backwards. Sure enough after switching it around it spun smoothly and like new. We installed the crank and the bike was ready to go, only 2hrs after the finish of the race. But with the help and patients of my teammates I would be able to race the last 2 days. 

Breeze On

Monday, May 14, 2012

3 Strikes and I am out. Another NCC criterium not completed by me.

First up this past weekend was the Loop de Loop criterium held in a suburb of St. Louis. This thing didn't start till well after dark and bed time for myself. 150 guys took the start line on the 1km course and of course I was started at the back. It didn't take myself to long however to get to the front and start racing. It was rather fast for the most part and nothing was sticking.

The course was rather dark and the darkest stretch on the backside was slightly downhill with plenty of bumps. This was the best place to move up as some guys just sat in the draft and coasted while I pedaled around them to the front. I didn't take unnecessary risks cutting guys through corners or bombing them. Some towards the end took even more risk for the $1999 prize purse which led to a number of crashes in the closing laps. I fortunitley stayed safe and out of the mess and finished 16th. After the split my teammates and I each walked away with a cool $6, but at least we were all in tact, which wouldn't be the case the rest of the weekend.

Saturday was the NCC race and main event. Sure it was fast and there were attacks, but to sit in the draft was much easier. It's one of the few crits where you could have sat last wheel all day and had no problems. Of course that is not how I rolled. The bad thing about an easier course is that towards the end of the race there are still 150 rather fresh guys looking for a result. I helped take teammates to the front and we were sitting in the top 20 going into the first corner on the last lap when there had to be guys going 8 wide into the corner and there just wasn't enough room. A pileup ensued and I was in it sliding upside down. I broke my pedal and my derailleur hanger which was popped riveted on (a long story) had popped off. The good thing is that I didn't have to worry about drilling them out, but once again I was unable to finish a NCC race. Really?

Sunday was another criterium, but with a broken pedal and a sore body I decided not to start and just go home. The team took to the race and unfortunately didn't come out unscathed. Andre was involved in the daily last lap crash and cracked his frame. Luckily he made it out ok though. Even though we aren't on the same team it was good to see Birdman come through with a solid result in 2nd place.

Breeze On

Thursday, May 10, 2012

This past weekend I decided to do a local race at the last minute. I heard about a crit in Illinois, but finally looked into on Thursday and realized it was only 90 miles away. My dad was coming down for the weekend and wanted to go as well so I packed up the van with the wife, kid, and my dad and headed to Urbana, IL.

Once again I got the opportunity to race the double with the Masters 30+ race and the Pro 1,2 race. It really makes the travel more worth it. Instead of an hour crit I get two of them almost for the price of one!

The course was a pretty awesome. It was a short 8 corner course with a small hill. Not to long into the Masters race I got a gap and rolled it hard. My gap shot up and held steady for a while before I was finally at the back of the field with 4 laps to go. I sat just off the back to stay out of the clutter and enjoy the rolling around knowing I was going to win the bike race.



It's been a while since I won a race. I really don't care which one it was, it was just nice to win.





It was also awesome to finally take Madelyn to the top stop of the podium. I absolutely love sharing these moments with her. I know it's not no big fancy race or really that big of a deal, but it is nice getting a little something with all the hard training.

Next was the Pro 1,2 race. After the called the top 10 Illinois riders, a few Panthers, most of Texas Roadhouse and such to the line I was stuck to the back. I'm pretty certain we were hardly 5mins into the race when 2 riders got up the road and a group of 6 chasers were all off the front. Everyone team seemed represented and content to let the race go up the road. I weaseled my way to the front and attacked. Unfortunately I didn't get a gap and ended up pulling the field for a few laps back up to the chasers. One of the guys from behind even told me not to pull it back. I said get off my wheel then. I didn't want to get into the game of trying to attack and everyone from the other teams jumping on and siting on.

So I pulled it back and luckily I did as Birdman had made the group. I told myself that the counter will come after bringing it back and that I will have to make one hard effort to get in the next group, but that will be the race. Well, that never happened. Pretty much from this point forward everyone stopped racing and the two original racers off the front stayed off the front. So this race didn't quite pan out.

One of the highlights of the race day was the post race meal. There was a restaurant on the course and I had a sandwich that had turkey, bacon, avocado, veggies, and goat cheese with a side of sweet potato fries with bbq sauce for dipping. It was freaking fantastic. 

This weekend there are 3 more criteriums in St. Louis around the Tour de Grove. Tomorrow night I don't race till 10pm Eastern Time. I hope I don't fall asleep during my warmup.

Breeze On

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A few weeks back the Astellas Oncology p/b ABD Cycling Team and myself heading out to Arkansas for the annual Joe Martin Stage Race. It is a very solid 4 days of racing on some really nice courses. Since we have a few Cat 2's on team we participated as a team in the Cat 1,2 race as opposed to the Pro, 1 race. This also left us more opportunities to learn to race for wins.

Dan and I drove the van from Anniston, AL following the Sunny King Criterium and Foothills Road Race. We arrived very late Sunday night and spent Monday just recovering from the race/travel and spent the day settling into the host house. Our teammate Bryan had met a fabulous host family in the past and this is who we were set up with. This time they had two houses and they let us stay in the way they fixed up on their own from the ground up. It was in a sweet location and the house it self was quite awesome. I really enjoyed the heated floors in the bathroom. You wouldn't think you needed them until you actually use them.



The towels they supplied at the end of the bed even included a piece of chocolate on top. You won't get that kind of treatment at any hotel a team pays for.

The first day was the time trial and quite frankly I knew I was capable of winning it. I set out on a pace that I had done a few years ago and it was going as planned till the last km when I just couldn't produce the power any more. I would have to settle for 3rd. We also had a couple other riders well placed.





The first time I put on the new team skin suite. I couldn't believe how long and baggy the sleeves where. It fit more like a 3/4 length baseball shirt.

The second stage was the long road race. I was 8 seconds from first place and ended up attacking 10 miles into the 110 mile race. I got in a group that most were not interested in working with me. I pushed on anyways hoping the field would lose track of us. The first 50 miles where in a huge headwind and getting time was hard. Eventually the time gap did pull out as we made the turn back into the tailwind. Then we saw the sign for Fayetteville-45miles. That put a little sting into the legs as we were almost 3hrs into race.

We ended up getting caught by a group of 10 guys 10 or so miles out and fought it out there. The only good news is the leader had not made the split and I finished 4th and moved into 2nd only 5seconds out. It was a hard way to make up 3 seconds.

The 3rd day I knew I had to relax after making the huge effort the day before. The team did such an amazing job controlling the race as a break had got away from us without any of us represented. We worked it out perfectly to catch the break inside of 10km to go and fast downhill field sprint ensued. I took off to soon as I had an opening and just went for it. I got swormed with less then 100meters to go. Oh well.

The last day was the challenging crit. With it only being 50minutes it felt like it was over before it even started. Dan had put in a hard attack and rode most of the second half of the race off the front solo. He got caught with 3 to go and tried helping lead me out. We got jumped before the last corner and I didn't get on it fast enough and finished 8th. I wasn't able to get the needed time bonus or away to make up the last few seconds.



The overall podium at Joe Martin. It wasn't the top spot, but I went out and tried to make up the lost time and the team did an amazing job to help. We will get there.



Staying with the new teammates is fun as you get to learn so much about them. Here is Adam eating his daily dinner, crackers and Nuttella. I'm not even joking. After the second day I realized he really doesn't even eat much more that then. When I brought it up I guess the guys who drove up with him also noticed that. After the 3rd stage I made him a healthy serving of pasta and meat sauce. He scarfed it down and that was good to see.










Without having great team mechanics such as Will Swan it is up to me to do all my own adjustments. This is an allen key that got snapped. Apparently I don't even know my own strength. I won't post the size of the allen key as I don't want to scare anyone.

Breeze On

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

So this new NCC series that USA Cycling created has been my nemesis. I am a big fat 0-2 on them. Not only have I not been able to get a result I haven't been able to get through half a race.

This past weekend was the Sunny King Criterium. As in my previous post I had a bit of spill on Wednesday night while out training.

I may have been out there having one of my best training rides of the year. I did 3 hard efforts on Bunker Hill and then followed that quickly with 3 hard efforts up Goat Hollow. Then I added a bonus loop to climb up into Wilbur twice. Then I was headed to the last climb up Gold Creek and on a quick decent and right hand turn onto the road I encounter a bit of gravel and sand and quickly smashed onto the pavement. I bounced up quickly as it seems I'm at least lucky enough to always do and noticed blood everywhere. It was mostly from the gash on the palm of my hand. Then I inspected the bike. Brake levers where both bent inwards, shifting was basically gone along with the bar tape. I called the wife and asked if she could meet me as I started to roll home. She was just happy my collarbone had held up on the impact. After 12miles of painful riding I was able to meet up with her.

So I was planning on leaving for Sunny King on Friday and break up the 10hr drive. The only thing is that my bike had a few broken pieces. The team stepped up nicely though and had everything overnighted to me and it would arrive sometime Friday. So I had the car packed up Friday morning, went for a ride on the Merckx and sat and watched tv as I waited for the parts as my bike was in pieces on the work stand. By 4pm the parts had finally arrived and I started to build. Internal cable routing is clean, and nice looking but a pain to thread in a hurry. The only good thing to come of all this is I got to see the family one last time before finally leaving a few hours beyond what I wanted.

I had a hotel in Tennessee to stay at which worked out nicely and finished the drive on Saturday. Once arriving I had to go the bike shop and get my derailleur hanger replaced. Only problem is that they didn't have the right hanger or the right screws. Luckily the guy we stayed with for host housing showed up at the shop with another rider from our team who had a bad derailleur hanger and he was able to jimmy rig something up. Then I met the team and went for a ride. I felt like crap.

We drove to the night race later that evening. I started my warmup and felt much better. The relaxing and easy spin must have really help. Only problem is that my shifting went horrible wrong as the start time closely approached. I made a mad dash for neutral support as the riders were being called to the line. They were scrambling. Time was ticking, the music was blasting and nerves filled the air. Time to grab a neutral bike and jump on to the group as they started. Only problem is that the saddle height wasn't adjusted. It was like 6 inches to short. No way was I going to race 90minutes like this! So I quickly pulled over, grabbed my bike and headed to the car more pissed off then ever. I was pretty much ready to quit cycling much like after the Tampa Criterium mishaps. The nerves calmed down over the night and I knew I had a race the following day.

Early the next morning we started the Foothills Road Race. More on that later.

Breeze On

Friday, April 20, 2012

I had my first official team race with the team this past weekend at the Tour of the Battenkill in upstate New York. When the team asked my opinion on doing the race all I could say is that you won't do any other race like this all year. And because of that 8 of us made the trip to almost the middle of nowhere to race on dirt, gravel and hills. Fortunately enough the weather for this time of year was very seasonable and temps were in the upper 60's to lower 70's for much of the weekend.

Here is a pic of someone the new guys as we were heading of a pre race spin. 













The few weeks leading up to the race I was debating on whether or not to participate in the Pro/Am the day before the UCI race. Normally I would never hesitate at this, but with other members on the team thinking it was to much and watching the pre reg list not add up I was thinking maybe I should skip it as well. My training wasn't as good as normal coming off the broken collar bone and I hadn't raced but 1 day so I thought maybe I should save everything for Sunday's 200km race. Then in the last day of registration I decided I needed the racing more then I didn't. I would also have a solid 24hrs of recovery.

So I lined up in the wee hours of Saturday morning for the 60 man Pro/Am race that would race practically the same roads we would the following day. I help back a lot as I knew I had the big race the following day. I made sure to stay near the front in what I thought were crucial moments. I thought I would make 1 good effort on one of the biggest hills leading into a long dirt roller section. I made the move and was off the front with 6 chasing an earlier break of 4. When all the dust had settled 1 rider stayed away and I came to the line with 1 other and finished 3rd. I was rather pleased and now a bit more excited for the bigger race the following day.

Here's the Pro/Am Podium. It was very exciting to get a jug of chocolate milk to help in the recovery process. Madelyn would have loved to be on this podium and share that big ole jug of chocolate milk.



Here is me and American cycling legend Greg Lemond. When I told him I was also racing on Sunday he even thought I was nuts! I took that as a compliment.



24hrs later I was back on the start line but this time with 160 riders and staring down the barrel of a 200km bike race. The race was fast from the get go and as expected even faster on the dirt sections. The last 40km of the lap is brutal with the number dirt roads and climbs. I told the guys if you are going to be up front at all make sure it is at this point. As expected things heated up for those 40km's and the field was shattered and 50 guys would come around for the 2nd together.

Well except for this one guys who found himself off the front waiting for a group to come across.



An awesome group of 6 came across, but it was missing a Kelly Optimun guy so they chased and countered and that was the race. I would finish in the second group, but I made my move and it just didn't work out.


Here I am coming back from 1 of 2 flats. I've done this race 4 times and I've flatted twice in 2 of them, 1 in another, and none in the one from the previous day (where I finished on podium, hmm)



So I got a good amount of racing like I wanted, and even sneaked away with a result. Sure I would have liked one in both or maybe even more in the UCI race, but it just didn't pan out that way. There will be plenty of more chances this year.

Now I'm just sitting at my chair waiting for some parts that got overnighted to me, as on Wednesday I had a bit of an accident. Here's a pic. More on this later.



Breeze On