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