Monday, April 26, 2010

Tour of Gila

2 days away from the start of the Tour of Gila. I'm sure a lot of you have read how there will be a few members of pro tour team riders at the race including last years winner Levi Leipheimer from Radioshack and a few members of the Garmin Transitions team. This is on top of what looks like a rather strong field. A lot of the guys are going to prepare for the biggest race in the US, The Tour of California which starts a few weeks after. So needless to say competition is going to be pretty stiff.

This will probably be one of the strongest fields, on some of the toughest courses I've raced in a while. To go in and say I will win would be crazy, to go in and say I'm going to lose would be even crazier, but what I will say is that I am going in to race for the win, or fight to help one of my strong teammates win. Just like any other race. If you think you're going to lose, you have already lost. We all train and race hard, and their guys just like everyone else. One thing I can tell you is that we will race aggressive which has been our team objective since day 1 this year. Results will surely come.

Also this year, since we have such a deep squad we are able to have a split squad. While I will be in New Mexico with 6 other teammates, 6 other guys will be in the Southeast US racing Speedweek. Most of them started this past weekend racing in Athens and Roswell. Luca was aggressive in what sounded like a hectic Athens in the pouring rain and it paid off as he formed the break of 6 that would go to the line. Keep an eye out all week long for results coming into the Kenda Pro Cycling p/b GearGrinder team.

Flight is tomorrow morning at 9. I hope to keep the blog updated as I am there. I believe we have internet access at the church camp we are staying at. More on that one later.

Breeze On

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Better: Racing or Training in Rain?

After doing a race in the rain this past weekend, my teammates racing in the rain last night, and training in the rain today I've come up with an interested questions that has received a split decision so far. What's a better option: Racing in the rain or training in the rain? I've actually considered going racing before if I knew it was going to rain just because I knew it would be very difficult to get out the door.

Each one has pros and cons and I thought I would share some ideas I had. Maybe you could share some of yours. Maybe we can even come up with an answer. Maybe all this is just a way for myself to pass some time.

Racing In The Rain

1. You're going to ride/race no matter what. You've registered, payed, travel, and most likely at this point there is no turning back.

2. For us big hot shot pros (sarcasm) we have a mechanic and a race bike, which means most likely the equipment will be cleaned and taken care of.

3. Warmth. If it's a race and you're racing the whole time most likely you will be warm as you are working hard.

1. Crashing. Very sadly I hate to report that we lost a captain last night in a crash in the rain with a broken collarbone. Sundt will come back, he will come back strong, but he will be missed over the next few weeks. The chances of crashes always increase.

2. Broken equipment. Not everyone gets free stuff, and even some that get free stuff don't have the funds to replace things when they break in crashes.

3. Rarely do I dress appropriate. You always know what you want to wear and should wear, but as race time approaches and time to get out of the warm vehicle every idea you had gets throw out the window as you start adding unneeded clothes.

4. Warmth. As it is a race it can be great because of the effort, but if it is a road race chances our over the course of a 100 mile race there maybe a lull or two where you maybe a little chilled.

5. Spray in the face. If you're in a group you will get sprayed in the face with water, grit, mud, and anything else on the road.

Training In the Rain

1. Clothes. You can over dress and it's not a big deal. You can pile the clothes on, and be plenty warm most of the time.

2. Alone. If you're alone that means no spray in the face from other riders wheels.

3.Finishing. You can always cut the ride short. Not only that, but when you finish you're only seconds away from the shower and warm clothes.

1. Bike/Equipment. Things get ruined in the rain. They get wet and dirty and there is only one person who will take care of that for you, and thats yourself.

2. Motivation. The motivation to get out in the rain and train is difficult. It isn't nearly as bad to start in the dry and have it start raining, but to start in a downpour is hard.

Even though the number of pros and cons maybe different, each one isn't created equal. If I where to use a scale certain pros or cons would out weight others. Next step would be to assign a weight or some type of percentage. I don't have that kind of time or care enough to figure it out. For now I will just go with the flow and do what I have to do. Although I'm pretty sure if I wasn't racing for a living or looking to move up in the sport I wouldn't do either in the rain. That goes for riding in under 30 degrees and riding more then 1hr inside.

Breeze On

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tour of the Battnekill

Every time someone comes up with a plan to hold a race that is in resemblance to a European spring classic such as Paris Roubaix, this years addition of the Tour of Battenkill is everything they could every dream of. A strong 166 rider field racing over 200km's of narrow, rolling back country roads which of course some where dirt, and the perfect ingredients from mother nature with temperatures in the mid 40's with windy, cloudy, and even spotty rain showers.

The race got started under a few ray's of sunshine through the clouds that would disappear as quickly as the field disappeared across a covered bridge onto the first dirt section of the day. The racing started off hot as I found myself clicking down for more gears only to find I was already in my 11. Everyone was out to race and nobody was going to let anyone get away, even this early on in a long race.

We quickly covered ground as we raced over some flat ground before tackling the first climbs of the day and hit some wind that quickly made the big pack narrow into a long line. We had our guys in position covering moves, but we had the misfortune to loose two in less then 30km's due to mechanicals. The race never really slowed down as we hit the big pave climb on the day. Fly V, Garmin, and Ralfa were upfront riding hard trying to escape with Waite, Luca, and myself in the top 10 following everyone of them. The race come down the dirt section afterwards and was mostly intact, but some sting was put into the legs before the first long rolling sections of dirt.

10km's out from the tough sections of dirt the sky's started to open up a bit and light rain began to fall. I went hard to the front, followed a move, and found myself alone off the front just before the key sections of dirt. I just rolled to get there first as the field came right up. I did exactly what Frankie said some guys would do, which is "If Joe Blow sees the front in a hard section they will go as hard as they can even though they have position." Contrary to what some will say I did slow down when I was on the front by myself not wanting to do anything silly at this point.

We hit it, and by this time it had turned to mud. It wasn't long before the glasses were covered in mud. Once again Waite, Luca, and myself were right in the top 10 staying out of trouble and the apparent carnage at the back. The bike was sinking into the mud, gears were grinding, mud was flying, legs were ripping, and the race was splitting. Visions of the 2001 Paris Roubaix were in my mind. By the time we hit the pavement again a regrouping of 60 had come together before the bottom of the Stage Rd climb. A 2km stair step climb on dirt.

I was in great position still sitting third, until my luck would run out and I punctured. Not really knowing where the car was because of the carnage, and not wanting to chase over a climb like this I thought if I could ride it to the top the car would be able to get up and I could use the downhill and pavement to get back to the group. So I drifted back seeing Luca, Waite, and Gaimon in the field. I sat close to the back knowing I needed the car, but didn't want to come off as some where going backwards fast. Of course this was made a bit harder as my guys were going fast up front hitting it over the climb. As soon as we crested I couldn't go to far down the hill with a flat so I rolled slow and waited for the car. They eventually pulled up and I got a wheel change and I was back in the caravan. Some quick maneuvering through it and I was in the group by the time we hit the start of lap 2.

I found Luca and was informed Phil and Waite where in a front group of 10 riders that included some from Fly V, Type 1, Bahati guys, and was looking good. The group had sat up and they were rolling. 3 events occurred that shut down the break that should have never been caught by the field. Maybe by a select group, but not the field. First Jamis was unhappy with who they had up there so they started to chase. Secondly a couple of riders where sitting on the break. Thirdly Fly V attacked the break sending one rider off with over 80km's to race, so they stopped working in the break. There two minute gap came down fast and other then 1 Fly V off the front the race was back together.

Jamis continued to do the brunt of the work to bring back the sole rider. Before the final feed zone the winning move would come from Fairly, Landis. Soon after they took off Luca went out with a Fly V rider and a Jamis rider. I sat close to the front as we approached the key dirt sections waiting for the next selection and moves to come, but they never came. The race was going up the road. Luca put in a tremendous amount of work chasing down the leaders, but was never quite able to get there. The Jamis rider blew and came back to the field. Luca finished 4th on the day and I came across with what was left in the field. The whole team had put in so much work on the day it was good to get close to the win.

A little cleanup was necessary after the race. Even by the time I got home I wasn't clean enough as my wife came at me with cue-tips in hand.

The Tour of the Battenkill is starting to live up to some hype and very well could be the Americas Queen of the classic. We need more races like this that can be considered classics. It's a race that everyone has a story to tell afterwards.

Breeze On

Monday, April 12, 2010

Third one is the charm.

The third one is the charm. That is at least what I hoping and have been planning on. I have done two races since coming back from Taiwan, and the big show is this weekend in The Tour of the Battenkill. A 200km hilly race with plenty of dirt road sections.

Two weekends ago I met up with Chad and Rob and did a local criterium around the Major Taylor Velodrome here in Indianapolis. It was a good size field of around 70 riders taking to the start just as the morning rain had stopped. After a few attacks Chad finally got off the front with a strong group of 5 other riders. After marking some attacks I got off the front with a group that had been whittled down to just myself and one other rider. We just so happened to catch the leaders with 4 laps to go. I looked to set up Chad in the sprint, but after some miscommunication we let victory slip out of our hands and had to settle for a disappointing second.

Two days ago Chad and I met up with Chad Hartley and James Stemper at the Hillsboro Roubaix. It's a pretty big local race with rolling roads and about 1.5km's of brick roads 500 meters before the finish.

There were plenty of teams there with full squads that made up the 125 rider field. The hardest and most stressful part of the race was the first half as the 125 riders were forced to stay to the right of the imaginary yellow ride on the narrow back roads of southern Illinois. It was close to impossible to move up with the field rolling around like it was a charity ride. Most riders probably went through a pair of break pads.

Finally we got things going with some attacking on the second lap, but it wasn't till the third and finally lap that things got heated up. With constant attacks from Texas Roadhouse and Panthers it was full on. We had the misfortune of having one rider not able to continue on the last lap, and another feeling bad, so basically we were done to two. Hartley rode strong with constant attacking and I threw in few and covered a few dangerous moves. Unfortunetly nothing was getting away, even the moves with one from each team. The race was coming down to a field sprint. Coming through the brick streets in Hillsboro under a 1km to go I had a mechanical mishap and had to sit up and watch the race roll away. I was in a good position next to the Panther train that would take the win. Hartley did what he could on his own to finish up 7th after being tired from all his earlier efforts. Once again another disappointing finish.

So now it is time to put that all behind me and move on to one of the bigger races of the year for myself and my team. Ever since last year at the Tour of the Battenkill I've been looking forward to going back and going nothing less then winning. Ever since getting back from Taiwan I have had some awesome training days. Hopefully it all pays off.

A week and half after Battenkill comes Tour of Gila, and four days after that is Joe Martin. So there are of lot of big races to tackle.

Other then that who doesn't love this weather we have been having. For all those bad days in January and February, the last couple of weeks of March and the beginning of April have been brilliant. Temperatures between 65-80 for most days with lots of sunshine. Training sure is more enjoyable with the sun shinning.

Breeze On