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