je ne sais quoi

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Out of how many???

This Many:

Superweek Stage 9 Video

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ultimo Palabras...

Two more races left to report on:


Kenosha (friday): I showed up, on time and everything. While walking to registration amidst increasingly numerous dark storm clouds, I saw a trio of wet, muddy, and bleeding cat 3 riders who'd just finished their race. Right then, I lost all nerve....even though I'd been envisioning a result on this course. So I didn't register, and didn't race. Saved $37. However, it looks like lots of other people had the same idea as looked like the smallest field of the series. Ironically, the sun poked through shortly after the race started. Gah.

Downer Ave: This is the biggest race in the series. Billions (almost) come out to watch. Little fat babies, drunk college frat guys, families of 6, grandmas, dogs. You get the idea: everyone comes to watch. "Something for everyone", I guess. The money is generally good here, too. I remember last year's winner got a laptop for winning. Swell. On the start line, lots of guys were just letting air out of their tires...there were dark clouds hanging all about. I kept my 125psi. So the race starts off...this is usually the moment where you find out how your legs are: Mine? Amazing. So I started off. Kept position amongst the top 20. Nothing crazy to report, honestly...only that I felt good, and was able to keep position easily. I took a $40 prime at some point, and just for kicks, contested all but 1 of the sprint bonuses, finishing 7th, 4th, 3rd. 5 laps to go sounded. Usual chaos ensued, but I saw none of it. Even down to the last corner it felt smooth and chaos-free (for me). On the last lap, we were coming into turn 3, I was in about 15th wheel. The entire pack was on the outside left, and I was on the right side near the head of that pack. Readers, it bums me to say that I didn't "Go for it" with a move the inside. The legs really wanted to, but I hesitated, and sprinted in for 12th. A good placing, but I've replayed that scene in my head a number of times. I was set on making the move, but there was another rider close by, so my mind instantly said "no", though in hindsight, I'm sure it would have been possible.

And...Whitefish Bay (the last day):

Again, legs felt super. Read down a couple entries....what's the worst thing that can happen if you have great legs? You miss the move of the day. I was in every break in the begining. With good riders, but the pack just wouldn't have it, and as soon as I took a break, gone. TWENTY riders. I was bummed, wanted a result here, and felt good. Steve Tilford turned to me and said "can you believe we missed it?", 'cause I think he was feeling springy, too, and was in the early moves alongside me. Eh. Not until later in the race, I turned my attention to primes. Primes were rough on the day, and most were a meager $20. I took only one, and Ken Hanson (BMC...and oddly...the guy who won the cat II green jersey and the RR at San Dimas last year), took one I was sure to get by coming wayyy off his line to make sure I didn't get by. Who does that? For a prime??? $20! Fool. So that was that. The race was confusing. I had no idea what was going on up the road, but it turns out (which i'd find out afterward) that only 5 of the 20 lapped. 7 of the 20 stayed up the road, and the rest were caught with 3 to go. I should have sprinted, but just rolled in and amazingly still finished 31st...6 spots out. Gah. Ah well. Good times.


Day 1-Beverly-OFF
Day 2-Menasha-16th
Day 3-Manitowoc-26th
Day 4-Alpine Valley-35th
Day 5-Proving Grounds-OFF
Day 6-Whitnal Park-25th
Day 7-Shorewood (NRC)-24th
Day 8-Schlitz Park (NRC)-25th
Day 9-Waukesha (NRC)-OFF
Day 10-Bensenville (NRC)-OFF
Day 11-Holy Hill-15th
Day 12-Cedarburg-26th
Day 13-Green Bay-16th
Day 14-Sheboygan-OFF
Day 15-Kenosha-OFF
Day 16-Downer Avenue-12th
Day 17-Whitefish Bay-31st

Overall Sprints: 11th (28 points)
Overall Amateur: 11th (31)
Overall Pro: 49th (31)

Okay, that's it. I have tons of photos, but not now. Maybe later in the day.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Quick One....

Green Bay Criterium:

Green Bay. For those of you that don't know...if Wisconsin was a big left-hand mitten, Green Bay's the spot right between where the finger and thumb would go. It's really far away from most of the series, and a full 120 miles from Milwaukee, and a further 170+ miles from Elkhorn (where i'm staying)...but...I was able to get out there thanks to the generousness of my hosts out in Elkhorn. They suggested that I use their car to drive out! Normally I'd be too taken by kindness to accept, but I really wanted to race...the legs and energy levels were I said "okay, thanks!", and was soon out with the jeep...AND it has cruise control. Fantastic. I drove to Milwaukee, and carpooled with a friend from there to Green Bay.

We got there with lots of time to spare. I watched the Cat 3 race. The course looked like it favored a breakaway. Some wind, long straightaways, flat. So. The race started...except it didn't. The pace was pitifully slow from the gun. Slow enough to clip out, stretch, stop and take a nature break, that slow. Things sped up eventually, and I was happy to find that the legs were super again. What's the worst thing that can happen when you have good legs? This: I missed the early move, despite being in nearly every move prior. 13 guys rolled off, hardly moving! I couldn't believe it, but the efforts of Monex and Sierra Nevada (who were well-represented in the break), kept the field at bay. I wasn't having it, and attacked lotsss of times. With the pace so slow, attacks were pretty effortless. Brian Jensen (Jelly Belly) was also pretty determined to bridge. Nothing. The gap was almost 2 minutes. I took a $50 prime pretty easily (I think I was the only one who heard it announced), and that took some pressure off. Still though, I needed something more. Drove ALL this way, borrowed a car, and for what? To get lapped? Nope. So riding around, I've made my entry fee money and some change...Sergio Hernandez (SoCal) put in a move on the backside. I went with him, and no one was behind me. Hm. I pull straight to the front, head down, and hey, we had a bit of a gap. Stefan Adamson (Milram) and Jensen bridge, with a Monex along to police the move. Hmm. Okay. A lap later, the break was nicely established. I still felt amazing. And decided "okay, I can goof around and try to conserve energy here, or I can work and make sure the break isn't caught". I worked. To our dismay, Adamson wouldn't work at all, he just stayed at the back. Jensen and I exchanged some healthy pulls. The lead car eventually went in front of us, meaning the other break of 13 lapped the field. I didn't hear time gaps, but it was down to 30" at one point, and it was coming down. No friggin way. Head down, forearms on the bars, this break's not getting caught, suckas. At some point, Two guys already up a lap (Jackson Stewart of Sierra Nevada and an amateur guy from Athletes By Design) bridged, with two others on the same lap as me and the rest of the break. So we had 8 total. Took some minor sprint points along the way. Then, 2 laps to go....they ring the bell for the break, "$300 prime to the leader of the next lap". Wow. Small group, 8 guys, I've worked plenty, but still felt fine. Dream come true? It stayed together up untill the last corner (which is 300 meters from the line). Adamson (who's fresh as can be) led it out, with Jensen in tow, then me. Perfect position. at 150, I jumped on the left side. 50 meters between me and $300....and the Monex guy came around the opposite side and took it by a wheel. Gahhhh. The three of us blew up the break, however, and rolled in the next lap, a bit spent (and a LOT dejected) from the prime effort, for 16th on the day. Eh. $120 total earnings. $420 would have been killer. Ah well. It was a good race, and I felt swell.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It is with great regret that I write that a rider has died. A category 4 rider ran into a truck at some point during monday's Holy Hill Road Race. A huge shock to the entire superweek community, and a moment of silence as well as a memorial lap took place at the start of yesterday's criterium -in all categories, including the Pro/1. Road Races...they're the purest form of bike racing, but also the hardest to put on. You cannot really pin the blame on the race organizers, the driver of the truck, or the victimized rider. It's really one of those .000001% probabilities that's sometimes a statistical reality in this sport. All that can be done is add a few more zeros and decrease the likelihood of something catastrophic happening. Just be alert, if you're off the back, be careful. That's it.

The Holy Hill RR:

The conditions were miserable -at best. Forget the rolling course profile or the strong winds. The real obstacle was the temperature and the humidity. The race was shortened from 12 laps (100 miles) to 8 laps (75 miles) due to the airlifting of the injured rider to the hospital. Race started off at a rapid clip. Strung out through the first lap, just about. Lots of position battles, almost like a crit. Second lap I found myself in what I thought was the middle of the pack. I look back, there's almost no one left! Half the field was dropped after 1 lap. Masochistic, maybe, but I get a huge lift when I look back in situations like that and find that I've made the selection. More gratification than masochism, I guess, but regardless, I used it as a boost. If you'll remember, I wanted a good result here, legs were okay (not stellar...but everyone was hurting on the day, and I had 2 full days off). A large group of 12 slipped off the front. I didn't think it'd stick, as the yellow jersey and lots of other good riders were still in my group of 30 or so. Hm. Their gap grew exponentially. Gah...missed the winning move. Ah well, a couple little attacks in our group didn't go anywhere, then I went with Old Man (and winner of the Whitnal Park RR) Steve Tilford (Trek) on a counter. It's funny, I made the same exact move last year, only instead of Tilford it was Erik Saunders. Last year I was unable to stay with Erik, but I stayed with Tilford. We caught up to a teammate of his, and the three of us worked nicely. A lap later we picked up Garret Peltonen (Health Net). I felt swell, it was a good group. We were well clear of the group behind us, and about 2'30" back of the lead group. I thought we could catch them, but the other guys weren't as spirited...Eh. Two guys bridged up to us. A Hong Kong National guy, and a Sierra Nevada. "Let us rest a bit!" they clammored. Eh. We caught two riders dropped from the lead group as well. We'd be sprinting for 11th place. Not quite what I wanted, but a decent consolation. Last lap comes. There's a pretty short but steep hill about 150 meters long, and only about 4k from the finish. I thought for sure Tilford would try something, but we all just rode tempo over the hill. I couldn't help but think "I can outsprint these guys with one leg...they're making a mistake by not attacking here", but they didn't, and I was grateful. Here's where it goes to shite: The course is 8 laps. Usually, the place where they have lap cards (saying "X laps to go") is where the finish line is. This is true in 95% of races. So we made the final right hand turn, all 7 of us together, with 1k to go. Everyone was waiting, and with 200 meters to go, I jumped and handily took the sprint, just as i'd envisioned....except...that wasn't the finish line! F. I almost missed the "extra" left hand turn, that was still another kilometer to the finish. I was beat to hell, but got back on to the group. We're 500 meters out, and Tilford's teammate in 5th wheel gaps myself and the sierra nevada guy out. What a jerk. What cheese tactics. I think I could have still won the sprint despite the effort 30 seconds earlier, but ah well. Then, Tilford's teammate starts sprinting me, and I looked right at him and said "you serious?", and took the sprint for 15th. Gah. It's my fault though, no one elses. I'll live with it 'till I can improve on that result.


I'm really sour about this one. I didn't feel good on the day. Didn't deserve to finish in the money considering how I felt, but over the last few laps, I moved up considerably, and made some nice moves late, and was almost certain I'd be in the top-25 (that's how deep money is), and would keep the money streak going at 9 straight races. I finished 26th. Total bummer. I was shocked. I thought I might have even pulled off a top 20, but no. It was a great course, with amazing crowds, and I choked. That's twice i've been 26th. Potential loss of $100. Ah well. I calculated this morning, and total prize money earned so far (including primes) is $510. Green Bay today...if I can find a way out there (it's the farthest race in the series...wayyyyy up there). Addio!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Short Recap

One race to report on: The Schlitz Park Endevour Challenge.

It's really just a crit with a nice hill in it. It's a hard course, but not because of the hill. Turns 3 and 4 (of 4), are really tight and fast, and the bunch gets pretty strung out. For the first time in the series, I didn't feel like friggin' superman, but I don't think the rest of the field felt too fresh either. 80 times up that hill makes for lots of vertical meters. 6 guys lapped the field early, leaving the rest of us to fight it out for 7th-25th. Conspicuously absent were the cash primes. Not one! I distinctly remember 1000s of dollars in primes at the same race last year, but seems like times are tough for some Superweek races. It seemed that my money streak (7) would finally come to an end, but I finished 25th! I really didn't think I'd be that high up, but hey! $50! There's a nice stack of checks in my wallet waiting to be cashed. Tomorrow: Holy Hill RR. Barring a mechanical failure, I'm going to do well here. Gonna glue myself to the Milram guy and get a result. Expect a cheery report to follow.

Photo below is from the first RR. That's what it looks like when someone pushes the pace while you're taking a drink.

Friday, July 14, 2006

This Entry Will Be About Bike Racing, Too

Aren't they all?


Yesterday was the first NRC race of the series. I guess that makes it a big deal, and it showed; the day brought the highest number of pros so far in the series. People from all over the teams I didn't even know existed were here. Anyhow, the race was blazing fast the entire way through. There wasn't a characteristic lull here, at all. Some breakaways tried, but it wasn't going to happen on a course like this. I was conservative for the first half. Wasn't at the front, didn't go for primes, just followed wheels. In retrospect, I'd say I was a bit intimidated by the myriad of pros out here and the "NRC" status of the whole thing. Ah well. I eventually realized that (1)I still felt good and (2) it's the same damn thing as the "non-NRC" races. Okay, so legs are okay, and I'm in good position. New paragraph.

Allow this one tangent: Alex Candelario. When I first started racing, I dug his style: Always there in the sprint, sometimes winning out of a breakaway, often successfully leading out Jonas Carney (who is high in the running for "nicest guy on a bike -ever") multiple times. He rode the sweet campy-equipped Orbeas for Jelly Belly that I once envied. I even dug the ocassional colums he'd write for some random bike magazines. You get the idea: I admirably looked up to him. However, after racing alongside him a handful of times, I've come to the unquestionable conclusion that the guy is the biggest asshole in the domestic peleton. I had a couple run ins with him yesterday, and each time in a blatantly condescending [and unnecessarily loud] tone, he put me down like i'm some cat 5 chump in a bike race for the first time. This was not the first run-in. Every time I've raced with him, and shown myself at the front, same thing: "Get the FUCK back there, what are you doing?". How are aspiring pros supposed to properly develop and advance with guys like this calling the shots? Luckily, he's one of few. Most of the guys out here are generally swell people. That's all I've got on this subject. If he keeps rubbing me the wrong way, however....

Okay...back to racing...So I was comfortable, in good position. the primes were HUGE on the day, and I wanted a piece...With 7 laps to go, opportunity knocked. 7 laps to go is too soon before the finish for the 'core guys to sprint for it, but they rang the bell for $100. I was in about 25th wheel at the start of the lap. Getting the prime was on the back of my mind, but sitting that far back, didn't think I'd have the chance. Then a really nice hole opened up which Denis Hauesin (Milram) jumped into, and I followed. Maybe a sketch line, but I went into turn 3 in 6th wheel. Perfect. Denis kept looking around, he never really sprinted or jumped, but [thankfully] kept a solid pace through the final corner (which is a monster 600 meters from the finish). As we rounded the final turn, Mr. Karl Menzies rolls past on the right side. I jumped on him immediately. He was following a wheel, and I was on him. Then with about 250 to go (long way out, I know), I heard a guy behind me about to jump (you know, gears shifting, breathing, change of direction, etc etc.), and jumped Menzies before the guy behind me could come past. And I took it cleanly and with several bike lengths. I even pumped my right fist...couldn't help it!!! $100! Aram-1 Menzies-1. Payback for the previous day. The rest is pretty straightforward. I recovered nicely after the prime effort (though Candelario almost knocked me into the curb as the head of the peleton rolled past), got back in, and had great position going into the last lap. No breaks were away, so it'd be the first true field sprint of the series. Again, I didn't really have a solid wheel, I found myself on the wheel of Kam Po Wong (Hong Kong Superstar)...better than nothing. Again, Candelario (maybe just to spite me), had pulled off his leadout, and put himself (going 10mph slower than anyone else) right in the middle of the final turn, screwing up lines for everyone. Eh. They didn't win. Karma comes ' some ways. Robert Wagner (Milram) won. I finished 24th. Could have been better, of course, but at least I wasn't 26th!! So, took out $150 on the day, some points in the sprint competition (i've got to get myself in a long breakaway...then i'll be able to crack the top 5). Swell times, better legs. Schlitz Park tonight, and it's been pouring all morning. Addio!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hola Y Bienvenidos...

Okay. 4 races down so far. Proud to report that i've taken money in each one, and am still in the green as far as race fees go. I've got two to report on, The first road race in the series, the Alpine Valley RR, which was on monday, and Yesterday's Saturn-Whitnal Park RR. I took wednesday off.

Monday's Road Race: Alpine Valley

The course was shortened from 100 to 75 miles due to a 1 hour delay during the start. I think sometime during this hour, while lying in the grass, I got bit by something, because my right forearm is really swollen...even now. Anyhow. I really don't have much to report on this race. I felt fine the whole way. I was never in difficulty at any point, but only finished 35th (the last money spot!). Small groups just escaped off the front bit by bit, and up untill the last lap (of 7), I was still in pretty good company with regards to the quality of riders around me. But it became apparent on the last lap that we were the 3rd group on the road, as the pace really slowed, and we were left with a group of around 13 guys. I heard people saying "oh, there's at least 30 guys up the road", but couldn't believe it 'till I saw the results. I finished 2nd in my little group at the end, barely making it in the money. Eh. More aggression in the next road race....

Wednesday's Road Race: Saturn Whitnall Park

This is really just a circuit race (2.5 mile circuit), and is the shortest race of the series at only 90 kilometers. Awesome course though, something for everyone, with a nice kick about 400 meters from the line, and a slight uphill finish as well. This race almost always ends up in the field sprint, but I played it reallly aggressively anyway. About 5 laps in (of 20), I made the mistake of gluing myself to Karl Menzies' wheel. Man. He jumped at the hill. We had a gap. Jumped again at the start/finish, and finally (and to my great relief) we bridged up to a very promising break. I was completely spent from the bridging effort, and looked back to see no one. Nice. Recovered a bit, but it turned out that the group was too large (15) for proper cohesion, so we eventually came back. Then. The lowpoint of my superweek...10 laps to go, they announce a [meager] $25 prime. I was in great position, and attacked at the top of the hill. I looked down at my rear wheel, and saw that one guy went with me. I took him along anyway. Then slowed up at 150 meters to make it look like i'd faded, then just as he came around, I jumped, and passed him. I was cruising to certain cash...when all hope was lost. Menzies had apparently been on my wheel the whole way, and pipped me at the line for the $25. Gah. The three of us opened a giant gap from the effort, but I was physically and mentally shattered. Almost ready to drop out. What's he going to do with $25???? Eh. I promptly thanked him for the lesson a few laps later. He laughed. The next 10 laps were spent (1) trying to recover while (2) not getting dropped. A break of 4 had gone up the road, so the pace was high. I recovered okay, found the legs in the field sprint, and took 25th. Again, I felt great in the sprint, but these "sprints" at super week are really just about keeping position. It's very hard to make up ground unless you've got a really good wheel, which again, I did not have. Ah well.

Today's gonna be a daisy...Shorewood Criterium. Big money. Big Cars. NRC. Fast course. Legs are great. And the Amgen booties look like Superman boots. These things happen...

Nice photos from cyclingnews:


AND...a hearty congratulations to Brent on winning U23 Time Trial Nationals. I've been saying it for months (years?)...he is the MVP.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Random Fotos:

Photo from last year that I got from a local photographer on Friday.

Ahh. Guilty Pleasure. Again, Friday: Home-made potato chips. Though I didn't deserve to, I finished that entire thing. Que Delicioso!

Really Cool Bike in Downtown Manitowac, Wi. Such a lush blue.

Farm road in Elkhorn, Wi. That's pretty much the scenery in all the road races.

This photo speaks for itself. Email me if you need the larger version for use as a background.

Nice Crowds at the Beverly Hills race that I wasn't racing in. The start finish area was flooooooooded with people during the final 5 laps. Amazing.

Nebraska. Didn't we decide it was the worst state ever? Now that i've been (through) there, I can say that we were correct. Just look at their postcards. The place just has nothing going.

My new TT bike. Grand Junction, CO. Need to adjust the seat height a bit.

Middle of Nowhere, USA. I don't even know what state that is. Nice parking lot though. I cannot imagine any circumstance where they'd use it to even half capacity, but hey.

Monday, July 10, 2006

This Entry Will Be About Bike Racing

Okay. Let me preface this by saying that I feel great. The legs are awesome, the mind is awesome, it feels like i'm catching some good breaks, all that. Yesterday was no exception, but here's the story:

Day 3: Manitawoc Criterium

Again, Nate, Cameron, and myself got to the race nice and early. Forecast called for a "severe thunderstorm watch". There was hardly a cloud in bright blue sky. This was 2pm. So we got there around 3, and of course, I registered. Right after I register ($37!), giant black clouds roll through. It's okay, they'll blow over. Then some thunder, some Lightning. It's okay, it's probably in some distant county. 5 minutes later: steadily increasing amounts of chunky chunky midwest rain. Bummer. Why'd I register for this thing so early? Ah well. This is why procrastination works great (sometimes).

The storm blew over about 20 minutes before our start, but not without leaving some nice puddles and slick tarmac throughout the .6 mile course. I dropped the tire pressure to 105psi, and hoped for the best. I won't lie, one of my biggest weaknesses on the bike is wet conditions racing...i'm a fair weather SoCal guy for life, we know this. Oh, and all of a sudden, conspicously present were a score of new riders who were not here for the previous two days...nice times. No one was really salivating over the conditions, but i'm sure some midwest kids were stoked for rain. Okay, enough. Race starts. Sun's comin out, steam's rising from the course. It basically dried up entirely, with the exception of a few giant puddles. The 105 psi is great in corner, I think it was an advantage yesterday, wet or dry. I'm riding near or at the front the whole time. Legs are perfect, HR is just cruising along. Yeah. Made no aggressive moves, however, for the first 20 laps (80 laps total). In bike's advantageous to sit near the front of the most crashes happen mid-pack or further back. Nope. Sitting 10th wheel, the guy right in front of me went down in a straightaway (cmmmmmmmmmon guy! what are you doing?? Go crash in the back!), and I had no choice but to plow right into him. It was one of dozens of crashes on the day. There was no ambiguity to who caused the crash...this guy in front of me did (taking down 4-5 others behind me as well), and the funny thing is HE was more upset than anyone else. Wheel and Sprocket guy. Thanks. I cut my right thigh up nicely, nicked my levers slightly, ankle, my brand new shoes!!!!!!!!!!!! Eh. I was a bit upset and distraught. Whatev. I was psyched to find my bike in perfect shape, and found new motivation in that fact. This is getting awfully long. In short, I won 4 primes. $20, $20, $100 (though there's some controversy which I don't care to get into), and just a few points for the sprint jersey. The finale....I was in PERFECT position going into the bell lap, and my legs were definitely up for the cramps. But I f-ed it up, guys. Instead of thinking "kill it!@!", I was timid, and took the last two corners a bit too conservatively, lost some spots, and finished an agonizing 26th. Why agonizing? 25th place gets $50. How much does 26th place get? $0. It's my fault, however, and I did a disservice to the good legs. Opportunity lost. I'll make up for it, and hey, I guess the primes weren't too bad. Okay. Alpine Valley in 30 minutes. Addieu.

and some photos:

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Race reports, stories, photos (soon), and more

Ciao Amici,

Day 1=Beverly Hills Classic

They've got a neighborhood in Chicago that's actually called "Beverly Hills", and it's actually a pretty afluent community, and they've opened the superweek series each of the last 5 years. Awesome course, huge crowds, big money. We were staying in Elkhorn, Wi...We're about 30 minutes closer to Chicago than Milwaukee....the race flyer directions (from Milwaukee) say "allow at least 3 hours of transit time because of Chicago traffic". We "allowed" for 4. To be safe, you know...

I don't really care to write in detail about what followed. In short, it took almost 4 hours to get to Chicago. We didn't get lost, just ridiculous traffic. Sadly, I saw commuter train after train just passing us by while we were basically stopped, and posters along the way that said "take the metro! It's way better!" (or something like that). I know! I do take the metro! Gahhhh. So...Aram's procrastinating again, nothing new, right? He always makes it just in time. Got there, and racers were already on the start line. Cameron had preregistered, I hadn't. Additionally, I find that I left my helmet at the host house. So I had 5 mins to change, fill out the Superweek paperwork, pay, find a helmet, fill up/mix my bottles, go to the bathroom, and stage. Bit the bullet, didn't start. Couldn't. So that's day one. To those of you who checked the results without my name in it and thought "Shite, Aram DNFed/Crashed/sucked" Cmmmmmmmon, you know I don't play that game. DNS, that's all. I somehow still managed to lead the prestigious "U25 Armenian Vegetarian" classification. I hope to hold the lead to the end. As consolation, I guess by not racing I was able to avoid a gnarly crash 200 meters from the finish. And the primes!!!!! 8 of the last 10 laps had $200 2-place primes, and a prime pretty much every other lap. Total insanity. It definitely hurt not to be racing...but I was able to document it all pretty well. Photos comin.

Day 2: Menasha Criterium

No logistical issues here. Cameron and I met up with fellow SoCal-er Nate Loyal in Milwaukee, and carpooled wayyy up north to Menasha. Got there with a cool hour to hang out, warm up, be scenesters, yeah. Nice times. Oddly, lots more people today. Got a pretty good start position, and was at the front from lap 1. Good pace, tight corners, all that. Then, about 15 laps in, they neutralized the field. Whoa. Bad news: Jeremy Mucha, SoCal local, went down hard in turn 1. Really nice guy, and it was his second crash in as many days. It was intense, and he needed to be stabilized before carting him off. So they stopped the race. Riders litterally parked their bikes and walked off...bathroom breaks, coffee, etc. We restarted 15 minutes later. They gave the break a 15 second gap, which was questionable ('cause they were never neutralized to begin with, and extended their advantage when we slowed). So they were gone, 30, 40, 50 seconds. It's a 2 minute course, max. Ah well. Couple laps later, I put in a little attack through the one gnarly turn (turn 3). Look's the Milram rider Dennis Haueisen, Bobby Lea, and one other guy. They ring the prime bell shortly afterwards, for $20 (why'd they move the decimal point over one spot from yesterday? cmon!). We have a slight gap, maybe 20 meters. We work a bit, but about 200 meters from the line, we're basically just at the front of the main pack, caught. Haueisen was cruising to the line for $20....nope, I came around, just rolling along, and took it myself. I need it more than he does. A couple seconds later, I almost fell off the bike laughing....Haueisen: "You want prim? YOU WANT PRIMMMM???! You must workk!..............FUK YOU!". That will officially be the highlight of the month....getting sworn at (for no reason apparent to me, as we were already caught, AND I initiated the break!!!) by Erik Zabel's teammate! Deutschland!!!

Okay. The rest of the race went allright, too. I picked up two other primes, a meager 2 points for the sprint competition (it's hard with a break up the road), and.......5 laps to go sound. Swell, I felt awesome, of course, and was in pretty good position in the top 20. I was riding near Kayle Leogrande (lagrange) and Bobby Lea (Toyota United) the whole way, and they're usually well positioned, so yeah. 3 laps to go...cramps! Calves and hamstrings. Huh? I don't ever cramp, certainly not at the end of a crit, not ever. So I gave it a little hand massage all around, and it was gone. But every time i'd jump to keep position, it'd come back. Really a strange feeling to have the power, but be restricted because of the cramps...perhaps I didn't drink enough? Anyhow. 2 laps to go, quick massages are taking care of the cramp issues, just 2 laps left. Into turn 2, I did a little jump, and my chain did something wild, and I almost fell off the bike...lost a bunch of spots in the process. Gah. Normally, this would bum me out and i'd lose motivation, but I wasn't phased. Did a weird cramped-up move to get back to where I was. Saw Lea again, so figured it was a good spot. A break of 4 was up the road. So I'd have to be top-21 to get some cash. It looked good as we entered the last lap. Your basic last-lap madness, except it's a lot more controlled near the front. Less chaos. The cramps weren't too bad, and I was able to sprint pretty good to finish 12th in the field, for 16th on the day! I'm psyched. I made $100+ after the primes and finishing money. I can buy that new chain that I need so bad! I'm racing today, too. Should be a daisy.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

30 hours of total transit time later...i'm in Wisconsin. We made it. I was coming apart near the extra hour of driving and I would have lost it, but here we are. The hosts we're staying with are great, and so is the house we're staying at. We've got a quaint bedroom with PACKERS memorobillia all over it, constantly reminding us of where we are. Wisonsin's the best.

I have lots of photos from the trip, but don't have a means of uploading them at the moment. But in due time...The first race is tonight, in Chicago (about 90 mins from here). It was my first Superweek race last year, and I friggin loved every second of it. Ten million people come out to watch. No, not quite that many, but close. And they all yell in unison each time we come by their homes. Really cool course, and I'll snap some photos if I'm able. We've got computer access here so i'll try to update daily (as long as I'm racing). The legs feel great, and I'm reallly anxious to find out who i'll be racing against for the next three weeks.

Allright....Addio then

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Track, La Mirada, and Wisconsin

We'll start in reverse. 5am tomorrow, I leave for Wisconsin. The dairyland. Why? Superweek. 17 classic races in 17 days in July. Lots of tradition, lots of spectators, and if you have good form, it's a good time. The money is terrific, too, so we'll see. The peleton composition at Superweek is as follows:

  • 20%-Domestic Pros
These are the dudes that dominate the money spots, usually. They dominate, not so much because they're that much better, but because they have the support: the feeds, the hotels, the team vans, the domestiques, mechanics etc etc etc. The only thing they have to worry about is the racing.
  • 30%-Local Elites
Riders from the area who just race the races 'cause they're nearby. No threat here, but they're usually the only guys with a decent number of teammates.
  • 30%-Long Distance Dreamers
Guys from far away who think they can do well, and are either in for a rude awakening (likely), or a pleasant surprise (unlikely). Lack of funds and a generally "ragged" lifestyle are primary characteristics of this group. I'm a lifetime member.
  • 20%-The International Contingent
Last year there were some Japanese kids, some strange European dudes, the Columbian national team, and some Mexican riders as well. This group does not speak English, but we like them.

Last year went okay for me, particularly the last day, where I finished 11th. I finished 4th in the under-23 classification, got some sprint points, and took home some cash. I'm riding better than last year, and have 1 year of Superweek under my belt, so I expect to do much better of course. Time will tell. Host housing is a go (though i'm not sure what city i'll be staying in), Cameron's comitted to the drive, the bike is working nicely, my form and motivation are good, and the weather looks fantastic (60s/70s, isolated T-storms...perfect). Only issue is, of course, the money situation. I know that as long as I can make it out to Wisconsin, things will fall into place. I've set a modest goal of winning enough to at least offset the steep $37/race entry fees. Finger's crossed.

Allright, I'll write again once I get out there. I'll be documenting the trip as much as possible, and the one thing i'm stoked on is that I get to drive through the Rockies. Haven't done that yet.

Short Weekend Reports:


The Bianchi Ridin' the Train...

I think i've finally grown fully accustomed to the track. I was railing the bankings all over during warm ups, and felt awesome. Comfortable, even. The rush of speed as you come down a 2 story banking in just 5 meters is ridiculous. Soo fast...though I don't yet know how to use that thing in a race, ah well. So. Yeah. Took the metro out there, of course. Total breeze. It was almost too cold inside, but perfect when you're out going fast. Three total races for me: Unknown Distance, Tempo, and Snowball. Bigger field than the previous two times, but still not a whole lot of guys. I think we had 13 or 14.

I-Unknown Distance: I sucked at this one last time, so I approached it a bit differently. From the get go, I went to the front, and set a mild tempo. Slowly turned it up, with the quads ready to fire each time I passed the start finish. Couple guys tried to go, but nothing serious. Lap 10 came, still no bell, and the anticipation was building. Lap 11, nothing. 12, nope. Coming into the start of the 13th lap, I saw the official subtley move his hand to the bell...yeah! Sprinted away and took the win.

II-10 Lap Tempo. Total embarassment. I took the first point, and from there it was all bad. The field split, I chased, split some more, guys alternated pulls out front, and I was isolated. The emcee said something like "Aram Dellalian is nowhere near the front"...riled me up pretty good, and I made a move to the front but it was too late. I finished 4th, with only 2 points.

III-10 Lap Snowball. This was a first for me. 10 laps. Just like the tempo, but the number of points goes up each lap. Lap 1-1 point, Lap 2-2 points, Lap 3-3points, etc...I let the other guys fight it out for the first couple laps. Then attacked and somehow got a nice gap, and won laps 6, 7, 8, and 9 to win.

So 1st, 4th, and 1st (first overall), in what I hope is my last cat 4/5 track race. It's always nice to put "1"s in the race resume...haha. I need to apply online to cat-up, and I think I can do allright in the 1/2/3 as well. The brevity of track races is off the hook, though. In total (all three races), I probably spent about 10 minutes racing.

La Mirada Circuit Race. Speaking of cat 4/5. La Mirada was my first ever race win (and 5th race ever) back on May 12th, 2002! So I went back on sunday, for the pro race. 12 noon start time, a bit earlier than i'm used to. Took the train, again, this time with the Greenline into Norwalk (about 5 miles from La Mirada). Jussst missed each of my trains, and got to the race at 12 exactly. The rosters were already in, but I got in. Jussst. Five minutes later, we're all on the start line, the whistle's about to blow.....and Tony Cruz (fresh of a win at Tour de Nez) strolls by. It had to have been 12:10, and of course, the world stops, and Tony's pinned up and on the start line a few mins later. He deserves that kind of treatment, however, as I'm sure any local 1/2 racer can agree with. Tony's a humble dude, all-around. Most of the Toyota-United guys are like that. Okay. So we race. No teammates, just me. Fun course, with a hill that's jussst long and steep enough enough to hurt on, and a slight uphill finish. Come to think of it? I have no idea what happened in this race. The field definitely withered. Near the end. I looked around, and saw that Tony and some other hotshots were still in my group (30 or so), so assumed I'm in the right place. There were some isolated groups up the road, but I didn't know how many. Ah well. Felt good though, throughout. Didn't go with any moves, however, gambling that it'd be a proper field sprint. The field sprint came, and I took it easily, but....there were FOURTEEN up the road, apparently, so I finished 15th.

And these are the pups. Grey=Arthur, Brown=Malcom . We've had almost 21 bike-stuff-destroying free days. Going on a new record...I'll miss these guys.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Good Ol' July...

I'd lovvve to sit and reflect on cycling's tribulations and impending doom [actually, i'd loathe it], but whatev. I'm not. Predictions: Julich's winning the tour (he uses chainrings from the 80s and a camelback, he cannot lose). Brent's gonna edge out Cunego in the last TT and win the white jersey, and Boonen's gonna win sprints in yellow. The tiny glimmer of cycling fan left in me is really hoping that Zabel gets the Maillot Verde. All those second places are good for something, we hope. Maillot Pois: no one cares. As i'm sure you can tell, i'm not as excited for tomorrow as I had been, and am not looking forward to the inevitable gossip and the "EVERYONE IS DOPED" theorists that are going to have a field day with this whole bit. What's rule #1? Just ride your F-in bike. Pretty basic. Enough on this...if i'm feeling philosophical/bored in the future, I'll type up some words on the issue.

Bowl Action Thursday!

I skipped the warm up lap, and started with the group on the uphill side. I was feeling springy, so instead of drifting into the group to start, I attack. So solo to the corner, then back together. As i'm drifting back, I notice Gord Mccauley's (monex/successfulliving /something) out here. Swell, lets show him up! 200 meters later, I was at the front, and let a slight gap open up for a couple Amgen dudes. Gord chased. Then [as is the rule] I countered when we caught the break 30 seconds later. We're only half a lap in and it's this nuts!!! I'm off, alone, again. Came back: likely Gord's work. Lots of the same in the next few laps. And lots of calories incinerated. Not a good day for plain water in the bottles, I found. Eventually, I was at the front of a stretched out peleton, knackered, on the wheel of some guy just drilling it for no apparent reason. I Held on (just), and looked back to regretfully find that we had a nice gap. F. I tell the guy [honestly] "hey, I got nothing" but pulled through anyway, cause he had less than that. Of course this lame "move" sticks. Gord and old-school net zero guy (I think it was the ex-bodybuilder guy from Hard Road) bridge up, and the 4 of us rode a nice tempo to the end. We weren't keeping track of the laps (only Dave does that, it's much too complex at 180bpm), but it was past 7, and getting darker, so we decided to do a last lap. Gord attacked with 500m to go. I was gonna mark it, but was last in the paceline. Netzero went instead, but faded fast, and the gap stuck. Gord took it with me 5m behind. Eh. Turned out there was still a lap to go, but hey it wouldn't have made much difference. Awesome training session, no doubt. I wish guys like that would come out more often.

Tomorrow: Track: ADT Center. 3pm. Come out! Bike racing+Air Conditioning? What more can anyone ask for? I'm racing 4/5s again, 'cause i'm a jerk.

And....a monumental victory and redemption for me in last night's $80 NHL2k6 tourney. I was undefeated throughout, and ended up playing my brother, Ari, in the final. The final game was the closest, but the others were mostly blowouts. Scores were [in order]: 4-2, 4-1, 10-1, 11-2, and 5-4. I was far from classy, however, and will admit to being a huge jerk after winning, but these are extenuating cannot be timid. In any regard. Hey, kinda like cycling. And most of you will laugh...but the whole bike racing thing (the field-sprinting aspect, mainly) really transfers well to this type of application: I feel no pressure or nerves or jittery in these situations. Bike racing naturally teaches you to do away with these feelings, because you cannot race proper if you're the least bit pressured, nervous, or jittery, even while railing it through the gutter of some gnarly turn 200 meters from the line. The tournament winnings will pay for some MUCH needed new cleats, race fees for the weekend, and most likely, a couple burrits.