je ne sais quoi

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Downer [Stage 16]


That bicycle is wasted. Hanging by a thread, I think. Or by a chain-link. It isn't shifting well anymore, the neutral support laughed upon measuring the chain for wear, it has energy drink residue all over it, tires nearing the 2000k mark this month alone, and the symphony of noises has new intrumentation joining it daily. One more day, guy. Hang in there.

Stage 16: The Great Downer Avenue Bike Race

Downer would be the 7th consecutive day of racing for me. A new record. Also my 14th start of the series. A record in madness. But like I touched on in the last entry, none of that matters anymore. Everyone else is in the same boat, and they're just 100k motor pace sessions with a little kick at the end.

Downer. To me, it isn't any different from the other races. The crowds are massive, yes, it's in a swell Milwaukee suburb, and there is the silly super-prime (which I would lobby to spread out...$200 laps...the whole time!)...but...same purse...same points. That's what it comes down to. The race: The composition of this one is different because of the combination of cash and crowds in large doses. Staging was completely ridiculous. Zero enforcement of any kind, and people staging as far wide as the inside of the neutral support area. Madness. There's got to be a photo out there. Photos of me at this race will prove elusive. I didn't do a damn thing the entire race. Felt fine, and took nearly half the race before I settled in comfortably behind the jerseys. Turn 2 was always interesting. Really...not alot to report. 10 to go, the jockeying began. Legs were fine, so I jockeyed, too. Kelly Benefit lined it up for another one of their leadouts. 5 to go, I'm good. It was very stressful each time the field bunched up before turn madness, accident waiting to happen. Bell lap................I'm ~10 back. Turn one, check. Turn two I blasted into, full-gas, followed by full wheel-skid brakes, followed by another full-gas thrust. Legs were ok. Relative to everyone else, anyway. Then...the slight bunch up before turn 3....and Wyoming's Finest, Adrian Geritts (La Grange) hit the deck hard. I was 2 wheels back, on the inside, and luckily he fell to the outside. I saw sparks, and jussst missed his rear wheel. Had legs, but lost the nerve to make the jump, and followed wheels to finish 11th. The 14th money placing in a row, and the 6th consecutive points placing.

One more day. As it stands, i'm 12th overall with 88 points, tied with another guy. In the amateur, I sit in 5th. Ironically, all the main contenders were in the break with me at Kenosha, so no ground was made there. It pays only 5 deep, and pays I am motivated to hopefully overtake the guy ahead of me and keep the other one behind me.'s great that "Best US Amateur" is being won by a Colombian former-pro, and also ahead of me is amateur Jonathan Page. Annoying, really.

A top 10 in the pro would be a dream...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

14 + 15

Will it ever end?

Stage 14: Racine 100k

Before Superweek started, this was supposed to be my off day. Like I mentioned last entry, an off day isn't happening. Racine is little town down in Southern Wisconsin. Not much of a drive from Milwauk. Did a couple warm up laps on the course. What a course! Every turn had cracks and lips and sealer and grass, even. This course definitely led the way for fluorescent-orange chalk usage. Ah well. 85 laps. Plenty of times to figure it out.

We roll. Everyone's out again, surprisingly, and leading the way...not surprisingly...were the fresh guys that just arrived at Superweek a few days ago. 5 guys lapped the field early, and the formality of the rest of the race played out. Shortly after, a break of 6 snuck off, and came pretty close to lapping and just ran out of race. So, 5 had lapped, 6 gone, leaving the rest of us to sprint for 12th. 5 to go, Kelly-Benefit lined it up pretty good, though they weren't yet drilling it, so it was them up front, with a massive blob of riders behind. I stayed near the yellow (now Cantwell), and had it up until the last lap. Turn 1, we're through. Turn 2, I see an opening on the inside, and chop or not, dove into it. Normal stuff. BUT! The big former jersey wearer went even further inside and I had to slam the brakes or take us both down. Dicey, at best. Lost several spots, and had to let off a match or two to get back in the mix. Finished 19th, eventually. Happy to have kept it upright.

Stage 15: Kenosha 100k

A Superweek classic. Fun little course. 100 laps. Nice festival vibe at this one, and great crowds. Massive field. Conspicuously absent again: Bahati. The finales are certainly different without him. Anyhow, I thought I got a nice spot during staging, but once we were underway, It felt like I was a million riders back. The course is a really fast one, with the exception of a bottleneck at turn 2, so it's a long line of riders that stay strung out because of that bottleneck...sometimes regardless of how fast the peleton is moving. What does all this mean? It means it's a good course for a breakaway.

So, after spending the first 20 laps feeling the race and letting the GC people futily attack one another, I made my way to the front. Not one lap later, Cameron Meyer blasts off the right side. Side note...Meyer is from the same Australian city (Perth) as my former teammate Michael Fitzgerald. So I kinda knew about him. He also won the Los Angeles World Cup Points race at which I was present (watching, of course). I had a chat with Cameron when we were called up at Shorewood. He's prepping for the Olympics, and I told him he's a nutter for racing Superweek just prior...but it is good training. Ok, side story done. I bridged the slight gap to Cameron, and we had about a quarter lap to get to the break. We exchanged pulls, and 2 laps later (and after Eddie's maaaaaaaasive seranade of words each time Cameron passed), we were in. The break? Geezus. Here's the roll call:

-Cameron Meyer (AUS) Going to the Olympics
-Juan Pablo Forero Carreno (COL) Going to the Olympics
-Carlos Alzate Escobar (COL) Going to the Olympics
-Jonathan Page (USA) 2nd Place World Cross Champs
-Paul Martin (USA) Elite National Champ
-Pete Dawson (AUS) Multiple World Team Pursuit Champ
-Richard England (AUS) '08 Tour of Georgia Stage 5 Winner
-Alex Boyd (USA) '08 Superweek pipped Aram Dellalian for $200 Prime
-Markus Walters (CAN) Canada's Finest?
-Greg Christian
-Russel Langley

To make things even more interesting, Pete Dawson did zero work in the break. Which is really interesting because I have no idea how cyclingnews got this photo:

I guess it's time to lay down some excuses. Gah. I'm just reporting it as it is. So, Dawson sitting on. The Colombians had 2 in the break. Jonathan Page had a teammate. And. What the results sheet won't show is that not-a-one of the other breakaway guys has been at this madness since day 1. Anyhow. The break lapped. Of course. It's all the right guys, it's big enough to sap plenty of points, and we took off very early, so sprint points would still be up for grabs. Jittery Joe's timed it perfectly, and we lapped with 2 laps to go 'till the first sprint. I recovered for a bit, and then did some basic calculations. Dawson sat on. Everyone else worked. I'll follow him for the finale. Well...long story short, he didn't do much, and took the final corner pretty timidly, and it was game over. I rolled in probably with a top 10 in the field sprint, but too many breakaway mates were in the mix as well, and ended up 8th on the day. 48 km/h average speed. Most probably the fastest crit I've ever done/seen. Not necessarily the hardest.

Interestingly, Jonathan Page was livid at the end of the race. He said "The Colombians rode like real men, unlike Rock Racing." -Looooooooooong Pause- "So Felicidades to them." I wasn't sure what the drama was about, but apararently Sterling is forgetting that the free-pass that comes with the Yellow Jersey no longer belongs to him. Hmmmmmmm.

2 more.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stage 13 and Associated Crit Madness

First: I'm racing this thing every day to the end. Today was supposed to be an off day, but I got myself in a masochistic daze and am pre-reg'd friday-sunday. Really though, it isn't hard anymore. Particularly when you're in the GC mix. You need to watch the riders around you, and they're likely doing the same thing, and in the same state of semi-delierium watching lap cards slowly count down 'till the recovery period before the next race begins. The people who don't fall into the aforementioned group are either (a) Colombian or (b) just arrived at superweek and don't care if a failed attack would sap their legs in the sprint. So you isn't bad at all. At least that's what I'm trying to convince myself of...

Stage 13-Whitnal Park Road Race 100k

Again...not a road race. It was definitely Whitnal Park, and the SRM read 90k by the time we were through. Swell. 27 laps around a 3.5k circuit. Obstacles here included, in order, the sun in your face on the first little rise, followed by a pothole-orgy of sorts cast in dark shadows about a mile from the finish, and to my delight, a 180 turn followed by a little hill 500 meters from the line to a downhill finish.

We start. Same scenesters. Final day for double points. Kelly Benefits was conspicuously absent. I somehow staged first row. Just like that. We were off, and after a really smooth clip-in to forward thrust sequence, nearly plowed into the yellow jersey who didn't clip in so smoothly at the start. We laughed. Millionth time this has happened this tour...everyone's a bit less edgy. This was the first time in the last 4-5 days in which I didn't immediately concede that the money streak would finally end on this day. The legs were spry. I kept them in check, however. The 27 laps passed quickly. I nailed that climb seated and with minimal wattage (~500) each time. Power meter.....a real daisy for energy conservation junkies. A serious move got up the road. About 10 guys. Merde. Bahati was the last to get up there, and there was at least 1 Colombian. All bad. I put in a couple pulls up front, but eventually, all chase efforts were dropped, and it felt like it was done. came back. The break exploded itself, and the pack grew more motivated as the gap came down. 4 laps to go. Group is all together. Legs are good. Slowly moved up, and kept it near the jersey for the final few laps. He's a good draft, and you know he's obligated to be at the finish mix, so it works out well. 2 to go, a Colombian gets a gap, solo. Olympic pursuiter nearing top form off the front solo for a 3k effort....righhhhhhhhhhht. Game over. But 2nd place is a solid position to sprint for. Somehow, no one to that final U turn in fine shape, and sliced through without the brakes. Tip. Crested the hill...let the legs loose at this point, and found a nice line on the outside to pass some fools and finish up 13th. It works.

Le Douzieme Etape

En Francais! Pour quoi pas?

Premierement, je suis desole parce que je ne peux pas explique toutes ici maintenant. C'est ne pas vous voullez plus, dit moi. Je veux ecrire seulement de les courses d'aujourd'hui et hier. Sur, j'ai trop de histoires pour ecrire, mais ne pas maintenant, ne pas ici. A plus tard, peut etre?

Le Douzieme Etape: Cedarburg 100 kilometres

Cette etape est en une petite ville Wisconsinois (c'est correct? trop amusant pour moi....) a cote de une grande est jolie river. Cedarburg est le nom. C'est un nom Alemand. Je pense que il ya beaucoups de gents Alemand en cette region de Etats Uni. Alors, comme toutes les autre etapes, aujourd'hui, nous avons 100 kilometres. Ce ne pas beaucoups, je sais, mais pour une criterium tres vite, c'est suffisant. Normalement, sur le courses plat, nous somme fini avec le cent kilometres en 2 hours...pour une velocite moyenne de 50km! C'est fou!

Aujourd'hui nous avons 130 courers, approximative. Le meme comme les autres jours. Le course est 90% plat, une peut monte, mais tres petit. Le course a 6 tours (turns? c'est correct?), et a 2 kilometres. Nous tourne 70 fois. Nous commence a 18:00. Toutes est normal. Les jambes est forte, mais ma tete est bien fatigue. Je deja participe en 10 courses! Alors, apres de rien de courer avance pour long temps, avec 10 tours avant de arrive, un petit group de quatre courers gagne une minute sur le peleton. C'est fini pour les autre courers, mais nous avons points pour 5-20eme courers. Je ne sais pas pour quoi, mais mon ordinateur de velo dit 115 kilometres cette soir...hmm. Alors...le derniere tour est FOU. Le temps est 20:30, est le soleil ne pas existe a cette heure bien sur! J'ai bonne position, mais est dangereux, parce que je regarde rien de les rues! Je ne sais pas comment, mais je ne pas automne, et j'arrive seulement 19eme. C'est pas mal...2 points tres important, est je gagne $70 aussi. Je suis 11eme sur le classement. 5 jours

Merci si tu lu ces mots!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stages Days Bike Races 10 + 11 Yes

Superweek is a long one.

It's going well. The good legs are good still, but the mind is starting to slip. It's getting more and more difficult to psyche myself out to take that start line for the Nth time for yet another 100k of corner after corner of people swearing at each other and guys crashing right around you for seemingly no reason. Ahh, man. Sunday was evanston, and yesterday was a 2.5 hour road race. The road race ended at around 4pm, so I get a full 24 hours to recover before tonight's race. Nothing to do but blog a bit and recharge the glycogen.

Stage 10: Evanston Grand Prix

Back south of the border where i've gone allright so far. Nice to see the hosts from north and south chicag come out. Even if one of the south hosts sent me this blogging motivational poster. Thanks! Ok. So I graciously accepted a ride down south with the LaGrange guys that have been MVPs whenever their car had room for one more...although I'm instantly blamed anytime a break of theirs doesn't stick and am immediately threatened with having to walk home. Hah. Good guys, though.

Evanston. Great course. Technical, but faaast technical, and a really long finishing sprint. Barriers throughout the whole course. LOVE that. After some charming speeches from local community leaders, Eddie got us off. Pretty standard start. Legs were swell after resting the day prior. I was scolded for cornering knee-out Moto GP style through one of the corners in the early going. Not sure if it was in jest though. After hitting a couple sewer holes, something on my bike was rattling. I had a suspicion that it was the rear wheel/cassette. The course had some rough spots, and with each passing lap, the noise got louder and more annoying. It's really difficult to try to diagnose a problem like this while racing. Try it sometime. Anyhow, the problem diagnosed itself. The seat came completely loose. With the A-hole SoCal officials (yes, i said it) it would 1000% result in a DNF. Not so here. The officials of this region are the sweetest classest and most personable around. TIP of the hat to them...and of course to the neutral support fellas. They took care of it, and I got back in. was too far back, but hey. No more rattle.

Sram Support: Tip!

Shortly after I rejoined, a guy near the back of the pack crashed in turn 4. Word on the street is that a tubular was rolled. Ah well. Race stopped. I took advantage and went to the pits, got the seat sorted, grabbed some water, bathroom break, all that. All the guys hanging on for dear life were stoked with this stoppage...the guys at the front, not so much. The hang-on for dear life guys of course made their way to the very front of the field during the second round of staging...annoying. About 20 minutes later, we were off. I was near last-wheel during the restart, and had to sift through a sea of riders before seeing the front again. Got there, stayed there. 10 to go sounded. Big primes, big money, crowds are going nuts. I was about 15th wheel, comfortable behind Sterling who was behind Rassan. 6 to go...a guy right near the front crashes. Roll through the start finish, and yes...the race is stopped again. All the guys up front were livid. Seriously? And it reallllllllllly irked me when once again, people from the pack, pushed forward to stage up front. Total mess. The officials eventually agreed to add a few laps to the race to make it 10 laps to go. Eh. Sprinted out of the restart as hard as I could to get back to where I was. Got there before turn 1. The pace was brisk, but not as hard as it should be to make things nice and strung out. 5 to go...surprise surprise...a break of 3 got off with 2 Olympic-class pursuit riders. They got a gap, and the field starting moving nicely in pursuit. 4-3-2...i'm in great position, legs are getting that "feel better and better 'till the bell" feeling again. Bell lap comes, it's dark (it was past 8:30). Awesome crowd vibe. We got on the backside, and I was 3 or 4th wheel. Too easily. Midway between turns 4 and 5 there was a bit of a lull in the pace...and...I attacked. Hard. Went into turn 5 almost too fast, but had a gap! Rounded the final turn first. Just me, 1000's of people, and massive noise from all angles. I didn't dare look back. What a feeling. I didn't know at the time, but the 3 up the road were gone. I thought I was going for the win. That's a long lonnnnng finishing straight. Everything was going so slow even though the speedo says 60km/h. 25 meters to go.....swarmed. The guys around me were going a good 10k/h faster than I was. Still, maintained enough position to finish 18th. Dicey to be going that slow there, but of my most interesting rides this tour. Though I wouldn't have attacked if I knew that the break was gone, and would've likely secured a top-10. Tant pis!

Rounding Turn 5

Stage 11: Holy Hill RR

This stage was neither a road race, nor hilly, and probably not holy. The start was delayed about an hour, and the RR was shortened to 108k. Exactly 2 kilometers shorter than yesterdays extended criterium. The legs and mind didn't want to start this one. We spent the night in Chicago, and thus left at 6am to head back to Milwauk. Didn't get a chance to come back to my host housing, so little chance for proper rest. Massive field. All the teams came, double points on offer here. I have great memories of this road race in previous superweeks, but it was 160+ kms back then. Not 100. Huge difference. The race started off about as smooth as you'd expect a field of 100+ to ride with the yellow-line rule enforced. Gah. A nice group was up the road, and sick of the lameness of the peleton, I tried to bridge...and failed. Again, for the millionth time this superweek, I conceded that the money streak will end today.

Into the bell lap, the legs woke up a bit. A break dangled off the front, and stayed up there somehow. 10 guys. Surprisingly, it stayed up there, and we would be sprinting for 11th. About 30-40 left in the group at this point. The finish was unknown to most of the racers...and different from previous years. I had no idea how long it was, but eh. I rounded the final turn in 2nd wheel. Got pinched on the right side, and lots of swearing with australian accents were thrust at the rider responsible for the pinch. I saw the finish at the top of a small hill, and was 3rd wheel behind 2 kelly-benefits riders. Perfect....but not. They never opened it up. I got a bit boxed in, and finished.....21st.

So two races, two points finishes. Not a boatload of points, but hey.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stage 9

Starting to lose track of where we are. I took yesterday off and it feels like I haven't raced in a few words about stage eight, The Ripon Criterium. The paper said "1.6 miles with a climb on one of the straights". Fantastic. Just my style. Long enough, not too technical, and with a climb to make things selective. The weather forecast was promising, and the legs were ready to smash it up after the flat messed things up a bit at Shorewood.

Pretty clear where I'm setting up to go with this entry, isn't it? Good course, good weather, good legs. After scrambling with the phone to find a ride, I hooked up with a guy from Colorado (actually, the guy I stole the $200 prime from on day 1! Funny how you get acquainted sometimes...) and made the 2+ hour trip out to Ripon, Wisconsin. North-most point of the tour. I hadn't eaten, so instead of checking out the course and laying out, I went out to find a bite to eat. Slim pickings in Ripon. Most serviceable option at the first grocery were Snickers bars. Hmm...went to a pharmacy, and way out in a dusty corner I uncovered a single energy-bar. Also put away 3 packs of these:

High sodium. Not too much sugar. Plenty of carbohydrates. Not the finest option, but honest it was far and away the best choice. After loading up, I registered, hassled the neutral for a rear wheel, and lined up. No callup today, I'd slipped to 11th. First thing that caught my eye: 100 laps. Huh? 1.6 mile course? I guess they'd shortened the course (doubt we were doing a 160 mile race that starts at 6pm). We lined up. First time this tour I didn't get clipped right in, and it proved a near-fatal mistake.

The course is impossible. 4 corners. You descend into turn 1, hang a left, and go up a power climb for 100 meters. As you crest, it's downhill immediately into turn 2, and another left for the back straight. Off-camber left turn at turn 3 into another equally difficult power climb, then yep....right back down again to turn 4 where you turn left and go up another slight rise to the finish. 1k! 2 good climbs. 1 little climb. 3 climbs x 100 laps=300 ascents! Gaps in large doses at every part of the course. I found this shot which is probably from the first 5-6 laps where way too many gaps were thrown up over the course.

Thank you Clint

That's the finishing straight. Anyhow, the peleton filtered out at a rate of 3-4 riders per lap. Looked back and saw that I was last wheel on more than one occasion. All bad. Difficult to move up on this course without completely bombing the two downhill corners after the hills. A break of 4 (with the yellow jersey up there) got up, and they were set to cruise. The jersey crashed and had to DNF. Unlucky. The best thing about triple-digit lap cards is how quickly the laps fly by. 50 to go, and there were less than 50 riders left in the peleton. I was fine. Then....the rain came. I look up and see nothing but sun and some distant clouds, so it was confusing, so I figured it wouldn't be long...but...laps from 40 to go up 'till 10 were in the wet. Riders crashing in every direction at ridiculously slow speeds. Unlucky. Some riders just stopped and pulled out. I felt fine, surprisingly, as wet weather ain't my thing at all. I was mid-pack in a rapidly shrinking peleton. A guy opened a huge gap on the approach to every corner, then sprinted like made to close it. After a lap of this I pulled up, had words, and passed. "Guy, if you can't ride at the pace, pull off. You're killing the riders behind you for no reason. Cmon." "What? You crazy? I'm doing that so that I can ride around when people crash." Needless to say, but he was gone a couple laps later. So I was allright...until...the rain stopped. I have a difficult time re-adjusting and trusting the slowly-drying course. I lost mid-pack position, and eventually was last wheel. 1 to go I came off, and had two fellow stragglers on my wheel. I let them through, then attacked into the final corner at way too fast a pace. The guy just shrugged and let me by with no response. I counted the riders ahead, and was pretty sure a $ spot is still in the works.

24th! Skin of the teeth! Not stellar, no points, but on a course like this, I can't complain. I really thought the money streak would end here, but it continues...can't wait for today. I want to throw myselft into a couple of moves. I've given up on the sprint points in favor of the GC. Top ten would be a dream. Stat junkies: Ripon Criterium: 2363KJ in 2:21. New record. I hit the 1000 watt mark way too many times. I must be on drugs.....ohh...bad joke maybe. Anyhow, the graph tells the story pretty well. The erratic start, the settling, where the rain starts, and how the speed picked up as the course dried.


Danny pate! 1k to go! Live! Allllllllllllez mon petit Americain! vite Vite VITE!

Friday, July 18, 2008


Hi. Superweek is still going. Not without some difficulties, but hey. Hmm...what stage do I have to report on? I think the 2 per entry is working out well. So that leaves us at stage 6. I took 5 off: No ride out there, but more importantly...the saddle scene can get out of hand after 100k crits day after day on spotty pavement. So on with it...

Stage 6: Bensonville Criterium Day 2

This race was in the western suburbs of Chicago, just south of the O'hare airport. I took the metro. Nice chance to check out another metro system and not have to beg for rides. Got on the metro blue line. 20 stops. It'd be a long way. The station was completely empty when I got took a nice shot of photo studio-like conditions.

The train came soon enough, and I was off to the end of the line 20 stops away, Ohare Airport. Except......the last two stops were under construction. Merde. Iphone out, sorted the directions, and figured it would only be 30 minutes or so until we got to the course. Iphone is great, but it doesn't say anything about pavement shittiness, unfortunately. Perhaps 2.0 has that feature. It was miserable...and my rear tire was already a bit suspect. After a miserable hour of riding, I got to the place: Bensonville.

"Ray Basso International Bike Race" read the banners and flags all over the mostly parking lot course. I don't understand the need to promote the international-ness of this series, (take the name of the event, for instance...why not "Superweek"?), but if it gets sponsor cash, then go for it. The course was an odd one, but didn't worry me too much. When the legs are good, minor things like course type, pavement, hills, etc are just interchangeable variables that don't mean much in crit racing. Same scene as always, but with 5-10 new riders coming each day. The Columbian Olympic team was out in full force, ripping. I'd slipped to 16th overall, so didn't get a call up today, but no sweat. Started off. Not a smooth course. Really strange turn 2, but we managed it, though the backside was strung out and difficult almost every time. The first 50k were difficult. I didn't do much. Oh, I did a little cyclocrossing...I was warned officially not to ride on the grass on the chicane 200 meters before the finish. Anyhow, lots of circles later, and half the field was gone. It was rough going for the first 50k. Rear tire felt a little soft, so I changed it. Eventually we got to 5 to go. On that lap, while jockeying near that chicane before the finish, I was forced into the grass, nearly running over the USCF official's foot in the process. Prrrretty sure he saw that one. Merde! Thinking I'd most probably be DQ'ed, I went for the next prime. $100, and after some lobbying with Eddy Van Guise (who was going to wrongly award it to a dropped breakaway rider), got it. I had a big gap, so by the time the peleton came back, I was sufficiently recovered, and slipped back into the top 20. 3-2-1 to go. It's almost matrix like. Everyone slows down, and I can move up as I please burning too many matches. As a total contrast to the first couple of days, this time I found that Rasaan was on my wheel heading to turn 2. Flattered, and happy to repay my wheelsuck debt. He went around and I tried to stay there, but eventually rolled in for 9th in the field sprint. 1 Columbian was up the road and won solo, so 10th overall, and back in the omnium game.

Stage 7: Shorewood

Ahh. Fond memories of this one. Crowds are always great, and at the superweek races, there's nothing cooler than the start finish area once you hit 5 to go. It's dark, there are tons of people on the barriers cheering loudly, and there is total madness in the peleton jockeying in the dark for position. This day was no different. A break of 3 slipped up the road which is realllllllly hard to do on this course. We averaged 45k/h! Tip of the hat to those guys. About midway through, they announce "$100 for first, $50 for second". 2 places, good odds. I was in front, so went with the first little group that attacked, and we got the gap we needed. I attacked the little group on the back straight, and got the gap I needed (it's much less taxing to take primes this way). Coming around the final turn, I had a good 100 meters over a single chaser, put in one more hard effort, and though for sure the guy would give it up. That finish straight......gahhh. It's long, and this kid (#222) cleanly took me at the line. TWO place prime though, so I'd get $50, no? Nope. They shut me down after the race and didn't have an envelope for me despite even #222 confirming that it was 2 places. Total bummer.

So, Shorewood. Not much to report. It was fast. There was one dicey crash between the poorly-paved section between turns 1 and 2 that claimed both jerseys, and lots of others. I sneaked through unscathed. The position battle for this race started early. Perhaps with 7 to go. And what? That rear tire? Yeah...after slipping a bit in one of the many corners here, I knew it couldn't have had more than 50psi. I was still outside the 5 laps to go mark, so could have pitted, but......I also had optimum position up front and felt good. Plus, you never know where you're going to rejoin after leaving the wheelpit. Peletons go fast at 5 to go...this one flying. So I stayed in. Warned a couple friends *not* to get on my wheel in the finale or any corner because I was losing spots. I went for it. I'm usually pretty timid with this stuff, but felt like I had nothing to lose. I tried to shift most of the weight to the front wheel in the corners, but it was terrible. The straightaway was particularly difficult...probably more mental than physical, But I was able to make ground on the back straight and the terrible section (which is realll smooth with 50psi) between 1 and 2. Bell lap, I was in it. When you're 10 wheels deep, it's fine and smooth and strung out. When you're 10-30 wheels in, it's complete and total chaos. I was in the latter group here. The tire was begging to come unglued. All bad. I just kept making a deal with it to last 'till the final corner...and it did. Big blobs of riders sprinting 100 wide. I think the bike throw at the end got me 5 places. 23rd! Still with cash! Wooooooooo! But having to glue up a tire in the middle of super week: bummer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Money Streak Ends

With a day off....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stages 3 + 4

Chicago. I'm here, and really having a nice time on and off the bike. The legs and mind are starting to settle in for the long haul of this crit madness. Following the same algorithm everyday, eating the same foods, settling. It's nice. I feel like I could race everyday. I'm going to keep this one short...

Stage 3: Olympia Fields, IL


Every stage so far has been further south than the one that preceded. This was way south, about 45 minutes south of south chicag. These things happen. The course was obviously put on to promote what looked like an in-progress housing development. There were plenty of nice-looking empty houses around. A little lake, and new pavement that wasn't quite finished yet. Which is where we were slated to race. I got there a bit late, and while in the parking lot a guy came and mentioned that there'd be a "rider-only meeting". Hmm. In short, the officials deemed the course unsafe for racing, and were polling the riders to see if they wanted to cancel. I was indifferent. It was a nice course...turn 3 was a bit of an odd one, but nothing we hadn't done 2049 times before. We raced a shortened 60k race. Points and all that were normal, as was the purse. I don't like shortening these things. Longer races=more fatigue=safer finales. Anyhow, we raced, I felt swell. Put in a couple moves but nothing stuck. Since that really hapless attack that stuck on day 1 i've been reluctant to give it full gas in one of them. I didn't get up the road, but a pretty serious move got 1/2 a lap at one point. I chased, a few others chased. The gap stabilized, and started to come down....

Then a guy 3 wheels up from me crashed badly in the aforementioned corner....caution flags, red lights, race stoppage....the whole bit. In short, the crash gave the break a huge boost, and by the time they "officially" neutralized the race, they were 3/4 of a lap up. Gah. Dumb. In 30 minutes, we were off again. They gave the break 3/4 of a lap, of course...and with the big rest interval they had it was pretty much game over. Then without warning (my fault, probably), I hear the bell..."one to go!". Gahhh. I was mid-pack recovering from a little move earlier. It really hadn't even been 10 mins since the restart! I blasted through every corner throwing elbows moving up in droves, and brought it in for 21st on the stage. Well in the money....but zero omnium points (those are 20 deep). An odd day, all around.

Stage 4: Richton Park, IL

The furthest south the tour goes. Interesting little town with wayyyyy too many mosquitos. Good field again, cool course. 4 corners, but not really. The straightaways all had bends in them, and the pavement looked cool. We start. Again, legs felt allright. They've been super. My limiting factor, however, has been the ffffin saddle's getting rough, not gonna lie. Might have to take a day off just to recover down there. Lots of chamois cream today, but still hard to sit properly. The course....ahhh...easily the hardest day so far. I don't know why, but it wasn't smooth at all. No dynamic, no rhythm, and more brakes on this day than on all the other days combined. Annoying. The first 50k were rough for me. Then I slowly started to settle in, and the endurance bit took over. Had no idea how many were up the road, who was up the road, whether they had No one really knew exactly. Some said 10, some said 20. If it was 20, we'd only be sprinting for 5 $ spots and zero points. So I wasn't too motivated for the sprint. Still, the legs came around, I threw myself in whatever holes opened up, and finished up 15th on the day. The official figure for the break was 10 riders. Major props to perennial "sit in and sprint" guy Justin Williams (R&R) for getting up the road and lapping the field. Never seen him attack, let alone lap the field. Bravo, guy.

***If anyone has links to any photos, send some links my way. There isn't much out there.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I'm at Superweek. Stage 2 just wrapped up, and the mind is still a bit too juiced to sleep. So perhaps some therapeutic writing will settle it down a bit...So on tuesday, 24 hours before my departure, all I had was a plane ticket. No housing arrangements. No ride from the airport. Rien. Wouldn't have it any other way. I was planning on putting my faith in public transport and going from there. Worst case, there'd be a story to tell, right? Chicago-friend Faris totally bailed me out of the bumming. Thanks guy. There is a story, however...this picture will detail it pretty nicely:

Awesome huh? Unlimited storage space with the top off. The bike case wouldn't fit otherwise. Great...except as soon as we loaded it up, it began to pour violently. Total madness. Plus we hit terrible traffic. Trains and rail crossings. Wrong turns. Stress. Rain? The whole bit. We made it though...I wish I had photos of the two of us holding umbrellas up at stoplights. Classic. Thank you Faris.

Day 1: Beverly Hills Classic.

I was staying in Evanston, Illinois and rode the 60k down to Beverly for the (100k) race. Too much. But I ate and drank like a machine...swell. The legs were OK with it. Thing about this first's way to the south of the city. The further south you go, the more impoverished it gets....then you get to Beverly, and within a span of a few blocks, it's big giant houses and amazing lawns and lush greenness and $$$$$. I've never seen such a quick change up of that nature. This Subway was two blocks from the course:

The photo is a bit blurry...apologies. That's a 4" thick pane of glass. At a subway. I asked the clerk..."this glass is pretty serious. are you guys open 24hrs?" She laughed, and said they were not...but said it's a pretty serious neighborhood. Wow. I wonder what the banks are like? Two blocks later, I made it out to the race. Nostalgia in large doses. 3 years ago at the same place I lined up for my 1st Superweek race. The course is great. Crowds are massive. Big field, quality field. 100k. its right place....

After lots of callups, they called up the rest of the field, and after the anthem, we were off. Legs=Tip. That hill felt great all 62 times we went up it. I consciously toned down any aggression given that I already had 60k in my legs with a massive 100k to go. It worked. Made it to about the 50k mark. Rationed my bottles perfectly. Finished the one on my downtube (thank you Prolong!) and would soon start on the one on my seat-tube. Nope. It flew out. In the feed zone, ironically. A giant full bottle. The only time i've ever launched a bottle with these cages. And what shite timing! Panic mode set in. The legs wanted to quit given the grim outlook. No water, 110k in the legs, 50k of racing to go. A break of 4 was up the road...6 in between. Then the shrinking peleton with me in it. What to do? I noticed a guy I knew in the feed zone who'd dropped out and was handing feeds to his teammates still in the race. I got to the front of the peleton, threw my empty bottle at him, and begged for anything. Next lap, ahhhh....what a guy. Full tall-bottle of water. MVP. Not sure if I should give out his just gonna play it safe here and not mention it. The race...getting that bottle juiced up the legs even before I drank from it. I saw that the break had half a lap...hmmm...put in what was honestly a really half-ass attack on the backside. Tucked up, and settled in. One guy bridged. Then Bahati. Then Cantwell.,Candelario, and a few others. Hmmm...weird how we were allowed to stay up. at the meager pace we were keeping. At 15 laps to go, we were clear. Not gonna lap, but probably not gonna get caught. My theory is that the teams that lapped the field didn't want Rasaan back in the peleton helping his teammate in the finale. Theory. Soon afterward, there was GIGANTIC prime $ being thrown around. $200 each! To our little group...which happened to contain 3 of the best sprinters around. Gah. I'm not gonna take them to the line. So I attacked for the primes on the hill. I got clear. Right before the last turn, Cantwell got to my wheel alone. Gah. I told him "just's yours" and was honest about it. It'd be stupid to attempt to sprint him there...waste of juice. He pulled through, and must have looked back 500 times in 100 meters to make sure I wasn't kidding him. Haha. The next $200, I attacked again, same spot, and got clear alone. Swell, put a bit more juice into it, and this time a guy who wasn't a top NRC sprinter found my wheel, alone. I got this. I led it out...he came around too early, and I made my move...thinking about the $200 and how great it was to get it. He made a nice late surge, and I had to throw the bike to seal up the $. Threw it.....NO! My shorts totally got caught in my saddle. The midwest humidity.....gahhh. The saddle is really supple because of too much sweat/humidity, and the increased friction caught my shorts on the sharp-edged SLR saddle. So bummed. The announcer said "we're gonna have to check the cameras on that one, too close to call!" That left me with a glimmer of hope...but nothing more. So with 8 to go, we continued. It was such a gentle pace, really a miracle that we had a gap. The leaders lapped the field, and the lead vehicle moved in front of us. 5, 4, 3, 2 to go...the bell lap came. BahatiBahatiBahati. Stay near him, and we're good. Did that, but got dicey in the finale and I finished 5th in the field sprint for 15th on the day. Swell. Happy that break stuck, and it honestly wasn't too taxing at all. Getting that feed was huge.

Rolled around, and saw a couple I met (hi) while staging. I told them about how bummed I was not to win that $200 prime...and they said "Guy, you won it. They called out your name and everything!" Ahhhhhhh man. Tooooo stoked. Made my night. That's 1/2 of what the Manhattan Beach purse would have been. Swell indeed. So nearly $300 on the day after stage money.

Day 2: Blue Island 100k

Merde, that's a long report for day one. This one will be shorter. Same Superweek scenesters. Drastically different course. Flaaat. Terrible pavement on the backside. Nice crowd, not like yesterday though. It didn't look like a good course for a breakaway. I decided to hang in the field, and go for the Sprint-Jersey Points. 50, 40, 30, 20 to go. 7-5-3-2-1. Didn't go too well, but I placed in 3 of them. Rock ran the show here, followed by the Jittery Joes guys, then me. I think I was 3rd, 4th-4th. Still though, sprinting those things helps you get a feel for the course, the sprint, and the corners. Anyhow, after a blazing pace throughout, 5 to go sounded. I was well. Really...the form is super. 3 to go, turn 1...things were a bit messy. The wheel I was following went into the corner way too hot and really jammmed the brakes. Two choices: 1-plow into him and crash, 2-do something else and don't crash. Of course, 2 just came instinctively. Everything that followed was done purely on reflex...but at the same time I was cognizant of the fact that a part of my brain I have no control over is controlling my movements for that split second. My left foot clipped out, clean. The rear wheel went into a controlled slide for a bit to the left and one pedal stroke later I clipped right back in and lost no position. Amazing save. Pat on the back, reflex systems. 2 to go. Great position. Bahati was right alongside me, with yellow jersey Sterling Magnell (bang up ride by this guy leading out Rasaan to the sprint primes each time...he's on good form) leading him. We were 10 wheels back, with Kelly-Benefits stringing it out a few wheels ahead. A group tried to swarm wide left after turn 2, but Kelly had the pace lined up pretty nice. Swell. Then, I found myself on Rasaan's wheel. Unchallenged. Really odd. People get shot in SoCal trying to get that spot. Two smooth corners later, we started sprinting. Rasaan's on it. He sprinted around the blob of people like they were standing still, and won it. I didn't sprint around as many and finished 5th...

Hot Damn. Hurt to miss the podium by 2 spots, but far and away my finest result out here. I'll get there.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wisconsin Crit School

No, not yet. First a report from this weekend's crit. The race was a 1/2/3. Massive field. Lots of Bearclaws. Spanning all the allowable categories.

It was a swell time. The race was basically the same field as Manhattan Beach the week prior, minus the $20,000 purse, and minus the pressure. It was a nice chance to pin up a number and mix it up with these guys for round two. I like this course. I've done nearly a billion laps on it over the years, but the direction and start/finish placement was recently changed. They switched it back to the old-school on this day, and I was happy for it. Love the little uphill sprint. We lined up...lots of guys:

Took my requisite first lap flyer. I've been doing this lots lately. I think it's basically because I KNOW at some point someones gonna go and string out the bunch. I figure if it's me, at least I know when it's coming. It's worked out pretty nice usually. Never worked though, of course. Jorge from LaGrange caught me, and we did a couple laps together. They rang the prime bell. I let him have it, so long as we can split whatever it was. It was a bottle of facial conditioner. Not much to split...

The race isn't really too interesting from that point. Rode near the front. Watched breaks come and go. The team worked great to shut down threatening moves here and there. Fast forward to just before the bell lap. All our sprinters (3 of us) were right near the front. The vegetable crew was doing their thing, followed by Rock Racing, followed by the Claw kids. I felt spry. Plenty of madness ensued, and I maintained good position into the final corner. I followed Tony Cruz through it. A guy clipped out of his pedal with 200m to go, and that caused a bit of a ripple in the bunch, i went wide right...too wide, and just missed coming around Cruz and a health net for the minor placings. I finished 7th. Teammate Mike got the 2nd-last money spot at 19th.

Yeah, a guy threw his arms up early and lost...and Rasaan let him know about it. Ok, that's that. Wisconsin. I leave really really early tomorrow morning for Chicago. I return on the 30th. Beyond that not much is certain. The first week is going to be the most challenging logistically. That's always the main's not the races, it's getting to them. Chicago is gigantic. And there are races in opposite sections of the enormous city. I'm hoping I can ride to as many races as possible. In milwaukee it isn't difficult. We'll see. Legs are good, motivation is good, and it's going to be an interesting bike bum lifestyle excersize. I've amassed so much knowledge in this area over the years, but after UCA's glorious support last year I may have grown a bit soft. It'll come back.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

San Diego + Manhattan Beach + Wisconsin


Been a busy couple weeks of riding....and so i'm quite behind in the blog scheme of things. I'll start with what's painfully freshest in my mind. Manhattan Beach. I love this race. It's really short. There's lots of money. And the entire race just comes down to where you are come the final corner. This race has usually been the end of season soiree for me, but this year it was in late still lots of form to come...hopefully.

I carpooled to the race with the Bearclaw cat 2 superstars. Those guys have come a long way since I first joined up. They raced it perfectly. But one guy put in an impossibly fast sprint to come around and narrowly take the win. The Claw in second.

Full write up for the race done with proper Oxford status diction can be found here. Adjective city. Ok, my race. First thing, it was a blast. The NRCs are always so much fun...and in truth, they're usually easier than the local stuff because the speeds are faster (more moving air, more vacuum), the fields are bigger (more vacuum to hide in), and you drop less speed in the corners. But above all, in the local races, the onus is on me to do something. Here you just watch and not crash, and get to that corner in good shape. It's such a fine time. That said, the race was the usual well-attended beach party style scene. After 1/10th of the field got callups, we got to the line. I got a good start spot -critical. Rolled off. Nothing fancy. But shortly after the rollout is when I find out if the legs are ready to fire. They were. Mixed it up half-ass twice, and with the exception of a brief recovery from those moves, kept it in fine position throughout. "Five To Go!" said that man who's race announcing i'm a big fan of. Awesome. I was top 20. 20th place got almost $400. 21st place gets a bit less. $400 less...and 22nd place says "hey, at least i wasn't 21st."

Do I even write the rest of this report? I finished 22nd. Embarassing. The legs were swelllllll and I let em down. It was the usual chaotic madness in the last couple laps. Wheels chopping, expletives flying, no team controlling the front. The most interesting of the chaoticness was some dude who's wheel I was on just had his bike slowly come undone with 1.5 to go. I hit 1000+ watts at 4 different points inside the last 3 laps. Not cause of attacks, but just from trying to sprint away and around the ensuing carnage. I love that scene though. The $400 would have been really swell to have. I need to get over it, but it's tough. Anyhow, into the bell, after sprinting away from the guy's bike explosion, I was in swell shape. Jittery Joe's shot up the left side on the hill and I was on them. Got to turn one in fansatic shape, aced the turn, and was a bit trapped on the outside once through. It's okay. Couple hundred meters later, I brushed against Rasaan's rear wheel. Perfect. I'm where I'm supposed to be. Hadn't jammed brakes or hit anything in a good 20 seconds. A new record. Then I'm not sure where things went awry. First wheel through the final turn crashed. No bueno. I escaped the bodies and bikes, but was off the wheel I'd been following...and in the center line...not the inside like I should have been. Two riders passed on the inside. Two riders, four-hundred monies. Poof. We all went to the beach afterward.

Hmm...a bit short on no proper saturday race report. Small field, lots of Waste Green Vegetable guys. They won easily. I was in a decent move givining it lots of juice for the last 5-6 laps, but we were caught with 2 to go. I won a Rudy Project watch. Who wants it?

Lastly..................WISCONSIN. I'm heading out there. It was one of those things where if I really sat down and analyzed it financially I probably wouldn't end up going, but I saw that I had enough to buy the plane ticket and bought it. The rest will hopefully fall into place. If they don't.....i'll have stories to tell. Win-win situation, no?