Thursday, June 29, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I don’t like peanut butter… unless it comes in a Reese’s wrapper, or maybe if it’s the chunky kind… nah, maybe not. Imagine trying to ride your bike through peanut butter. That’s what the course was like at Swanson Park last Saturday at the Psycowpath series race #2. This was a re-schedule date because the original date was rained out.
I’m working towards a peak for the next couple of weeks, so the training routine has been not so routine. Monday was an easy recovery ride followed by some light weights at the gym with tPod. Tuesday was the TNWC, I lit it up a few times, felt really good. Wednesday was 2 hours of base. Thursday and Friday were active recovery days.
So Saturday came and the weather forecast was for scattered showers. I took a look at the radar when I got up… rain… crap. So I called the series director and he said that the dude puttin’ the race on was going to the course to check it out. He called me back a little later and said that the surface was wet, and that it was dry underneath… game on. Saweet! Two boiled eggs and a cup of joe later I was on the road for Omahole. It pretty much rained all the way there up until about 20 minutes east of Omahole. I got to the course and the beginners were still out tearin’ it up. I took a look at their bikes, frames had a little mud on ‘em, but it wasn’t anything major so all looked pretty good.
I unloaded the Orbea, got suited up in the Rassy camo and headed out for a couple of recon laps. The first recon lap was a little greasy in some spots, but there really wasn’t thing accumulating on the frame. Ran into Shim and Real Deal after the first lap as they were headin’ out for a recon so I did another lap with them. The course was pretty near ideal the second time around. As we were cruising along, Shim said a buddy of his called and said there was another storm cell headin’ our way. Sure enough, the rain started falling. By the end of the recon, the trails were all pretty greasy and getting worse. I put the Orbea back in the car because I had the wrong tires for mud on it. Dug out the hard tail and rolled over to the start area.
The start was delayed about 15 minutes to allow the rain to pass and then we were off. I wanted one of the locals to lead the way into the singletrack. Shim went in first with me on his wheel. The trail was pretty slippery, but it was still rideable. Somebody behind me must have duffed it because Shim and I had a pretty good gap right away. So we continued on and increased our lead. It was pretty easy going for me, I felt really good so I told Shim to let me by. No sooner do I say that and chain suck started kickin’ in when I was in the middle ring. He was able to gap me off because I had to keep peddlin’ backwards to free up my chain. It got to the point where my chain was suckin’ up every other pedal stroke, so I dumped it into the big ring and was finally able to close up the gap to Shim.
Nice clean bike at the start
Just as I caught up to him, he had to stop and clear mud off of his bike, it was so bad that his wheels quit rolling. I passed him and motored on. I was riding really well in the mud and felt like I was increasing the gap between myself and the rest of the field. I crossed the start / finish line with a pretty sizable lead, not sure how big it was, but I was pretty motivated. Hit the singletrack on the second lap and I couldn’t believe how much worse the trails had gotten. It was like riding through really thick peanut butter. Shortly after I hit the singletrack, I could see the mud startin’ to accumulate all over my stead. It was so bad at one point, I was going down a hill and I had to stand up and out the power down just to keep it rollin’. MIB eventually caught and passed me. Shortly after that Sam I Am was on my wheel. It got to the point where I had to stop and clear the mud of my bike. The wheels quit rollin’ and when I got off to push my bike, they would slide along on the mud, so yeah, it pretty much sucked. As I was standing on the side of the trail clearing the mud, I got passed by a bunch of other peeps. Real Deal even stopped by to clear some adobe off his bike, so we hung out and shot the shite while we were at it. I had to stop a few more times to clean the bike off and thought to myself, ‘crap, so much for this race’. I had to finish however, because they don’t allow us to drop any races for the series overall.
Hike-a-bike up a hill
Cleaning the peanut butter off
I finally finished the second lap and started on the third (of five). The trail was a little better and close to 100% rideable. Still had a lot of mud collecting on the bike, but I could bunny hop it and slam it back down while riding, kind of helped knock some of the adobe off. I had no idea what place I was in at this point, didn’t really care. I just needed to finish. I saw WWJ up the trail so that motivated me to push a little harder.
Climbing a greasy hill
Still climbing a greasy hill
By the 4th lap, the conditions were much better and I could finally start to carry a little speed. I eventually caught and passed WWJ and ended up finishing in 4th place. Schlake ended up winning the race with Real Deal about 10 seconds back. Sam I Am was another minute or so behind. I think I finished about 10 minutes behind Schlake. I was pretty surprised that I was that close. I’m sure that I spent the better part of 30 minutes on the side of the trail cleaning all of the crap off my bike. I’m sure everybody else had to stop at some point, so we were all in the same boat. My finish time was a little over 2 hours and I had expended a lot of energy slogging through the mud. Wasn’t quite sure how this was going to effect me for the IMBCS race the following day. I didn’t stick around for the awards, I needed to high tail it home. Figured it would take a few hours to clean all of the do-do off both of my bikes.
Nice dirty bike at the finish, thank god I'm done
So I woke up Sunday morning, took a look at the radar, WTF?! More freakin’ rain hovering all over the Webster City area. I wasn’t about to get myself into the same predicament as yesterday. I went into the garage and grabbed a wheelset that were laced up with some 1.5’s. These are great mud tires, they’re skinny enough that I don’t have to worry about mud accumulating around my brakes and chain stay. I also grabbed a can of cooking spray to coat the frame, kind of keeps the mud from grabbin’ on. I decided not to bring the Orbea this time because the course at Kendall Young has a water crossing followed by a lot of sand. Ridin’ through that kind of crap will cut the life of your drive train in half. Stuff’s too expensive to trash in the sand, so I loaded up the Goose and the S-Works for a back up.
I got into Webster City a couple of hours before race time and took a look at the beginners bikes. They once again looked pretty good, not much in the way of mud accumulation. Cool. So I camo’d up and unloaded the Goose. As I was getting ready, the skies opened up once again. Didn’t make much sense to get pissed as there wasn’t much I could do about it. So I sat in the car and waited it out.
The rain stopped about 30 minutes before the start, so I hopped on the Goose for a quick recon of the course. The mud was pretty bad in some spots and I still had some pretty wide tires on the bike. So I bailed on the recon ride, headed back to the car and laced her up with the 1.5’s. I also busted out the Pam and sprayed the frame down. We lined up for the start and Thad cut us loose. I lead throughout the first half of a lap, but I could tell that it wasn’t going to be my day. I’d attempt to push the pace and my legs didn’t want any part of it. They simply wouldn’t respond. About midway through the first lap, Nate ‘Cline with a C’ passed by me on a greasy hill that we had to run up. I stayed with him for the remainder of lap one, after that he gradually gapped me off and I hovered at about 50 seconds for the remainder of the race. As the race progressed the trail conditions did get better, but I simply didn’t have the legs to do any damage that day. Nate ‘Cline with a C’ ended up winning, I came in 2nd by about 50 seconds. Nooner rolled in 3rd about 5 minutes behind me, Maharry was a few seconds behind Nooner. Bisonova was another minute back in 5th. Nice job fellas. So yeah, it was a pretty tough day. My legs were pretty much cooked from the previous days efforts. To Nate ‘Cline with a C’s credit, he rode a good race in some difficult conditions. A win is a win, no matter what your competitors circumstances are. That’s racin’!
So all in all, it was a good weekend all things considered. I rode well in the mud, when I could ride. I felt great and had good legs on Saturday. If it weren’t for bike issues, I really feel that I would have been in the mix for the win on Saturday. I did manage to salvage 4th place points and I think I’m still in the lead for the series overall for Psycowpath. I feel even better about salvaging 2nd place on Sunday. I was pretty happy with my result considering how I felt. Most importantly, I was ridin’ my bike and if I can do that then life is good… very good indeed!
Next up is the NORBA State Championships at Seven Oaks this coming Sunday (July 2). Lookin’ forward to tearin’ it up on one of my favorite courses. Hope to see you all there!
Thanks for reading,
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
So this was the one year anniversary of the time when I pre-rode the course at Sockum Ridge. I was approached by some one-eyed hick with a big ‘ole stick that had a sharp point carved at the end of it. Warned me about the cougars wandering around in them thar hills. Crazy stuff I tell ya.
This years edition of the race at Sockum Ridge was a stage race. Saturday was a time trial, hill climb and short track cross country race. Sunday was a typical cross country race. I had just come off of a recovery week so I was plenty rested, probably a little too rested. Recovery is always kind of a juggling act, never know for sure how much is enough.
So I arrived at Sockum Ridge State Park, about 30 minutes south of Iowa City and was a little disappointed at the low turnout. It was Father’s Day weekend so I suppose I could understand a little. The first event of the day was the time trial, which consisted of about 80% of a lap run backwards. I was scheduled to go at about mid pack behind Amanda and Scott Murphy. My race started and I seemed to lack the motivation to hit it out of the gate balls out. It pretty much started with a fairly steep climb. Throughout the duration of the lap, I felt a little tentative in a lot of areas. I also noticed that my head wasn’t completely in the game. I ended up catching and passing Scott and Amanda, they cleared out of the way and I didn’t miss a beat when passing. I ended up finishing with a time of 14:11. Nate Cline (spelled with a ‘C’, not a ‘K’) came in 2nd at around 14:17. If you follow the news postings on the IORCA yahoo group, he had a ‘clever’ way of alerting me to my error. Cram… yeah… I’m guessing he put a lot of thought into that one.
The hill climb was next and consisted of a short run up an all gravel road hill, with a short loop at the top, and then back down. I’m not real crazy about flying down a somewhat curvy gravel road, so I had no intentions of letting it all hang out on the descent. I took off in my big ring and stayed there the entire ride, hit the loop and headed back down. Caught some OK air of the water bars to get my time bonuses and ended up finishing with the 2nd fastest time to Hairy Jeremy Venable. Nice job dude. Someday he’s gonna start training, then he’s gonna start kickin’ my arse all over the place. Speaking of the Venable’s, his bro Paul took a pretty good dinger on one of the corners and sliced his knee open. He was OK otherwise, good news.
Last on the agenda was the short track race. My plan was to let whoever lead for most of the race. I figured the race would break up after a while and I’d sit on the leaders wheel, do as little work as possible, then drop the hammer on the last lap and drop him like a bad habit. The race started and I ended up in 4th or 5th at the start. I passed Nooner and Bisonova. At the start of the 2nd lap I passed Frankenbike and latched onto WWJ’s wheel. Nate was just ahead of WWJ and starting to pull away a little. So at the start of the 3rd lap I passed WWJ and latched onto Nate’s wheel. He was actually riding pretty well, fairly smooth around the corners. At one point he looked back and said ‘how ya doin’ buddy’. I said ‘doin’ fine thanks, how bout you?’. Don’t remember what he said, obviously didn’t care. It was a 20 minute + 1 lap timed race and we got to the 2nd to last lap and I was hanging onto to his wheel without too much trouble. The last lap started, I punched it, passed him and gapped him going up the small hill. About midway through the lap, I took a quick glance back and it looked like he’d given up the chase. Sweet. I crossed the line in 1st, Nate came in 2nd about 15 seconds back.
So at the end of the day I was sitting in 1st on GC and feelin’ pretty good about how things had gone thus far, especially considering that my mind wasn’t totally in the game. I shared a hotel room with Sea-Door and his wife at some greasy old Super 8 in Washington, IA. Thought I was gonna be sleeping on the floor, but it had two beds, saweet! So we went back to the hotel, showered up and hit Iowa City for some vittles at Givanni’s with Nooner, WWJ, his female, Chuck H. and Zach V. I ate a ton of bread, a plate of pasta complete with a fruit fly lookin’ thing (got my food at half price, I like flies) and a tasty glass of vino. I ate so much food that I had a major food coma going on, so what did I do? Topped it all off with a large cup of dark roast from some cool coffee shop.
Sunday morning came, I got up, fixed a pot of joe and ate my usual box of cereal. Sea-Door opted for the conti breakfast and ran into Taylor. Taylor asked where I was and Sea-Door told him I was in the room eating breakfast. Taylor asked him if I was eating the carcass of another racer... Mmmmm, that sounds kinda good.
I got to the course about two hours before the start, suited up and busted out the Orbea. Did a couple of recon laps and the legs felt pretty good. Thankfully there was a pretty good turnout for the XC race, a lot more than Saturday’s races. Cully Todd and the Team Skin crew were there. I’m always glad to see Cully show up, he’s a fun dude to race with.
So my plan for the XC race was to be the first into the singletrack and try to establish a gap ASAP. I locked the rear end out on the Oiz so that I could get up the initial gravel climb as efficiently as possible. The race started and I took off and managed to get into the singletrack in 1st. We got into the first technical section of trail which was followed by a pretty steep little power climb. I hit it pretty hard up the climb. Cully was sitting in 2nd and was riding a singlespeed. He had to cross it up the hill and that enabled me to create the gap that I was looking for. I kept the pressure on and the gap increased. At the end of the 1st of 5 laps I had a pretty good lead of about 1 minute. At the end of 2 laps I had about 2 minutes on 2nd place. I put it into cruise control and just tried to maintain the gap for the remainder of the race. Hit a bunch of lapped traffic and everybody was really good about clearing the way for me, thanks!
The remainder of the race was pretty uneventful and I ended up winning by about 2 minutes, Nate came in 2nd followed by Cully. Nice job fellas.
I ended up finishing 1st overall on GC. So it was a pretty good weekend as far as racing goes, though my mind was a little preoccupied with something else. My good buds tPod and aPod had this cool little dog, Jake. They’d had him since birth and needless to say, they were pretty tight with him, kind of like having a child. He was 13 goin’ on 14 and was having a pretty difficult time with a lot of things. So last Friday they took him to the vet to get an opinion on what to do. I got a phone call from tPod Friday and all he said was ‘he’s gone’. It took me about a half a second to figure out what he was talking about and I was pretty much speechless. They ended up puttin’ him to sleep, he was old and pretty miserable so it was definitely for the better. It hit me pretty hard, tPod and aPod are like family to me and I really felt bad about the whole situation. So this one’s for tPod, aPod, kPod and jPod…
Next up is another dirty double, Psycowpath at Swanson on Saturday and IMBCS #6 at Kendall Young on Sunday. I’m feeling good so I’ll be lookin’ to clean house this weekend.
Thanks for reading,
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
After a 2 week layoff from raging on the dirt, I was sure looking forward to this weekend. Throughout the week leading up to this weekend, the weather guesser was forecasting a 50% chance of rain for the weekend. It’s all a part of the mountain bike racing game, problem is, if they get too much rain, the park ranger will make ‘em bail on the race and reschedule.
The week leading up to this weekend was my last week of build. Monday was the usual 60 minute active recovery ride followed by some light weights at the gym. You know, the whole concept of a gym is pretty funny. For most casual users, it’s basically an institution where people pay for the privilege of torturing themselves through bodily exertion in the name of physical fitness. Attendees seem to enjoy the fact that not since the Medieval era has there been such a wide selection of torture implements available, as the success of a gymnasium is correlated partly to the amount of equipment it has to offer...yeah… Tuesday I got a super hard workout in at the TNWC, lot’s ‘o pain and suffering went on that night. Wednesday was 2.5 hours of base effort. Thursday the legs felt like crap so I rode to the SC and took a fairly easy lap, bypassing the hillside, don’t think that I would have been able to make it up a couple of the hills. Friday was an easy recovery ride for about 90. Next week will be a recovery week followed by some peak weeks. Lookin’ forward to seeing how much faster I’ll get during the peak period.
Thought about driving to Sewer City on Friday night and crashing at WWJ’s pad, but the weather was too iffy and didn’t want to drive for 3 hours only to have to turn around and come back home without turning the pedals in anger. So I stayed home, got up at about 5:30, took a look at the radar on the PC and saw scattered rain all over the damn place. Waited until about 6:30, called WWJ and he said the course didn’t get any rain all day on Friday and that it was dry as a bone. Also said that if it did rain it’d actually improve the course. I asked him to give me a call when he got to the course to let me know if it was game on. So with that, I threw down a couple of boiled eggs, hopped in the car and swung by Starbucks for a road trip size cup of joe and hit the road for Ponca. Never did hear back from WWJ so it was game on!
I got to Ponca a little over an hour before the start, a little later than I like thanks to the weather dance this morning. Got myself signed in and suited up as quick as I could for my recon. As I was getting myself ready to go, I noticed that there were a bunch of guns there, Kerkove, Cully Todd, Jesse Reints (a pro from Minnesota), some dude named Noah (a pro from California I think), a dude named Kip (a pro or semi pro from Colorado), some dude named Cody that races on WWJ’s team (Sioux City Velo), not sure where he’s from, never heard of him, I think he’s a pretty strong roadie crossin’ over to the good side of cycling. There was also a pretty strong local contingent there, Shim, WWJ, Real Deal (Steve Jarrett), Fig Nooner, JP and Sam I Am. So yeah, the field was stacked by local standards. Talk about getting’ me pumped up for a race. Man was I ready to tear it up!
Started my recon lap and after a roll out in a grassy area, the trail dumped us into a rutted out, hairy gully that was screamin’ fast. The trails were pretty greasy from the early morning showers which made the descent a little more technical. The trails were wet enough at that time that I had a little bit of mud accumulating on my tires. I figured by race time, with a little more exposure to drier air and traffic, the trails would be pretty near ideal. I got about halfway through the recon lap when I realized I was running out of time, so I jumped onto a park road hoping to get back in time for the start, made it just in time for the pre-race meeting.
After the meeting they lined us up at the start and sent us on our way. I wanted to be sittin’ 2nd wheel going into the gully to kind of get a feel for what kind of pace everybody was looking to do. My plan was to sit on until we got to the first open section, then take the lead and kick the pace up, just to see who was ready to throw it down. So we cruised through the roll out section and I let Cully lead into the descent. I was sitting 2nd wheel, right where I wanted to be. I had no idea what the order was behind me, didn’t really care at the time.
The pace was pretty good for the 1st half a lap or so, slow enough that when we hit the first open section, I knew I could turn the screws a little tighter once I took the lead without putting myself into the red zone. Don’t want to get into the red zone in a race like this because you’ll pay dearly for it later on. So we hit the first open section, I passed Cully, dumped it into the big ring and punched it. I could hear somebody behind me on my wheel, I figured it was Cully. We got back into some singletrack and started some of the climbs. I could tell that a gap was forming at this point, couldn’t hear anybody behind me. Ponca has some pretty severe climbs, nothing really long, just really steep… like granny gear steep in some places. I think I was able to middle ring all of the climbs, but after a lap or two, I realized that I better dump into the granny gear and spin up the steep climbs. For longer races like this, I’m better off spinning a high cadence up climbs, kind of helps in keeping the leg cramps at bay later in the race.
The trail conditions throughout the race were very close to ideal, nice and tacky. I could really bury in the corners, tons of fun to ride in conditions like that. Makes me smile despite the pain that I’m inflicting upon myself. After about a lap I had the course dialed in and seldom had to use my brakes on most of the fast sections. That’s the kind of stuff that makes Ponca such a fun place to race / ride. It’s got a lot of everything for everyone, it’s definitely one of my favs. As the first lap progressed I could tell that I was going to have a great day. My legs felt fantastic and my bike handling was as good as it has been all season. I was in that zone that makes mountain biking one of the greatest things that I’ve ever experienced.
On the 2nd lap I started lapping people and never encountered any trouble getting by. About halfway through the race my nose picked up the scent of beer. That could only mean one thing… CVO was just up the trail. I continued on and sure enough, there he was, bustin’ his way up a steep climb. We exchanged a few pleasantries and I continued on, he even stopped to take a pretty sweet pic of me climbing the hill. I’m kinda lookin’ forward to drinking a beer with him and the rest of the crew from Lincoln, a cool bunch of cats over there.
On about lap 7 or so, I caught and passed one of the Bare Naked – Cannondale riders, either Noah or Kip, not sure which. A little later I passed Nooner. We were going up a steep climb and I yelled ‘Venga, Venga, Venga’ at him, he yelled something at me in Chinese. On lap 8 or 9 I passed Kerkove and we rode together for a while. At one point we were going down a pretty fast descent and I almost overcooked a corner with him on my wheel. Glad I didn’t crash because I probably would have crashed him too. At some point I caught and passed Shim also. He looked at me and I looked at him and said ‘see ya Bro’. For the record, Shim didn’t ‘pop’ this time, he was just pacin’ himself.
The last 2 or 3 laps were pretty painful, my legs were getting pretty tired, especially on the climbs. I had no idea what kind of a gap I had on 2nd place so I had to keep the pressure on as much as possible. I ended up winning, completing 10 laps of about 5 miles each. Jesse Reints came in 2nd about 10 minutes back followed by Cully Todd... Cody (McCollough ?) was awarded 3rd at the race, but the official results had Cully about 13 minutes back in 3rd. So it looks like somebody got somebody else’s loot, DOH!!!
I would have to say that this was one of my biggest wins thus far. There were a lot of heavy hitters there. As much as I’d like to, I do realize that I can’t take too much stock in the result because everybody there was racing under their own set of circumstances. But then that’s the case with just about every race that you go to. So, with that in mind, a win is a win and when it happens against a stacked field like this one, it feels especially good. Full results can be found here.
A few random bits from the race. The obvious bike choice was my super light, super fast Orbea Oiz with the WTB Nanoraptors for tread. I softened the rear end of the bike up considerably compared to the marathon race at Platte River and my back felt a lot better. I didn’t really experience any back pain at all. I only managed to drink a little over 3 bottles of fluid, half of which was Gatorade and the other half being water laced with Elite to help stave off the cramps. I carried 3 Clif Bars and a Fig Newton with me and only got through about half a Clif Bar. I never really felt hungry throughout, probably because I downed an entire box of Mueslix on the way to the race. I suppose that I need to work a little harder at taking food and drink in during marathon races, the legs will probably feel a little better towards the end. Over the first lap or so, my average heart rate was sitting in the lower 170’s. The middle portion of the race it dropped into the 160’s and the last 3 laps or so it dipped down into the 150’s. My average for the entire race was around 158 and I maxed out at 175.
It felt great to get back on the dirt, though I’m really glad that I raced on the road over the past two weekends because my fitness gained tremendously from it. Next up is IMBCS #5 at Sockum Ridge Park, just south of Iowa City. It’s a stage race so it’ll be another long, hard weekend of racing and I’m looking forward to it. Hope to see you all there!
Thanks for reading,
I’ve been jones’n to do a stage race on the road for a few years now. Last weekend was an open weekend on the racing schedule and I was sort of looking forward to an entire weekend at home. So earlier in the week I was surfing the net and noticed on the Nebraska Cycling News website that there was a stage race in and around Omaha. So much for an entire weekend at home. So I called tPod and planted the seed. I also talked to Garrett and Nathan By The Lake about it. Everybody was all over the idea so one last hurdle remained, tPod had to get clearance from the law (aPod). tPod actually has it really good, he’s got a pretty demanding career, a wife with a demanding career and an 8 month old daughter, kPod (I happen to be her godfather). With all of this he is still able to get a pretty solid amount of training in to keep the turbo charger in top form. Once clearance was received the planning process began. The mostly reverend Kim joined us with hopes of continuing the fitness building process with some masters racing. A buddy of mine from mountain biking, Shim, lives in Omahole, he and his wife (along with their 4 kids) were kind enough to offer the five of us their basement. Team MSM headquarters.
Training leading up to the weekend consisted of the usual weights and stretching on Monday, TNWC on Tuesday and had great workout. Did 3 hours of base on Wednesday, rode to the SC on Thursday for some dirty goodness. Legs actually felt pretty good on the dirt so I pushed it a little harder than usual. Friday was an hour of easy recovery.
Friday afternoon I loaded up all of my roadie gear, swung over to tPod’s and loaded him and his gear up. Stopped at Granite City for some grub and then Java G’s for some joe and then hit the road. We got into Omahole around 8, shot the shite with Shim, and then sat in the basement and watched videos from this years Giro d’Italia for some inspiration. We finally shut the tube off at around 11 because we had a 5:30 wake up call due to the scheduled 8 o’clock start time for the road race. So I fall asleep about 2 minutes after I hit the sack and was awakened shortly thereafter by what sounded like somebody choking on a hair ball. The mostly reverend Kim was about 15 feet away from me making all kinds of noises that you would expect a geriatric to make when sleeping. This went on all night and I got a grand total of about 3 hours of sleep that night.
Got out of bed at around 5:45 and got started on cooking breakfast, pancakes, eggs and a lot of coffee. While eating we discussed what our plan as a team was going to be. We have a very strong cat 3 team, which would be great if we were racing in a field that consisted of cat 3’s only. Because entries were a little on the low side, the race director decided to combine the 3’s with the 1-2’s field. So much for our team tactics that we had previously discussed. This actually got me pretty excited, I enjoy mixing it up with the 1-2’s, makes you work a lot harder. We decided that our best approach would be to cover as many of the attacks as we could in an effort to get a man into a break. After throwin’ down some food we hit the road for the road race.
We were running a little late and got to the race venue about 20 minutes before the start. Thankfully there was only one porta-crapper, the line was about 20 long 10 minutes before the start. They decided to delay the start by about 15 minutes so that everybody in line had a chance to purge. We didn’t really need much of a warm up because it was a 66 mile long road race with a three mile neutral start.
The race started and we began our 3 mile roll out. The race was pretty tame over the first lap without much in the way of attacks. We hit the only significant climb in the race and I could tell that my legs were total crap, a good indicator that it was going to be a long weekend in the saddle. tPod rolled up next to me and told me his legs were crap also. I could tell that Garrett was feeling pretty good because he was spending a lot of time at the front keeping an eye on things. NBL was feeling so-so, so it was starting to look like Garrett might be the man for the weekend.
On lap two Clarke Priebe and I managed to gap the peloton a little, problem was, my legs still felt like crap and I figured my best tactic would be to sit in and wait for a bigger group to get away. So I backed it off, Clarke did the same shortly thereafter. A little later a Team Kaos guy got off the front with another guy, didn’t know who he was or what team he was on, so I didn’t worry too much about it. Turns out that was the break that got away. About halfway through the race tPod told me the other guy was Terry Beenken of Bianchi Grand Performance. Crap… They were the team to watch, whenever they show up they do well. With about three laps to go, Dewey Dickey of Bianchi Grand Performance attacked the remaining peloton. I got boxed in by another BGP rider and wasn’t able to cover the attack. None of our guys made that group either and a group of about 10 or so got away. There were 3 or 4 cat 3’s in the group ahead of us so we had our work cut out for us for the remainder of the weekend. We ended up finishing the road race a couple of minutes behind the second group. Garrett, myself, tPod and NBL were in the top ten in the 3’s GC.
We had about a 4 hour break until the time trial, so we took a load off and talked a little more about race strategy. There really wasn’t much more to talk about because we knew that the criterium on Sunday was going to be a race of attrition. It was a very short course, less than a kilometer and we were racing with the 1-2’s so it was going to be really fast. Our plan was simple, bury ourselves in the time trial and try to hang on to the peloton for as long as possible in the criterium because they usually start pulling racers out of criteriums once they get lapped.
Garrett and NBL were a little more prepared for the TT than tPod and myself. They had the clip on TT bars and Garrett even had a TT helmet to help him slice through the air with a little more efficiency. tPod and I were slummin’ it on our road bikes. The time trial started with the slower riders going off first at 30 second intervals. Garrett was the first of the MSM 3’s to go. I started 30 seconds after Garrett, NBL was 30 seconds after me and tPod started 30 seconds after NBL. My legs felt pretty crappy throughout the 6+/- mile TT. My HR topped out at 172 and I think my average was somewhere around 169. Garrett was the fastest of the 4 of us clocking 17:58, my time was 18:03, tPod clocked 18:04 and NBL came in at 18:58. At the end of the day, Garrett was sitting in 4th on GC, I was 5th, tPod was 6th and NBL was somewhere in the top ten.
We loaded up and headed back to Shim’s, hit the showers and then went out to score some grub. Shim and I opted for some Italian, the others went across the parking lot to some greasy Mexican joint. Mexican sounded really good, but for me, it’s not the ideal food of choice in the midst of a stage race. I really feel like my diet, with the exception of the potato chip incident, has a lot to do with the success of my season thus far. Didn’t want to rock the boat so I opted for some pasta. I did have some pretty damn good spicy sausage on top of my pasta, figured since I was being good by eating some pasta that a little sausage wouldn’t kill me. Went back to Shim’s house after dinner to watch some more inspiration on the way of cycling videos. One was about last years T-Mobile team and the other was a classic, A Sunday In Hell. A documentary about the ’76 Paris Roubaix, great video, you should watch it if you haven’t seen it.
Our start time for the Sunday criterium wasn’t until 3 so we had some time to loaf around Sunday morning. We hit a local greasy spoon for some breakfast and then headed downtown to scope out the criterium coarse. It was a pretty crazy course that had a 150 degree corner at the bottom of a downhill. The corner exited onto a one lane street. There were a couple of street drains covered in grating that was covered in hay bails that the exit of the corner that made the street even more narrow. Kind of figured there was going to be a lot of carnage on this corner. We watched some of the earlier races and surprisingly enough, nobody went down in that corner.
I had 2 main goals going into the criterium, first was to keep all of my skin intact. My second goal was to finish the race with the peloton. The race started with 40 racers and I found myself near the back of the pack. Garrett, NBL and tPod were near the front. I worked my way towards the front a few times and found myself working pretty hard to stay there so I drifted back. Probably the toughest part of the race was at the top of the hill. We made a left turn at the top of the hill straight into a head wind. This made it really hard to catch back up to the peloton if you got yourself gapped going up the hill. tPod was having a pretty lousy day, got himself frustrated and ended up dropping out.
About halfway through the race I heard somebody behind me go down in the 150 corner. Ended up being NBL, I guess he clipped a peddle going through the corner. He was OK, but had to hit the pit for a wheel change. He ended up getting pulled from the race because I think he was having some mechanical issues. A little bit later I noticed that Garrett was no longer in the peloton. We eventually lapped him and he got pulled.
I spent the entire race pretty much dangling off the back of the peloton and expended a lot of energy closing the gap to get back on. With about 20 minutes left (of a 75 minute race) I noticed that there were only about nine of us left in the peloton. As far as I could tell, there was only one other cat 3 left in the race. I had to dig pretty deep at times to hang onto to the peloton and it paid off. I finished the race with the peloton and moved up to 2nd in the GC for the cat 3’s. I ended up in 10th for the combined 1,2,3’s GC and made a little cash, saweet! No too shabby for a greasy mountain biker. Garrett ended up 4th in the 3’s GC and 12th in the combined GC. NBL finished 7th in the 3’s and 20th in the combined. tPod got a DNF because he voluntarily dropped out, a hard lesson learned because he would have been in the money if he’d have stuck it out.
So despite having mediocre legs, I had a really good weekend of racing. Also had a great time hanging with my roadie buddies and Shim. It’s always a good time hangin’ with my cycling bro’s.
So I’m nearing the end of my second build period and will start the peaking process in a couple of weeks. The last 2 weekends of racing on the road have been ideal for building my high end fitness and I’m sure that it will pay huge dividends for me when I get my racing wheels back on the dirt where they belong.
Next weekend will be the anniversary of my first win in the Psycowpath series at Ponca State Park. Was a pretty big day for me. The next race is a marathon race, 4 hours timed, hosted by Souix City Velo and the Psycowpath folks at Ponca State Park so I’ll be lookin’ for a repeat of last season. Training is going great, my fitness is the best that it’s ever been so I am expecting a great result at Ponca.
Thanks for reading,
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Memorial Day weekend is one of the few weekends during the season that I morph into a road warrior. It’s the biggest weekend of bike racing in Iowa with a road race on Friday, the Snake Alley Criterium on Saturday, the Melon City Criterium on Sunday followed by the Rock Island Carnage Criterium on Monday. I usually plan to do Snake Alley and Melon City, though this will be my first time that I’ve ever actually done Melon City. In 2004, I got knocked over by some knucklehead that was weaving back and forth like a drunken sow while struggling up Snake Alley. I managed to screw up my hand in the fall and opted not to do Melon City. In 2005, I had some allergy issues during the Snake and decided not to do Melon City.
Back in the day (my college days), I’d spend the summers at my Mom’s in Bettendorf. My buddies and I would always head over to Rock Island on Memorial Day morning, hit our favorite bar, order a pitcher of beer and a Rueben that was size of a football (seriously). After consuming mass quantities of beer and corned beef, we’d head out to our favorite corner on the race course and brace ourselves for the sound of metal and skin scrapping across the concrete. Needless to say, those images from the past tempered any desire to do that race.
Training leading up to Memorial Day weekend consisted of an easy recovery ride on Monday, TNWC on Tuesday, 3 hours of base on Wednesday, dirty goodness at the SC on Thursday and an easy hour on Friday with tPod.
tPod stopped by my place early Friday afternoon. We loaded all of my crap into his car, stopped by Panchero’s for a big honkin’ burrito, then hit the drive through at Starbucks for a large cup of joe for the road trip to Burlington. When I think of Burlington, the first thing that comes to mind is Sterzing’s Potato Chips. These have got to be the greasiest, nastiest, most fattening things that you could put into your body, but they taste so freakin’ good! So after about an hour of persuasion, I managed to talk tPod into stopping by the Sterzing’s Potato Chip factory so that I could score the freshest bag of chips in town.
So we roll into Burlington and bee-line it for the Sterzing’s factory, roll into the parking lot of this greasy, 1920’s looking building and their closed… CRAP!!! Oh well, I don’t need to be putting that kind of crap into my body anyway. I’ll have plenty of time to consume junk food at the end of the season. So we roll over to tPod’s brothers (Big Dean) place, unload all of our junk and head out for an easy recon ride of the Snake. We rode up the Snake and my legs didn’t seem to rebellious to the effort….. Hmmmm, this could be a good weekend.
We get back to Big Dean’s place, and there on the kitchen counter sits a big ‘ole beautiful bag of Sterzing’s Potato Chips. I think to myself, ‘holy crap am I in trouble now’. I rip open the bag and eat one. Then I ate a couple more. Then I thought ‘oooh a couple more won’t hurt me too much’, and so I had a couple more. Next thing I know, the entire bag is almost gone. A couple of my roadie team mates, Garrett and Nathan By The Lake (NBL) stopped by. NBL tried a couple and started to look like he was enjoying them. This got me a little angry, so I ripped the bag away from him and yelled ‘MINE!!!’. Then I ate the rest of ‘em. Yes folks, the wheels completely fell off my wagon that night.
So after a good nights sleep at Casa del Dean, we headed downtown to pick up our race packets and watch some people suffer up the Snake. For those that don’t know, Snake Alley is this crazy alley made of bricks back in the late 1800’s. It consists of 5 switchbacks and has an average gradient of 12.5%. If 12.5% doesn’t mean anything to you, go find a bike and try to ride it up the side of your house. You’ll soon understand where I’m coming from. The Snake Alley Criterium has the reputation of being one of the most strenuous races in the Midwest.
So about an hour before our start time, tPod, myself, NBL and Garrett suited up and went out for a warm-up ride. Race time arrived, we lined up at the start and awaited the starters whistle. My plan for the race was to try and get a decent start and do whatever it took to keep myself out of trouble, even if it meant drifting to the back of the 80+ rider field. The last thing that I wanted to do was crash and potentially screw up the rest of the season.
The race started and we were off like a bunch a cats on fire. Things got pretty congested going into the first corner so I backed it off a bit and ended up in pretty close to last place once we got to the top of the Snake on lap 1.
Leading the way early in the race.
My legs felt really good and it seemed like it took very little effort to climb the Snake compared to other people. On the 2nd lap I must have passed about 10 or more people going up the Snake. This continued until about lap 5, where I found myself in the lead going up the Snake. tPod was also in the front group. As I passed him, we looked at each other with a glance that said ‘it’s go time’. I think at around lap 8, one of tPod’s tires exploded, it kinda sucked. He was having a good race. The only other person that I knew of in the lead group of 8 or so riders was a cat named Jimmy Cochran. He’s been in the cat 3’s for as long as anybody could remember so I knew he’d be the guy to watch.
Gapping the lead group with Cochran in tow.
At about lap 8 I accelerated up the Snake to see if I could gap the field. I got to the top, took a look back and noticed a pretty sizable gap. It was pretty easy to maintain the gap, if not increase it, on the descent because I had a pretty good line going through the corners and never had to use my brakes. I took a look back at the bottom of the hill and noticed that my gap had increased. I had to do some quick thinking, do I want to try a solo flier with about 7 laps to go, or should I back it off and try it again a little closer to the finish? I decided to back it off and try again later. It seemed like the climb up the Snake was going to decide this one.
With about 4 laps to go, we were going up the Snake and I was sitting about 6th in line. Cochran was at the front and he started to pull away. I instantly knew what he was doing and I was pretty much boxed in and not able to respond. By the time we got to the top of the Snake he was already around the first corner on the descent. I stayed with the group for another lap and decided that it was time for me to split. So I punched it going up the Snake and gapped the remaining field. I kept the pressure on and ended up finishing in 2nd place, about 3 blocks behind Cochran.
Needless to say, I was very happy with the result as I had no real expectations of myself other than to get a good, high intensity workout in. It’s kinda got me jacked to do it again next year. Saweet!
We stuck around and watched the P/1/2 race then tPod, myself and NBL headed out for an easy hour long recovery ride, hit the showers, scored some grub and split a bottle of one of my favorite pinot noir’s at this swank restaurant that had a killer view of the river. Good times…
Sunday rolled around, we hit the local Hy-Vee for some greasy vittles and coffee, then hit the road for Muscatine. We got there pretty early so that we could watch some of the earlier races. We ran into Tater Tot and Amanda, so we pulled up a spot next to ‘em on a picnic table. So Tater is layin’ on the ground and began the process of taking a little siesta. I thought it’d be funny if I squirted a little water in his ear while he was getting some shut eye. So I did. This, obviously, woke him up and the first place that he looked was at his son sitting next to me, who is probably 5 years old. He yelled at him and about 5 seconds later, I see out of the corner of my eye, this little size 4 strike me in the leg like a flash of lightning. Luckily he hit my cell phone otherwise he probably would have snapped my femur in half. Sort of reminded me of when I saw Grand Master Lou demonstrate one of his lethal roundhouse kicks. Don’t think that I want to be on the business end of one of those. I’m thinking that’d be a pretty bad day. So Tater kind of looked up at us like he was going to take some serious disciplinary action and all he said was ‘Lucas, don’t hurt my friends’… After thinking about it, I thought that it was the appropriate course of action. I pretty much had it coming ‘cause he sort of got blamed for something he didn’t do. Funny…
So once again, my race plan was to hang back and try and stay out of trouble. Then once I got a feel for what the dynamic of the peloton was going to be like, I’d start to work my way towards the front with the intent on launching tPod into orbit in the field sprint. Like Snake Alley, there was close to 80 peep’s toein’ the line. The race started and I stayed near the back of the peloton to observe. While in the back, I spent a lot of time watching near the front of the peloton to figure out what the best lines would be once it was time to negotiate my way towards the front.
Another beautiful day in Iowa.
About midway through the race I started working my way towards the front. A few laps later, myself, tPod and NBL were patrolling the front of the peloton. If I saw any threatening breaks starting to get away, I’d chase ‘em down to keep things in check. As luck would have it, the one that got away was one that I didn’t think would succeed and didn’t chase down. With about 5 laps to go, I’m at the front of the peloton. I took a look back and tPod was on sitting my wheel. I asked him if he thought I should chase the breakaway down and he kind of looked at me like he wasn’t sure. So I asked him again and got the same look. The whole time this conversation is going on, it seemed like the entire front end of the peloton was watching us, waiting for us to do something. It was pretty cool because it seemed as though everybody was more or less keying in on us. So I asked tPod again and got the same response. Screw it, I dropped it down a couple of cogs and punched it. tPod jumped on my wheel and he said that we actually gapped the field.
tPod and Nathan By The Lake patrolling the front of the peloton.
I took a quick look at my speed and we were flyin’ at over 42 mph, saweet! Once we got to the climb I backed it off a little. I did the same thing again on the next two laps. After the 3rd acceleration I could tell that we had taken a serious chunk out of the gap that the breakaway had. As soon as we hit the hill with 2 laps to go, tPod and I were boxed in on the left side of the road. On the right side of the road, an Atlas rider was flying up the hill with Cochran on his wheel… CRAP!!! Neither tPod nor myself could respond, tPod was boxed in and I was tapped from my efforts to reel the breakaway group back in.
Cochran and his teammate caught the breakaway group and I thought the race was pretty much over. Once the road ahead of tPod cleared up he took off like a scalded dog in an attempt to salvage what seemed like a blown opportunity. Turns out that tPod was ridin’ like he stole something because he single handedly caught everybody in the break but Cochran and the cat that got 2nd. tPod ended up in 3rd place, I have no idea where he found the impetus to catch the breakaway, but he did. I was pretty amazed because the breakaway was a long way up the road. tPod said that his max heart rate was 210, that’s some freaky stuff.
Making preparations to launch tPod into orbit.
So looking back at the situation, if we had played our cards a little better, I’m sure that tPod would have pulled in the W. I do believe that over the last 5 laps or so, given the circumstances that we were faced with, we played the teamwork game to perfection and were able to bring home a spot on the podium. The weekend was a huge success for us, especially considering it was the first time that I had raced with tPod, NBL and Garrett as team mates. I’m definitely looking forward to more road trips with them, which happens to be next weekend at another roadie event. We’re planning on doing a stage race over in Omahole, the Joe Babcook Stage Race and were lookin’ to rip it up in the cat 3’s.
Thanks for reading,