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Monday, June 29, 2009

Earning my wings

This weekend I had my tires off the ground more than one should as a road racer. Poolesville went as most road races have gone for me this year; I was in the break of the day but that’s about it. After playing at the front of the field with Lance (Bike Rack) I attacked hoping he would follow but he just let me go. After learning my lessons this year on how to get a break to form, I didn’t go all out. I just went hard enough to hang off the front in close bridging distance. Well it worked; I was soon joined by a rider from The Bike Lane (Kyle, I think) and someone from Kelly Ben.. I got word from two separate marshals that we had 20 seconds on a hard chasing pack. I like to hear that we are holding on a chasing pack, it means that we just have to out last the few riders doing the work then they will usually give up after a while when no one else is helping. Kelly guy and myself where working well together, I think it always feels like you are doing more than the other guy so I can’t say for sure but I think I was spending a little more time up front. Feeling confident in the current break I was happy to commit myself to it 100% hope that maybe 1 or 2 others would bridge up after the chase slowed a bit. I overheard The Bike Lane guy getting told he needs to do some work. After he did one more pull he was off the back, not his day I guess. Going into the dirt I remember yelling up to the guy “take it easy, on the inside. Then drill it”, well he didn’t seem to listen because he went wide and right into the woods. I slowed for a second but the pack was getting very close at this point so I just got back on the gas. Well I opened up another gap and was holding it well when Tim (Bike Rack) comes rolling up with the field. I guess he tried to bridge but they wouldn’t let him go.
Tim and I just kept the pace up for the rest of the lap and we kept opening little gaps off the front but nothing serious. I wasn’t feeling it any more after committing myself to the first break, I think it was just more mental than anything. My leg felt fine and Tim had mentioned that he was getting the little twinges in his legs so I gave him my magic powder (BC powder). The stuff works great for cramps and pussy leg syndrome. I had missed my feed on the 3rd lap and was out of water, I started cramping on the 4th lap and didn’t want to push it since I was racing Reston the next day so I just pulled myself at the feed zone and grabbed my bottle. 2 hours was enough for me today I though, I’ll just kill it tomorrow.
When I showed up to register at Reston people kept asking me if I was doing the 3/4 race, then would seem upset when I said yes. I don’t know why, I haven’t won shit this season. I could understand if I was Steve Wahl and I was taking every sprint but I’m not. This season has been me going in brakes, lasting a little bit then having a crap placing or getting crashed out or me flatting.
I planned on going out hard from the gun at the race and told several people what I was going to do so that they would attack as I was done drilling it, hopefully with a teammate. So after lining up at the start I was one of the riders to get a call up, don’t know why but I did and I’m not complaining. As soon as the whistle goes I’m gone and have a gap by the first turn. The hole race a was super aggressive and I was feeling really good, I didn’t care if I was off the front or on it I just kept on the gas. It was nice to be able to keep the field strung out like that and I was just thinking how good this will be for my TTing. After going back into the pack for some recovery laps my teammate Ray shows up all of a sudden and I feel I can finally take a break. After recovering a little I started moving back up the field for the last 5 or 6 laps. I was holding good position around 10th wheel or so and felt really good with 2 to go when on turn 5 the shit hit the fan. 540’s sprinter ( I’m bad with names sorry) rolls his front tire and takes out probably 10 guys. I was right behind Lance Lacy and performed my “flying midget” trick. I flew thru the air landed on the grass and then somehow Lance lands on me. The EMTs come running over to the sound of 5 or 6 guys all howling. It was crazy we had all just started cramping. I’m not sure but I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt in that crash, pretty lucky actually since we where hauling ass for the final laps. And I’m just glad I don’t have any road rash. Lance ended up buy me lunch later for being his landing pad so thanks Lance. And you know that the crash took out everyone that was going to win. It always feels that this is my day and I would have won it when you get crashed out. If you are oen of the guys that crashed out don’t lie you know you where thinking the same thing.

I’m finally feeling like I’m riding well in the 3’s and that I belong. I don’t like being pack filler. Everyone is at some point but I’m just glad its not me, I like having an impact on a race and thinking that if I wasn’t there it would have been a different race. Plus right now I’m just trying to get noticed I guess. I’m starting to hear my name around a little, I just hope its for good reasons and not bad.

To end this I was wondering what you guy’s / gals think about the course? Is turn 5 to dangerous?

Being from the host team I was just wondering.

I personally like the course the way it is. Yeah turn 5 is a hard one but its not the worst corner around and its not like you don’t know it going into it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Longest Blog entry ever

Ok so if you are reading my blog you probably have some idea who I am (a lowly cat 3). Granted it might be just as the Evo guy with the tattoo on his leg (not both that’s Rob). I started racing about 2 years ago but with no training, then I picked up Bill Gros as a coach. I told myself that if I got back into racing that I was not going to be the random pack fodder that I was in high school when I was racing mountain bikes. I conveyed my concerns to Bill and he agreed to take me on as a client after the 2007 season. It was august I think and I was ready to go, I found a race down in SC called Greenville classic. It’s 2 days of crit racing with a huge food festival going on right next to the course so there are a couple thousand people watching , very cool! I had done 3 races at this point, getting one place closer every time 13,12,11, so I figured 10 more and I’ll have a win. After talking with Bill he told me some useful sprinting strategy, I guess he knew what the hell he was talking about. Final lap I was 4th wheel and with 200m to go I came around and won my first race. The next race was almost as good but I guess I got a little cocky so I led out the sprint and only picked up 2nd...
Then the spending started; powertap, VO2 max test, new bike, coaching. After the VO2 test it looked like I had a decent engine to work with so I guess that made it a little easier. After my first season I had a threshold power of 300 watts with no formal training but almost zero base. I would just go out and ride as hard as I could, bonk then ride home. Bill fixed me up with gear restrictions and spin up drills to get my cadence above 80 along with how to ride easy on off days... My 2008 season started off great as a cat 5; 3rd, 3rd, 1st, 6th. Damn, money well spent!! Then I started having to travel for work and having other issues that caused me to start missing days here and there. I did my 10 races and quickly moved up to Cat 4.
Cat 4 racing was by far the scariest racing I was ever in. Probably a mix of the fact that I wasn’t strong enough to be where I wanted in the field all the time and the fact that it seems 4s have more balls and power than brains. I did quickly learn that the mid atlantic’s competition is much harder than most other places. I was out in OK for work and a teammate / team super hero George Opria sent out a team wide email asking if anyone wanted to do Tour of Arkansas and Joe Martin stage races. Well I think he was joking because when I said sure he said “ OH REALLY”.
Now I don’t remember which one came first and I’m way too lazy to look it up but lets just say it was Joe Martin. George was racing the Pro 1/2 race which was a couple of days longer than the cat 4 race. It was my first time racing the cat 4s and in the road race I was a typical shitty rider, riding right at the front pulling the field around. It came down to a field sprint in which I almost died. Why are 50 people sprinting for 15th place in a stage race that they only give out time bonuses for the top 3? 3 guys got to ride the “bad day mobile” although one of them probably doesn’t remember because he was unconscious. Long story short I got 9th in the hill climb and 3rd in the crit bringing me a 6th GC but I think it impressed George because he offered to coach me. George doesn’t really coach but when someone with his results offers to coach you, it made me feel good.
Now I really like Bill as a coach and it was a really hard choice to leave him but free coaching and from someone who I was able to ride with once a week, no brainer right? So Bill got shit canned, sorry Bill. He was cool with it and understood, but I still felt bad. George really didn’t do much coaching that first season or at least what I was used to. With Bill I got my work outs emailed to me every day with specific details on how long to ride at what effort, George on the other hand is more like go easy on Tuesday and go hard on Wednesday etc. But the biggest thing I learn from George is how to go HARD, I had just been going what I thought was hard. When my body was telling me I was done I would say ok I’m done that’s as fast as I can go. Well, no game with George because as soon as that happened he would pull around and tell me I better chase him. George is one of the most reserved guys I know, till you put him on a bike or even near a race. All I can think of is some old ass Disney cartoon about some quite guy that once he gets into his car he turns crazy.
So back to OK for another trip and I do the Arkansas state championship race, 56 miles, 105+ degrees and in the Ozarks. Before the race I was hanging out with an old navy buddy and his friends who talked me into racing with them. I had said I wanted to break away and quickly got the reply from that group that a break would never work on that course. Well that’s what 99% of cat 4s say about every race so what ever. On the first climb about 3 miles into the race someone attacked and I covered. When we got to the top of the climb we had about 10 seconds on the field. 10 seconds turned into 1 minute that turned into 15 minutes on the field with a 5 man chase group 3 min behind us. I got sick after the race, average HR for 2 ½ hrs was 196. I finished off 2008 with a couple of shitty results, no big deal I was getting ready for George’s famous base training…

2009 season started in November for me with George’s base training, this was going to last up to Xmas week. I had 3 or 4 weeks over 20 hours and I don’t mean 21 hours I’m talking 25, 28 hours. For you power guys 4 weeks over 1000 TSS and my hardest week was 1550 if I recall correctly. I started with my base power at 170 and after the 8 weeks I was averaging around 240 or so. Did my transition block then came the first test, the Evo team practice time trial. George rode behind me giving me pointers on pacing etc. last lap my chain jammed and lost me some time but I still posted the 3rd fasted time on the course ever with George holding 1st and 2nd best times. Next time it was game on, full TT set up; 1080 up front, sub9 in the back, TT helmet, and shoe covers and I think I even shaved my arms. George notice me getting excited for the TT and knew I was going after his time so he wasn’t just going to let me take it from him so he brought out the race wheels and helmet. He had a delay in his training so he was about a month behind me in fitness so i'm sure that’s why I got him but we both killed the past times by minutes and I think I got him by 30 sec. That was one of the weirdest days, like you final got that fucking grasshopper. Yeah he can still kick my ass but I can now repay the favor every once and a while.
Now one of the biggest bennies of being on Evo is the training camp they do. Brutal climbs and long days followed by lots of food. Oh and why not take 2 of the best climbers in the area with you to make the climbs a little more fun. And its not just riding up these 3 to 5 mile climbs with them, it was attacking, chasing and trying to put the hurt on each other all the way up. I was feeling pretty good being able to keep up with two cat 2s who both have multiple hill climbing championships.
Well the first race of the season was Farmersville RR; I went on a solo break for 2/3 of the race then got caught so I had to take it the hard way in the field sprint. Then the next weekend at Jeff cup I attacked with 7 miles to go and it stuck with me getting out maneuvered at the line to pick up a 2nd. I got a 3rd at Mt. Joy's crappiest day of racing ever. Got my points and put in for my upgrade. Woo hoo hello cat 3s, I got my ass handed to me at Syn Fit and Carl Dolan, although I did manage to make the split in the 1/2/3 and lap the field. At this point I had seen my fair share of Tim, we had somehow kept ending up in breaks together but he hadn’t got his fitness up yet and kept crapping out. We ended up in “the break” at Turkey hill, I still can’t figure out what happened there, we had a time check of 1 min then next thing you know the field comes rolling up. The only reason I had done Turkey hill is because I didn’t want the pressure of going down to the hill climb and not winning. The cycling gods made me pay for being a pussy and sent me flying over the bars at 30+ in the field sprint. I blew up one of my new Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate wheels and just found out this week I cracked my 09 Felt F1 SL frame. Mavic’s MP3 program is the reason I bought the wheels and they came through and I had new front wheel, for the $15 dollars it cost me to ship it, in 8 days. I was on crutches for about a week and had to take time off of work due to the fact that I couldn’t walk. I pretty much shut down thinking that all those 4 hour days on the trainer were wasted and my season was over. Well it was mainly just a lot of swelling and I was back on the bike around 2 weeks after the crash. I still have knee problems but it is getting better with the help of Haymarket Physical Therapy & Chiropractic ( ).
I got back to racing with Fulton RR up in PA and that is one ass kicker, I’m just clad I didn’t do the 1/2/3. Then Ride Sally ride double header to get the fitness up. I went into Church Creek TT having never done a 40k before and not really happy with the way I was riding but the stars seemed to have aligned somewhat and I had a good day taking a much needed win by 1’50”, and posting the 4th or 5th best time of the day 1 second behind my teammate Ted (now state TT champ), I should have shaved my eyebrows. Well that time seemed to have put up some flags because I seemed to be one of the marked riders at TOWC. The first decent looking break of the day, I bridged up to and heard “fuck, not you”. Looked back and the pack seemed to be strung out quite bad, I’ll just imaging that they where worried about me. My plan was to not let anyone put huge time in at the RR and kill the TT. My 20k at Church Creek was 30.2 mph and I looked at the times from the year before and it looked like I would have the whole race with just the TT as long as I didn’t let anyone get minutes on me. Well the Bike Rack has really become one hell of a Racing Team and I only see more wins in there future if they keep riding like the way they are. They had at least one guy up the road at almost every point in the race and I lost track of who was who going into the last lap. There was one really scary point when about 10 to 15 riders just started riding off the front and I really had to use up some gas to get around the gapped riders to make sure I wasn’t left behind. Bike Rack did a great job and put Tim up the road with about 50 seconds on us. I wish I had teammates to keep it closer together but I was feeling confident that I could bring that back in the TT. Well I was absolutely crushing the Time Trial when I heard the wonderful sound of a tubular exploding 8 inches from my ass. Note: I think I had just passed my 4 minute man when it happened. So I started running back down the road to the wheel pit, I got a new rear wheel and started off again. Passing Kyle Jones again, sorry Kyle, I didn’t have it in me to call him a pussy again. I hope he knows it was a joke but I love to see Kyle suffer on the hills, and he keeps coming back for more. I mean I hate trying breaks in the wind so I don’t do it, Kyle hates hilly races so he does as many as he can find. He is either ballsy or stupid (I’ll go with ballsy so he doesn’t chase me down). Well anyways with a 2+ minute wheel change I still manage a 6th place and depending on who you talk to 27’37” or 27’07” either way I was pissed.
I went back to the hotel very upset and ended up giving myself heartburn. Then headed out to the crit knowing that I had lost the race. But I was going to make other people hurt at least. I was sitting in 8th place GC 3 seconds back from Lance Lacy and a couple of second from 6th. So I figured I need to break away or take sometime bonuses. As soon as the whistle went off I went straight to the front and just started TTing and it felt good to look back and see the whole race in a single file line right from the gun. I heard Joe Jefferson say that I must have something to do after the race and I was trying to get it over with. On the 5th lap, last corner I caught my pedal, and from what a marshal told me after the race, got my rear wheel at least a foot off the ground. So after I shit my paints I decided to let someone else take up the pace for a bit. It looked like the Bike Rack was going to keep it together so I decided to try for the middle time bonus which as long as Lance didn’t win should move up a spot on GC. I came around the final corner in perfect position and took the 10 second time bonus. The rest of the time I just stayed up front and hoped The Bike Rack would keep it together. They almost lost the race when they let a gap open on the final lap, I made it around them and bridged and got my best crit finish this year 6th and took 6th GC I think 50 seconds back from 1st. TOWC was some of the best racing I have seen this year and maybe in my whole (short) time of racing. Wow just realized I had three 6ths at that race MARK OF THE BEAST, no wonder it was unlucky. Well if you made it through all that congratulations I owe you a coke. And just think you might have been able to squeeze in a ride instead of reading this.