Monthly Archives: June 2007

Nature Valley Gran Prix

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This race came up pretty fast since I’d been keying on it. The race is a 5 day event with 3 criteriums, 2 road races and a 5 mile TT. The races are all pretty good, but the time schedule makes the event a total sleep deprivation event. Two of the criteriums start at 8pm. so it hard to get to sleep anywhere near midnight.

Historically, the road races are super windy. This year was different. Pretty calm, so the fields stayed together until the finish circuits.

I had a pretty good race, other than the time trail. I don’t have a TT bike and have never put much effort into training for it, but that isn’t a good excuse for riding so slow.

Brian, Bill and I all had some major problems. Bill crashed in the Cannon Falls road race and lost 32 minutes. Brian broke two Zip 404’s at the end of the same race. I flatted two sewups, ruined a rear Shimano Carbon wheel and jacked up my frame. But, it could of been worse.

The officials seem to have trouble scoring this event historically. They put me 7 minutes down on Saturday and said I didn’t finish on Sunday. In reality, I was about a minute back on Saturday and finished a couple minutes back on Sunday. Both events finished or were on circuits, so it doesn’t seem that hard to figure out the correct finish order.

The Toyota guys did a pretty good job controlling the races the last two days. They barely had enough power to keep Stevic out of trouble and then he had the power himself to finish it off. Healthnet had the strongest team, but didn’t seem completely synchronized enough to get one of their riders into the lead.

I rode just good enough not to embarrass myself. With all the mechanical/crashes, I didn’t have much of a chance to do too well overall. I finished 9th in the Cannon Falls Road Race, a couple bike lengths back.

Stillwater is the hardest criterium course in the United States. I got tangled up with a Toyota guy on the first lap up the climb and had to run/walk 1/2 mile to the pit to get a new rear wheel. I did manage to stay in the front group until 10 minutes to go and kind of lost motivation and finished by myself a half a lap back. That’s not normal for me, but I’m not dwelling on it. You make decisions during races that sometimes seem really wrong later, but those were the decisions you made at the time. I should of finished in the high 20’s overall if the officials didn’t screw up. That is mainly thru other riders having a bad day and not me ever having a good one.

Brian Jensen didn’t have his best race either. But, he had a good race. He finished 14th overall and 2nd Best Amatuer. A couple years ago he was 3rd Overall, but this was a different race with a much better field. He’s flying over to Denmark Tuesday for the Danish National Road Championship. There are 9 CSC guys in the race, so he’s gonna be at their mercy. He had to send the promoters a copy of his passport to prove he is from Denmark. It’s a good opportunity for him to go home and visit.

Anyway, Dave LaPorte and the guys promoting the race do an excellent job. It one of the best promoted events of the season and I always look forward to racing in the Minneapolis area with it’s huge cycling community.

Below are a couple pictures from Cyclingnews.com and Velonews.com.

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Speedwheel at FreeWheelin’ across Oklahoma

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Went down to Oklahoma on Thursday night for a small criterium that is held during the Annual Tour across Oklahoma. I’ve done the race a couple times and it is pretty fun because all the riders that do the ride come watch the event. Nothing much to report from the race. Bill and I got away early, mainly because of a early crash. We rode around for 30 minutes until a huge thunderstorm blew in and 3 laps to go suddenly appeared. About 2 minutes after the finish, the rain started. Spent the rest of the evening making calls to avoid hail and tornados driving back. Still, a good time.

Winghaven-St. Louis

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I hate to sound like a broken record, but I’m riding like shit. It is way less enjoyable racing bikes when it’s a struggle. Usually, about NOW, I come out of the spring/allergy funk and start feeling great. But, alas not yet.

I was pretty wasted after Tulsa, so I decided to drive 1500 miles during the week to rest up. I went up to Minneapolis to do some PR stuff with the Dave LaPort, the promoter of Nature Valley Gran Prix, and then took Bromont, my dog, up to Cable, Wis. (his favorite place in the world) to run crazy in the woods for a few days. Then back Friday for the weekend races.

Anyway, a bunch of us went to St. Louis and raced the Winghaven Criterium on Sunday. Mike Weiss, Mr. Bigshark to you, put on this event in a new housing/commmercial area outside St. Louis. It is a great venue, a 2.75 mile closed circuit with the start/finish line at the top of a small hill, a couple hundred meters after a round about. It has a good prize list. Over 10K for the PRO 1-2’s.

The race was 20 laps. It rained most of the day until our race started at nearly 5pm. There were the usual regional guys around, plus a couple heavy hitter sprinters in the forms of Dan Schmatz and Hayden Godfrey. Plus, Crater and his guys from Milwaukee. I knew we might have some problems.

The plan was to keep the pressure on the whole race. It seemed to be going pretty well through the first half, but after an hour or so the wind calmed down and the course got abunch easier. It wasn’t hard enough to split the field. Or maybe, we weren’t riding well enough to split the field. We needed rain or heat or something. Whatever the reason, it was all together with a lap to go.

With one to go, Bill Stole, my team, took a flyer with one other guy. He sat out there a couple hundred meters and got caught about 400 meters from the line. I was trying to lead Brian out, but he lost my wheel somewhere approaching the last corner. I was on Hayden, 4 guys back heading into the traffic circle. I was jacked, so I decided to go for it and lead up the hill. But, when I commited to go into the traffic circle, Hayden did alittle “track swerve” to keep the masses (me) at bay. It worked perfectly for him. I was heavy on my brakes and floundered all the way to the finish line. Brian came from way back and passed me with about 50 meters to go to finish 5th. I was 8th. Dan Schmatz killed us and won easily. Josh Carter finish 2nd and Hayden 3rd. All three of them would probably beat me if I was riding good, so we kind of blew it letting it come down to a field sprint. I knew the course and conditions weren’t in our favor. But, that’s bike racing.

OK. T-minus 10 days until Nature Valley. A couple of us are going down to Tulsa to race on Thursday night. They hold a criterium during the Tour across Oklahoma. I’ve only done it once before, but it pretty fun. A night race with a bunch of tourists watching.

On Friday, I heard on NPR, they are unearthing a time capsule in Tulsa, buried in 1957. It has a ’57 Plymouth buried in it. I think I’ll stay down there Thursday night and check that out. Tulsa is a great town. I don’t need too many reasons to hang there some.

If I get feeling better, I’ll probably just keep going down to Austin for the downtown Pecan Street Criterium Saturday night. But, that seems to be a big if right now.

Tulsa Tough

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Just got back from 3 days racing down in Tulsa Oklahoma. It’s called the Tulsa Tough. Tim and the guys down there put on a super professional, well-organized race series, with way too much prize money. It is three hard, technical criteriums. Friday nights race doesn’t start until after 9pm in the hip bar district in Tulsa, then Saturday is another evening race at 7pm with Sunday’s killer, hilly criterium at 3 pm.

Drove down to Tulsa Friday afternoon and it looked like rain. I don’t really like racing in rain, but seem to win a fair amount of the events I do, so I can’t really say I’m adverse to racing in the rain. It downpoured during the women’s event and they called the race early because of lightening. We all lined up pretty early and watched a good lightening storm of our own on the horizon. They held up the race abit waiting for it to pass, but started pretty close to on time. It was wet and sketchy for awhile, but it didn’t seem like many riders fell. Sucessful Living had 10 guys there and Einsteins had a bunch too. Nothing seemed to be working, but the pace was pretty high. It ended up in a field sprint, with Sucessful Living smearing us all pretty easily. Bill ended up 9th and I was buried at 17th. Brian flatted with 3 laps to go. Bad luck. So much for a big payout.

Saturday didn’t go much better. I have been riding pretty mediocre and it showed again. I was fine in the field, but not good anywhere close to being in the wind. A Sucessful Living guy soloed in for the win and we ended up sprinting for 2nd. I planned to lead into the final corner, but Dan Smatz from BMC had the same idea and beat me to the punch. I was in a bad spot and ended up 8th. A big improvement, but nothing to write home about. Bill was 17th and Brian barely squeaked into the top 25.

Today, Sunday went better. It was a perfect course for Brian. I knew it, he knew it. We didn’t even need to talk about it. It took him alittle over 10 minutes to get off the front in a 90 minute race. I was a hard loop with a pretty hard climb and off camber corner about 200 meters from the finish. Anyway, Brian laped us with 3 other riders in the first hour. He went right through the remainder of the field and immediately went off the front to win the crowd prime. I was feeling OK most of the race and was riding at the front most of the time. But when Brian lapped us, either the field got alot more tired or I got alot better, because I was riding much better in comparison. Brian ended up winning the race. I kind of screwed up the end abit, but ended up 8th again. I was 6th overall which is kind of screwy because I had 3 of the worse finishes I could of the whole season. Nothing seemed to go right the last lap of any of the races. So, winning one of the days was all we could do this weekend, but that was still pretty good.

Hopefully, this will be my last bad weekend of racing. I’m going up to Wisconsin for the week, then back to St. Louis for the Winghaven race on Sunday. I’ll try to get a bunch of long miles in the next couple weeks for Nature Valley NRC that is coming up in a few weeks.