Monthly Archives: November 2007

Fifth Street Cross-UCI races East Coast

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Back on the East coast again for the last two UCI races I’m doing before Nationals in two weeks. I had a ticket to fly out to Portland for the last Gran Prix races, but saw the weather/mud report and thought it would be better to come back East.

Anyway. I changed my ticket to fly out here a day early to race Thursday nite in Emmaus, home of Bicycling Magazine. Bill and Beth Strickland have Thursday nite races in their yard for two and a half months every winter. I’ve been here a ton, but never raced. So, I flew in to suprise them and get a taste of the local scene.

The course is nearly a mile long. Mostly narrow and all muddy. Plus, it doesn’t start iuntil well after dar,. There were 38 people racing. I decided to take the short cut by drinking a PBR at the start and getting a 30 second lead. But, I didn’t have the course down, so my lead didn’t hold up. I slid the next 20 minutes. Stopped twice to ungum my fork from the mud/grass/leave mixture. It was especially bad rounding the fainting goat coral. And. of course, had a great time. Everyone was washing their bikes and I thought I could do it later. Little did I know that they were going to race a 2nd race in 15 minutes. There was too much “running” the first race, so I decided my time could be better spent riding to the carwash and power spraying my bike. I started at the back of the field and kept going straight out the driveway when the course turned.

Riding the mile to the carwash was pretty enjoyable. i had a little beer buzz going on and thought I was pretty lucky not to be bleeding from hitting a tree or falling. I stil had the headlight on I’d borrowed for the race. It was the first time I’ve riddent with a headlamp. Riding through a parking lot by the carwash, I ran straight into a pot hole that I didn’t see and flipped over the bars. I hit both my knees on the bars and jacked up my neck. Now I can barely walk up and down stairs. My, how things can go south in a matter of moments. And, headlights are way over rated in my opinion.

I’ve been hanging down at the South Mountain Cycle and coffee bar tonight. If you make your way through Emmaus, you should stop by. It is everything that a bike shop should be.

Supposed to get crummy Sunday and maybe snow some. I think I could use some of that. I’ll cross my fingers.

Jingle Cross Rock

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Not sure what to think about last weekend. I was 5th both days. Rode around most of both days by myself. I wasn’t riding that bad, but never had a top end enough to ride with Todd or Horner. Todd smeared everyone like I predicted last week. On Sunday, it was easier for him because he hopped the logs at the bottom of the “run up” and rode it. That pretty much killed the rest of us. It was a good event. I’ll write more later and post some photos.

North Carolina UCI races-Pre Jingle Cross Rock

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It was the last warm day in Kansas for awhile. A bunch of guys from Lawrence rode over to my house in Topeka. I rode back with them to the coffee shop in Lawrence and back. It’s an easy way to get a 3 1/2 hour ride with little effort.

Anyway, I still haven’t gotten much better lungwise from New Zealand. The two cross races and travel didn’t help much of course. Tim and the gang in North Carolina put on two days of excellent cyclo-x. It shows that you don’t have to be from Portland or the Northeast to know cross. You can be from nowhere Kansas/North Carolina and still produce excellent courses.

This course was a bunch of riding. It flowed fast and other than a sand pit, it wasn’t very technical. I was suprised that I felt so bad on Saturday. I was just as suprised that I felt much better on Sunday. But not good enough to compete on a National level. That is going to take some thinking and abit of luck. I’m not sure how to address my “illness” at this point. I know it isn’t working as well in cyclo-x as it did stage racing. Usually, I’d be much worse by now or much better. Whatever.

OK, back to the race. Jon Hamblen and Justin Spinelli from Richard Sachs were riding much better than the rest of us. Cyclo-X does work well as a team sport and they rode well together both days.

Saturday, I got dropped lots of times trying to get up to the front group of 4. And I nearly quit the race at least a dozen times. I was so winded virtually the whole race, that I couldn’t really make any rational decisions. If I could of, I would of quit on the 2nd lap. That would of been rational. Instead, I ended up riding around most of the race looking at the rear hub of Jonathan Sundt’s rear wheel, as he rode tempo for the last 30 minutes, keeping the front group at 30 seconds. I had realized that 6th was the place I was going to finish, but on the last lap, Matt Shiver, Jittery Joes, crashed and had to make a bike change, so we passed him. He was only 5 seconds or so back with a 1/4 lap left, so I took the one pull I took all day. Jonny got a little confused and never got on me. So, when I pulled over to let him finish ahead of me, he wasn’t there. I felt badly, but he was cool with it. Said he took a bunch of time off and was just getting back in shape.

Sunday went way better for me, but I finished 2 places worse. I was in the front group of 5 the whole race. The Sachs guys were the offensive players and I was the single defensive rider. They attacked and I chased. Sometimes I’d get off the front with one of them, but it never lasted long. Anyway, Spinelli put in a good attack on the last lap that kind of stressed me. At that very moment, I happen to make the one serious mistake of the weekend. I slid out on a U-turn and dropped my chain. I thought I was going to get back on, but realized after a minute or so that wasn’t going to happen. It is amazing how giant a 10 second gap can be in a cyclo-x race.

I’m not sure if I was going to win, but I know I shouldn’t of finished 6th. And I did finish 6th. So, what do I know? So, 17 more UCI points at a cherry pick weekend during the USGP races in Trenton. Not what I had hoped for. But, that is bike racin’.

OK. Jingle Cross Rock is this weekend in Iowa City. I won it two years ago when Jason McCartney was making his first cyclo-X appearance.  Last year, it became a two day event, with Chris Horner becoming the Pro Tour rider exhibit.  This year, Horner is coming back, plus my ex-team mate from Specialized, Todd Wells.  Todd should school us pretty well unless something weird goes on.  Like Doug Swanson shows up with his A game on.  You never know with Doug.  Sometimes it’s his A game.  Sometimes it’s his D game.  Not usually in between.  I hope it’s the first.  That would be way more interesting.


					

Back to Cyclocross!

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Just got back from North Carolina and a couple UCI races. I’ll update more later. The short of it, I was 4th Saturday. And, that was a gift and beyond the best place I should of finished. Then, I was 6th on Sunday. And, that was the absolute worst place I could of finished. Go figure. OK. It’s 80 degrees today, Monday in Topeka. Have to go spin the travel time/cyclocross out of my legs. Check out an interview from www.Cyclingupdate.com that Marc posted. He has an interview with Todd Wells and some more stuff on Jingle Cross Rock, which is this next weekend.

Tour of Southland, Invercargill New Zealand-OVER

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Finally. Actually, the last two days haven’t been so bad. Today was 2 stages. 2 controlled stages. Mainly, by Hayden Roulston’s team, but also by just about anybody he could talk into going up to the front and pulling for him. Real professional. Guess you can tell I have very little respect for his riding style. I should explain my comment yesterday about what he’s been doing the last 3 years.
Hayden Roulston rode for Cofidis the first time I came down here in 2004. Then he got a contract from Discovery. But, he got into a couple bars fights and was arrested. Because of the fighting issues, he had a problem racing out of the country for awhile. Obviously, Discovery was not too pleased, so they didn’t rehire him. He then came down with some heart problem that was “uncurable”. But, a few months later, late last year, he used Eastern medicine and acupuncture (or something like that) to fix this dreaded heart problem. So now he is a big fish in a small pond so to speak, but doesn’t have the self confidence to race bicycles correctly.

A friend that lives in England sent me this in an email last nite. “A: your assessment of Kiwi athletes is pretty much on par with my experiences in the running world here–and can be extended to their Aussie brethren as well: pricks. I’ve been intentionally stepped on, tripped, shoved, more times by Antipodeans than anyone else–though, my observation (again, based only on my own experience) is that they are quite easy to crack because they race like Texans with an inferiority complex, so they start way too fast, blow up and then complain about it later. “I can’t be slamming Australian riders, since I’ve never raced there on the road, but it does fit my observations of the riders here. They take their hands off the bars and push more than anywhere else I’ve experienced.

I was pushed at least 30 times just today. They have no understanding of how the dynamics of a echelon works in the wind or they wouldn’t be pushing people around like they do. But, I think the core of the problem is that they have so little self confidence and have to act like something they aren’t. It seems each one thinks on a second by second basis during the race that they are going to fall, or get dropped on a climb or whatever. It is a stressful type of bike racing they’ve developed here and it seems to be making its way over to the states with all the import riders from down under racing there now.

Anyway, back to racing. The morning stage was good. Calm wind mainly and no knee warmers. Yeah. A group went up the road, with Curtis Gunn from our team in it. They were less than a minute up with 10km to go. We started to go pretty fast those last 10km and the gap disappeared quickly. With 2 km to go, we were catching them and Curtis took a flyer. He made it to about 20 meters from the line before we swallowed him. He was oh– so close. I was 10th.

I had a Sram shifting learning experience today. My experience was shifting up into a 13 instead of down into an 11. That is the 3rd time this year I’ve blown a shift at a crucial time in a race. First, MTB racing in Chequamegon, the 2nd time at a UCI Cyclo-X, and now here. I seem to be developing a pattern. Huh. But, my initial observations of the Sram Force vs. Durace is that the Shimano shifter is by far a better shifter. Even taking into consideration the fact that the Sram shifter is super light. Hopefully, the new Sram Red shifter coming out soon will improve upon their original ideas.

This afternoon’s stage was only 70km. Pretty windy, so lots of gutter riding and the field broke up a bunch, but nothing serious. It looked like it was going to come down to a field sprint until Tom Zirbel took a flyer with 8 km to go. He had a couple guys with him, but dropped them and won impressively. I was 5th in the field sprint, so 6th on the stage. 15th Overall, I think. So, the race is over.

I’m not sure what my thoughts are about the whole experience. I still have a hacking cough and am eating antibiotics. I have a 35 hour flight back to Kansas tomorrow afternoon. But, I do seem to have gained a ton of form, which is the reason I came here in the first place. So I’d have to say it was a sucess in that respect. Ok. We’ll see in a couple of weeks how this helped for the remainder of the ‘cross season. Better go for a run on the beach tomorrow before I fly. That way I can be super sore for the flight home.

Meet you after the race!!!!

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Today was the longest single race. Something around 170km. The weather wasn’t horrible. Actually, the last couple hours were really pleasant, but still breezy. There was a climb with about 55km to go and that was where it was going to really start.

JR from our team got in the early break, that ended up staying away all day. It got down to just two guys, but two more bridged up after the climb and he ended up 4th. It was just tempo in the gutter for the first 3 hours. I have to say these riders are the rudest prick bike riders in the world. Bar none. Early in the race, we were just riding along and a guy beside me thought I was getting too close to him. So he sticks his elbow into my side. That wasn’t such a problem, other than I was overlapped with the guy in front of me, so I got leaning on his rear wheel. I pulled my brakes and backed off, but then the guy that started the mess started the normal talk- bla, bla, bla.

Then Hayden Roulston, the race leader, started giving me shit. I listened to his rant and then asked him what he had been doing in the sport of cycling the last 3 years. Must of been a sore spot, ’cause it really set him off. Exactly the reason  I said it. He then rode up to me and told me he was going to take care of this after the race. I said sure, no problem. A hour or so later he called me a cheeky c***(women’s body part). (That is their 2nd favorite word.) I’m not sure what it means, but I’m sure it’s not a compliment. Anyway, it’s after the race and I haven’t seen him. Dang.

The race split up pretty good on the climb. Brian had got away 10km before it and had a minute, but his group didn’t climb very fast and we caught them right over the top. I was in a group of 7, but the climb didn’t split the field much. It got all back together and then the normal gutter riding, echelon, gutter riding thing ’til the end. I was 2nd in the field sprint, so ended up 6th for the day. Felt pretty good even though I don’t get breathing very well until I coughed up a bunch of stuff after the first hour or so.

Tomorrow is the last day. Double stage back to Invercargill. There is a medium climb in the middle of the first stage, but I think it is pretty much set, unless it is super windy again. Kind of hoping for it. Man, that is a big change. Wishing for wind.

Stage 6-Day 4

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It was only one out of the 3 complaining weather items today.  Windy.  And not that, compared to the prior 3 days.  The stage was 135 km and finished on a 4 km climb.  But before the finish climb there were two or three 1 km walls than a 27 in the back was mandatory.

The Zoo Keeper/Trek team is protecting the race lead, so they rode tempo the first 100km with the help of a bunch of individual “friends”of Hayden.  The smack came down with 35 km to go.  Side wind, Uphill.  Game over for 80% of the field.  Three of us made the final selection of 17 or so.  Which is good for our Team GC of course.  3 GC guys got away in the flury of attacks during the 20 km run in to the climb.  We started the climb as a group, that split up immediately.  I have not ablility to breath deeply, so I instantly started riding my own speed.  Brian looked good the first km, but kind of ran out of steam.  I haven’t seen the results, but it seemed like a good day.

Tomorrow is a long hard stage to Teanu.  It is super windy always and has a pretty good climb 40 km or so from the finish that usually splits the field.  I can hardly wait until this is over.  That is how much fun I am having.

Go to cyclingnews.com or tourofsouthland.com for results.

Observations-

Cycling shorts that are all one color, other than black, such as orange, red, white, make the riders butts seem huge.

There are zillions of sheep in this country.  If you ask a New Zealander what they do with them, they say they export them to the US.  I don’t think so.

This race has a huge attrition rate.  I think over a 1/4 of the field has dropped out during the first 3 days ( and I don’t blame them).

The roads here are chip and seal, with huge rock.  So bumpy that I’m riding only 90psi and my right shifter rattled apart today.  No extra Shimano levers, so I’ve got a right Sram Force lever and rear derailluer.  Good time to test them out.

New Zealand looks like a huge garden in the spring. 

It is windy here!