Monthly Archives: December 2007

Day 1- UCI East Coast

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Things went badly yesterday, luckwise. Catherine had a super race though and finished 2nd, around 30 seconds back on Maureen Bruno Roy who won. It was a good course for both of us, with power climbs off your seat and snakey fast sections.

I got a mediocre start, but got into the lead before the first technical section. I lead for most of the first lap, but screwed up a descent and got passed, which was good for me. Anyway, at the end of the first lap, my gears started shifting badly. I looked back and my rear skewer was pointing backwards and I tightened it forward. I knew I had to stop and fix it. Before the race, I pulled my rear wheel out going up a hill and thought that maybe I didn’t tighten by quick release, but thought that was wrong. I should of changed it before the race. Anyway, I stopped at a U-turn and tightened the skewer. I was back in the 20’s by the time I got going, but felt pretty OK and rode back up to the front group on the 2nd lap. But, the group was splitting and David Frattinni and Tyler Wren, teammates, had split off the front 5 seconds or so.

I got to the front of the remaining riders, which were just 3 others and myself. I knew I wasn’t going to have any problems getting up to the Colivita guys. But, disaster struck and I broke my chain on the next hill. I’ve only broken three chains in my life. Twice now in races and once training. Not sure what the cause was this time. I wasn’t shifting or doing anything strange. It doesn’t really matter. It was a race I could of won. I needed the UCI points. Both Frattinni and Wren both flatted the next lap. Along with Matt White and a few others. They were catching their wheels on a uphill asphalt lip. All at the same place.

It’s a couple hours before the UCI race today near Washington DC. I’m alittle apprehensive. I feel like I did the full race yesterday and not just 3 laps. I guess you do the majority of the damage warming up and the first couple laps, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it. But, the systems check that I always do the mornings of a race is something you can’t consciencely control. Supposed to start raining soon, so maybe my Fifth Street Cross riding practice will come into use.

Capitol Cross-UCI C2, Reston, Va

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The weather never came. It was supposed to sleet and rain all afternoon, but it was dry. The course was challenging. I didn’t get a good warmup because of abunch of mechanical issues. New chain wasn’t working with my 19 in the back. Broke a buckle on my shoe, so I couldn’t release or tighten it, etc.

I got an OK start, but wasn’t looking to go fast from the gun. Matt White got away within a 100 meters. I was stuck behind a few guys, or I would of went with him. Soon, I was in a big chase group going nowhere. Eventually, Jeremiah Bishop, Trek came up to the front and pulled virtually the rest of the race.

I felt pretty good sitting on and knew that Jeremiah would keep going, hopefully chasing Matt down. He kept him at 15 seconds or so, meanwhile, everyone else behind me kept getting shelled. Jeremiah swung off a few times to have me pull, but I decided that my best chance to win would be to go on the last lap. It was a calculated decision, but I was pretty sure he was only there to win, so he’d keep pulling.

The gap with one lap to go was around 12 seconds or so. Jeremiah picked up the pace abit. I had planned to attack before the one major climb with about 1/2 a lap to go, but I screwed up a slick corner about 500 meters earlier and had to chase back on, so didn’t get by in time to lead up the hill. At that point, I thought we were racing for 2nd. And we were I guess.

I missed my opportunity to jump, so gave up my chance to win. It is so strange that such small mistakes can make such big differences in results. I took over the lead before the last technical section. I knew the first rider onto the road would win the sprint. What suprised me was how close we came to catching Matt White. I was sprinting up to him as he threw up his arms. 2 seconds back. But, he knew he only needed to go as hard as he did. So, I was 2nd. 20 UCI points. Not enought to help much at Nationals. I needed the 30 for winning. So, I’m gonna be on the 3rd row most likely. Maybe I’ll get a better start than in previous years. Never know.

Elite men
Place  U23       Time      First Name     Last Name        Team                                                      City                 ST
1                0:57:30   Matt           White            FiordiFrutta                                              Hadley               MA
2                0:57:32   Steve          Tilford          KCCX/Verge/Eriksen Cycles                                 topeka               KS
3                0:57:34   Jeremiah       Bishop           Trek/Volkswagon                                           Harrisonburg         VA
4                0:58:02   Jonny          Sundt            KBS/Medifast                                              Charlottesville      VA
5                0:58:13   Alec           Donahue          Joe's Garage                                              Hadley               MA
6                0:58:16   Charles        Pendry           Inland Construction - BTD                                 Hays                 NC
7                0:58:44   Weston         Schempf                                             Sinking Spring       PA
8                0:59:30   Jon            Hamblen          RGM WATCHES - RICHARD SACHS                               Winston Salem        NC
9                0:59:42   Jacob          Fetty            Myogenesis/TheBikeGame dot Com/HAMBLEN RULES              Athens               GA
10               0:59:45   Nathan         Wyatt            Carolina Fatz/Sram/Santa Cruz Bicycles

Getting Stupid-

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I mean, this is getting stupid. I got back from the East coast on Monday. I still wasn’t feeling that great. But on Tuesday, I woke up and was really not feeling well. Pretty bad sore throat, etc. Wednesday, I drove myself over to Med-Assist and told them I had Strep Throat. 10 minutes and one quick Strep test later, I left with a diagnois of Strep throat and a prescription for maybe the 8th round of antibiotics I’ve had this year. And I don’t normally get along with anitiotics at all.

So, yesterday, I woke up and can’t see out of my left eye hardly. I go to the eye doctor and he tells me I have a virus in my eyes and it should get better in a week or so. My vision is bad enough, it wouldn’t work for cyclo-x. But, it should be better in a week or so. I guess I said that already. I was just reaffirming it to myself.

So, I can’t really see well and am taking antibiotics and am under trained. My plan was going down to Austin last Tuesday and train for a week. Of course it’s been 80 degrees down there and it’s in the low 30’s here with snow on the ground. I rode inside yesterday for the first time in a year. I hate it and normally won’t do it unless there is a gun to my head. I had to cover the wattage with a towel so I didn’t depress myself with my pitiful output.

Anyway, I am just ranting. I’m not sure why I’m posting this. It seems like most everything has gone alittle wrong this whole fall leading up to Cyclo-X Nationals next weekend. Goes to show you, that you can have a good overall plan and then just end up winging it when it comes to the actual time to compete.

Oklahoma State Championships-Musing

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The Oklahoma State Cyclo-X Championships were in Tulsa on Sunday. I thought/knew I needed to race the weekend before Nationals. Plus, there was $750 for first.

The weather was about as bad as it could be. It was hovering right around 30 degrees and raining. When the rain hit anything but the ground, it froze to ice. So, all the trees, cars, bushes etc. were solid ice and there was running and standing water on the course.

The race was good though. Mike and the guys at SoundPony had put up a very generous prize list and the course was interesting and technical to a certain extent.

For warmup, I rode two laps of the course on my “B” bike, got in the car with the heater running, striped down and put warmup stuff #3 (hot) on vitrually my entire body. Mainly for the petroleum jelley water repelling effect. I put on a complete new, dry outfit, including shoes and went to the start line dry and kind of warm. That didn’t last long.

I was soaking wet after about 1/2 a lap. There were way too many puddles of standing water. The course got way more interesting to me after we’d done a few laps and it got rutted and more challenging. But, my feet and hands were numb, so I wasn’t enjoying it that much.

I won the race easily. And I came away with a good feeling of not have damaged myself too badly and maybe some fitness. But, that isn’t anything for sure because when your legs are virtually submerged in ice water for an hour, it is pretty hard to gage how they feel. But, they didn’t feel bad, just cold.

Interesting observations (at least to me)-

I walked through the pit after the race and felt the air pressure in all the spare wheels and bikes. I would guess the average air pressure was around 50 at least. I assume that it is the same pressure that they are racing on. Come on guys, lower the pressure!!!

Driving a car on ice is alot more nerve racking than racing on shear ice. Seems alittle backwards.

Tulsa is a town that is super hard to read. It is a dichotomy in alot of respects. The punk rock crowd vs. the redneck. I think the bike community has closer ties with the former.

The SoundPony Lounge is a super place to hang if you’re in Tulas and are looking for a beer. If you happen to be travelling near Tulsa, you should stop in. Lots of cool cycling stuff on the walls. Signed jerseys, one of Brad Huff’s bike. The bathroom walls are completely covered with raced numbers floor to ceiling.

Tulsa has a ton of bike paths. And alot of people that ride bikes. Not race bikes necessarily, but just ride. The have more than one bicycle club that is huge.

A car wash is manditory after a super muddy race. It makes a 3 hours job into a 15 minute job. And it’s a good way to get warm and get your cycling clothing unstuck from your body at the same time.

KC CycloCross Nationals-Day 1 for me!

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Just got back from Kansas City. Still have to wash the bikes and try to make them work again. The conditions were about as bad as they can get for bike riding. Some frozen ground that was rutted, with a layer, more than a layer of mud. The lines changed abunch and it was a humbling experience as usual. It was in the lower 30’s. Pretty cold. I’m not sure whether I was having a good day or just an average day. I didn’t hurt that bad, but I wasn’t in a position to have to hurt that bad. I was handling my bike pretty good except wrapping course ribbon around my bars a few times. The best/only good lines were on the edges of the course where it wasn’t frozen ruts. But, when there was a rut and it threw you into the ribbon, it was pretty ugly. It was pretty fun racing in front of a ton of people that I personally know. I’d forgotten how fun that really is. I hope the experience today will give me some small advantage in the Elite race Sunday afternoon. It’s supposed to start snowing soon. Tomorrow is going to be a completely different course. And the another completely different course on Sunday. Should make for some great cross spectating. OK. I’m pretty beat. Mainly from the cold/wet conditions. Not being warm for hours. Etc. Catherine Walberg, from Topeka, repeated her Cyclo-X Nationals win from last year. She came from behind and won just by 7 seconds in the last half lap. It’s a hard, but very rewarding way to win a hard bicycle race. It was super enjoyable/nerve racking to watch. OK. To bike work.

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Below is what Velonews had to say-

Tilford collects another stars-and-stripes at CX nats
Filed: December 14, 2007

Steve Tilford collected his fifth cyclocross national championship on Friday at wind-whipped, mud-spattered Wyandotte County Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The KCCX-Verge-Eriksen Cycles rider won the masters 45-49 race in 43:03, nearly two minutes ahead of Kevin Hines, with another veteran ‘crosser – two-time masters national champion Gunnar Shogren (Fort Factory Team) – taking third at 4:03 back.

Despite having something of an edge on the competition – a resident of Topeka, Kansas, Tilford worked with race promoter Bill Marshall to finalize the course – the five-time champ said he “woke up pretty nervous today.”

“It’s different from when I was winning mountain-bike world’s. After I won that a few times, I kind of got more of a relief than actual happiness, so I kind of quit going at that point,” he added.

“Cyclocross is just plain fun. Even when I was wallowing in the mud today, I liked it.”

Another familiar face took the women’s 30-34 crown. Maureen Bruno Roy (IF-Wheelworks-SRAM), fresh off a pair of top-five finishes in the final weekend of the Verge New England Championship Cyclocross Series, crossed 1:20 in front of Josie Jacques-Maynes (California Giant Berry Farms) with Sally Annis (NEBC-Cycle Loft-Devonshire) third at 2:22.

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Elite Cyclocross Nationals 2007-Anticlimatical

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Sunday afternoon now. The race is done. It went badly. At best. I was talking to Jonathan Page afterwards and told him it seemed anticlimatical and he said exactly. He’d finished 2nd, 50 meters back. I finished somewhere in the late 20’s. Minutes upon minutes back. I’m depressed because the conditions were perfect for my riding style. Slick ice, but good traction on the climbs so I could ride off my seat if I needed to.

Not sure if I’m ready to evaluate the day yet. I flatted 4 tires. But, only 2 at a time, twice. Double pinch flatted twice. Two Dugast, two clinchers. I haven’t flatted a cross tire all season. I haven’t flatted 4 cross tires in my entire cross “career”. But, today. I obviously must of done something wrong. It was the same place on the course both times. But, it didn’t seem any different than anything else I was doing the other 99.99% of the course. Shad double flatted his Dugast at the same place. Maybe there was something in the bottom of one of the ruts or something. I’ll never know. All I know is that it is pretty depressing. Seems like a lot of effort over the last few months for nothing. It is truely character building.

OK. I’ll write my race review later, once I’ve had a chance to mope a little longer.

Elite Cyclocross Race Kansas City

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I’m not going to dwell anymore on what happened. Here’s my memories from Sunday. USAC screwed up the numbers for the Elite race. They are supposed to be in UCI point order, but they weren’t able to complete that task. Even just 15 minutes before the race, the call-up order was wrong. It was going to be the difference of being on the 2nd row or 3rd for me. Anyway, the UCI official fixed it on his own pretty quick.

The conditions were pretty bad at the start. Frozen ruts with wet mud everywhere. I decided to go with the Dugast Rhinos with a little over 30 psi. I knew it might be a risk with the sharp ice, but it was Nationals. Anyway, I got a pretty good start and left the pavement in the top 6. I passed a couple more guys at the first corner and settled in to getting my “sea legs”. It was mayham pretty much. I was riding around 6 or 8th the first half a lap and then disaster. I went into a rut and came out of it with no air in either tire. It was not far after the pit, so I had to ride the majority of a lap on two flat tires. Riders were going by me in droves. I came out of the pit in 54th place. I was thrilled to here that number. But, it was a solid line of guys in front of me. I rode pretty steady the next two laps and Trudi said that if I passed the next 10 guys I would be in the top 20. I passed a bunch of riders at once. They all seemed to be going so slow. Even those that were in the top 20. I’d be gaining a ton on them on the downhills, so I thought that they must be riding the uphill sections fast, but that wasn’t correct either.

Anyway, with 3 laps to go, I was 12 seconds out of 15th.  I was kind of surprised I’d moved up that much having to go so slow around other riders.  Now, I was thinking of still a top 10 result. Then, disaster number 2. Double flatted again. Same place, different rut. I’m not sure what the deal was. I wasn’t riding any different there than anywhere else. This time I was riding clinchers with Mud 2’s on them. That lap to the pit was pitiful. I had to walk nearly all the uphills and fell a few times since I was riding mainly on my rims. I got my other bike back with Dugast tires again, but I wasn’t so motivated anymore. I spent the last lap and 3/4 trying to watch the front of the race to see if Page was going to catch Johnson. Obviously, he didn’t.

I’m not sure if it was just bad luck or I was riding too heavy on my bike. I do know the conditions, especially the last half of the race, were perfect for me. I could get enough traction to climb the hills off my seat and the descents were tricky/slick. I looked at the results yesterday and realized that I was going pretty good. That is really all that matters, unless you win. I’d rather finish badly and be riding good than finish OK and be riding badly. There is one place at Elite Nationals. 1st. Everyone in contention knows that. So, til next year. Each day, Thursday-Sunday, the course changed significately. It was interesting. Next year, dry, fast grass I bet!

Pictures below- T.J. following me first half lap. More to come.