We decided to stay down in Austin at Maureen’s house and train for the week and race the road races next weekend. The weather is 40 degrees warmer than Kansas and it’s good to be able to just focus on riding without the extra “home stuff” to get in the way. Wednesday Adam and I went out with Dave Wenger and Stefan Rothe and did a 6 hour ride. 116 miles was the end result. We rode over to where the races are this weekend at Lago Vista, then through a killer canyon appropriately named Cattle Canyon. Appropriately named because once we went over some cattle grates, there were long horned cattle everywhere. Anyway, it was a super good ride and longer than I’d done training in ages. Adam broke his frame last Sunday, so he got a new frame shipped down and we put it together today for the races this weekend. Alittle too much standing around for me, but that seems to be the norm nowadays. I have better form for the races this weekend than last for sure. Maybe it won’t be as painful? I’ll let you know.
Pace Bend road race is one of my favorites. I’ve raced the course both directions and like it fine either way. It’s 10km around with alot of rolling, big ring climbs. We were racing the course clockwise, which is the direction we raced a couple years ago when I won. But, Sunday, the wind seemed to be blowing exactly the wrong direction and it made the course way too easy. The hills seemed short and fast. No gutter riding. A mass of 100 + guys rolling around at 30 mph. It seemd from the start that it was going to be a field sprint. And it pretty much was. But, not without drama and carnage.
There were a bunch of different fields racing on the course when the Pro 1-2 was racing. I’m not sure of all the fields racing with us, but for sure the Women 1-2 and Women 4’s. After a couple laps, we were directed to the side around some riders on the ground. I glanced over and saw Catherine sitting on the ground with another woman. I thought she had to be hurt, because it isn’t in her personality not to get back on her bike and ride if she is able to. I was obviously worried. The next lap, going through the finish area, I didn’t see her. Or the next. On that lap, we were passing the Woman 4’s when things went bad for everyone in general. Long story short, a bunch of men and nearly all the Woman 4’s are laying on the pavement. We rode another 6 mile lap and were stopped along with everyone else on the course to allow the EMT’s take care wounded.
I sat there for a couple minutes and decided to ride the half a lap over to the start line and try to find out about Catherine. There were guys everywhere. Going both directions. Some people were told to stop at the finish. Others to ride a lap to the stopped field on the course. I found Catherine getting some attention at the finish area. One of her quad’s had a grapefruit sized lump square in the middle of it. Plus the normal skinless elbows etc. It ended up she was helping Stefan Rothe’s wife who had a giant gash in her calve. Less than a couple minutes later, the lead car came by and the race was on again. There were guys jumping back into the race from everywhere. I’m not sure what to think about that, but I have no idea of any other riders specific. I don’t think it effected the race much either way. The field did seem more worn out the next lap. I was kind of stoked that maybe it was going to start getting hard. Brian attacked a few time, with no luck. Nothing was going to get away.
About a km from the finish, there was the hardest hill. Gonzales Domingo, from Orven, the guy that fell the day before, took off at the base. Then Alex Boyd and Phil Wikoff. I could of went each time, but thought it was too early. But, it wasn’t. They had at least a 100 meters by the last corner. 500 meteres downhill to the finish. I came around the corner 5th or 6th and just waited. I started sprinting at about 300 meters and screwed it up completely. I started into a hole between two Orven riders, only to have the hole close. I had to pull my brakes, back out and go around the outside. I ended up 5th. Should of could of whatever. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t gettting around all the guys in front of me, but you never know. I do know you can’t scrub 5 mph off your speed with 200 meters to go at the end of a bicycle race and be happy with the end result.
Then I found out Adam fell in the sprint. And Catherine was bleeding herself. 2/3 of our car were not that happy. Catherine was supposed to fly Sunday nite. No. Adam spent the next 4 hours at the hospital. Not before I’d used my last suture kit sewing up his side. Then he exposed his elbow from under the gauze the EMT’s had wrapped it with. There was nothing I was going to be able to do to fix it with my needle and thread. He needed some X-rays and sutures beyond my ability. So, the night was long. But, the weather has been good since. No broken bones. Only one broken frame. Could of been worse, I guess…..
Jumped into the car 4pm Friday afternoon to drive the 10 hours down to Texas to do a couple road races I’ve done on and off the last couple years. Got to the hotel at 1am, to bed at 2am for a 8am race start. Not enough sleep for sure. Catherine Walberg and Adam Mills came for the warmth too.
Walburg is a 22 mile loop, usually with pretty “good” winds. It was cold at the start. In the upper 30’s. But, it warmed up pretty quickly. I felt like hell. I’d made a decision not to do a systems check until the finish of the first lap. I made a couple moves, but was killing myself doing them. The Orven Team, from Monterrey Mexico had nearly a million guys in the race. Maybe closer to 12, but it seemed like a million. They had two guys off the front alone after a lap and it stayed that way pretty much the rest of the day.
On the final lap, the field was nearly 3 minutes down on the two Orven guys and another couple minutes back on three more local riders. The pace car officials were giving the field “shit” for not chasing down the lead riders. This is after they had been physically enforcing the center line rule with their vehicle. Go figure.
Finally Brian Jensen, myself and this young guy from Houston, Travis Burandt went to the front with about 8 miles to go and starting riding pretty hard tempo. The wind had finally started to pick up some and gutter riding was starting to work some. Guys started coming off one at a time. After about 3 miles, there were only 10 guys or so left. That is when my teammate, Adam Mills showed up at the front. Both Brian and I were pretty surprised to see Adam and happy to have him rotate. By then there were only 3 Orven guys sitting on the 4 of us that were pulling. We ended up catching the three riders chasing the front group of two. They were still 30 seconds ahead with 1km to go up the final hill to the finish. I was pretty well done. At the bottom of the finish hill, Gonzales Domingo, Orven, jumped us from behind. I didn’t/couldn’t even react. His chain broke a few pedal strokes later, or he would of smeared us by 100 meters at least. Instead he was laying on the ground. His teammate jumped. I tried to follow him, but only made it half way up the hill before I had to sit and pedal slow. A few bike lengths from the finish, Brian and Travis came by, so I ended up 6th. I didn’t really have any expectations for the day, so I was OK with the result. The worst I’ve ever finished at the race was 3rd, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Adam was 9th. He had a good ride.
The best thing about the day/trip was getting to Austin and to Maureen Riopel’s abode. We met her a year ago when Barry Lee from Team San Jose set us up. We came and took over her house. It was one year anniversary officially to take over her house. But, we’ve kept in touch and seen her at Interbike in Las Vegas etc. One of the best things about the sport is the cool people you meet all over the country/world. Friends you have for a lifetime. Her dog Stanley (beautiful golden retriever) and I have a special relationship too. Anyway, we’ve moved in again and are drinking way too much wine again.
Guess my last post wasn’t completely accurate. Missed another month here. Man, do the winter months go by so fast. The racing season is nearly a 12 month a year deal nowadays. So, the “off season” is nearly nonexistent. It gives us all the impression we need to get on the bike. Especially when the Tour of California is going on. But, we all should remember it is only February.
It has been a pretty harsh winter in Kansas this year. The whole midwest in general I guess. It has snowed 32 inches in Topeka so far this year. That is 3 X the total of all last winter. And it’s been cold. For Kansas.
So, when I got a chance to head to warmer weather, sans bicycle, I took it. Just got back from a 10 day treat in the Caribbean. It was interesting for me because the majority of it was on a cruise. Admittedly, being on a cruise ship wouldn’t normally be something that would fit my personality very well. But it did to a certain extent. I’m interested in just about anything and there are tons of things going on that are interesting. I did feel more in touch with the workers on the ship than the other passengers, but that is how I usually feel when I’m in a nice resturant or fancy hotel. Anyway, there were plenty of chances to exercise and explore some new territory, snorkel, swim, tan, etc. Plus, Spinning on a moving ship. Just shoot me if that happens again. The main downside was the quantity of food available at all times. Fresh fruit (raspberries, pineapple, blackberries, mango, etc.), plus the same fresh fruit in tart form. I love pies and tarts! But, that isn’t such a downside when you really think about it.
Anyway, hopefully I can post a sampling of photos below. I’m having a little problem posting photos with a change in web hosting.
I did go on a group ride in Fort Lauderdale, Sunday morning before getting on the ship. Tam, Catherine’s Kenda ex-teammate had arranged 4 extra bikes for our group from Kansas. We met at a bike shop. There were maybe 20 or so riders there. Most on super high-end bikes. Not like the local rides in Kansas. After riding down the road a few miles, there was a moving mob of over a 100 guys. It was crazy. Maybe the most crazy ride I’ve been on in my life. And I’ve been on some pretty crazy rides all over the world, so that isn’t a small thing. The group was was moving pretty well, hovering around 30 mph. And it was mayhem. Running red lights through state highways, swarming cars at intersections, crashes. The language of choice was Spanish. Which was fine by me. I was glad I couldn’t understand what everyone was yelling continuously. Anyway, no one I knew fell and I got 70 miles in before vacationing. And now I realized that I have no racing form. OK riding form, but no top end. Where does it go?
Trudi is out at the Tour of California working for BMC. I’ve been trying to ride the last few days as much as possible, but the weather hasn’t been conducive. Windy, cold, wet. I’ve got some shoulder issues from past and present. Trudi was picking (Dr.) Eric Heiden up at the airport a couple days ago and I had a chance to talk to him a little while. He said it sounded like rotator cuff issues, not separated AC’s. I’m now doing some exercises and stretching. We’ll see. It was good talking to Eric after all these years. It’s pretty weird how you can take up a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in years without missing a beat. That is cycling!
So, this weekend is historically the first weekend to race around here. Either Frozen Toes in Missouri or a couple great road races I’ve done in Austin, TX the past couple years. But, I’m thinking I might just need to train some. Might go down to Poteau, OK and do some long miles. It’s on the Oklahoma/Arkansas border about half way down the state. Some really old mountains, with huge, steep climbs. And the temperatures are at least 20 degrees warmer 4 hours South. I’m not sure that I need to be riding up mountains right now, but early season is painful. Might as well add a little. Or, I could head up to Wisconsin and ski the Birkie on Saturday. That would be painful for sure.