Monthly Archives: June 2008

Tulsa Tough – Days 2 & 3

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I thought that the Toyota-United Team were being silly Friday, but didn’t realize the extent to which they were willing to go. Saturday was a good course. The Tulsa race organizers must have some kind of pull somewhere because most of the courses were newly paved with new asphalt. Saturday’s course is a short loop with a medium climb. Pretty hot. Mid 80’s. Anyway, the race started and pretty soon Toyota had 4 guys off the front. With one Texas Road House rider. Chad Cagle and Cole House soon bridged. They were there and then not. Toyota just took them off the back one at a time. I talked to Cole and he told them he wouldn’t sprint, would pull and would take last place. Not enough. They took turns taking him off the back until he was gone. Chad had picked those guys up at the airport before the race. And he is local, from Tulsa. I guess they were yelling at him to get out of the break. Then he was gone. All so they could get 5th place, too. What a bunch of ball hogs!!!! And they did get 1st through 5th, Saturday. I crashed the last lap. Go figure. Nothing under my control. I landed in the grass with my carbon bars the only real casualty.

Sunday was weird. I decided to get up early and race the Master’s race. It was $750 to win. I got over to the course at 10 and that’s when the fun began. A storm moved through Tulsa with the winds blowing over 60 mph. After sitting in the car for 20 minutes, it became apparent that no bike racing was going to be happening any time soon. The course was destroyed. Barriers down. Pop up tents crumpled. Trees uprooted. They announced that the rest of the races were canceled

We went back to the hotel and packed up. Thought we’d get home in time for a good ride. Then the phone rang — the races were back on. Only for the PRO 1, 1-2’s and Women. So, back in race mode, sort of. The course is super hard. A pretty steep climb, screaming descent into an off camber corner, followed by a tailwind long home stretch. The Grand Performance Team and a few others made the right decision and decided to race the 1-2 race, since they couldn’t really “race” the PRO 1 race.

I pretended to race for about 30 minutes. I thought Toyota seemed a bit tired compared to the previous two days. And they might of been. Eventually 9 guys got away. Adam Mills, from my team, made it for a lap and then was back. Only 3 Toyota guys. Then, two of them dropped the remainder of the break. They had been doing a little over 2 minutes a lap with 9 guys. Two of them started doing 1:45 laps. 15 seconds faster. Pretty impressive. Anyway, they lapped the rest of the field and came within one lap of catching the remainder of the break. So, they only finished 1st and 2nd. Big failure. I figured out of the 75 grand prize list for the PRO-1 field, Toyota won somewhere close to 60K. They should of brought a few more guys if they wanted to win all of it!

I hope this post doesn’t make me seem like a whiner. But, I’ve never been to a race when a team entered that many riders to cherry pick the prize list. I know I didn’t appreciate it. And I’m positive that the rest of the field mirrored my views. All the Toyota guys except Chris Wherry are foreigners. Mainly from Australia. They had no etiquette. They didn’t have the ability to recognize that if they were there on their own, and not riding for Toyota, they would of had no chance of winning. Or even racing. Hopefully, the promoters realize that it made the event a nonevent and will address the situation for next year.

OK. Winghaven Criterium in St. Louis next Sunday, then Nature Valley Gran Prix starting the next Wednesday.

Nature Valley Gran Prix Stage 1 ???

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So, stage 1 is not a stage. It was supposed to be a 45 lap criterium in St. Paul. But, the weather wasn’t great and the roads were wet. OH NO! We shouldn’t have to race with wet pavement on a short loop the field said. We raced about 30 minutes before an official on a motorcycle was doing some stupid stuff and ran into a rider. I was in the remains of the front group. Something like 20+ riders. Heathnet had virtually their whole team there. Kelley Benefits had a bunch of guys too. Stevic was the only Toyota guy. I never even got winded. Jonathan Page fell and nearly took me out, but that was only the close call for me. If the officials really were going to enforce the “complete half the race or miss the time cut” rule, there were not going to be many guys left. But, the motorcycle fell, they neutralized the race and that was it. Everyone bitched until they canceled it. No rain, no lightening. Just wet road.

I didn’t really feel like riding a wet criterium. I’ve fallen enough this season. But that is part of the sport. Especially during a stage race. I don’t understand why the officials would call a race just because some/most the riders didn’t want to keep going. There were a lot of man hole covers and lots of guys were falling down. But, that shouldn’t make any difference either. The main problem nowdays with races like this is that the officials have no ability to do their jobs when it gets just a little sketchy. They shouldn’t have allowed so many automobiles and motorcycles on the course. Plus, they didn’t have any way to score the event. Shows how small our sport is when the officials continually can’t score a rainy criterium. Whatever. Guess the race starts tomorrow. 70 mile road race at 5 pm.

NVGP- Stage 2 Canon Falls RR

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Nothing much to report here. It might have been the easiest stage that I’ve ever done in all the NVGP’s I’ve ridden. Only 66 miles and little wind. In the 70’s. Nothing to complain about there. The field pretty much stayed together for the whole 57 mile big loop. The finish loop is 5 laps of a pretty technical circuit. That is where it got harder. I haven’t seen the results, but maybe 1/2 the field came in together. Healthnet rotated for the last 3 laps and cranked it up abit the last lap. Enough to put most of us out of contention. I realized pretty early that I wasn’t going to be able to move up to sprint, so I just kept floating further back the last mile, just trying to stay connected to receive winner’s time. Kirk Obee won. Not sure who else was up there.

Tomorrow is a 6 mile TT in the morning. Finishes up a pretty good hill. Then the Minneapolis Criterium I won a couple years ago in the evening. Not too hard a day either. I didn’t bring any aero equipment along, so I’ll just cruise the TT on my road bike. There is so much time to lose on Saturday and Sunday that the TT doesn’t really come into play that much for me. Or most of the rest of the field.

The leadouts at the end of the races now, especially criteriums or circuit races, are pretty interesting . Healthnet or whoever is up there only rides on the inside of the course. By that, I mean that if it was a 4 left hand corner criterium, they ride in the left gutter on all sides and swing out at the last minute to the right to negotiate the corner. If the riders behind try to get past the 8 riders in front, they are chopped when the leadout swings out wide to turn. So effectively, the team in control can rotate slower for a longer time and the riders behind end up doing intervals behind. In is pretty dangerous and I’m not sure what I think of it, but it is pretty effective.

NVGP Time Trial

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Can’t really write much about the time trial. It was 6 miles, finishing up a gradual 1 km climb. Pretty windy. 25+ mph. I was just riding my road bike with no aero stuff. I thought more guys might be doing the same, but I’d guess 98% of the field was riding a TT bike. I rode moderately hard the whole way. Just enough to make the time cut hopefully. I was a little over 15 minutes. I heard the Rory Sutherland or Ben Jaques-Maynes rode under 13 minutes. Hopefully not 12:36 or below or I’m out. Seems wrong for a 20% time cut in a short TT like that. I didn’t sand bag the thing. There have to be a few guys that aren’t going to make it. The bike would make up at least a minute in 15 minutes. Maybe more. The rest is the complete lack of power that I’m experiencing.

The criterium tonight should be interesting with the swirling wind.

NVGP Criterium-Not to be!

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OK. I did an hour long interview with a super nice girl from the Minneapolis paper this afternoon. She kind of keep getting to what keeps me involved/excited about this sport. Today is one of those things. But, not in the way I appreciate right now.

I missed the time cut in the time trial this morning. Pretty big surprise to me. I thought I had ridden hard enough to have at least a 30 second cushion, but it was not to be. I had underestimated how fast these guys could go. Last year here, I changed my bars to aero and rode as hard as I could and ended up in the 50’s or somewhere around there. So, I blew off the aero equipment and rode just hard enough. Guess not. My cell phone was ringing off the hook about how I was going to get back into the race. Other riders wanting to get back in. The promoters, etc. I didn’t try. I missed it by 3 seconds. I’m a numbers guy and a 20% time limit seems pretty fair. Maybe not in such a short TT. But, that was the rule before the race. There weren’t any extenuating circumstances. So that’s the way it should be.

I’ve never missed a time cut in my life in any race, bar none. Never in a road race. Never in a time trial. Now I feel a little stupid not riding harder, but there aren’t do overs here. I wasn’t very motivated since the beginning, but that is not a excuse. I entered the race to race the race through Sunday. Now I’m in a weird place mentally. Something I haven’t experienced ever before.

It was pretty weird watching the criterium that I’d won a couple years ago. I was sitting in an outdoor bar patio drinking beer. It was virtually the same old boring stage race criterium racing. 8 Bissell riders lead for the first 3/4 of the race, then 8 Healthnet ridrs set tempo the last 7 laps. Kirk Obee won again.

OK. Not sure what I do the rest of the weekend. I hate watching races that I think I should be racing. Hopefully I will learn something here. I haven’t yet.

Nature Valley Gran Prix – Wrap Up/Thoughts

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OK. I hate watching races I think/know I should be racing. I love watching racing in general, but when I’m supposed to be competing, something goes haywire in my brain and I mildly short circuit. That pretty much sums up the last two days up in Minneapolis. The two days are some of the best, hardest racing in the US. And both courses fit my talents pretty well. Steep hard climbs and then descend.

Healthnet won the race during the last two days. No one lost it. They were just too good. Rory Sutherland went up the hill in Mankato like a rocket. No one domestically could follow him at that speed. Then today,in Stillwater, they set a perfect tempo the whole day.

Kristin Armstrong was toying with the women’s field. She should of been riding in the men’s race to make it fair. Maybe that wouldn’t even be fair.

I’m still not sure I’ve learned much from being time cut. I just feel more foolish. But, I don’t regret not bringing a time trial bike to the race. For one, I don’t have a time trial bike. And two, I’m not completely convinced that time trial bikes should be allowed in these stupid short TT’s. In Tour of Georgia, the teams had to ride their road bikes. No TT bikes allowed. It was a cost consideration thing I think. Mainly applying to the foreign teams. And if that was the case, then it should be given serious consideration in certain domestic races. The cost to fly with two bikes is an extra couple hundred dollars. Instead of 4-5 riders in a minivan with their bikes, it is two cars. A few extra hundred dollars worth of gas. Just to ride in the aero position for 12 +++ minutes. It doesn’t seem cost effective to me.

This stage race is awesome. The promoters are super rider friendly. They go out of their way to put on a professional event. But, it has a few problems. This year, one such problem was the lack of ability to score the St. Paul Criterium, when it was wet. That race would of changed the overall complexion of the race. But it didn’t count. They need to get better officials or chip timing. Probably both. Easy fix.

But, the real problem, in my view, is the number of riders on each team. This is problem for all domestic stage races. The USAC has limited the teams to a maximum of 8 riders. There were 21 teams entered in the race. There are barely 21 teams in the country that can field an 8 rider PRO – 1 only team. So, 6-8 teams have full rosters, then a couple 7 and the rest 6 or less. And the best 8 teams entered have the most riders. With 8 riders, most of these stage races become complete tempo sessions. That was the case in Cannon Falls, Minneapolis Criterium and Stillwater. Mankato is hard enough at the end that even a team such as Healthnet can’t control it. So it turns into an actual bike race. I think that the USAC needs to limit the number of riders to 6. Just enough riders to use actually tactics, but when the smack comes down each day, the best riders have to race. This isn’t a three week stage race. It is a 5 day race with 2 easy criteriums, one hard criterium, plus two road races. The guy that wins should have to race (be in the wind) more than a 6 mile time trial and one 2 mile loop of the Mankato circuit, to win.

OK. Enough of that. I have a bad taste in my mouth. My own doing. But, now I get to go up to Northern Wisconsin and play with my dog in the woods for a while. So life isn’t so bad.

Below are the some of the highlights of the last two days. The Minneapolis Criterium viewpoint. Next, Hollywood and I on the hill in Stillwater. He sure has the pose down!!!!

Last week!

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Drove up to Cable Wisconsin to spend the week at Dennis Kruse’s compound. We buildt a garage/apartment up there a couple years ago and it is an awesome place to sleep. On Monday, it was only 54 degrees when we rode. Something close to 50 degrees cooler than the races a couple weeks ago in Oklahoma. I’m still riding like shit. But, that is all part of the territory I guess. It seems like this late spring, early summer slumps are becoming an annual thing. They seem to all start from difference causes, but the end result is the same. It is a course of mental tenacity. I might be flunking.

Sleeping at Dennis’s is awesome. The whole place is in tree cover. Plus, we put blankets over the windows. It is a den. Even my dog Bromont, an English Setter, can sleep until ten. He normally get up with the sun/birds. Pretty cool.

Bromont and I swam everyday in my favorite water place in the world. I can’t reveal where it is. Sorry. But, it is a wonderful spot. The water is so clear you can see your hand outstretched beneath you when you’re swimming. It’s kind of spooky. Plus, there are beavers, bald eagles, etc. making it their home. It’s as close to nature that I have ever came. The water is so refreshing. Right now, the top foot or so is kind of warmish. Then it gets colder in layers. When you’re treading water, your feet are pretty cold. My favorite thing is to swim down deep where it is super cold and dark, then float back to the top. When you get back up, the top layer feels like warm bath water, even though a few seconds earlier, it felt downright cold.

Riding up in Cable is great. There are no cars. Even compared to Kansas. We did a 2 hour ride on Tuesday and I swear we didn’t see one moving automobile. And we rode through town twice. Pretty unique.

Drove late yesterday down towards Milwaukee for a couple criteriums. One in Grafton, the other in Sheboygan Wisconsin. Night time with good prize lists. I have no idea of my form. Not an inkling. I hate that. Guess I’ll know in a few hours.