OK. I’m supposed to be writing about Labor Day Weekend in St. Louis. I’ll get to that later. That was the last 4 days. But, it’s the time of year for apple pie. I’ve scoped out most of the apple trees in the county on our rides. It’s amazing how many people have apple trees and let the fruit drop on the ground. Kansas probably isn’t the best climate in the world for apples, but the trees that are established seem to produce good fruit most years. So, today after 4 days of racing, we did a rest ride and picked apples from a couple different trees. I’m not an expert on identifying types of apples, but most pies seem to taste better with a good mixture. Anyway, I love pie. Pretty much any fruit- cherry, apples, peach, pumpkin, whatever. I can eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snack too. I don’t cook too much, but I do bake some. Bread, pizza, pies, etc. I bought a new oven last winter specifically for baking. It’s a double convection wall oven with a ton of bells and whistles. Probably too complicated for me. But it bakes great. OK. Photo exposé of pie making below. (Click to enlarge). St. Louis writeup tomorrow.
The Gateway Cup is usually a good weekend to get some year-end speed work in. It’s 4 criteriums in four days. The first 2 are night time races. The last three are on good hard courses. Small hills that wear on you. I love racing at night. The speed sense is increased so much it seems like you’re going 40 mph all the time.
Friday’s race started pretty late. Nearly 10pm. It was only an hour 15 because of permit issues, etc. Nothing to really report here. Was suprised I felt better riding. I was having some issues with cadence. Thought my leg speed was down the drain. The field was together at the end. I had some other issues with positioning. I had to make a big effort on the last lap to just get up to 10th in the last corner. I was on my team mates, Bill Stolte’s, wheel. I told him to punch it. He rode me off his wheel. He finished 7th and I was 10th. I was perplexed. Dan Schmatz won which was good for the hometown crowd and his local sponsor. He’s won the race something like 5 times or so. He has that sprint timed perfectly. Anyway, got to the hotel after 1am. Ordered some pizza, took the dog for a walk and got to bed an hour later. Around 3 am I woke and figured out that I was riding the wrong rear wheel and only had a 12 on the rear. No 11. I wasn’t really thinking about the race, but somewhere in the back of my mind, it must of still been there. If I have to sit down, the sprint is over for me. I need to put on a bigger front ring.
Saturday was a good race too. Evening. New course. Hard. Felt good. I won a couple primes and felt better again. But, I missed a huge move with about everyone in the race up the road. Brian Jensen won. He outsprinted Colby Pierce who nearly made the Olympic track team a couple months ago. Pretty good result for sure.
Sunday and Monday were both field sprints also. I was off the front for a few laps both days, but nothing was working. Actually, Sunday was a field sprint for 2nd. Coby Pierce rode away by himself and made it two for THF Realtry. Sunday was hot. 95 maybe. Middle of the day. Hour and a half race. Alot of guys melted. More than half the field quit. The end was pretty chaotic. Brian jumped hard a half lap out on the uphill back side. Kind of caught the field by suprise. I was 10 or so back. Had to weave my way through a few guys dieing. I was 3 or 4 bike lengths off Henk Vogels going into the last sweeper. Then it is 600 meters downhill to the finish. I was paniced not drafting into the sprint. I got onto the front group, onto Henk’s wheel just when he went by the small group at 300 meters. But, I miss timed it abit/alot and ended up 5th at the end. I should of been 2nd, but should of’s don’t really mean much after the fact.
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised Tuesday that I was pretty fresh still. Even with the sleep deprivation going on over the weekend. Maybe it’s the start of something. Cooler weather at least.
I’m building up a few cross bikes the next couple days. Getting my MTB bike back in racing order. I’m going up to Chequamegon early next week. I guess Lance is coming, so it’s going to be a circus somewhat. Good for the promoter, Gary Crandell, though. He deserves it. Anyway, there’s still a ton of racing to be had. I’m doing 6 races in a 9 days period over the Interbike week. 5 cross races and 1 criterium. I’m pretty sure that is a receipe for disaster. But, you never know if you don’t try it. OK. I’ll find some photos to post later. Out.
Yesterday was a long day. Packed up all my stuff/dog and drove with a friend, Vincent Davis, up to Cable. It’s around 10 hours. But first drove an hour to the Plaza in Kansas City to watch the women’s criterium that was held before the finish of the men’s race in the Tour of Missouri. Trudi is working the race for BMC, so she needed another goodbye from me and the dog. But, going to the race is a pretty ying/yang thing for me. Having a race of the caliber of Tour of Missouri so close to where I live is great, but not racing it is problematic. Last year I tried to get into the race. Got pretty close, but it fell apart last minute. This year there wasn’t a chance.
Anyway, it was good. Exciting. It’s weird seeing all these people that you see through out the season out of place in Kansas City. The women’s race was good. There weren’t a ton of riders there, maybe 40 or so, but they were the best criterium riders in the country. Brooke Miller, current criterium and road champion won. Catherine Walberg finished 13th. She wants a do over. Sorry. No do overs in bike racing. Columbia set the tempo the last 10 miles. Mark Cavendish made the men’s field look silly. I was standing at 175 meters and he was coasting, looking around when everyone else was sprinting full out. When he started sprinting full out, I guess he didn’t have much of a problem winning.
We still had 9 hours left. It was a mess getting out of the finish area. Ended up not getting out of KC until nearly 5pm. Drove until after 2am. Bromont, dog, starting getting exciting about an hour out. Cable is his favorite place in the world. I haven’t seen him for more than 5 minutes all morning. Vincent has a Garmin GPS that tracks dogs. It’s going to be great hooking him up and seeing how far he roams. Vincent’s dog, Jack went nearly 8 miles this morning and it’s only been a couple hours.
The rumor is that Lance isn’t going to make an appearance up here. He was the talk of the finish line yesterday, unretiring. I don’t have an explanation for that. My guess is that he is looking for a more simple life. Cycling is simple is many perfect ways. And he has the luxury of being able to do nearly whatever he wants. I applaud it. Why not? But, Jonathan Paige is coming. That should be interesting. He is hands down the favorite. OK. Going out to ride with my dog in the woods.
In a couple days the Tour of Spain is finishing on one of the hardest/steepest climbs in Professional bicycle racing, the Alto de L’Angliru. It is close to 23% at some points. They haven’t finished on this climb in a few years. Some riders put on compact cranks with 27’s in the back. Obviously a crazy hard race finish. Someone asked me what the steepest hill I’ve ridden, not raced. Racing would be easy to figure. It would have to be one of the numerous climbs in the British Milk Race. Up in Northern England, in the Moors, there are lots of short, hard climbs. It’s a bit intimidating hitting the bottom of a climb and have a sign at the bottom state 1/4. That means: 1 in 4 pitch which is 25%.
But I have ridden up the official World’s Steepest Street. It’s in New Zealand. And it’s steep! Photo of the info below.(Double click) Check out the angle of Trudi on the hill. She is vertical. It is super steep. I let my brakes off from 3/4 of the way up it and was going nearly 70mph in 200 meters. Not tucked. I used to hate finishing on the top of climbs and missing the descent. Half the reason to ride up.
Just got back to Kansas from the Northwoods. It’s a 10 hour drive from Cable to Topeka. I have that drive down pat. Anyway, I had a good weekend. Not a good result though. I have been riding pretty iffy for quite a while, but felt better recently. I got up to Wisconsin last Tuesday, early and rode a couple of days on the course.
For those of you not familiar with the Chequamegon (SHA-WOM-E-GON) Race, it’s a 40 mile point to point MTB race from Hayward, Wisconsin to Telemark Resort, near Cable, Wis. It is about 25-30% on the American Birkebeiner Ski Trail and the rest on fire and logging roads in Sawyer and Bayfield counties. It has been going on for 26 years. Entry is done through a lottery with 2500 lucky riders able to start. It has been won by some pretty good riders. Most notable is Greg Lemond. I’ve been fortunate to win the race 3 times. And, been unfortunate enough to finish 2nd or 3rd more times than I want to tell.
Rumors from powers above whispered that Lance was going to come. But, he opted to race in Colorado. Jonathan Page did come and didn’t disappoint. I did a interview before the event and easily predicted the winner. But it didn’t play out like I’d thought.
As usual, the quads leading the 2500+ riders out of Hayward on the pavement made a mess of things. They motor paced the front of the field so fast that eventually there was only one rider, Cole House, who was on a ‘cross bike with big gears, off the front. It was 35 mph plus. Everyone was spun out with their MTB gearing. Cole hit the grass (Rosie’s Field) way ahead of a super gassed 20 rider group. I felt pretty good considering. Bjorn Selander, 2007 U23 National ‘Cross Champion, who was also riding a ‘cross bike, led across the field. I put in a few digs once we hit the Birkie trail a few minutes in. I was feeling pretty great. I can tell how I’m going to ride at Chequamegon during the first 2 miles once we hit the field. Anyway, a front group of something less than 10-15 guys eventually formed. I had to keep looking back to check on the status of the dwindling group.
I was most concerned with Jonathan. He didn’t know the course, but obviously came to win. And, had the credentials to do it. About 8 or so miles into the race, the course turns off the Birkie trail and onto a snow mobile trail. It has historically been a selection point of the race. It is right after a small steep climb. I was leading, planning to punch it over the top. T.J. Woodruff got a jump on us from behind. I caught him going into the turn and was attacking, but it was not to be. I felt the latex from my front tire spraying on my face. I let a few f— bombs go and knew it was pretty much over. The field is way too deep nowadays to flat early and expect to still win. But, I still was attempting to change my tire super fast. But, that was not to be either. The nut holding my valve stem onto my rim for the tubeless setup wouldn’t come off the last bit of threads. I screwed around with it for a couple of minutes. In a bit of a panic, I finally broke the valve stem off with my chain tool. It took forever.
I was way, way back. It was a sight to see. I had never been that far back in any event, especially one with so many riders. Riding again I was blowing by people like crazy. It was pretty fun. A lot of people knew me and gave me encouragement. Eventually I caught up with Catherine Walberg. I’d brought her bike up with me earlier in the week and she arrived late Friday. She was pretty far up in the field and riding great. A lot of people were telling her she was 3rd woman. I decided to ride with her the rest of the way. I’d pull on the open road sections and she climbed at her pace. Eventually we had a little group of guys that were riding together. I was usually at the front with Catherine behind and the other 3-4 guys were kind of protecting her from guys that were trying to get onto my wheel. It was kind of weird, but it worked anyway. She ended up finishing 3rd.
I pinched my back tire a couple miles out and rode in on a flat since I didn’t have another 29’r tube. Catherine and I had talked the night before and she said that she hope to finish 5-10th. She hadn’t ridden her MTB bike since Chequamegon the year before. (I had actually taken the number plate from the previous year off just a few days earlier.) Anyway, she had a good day and deserved her place.
Lea Davison, Trek, won the women’s race. In an incredible time. Only a little over 10 minutes behind Jonathan Paige. By far the best performance by a woman I’ve ever seen at the event. She finished in the top 40 overall, I think. She is a very good cyclist.
Anyway, back to the men’s race. As best as I can reconstruct – Jeff Hall attacked 15 or so miles out. T.J. pulled Jonathan behind him chasing for nearly the whole way. Eventually, Jonathan jumped T.J. and rode up to Jeff. Then, I guess, Jeff pulled Jonathan until the last mile, where Jonathan jumped him and won alone. Go figure. That’s bike racing for sure.
So, it isn’t a bad thing having Jonathan Page’s name on the trophy. It adds prestige for sure. This event is what MTB racing is all about. USA Cycling should check it out. Maybe it would help them figure out how not to jack up their events so badly.
OK. I had to come back to Kansas since my ‘cross frames didn’t make their way up to Wisconsin. So, this week is going to be pretty short. Hopefully I’m officially out of my funk and ‘cross season won’t be nearly as painful as the summer road season was. I guess I’ll find out pretty quickly.
Photo taken from Jeff Hall’s website of Jeff, Gary Crandall, MTB Hall of Fame Promoter, and me after the race.
A good friend of mine, Keith Walberg-Gizmo Pictures, is making a film of Cyclo-X Nationals in Kansas City last year. He had a full film crew filming the whole 4 days in the epic conditions. Zero Traction is a feature-length cyclocross film that was shot entirely in high definition over the four days of competition. DVDs of the film will soon be available for purchase in both standard definition and HD. The film will also be shown in Kansas City during the 2008 Cyclocross National Championships (located this year in Missouri’s Tiffany Springs Park). Here is a trailer he made to preview the film. It’s an expensive affair, so if anyone would like to get involved sponsorshipwise, just email me and I’ll forward it. Anyway. Enjoy!
Drove the million miles up to Davisburg,Michigan for the first cross races of the season. It is always a reality check. Cyclo-X is really a hard sport. Especially the first couple. Jeff and Robert, the promoters for these UCI races have promoting down. They treat the riders super nice and everything is perfect from registration to course prep.
This is a two day race. There were only around 40 guys in each race, but a fair amount of pretty good riders. Johnathan Page. A trio of Swiss guys. Canadian National Cross Champion, etc.
I was supposed to be on all new equipment, but it was not to be. I ended up putting my Eriksen back together again on Thursday. It’s a perfect cyclo-x bike, so I have no complaints. I only brought one bike because I’m flying to Las Vegas today and have my road bike there already.
But, I did have some problem equipmentwise. Saturday I was having problems with my chain staying on. It came off double digit times. Last season, same setup it never came off once. Go figure.
It was really hot, mid 80’s. I got a good start and was in a small group of 3. On the 2nd lap, my chain popped off for the first time. Page attacked. I got frustrated. Whatever. I ended up 6th. I was mildly lucky getting that place. I took myself out of the mix fumbling around with my bike. I should of been in the hunt for 3rd. Page won easily. He was in a league of his own. Then Swiss guy. Canadian.
Sunday, it was much cooler. Lower 70’s. Much more enjoyable. I got a good start again. Page got away on the first lap. I’d put on a front derailluer and shortened my chain a link. I was riding in a group that was going for 3-6th. I washed out my rear wheel on a off camber section and was separated from a group of 3. Then I noticed my rear tire was low. I rode nearly a lap on virtually no pressure. I hadn’t put my wheels into the pit, so didn’t know where they were. Dumb mistake. Anyway, I got to the pit, found my wheels after a while and got going sans rear brake. My spare wheels didn’t have the same width rim was my race wheels. Dumb mistake two. I took me awhile to figure out have to ride the course with only a front brake. I’d already been passed by one guy and was caught by the group going for 8th through 10th. I though, “shit, I’m going to get only 1 measly UCI point.” Anyway, I got going prettty good on the last two laps, dropped the group and caught back up to the guy that passed me when I was in the pit. So, I had to sprint. I totally smeared the guy by about 3 inches. Maybe less. 6th again. Pretty lucky again I guess.
Catherine Walberg, who is riding for Trek now with a few other midwest ringers, got 3rd both days. Something like 24 UCI points. Pretty good. She wasn’t near her best, so that is a encouraging sign for the rest of the season.
So, I can’t complain too much. I was riding alright. I’m at Midway airport waiting to fly to Las Vegas. Racing the Vegas Cross Wednesday night, USA Criterium Finals Thursday night, then fly back to the Midwest for the UCI Cross races in Madison this weekend. That is 6 races in 9 days. With 5 being cyclo-x races. Right. Doesn’t sound that smart to me either. Guess you don’t know until you do it.
Sprint 2nd Day between Mike Sherer & myself.