Monthly Archives: February 2010

A Dog in a Hat & Last night in Austin (for awhile)

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I just finished reading Joe Parkin’s book, A Dog in a Hat. I had been meaning to read it for a while now, but somehow never did. It was interesting to me because Joe and I have experienced many of the same things in bicycle racing.

I first met Joe in Belgium. I’m not sure what year. It must of been 1988. I rode many of the same races as Joe writes about in the book. I like that the most interesting things to Joe are observations that only he witnessed. That is a lot of what drives me in the sport. They might not have anything to do with the result. It is a oddity that catches one’s eye. New territory.

I rode the World Professional Road Championships in Ronse in 1988. I have no recollection of Joe Parkin in the race. (I agree with Joe that the crash at the end of that race was tragic. For both Steve Bauer and Claude Criquilion). I rode dozens of kermis races in Belgium. I don’t remember if Joe was ever in one that I rode.

I raced Philly when Joe was riding for Tulip when Zanoli won. I don’t remember Joe there.

Joe and I raced together on Bikes by Kyle in West Virginia thru Philadelphia one year. I didn’t know Joe too well before then. I knew that he loved setting tempo. Scott Monniger got into the leaders jersey and Coor’s Light was short on riders. Engleman had gotten sick and a couple other guys had quit. Len Pettyjohn came to us to “ask” for some help. I really didn’t have anything else going and didn’t mind being a mercenary. But, I wasn’t looking forward to the work. It was work. Joe on the other hand would have done it for free. He was itching to ride at the front in the wind all day. The excitement in his voice. I couldn’t comprehend it. But I appreciated it. To each his own.

I never experienced the drug aspect of the sport Joe writes about. Except from the “getting beaten up on end”. I was cognizant of it, but it wasn’t part of my bike racing sphere. I didn’t care. That was just the start of EPO era and the crazy oxygen enhancing drugs. Amphetamines didn’t make you twice are good. They might make you think your twice as good, I suppose, but it didn’t make a huge enough difference to make it fruitless for a guy like me.

Joe raced MTB internationally for a few years when I was on Specialized. But, his heart wasn’t into it. His heart was in racing on the road in Belgium and it is eloquently stated in this book. You should read it if you looking for a few small glimpses of the life experiences of a guy that lived the hard life.

Tonight was my last night in Austin for awhile. We went out to Chewy’s with Maureen. Chewy’s is one of Lance’s favorite restaurants in town, I guess. It is pretty good Mexican. Someplace you shouldn’t miss if you happen through. So, back to snowy Kansas tomorrow. It is nearly Spring, so it won’t be snowy too much longer. Just windy.

Good reading.

After camping out at her house for the better part of a month, Maureen still buys dinner.

At the Austin airport- a 10 ft. LAF guitar.

Back of a T-shirt of the guy sitting behind us at Chewey's.

Birkie tomorrow and Bjorn-good luck.

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The Birki is tomorrow. 53 km from Cable to Hayward. It has snowed a bunch there. So much so that the organization had to hire more front loaders to remove snow for the parking. A record 8500 skiers are doing the race tomorrow. It has been a pretty snowy winter throughout the country. A lot of cyclists are going to have pretty white legs probably through April at least. We’ve all be cursing under our breath and then there are the skiers in the Midwest, Northwest, Northeast that are loving it. I left Texas for the North Carolina Mountains for some special training. But, the weather changed so I’m trying to hightail it back to Austin for this weekend. The way the airlines have become, I think it will probably be fruitless.

Below is Team Radioshack’s Het Volk starters. Bjorn was probably skiing the Birkie last year. Now look. Good Luck to him! Watch Live here.

Team Radioshack
121 Fumiyuki Beppu
122 Sam Bewley
123 Daryl Impey
124 Grégory Rast
125 Sebastien Rosseler
126 Bjorn Selander
127 Gert Steegmans
128 Tomas Vaitkus

Nick asked Maureen a couple nights ago if she liked Menage a Trois? We all were taken back. Nick was talking wine. It took a little while to clarify.

Back to Kansas for March. The normal highs in Kansas are 48 for March 1st to 62 for March 31st. Even in Austin the highs have hardly been near 50 this past week. Maybe it might get back to closer to normal. I wouldn’t want to lose the pitiful tan I have.

Snow in Austin

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Texas is a big Republican state with Austin a Democratic island. I heard it time and time again on the radio last week about the 9 inches of snow in Dallas. About “so much for global warming”. Now it snowed today in Austin. Just fuel to the flames. I had to go over to the Apple store to get my phone looked at once again and all the employees there were outside taking photos. I guess it was pretty unusual for here. The normal high is 66 now, so it’s pretty much colder than usual. At dinner, they closed the cafe 2 hours early because of the weather. The concrete was barely wet, let alone slick. It is strange what people get used to and what they consider extreme.

I needed a day off anyway. We rode 3 hours yesterday and it wasn’t that warm. But it was pretty windy so it wasn’t much of a rest day. Laying around today isn’t too bad. We went to Avatar at the IMAX Theater in downtown last tonight. It was awesome.

Better cancel school.

Normal sit down, candlelight dinner in the dining room.

Photo of a crosswalk sign from Oman that Trudi sent.

Pace Bend Road Race

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Pace Bend wasn’t the easy roll around race that it has been in the past, mainly because it was breeze/windy. And pretty hot for February. I’m not sure how fast the wind was blowing or from what direction, but it was windy enough to make the race hard. The Pace Bend race is 13 laps of a 6.25 mile course. There are two medium hills (big ring) and the rest just rolls. The start isn’t at the start line and a few guys, including Kristian House, missed the start. That was a drag for him. And, for the field. It’s amazing what the difference of one strong rider can make at an early season difficult race. I think it changed the outcome of the race a lot.

The race started pretty fast right from the start. I wasn’t feeling that stellar, but that was to be expected. Small groups of guys got away and there was a lot of jumping. The gutter riding wasn’t too bad, but it did chip away at whatever energy you thought you had. Finally after about 1/2 the race a pretty big group of 8 or so guys got away. At that point I was thinking, “shit, we’ve only gone halfway and I feel like this”. The respite was that THSJ went to the front for the next 3 laps and set a nice tempo. For 20 miles. Then there were only 20 miles to race left. A bunch of guys were watching by this point. The field seemed pretty small, but there were still 40 or so riders left, I think. With 2 laps to go it was all back together and on the backside hill it split again and I missed it. That was from not thinking, not from not being able to. I thought it was all over. I made a feeble attempt of riding at the front, but it was fruitless. Somehow, our group managed to go fast enough and the front group screwed around enough that just one lap later, 1/2 lap to go, it all came back together at the bottom of the same hill.

The break drilled it up the hill and I was way out of position once more. I’m not sure what that was all about, but I wasn’t about to miss the move again just 4 miles from the finish. I rode up the hill pretty steady and at the top put it in my 11 and sprinted for a km or so. Guys were blowing to pieces and going very slowly. I caught on the back of the the 10 rider groupjust before the last 90 degree right downhill just a couple miles from the finish line.

This is where I kind of blew it. I never had a good game plan going. Heath Blackgrove and Patrick McCarty were doing nearly all the work at the front for their guys. I was still sitting towards the back. I was trying to recover from my effort and it wasn’t working that great. I was trying to figure a way to win and nothing occurred to me. So I decided I should start the sprint on Josh again because I would be assured of 2nd if that were the case. I got a little screwed up because it is very curvy going around the lake and most of the corners look alike. The last curve came up one before I expected, but it wasn’t like yesterday. It was an uphill sprint that was much harder. Josh was 4 guys ahead of me and when I moved out into the wind to get to him, he jumped. Way earlier than I expected. I didn’t even try. He had JT on his wheel and there was already a few bike lengths between those two and us. So, I waited and started sprinting a 100 meters later. I was in the right gear at the time, but it turned into the wrong gear pretty quickly. It is amazing how fast you can go from good to bad early season. So, I got up to 3rd with 30 meters to go, but got passed before the line by a charging Kris French. He was riding pretty good, so he deserved the result.

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d raced a pretty brutal MTB race. I hadn’t raced in over 4 months. I hadn’t done an effort over 4 months. I wasn’t going to win either of those races if I was with Josh at the end. And that was nearly a given. So, it is mildly irrelevant if I finished 2nd both days or 6th and 4th. It’s all early season fitness. It was very nice getting some longer, fast miles in. Racing out of shape is very painful. Hopefully this will help not having to suffer like this too much longer.

It is not stellar weather in Austin this week. It is predicted to snow here on Tuesday, so us Kansans are going to ride all day today. I’m usually okay on Monday and beat on Tuesday anyway, so it will probably work out for the best.

Mr. Richardson Bike Mart, Jimmy Hoyt, down in the trenches, pumping the tires up for his riders. I've know Jimmy forever, back to the Schwinn days. It was nice to catch up some.

Shirtless in February and worried before the race that it's too hot. It's such a hard life.

Maureen making killer bars for post race consumption. She thought we might need MORE calories, so she added an extra bag of butterscotch chips.

Getting smeared in the sprint.

Pro – 1 on 2/21/2010

1 Josh Carter — Team Hotel San Jose
2 JT Cody — Matrix/RBM
3 Kris French — Panther Cycling
4 Steve Tilford — Trade Wind Energy
5 Chad Haga — Super Squadra
6 Jason Waddell — Park Place Dealerships
7 Lawson Craddock — Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team
8 Matt Gordon — Team Lifesize
9 Patrick McCarty — Matrix/RBM
10 Heath Blackgrove — Team Hotel San Jose
11 Ronnie Strange — Team Hotel San Jose
12 Chad Cagle — Park Place Dallas
13 Carlos Vargas — Team Hotel San Jose
14 Chris Carlson — Matrix/RBM
15 David Wenger — Super Squadra
16 Bill Stolte — Trade Wind Energy
17 Brandon Cowart — Bike Barn (Texas)
18 John Korioth — Team Lifesize
19 Chris Lowry — Velossimo Racing p/b Jack and A
20 Bryan Fawley — Hudz – Subaru

Walburg Road Race, Walburg, TX

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Today was the Walburg Road Race. I’ve done it a bunch before. Normally the race is always windy. It’s 3 laps of 24 plus miles. A few small hills. It finishes on a small hill. Today was different. Not different start time though. 5:30am wake-up. Got there pretty early and got in at least 2 miles of warm-up. I’m not sure what the deal with the officials here. There was a pre-race meeting right before the start and it was just a bunch of yelling and the word disqualification must of been screamed 10 times at least. I thought we all were working together to make bicycle racing fun and safe. That detracted from the fun factor for sure. Especially so early in the morning.

There wasn’t the past wind. It never got over 15mph. But, after about a half a lap it started drizzling and that continued throughout the day. I don’t have enough miles or intensity to do too much. I noticed that my jump was lacking all of the first lap. Team Hotel San Jose had a bunch of guys in the race. Maybe 10 out of 60. They didn’t seem to have much interest in racing aggressively. I didn’t really care. It got into the gutter a bit the first couple laps, but nothing serious.

Anyway, it was all together 1/2 through the last lap. I started getting my race legs somewhere around the same time. It kind of surprised me. I followed Heath Blackgrove a couple times and then Carlos Vargas. I didn’t have much desire to ride off the front. Plus, it was never going to work, so why put any energy into something with no chance to succeed.

With 8 miles or so to go, THSJ (Team Hotel San Jose) put all their riders at the front and started rotating. I got on the end of the train, which was Josh Carter’s wheel. He was riding far enough to the gutter that it wasn’t easy staying out of the wind. It didn’t seem like they were going very fast, but they were shelling guys right and left. I never looked back and didn’t realize that so many guys had been dropped. Kristian House made a solo move for a mile or so, but 8 guys rotating behind was not conducive for a solo move.

A couple miles out, Josh coasted for a second to stretch or something and I was nearly in the gravel to his right. I eased up a little and someone behind me was riding to my right. That was very surprising because I thought I was truely in the gutter. Anyway, I don’t know who it was, but he ran into my rear derailleur with his front wheel and bent it pretty good. We got hooked up for a second, but he didn’t fall. Pretty good bike handling on his part I’d think. Two guys went by me during this altercation. Only a 1km downhill and up 1 km to the finish. I was in the wind the whole time and knew I needed to start on Josh for the sprint.

When the hill started the last km, I made a move to move back up and my gears skipped pretty badly and shifted down a gear. In retrospect, I should of shifted by up, but obviously wasn’t thinking that great. With 500 meters to go I was done. I shifted up and was wondering why no one was going by. I looked over my shoulder and no one was there. There were only 6 of us left. Sean Sullivan peeled off and sat up, but I didn’t have much desire to go hard the last 100 meters for one place. I ended up 6th. Which was last in the group. If everything went perfect, I might of had a shot at 2nd, but I was never going to win this race in that scenario.
Josh won by miles. I had no expectations, which I never do this time of the year. So, 6th is okay. I’ve won these races and rode pretty pitiful at them. You just never know.

The race was good for me. Not super hard, but harder than anything I’d done for months. There was a ton of mud on the course from farm equipment, so there is a ton of cleaning equipment and clothing to be done. Not the easy, sunny Texas racing I was hoping for. We’re racing 80 miles tomorrow at Pace Bend Park. I was 3rd there last year and have won it before. Should be interesting. Probably a little more aggressive racing tomorrow I’d guess. We’ll see.

Men P/1 posted by Walburg Classic Results on 2/20/2010
1 Carter Joshua
2 Craddock G Lawson
3 Walker Russ
4 Short Jason
5 Suillivan Sean
6 Tilford Steve
7 Blackgrove Heath
8 McCarty Patrick
9 Davis Mathew
10 Vargas Carlos

Christian House in an unflattering pose walking his bike through the goatheads wearing his British National Championship jersey.

Fashion statement? I don't know.

Racing Tomorrow

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Way too early. The race start is 8am. I don’t know what that is all about. I have the luxury to not have to wake up to an alarm clock but for a few times during the year. This is not one of those days. 4 more Kansans made the journey down here, so we’ll be well represented. The race tomorrow is the Walburg Classic. They divided the field to Pro-1 only then 2’s, so there aren’t going to be even 60 guys in our race. That is a problem because historically it has been very windy. No where to hide. We’ll see. A bunch of New Zealand guys are here straight from their summer. Heath Blackgrove and company, plus Kristian House (British National Road Champion) from Austin is also around. Should be interesting. I hope I have enough form to at least enjoy the fireworks.

Kristian House winning the 2009 British Nationals.

A plane crashed into a building 4 miles from where I was in Austin and I had to learn about it from a Skype call from Oman. Modern communication is unreal.

Nice view of the 360 bridge from 2222.

Just Stuff

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Nothing much new has happened since yesterday. I was trying to get ready for this weekend. I changed the cables on my bike, checked my wheels/tires and changed the cleats on my shoes. I still feel pretty energyless off the bike, but don’t feel that bad riding. I’ve been watching as much Olympics as I can. Why not? I think it is strange that many of the snowboarders put on music before they do their runs. And how many of the women half pipe participates can’t make it down without falling. It’s pretty cool that the Danish Curling women speak better English than I do. Their coach is Canadian and obviously doesn’t speak Danish as well as her players. I took Maureen’s car for a spin to check her tire pressure. And, I nearly got picked up at Starbucks by two women on the patio. It is a very nice car. Gonna rest tomorrow and suffer like crazy this weekend.

I was going down this hill yesterday at 60 something mph, but by the time I could get my phone out and ready to take the photo, I was down to 53mph.

I kind of fell apart at the end of the ride yesterday and then-The note says something like, please eat these chocolate covered strawberries and cookies. Why can't every ride end like this?

The cables on the new Madones are kind of hard to thread through the frame.

But, the end result looks super clean.

BMW hardtop....

Transforming to....

A BMW convertible. Super fun.

I always put new cleats on at the start of the season. Remember to grease the bolts.