Monthly Archives: September 2010

Gateway Cup – Giro Della Montagna

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This race has been going on for over 25 years in the Italian district of St. Louis. It is a rectangle course up and down a gradual hill. Today was a little weird because the wind was against the field going up the hill and tailwind down the hill. I knew that would make the race different. And it was. It started fast. Aggressive. Early in the race, I was JRA, just riding around, and I ended flipping over the bars because my bicycle stopped when it hit my team mate who was laying on the ground. I have it all on HD video. Obviously, I haven’t had a chance to download it yet, since we only finished racing an hour ago.

Anyway, the race was good today. We can nearly skip to the end, since the break went away after about 1/2 the race and never got caught. The guy that won yesterday, Jonathan Jacobs, won again. He must have the form of his life or maybe I’ve just never ran into the guy. He was pulling 2/3 of a lap with Rob Bush, Kenda, just pulling 1/3 of a lap. And we, the field wasn’t going slow. Au contraire. We were moving along pretty good. I was a bit tweaked from falling. Mainly my wrist, shoulder and ribs, of course. But, that didn’t really slow me down too much.

The last few laps were interesting. At least to me. The break was coming back. Guys were launching off the front. Eventually a small group of maybe 5 got up the road. Brad Huff and a few others. Brian jumped out of the field and bridged to them. And then nearly instantly attacked them again with 1 1/2 laps to go. I think Brad put his head down and chased Brian, but I wasn’t really watching the happening up there. I was kind of too far back, maybe 20 in the field. It was going pretty good up the hill the last lap. I jumped around the right and was “bridging” up to the small group that had caught. I slotting into 3rd position behind Chad Cagle and Brad Huff coming out of the last corner. 500 meters downhill with a 15 mph tailwind. Not close to my forte’. Anyway, I was just planning on staying on Chad, but guys started coming around me, so I made a feeble attempt to go around Chad, but slotted back behind him again. I was 5 or 7th or something in the sprint. So, maybe around 9th, probably on the day. I’m kind of racked from falling again. No skin loss, but racked, none the less. Business as usual it seems.

Tommorow is the final day. A new long course in downtown St. Louis. I don’t think I’m gaining any fitness from this yet. Not really sure why. I’ve been riding an hour in the morning and then racing 40 + miles later. I was never really hurt today, but never felt stellar. Okay, ’til then.

Benton Park Classic Criterium – Labor Day

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Yesterday’s final Gateway Cup race in St. Louis was held on a new venue. And it was awesome. It was a 1.8 mile criterium that was really a circuit race. 10 corners per lap. And many of them were technical. It was south of St. Louis in the Benton Park district. It crossed I-55 twice and went by the Budweiser factory. It was probably the best course I’ve raced in a few years.

It was just windy and warm enough that both came into play. I knew it was going to be important to ride somewhere near the front most of the day because the course would not allow you to ride too far back. The slinky effect was viscous at the back.

I knew Brian was excited because he hadn’t been off the front all weekend. He started the race super animated and it pretty never ceased. On the 2nd lap he rode away with Chad Cagle for a few laps. This set up most of the other attacks until the final selection was made. I guess Chad was ripping Brian’s legs off, which shows you how well he (Chad) is going right now.

Right around 1/2 way, a strong group got away. Brian jumped up to the break and it was over. There wasn’t a weak guy in the group of 7. Jason Donald, Daniel Holloway, Rob Bush, Scott Monninger, Brian, Nick Frey and Jonathan Jacobs. It was amazing those 7 would be in one break. Most everyone that was left in the field was happy with that mixture. Except Chad Cagle’s team, Park Place and Brad Huff, Jelly Belly. They put a pretty unorganized chase together. It wasn’t organized, but they did do an incredible job of keeping the break at 25 seconds for 5 laps or so. Chad was ripping their legs off too. I’m not sure how many time I heard Brad to tell Chad to ease up. And sitting on behind the two of them wasn’t all that easy.

So the break eventually rode away. The field kept moving along though and it got smaller and smaller. Towards the end I’m guessing there were less than 30 guys left. Pretty crazy attrition rate.

Jason Donald attacked the break on the last lap and won alone. The remaining 6 sprinted for 2nd. Brian ended up 5th. He went into the final corner too far back, but that was still a good result.

The field was reshuffling for position most of the last two laps. It was pretty hard. I felt pretty good all day. Probably the best I’ve felt since Joe Martin Stage Race. With 1/2 a lap to go, David Williams, Bissell PRO Cycling towed Dan Schmatz a few hundred meters off the front. The field started winding it up and I was in pretty good position. Jason Waddell was leading Chad Cagle out with Josh Carter on them. I was a couple guys behind Josh. The sprint was uphill 300 meters from the final corner. And the corner before that was a couple hundred meters downhill. I went to the gutter and moved up to Chad’s wheel just as Jason was swinging off. But, Jason tried to move back in to left Chad go. That didn’t work, but I hesitated enough so I was never really connected to Chad. I chased him the last 500 meters at 2 bike lengths. We never caught the two away and Josh came by me at the line. It was a pretty long and hard sprint. I ended up finishing 12th, which was fine.

Daniel Holloway won overall with Rob Bush 2nd and Jonathan Jacobs 3rd.

The weekend was better from a fitness point of view than I had anticipated. I was in the money all four days and felt better each day. That is always a good sign, leaving the race with better form that coming into it.

Chequamegon is in two weeks. I don’t really have a bike together for that yet. And my butt isn’t probably ready for a 40 mile MTB race yet either. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to race the Texas Tough Criterium on Thursday night and fly up to Minneapolis for Chequamengon on Saturday. It sounds good now, but I know how that goes. Flying with a bike is such a hassle anymore, it takes the fun out of flying with a bike.

And finally, the quote of the weekend, “Road season is over, time for ‘cross.” I don’t know how many time I heard that line spoken the past 4 days. It is pretty cool how much excitement there is transitioning from the summer sport of cycling to the “new” winter sport of cycling.

Pretty nice photo from Philip Wilkerson I took off Facebook. Notice the orange marking paint on all the manhole covers and rough sections. That took a lot of work.

Chad Cagle and Brian off the front early.

This race was in line pretty much the whole hour and a half.

Laura Van Glider was wearing the Leader's jersey into the final day flying solo.

The race went right by the Anheuser-Busch factory. It is giant.

The Gateway Arch.

A Good Bike Race Course?

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I’ve received a few emails about why I thought the Benton Park course at the Gateway Cup was good. I’ve thought about it a bit and there are lots of reasons I liked the course.

First and foremost, it was fun. And just because it was fun for me, doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone that raced the course had fun. It was fun for me because it kept me on my toes. There are not that many criteriums, and way less road races, that make you keep your eye on the ball constantly. That is one reason that I enjoy racing ‘cross and MTB’s. During those races, your mind is constantly working to stay ahead of your progress. When your thoughts get behind your forward progress, that is when disaster normally strikes. And this course was a thinking course.

There were 10 corners on the course that came at unexpected times. I can’t think of a race that I’ve done recently that had two corners so close together. The right/left combination on the backside was a blast and made you set up your position quite a bit earlier than you would have thought. The road surface itself wasn’t that great. They had done an excellent job of marking the areas of concern, but that still came into play. The random potholes and manhole covers in the corners just added to the race, ATMO. I liked coming out of the final corner in line and having to decide whether to just follow the wheel ahead of me into the line of orange marked holes, or take my own line and be out in the wind. But, the technical aspect of the corner wasn’t the only thing that made it good.

The ambiance surrounding the race and the neighborhood was great also. The small commercial areas we raced through were unexpected, mixed in with the old houses and huge brewery. The start finish area was perfect. A park for kids and dogs. A 24 hour coffee shop/bar. Nothing missing there. And the music on the backside was a little scary, annoying at first, but then was something to look forward to later on as you got used to it.

If you look at the composition of the winning break, those 7 guys were probably the best for the weekend. It was missing a couple strong guys that missed it and were in the field, but not one rider up there wasn’t a strong bike rider. It is rare that a course selects such a break without having a monstrous hill on it. Or something of the sort. Of course, it wasn’t only the course made that selection, but it was impossible for someone to be in that break that didn’t have the goods upfront. It was too hard of a course not to be riding at the front of the field. And it was impossible to make the selection if you were riding more than 20 guys back.

This course was perfect for the size and quality of field that they had at the PRO race at Gateway. This course was safe, even thought the road condition might of seemed to point otherwise. Having to ride single file makes the races much more safe. The size and quality of the field does matter considerably when judging whether a course was good on any given day. In cycling, the best/stronger guy doesn’t necessarily always win. But, a good bike race course helps make the sport more fair.

Obesity theme continued…..

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A lot of guys came up to me at St. Louis and started talking to me about the post about HVAC/heating making people fat/skinny, from a while back. It sort of amazes me how many people are really interested in the topic. The movie “Super Size Me” came up in conversation more than once.

I kind of have a rant about that movie that I’ll share –

First of all, it was totally unfair to McDonald’s. The movie was about gluttony, plain and simple. I’ll challenge any person to try to eat those quantities of calories and not do serious damage to their system. And you can eat anything you want. As healthy as you like. You just have to overeat by nearly 4000 calories a day. That would be more than double, maybe triple, your caloric intake a day, for a month straight. Or around 3 weeks, if you’re the guy from the movie. Can you imagine having to eat Thanksgiving dinner 3 times a day for 3 weeks. And that might not be enough eating to satisfy the amount you need to eat to gain weight like the guy in the movie. He gained over a pound of fat a day. Overeating is not good for you. It is that simple. Overeating 3 meals a day is really bad. It is that simple.

But, eating at McDonalds 3 meals a day, for a month wouldn’t necessarily be that bad for you. Even if you did it like the rules of the movie, minus the overeating part. If you just ate everything on the menu in rotation, but with normal caloric intake, you would be fine. I eat at McDonalds a fair amount. When I’m racing, I probably eat breakfast at McDonalds at least 20% of the time. The main reason is a time consideration. When there is no time consideration, I go elsewhere. But McDonalds does has a predictable menu for breakfast. I order hotcakes only and a side of scrambled eggs. Sometimes I get milk, sometimes hot tea. That is it. It works.

I ate breakfast at McDonalds virtually everyday last winter when I was roofing my building. That was for two months straight. I was there at 6 am, with all the old guys in farmer’s ball caps, drinking their senior coffee. I usually got hotcakes, but when it was going to be cold out and I knew I wasn’t going to be eating lunch ’til late, I’d order the whole big breakfast with hotcakes. Originally I was giving the sausage to Bromont, but eventually I ended up eating everything they gave me. Including what they call hash browns. I didn’t even like them-not the taste nor the consistency, but I ate them anyway. And I lost nearly 10 pounds during that time. Eating nearly the worst food I’d eaten since I was a teenager, I lost more than a healthy amount of weight. I know that wasn’t the reason for the weight loss, but you can’t say that eating out at a fast food place makes you obese.

Now, the only time I eat at McDonalds, other than breakfast, is when I’m driving home late and Bromont wants for a plain hamburger. He gets a plain hamburger and I do sometimes. And sometimes a chocolate sundae, sans nuts. And hot tea usually. There is no doubt about it that the food tastes good, but I just don’t eat it much. Other than McDonalds, I have no idea what the other hamburger/fast food places serve, so I don’t really have much of an opinion about them.

I’ve seen some pretty great cyclists eat a horrible diet and have stellar results. Don Myrah for example. When he was beating up all the MTB riders and winning Cyclo-X Nationals, he ate food that would make the guy from Super Size Me looks like his vegan girlfriend. I saw him and his brother polish off a 9 X 13 cake pan of layer bars. You know the things with a graham cracker crust, with chocolate and butterscotch chips covered in sweeten milk and coconut and then baked. They fill you up like cheese cake. If I eat more than a couple small pieces I feel like shit. And they ate 1/2 a pan each and were still moving normally. And that was normal for them. And he rode great.

So, back to the theme. The movie was unjust. And you get fat when you eat too much. By too much I mean too many calories. As cyclist, we get to eat a ton of food. That is a definite plus. But, we also need some more vitamins and minerals. But, not as many as you think. So, we can indulge ourselves, on a daily basis, if desired, with whatever extra calories we want. As long as you eat a basic healthy diet for starters, don’t worry so much about the content of the extra. But, make sure it isn’t just extra. That is what is going to make you fat.

Eat too many of these and you'll end up looking like the guy below.

Video from the Gateway Cup

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Below is some of the helmet cam video that I shot from the Giro Della Montagne Criterium on Sunday at the Gateway Cup. It took me awhile to figure out how to put it together. And it is edited very primitively, at best. I’m hoping the process gets easier because I don’t have enough time to be doing that on a weekly basis. Anyway, it is of the first lap, a crash in the middle, and then the final lap and a half. All from my perspective, obviously. Well, maybe not obviously, but it is all from one camera, which I had on my helmet. I made a pretty sweet move at the end to slot in behind Chad Cagle and Brad Huff. Too bad I can’t sprint downhill very well.

I’m not sure what keeps happening to the audio. Youtube seems to be removing it because of copyright infringement. That isn’t nice of them.