Monthly Archives: April 2011

Stage 1 – I don’t have a good feeling

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….about this. It could be ugly today. The walking up stairs test failed miserable this morning. I’ve got lots of other quirky tests to mentally offset that though. The problem for me is going to be the heat. And the distance. Might as well throw in the speed too. But, you never know. 120+ miles at 90 degrees on a hard course with wind, on paper, seems a little severe for me today. But, I didn’t suck as bad as I thought yesterday. But, I was in pain. That is not so normal for me now. Usually when I’m riding badly, I don’t suffer too much.

I ran into Axel Merckx eating breakfast this morning. I thanked him for sending me his dad’s book for Christmas. He looks super fit, like he could be racing here. Pretty nice guy.

This 9 am start is a bit early for me, but it is good for the temperature. It is hardly 70 now. Better get going.

Beautiful sunny Southern California day. Photo of the Prologue TT hill.

Below Pack Filler Status

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Today might have been the worse feeling I’ve experienced on a bicycle at the very start of a race. I’ve ridden thousands 1000’s of races. My early prediction was optimistic after the fact.

The race course wasn’t all that hard. Not really hard at all. But, it was hot. And it got hotter as the day wore on. The first lap was super fast. I didn’t really realize that until I looked at my average speed after 25 miles and it was over 28 mph. I was too busy breathing to observe most anything going on around me. I’m wondering if this is how most pack fillers feel the entire race. I was hardly even qualified for the pack filler status.

The race was obviously hard for other guys too. It was decimated at the finish. But, feeling so shitty, so early in a race, totally destroys your mental game. I was so over the red line the first lap, that I nearly pulled over and stopped at the start/finish line the first time around. Lots of guys were already gone by then.

I got better the next two laps. Better enough that I had hopes of finishing. I was riding up the climb way better than I was early, but I was in severe pain. I actually had to concentrate on breathing, like a lamaze class. I’ve never done that in my life.

I would say it was the same as if I had trained for months. Drafting didn’t really help much. On the fourth lap out of five, I was getting mildly motivated, thinking that if was going to shatter that lap on the climb and I could ride in with the gruppetto. But, my plans were foiled.

About half way there the lap, I was in pretty good position and I hit one of the thousands of reflectors and the course. I flatted my front tire, and cracked my rim (shit). Our Texas Metro/VW car was at the very back of the caravan, but I got a 2 minute wheel change from the neutral support. Tim, driving our car got me up into the cars. If I thought I was hot before riding in the field, I was sadly mistaken. It was crazy hot motor pacing. I was 30 cars back and sucking just sitting on. I slowly made my progression up through the cars until I got within 10 cars of the field.

When I decided to make my big effort to get back into the field, passing the commissaires car, I got onto the back of the field through a right hand corner, crossing a overpass. The problem here was that the some guys decided to throw themselves on the pavement. Total road blockage. I didn’t fall, I just stopped. That was pretty much the end of Steve. I chased back and got onto the tail end of the long line, but only could motivate myself for a bit before I pulled the plug. Dropped alone. I knew that wasn’t going to be good.

I rode the last 8 miles of the lap. I figured if I was less than 10 minutes back, I’d keep going. I had been told there wasn’t any groups behind. Everyone was just quitting. I figured the time cut would be a little under 30 minutes. I came to one lap to go 14 minutes back. There was no possibility that I was going to only loose 15 minutes in the next 20 + miles. I don’t usually ever quit a bicycle race. This was a special circumstance.

So, I stopped, got dressed and walked across the street and bought a huge Fosters Ale at the Beaumont Dairy and sat in the shade to watch the finish.

Three guys sprinted it out. I’m not sure the name of the guy that won. A California Giant Strawberry guy won. I heard he is 20 years old. If all that is true, that was a great result. People kept dragging in forever. It was ugly. I looked like a local Cat. 3 race finish in Kansas. Decimation.

There is something weird going on here in the air. Super pollen/allergy/Japanese radiation…….There are a lot of good guys riding really shitty and not having an explanation.

I would have done an enormous amount of damage to my legs if I would have kept riding. There are mildly destroyed now at 100 miles. It was only going to get much worse.

So, only one guy on my Texas/Metro Team finish today. There are lots of other teams in that situation I think. It is pretty demoralizing. But, I can’t dwell on it.

So, I guess I’m watching bike racing the next two days. I’m not sure that is going to go over too well. I’ll have to think about it some.

Borrowed jersey modification. Sorry Tim.

Descending in the race. Brad Huff was the only guy calling me on taking photos with my iPhone.

Mancebo's team doing an okay job most of the day. It kind of got away from them late. Pretty great effort though.

The leaders, 200 meters from the finish. Kind of a unexpected group for Redlands.

I happened to be at the finish when Alexi rolled through alone. If they enforce the 10% time limit, he missed it. That is too bad. I'm not sure where he came off, but it was brutal out there on the last lap. Hot and windy.

Not Sitting That Great

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I like watching bike races. I’m looking forward to watching the Tour of Flanders tomorrow on the internet. But, I’m not that big on watching races that I was racing. It might take a little alcohol to get me past the morose feelings I have.

That being said, riding badly or having a bad race doesn’t make one a bad bike racer. But, it does challenge one’s self esteem, at least for a short while.

I have a ton of options of super fun things I could be doing today. Up in the mountains at a super cool house in Idyllwild to going to the beaches. But, I’m going to stay here and watch the criteriums. I am a bike racer. And that is what bike racers do.

It is going to be nearly 20 degrees cooler here today. But, there is a ton of smog already and its not even noon. Burning back in Kansas, or smog here in Southern California?

Going to get on my bike, get some coffee, and see how bad I feel riding around Sunday’s Sunset Loop Road Race. It is a beautiful residential area up on the ridge above the city of Redlands, where the beautiful people live. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Took a little stroll last night down these abandoned tracks to think.

Criterium Watching – Redlands, Ca

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If you’ve read most of my stuff, you’d know how much I despise criteriums during stage races, from a racers point of view and a spectator’s point of view. It is normally super controlled by the race leader’s team. So much so that it becomes a non stage. That was pretty much the case here at Redlands, but not completely.

I was surprised because the race was mildly entertaining. Macebo’s, team, set tempo the first half. But, after about 40 minutes, the race got a little out of control from them. A 9 or 10 guy break formed and Bissell had to go to the front and reel them in. But, another group wet off the front and Bissell had Andy Jacques-Maynes in it, so they stop pulling.

A mish mash of teams got to the front, but 6 guys were still away, just a bit, with one to go. The field came up on them, with the Pure Black rider, Roman Van Uden, was leading it out with two corners to go. A Jelly Belly guy got up against the barriers and fell. That left Bernard a huge gap with 200 meters to go. He was not going to win that race without the crash. But, that is bike racing.

The race was a bit more animated than I thought. But, that is mainly because that the team is not that strong. Tomorrow is going to be a very, very hard day for them. I hope they remember that a good offense is sometimes a good defense.

Pretty much the first half of the race.

Bissell took over about half way in. Boring.

Roman Van Uden (Pure Black Racing) has an enormous gap with one corner to go.

Our finest saving up a bunch of calories by just standing instead of walking.

Spring Classics- Flanders/Belgium, Bazaar/Kansas

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This 9 hour off from Europe kind of throws off my live cycling viewing. Flanders sounded fantastic today. I can’t wait to watch.

Kansas has its own classic race today, Bazaar Road Race. The race has been held for close to 40 years. It used to be called Cassidy Road Race, but now it is called Bazaar. It was the first bicycle race I ever attended. I was 14. I’ve won this race lots of times. The claim to fame of this race is the wind. It is very windy always.

The registration is at a Mason’s Hall. Super old, wood floors, middle of nowhere. The race in in the middle of the Flint Hills. The main attraction in this area is that Knute Rockne died in a plane crash very near by.

Historically, this is the time they burn the fields in the Flint Hills. I’ve ridden this race where you can barely see the rider in front of you sometimes. Plus, usually there is a motorcycle rally that rides through the hills, so there are 100’s of motorcycles on the road. It’s a pretty weird environment for bicycle racing.

Anyway, the race is going on right now. The conditions are usually brutal. I’ve ridden in hail many times here. Gutter riding is always prevalent. I just checked out the weather there. Looks like a pretty typical Bazaar day. I can hardly wait to hear the results.

Check out the wind speed. Pretty nuts.

Sunset Loop – Redlands final stage

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Pretty great race today. Cole House, Wisconsinite and, made an awesome move with two corners to go to win the sprint over Jonathan Cantwell, Fly V. More later

Cole leading Cantwell into the final corner.

Bissell controlling the race for Ben Jacques-Maynes after he won a time bonus. I believe he won overall because of the time bonus sprint 4 miles into the stage.

Sunday in Redlands

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Yesterday was abit trying. Like I’ve stated before, I’m not too big on watching races that I want to be riding. Or was riding. Whatever the case my be. I didn’t watch that much of the 4+ hour Sunset Loop Road Race. I watched the finish of the women’s race and the first couple 10 km laps of the men’s race. Then I went out and rode for a couple hours and came back to see the finish of the race.

I was impressed how many midwest guys made the final group into the circuits. Joseph Schmalz for one. He is having a great season so far. James Stemper, Kenda, and Christian Hemig rode the last 4 laps of the criterium finish and got caught less than 500 meters before the finish. James is from Wisconsin and Christian was the guy that dropped me to finish 2nd at the end of Lago Vista a month ago. Not to mention Cole winning. Kind of shows that the local guys from the midwest are really good bike riders.

I’m hanging around California for a few more days. Flying back to Kansas on Wednesday. I hope to hit the reset button and get back on track. Hopefully I can figure out where that button is.

Andrzej Bek and me waiting for the finish of the women's race. We go way back. Andrzej works for HTC now. He came to the US to race 30 something years ago for Michael Fatka. He is from Poland and was an incredible cyclist.

There was a hand cycle event here. Lots of super hi end bikes.

This one was just 26 lbs. Super light.

I love the houses up on the ridge in Redlands.

Most these old ones are made completely of redwood.

Catherine trying to stay warm while waiting for some Mexican food. It was pretty chilly all day yesterday. Go figure.