Monthly Archives: June 2011

Last Weekend ReCap – Snake Alley

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Last weekend was strange. Strange in the fact that nothing went according to any type of plan, or history.

Snake Alley is my favorite race of the season. Not just because the course is good for me, it is because of the setting and the enthusiasm. I really like downtown Burlington, Iowa. A dying railroad town trying to reinvent itself. I love the big, warehouse-like buildings that have endless possibilities. Every year it gets just that much nicer. I like to see the progression.

Anyway, I don’t have a ton to write about the race itself. It went badly. Not anyones fault, really. Obviously, by all the photos on Facebook, etc. I had a issue keeping my handlebars connected to my bike. The carbon steering column broke. This could be from any number of reasons. I changed stems this season from a carbon to an aluminum, so this might be the issue. Maybe I overtightened the bolts, I don’t know. All I know is that I wish I would have been having a worse day on the bike and it wouldn’t sting so much.

I can’t really say how I would have done. I would like to think I would have ridden away and won. But, I only rode 1/2 the race, so who knows. All I do know is that if I would have been racing the last 1/2 the race, 20 guys wouldn’t have been sprinting for the win.

I felt pretty good. Not great, but good. Good enough that I was never stressed while I was riding. The course suits me. A hard effort up a brick serpentine climb and then a technical 3 corner descent that was wet the first few laps. I wasn’t climbing the best of everyone. Eric Marcotte was going crazy fast uphill. But I think I was going downhill the best. I never went full tilt downhill, but early in the race, when it was wet, I was getting a pretty good gap without trying.

I had a game plan thought out. I was going to just float the race, stay in the top 5 or so the first half, to observe who was riding good. And then try not to be with them at the end of the race. The only rider on my radar the first half was Eric Marcotte. Chad Burdzilauskas and Adam Leibovitz of Texas Roadhouse were going okay too, but not good enough to worry me much. The AeroCat riders were hitting the front on the Snake to slow the group down, so I realized they weren’t a threat.

Brian Jensen, TradeWind, took his time making it up to the front group. He wasn’t lovin’ the wet descent. He immediately attacked when he caught up after 5 laps or so, but the descent wasn’t going that great. I went to the front. Eventually, I let Eric ride up to him, hoping that Brian would follow his line down. That didn’t go that great, so they only stayed off the front a few laps.

So, right when the race was going to get interesting for me, I was climbing, about half way up the hill and pop, my bars felt weird and then the were detached. I don’t really remember having any thoughts of falling. I’m not sure why that was. I just put my foot down and starred in disbelief. Finally, Kim West came over and told me that we weren’t going to be able to fix that and I should get off the road. Less than a minute later, I was sitting on a cooler, drinking a cold beer. A pretty strange, unexpected sequence. I can’t believe how lucky I was not to have this happen on the descent. That would have been super ugly!

I don’t know how it would have turned out, but the race was winnable. I was going good enough, plus I’ve ridden the race so many times, I think I have it down. But, there are no guarantees in bike racing. I have to congratulate Chad for winning. It is a great race to have on your resume and he made an awesome move coming hot into the last corner to take Eric and Juan Pablo by surprise.

And also, congratulations to Iowa local, and one of my favorites, Amanda Miller, HTC, for winning here again. She made it look easy. It has been great watching her progress the last few seasons. Endless possibilities here.

Okay, can’t dwell on the past too much. There is always next year, I guess.

Leading Chad up the climb.

The lower climb at the start.

Nice shot from above.


Kim telling me it is hopeless, dah.


Not a happy camper.

Ricco is Back!!!

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Can’t someone get rid of this prick. Do we, as an sporting organization, not have a way to make sure that guys like Riccardo Ricco don’t get to compete anymore? And why are there teams out there that will still hire him? It is crazy. I say we should suspend the license of any team that hires Ricco and such. Or even considers it. Here is the article at Cyclingnews that says he’ll be racing in short order.

Cycling is Fickle

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This sport is fickle. Probably because the human mind and body are involved. I’ve never had the ability to know or manipulate my body into a peak. I think you can convince yourself, mentally, that you are physically prepared, but I truly think that is a mental peak and may or may not be a physical peak. But, it really doesn’t matter. If you think you are peaking, most likely your performance will go with that thought.

I was hoping I was riding better this past weekend. And I was. Much better than I have for a while. But, I was missing just that much to leave me at a mental deficient. That makes for apprehensive bike racing, which has never worked out too good for me.

Sunday at Muscintine, I was better than mediocre. The finish is 75 meters after a sharp corner at the top of a 300 meter climb. I have the sprint down. I’ve done it a ton of times. But, being apprehensive, I hesitated at the very bottom of the hill for just a second and could never make up the 4 bike lengths I lost. I probably should have finished 4th instead of 6th, but that isn’t important. It was depressing having the most of the physical ability needed, but missing the opportunity because of a mental screw up.

Monday, at Rock Island, was completely different. Super early in the race, a group went up the road with Brian in the break. I followed the counter attacks and next thing I know I’m off the front in a group of 6. That group morphed into nearly 20 guys eventually. The day was hot, in the 90’s, and I wasn’t too confident that I was going to be dependable in that move. I was trying to conserve as much energy and stay under the limit as much as possible. The group kept splitting with the exact right combination of teams represented in each split. I couldn’t cover each split, so was thinking I was picking the right guys to monitor. I wasn’t. I was picking the wrong guys because the guys I was watching were going way better than me. So, I was gassed, just for a short moment, and ended back in the field after 30 minutes. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been dropped out of a break. Never one that large. I rarely finish out of the money. Maybe one or two races a year, not counting NRC stage races. But, here I did. And, I wasn’t riding bad. Really the opposite, I was riding the best I have for months. How wrong is that?

I guess what I’m getting at here is that it is super important to try to maximize you results for your ability. I didn’t come close to that. None of us on the TradeWind Energy Team did this past weekend, which is super freaky. A few years back, we won 3 out of 4 of the days, with Brian winning in Burlington and Quad Cities and me winning Snake Alley. Neither of us was riding as good as we were then, but we weren’t off that much. It was more a mental thing, which might be more frustrating that lacking the physical ability.

Doing an interview for German TV before the start of Snake Alley. They took Amtrak from LA to Chicago and were driving the route backwards and doing a story at each train stop.

Ricco defending himself – Brain Surgeon he should be

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“I would rather hear from the person who represents me as a cyclist, that my return is an important event to get a rider who has – in the past – atoned for his penalty and is now involved in an absurd situation, rather than lending credence to the words of a doctor (who should keep his profession a secret of Honour) and justifying the behaviour of a World Tour team, who dismisses a rider without good cause.”

Enough. I believe.

“I swear on my dog’s grave and my wife’s life that I did not put spoilt blood into my body.” “Really, that oath has already been used?”

Ticket Magnet/Profiling?

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Okay, I got pulled over again leaving Snake Alley Criterium, driving through Illinois to Davenport Iowa. I was on a two lane highway, driving 9 over. I immediately saw the trooper turn around and knew he was coming for me, even though the guy ahead of me just passed me and was going much faster. The weird thing is that he followed me for a couple miles before he turned on his lights.

I got my license and insurance card ready as he came up. He said something like, ” Good afternoon, how you doing today?” I responded, “Bad, really bad. You’re standing at my window.” He looked at my license and card and told me that I seemed like a nice enough guy and he was only going to give me a warning.

I was thinking, “great”. He then kind of stuck his head into the window and asked if there were only 3 people in the van. I said, “Yes, plus a dog”. He repeated, “Only 3?” Then Bill said yes. And Bill went on to explain we were just in a bike race in Burlington, blah, blah, blah.

Then it started. He asked Bill and Nick for their driver’s licenses. I thought that seemed really weird, but wasn’t about to argue with the guy. He told me I needed to come back to his patrol car for some reason I can’t quite remember. I said sure.

In the car, he proceeded to ask me tons of questions. Over and over again. Like, why we were driving from Burlington to Davenport? What were we doing in Burlington? I must of told him at least 5 times we were in a bicycle race and I broke my frame. He asked me the year of the van, which was printed right on the insurance card. During this whole time, he was running our license numbers through the computer. I asked him why and he said he was checking for warrants. I thought that was wrong, but still didn’t want to piss him off. I asked casually if that is normal, running the passenger license numbers and he said he just wanted to take care of any outstanding warrants up front.

Then he started all over. What we were doing in Iowa and why were we driving to the Quad Cities. I wanted to scream, “you need backup because you have NO memory.” Right in the middle of this he says, “And you are absolutely positive that you haven’t had anything to drink today?” I look at him kind of strangely, because he hadn’t asked me anything about drinking. Then he says, before I answer, “Because I smell alcohol on your breath.” I say back to him, “I’m absolutely positive that I have had something to drink today.” He then asks me why I hadn’t said that before. I told him he hadn’t asked. Then, being a little pissed off, I ask him if I should tell him what I had for breakfast too.

He isn’t too amused. He asked me exactly how much I had been drinking. I said less than one beer, over 2 hours earlier, when I was supposed to be winning a bicycle race. He goes on to explain that since I’d admitted to drinking, I needed to to a sobriety test. I think I laughed. I pictured myself outside, walking the line and was thinking what Bill and Nick were going to be thinking. But no, he does a little test with his finger, telling me to follow it with only my eyes, not moving my head. I think I do a perfect test, but no. He asked me if I have a medical condition or an astigmatism that could explain why my eyes would be jittery, exactly like they would if I were drunk. I said no.

So, he told me since I failed the first test, I would have to do a breathalyzer. He goes on to tell me that lots of alcohol is odorless and that I could have been drinking that all day. I laughed again, which didn’t seem to amuse the guy. He had just told me a few minutes earlier that he had smelled alcohol on my breath, the well trained hound he was.

So, he gets out this electronic machine and starts messing with it. I got a little more serious now. I’d always thought that if a cop asked me to do a breathalyzer test, I would demand a blood test. But, since I had zero percent chance of having an issue, I was going along with it. He told me to blow in the straw for three seconds continuously. I told him I wanted to look at the machine before I did it. That pissed him off. I told him I wanted him to reset it to zero and let me watch. He reluctantly did so. I blew in the straw for the 3 seconds and then he says, “exactly what I thought.” I’m thinking, “shit”. I was thinking he thought I was drunk. He showed me the result. 0.000. Boy, his keen sense of smell was much better than the machine.

Anyway, he goes ahead and writes me a warning for a 64 in a 55 and doesn’t seem to be interested in me anymore. I wanted to ask him if he had a glove and wanted to do a body cavity search, but didn’t have the guts. So, I get our licenses back and ask for my insurance card and he tells me he already gave it back to me. I tell him he didn’t and he gives me the, “I did too look.” So, another insurance card in the hands of the authorities. That is 3 in less than a month. I’m not sure what they do with them. Maybe it is some deal they have going, see who can collect the most insurance cards in a month. I don’t know.

Getting back to the van, Bill and Nick said they were getting worried. It was close to 30 minutes. I told them the whole story.

So, after asking around, I guess it is the van. A big Ford van is the ride of choice for drug and illegal alien transporting I guess. But, the weird thing is that it is pretty obvious after they stop me that neither of those things are occurring.

If the officer wouldn’t have stated up front that he was just going to give me a warning, then I wouldn’t have let him do any of the other intrusive, semi-legal things. Like checking Bill and Nick’s licenses and giving me an alcohol-breath test. But, he had the speeding ticket hanging there, so that allowed him to keep going. It is bullshit. I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I was a black or Hispanic guy in the same situation. Probably scared to death. I wasn’t the least be nervous or concerned. I am more now, but when it was happening, it seemed more interesting than scary.

I’ve had this van for 2 1/2 years now and only this year am I having trouble. I’m not sure how to fix the problem. I’m pretty sure I would have been pulled over if I was driving 55. Any ideas?

My official warning.

Another shot of the actual consumption of the alcohol.


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I’ve had lung crud going on ever since driving back on Monday night. I don’t really want to blame Nick, but for God’s sake Nick. I’d better get better before you.

I haven’t really been hanging low this past week though. Been catching up on a bunch of stuff and riding about normal. It’s been pretty hot, in the 90’s and super humid. Great weight lose climate. I don’t seem to be getting any worse. I’ve been sleeping badly because being super stuffed up at night and in the morning.

This afternoon I’m going to race a criterium in downtown Wichita, Kansas. It’s only supposed to be close to 100 degrees with 20 mile an hour winds. Perfect criterium racing weather.

My brother is racing a 200 mile gravel road epic called the Dirty Kanza. It started this morning at 6 am and the winning time is around 12 hours. It is picking up steam, with riders coming from throughout the country. It is going to be a death march. Unbelievably hot death march.

Okay, I’m going for a couple hours this morning to get loosened up for the race this afternoon. That way I don’t have to over heat trying to warm up before the race. I’m not positive that this is the best thing for me right now, but you never know until after and then it’s too late.

Dirty Kanza number plate.

Steering column on the new carbon Trek fork they sent. A much different weave.

2010 carbon steering column.

Alexi’s Blog

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I know some of you click through my blog to get to Alexi’s. He doesn’t write that often, but when he does, it is very good reading. You can just click on the column to the right to get there whenever you’re here. Below is his lastest post. I thought I’d just clip it and paste it here to make sure you read it. Sneaky me.