Monthly Archives: February 2012

Trudi to Europe / Big Miles in the Heat on Leap Day

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I took Trudi to the airport, here in Austin, to go to Europe yesterday. Normally she has already worked nearly 2 months by now, so I guess it is a late start for her. She flew to Belgium and is going straight to Paris-Nice as her first race. It is amazing how many hours those guys work in support of their riders. It seems so overkill in many respects, but it seems to work, so I guess it isn’t. She’s a little nervous since she hasn’t met Thor, Gilbert, TJ, and some of the other new guys. She usually would have done a training in Spain, but she opted to stay here and watch cyclocross instead. The BMC team seems to have a little more laid back attitude, so that is good.

Yesterday it was hot. Not really that hot, but it was pretty warm, but muggy. It was nearly 80, but the humidity was higher. We only rode 40 miles yesterday, all flat, but it was windy. Today we’re meeting up with Stefan Rothe and doing 6 hours. I’ve done the ride before and it is pretty cool, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m not sure my butt is looking that forward to it, but where I go, it goes.

I went to dinner last night at the Whole Foods market at 6th and Lamar here in Austin. That place is out of control. This is the corporate headquarters for Whole Foods, so I guess it has to be a little over the top, but this is ridiculous. I got a glass of wine while I walked around the store and shopped. I feel kind of fat for some reason right now. I’m not sure why that is since I’ve been riding a bunch and haven’t been eating too much because of this tooth thing. I ate a salad for dinner, but had a cookie for dessert. I don’t know if that helped, but I bet I don’t feel too fat after today. It is supposed to be nearly 80 again and muggy still. That is a sure fire way to burn some calories.

I’m staying with two young guys, Ben Stover and Austin Vinton. They both went to bed around 10:30 while I was just mulling around. Then during the next half hour or so, they both got up and marched up and down the stairs at least a couple times each to get some food. An amazing amount of food. They said it was for the ride today, but they were just hungry. It’s easy to forget how much food I used to eat at their age.

Trudi spread out organizing her stuff.

And at the airport ready to go.

This is what Austin brought back upstairs the 2nd time around after 11 pm.

You Never Know unless you Clip In

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I’m not much into skipping a race because I think I’m going bad. One of the coolest thing about the sport of cycling is that you have a great ability to have a good result when you might not be having the best day. Better, have good day when you are having a bad day early.

Sunday I wasn’t riding too good. At least I wasn’t riding too good when they blew the gun off. I felt stiff and kind of out of sorts for the first hour. It was mildly depressing. About 30 miles into the race, a big surge/attack was launched up the feed hill. I saw it coming and was in the right position to react. But my body didn’t have anything in it to react. I lost at least 15 meters on a 200 meter hill to a small group of maybe 8 guys. I clawed my way back up on the false flat at the top, but not without wasting myself. It wasn’t too good for my mindset.

Then at about 50 miles in, I felt like I was starting to bonk. I was pretty depressed about the whole thing. I ate a bag of Cliff Blocks and then a caffeinated shot and didn’t feel much different. The Elbowz guys had been at the front for a couple laps and were keeping a pretty steady pace. Over the next 30 miles I got better. Not just better compared to the other riders, but better compared to myself. I was pedaling much easier and smoother. I was able to climb the hills in just about any gear that I was in without that much difficulty.

I was wondering and am still wondering what happens when you improve during a bicycle race? It is one of the only endurance sports I know that you can get drastically better during the event. Or drastically worse, just depending upon the day. But the better is what interests me and makes me love the sport more. Obviously as I got better physically, my mental state improved. But could it be the other way around? That as I got closer to the finish and was observing the race and other riders, I become more confident, thus more motivated, thus physically better? To me, it didn’t seem that way. It seemed that I was physically much better and then more confident because of it.

Either way, it seemed to work out pretty well. I love it when I can turn a bad day on the bike in a race into a good day on the bike in a race. I’m not so big on having a good result in a race on a bad day on the bike. That is usually just tactics and experience, but the riding well when I started off not so good is interesting to me. Maybe if I get a power meter then I’ll get some more information to confirm what I think is happening. Until then, when I’m off at the start, I’ll keep in the back of my mind that there is a fair chance that I’ll come around later in the day. It is good for my mind.

Pace Bend Road Race – Outside Austin, TX

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Yesterday’s race at Pace Bend was really interesting in a lot of respects. First of all, I have to give the Elbowz Team a big compliment. They rode a race that made the race respectable, without destroying and dominating the race. Well, they destroyed the field, but that was just from a strength stance. I have written here a bunch about how much I hate controlled bike racing. I still do. But, when a team has 10 riders in a race and there aren’t 60 riders in the race, and the 10 guys are at least as good or better than most everyone else in the race, then there is a big chance that the race will turn out to be stupid. That wasn’t the case. And that wasn’t the case because the Elbowz team realized that most likely it would be the case if they rode a free for all race, so they just practiced doing some stuff. In the end, it didn’t work out that well for them, but they know, and I know, and everyone else in the race should know that they could have won the race virtually every time they raced it against the same field.

Okay, the race. The course was around 6 miles and we did 13 laps for a little over 80 miles. The course is rolling nearly the whole way, just a little bit of flat. The day was great, in the upper 60’s, maybe a little warmer towards the end. But it was pretty windy. Windy enough that it was super hard to be in a break. The upside of the course, from my perspective, was that there was nearly not a spot of true gutter riding. If that would have been the case, then the race would have been over for most of the field in the first 20 minutes.

The race started off pretty aggressively, but nothing got established early. One and two guys would get away for maybe a lap or two, but then flounder in the wind. Eblowz was just letting the race happen, doing nearly nothing to control it. Finally, with maybe half the race left, 3 guys got away. Matt Ankeny, Colton Jarisch and Logan Hutchings were up the road. That is when the Elbowz team started riding at the front. And they never left the front until the last 50 meters.

Fast forward to 2 or 3 laps to go when the break was only 20 seconds ahead and Brant Speed, 787, jumped out of the field and was instantly in the break. And the break disappeared up the road. I don’t know why Brandt Speed has never been on my radar screen, but the guy is super, super strong. He showed it in Walburg on Saturday chasing at 30 mph into a mild wind, but he really showed it yesterday. Matt came back and the break was over a minute ahead really quickly.

The Elbowz guys made a mild error here and didn’t increase their pace early enough. I thought that they might have missed it completely, but they started rotating Joseph and Heath, 1st and 2nd from Saturday, and their pace increased dramatically. With 1/2 a lap to go, the break was within sight. And the field was at their limits. I was sitting just 3 or 4 guys behind the Elbowz guys and knew that the last time up the feed hill, about a mile from the finish, it would be carnage. And it was. Stefan Rothe, jumped at the base of the climb, right when Joseph was going for Elbowz. That wasn’t the brightest move. For either of them. Stefan was super strong and never should have went so early. And Elbowz didn’t have enough guys left to go from so far out. The last 1 km was wicked headwind.

Joseph made it to about 1 km to go with only Heath Blackgrove left to lead out Eric Marcotte. That was never going to be enough. I was 6 or 7 guys back at the time. Josh Carter, Dogfish, blew and pulled out of line right in front of me and I had to make an effort to get up to Chad Cagle’s wheel, which was a good wheel to be on. The last 600 meters was mainly downhill, but into a headwind. Bill was on me until the last corner, but got chopped by a Squadra guy. Heath went from the corner and I don’t really know what happened at the very front because I was concentrating on staying on Chad. But for some reason, Eric got into the wind too early. Either Heath pulled off too early or Eric jumped too early. When Heath was coming back like a rock, Chad and Dave Wenger went around him and I didn’t expect it so quickly and got mixed up some. I left Chad and was coming up fast on the right, but Eric was coming back like a brick. I had to tap my brakes at 30 meters and couldn’t squeeze by. I ended up 4th, just a bike length + back. I was mildly disappointed, since it was a winnable sprint. If you would have told me nearly anytime during the race that I was going to end up 4th, I would of been more than good with it. Bill finished 7th, which was great also. There was a big split in the field behind us, so it was really only 7 guys sprinting for the win.

So, yesterday when I told you that I had virtually no chance of winning the race, I would have also told you that I had virtually no chance to win in Pace Bend either. And that wasn’t the case. Bike racing is so interesting in that respect. The results are below. Dave Wenger won, which showed his 3rd place finish from the day before was good. He should feel pretty great about the win. He rode it super smart. But also, the race could have been won by any one of 5 or so Elbowz guys. They were pretty unbelievable all day.

Today it is supposed to rain all afternoon. That isn’t good. I usually ride more on Monday after early season race weekends and then rest more on Tuesday. But, it is what it is. It is supposed to be in the 70’s all week. Hopefully, my tooth will feel better soon, it doesn’t yet, and I can get some miles in down here. Lago Vista is this weekend, which is an awesome course, but also the MTB race on Saturday is still in the back of my mind. It is good having choices.

The front of the field the last half of the race.

Finish sprint.

Results. Click twice to enlarge.

Jospeh taking a photo of Dave and Eric after the awards.

My team mate, young Ben Stover after the two days of racing.

Walburg Road Race – Walburg, TX

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Yesterday went okay, considering. I didn’t have very high expectations. I wasn’t the least bit nervous for the race, which means I was probably not going to do very well. It is hard starting a race when you know if you do about everything perfect, you still have virtually no chance of winning. That doesn’t mean I only enter races to win, but there are certain events where if I raced the whole thing over and over 100 times, I wouldn’t win. This was one of those. 5 days ago I wouldn’t have written that, but I’m in a completely different state physically than I was 5 days ago.

The race was pretty good, other than starting when it was nearly dark. The guys down here always do a very good job of getting the race right. It was pretty cool at the start, around 40. Less than 50 guys started the race since it was a PRO-1 race only. The strange part of the day was that it was calm. The wind usually blows like crazy at this race and that was not the case.

I really don’t have any great stories from the race. It was just a normal bike race. The Elbowz Team won the race, which was virtually a guarantee. My old team mate and friend, Joseph Schmalz won the race, which is great. Riders from Kansas have won this race most of the times I’ve done it. Usually guys riding with me, but Joseph is the next best thing. His team mate, Heath Blackgrove, from New Zealand, was 2nd, finishing with Joseph. Squadra guys got 3rd with David Wenger, National Criterium Champion, and 4th was Tulsa Tough’s Stefan Rothe, all around honch, getting schooled a little by the Elbowz guys, but schooling the rest of us. They got away pretty early in the 1st lap and we never saw them again.

5 riders were away and the sprint was for 6th. Eric Marcotte, Elbowz, won the field sprint. I was 6th, messing it up big time. It was up a pretty good grade and the field pretty much explodes the last 500 meters. So, I finished 11th, Bill finished 12th, right on my wheel.

I went out for another ride late afternoon after the KU-Missouri game. I doubt many reading this watched that, but it was a very good college basketball game. KU was behind by 19 points in the 2nd half and won by 1 point in overtime. Pretty thrilling finish.

Today we race at noon at Pace Bend Park, southwest of Austin. I’ve won the race before and finished on the podium a few times. The course is around 6 miles and rolls. A pretty difficult course, but not super extreme. I’m looking to just get another race under my belt and ride hard. I could have felt worse yesterday, so I am okay motivated for today. The cedar allergies are pretty bad here and it seems my body doesn’t like them much, so just another bother. But, that is all it is, a bother. I can’t complain too much about racing my bike in the upper 60’s in February.

Joseph and Heath crossing the line together.

Joseph, up close and personal.

The awards table Texas style.

Results. Click twice to enlarge.

Garmin data from the race. Click twice to enlarge.

KU by 1 when the clock expires.

Racing Early

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I don’t have much time here. I have to get going up to Walburg to race at 8 am. I think the race is officially 80 miles, but it is actually closer to 72. It is always windy there, but there is a rumor going around that it is going to be fairly calm today.

We got to Austin without too much traffic. It was a little ugly in Dallas and again right into Austin, but that is always the case. We rode over and picked up our numbers and got 20 miles in. I felt like shit. My tooth isn’t cooperating with my dentist’s work as of now. So, eating and doing about any other thing with my mouth is not good. I actually took a pain pill last night to sleep, which is totally out of character for me, but teeth problems seem to make me a wimp.

There are a ton of us upstairs at Ann’s house here. 7 to be exact, plus Bromont and Ann’s dog Stanley, who likes to hang upstairs when we’re here. I met Ann the first time through these races, I don’t know when, maybe 6 years ago. Every since then, it has been a home away from home here in Austin. Everyone had an early morning, Ann running 5 miles at 5:15 am and then going to work and us heading out by 6 am, so we didn’t get much of a chance to catch up. Hopefully tonight that will happen.

KU is playing Missouri for the last time in Allen Field house this afternoon at 3 pm, since Missouri is leaving the Big 12, so today’s game is special. If KU wins, they are the outright Champions of the Big 12. If Missouri wins, then KU can still tie for the lead. So, needless to say, we need to skedaddle back after the race. I hope I feel better riding my bike than walking around.

The Birkie is today up in Cable/Hayward. I want to wish good luck to Kent and Katie, plus all the CXC guys and gals doing the race. It isn’t going to be much warmer here at the start, lower 40’s, than what you’re having today, upper 20’s. Have fun.

Here's a photo I bought off eBay from the Chicago Sun Times. It was taken after the Gant race in Chicago. Long story there.

The back has all the information for the story.

A Fissure in my Armour

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I think this is politically correct since it describes me. Anyway, I spent most all of the day yesterday at the dentist’s office. Actually more than one dentist. An endodontist did the majority of the work, which wasted me the most. I am now minus a couple more roots of the same tooth and am taking antibiotics, sort of. I did get out and ride my bike for an hour in 40+ mph winds while the temperature dropped 15 degrees while I was out. It wasn’t my best day.

Now I am driving down to Austin. It is supposed to be 40 mph tailwind, so I guess I didn’t mind the riding in the wind for a bit yesterday. We left at 6 am to try to get through the DFW traffic before it gets super ugly on Friday afternoon. The temperatures in Austin were in the lower 90’s yesterday. It is going to take a 30 degree temperature change by this weekend, so the highs are only going to be in the lower 60’s. Not bad for bike racing.

The race on Saturday starts at 8 am. It is way too early for my liking considering it is 40 minutes to the start. It is a PRO-1 race and there are only 40 guys or so entered. And 10 of them are from the Elbowz Team, so it should be a smear. Hopefully those guys don’t get too greedy and wait until the end of the race to destroy the field. The Walburg race normally has a ton of wind, so it is pretty easy to blow the field apart nearly anywhere on the course. Bill and I are going to be the only guys from Tradewind Energy, so we won’t be in control of our own destiny. The course isn’t hard enough, other than the wind, to make any selection.

Sunday at Pace Bend is a 6 mile circuit that is hilly. The races the next weekend at Lago Vista, have a much harder course that selects the strongest riders. Hopefully I’ll be back up to speed by then, without totally wasting myself during the week putting in way too many miles.

I love it down it Austin. I brought my MTB bike just in case I get a wild hair and decide to race the MTB race on Lance’s old ranch the next weekend. I really like the Lago Vista races, but I haven’t done a “real” MTB race in a long time. I’ll just see how it goes.

Okay, that is about it for this morning. 700 miles to go.

On/Off

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Being an athlete is pretty frustrating at times. I’ve been feeling pretty great training since returning from Wisconsin and skiing. I’ve been riding fairly long miles and have felt good the whole time. Twice out of the last three days I’ve ramped up the speed at the end of the ride. Both times I’ve felt great. I would take this form anytime of the year.

But yesterday, it was completely opposite. I didn’t feel good riding out the driveway. I probably should have just turned around and called it a day, but I kept riding my bike, hoping I’d snap out of it and feel better. I was riding on gravel down by the river, over to Lawrence, with a pretty good tailwind. And I still wasn’t going that easy. I was getting winded on the climbs and nothing seemed to be easy.

I got a cup of coffee in Lawrence and then started back against the headwind. I was starting to get mildly motivated, because I was still going over 20 mph most of the way back. But, I wasn’t feeling all that great. I was sometimes, but most of the time I was pretty iffy. 70 iffy miles. I then struggled walking Bromont last night and my leg muscles were still firing when I went to bed. None of this was good for my mentality.

I don’t get it. I don’t see what changes day to day to make you feel that much different riding one day to the next. I’ve never been one to call my shots. I have never understood it when I hear an interview from someone and he says that he is going great and is going to have a great race. Even if I’m supremely confident, I’d never say that. I would have to use the word hope instead of have. That is because I’m never 100% sure that it is going to be there, the form that is. Actually, it isn’t the form. The form is there. It’s the ability to access the form.

It’s not an age deal, I’ve always been like this. The best guess I have is something to do with allergies. That is historically. They have been burning some the last few days, so maybe that is it. Plus, I’m still having a tooth issue. A big enough issue that I’m staying here today to see the dentist and then hopefully going to Austin Friday early. I’m not going to put any pressure on my pedals the next two days. Well, a little, but not enough to get my legs tired or allow me to test myself. I was really looking forward to this weekends races in Austin, but now it’s a big question mark.

It is just February, I know, but since I have this left over cross fitness, I thought I would use it. Maybe not now, I guess I’ll see.