This morning went about as well as it could have. It was all pure wattage. I was hoping to get a big gap early and that is exactly what happened. I knew I was good after about 1/3 a lap, so it was fairly enjoyable riding around. As enjoyable as it can be riding 8 mph in 6 inch mud. There were no bike handling skills needed at all. I’ll post more later. Awards ceremonies late this afternoon.
Actually, race day isn’t for 15 minutes, since this is the night before the race. I race at 9:45 am, which is totally against my personal liking. I hate getting wet and cold early in the morning. I can’t see a way to avoid that this time. It is forecast to be 28 degrees and the wind blowing at 20 mph at 9 am. That isn’t something that you’d want to add water to, but like I said before, it’s unavoidable.
I can hardly wait for this race to be over. I’m not sure why. Probably because I’ve been having so many “issues” the last couple weeks and I feel like I am close to an edge, ready to teeter one way or another. I’m pretty sick of doing all these system checks continually. I’m just ready to do it and be done with it. Anyway, it will be over by the time most of you have read this.
It is pretty strange to say it now, but I don’t really know the course. I haven’t ridden the course since the remarked the course yesterday after the storm blew everything away. They took a couple “technical” sections out, but it really doesn’t matter. The whole race is going to be who can pedal their bike the fastest. Most of the skill sets for cross can just be thrown out the window here. It’s nobodies fault, it was just the weather that dictated this.
I’m going to ride a lap at 8 am and see how wet I’m going to get. Then I’m going to try to dress appropriately. I’m not one to want to ever over dress for a cyclocross race. This is going to be pure wattage, so a lot of heat is going to be produced. But, being soaked down to the core about 100 meters from the start, that changes it up big time. I have neoprene gloves that I’m going to put some chemical warmers in. If I can keep my hands warm for the whole race, that will be a minor miracle.
Okay, I need to go to sleep. I plan to ride fast, but I really never know. I wouldn’t throw my chip back if I had the opportunity, so that is a good sign. It’s just a bike race.
They are racing now, the qualifying races, but the course is a swamp. The times are a minute, plus, slower than yesterday and yesterday was a slog. They need to get some pumps and try to clear the course of water. If they don’t, then when it freezes, it is going to be a ice skating rink in places. Man, these guys have had some pretty challenging weather the last two years for this event.
Yesterday was the qualifying race for Thursday Worlds. I wasn’t too concerned since I get to line up first due to winning last year. So, I had the luxury of not having to race full out, which was nice.
The race was fine. The course was super slow, sloggy, marshy grass/mud. The temperature was nearly 70 degrees, in Janurary. I started on the 2nd row and got an okay start. I moved up to 3rd pretty early and then kind of just chilled. I got into the lead after about 1/3 a lap and then threw myself on the ground. I’m not really sure what happened other than I slid out. A bunch of guys fell on the same corner, so it must of been really slick. 4 or 5 guys went by me when I was getting reorganized. I didn’t panic at all.
I just rode sort of hard every once in a while and got back up to the front early in the 2nd lap. I got back into the lead for about 10 seconds, until I tripped on a railroad tie going into the sand pit. Gunnar Shogren went by me then. I rode back up to Gunnar a little bit later, but didn’t have much desire to race him the last bit. I had no plans to run up either of the two hills any of the laps, so Gunnar rode away and won the heat. I was 2nd, losing 16 seconds the last couple hundred meters.
The next heat, Jeffrey Appletans won the heat easily. Our heat was 30 something seconds faster than the 2nd heat, but that is pretty irrelevant. It is impossible to tell how hard anyone is going at any time.
I feel pretty good about the whole day. I didn’t hurt myself. My shoulder was a non issue, mainly because I did nothing that would put any stress on it. I didn’t do anything to waste myself. I pretty much just walked all the run up sections, so my legs are pretty good. I went out and rode 20 miles after the race and felt pretty good.
I have to watch not spending all day on my feet today watching all my friends and team mates do their qualifying races. Bill and Matt race at 10 am, then Brian at 3ish. The course is going to change up a lot the next couple days. It is supposed to thunderstorm all day today. It rained like crazy at 4 am. It was supposed to rain 1/2 an inch, but it rained tons, so the course is going to be flooded. Plus, the winds were incredible. I just heard that the races are pushed back at least two hours while they try to get the course back together. It is also supposed to drop in temperature all day, to below freezing tonight. I wouldn’t mind the course to harden up a little, so I don’t mind a little frozen ground or ice.
I’ve been coming to Louisville to race bikes for a long time now. The first time I raced here was back in 1978. I was a junior and came to do a Junior Olympic Developement Race at The Kentucky Derby of Cycling. I didn’t have a car, so I had to wait until late on Friday evening for my friend, Ed Bauman, to get off work, and we drove all night to Frankfurt, Kentucky, getting there just a couple hours before the start of the race. I didn’t sleep all night. The race was a point to point, 100 km race, from Frankfurt to Louisville.
It is one of the most memorable races I’ve done. Back in the 70’s there were huge fields at races. The junior field was probably over 80 riders. We started the third group. First the 1/2 riders started, and there were 150 of them, then the Cat. 3s, another 150 and then us. About 8 miles down the road, we had caught the 3’s and then rode right into the 1/2 field. So there were 400 riders cruising down the road.
Supposedly the were enforcing the centerline rule. I had never been in a field of anywhere near that many guys. Maybe still haven’t since. Anyway, I looked up front, 100 riders up, and I see a stars and stripes jersey that I knew was Wayne Stetina, but I could also see Jeff Bradley, in his Kretschmer Wheat Germ Jersey. I thought, shit, I missed that. But right then, Greg Demgen, Jeff’s team mate from Kretschmer Wheat Germ, my team the next season, jumped across the centerline and shot up the left side of the road. I got on his wheel as we blew by the front of the 1/2 field.
There were about 12 guys riding in single paceline a couple hundred meters ahead. Greg was much stronger than me then and pretty much towed me right up to the back of the break. It was the who’s who of US racing. Wayne and Dale Stetina were there. Alan Kingsbury and Marc Thompson, I believe. (Four guys that were on the Olympic Cycoing Team in 1976.) Right when Greg and I latched onto the back of the line, Dale was playing gate keeper and sat up and took us off the back and then jumped back up. I was hurt, but pulled Greg back up and made sure we slotted in front of Dale.
Pretty soon we were riding double echelon, going so fast. It was completely opposite of a junior race. Jeff, Greg and I only had junior gears, 93 inches or so, so we were spinning like crazy. You only had to be at the front for a few seconds and then rotate back. It was so easy and we were going so fast.
Towards the end of the race there was a small hill. I only had a single chainring on my bike, I rode a 45 X 13. Going up the hill, I dropped my chain. It took me a little while to get the chain back on and I barely made it back to the group. During the time I was chasing, Wayne Stetina had attacked and had both Greg and Jeff with him. I was completely bummed, knowing that I had just finished 3rd out of 3. But, in reality, I was stoked to be where I was.
The finish was in downtown Louisville. Super wide open, 4 lane rode. Wayne had thought he had handily beaten the junior, had one arm in the arm as Jeff blew by him, his arm in the air too. I don’t remember how I finished in the sprint for 4th. I’d like to say I won the sprint, but am pretty sure I was buried. Dale told me after the race if that Greg and I weren’t juniors, he never would have let us get onto the back of the break. (I’m not sure how he could have stopped it though.)
That was truly my coming out in cycling. It was the best result I’d had, by far, and I learned I could ride with the best riders in the country.
The next year, I was a first year senior and I came back and raced in Cherokee Park. I made the move, this time with Wayne Stetina and his little brother Joel, plus a few other great riders. It came down to a sprint up the finish hill and I had thought I’d won until about 30 meters from the finish, this little guy that was sitting on the break most of the day, blew by me. I was stoked to finish 2nd. Long story short, the little guy turned out to be Hugh Walton, zillion time National Track Champion from Canada. Hugh and I went on to race together on the same team for a few years and become good friends. I have a hard time believing I could finish 2nd to someone in such a big race and not know who the rider was. I was soooo green.
Anyway, back in Louisville, 35 years later. The city has obviously treated me pretty well. Today I race a qualifying race at noon. It rained all day yesterday, so is going to be messy. The race is just 3 laps. It doesn’t matter really, I line up first on Thursday if I finish. It’s a good way to get the course down.Click to enlarge.
Bill, Trudi, Bromont and I drove the 600 miles to Louisville, leaving early yesterday morning. I had an appointment to get some ultrasound and PT at 5 pm, so we had to scurry.
We got here early enough to actually check in to the hotel and suit up to do a lap of the course. It was just raining a bit, but we drove here all day in the rain. It looks like it is going to be raining pretty much the next three days. I have to assume that it is going to get pretty sloppy the next couple days. I heard through the grapevine that the course is closed all day today. I’m not really stressing this, because I don’t plan to ride the course much before the qualifying race on Tuesday.
The course is pretty good. Lots of open riding and tricky places. There is a lot of sand, but the sand is all rideable and should be even more so as it gets wetter. There are two ascents up a 20 meter hill. Yesterday, the first one was doable, but it is not going to be after it gets slick and muddy footprints riddle the course.
The weather is going to be the question here, as always. I think it is still going to be sloppy by Thursday, but it looks like it is going to freeze up solid on Thursday night for Bill’s, Shad’s, Matt’s races on Friday. That would be a shame.
Last night I ate more food than I’ve eaten the last week. We drove a bit out of town to eat with friends, Stacey and Carl. Stacey is from Wisconsin, up by Cable, where I usually hang this time of the year. She is an orthopedic surgeon and is helping me out with my shoulder. Anyway, she cooked up an amazing meal. Salmon, chicken, pasta, two salads, lots of fruit, plus two desserts. I ate until I nearly popped.
It seemed to sit pretty well, which was amazing too. I’ve felt weird in my stomach for over a week now, but I must be better. We’ll see how it is today.
Okay, I’m not going out there today. Might actually just ride a trainer, oh no. Okay, I’ll update later as I wake up more.