Monthly Archives: July 2013

3rd is Great, but not Satisfying

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There wasn’t a way I was going to be happy with a finish yesterday at the criterium in the Tour of Lawrence. The reason was that I was riding like shit. I used to say that I would rather be riding good than finish good. That probably wouldn’t apply to the race yesterday exactly. I finished okay, but can’t say I have any satisfaction in the result.

I woke up in the morning feeling alright. Not too torqued from the road race on Saturday. I had enough time to watch the finish of the Tour, then get on my bike and ride the 30 miles over to Lawrence to get there an hour before the start. It was pretty windy, blowing from the North, so it wasn’t that easy. I had a friend, Scott Anderson, show up last minute, to escort me over to Lawrence.

I can’t say I felt stellar on the ride over. I finally just sat on Scott for about 10 miles, worrying that I was using up too much energy riding in the wind before the race.

I stopped and got a coffee right when I got there, hoping a little caffeine would perk me up. Brian came by and seemed in pretty okay spirits. There wasn’t that much time before the race.

It was pretty much the same field as the day before, somewhere around 75 riders I’d guess. An addition was Stefan Roth who decided to make the drive up from Texas to join us for Sunday. I think he rode the Texas TT Championships the day before, but that is just a rumor.

Anyway, the wind was the factor that really dictated the race. It was a 20 + mph wind from the North, so it was straight into your face for about 1/2 a lap and then tailwind back to the finish. That really put a damper on the speed and attacks. Only one break of any danger got away all day, a 4 riders break of Stefan, Adam Mills, Think, Matt Stevens, Elbowz, and an another Dallas guy I don’t know. They got a pretty good gap, but Brad Huff put in some well times pulls at the front, then Brian tried to jump up to the break alone, but most everyone in the field knows Brian’s strength, so he is so marked that it just pretty much just killed the break.

The rest of the race was just cake. And even though I’m saying it was easy, I didn’t feel good. I was probably worse than Tulsa a couple weeks ago. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but I wasn’t good.

Flash forward to the end. The Think Team put a lot of guys on the front and were trying to stretch the field out the last couple laps. They weren’t going fast enough to keep guys like me from getting into pretty good position without gassing themselves. I got behind Brad Huff with a little over a lap to go. Brad has won this race the previous 3 years I think, so he was pretty much a ringer. No one really seemed to challenge me for his wheel, which was nice.

With about 1/2 a lap to go, into the headwind, Brad started getting a little vocal. He was behind Joseph Schmalz, who was on his team mate, Matt Stevens. Matt didn’t seem to want to jump, so Joseph just took off with 4 corners to go, maybe 500 meters or so.

This is where it went badly for me. I had planned to try to get into the final corner in the lead. That would be my only chance to win. Brad is much faster than me. Brad started directing Joseph about how hard to go. First it was “hit it”, then “easy” then “hit it” again. I was thinking that it was only 350 meters from the finish, with 2 corners, so we should be going flat out.

The finish is a left, then 50 meters to a right, then less than 200 meters, downhill, tailwind to the finish. I took the left and thought I should jump to dive the last corner inside. But, I wasn’t sure if Joseph was going to peel off to the right or left. I hesitated. But, neither was a good guess, because he didn’t peel off. He just kept going through the final corner and sprinted.

I was on Brad into the last corner, but my front wheel did a couple small slips and I ended up floating super wide. Brad put a bike length into me instantly and I never really got back into his draft. He went by Joseph pretty easily, but I didn’t get by him. Not really close, actually.

So, I ended up third. I kind of sat up a few meters from the finish, not seeing anyone behind me. It turned out that my team mate, Bill Stolte had been on me the last whole lap. I wished he would have told me his was there because I would have ridden the last couple corners completely different. Bill was passed right at the line by Lee Bumgarner, so he finished 5th, which was good.

Anyway, 3rd was a great result considering. But, I would have preferred trying to make a race winning move instead of just staying in line and get ridden off Brad wheel. I’ve done that the last couple years and the result is never going to change. Sprinting in a bike race is a combination of position and speed. Sometimes the result comes from only position, because I do not possess much speed at this moment.

The race was the Kansas State Criterium Championships, so Joseph won, like he did the day before. I was 2nd and Bill was 3rd. The overall was Brad Huff winning over Joseph, then I was 3rd, which was unexpected.

Our TradeWind Energy sponsor, Matt Gilhausen, took us out to 715, a pretty great restaurant on Mass. Street, with most of the Think Team. The best part of the meal, other than the liters of wine, was the dessert, which were hot donut holes with cool custard-like stuff to dip them in. I could have eaten 10 of them.

I have to take Brian and his wife Michelle to the airport later this morning. They are doing their annual visit to Denmark, Brian’s home. There are there for 11 days, I believe. He usually borrows a bike and does one race on his island. I hope he gets one this year too.

Trudi is driving up to Chicago this morning, then Madison for the BMC U-23 guys, that race on Wednesday morning at the crack of dawn. I’m heading up there with Bill on Wednesday, to race the Elite Nationals on Friday. Something better change for the better or that is going to just be a ride around for me. But, I’m so hit or miss nowadays, I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. I need the miles for sure.

The criterium podium in front of the usbank, which sponsored the event.

The criterium podium in front of the usbank, which sponsored the event.

Following Joseph through the final corner one lap.

Following Joseph through the final corner one lap.

Bob Sanner,  the Executive Director for the Lawrence Sports Corporation, Catherine, Bromont and Trudi hanging at the Sunflower tent.

Bob Sanner, the Executive Director for the Lawrence Sports Corporation, Catherine, Bromont and Trudi hanging at the Sunflower tent.

Dan Hughes, owner of Sunflower BIke Shop trying he luck on skinny tires.  He won the Dirty Kanza a few weeks ago and now is racing crits.  Pretty cool.

Dan Hughes, owner of Sunflower BIke Shop trying he luck on skinny tires. He won the Dirty Kanza a few weeks ago and now is racing crits. Pretty cool.

Results.  Click to enlarge.

Results. Click to enlarge.

My friend, Kelly Fisher-Goodwin, won the women's race for the 2nd day in a row.   She recently moved back to the area after a stint on the East coast.

My friend, Kelly Fisher-Goodwin, won the women’s race for the 2nd day in a row. She recently moved back to the area after a stint on the East coast.

Scott Anderson's behind.  What I saw most of the ride over to Lawrence.

Scott Anderson’s behind. What I saw most of the ride over to Lawrence.

I saw this locked up on Mass. St. walking around after dinner.  I'm not sure if it was homemade or a kit.

I saw this locked up on Mass. St. walking around after dinner. I’m not sure if it was homemade or a kit.

Crashes in the Tour – Is it the Chicken or the Egg

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When I was in Colorado a couple weeks ago observing the Garmin testing on Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde, I was surprised how stressed both of those guys were about going to the Tour and especially the potential crashes. They had both just finished the Giro a few weeks earlier and the stress was still lingering from that.

They went on to explain what any informed viewer/observer already knows. The stupid crashes that are occurring more and more in these important stage races are because there isn’t enough room at the front for all the riders. Each team is trying to control the front, or more accurately, keep their GC or team leader out of trouble by riding near the front of the field. The problem is that there isn’t enough room for 10 GC leaders and their teams. So, you’re safer at the front, in theory, but it is very, very difficult to stay there because there are 10 guys for every one that wants to be in the same place. So, you think you might rotate to the back. But at the back you end up doing an unbelievable amount of intervals, full braking and then sprinting. Or you end up stuck behind the inevitable crashes. Even worse, you end up on the ground.

This especially happens in Italy where the roads are super narrow and twisty. But, it happens in the Tour also, obviously.

This riding in team formation, this modern tactic, has really changed the dynamics of the race and has added a ton of danger to the sport. The teams and riders themselves came up with this style of riding that actually makes the races more dangerous.

It is pretty similar to the way that teams here in the US control the front of a criterium the last 5 or more laps, by riding at the front on the inside of the course. This tactic works great to do what it is intended to do, but makes the races much more dangerous to participate in.

I think it is strange that once the ball gets rolling with these tactics, then if you don’t participate, you are at others mercy. It is strange that the sport has evolved to where it is actually a step back. If each team just would have only one guy escorting their GC leader, then there wouldn’t be so many people fighting for wheels constantly. But, it isn’t that easy, obviously.

Anyway, I thought it was strange about how much the Garmin guys were already dreading the constant fighting and stress of the positioning during the Tour. Most of the riding during a stage race should be stress free. At least stress free from worrying about falling on the ground. I can’t imagine how much extra energy these guys are burning on a daily basis, stressing about the whole thing and also actually participating in the silliness.

Since the riders and team directors came up with this new style of racing, they need to figure it out themselves, how to fix the problem. I don’t think anyone benefits from the constant crashes and injuries associated with them. It definitely destroys some of the beauty of the sport.

Scenes like this just detract from the race in my opinion.

Scenes like this just detract from the race in my opinion.

This is all fine and dandy as long as the roads are wide and open.  It gets super dangerous as the roads narrow and get twisty.

This is all fine and dandy as long as the roads are wide and open. It gets super dangerous as the roads narrow and get twisty.

What’s Up with Tires Nowadays???

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I’ve been having the worst time with clincher tires this season. With my shoulder all jacked up, changing tires and tubes isn’t all that easy. It seems like the clincher tires are getting worse and worse. Getting worse quality and wear while getting more expensive. It seems backwards.

I put a new Bontrager clincher on my front wheel about a month ago. I don’t know exactly how many miles I’ve ridden in that time, but it can’t be 1500. It wore through the tread. I could understand if it were a rear tire, but a front? It seems like all the clincher tires are getting worse. They don’t have straight treads, mount all weird, plus wear out in the blink of an eye.

And the cost of the things are starting to mirror tubulars. Most of the tubeless tires are approaching $100 now. I can see that is your going to race them, but for training, it is insane. The benefits of not changing a couple flats for an extra $50 doesn’t add up.

Anyway, just wanted to vent a little here. I’m in a rush, packing to head up to Madison for Elite Nationals, and noticed threads showing on my front tire and didn’t really feel like I had the time or energy to mess with it.

What's up with this tread?  It looks like they painted it on by hand.

What’s up with this tread? It looks like they painted it on by hand.

I put this tire on.  It seems to have tread on the inside and outside.   A choice of slick or tread.  Weird.

I put this tire on. It seems to have tread on the inside and outside. A choice of slick or tread. Weird.

Here's the slick choice.

Here’s the slick choice.

And Bill raced the criterium on Sunday on this tire when his race wheel went flat right before the race.

And Bill raced the criterium on Sunday on this tire when his race wheel went flat right before the race.

Madison Wisconsin – Hope it is better the 2nd time around

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I haven’t been to Madison since January at Cyclocross Nationals. That is where the year went haywire and I destroyed my shoulder. So far, it’s been alright. But, since I didn’t get up here until 11 pm last night, there isn’t much that could go wrong.

The drive was an easy 550 miles. I like the drive up from Cedar Rapids Iowa to Madison on highway 151. It is super scenic. It’s a 4 lane divided highway, through rolling hills and beautiful farmland. It crosses the Mississippi River in Dubuque Iowa. Last night, the river was full of 100’s of boats waiting for the firework display that they were obviously going to do over the river very soon.

Trudi drove the BMC team car here a couple days ago and worked the U23 road race yesterday. Her guy, TJ Eisenhart, got 8th in the road race. I guess it blew apart early and got back together and then blew apart again. He has to race the time trial at 9 this morning. I’m not sure why anyone would schedule the U23 Nationals in such a screwy way, putting the road race and time trial back to back, early in the morning. It isn’t a stage race. These 18 to 23 year old guys need their sleep and don’t necessarily function that well at early morning hours. I’d bet guys sat out the road race to do well in the time trial or vise-versa. I don’t think, if you travel all the way to the National Championships, you should have to choose between one or the other. It just doesn’t make any sense. They might as well do the criterium tomorrow afternoon.

I’m going to watch the Tour and then go over to the road course and ride a lap. I’ve raced the course before, but it was a few years ago. I don’t really see any reason to be tired before the race, so I’m only going to ride a little today. I’m having a hard time getting going early in races, so I might ride a little before the start tomorrow afternoon. With 200 riders in the race and the course being tricky, there is a good possibility that an early break will be the winning move. I’m going to have to be pretty lucky be able to read that move, assuming I’m having an okay day. Nowadays, I never know what kind of day I’m having until I’m already racing.

Trudi leaving the drive on Monday, heading to Madison.

Trudi leaving the drive on Monday, heading to Madison.

Quiz-What is this?

Quiz-What is this?

There are firework stands all over the city of Topeka.  Bromont is happy we bugged out before today because it has been like a war zone there the last couple nights while we were out walking late.

There are firework stands all over the city of Topeka. Bromont is happy we bugged out before today because it has been like a war zone there the last couple nights while we were out walking late.

What Are We Supposed to Be Eatin’ ???

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I am getting so confused the last few weeks trying to figure out what we’re supposed to be eating as athletes. Historically it has been a high carb, low-fat diet. But, that is so yesteray. After writing a couple posts about losing some weight, I was inundated with emails about nutrition and what I should or shouldn’t be eating. Some of it makes some sense, other stuff seems completely ridiculous.

So what is it, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, protein, carbohydrates, what? When I was out with the Garmin guys before the Tour, Danielson and Vande Valde both said they didn’t eat any gluten and that they wouldn’t eat any pasta during the tour. Man, that is a long race not to be eating any pasta.

I noticed that the California Giant Strawberry guys here at my hotel have almond milk on their table and gluten-free bread. So no milk or bread. Man, life it difficult with no bread and milk products. One rider, who I’ll not mention his name, took a bowl and put 7 hard boiled eggs in it and left the dinning area. I don’t know the time duration that he would use to eat those eggs, but that is a lot of hard boiled eggs.

Anyway, I’ll have to be doing a little more research on this whole thing. I’m sure some of it is just an advancement in nutrition and other stuff is just a fad. I still ate a big bowl of pasta with pesto. I like it.

Changing the subject, but talking about ridiculous stuff, I got a Communique for the 2013 USA Cycling Championships from USA Cycling at 9:42 pm. Here is a paragraph buried half way down –

Wait Listed Riders
Riders in the Cat 1 Men’s Road Race and the Junior Men’s 17-18 Criterium will need to pick up their packet at least 2 hours before the start of their race. Any riders not picked up at that point will have their spot taken away, and that spot will be given to someone on the waiting list. Wait listed riders will be given preference to these spots in the order they were added to the wait list.

What a screw up this could be. The packet pickup in the technical guide states that packet pickup ends at 1 pm, one hour before the start of the road race tomorrow. And now, no. There are going to be some pretty angry people. I’m not angry, just a little pissed. I have no desire getting to the start of a longish road race 2 hours before the race. After picking up my number and pinning it on, what am I supposed to do for the other 1:45? Maybe registration is going to be turtle slow and that will take an hour and a half? If that is the case, then I really will be angry. But, if they stick to this and start handing out numbers to wait listed riders at T-2 hours, there is going to be a lot of really angry riders and probably a small scene happening. I wonder what order they are going to be handing out numbers of the “no shows”. Maybe there will be a big scene, it just depends. I have no idea why only Nationals can have these issues.

This used to be just about the worst stuff in the world you could eat and now athletes are adding it to their food as a benefit.

This used to be just about the worst stuff in the world you could eat and now athletes are adding it to their food as a benefit.

Elite Nationals Recap

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Before I write any more I need to state right off the start that I was never in the race yesterday at the Elite Road Nationals in Madison. I was hoping I was going to have an good day, or I would have taken just an okay day, but neither of those occurred. So, the majority of the race I was just riding around, not in control of my own destiny.

The course was really hard. Super hard, but it wasn’t long enough. Racing 80 miles isn’t long enough for the Elite Nationals. If the race would have been a couple laps longer, the results would have been different and there would have been a lot more DNF’s. Even though the temperatures were only in the mid 80’s, it was muggy, thus harder.

The day started badly. I was riding to the staging and hit a huge hole in the grass field and jammed my shoulder pretty good. That wasn’t good. The staging was non-existence. It was just a mass of riders hanging around at the start/finish line, mulling around while the straggling juniors, trying to finish, were coming at them. Not the best plan.

The race was supposed to be neutral the first mile. That ended up being 3 miles. There is nothing like trying to neutralize 200 nervous riders, on a steep downhill with gravel on the shoulders. I heard one explosion, so there must have been some carnage. It was super dangerous and I was on the official’s car’s bumper.

After the race finally started, there isn’t too much to write about. The race was so predictable. You could almost tell within a mile where the selection was going to be made. Joseph Schmaltz, who ended up finishing 3rd, a few seconds back, came up to me and we concurred it was going to explode on the climb. And it did. A lap later, I was talking to Cole House and I told him the break wasn’t going to come back. Just like last time I told him that in the Burlington Road Race, Cole managed to launch himself up to the break, which was the move of the day, for sure.

After the 10 riders were away, all that was left to do was ride the last two laps and the finish climb. I couldn’t even manage to do that without incident. On the 4th time up the climb. I was maybe 20 riders back, over on the right side of the field and it bunched up. The guy ahead of me to my left, served my way and hit my front wheel. I got leaning the wrong way into him and fell. It was on the super steep lower pitch of the long climb. I sat there for a second and then straightened my bars. Looking at the field, it didn’t seem like they were very far ahead, a few hundred meters. But a few hundred meters, going so slow is a lot of time.

I got to the top and caught up with my friend Adam Mills, who was riding his own pace off the back, and we started the descent together. The caravan wasn’t huge, but I figured that someone would help us get back up. It turned out that we didn’t really need any individual help. We descended pretty clean and were in the back of the caravan at the bottom of the descent. We caught on after a little over 1/2 a lap. It was about the only time the whole race I felt pretty good. Actually, I felt okay the next lap too, at least compared to the remaining field, which was getting weaker by the minute.

I went up the climb the 5th lap pretty good, but was riding off balanced. My left hip was starting to seize up from falling and I was pedaling badly. The field was pretty much in survival mode at that point. There were maybe only 30 of us left at the top. With only 12 miles to go, I realized I had no desire or ability to ride up the final climb with the group. I tried a few times to ride away in small groups, but the field had enough left to negate that. There are too many guys in the field that don’t want to see me ride away, so it was never going to happen. Eventually, we slowed down and nearly the whole remaining group got back together.

Starting up the last 2 miles, there was a huge group. We were racing for 11th place, with 10th being a minute and a half up the road. I pulled the plug nearly at the bottom of the hill. I shifted into a 27 and just tried to find a position on my seat where I wouldn’t cramp and could pedal. A ton of guys blew like crazy and I just kept my snail pace up the climb and passed a bunch of them. The last km or the race is pretty steep. It might have been the only time I actually felt good. But it really didn’t matter. I just rode off my seat passed a few more guys.

I finished a dismal 46th place, which is probably exactly where I belonged for the day. The only thing that might have helped was more distance, but I didn’t want to do any more laps. Like I wrote at the start, I was never in contention the whole day. I did finish way ahead of the race predictor, which had me finishing 176th or something. Joseph was predicted as finishing 3rd, and he did, so it must be super accurate. Stephen Leeche, California Giant, the rider that won the race, finished 16th in the U23 race on Wednesday. Goes to show you that you just need to keep clipping in and riding, you never know what the day will bring without making the effort.

I tore up my knee pretty good, but couldn’t deal with it after the race, so just scrubbed it out, put antibiotic cream on and then a bandage. Last night I slept about two hours. My right hip is toast. Not ripped up but a contusion or maybe a hip pointer. It is throbbing and I am hobbling around. Just another thang.

The highlight of the day was going out to eat with Trudi’s sister’s family downtown last night. We went to Graze, which is an organic restaurant on the capitol square. Super cool ambience, good food and great company. They had to head out after dinner, so we did a lap of downtown with the dogs late. I am never too tired to get the flavor of a city, especially later at night on Friday. Madison is pretty cool.

The criterium is on Sunday afternoon around the capitol building. I have a day to figure out what is going on exactly with me. I’ll be fine. Kind of sick of this season though. Guess it can only get better. Think I’ll go wander around the farmer’s market in downtown Madison this morning and try to loosen up some.

Oh, I need to give a shout out to Shadd Smith, my friend and old team-mate, who fell hard on the descent. He spent the night in the UW Hospital with a injury to his head, and probably other issues I’d assume. I heard his bike was in pieces. I’ll post one here as soon as I get one. I had a max speed of nearly 62 mph, so it couldn’t have been pretty. Anyway, get feeling better Shad.

The podium, Joseph in 3rd.

The podium, Joseph in 3rd.

My knee after the race.  I probably should have put a couple stiches in, but didn't have any with me and didn't feel much like the whole hospital ordeal.  I wonder what it looks like today, under the bandage?

My knee after the race. I probably should have put a couple stiches in, but didn’t have any with me and didn’t feel much like the whole hospital ordeal. I wonder what it looks like today, under the bandage?

My view from the table at dinner.

My view from the table at dinner.

My dinner at the Graze.  A burger on an English muffin.

My dinner at the Graze. A burger on an English muffin.

Trudi got fried chicken on a waffle.

Trudi got fried chicken on a waffle.

Nice artsy picture of the Wisconsin Capitol building on the night walk.

Nice artsy picture of the Wisconsin Capitol building on the night walk.