Monthly Archives: March 2014

Race Day – UCI MTB Mellow Johnny’s

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Okay, today should be an eye opening experience. I have absolutely no idea how I’m going. I know I’m not going great, but I hope I might be going okay. I’m climbing like shit sitting down, and that is the only way to go uphill here, since the ground is covered with loose rocks and you have to put most of your weight on the rear wheel. I wish there was a off the seat climb to let me stretch my legs a little. My bike handling skills are just so/so too. I hope they improve during the race tomorrow.

If you’re snowed in or sick or for some other reason you need to be sitting inside today, the race is going to be live on the internet on YouTube. I’m not sure exactly how much they are broadcasting, but I’m pretty sure the whole women’s and men’s races. So, anytime after 12:45 CST, you can click here to watch. The men’s race is at 2:45pm.

I rode two laps yesterday. Not hard, but not slow either. I was mildly surprised that the 2nd lap was the 27th fastest time of the course on Strava. That is encouraging. The fastest time is only 3 1/2 minutes faster. I was 18:30 ish and the fastest time was around 15 minutes in last year’s race. I can go a fair bit faster, so I’m not so concerned now about getting pulled. Figure I’d have to be 12 minutes back in 4 laps and those guys won’t be doing the fastest lap times each lap, so I should be alright.

Trudi went to the manager’s meeting and registration. She picked my random number and I’m lining up 36th, which is the first guy after all the riders with UCI points. That was a first. My history in cyclocross is I usually end up on the last two rows. Pretty good only being 1/2 way back in the field of 69 riders.

I don’t really have a goal set for today’s race. Not getting hurt is something I’d interested in. Not flatting would be nice too. After that, my only concern is overheating a bit. It was a little over 80 yesterday and I got pretty hot on the short climbs. But, the race is short, around an hour and a half, so it shouldn’t be too bad. And unless you are from somewhere like here/Texas, Arizona, Southern Cal., etc., you’re in the “it’s going to be really hot boat”.

Okay, I’m going to go for a road ride this morning to loosen up some and then go over to the venue before the women’s race, I hope. Might get another lap in on the course if I’m lucky. Either way, it is what it is. I’ll let you know how it goes.

My favorite number is 11, but this one isn't too bad.

My favorite number is 11, but this one isn’t too bad.

I got some of the plug deals at the Bicycle Sport Shop. I had to call a bunch of shops before I found them. Weird, since I'd imagine they are really needed around here.

I got some of the plug deals at the Bicycle Sport Shop. I had to call a bunch of shops before I found them. Weird, since I’d imagine they are really needed around here.

1st page call-up. There are some pretty good guys just 10 or so ahead of me, so maybe I'll be able to follow some good riders early.  Click to enlarge.

1st page call-up. There are some pretty good guys just 10 or so ahead of me, so maybe I’ll be able to follow some good riders early. Click to enlarge

Mellow Johnny’s UCI MTB Race

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I can’t say yesterday went very well. It went badly. When you pretty much have to walk your bike out of the course, that would be the appropriate description. I was thinking about it yesterday and I’m pretty sure I’ve only quit two MTB races in the last 20 years, one I sheared off my fork and the other I double flatted and my 2nd tube had a hole in it. This was not as bad as the first time, but worse than the 2nd.

The day started alright. I rode some in the morning in the drizzle and felt just okay. We drove out to the course and the drizzle burned off and it started heating up. I did a couple laps of the start loop and didn’t feel great, but not bad. I rode a little more and have to say I wouldn’t throw my chip back in. I knew the start was going to be hectic. I was about 1/2 way back in the bunch. I was pretty nervous before the start, but on the line, I wasn’t nervous at all.

They said go and I was just trying to make sure I didn’t get caught up in anything. We rode up a short hill and I was thinking to myself I had forgotten how dusty MTB racing is. The first time we got to single-track a log jam. I had to stop maybe only 10 seconds. Then we got going again and about 1/4 mile later, another single-track and a bigger log jam. By the time we got to real course it had strung out. I was in 30th, was a little further back than I’d hoped, but I was fine with it. About 1/2 way out the first rocky single-track, I started feeling my rear tire hit the rim. But, I was going a lot faster than I had previously and thought maybe that I was just worrying. But it wasn’t my imagination. I had passed a few guys riding, plus a few more off their bikes screwing with their tires. I kept riding, knowing the next section was uphill, where low pressure would be an advantage. I screwed up on one rocky climb and 5 riders went by. It pretty much was wheel to wheel. Finally we got to a faster, rockier section and I was bottoming out lots.

So, I stopped and put in a bunch of air. I sat there for a second and tried to see where the air was coming out, but couldn’t see any latex anywhere. I’d guess I put in close to 40 psi. I’d started the race with high pressure, 30 in the rear, just to make sure I kept air in my tires. Didn’t work obviously. I’m not sure how many guys went by, but a lot. I got back into line and the guys I was riding with then were going significantly slower than the guys I had been riding with previously.

Just a mile or so later, still on the first lap, I felt my rear rim again. I couldn’t believe it. I rode it as far as I could and then pulled over. This time the air was leaking out my valve stem, so it was my fault. I guess I didn’t get all the way closed. It was a little clogged with latex and glitter, so I took some extra attention getting it tight. So, another Co2 cartridge gone. I had three and a tube, so thought I was still good. I rode through the pit and Trudi told me I was in 60th. That was out of 69 starters. But, I could see a bunch of guys ahead of me and still felt okay motivated.

It was getting hot on the climbs, like really hot. Most of the guys I passed the next half lap said something to me about being hot. About half way through the next lap, the tire felt a little low, but I wasn’t sure. I stopped to check it, only losing a couple spots, and it was a little less pressure than before, but still over 30 psi. I finished that lap and when I got to the start/finish I got another Co2 from Trudi. I figured it was just a training ride then. I knew I was sunk, being back behind a lot of other guys that were going slow, for various reasons.

About half was through the 3 lap, my tire went instantly flat. I pulled over and put a tube in it. Man, it was hot stopping that time. I put the whole quickfil in the tire, so the pressure was crazy high, but I knew that there was a slim chance of a tube staying inflatted on a trail like this. I rode maybe a mile and it was all over.

I wasn’t really that depressed, other than not getting to ride the last two laps, I was pretty done with the whole experience. I started walking. I didn’t have to walk that far before I came upon a course guy with a radio. He told me to go up to an intersection and that he’d have a guy with a quad meet me to give me a ride back. I got up there and it was asphalt. So, I decided to just ride. It wasn’t going to hurt the wheel and my tire was toast already. It was only 1 1/2 miles back to the start finish. I got back 10 minutes before the guys finished, so at least I got to watch that.

I didn’t really get what I was hoping out of the race. First, I wanted to see how I stacked up against these guys. After the start, that wasn’t going to really be fair. I think if I didn’t have any problems early, when it thinned out later and the riding was more open, I could have compared my lap times to those of the leaders. I was never going to see them during the race. The temperatures didn’t thrill me much. I felt really overheated even just riding back on the flat. It’s hard going from near freezing temperatures to over 80 and humid and not feel extremely bad, at least for me.

Lots and lots of guys flatted. Maybe not as much as me, but I passed guys riding on carbon wheels to the pit, flat, saw tons of guys on the side of the trail, messing with their tires. The rocks were very sharp and numerous. Plus, the speed you hit the rocks at was pretty fast. I don’t have much current knowledge of tires, but I though I had on decent tires, Racing Ralphs with the Snake whatever proof sidewalls. I haven’t had much luck with those now, so I think I’ll try something different.

I’m not too tweaked today. Doing the stair test, it is hard, but not horrible. I didn’t race an hour, so that is probably the reason. I’m going to race the Lago Vista Road Race at 12:45 this afternoon. It is 83 miles and a very hard 5.5 mile lap. It is supposed to be in the 50’s and raining at the start. And keep raining and temperatures dropping to the upper 40’s by the finish. I really don’t feel like going out and riding 4 hours in the rain and cold, but am interested how I’m riding and the best way to figure that out is by racing. Plus, I feel like this trip down here is pretty much a bust so far, other than hanging out with some friends, so I need to try something to salvage it a little.

I think I’m going to start driving back to Topeka after the race is over at 5. It is supposed to ice up in Dallas and the last time I experienced that, I was stuck there for a few days. If I can get up to Oklahoma, or somewhere closer that has salt and sand, then I’ll stop. It is suppose to snow a lot in Topeka today, with record low temperatures, -10 is predicted. That is pretty cold for the end of February in Kansas.

Alright, gotta get packed up and moving.

Putting on my number plate.

Putting on my number plate.

My Garmin when I started pre-riding.

My Garmin when I started pre-riding.

Started with this in my pocket. Didn't use it, but was prepared.

Started with this in my pocket. Didn’t use it, but was prepared.

Heading out after the start loop.

Heading out after the start loop.

Started back out in the scrub brush on the 2nd lap.

Started back out in the scrub brush on the 2nd lap.

Todd Wells coming in for 3rd, just a few seconds off 1st.

Todd Wells coming in for 3rd, just a few seconds off 1st.

Ryan Trebon coming in a ways later. Both Todd and Ryan looked pretty much done.

Ryan Trebon coming in a ways later. Both Todd and Ryan looked pretty much done.

20140302-102953.jpgHaving dinner out afterwards, with my friend Ann, made the day worthwhile.

On Any Given Sunday

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

I can’t say that last weekend was my best. It started badly on Saturday, and little did I know, would keep deteriorating as the hours/days proceeded.

Saturday, I’ve already posted about. Lots of flats, very hot, very unrewarding.

Sunday I woke to drizzle and okay temperatures, in the 60’s. But that wasn’t to be. Soon after waking up the temperatures started dropping. The Lago Vista Road Race start time was at 12:45. It was supposed to be in the upper 30’s by then and raining. It was cold and wet, but not really just all out down pouring by the time we got there.

I would rather road race at 35 degrees, in the rain, than race a MTB race in the mid 80’s right now. I can sort of dress for the rain situation, but you can’t dress to cool yourself.

Lago Vista loop is a great race. The first time I rode this course was close to 30 years. I especially like the loop counterclockwise. It is pretty much a 5 mile loop, half climbing and half descending. The climb on Sunday is much harder, thus much more selective. I was looking forward to testing myself against a higher caliber of riders.

The road race went good initially. I wasn’t planning on missing an early move, or any move for that matter. The way these rainy races usually go, especially after a hard race the day before, is that a break gets up the road, everyone else loses motivation, gets cold and quits. So, the early break wins.

But, I missed the real early move. I tried to mark everything the best I could, being only me, but a couple guys rolled, then two or three more, and finally Stefan Rothe, from the “new Elbows” team, jumped up there. 7 guys rolled away and we kind of just sat.

Luckily for me, the “new Boneshaker Team“, that has Heath Blackgrove and Logan Hutchings, missed the move too. They put some of their guys on the front and throttled it for a couple laps.

That hurt a lot of guys. There was a bunch of wind and what really hurt the field was the side wind sections, not the climbing so much. It was obvious when it was going to hit the fan. We went across the start/finish area super hard and started up the climb without losing a beat. I was in pretty good position, right behind Heath, but when he jumped, my chain popped from the big ring to the small ring. My Di2 has been not self adjusting the trim for the last couple weeks. I’m sure it is something I did wrong, but for whatever the reason, when I’m crosschained, or one down in the back, the front derailluer is staying out. Then it adjusts and pops my chain to the small ring. Anyway, I missed the initial move.

Zack Allison, from the Think Team, went with Heath, then some other guy jumped with my friend Joseph Schmalz, newly to the Hincapie Pro Team, on his wheel. So, I was a bit back. I jumped on the next step section and rode up to the back of Joseph. The guy infront of him did a pretty big effort and pretty much bridged up to Heath and Zack, but Heath put in a big dig and the guy got popped. I thought I was going to have to jump past Joseph to get up to Heath. I thought I had just one jump left, not a pull. But, Joseph put his head down and we bridged up to Heath right as he was latching onto the back of the leading break.

I recovered pretty quickly and looked back and there was nothing. I felt pretty good making the hard move to get up to the break. I knew some of the guys that were up there wouldn’t be in contention at the end. Heath has won this race so many times, my plan was just to only mark him the rest of the day. This normally is a good course for Joseph too, but from my observations, he didn’t seem like he was having a good day. He and Heath had ridden the 40 miles back from the race the day before, so he had big miles the day before.

Anyway, it was all for nothing. We kept going hard for the next lap and on the climb, I started feeling my valve stem of my front wheel hitting the asphalt. Shit. I looked over my shoulder and there wasn’t a follow car. I rode a couple hundred more meters, realized it was nearly completely flat, said goodbye to the other guys and did a u-turn. I started down the hill and a small blue VW pulled over and asked me I had a problem. I said a flat and the guy got out and said he was the wheel vehicle. I told him it was “just a tad” late and keep coasting back to the car.

I was fairly depressed. I’m not sure how the last half of the race would have went, but I felt like I was good enough to give it a go. But, like I have said many times, I’d rather be riding good and not get a result, than riding bad and win. But, not getting a result by flatting sucks. Especially after the day before’s fiasco.

I don’t know how the race went after that, other than Heath Blackgrove won from the 2nd day in a row and Zack was 2nd, which was a good result.

But, the day kept getting better and better/worse and worse. First, the highway between Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth was a parking lot. It was mainly weather related. Freezing drizzle. The roads weren’t horrible, but they were bad. And they kept getting worse. Just only ice.

It took forever to get up to Dallas. North of Dallas, at Denton, I stopped and bought some more windsield de-icer and wiper blades. They have no de-icer that goes below of 30 degrees, so all of it freezes, since it was below 10. We kept driving and got to Oklahoma City, which is 150 miles north. The roads were clear there and I thought we were good. Our ETA at that point was going to be around 1:30 am, which was alright. But right north of OKC, it got ugly.

It started snowing hard. On top of that, it was super windy from the north. Nearly a white out. But the real problem was that they had plowed only one lane and everyone was driving in just that lane. And most people were going 15-20 mph. Everyone had their blinkers on, which I personally hate, but if you’re driving 15 mph on an Interstate highway, then maybe you should use your blinkers.

A truck passed me and he was going pretty good, maybe 40 mph. The problem was the snow. Everytime he pulled into the passing lane to pass the slow cars, a plume of snow would appear and it was a complete whiteout. I got the rhythm down and would back off another 50 meters or so. I wasn’t following him that closely anyway, maybe 75 meters. But, I didn’t want to lose his tail lights, because it was hard knowing where the road was without them.

We came up upon 3 cars that were driving on the plowed side. They were going maybe 20-30. I stayed in the plowed lane, behind them, while the truck passed them. Then I accelerated and moved into the passing lane. I got past the first two cars and when I got up to the first car in line, it went bad.

I’m not sure if the truck did something in front of us or not, but all of a sudden it was a white out. Then, just when that cleared, there was a huge snow drift in my lane. I hit the huge drift of snow across the road and felt like I was drifting to the right, but you couldn’t really tell where the lanes were. I thought I was past the first car, but I guess not because I felt a little bump on my rear end and that sent us spinning. We did a 360 and hit the guard rail pretty hard. We were facing backwards, stopped in a deep pile of snow.

That was it. The radiator was pushed into the fan. The other car wasn’t bad at all. They called 911 and we waited. That is when it got scary. The other people kept getting out of their car and standing outside. It was so cold and super windy. Plus, the visability was nothing. The cars passing weren’t a problem, it was the trucks. They would come by at 40-50, so close. I got nervous, not liking my car facing the on coming traffic, so I proceeding to start the car and try to get it dislodged from the snow bank. It took a few minutes, but I finally got out and moved it down the road 30 meters, under the bridge, where it was clear. The other car moved too, pulled up and got in front of me. I still didn’t like the situation.

I called 911 and told them my situation. They patched me to the officer’s cell phone and he told me that they weren’t taking any reports, that there were a million accidents and that all we needed to do was exchange insurance information. I told him that the other car was pretty adamant that they wanted a report. He said to let him talk to them. So, I got out and went up to their car and gave them my phone. They were all Hispanic speaking, but spoke English. They talked to the officer, but for some reason, I don’t think they thought he was a Highway patrol officer. He said he was just a few miles away and would be there in a few minutes.

Anyway, he showed up, had us exchange insurance information and told me to leave. There was an exit just a couple miles away, luckily, because that is about as far as my car could run. The radiator was punctured and there was hardly any coolant left.

We got a room and yesterday morning, my brother Kris, got into my van, went and got a tow dolly and came down the 200 miles to get us. He got there around 12:30 and we were back to Topeka by 4.

I’ve only had 3 crashes before. Once, when I was 17, I was throwing newspapers out of my dad’s Ford Granada and clipped a parked car with the front passenger side. Then twice in team vans, once in the Levi’s van, on US 75 in Dallas, I was hit from behind and once in the Schwinn van, up in Canada, I was hit from behind. This one was different though.

We had talked about stopping, where we ultimately did have to stay. But, Kansas was only 30 minutes away. And here, in Kansas, we plow both lanes of a highway and use salt/sand. It is weird driving through states in the winter, that don’t really have the infrastructure to deal with weather. I’ve experienced it twice now this winter. I understand it a lot better now, but still don’t like it much.

Okay, I was supposed to go out to Moab, Utah and do a camp with my friend Vincent and his cycling team. Road and MTB. I’d still like to do some of that, but need to regroup a bit and try to figure out what I’m doing. I’m pretty exhausted and a little depressed.

Talking with Joseph at the start.

Talking with Joseph at the start.

Lots of this between Austin and Dallas.

Lots of this between Austin and Dallas.

It got worse later.

It got worse later.

The windshield cleaner buckets at the gas stations.

The windshield cleaner buckets at the gas stations.

Morning paper in Blackwell.

Morning paper in Blackwell.

Picking the Isuzu up in Oklahoma.

Picking the Isuzu up in Oklahoma.

Back in Topeka.

Back in Topeka.

“Right, that was that era, we can now put that to bed……….” Chris Froome

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There are a few articles on the internet where Chris Froome, current Tour de France defending champion, is quoted as saying that he supports the CIRC (Cycling Independent Reform Commission) investigation and “hopes” that it will put an end to the questions. His quote is actually, “I am hoping that at the end of the day people will be able to say of it, ‘Right, that was that era, we can now put that to bed and stop asking questions about it.”

Chris seems to just have taken over the same stance as his previous Tour team mate, Bradley Wiggins when he “hopes” that people will stop asking him questions. But, why should he hope this, or better yet, expect it?

Last year, Wiggins himself, says that he is positive that Lance was doping when he “returned” to the sport in 2009. But, say that 2009 really wasn’t part of that “era”. I don’t know how far that they both want us to go back to include the era, but let us just say the last year Lance won the Tour, 2005.

I wonder if they both realize that every Tour de France winner, other than Chris Froome, was racing back then. This includes Bradley. So, they were definitely participating in that era of racing.

There is an article at on Chris’ hopes, then right under it there is another article saying how Chris’ competition for the Criterium du Dauphine will include Alberto Contador.

I wonder if Chris remembers how Alberto couldn’t get a contract, after turning Pro in 2004, riding with ONCE/Liberty Seguros, because he was implicated in Operation Puerto. Then, Discovery stepped up and in January 2007, signed him to a contract and he went on to win the Tour de France. Alberto has since had to sit out two years for doping violations.

Chris must consider Alberto part of the previous “era”. He really must understand that, if we use 2005 as the “end” of the era, then most of the guys that win races in cycling were participating in the sport then. Most major Tours and nearly every classic now, curently, are being contested, and won, by riders that were winning those very same races during the dark “era”.

And Chris must of missed the loads of other guys that have been caught doping the last couple years in the sport. And these were just the very, very small percentage of guys that were actually caught.

So, Chris expects that this new investigation will lay this all to bed and “hopes” that the inquiry convinces us all that the sport is now clean and believable?

They need to get off this “past era” deal. If Chris wants us to “believe” in the sport again, then as a Tour winner, I would expect him to say things that make some sort of sense and seem believable. What he is saying is just a bunch of malarkey.

Alberto and Lance climbing the Ventoux.  Alberto looks pretty stressed, huh?

Alberto and Lance climbing the Ventoux. Alberto looks pretty stressed, huh?

Here is Bradley and Lance, plus David Millar, having a tough time climbing in the Tour.

Here is Bradley and Lance, plus David Millar, having a tough time climbing in the Tour.

Photos from 1st MTB Nationals

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I saw a couple photos from the 1st NORBA Nationals, outside Santa Barbara, on Facebook a couple days ago. Gene Maruszewski posted them on his Facebook page and tagged me. There aren’t that many photos around from that race. At least, not many photos that have been downloaded/turned digital.

I don’t really remember many spectators at the race. The conditions weren’t conducive for cameras. It was raining cats and dogs.

It was just Roy Knickman and myself from the Raleigh Team. Kent Eriksen, who owns Moots, built us a couple bikes the week before and Alexi Grewal flew them out to us. He ended up wearing our jersey too for the race. I think I was fortunate winning the race. It could have gone any which way.

Anyway, I guess I realized that all the guys in the photo below, rode the race, but didn’t really know that they were all riding for Tom Ritchey. That was a pretty stellar line-up. Pretty great photo.

Ritchey Team photo before the race.  Joe Murray, Eric Heiden, Dave McLaughlin, Tom Ritchey, David Zanotti, Dale Stetina and Sterling McBride.

Ritchey Team photo before the race. Joe Murray, Eric Heiden, Dave McLaughlin, Tom Ritchey, David Zanotti, Dale Stetina and Sterling McBride.

There were lots of stream crossings.  I don't think I've ever since raced in long tights and a short sleeve jersey.  A wool short sleeve jersey no less.

There were lots of stream crossings. I don’t think I’ve ever since raced in long tights and a short sleeve jersey. A wool short sleeve jersey no less.

Alexi's skinny legs at the start, along with his camo Moots bicycle.

Alexi’s skinny legs at the start, along with his camo Moots bicycle.

Website Down, So Went out Riding

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

My website was down all morning, so I worked on my bike. I blew my rear derailleur off of my road bike a couple days ago and don’t have another Di2 one, so had to switch back to mechanical. That involves taking the tape off etc. Kind of a hassle.

My team mate Brian Jensen called and was playing a little hooky, so Bill and I rode the 30 miles over to Lawrence yo meet him. That is where I’m at now.

It is nearly 60, so why not. Tomorrow it is supposed to be back in the 30’s for the local criterium.

Okay, better get back on the road.

Not much left on the hanger.

I didn’t even have enough time to tape my bars.

The burning has already started.