Monthly Archives: April 2016

Watch Charlotte Criterium Live Now

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The men’s race in Charlotte is going on now.  The roads are wet, so it looks a little sketchy.  Here is the link.  Enjoy.

Okay, I must have missed something, but there is a weather delay at the race.  Unless there is lightning, I have to call bullshit.  I’ve done a ton of criteriums with lightning, not that I’d advise that.  Weird.  All the riders are just standing in the road, so it must not be that dangerous.  If it is just because of wet conditions, then the race should be going on right now.

 

Thought I was MTB Racing, but now I’m Stage Racing

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Bill and I drove out to Lake Wilson to pre-ride a MTB course of a race that was supposed to happen on Sunday.  It is around 2 1/2 hours from Topeka, so 5 hours roundtrip, without the riding.  We rode for over 2 hours, so it was a longer day.

But, it was all for not.  Bill called late yesterday afternoon and said he’d seen on Facebook that the race had been postponed because of rain.  They used to not cancel races because of rain, but now it seems common.  The trail at Lake Wilson could hold a ton of water, it is pretty sandy, but it is also slick where it is low.

So, I made a couple calls.  I was willing to drive to Colorado and do a 50 mile MTB race with my friend Vincent.  But he said that his race had been postponed too, because of snow at higher elevations.  I thought about going back to Iowa City for the criterium there, but saw that Brian West’s team, that won Joe Martin had 1/3 of the field and thought that might not be so rewarding.

I had sort of forgot there is a local stage race in Lawrence.  I thought the registration might have closed, but Brian made a call and we’re in.  The time trial is just a hill climb that is at 8 am.  It is supposed to be raining then, so I’m not too thrilled about it.  It is going to clear later for the criterium at 2:00pm.

On Sunday there is a 87 mile road race around Lake Perry.  It might be a little wet and the race starts at 8:40am.  The high for the day is supposed to be 54, so it is going to be chilly.  And windy, which is fine.

Back to Lake Wilson.  I’ve only ridden there once before and it is a super cool place.  Very unlike Kansas.  Lots of sandstone and the trail is super technical.  I was riding my Eriksen dual suspension bike and it helped a ton compared to riding a hardtail.

We were out there for over 2 1/2 hours and only rode 22 miles.  My arms were getting pretty throttled by the end.  We went back to the van and got Tucker for the last rocky loop.  Tucker had only ran a mile or so before, so this was going to be his record.

Like I said the trail is super rocky, thus slow.  Tucker was a champ.  He lead the first while, then realized he didn’t know where we were going and followed.  He never got too far away and never got in the way.  Really nearly perfect.  We ended up going a little over 3 more miles and he seemed fine, but like I said, we were maybe going 9 miles an hour and now he normally runs over 15 on our nightly runs.

I was really looking forward to the race on Sunday.  I felt out of my element, but got tons better. I would have really liked to see how much more I improved at race pace.

But I’m road racing it seems.  It is Brian, Alex and me doing the race, so that should be run. There are at least 3 other teams with 4-5 riders each in the 1/2 race, so it should be competitive, which is always nice.

Okay, I need to get packed up and head out the door. I’m not big on these early morning starts.

The trail is right along the edge of the lake quite a bit.

The trail is right along the edge of the lake quite a bit.

You have to be careful or there is quite a drop off.

You have to be careful or there is quite a drop off.

Tucker was wondering why we weren't faster. The picture doesn't do it justice. The trail is steep.

Tucker was wondering why we weren’t faster. The picture doesn’t do it justice. The trail is steep. It goes up that rock behind Tucker and is nearly trials riding.

Tucker liked being in between us, which was fine by me.

Tucker liked being in between us, which was fine by me.

 

 

DQ in Yesterday’s Romandie Stage

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Check out the video below.  You can forward to about 1:50 to see the sprint start.  It is pretty unbelievable that they disqualified Ilnur Zakarin from this win.  The road goes to the right.  If they are saying the small swerve that Zakarin makes at the end the reason, that is completely BS.  As far as I can tell, he could have went all the way to the barriers and it would have still been fine.  The road curves and the shortest line to the finish is legal.  Quintana had already lost the stage.  It was fortunate, for him, that he happened to be overlapped with Zakarin’s rear wheel. Another example of bad officiating.

 

TUE’s are Bullshit

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This TUE (therapeutic use exemption) thing that keeps popping up in cycling is complete utter bullshit.  When you are so sick that you need a medication that is banned to compete, then you should not be competing.  That isn’t very hard to understand.  These guys all have such horrible lungs that they all need inhalers to compete.  I remember seeing a race where Chris Froome pulled an inhaler out of his pocket just a couple minutes before he shelled every other rider on a climb.  Pretty ill, huh?

Gerry Ryan is the owner of the Orica-GreenEdge team.  He is worried that his rider, Simon Yates’adverse analytic finding for testing positive for terbutaline, with be tried in a “kangaroo court”.  Many that is what this qualified as?

I don’t know shit about Simon Yates, other than what I, and anyone else, can read about him. But he had terbutaline in his system at a dope control test at Paris-Nice.  For some reason, Ryan and his team, think that just because the team’s doctor listed the medicine on the form when Simon did the test that they think that excuses him for having it in his system.  Hardly.

I don’t know the protocol of how Orica-Greenedge handles their rider’s TUE’s, but the rider is responsible for the medicine within his body, no one else.  It isn’t that hard of a concept to understand.  And it isn’t that hard of a task for a rider.  I assume that Simon isn’t taking a couple page list of medications that are all banned for competition.  I hoping it is just this, or maybe two. Which is two more than I approve of.

Isn’t it great that Orica is taking full responsibility for this “mistake”.  Orica’s statement -“In this case the team doctor made an administrative error by failing to apply for the TUE required for the use of this treatment. The use of Terbutaline without a current TUE is the reason it has been flagged as an adverse analytical finding. This is solely based on a human error that the doctor in question has taken full responsibility for.” That the rider isn’t at fault at all?  I disagree.  The rider is ultimately at fault here.  He is the responsible party.

And what they all don’t understand is the process.  You don’t administer medicine and then apply for the TUE.  You apply for the TUE and then, if approved, get the medicine.  Pretty simple. Guess they missed that memo.

Lots have been written about cyclists taking asthma medication.  Seems like it is pretty suspicion.  I saw this comment at this article at Cyclingnews.

And in the case of inhaled terbutaline, this recently published study suggests that high-dose usage is performance-enhancing in trained athletes:

“High-dose inhaled terbutaline increases muscle strength and enhances maximal sprint performance in trained men.” (Hostrup et al./Eur J. Appl/2014).

CONCLUSION:

“High-dose inhaled terbutaline elicits a systemic response that enhances muscle strength and sprint performance. High-dose terbutaline should therefore continue to be restricted in competitive sport.”

So, this drug can be used to treat asthma or can be used to increase muscle strength.  I guess it probably does both.  Seems like it shouldn’t be used in competion at all, TUE or not.

My view is pretty simple.  If you are healthy, race your bike.  If you are sick and need banned medicine to compete, you shouldn’t be.  Of course there are going to be a few exemptions to this simple statement, but if you are a professional athlete and you need an exemption for a banned substance to compete constantly, then you probably are in the wrong occupation.  Get another job.

I feel badly for Simon if he is truly “innocent” here. But like I stated above, ultimately he is responsible for what is in his body.

I’ve had a hard time breathing recently.  Maybe this stuff would help me out some.  I think I’ll try it for a little while and if it works, then I’ll apply for a TUE.  Think that is prudent?

 

Pick your poison.

Pick your poison.

Tucker is getting big. He is 36 pounds now. He needs his beauty sleep often.

Tucker is getting big. He is 36 pounds now. He needs his beauty sleep often.

 

Internet for Knowledge / Not for Skills

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I use the Internet all the time for information on how to do things.  How to reset automatic locks with a new key fob for one of my cars, to how to polish granite countertop edges, wet or dry.  It is amazing the extent people will go to give their experience or expertise to others.  And most of the time it is for nothing, just knowing they helped the next guy out so he doesn’t have to go through the learning process that they did.

There is a Youtube video for just about anything you can think of.  It might take a while sorting through them all to get to the one that has the true knowledge, but that is how all learning goes. Sometimes the guy that is the most inexperienced comes up with the best way of doing things it seems.  That is what is really cool about critical thinking.

Learning bicycle racing from the Internet probably wouldn’t work very well.  I think you could learn how to rebuild an STI lever on you bike pretty good, but the actually racing tactics would be nearly impossible.  Or techniques for being a better bike handler, etc. would be very hard to attain through just reading/watching them.  Or course you could read that you should put your all you weight on your outside pedal when cornering in a criterium, but that doesn’t mean it will become 2nd nature when you are doing it.

Becoming super confident on a bicycle, with the ability to handle most situations a race, or even training for hours on the road, throw at you, takes repetition.  It takes tons of times experiencing different situations and reacting instantly.  It isn’t like you consciously think about what you are doing, you are just doing.

At Joe Martin last week, I watched a rider a couple different stages.  This guy was killing it up Mt. Gaylor on Friday, pretty much killing it nearly the whole way up the climb.  He was super strong.  Then on Sunday, in the criterium, I got behind the same rider early in the race and couldn’t believe that he had no ability to turn a corner.  Like he was losing 2 or 3 bike lengths each and every corner.  I only followed him for a couple corners before I realized that I didn’t want him anywhere near me the rest of the race, which would have been nearly impossible for him anyway.  I’m sure the rider will be fine eventually, be he was so far over his head in the criterium, that it will take years for him to be adequate, in my opinion.

I guess that is why I really enjoy the sport so much, and why it never becomes monotonous. There is always something to learn, always places to improve.  Or learn what you already once knew, but were rusty at.

Compare these two videos of Peter Sagan.  It is amazing that he didn’t crash into Fabian Cancellara in Pari-Roubaix.  One legged bunny hop over Fabian.  His skills are crazy good.  Then in the 2nd one, his MTB return in Austria, he looks like a beginning MTB racer.  What a contrast. But, that is the sport. Repetitions or the skills fade.

 

 

Tucker is getting more agile by the day.  He is super fast and very quick, even compared to last week.

Tucker is getting more agile by the day. He is super fast and very quick, even compared to last week.

Bicycle Racing Shouldn’t be Subjective

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One of the reasons the sport of racing bicycles attracted me is that it is not subjective.  By that I mean you start, race, and first one across the line wins the events.  Or you ride the fastest time and you win.  It isn’t a sport where other humans decide whether you win or are good, such as diving, gymnastics and such.

But recently, cycling is becoming more and more subjective.  Race officials are deciding whether a rider can finish a race.  I hate the whole aspect of this.

I meant to do a long post on the 80% rule in cross that has become common.  It was abused seriously at the Cyclocross National Championships last January in Asheville.  It is abused all the time.  I decided it would probably be better to just try to change the situation from the inside, thus through the proper channels, than bitch about it here.  We’ll see if that worked at all.

But after participating, then spectating the races at Joe Martin, I feel obligated to go ahead and “bitch”.

First of all I want to state right up front, that this post is about the officiating of the Joe Martin Stage Race.  The promotion was top notch.  I personally saw Bruce Dunn, the promoter, who races himself, working the event, doing the grunt work, plus doing all the other aspects as the promoter.  I, once again, personally saw Bruce talking to the UCI officials about how he expected the races to be scored. I know from history, that Bruce is super concerned that the racers are placed correctly.

But, Bruce isn’t in charge of officiating.  That is up to the appointed officials.  And I think they did a pretty pitiful job of this.

I should start on Friday’s road race, but will just leave that.  The scoring of the 1/2 race was pitiful at best.  I can’t see any effort made to try to come up with proper results. But, that is that. The Pro race too.

Let’s flash forward to Sunday’s criterium.  The race finishes on a pretty hard climb, for a criterium.  Historically, there are time splits on this stage, so it is an important stage.

I was standing at the finish line the last few laps of the Pro race, when it really started going hard.  The field started splitting into pieces with 4 or 5 laps to go.  Robin Carpenter had taken a flyer and the pace had really picked up.  With 4 laps to go a big split happened in the field. More than half the field got shelled.  It was carnage.

The leaders went through with two to go and then a few stranglers.  About 45 seconds back a huge group of riders, over 20 came up the hill, still racing, and the officials stepped out on the course and gave them the red circle deal and told them they were finished. They pulled them from the race.  I timed the gap to the leaders crossing the line behind them, with one lap to go, and it was over 2 minutes.  On a 2:45 lap.  So they were 45 seconds back at most.  I realized they had no chance of being lapped.

I was standing there with Tucker and went over to the officials and asked them why they were pulling riders with 2 laps left, with no chance of being lapped.  No one really would answer the question, but someone mumbled something about “out of contention”.  At least they could sort of quote a partial rule.

Anyway, about 20 guys left the course, but two of the guys kept riding.  Stefan Rothe, Elbowz, and Evan Murphy, Lupus Racing, kept riding the last two laps.  They were at the front of the group and wanted to finish, for their own reasons. They kept riding and didn’t come close to being lapped.  They finished the race, maybe 1/2 a lap or more behind the winner, Travis McCabe.

I talked to a couple more officials after the race, then called a couple UCI officials yesterday and as far as I can tell, the officials at the race are clueless.  Here’s the rule –

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.26.52 PM

So, if the official clearly explained to the fields that this is what they were doing, then they had “permission” to exercise their discretion according to rule 3D3(a).   But, out of contention for what?  Who is to decide who is out of contention?  For what, winning the race?  Stefan was 3rd rider for his team and was riding for team GC.  Think the official took that into account?   If they were pulling guys out of contention, then they should have not let any rider that was more than a couple minutes back even start the race.  Are they saying out of contention for the stage, the race overall, team GC, what?  These guys had been split off the back with 4 laps to go and only had 2 laps to complete the event.

Looking at the results after the race, they put the whole group, Stefan and Evan included, 4:08 behind the winner.  It is a fantasy time, completely made up number.  They would have had to have been over a lap and a half behind, and since both of them kept riding the full distance and were maybe 1:40 or so behind, then the number is complete bullshit.  I guess according to the rule (b) that they only need to be placed “amongst those pulled that lap”.  So they give them a totally fictionous time and then place them in the overall GC?

And this happened in all the events, not just the Pro1 race or 1/2 race, but I saw them pulling 3’s that weren’t close to being lapped.  Maybe the Pros don’t care that much normally, but I talked to a few and they were furious about how illogical the scoring at this event was.  Sometimes giving the whole field the same time at the end of a road race and then other race splitting the field.

Joseph Schmalz was put 10 seconds back on Friday’s road stage, when he was at a stand still behind a crash with a kilometer to go.  Then he rode back up to finish 27th and they still put him 10 seconds back with a time split at 21st place.  If he would have had the 10 seconds, he would have finished 5th overall, not 8th.

This is a UCI race, with UCI points.  These points are super important to these guys.  It is ridiculous, when considering there was a crash in the 1/2 race in the last kilometer , the same day, and they gave 76 riders the same time when there were huge splits in the field.

These races, both in the 1/2 race and the Pro race were decided by a matter of a couple of seconds overall.  Time bonuses and splits in the last sprint decided both the races.  And the officials add or subtract seconds, or even minutes, from riders times at their will.  Or because they don’t have the ability or knowledge to do it any differently.

Or, how about this.  There was a crash on the last lap of the criterium, when the field was together.  John Murphy, UHC fell, most likely not his fault, and a bunch of guys either fell or got caught up.  The officials gave them, 15 riders, the time of the 9th place rider across the line, 9 seconds back.  What rule were they using here?  Here’s the rule I believe they were supposed to use-

(c) Finish. (i) In the case of a group finish, the Chief Judge shall attempt to place as many riders as possible and those who follow shall be placed equal up to the point where individual riders can again be identified. (ii) A rider who suffers a mishap in the last three kilometers of a road race stage or after free laps have ended in a criterium stage shall be given the same finish time as the riders he was with at the time of the mishap, provided that the mishap was observed or otherwise verified by a race official

These guys were racing for 1st, not 9th?  I’m sure an official tried to use some intellect to figure this one out, maybe they could explain it to me?

I could go on and on about how badly the races were scored.  These were just a few examples. Each and every race, minus the time trial, had problems.  The results in each event were just wrong.   It is so strange racing all out for a matter of seconds for nothing.  The whole fiasco detracts from the credibility of the event.  An event that has gone on for generations and deserves so much better.

I don’t understand the problem that cycling has with scoring.  If you go to the smallest ski race in Wisconsin or Minnesota, they have chip timing.  The results are instant and correct.  There are so many ways that some of this could be minimized.

But officials using their subjective discretion to pull riders out of races because they are deemed “out of contention”, with no downside to letting them finish, other than the hassle of scoring them, is completely wrong.  Especially when they prorate their time erroneously.

Shame on them. This needs to be addressed at all levels from Master’s racing to UCI professional results.  Let try to fix this problem, nation-wide, once and for all.

All the wrong results can be found here.

 

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Tucker loved the whole weekend, but he doesn't yet quite understand how races are scored because he's a puppy. The officials don't have that excuse.

Tucker loved the whole weekend, but he doesn’t yet quite understand how races are scored because he’s a puppy. The officials don’t have that excuse.

Stage Racing Tired

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I think I am just an okay stage racer.  I’ve never done a 3 week race, but have done a bunch of 2 week events.  I usually leave the race feeling much better than I started.  I’m not sure if that is because I was under trained going in or that my body responded better to multiple days than other guys.  Either way, it usually worked out pretty good.

There aren’t that many long races I can do anymore.  Not being on an active UCI team really limits the events that guys ride.  Now it is just 4 or 5 day domestic races like Joe Martin, North Star Bicycle Festival and such.  By just, I don’t mean to belittle them.  I mean there is a huge difference between racing 4 or 5 days and 14.

I woke up yesterday feeling pretty good.  Like good enough that I wished there was another hard stage at Joe Martin.  Joe Martin is a funny race.  The stages are pretty hard, but the general classification always seems to come down to the time trial and time bonuses.  I guess that is just the nature of the “new professional sport of cycling”.  Win the time trial and then control the road races. That didn’t quite work out for Jamis on Sunday, but it usually does.

Anyway, I was surprised racing the hilly criterium on Sunday how bad I felt the first few laps.  I felt pretty great warming up and then when the race started, I was pretty gassed for the first 3 or 4 laps.  Then it got super easy.  I think one aspect of aging in athletics is that it is much harder getting up to full gas race speed initially.  That has to be the explanation for these short, uphill time trials.  I feel like I’m climbing alright, but I seem to suck at doing a 10 minute race effort. That isn’t a very good sign for cyclocross.

Anyway, like I said I felt pretty good yesterday morning.  We had a 5 hour drive back to Kansas, with a stop at the Apple store in KC to get my phone repaired.  We got back to Topeka with 15 minutes to spare for the 5:30 evening ride.  I changed pretty quickly and just made it.

I felt pretty good the first 10 miles of the ride and then began to fall apart.  After about 20 miles, I was ready to head back.  I pretty much was done at the finish, just a little over 30 miles.  That is so weird because before the ride, I felt like I was going to do another hard day on Monday, because it was supposed to storm all day today.

Anyway, Andrew Talansky did an interview last week where he said, ” With the level that cycling is at you can’t race to train, you’ve got to train to race and it rarely works the other way around.”  I planned to do a post on that on how I totally disagree with the statement.  I think most guys only get to top form by racing.

I’m trying to decide what to do next weekend.  There are a couple MTB race options and then there is Iowa City weekend, which is always fun.  Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow.  I think I’m ready for a nap and it is only 9am.

My Strava form and fitness is the highest since Joe Martin two years ago. I'm not sure what all they use to come up with this number, but obviously it takes race numbers into account.

My Strava form and fitness is the highest since Quad Cities  two years ago, where I broke my hip. I’m not sure what all they use to come up with this number, but obviously it takes race numbers into account.

I left Tucker in the van while we were packing up yesterday and he got into the back and got caught up in the bikes. He was covered with chain grease and very unhappy. I'm going to give him a bath today after taking him out into the country for a wet run.

I left Tucker in the van while we were packing up yesterday and he got into the back and got caught up in the bikes. He was covered with chain grease and very unhappy. I’m going to give him a bath today after taking him out into the country for a wet run.