Monthly Archives: July 2016

National Elite Road Race 4 am Start

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The title of this post is a bit misleading.  It is only a 4 am start if you happen to be from the Pacific time zone.  Like all the riders from California, Oregon, Washington, plus a few more.  Just think about it, even if they only get up 2 1/2 hours before the start to eat, they are still waking up at 1:30 am their time to race.  What is up with that?  By the time most of you are have read this, I’ve, hopefully ridden 177km.

I really don’t get it.  If you look at the schedule, tomorrow the Elites race at 7 am and the racing is complete by 6 pm.  On Saturday, they are starting the Junior Men 17-18 at 4:45 and they are racing 75 miles.  So they race close to 8 pm.

It is really an insult to the Elite riders starting them at such a crazy hour.  I’ve done just a handful of races that start this early.  Never a Nationals.  And all the events I’ve done, this early, have all been mass start events that start so early because some of the competitors are going to take 10 hours or more.

The U23 races are arguably the most prestigious here.   They scheduled the U23 men an appropriate start time, at noon tomorrow.  But, the U23 women are at 7am on Saturday morning.  WTF?  The Junior Women 13-14 are at noon.  Why is that?

The schedule could very well be so much more correct.  Like starting the 175 + Elite riders at some hour that is sane.

I drove nearly 80 miles yesterday to get my number.  That is because the registration to pick up numbers today opens at 6:30 and the race starts at 7.  The Elite rider right ahead of me in line was mad when he heard that a woman was picking up numbers for someone other than herself. That was supposed to be a no-no.   He said that he had to take an extra day off work to pick up his number.   An extra vacation day to get a number to race a bike.  At Elite Nationals. Go figure.  He said he was pretty grumpy.

I’m feeling a little grumpy myself.  Just because.  Mainly because I’m not going good.  I don’t think I’m horrible, but I am pretty sure I’m not nearly good enough.  But, I’ve been bad before and surprised myself, so I’m going to go through the motions and just see.   I’m going to try to get 3 hours into the race before I make any rash decisions.

I’m not sure if it is because of antibiotics that I’m taking for my tooth, which are working, thank god, or if I’m just in a funk, but something isn’t going right.

The course is pretty easy, really.  I’ve raced here before and it is all big ring.  I only rode one lap and it really is a big criterium course.  It will flow pretty good and should be fairly easy sitting in early.  I’m hoping anyway.  Sometimes after a few hours, I sometimes get going better.

There is a 40% chance of rain at 9am, which would be disastrous I believe.  There really aren’t many straight sections and not really any tight corners.  Just sweepers where guys will tend to overcook when it is wet.  Hopefully that holds off.

I just got up at 5, two hours before the race. I at something fast,  I’m heading to drink some coffee and then go over to the course to line up.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I saw this little guy warming up at the time trial yesterday afternoon.

I saw this little guy warming up at the time trial yesterday afternoon.

Tucker and I after a short ride yesterday.

Tucker and I after a short ride yesterday.

 

Elite National Championship Road Race

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Yesterday was the Elite National Championship Road Race in Louisville.  Like I posted earlier, started at 7 am, which I heard so many complaints about in the morning.  Everyone was dragging, lined up at the porta-potties, trying to get going at such an unusual time.

As soon as I clipped in, I didn’t feel good.  But, I was sticking to my plan of trying to get three hours in and then do a systems check.  It wasn’t just that easy.

Even though I thought the race course was easy, it wasn’t.  I was wrong.  As it turned out, the race was nearly a 4 hour criterium.  There were just a couple stretches where the course was straight.  The majority of the nearly 5 mile course was super turny.  So many corners that even after 23 laps I wasn’t always exactly sure which way the course went.

There was a huge slinky effect.  The 180 guys were stretched out forever.  Sometime at the top of the feed zone, where the course doubled back, I could see the back-end of the field that was barely at the bottom of the feed.  Because of this, the writing was on the wall for the majority of the riders.  If you were too far back, it would be impossible to stay connected to the field.

The race started super hard and never slowed.  After an hour, my Garmin showed a 370 watts NP.  There were so many accelerations and so many places to make super hard efforts, I knew I couldn’t do that for 4 hours.

At 3 hours, there weren’t that many guys left in the field.  Maybe 60 guys or so.  But, the race wasn’t getting any easier.  I was never participating at the front.  I was trying to stay close enough to the front where the slinky effect was less harsh.

RIght when it was going to get going, with 5 laps, out of 23 to go, I made a mental error.  I thought the feeding was going to stop and got really out of position.  I put a priority at getting a bottle than holding my place in the field.  I didn’t lose that many slots getting a bottle, maybe just 10 or so, but that was enough.

The hardest part of the race was after the feed.  A couple false flat climbs that got super stretched out.  This is where I had noticed guys sitting up, for what seemed like no reason, but I realized it was hard.

And this lap, it was super hard.  I was too far back and it was in line and guys started blowing.  It started maybe 15 guys ahead of me, a gap opened.  Then the majority of the 15 guys ahead blew also.  Pretty soon I was left with just one other guy about 100 meters off the back of the remaining 40 guys.  And I realized I was done.

I wasn’t that depressed.  I saw the writing on the wall hours earlier.  The weird part of my form is that when the road went uphill, fast or not, I could rest.  I was at my limit when it was flat, going super fast.   I ended up riding the last 4 laps with 4 other guys, just to finish.  Rolled across the line in 48th I guess. Full results

The officials got the finish wrong, but we rode the last lap anyway.  It was something being able to get complete the whole race feeling as bad as I did.  That was the positive.

The negative, which I use to get better, is that if I wouldn’t have been out of position that one time, I most likely would have finished in the front group.  Not being attentive just one time, cost me big time.  It wasn’t like I was going to come close to winning, or even having a result I would be pleased with.  My body wasn’t participating at a good enough level to allow that.  But finishing in the lead group would have been the best I could have done.   That is all you can hope for.  And I didn’t do it.

Daniel Holloway rode away from the field and won solo.  He rolled up to the start about 15 seconds before we started, from the wrong direction, with one number pinned on and the other number stuffed under his skinsuit.  Didn’t seem to faze him much.  It was a perfect course for him.

I actually didn’t feel that bad after the race.  I rode over to Frankfort Ave and got a sandwich, the rode back over to the course to see how the U23 race was going.  It was a massacre again, like the time trial.  Axeon Hagens Berman had two guys off the front and then two more in a following group, plus 4 more at the front of the field.  They ended up finished 1st through 7th, then 9th too.  The U23’s race time was 10 minutes slower than the Elites race, but it started at noon and it was warmer.

I rode back to Stacie’s house, so had close to 130 miles total.  I felt pretty alright yesterday after it was all said and done.

But, today I woke up like I was hit by a truck.  Man, am I tired.  I should have known.  When I’m not firing right, the after effects of big efforts is not good.  I still have another 4 days of antibiotics to take, which I’m not thrilled about, but they seem to be working, so that is positive.

Today I’m going to ride over to look at the criterium course.  It is supposed to rain tomorrow, so that is worrisome.  I have to eventually get back into racing at wet criteriums, but this might not be the best place.  The field in the road race yesterday was pretty sketchy and the course was dry.  After checking out the criterium, I’m going to head to Cherokee Park to check out Shadd’s son, Finn, race at 2.   Finn was on the feed cheering for me, and I’ve never seen him race, so it will be a treat.

Okay, that is it.  Watching the Tour.  Brent crashing with Contador wasn’t a good thing.  Trudi was pacing like crazy.  But, they both look alright.  Should be an interesting 3 weeks.

Everyone is super exciting at the 7 am start.

Everyone is super exciting at the 7 am start.


I had no power seated, so I climbed everything standing.

I had no power seated, so I climbed everything standing.


Crossing the finish line. Notice the crowds. The finish was at a really weird place, nearly inaccessible to get to.

Crossing the finish line. Notice the crowds. The finish was at a really weird place, nearly inaccessible to get to.


Tucker was done after the race. He got grease on his head once again.

Tucker was done after the race. He got grease on his head once again.

 

Criterium Natz, then Heading North

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I’m hoping for dry, or dry-ish conditions today at 10 am for Elite Criterium Nationals.  I don’t really have much desire in riding in circles in the wet with 100+ other guys that mainly don’t want to be riding in circles.  The radar is showing just about rain.  Like it might move north, but could be heavy.  Forecast says 60% chance.

We rode over to the criterium course yesterday, sort of out of the way to go to Cherokee Park to watch Finn Smith race at 2.  The course is alright, nothing to really write home about.  I honestly think that all criteriums should have at least four 90 degree corners.  This course has maybe one that might qualify.  The more corners, the safer the race, generally.

I never saw the course that was deemed too dangerous, by USAC, to run over 100 guys on, but this one should work.  It is pretty wide open, which doesn’t suit my liking much.  I think you should get rewarded for better bike handling skills criterium racing.

Anyway, the race is at 10 am today, 75 minutes, which is fine.  It is supposed to be raining at 10 and 11, so there is that.

We’re pretty much packed up, so we’re taking off right after the race and driving to Delavan Wisconsin, to stay the night with Trudi’s family.  Her mother, plus her sister’s family is there for the holiday.  It is about 400 miles from Louisville to Delavan.  We’ll stay there tonight, then do the rest of the drive to Cable, Wisconsin on the 4th.

I think my form is like throwing darts right now.  I rode 50 miles yesterday and was all over the place depending on where on the ride I was.  If it’s wet, then I might be in for a short day.  Or maybe it will benefit me, who knows.  I surely don’t.

Oh, how about Lea Davison finishing 2nd yesterday in MTB World Championships.  Super result. Two North Americans on the podium with Emily Batty, Canada, finishing 3rd.

Okay, that’s about all I got for ya this morning.

Stacie has been a super host the past few days. They are following us up to Cable tomorrow.

Stacie has been a super host the past few days. They are following us up to Cable tomorrow.


Riding for Shawnee Park to Cherokee is pretty sketchy. Some of the most beautiful old houses are really hurtin'.

Riding for Shawnee Park to Cherokee is pretty sketchy. Some of the most beautiful old houses are really hurtin’.


Lea crossing the finish line for 2nd. Think she was happy?

Lea crossing the finish line for 2nd. Think she was happy?


Tucker is going to miss the backyard here where the bees and butterflies hang out.

Tucker is going to miss the backyard here where the bees and butterflies hang out.


  Not good. 

  Current.  

 

Elite Criterium Nationals – Holloway Completes Sweep

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Yesterday morning was Elite Criterium Nationals.   I wasn’t all that thrilled to be doing it.  For two reasons.  One is that I’m riding like shit.  The 2nd was that is was going to rain and I haven’t really ridden a rainy criterium since I broke my hip two years ago in Quad Cities, so I was apprehensive about the whole deal.

But, it was going to rain, and I was there to race, and I really needed to just clip in and do a race in the rain.  But riding around a course that seemed to be a recipe for diasaster, with 125 other guys, wouldn’t have been my first choice in getting back to speed at it.

For some reason, they decided to line up the first 5 rows by USAC criterium ranking, so I got a good start on the 2nd row.  That wasn’t key, but it was nice not having to worry about lining up early.

I drove to the race.  I was planning on riding the 18 miles there, but it was already raining and I was hoping that it was going to blow North of Louisville, so I we might stay dry.  No luck.  So I put on my booties and rain jacket and went out and rode 10 miles to warm up.

Warm up didn’t go too good.  I didn’t feel horrible, I just didn’t have any power.  I thought I would get my heartrate up and when I looked down at my speed I was barely going 26 mph.  I realized that wouldn’t cut it.

But, it is what I had.  So, I lined up and went with it.  In reality, the race wasn’t that hard.  There really wasn’t a 90 degree corner.  There were just a lot of sweepers, a couple off-camber.  And the first off-camber corner is what got guys spooked.

Even after just one lap, they were throwing guys back in at the pit.  If I have one complaint about the race is about the pit on the start/finish stretch.  The road wasn’t wide enough and we were coming down curb to curb, so when there are riders standing still, it was not good. Actually it was super dangerous.  The pit guys figured it out after a couple laps and kept the guys they were throwing it back in the tent, so it was better.

Nothing seemed to go.  The race was fast.  Especially for the rain.  I had a 28.4 mph average at the finish.   I had no power sitting down so it seemed that I spent half the race standing up out of the corners.  But, like I said, I am not going good at all, so survival was all I could hope for.

It was obviously Daniel Holloway was going to win if he didn’t crash.  Early in the race, a 6 man group got a couple hundred meters up the road and he just casually rode up to the front and starting chasing.  I happened to be on him and he just pulled.  For two laps straight, he just sat on his seat and reeled the break in.  I was jumping as hard as I could go out of the corners to stay on and he was breathing out of his nose.

Daniel was nice during the race and said it was nice seeing me out there riding.  It wasn’t pouring by then, but it started pouring.  Like heavy, heavy rain with less than 10 laps to go.

Flash forward to the last 5 laps.  With 5 to go, there was a big crash on the back stretch.  A lot of riders fell on just a gradual curve.  It sort of split the field.  I was to the left of it, so I got back up to the front fairly unscathed.  The free laps were done, so those guys were out.

And then it started going.  I was planning on trying to start as close to Holoway as I could, knowing that if I just was on his wheel, I’d been in super position.  With a lap to go I was maybe 15 guys back with Holloway sitting 4 or 5 guys from the front.  On the 3rd to last sweeper, I moved up 5 riders and then was just a couple guys behind Daniel.  I’d been taking the 2nd to last corner, a big sweeper, u-turn, to the outside, passing a few guys each lap.  I decided to take that line again, realizing it was a small risk, but I thought the reward would be worth it.

But it wasn’t.  A rider two in front of me, between myself and  Holloway got wide on the corner and swung so wide he  went off the course.  He took Dennis Ramirez, Gateway Harley Davidson to the grass too.  John Purvis went to the grass too.  I just grabbed a ton of brake and a huge gap opened up between me and the front 8 guys.  A few riders went through on the inside.

I sprinted the 2nd to last stretch and caught on the back into the last corner, but it was still 400 meters to the line.  I was pretty much done by then.  I lost a couple more places and finished 19th.  Sort of depressing, but nothing unexpected.  Daniel completed the sweep of the two mass start road events at Louisville.

When criterium racing in the rain, you can’t be 10 guys back with two corners to go.  But I needed to not expend any extra energy if I wanted to get a decent result.  And it didn’t work out.

I’ve said a million times I’d rather be riding good and have a bad result than riding bad and get a good result.  I was riding bad, and had a bad result, with is maybe the worse of both worlds.

A lot of guys fell.  Some not by any fault of their own.  The crash with 5 to go took out some good riders.  Guys that could have potentially finished well.  But, that is bike racing.  I’m glad to have gotten through it unscathed.  I’ll have a ton more confidence next time I need to race in the rain going in circles.

It is interesting that the Axeon Hagen Berman guys didn’t even race the U23 race yesterday after 7 out of the top 10 in the time trial and 8 out of the top 10 in the road race.  I guess they had been ball hogs enough, but it would have been interesting to see if they could have kept those streaks alive yesterday in the rain.

So those races are done.  We jumped in the van and drove the 6 hours up to Delevan Wisconsin, where Trudi’s family is spending the 4th.  We’re driving this morning up to Cable to Dennis’, then up to Bayfield for a party and fireworks.  It should be fun.  I woke up with a splitting headache, which just confirms how bad I am right now.  It can only get better.

Got this from Tish Kelly's Facebook page.  She has a lot of photos.

Got this from Tish Kelly’s Facebook page. She has a lot of photos.

The field was stretch out like this the majority of the race.

The field was stretch out like this the majority of the race.

Daniel Holloway looking back just 10 meters from the line.

Daniel Holloway looking back just 10 meters from the line.

 

Pretty bad chainring cut.

Pretty bad chainring cut.

Finn Smith crashed in the Junior 11-12 race. He bounced back pretty well though.

Finn Smith crashed in the Junior 11-12 race. He bounced back pretty well though.

 

 

Tucker was out the whole drive yesterday. Guess watching criterium racing in the rain got to him.

Tucker was out the whole drive yesterday. Guess watching criterium racing in the rain got to him.

Dangerous Bikin’

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Seems like everyone interviewed far at the Tour has complained that the race is super dangerous.  Peter Sagan, current World Champion, was first to speak up and say that the riders themselves have no respect for each other and are taking excessive risks.

Then Berhnard Eisel called the fighting for position “ridiculous”.   He said that so many teams are fighting for the front of the field that he can’t even get to the front to do his job.  I was thinking that maybe it isn’t his job to pull at the front if all these other teams are doing the work.  But, he did agree with Sagan that it is getting worse and worse.

Then on the coverage going on today, Michael Matthews, Orica, agrees that it has gotten more and more dangerous, but doesn’t have an answer.  He said that the “World Champion”, which is Sagan, needs to address the situation, which he already has.

If they think that the race has gotten dangerous now, they should have been racing 25 years ago.  This sport is much, much more dangerous than it was then.  I’ve complained about it often.

When I first started racing, riders went out of their way to not make contact.  When incidental contact was made, the riders got smaller, not larger.  Now as soon as someone brushes up to another, there is most likely an elbow thrown, or at least words exchanged.  Incidental contact will happen in cycling.  The reaction from it is what has “evolved”.

Right now, there is 10 km to go and the teams at the front are Astana, Sky and Movistar.  WTF.  It is going to be a field sprint and “the wrong” teams are at the front.  Those guys should just be sitting in and not clogging up the front of the field.

The reasons of the crashes are obvious.  Not enough room at the front of the field for all the guys that “are supposed” to be there.  It is simple.  The teams themselves need to figure out how to deal with it.  It has become an arms race and everyone loses it these type of things.

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Antibiotic Free

This entry was posted in Just Life on by .

Yesterday I took the last pill of the antibiotics I have been taking for the past 10 days.  I am surprised.  Normally, I bail on taking pills as soon as I feel better.  I know that is against all physicians normal protocol, but I grew up in pre-finishing-all-antibiotics instructions, so I am grandfathered in.

I have been pretty flat, but yesterday I felt better.  It is weird, because I’ve had a sore throat since the criterium nationals on Sunday and thought it was going to get worse.  I couldn’t understand how I could be getting a sore throat when I was taking antibiotics.  Normally, if I get a bad sore throat, it is strep throat.  Guess not this time.

I started out riding yesterday with Karl.  We were going to ride MTB’s over to Telemark, then ride the Danky Dank trail that now connects to Rock Lake.  It was going to be around 2 1/2 hours I thought.

And it was.  I started feeling better after about an hour. Funny how that goes.  I think I’m going to have to ride a couple hours before cross races this fall.  I have historically refused to warm up on a trainer, but that is always changeable.   The weather was in the mid 80’s and sticky.  The trail is super cool and a joy to ride.

I’m riding my “new” Eriksen dual suspension bike.  It is 650b and I like that wheel size for dual suspension.  I’m not sure I wouldn’t like a 29’r, but this bike really rolls bumpy still great.

Anyway, Karl twisted his ankle and was limping back.  We all went down to the lake to swim.  After swimming, I decided to go back out and ride again.  So I rode over to Boedeker and rode the Seeley Pass Trail back towards the North End Trailhead.  About half way back it started raining.  It was refreshing riding through the woods in the rain.  It wasn’t cold, so the rain felt great.

Anyway, I still have a mild sore throat, but it is better than yesterday.  I’m cautiously optomistic that I’m starting to come around.  I looked at Strava and was riding pretty fast yesterday compared to the last few years being up here.

There is a race in Clear Lake Iowa this weekend.  It is another Flyover Series Event, which means a good field and great promotion.  It is called Bicycle Blues & Barbeque.  Can’t beat that. Tom Zirbel from Rally is racing.  He is from up there, so he always makes the effort to come home and support the local event, which is super cool.   I hope to finally be able to participate in a race and not just follow wheels.

On another note, Tucker has turned into a swimming fool.  Last time up here, just a month ago, Tucker barely got into the water.  Now I can’t get him out of the lake.  He loves chasing dragonflies that are flying low along the water.  He is more of a bug/butterfly dog than a bird dog at this point.  It is super fun swimming having him swim along with me.  I’m doing two-a-days now at the lake.

Pill bottom in the trash. I just I get along, just okay, with amoxicillin.

Pill bottom in the trash. I just I get along, just okay, with amoxicillin.

I stopped by the Rivers Eatery but it was swamped.

I stopped by the Rivers Eatery but it was swamped.

Dennis, Trudi, Hawk and Tucker way out there.

Dennis, Trudi, Hawk and Tucker way out there.

Dennis paddling in with Tucker.

Dennis paddling in with Tucker.

Swimming dog.

Swimming dog.

Tour Breakaway Protocol Tactics

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Okay, I’m sitting up in Northern Wisconsin watching the Tour, drinking tea, and the two breakaway guys are just about ready to be caught.  I don’t understand why the majority of the time, the guys in the break, which is obviously going to be caught, start attacking each other. For some inexplicable reason, they seem to think it is important to be the last man standing.

There is a big difference from what happened yesterday with GvA dropping TdG for the stage win and yellow jersey.  But when these guys are attacking each other , for what seems to be for TV time or bragging rights, it seems ridiculous.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a break, with one other guy, or a few others, and attack them just because.   For some reason it seems like standard procedure nowadays on the made-for-TV bike racing.

Even Alex Howes, who is riding his first Tour de France, and made an instant statement about his aggressiveness, attacked his breakaway companion, Anthony Delaplace, on stage one, just before they were about to be caught.  This is after they had been away together for virtually the whole day.  I just don’t have the nerve for that, plus I don’t understand the reasoning.

Maybe someone can come up with some plausible reason other than just showing off for TV?

Alex and Anthony, when they were buddies early.

Alex and Anthony, when they were buddies early.

Tucker is either on or off up here.

Tucker is either on or off up here.