Monthly Archives: September 2016

Waiting to Enter Races

This entry was posted in Comments about Cycling on by .

It is so strange how long people wait to enter races nowadays.  I’ve always waited until last minute, but when whole teams are going, you’d think that they would be entered way earlier than two days before.

Case and point is the Gateway Cup this weekend.  Earlier this week, I looked and the PRO 1 field had 40 riders entered.  I waited one day and there were 80.  Now there are 103 guys registered. The races start tomorrow night.

I do understand the rationale of individuals waiting.  The entry fee is substantial.  It is $200 for the weekend, plus USAC charges something like a $12 fee to process the electronic entry.  That is bullshit.  Just because USAC has taken over a lot of turf from BikeReg etc. doesn’t mean they should still charge the fees that an independent company charged.  USAC is the organization that is supposed to represent us.

But, these races all are on the National Racing Calender, thus important to some teams.  But the teams didn’t enter until last minute.  I’m not sure what that is all about.

I like the Gateway Cup.  The first two days are pretty wide open and normally are field sprints. Then it gets progressively harder.  On the Hill on Saturday can be hard.  It is in the Italian section of St. Louis, thus has a lot of character.  Sunday is a very hard race.  Especially if you get too far back in the field.

I thought I was riding okay, okay enough to gain form through racing.  I’m not so sure about that now.  I’ve been waking up the last two days with splitting headaches and feeling generally run down.  I hope it is just allergies, but Bill told me his is sick last night, so that goes around in tight circles.  I hope it works out.  I am banking on these 4 races to get some form for Chequamegon and then Jinglecross the next weekend.

gateway-cup-photo

 

Off subject, but does anyone know that this tool is for?  I found it in my mom’s stuff.  It is pretty cool, but I don’t really know its use.

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Tucker at the coffeshop. He likes to go because a lot of people pet him. Bromont wasn't much into pettying. Tucker loves it.

Tucker at the coffeshop. He likes to go because a lot of people pet him. Bromont wasn’t much into petting. Tucker loves it.

 

Bidding for Travel

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I’m a big proponent of shopping around for hotels at races.  I obviously stay in a lot of hotels. I’m not really sure what a retail price of a hotel room should be, but they are sort of like diamonds, you should never pay retail, rooms are always discounted.

Hotel room prices have went up quite a bit recently.  This Labor Day weekend is a case and point.  The Gateway Cup is the first time I ever used Priceline to get hotel rooms.  It probably was 10 years ago, I booked 4 rooms for my team at a Doubletree in Westport for $19 a room. So it was only $76 a night, plus taxes and fees, which can be substantial.   It was almost ridiculous.

I’ve been checking for rooms for the next three nights.  I sort of have turned into a hotel snob somewhat, so normally check out 3.5 to 4 star hotel.  And these are the hotels that are discounted the most, so that works out fine.  The cheapest hotel at Hotwire was $46, which was a 1 star near the St. Louis airport.  I had been waiting for a 4 star hotel downtown, which showed up three days ago, but disappeared since.  I wasn’t that big on staying downtown, but it is close to a couple of the races and is new territory.

When you keep checking back, you need to clear your cookies each time or the websites know you’re looking and the prices increase.  You can pretty much figure out what hotels Priceline or Hotwire will give you if you use Bidding for Travel or Better Bidding websites.  You go to the hotel lists at these sites and it shows what hotels are used by what sites.  These sites are key to knowing what hotel you might get.

At Hotwire and Priceline, they show if the hotel is pet friendly.  I figure out what hotel I’m going to get, then go to the website to check on the pet policies at the hotel.  Hiltons, Doubletrees and such are the best for pets.  It is a hassle worrying about taking your dog in and out of a hotel during a race weekend.

I got a 4 star hotel in downtown St. Louis, the St.Louis Union Station Doubletree, for $57 a night, for a total of $215 after adding $43 for taxes and fees.  So it turns out to be around $70 a night.  When you go to the website, the cheapest room is $169, plus taxes, so it is probably around $120 a night discount.  I’m not who pays that amount, but you don’t have to.

The race isn’t until 9:15 tonight, so there is no rush today.  Leaving mid afternoon, to try to miss traffic in Kansas City and St. Louis.  Hopefully it will all go fine.

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The Doubletree looks like a pretty nice hotel.  Historic.

The Doubletree looks like a pretty nice hotel. Historic.

Tucker's look when you tell him he can't chew on your cycling shoes.

Tucker’s look when you tell him he can’t chew on your cycling shoes.

Pretty Underslept – Lafayette Park Criterium Gateway Cup

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There is something about racing at night that makes it very hard to get to sleep.  I really like racing later in the day/night, but last night it didn’t treat me so good. I crashed.

The Lafayette Park race has gone on forever.  The surrounding neighborhood has really went through a revitalization.  It used to be pretty shady.  Lots of boarded up old homes. Beautiful homes, but neglected.  Not now.   This homes are spectacular.  There is even an old church that has been turned condos.  It is amazing.  I talked to one of the owners during the women’s race and he said the upper ones have 50 foot ceiling and one has the pipe organ in it. It is nice to witness a city changing for the good.

The course is just 4 corners and open.  It is fast.  They put up way more lights that in the past. There was hardly a dark area.

I felt alright.  Not great, but okay.  The speeds were pretty unbelievable constantly.  It wasn’t that hard, but it was quick.  I had a 30 mph average after the first few laps.  Everything was fine until about 7 to go.  That is when Unitedhealthcare went to the front to try to control the race.   They did the stupid riding the inside of the course tactic, then swing wide at the corners.  They didn’t invent this stupid shit bike racing, but they use it virtually every race they do.  It is so dangerous and on a course like this, it doesn’t do anything but hurt people and break equipment.  Plus, they are going slower than the race normally would be going.  I looked at Strava and nearly all the laps they are leading towards the end are some of the slowest of the race.  I don’t know how to fix this, but it needs to disappear from criterium racing.

I think there was one crash before the last 7 or 8 laps.  Of course there are more crashes at the end of a night time criterium because people are jockeying for position, but the ones at the end of this race were caused by the field being continually chopped by the UHC team at the front.

With 2 1/2 laps to go, on the 2nd side, the UHC guys were strafing the field and someone got overlapped and a crashed occurred in the middle of the field.  It was pretty close to the front.  I was a few guys back and ran into a pile without even tapping my brakes.  I thought is was going to be ugly, but for me, I came out of it relatively unscathed.  A Elbowz guy, seemed the worst.  I think he might of broken his collarbone, but I couldn’t really tell.  My lower back is tweaked, I’m missing some skin, but I’m not complaining.  My bike too came out okay.  Just my seat was destroyed.  I took a huge Crescent wrench and tried to straighten it, but it bent the wrench. That is crazy.  I guess seat rails are pretty strong.

And it didn’t come close to working out for UHC.  They didn’t place a rider in the top 3.  The course was way too wide open and a group of riders could always go over the top because of that.  Aldo Ilesic won the race.  He came directly back from the Red Hook fixed gear race in Barcelona, where I think he finished 4th and his team mate won.  Daniel Holloway was 2nd and local team rider Bryan Gomez from Gateway Harley Davidson was 3rd.

I talked to Daniel Holloway before the race and he said he was putting on a ceramic chain that was supposed to save him 5 watts.  He has huge jockey wheels on his rear derailleur that are supposed to save some more watts.  Seems to me that it just adds chain, but what do I know.

Today the race is at Francis Park at 5:15, so it will be light out.  I need to try to bend my seat more or get a new saddle.  I think I have one lined up with the Elevate guys, but would rather ride my own saddle.  I’d like to sleep some more.  I don’t think that is going to work out.

Pretty quick race. I'm sure it would have just gotten faster if I would have ridden the last two laps.

Pretty quick race. I’m sure it would have just gotten faster if I would have ridden the last two laps.

A house right at the start/finish line. The whole park is lined by these.

A house right at the start/finish line. The whole park is lined by these.

Riding to the race at sunset.

Riding to the race at sunset.

Results

Results

Tucker on the drive yesterday.

Tucker on the drive yesterday.

 

 

 

 

Francis Park Criterium – Gateway Cup

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This might be the most boring “race report” I’ve ever done.  There isn’t much to write about yesterday’s race.  The course is a 4 corner, wide open criterium.  It was going around and around fairly quickly, but it was never hard.  Our average speed was always hovering around 30 mph, which seems fast, but it really wasn’t hard.

On the last lap, on the final corner, I thought I was in pretty okay position, but probably should have been a little more inside.  A couple guys ahead of me got tangled up and fell.  I had to grab a bunch of brake and then go super wide around the corner.  I came out of the corner about 50 guys back, but more importantly, 100 meters from the front of the field.  I sprinted a couple times, but realized I needed to not be in the wind the whole lap.

I made a sort of sketchy move, which I was called out on, with two corners to go.  I dove the inside of the corner, but there was tons of room, but I guess I scared some guy.  He came up to me after the race and was mad.  He said we were going for 50th place and why take risks.  I told him I didn’t take any risk.  He said he had to pull his brakes.  I asked him why that mattered if we were going for 50th place?  He didn’t really have an answer for that, but he was still pissed. In reality, he was closer to right than me, but if that was the worse incident he had in this race, then he should be happy.

I passed a few more guys and was hoping they might regroup a little, but no luck.  It stayed in line going 35+, so I ended up 33th place.  I did have a KOM on the 3rd side of the course, averaging 39.9 mph.  I was going pretty hard, but it is a little downhill too.  I finished 5 seconds back, which is about how far back I was at the first corner after avoiding the crash, so it goes to show you how important positioning is at the finishes of these races.  Especially when you don’t have a ton of race speed to make up for problems, which inevitably, always occur.

Today is a much harder race.  It is called the Hill area of St. Louis and is the Italian section.  I’ve had good races here historically.  I don’t think I ever have won this race, but know I’ve finished 2nd a couple times, then lots in the top 10.

I have set low goals today, just wanting to get a full race in.  I need race miles for sure, I can tell. I’m not as bad as I suspected, but am not that great.  I ended up with over 80 miles yesterday, counting a hour ride in the morning, then riding to and from the race, plus the 36 miles of racing.  I’m a little tired.

I didn’t catch up on sleep.  We had to get up early because Trudi had an early flight.  She is heading up to Canada for the two World Tour races there next week.  So I’m alone on Tucker duty.   It is a little time consuming staying at a hotel and all, but we have a routine, so it will be fine.

It is supposed to be in the middle 80’s today, then over 90 tomorrow.  The races get progressively harder as the temperatures are getting higher.   That’s not good.

The Tour of Spain has been pretty great the last few days.  I have it playing right now.  I’m not sure how Quintana got away from Chris Froome, but it is making for interesting tactics.

There was a lot of drafting to be had yesterday.

There was a lot of drafting to be had yesterday.

I saw this house by the Mississippi River yesterday out riding. It is build on a boat with poles beside it so it can just raise up when the river floods.

I saw this house by the Mississippi River yesterday out riding. It is build on a boat with poles beside it so it can just raise up when the river floods.

This is the church on the Layfayette Park course that has been turned into condos. I'd like to see the inside of the upper units. The ceilings have to be 50 feet high.

This is the church on the Layfayette Park course that has been turned into condos. I’d like to see the inside of the upper units. The ceilings have to be 50 feet high.

The St. Louis arch.

The St. Louis arch.

Trudi at the St. Louis airport this morning.

Trudi at the St. Louis airport this morning.


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I hate being on the 2nd page of races like this.

I hate being on the 2nd page of races like this.

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Tucker must have wanted some water after the race yesterday.

Tucker must have wanted some water after the race yesterday.

 

Crash #2 out of 3 Days

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

I guess my bad luck continued yesterday at the Giro Della Montagna criterium.   Like the day before, there isn’t that much to write about.  It was just a normal criterium.

The race is at the Italian section of St. Louis.  We used to all go to a Bocce Ball place and have a meal and play Bocce after the race.  But I guess the race has gotten way too big for that anymore.  Shame.

The race is pretty much up a hill on the back stretch and back down to the finish.  Not a big hill by any means, but enough to get you tired after doing it for 75 minutes.  The front of the race’s pace makes riding further back risky.  The 1st three corners can get jammed up, thus you have to scrub a lot of speed, which you have to make up somewhere else on the course.  But yesterday’s race didn’t really get out of control.

The end of the race was interesting.  There were a few guys off the front, which one must have been a UHC rider.  I say that because UHC lined up on the inside for the leadout the last 3 laps, but were just hovering there, trying to protect their position at the front without chasing.  It made it hard to move up since we were riding curb to curb.

I got into just okay position with a couple laps to go.  I was swarmed a couple times and had to battle back up.  I wasn’t in great position, but great position in this race would require too much energy to hold.

I was maybe 20 guys back with one to go, on the outside, but the inside line was going faster.  I stuck to where I was at and into the first corner, it looked like it opened up for John Purvis, a friend from Arkansas.  He had just come here yesterday for the last two races.  He borrowed some tools from me before the start.

John was going around the outside of the first turn and I followed him.  He looked like he was going to be fine, but I think maybe the guy to his inside did a small swerve and he mimicked it, but whatever happened he was headed for the curb at the wrong angle.  I saw it coming but couldn’t do anything about it.  He slid out and hit the barrier and curb.  I grabbed a lot of brake, tried to cut the corner short, but his bike flipped back into the course and I flipped over the bars.

I was more disappointed than pissed.  It was super bad luck.  I had not used much energy the previous few laps and think I had one good lap in me.  But, no replays, so I’ll never know.  The sprint isn’t good for me, going downhill, so I would have just tried to be as far up as possible going into the last corner, then just try to maintain.

John came over to the van and asked me if I was alright, which was nice.  He told me that he didn’t really know what happened.  He said that was the first time he has ever crashed on the road.  He races cross, so he must have fallen in cross races.  I told him it was my 2nd crash in 3 days, so don’t worry about it.  It is just part of racing.  It’s a bad part of racing, but part none the less.   He said his back was sore, which I sympathized with.  My back is tweaked too.

So three out of 4 races done.  At least I’m getting in pretty much a full race each day, if nothing else.  Today’s race is at Benton Park and is pretty difficult.  It is more like a hard circuit race and not a criterium.  I was thinking about skipping it, since I’m pretty beat up, but that isn’t how I’d normally operate, so I’m going, even though my heart isn’t completely into it.

Yesterday I took Tucker to the bike path that runs North out of St. Louis, along the Mississippi. It was already pretty warm, so I didn’t want to run him too long.  We went maybe 3 or 4 miles.  After the run, I went to a easy access point and he swam some in the river.  He wasn’t used to a current, so was a little panicked.  I ended up swallowing a bunch of water, which he puked up pretty quickly, but he had a good time.  He really doesn’t like being too hot.  Then late last night, we went over to Forest Park, the biggest park in Central St. Louis for another romp.  He seems to be having a pretty good time here, even if I’m not.

The women's field at the top of the hill yesterday.

The women’s field at the top of the hill yesterday.

Tucker running along the railroad tracks close to the bike path.

Tucker running along the railroad tracks close to the bike path.

Tucker swimming in the Mississippi.

Tucker swimming in the Mississippi.

He was too tired to sleep last night.

He was too tired to sleep last night. Me too.

 

 

 

Danny Chew Paralyzed

This entry was posted in Important Life Stories on by .

I just read last night, when I got back from St. Louis, that Danny Chew,  RAAM winner and all around good guy, fell yesterday and broke his back and is now paralyzed from the waist down. What a tragedy.

I’ve known Danny for a very long time.  Since he was a teenager, and me nearly too.  His brother Tom and I rode together, on a composite team, in the first Coors’ Classic I did.  We were sponsored by Anchor Steam Beer.  The Chew’s, Tom, Danny and their father, drove through Topeka and picked me up on their way to Colorado.  We trained in Aspen for a week before the race.

Danny has always danced to his own beat.  I only saw him every few years recently.  Actually, I don’t think I’ve seen him that recently.  I last time I remember seeing him was at Interbike. Wow, that was a while ago.

Danny promotes a race/ride in Pittsburg call the Dirty Dozen.  I watched a video on it  (below) and put it on my bucket list right after.  It looks like a blast.

Danny is in the hospital and his injury is early to diagnose.  But he has some broken vertebra and is missing feeling in his legs.  Danny has a lifetime goal of riding 1,000,000 miles.  It is rumored that he said  – “I’ll just have to finish my million miles on a hand cycle. So be it.”

Danny’s friends sent up a crowd funding site to help cover some of the costs of the excess medical bills, which, for sure, are going to be huge.  Click here for the link if you think you be able help out.  

Danny, with his whistle, ready for the start of the Dirty Dozen.

Danny, with his whistle, ready for the start of the Dirty Dozen.

I believe this is the Morgul-Bismark stage of the Coor's Classic that year. I'm #47, Tom just above me.

I believe this is the Morgul-Bismark stage of the Coor’s Classic that year. I’m #47, Tom, #48, just above me.

 

Mid-Week Misc.

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I’m kind of more tweaked from falling twice last weekend than I initially though.  I wonder why that is?  Funny you think you would be hurt the most right when it happens, then it would only get better.  That isn’t how it works.

Robin Carpenter winning the Tour of Alberta was super.  I ride with Robin every time I am in San Diego and he is a super nice guy, really talented, and his aggressive racing style is paying off now.  He has had some super results, but this stage race win brought that to a new level. Congratulations.

I can’t say I’m too happy that Francesco Mancebo won the final stage in Alberta.  I thought his self-imposed banishment to the middle east was perfect, that is if he has to keep racing, but making his way to North America, to win races, is total bullshit.  That guy needs to go claim his 20,000 bags of blood from Operation Puerto and retire into his dungeon and live off of it.

Some of the big classic guys are in Canada for the two World Tour races there.  Trudi flew up there on Sunday and is hanging in Quebec City.  She sent me a picture of GVA’s bike, painted up gold, since he won the Olympics in Rio last month.  I guess he left his medal at home.

Man, Aldo Ilesic showed how fast he is last weekend in St. Louis.  I’d been behind the dude when he was leading out Daniel Holloway, but his finish speed is pretty unreal.  I saw a video he made of the Sunday race at the Gateway Cup.  It was a seatpost camera.  Early on, maybe 20 seconds in, I am maybe 10 riders back and you can sort of see me running into John Purvis and falling in the first corner.  But, that isn’t the point.  The point is that he came out of the last corner with Holloway on his wheel and just rides him off of it and passes the whole UHC train to win convincingly.  Pretty impressive stuff.  Here is the link to the video.

I’m liking Chris Froome more and more, which is sort of a hard thing to do.  But after he said that the Tour of Spain should have enforced the time cut rule and got rid of more than half the field, including his whole Sky team, I have to give him some credit.  He said that he would have just ridden the rest of the race alone.  Now wouldn’t have that been something fun to watch.

Time cuts are tricky and aren’t written in stone, so they can be extended, but that group just gambled on the odds that they were so numerous, that the race didn’t have the balls to kick them out.  And they were right.  But now they are all back racing.  Jempy Drucker, BMC, who won the very next day, was in that lollygagging group.  Think it is right to pretty much take a day off and then win the next day?  I don’t.  That is one of the reasons for the time cut.  Plus all the Sky guys are back, available for setting tempo for Chris Froome, with the extra energy they have from not racing that stage.  They should have booted them all.

The crowd funding site for helping out Danny Chew, who was injured in a accident a couple days ago is doing pretty well.  Nearly $40,000 has been raised.  That isn’t going to be enough considering his injuries.  Here is the link if you feel so inclined.

Okay, it is supposed to rain some the next couple days here in Kansas.  I am sort of hoping it is during the ride.  I’m thinking about taking a day off.  I don’t do that every often, but am not really motivated for it right now.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is starting tomorrow in Lawrence.  Dan Hughes, Sunflower Outdoor and Bike, in Lawrence, always brings them back for a show at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. This year it is three days.  I’m thinking I’m not going to be around for the weekend, so am hoping to go tomorrow. If you have a chance to attend one of the shows that travel the country, don’t miss it.  They are wonderful.

Robin Carpenter winning the overall at the Tour of Alberta.

Robin Carpenter winning the overall at the Tour of Alberta.

This guy needs to quit coming over here and stealing over rider's life experiences.

This guy needs to quit coming over here and stealing over rider’s life experiences.

The BMC bikes lined up for the World Tour races in Canada this week.

The BMC bikes lined up for the World Tour races in Canada this week.

Olympic bike.

Olympic bike.

Greg with his gold bands on his kit.

Greg with his gold bands on his kit.

Our cat, Naomi, died yesterday. She was our oldest pet. She was a very good kitty, super loyal. She and Bromont were buddies, so I buried her next to him. I'll miss her.

Our cat, Naomi, died yesterday. She was our oldest pet. She was a very good kitty, super loyal. She and Bromont were buddies, so I buried her next to him. I’ll miss her.