Category Archives: Comments about Cycling

US Cyclocross – A Weather Magnet

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I’m not sure what many or most of the big cross races in the US tend to have terrible weather when they occur.  The two times they held Nationals in Kansas City, it was bad.  The Worlds in Louisville had to be moved up a day because the course was going to be flooded and now the World Cup in Iowa CIty.

It has rained so much here in Eastern Iowa, they are asking for volunteers to help fill sandbags. While driving here from Cable Wisconsin yesterday, there were whole valleys that had completely be underwater the day before.  It is amazing.  And it hasn’t stopped.

Yesterday it rained maybe an inch or two in less than an hour.  It was a typhoon.  And it started again in the middle of the night and now it is nearly 9 am and it is still raining.  The races start today at 9, so it is going to be a sloppy, mucky mess for many riders.

Then, it is supposed to heat up.  The high tomorrow for the World Cup is supposed to be in the upper 80’s.  Man, those Euro guys are going to hate that.  Not that it will stop them from sweeping the top 15 places.

There is a lot of relief in the course here.  Mt Krumpet it is called and there are lots of ways to get up and down the thing.  Up it usually involves some running.  Down, bravery or your butt.  There is so much ribbon on this course it is impossible to tell what course is what.  It is supposed to stop raining after noon, so I’m going to wait until the UCI pre-ride at 5 to go out on the course.   The race is at 9 pm tonight.

I won Jinglecross the 2nd year they held the event.  My friend, Shadd Smith won the first one I believe.  Shadd was third the 2nd year, behind me and Jason McCartney.  Jason was already a professional road rider and went on to a long European road career.   He is leading a gravel road fondo here tomorrow morning.

The course has so much tape and looks so professional.  They really did an amazing job transforming the Iowa CIty Fairgrounds into a World Cup.  John Meehan is amazing.

Personally, I haven’t really clipped in for any type of cross since I fell at Nationals last January. Of course I’ve ridden the bike a ton, but not a step of running, mounting or dismounting.  But, you have to start somewhere.  It is going to be a blast.  Cross, at night under the lights, with 1000’s of screaming fans is very, very hard to beat.

I’m only hoping that they keep the race flatter tonight, without a crazy amount of running in mud.  If that occurs, I will be hobbled for Sunday’s UCI, which is way more important.  Either way, I’m not going to survive the 80% rule.

Okay, I need to wonder downtown Iowa CIty some and find some breakfast.  It is a fun college town with a lot going on.  It still isn’t too late to jump into a car and watch the best riders in the World ride around on grass/mud, late tomorrow afternoon.  It is going to be a zoo.

Pretty official.

Pretty official.

A break in the weather last night. The course looks awesome under the lights.

A break in the weather last night. The course looks awesome under the lights.

This off-camber section is treacherous in the mud.

This off-camber section is treacherous in the mud.

Current weather.

Current weather.

A podium with Chris Horner and Doug Swanson. I've been on the podium a ton of times, but only won once.

A podium with Chris Horner and Doug Swanson. I’ve been on the podium a ton of times, but only won once.

Me and Jason McCartney a long time ago.

Me and Jason McCartney a long time ago.

 

Procrastination

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Procrastination is normally not a great trait.  It usually ends up a little less good than addressing the issue in a timely manner.  I tend to procrastinate.  Not always, but most of the time.  I tend to procrastinate to leave options open.  When you make a set decision, then all the other options are off the table.

USAC procrastinated last week.  Or way before.  To ride the World Cups in Las Vegas or Iowa City, if you weren’t in the top 50 in UCI points, or on the podium at Worlds, or some other unrealistic boundary, then you had to petition USAC to ride.  A discretionary form.  I filled one out, along with a bunch of other guys, I assume.

You had to do it three weeks ahead of time, to be notified 2 weeks before.  I got an email from them less than a week before the race saying sorry, we just used the current (last years) UCI points and went down the list.  I very much doubt all those guys sent in the discretionary form.

It was pretty unfair.  Come on, they went down to something like 117th in UCI points.  And the same 16 riders get to race both the World Cups. These are last year’s point, mind you

The deal is that there is something around 5 guys that should be racing both the races.  The other 11 guys, all good, have no chance of finishing in the top 20.  The best US rider in Cross Vegas last night was Jeremy Powers, our National Champion, at 18th.  Belgian riders finished 13 guys in the top 16.

So, the guys that are 8th American and back aren’t contending.  I’m not saying that the process was that flawed.  I’m saying that USAC was super lazy.  They didn’t have their meeting and go over the names.  The didn’t take into consideration home court importance.

Brian Matter wasn’t in the top 16.  I think he was the 18th US rider on UCI points.  He has been stellar at Jinglecross the last 10 years.  And he is from the Midwest. But, he didn’t get a slot.  It is just wrong.  Why not spread the wealth?   They didn’t because of laziness or because they ran out of to make a fair selection.  Procrastination.

I procrastinated working on cross bikes this past week.  I’ve been too busy riding singletrack, swimming with Tucker and hanging with friends.  The cross bikes just stayed in the van.  Last night I put new cables on Catherine’s bike and got it up to speed.   I just had to put race wheels on my bike and lube the chain.  I have another day to dial it in.  This is going to be one of those weekends. WIsh it was the Bora Epic.

Okay, the gang is eating breakfast, so I have to go.  I’m all packed up and heading to Iowa City when we’re done.  It is about 7 hours.  It will give me time to sort out the weekend, brain-wise.

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Taking the plunge, in the swamp, after the wood fired sauna.

Taking the plunge, in the swamp, after the wood fired sauna.

Tucker is way more interested in going for a run/swim than fixing Dennis' van door.

Tucker is way more interested in going for a run/swim than fixing Dennis’ van door.

My IV Usage

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Yesterday, I wrote a post that questioned Bradley Wiggins “occasional” use of IV’s.  An IV is a abbreviation of the word “intravenous” as a noun refers to an intravenous fluid drip, a solution administered directly into the venous circulation. Also called a drip.

In athletics, an IV can either be a saline IV or dextrose (sugar) IV.  The saline IV can be administered super quick.  A sugar IV is really a drip.  It takes a while to get in because you can overload your blood with too much sugar too quickly.

Anyway, that is all I really know about IV’s.  I do know they work amazingly, by personal experience.

I wrote yesterday that I’d done two IV’s in my lifetime.  In a comment, Mike Crum wrote- “Steve, if wiggins read ur blog, he probably question u , at ur highest level of racing , of only taking two iv’s. I’m not questioning you, I’m just saying Nobody tells the truth anymore, espically with the $$$$$$$ on the table.”

I know it is hard to read, I’m no one to judge here, but Mike says he’s not, but I really think he is questioning the truthfulness of my statement.  And by going back reading the post, it wasn’t exactly right.

The statement should have been, I’ve done IV’s at two races.  One race I did it for 3 or 4 days straight.  The 2nd race, just one night.

The first time was at the Tour of Guatemala.  I was riding for the US National Team and was riding pretty great.  The stage race was just short of two weeks long, with a rest day after the first week.  I was leading nearly all the categories going into the rest day.  I had the mountains jersey, points jersey, combined points jersey, plus I was winning overall.

But on the rest day, it all went downhill.  I got the Central/South American stomach bug.  I spend the whole night on the toilet.  I was horrible.

I pretty much had most of the points categories wrapped up, I was so far ahead.  All I had to do was ride to the finish.  I was going to win a couple thousand dollars, which even splitting it with my team,  I could live on  for 1/2 a year.

So, I started the next day, without eating the night before.  I barely got to the finish.  I was riding in the last group, with a guy that was wearing tennis shoes and a couple guys that had wingnuts holding their rear wheels on.

That next day, after the race, the race doctor came and hooked up a sugar IV.  Plus he gave me an antibiotic injection.  I didn’t eat anything, just the IV.  I started the next stage, still riding with “my group”.

A funny side note, I was carrying toilet paper and stopping every so often while racing.  My guys, the groupetto, would say something and all the guys would stop and wait when I stopped.

This one time, I stopped, took a couple steps off the side of the road to relieve myself.  They all waited.  I got back on my bike, rode less than 200 meters, and then had to stop again.  They all stopped and waited again.  But this time they were all talking really animated.  At the time, it was mildly embarrassing, but looking upon it, it is really humorous.

Each night I wouldn’t eat, just do IV’s.  Plus, I got another antibiotic injection.

Anyway, the last day, the Costa Rican team said they would help me win a point sprint, which would secure the points jersey, if we tempoed the next 50 miles, to the bottom of the climb up to Guatemala City.  I won the point sprint and went to the front to set tempo with David Mayer-Oaks.

When we got to the bottom of the climb, which was pretty substantial, a Costa Rica guys came up, tapped me on the butt and thanked me.  Then their whole team went to the front and started racing up the climb.  Riders started getting shelled and pretty soon it was just a small group of us left, maybe 8 or so.  4 Costa RIcan riders, one was winning, the Guatemalan guy that was in 2nd, and maybe a Colombian.

I was still there, which surprised the shit out of me.  Anyway, the Costa RIcan guys helped me at the finish, which was in a soccer stadium and I won.  I won the final stage without really eating anything for 3 days.  Only IV’s.

The 2nd time was two years later.  It was during the Coor’s Classic.  I’d crashed in the British Milk Race and destroyed myself.  I broke my leg, collarbone, and hand after running into a car at over 100 kph.  I had two months until the Coor’s race started, so I went out to Boulder and hung at Roy Knickman’s house.  I didn’t ride for the first month at all, obviously, but went out to California and started a stage race in Mammouth Lakes.

I was pitiful.  I couldn’t stay in the field for any time at all.  There was a stage from Bishop to the ski resort in Mammouth which is close to 50 miles or so.   I made it maybe 5 miles with the field and rode the next 3 hours solo.

Afterward, I called my sponsor, Michael Fatka and told him that I couldn’t start the Coor’s Rce the next week.  He told me I was going to race.

The Coor’s race started in San Francisco.  The prologue went up Telegraph Hill. I did alright since it was short.  I think I might have finished 7th, but I’m not sure.  I remember Michael Aisner doing a little announcing and saying that I had came back from the dead.  He was in England when I was hurt.

Anyway, I made it a couple days alright, then there was a stage from Nevada City to Truckee.  I hung with the front group way too long.  Long enough to be a long way ahead of the groupetto.  I got dropped after a couple hours and was done.

I couldn’t drink, was throwing up, and was done.  The groupetto came by and I stayed on maybe 3 miles.  Then I was riding alone again.  Forever.

I was doing these rollers and a couple fans were riding behind me.  After a long time, after listening to them tell each other about their whole vacations and plans for the fall, I turned around and asked them if they could drop back a bit.  I told them it was demoralizing trying to race when they were having a casual conversation.  They answered back, “No problem, Steve.”  I couldn’t believe they knew who I was.  It was so embarrassing.  I was crawling.

Anyway, finally the last group came up.  I think it was 4 guys.  I’m not sure everyone, I know a Russian rider and also Raul Alcala.  He was riding for the Mexican National Team then.

I was done and we had maybe 10 kms to go.  Raul pushed me up every hill to the finish.  There was no way I could have made it myself.  It was super nice.  Raul when on to greatness in the sport.

When I got to Truckee, my whole team, Thurlow, Roy, Andy, etc. was waiting.  Like for over an hour.  It was hot and I was destroyed.  We got in the van and had to drive to Reno to stay the night.  I remember getting stopped by a train just a few blocks from the hotel.  I opened the van door and sat on a curb because I thought I was going to vomit.

Walking through the hotel was a nightmare.  The smoke and noise were overwhelming.  When I got to my room, the race doctor came.  The doctor said I needed some IV’s.  He left and came back.  They put in a couple bags of Saline.  Andy Hampsten came by and said that I needed a dexrose IV, not saline.  The doctor agreed, but he didn’t have any and said he was licensed in California, not Nevada, so that was a problem getting them.

So I just sat there not eating, just laying.  Late that night, the doctor came by with a couple dextrose IV bags.  He hooked one up and hung the bag by the picture above my bed.  He told me to change the bag when it was close to empty.  It was slow.  Probably around 2 am, I changed the bag.  I was just watching gambling on the tv.

About 4 or 5, I started feeling better.  I got hungry, so since I was staying in a casino, I could order room service.  I ordered a double stack of strawberry pancakes with whipped cream.  I finished those and got tired.

I might have slept 15 minutes, when it was time to get up.  We were racing from Tahoe to Reno that morning, around Lake Tahoe and up through Virginia City.  When the race started, I felt amazingly good.  I climbed with the front group and finished in the top ten.

I went from dead to amazing, with no sleep, just IV’s, pancakes and whipped cream.  We raced a criterium in downtown Reno that evening and I stayed in.

The next day was a rest day, we flew to Colorado.  I was good the rest of the race, they whole Colorado portion.

So, my experiences with IV’s were amazing.  I always thought that they would be great for MTB racing.  We all hung out at the venue the whole week and got super exhausted.  I think a IV the night before a long MTB race would have worked out great.

IV became commonplace in professional racing.  Nearly like eating.  I’m not sure how common it is nowadays, but I’d bet it is pretty common still.

But, hat is my whole IV experience.  That was a long time ago and I haven’t had the need to get one since.  It’s not that I have a personal no needles policy.  It is just that I haven’t had any reason to get jabbed by one, other than lidocaine for sutures over the years.

So Mike, if Bradley Wiggins happens to be reading this, which I very much doubt, I hope that helped convince him of my honesty.

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The car I ran into during the British Mild race.  I didn't do all this damage.  Andy Paulin, a US team mate, ran into the car too.

The car I ran into during the British Mild race. I didn’t do all this damage. Andy Paulin, a US team mate, ran into the car too.

Tucker is feeling way better.  We went swimming yesterday a couple times.  He swims just about the same speed as me.

Tucker is feeling way better. We went swimming yesterday a couple times. He swims just about the same speed as me.

Wiggins vs. Froome

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I’ve never been a big Bradley Wiggins fan.  He does way too much questionable stuff and acts pompus way too often.  I’ve written a couple posts about Bradley, about hanging on Tenerife, or about ranting about Paul Kimmage, etc.  I called him a douche.

I wish I would have called him a hypocritical douche.  David Walsh wrote an article in the Sunday London Times yesterday and was title, “It Looks Bad, Brad”.  See, I could have never thought up that catching title.

Anyway, he goes through Wiggins history with getting injected with steroids before Grand Tours, which he received TUE’s for.  But the hypocritical part is that he he wrote a book and said that he had never received an injection.  He exact quote is –

“I’ve never had an injection, apart from I’ve had my vaccinations, and on occasion I’ve been put on a drip, when I’ve come down with diarrhoea or something or have been severely dehydrated.”

No one made him write a book and say that.  So, that makes him look pretty much like a liar.  Plus, I’d bet you a million dollars that IV drip that he said he had been put on “occasion”, is way, way more than occasionally.  I’ve done two IV’s in my life, while racing, and that seems like doping to me.  At least it feels that way.

So, I don’t like the way he acts, they way he treats others, the way he trains, or the way he went from 185 lbs to 150 and back to 180 again.  I’m not big on him.

Chris Froome, on the other hand, doesn’t do what Wiggins does.  I wasn’t too initially big on him.  Almost seemed like a Wiggins clone.  But that is slowly changing.  He does do a few things that I don’t get.  Calling Levis up to ride, after breaking his wrist in the Tour, wasn’t big on my list.

He seems to be genuinely nice to people, calls for more test from WADA from training at Tenerife, and had become somewhat aggressive in bike racing.   It is a little hard to get over his pedalling style, but that is a little amusing, so it has some value.

The biggest swaying of my opinion is that most of his team mates say he’s great.  That is the best way to judge someone you don’t know.  If his team mates, that I do know, say he’s a nice guy, then mostly he is a nice guy.

RIchie Porte, that roomed with Froome told Velonews  “He is a nice guy. Anyone on Twitter or anywhere else who has a problem with Chris Froome, they’re the ones with the problem,” Porte told VeloNews. “He’s a good guy, he’s down to earth. He’s got time for everybody.”

Okay, Tucker was sick last night and up most of the night doing the same thing I did last week. He feels way better this morning, he’s already been swimming this morning and ate a tad, so that is great.  I don’t feel that good though.  If only I were a dog.

Looks like a couple happy guys here, huh?

Looks like a couple happy guys here, huh? Bradley sure looks happy for his team mate.  Really clapping hard.

Tucker was draggin' yesterday.

Tucker was draggin’ yesterday.

 

 

 

Post Chequamegon in Pictures

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2016-chequamegon-web-header-1

I rode with Catherine the whole day.  This is right after the line.

I rode with Catherine the whole day. This is right after the line.

Keith Walberg rolled in right after Catherine and I.  He had a great race.

Keith Walberg rolled in right after Catherine and I. He had a great race.

The pirate was still pushing rum at the finish.  I took a shot midway during the race.  It wasn't straight rum.  Some concoction that tasted like cough syrup.

The pirate was still pushing rum at the finish. I took a shot midway during the race. It wasn’t straight rum. Some concoction that tasted like cough syrup.

Brian Matter finished 2nd.  I was getting the play-by-by from him after the race.

Brian Matter finished 2nd. I was getting the play-by-by from him after the race.

This is Kyle Krause.  He rode the last 14 miles without a left crankarm.  And finished under 3 hours.  Pretty epic.

This is Kyle Krause. He rode the last 14 miles without a left crankarm. And finished under 3 hours. Pretty epic.

Tucker was alert waiting for me at the feedzone.

Tucker was alert waiting for me at the feed zone.

Cole House.  He had a great number.  I asked him how his race went and he answered "Terrible!"  Enough said.

Cole House. He had a great number. I asked him how his race went and he answered “Terrible!” Enough said.

Gary Crandall, Mr. Chequamegon and I after the race.

Gary Crandall, Mr. Chequamegon and I after the race.

Trudi, Tucker and Gary after the race.

Trudi, Tucker and Gary after the race.

Molly played on Friday, at registration, then at the finish all day Saturday.  What a treat.

Molly played on Friday, at registration, then at the finish all day Saturday. What a treat.

Karl, me and the Walbergs at the finish.

Karl, me and the Walbergs at the finish.

Catherine at the Rivers Eatery at the start of the debauchery.

Catherine at the Rivers Eatery at the start of the debauchery.

Riding back to Dennis' after the race.

Riding back to Dennis’ after the race.

Of course, a bonfire.

Of course, a bonfire.

 

 

 

Chequamegon Morning Again

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Chequamegon morning always comes to quickly.  There are 10 people staying with Dennis, mostly my guys from Kansas, but others, Karl from Louisville, The Eriksens from Steamboat, and of course, someone from Minneapolis, Tim.  Getting everyone feed is quite a fete.  That and organizing the bathrooms.  Dennis has 3, so it isn’t that big of a deal. Plus shuttling everyone to the start and getting the cars back is a chore, since it is a point to point race.   Plus the 6 dogs, which isn’t really close to a record, but really fun none-the-less.

I pick Brian Matter to win today.  I talked to him yesterday at registration and he looks fit.  Brian knows the finish better than just about anyone.  It is a little less technical than it used to be, but knowing the finish is uber important.

Did you see that Tom Zirbel rode the hour record yesterday?  And pretty darn far.   A tad of 53 km.  Easily enough for a US record.  Bradley Wiggins rode 54.5 km, so there is a vast gap there. Anyway, Tom is retiring this year and that was a great way to cap off his career.

Okay, I’m sort of out of time already.  Need to pack all the bikes in the van and make sure I don’t leave my shoes or something important.

DId you see the harvest moon last night?  The clouds split and it was pretty spectacular here.

Katie and Trudi made dinner last night.

Katie and Trudi made dinner last night.

Harvest moon.

Harvest moon.

Matt brough a couple bottles of this. That is a bad taste to acquire.

Matt brough a couple bottles of this. That is a bad taste to acquire.

Tom Zirbel on his way to a new US Hour Record in Mexico.

Tom Zirbel on his way to a new US Hour Record in Mexico.

Tucker is pretty exhausted at night.

Tucker is pretty exhausted at night.

Racing Sick

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As an athlete, sickness is part of the business.  I don’t think that all athletes are hypochondriacs, but most good athletes I know spend a fair amount of mental capacity trying to stay well.

I’ve probably raced sick more than any other person I can think of.  That is mainly because I’ve raced more than about anyone I know.  Both by duration and frequency.

I don’t much like racing full-on sick.  It isn’t fun.  But I’ve really surprised myself a few times, which is always a gift in sport.  Positive surprises are what makes athletes move to higher levels.

One thing about pretty much riding for myself is that no one is forcing me to do about anything. That is a good thing, most of the time, but sometimes you need some help, some outside influences, to nudge you into a certain direction.  When you feel a certain responsibility to teammates, sponsors and such, you never want to let them down, so you nearly always toe the line.

But riding off-road, when team tactics are minimal, at best, justifying racing sick, or even sub-par, gets harder and harder.

What always sways my decision making process is my past experiences of doing nearly the exact some thing before.  I could count on one hand, half of one hand, how many times I regret starting a race sick.  But I can list tons of times where I had positive surprises, super life memories, feeling exactly the same.

I am pretty positive that racing sick doesn’t make you any sicker.  If anything, racing sick can be the catalyst to getting well very quick.  I’ve never got well quicker than a few times I fell ill during a stage race.  Sickness that would normally hang around for a week or two, is over in two or three days, while racing 4+ hours a day.

I’ve won a couple big events sick.  I won a stage of the Biltmore Stage race, a hard race in the rain at the Biltmore estates in Asheville, NC.  I was last guy on until the last lap.  I rode away on a slick descent and then held the lead to the finish.  I beat some pretty great riders that day.   The next day I was well.

I won a Fatboy criterium at Sea Otter, over a decade ago, the day after going to a clinic and getting diagnosed with strep throat.  I had a Zpak antibiotics bottle in my pocket going to the race, but once I take one of those, my racing ability is done.  I won the one hour race, easily, ate the antibiotics and started the drive home.

That isn’t going to happen here in Chequamegon.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, initially I thought it was food poisoning, but now I’m thinking stomach flu or something.  It seems to be lingering on this whole week, I’m not really feeling much better.  I’m not physically ill, like violently ill like initially, I just feel weak and crummy.  This will be the shortest week I’ve ridden this whole year, which isn’t a big deal.  But my power level is pitiful.

And having no power in Chequamegon isn’t good.  I seem to be able to ride off my seat respectable, at least compared to being seated, but that ain’t gonna be enough.

No matter, Chequamegon is a good race to participate in subpar.  I’ve had a blast riding the race after flatting.  There are 3000 other people to interact with.  I’m planning right now on just riding with Catherine tomorrow.  There are definitely lots of advantages to having someone to draft out there.  The majority of the race is on access roads, which are logging roads, snowmobile or atv trails, and such.  There is only around 8 miles of riding on the Birkie Trail, where drafting isn’t that great.  But having someone pacing you, especially someone better, helps immensely.

No matter what happens tomorrow, it is going to be a life experience.  Just listening to my friends tell their race stories is super.  It is going to rain all day today, at least this afternoon, but the soil here absorbs a ton of water, so that isn’t going to be much of an issue.  It might make the FIretower Climb a little trickier, but that is fine.  Tomorrow looks alright as of now.  Okay, back to bed for a bit.

Fatboy at Sea Otter. I was away most of the race in various breaks, but it ended up a field sprint, which was a piece of cake that day.

Fatboy at Sea Otter. I was away most of the race in various breaks, but it ended up a field sprint, which was a piece of cake that day.

I was looking for the Fatboy photo and saw this one. It is one of my all time favorites. Sea Otter, once again. I was winning overall. This was the dirt criterium, which was really a mudfest. Lots of great photos from that event.

I was looking for the Fatboy photo and saw this one. It is one of my all time favorites. Sea Otter, once again. I was winning overall. This was the dirt criterium, which was really a mudfest. Lots of great photos from that event.

Tucker is a swimming fool.  He runs to the lake, a couple times, on his own, to go swimming.

Tucker is a swimming fool. He runs to the lake, a couple times, on his own, to go swimming.