Category Archives: Race stories

Taking Baths

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I’ve always liked taking baths.  I liked it when I was a little kid and I still like it now.  Maybe it was because when I was small, we didn’t have a shower, I don’t know.  All I know is that a hot bath is sometimes is the difference between getting by and suffering.

I’m been taking a bunch of baths since I crashed.  I am having a little trouble controlling my thermostat.  I’ve been getting really cold, even if I’m dressed right, so the only way I can figure out how to get back warm is to take a hot bath.  The first couple weeks I was taking maybe 10 a day.  I know that sounds weird, and it is, but it worked.  Now it is down to a couple.

I’ve had a few odd bathing situations over the years racing.  When I was first going to Europe, many times it was hard getting hot water.  Even when I was living in Switzerland, racing cross, my super nice apartment in Aigle had a small insulated water storage tank and every morning around 6, it would fill full of hot water.  That is the water I had for the day, which wasn’t really enough to wash dishes, clothes and shower.  I definitely needed to prioritize.

The first time I went to Europe, we were racing a stage race that started in Rome and finished in San Marino.  The weather was sort of bad early in the race and I got dropped by myself.  It was raining pretty hard and I was worried I was going to miss a turn and get lost.  I was riding through a small Italian village, going up short steep climb, and this big man, without a shirt on, smoking a cigarette, is standing on the sideway yelling die (sp), which I was, but he was cheering.

When I came by, the guy, shirtless and barefoot, steps into the road and starts running behind me, pushing..  Man, that guy was talented.  He pushed me at least 50 meters up that hill and then promptly, stopped and fell on his stomach, laying in the road as water streamed down it.  I didn’t realized how passionate Italian cycling fans were until then.

Anyway, I could see the finish town and I was wondering if there was going to be hot water at the hotel, it was that sort of day. The previous hotels didn’t have hot water.  I was the last American to finish and made my way to the hotel.  When I got there, I was a mess.  Sort of bonked, soaked and covered in road grit.  It turned out we didn’t have a hotel, but an apartment.

The other guys were already clean.  I walked in and they said they had some good news, and bad.  The good news was there was hot water.  The bad was that there wasn’t much, so they had filled the tub and had all cleaned up.  I walked into the bathroom and the tub was full of, what looked, like muddy pond water.  I reached down and it was semi hot.  So I just took off my cycling shoes, left my shorts and jersey on, shut my eyes, and got into the tub.  I was so cold and it was great.  I thought about how much better muddy hot water is than cold clean water, in certain circumstances.  This was one of those circumstances.

A couple years later, I was racing the British Milk Race.  Phil Liggett was the promoter and there was a lot of riding in wet conditions.  I had a gotten a cold on the flight over and wasn’t feeling that great.  The first stage was hilly and I was dropped towards the end of the race again.  It was raining hard, windy and cold.  I finished, pretty blown again,  and was told to ride to the local gym to shower.  I rode over there and virtually the whole race was there.  Bikes stacked everywhere and when I went inside the whole peloton in the showers.  I was freezing and it was going to take forever for a shower to open up.

I wandered to another room, opened a door and in that room was an antique bathtub, free standing in the middle of the room.  This tub was huge, maybe 7 feet long and a couple feet deep.  It had a cutout on the back where you could put your neck and relax.

I turned on the water and it came out super hot. I was stoked.  I stripped down and got in.  It was heaven. And that was it.

A while later, the coaches were asking where I was.  They went to the gym and my bike was the only one there.  So a coach checked around and saw some water coming out from under a door.  He opened the door and there I was, floating in this huge tub, nude, with water running over the edges.  He thought I was dead.  He came over and shook me and I woke up.  It scared the shit out of me.  He was mad.  And I was embarrassed.

I had been there for over 30 minutes.  It was weird, but I felt pretty good, quite warm, so I can’t say that I regret it.  Just another bike race/life memory.  I’d like to have that tub.

This photo was on the front of the sports page of the Topeka Capital Journal when I was much younger.

This photo was on the front of the sports page of the Topeka Capital Journal when I was much younger.

Ned Cup

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I was talking to Pat Lemieux a couple days ago.  He was just calling to catch up.  From Spain.  Pat is super good at keeping in touch with friends.  He and his wife, Gwen Jorgensen are flying over to RIo just 5 days before the Olympic Triathlon , which is August 20th.   Here is  a nice article on both of them.    Anyway, Pat was saying that Gwen is now saying she is going to compete until the next Olympics in Japan.

That got me thinking about racing in Japan and how much fun it was.  The culture is so different that it makes the whole experience extraordinary.

I’ve raced in Japan 3 times, twice MTB and once on the road.  I did two Specialized Catus Cups, which were off-road mini stage races, plus I did the Shimano Cup, which was an international road race.  Japan is the only country where I’m an undefeated.  I won both Catus Cups overall and the Shimano race.   I’d better not got back there to race my bike.

The first year I went, it was just me and Ned Overend racing the men’s race.  The course was at a ski resort somewhere outside Tokyo.  It was a pretty short cross country course for the day, maybe 3 miles around.

The cross country was called the Ned Cup and there were signs all around the course with arrows directing you that said Ned on them.  There were 1000’s of riders at the race, but Ned and I were the best, by far.

Ned wanted to win the race and I didn’t have any problem with that.  He was pretty much the reason that I was there, plus he was the star.  I had already won the downhill and fatboy, so was way ahead in the overall.

The day of the cross country, it had rained the night before and the course was pretty soupy. The course went straight uphill for a bit and then it was a technical descent, followed by another short climb, then down to the bottom and a access road back to the finish.

We started and only one guy stayed with us up the first climb. Over the top, I dropped Ned and the Japanese rider on the first muddy descent and then started the next climb.  Towards the top there was this super thick section, like mid-calf deep mud for about 50 meters.  But there was a line on the right that was about 8 feet above the mucky slog that was totally rideable at speed.

I took the upper line and coasted to the bottom and started climb back to finish the first lap.  I keep looking back and Ned wasn’t on the climb, which was a long ways and a lot of time.  I got up to Trudi, who was running the Specialized MTB at the time.  I asked her where Ned was and she said she didn’t know.

So I proceeded to start the next lap, riding super slow.  But it was hard going too slow because of the mud.  You had to keep a certain speed to stay on your bike climbing, then descending in mud, speed is your friend.  I finished the next lap and got to Trudi and she said that Ned was mad and I needed to wait.

I couldn’t believe that Ned was mad, I’d really never seen the guy too angry, but when Trudi told me that, I took it seriously.  So when I got to the top of the first climb, I got off my bike and pretended I was having a rear wheel problem.   There were so many spectators, I was having a hard time seeing down the hill to know when Ned was coming.

After a little bit, I could see Ned climbing up, so I put my rear wheel back into the frame and got going after he passed.

We did the next descent and got up the next climb to the bog at the top.  I was just catching up to him by the time we got to the mud bog.  I took the line to the right and there was Ned, slogging through 12 inches of super sticky mud,  I yelled down to him to ask him what he was doing.   He had missed the line and had been going through the bog each lap, which was probably a minute slower.

That pretty much explained the whole speed problem he was having.  Anyway, we rode another lap together and towards the bottom of the last descent, I asked Ned how he wanted the finish to play out.  We were riding side by side up the access road towards the finish and Ned is saying that we should just ride up together and then sprint.

All of a sudden, the dude takes off sprinting.  Like super hard.  We still had 500 meters of climbing to the finish, like close to a minute.  I stayed on him about 1/2 way up, then just bagged it.  I wasn’t going to win anyway, so didn’t see the reason to kill myself at the end.

When I got the finish, I was pissed.  I asked him WTF.  He said that he had looked back and the rider that was in 3rd was catching us and that he panicked and took off.   I said, wow.  I told him the guy he saw we had just lapped at the bottom of the hill.  And I really appreciated that he told me that we were getting caught and just took off, leaving me to fiend for myself.

It was all good though.  Ned was a god to all the fans.  I won a full XTR high-end Specialized MTB for overall, but for some reason, I’ll never understand, I had to give it to the spectators by playing a game of rock, paper, scissors.  It is famous in Japan.  After the race, we went to Mt. Fuji and hiked up to the top, which was really hard in October or November.

We stayed in Tokyo for the next week for the Japan Bike Show.  Neither of us could walk we were so sore from coming down.  It was a really fun race trip.

*Oh, I forgot the best part of the story.  I remember out riding this afternoon.  Trudi told me that she thought that Ned was mad because he said to her -“Tell Steve this is my race.”  But, after the race when I was taking to Trudi and Ned about it, Ned said she heard it wrong and what he really said was  – “Tell Steve this is my pace.”  Big difference there.

The Specialized team that year.

The Specialized team that year.

Here are some of the Catus Cup jerseys from the past.  I have a ton of them.Cactus_Cup_Jersey

specialized-cactus-cup-bicycle-jersey_1_b4bdd688d88c939ba02145ca817272e8

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Ned and I at the top of Mt.Fuji.

Ned and I at the top of Mt.Fuji.

Tucker loves it out here at high altitude.

Tucker loves it out here at high altitude.

Tour of Kansas City – Cliff Drive

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I was riding with my brother and started thinking about early life bike racing and realized that this is the 40 year anniversary of riding the Tour of Kansas City for us.  I rode the race back in 1975 as an intermediate.  It was a huge event back then, an Olympic Developement Race and the field was stacked with National Team members, guys on the Olympic Team, etc.  Actually half the 1976 Olympic team with Wayne and Dale Stetina, plus local Mark Thompson.  Tom Schuler duked it out with Wayne Stetina one year, it might not have been in 1975.  It was a long time ago.

Anyway, the race has been going on for 52 years straight, some kind of record.  I haven’t done it 40 times, but I’ve raced it a lot.  And Cliff Drive is one of my favorite courses.  This year I thought it might not work out so well for me, being only 75 minutes.  We’ve done as many as 75 miles on the course, and it is normally over 50 miles.  Plus, the race has historically been in early August, so heat plays a huge roll.  This was going to be like a hard criterium.

The course has a couple climbs on about 3 miles.  It is  a super fun course to race, with a tight u-turn and then a sweeping 40 mph corner just after.  The finish hill is very hard by for a “criterium”.

Bill and I rode 40 miles yesterday morning, trying to get our legs feeling good.  Seemed to have worked.  We drove the hour over to KC and went to The Plaza, got some coffee on Main St., then rode the 10 miles over to the course.  It was super fun.  I love riding to races through places I haven’t seen before.  We ran into an old friend, Brian Duff, who was on a cruiser, and he escorted us over to Cliff Drive.  We rode through some pretty tough neighborhoods, lots of graffiti and boarded up houses.  But, the houses are beautiful, all rock and stone, could be worth a fortune in some other era of the future maybe.

We got to the race and realized the start time wasn’t 6:30 it was 7.  Anyway, the race started and I felt alright, which is good now.  I need so many more race miles to be riding up to my standards and that is what I’m doing, trying to get in race miles.

The first couple times up the finish hill I felt a flat.  But it got better.  I could tell, by the speeds, that after about 1/2 the race, guys were starting to just survive.  I was feeling better, but not super.  Eventually a little group got away with Janne Hamalainen, a super strong master from Tulsa, who just finished Killington Stage Race, plus Michael Allison from Olathe Subaru.  I know both this guys, Michael just won a 1/2 road stage at Joe Martin and Janne, like I said above, is a really good rider.  They started pulling away and maybe got up to 30 seconds max.  Michael finished 2nd in the time trial and had a bunch of team mates at the front of the field.

I wasn’t much into racing for 3rd.  So, on the back hill I jumped from pretty far back in the field and didn’t look back for a bit.  I was surprised that I didn’t really get a gap at all.  But, my jump is pitiful, I know just how pitiful now.  But, like I said I didn’t want to be racing for 3rd, so I kept pulling.  I cut the lead to less than half and then, as luck would have it, Michael flatted right before the finish climb.  He actually got to the top of the climb before the field and ended up riding my rear 11 speed Shimano wheel the rest of the race.

We caught Janne pretty quickly and then it was all back together.  There were about 35 guys left in the field then out of maybe 60 starters.  By then there were only 3 laps to go out of 11.  When Micheal flatted, his team mate, Garrick Valverde went pretty hard up the finish climb and I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to ride with him at that speed at the finish.  I know my uphill speed right now, trying to sprint, and it isn’t close to being able to win the race.  Normally, this would have been a super finish for me, but not now.  I hope to get that back into my arsenal soon.

So, I started thinking about the finish.  I was feeling pretty good I thought I could start the sprint at the very front of the field and probably hold on for somewhere between 4-10.  That was best case scenario.   That would be okay, but I like to race offensively and thought I’d rather just try to put myself in a chance to win.

So with a little over a lap to go, I jumped out of the field alone on a suicide-type move, and got a pretty good gap heading up the finish hill.  The hill is only about 35 seconds long, but steep at the top.  I looked back and had maybe 10 seconds, but right then Kent Woermann, another Olathe Subaru rider, came by.  He put a little gap on me over the top of the climb, heading out downhill for the last lap.

I had to jump again pretty hard to get back on, even though I think he waited a little, and he proceeded to take a huge pull, I mean huge pull.  We kept a pretty good gap to the back climb and by then I came by and pulled the climb.  I looked back with about half a lap to go and realized it was going to be close, maybe.

When we got to the bottom road, about a little over a mile to go, one other guy bridged up.  He took a pretty good pull, then Kent, but the field was flying.  We got caught maybe 300 meters from the bottom of the climb.  I punched in about 5 guys back, but soon realized I was going to be toast.  I already was.  I made a half effort starting up the first pitch and then shifted into my small ring and just rode to the finish.

I was close enough to get to watch the sprint.  Garrick Valverde held off Lee Bumgarner, then Flyover Series leader, Brandon Krawczyk, from Wisconsin was 3rd.  It’s nice that the guys I race with locally can still win when there are a bunch of out of state guys racing too.

I can’t be too disappointed with the effort.  I’ve finished top ten in races 100’s, if not 1000’s of times.  I race bikes trying to win bike races.  That is what I tried to do.  I got in a few pretty good efforts and felt descent enough, so it was a good day for me.

Today we race around the Sports complex, where the Chiefs and Royals play.  It’s a 4 corner criterium, a new course.  That is at 2.  When that is over, we’re driving back to Topeka, grabbing our MTB bikes and extra stuff and heading out to Vail for a week.  My friend Stacey, from Louisville, has rented a place out there.  Vincent, from Arvada is coming up too, so it should be fun.

I’m looking forward to getting out of the Kansas allergies for a little bit and see if I can get feeling better riding.  It is going to be a long day, considering it’s over 600 miles to Vail, with such a late start.  But, waking up tomorrow morning in the mountains will make today worth it.

A woman, from way back in the day, Janet Friedrich, brought me this picture to the race to sign.  It is of the Tour of Kansas City, probably form 1979.  In front of me is Jeff Pierce, stage winner of the Tour de France in 1987.

A woman, from way back in the day, Janet Friedrich, brought me this picture to the race to sign. It is of the Tour of Kansas City, probably form 1979. In front of me is Jeff Pierce, stage winner of the Tour de France in 1987.

Here is Janet with the photo.

Here is Janet with the photo.

At the start line with my good friend, Shadd Smith, KC local.  Shadd finished 4th.

At the start line with my good friend, Shadd Smith, KC local. Shadd finished 4th.

I met this guy, Cole, from Montana, that was warming up with some electrical stimulation.  It is from Hammer.  We talked about it for awhile.  Seems like it might work.

I met this guy, Cole, from Montana, that was warming up with some electrical stimulation. It is from Hammer. We talked about it for awhile. Seems like it might work.

Just riding along saying hi.

Just riding along saying hi.

Podium.  Garrick on top, the Lee and Brandon.  Shadd Smith on the left for 4th.

Podium. Garrick on top, the Lee and Brandon. Shadd Smith on the left for 4th.

 

We met up with a bunch of people at Freestate Brewery, in Lawrence.  Joseph Schmalz, who just finished Tour of California an Pro Nationals was there telling how those races went.  He is on the left, talking to Garrick Valverde, Cliff Drive winner.  (Bad boy Garrick, drinking beer during a stage race.)

We met up with a bunch of people at Freestate Brewery, in Lawrence. Joseph Schmalz, who just finished Tour of California an Pro Nationals was there telling how those races went. He is on the left, talking to Garrick Valverde, Cliff Drive winner. (Bad boy Garrick, drinking beer during a stage race.)

We didn't get back to Topeka until close to midnight and drove by the Keith and Catherine Walberg's new house to see if there were any lights on.  They flew in yesterday afternoon.  The light were on, so we stopped and said hi.  They have no furniture for a week, so we ended up in this little room for some reason.

We didn’t get back to Topeka until close to midnight and drove by the Keith and Catherine Walberg’s new house to see if there were any lights on. They flew in yesterday afternoon. The lights were on, so we stopped and said hi. They have no furniture for a week, so we ended up in this little room for some reason.

Their new house is just a couple blocks from mine and seems pretty huge empty.

Their new house is just a couple blocks from mine and seems pretty huge empty.

My friend, Vincent Davis, also won yesterday.  A 50 mile MTB race in Colorado.  It might be hard keeping up with him there with little oxygen.

My friend, Vincent Davis, also won yesterday. A 50 mile MTB race in Colorado. It might be hard keeping up with him there with little oxygen.

Chequamegon 40 Race Report

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The Chequamegon 40 MTB Race has been a mainstay of the fall, for me, for the last 17 years or so. I’ve won the race a few times, been 2nd a few times, 3rd a few times, etc. This year, that wasn’t going to be the case. I am actually so lucky that I could even start the race. It wouldn’t have been possible even just 2 weeks ago.

I’d like to state here initially, I had a pretty good race. I might have been able to finish 2 places better, but I was jacked at the finish and was lucky to finish 16th.

I was completely unable to predict how I was going to ride. I hadn’t ridden hard for just about 3 months and my left leg is still over an inch smaller than my right.

The key to me being able to “compete” for a bit was due to 3 reasons. One, the weather change taking the section of Birkie Trail from Mosquito Brook to OO out, allowed me to ride with the front group. Two, I got a little lucky with my tactics, which was to go the front and pull for the first 20 minutes, just until we hit Phipps Fire Lane. And third, there was a new little singletrack section, to avoid some mud puddles, and that split our huge group down to 17 riders, which is just about where I finished.

The race started casually. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be able to stay with the leaders on the pavement before Rosie’s Field. But, it was pretty easy and I hit the field kind of far back for me, maybe 10-15th, but rode back up to the front in the next 100 meters of grass. Brian Matter was nice enough to let slot in front of him, in 2nd. When I hit the Birkie Trail, I had decided if I got there, I’d just go to the front and pull. I can’t really change speed with any positive result and knew if I was back in line on the hills, I would eventually be shelled because of the slinky effect.

So, these guys just let me pull, which I did all the way to Phipps Fire lane. When we got to Phipps, there might have initially been only about 20 riders. But, there were a lot of guys not very far back. Bill had fallen somewhere, avoiding a rider in a mud puddle and came back on with the Eppen tandem. Pretty soon, we weren’t really racing and a huge group of maybe 60 guys were cruising along Phipps. I talked to Kim Eppen a little, telling her that it would be to their advantage to go to the front and just drill it.

They did a couple big surges on the downhills, but there were so many riders, they really never could establish a gap. Coming off Phipps, we missed the next section of Birkie Trail too, and rode directly onto Janet Road. Bill took off with a group of 3, right before we turned off to Martell’s Pot Holes, where the new singletrack section is. I slotted in a little ways back, maybe 8th or so, and just rested. When we emerged from that section, there were only 17 guys left.

And in that group were me, Bill and Pat Lemieux, who is a good friend hanging with us at Dennis’. Pat has been travelling the world with his fiance, Gwen Jorgensen, so is in pitiful shape, for him. He was just about as thrilled as me still being in the mix.

So we had about 10 miles to where the “real race” begins, the Seely Firetower Climb. I tried my best to roll off the front multiple times. I was mildly amazed, and it was a compliment, the guys chasing me down. I was completely done at that point and knew I needed at least a 30 second led at the bottom to have a chance of being connected at the top of the climb.

It was all about survival, I wasn’t racing, just surviving. But, I didn’t survive. I led through a singletrack section, one climb before the Firetower Climb. But, I got shuffled back for the last little climb. We started up the climb and I was right behind Bill, maybe 8 riders back. Then the guy in front of Bill missed a line around a mud puddle and shot off the course with Bill. I had to grab a big handful of brake, so had to sprint back up to their wheel.

Then at the next puddle, Bill’s front wheel just went out from under him and he fell, for the 2nd time. I didn’t come close to hitting him, but had to come to a complete stop. That was all she wrote for me. One guy went by me and I was on the rivet trying to stay with him to the bottom of the Firetower. When we turned the corner, the tailend of the led group was just 30 meters ahead or so. My guy rode back up to the front, but, I was done.

I crawled up the climb, arms cramping, and when I got to the top, only Ian Stanford, a friend that won the Master’s National TT Championships a couple weeks ago, was there. Hollywood was at the top and handed me a micro coke, which I got half down between breaths. I knew if I could get past the last Birkie Trail section with Ian, he’d be a good guy to pull me to Telemark. We crawled the 2 miles of Birkie section. Ian was climbing, spinning, on his seat. I was riding 50 rpm’s, off my seat, arms still cramping. We got to the last road section, which is about 6 miles long. Ian and I switched off pulling, both not going too good. I asked Ian, right before Telemark, if he could see anyone behind us. He said it was all clear.

We had 2 miles to go, with 3 or 4 short climbs. I never looked back, which in hindsight, was an error. With two hills to go, I hear Ian say “shit”. Right then 4 guys blow by me. Another two in tow. I was thinking, great, there goes 5 places. I jumped, but I was done. I caught up with the front three and climbed the to the top of Telemark a few bike lengths back. I passed one guy and coasted pretty good down the descent. He passed me again and I caught back up through the sweeper. I beat him, going around the last corner doing about 4 mph/40 rpm’s. 16th. It was a harsh way to finish that race.

I was completely done. Bill rolled in a couple minutes back, in 24th and Pat finish 32nd. Not too back. Pat and I nearly maximized our abilities. Bill probably could have done better.

My hip was good most of the day. Actually, other than the muscle not really working, it didn’t bug me hardly at all. But, Saturday night, I was crippled, my hip throbbing. I think that had more to do with the wood splitting session than riding. I took 4 ibuprofen before I went to bed and woke up on Sunday feeling fine, which was a huge surprise.

I called Brian and Gina winning their respective races, pre-race. They both have this race down and there wasn’t anyone here that could have beaten them on Saturday. Congratulations to both.

We’ve been doing a ton of fun stuff the last two days. Lots of wood splitting, wood fired saunas, river plunges, singletrack riding. I feel pretty good about where I’m at in this hip recover, 13 weeks in. I need to do some more PT stuff, but this was a good weekend.

We’re picking Trudi up at the Duluth Airport later this afternoon. I’ve told Bromont it is going to be a special day for him. He might need a rest day, as I do too.

Prelim Results.  Guess there was an extra guy in there somewhere.  Click to enlarge.

Prelim Results. Guess there was an extra guy in there somewhere. Click to enlarge.

There are lots of people riding this event.

There are lots of people riding this event.

Brian Matter, the winner, and me, at the start.

Brian Matter, the winner, and me, at the start.

The start is always fun.

The start is always fun.

The coffeshop was well stocked before the race.

The coffeshop was well stocked before the race.

This was how I rode pretty much I rode until I "dropped" myself.  You can see how stressed everyone else is, hardly.

This was how I rode pretty much I rode until I “dropped” myself. You can see how stressed everyone else is, hardly.

Brian Matter and T.J. Woodruff, 1st and 3rd, after the race.

Brian Matter and T.J. Woodruff, 1st and 3rd, after the race.

Micheal Olheiser, me and Kim Eppen at the finish.  It is pretty cool, the camaraderie at the end of a MTB race.

Micheal Olheiser, me and Kim Eppen at the finish. It is pretty cool, the camaraderie at the end of a MTB race.

Joe Martin Stage 3 – Hogeye Road Race

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I’m a little short of time, so I’ll probably just finish the whole Joe Martin thing tomorrow. Yesterday was a hard race for just about everyone. It was definitely really hard for the Jamis guys. The were put under a lot of stress by the constant attacks and especially a late move by the SmartStop Team. But, as usual, it all came back together in the last 10 km. By this time there were less than 50 guys left in the front. The field had split into two groups of 25, I was in the back group, but after a 1/2 a lap chase, it was back together.

It got a little dicey the last 5 km, with a hard sidewind. The Boneshaker guys, mainly Heath and Nick, went to the front and kept it strung out in the gutter. I finally got in front of Michael Sheehan, who is the fastest of us all, with less than a couple kms. to go. When the sprint started, Bradd Huff was leading out Jesse Anthony. I got into a little tussle with Travis McCabe. He has been riding too many criteriums with the UHC guys and was pretty rude to boot. But, he won the race by 1/2 a wheel anyway. Full results here. Michael was 6th, getting pinched off in the final corner. I rolled across in 19th.

Okay, it is supposed to be crazy weather this afternoon. Winds up to 80mph and golf ball size hail. That was what was forecast last night. Hopefully it holds off for today’s final stage, a technical criterium on a hill. Okay, I have to go.

deanwarenThis photo is by Dean Warren. He has lots of photos of all the races at his facebook page here.

I rode the 10 miles back to Fayetteville to loosen up my legs.  I went to Chipotle and got the biggest burrito ever.  So big they had to put it in a bowl.  I was surprised to see the 5 Hour Energy gus eating at Taco Bueno and then the Optum Pro Team getting burritos too.  Must be the food of choice for professional cyclists.

I rode the 10 miles back to Fayetteville to loosen up my legs. I went to Chipotle and got the biggest burrito ever. So big they had to put it in a bowl. I was surprised to see the 5 Hour Energy gus eating at Taco Bueno and then the Optum Pro Team getting burritos too. Must be the food of choice for professional cyclists.

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It was pretty hot all day. Bromont was hot here at the feed zone. I heard they took an Optum rider to the hospital for dehydration.

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Trudi got the van stuck here a couple years ago. A couple farmers spent two hours jacking her out. Pretty nice.

Engine Block Heater

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I spent an entire winter in Grand Forks, North Dakota, getting paid to eat food at the Human Nutrition Lab, by the US government. I think I’ve written about the whole episode before, but if not, I should. I made $20 a day to be a human guinea pig. We ate the food that the lab techs had weighed down to .01 of a gram and rode our bikes.

Part of the deal was that we couldn’t leave the facility without a chaperon. We could leave to train, but for any other reason we had to have a chaperon to make sure we didn’t “cheat”. I never considered eating anything extra. But all the “normal” guys that were in the lab said that if they had a chance, they would eat a big cheeseburger in a second. I couldn’t understand it.

Anyway, one of our chaperons was a student at the university. She was from a small town in North Dakota and had spent nearly her whole life there. Her name was Sheri. I used Sheri all the time. I would got to the library, or just walk around the campus. We went to a bunch of ice hockey games. North Dakota was ranked #1 at the time.

One day when we were just walking about, I commented that it was so weird that every car had plugs in the front. I’d seen them before, but rarely. She looked at me strangely and said that all cars came with the plugs, the engine block heaters. She said that her dad owned a car dealership and that there wasn’t a car on the lot without the plug.

I told her it wasn’t normal in the rest of the country and she couldn’t believe it. So, we started looking for a car without the plug. We looked and looked and looked, but every car had a plug. I think she was just about ready to start doubting that automobiles came without the plugs when we finally found one.

The rest of the time I spent up there, I always looked down at the grill of all the cars, seeing if there was a plug. It was way over 90% plugs. It seemed like only car from out of state would be the ones without them.

I’ve been plugging my diesel van here in Colorado. The compression of a diesel is super high and they typically have a harder time starting in super cold conditions. My van has two, 1000 CCA batteries and that is barely enough. Last night, when I plugged the van in, it tripped a breaker in the garage. I looked down at the wires and one was broken.

So, today, I have a project. Rewire the plug to the engine block heater. It is going to be a challenge, using mainly only my left arm, but I feel up to it.

I cancelled the PT for the next 4 days. I was going to Denver for the handmade bike show on the weekend anyway, but after getting a ton of emails and calls from knowledgeable folks, I’ve decided to save up my physical therapy days for when they will be more beneficial.

Kent Eriksen is going to be driving through Silverthorne on his way from Steamboat Springs, down to Denver for the show. Set up is today and the show is Friday through Sunday. I guess Kent has a really cool display. He’s going to be set up to build a frame in the middle of the booth. If you’ve never had the opportunity to go to this bike show, and you’re anywhere near, you should do it. The show is open to the public and is great. It is like going to an art exhibition and bike show at once.

Anyway, need to get to shoveling the drive. It is nothing like the dumping Kansas is getting right now, but it is supposed to snow here for the next week.

Here is the plug.  I'd already got into it with my Swiss Army knife when I took this picture.

Here is the plug. I’d already got into it with my Swiss Army knife when I took this picture.

The driveway here in Silverthorne is huge.  We've had to shovel it 5 times already.  Luckily it hasn't really dumped this past week.

The driveway here in Silverthorne is huge. We’ve had to shovel it 5 times already. Luckily it hasn’t really dumped this past week.

Todays project before the plug replacement project.  I shovel left handed.  I just kind of move the snow around.  Trudi really does all the heavy stuff.

Todays project before the plug replacement project. I shovel left handed. I just kind of move the snow around. Trudi really does all the heavy stuff.

Just about done.  My left arm is going to be huge after this whole ordeal.

Just about done. My left arm is going to be huge after this whole ordeal.

I brought a couple jerseys for Kent to hang at the bike show this weekend.

I brought a couple jerseys for Kent to hang at the bike show this weekend.

We went over to a brew pub in Dillon last night to watch the KU game.  Man, was that a exciting basketball game.

We went over to a brew pub in Dillon last night to watch the KU game. Man, was that a exciting basketball game.

Aspirin for $1 a Pill in Brazil

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I am eating a lot of pills right now. I could be taking more, but I’m kind of administering them selectively. Most the time it is working, but when I’m off, I’m really off and I pay the price.

I’ve never been big on taking pills, but this is a completely different scenario than I’ve been involved in before. You need to take pills to kill the pain. And then you have to take pills that counter the side effects of the other pills. I feel like Richard Virenque who after denying taking anything in the Festina Affair, admitted under oath he took something like 1000 injects that year. That seemed like a huge number to me. And now, after the surgery, I have a huge number of pill bottles laying around here.

I’ve only recently started understanding how many different medicines that are prescribed here in the United States. It is unreal. But, that isn’t what this post is about. It’s about trying to get common medicine, at least for us, in other countries.

I went down to Brazil to race a Specialized Catus Cup back in the late 90’s. I took Trudi with me and Todd Tanner, then a downhill rider, went too.

A couple days before the race, we went out to the jungle outside of Sao Paulo to do a photo shoot with a Brazilian MTB magazine. When we got done with the shoot, we were driving on a dirt road and came upon a woman that was walking by herself. We had this translator with us, his name was Arturo. He was was a strange dude, sort of a modern day Renaissance guy. He told the driver to stop and asked the woman if she wanted a ride into the city, which was a few miles away. She said yes instantly.

She got into the car and Arturo asked her what she was doing. She said that she was walking into this very small village to get some Aspirin for her sick kid. The child had a fever for the previous 3 days. This was all in Portuguese, so I had no idea what they were talking about. Arturo out of the blue asked me if I had any aspirin with me. I had my toilet kit and happened to have a medium size ( for the US) bottle of aspirin. He told the driver to stop driving and we went back to my bag and got the aspirin. It was a bottle of 250 or so I’d probably bought at Walgreens for 2 dollars.

Arturo said she would like to buy 10 from me and offered me 10 Brazilian Real, which was just about one to one back then. I thought, what is she talking about. Everything was much cheaper in Brazil then. I told her that I would just give her the aspirin. After thinking about it for a second, I took 10 aspirin out of the bottle to keep and gave her the rest of the bottle.

That is when it started getting weird. She said that she absolutely would not take the bottle of aspirin. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was adamant about it. I told Arturo to explain to her that these pills were very inexpensive in the United States and that I really didn’t want to fly back with them. He explained, but it was no use.

I can’t remember exactly how it turned out, but she paid me money for some aspirin. I think I maybe convinced her to take a handful and she gave me the 10 R$. The was nothing I could do to not except the money.

I’ve thought about this woman and the encounter lots over the years. I sort of understand it, but probably will never completely understand all the reasons that this woman was too proud to except free medicine from a stranger. And, I’ll never understand why these important pills/medicine, was so expensive for a poor Brazilian woman. Out of all the experiences I had on that trip, this stands out most.

Here are the masses of pills I'm supposed to be taking.  A lot start with oxy, which I can't complain about one bit.

Here are the masses of pills I’m supposed to be taking. A lot start with oxy, which I can’t complain about one bit.

This is how ragged I look, and feel, after consuming most of the pills above.

This is how ragged I look, and feel, after consuming most of the pills above.

This is Brooke, my physical therapist at the Steadman Clinic.  She's really great and super gentle.

This is Brooke, my physical therapist at the Steadman Clinic. She’s really great and super gentle.

I left the hospital with prescription for aspirin.  I've been taking the 81 mg ones ever since I got that blood clot in my leg from crashing last April.  I wasn't positive that they sold the 325mg over the counter still after seeing this.  They do.

I left the hospital with prescription for aspirin. I’ve been taking the 81 mg ones ever since I got that blood clot in my leg from crashing last April. I wasn’t positive that they sold the 325mg over the counter still after seeing this. They do.

I think that this is the tendon that he got cinched back on.

I think that this is the tendon that he got cinched back on.

Here is the finished product.  There are some anchors screwed into the Humerus, holding the sutures in place.

Here is the finished product. There are some anchors screwed into the Humerus, holding the sutures in place.