Category Archives: Racing

Cyclo-X Nationals Elite Race-Saturday

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Can’t say things went as planned for ‘Cross Nationals on Saturday. Somehow I had enough UCI points to line up on the 2nd row, which is way better than I thought. I had looked forward to riding in the front group . I totally screwed up the start and pulled my right foot out of my pedal on the road. After clipping that back in I pulled my left foot out. That being said, I hit grass in 30th or so. Great start. OK, new plan. I kept my cool and tried not to make any more stupid mistakes, because mistakes on the first lap of ‘cross races are minutes at the end. On the first road section, I hooked up with Chris Horner and passed 10 guys at least. I knew the course would be good for him, with little to no technical riding sections. At the end of the first lap, on the finishing road section, Chris was off his seat going super hard and the banner on the barriers blew out and “grabbed” his bars. He hit the ground so fast and hard, I’d bet he hardly knew what happened. This is the 2nd year he’s crashed hard right in front of me. Last year, he fell hard on the ice on the fastest descent and slid head first into a metal pole. Anyway, that was the end of the backup plan. I was still 10 seconds off the second group that was going for 7-15 or so. I finally got settled down and ended up riding with Eric Tonkin(Kona) and Tristan Schouten(Trek-VW) and that was how it went pretty much the rest of the race. Tonkin did virtually all the pulling on the road sections. I came by and tried to lead on the off-road sections, but we weren’t making much if any ground on the group ahead. A few guys started fading and we finally ended up sprinting for 12th, which is the place I finished. Kind of disheartening, but it was pretty much the place I deserved with the race I raced. It’s pretty strange. I finished 12th this year and 12th in 2005 on the same course. Completely different races. About the same feeling mentally, though. The sport never ceases to amaze me. More on Sunday.

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Elite Men

1 Ryan Trebon (Kona) 59.37
2 Jonathan Page (Cervelo) 0.33
3 Tim Johnson (Cannondale/cyclocrossworld.com) 0.34
4 Todd Wells (Team GT) 0.36
5 Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) 0.37
6 Barry Wicks (Kona) 1.04
7 Ben Jacques-Maynes (cyclocrossworld.com/SRAM) 1.43
8 Matt White (FiordiFrutta) 2.05
9 Mark Mccormack (Clif Bar) 2.21
10 Andy Jacques-Maynes (California Giant Strawberries) 2.25
11 Jonathan Baker (Primus Mootry) 2.27
12 Steve Tilford (Verge/Shimano) 2.48
13 Justin Spinelli (RGM Watches – Richard/Sachs ) 2.49
14 Erik Tonkin (Kona) 2.50
15 Tristan Schouten (Trek/VW/Michelin) 2.53

Cross Nationals-Stage 3, California Giant Strawberries Cup, Sunday Revenge Race

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Last year I experienced it, but this year confirms it. Cyclo-X stage racing is hard. It’s the third race in 3 days, with a bunch of standing around before and after the races. It’s hard not watching the races when you’re a bike racing fan. Anyway, they lined up anyone with a National Champion jersey on the front row. I started just OK and was 6th or so the first lap. But, I was completely out of juice. Almost like I bonked. The second time on the road section I got passed by 5 or 6 guys and was on the back of a 7-man train. I was getting spit out the back through the slinky-effect and after another half a lap, I completely sat up. I thought about quitting, but so many people were yelling I kept riding around. Eventually, I got into a group in the late teens that were riding about the speed I could go. I sat on the back of 3 guys pretty much the last 5 laps. The race was the full race distance of the day before, 8 laps. I couldn’t believe it. A few guys ahead started blowing gaskets and a few more flatted. Trebon flatted on the second lap and looked like he was quitting, but 2 or 3 laps later, he came by again. It was nice to see that he was riding mildly hard the day after winning “the race”. Anyway, through attrition, etc. my group ended up sprinting for the top 10. I was 9th on the day, which was way better than I deserved. Tim Johnson schooled everyone. His time was only 20 seconds or so slower than Ryan’s the day before. That was pretty impressive. I wasn’t that far off timewise either. I don’t really understand it, I was pretty much blown the whole race and only kept riding because it was the Nationals weekend and the last race of the season. That, plus, I don’t quit races unless I’m hurt or sick. Anyway, I was glad to be done. Next year’s Nationals are in Kansas City and I’m going to make it a major goal of the season.

Results

1 Tim Johnson (Cannondale/cyclocrossworld.com
2 Mark Mccormack (Clif Bar)
3 Jonathan Baker (Harshman Wealth Management / Primus Mootry)
4 Ben Jacques-Maynes (cyclocrossworld.com/SRAM)
5 Ryan Trebon (Kona)
6 Adam Myerson (Nerac-OutdoorLights.com Pro Cycling)
7 Erik Tonkin (Kona)
8 Tristan Schouten (Trek/VW/Michelin)
9 Steve Tilford (Verge/Shimano)
10 Taylor Carrington (Turin – Powerbar)

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New Year Ramblings

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Happy New Year. I thought I’d better add some content to this even though nothing much has gone on since Cross Nationals. I added a web counter that monitors web hits etc. and I’m starting to feel guilty about everyone checking back here with nothing new posted. Anyway, I went up to Northern Wisconsin (Cable) the day after Christmas for a couple weeks of cross country skiing. No snow. Drove up to ABR in Michigan a few times, but that got alittle old. There is still virtually no snow there. The global warming critics have to be out of their minds. When I first went up there in the early 90’s, there was over a meter of snow before Christmas and it never stopped snowing until spring.

I’ve had some muscle imbalance (self diagnoised) issues and decided to do some weight/core stuff this winter other than skiing and construction. I went to Julia (personal trainer in Topeka) yesterday and did alot of “different” balance/weight things. I can’t believe how pitiful I was at most everything. It was 66 degrees in Kansas today. A record high for the critics. I rode 70 miles to Lawrence and back, stopping at Starbucks. Now I can barely walk I’m so sore from weights/whatever. It’s weird that when I’m sore from a different activity, it gets exacerbated from riding.

Applied for a new racing license a couple days ago. I wanted to be prepared just in case one of those warm early season trips came around just when the weather sucks here in Kansas. Anyway, when I was on “my USAC” section, I clicked on the ranking and I’m ranked #1 again under National Elite Criterium Rankings and fifth or something in the Road Race category. Someone emailed a link to this years ago when I was first in both categories and I could never figure out how or why or what they used for information/results to formulate/calculate these rankings. Last year at the end of the season, I was something like 20th. It is 11 days into 2007. No criteriums so far. But, I’ve moved up to #1. If anyone out there has figured this out, let me know. I guess they think including Tony Cruz, Brad Huff, etc. makes the “amateurs” look better. Anyway, I’ll paste the rankings below to make it look good for sponsors/potential sponsors/people that think they actually mean anything. Here’s a couple photos. A happy Steve/mediocre ski shot from Michigan with teammate Adam Mills (he’ll just hurt himself with poles.) You’ll have to take my word on it that we are standing on skis. And, a New Year’s Night, way past midnight, walk in the North Woods fun. Anyway, I’ll get back to you when something more eventful happens.

2007 Elite Road Mens Cat 1 Criterium Rankings

Rank Points Name License Hometown
1 57 Stephen Tilford 35598 Topeka, KS
2 59 Antonio Cruz 79555 Long Beach, CA
3 86 Patrick Dunaway 90607 Oakland, CA
4 87 Charles (Brad) Huff 132539 Colorado Springs, CO
5 94 Matt Shriver 110703 Durango, CO
6 96 Karl Bordine 163315 Oceanside, CA
7 101 James Carney 45167 Macungie, PA
8 102 Jason Snow 33370 Tallahassee, FL
9 110 Jonathan Page 27066 Northfield, NH
10 118 Phil Wikoff 117896 Austin, TX
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Best US Cyclo-Cross Racer of All Time?

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Velonews just finished a poll on the Velonews interactive website that asked readers- “Who is the best male cyclo-crosser in U.S. history? “

They posted the poll the day after Jonathan Page had nearly just won the Cyclocross Worlds. Prior to the event, it was inconceivable that an American rider would be able to compete at that level. From my perspective, his result is the most astonishing cycling accomplishment in USA Cycling history. You have to realize how fast those guys are going and how much depth Belgians have in their Elite Team.

OK, back to the poll. I won the poll by a large margin. I’m not sure if there is anything that you can read from the results of a poll like this. I’m not sure it’s accurate, but polls, especially subjective polls, are always suspect. Maybe it’s just a popularity contest. But, Velonews is the most prestigious US cycling industry publication, so it’s readers are knowledgable (I hope!). A very big compliment no matter what you think. Anyway, thanks to everyone that voted for me. It’s nice to be recognized by your peers.

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Walburg/Pace Bend Road Races, Texas

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The weather in the midwest has been brutal this winter. It was supposed to be sleeting and 40 degrees this weekend, so we decided to start the season down in Texas with a couple nice 80 mile road races I’d done a couple years ago. Bill Stolte, Brian Jensen and Adam Mills came down with me. Barry and the guys from Team Hotel San Jose were stoked we were coming and helped us out abunch. The racing scene in Texas is super healthy, both road and MTB. The organization seems way ahead of most places I race.

Saturday was Walburg Road Race north of Austin. Three laps of a 24 mile loop. It was in the mid 60’s at 6:30am. And the wind was blowin’. The race started at 8:00am. Way too early for my liking. I was at the car when the field rolled off. Nothing like missing the start of the first race of the season. The race was neutral for the first mile or so. I would of had a problem if that hadn’t been the case.

Bill took off with 2 other guys about 5 seconds after the official race started. The wind picked up. And kept getting stronger all morning. On the first sidewind section, the field started splitting up. Christian House, British National Road Champion from the Navigators Pro Team strung it out. I guessed we’d been warned at the start, I wasn’t at, about crossing the centerline. Anyway, I was bridging up to a group and was drafting some guy a few inches across the centerline and the official on the motorcycle came up and told me to go back to the pack. So, I went back the 200 meters. Right then, a couple more guys jumped and I rode back up to the break. The official told me I was supposed to go back to the follow car behind the pack now. So, I went back. The guy in the car said I needed to drop back 300 meters and then try to chase back on. I did that, but if it would of been going any harder, I would of been toast. I’ve race 1000’s of races in my lifetime. That was the first time I’ve ever received a “timeout” during a race. The official had a thankless job trying to enforce the centerline rule with the wind blowing nearly 40mph.

Anyway,at the start of the 2nd lap, Brian took off alone and bridged up to Bill who had dropped the other two guys. Now it was just those two a minute or so ahead of what was left of the field. At the start of the last lap, Christian House took off up the hill and I went with him. He didn’t know who was in the break even though we could see them. He road me in the gutter for the next 30 minutes or so. Finally, he gave up and 5 more guys caught us. But, by then, Brian and Bill were gone. The sprint was up a big ring climb. I jumped at 200 meters. House and I bumped a few times and he was ahead. Right before the line he eased up and I beat him by a bike throw. Kind of silly on his part. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wasn’t expected. We were all pretty well seized up afterwards from the effort.

Next day, a 6 miles loop in the Texas Hill country. Closed course. Started at 12:30. Much more reasonable time. It seemed alot of guys had skipped Walburg because there were alot of new jerseys around. Brian got away in a group of 6 on the 2nd out of 13 laps. They got up over a minute and kind of stayed there for most of the race. The lead group got smaller and smaller until only Brian and Matt Ankeny from the Mercy Team were left. Bill, Adam and I made every group, but nothing seemed to stay away. I was feeling pretty mediocre the first half the race, but started feeling pretty good the last hour. That was just about the time when everyone else seemed to run out of juice. On the final lap, Bill got off the front with about 6 guys. With a couple miles to go, I jumped up to them and then rode off the front with three others in the last mile. It was all coming back together in the last 300 meters, but it had been going so hard that everyone was spent and I ended up winning the sprint for 3rd. Bill was 6th, which was good.

So, for the weekend, Trek/HRRC took 5 of the 6 podium spots. That was kind of lucky really. We weren’t that much better than these guys. It seems alittle greedy, but that wasn’t really how it was planned. It was a good weekend, weather and racing.

We’re staying down here for a couple more days. It’s supposed to be in the 80’s. It snowed and is in the 30’s in Kansas. There are much worse places to be than Austin in February!!!

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The 12 Miles of Hell MTB Race – 1st Win of the Season

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I decided to go down to Lawton Oklahoma for a Mountain Bike Race this weekend. I hadn’t ridden my MTB bike for awhile, let alone raced one. I plan to mix it up a little more this year. Catherine Walberg from Topeka was up for the challenge too.

The race is appropriately named The 12 Miles of Hell. It is a mass start event in the Wichita Mountains. It was actually alittle over 17 miles this year, but it’s name is for the original race. It would of been just fine by me if it was only 12 miles long. It’s the last official time for the race and I’ve won it three times previously, so I though I’d go down and try for another rock. Those are the prizes-rocks with plaques. Perfect.

I’ve won the race previously in about 1:10, so on Saturday, when I was pre-riding the course, I figured it would be an hour and a half. I wanted to go as easily as possible, since I hadn’t been off-road in such a long time. I thought trying to keep Catherine reined in was going to be the issue pre-riding. Not the case. 2:15 later, I was back at the car, worked. It is one of the most technically demanding courses I’ve ever ridden. Nearly all the single-track is rock. Loose rock, solid rock, sharp rock. Pretty much just rock. The climbs are steep, loose, super technical. I found that there was no way to ride the course easily.

Anyway, Sunday, race day, I felt OK. The start is on about 200 meters of pavement, then a sharp turn straight up a 3 minute loose climb. I led off the pavement and had a pretty good line up the early portion of the loose climb. Will Black (super good rider from Texas) and Cameron Chambers (ex-Gary Fisher 24 hour rider) were on a different, but good line also. About half way up, I was still leading and Cameron passed me on some loose stuff on a single speed. Big gear. I’m thinking, “what’s wrong with this picture?” Anyway, by the time I’m to the top of the climb, my lungs are pretty much blown. I guess I wasn’t ready for the exertion. After a short technical descent and a little single track, there is another open, tank track, loose, climb. I was leading again when Cameron came charging by in his huge gear. This time the gear got a little big and I passed him for good. I looked back a little while later and he and Will were riding together. The rest of the race went fine. The most memorable part of the race was the view from up on the ridge. Looking down at the mass of riders, single file, serpentining their way across the rock. Many found it easier just to walk. The course is so demanding that you can’t let your guard down for an instant. I found that out close to the finish when my barend caught a small tree and threw me over the bars. It seems like the majority of times I fall in a MTB race it is when it seems tame and harmless. I won in 1:28 something. Will was 3 or so minutes back. And amazingly, Cameron was just another 3 minutes back. It was not the course for a single-speed. He rode incredible. Catherine won the woman’s race in 1:56. She finished 25th overall. There were officially 729 starters, so her result was excellent, obviously.

Below are a few photos. Click on them to enlarge. Thanks to Michael and the gang at Wichita Mountains Bicycle Club for promoting such a cool event for such a long time.

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Salt Creek/Sand Springs Criteriums, Tulsa Oklahoma

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Packed up the car again to head South to miss the Kansas weather again. Seems like I’m spending the whole month of March in either Oklahoma or Texas. It was in mid 70’s on Saturday for the Salt Creek Criterium. It was really a circuit race, being 5km around with a couple hills. The Mercy Team from Ft. Smith Arkansas had their whole squad, plus a few. It seemed like every other jersey was blue. I had 3 guys with me, Brian, Bill and Adam flying the HRRC/Trek colors.

Nothing much to write about here. Mercy had decided that they wanted it to come down to a field sprint. They never had less than 8 guys at the front doing tempo, so that was how it would most likely turn out. Bill flatted with 2 laps to go, so he was out. Brian and I talked and figured he could take off with a lap to go and most likely make it to the line. He got away pretty easily, but half a lap later, flatted himself, only a couple miles from the finish.He would of won. Bad luck.

I felt just OK and thought I had a fair chance with a uphill finish. I started the sprint on Brice Jones of Jelly Belly. Brice is fast. I knew I had to jump first, but blew it when he jumped to the left when I was expecting the right. He beat me fairly easily. I was 2nd. Chad Cagle from Mercy third.

Sunday, there was a real technical criterium in Sand Springs, a small town outside Tulsa. It starting raining in the morning and kept raining though out the afternoon. A bunch of fair weather bikers these guys are, with less than 1/3 of Saturday’s field showing up to race in the rain.

The course was a figure 8 with a small hill, a U-turn, and a bunch of high speed, off camber corner’s. I was reading Bill Strickland’s book, “The Quotable Cyclist”, in the morning and saw a quote from my former MTB teammate, Ned Overend. It said something like you need to use smaller races to experiment and learn from, to get better for the bigger, more important races. I know Ned was mainly commenting on MTB racing, but it also really applies to racing criteriums in the rain. You’re never going to learn how to corner fast when it’s wet if you don’t race when it’s wet. There are so many things that need to be taken into account, that you’ll never be able to know them unless you participate.

Anyway, I’m pretty good in the rain and knew unless something disastrous happened, I’d have a good shot at winning. Nothing disastrous did happen. I lapped what was remaining of the field with just 6 laps left. From then on, I concentrated on helping Bill beat the other 4 guys left of the field. He attacked a couple times, but couldn’t shake them. I started leading him out with about a half a lap to go. Mostly downhill with a few sketchy corners. Bill ended up finishing 2nd by half a wheel, giving us a 1-2-6 finish. It’s been a pretty good season for our team so far, even though it’s early. We’ve raced 10 races and have won all but the race on Saturday (my fault). I doubt that winning percentage can go on much longer. But, it’s always a goal I guess. Results and pictures below.

Salt Creek Criterium PRO 1/2

1st Brice Jones Jelly-Belly
2nd Steve Tilford HRRC-Trek/Shimano
3rd Chad Cagle Mercy Cycling Team

Sand Springs Criterium PRO 1/2

1st Steve Tilford HRRC/Trek/Shimano
2nd Bill Stolte HRRC/Trek/Shimano
3rd Bryan Fawley Team Hotel San Jose-Austin, Tx

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