Last Weekend ReCap – Snake Alley

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Last weekend was strange. Strange in the fact that nothing went according to any type of plan, or history.

Snake Alley is my favorite race of the season. Not just because the course is good for me, it is because of the setting and the enthusiasm. I really like downtown Burlington, Iowa. A dying railroad town trying to reinvent itself. I love the big, warehouse-like buildings that have endless possibilities. Every year it gets just that much nicer. I like to see the progression.

Anyway, I don’t have a ton to write about the race itself. It went badly. Not anyones fault, really. Obviously, by all the photos on Facebook, etc. I had a issue keeping my handlebars connected to my bike. The carbon steering column broke. This could be from any number of reasons. I changed stems this season from a carbon to an aluminum, so this might be the issue. Maybe I overtightened the bolts, I don’t know. All I know is that I wish I would have been having a worse day on the bike and it wouldn’t sting so much.

I can’t really say how I would have done. I would like to think I would have ridden away and won. But, I only rode 1/2 the race, so who knows. All I do know is that if I would have been racing the last 1/2 the race, 20 guys wouldn’t have been sprinting for the win.

I felt pretty good. Not great, but good. Good enough that I was never stressed while I was riding. The course suits me. A hard effort up a brick serpentine climb and then a technical 3 corner descent that was wet the first few laps. I wasn’t climbing the best of everyone. Eric Marcotte was going crazy fast uphill. But I think I was going downhill the best. I never went full tilt downhill, but early in the race, when it was wet, I was getting a pretty good gap without trying.

I had a game plan thought out. I was going to just float the race, stay in the top 5 or so the first half, to observe who was riding good. And then try not to be with them at the end of the race. The only rider on my radar the first half was Eric Marcotte. Chad Burdzilauskas and Adam Leibovitz of Texas Roadhouse were going okay too, but not good enough to worry me much. The AeroCat riders were hitting the front on the Snake to slow the group down, so I realized they weren’t a threat.

Brian Jensen, TradeWind, took his time making it up to the front group. He wasn’t lovin’ the wet descent. He immediately attacked when he caught up after 5 laps or so, but the descent wasn’t going that great. I went to the front. Eventually, I let Eric ride up to him, hoping that Brian would follow his line down. That didn’t go that great, so they only stayed off the front a few laps.

So, right when the race was going to get interesting for me, I was climbing, about half way up the hill and pop, my bars felt weird and then the were detached. I don’t really remember having any thoughts of falling. I’m not sure why that was. I just put my foot down and starred in disbelief. Finally, Kim West came over and told me that we weren’t going to be able to fix that and I should get off the road. Less than a minute later, I was sitting on a cooler, drinking a cold beer. A pretty strange, unexpected sequence. I can’t believe how lucky I was not to have this happen on the descent. That would have been super ugly!

I don’t know how it would have turned out, but the race was winnable. I was going good enough, plus I’ve ridden the race so many times, I think I have it down. But, there are no guarantees in bike racing. I have to congratulate Chad for winning. It is a great race to have on your resume and he made an awesome move coming hot into the last corner to take Eric and Juan Pablo by surprise.

And also, congratulations to Iowa local, and one of my favorites, Amanda Miller, HTC, for winning here again. She made it look easy. It has been great watching her progress the last few seasons. Endless possibilities here.

Okay, can’t dwell on the past too much. There is always next year, I guess.

Leading Chad up the climb.

The lower climb at the start.

Nice shot from above.


Kim telling me it is hopeless, dah.


Not a happy camper.

17 thoughts on “Last Weekend ReCap – Snake Alley

  1. Jeff Cozad

    Steve – Kim West wasn’t there… I think that was John Adamson that was out on the road with you. I’m still amazed that you didn’t find the ground and that everyone navigated around you. I’m glad you “enjoyed” the beer.

  2. tilford97 Post author

    Jeff-Shows you how oblivious I was to my surroundings at that time. Thanks for the beer and conversation. It made a huge difference defusing the moment. Steve

  3. Rob


    Kim was only at Rock Island this weekend. That is most definitely a great local racer, John Adamson.


  4. Erik Hamilton

    Steve, where did you find the pictures? I have been looking. Just curious. Awesome racing this weekend! It is always cool to try and follow you at these races. Thanks.


  5. Randy Dickson

    Damn! I just got a new carpet-fiber frame with a carpet-fiber steer tube. I weigh considerably more that you do. Somewhere between you and Cozad in the pic. OK, closer to Cozad. I have 200 miles on the frame and I’m now considering getting a fork with an aluminum steer tube.

  6. Ted Lewandowski

    I would have any of your lawyer friends send a certified letter to John Burke – CEO of Trek- to put him on notice of a possible lawsuit due to a possible negligent design and manufacturing of the steering tube that could have created ‘life threatening consequences’ due to your racing speeds.

    I would give it about 4 weeks and I I would wager you that they offer you any of the top model bikes for free of charge.

    This write-up in the blog should be copied and be sure to state how many people read your blog to really get their attention.

  7. DavidR

    @Ted: I’m pretty sure Steve isn’t paying for them anyway (he’s a pro, afterall). Treks do have a rep for busted steerer tubes, but they’re not the only ones. I’m not a Trek guy, just sayin’.

  8. H Luce

    Ted, Steve doesn’t put “normal” amounts of stress on *any* cycle component, as witness the contents of his basement… He destroys bikes by tearing them apart – if a bike can last a racing season with Steve before falling into a pile of rust and ashes, that design will last thirty years for any other rider. Liability lawsuits are likely to go nowhere.

  9. Ted Lewandowski

    I understand what you’re saying but if he is paying for the bike then he should file a lawsuit – it does not matter if the bike is ridden casually or raced – no component should break-off and every company that builds bikes is required to carry insurance to pay claims filed for broken elements of a frame – this would not even make it to court as Trek’s insurance company would simply write a check – like taking candy from a baby!!!

  10. Calvin Jones

    Only speculation, as I have no knowledge of the exact column conundrum, but I wonder how many times in travel/flying/packing has the stem been off/on/off/on/off/on?

  11. bob

    Wasn’t this the same steerer tube you tried to “fix” after it broke in the Old Capital Crit crash in Iowa city a month ago?

  12. Ted Lewandowski

    That makes the case against Trek even easier – seems they are producing bikes with known defects – and are WAITING for the frames to break to offer a repair.

    Kind of like Ford and the Explorer and Firestone tires – they knew it was a problem – but did nothing about it until people started dying in rollovers.

    Or for the matter Toyota – with the drive-by-wire accelerator issues – floor mats if you ask Toyota for an official statement – LOL

  13. Shim

    I was watching and I’ve got to say you had some serious torque on the bars as you skinned the Snake.


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