Melon City Criterium

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Yesterday was sort of a strange race day for me. I went out with Jeff Bradley, Deb Wood and Bill and rode 30 miles in the morning. I felt pretty done. It was windy and I was flailing when riding against it. We rode over to the new course that they are holding the Quad Cities race on today and then I really started getting nervous. The course is crazy hard. .7 mile with a long steady climb and screaming descent. So, I realized I needed to try ride smart in Muscatine to save up for today.

Muscatine is a mile course, with a hill too, but not a very hard climb. There is a 130 degree corner about 100 meters from the finish, when is the key aspect of the course. I’ve done the race a lot of times. Sometimes a field sprint, but usually a medium size break. The race was animated early on. I had a 350 watt average on my Garmin after the first 30 minutes. So, the race sort of slowed midway and then towards the end, it seemed like the field was getting a little blown. It started splitting up more on the climb and through the corner. I started riding closer to the front, not really wanting to miss a big split. But, I did.

With maybe 10 laps to go, 8 guys rolled away. I had a opportunity to make the move, was flying up the gutter on the right side of the field on the climb, but a feeder stepped out onto the road and I had to grab my brakes. I don’t really understand why they were allowing feeding, it wasn’t that hot. And it seemed like it was too late in the race for feeding anyway. The Hincapie Team and Athlete Octane guys got to the front and really slowed it down. Now, after the race, I don’t have any idea about that tactic. I think they only had one rider each up the road. As it turned out, neither team finished a guy on the podium.

So, the break stayed off. We were jockeying for position the last couple laps. You really have to set up properly at the bottom of the hill to get a good result. I was good going down the hill, maybe 8 guys back, behind only Hincapie and Athlete Octane riders. I was planning on marking Daniel Holloway. He is the guy here and earlier in the race, won a prime from about 50 riders back with 1/4 lap to go. Anyway, it slowed a bit at the bottom of the hill and I decided to just go for it from there. I was on the inside and when I went by Holloway, he threw a pretty good elbow into me, a prickish move. I lost all my momentum and instantly was 15 riders back.

But, I kept at it, staying full throttle and towards the top of the hill, right where it levels out, started passing guys like they were standing still. I rode by maybe 5 riders pretty quick and then before the corner, passed Paul Martin and then dove the final corner and passed 3 more guys. I ended up 5th in the field sprint, 13th in the race.

Paul came up to me after the race and made some derogatory comment about my “move”. I reminded him that I’d seen him run into quite a few guys throughout the day. I asked him what the issue was of going through a corner, less than 100 meters from the finish, on the inside. I didn’t touch another rider. No one fell. I moved up 3 places. He said something like there is just an area of danger surrounding me. It’s his opinion, but I disagree. Riders have different abilities and different perceptions of what is dangerous and what isn’t. For me, the move was just finishing a criterium. I guess he would never make it, which is fine, but I don’t think he has anything to complain about. Paul and I got way back on this subject, so it is just a continuation of the same old.

Like I said above, the Hincapie and Athlete Octane teams pretty much decided the break and they both got shut out on the podium. I don’t understand it. Holloway or Chad Hartley both could have won the race from a field sprint. Seems like bad tactics to me, but that’s fine. There are plenty of bad tactics going on in bike racing nowadays.

After the race, Bill and I went for a short ride. We stopped at a yard sale and bought some Cokes from a kid. I got 2 for a dollar. I drank the first one, it was so cold, great. So I decided to have the 2nd. I think that was a mistake. About 15 minutes later, I got a crazy stomach ache. Like call 911 stomach ache. I was folded over with pain. I limped back to the car and just sat. I had some Tums in the medical bag and ate a handful. Driving back to Davenport, which is 45 minutes, it slowly subsided. But, man, did it leave me destroyed. Way worse than the race.

Today is going to be hard. A really short course, with a hard hill hitting you even minute or so. It is supposed to rain this afternoon. 70% chance. I glued on a new Vittoria CX on my rear last night. I’m worried that guys are going to get off the front early and lap the field. Eventually that is going to happen for sure. I’m not sure how many guys are going to finish today, but it is going to be ugly.

I woke up a little torqued today. Kind of just overall fatigued. I’m not so worried, I have 1/2 a day to get my shit together. I’m going to go out for a ride, nap then see. No use stressing about something that is just is. I’m looking forward to the race today. I like hard criteriums with hills. Should be fun.

The podium-Chris Winn 1st, Cole House 2nd, Tyler Coplea 3rd.

The podium-Chris Winn 1st, Cole House 2nd, Tyler Coplea 3rd.



These guys were on the bike path at the bottom of the criterium hill.

These guys were on the bike path at the bottom of the criterium hill.

Tom Schuler last night pretty much passed out.  He'd been out setting up todays course since 4 am and it was 11 pm.

Tom Schuler last night pretty much passed out. He’d been out setting up todays course since 4 am and it was 11 pm.

Jeff grilled up a ton of chicken last night.

Jeff grilled up a ton of chicken last night.

Bromont waiting for breakfast.  Someone comes around and put flags in front of every house in Jeff's neighborhood.  There is a permanent flag holder in each yard.  Happy Memorial Day!

Bromont waiting for breakfast. Someone comes around and put flags in front of every house in Jeff’s neighborhood. There is a permanent flag holder in each yard. Happy Memorial Day!

16 thoughts on “Melon City Criterium

  1. Rod Lake

    Just because you’re scared doesn’t mean somebody made a bad move. Might be great move. Stay scared my friends. THE Most Interesting Crit Rider in The World–ST.

  2. peter k

    There aren’t many people with 47+ years experience that are racing the Pro, 1,2 races these days that is finishing consistently well. I think that Holloway wishes that he could have the racing career that you have had in the last 4 + decades. Throwing the elbow is so passé in todays racing culture. That was one of the popular moves back in the 60’s and 70’s.

  3. channel_zero

    and then dove the final corner and passed 3 more guys.

    I don’t know Steve. If you were the one getting chopped in the final corner, would you just accept it?

    I’m not saying who is right or wrong.
    – you know what you are doing and your depth of experience is validation enough.
    – if guys are throwing elbows at a local crit, then there’s plenty of misbehaviour to go around.
    -I was not there.

    I hope you are feeling better. I’m still interested to hear about your trip to Colorado a while ago where there was athletic testing. (I think)

  4. Steve Tilford Post author

    Zero-Sure I wouldn’t like it, but it is a criterium with a finish less than 100 meters before the line. The finish line isn’t the last corner. If someone has the ability to go through the final corner faster, and tighter, than the rider ahead of him, why shouldn’t he? There is no contact, no crashes, just bike racing. That is how it has always been.

    Have you ever seen the final corner of the Championship course at Downer’s Grove. There, lots of contact, many crashes. But, it happened year after year. Business as usual.

  5. Bill K

    I watched the Pro 1-2 races at Downer’s Grove, many a time. I’ve raced it a few timers as a Master.
    Some riders are just big cry-babies. If you come within six inches of them in a turn, (or even bump them a little), they call you a rough rider.
    The elbow thing is just bush.

  6. H Luce

    The “elbow thing” is assault if you saw it coming, battery if it hit you. The incidence of such tactics might be a lot less if criminal charges were filed against those using them, especially if the same rider is a repeat offender. Bicycle racing isn’t a contact sport, and it’s not a prize fight, and it shouldn’t be allowed to become either of these.

    Iowa law sets forth a number of assault-related crimes. The crime of misdemeanor assault involves intentionally causing pain or injury to another person or placing another person in fear of offensive physical contact or injury.
    All of these crimes, however, hinge on the basic definition of assault, which in Iowa is:
    any act intended to cause pain or injury to another, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act
    any act intended to result in offensive physical contact or to place another in fear of imminent offensive physical contact, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act, or
    intentionally pointing or displaying a dangerous weapon at someone in a threatening manner.
    Actual injury is not required for a crime to be called an assault, nor is actual physical contact. (Iowa Code § 708.1.)”

  7. H Luce

    There should be a quote in front of the second paragraph which I inadvertently omitted…

  8. Mike Rodose

    It was just bicycle racing. No more rules, officials, cops, lawyers or jail necessary.

    Please stop it. Go ride your bike and compete in pack-racing events with caution.

    Have fun on your bike.

  9. Chad hartley

    Steve, sorry you crashed today, and I hope your recovery is speedy. I want to be clear, if your were looking for dans wheel, you didn’t get anywhere near it. He was on the front of our train leading out, then Colton then me then Anthony. Detroit spoke has great photos of the two trains at the bottom of the hill after the speed bump. Please be sure you have the right person before you making accusations

  10. Steve Tilford Post author

    Chad- Your statement “I want to be clear, if your were looking for dans wheel, you didn’t get anywhere near it.” is completely false. I followed Daniel out of the top corner, down the hill until he punched in front of you guys about half way down. I left it for obvious reasons. I took the inside line, from behind your train, after the speed bump and was coming by on the inside. Maybe it was Anthony that threw his elbow. I don’t know how you guys reshuffled over the speed bump and as the Hincapie guys were slowing at the front. I guess I owe Daniel an apology if it was Anthony.

    Now that I think about it, you obviously know who it was by now. You just have to ask your team mates. I’m sure you’ve talked about it. It wasn’t an accusation, it was a fact.

    Let’s not act like this is anything new with some of your team mates. I had a talk with Rob, during the race, about why he was pushing a guy from behind. His answer was because the guy took “his line”. What bullshit. His bars were behind the guy’s hip and he reaches out to make a hole so not to pull his brakes. Nothing new there.

    I’ll go and look at the photo from the Detroit Spoke to see if I can be more accurate. Maybe you remember this crash at Gateway, ( )where Rob came by, with the whole road to his right and moved across Nick Coils wheel. That was a beautiful/dick-ish move too. Maybe he thought Nick was riding on “his rear wheels line”, I don’t know. I lost a fair amount of skin that day because of that.

  11. Chad Hartley

    No one “threw his elbow”. no hands came off the bars. the photo below shows anthony leaning toward you and protecting his position on the back of our train. if this is the contact you write about, you are being way over dramatic. The accusation I was referring to was you suggesting that the ‘prickish move’ as you called it caused you a result. now your just making excuses, Mehdi Benhammouda got a way rougher ride than you and still finished
    How do you in one breath, charge my teammate with a ‘prickish move’ and then in the next paragraph defend yourself against ‘some derogatory comment about my “move”’? Would Paul call your move Prickish or at least impeding his position in the final 200m? you are aware you can be relegated for deviating from your line even without contact. its not about varying levels of skill, its about startling the shit out of someone who is committed to a line and then you come under them, causing them to alter their line and sometime causing crashes (grafton, ’09-if you need testimony im sure Pipp and Cole would be happy to). while lines through the final corner are debatable about impeding a rider, that move qualifying as “prickish” isn’t. pot calling the kettle black, eh steve.
    as for rob pushing a guy… the full context is our riders were attacking, rob shut the door on the left curb up the hill for chasers. ARay was frustrated by this, and hooked rob (off the road into the grass) and as they were jawing, rob pushed him to get back on the road. now keep in mind Rob and ARay are friends, and this is a by product of AO racing hincapie and hincapie racing AO. things get heated in the race and they hugged it out afterward. as for your video, to say rob caused anything there is bullshit. since the video is shaky, the centerline crack is the only steady point of reference. from when rob enters the picture he doesn’t deviate from his line more than an inch to the left and then almost a foot to the right. the crash was caused by the first rider down (green sleeve) who was overlapped wheels and tried to come left in front of the camera, but there was no room as the field was shifting to the right. So don’t blame rob for anything- he was passing and moving forward, never shifted from center on his bike, never deviated, and was pedaling almost the entire time.

    below is a link to the photo of the lead out trains. i am barely visible, obscured by dan, and you are on my wheel. (im between dan and birdman, only my shoe is visible by dans right, and my sleeve by dans left armpit, and my front wheel between his).
    I point this out because you are trying to get in our train and anthony is defending his spot. as i’ve said before your are an opportunistic sprinter, so your always in the scrum. you cant be in the wash machine and expect not to get jostled.

    all the best with a speedy recovery.

  12. Steve Tilford Post author

    Chad-Thanks for the photo. I’m not sure why you would post it because it shows pretty much exactly what I was describing in this post. I think you are being kind of petty with the “Please be sure you have the right person before you making accusations.” comment to start with, when you already knew that it was just me mistaking Daniel for Anthony. So, yes, I do owe Daniel an apology. Your teammate Anthony made the prickish move. No, the intentional contact didn’t cost me “a result”. We weren’t sprinting for 1st, Chad. There isn’t much of a difference between 9th and 13th, you know that. It’s the action itself I didn’t/don’t like.

    The photo shows Anthony leaning off line, initiating contact with me. He is on a wheel, a wheel of a teammate. He isn’t on your wheel, I am on your wheel. You are two abreast. He only gets one wheel, not two. He elbowed, leaned, the deviated into me. Do you see anyone else in the photo with his body position. The answer is No. Can’t you see how much room there is on the inside? He position must “own” a big piece of real estate at the bottom of the hill, because trying to rationalize his actions, you would have to take that into account. It wasn’t just a “protecting his position” deal.

    I find if funny that you’re commenting here about something that happened behind you. And then just keep using examples of situations that support my original post. You try to compare what I described about Paul Martin as something for your side. We were behind you. So to clarify, I passed Paul on the left sweeper at the top of the hill. No contact, no deviating direction, nothing. So, you’re using a very bad comparison.

    What Paul didn’t like is when I went into the final corner on the inside and passed 3 more riders. Again, no contact, no swerving, nothing. I know of no rule against riding through the final corner of a criterium two abreast. It was 80 meters from the finish of the race. Yeah, many riders would consider it sketchy, many guys wouldn’t do it, yeah, Paul said something to me about it, but it was a “legal” move and not close to in the same category as the shenanigans going on at the bottom of the hill.

    You state yourself, “are aware you can be relegated for deviating from your line even without contact?” Anthony did that but WITH contact. Enough said.

    We don’t even have to go to the Rob White deal. I saw Rob touch riders multiple times during the race. I wasn’t even commenting about the situation you describe in your comment. It was at the top of the hill when it didn’t even matter. He just pushed someone because he could. Same with the Rob Youtube link ( That is pretty self explanatory. You can see him pass Nick, coast, scrub speed, drift to the left, knock Nick down and then keep going. He didn’t look back, he had the whole road to his right, no defense. One of his better moments in bike racing.

    And finally Grafton 2009. I think this is the 2nd time you’ve used Grafton as an example of me initiating contact at the end of a race. I don’t have any idea why you keep bringing that up. I wrote about it when it happened. ( That is what happened. In that post, I write, I “took the 2nd to last corner on the outside behind Chad Hartley.” So, again, you didn’t see it and have no personal knowledge of what happened.

    This pushing and elbowing in racing has to stop. You trying to justify it perplexes me. You know it is happening and you know it isn’t good for, us, as riders. I somewhat understand you trying to defend teammates. Why isn’t Anthony explaining what happened here, instead of you, who didn’t see it.

    I’m “lucky” I have all night, not sleeping, all this time, just sitting around in the hospital, to respond to comments. I normally would just let it bug me and blow it off.

  13. Chad Hartley

    again my issue is with you accusing and denouncing my teammates of prickish moves that fall within the normal context of racing (contact isn’t illegal, except in the final 200m), but then you admit to committing a similarly prickish move in the final turn and you defend it. You blame Anthony for impeding you and yet your ok with impeding Paul with your chop. You’re being a hypocrite.
    The photo with Anthony only shows a lean, no elbow as you imply, and certainly not “thrown”. You say he started it, hes says you came under him while he was on his teammates wheel (which you do again to paul 30 secs later). its not clear in a photo why it started but in the gentlemanly ethics of racing he has his teammate wheel, and hes defending his spot. in legal terms, there is no rule for it or against it, but then again contact isnt illegal (as long as hands are on the bars, and no head butts). So let pick the context you want to use to judge everyone. Rule book or Generally excepted racing etiquette? because using one to judge my guys and the other to judge yourself is shitty, steve.
    the reason I specifically brought up ’09 grafton again was because you pulled a video from ’10 as evidence. Both incidents again are fine by the rule book, but questionable ethically. so which is it?
    (since you seem to question my viewpoint, as i was ahead of every incident, how is robbie expected to know what going on behind him? he didn’t make any abrupt motion. he coasted which is exactly what the jelly belly rider is doing to his left- hes matching speed to get in line. and why wouldnt he go right? because the draft isnt over there. the video shows nothing but nick crossing up wheels in a straight line -perhaps because you didnt give him any room)
    you know as well as i do acceptable behavior on the final lap is different then the rest of the race. to use your logic, why didnt you just move left when anthony came in, theres plenty of room? two abrest or not, we are leading out, in our own space, anthony is entitled to his teammates wheel- whichever teammate.
    my final point is this. all of these incidents involve you, your the common thread. maybe its not Anthony, Paul, Frank, Cole, and Robbie… maybe its just you

  14. Steve Tilford Post author

    Chad-Obviously we disagree on a lot of what is correct in this sport. And you’re right, it is me. It is me that is there witnessing all this bullshit and writing about it. I know you can’t name one time where you have witnessed me intentionally touching another rider, with my elbow or hand.

    Okay, you’re justifying Anthony’s actions by saying he’s defending his teammates wheel. I’ll repeat again, he only gets to defend one wheel, not two. In the photo, he isn’t on your wheel, I am.

    Chad, I’ve never seen you do the things I’m pointing out. You called me out for not being anywhere near Daniels wheel. That obviously wasn’t correct. And, I guess I “respected” your train. I didn’t get involved in it. I followed Daniel down the hill and slotted in behind you guys. But when I decided to pass, your teammate made an abrupt move to the left, and ran into me. That’s what happened. You can try to rationalize it all you want, but you and I both know it happened.

    You might not like the opportunistic way I ride sprints. Sorry. I might make moves that you don’t approve of. Sorry. Daniel pulled his brakes at the front of the field going through the first corner in Muscatine. Is pulling your brakes, like slamming them on when at the very front of the field, kosher bike racing? Wouldn’t all races be fun if every guy did that when a teammate rode off the front? And I called him out on it when he did it.

    Racing is already dangerous enough. You keep trying to compare some of “my actions” to what I write about, saying I’m being hypocritical. I’m not being hypocritical. I’m super perplexed why you are trying to defend actions that you know happen and make the sport even more dangerous, ie intentional contact.

    That is really my whole point. Intentional contact, which is happening all the time now, is just plain wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated. There is no reason to put a hand on another rider’s hip to just let him know that you’re there. He doesn’t care. If you feel the need to do that, you should just be pulling your brakes and removing your handlebars from what is making you nervous to start with. That is how it has always been done historically and it really does work a lot better than what you consider normal context of racing. It isn’t normal and shouldn’t be considered so.


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