Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Mexico

Merry Christmas!!

For this past Christmas my whole family decided to travel down to Playa del Carmin, Mexico with the rest of my extended family. With school being let out on Friday the 19th we decided to leave the next day, Saturday. Our flight left at around noon, so we decided to leave the house around 9 to get there a good two hours ahead of time. When we checked the computers had kinda screwed up which put us in first class (for no extra charge). Of course, we weren't going to complain. After going through all the security and making a restroom stop we made our way over to the gate where we would meet up with the rest of the family which included: our Granparents-Greg and Joan Kuhns; the Kuhns family-Aunt Nancy, Uncle Jim, and cousins James, and Lindsey; The other Kuhns family-Uncle Hampden (who is an excellent ping-pong player), Aunt Sara, and their adopted kids, Kit and Niya; and the McCarthy family-Aunt Anne, Uncle Shawn, and cousins Will, Sam, and Alex. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the gate we found out that the flight was delayed a good hour. Fortunately for the Craddock family, we were able to get into the President's Club because of our first class tickets. After "chilling" in there for a while with my dad and brother we made our way back to the gate before the flight left. We then got on the flight and took off for our stay at the Petite Lafite. When we got Mexico everyone was able to get all of their luggage, so we then went outside to get in the taxi vans. On our way to the resort we ended up getting lost, but thankfully made it there in time for dinner. After getting everyone sorted out into their "cabanas" we found ourselves at the buffet picking up some delicious authentic Mexican food. In fear of writing the length of a novel I won't go into that much detail on the adventures that we went on. We did a bunch of things while we were their including: snorkeling on the coast of Cozumel, jumping off 50 foot dives into underground cenotes, snorkeling down an extremely long river, racing my brother down the same river, visiting ancient Mayan ruins, climbing up huge, 192 step Mayan Pyramids, jumping up the same pyramid to get in my "strength training" for the day, and just relaxing on the beach. To say the least, it was definitely one of the best family vacations I've had, and special thanks to G-Mom and G-Dad for helping put it all together and making it happen.

As for the cycling part of my blog....
The Sunday before the trip was another cyclocross race in the Woodlands. The course was fun and demanding. It started out in parking out lot where you would do a big U-turn. You would then take a sharp turn onto a sidewalk which would lead to the first off-road section. You would then have to jump over a set of barriers before you dive into the forest. This part was extremely technical before you come back out of the forest into a muddy straightaway. You would then go onto a technical grassy area before you climbed a short hill where you would ride along some soccer fields. The next major obstacle was a steep downhill with an extremely tight U-turn at the bottom. The rest of the course was pretty tough and technical before you made another U-turn with about 200 meters until the finish line. I decided to give another shot a the Men Open despite my disastrous attempt the previous week. I had a pretty bad start and entered the forest in 4th place. With the first two guys on Bike-Lane, they started some teamwork to let the first place guy, Kevin Koen, get a good gap. I then attacked when we got out of the woods to try and catch back up to Kevin. The other Bike-Lane guy, Nathan Winklemann, sat on my wheel while I tried my hardest to catch back up. I almost made it up to Kevin before we made it to the grassy section, but he opened up a big gap during the technical section. I then tried to recover as Nathan repeatedly attacked me. After about halfway through the race my legs gave up as I watched Nathan open up a huge gap. As I was trying to recover the GCCA guy who was in fourth passed me. I then rode at my own pace just trying to stay in fourth. As I started to recover I was able to up the pace, and had a reasonable gap on the fifth place rider. On the last lap the gap between the GCCA rider and me from around 15 seconds to 7 seconds. Thinking I could possibly catch him, I went to fast around the U-turn at the bottom of the steep hill and cashed. I quickly picked up my bike, and jumped back onto the crooked saddle. As I continued to ride as hard as I could I noticed that my brake levers were crooked as well. Nevertheless, I ended up finishing in fourth. After the race I met up with best friend, Alan Ting, so we could wander hopelessly around the Woodlands and eat Coldstone on the side of the road (inside joke....). This next weekend I have the State Championships CX race up in San Antonio where I plan on racing the Juniors on Saturday and the 3's on Sunday.

Happy New Years!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

If you ain't first, you're last!!

This past weekend marked the start of a few new things. The first being my official start to being a Hot Tubes Development Team member, and the second being the start of my cyclocross season. The first race of the weekend was over in Tinsley Park put on by GCCA. It was about a 7 minute course starting with a steep gravel road with a 180 turn at the top. We then rode some on a paved bike path before we tackled the off road section. After riding off road for a while we got onto a steep paved hill with switchbacks. After climbing that hill we rode straight back down the hill before the tricky U-turn onto the finish line straight. With my lack of racing this far into the CX season I opted for the Men 3/4's with 45 minutes of racing. At the very beginning, I went to the front and went all out for the first three quarters of a lap to break up the field. When I looked back there was only three others behind me. I then pulled off to get some rest. The next guy kept the pace high to drop everyone except me. We then traded pulls until Southern Elite's Cody Foster bridged up to us with a Woodlands rider. Cody went straight to the front and then slid out around a tricky turn. Being right behind him I, slammed on the brakes and went over the handlebars trying to miss him. Fortunately, neither of us were hurt, so we jumped back on the bike and chased back on. Later that lap, I slid out again on the U-turn before the finish. I jumped back up again and was able to chase back on. By the time that I had caught back on the Woodlands guy had been dropped making it the original Bike Lane guy, Cody, and me. With about two laps to go Cody flatted, making only the Bike Lane guy and me. With one lap to go, I attacked at the top of the hill to open up a gap. I was able to keep that gap, and ended up winning by about 5 seconds over the Bike Lane guy with Cody recovering from the flat to get third. Today was a little different....With the payout a little better, I made the bad decision to race the Men Opens for a hour worth of racing. The course was fun and technical with a difficult uphill run-up. Everything started out well. I was able to stay with Bryan Fawley, one of Texas' best CX racers, until the really technical section. By the time that I had gotten out the that section, Bryan had opened up a pretty good gap. I kept riding at my pace before two Bike Lane racers caught up to me. I was still feeling pretty good up until I was behind both of them, and the guy directly in front of me eased up to make a pretty big gap to his teammate. I then got to the front and started chasing pretty hard. To say the least, I made it about a half of a lap. My legs then just blew up and my day was done. I kept riding, but I was passed by the remaining five riders only to hang on to their wheels for about five seconds before being dropped. I ended up finishing the race in ninth out of nine :( Special thanks to Andy Gonzalez for working on my bike so that I could race.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Austin Rocks!

Happy belated Thanksgiving!! This past week we visited my brother up in Austin. While we were there I got a TT bike fit, went on a ride with Lance Armstrong's best friend, and watch UT slaughter A&M. Nonetheless, I would call it a fun and event-fulled trip. With only two days of school this week, meaning a limited amount of work, I would also call it a stress-free week. My parents and I made the 2 and a half hour trip up to Austin early Wednesday morning, so that I could do my one hour endurance ride then meet up with Dave at the Source Endurance Headquarters for my bike fit. After arriving at Source, Joseph Lafico took my dad and I on a "flat" ride in Austin. Upon arriving back at Source, I got started on my bike fit with Dave. He set my bike up on a trainer then attached these little circles, from a Colorado company named Retul, that show how my body moves when I ride (at least I think that's what it does). He ended up moving my saddle way up and forward, putting shims on my cleats, and moved my handlebars pretty far upwards. After doing all that we left Source to go meet up with Parker for a snack at Whole Foods Market. After eating a rice ball, some pot stickers, and an egg roll, we headed back to the hotel we were staying at to clean up, so we could go over to an outlet mall. When we got there at around 6 we only had an hour do look around before the mall closed at 7. When everyone was done shopping we headed back to Austin for some dinner. After looking around town we decided to eat at an Italian restaurant. After dinner we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel for some sleeping time. The next day I woke up early with my dad to meet at Mellow Johnnies for a group ride with Dave, Ian Dille, John Korioth, and four others. We rode out west and back for a total of about 3 hours. After riding back to the hotel I took a quick shower so that we could meet back up with Parker for our Thanksgiving lunch, before we went to the UT vs. A&M football game at 7:00. To say the least about the game: A&M got killed. The final score was 49-9. The next day wasn't that event-filled, all we really did was take the trip home to spend the rest of the Thanksgiving holidays here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

And three weeks later...

Still not a lot to report. Only one thing has really changed. After being a much appreciated coach of six years which led me to all of my National Championhips titles (and now that I come to think of it, every other race that I won), we decided to place me under the direction of another coach. Not only has my dad been a great coach and mentor he's managed to complete the package being an excellent father. After much thought we decided to choose Dave Wenger at Source Endurance. Dave is one of the top Texas racers who recently got fifth at the State Championship RR in Chappell Hill, which helped him seal the deal for the P12 Texas Cup title. So far, I haven't done any CX races yet but I plan on racing on the weekend 12/6 for the only CX races in Houston, and I'll give it a shot at the State Championships in San Antonio on the weekend of 1/3. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What cyclists do when they are not riding...

Some good advice: Never give a cyclists more than two weeks off the bike. They might get a little antsy, and end up doing something that may be embarrassing (See photo for an example). This past week I don't really have much to report. After a week of school I had a few people over, Daniel, Shelby, and Andy, for Halloween. After some tortilla soup we decided to go trick or treating like little 8-year olds. We only went to about 10 houses before we came back and "chilled" at my place. I then volunteered at school for the family fun festival for elementary kids On another note, I have one more day off the bike until I start my off-season training. As far as cyclocross goes, I plan on doing a few races in Houston and attempt to defend my State Championship title. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Catching Up

Sorry for not keeping up with my blog. With school and everything else going on it's been hard to find time for this. Right now I'm half way into a two week break before I start to train for next season. Speaking about next season....A couple weeks after I got back from Nationals I was asked to join the Hot Tubes Junior Development team. Hot Tubes is an extremely successful six man junior team that is directed by Toby Stanton. They take multiple trips all over the world during the spring season giving the riders on the team a real taste of life as a cyclist. For these reasons I have decided to accept the offer starting with first cyclocross race.
Now for an update over the past couple of months....When I got back from Nationals I took a nice break from the bike, so I could start training again for the P12 State Championships at Chappel Hill (aka Dave Chappelle). Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike caused the race to be postponed. When the race was rescheduled I decided that the best choice was to skip the race and just get ready to start training for the off-season. But, about a week before the race I was talking with best friend, Alan Ting, and I thought "What the heck?" I might as well do it. With my parents not being able to drive me to Dave Chappelle, the plan was to meet Alan at a parking lot so he could drive me out there. Nonetheless the race didn't go so hot. This was the longest race I had ever done. I was feeling pretty good for the first 60 out of 86 miles, but it started to go downhill from there (actually with Chappelle it would be going straight uphill...). I tried to go on an attack with Super Squadra's Phil Wikoff to bridge up to the group of about ten that was up the road. I made it about half way there then my legs completely exploded. I saw Phil pull away from me as I turned around to see the pack starting to pass me. I managed to hold onto the back for about another mile until I completely blown right before the feed zone on the last lap. At first I decided to get a ride back to town with Alan Ting Sr., but I saw another Super Squadra member, Ian Dille, ride by and decided to tough it out and finish the race with Ian. I ended coming in 40th with Super Squadra's Steven Wheeler winning in an early breakaway that contained Master's National Champion, John Korioth. After the State Championships I just tried get some time on the bike which included some cyclocross riding. I attended the last two weekends of the Alkek Velodrome winning the P12 omnium on October 10th. The next day was endurance night. It included a 30 lap scratch, a 60 lap points race, and a 75 lap scratch. Due to this being a TX Cup race, some Dallas guys had come down to race. I ended up placing second in everything behind Andrew Armstrong. This past weekend was full of racing. There was the usual Friday Night Racing, a TX Cup race, and the Jr. Regionals. On Friday, I ended up third in the omnium behind Daniel Walker and Alan Ting. On Saturday, the schedule was a keiren, a Miss & Out, and a 50 lap scratch. Being in a keiren heat with Andrew Armstrong, Ron Huijsman, and Andy Weathers, I wasn't that disappointed that I didn't make the final. In the Miss & Out I attacked hard with Alan and Michael Carey on the first lap. We ended up staying away the whole time with Alan taking the win and me getting second. For the last race of the night the plan was to attack a lot. With about 10 laps to go I attacked all out with Alan on my wheel. We built up a solid lead of about 1/3 of a lap. With about 3 laps to go Andrew Armstrong launched an attack from the field. I immediately started going all out. Due to a problem with with his back wheel, Alan lost my wheel only to be caught by Armstrong with about a lap to go. I somehow was able to hold of Armstrong to take the win. The next day, I ended up finishing second in the omnium behind super-stud Daniel Walker.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Track Nationals

Finally, I have decided to write up an update the the track part of Jr. Nationals. I would say that it was a pretty successful trip. I am coming back with two gold and two silver medals. The races started out with a 200 Meter TT to qualify for the sprints. Surprisingly, I qualified in fourth. The first round had me racing against Houston Comrade Jameson Tomlin. The two of us just kinda rolled around the track until one to go until Jameson jumped. I quickly got into his slipstream and was able to come around him for the win. In the second round I was up against the promoters son, Jesse Marans. In the first round he jumped in the sprinters lane with one and a half laps to go and when I tried to come around him in the last lap he accelerated very quickly and I wasn't able to come around him. With this being the 1/8ths final I had another chance to redeem myself. At the very start of the next race I jumped hard at the very beginning to try and "kilo" him. He ended up catching up to me on the last lap and flew right by me to advance to the next round. I then went into the 5-8 round to try and earn a point for the omnium by getting fifth. Leigh told me to get to the front of everyone and stay there. I did what he said and stayed on the front the whole time....except until about 100 meters to go when everyone passed me. I wasn't too disappointed about this because I wasn't all that excited about doing sprints and didn't have that great of expectation for them. The next race was the 500 meter TT. This was the first time that I had done a 500 since the last time I had gone to track nationals, which was two years ago. I surprised myself once again and ended up fifth. This gave me one point for the omnium. Unfortunately, Benny Swedeberg had won both the sprints and the 500 which made it impossible for anyone to catch him overall. With the scratch race up next I had only one plan. Attack...a lot. During the race I attacked many times, but nothing would stick. When I would attack someone would come with me, but they wouldn't pull and I was forced to sit up because I wasn't going to drag someone to the line just so they could out sprint me at the line. With about four laps to go someone attacked and no one reacted. Thinking that I didn't want to waste my energy and chase him down I decided to sit in the pack. Then, the person in front of me got into the sprinters lane and put in a heroic effort to bring the person back in. It was the perfect lead out. With about half a lap to go I started my sprint and was able to hold everyone off for the finish. With the seven points from the win that put me up into third place, one point behind second. The next race was my speciality, the Points Race. The qualifying was kinda scary because I ended up crashing in the heat, but still qualified due to an early point that I got in the first sprint. During the final my plan was the same. I attacked right at the start and got away with one other. After the first sprint I found myself alone. I then put it into time trial mode and stayed away for another 15 laps or so until a group of two bridged up to me. We all worked evenly with me winning the next two sprints. This had given me a total of 20 points with second place with 5. The pack then caught us a few laps later and I counter-attacked my one move. I was quickly chased and ended up fourth in the next sprint. I then kinda just chilled for the rest of the race and sat up with one to go. The final points standing was me with 21 points and second with 8 points. With this win it put me up into second overall. After collecting my medals I then started my warm-up for the Team Pursuit with Alan Ting, Jacob Rathe, and Austin Stewart. We ended up placing second for that which gave me my second silver of the day and my sixth medal of the whole trip.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Memorial Park Crit

After returning from a fairly successful Jr. Nationals, I decided to go out and give the Memorial Park Crit a shot. I had no pressure at all to do well. My main goal for the race was to go out and get in a hard workout to try and keep my fitness level from dropping too dramatically. The race started out pretty easy with the usual break going off from the beginning. Kremke then got to the front and rode tempo for about 20 minutes until the break was finally brought back from a flurry of attacks. With a few counter-attacks going that never got more than five seconds ahead of the pack, we ended up rolling around from 23-26 mph for about the next 15 minutes. Trying to get the pace back high, I tried an attack with about 30 minutes left. I quickly built up a good gap, but trying not to completely blow up and get dropped, I rode tempo until I was brought back by a two man break. I quickly jumped into this group and we worked together pretty well until we were caught by the field with about 20 minutes left in the race. After some more failed attempts at attacking I was forced to sit in when we came around with five laps to go. An attack went with about three and a half laps to go with no one really chasing. Over the next lap many people tried to bridge up to the break, but they ended up just reeling it back in. When the break was caught the whole field just sat up, and I found myself shooting past everyone of the left side. Just like before, I quickly built up a large lead. I then buried myself for the last two laps. Coming around with one lap to go the gap had grown to about 15 seconds. I made the mistake of looking back too many times, and found the gap quickly shrinking with about half a lap to go. I then went around the 90 degree turn and looked back about halfway through the long sweeping turn to see a yellow blur/Ronnie Strange fly by me. I then sat up to see Kremke take yet another win, and rolled in at the very back of the pack. This was the second time that this exact thing has happened to me in the past two weeks. The first time being the Nationals Crit. Oh well, it’ll work one of these days.

Friday, August 8, 2008

National Championships Update

The road side of Nationals is finally done. So far, I am bringing back one jersey and one other medal. Nationals started with the 18 km TT, then the 25 km crit, and finished with a 56 km road race. This year my whole family came to California in an overloaded car with three bikes on top. The drive up here ONLY took about 22 hours over two days. We got here late Sunday night to check into La Quinta Santa Ana. Over the next few days I went out and studied the TT course and Road Race course (which I later learned that I was riding the course backwards). The TT course was uphill for the first 12-13 minutes than downhill for four miles until the turn around, then slightly uphill for another 2.5 miles to the finish. The best way to ride this course was to go all out till you get to the top of the hill and then recover on the way down. I did exactly this and found myself coming into the finish line a minute and a half faster than the second fasteset time. I then sat in the "hot seat" for about another 15 minutes until the rest of the 15-16 riders had finished. The closest rider to me was fellow Belgian teammate Anders Newbury forty seconds back. It took a while to sink in that after fours years of tyring I had finally been able to step onto the top step of the podium again as National Champion. I later found out that I had the fastest time out of the 17-18s as well. The following day was the 25 km crit with 15 laps of around 1.5 km and around seven turns. The race started out fast with many riders trying to get an early break going. Nobody was given more than about 10 seconds before being brought back by the 5280 team. With a little less than three laps to go I attacked after a break had just been caught. The next time I looked back I saw that nobody had reacted at all. At first I was a little hesitant because if I was caught there was no way that I would have enough "juice" to contest in the sprint. When I came through the start/finish line with two laps to go with about a 10 second gap I knew that it was now or never. I then went all out for the next two laps only to be caught 200 meters from the finish line. I then just sat up and rolled into the finish, which apparently took me over twelve minutes and 62 people passed me. My average watts for the six minutes that I was off the front were 415 with my average heartrate being 206. Today was the 56 km road race. The course was 8 km in length with a couple of small hills in it. Right at the start three people got away and quickly built up a gap that hovered around 15 seconds. On the second lap I was leading going into a U-turn when I slid out. Thankfully everyone else had avoided me and we were going so slow around the turn that I was able to jump back up and get back into the race with only about 20 guy's passing me. The only damage done to me was a thin layer of skin off of my shin. Over the next few laps two other riders had bridged up to the break and two of the original riders in the break had been shelled off. The two riders that had bridged up to the break had were both "Belgian Teammates", Anders Newbury and Alex Battles-Wood. With two strong riders in the break the gap had quickly opened up to around 28 seconds. With two laps to go the gap hadn't come down all that much. I then attacked out of the U-turn, bringing two others with me. We quickly built up a gap. One of the guys with us dropped off a little less than one lap to go. With about half a lap to go we finally found ourselves latching onto the back of the break. With no one really wanting to sacrafice their chance of winning I got to the front and started pulling with some help from Anders. With about 750 meters to go the pack was quickly pulling us back with the gap falling down to about 10 seconds. From then on the road was a gradual uphill till the finish. When the sprint started with about 200 meters to go I couldn't match the others and barely managed to roll in for fifth for my second medal of the week. I've included a screenshot of the TT.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm back!! After an exhausting ten hour plane trip, I am finally at my own house sitting in front of my own computer writing my blog without five other kids looking over my own shoulder. Only sleeping a few hours at the airport after staying up all night after the 64 kilometer cobbled race, I was tired enough to fall asleep standing up. The race course was only like 3.3 kilometers with literally only 200 meters of paved road on the whole course. The race was a bigger race than the day before, there were a few more racers and the prize list was a lot bigger. The race had ten euros to the first rider across the line and five to the second...every lap....all twenty laps. This was a great oppurtunity to earn a few bucks, I mean euros, before the trip home. The race started out extremely fast due to both Alex and Anders getting on the front and pushing the pace for the whole first lap. By the time that we had finished the first lap the people in contention for the win had gone down from around fifty to about ten people with three Americans, Alex, Anders, and me, in the group. After the second lap, where the pace wasn't nearly as high as the first, and a few guys had caught up with the lead group, I decided to try an attack. When I looked back I saw that only one other person had reacted. He was a pretty small dude with some awesome looking gold handlebar tape, who will be referred to as "Goldie". The two of us worked pretty evenly for another lap or so until I looked back to see Alex bridging up to us. When he had caught us we immediatly started to try and work Goldie over. Whenever Alex was on the front and I was on his wheel I would start to sit up and let Alex get a pretty big gap until Goldie would jump around me to bridge back up to Alex and then make him chase all the way back to Alex. After about eight or nine laps of this (about 9 or 10 laps to go), where Alex and I tried to get 1-2 in all the primes, Alex and I went on a flurry of attacks. Alex attack first, and when Goldie bridged up to Alex I attacked. When Goldie had caught back up to me on the worst cobbles of the whole course Alex went on another attack that immediatly did it for me. I couldn't accelerate on the cobbles and lost contact with Alex and Goldie. The good thing was that the gap was so large to the next rider that it took another five laps just to be caught by the single rider chasing. When I was passed I tried hard to try and jump on his wheel, but we were on the bad cobbles again and I didn't have anything at all left in the tank. I then sat back down and tried to get back into my own rhythym as I watched my podium spot ride away from me. After another lap I saw another rider closing the gap to me, but I knew right away that the cobbles had taken it all out of me and that it was no hope for me to jump on his wheel. Riding the rest of the race by myself, just waiting to be swallowed up and spit out the back of the field, I was pulled by the officials. Confused that they had thought I was off the back I quickly found out that they had pulled everyone except Alex and Goldie and I had ended up in fifth. I then sat and watched the finish as Alex took his second in two days by attacking Goldie with about 500 meters to the finish. It looks like this trip ended with success for the 15-16 National Team.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Zwevegem Race Report

Lady Luck finally granted the 15-16 US National Team its wishes today as we were able to sweep the podium on the 62 kilometer circuit race. The race consisted of 17 laps of around three kilometers. The race had a late start so we were able to get a few extra hours of sleep. After waking up at around 11:30 Anders and I walked over to the local bakery and bought some breakfast and "race recovery" food. When we got back and ate our breakfast we then chilled for a few hours before we started getting ready for the race. We left at around 1:45 (oops. I mean 13:45) for the 20 minute drive to the small town of Zwevegem. Arriving at around 14:10 we walked over to the local bar to get registered. When we had all gotten our numbers and had gotten them pinned on we set out on a warm-up/preview lap. When we had ridden the course twice and taken a quick pit stop on the side of the road we rolled up to the start line to get a good starting position. Due to the fact that this wasn't a very big race there were only about 40 or 50 starters, but according to Yogi one of them had already won seven races in the year. After a quick start we slowed down to an easy (and I mean EASY) pace. With a few more attacks, that all got reeled in, in the first lap we crossed the line to see the red flag waving which indicated that a prime was the next lap. This was kinda weird because they said that there were primes every 3rd lap, but oh well! After going another few laps Alex attacked and quickly built up a large lead. With no one really chasing we just kinda rolled around the course for another few laps until the attacks started coming that ended reeling Alex back in. Soon after Alex was caught Anders attacked. Just like Alex, he quickly built up a huge lead. After a couple of laps, with Anders off the front and many attacks going on in the pack, a large group of about 10-15 guys rolled off the front with Alex and me in it. Because Anders was still up the road it gave Alex and me a free ride in the breakaway. With about five laps to go the group had been reduced to only 7 or 8 guys in it. We then could look back and start to see the main field closing in on us due to the lack of cooperation in the break. Alex and I then got to the front on a strong head wind section and "hammered" for a while. The only others that could hang on were the guy who had won seven races that season and some other random dude. When I pulled off and got onto the back of now reduced break the "random dude" got dropped and I realized it to late to try and bridge back up to Alex's group. I then dropped back to the rest of the break that was about 15 or so seconds back. After sitting on the back of that group until about two laps to I put in an attack at the same spot where Alex and I got on the front. When I looked behind me the rest of the break were already pretty far back. I then set into "time-trial" mode to try and catch back up to Alex. After about one lap I looked up to see the light green jersey of the guy who had won seven races by himself. With a "carrot" in front of me now I tried even harder to catch him. With a little over a half lap to go I finally reached him. I then tried to attack him to try and get away, but that didn't work. After just kinda spinning around for a little more. When we reached the section where we had the extremely strong head wind I tried another hard attack. I only gained about ten or fifteen meters on him, but due to the head wind it was like 30 seconds. After keeping that up for a while he finally just sat up which gave me the opportunity to roll in for third place with Alex taking the win over Anders. After rolling around for a couple of seconds we saw Joel get second in the field sprint for 14th. Peter had tried to bridge up to the break, but he was unable to catch up and went "Ffffffwwwwweeeeeuuuuuuuw (exactly Peter's words. It was really hard to spell) off the back" and James ended up getting dropped and pulled off.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Astana Team Warehouse

We had a fun day today as we were able to go and visit the Astana Team Warehouse. Due to the long drive to the house we had to wake up farely early so that we could make it to the house by 9:00. When Tim came into our room at around 7:00 we all jumped out of our beds like little kids on Christmas morning and ran downstairs to get some food in our bodies before the trip. We left the house in the big blue USA Cycling van at around 7:30 with Yogi as our guide/GPS. As we pulled onto the street that the house was on we all started looking for a sign or something that would let us know which building it was. After driving for about a kilometer we saw the huge baby blue bus with ASTANA written on the side behind a fairly large building that was also used as a furniture store. We waited a few minutes till it was 9:00 then we walked over to the door and rung the doorbell. After a few seconds a lady answered a door and after a few words with Yogi in Flemish she invited us inside like she had known us her whole life. When we first walked inside my first impression was that it was just a small house where all the Astana people hung out at when there were no races going on. There was a small office and little kitchen. THEN.....a kinda oversized English man walked through a door in the kitchen and invited us to come see the rest of the house. We walked with him through the door and you could hear thumps on the ground as all of our jaws hit the ground. There had to be probably 150 bikes in the room that were all worth over 6,000$ and about 300 wheel sets that were 3,000 Euros a set. We also got to witness the bike that Alberto Contador would be riding the 2008 Olympics. The bike had been painted so that it resembled the Spain flag and where the bike usually says Trek it said Spain due to the rule that at the Olympics you can only have the bike manufacture's name on the bike twice. After wondering around the room, where we got to see the bikes that had been raced on by Levi, Kloden, Contador and everyone else on Astana, the English man walked us into the next room that had all the team cars and two of the team busses, and another billion bikes. As we were touring that room we got to see the new forks that are on the Trek bikes. Instead of having the speed sensor zip-tied to the fork they built the sensor on the inside of the fork. It was amazingly awesome. We also got to see the bike that Contador had won the Giro on. After examing the awesomeness of the bike we set off outside to witness the two other busses that drove the riders to and from the start/finish line. We then went back into the small kitchen and walked down a secret hidden stairway into the cellar where they kept all of the tubular tires. The tiny room might of smelt like rubber, but it sure was pretty awesome seeing about 1000 tires stacked all the way to the ceiling. We then walked back up to the kitchen where we were given some Cokes and Astana swag. After talking to the English man for about another hour we made our way back home and went for an easy one hour ride before we had some dinner and "hit the hay."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ronde van Oost-Vlaanderen

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. I haven't had any time to "blog" due to the late nights and busy days.

Stage 1

Not much to report on the first stage of the Ronde van Oost-Vlaanderen for me where I lasted a total of three out of the five laps. The races were pretty late in the day so we all had a chance to sleep in and hang out for a while before we made the hour drive to some small town for the first stage of three. We arrived at the town at about 2:30, or I should say 14:30, so we would have time to get dressed and then go ride a preview lap. After the preview lap, which we did half of it backwards, it was about 30 minutes till the start of the race. We then switched out all of our bottles, grabbed a few energy bars and made our way to the start line to get a good starting position. Even if we thought that it was kinda early to get to the start line we were completely wrong. By the time that we had got there we were forced to go to the very back due to the fact that about every single rider had already lined up. On the way back I was lucky enough to find a small gap around the middle where about half a person could fit in. After somehow getting over there I managed to fit perfectly into the spot. After sitting around for another 20 minutes and the official was done yelling in Flemish the race started. At the beginning of the 60 kilometer race there were about 7 turns before we got out of the town and onto the skinny country roads. When we finally made it out of town and we actually started racing I found myself drifting uncontrolably to the back of the 140 man group. After trying extremely hard to get back to the front I finally was able to move in the top quarter and stay there. After making it through the first lap where kids were jumping onto curbs like no other, and there was probably a total of three seconds where someone wasn't screaming for no reason at all, I was able to kind of relax a little. About three quaters the way through the second lap I found myself behind some tiny kid that looked like he was twelve. On a downhill part where we were going at least 50 km/h that kid decided he would jump on to the curb. I would of been perfectly fine with this had his back wheel not be crossing my front wheel. After flipping over my handlebars I jumped back up to examine the damage. I had re-opened my scrape from the first day...again. And added some more to my elbows and my left knee. Feeling like I was still able to ride I picked up my bike and spun both of the wheels. The front one was fine, but the back one wouldn't roll (it actually turns out that the wheel was fine it was just the brake that had pushed up against the wheel). I took off the back wheel and waited until the team car finally rolled up (we had picked car 19 out of 23 in the caravan) to get a spare wheel. By the time that everything was ready I jumped back on the bike to try and get in the caravan so I could motor pace back up to the pack. It turns out that the saddle had been shoved to the left when I had crashed, but no one had realized it. After trying for another lap and a half to draft back up to the pack the officials pulled when I rolled across the finish line with two to go. I rode back over to the team van where the mechanic had gotten out of the caravan to help me. I was then able to ride in an ambulance over to the start/finish line where the medics where cleaning up all the other "fallen soldiers". The day ended up in a pack sprint with Joel, Alex, and Anders all finishing around 50th.

Day 2

Today was another extremely fast day that was indcredibly hard to move around in the field. We got to the race a little later today and we where unable to do a preview lap. The race started similar to the previous day, fast and scary. I pretty much sat in the middle of the pack the whole race while Alex had gotten into the early break-away that stayed away until about two and a half laps to go. With about two laps to go I could really start feeling the previous days events and was starting to go deep into the pain cave. With about a half a lap to go I had finally had enough and dropped off the pack on a downhill section where we were spinning at around 8 RPMs. The day finished exactly like it did the day before with the same guy winning and Anders the only USA guy finishing in the pack because both Joel, Peter, and Alex had been caught behind a crash a little before the finish, but they were given the same time as the leader due to the three kilometer rule. James had also finished off the back.

Day 3

Today was a little more action filled than the previous days. I was feeling way better than the past days and the course was a lot flatter than the others. I was trying to be a lot more aggressive today in terms of position and was able to stay up in the top twenty for a good part of the stage. Due to my role as domestique to the team I tried to pull in a few attacks at the beginning of the race. After the first lap I just stayed in the top twenty and recovered a little. With a little less than three laps (6 kilometer laps) I saw Anders and a few others attack with no one reacting. Knowing that I needed to be in that group to help Anders I attacked up to the group with still no one reacting. I then sat down and went to the front of the group and pulled all out to try and distance the break farther away from the pack. When I pulled off the Begian National Champion pulled through and I was able to get back into the pace line to take another pull. The group had about 8 or 9 guys with one of them on the team that had the leaders jersey. Knowing that this would be a problem later I pulled even harder when my time came. We quickly opened up a fairly large gap. Practicly all the people in the break worked pretty evenly except the guy that was on the team with leader, the team is called Avia for future reference. The gap stayed pretty even for another lap until the guy on Avia started to come to the front the pace line and slow down so that it would be easier for us to get caught. With a little under one lap to go the gap had started to drop pretty quickly. On a small rise the Belgian National Champion had had enough of the Avia guy and attacked. I got to the front of the break to try and pull him back in for Anders. After bringing the gap down a little I pulled off to see a small gap of around 20 meters to the pack. I had used all my energy in the break to try and get to stay away. I then just kinda sat up, much to my legs relief, and rolled to the back of the pack only to be caught behind a crash that took out the leader of the race. That did it for me. I didn't have the energy to chase back on and rolled in a few minutes behind the pack. Anders finished in 23rd on the stage, and Joel finished somewhere in the pack. Alex, Peter, and James all crashed on the last lap. After the race Tim, Joel, Alex and I were talking when the Avia team director came up to Tim and told him that Alex had pulled the race leader's handlebars out from underneath him. I'm not gonna really go into details about the rest of the conversation, but I'll just say that Alex got kinda mad at him....

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Belgium Trip Day 9

Today was nothing but a fun and enjoyable day. The six of us, along with Tim and Yoghi, woke up at around 8:30 for a quick breakfast before we left the house for a fun filled day. The first place that we stopped at was the Mur. The famous and decisive cobbled climb that is placed around 15 or 20 km from the finish of the Tour of Flanders. Tim drove the USA Cycling van to the top of the hill so that we could jump out and take a few pictures of the chapel that is on top of the hill. We then set off down the 20% grade hill taking some pictures on the way down. After the 1.5 km we walked on the way down we started to make the extremely difficult ascent that was extremely difficult just walking. I couldn't even imagine riding a bike up it. After racing back to the top, where I barely won the sprint only because Yoghi slipped a little before the top, we jumped back into the van to look at another famous cobble section used in a Pro race. After walking about a kilometer down the road we turned around to go drive over to Freddy Maertens famous cycling museum. By the time we got there all of our stomachs were growling so we decided to stop at the little restaurant at the museum. Everything on the menu was related to cycling, with an example being a ham sandwich with Boonen sauce. After having Yoghi translate the menu to us I narrowed my decision down to two choices, pasta with sauce or pasta with brown sugar. Thinking that I wanted to keep my food in my stomach I decided to go with the regular pasta with sauce. When we got our food I decided that I had to give the brown sugar pasta a try. When Joel had finished with his brown sugar pasta I grabbed the rest of his pasta and took a bite. It actually was quite tasty. Yoghi even said it was the "perfect" thing to eat after a hard training ride. When we had all finished with our lunch we bought our tickets and walked down the stairs to the museum part of the place. When we first walked through the door the we were like 5 year olds in a candy shop. They had tons of awesome stuff to do. There were stationary bikes that simulated riding on the cobbles. There were podiums that you could jump up onto and stick your head in the little hole so you could act like you won the Tour of Flanders. They also had videos of about every single Tour of Flanders that had been recorded. And the thing that had attracted all of our attentions was the stationary bike that sat in front of a T.V. that simulated the crucial parts of the Tour of Flanders. After messing around in that room for about an hour and a half we went into the video room to watch a 15 minute movie about the Tour of Flanders. By the time that we had gotten back to the house it was time for dinner and after a shower and teeth brushing we all jumped into our beds and fell asleep immediately.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Belgium Trip Day 7 Race Day

Today was a 62 Kilometer circuit race started in the small town of Huise, Belgium, about 30 kilometers away from Izegem, the town where we are staying. We went on an easy spin at around 10:30 to see how the bikes where holding up and to see how we were feeling. About half way through the ride Alex was standing up when his gears slipped, he came unclipped, and slammed down on his top tube, putting a small crack in the bike and racking himself like no other. After he recovered we looked at the damage on the bike and decided that it would hold up the rest of the ride, but we would talk to Tim about racing on it. When we finished up the rest of the hour Alex found Tim to talk about the bike. Tim said that he was pretty sure that the bike would hold up for the race, but that was it. We then went upstairs and chilled for a few hours before we would have to start packing up the van. At around 1:45 the van was all packed up and ready to go. When we got to the race at around 2:30 we walked down to the local bar to get registered and to get our numbers. With a little mix up with the registration where Yoghi had to run back up to the van and get a form that lets us race out of the country we where running a little behind schedule. By the time that all of us were ready to race we only had about 30 minutes before we raced. We all did a small warm-up before we raced over to the start line to get a good position. The start of the race was similar to a junior crit in Texas, extremely fast but then we practically slammed on our brakes and were going around 15 km/h. About half way through the first lap someone swerved into my front wheel and his skewer hit about 8 of my spokes, and although I didn't realize it at the time my brake started to rub. On the second lap of ten I found myself leading the pack into a U-turn with cobbles with a tiny 15 year old on my wheel and two american teammates behind him. I then attacked going out of the turn with the tiny 15 year old coming with me, but other than that no one else had reacted. The two of us easily built up a good lead. The kid then easily rode me off his wheel on his on an uphill headwind section. I then rode at my one pace until another group had gotten away from the pack that included Joel Shaffer had caught up with me. I then jumped into that group where everyone worked fairly evenly until we had caught the 15 year old kid. Everyone in the 7 person group worked pretty evenly for the next 5 or so laps until Joel dropped out of the break with another kid while someone from the pack had bridged up to us. The then 7 man group turned into a 5 man group where one kid was just sitting on. With about one and a half laps to go I had had enough and couldn't hold the pace any longer. I then made the mistake of shifting in my little ring so that I could spin a little before I was swallowed up by the 15 man pack. When I shifted down though my chain popped off on the inside and by the time that I had gotten it back on the pack had already passed me. I then rode at my own pace to finish in 27th out of around 70 starters. Only until I had gotten off my bike I realized that my front break was rubbing and my back break had come loose and was slightly rubbing against the wheel. So....both of my brakes where rubbing for the majority of the race and I had spent 8 out of the 10 laps off the front. I then found out that Anders had bridged up to the break in the last lap and had finished 7th. The next best American was James in 21st, Joel in 26th, then me in 27th. Peter had flatted on the first lap and didn't continue and Alex's shifter broke and then he flatted and didn't continue.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Belgium Trip Day 3 and 4

Sorry it has taken me so long to post another blog post. I just really have not had the time to get on a computer and write about this trip. I have to try and make this one short because I'm about to go ahead and turn in.

Day 3

Nothing all that special happened today. We all woke up at around 8:30 to eat some breakfast. Mine consisted of some toast with some tasty Nutella, kinda like chocolate peanut butter, and a few apples. After we all finished our breakfasts we set out for an easy hour and a half ride with ride leader Yoghi (sp...) aka Yoshi...the son of Erly, the junior coach of Tom Boonen (......) and Stijn Devolder. After cruising around for over an hour that included riding to Wevelgem (sp?) where I ended up winning the sprint (watch out Oscar Freire!) at the same finish line that the pros use, we headed back to the house to make some lunch. When we had all finished lunch we had a quick meeting with Tim, saying that we would go back out at around 5-ish for "Cycling School". With a few hours to waste we decided to take out the crappy cruiser bikes and go tour around town. When we stopped at the bank so I could add a few Euros to my current 8.50 that would have had to last me the entire trip. When I slid my bank card in and punched in all the numbers the stupid machine ate the card and wouldn't give it back to me. After a conversation with the bank lady that consisted with a ton of sign language she finally realized what I was talking about and went into the back to retrieve my card. We left that bank and headed to another one that ended the same way. When this had happened I whipped out my phone and called my mom. She ended up having to call Bank of America and was told that my card had been shut down for some weird stupid reason and that they would re-open it for me. To make a long story short I ended up having to go back to the bank by myself and was finally able to get some money from the machine. When I left the bank I ended up getting lost for a good 20 minutes because all of the stupid roads look alike... When I finally found my way back to the house I immediately wolfed down some dinner and went to bed upstairs. Also, we didn't do that thing at around 5-ish because it had started to rain kinda hard.

Day 4

Today was pretty much the same routine as the day before. We woke up at around 8:30 and had some breakfast. We left for the ride this time without "Yoshi", so it was only the six of us. We rode out to some random town that was bout 30 minutes away and turned around to head back to Izegem. When we arrived back at the house we had another meeting with Tim and we were going to try and do the same thing that we had tried to do yesterday. We then rode into town again and ate at a sandwich shop before we came back to the house and chilled for a few hours. We then ate an extremely early dinner so we could head out to the 1K course that we would practice water bottle feeding, Musette grabbing, Slaloming, and Motor-Pacing. I can only describe this with one word, superduperextremelyfun. When we were riding back to the house I tried to do a U-turn and had a little slip on some sand where I opened up my scab from my crash a few days ago. (I haven't even told my parents about this. Sorry Mom and Dad!! I haven't really had any time to call you!) After a quick shower I walked downstairs to clean up my share of the kitchen, which consisted of about 300 water bottles and the drying and putting up all the pots. Geez, I will never complain about doing the dishes at home anymore, anything compared to this 1.5 hours of work is considered easy in my books. With my hands raw from doing all those dishes and writing about my day I think I'm looking forward to climbing up the ladder to the top bunk and crawling into my nice and cozy bed.

Happy 4th of July!!!!! And don't forget, the Tour starts tomorrow!! Yay!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Belgium Trip Day 2

Today was the first of nine races that we will be doing while over here in Izegem, Belgium. It was a 68.6 km course that consisted of 12 laps of 5.5 km. The six of us did a quick one hour spin a few hours before we left for the race. After that we ate some a quick lunch which consisted of a few apples and a turkey sandwich. At around 1:00 we packed up the van and departed for the small town where the race was being held, about 30 km away. After we arrived we jumped out of van to head over the Primus, the local bar (and no, not to get a drink), but to get registered for the race. The moment I stepped into the bar I wanted to leave. The air was filled with smoke that made me want to puke. Nevertheless, I waited in there long enough to sign the paper and grab the numbers. The numbers here in Belgium are extremely different than any number that I have ever used. First of all, they are pretty much a piece of cloth with ink printed on it. Secondly, the sides are littered with tiny holes where other pins pierced through the material used by numerous racers before me. I made sure I arrived at the start line with plenty of time to spare so I could start at the front. The start was probably one of the fastest starts I have ever been a part of. I was already going all out before we even hit the first turn. I was able to get right at the front of the pack to conserve some energy for later. A few times I found myself all of a sudden at the back of the group, and had to work pretty hard just to get back in the top 20 or so. The best way for me to work my way back up to the front was the corners. I would just slip in on the inside and pass about five or so Europeans that were slamming on the brakes for a sweeping turn. With about six laps to go two things happened. It started to rain pretty hard and I found myself off the front with three other juniors. I put my head down to take my pull and didn’t see the corner man waving the flag for us to go right. I rode straight ahead before I realized that I didn’t turn the right way. I slammed on my brakes and did a quick U-turn. I jumped back up to speed, trying to stay ahead of the pack that was coming up to the turn fairly quickly. As I went around the turn I felt my bike slip out from under me as I landed on the ground (who can’t corner now?), giving me a nice raspberry, right into the middle of the pack. I stayed on the ground to watch multiple cyclists swerve around me. As the last one passed I jumped back up and onto my bike to try and limit my losses to the back of the pack. I spent the next half a lap chasing back on to the group before I made contact, and I spent the next lap just trying to move back up to the front. When we heard the bell with one lap to go I tried another attack to try and bridge up to the leaders that were about 10 seconds up. Right when I made contact with the leaders a kilometer later I looked back just to see the field sitting on my wheel. I sat up to try and get a better position for the sprint. With about 250 meters to go I saw American Comrade Joel Shaffer slide out due to a rider taking out his front wheel. I tried to keep my focus ahead to the slightly uphill finish as riders were swerving around Joel. With the finish line coming closer and closer I tried to spin my 52X16 a little faster to end up in 13th, the best placed American Rider. After a quick cool-down I headed over to the bar to get the results and to pick up my winnings, which was 10 Euros. After getting back at the house I took a quick shower, and went downstairs to another wonderful pasta meal made by Els. After dinner we had a quick meeting with Tim before hitting up the Wall, a huge vending machine the size of a store window, and washing our clothes. Tomorrow we plan on going on an hour and a half easy spin then a cycling class in the afternoon. The next race that we plan on doing is this Saturday. I’m not sure of the details, but I’ll keep y’all posted on what is going on. Also, thanks to my parents for making this trip possible along with NWCC and Optimist International.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Belgium Trip Day 1

Today was the first day of my three week "vacation" in Belgium. I left Houston at 3:30 yesterday afternoon for a ten hour flight to Amsterdam. I fell asleep after I was served dinner which was about 12:00 A.M. Belgium time and woke up at around 5:30 A.M. With in interesting breakfast, which consisted of scrambled eggs with cream spinach and spicy apple cobbler, I plugged in my earphones to finish the move on the T.V. We arrived at Amsterdam at around 7:15 A.M. to go over to gate B27 to meet with the rest of the team for our 30 minute flight to Bruge. After touching down at Bruge we all got our luggage without a problem. When we located our driver we walked into the parking lot to find a fairly large bus with USA Cycling and sponsors all over it. We all packed our luggage into the back and fought to keep our eyes open on the way to Izegem due to the fact that it was around 1:00 in the morning back in the U.S. After unloading all of our stuff into the rooms the six of us, along with the coach's 20 year old son, went for an easy 1 hour spin on the S-Works Specialized Bikes that we were supplied with. The riding in Belgium is WAY different than in the U.S. The roads are extremely skinny where only 3 riders, at the most, could ride side by side. The cars, with the exception of one or two, were extremely friendly and would drive off the road just so we could pass. We got back from the ride to find an extremely good meal made by Els, the wife/"mom" of the house. As I sat down at the table I found myself sitting next to none other than Danny Summerhill. When we finished dinner Tim Redus, the 15-16 Camp Director) gave us a "debriefing" on tomorrow and the race that we have. We don't really know the course yet, but it is a flat 68.8 KM Local Race. Ill keep y'all posted on how I do. Also, special thanks to Northwest Cycling Club for helping be able to afford this awesome trip and also to Optimist International.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 29, 2008

Today was the NWCC 10 mile Time Trial out in Hockley. I woke up at five 0'clock this morning to acclimate myself for the time difference of seven hours to Belgium. After surfing the web for and hour or so I decided that it was time to start getting ready. I left at 6:30 with my dad, but about half way there I realised that I forgot my trainer. After a quick dash home we finally arrived at the Hockley Community Center. After a good warm-up I followed my dad to the start line. My time for the TT ended up being a 21:49 with average watts of 339, which showed that I had pretty good fitness, good news as I am leaving tomorrow for Belgium. I did a quick spin with my dad before heading home to go to church. My plans for the rest of the day include packing, partying, and packing! Hopefully I will be able stay awake for it all! I've added a screen shot of the file to this post. Click on the file to enlarge it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 28, 2008

Hi, my name is Lawson Craddock. I created this blog so I can record my travels and cycling experiences. Ill update this blog as often as I can. Also, special thanks to Carlos Rosario at SportsDuo.com for this awesome picture!

Thanks for reading,