Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pace Bend

Where to start? Should it be the pain constantly shooting through my legs even before the race has even started, the extremely fast 5 mile rolling course, or the 140 man field that started the race? We'll start with the legs. Even after trying to spend most of the previous day off my legs and massaging the cramps out of them from the death defying effort that I put in the day before, I was still hurting like a dog. The few hours before the race was spent waddling around the camp ground frantically getting ready for the race. The course was an extremely fast 5 mile course filled with rolling hills. The average for the race ended up being 25.7 mph, the fastest road race average I've ever had. Due to the fact that we were staying at the park where the race was and it started at 12:30, I was given a chance to get some well-wanted hours of extra sleep. I woke up around 10:00 for some breakfast. At around 11:00 I made the two mile trek to the start line to pick up my number and meet with some friends before the race of pain. I then rolled back to our camper to get ready for the race. After rolling back up to the start line, almost eating the pavement a few times because I was carrying my spare wheels with me, I settled down near the front of the 140 man field for the start with Alan. With another 20 or so minutes to spare before the start, Alan and I started our pre-race rituals including kicking each others wheels, slapping the seats, slamming our fist down on each others helmets, injecting our imaginary "EPO" from a syringe that goes all the way around the world, and who knows what else we do (don't even try to understand the complexity of our friendship). By the end of all that the race was only a few minutes away from starting. The officials called out the rules and off we went. I only had two goals for this race: finish and try and stay as close to the front as possible. Surprisingly, I felt pretty strong today despite the previous day's efforts. I was able to stay up in the top 15-20 riders for most of the race, felt strong enough to attack once or twice, and was still able to see shoot Alan the "What Up?" sign whenever our paths crossed (again, don't try to understand...). An early break got away and stayed off the front for about 8 of the 14 laps we were doing. When the break was caught there were immediately some counter-attacks, but due to the extreme size of the field none stayed away. The last three laps where perhaps some of the fastest laps I've ever done. Everyone was fighting to stay up at the front and attacks were going like free candy. I resigned to try and stay up in the front as much as I could and try to conserve as much energy as I could. Unfortunately, a group of about 20 had broken away from the rest of the field with a little over one lap to go. I then went on an attack with three others to try and bridge up to the lead group. The three of us were pulling all out until we finally caught the group. I then looked around hoping to see a gap to the rest of the pack, but found them just catching up to us. Hanging my head in despair, I fell back to about the middle of the pack thinking my day was done. With about a half a lap to go I got a second wind and was able to move pretty far up in the pack. Going into the final sharp turn before the 250 meter finish line climb, I was sitting in the top 15. Unfortunately, I was cut-off going around the turn and lost a ton of places. After that I just sat up and rolled up the climb to finish a dismal 60th out of probably more than 100 finishers. Phil Wikoff won the race ahead of Josh Carter and Steve Tilford. I was definitely excited about the weekend's performances and am looking forward to Texas' biggest race of the season next weekend, La Primavera at Lago Vista.

Monday, February 23, 2009


As some of the hardest races of the year have come and gone, I still find myself screaming out loud and reaching down to my legs to try and soothe out the cramps that are forced onto my aching legs even a day later. With the EPIC Walburg/Pace Bend weekend of racing behind you, it's known to be expected.

Once again, the Walburg Classic blessed us with unpredictable weather and some real tough racing. For the first time in years it looked as though the weather at Walburg would be perfect for a long day in the saddle. I rolled out of the parking lot with the rest of the Cat 2's (the Pro 1's were racing by themselves today) at around 8:00 AM with the temperature at around 60-65, the sun peeking through the clouds, and no wind at all. It was going to be a good day. By the time we had rolled ten minutes out of town it was raining steadily and the winds had picked up to about 20+ mph with gusts over 25. It was not going to be a good day. For the first lap I just sat in the pack to try and conserve as much energy as possible, and watched as small groups of about 2-3 riders roll up the road to create a dangerous move of about 10-15 riders off the front. With a little less than two laps to go, of the 24 mile course, I saw an attack go with some of the strongest Cat 2's in it. I quickly jumped on to the back of the train and found myself in a group of about 10 with a large gap back to the field. The ten of us worked well together and coming up the 800 meter finish line hill with one to go we had a minute and a half deficit on the leaders. Near the same spot that I had gone on the attack the previous lap I attacked again. No one from the break reacted and I found myself riding by myself for the next mile or so until Erick Benz, Dan Opdyke, and John David Coppin bridged up to me. Over the next seven or so miles, the four of us worked evenly until Coppin suddenly cramped up. This was a huge setback to us, seeing that he was an extremely strong rider and the chance of catching up to the lead group without him was very slim. After another mile or so Brian Jones bridged up to us as we got onto the 20 mph tailwind section. With my junior gears I just tried to stay on and keep the same pace when I pulled through at over 30 mph and 110 rpms. By the time we had pulled onto the smooth highway with a pretty strong tail/cross wind the gap had gone down to around a minute. The four of us worked extremely hard until we caught a group of four about 2 miles before the finish. With huge cross winds by this point, Benz got to the front an really drove the pace, putting me deep in the pain cave. By the bottom of the hill, I was really hurting, and by the time the sprint opened up I cramped really badly. The gap between the group and me widened very quickly, and I just started focusing on getting up the finish hill still conscious. I completed my goal, and came across the finish line 12th while puking no less than six times (including one spew that narrowly missed P1 4th place finisher, Travis Burandt). I then collapsed on the ground for about 10 more minutes before heading to the car for my chocolate milk. Mitch Comrado ended up winning the race from a two man break ahead of Chad Haga with Joseph Schmalz taking third. Heath Blackgrove ended up taking the win in the P1's ahead of Bill Stolte and Dave Wenger

I'm working on the Pace Bend race report and should have it up in a few hours.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Alsation Country Omnium

This past weekend marked the second edition of the Alsation Country Omnium in Castroville, TX, but more importantly the start of my jam packed road season. The race opened with a flattish ten mile time trial in the morning on Saturday, a 60 minute crit later on that day, and ended with a demanding 75 mile road race. After arriving late on Friday, we set up our pop-up camper and went to bed at around 11:00, so that I could get a good enough sleep to wake up for my TT start at 11:08 the next day. I woke up at around 8 to drink a banana smoothie and eat a bagel. After just chilling in the pop-up for a while reading the latest ProCycling magazine we drove over to the TT course so that I could get a warm-up in. The course was an out-and-back course with HUGE winds. On the way out I averaged about 33 mph spinning in my junior gears for an average of 114 rpm's, while on the way back I averaged only 23 mph. I ended up with a time of 21:19 which was good enough for ninth in the P12's, a whole minute behind the winner, Dave Wenger. This gave me four points for overall omnium. I then went back to the pop-up, and killed the next couple of hours watching the crits with Alan Ting (the RV camp that we were staying at was were the crit was). With the race at 4:30, I went back to the pop-up at around 3:30 to get all my gear together. When the Cat 3's finished racing, I rolled onto the course to get a few laps in before the start of my race. After rolling out, I found myself at the very back of the pack knowing full well that I would spend the better part of the race moving up to a good position. The pace was extremely high the whole time with recent addition to pro team OUCH-Maxxis, Pat McCarty, on the front driving the pace. I finally made it to the front and tried to maintain that position as long as possible. With about four laps to go, I tried an attack. No one from the pack reacted for a while and I was able to get about a 5-7 second gap. Unfortunately, I was quickly brought back in by a monster pull on the front of the pack, and the next thing I knew I was being passed by the majority of the pack and found myself back at the back, and that is where I finished behind winner, Ronnie Strange. The road race was one of the hardest races of my life, won by Kevin Kremke. The race started out with a 7.5 mile roll-out of town with a monster tail wind (we almost hit 40 mph on the way out), followed by four 15 mile loops, with a 7.5 mile leg back into town. For the first half of the race I tried to conserve as much energy as possible. With two laps to go, a few got to the front on the yellow line and really upped the pace on one of the cross wind sections. This caused many people to be dropped while the remaining 20 or so of us were hanging on for dear life. After a few miles of this, a few guys broke the rules and crossed over the line to get a better draft. This encouraged others to do the same thing, and next thing you know the entire group except a few where over the yellow line and cars were passing us on the right hand side of the road. Before we turned to get off of the road, the follow vehicle pulled up next to us and stopped the race to talk to us about crossing the yellow line. This allowed all of those who had been dropped to catch back up. For the next lap the pace never really escalated all that much. With one lap to go the same group of guys got back up to front on the same cross wind section, and successfully dropped almost half the pack. Unfortunately, I was one of them. I found myself in the second group on the road with about 10 others. We all took hard pulls on the front before we finally caught back on. I spent the next 10 or so miles trying to recover, so that I could hang on for the cross wind section back into town. When we got onto the route back in town, I found myself in the back trying to pass people getting dropped. After a while my legs just gave up and the pack just rode away from me. I jumped into the next group when they passed me to try and bridge back up to the leaders. By the time I had gotten to the front the gap had been closed down a lot. I took an all out pull, but when I pulled off I couldn't find it in me to jump back in line and found myself riding alone. To say the least, I rode the last five miles by myself to the finish. Although my placings weren't all that high in the crit and road race I still had a great time. It was a great event put on by Andrew Willis, and I can't wait for next year. Special thanks to my parents for supporting me and driving me there and back, and Daniel Walker for letting me use his skinsuit.