Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I won a race on my road bike!!! (Sunflower State Games Crit)

I saw this on last nights ride...


It reminded me to blog. (Funny enough, I was turning right). 

Roughly ten days ago I raced the cat 4 crit at the sunflower state games in Topeka, KS. And I won. For the first time ever, (on road bike at least), after 6 years or racing, I managed to win a race. I can count on one hand the number of races I was close to winning in the past. Only two come to mind. Both were last year. The Stateline road race and the 4/5 race on the last day of Gateway cup. I think I was 6th and 5th. So not that close to winning. 

I was surprised to win. So surprised that part of me was worried it wasn't the last lap and I watched to make sure everyone else didn't keep racing. 

I'll back up and give the play by play... 

We had 20 starters and I felt good from the beginning. I covered one attack from the Boulevard crew but besides that we mostly just rode around in circles. It was a flat rectangle except for a slight 'S' curve on the last corner. The finishing strait was a stiff tailwind. 

Tcpckc (team Colavita Parisi coffee Kansas City) had a great turnout and during the race Mark or James said that Jeret wanted to attack with 3 to go. I was still a little winded from covering the boulevard attack (dude was hauling!) plus I have no power anyway so i shook my head 'no' when Jeret rolled up beside me and tried to convince. 

3 to go seemed to come early and it appeared a group sprint was coming up. I did a wonderful job of being politely aggressive to stay in the front and with 1/2 lap to go I was sitting pretty. 

Before the race started I made a mental note of the tailwind finish. X, my wife, always preached that a long sprint would catch people off guard, so I had this in mind. 

So, on the last lap, as we approached the final turn and the 5 or so guys in front of me seemed to slow for a split
Second and fan out across the road, leaving a perfect opening right in front of me, I decided to go for it. We were maybe 300 to 400 meters from the finish and I was all in. 

The 'S' curve turn almost ruined me when I came in at not the best angle, and had to break, a lot. I stayed cool
And shifted up twice so I wouldn't be over geared after correcting the turn. 

I re-accelerated and the tail wind did it's job. I ended up winning easily. There was no hands up celebration, though. Despite one glance back that made me think I had it I was still convinced someone was going to challenge. But they never did. 

The race was over. I won. About 1 minute later I pulled over and threw up. It was awesome. 

Jeff Unruh was promoting the race and he asked if I was going to blog about it. After I won I told him I had to. He puts on bad a** races. So thanks, Jeff! Sorry it took so long. 

Still more races to go, see you all out there!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Catching up, Tour of Lawrence, Truman Cup, State Line Road Race

It's been busy times around these parts but here's what's been happening on the bike front...

Tour of Lawrence - Campus Circuit:

Started at the back and used a crap ton of energy not getting dropped on the first two laps. Felt like I was under attack almost all race but did manage to move up at the beginning of the last lap... ultimately got dropped as we approached the final climb. Blew up big time and had a terrible result. 

Fun course. Blown opportunity.



Tour of Lawrence - Crit:

Rode around in circles and did a pretty good job making the laps as easy as possible. Was still unable to turn that into a good finish as I ended up 11. One spot out of the money. Not a bad finish but not a good one either, at least compared to what I thought I was capable of. 


Truman Cup Crit

Skipped the 4/5 race in favor of the 3/4. Glad I did. Rode first few laps in top 10 but was using too much energy. Moved to the way back and chilled there till one to go. Felt better all the sudden and moved up big time for a 7th place finish. Very happy with that. 

Plus my awesome wife took this awesome picture. This was corner 1 of the last lap and I was in hyper aggressive move up mode. 


State Line Road Race

Took 6th last year and it's a good course for me. This year I apparently came in dehydrated and lacking endurance b/c after 4 laps of smooth sailing I felt the cramps coming and halfway thru the last lap my right hamstring basically locked up and I had to quit. 

Oh well. 

Didn't take any pictures so here's a random one of my cat from the other day.  


Monday, June 30, 2014

Tour of KC

Saturday

Saturday sucked. I hate this course. More so because I always do terrible. Last year I blew up, this year I blew up. 

I knew it was key to be at the front, and I was. Hit the first corner in the top 5. Micah was really pushing the pace and in the first lap the guy in front if me let a gap open and when a guy shot around me to bridge I jumped to follow. It all came together but that little move was the beginning of the end. I probably lasted 4 laps before dropping off. A group of about 8 survived to the finish. I ended up quitting after 30 minutes.

Extremely frustrating... But let's not dwell on that. 



Sunday

This was an awesome day.

For the first time since 2010 we were back at Cliff Drive. Basically the Crown Jewel of Kansas City bicycle racing. 

Back in 2010 I was a slow cat 4 and the USA soccer team was in the process if losing to Ghana. Fast forward to now and I'm an average Cat 4 and the USA soccer team was in the process of tying Portgual. 

That's called Progress. 

Anyway...

Since the course had a big hill I thought I could do well. 

Something like 50 lined up and I did a terrible job of clipping in. (These look pedals are givinge fits). The first lap was brutal and I had to close several gaps. Second lap was similar. Micah and his mountain biking partner in crime G-Wiz were keeping the pace very high and I was slightly concerned at how heavily I was breathing. 

The middle of the race was uneventful but I was recovering and feeling good. 

We started the last lap, all together I think, maybe 20 of us, and began to think about the finish. 

This race was all about the climb. It's hard and the finish comes about 30 seconds after the top. I hit the bottom of that climb sitting around 8th. I went deep into the pain cave and it's kind of a blur. One of my strongest recollections was the feeling of a large amount of spit sitting on my chin.

That's my heart monitor... How much spit is on your face... a lot means your going hard. 

Besides that I rember breathing very hard and Micah and another dude crashing. And my amazing wife yelling for me and, I believe, saying I was doing awesome. 

The entire climb was brutally painful and wonderfully fulfilling. 

I hit the top in 5th place, right behing J Doug. The only person I could see ahead of us was Jerrett but he had a big gap. I glanced behind and in an oxygen deprived state remember seeing people who could potentially catch us. 

A quick glance at J Doug told me he was spent so I rode past him. Maybe a mistake, but what was certainly a mistake was that I didn't attack him. I simple rolled right past him, close enough and slow enough for him to easily grab my wheel. By this point I was all in and we ended up having a great sprint to the line. We were both sprinting fast but He beat me, by about a wheel if memory serves.  

Next time I won't give such a good lead out. 

So I finished 5th. One of my best results ever. 

Great day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tulsa Tough

Last weekend i raced Saturday and Sunday at Tulsa Tough. I've been to some fun races but this ones the best by far. Tulsa has found the magic formula. Fun courses, fun town, every race within 2 miles, lots of spectators... its big time.

Saturday

For the first time in 5 years we decided to drive down Saturday morning instead of Friday night. It's nice to save $ due to one fewer night in a hotel but my legs did not respond well to 4 hrs in a car followed by about 30 minutes of warming up.

I felt sluggish all race. I was still good enough to finish 29th out of about 100 but i was hoping for much better. The result would have been more like 50th if i hadn't taken advantage of a slowing pack on the big downhill approaching the final lap. i forced myself to pedal hard down the hill while most everyone else was taking a last big breath. I actually put myself in a position that wasn't completely terrible and with good legs probably had a chance at a decent result. However, like i mentioned, the legs were not good... plus I was slowed by an almost crash as we started the uphill and then just about rode into the back of someone as i re-accelerated, having to slow again.

All race everything felt harder than it should. Even the smallest effort seemed to be extremely taxing. Luckily im beginning to realize that im a professional cat 4 which means im generally good at making the race as easy as possible, and at a avoiding crashes, of which I witnessed several... All of them stupid. Did I used to ride like that?

Anyway...


Sunday

I knew I would feel better Sunday, and I did. The 6:30am thunder clap was a rude awakening but the rain was light as our race started and might have stopped all together. But it was wet, very wet. 

I've got some fancy carbon wheels with tubular tires so I put the pressure at about 78 psi and made my way to the starting line. 

We did a neutral lap (first time I've done that but a good idea due to the rain and technical final corner) and during it I almost got my chain stuck shifting from big to little ring. After that I kept it in the big ring all race. I do have a compact. 

The chain incident put me pretty far back in the field but I used the climb to move my way up and was sitting pretty after 5 laps. In the last few laps I knew I was strong on the hill and while there were probably only 15 to 20 of us left in the front group i was cresting the hill easily and towards the front.

And then, with one to go, it happened. One of those moments that an average cat 4 with a shrinking window of opportunity will remember forever. Especially one who rarely takes chances.

I attacked!

It was spur of the moment and it was pretty easy, at first. "Attacked" may be too strong of a word but im not sure what else you would call it.

All day i was taking the final corner conservatively (ie slowly), which would leaving small gaps i had to close down. I just really didn't want to end my race by crashing on that corner. It's happened to me before. So approaching the last lap it was the same story and as i accelerated to catch back up i see the group has slowed big time. So without thinking I kept the speed i had and passed everyone on the left side, going considerately faster than the bunch. Somebody yelled "Left side!" and from that moment I was all in. I hit the hill first and poured my life into the pedals. There was a good group of fans already on the hill and that moment was pretty amazing, even if its a blur and even if it was very short. Here i was leading the charge on the final pass up cry baby hill.

I had no clue what was happening behind me but that quickly changed. The first guy passed me pretty early on the climb. He was going quite a bit faster than I was. Two or three more guys passed me soon after him (i recognizance one as velotek) then after a few seconds just about everyone passed me. I was dying, and dry heaving, and loving every second of it.

I kept pushing as hard as i could, never blew up (it was close) and managed to recover slightly by the time I reached the bottom of the hill and started the sprint. I was by myself, with one dude almost close enough to catch and a few guys behind almost closed enough to catch me. I did a pretty good sprint and held my spot, for 14th place. My best result ever at this race and only the second time ive finished it after 5 attempts.

In hindsight im pretty sure i would have had a better placing had i not attacked like that, but im positive ill look back on that  moment, however brief, for years to come. It was just so much fun.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Snake Alley and Melon City Crit in Iowa, plus the Free Wheels For Kids KC Crits

Snake alley ( Burlington, IA)

Had an amazing first 3 laps and was in the lead group. Faded hard after that and finished pretty much right in the middle of the 40 person field. 

I'm the definition of an average cat 4.


Melon City Crit (Muscatine, IA):

Felt better than I realized and should have attacked instead of waiting to for someone else to do the same thing at the bottom of the final climb. I had no problem responding and could have done better that my 9th place finish. 

I was a little gun shy due to my disappointing performance they day before but I'm terrible at taking chances.

Not the recipe for good bike race results.


Free Wheels for Kids Crits, day 1 (KC, KS)

Doubled up. 4/5 race was first and after weathering the initial Micah Effect (which dominated both days if racing, both 5's and 4/5's) found myself in the chase group. A flat approaching one lap to go ended what could have been a good result. Did the 3/4 race and got dropped with 3 to go. Satisfied with that. 


Free Wheels for Kids Crits, day 2

Felt tired during the races. Micah again got off the front immediately in the 4/5, then Matt and two other guys. So I followed wheels until a dude yelled at me for not pulling. We kissed and made up and I pulled when it became apparent we wouldn't catch either Matt or Micah. I knew nobody was catching Micah. 

It's probably a good thing he yelled at me because the next big chase group almost caught us at the line. I pulled the last half lap to ensure we stayed away but finished one or two places lower because of it, but I cared more about being a nice bike rider than a getting a slightly less mediocre result. 

Felt like crap in the 3/4 race and quit after about 10 min.

Micah blew up both 4/5 races this weekend and racing thru the carnage was pretty fun. Bodies were falling left and right.

Tulsa Tough this weekend. I'm going down there with big ambitions.