Sunday, January 02, 2011

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wacky, Wild, Weekend Round-up

A brutally difficult weekend of racing finished up on Sunday at the Tour of Grandview Criterium. To give a clue as to the difficulty of the races, Grandview started with 85 riders and finished with 21, while the Hyde Park Blast on Saturday featured about a sixty percent attrition rate. Let's just say I didn't make the cut.

Start of the Hyde Park Blast

Gotta give props to all the guys that came and made the Cincinnati triple of Madeira, Hyde Park Blast, and Grandview memorable. Painful too! It's a great test for us locals (yeah, I'm finally starting to think of myself as a Cinci guy) to see what we can do when the big show rolls into town. Big props to Eric Knight and Ryan Good for being the only local guys to make it to the end of the Blast Saturday night.

As for me, I suffered like a dog all weekend long. 40 minutes at Madeira on Friday, 30 minutes at the Blast, and about 8 laps at Grandview, which I only went to after a serious pep talk from a friend on Sunday morning. Did get some face time on Sunday, spending about two laps off the front in a solo attempt to bridge to the early break, but luck (and my legs) wasn't with me this weekend.

Following Eric Knight at the Blast

I'm planning on taking this week and the Fourth of July weekend pretty easy in the hopes of recharging my batteries to gear up for the rest of the season and cyclocross. Already looking forward to the fall. Adios.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hot Ault Park Finale and the Weekend of the Pain Train

Big week of racing in the Cincinnati area this week. Wednsday night was the finale of the Ault Park Series, and this weekend is the Ohio Triple of the Madeira Centennial Crit, Hyde Park Blast, and the Tour of Grandview.

It is always amazing (read, Painful!) to feel the difference in the speed and ferocity of national level events compared with the local and regional races that I've been doing all spring.

Ault Park

I went into the race sitting solidly in 5th place overall, 7 points ahead of 6th, and 19 points out of 4th. The temperature had soared into the mid-nineties during the day, and was still hovering around 85 degrees at the start of race. My plan was simply to ride with the group and maybe try to pick up a couple points along the way, but mostly try to rest as much as possible in order to be fresh for the weekend.

The race had an unusual start, beginning with a lap one prime, and a three man break went up the road immediately. I happened to be in a good position and bridged to the break on the second lap. We stayed out for the first ten laps, and I picked up six points along the way. I was glad to be back in the pack afterwords, and went straight to tailgunning and trying to recover.

Nothing really happened until the 20th lap sprint, where a break of three went during the post-sprint chaos. The pack was content to let them ride, and I didn't care much at all, continuing to tailgun it at the back. Opportunity arose again a couple laps later and I once again found myself off the front in a group of four. We were getting splits of 30-40 seconds and I thought we were the lead group. Turns out those splits were to the three guys still ahead of us...Doh!!!

Unbenowst to me, Jeff McClain of Team Huntinton, was racking up points five at a time from the break. Our group was reeled in with six to go, and the gap was almost a minute to the break. I went to the front and pulled the last four laps just so we wouldn't get lapped, then rolled in behind the group for the finish.

When the final points were tallied, I had slipped to 6th overall, as Jeff picked up 27 points on the night to pip me for 5th by two points. Not much to say about that, other then a big congrats to Jeff for pulling off the comeback. It was a fun series, and I'm already looking forward to competing next year.

Final Podium: Jeff Mclain, Eric Knight, O'Brien Forbes, Ryan Good (not pictured, John Gatch)

Madeira Centenial Criterium

Big shift of gears to last nights criterium. Where I'm a contender at races like Ault Park and the Spring Series, at these events I simply hope to survive. I started the night with three goals: 1)Survive the first 20 minutes, 2)Finish the race, 3)Top 15. It would require the success of the first to to achieve the ultimate goal of number three.

The race started fast and stayed that way. I never moved up from my mid-pack start position. Survival mode kicked in early. The pack was making huge accelerations out of every corner, particularly the two 180's at either side of the home straight. Gaps were forming early and often. Guys were getting shelled two laps in. I don't think we ever were not strung out single file. Somewhere around the tenth lap, a gap opened in front of me that I couldn't close. The Pain Train came, looking for its ticket. I didn't have the right one. Seat revoked, you're outta here, son! Rode for about ten more laps with a chase group of six, then got pulled by the ref after 40 minutes of racing. Better luck next time, i.e. tonight at The Blast. Thanks for everyone along the course cheering me on, I really appreciated it. Adios.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ohio State Road Race

A steamy day greeted the Pro 1,2 peloton at the State Road Race yesterday in Williamsville, OH. The forecast called for highs in the mid-eighties with a 50% chance of rain, promising to make the 90 mile race one of attrition. Staying hydrated and properly fueled were going to be critical, as well as being diligent about maintaining proper position in the pack and conserving energy at all times.

The course was about a 13 mile loop of mostly flat roads, a short, twisty, technical downhill, and one short, steep hill that came about two miles from the finish line. We were scheduled to complete seven laps of this circuit. Early morning rain promised to make the downhill a little treacherous during the opening laps, and the ever-present crosswind promised to make life miserable for those caught at the back of the nearly 50 rider field.

The race started promptly at 11:00, and Dan Campbell of Team Panther wasted no time at all, attacking literally from the word go. Chris Durand of Huntington and one other guy that I didn't know took off in pursuit, completing the bridge within the first mile. And that was that, we never saw them again. Amazing. Dan took it to the line, eventually dropping Chris and being joined by his teammate, Paul Martin for a 1, 2 finish for the Panther team. I think the third guy from the original move also held on for third place.

Back in the pack, Panther and Huntington did a good job neutralizing every attempt to bridge across. The race was super fast at times, with lots of surges coming out of the frequent corners. It actually felt like a crit at times because we were coming out of the corners so hot. The pace would slow to about 20mph for a couple minutes throughout the race, but then the attacks would start back up again in earnest. There must have been close to 100 big surges during the race that had us hammering in the drops in the 53x13. That'll take a toll on the legs for sure!

My day was going great, as I was sticking to my plan and sitting in, waiting for the last lap to make a move. Unfortunately for me, I had a front flat during lap four, and had to ride it all the way to the start/finish line before I could change it out, which forced me to have to chase for about four miles into a headwind to catch back on. I paid the price coming up the hill during lap six, as cramps prevented me from going with the surges that split the rest of the bunch into three groups.

In the end, I knew I was done for, but soloed the last lap to avoid a DNF, coming in one spot out of the money in 26th place. Who knows what would have happened had I not flatted, but that's racing. Adios.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rainy Days Lead to Relaxing Mornings

Linnea and I woke up today to the sound of thunder and pouring rain. Since moving to Ohio last July, one thing I've learned in the past year is that adaptability is the name of the game. Those perfect mornings that I enjoyed nearly every day in Tucson are a little more sporadic in Cincinnati; however, it just leaves extra time to enjoy a French Press of Java while relaxing on the couch and enjoying the first round of the World Cup.

Linnea has been doing well with the adjustment to the rain also, she just wishes that her gym was closer than 30 minutes away.

The Ohio State Road Race Championships are tomorrow morning. It's going to be another long one, 90 miles, and the forecast is calling for a humid 85 degrees with a 50% chance of rain. Panther is one of the sponsoring teams, which should make it a pretty difficult day in the saddle. They are easily the strongest team in Ohio (probably one of the stronger elite amateur teams in the country) and I'm sure that they are going to be highly motivated to win. At last count there were 37 heavy hitters registered for the Pro 1,2 race. I'm expecting a tough day in the saddle, and hope that my legs are recovered from the efforts earlier in the week.

Also wanted to say thanks to everyone that has been reading this blog recently. I set the high mark for myself with 23 visitors a couple days back...not quite Facebook status yet, but at least the numbers are up! Adios.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ault Park #3

Last nights race was way more aggressive then the series opener, with lots of attacks starting from the first lap.  I was suffering pretty bad throughout...don't think I was recovered properly from the race in KY on Sunday.  Legs were burning and I was having a hard time getting my head into the game.

Huntington split the field on the mid-race (lap 20) double points sprint.  I was tailgating at the back of the group and was caught in the back half of the split. Things stayed this way for the next couple laps.  There were some pretty strong guys (John Gatch, the Spaniard, and a Kenda Pro) who also missed the split, so I wasn't too worried.

Around lap 22 the front group was getting a little closer and I saw The Spaniard moving up the right side.  I followed him and we rode straight across the gap and through the front group, taking about six guys with us.  We kept it rolling because we had established a gap pretty quickly.  Coming in for the sprint on lap 25, I went for it and took John Gatch and Ryan Good with me.  

We opened up a huge gap to the rest of the break during the sprint, and decided to keep things rolling with just the three of us.  A lap later we had 30 seconds and that was that.

The Kenda guy (Ryan Gaam) bridged solo with about 7 laps remaining, making it a break of four.  We were all working well and suffering together and made it to the line about 30 seconds in front of the main group. Ryan Good took 1st, John was 2nd, and I took 3rd.

How's this for a tight finish?

Ready for some recovery and the State Championship Road Race on Sunday at Caeser's Creek. Adios.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

KY State Champs: Tour of Red River Gorge

Brutal day today at the Tour of Red River Gorge: Battle on the Bayou road race. This race was part of a three day omnium, and also served as the Kentucky State Championships.

I was a little nervous going in, as the profile looked pretty nasty, five big climbs and a ton of little rollers adding up to 91 miles and 9000+ feet of climbing. I was pretty sure that my climbing legs didn't have 9000 feet in them, but I was still up for the challenge.

Linnea went to the race with me to help out in the feed zones. We actually prepared pretty well by getting our bottles ready last night. They were bagged, tagged, and ready to go, chilling nicely in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, that's were they remained, which we didn't realize until we were about 45 minutes from the race. Whoops!

Luck was with me and I was able to pick up five bottles at the race that were discarded the previous day. A quick wash and we were back in business.

The first 25 miles of the race were pretty uneventful. I think the bunch was a little hesitant to get rolling, due to the difficult terrain coming in the miles ahead. We rolled steady over the first climb and it was still groupo compacto minus-one as we hit the second climb.

Guys were definitely racing up the second climb, which was much steeper and slightly longer then the first. I rode my own pace and ended up slightly off the back with a group of five. We worked well together and caught the group a couple miles after the first feed zone, around mile 35 or so.

A couple miles later, with the peloton rolling pretty slowly, I launched a solo move into a rolling headwind section on open highway. No one bit and off I went. I was joined a couple miles later by Dan Campbell and one other, and we stayed away for the next 12 miles together, getting to the base of the third climb. My climbing legs weren't working as well as I'd hoped, and I popped off the break just after the start of the climb. Shortly after, the group caught me and spit me out the back, leaving a long, lonely ride to the finish. Lots more rollers, a bunch of rain, and open roads were all I saw for the next two hours. Made it to the finish in about 4:20, glad to be done for the day. All in all, good training but not the best race for me.

Linnea and I did have a fun time afterwards, hooking up with my good friend Marc and his girlfriend, Hillary for some sightseeing in the Gorge. The place is pretty sweet, I'll have to make another trip up there sometime. A quick stop for a post hike double cheeseburger and Blizzard from DQ and we were on our way home. Adios.