Sunday, April 30, 2006

La Vuelta de Bisbee

The following is my take on the 2006 Vuelta de Bisbee:

Prologue: 2.8 miles, uphill TT. Not the most fun thing to do with one's self on a Friday evening, but what the hell, why not. I got into town somewhere around 1:30 in the afternoon after rolling out of Tucson and heading over with Scott and Shane. We settled into our pad pretty quickly, then cruised down to Bisbee Coffee Roasters (great coffee there, highly recommended) for a bite to eat, followed up by a pretty wicked eureka, which is their version of the classic Red Eye, double shot of espresso mixed with brewed coffee. Good stuff! Shane and I probably got a bit to fired up on the coffee, as we started our warmup about two hours before the TT started. Did three trips on the course to check things out and get a feel for where I could go fast and where I needed to chill out a bit. Super windy also out there, big headwind in store for the race. Prologue itself didn't go so well, I think I went a little to easy in the beginning and a bit to hard in the middle, which got me pretty far back in something like 66th place, which is obviously not so good. But we had three guys get in the top 20, so it did give us something to shoot for during tomorrow's double stage day.

Stage 1: 80 mile road race. The plan here was to attack early and try and get in a break. There was a sprint roughly 16 miles into the race so the pace was super fast (30+ mph) all the way there. Things chilled out just a bit after the sprint, until we made a right turn onto a long, straight, flat road. Pace heated up again here, as I attacked about 3 or 4 times in a row trying to get a move started. Worked every time, as we had clean breaks, but the pack was having nothing to do with it and someone busted their ass and brought them back every time. After the last attack I was starting to feel pretty worked so I went to the back and sat in for a bit. My teammate Shane was up in the front at this time and made it into the move of the day. Break finally stuck, with four guys in the move. So now we were in a defensive mode, so myself and several teammates patrolled the front of the race the rest of the day trying to protect Shane's lead. I'd never seen a break stay away in the four years that I've done this race until today. Their lead peaked at 3:10 just before the start of the second and final loop. A spirited chase ensued that brought them within sight at 25 seconds with about 20 miles to go, but miraculously, no one bridged, the pack went slow and the gap went back to 1:15 really fast. This race finished with about 8 miles or so of low grade climbing, so that is not a lot of time in the bank, but it worked and Shane came through the line in 4th place about 20 seconds ahead of a group of 50 or so riders. I was pretty worked by then, so I tacked onto the back of the main group and coasted in around 52nd. Did move up ten spots on the GC to 56th overall. The race was pretty fast, we covered 80 miles in just over three hours.

Stage 2: Warren Time Trial, 6.8 miles. Gotta love time trials, but not really. Nothing crazy happened here, didn't pass anyone or get caught by anyone, so a pretty mediocre ride overall. One of these days, I'll have to actually work on my TT. Hmmmmmmm.

Stage 3: Tombstone Road Race, 87.2 miles. This is the best race of the weekend. Super hard, with roughly 6500 ft. of climbing, and almost all of it comes in the form of two big climbs over the last 21 miles. Plan today was roughly the same as yesterday. Get in the breaks and if it is all together coming into the Mule Pass climb (second climb to the end), we were going to ride hard tempo as long as we could and try to whittle it down to a small group over the top. I did manage to get in one early break on the way to the first bonus sprint. We had a small group of three, and had a massive gap on the field, but were pulled back about a mile or two before the bonus sprint. I talked to Scott to see what had been going on in the pack, and the word was that it was just attack after attack the entire way. More attacking and countering ensued following the turnaround after the bonus sprint, but nothing was sticking yet. This course is pretty epic, following a downhill start (descent of Mule Pass), it follows and out-an-back course for the first 30 miles, then does a big loop out into the high desert and through the city of Tombstone. Then back over Mule Pass, past Bisbee on HWY 80 (big downhill here), then right back up that same downhill to the finish overlooking Mule Pass. After we finished the out-an-back portion and headed out for the big loop, things started to get super crazy at the front. I think that there had to have been around 20-30 big attacks in a row with guys going nuts trying to get off the front. Felt like crit speeds, and we still had about 2.5 hours to go! I went with a ton of moves, but there was no way that anyone was going to get away here, the pace was just to fast. We probably covered roughly 40 miles in the first 1.5 hours. Finally, a move of about seven riders stuck, one of them being David Glick, who is one of the better climbers on our team. So that was great for us as it put us in a position where we could chill a little bit and let the other teams worry about the break. They hit a maximum of 4.5 minutes before several teams started the chase. Still worked out really well for us, as we could just sit back and protect our climbers still in the pack and get them to the hills safely. So that was how the rest of the day played out. As we hit the Mule Pass climb, the break still had about three minutes on the group. The pace up Mule Pass was pretty intense, guys started getting shelled pretty early here. I hung in for a while, but eventually had to ride my own pace over the top. Dave hung in over the top with the remains of the break, but was caught and couldn't hang over the next climb. Still a solid effort on his part after a long day off the front of the race. I put it into cruise mode for the final climb, as I didn't think I was going to catch anyone there, and came in something like 44th place, which got me up to 45th on the final GC. Our best finisher for the day was Kyle Colavito, who came in 13th place and ended up 12th overall.

That's Dave Glick on the right.

Blanchard and me on a ride in Tucson.

Now I'm home with some pretty tired legs and a ton of work to do in the next couple days. Good time to take a few days off. Adios.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bisbee Starts Today

Today marks the beginning of the Vuelta de Bisbee stage race. Super cool, 3 day, 4 stage race held about 100 miles southeast of Tucson in Bisbee, AZ. I love this race. Unfortunately for me, I seem to have woken up with either the beginnings of a nasty head cold or some raging allergies, but I think I should be ok for the race. Cross your fingers if you are into that kind of thing! We are sending down virtually the entire team, and there are a couple guys who are going pretty well right now, so check out the results over the next couple days and hopefully you'll see some Eclipse guys ranked pretty high up there. Guys to watch for would be Kyle Colavito for the overall GC, Scott Blanchard, Dave Glick, Shane Peltonen for stage 4, and watch out for that always dangerous Jason Karew (that's me! :)-). heh, heh, heh, heh...results can be found here, plus it looks like the promoters have been flooding velonews and cyclingnews, so there will probably be some stuff posted all over the place. Look for a synopsis of the race after the weekend is over. Adios.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

To Sleep or Not to Sleep...That is the Question!

Interesting day on Sunday. Bit of a long evening Sat. had me showing up for our team ride on two hours of sleep! :) Ride time doubled my sleeping time, which I had to even out in the afternoon and then some with a four hour nap! Rough life, I tell you. Managed to stay awake after that until about 9:30, then got in another twelve hours of maximum recovery time. Felt great on Monday...I guess that 18 total hours of sleep will do that to ya!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

TT Time

So I forgot to set my alarm this morning, causing me to miss the world famous Shootout...although after the 15.5 hour work day that I put in yesterday, a few extra hours of sleep were definitely needed. Decided to get out on the TT bike so that I can some practice on it before the Vuelta de Bisbee next weekend. Two big time trial's there, so it is good to be familier with ones equipment. I'm guessing that the shootout was probably pretty hard this morning, as I followed the route out to Helmet Peak Rd, and there was a wicked head wind blowing out of the south. Kinda sucked, but it was really fun coming back.

I saw that my friend from back home in MI, Robert Herriman, has linked my blog to his blog, so I figured that I'd link him back. Check it out here. Robert is pretty fast on the mtb. He does the Leadville Trail 100 almost every year and usually places in the top 20, which is pretty damn good considering he comes from the sea level with zero mountains.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Peltonen Brothers

So here I am, snoozing with the best of 'em around 8:00 Monday morning, when my cell phone starts ringing off the hook. Quick background here, I had told the Peltonen brothers that they could stay with me for a day while the guesthouse they are renting was getting bombed for termites. Just didn't think they'd be ringing me up so early. I knew it was probably Shane, but I figured he'd be alright so I let it ring and tried to get some more sleep. Two seconds later, the home phone rings. "Answer it," I thought..."maybe,"...or maybe I'll lay here and try to sleep some more. No such luck as five minutes later there is a knock at the door and there they both are, looking way more awake then me. Funny bunch, those two, must be from Wisconsin. Seriously, though the Peltonen brothers are both super cool guys, and damn good cyclists as well. We had a bunch of fun hanging out throughout the day, and went and checked out a pretty bad movie later on that night. I don't recommend Harrison Ford's latest, "Firewall." definitely not one of his best works. This story is probably a bit funnier if you were here, but since you are reading this, I know you weren't so I'm signing off. Adios.


So the ride on Sunday seemed a bit harder to me then the race did on Saturday. It was a team ride that started in Tucson and followed an out 'n back route to Mammoth, AZ. This ride is always a bit of a grind, as it is uphill the whole way out until the top in Oracle, then followed by a 12 mile climb out of Mammoth once we hit the store stop at the halfway point. We had a pretty good group of guys with us, most of the team was there, plus Shane's brother Garrett, a mountain biker from Canada named Troy, and this really weird dude whom we have since nicknamed the "big pickle" due to the fact that he has ridden with us twice now and each time at the store stops he eats one of those gigantic packaged pickles, while the rest of us are slugging down cokes and doughnuts. I don't think the pickle helped him to much, as he was dropped like a hot rock about halfway up the hill, never to be seen again. Anyway, after roughly 5.5 hours on the bike and a few more hours at work that evening, I was ready to get in a good nights rest for the first time in a few weeks...see my next post for the outcome of that!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Scottsdale Grand Prix

Well, today was the Scottsdale Grand Prix. First year for this race, and I've got to hand it to the promoters, who did a really nice job with it. The course was a four corner crit course, downhill finish, with a slight hill leading into the first turn. Really wide open and fast, totally exposed, which made for some pretty wicked wind on the course. Tailwind through the start/finish straight, followed by turn 1 - some crazy crosswind, turn 2 - brutal headwind, turn 3 - crosswind again, turn 4 - home, sweet home with a tailwind on the downhill. :)

So I did two races, started off with the 55 min Cat 2 race. Bit of a small field here, I think we had about 22 guys start the race. Race was pretty fast with lots of attacks going on during the first 30 minutes. I got in a couple good moves, but nothing stuck until my teammate Emiliano Jordan got in a move with four other riders late in the race. This ended up sticking to the end, so we were sprinting in the pack for 6th place. I took 2nd in the pack sprint and ended up 7th overall. Not to bad, also won two primes during the race and took home a set of tubes and tires, plus a $100.00 voucher for a United Airlines flight, which will both probably come in handy sometime. Now if I can only start planning my next vacation...

Second race of the day was the 75 min pro 1, 2 event. Since I almost fell asleep at my car after the 2's race, I had a feeling that I might not have to much fun during this one. Piked a Coke and headed for the start line. Lot's more guys in this field, we started with right around 55 or so, most of the big guns from AZ were here, plus a couple guys from out of town. Race started really fast and stayed fast the entire time, we were pretty much strung out single file most of the day. Since we had six guys from the team in this one, I took the opportunity to sit in a little bit and see if I could open up during the first few laps. Seemed to work pretty well, but I think I ended up riding about 40th wheel most of the day anyway. Went up to the front a few times to check in with Scott B. to see what was going on there. Luckily, not all that much, so back to the group I went. We ended getting Tim Bolton from our team into a break of six, so we were playing the same tactics as we were in the 2's race. Tried to bridge across, but no luck. Tim's break stuck, he held on for 6th, and it came down to a pack sprint for the remaining spots. I was dying, but was able to make it into 18th by the end, Scott B. came across in 10th.

All in all, not a bad day out. The team took home $320.00 from the 1,2 race so we all came home with a little $$$$$$$$$ at the end of the day, plus some new tires for me. I think my caffine must be wearing out now, because I don't think that this is the most exciting post that I've ever written, so I'm signing off. Adios.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Big Weekend Coming Up...and Tour de Georgia Approaches

So here are a couple guys to watch for next week during the Tour de Georgia stage race. You might not see them all that high in the GC, but every one of them are solid bike racers, cool guys, and all have connections to Tucson, so you just have to root for them by default. Garrett Peltonen is the younger brother of my teammate Shane, and seems like he shares the same amount of talent, except I don't think he puts in the big miles like Shane does all year. Might be a smart move there. Garrett rides for Healthnet, and we are looking for big things from him next week. Next up is Mike Dietrich from Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada. Mike has spent the last several years racing for the Fiordefruita team and has been know to rip some guys legs off on the shootout while he is attending the UA in the spring. He rode the Tour of California back in Feb with one weeks notice from his team, but has since started to find some good form over the past month or so. Another former Fiordefruita rider usually found training in Tucson is Phil Wong, a notoriously strong climber currently riding for Jittery Joe's. Three first year pro's (actually Garret rode for Endeavor last year, so he's in year two), who will take the inter GC back to Tucson? The swami says...Phil Wong, followed by Peltonen and Dietrich.

On the local scene this weekend is the Scottsdale Grand Prix, a new race on the AZ calender this year. Big money crit racing is a new thing to Arizona, and it is very much appreciated. I'm racing twice tomorrow, the cat 2 race at 12:50 and the pro 1,2 race at 3:10. Since I predicted myself for last place last weekend and got 8th, maybe this weekend I'll see if I can add the results of both races to equal that would be nice! See ya. :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

State Crit Championship

Yesterday was the Arizona State Criterium Championship race. This is a really cool race, held near downtown Scottsdale, and put on by Team One Racing. It is the second year that they have held it on this course, and I really hope that they are able to keep it for many more, because the course is really nice. Curvy with ten tight turns, a pretty technical criterium course that usually had field pretty strung out.

Eclipse was well represented with eleven riders in the field. The race was pretty fast with lot's of attacking going on most of the day. We were in all of the major moves of the day and had virtually complete control of the race, however during the final laps, as a field sprint was looking like an inevitability, the train got derailed a bit, and we were left with only myself, Scott Blanchard, and Shane Peltonen on the front of the race. Shane took a super hard turn on the front with 3 to go, pulling of with 2 to go for Dave Nelson of Landis/White Mountain. Dave pulled until just after the start of the bell lap, when it looked like he blew to bits and pulled off the front, leaving only Scott and I. Scott did a great job of drilling it and got within about 100 ft of the final 180 degree corner. A couple guys jumped early here and I got into the corner 3rd wheel, but was being forced to take the wide line, while a few more guys were able to dive towards the inside, as the sprint was being wound up. I gave it all I had and ended up in 8th place, which is not a bad result, but considering I was sitting 2nd wheel with less then 400 meters to go, I am not all that happy about it. Denny Vaughn of the Summit Velo team took the win.

Friday, April 07, 2006

TV Time

Here is a cool link from a Fox 11 news broadcast that my team did back in early Feb. It took me a while to get a copy of it, but I think that it was worth the wait.

Eclipse has also sent out their first newsletter update of the season, which looks really good for a first effort, and should only be getting better in the future. Have to give a lot of credit to Jeff Parker for putting in a ton of work in getting the whole thing up and running. Not much else happening today. It's been a crazy week for me at school, so all of my rides have been super early with no sleep. Not to fun, but not to bad either. Sunday is the State Crit Championships up in Scottsdale, with a $4000.00 purse for the 1,2 men. Not bad, should be a good one. I'm not going to jinx myself this time, so I think I'll set a goal of finishing last, and that way I can only move up from there.