Friday, November 23, 2007

Lions Imitate Turkey, Stuffed by Pack on Thanksgiving

Hopefully most of you that read this, know that I was kidding a bit with my Detroit Lions Super Bowl prediction a few weeks ago. Since that post, they have not won a single game and are currently wrapped up in a three game losing streak. Let's hope that they can at least rally together and win one more game this year so that I can collect my winnings from my "7 win season" bet(s) with two coworkers, although even that is looking a little grim at this point. I'll try a reverse jinx here and see if we can't get 'em going again. Basement in four weeks. Adios.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

El Tour de Tucson: 25th Anniversery Edition

It was a great day for bike racing with 10,000 of your closest friends at the 25th El Tour de Tucson. This years event drew a record number of cyclists, pushing the entries over 10,000 for the first time in history. I think that this is also the biggest one day cycling event in the country, pretty cool that it is right here in Tucson. To finish well here is a bit of a crapshoot, even if the fitness is good, as there are two wash crossings and a ton of other variables that can get in the way of a good ride.

My day started well, as I went into the first river crossing top 15 and made it through with no problems. The sand was a little deeper than in years past due to the lack of rain, which made riding the wash pretty difficult. After this my plan was to sit back and recover, eat, and stay hydrated until the second river crossing 45 miles into the event, which is where the significant splits usually happen.

Once again, things were going well for me as I led the field into the final corner before the creek crossing, only to get swarmed coming into it, but still able to ride most of the way and coming out the other side somewhere around tenth while sitting on the wheel of 2006 winner Michael Grabinger of the Successful Living team. Great spot to be, as once we made it over the steep climb of Snyder hill and turned onto Sunrise Rd with 70 miles to go, the race was starting to look like it had been made with an elite group of 30 riders at the front. The eventual winning breakaway formed from this group and I screwed up and missed it, but otherwise, things were looking pretty good at this point.

Fast forward about 30 miles and now we are on Tangerine Rd, which has a significant downhill section coming after the previous ten or so miles of rolling hills. A good counter move formed off the front the group and I made the split. The break was five guys with myself, Alexie Martinez (2006 3rd place finisher), Nick Schrieber (2006 AZ Pro points champ), and two others. We quickly put a minute into the pack and I started to think that we may have a chance if we could make it over Rattlesnake Pass, the last major obstacle of the course coming with about 20 miles to go. Unfortunately for me, I had the legs to ride with the break, but didn't have the legs to drive it like it needed to be driven, and I don't think that anyone else had great legs either, except maybe Nick, who was taking some monster pulls at the front. So it was looking like were going to be caught on the flat road leading up to Rattlesnake. One guy sat-up, while the rest of us pressed on towards the hill. Here was where the race changed for everyone. I could see the pack coming up to us, but I was thinking that it surely was only the remnants of the 30 strong pack I had been riding with for the last 50 miles. When we were caught halfway up the pass, I was shocked to see that the pack had swelled to about 150 riders! It was the biggest front pack I'd seen this late in the race. So the tactics changed once again and the options were to wait for a field sprint for the remaining places, or try and get to the line in a small group by attacking on the run-in back to town on Silverbell Rd.

I was able to try one short lived move on the way back towards town. A dangerous group of three riders had formed and was dangling about 600 meters in front of the pack. I attacked solo and tried to bridge with about ten miles to go, but couldn't make it with the headwind and gradual rolling hills slowing me down. I ended up sitting in no-mans-land about 200 meters behind the break for 3-4 miles before I sat up and came back to the pack, which was closing in on me very quickly. So it was going to be a field sprint with about 100 guys left, not a good situation.

The finish was crazy as there were a line of cars that the police hadn't moved out of our lane, causing the pack to fan out on both sides of the road. I was forced to bunnyhop the median and went straight up the middle through the pack. Saw a wicked crash right in front of me, which I was able to avoid, afterwhich I decided that since I had dropped back to around 20th position, I would not sprint and only wanted to make it around the final corner safely. Mission accomplished with the end result being a 42nd place finish, time was 4:16 for 109 miles with a 25.6mph average speed. Adios.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

TCX #2: The Goat Rears It's Ugly Head

When my alarm went off this morning at 8:40, I laid in bed for at least 30 seconds wondering why the hell it was going off, before I remembered that I was doing a cyclocross race today. Finally made it up, fired up the coffee and a bit of food, then headed out the door for my first race on my new Scott cyclocross bike.

I think that things would have gone pretty well, had the goat not reared it's ugly head out on the course today, although that damn thing bit just about everyone else at one point during the race. I was riding pretty well, comfortably in 4th about 25 seconds back of 2nd and 3rd halfway through the race when, pssssssssttttt, double flat. No wheels in the pit. Race could be over. Thanks to Jen Pullen, who pulled both wheels off of her bike and met me in the pit so I could continue. Back on the bike after a three minute wheel change (note: need easier brakes) and I think I was in 7th or 8th, no chance to catch 3rd, but plenty of guys within reach. Made it back up to 5th and was closing in on 4th with about two laps to go when I got another flat on the backside of the course. No more wheels, thought I was done, but luckily my original back wheel only had a slow leak and I was able to put it back on. The leader passed me while I was in the pit, so suddenly I was on the bell lap, way back in 9th. Passed two guys but ran out of real estate in the end to finish 7th.

I hate goatheads.

On a side note, congrats to Brian Matter for taking his second win at the Iceman Challenge, a.k.a. the midwest mtb championships. Adios.

Here is a picture of me on my way to 7th overall in the 1999 Iceman.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sullivan's after a Long Day

Nothing like a couple of martini's and some smooth jazz to mellow one out after a night of work. Four hour ride today, got a haircut, went to class and skipped a class to go to work. Can I end each sentence with the word work? Yes, if that work(s). Adios.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Super Bowl Bound????????

The Detroit Lions are 6-2 at the conclusion of the first half of the NFL season.

Could this be the year?

One can only hope!


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Underground Means Buried

So I went to a local cross race here in Tucson today. It was an unsanctioned, underground event that I think was a little too underground with only four guys showing up and two of them left before anyone else got there. Two more guys showed up about 35 minutes after the racing was slated to start, and with a total now of five guys there, including the promoter, we all decided to bag it. I ended up riding the cross bike out over Gates Pass and through the park on the west side, so I still had a good day on the bike.

I still think that a cross series could go off well in Tucson if it was promoted correctly. There is already talk of a series in the works for the fall of 2008, so that could be something to look forward to. The Phoenix series that has started could be a good model for the rest of us to follow, or even build upon to create a statewide series in '08. We'll have to see what happens. Adios.