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.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

St. Leon: Hot One Today!

Tough race today. Temps were soaring up into the high 80's, making it the first hot race of the year. I've been dying a thousand deaths from my allergies since finishing, so this is going to be pretty short.



Lost the leaders just after we crested the climb on lap one due to a Momentary Lapse of Reason, and rode with the second group the rest of the day. Sprinted for 9th and ended up 10th. More to come later. Adios.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Friends

Cycling is a funny sport. Some days I am ultra-motivated, and other days it's hard to even look at the bike, much less get off the couch. Take a day like the latter and throw in an overcast, slightly chilly and damp mid-May Ohio evening and it could become the perfect recipe for a night off the bike. This is where the joy of riding with friends comes into the mix.

Last night I rode for a couple hours with my good friend Mark doing tempo intervals in the mist. Luckily, my motivation was pretty high to get in a ride regardless of weather, but I got the feeling that his wasn't. It didn't take much to convince him that we'd get in a good ride even if we did get wet. The rain did come, at one point looking like it might get torrential, but it turned out to be nothing more then a fine mist and we both had a great ride. I think a little of my motivation rubbed off on him.

Tonight was the opposite. I was really dragging after work, and all I really wanted to do was crack a beer and watch the Tour of California on Versus. I practically had to force myself to suit up and throw a leg over the bike. I thought about doing a couple hours solo, but decided to meet up with Mitch and the Biowheels crew instead. That turned out to be a great decision, as once the group started riding hard, my legs also began to open up and come around. Good conversation in the quieter moments made for a fantastic ride, and I returned home with seemingly double the energy that I had before I left.

Point being is that cyclists need other cyclists in order to really enjoy the sport to its fullest. Friends make all those miles click by just a little bit easier. Adios.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bond Rd: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Having been a while since I last towed the line, I wasn't sure what to expect at the Ohio Valley Spring Series Race #7, held on the Bond Rd. course in Harrison, OH. I'd been coming off a bad patch of training due to some fatigue issues, the last race I attended started in a downpour (but I forgot to pack my shoes, which I think turned out to be a blessing in disguise), and I bagged on racing in my home state of Michigan last weekend due to a family visit and bad weather. But the positives here were that I used that rainy day to change out all the cables on my bike (shifting is now spot-on), and I took advantage of the trip home to get some much needed rest and a very thourough massage.

Rumors had been flying around the internet (see Facebook) as to the difficulty of the Bond Rd. course. Amoung these were a switchback climb that was a 30% grade (false) and a wicked fast 50+mph technical downhill (true). I drove the course upon arriving to the race yesterday, and my first thought was that it looked a little scary.

I felt a little better about things after a one lap pre-ride with OB and The Pilot gave me a better view of the hill and some good lines on the decent. An added bonus was that the legs were feeling good.

The race was scheduled for seven laps, and started out pretty tranquil, minus the kamakasi solo rider attacking from the gun. I don't think the 40+ rider field was very interested in doing much, as most guys were a little worried about the hill that was coming up in roughly four miles. The first time up was good for me, as I was right there in the top five guys, feeling strong and gaining confidence. It looked like most of the field made it over as well and we still had a pretty large group after the first lap.


First time up the climb


Fast foward to about the halfway point of lap two. There had been several attacks and counters so far, but nothing was sticking. During a lull in the action, I saw an opportunity and punched it on a short roller, easily gapping the field as no one wanted to chase. Unfortunately, no one wanted to come with me either, so I was left on my own. I figured I'd give it a go and try to get to the downhill, in the hopes that a small group would bridge up to me. This worked out perfectly, as three riders came up to me on the flats and we worked well together over the next lap. The field chased for a bit, but then it looked like they lost motivation, and we were gone.


Leading the early break


One lap later a group of six caught us, making a front group of nine riders, and that was how the rest of the day played out. The officials were giving us splits of about a 1:30 back to a chase group of two, and 3:00 back to the main field. All we had to do was ride steady and it was looking good that we would make it to the line. Oh yeah, we also had to keep surviving the climb.

I suffered the last three times up the climb, dangling off the back, but fighting to catch back on each time. It was a struggle because I knew I was running out of gas, but if I could just stay on there it was easy to ride in the group the rest of the lap.


Finish


The elastic finally broke for me on the final ascent. I followed a couple surges, but then it was lights out. A bit dissapointing because I knew if I could make it over I'd have done well in the sprint. Still a solid day, and I rolled in solo for 9th place. Adios.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back on the Pain Wagon at Spring Valley

Today's race had potential to be epic. The forecast called for thunderstorms all day, and there were reports of tornado's in the area. Thankfully, the weather held out for the most part until the drive home. As for the race, well, let's just say that the storm hit on the first lap, and only the strong survived.

Things were tranquil on the line, as everyone contemplated what could be coming out of the sky over the next three hours.


We rolled out and I decided to pull the retard card, attacking from the gun to see if I could make it up the road before the inevitable early break formed. I was hoping to get in that break when they bridged up to me. Alas, this turned out to be a foolish idea.


In the windy conditions, the screws were quickly turned coming through the start/finish, and I found myself riding with John Murdoch of Huntington Bank for the next three laps as we worked together to get back to the remnants of the group.


I think this was shortly before we bridged back up to the main group.


With 1.5 laps to go, I attacked the group in a bid for the top ten. Could have sat in, but it was a little boring so I thought I'd give it a try. Needed another 30 seconds in the end, but I was happy with the effort. It's tough out there riding solo against teams of 5-6 riders. Makes for some interesting tactics. The smart play would have been to sit in all day and follow wheels, but sometimes you have to try and make the race.

Thanks to Jeffrey Jakucyk for the photos. Adios.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Mitchel Memorial Race Report

Tough day at the races on Saturday. Mitchel Memorial featured a technical, hilly, eight mile circuit of which we were to complete seven laps. In a nutshell, I rode two laps with the group and never saw them again after popping off the back the second time up the climb. Exploded was a better way to put it. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. In the Hurt Locker. The bag. Put the kibosh on that one. Chewing the stem. Biting the bullet. Knackered.

Some days ya got it, some days you don't. Back to the drawing board. Adios.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Germantown Race Report

Ohio Valley Spring Series Race #1


Dusted the cobwebs off the hog and blew out the legs today in the first installment of the 2010 Ohio Valley Spring Race Series in Germantown, OH. The weather-guessers had been forecasting Belgium-style weather, 50 degrees with an 80% chance of rain. This had the affect of scaring off a lot of guys, including myself. However, I decided yesterday afternoon to H.T.F.U. and signed up. I figured that after a winter of training in the shit weather of Cincinnati, a little rain couldn't hurt me, either.

We were only scheduled to race 51 miles (7 laps), can't be that hard, right? Right! Ha. The race started fast and furious, with attacks from the gun. I got caught up in a two man chase group behind a group of three that were up the road during the second lap. Didn't have the legs to hang, so I sat-up, went back to the pack before I was dropped, and tried to recover before the major move of the day came.

The move went down as we were approaching the start/finish at the end of lap 2. There was a stair-step climb on the approach and a group of eight rolled off the front. It wasn't really an attack, more like a split in the field. I was blown out at the time and watched it go.

The next lap was basically spent rolling around with the group and trying to recover from the earlier efforts of the race. I wasn't recovering that well and was actually thinking of calling it a day and heading to the car, but instead decided to try a do or die effort, rolling off the front just after the start of the 4th lap. The bunch was tired and let me go. Great, I thought. Half a lap later I saw O'Brian (OB) Forbes bridging up, so I slowed and let him catch on. For those who don't know, OB was known for years as The Man around the Cincinnati area, and is a multi-time state champion on the road. Nice guy, too! We spent the next four laps together and held off the rest of the bunch by about 45 seconds in the end, finishing up in the last two money spots in 9th and 10th, which was nice because I was suffering like a dog the entire time.



The best part of the day was that the rain held out until the drive home. That made my Tucson blood happy! Adios.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sports Business - Lots of Memories, and Debris, at Old Yankee Stadium - NYTimes.com

Maybe the United States is never meant to have the visual history of Europe? No Colosseums to visit 300 years from now. Progress tosses everything else by the wayside; if it's old, do we still need it? Does it make us a better society to tear down and replace or should we preserve and cherish? Thoughts? Adios.

Sports Business - Lots of Memories, and Debris, at Old Yankee Stadium - NYTimes.com

Monday, March 08, 2010

Winter Cross Training

Winter


As this has been my first real winter since 1998, I've been forced to mix things up a bit from my normal training routine. In a normal year, I usually have between 2500 and 3000 miles by now, and have been racing for almost a month. Now that I live in Cincinnati (which has had it's 5th snowiest winter on record), I've had a great opportunity to add in a variety of cross training to my normal routine. Running, XC skiing, weights, cyclocross, and yoga have all been key additions to my fitness regimen during the winter. Of these, I feel like I have gained the biggest benefit from following a weekly yoga practice at the YogahOMe studio.

Yoga


I have been attending a hot vinyasa class that has really helped me to focus my mind and develop much greater flexibility throughout my body. I can remember starting out back in November, and having to use blocks to support myself during certain poses. Tonight I realized that I was able to achieve those same positions unsupported, which brought a smile to my face. I've had a lot of nagging little aches and pains over the years, which I think were magnified by being a little to focused on cycling and not enough on overall body strength. It's good to visit one's weaknesses now and again to know what should be improved, as this can only serve to make one's strengths that much better.

First Century of 2010


Ok, it was really only 99.9 miles, but I'll count it anyway. We had some fantastic weather last weekend, which brought everyone out of hibernation and made the Sunday Ride the biggest of the year. I started out Sunday thinking century in the back of my mind, but wasn't entirely committed to the idea. Joined the group and was psyched to see at least 25 guys heading out on the longer loop. Things were going great until I snapped my rear derailer cable and had to spend 30 miles riding in the 11. Didn't matter though, I was feeling great and thankfully we were on the flats by then. Made it back to Milford and met up with Kelly at Bishop's Bikes., who set me up with a new cable. I made the change, then rode with the Bishop's crew back to Hyde Park, where I split off and finished up the remaining 25 miles solo. Fantastic day out, spring was in the air, and it was great to be turning the cranks with the sun on my face. Adios.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Sunday Post, Vol 1.1

Tucson Trip


I spent last weekend in Tucson, visiting friends and enjoying the sunshine. It was great to be back and had me questioning why I ever left. That place is truly an oasis in the desert, especially after spending the past two months dealing with freezing temperatures and lots of snow. I was able to borrow a Chorus equipped Colnago C40 from PT for the weekend, which made for some great riding. I mostly rode with Dan, and we were able to tackle two of the classic Tucson rides, Big Square and Mt. Lemmon. Kyle wasn't on Big Square, so I declared myself the sprint winner by default! The pic shown was taken at the Windy Point Vista at 6500ft.

A big part of my visit was to see Linnea and make an attempt to gain some closure to our relationship. I don't want to go into to much detail here, but when I left for home I felt like both of us are in a better place with the way things stand. It really sucks when you can't be with someone you love, but sometimes life gets in the way and this is one of those times. I wish her the best and hope that we can continue to remain friends.

Snow Days


Cincinnati was hit with nine inches of snow on Monday, which left us with about eighteen inches on the ground. I watched the news after flying in Tuesday evening and learned that this is the most snowfall on record for the 'Nati in February, and is currently the ninth heaviest winter on record. We might make the top five before winter is over.

The good thing about all this snow is that I can finally get a chance to dust off my XC skis! They were a Christmas present from my Dad in the late 90's. A great set of Fishers, but they have been collecting dust in MI since I left for Tucson in 2000. I took advantage of the snow and cut about a half-mile trail behind my apartment on Wednesday evening. It was tough work plowing through eighteen inches of snow, but worth it in the end. Got out again after work on Friday, but the weather had warmed and the conditions were rough. Probably done skiing for a while, as today temps were up to the mid-forties, but it was great while it lasted!

Twitter


Ok, I am officially a nerd. I have been experimenting with Twitter for a while now, mostly out of curiosity as to why so many people are using the service. I figure that I need to keep up with this stuff since I am in the industry. So check out my page and follow me if you like. I'm setting a short-term goal of picking up fifty followers, and then I'll go from there. Go here or just click on the link located on this page. Adios.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

State of the Union

I hate bots. And I think the blog has started to attract them. Bad sign when you have more bots then followers.

I hate colds. And I think that I might be attracting one of them also. Another bad sign. Might make an appointment with the doc on Monday to get something that will knock this out of me quick.

I do like women. Although these days I'm not attracting to many. Third Strike! Any suggestions?

On a positive note, my brother and Dad are coming down tomorrow for the Super Bowl. Colts win 35 - 24. Here's hoping it's a good one.

Stopped by BioWheels to talk to Mitch tonight and ended up hanging there for a while chatting over a couple beers. Lots of good news on the Cincinnati cyclocross front. Looks like Harbin Park is now one of eight UCI C1 races in the States for 2010, which should be great for the Cincinnati Cyclocross Weekend. 48 UCI races slated for 2010 in the States, I think five years ago there were less then ten.

Tucson in T-Minus 5 days. Can't wait to get there. Adios.