Friday, June 23, 2006

Rollercoaster ride, anyone?

Ah, the joys of bike racing. I had about 8 hours today to bask in the joy of our first NRC win this year before I found myself dazed, tangled with my bike on the ground, missing over a square foot of skin. Shit. I feel like a manic depressive. I had a rear blowout mid turn. But let's focus on the positives: I got to wear a leader's jersey in an NRC race for about 25 min. or so. Anyway, I'm planning on starting tomorrow. I should be lighter considering all the skin I donated to the pavement tonight so the climbs should go well.
In other news: my girlfriend can now legally buy an alcoholic beverage. Suck it, Betts! Happy Birthday, Kiks. I wish I were there.

pop quiz: Today's crash makes how many total in 2006 for me? so far, anyway :)
Bonus points if you can name the races.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Not Infiniment Bon...but good.

Okay, okay - a little behind on the updates, but (no readily available internet access) + (no surplus energy for anything other than lifting a feeding utensil to my mouth) = (no blogging updates). Some good racing has transpired since Lancaster. Philly went well with everyone on the team making it at least 2/3 through the race (which is an accomplishment in itself) and Glen and Brent making the final selection. Glen (always the crowd pleaser), made me cheer ballistically with 2 solo attacks off the front in the final 3 circuits of the race. Pretty exciting stuff. The atmosphere was so incredible at Philly with something like 200,000 people along the course. Unfortunately, Brent continued his crashing streak when he got tangled up in the last 200m, but Glen finished in the top 20 in the most prestigious one day race in North America.
2 hours later, we hopped in the van and headed for the border. We pulled into St. Georges, Quebec on Tues. afternoon and it didn't take me long to realize that the Tour de Beauce was going to be the biggest, hardest, and most professionally run race that I've ever competed in. Everything was tip top: the venues, media coverage, officiating, competition, and most importantly the meals. We ate like King Bros. all week.
Stage 1 started off pretty rough for the team because everyone was smashed after Philly except me, and I just happened to have all the shit happen to me on that first day. In the last half of the race, I had 2 flats and then had a loose crank arm that forced me to get off my bike and have it tightened 3 different times. Faulty bolt or something. Bad luck combined with bad timing. Anyway, my GC hopes were over so the focus shifted to helping Teddy and Brent in GC and getting stage results, if possible.
Stage 2 was the hardest of the race for me because Glen and I got in a break of 18 riders early on and tried to hold out as long as possible. Glen was still feeling crummy and so he did all the work for me so that I could sit on as much as possible and hopefully take it to the line. It wasn't to be though, as I got popped on the last KOM with like 20 miles to go in the race. There were 7 of us at that time, and the remaining 6 dudes finished with a 2 min. gap on the field. Bummer.
During the TT, I was allowed to give it my all and I managed a fair result which I was content with. However, I realized that those first 3 GC riders are in a different league right now and I have a ways to go to be at that level.
Stage 3, 5, and 6 were basically the same for me: try to keep Brent out of trouble and into the climbs in as good position as possible so he can keep that red jersey (which signifies the best under age 23 rider) on his back. I don't know if I actually did much good for Brent, but I know it helped me to ride in good position for the race and work as a unit with my teammates. It was a great experience for me in that regard. And it was inspiring to see Brent gut out some good performances in those first 3 days while having terrible legs. It took a lot of toughness and grit. Teddy and Brian rode very well, too. Those dudes are both getting stronger every week so it should be fun to see how Fitchburg and beyond goes. The team support was absolutely phenomenal at Beauce. We had a sougnier for the first time all season in Jo, which was fantastic. Plus, she made us feel important because all the other teams were constantly asking about her, taking pictures with her, or giving her flowers :) In addition, Mark, Ben, and Kate were there to take care of us as well. It takes a lot of motivated and organized people to keep a team running smoothly at a race as big as Beauce and they pulled it off without a hitch.
All in all, we had a shaky start but finished well with several top 10 stage placings and we came home with a jersey in the 3rd biggest stage race in North America. It's hard to be disappointed with that.
Right now I'm in Reno, NV getting ready to partake in the Tour de Nez omnium starting Thursday. I'm excited and am expecting my legs to be fully recovered from the 20+ hours of racing last week. Jake, Robbie, Tommy, and Glen will be joining me for the racing fun. And now, muchas picturas:
Brian coming up Lemon Hill in Philly - notice the crowd and this wasn't anywhere near the finish
This was the finishing straight at Philly when the final 32 riders were coming through (containing Glen and Brent)
There were a lot of beautifully ornate churches in Quebec and nice weather too - this was at the start of stage 2 (with Easton wheels showing for crafty product placement)
Glen improving team morale with chamois cream before stage 2
le Brent Bookwalta - Priority Health...ADVANTAGE BENEFITS!!! (must be said in deep voiced, loud, French accent)
this was Ben's ultimo pack job fitting 2 bikes in one bike box - keep in mind that these are my Sasquatch frames, not one of my wee teammate's.
This week's "poor me" picture: 22 hours of traveling yesterday with over 9 hours of it with exactly this much space. Next time you wish you were taller, instead wonder what it feels like to have your knees disappear into the back of the dude's chair in front of you on a plane. Message to the kids: don't drink your milk, drink coffee instead. Who wants to be 6'5" anyway?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rough Week

Wow. I'm sorry that I complained about how poorly Captech went for us because now I realize how bad things can get. At least at Captech we all stayed upright and left with our bodies still intact. At the CSC Invite, we weren't so fortunate. Worst for the team was the loss of Eddy from the racing scene for a few weeks at the least. Eddy went down hard midway through the race and broke his pelvis. His spirits were good that night (considering how much pain he was in) and knowing Eddy, he will do everything in his power to be back on his bike riding in less than the 6 weeks that the doctor predicted. Our other ER visitor that day was Richie who suffered a gash on his chin from a crash with 6 laps or so to go in the race. Richie ended up with 14 stitches but was otherwise feeling okay and decided to sit out Lancaster for a couple more days to heal and recoup. Crash #3 came courtesy of Brent Meister General who was killing it in a 3 man break when something caused him to slide out on a corner. Brent hit his knee hard and got some scrapes on his face and wasn't able to continue either. A rough day indeed for the Priority Health squad. Robbie continued his dazzling form with an 11th place finish and Teddy gutted out a 23rd place after covering a ton of moves early in the race.
So, by default, I was on the Lancaster roster and raced a good 2-3 minutes before I got caught up in a crash and landed hard on my toosh. Bummer for me, as the pace was so high that I wasn't able to catch back on and my race was over after 2 laps of time trialing in vain. Robbie, Brent, Teddy, and Tommy all finished with Robbie in the lead group and Brent 1 min. back after suffering a slight mechanical on the last lap. Another super hard race from the start to the end where finishing is an accomplishment in itself. Reading is on Thursday and probably won't be any easier so it's time to put these races behind us and suck it up. No excuses, we can race better than this.
Enough of this - it's picture time!
Cool one of Brent on a corner while in the break at CSC

Teddy working hard in the early going at CSC
Robbie getting a feed from Ben during Lancaster
Team ride in Amish Country
Intercourse, PA (no joke) where we're staying this week. These Amish carrying buggies zip by every 5 minutes or so. Kinda cool.
The team is sporting new Ergomo powermeters (lower right), but they just don't compare to Glen's ultralight super power meter that includes everything that we have plus Seinfeld episodes, a mobile phone and more! (upper left)

Here is an article in the Richmond newspaper after CapTech - needs no explanation.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mulligan, please

Is that the word I want? Isn't that the term in golf for when you slice your tee shot into the drink and you want a "do over"? You just pretend that the shot never happened and try it again. Well, that's what Captech is for us. I think we're allowed 1 or 2 mulligans per year - and this was one of them. Everyone save Robbie had a crummy race and we're not really sure why. I was disgusted with how fast I was popped off the group, but I'm not going to dwell on it. Robbie did an awesome job sticking with the group in what many say is the toughest crit of the year. Even though he started cramping bad with 4 laps to go or so, he hung tough and finished the race.
Moving on:
CSC today and Lancaster tomorrow. I've been told these are hella-fast races and should be fun to watch. The guys are looking for some redemption and are ready to suffer. I will be racing Reading on Wed. but will not be racing Philly next Sun. Instead, I will be racing a 9mi TT on Sat. and resting up for Beauce. I can't wait to get out there - you're only as good as your last race, right? :)