Thursday, July 27, 2006

No Soup for You!

My body isn't happy with me right now. I pulled the plug after completing 2 of 3 laps in today's race. All systems were beginning to shut down just like 80 miles into the race yesterday. I've had a sore throat with occasional cough since Mon. evening, but the kicker was the constant achiness and lack of energy. Time to shut it down and let the recovery begin. The King brothers are both still sitting good on GC so that will be the focus for the rest of the race. I will now turn into soigneur extradinaire and help out where I can - but I don't do massages, so don't ask.
Hey - for all of you Priority Health Faithfuls, there will be a friends and family team gear order going through if you would like to get your hands on some sweet team goodies. We have bibs, jerseys, t-shirts (3 colors), fleeces, hooded sweatshirts, ball caps, polo shirts, 3 season jackets, knit beanies, gear bags and even foldup chairs all for sale if you so desire. Prices aren't stellar but they're not too steep so send me an email or a comment if you're interested. The order is supposed to go in Sun. night so you'll have to act fast (sounds like a shady car dealership). Sorry that the online store has taken so long but this just goes to show you that constant complaining really does get results.
I forgot my camera on this trip but I'll try to borrow one so I can get some hot race action photos in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Eddy w/ a side of Toona

Hi All,
a lot of you have asked me how Eddy is doing and I thought I'd just post the email that he sent us last week (with his permission) for you all to see for yourself:
hey boys,

dang, you guys have been rockin', way to tear it up! that sweet article, Brentmaster general - holy sweet ride, Zirbel, you've come SO far, i mean attacking the biggest names in US cycling and winning - Tommy ALMOST getting the win - i love it:) i appreciate the back and forth emails and phone chats, it's been great keeping in touch w/ several of you lately.

i thought a little overall update would be helpful... Carlee and the kiddies are doing wonderful, lots of time together as a family these past few weeks. We've had more time with friends and my family coming to town in 3 different incredments than I can remember. our business is coming along nicely, i've had more time to market, advertise and devleop a t-shirt line, which is due to come out this fall.

the pelvis healed quite quickly for normal day to day stuff, whereas getting on the bike has been a bit slower. i guess i had grand visions of returning quickly since it healed so quickly for every day walking around. i had some nasty times, a bit of depression i think, not too bad but not being active for 3-4 weeks was tough. it's not like just taking time off and then hopping back on. i don't say that as a pity party, just for those of you who may get injured in the future... i've been told it is a physiological response when athletes are so used to getting that endophin and adrenalin rush. i know that's true, but it sucked nonetheless:)

i got my longest ride in this weekend - a whopping 2 hrs. i pushed it a bit too much, and had to take sunday off b/c my back was tweaked a little.

well, thanks for the extra motivation of doing well and things coming together as a team. I don't know when I'll be back to racing with you guys, as Frank and I are taking it a day at a time. i look forward to supporting you guys when I do get back.

rest well before Toona, for those of you doing it, and have a blast!

Eddy Hilger
Priority Health Pro Cycling Team
VP Hilger Higher Learning

As far as Toona, things are going alright so far. We all stayed upright in the technical TT course which was good. And the showdown between Sheeds and I to be known as the team "Prologue Specialist" went to....Teddy King actually. Nice ride, dude! Yesterday was a hectic bunch finish which I wanted no part in but Teddy, Glen, Tommy, and Robbie did a good job of finding position and setting up Robbie for a good finish. Today will be the first real GC mixup with 2 big climbs in the middle of a 95 mile death march during the hottest part of the day. Wish I could say that I'm ready to unleash, but the truth is that I'm feeling pretty sick and I'm not sure how my body is going to react to the effort. Either way, our team is deep enough and strong enough that we should have at least 2 guys in the front group. Should be interesting...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


These last 2 weeks have been quite the blur. A lot of good times, memories and results but hectic and busy nonetheless. Two weekends ago we headed to Clear Lake for the BBB festival and had an awesome time. Did a lot of autographs, interviews, and other silliness but had time to enjoy time with friends and family and fellowship with other riders, too. The race ended up well but was a little stressful at times! Even though there were only 25 or so guys on the start line, every one of them wanted to take it to me and so followed my every move as long as they could. I had 2 allies in the race who helped me bring back a solo break close enough where I could bridge without too much effort and then 3 of us rotated through the last 20 miles before I attacked to come in solo about 2 miles from the finish. Thanks for your help, Lee! Even though victory was not assured until the last part, I knew that my legs were coming around and would be feeling good for Cascade. So, after the race Kira and I flew back to Boulder and then I jumped in a car Mon. morning with Scott and headed to Bend, OR for one of the most scenic and challenging stage races the country has to offer. During the first stage, my legs felt incredibly good and so it was mucho frustrating when I reverted to my old ways and filtered to the back of the pack just before the decisive left turn into the crosswinds. The peloton quickly shattered after the big teams worked together to drill it at the front and form an efficient echelon. I was caught back in the third group with about a 40-60s separating each group. I was able to bridge to the second group at about 5k to go and then tried to recover before the steep 1.2k climb to finish the stage. I finished over 2 minutes back and just like that a podium gc finish was likely out of reach. So, our focus changed to stage wins. From that point on, Glen along with Omer, Jonny, and Ian worked flawlessly to help me reach the decisive points in the stages in good position as fresh as possible. It all worked perfectly on Stage 2 as I was dropped off in the front group on the final climb and was able to attack solo with 1500m to go for the win. My missing the front group the day before helped me get a gap before the heavy hitters chased. That was just enough to hold on for the victory. It is the biggest win of my career and I was so thrilled that it was a total team effort to achieve the result. There are great photos on the Cascade website that do a good job of documenting the guys on the front of the race drilling it to whittle down the field and catch the break. The picture of me crossing the line was good except for that I did not feel like I had time to zip my jersey (so un-pro) and the way that the sun is hitting my helmet makes it look like I have my tongue hanging out. I have been catching a hard time about that one! The rest of the race went well with a good result in the TT and a bunch sprint win in the circuit race. The only disappointment being dropped on the final climb of stage 3. Mr. Nydam showed his mettle with a gutsy breakaway on the final day to snatch the KOM jersey and sneak by me in the gc. I will get you next time you sneaky rat! So, overall, a very thrilling and successful race. Plus, our host family (Robert and Terri)lived in the most beautiful home in all of Bend with stellar views of the Cascades from the deck. They were big-time cycling fans as well. Nice job with the hookup, Omer. After the race, Scott and I hopped into the Toyota once and again made the trek back to Boulder - braving the 90+ heat without ac was almost as tough as sticking with the best climbers in the country in the Cascades. So now it's Toona time where I will be reunited with the full squad (minus Brent whose in Europe and Eddy who is still getting back into things after his crash). It should be a fun, hard race. I'm excited to be lining up with my team again. Thank you for all the congratulatory calls, emails, texts, and blog comments. They all mean a lot. Sorry for the novel, but that was an eventful 2 weeks!
Taking a moment to stretch during a hectic autograph session in CL (I'm the one in the middle, not on the right)

Russ Rayburn of Lakeside Cyclery making my bike race ready for the big hometown race (after 9pm on Fri. night, by the way)

Enjoying some BBQ with the fam at the Clear Lake festival post-race.

An Oregon sunset from the deck of our host family's house

Thursday, July 06, 2006


So, when Tour de Nez was all said and done, 3 top 5 finishes including a stage win, top 10s in every race, and 3 in the top 20 overall. A good outing for Priority Health, I'd say. Letting the country know that we're just getting started (dramatics), the boys at Fitchburg got our 2nd NRC stage win of the year, held the leader's jersey for a day, again placed top 10 in every stage, and had a 5th and 6th in the overall. Great job, fellas! Next, Brent will vie for 2 U23 National Championships in the road race (with help from Frodo, Birdman, and Stewie) and the TT on Mon. and Wed. of next week. Kick some espoir tail, Brent!

Well, after having my first weekend off of racing since mid-April you would think I would be feeling as fresh as daisies, but that just hasn't been the case. Between recovering from that Tour de Nez crash, having a bout of food poisoning, traveling to a family reunion, and attempting to fix my bikes - it seems like I've been missing out on the recharge aspect of being home. Ah well, I'm starting to get my bearings (and my apetite) again just in time to fly back to the homeland of Clear Lake, IA for a hometown bike race. The promoter of the race Tim Putnam raised enough money for me to fly back for the weekend to race and help promote the sport in the area. It should turn out to be a fun trip with many activities packed into a short amount of time. The festival can be found here. A big thanks to Tim for making it possible for me to take part in the festivities. And Kira will be coming with me to meet some more family and friends - yippee! After the Sun. race, it's quick fly back to Boulder, so I can jump in a car with Scott and head to Oregon for Cascade starting on Wed. I'll be racing with Glen, along with 3 guys from Team Axley whom we met at Tour de Nez. It'll be a fun, hard race. And it's the only NRC race that I did last year - so that'll give me an upper hand, right?
For those of you who think Sheeds is a nice guy, look at this picture. This is the face of someone who will rip your legs off at every opportunity and put you into the curb at a moment's notice. (pic pirated from

Allstar sponsor Lance of Sinclair Imports (far left) who provide us with our beautiful steeds, treating us like ProTour riders at Nez. Yeah, that's a stretch limo. Reno in the background.

This was the extent of my training last weekend at the family reunion. Pretty intense stuff. I should be prepared for the next round of racing.