Monday, September 28, 2009


I'm at home now in day 3 of offseason and loving every moment. I walked up and down a flight of stairs like 5 times throughout the day yesterday so that was pretty taxing. The hard thing about offseason is that I sometimes forget to shower because I'm not working out. It's tough. And how much coffee is too much? At what point does it become obsessive and where I probably need an Intervention?
Anyway, Worlds was fun. It's nice to go into a race with low pressure, modest expectations and surprise myself. Of course, that can only happen once because the next time I go will expect a medal from myself, but I enjoyed this experience and I'm not dwelling on the fact that I was relatively close to earning hardware. (Or am I?)
And to the family of the bee who stung me during the 2nd lap of the race: Your brother suffered a horrible death and the anger he induced only made me go faster. And sorry about my appearance while crossing the finish line. They should have had a warning of some sort for children and sensitive viewers.
So, thanks for following Bissell and myself along this season and for all the positive vibes and encouraging messages throughout. I may actually (I can't believe I'm saying this) have to start Facebook or Twitter or some crap in order to better stay connected to friends and family next year while over the pond. Ugh.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


We have a Gold! I use the term "we" loosely.
Just think of how much faster I'll be thanks to Tejay using my head as a platform to express his artistic voice. (sorry HB)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


So I got into Switzerland a few days early for the World Champs TT on Sun. The race is on Thurs. so the idea was to get settled and used to the time difference. However, I had a tight connection in Atlanta en route to Milan, Italy which was made even tighter by a 15 min. delay that resulted in me sprinting through the terminals in Atlanta in order to make my flight. Well, I made it - in no small part due to my extensive running background - but my bag and bike did not. We had to go back to the airport the next day (mon.) and retrieve my belongings. Do you suppose that I'll get any of the $300 dollars I paid to Delta to transport my bike??? BTW, if you have a choice - don't fly Delta. $300 each way for traveling w/ a bike internationally is a bit excessive I'd say. I think they deserve a boycott. Anyway, back to positives - the hotel and area that we are staying in Switzerland is AMAZING! It is so beautiful that my vocabulary is not sufficient to describe it. We are on a lake (lago di lugano) that is surrounded by mountains and small swiss townships. Except we are also next to this little area of land that is owned by Italy (Campione). It is quite the area and the hotel we are staying at is pretty cool too. It's not super fancy but the real estate, service and food are all top notch.
Oh and about the race: I've ridden the course 4 times so far. It's pretty straight forward - very few turns that require thought and/or brakes. It's got one little ring climb in it (but we do 3 laps) and a couple of fast corners but otherwise you can get into a pretty good rhythem. Today is the first day I've felt good so I'm starting to get excited. The weather has been picturesque so far but there could always be rain in this area. And I rode the road course as well and I have to say I'm a little relieved I'm not doing it. It's a 15k circuit with punchy climbs and single-file narrow, windy descents through town. Very good for Bizarro-Zirbel. Okay gotta go. Ciao.
the view from the our hotel

also taken from the hotel, that little town is Lugano

this is the view from the other side of the lake. In the lower right somewhere is the hotel we're staying at. And it's not hazy, the crummy cameraman just doesn't know how to reduce glare.

And here is the entrance to Campione, 2 sq miles of Italy surrounded by Switzerland which is also right outside our hotel (we're on the swiss side).

And this is a Swiss slug making its way across cobbles. It's hard being a slug.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

50k to go

Tour of Missouri is over and done with. And as easy as the first 4 days were - the last 3 days were brutally hard. Bissell had a good tour, finishing 4th on GC and 2nd in the team's classification. A podium in GC would have been nice, but let's put it in perspective: the bus that Columbia-HTC drives around probably costs more than our entire team budget. I am proud of the way our guys rode last week. It was a great way to end the season and a good last race for me donning the Bissell colors.
I just found out on Monday that I have 49.8km left to do this season. And I'll be doing it in Mendrisio, Switzerland wearing a USA skinsuit against the best in the world. Pretty exciting. I'm hoping that I can represent well and justify my nomination.
We had a mini Clear Lake High School reunion in Missouri this week. In all, I had 9 friends and family who made the trek from Iowa for the race. Thank you! pic courtesy of Jody - who may just get the nod as the #1 Superfan. ;-)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Today's Lesson

No matter how hard you're going, always keep your eyes up when you're sprinting. The lesson occurs around 8 min. into the video.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The 2nd step...

...of the podium
2nd - Nature Valley GC
2nd - USPro TT
3rd - Fitchburg-Longsjo GC
2nd - Redlands Classic GC
7th - Tour of California St. 5 TT
2nd - Tour de San Luis st. 3 TT
3rd - Tour of Elk Grove GC
2nd - Tour of the Gila st.3 TT
2nd - KOM at Philly
10th - Tour of Utah Prologue

It was difficult to write down these results and it's difficult to look at them. My top 10 failures and shortcomings racing this year are there for everyone to see. The top 3 particularly evoke a sick feeling in my stomach just looking at them. After each one of those first 3 results listed, I remember thinking how teaching high school chemistry or working in a research lab wouldn't (COULDN'T) possibly be as painful as what I was feeling at the time. All that I knew is that I never wanted to feel like that again - and the safest way (so the logic in my head goes) is to find a new line of work. Of course, it doesn't take long to come to my senses and remember that I'm living my dream job and there's no way that I could willingly give it up. So the only choice is to work harder, learn from my mistakes, and make sure it doesn't happen again....but it will. I will always have soul-crushing disappointments in this sport as long as I'm racing at this level. The trick is to let them go. This year has been a lesson in recovering from failures. People may look at my season and see the (apparent) Individual NRC title, all the TT wins, all the GC podiums and say it was a dream season. I will look back at this season and remember how I let my team down by losing the GC lead on the last day in dramatic fashion in both the Nature Valley GP and the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic. I'll remember how it wasn't me pulling on the stars and stripes jersey on the podium after the USPro TT. I'll remember how I had to ship off 8-10 leader's jerseys to different family, friends, and sponsors because I couldn't stand the sight of them and didn't want them in my house as none of them were from the last day of the race.
This is not to say that I dwell on the negative. I'll certainly remember the moments on the top step as well. I'll keep in mind that since turning pro, my final NRC placings have been: 2006 - 47th, 2007 - 104th, 2008 - 54th. And looking back, I'll be proud of how Bissell came together throughout the year and scrapped for every point possible to earn the Individual NRC title by a mere 7 points! Because let's be honest, what is more indicative of a "Team" title? Is it the Teams classification where you score the most points by placing 3rd, 5th, and 6th rather than just 1st? Or is it the individual standings where the entire team sacrifices their races for 1 person's placing? I believe it's the latter. That's why I am so happy that Bissell was rewarded with the #1 spot in the Individual NRC standings. I time trialed well, but the team slayed themselves for my podium finishes. Without that commitment and sacrifice, I'd currently be 3rd at best in the standings. I believe that WE (the riders, staff, and sponsors) deserve that title.
So, I'm planning on using all these rollercoaster experiences to help me keep an even keel during next year's adventures and challenges. Because some may think the stakes go up next year racing at a higher level, but I don't believe that to be true. You can be just as exhilerated (or devastated) by a small local race with 18 starters and a few parents and girlfriends watching as you can by a prestigious NRC race with deafening crowd noise. It all depends on INTERNAL drive, motivation, and goal setting and has very little to do with the number of fans present, prize money, or number of countries providing live video streaming.
BUT FIRST!!! We have unfinished business at the Tour of Missouri next week where last year I learned some valuble lessons about being a pro. In last year's edition, I was so cracked mentally and physically from the season that my attitude was a joke and when I found myself as the only GC guy on the team after getting in the decisive break, I fell apart in the last 3 stages and went from 6th to like 15th because of stupid mistakes and general unprofessionalism. Moral of the story: SUCK IT UP PANSY-BOY!!! And ride like you're capable no matter how much you hate your bike at the time.
FTR: I do not currently hate my bike and am looking forward to smashing some stinky Euro-trash next week. :)
Sorry for the length (of course it's your choice to read my heartfelt ramblings, not mine) but it's an emotional day for me. I've already had 20 or so congratulatory emails, calls, and texts today. Oh, and I peed in a cup for some USADA reps this morning too after we watched the end of the Vuelta stage. They come over to visit so often that we're on a first name basis. All this before noon - Big day!