Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More ToAD Fun

This link was sent over by Dave Racine from Hampshire Cycling Club, a damn good racer!

Downer Classic Races Stopmotion from Sam Dodge on Vimeo.

More ToAD

I have really enjoyed the vZw videos that were made throughout ToAD last week. Here's the is the Downers video from last Saturday.

Tour of America's Dairyland: Tour 10 - The Downer Classic from Verizon Wireless u25 Cycling on Vimeo.

VzW Videos

Day 10 - Carl Zach Classic

And sometimes you don't have it!

The previous day I raced hard, and lets say I ignored recovery (its good enough for obama!)

On about the 3rd or 4th lap a rider crashed in front of me. I would have to chase again, fail!

I got popped, I got lapped twice, that hasn't happened in a while.

The field blew up and Drew took second in the field sprint for 6th. I crossed 25th. It was over 10 race 10 days. Wow!

Tomorrow i will post a look back at ToAD, a season goal accomplished. I am really proud of this accomplishment. Now where are my keys I keep losing them (see DZ quote)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 9 - Downers Avenue Classic

The previous night my teammate Matt rolled into town and on race day Drew arrived via Amtrak, it was good to have teammates to race with. At our level the value of teammates has less to do with tactics and more to do with motivation. So having some friends in the pack was a welcome change. When I arrived on the east side I saw some more familiar faces. It was nice to have xXx's John Wolthers, Iron Cycle's Ted Ramos and Adam and "the Doctor" from MS in the field as well as the regulars from the week Dave, Travis, Lionel, Nate, Jared, Craft, the iscorp army etc....

The course is fairly well know, its been a superweek course for a while. I had never raced the course, but I knew it was going to be tough. I had heard about "the corner". I knew with the weekend here fresh legs would attendance. I was going to have to work hard.

The race started with a quick jump from Travis, Lionel and an Iscorp rider. I was in no position to take a pull or follow an attack yet so I slotted in and tried to take the turns clean. I saw Drew was sitting up in the top ten, I knew when I saw an opportunity I should join him. The corner was interesting, everyone took it really slow so the hardest part was sprinting out of it. Some intresting lines were being used, but it wasn't as bad as expected.

On the 3rd lap I moved up to the front to take a pull and try to bring down the gap. I thought Travis had the talent to ride away from the field and with Lionel up there two anything was possible. So I took a pull and moved back into the pack. As we hit the back stretch I saw a rider jump to the left I jumped too. If we could bridge across we might really have something. And a small group would be able to navigate the turn much smoother than the nervous chasing pack. In all reality it wouldn't have stayed away but worth a shot. As we hit the third turn we were attacking, the other rider didn't give me a clean line. I was carrying a good bit of speed and I CHERUNDOLOED the turn. I adjusted my line didn't freak out and all was good. Had I went down I would have taken a great deal of the pack with me, I couldn't have that. As we came up the front stretch the pack latched onto my wheel. I felt a hand up on my hip (when i dip we dip you dip.....) I saw the tweety bird shoes and knew it was Adam. I pulled a little longer and then moved back in the field.

With about 13 laps to go as we came into the corner the rider in front of me touched wheels, he had no chance. He slid out right into my line. I threw my ass back and grabbed a hand full of breaks and remained clam. The corner was huge so I just kept going straight narrowly avoiding the sliding rider (do your wheel touch drills gentlemen). I saw the field sprinting away from me. I knew it was gut check time. I powered the bike up to another rider who was trying to catch back on. I knew primes were being handed out like epo on the fiesta bus so the pack would sprint and then slow. If I maintained a steady tempo I would be able to catch back on after a prime, hopefully. And that's just what happened. After a smooth two lap time trial I rejoined the field. I was happy to be back. I rolled up to Drew and said "lets chill here and head up with 5 to go" I drank some water and recovered. Drew moved up to limit the sprint out of the corner. With about 3 to go I tried to move up, but I just couldn't. The chase had really ended my chances that day and the previous 8 days of racing were beginning to take their toll.

The sprint looked pretty clean from my respective. I was within 25 meters of the winner, but that a big gap in a bike race. I gave it my best effort, but it wasn't enough. I finished a respectable 23rd, Drew was 7th and Matt hit a pole.  This was probably my second favorite crit race of the week, behind the Grafton Race. It was a great racing atmosphere. Only one more day, what was I going to do Monday?

I would like to thank my parents for hosting 5 members of the chicago racing community on Saturday night with only one working shower. Have you ever tried to get 6 racers through the shower starting at 1015 on a Saturday night? The morning pre-race breakfast will be something I will remember about this series. Four different teams bunked at my parents place, I think it says something about our community (xXX, CCC, Iron Cycles, Spidermonkey)

A blast from the past!

The Evolution of Cycling

ToAD - Day 7 Greenbush Road Race

So I learned something at ToAD, I prefer road races to crits. Its not that I don't enjoy riding in circles, I am just not great at it. I after ToAD I realize how important positioning is, without good positioning you can't have success. The hardest place for me to hold position is through turns. In road races there are fewer turns therefore I didn't drift back as much. Okay enough about what I leaned, and more about the race.

People kept telling me that "this year we are running the course backwards".  I didn't do this race in the previous year so that meant nothing to me. I hadn't scouted the course at all, not the elevation not where to turn. I knew the key for me today was to give max effort. I had some good prerace advice from a fellow chicago racing veteran that really helped, sorry that stays between us.

The course was a 9.8 mile loop with some nice rollers, not really steep but long. We would do 4 laps, about 40 miles. It was a 9:15 am start.

There were a bunch of fresh legs in the house including a strong Chicago crew including Captain Davey Jones, Gentleman John Wolthers of xXx, Sir Ted Ramos and Master Chase Negley of iron cycles as well as King Quentin Capista of Project 5, and others I have failed to mention. One of the things I like about the Chicago racing community is that when we are out of the state we seem to work together to dictate the race. I think its fair to say that in Greenbush we did just that . I would be re-missed if I failed to mention Travis Miller (Brazen Dropouts) the Leader of the overall and Dave Racine the two strongest veteran riders in the race who raced hard day after day. Not to mention the endless army of Wisconsin juniors that showed to throw down daily (there are so tiny yet so fast). So there was a strong field of 50 plus who took to the staging area.

The first lap was nerve racking with quick descents and weaving turns it was hard to anticipate what was about to happen in front of you. I tried to stick in the pack and learn the course. I felt like I was going to die, and quickly realized that I need to move up. I also noticed that there was about a three mile stretch with a strong cross wind. I noted this cross wind section would be a good place to move up if needed on the last lap. It seemed like Davey, John and Ted were all over the front during the first lap, Travis rode near the front as well. I knew this was that was the place to be.

On the second lap I used a steep hill climb right after the start finish to improve my position. I was now amongst the stronger riders. It calmed my nerve, these guys took good lines, kept the pace high and flew down the descents (max speed of 46 mph this day). And then I dropped a bottle, I cussed and thought that could be my race. I finished one bottle on lap 1 and threw it in the feed zone. So now I was down to one bottle of gatorade for the last 2 1/2 laps or more than 25 miles and it was warm. This was not ideal! I maintained my strong position throughout the lap and planned to move up and do some work on the third lap.

I need to note here that I did an excellent job of feeding throughout the race, 4 gels, one sleeve of shot blocks, a bottle of Gatorade and a 1 bottle of water. Not to mention a bunch of shot blocks on the start line.

Okay lap 3 I felt great! I was up front the whole lap, I even drove the pace for a while and at one point I looked back and saw a small gap and thought, this is the last place I want to be. I sat up and the pack rode back to my wheel and I continued my pull. At one point I draped my hands over the bars until I hit a tar strip which caused a serious pucker. As we came into the cross wind section I knew I wanted to hide out and get out of the wind. I moved back about 10 wheels and recovered. The key to this course was to recover on the back side so you could hammer it on the front side. We crossed the start finish and heard one to go.

I remained in good position going into the first right hand turn and then I started to realize how hard I had been working. I was struggling but the pace remained steady and I was okay. Then with about 6 miles to go an attack went off to the right, it was that dude from Matteson who's name escapes me at the moment. The field jumped but I couldn't. I spun as fast as I could to hold the back wheels as they flew past me. I was dangerous at this point, I rose my right hand moved to the back and rode my own pace. When I got close to the pack I rose from my saddle and attached myself to a wheel. I recovered until we hit the cross wind section, I then moved to the left and put my face in the wind. I passed about 20 guys and moved into about top 15 and latched on to King Quieten's wheel. I wanted to hold this position and move up to around top ten as we hit the final turn into the uphill finish. We flew through the bends that made up the back side of the course. We hit the base of the uphill finish as a group of about 20 or 30, we all jumped as we sprinted to the line. A group of about 15 of so crossed the line within 10 bike lengths and I crossed in 14th, by best ToAD result thus far.

I was proud of the way I raced. When I crossed the line I had nothing left, completely empty. I did a light spin with Dave Racine and we discussed just how exciting that race was. How much fun we had and how much we loved a good road race. This was racing bliss. Sure its great to win, but its also great to race.

"Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me." 
Tim Kabbe "The Rider"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

ToAD catch all

So heres a quick summary of whats been going on.

Day 6 - Waterloo - Great course, little hill, easy corners and smooth roads. The race was tame and attacks were rarely made, none successful. I was in better position than previous crits coming into the final hill but got stuck behind someone braking up (who does that) and crossed the line 18th - got some series points to add to Road America. This was a good race, but its becoming clear that I lose position in corners on a regular basis and that leads my inability to crack the top ten. Its something I need to focus on during my trips to Matteson.

Day 7 - Greenbush -  Hardest race I have ever done, I turned myself inside out to finish 14th in a pack uphill sprint. Great Chicago crew in the house 6 of the top 15 places. Great race, full report to come. More series points.

Day 8 - Fond Du Lac - Four corners, really short, really wide, really windy, really fast. Won a prime, dropped a chain in the last lap and crossed 25th (not excuses, just what happened but in bike racing you need to make things happen or you don't make statements.)

Day 9 - Downers Ave - Best racing atmosphere of the series. Interesting course, some would call it classic. Avoided a crash with 9 to go as the wheel in front of me tumbled to the ground (you shouldn't fall just cause you touch wheels, i am not saying i'm just saying). Chased back on over two laps and thought i was about to cough up blood from the effort. Early on I went to the front and did some work. Failed to hold good position and crossed 23rd. Drew got 7th.

Day 10 -- 12 hrs from now i will be racing my bike!

Friday, June 25, 2010

ToAD Day 5 - Sheboygan Crit

Okay I haven fallen behind on my race reports so this is going be short.

This was my first day racing without a teammate, the hardest part is now I have motivate myself. So I decided I would attack early and often. I would try to establish a break and I would commit to the break. If it didn't work and I got dropped so be it, I would drop out and start preparing for Waterloo.

So on the backside of lap 1 I attacked, some one came across with me and I was to cross the finish line on the first lap. Then we got caught, I attacked again and one of the IScorp jr's came across with me. This sort of stuff continued for the first 35 mins. I think I attacked or followed an attack 7 or 8 times in the start of the race. On my last lap it felt like everyone was trying to bridge to someone and after gettting out my aggression I couldnt grab a wheel. I rolled off the back, as I saw the judge on the back side of the course I gave the universal sign for "i'm done"

Now time to rest up for Waterloo.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Waterloo Cat 4/5: Tour of America's Dairyland

With a crash forcing me to abandon ToAD a little earlier than planned, I had some free time on my hands during the races...The video is a psuedo-one-lap recap of the Mens Cat4/5 ToAD stage in Waterloo today 6/23/10.


Monday, June 21, 2010

That might be the queen stage, ToAD Day 4 - Road America Road Race (maybe circut)

Today the ToAD pilgrimage took us to Elkhart Lake to the Famous Road America Race course. This was billed as a road race, I consider it a circuit race but who really cares. It was something different than what we had done the previous three days. The course was amazing, wide and perfectly smooth. It was super fast and some great uphills as well (180 ft f climbing, 8 laps, yikes!). The NASCAR nationwide series was in town to race on the track on the previous weekend and the smell of burned rubber was in the air.

Over the past couple days I have been super passive, I tail gunned and suffered from it. I vowed today would be different. After the race yesterday someone mentioned that I needed to be more aggressive. I had been called out, so from the start I tried to ride in the front of the group. I tried to make attacks, I tried to disrupt the best Cat 4's team I have seen in a while. With Bryan high in the overall I wanted to try to make the Brazen Dropouts work hard today. These guys have dominated the race and have the overall leader. So with a strong Chicago crew in the house today I took it upon my shoulders to be the work horse. I wanted to make them work up a couple hills and chase me at least once or twice.

The first couple laps were pretty uneventful, I rode in the top 10 or 15. I tried to make sure that I was ready to follow any attack and chase someone down if they started to get farther off the front than i thought was comfortable. I felt extremely focused and at ease. I climbed most of the hills out of my saddle, it was just more comfortable and the weight of the zipps made climbing significantly easier.

With 4 to go I sprung my first leg stretching attack, it was up the first short steep hill, I flew out of saddle and stomped up the hill, I was quickly rejoined by the pack. I allowed myself to get shuffled back to around Bryan and sit behind him to recover. With 2 to laps to go i repeated my attack from before. As we came up to the start finish for with 2 to go the pace got hot! The start/finish was on a long steep uphill, so I started to wrestle my bike (think cadel's mountain style) to hold my position in the front of the pack. A small group with some of the stronger riders had created a gap. I swung to the left and grabbed the wheel of John from xXx, a very comfortable wheel. He was sitting on Bryan's wheel and the Chicago train had been assembled with two to go.

As we approached the downhill we had closed the gap and I was finally able to relax. I recovered for a minute by John and Bryan and went back to the front to make sure the group stayed together, or at least that i was going with anyone who made a move. As we approached a flat section I moved off the front a little but was quickly pulled back (when I wagged my elbow I realized I was pulling the pack). The race remained together and slowed as the group seemed to acknowledge that this was going to come down to a mad dash up the the big hill to the finish on the last lap.

As we reached the base of the final climb I heard a crash and I saw Bryan hit the ground. It was now up to me. I tried to stay in my saddle as long as i could as this was a really long finish, advice i had seen for the fox river grove race. When the pain was too much I jumped out of my saddle and started passing people as I mashed my pedals to the finish. I finished strong but I had nothing left and in bike racing that is all you can ask. The official results said 17th, but i think  there were some mistakes, not worth the protest I was proud of my result and my aggressive racing.

Now the downside my teammate Bryan  broke his arm when someone came under his handle bars and crashed on top of him. So I am waving the spidermonkey flag solo till Friday so expect one aggressive racer.... i'm not saying, i'm just saying!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another day riding in circles, Appleton Crit

Today's adventure took us to Appleton Wisconsin for the third stage of ToAD.  The course was a classic four corner crit, very similar to Blue Island. It turned out to be a really face race (word on the street was about a 25 mph average); what it wasn't was an interesting race. By no means am I complaining about the course its just sometimes races are kind of boring.

Now here's what happened: First we turned left, then we turned left again, and again and again, then we crossed the start finish, we did this for about 50 mins, at high speeds, and we cornered well a nice change of pace from the previous two days. I continued my attempted to tail gun each lap, struggled on the last lap and wound up 34 out of 50 something. Bryan held his position mid pack all day crossing the line 16th. All and all good day and on to the road race tomorrow.

Highlights from today

1) Somewhere around lap 5 or 6 a old man walked into the middle of the course, and the field refused to slow. The man stayed out of the pack but I really thought he was going to walk right into the group and wreck each and everyone of us.

2) On the Giro Havik prime lap the announcer mentioned that it looked like Jared of xXx really wanted those glasses, he even said that he thought Jared should jump for the prime. As we came across the line Jared won the prime sprint.

Should have more to report later in the week.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Grafton Gone Wild

Friday's bike race wasn't very much fun in retrospect. I had a rough encounter involving a turn, a pedal, and some guys yard on turn 2. I only managed 2 points for the overall so hopefully today was going to be different.

Before the race I remembered why I had taken vacation time to race my bike: it’s a shit ton of fun. We listened to loud music on the way to the race, warmed up like we didn’t have a care in the world, and lined up determined to have fun. Turns out, the front is more fun than the back. Not because it’s easier, but because I get a more relaxed vibe when I can see the front of the field. So immediately, I went to the front.

With fifty minutes the going rate in ToAD, the first 20 minutes are about staying hydrated and relaxed. All the juniors can take the $20 coffee house primes and I’ll keep my matches for the sprint. After all, the overall is something I would enjoy…

The race went on and we all scurried around the course. I saw a few Chicago-mates in the group and was sure to hold their wheels. I never really let myself get below 20th during the race and settled in nicely with 8 laps to go.

4 lone wolves created a classic wolfpack and the group let them dangle until about 2 to go. The pace got hot and I stayed top 10 and let everyone else bring the break back, I stay tucked in knowing the wolves would be caught. I realized we had sucked up the last wolf with about a half lap remaining and I was sitting right behind yesterday’s 3rd place rider.

took the final turn in about 7th wheel and kept my head high through the turn to mark the riders ahead. 2 guys jumped way too early and a few of us let them lead us down the road. I saw my lane on the far left and went. I had a lot of ground to catch up and eventually threw my bike for 3rd

Thanks to the cheering section, always awesome hearing your name from the side.


Friday, June 18, 2010

ToAD day #1 - Thiensville Fiddleheads Coffee Criterium

These updates (lets call them race reports) may be a bit short but I am doing to try and do one of these for each of ten races over the next week and a half.

First race was in Thiensville which is more or less where i grew up (grew up in mequon but whats the difference right, just ask the people who live in mequon they will tell you) It was a pretty simple four corner crit. The field was about 45-50 deep, not racing a ton in Wisconsin many of the riders were unfamiliar, but I would expect by the end of the weekend its going to be clear whose wheel to follow.

The race started and I struggled to clip in (see every race report), the pace was brisk on this hot, hot Friday. I have recently been plagued with a crashing problem, as such my nerves are a mess and every turn seemed to be a slow dance around the curb. Followed by a extreme acceleration time and time again but thats crit racing isnt it? In turn two about 20 mins into the race my teammate was run off the road into a resident's yard. The resident arose from his chair and yelled "Get off my lawn!!!!" Okay so that didint happen but it makes for a better race report. He calmly regained his position within the pack about a lap later. The plan was to get Bryan a win today (he will also be a guest blogger throughout ToAD), but I couldn't do anything to help. It sucks when you have a plan and you can't execute.

The race was actually pretty boring, primes were again being handed out like condoms at a post prom party hosted by Mark Churma. (Thanks to Extreme Ski and Bike for the generosity with the primes)With 5 to go I really wanted to move up but found I couldn't. I need to overcome these nerves tomorrow. With 1 to go a small gap formed between myself and the pack, I regained my pack position going into turn 2 and I thought I could make a jump to the inside and help spring Bryan but I botched the turn and the rest was history, I rolled across with a poor showing (officially DNP). The good part is that I have another shot at the game tomorrow, and the next day and the next day... this is going to be a fun week or racing my bike.

Now I have to get some rest before I head over to watch the pros rip that course apart, chance of rain could add some intrigue, so if you are in the area come check it out; "I'm not saying I'm just saying!"

Thanks to today's cheering section, always good hearing your name.

ToAD Fiddleheads Coffee Sprint Finish

Here is some video I took from the finish of the Fiddleheads Pro Crit, part of ToAD.

A three man break was chased down with somewhere around 5 to go, attacks followed but a sprint finish was the result on this flat fast course taken by a guy from Aero-Cat who's name escapes me.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

10 days

You can do alot in ten days. You can watch the entire series’ of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm at least twice each, although you could end up finding yourself in constant three pronged hilarious situations. You could drive across the country two and half times. OR you could save all of your vacation time and race your bike in Wisconsin.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of an attempt. An attempt to conquer an inner deamon, almost inner burden of truth, the evil question of...could my body survive a stage race?

ToAD isn’t a stage race with the Big Boys like the Tour. But ToAD is still 10 races at my caliber for 10 straight days. I don’t have a full support squad, I don’t have a massage every day, but I like a good challenge.

Did those training blocks work? Did I get enough miles in? Did I forget my shoes? Who knows, who cares, and please God no…. Boogity Boogity Boogity, Lets Go Racin’!!


ToAD kickoff in shorewood and a win by Chicago's own...

Tonight marked the start of Tour of Americas Dairyland with the Shorewood Crit in lovely downtown Shorewood. Today was the only pro-only day of the entire series.

The course was more or less a four corner crit with an s like turn in turn 3. With strong representation from the bahati foundation team (featuring the afroed man pictured to the left) and kenda-geargrinder (inculding defending champ chad hartley) the pace looked fast. It helped that primes were being handed out like jello shots at a keg party.
Attacks went off time and time again, but nothing stuck, bahati himself even charged off the front a few times in the early stages of the race as you can see kenda followed each of his moves. With about 4 or 5 to go a break including chad hartley of kenda gear-grinder, ryan freund of vzw u25 (2010 calender cover boy) and some guy from south carolina or something like that (that guy didn't get much love from announcer so I don't know his story).

The break containing freund and hartley (less the dude from SC) remained off the front as they came around the final corner. Chasing behind them was hard charging field including a hungry bahati (I mean that team needs all the cash it can get). Freund held off Hartley in a one up sprint for the win with Bahati rounding out the podium by taking the field sprint.

Exciting racing all night, pretty cool to see some of the guys that I race with on tuesdays out at matteson swinging with some of the best crit racers around.

Till tomorrow where the when the fun starts for me! That's right tomorrow I start my Tour of Americas Dairyland and ten days of racing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Melon City Cat 4 Race Report (from the sidelines)

After a missed line on the down hill at the Snake the previous day I was in no condition to race the following day at the Melon City Crit, its a shame the course would have been good for me. So instead of racing i thought i would shoot the race and put together a race report for you all (thats y'all to my kansas friends) to watch, hope you enjoy what i put together. Oh and if you like the song check out Broken Bells (dj Dangermouse and the guy from the Shins) its a excellent album!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Melon City Cat 4's Getting Air!

Melon City Women;'s 3/4 finish

Congrats the Cat 4 Snake winner Ryan Fay

The awards for winning the snake are a stuffed snake a brick and cold hard cash, you earned them Ryan.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry