Albany Crit Pics

Sitting behind Joel

Chris and I

Cat 4 Life Cycle at the front, prepared to dominate.

Chris stealing someone’s wheel.

Look closely.  Ohhhh HI, Tony! No handlebars.

LC represent.

The boys controlling the pace.

Sam and Tony off the front.

Sam at the wheel pit.

Tony trying to act cool.  But failing.

I took these photos from Ivar Vong, John Wilson, Derek Newell, and David Wells.

Albany Crit

Before I write about the crit last Sunday, I want to share a couple conclusions that I came to this weekend.

#1 I hate Big Town Hero sandwiches. They are disgusting, unless you’re the type of person who enjoys limp iceberg lettuce saturated in mayonnaise, lathered onto a tasteless piece of soggy bread, and topped off with sweaty cheese and room-temperature meat. I ate a terrible roast beef Big Town Hero sandwich about 4 hours before the Albany crit and I could feel it turning over in my stomach well past 8PM. And I had terribly loose bowl movements that night too. If you ever think about eating at Big Town Hero, be prepared to spend some serious time on a toilet.

#2 Chris Swan and I were meant to be on the same team. After talking with him on Saturday, it turns out our cycling pasts over the last couple years have been eerily similar. For one, we both had the same OBRA number our first year of racing. We both got 58th place in collegiate nationals (him in 2006 and me in 2008). We both had trek 2200s for our first road bikes. And to top it all off, during this conversation we were having while watching the cat 4 Rehearsal race, I discovered that we both were using the same Fred Meyer plastic bags for holding our post-race food.

#3 I know I had a third conclusion but I forgot what it was.

Before heading down to Corvallis to stay at Tony’s sister’s house, Tony and I stopped off at my parent’s house to scrounge for more food, where we ate our fill of hamburgers and salad. We also stole a bunch of other food from the pantry, which has sadly all been eaten already. During dinner, I thought it would be a good idea to show my parents and their neighbors (who were over for dinner) the music video for the song “No Handlebars” by the Flobots. It’s pretty cool; check it out here.

After dinner, we drove down to Corvallis to sleep at Tony’s sister’s place (it won’t be the last time I sleep over there). Oh snap!!

The Race:

The gun went off (there actually was no gun) at 4:15 under some menacing-looking dark grey clouds. I had been waiting around at the course, crossing my fingers for dry pavement, since 10:00, so I was very ready to get on with the race.

Amazingly enough, I had lined up near the front for once and got clipped in immediately. I spent the first five minutes near the front and took a couple pulls, then slid back into the pack a bit. The course had 7 corners, all of which were clean. It was a fast, flat course, and the 40 riders (I’m guessing since the results don’t show everyone in the race) were eager to pull hard.

Breaks began to go off, but nothing seemed to stick. Rubicon sat at the front and chased everything down. Including their own guys (no surprise there). I moved back towards the front after about 10 minutes of wheel-sucking in the rear, and began attacking. A number of breaks I was in contained Rubicon riders, but none of my attempts turned into anything worthwhile.

About 45 minutes into the75-minute race, I managed to get away with a Rubicon guy. We traded pulls for 3 laps before he fell off my wheel. But Mark Hibard had bridged up to us a couple laps earlier, and was willing to work with me. So it was the two, team-less riders off the front for another 3 laps. We built up a decent gap, but were reeled back before we got too far off.

Chris Swan and I broke away a bunch of times too, and it would have been sweet to win with Chris, especially since he didn’t have any teammates either. But the damn yellow Rubicon lads were relentless. Unless they were treating the crit like a workout, their strategy didn’t pay off in the end, seeing that they didn’t place even one of their 8 riders in the top 10.

With 9 laps to go, I stopped being so aggressive, and just sat in the pack. Conserving and waiting. I held a good position throughout, sitting between top 10 and top 15. But with 3 laps to go I lost my spot and 15 people came by me. From then on, it was difficult to get up to the front. I didn’t want to be in the top 5 because I thought that would have been too far up (in hindsight it would have been great). So I tried to maintain top 10, which is where everyone else wanted to be also. I would pass 5 people on the right, only to have five other people pass me on the left. I ended up with a shitty position coming into the last corner and sprinted to 13th place. The sprint master, Nick Skenzick, took first.

I was very happy with my performance this weekend and during the crit, even though my result sucked. It was the first crit that I have done this year where I felt aggressive, in control, and fairly competent in the corners (although there are probably people who were behind me that disagree). This is how I felt during cat 3 crits my first year–strong. Before Albany, my crit racing has been terrible all year. I had poor performances in the collegiate crits as well as the Willamette Planning Mill crit. Now I’m actually looking forward to the next one: either Firecracker or Swan Island. I’ll have pictures posted of the crit once some teammates send them to me.


Rehearsal RR

This is going to be a long one.

I prepared for bad weather as I packed my cycling gear on Friday morning. After a quick ride and last minute bike tune ups at Life Cycle, Tony and I drove up to Sherwood to stay with my family the night before the race, which allowed us to sleep in an extra two hours the next morning. And more importantly: free food.

We got up to Sherwood at around 7pm, right when dinner was ready. But we had to take a quick tour of my dad’s vegetable garden first. He was weeding the rows of produce in flip flops. I probably shouldn’t call it a vegetable garden because the term “vegetable garden” leaves most people to believe that there are multiple things being grown. What my dad was actually weeding was one of the many garlic gardens dispersed around the one-acre lot. For some reason, instead of growing the normal crop of corn, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, and such, he decided to just grow garlic this year. He planted 2,000 garlic plants, each yielding 5 to 10 cloves of garlic. No, my dad did not just escape an insane asylum.

My mom made us steak and potatoes; the break from my pasta diet was great. I can barely stomach the sight of tomato sauce or penne pasta these days.

The next morning turned out to be a nice, sunny day. It eventually got fairly hot, and my two water bottles weren’t quite enough. It was stupid of me to not have one of my cat 4 teammates feed me water during the race.


I can’t remember the exact details, teams, or order of events in this race. But this is what I think happened.

We started at 10AM and I was planning on attacking hard, right from the beginning. A lot of other people had that plan too. I was up near the front during the start, but still 20 people back in the 60-man field. A Rubicon guy and some other dude or two, got away fairly easily in the first couple miles of the race. Rubicon sat at the front, blocking, and it was impossible to move up to the front on that narrow road. I sat there, trapped in the pack, anxious and mad, as I strained my neck up high to see if I could get a glimpse of the guys off the front.

The slow pace didn’t last long, and the attacks began. I found myself in a break with Quinn Keogh and Chris Swan (the three amigos). It didn’t last long, but it wasn’t the last time the three of us were in a break together on Saturday. We were caught, I broke again a little later, and I was caught again. This continued happening until the end of the first lap. And then all hell broke loose.

I was up near the front of the bunch at the .8K finish climb, when Doug Ollerenshaw (I think) made a furious attack with a couple other guys. I started to fall back as fresher people passed me. This was a time of serious pain, and it lasted the whole way up the finish climb, the short downhill, and up another short riser. I wasn’t in danger of being dropped, but it was the first true test of metal during the race. We dropped half the field on that move.

After that hard bit, I told myself I was going to go a bit easier and save myself in case something like that happened again. But of course I forgot about it a few minutes later, and began chasing down breaks, trying to break away, and pulling on the front to bring back the guys that were still off the front.

The main hill on the back side of the course (which isn’t very long) was coming up pretty soon. A CMG guy (Seth I think) had been on the front for a while and looked like he needed a break. So I took my turn at the front and set a hard tempo. I continued the pace up the hill. Half way up, I turned around to see why I couldn’t hear anyone anymore, and found that I was off the front by 50 meters. I swung my head back forward and increased my speed a little. Still feeling good, I cranked it hard as I crested the top of the hill and began the descent.

On the flats after I made a sharp right hand turn at the base of the hill, I made sure I stayed below 400 watts. And there I sat. I was off the front in no man’s land with 20 seconds on the group, and minutes on the break, waiting for someone to bridge up to me. My break didn’t last long–no more than 10 minutes–before I was caught.

I helped pull for the next 4 or 5 miles of downhill of the lap, giving a hand to CMG while they attempted to bring the break back. They did a good job, and before long we were sitting behind the lead car once again. But I was unaware that the guy we had just gobbled up was the last of the break away. I thought there was another guy out there, and I continued to take pulls until I found out from Quinn that we had indeed caught the last guy. “Oh,” I said. “I guess I’ll get off the front then.”

We went up the finish climb fairly hard, but not too bad, and I rode side by side with Chris as we motored up the hill. I turned to him and said what was on everyone’s mind, “I won’t go if you don’t go.” He chuckled, and we continued on for a moment. And then for no planned reason, I said “fuck it” and attacked. I got away, but didn’t get too far. I was at the top of the hill when Jelly Belly blew by me at 89 miles an hour. There was no way I could hold his wheel. I looked back at the pack and saw them coming to get me, only a 10 second behind. My attack was doomed. They caught me a short while later, and the Jelly Belly guy too.

The third lap was the same as the second. I attacked a lot, and was caught every time. At one point, I was in a break with Chris, Quinn, and a Rubicon guy. It should have been golden, since both the major teams were represented (CMG and Rubicon). But it failed–probably because Rubicon chased it down. They tend to do stuff like that (chasing teammates down). Once we were caught, another couple guys sprinted off in a counter attack. Chris and I bolted forward and latched on. This time we had Paul from Hutches, Omer from Bissell, Chris, myself, and different Rubicon guy. We began rotating and quickly had a good-sized gap. But I felt like it was a bit too slow to stay away, and I took a couple hard pulls that probably felt a bit too jolty, because Omer yelled at me to slow down and keep it constant. We were caught by the pack right before the main climb on the backside. Someone strong attacked at the base of the climb, and it was an all-out suffer fest up the damn thing. I continued trying to get away for the rest of lap three.

Lap four came around and a break had gone away some time during lap three I think. I spent more time pulling at the front than trying to break away. For a while, it seemed like Doug Ollernshaw and I were the only two willing to do any work. Jacob Rathe (CMG) was up the road a couple others, so CMG was no longer pulling.

By now, I was starting to get tired and thirsty. I only had half a bottle left, and I thought we still had another two laps to go after this one (which would have been six laps total, not 5–which is what we did). After being off and on the front for about 5 miles, I went back into the depths of the pack, which by now meant I was sitting 10th wheel. And then I saw Doug attack. I had been keeping an eye on him, knowing that if I could get in a break with him at this point in the race when everyone was tired, we had a good chance of staying away or catching up to the other break, which by now wasn’t far away. When Doug attacked, I jumped on his wheel and hung on for dear life. We had a gap. He looked back at me and attacked again, I stayed on his wheel. He attacked again and again and again. I had reached the point where I was no longer conscious of anything but his back wheel. He elbowed for me to come around and take a pull. I just sat there, panting like a panda (I imagine pandas pant fairly heavily). The strung-out group was on us by this point. Doug furiously elbowed for me to take a pull. I did not pull. He attacked again. Why had I originally gone with him??? Every surge was surely taking years off my life. He elbowed again. I shook my head as he looked back, he attacked one last time and then slowed down. No one came around to take a pull or counter attack. I recovered for 20 seconds, and then slowly came around him and apologized for my lack of pulling in a heavily labored, “I’m…just..trying to …hold on.”

Three minutes later, the main hill came into sight. A couple guys attacked hard and I was not up there with them. I was by myself, trapped in a pain cave with no light to find my way out.

The break included Evan from Jittery Joes Doug, and maybe someone else. They eventually caught up with the other guys who had been off the front, and that was the last that we saw of them until 5 miles later when the race was stopped due to a major crash up the road. We took a 15 minute break as the ambulances cleared out. I begged some water off of a nice woman in one of the support cars. I also found out that there was only one lap to go, not two. This made Kennett very happy.

We started up again and my plan was to help bring the now six-man break back to the field. It did not work, although we did catch the three of them who got dropped by Doug, Evan, and Jacob on the last lap.

With four miles to go, I began sitting in hardcore. If fourth place was the best I could get at this point, then I was going to get fourth god damn it! One K to go and I was sitting mid pack. The hill began and I moved up alongside Chris. The pace wasn’t too bad, but was getting faster. I couldn’t wait any longer, and with 300 meters to go, I went. I passed everyone in front of me and hammered as hard as I could to the finish line. I looked back and saw a big gap on the field, but a lone Rubicon rider was right behind me (Roman Van Uden). I was going all out, mouth gaping open, tong hanging out, eyes wide and crazy like. But Roman passed me with about 20 feet to go and I took 2nd in the sprint, 5th overall.

I am happy with the race even though I didn’t win–which was my plan of course! I was in a ton of breaks and was the most aggressive that I have been in a cat 1/2 race. I am feeling stronger with each race I do, and it’s a great feeling to be constantly improving, unlike last year. I’ll write about the Albany crit later.


I saw three elephants today

I didn’t see three elephants. That was just to get your attention, which is a poor lead because it leaves the reader disappointed and untrusting of the author from there on out. So now I’ll be brutally honest with you for the rest of this post: I only saw two elephants.

I was tired after the weekend, and thought that extra sleep would heal my torn muscle fibers faster. In fact, I’ve always been under the assumption that more recovery is better. I used to believe that the more training I did, the better I would get. But of course that lead me to serious overtraining and a complete loss of the year 2007. But overesting? That makes no sense, unless by “overesting” you mean you aren’t training anymore. But I have been training a lot, and resting (sleeping) a lot too. Classes have settled down a bit in the last week or two, and I’ve been catching up on sleep. I figured, “the more sleep I get the better rested I’ll be and the faster I can ride.” But it turns out that 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night is too much. Last night, I went to sleep at 11:00 and woke up at 10:30. (I usually get between 8 and 9 hours.) Maybe all this extra sleep I’ve gotten this past week explains all the crazy dreams I’ve been having.

I usually have weird dreams anyways, but one thing that all this extra sleep has certainly been causing is poor riding performance. Yesterday, I did some flat intervals for an appetizer, Nectar Way for an entrée, and an hour and a half easy riding for dessert. Not even this tasty ride could spike an interest in my legs’ pallet, for they were asleep for the majority of the workout.

Today, I did two and a half hours of intervals and hill repeats before the Thursday Nighter and I felt the same: slow, sluggish, sleepy. So no more sleeping half the day away. Gilad is having me sleep 8 hours a night tops. And now that I think about it, I’ve heard that athletes (like a 400-meter runner friend of mine) who get too much sleep have lethargic results.

After the intervals.
My body was finally somewhat awake by the time I turned into the church parking lot at Lorane and Bailey hill–just in time to enjoy the most boring and maddening Thursday Nighter I have ever had.

I spent the majority of the Thursday Nighter sitting on, not pulling–which is what Gilad wanted me to do. I was supposed to treat it like a race, not a workout, and win–or else I would never be allowed to go back to another one. I ended up taking second by about half a foot, even though I didn’t do shit during the ride. I felt like a slacker, and was bored and literally yawning back in the pack as the other guys had fun attacking and bridging gaps. I would glimpse down at my heart rate and see it slowly ticking at 150 or less. I have never done a Thursday nighter like this before and I hope I never have to again, because it was not fun. The front is where I belong god damn it!!

I’ll see all you guys at the rehearsal road race and the Albany crit. I’ll be the guy with the giant bags under his eyes due to insomnia. But my legs will be fresh. If too much sleep is a bad thing, then very little sleep should be a good thing. I’m thinking 20 minutes a night–like a giraffe. They’re fast, and it’s probably due to the extremely small amount of sleep they get.

Crazy Dream Last Night

Last night I had a terrifying dream:

The scene was New York City and it was sometime past midnight in a bad part of town. I was a CIA agent, in charge of protecting a witness (an attractive female) who had seen some serious crime. There were two other CIA agents on my team: Gilad (my coach) and some other guy. Our mission was to escort the witness from a dark alleyway to some building downtown. We had a brief meeting in the ally about what would happen if our mission were compromised. We were all carrying guns, and were willing to die for this high profile witness.

I was to walk right beside her, while Gilad followed about 100 meters behind in case he saw someone following us. The third agent was positioned up on top of a building with a powerfully scoped rifle. We all wore black trench coats, including our witness.

I began walking with the witness, past dumpsters, bums, and stray cats along a broken-down sidewalk. There were no street lights, no lights in the windows, and the sky was pitch black. Broken windows from the tall, black buildings stared down on myself and the frightened witness.

Suddenly, I was watching myself–taking on the point of view of the third person. I also was aware that Gilad had sabotaged the mission and was a double agent, working with the people trying to execute our witness. I knew that he had killed the sniper up on the building tops, and was in quick pursuit to run us down and murder both of us.

I told the witness to speed up, and we began walking as fast as possible. I didn’t want to break into a run, because that would tip Gilad off that I knew about his treachery.

But it wasn’t long before my nerves got the better of me and I grabbed the witness by her hand and began running and pulling her along at a full sprint. Gilad and about five others dressed in black came from behind and from side alleyways. They began firing machine guns at us and I freaked out. I ditched the witness, leaving her behind for the band of murderers. I ran away as fast as possible, hearing her scream as she was brutally gunned down. I zig-zagged in and out of deserted alleyways to try to lose Gilad and his fellow criminals (although I’m not saying that the CIA isn’t made up of criminals by any means).

I ran all night until it was morning and I was in a suburb. Gilad had given up his search for me, his job was to kill the witness, which he accomplished earlier that night. But the rest of his men were still chasing me. They turned out to be the Toyota United team, and they were amazingly fast on foot. Everyone of them was a quicker runner than I was, and they knew it.

I was eventually caught, and was terrified of what might happen next. The five or six of them tied me up with evil smiles on their faces. They told me I was dinner. I was going to be salted (like salted pork) and then they were going to eat me alive. They began stoking a large fire in the middle of the street of the sunny suburban setting, preparing to roast my flesh as they cut it from my live body. I knew I was doomed.

But they became distracted somehow and I escaped when they weren’t looking. I ran and ran as hard as I could, with them following close behind. I jumped over ten or fifteen backyard fences as I cut through the neighborhood, running off of adrenaline. My legs burned. They got closer and closer. I couldn’t run fast enough. Instead of just tackling me and putting an end to the chase, they wanted to wear me out completely. So they would get close, then back off, snickering and taunting me the entire time.

A couple of times, I found hiding places and watched them from behind bushes as they searched for me. But then I would feel a tap on my shoulder, frantically turn around, and see a Toyota United rider standing right behind me. I would bolt off in shear terror. This kept on happening for what seemed like hours.

Finally, I found a good hiding spot: the top of a roof. It was just in time too, because I couldn’t run another foot. My legs were trashed and my breathing was out of control. I sat on top of the roof, peering down on them, hoping they wouldn’t look up or hear my incredibly loud breathing. They became frustrated and started arguing amongst themselves as they searched for their lost dinner. I thought I was saved. And then they became silent. I peered down again, looking back to where they had been standing in the empty street, and didn’t see them. I worried that they knew where I was, and got ready to jump off the roof. I jumped 20 feet down to the ground when I heard them climbing up behind me.

This was my last ditch effort to save my limbs from becoming salted and consumed by the Toyota United team. I ran as hard as I could, jumping over an impossible number of backyard fences. They were gaining on me again, and eventually circled around me, ready to make their final attack. Then I woke up in a cold sweat.

Week Update

The sun has been too nice this week to do much writing. I have done a lot of riding in the last couple days though.

After Nectar Way on Tuesday, I rode with Mike for about 3.5 hours on Wednesday afternoon and got pretty dehydrated. The ride was easy, but we were out in the sun for almost 5 hours (due to waiting for people) and we each only had two water bottles. I definitely felt it the next day.

On Thursday I was planning on doing some longer intervals and then heading out to the Thursday Nighter. The intervals were at 350 watts (below threshold), and were between 10 and 12 minutes long each. I have done these types of intervals before with no problem, but I suffered hardcore this time.

I did the first one at 345 watts and was feeling OK, but not great. The next interval was a little lower. And by the third one, I had hit a wall. The last three intervals barely saw average watts over 300. My heart rate was jacked while trying to push 300 watts, while it is usually around 135 when I’m at 270-280 watts. I knew something was wrong, but finished off the workout and headed to the shop to talk to Gilad before doing the Thursday Nighter. I was secretly hoping he would tell me to just go home. I rarely ever want to do less than what is planned, but this was one of those cases. I felt like shit. Gilad told me to go home.

I took an off day on Friday and was feeling good again on Saturday for the CSC ride. The CSC ride is a fast-paced group ride that leaves every saturday and sunday at 8:30 from the Campbell Senior Center. Like the Thursday Nighter, it usually attracts a number of the fastest local riders in Eugene.

Saturday’s CSC ride started with about 25 people. The pace was high at times, as we meandered our way east out past Lorane. I forgot what the hill was called, but the ride was called the “rattle snake” ride. I think.

It involved a 4 mile climb between 7 and 10%. I went hard but didn’t kill myself. It was a great route of single-lane road with no cars. I plan on doing it again soon.

After the climb, we regrouped and rode to a convenient store for provisions. It was around 90 degrees by this point and we were all out of water. I shared a 2 liter bottle of Sprite with Will and filled up my bottles with water. I also bought a snicker’s bar, and ice cream cone, and a burrito. Despite the heat and intensity of the ride, the burrito was still a good choice. Somehow I ended up with beans and hot sauce all over my chest though.

I feared everyone had lost the drive to go hard on the way back, so I went to the front as usual to liven things up. We punched it hard for the rest of the ride and we ended up splitting apart near the end. I did an extra hour by myself when we got back into Eugene. Total ride time was 6 hours, 110 miles.

Today (Sunday) was even longer. Tony, Mike, and I rode south to Cottage grove and went out east on the Rails to Trails route that parallels Row River road. The snow and giant logs are still blocking the single-lane road, but we managed to get farther than Will and I did a couple weeks ago. The head wind coming back was relentless, but I felt fine throughout the entire ride. Mike and Tony were hurting a bit, so I decided to make them take the long way back through Cottage Grove and we added on a couple extra miles. hahaha, the fools! They weren’t pleased.

On the way back up to Eugene near the base of Mt. Pisgha, after Tony had been dying and sucking my wheel for over 3 hours, I pissed him off enough (by taunting him) to beat me at a sprint. When we slowed down, he looked at his powertap in disbelief. It read 1,999 watts. He’s gotten it up to 1,500 before, but 2,000 is insane. We’re still unsure of its accuracy, but ever since Gilad taught Tony a different sprinting form, he’s been much faster. A repeat is in order.

I went through ten bottles today over our 130 mile ride. We all have some sick tan lines, but I took home the blue ribbon for the best helmet strap/goggle tan line. The funny thing is, it’s only on the left side of my face. I tried taking a photo of it in Photo Booth, but the pictures don’t do it justice.

Approaching the end

Today has been, and will continue to be, a freakin busy day. I woke up and began writing one of 2 papers that are due tomorrow morning (both 2,000 to 3,000 words). Then I went to class, rode my guts out up Nectar Way 20 times, came home and have been writing ever since. I hope to be finished by 3 am.

I’m really looking forward to summer. Four more weeks of school. Cycling would be so much easier without it. And vise versa. Ok, here I go. No more distractions. Back to work.


I did not do well this weekend. I took 58th in the road race and I did not finish the crit.

We arrived in Fort Collins Colorado Friday night at Luke’s uncle’s house. We got in at around 10:00 pm after picking up our race numbers and scouting (in the car) what we thought was the last 30 miles of the road race. After a good meal of pasta, we went to sleep as quickly as possible. Orion farted all night long and stank up the entire down stairs room.

The next morning, I warmed up for 45 minutes before the race, feeling fine. The wind was very strong, and I was borrowing David Wells’ Zipp wheels–a 404 and a 303. I was blown around a bit more than I am used to, but the wheels worked out just fine.

As individuals were called up to the line to start, dark clouds started building up in the north. To the east, the sky was calmer, mimicking the flat planes below. To the west, lay our destination: the beginning of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains rose straight up from the flat ground of Fort Collins. The roads there are steep and the switch-backs are painfull. It was a hilly course.

The start/finish area was held at the football stadium, and the planned course was 70 miles. We would climb up and passed the reservoir, continue climbing, and then do 4 laps of rolling hills. After those four laps, we would return the way we had come and then finish the race with 25 miles of 4 very hard climbs; this last section was the route we had driven the night before.

After all 170 of us were lined up and ready to go, shivering in the increasing cold wind, the race announcer told us that they were expecting snow, and therefore the course would be shortened to 60 miles and the last section would be taken out. I was upset with this, thinking that the hills would benefit me. Boy was I wrong.

The gun went off and we tore off into the cross wind. Immediately we were going 32 miles an hour. It felt like the start of a crit. Luckily, earlier when we were lining up for the start, I had cut in line and was in the top 20. I fought to keep my good position. We turned a corner and the full force of the wind hit us from the side. The peloton strung out across the road in a horizontal line as everyone tried to hide from the cross wind. A rider a couple bike lengths in front of me collided with another, and almost went down. The guy in front of me swerved to the right, where I was passing people to get closer to the front. We slammed into each other as I locked my breaks up and began skidding. No one went down.

The night before, when we had previewed the course, we had taken a route that was about 5 miles of flat that lead us out of town and then up a gradual climb of about 500 feet. That was not the course we took this morning.

After one mile, I saw that we were not destined for more flat ground. I was now about 40 riders back after my near crash and I looked up the road to see the pavement begin to rise up out of the ground to form a disgustingly painful climb. This is when I began to notice the lack of oxygen my red blood cells were able to utilize. The climb zig-zagged up the mountain. I don’t know how steep it was, but it hurt me enough to get passed by about 30 people as I wheezed my way up. David passed me and I struggled to stay within reach of him.

Here we are on the climb.  Already, the race was divided in half.

Finally, the climb crested the top and we began a screaming descent at 61 miles an hour. David helped pull me back up to a chase group of 20 riders. We barely made contact with them before the next climb, which was not nearly as steep or long, but I was toast by then anyways. David pushed me from behind and told me to get up there as the small group ahead of us pulled away. I told him I couldn’t do it. He pushed me again. And again. And again. Peter and a group of 10 other riders caught up to David and I and moved past us. I was finally able to grab a wheel I could hold and I went all out to the top, lungs struggling in the thin atmosphere. David and I passed Peter and we began another decent.

I could see the lead group of 40 riders up the road a little ways, and the our group of now 15 powered down the hill and up another one to catch up. On this third hill (or fourth, I can’t remember), I got dropped. Others were dropped too, but only one other guy stayed at my pace. For about 5 miles, the two of us worked together to pull ourselves back up with the chase group. It was not going to happen with just two of us.

After a couple miles of being dropped, we were on the loop section of the race. We turned a corner and the massive tail wind propelled us to 40+ miles an hour. I have never spent so much of a race going over the speed limit, or so much time in my biggest gear: 53×12, which was not big enough for the day.

We were caught by another group of 20-25 after a couple miles and we began hammering to get up to the lead group. We did not work well together, with just a few of us doing all the work and a bunch of idiots just sitting on our wheels and messing up the pace line. In the tailwind part of the loop, myself and other riders would pull to hard and drop everyone, then we would have to wait for them to catch back up. There was a lot of swearing involved in this section of the race.

Going the other direction up the false flat into the wind was easier for me than the tailwind section. We dropped riders each lap, but the pace line worked much better going into the wind.

I worked very hard for four laps, trying to catch the lead group. Finally, we caught them on the last headwind section of the last loop before we were to head back up to the reservoir. I finally got a good chance to rest as I sat in the group, which had just slowed down to a crawl after we caught them. Combined with my chase group and more riders who had caught back on after it slowed down, the pack was swelling with 80 or more riders. I moved to the front after I talked with David for a moment. Apparently there were 9 riders off the front. So we were competing for 10th place now. Earlier on in the race, I had just made it my goal to finish, but by now I had forgotten the pain involved with climbing, and I set my goal to getting 10th.

I knew I was in for some serious pain, remembering those long descents that would now be ascents. But I didn’t think I would be dropped again. I was dropped part way up the first serious climb, along with 30 or 40 others.

After reaching the top, I began powering down the hill after the pack, which was only about 10 or 15 seconds away. I was with 4 others and we hammered hard to try to catch them before the next hill. We did not.

4 or 5 other riders caught up to us as we began the next hill. We descended again and then climbed up another. We went down another hill, and rode across the reservoir dam. And then a wall appeared. At this point I recognized the hill as part of the course that had been cut off from the day’s course because of the threat of snow. It was part of the 25-30 miles we had driven last night. I turned to the guy next to me as we approached the hill, and asked, “since when are we doing this?” He replied, “since always.” It turned out that we had gone down this steep section earlier in the race (which I hadn’t realized) and we weren’t going to do the extra 30 miles of climbs. There was a turn that I didn’t know about that we were going to take, making the race only 4 miles back to the finish. But I thought we were in for another hour and a half of racing. My spirits dropped and I thought, “fuck it.” There was no way I could go at this pace for another 30 miles, especially when it was 30 miles of hills at 5,500 feet elevation.

We hit the steep climb and I thought of Nectar Way. I had no power in my though. My entire body felt weak and my lungs rattled as they gulped in the sparse air. I got dropped again. I saw Orion on the side of the road, cheering and yelling for me to go. There was nothing I could do in that atmosphere to go any harder. To give you an idea of what the altitude can do to an athlete’s performance, Orion was completely dropped on the first climb of the day and his race was basically over within a mile. Orion is one of the better climbers on the team too. Altitude affects everyone differently. I had thought, for some reason, that I would be immune.

The wind blasted me from the front as I struggled up the 18% grade. I was crushed as I saw 5 guys go off without me. I hated this damn race and this state. As the grade backed off, I grew angrier and angrier. There was still an uphill, but it was much less steep. I caught my second wind (more like 15th) and left it all out on the pavement. I powered back up to the 5 others, not caring that I was going to be dropped again on the next hill that we were quickly approaching. We started going downhill and 4 others caught us.

Then to my great surprise and happiness, we made a right turn going down hill instead of taking a left and going on with the 30 mile section. I realized that there were a couple miles of downhill and then a mile of flat before the finish. My spirits rose.

We tore down the hill and around some tight bends, one of which one guy almost hit the guard rail as he tried to pass me on the outside. He would have been screwed if he had gone over it, tumbling off the side of the cliff.

There were ten of us by the time we got to the bottom. It was obvious that there was going to be a sprint, even though it was for 60th place. I took off with 600 meters. I looked back and eased up as I saw the others chasing close behind. I jumped in behind a wheel after they passed. Immediately, another guy began to sprint. It was on. I began sprinting as well. It was the longest sprint ever, lasting for 400 meters. I took second, just a few feet behind the guy who started it. I took 58th overall.

I, and the rest of the team, spent the next 4 hours coughing up our lungs. I threw up in the shower later back at the host house, and we all laid around in agony. Orion was the worst, and is still coughing up mucus and phlegm two days later. Srew a new set of wheels, my next purchase is going to be an altitude tent.

The next day sucked. I was not in the mood to race and I felt terrible. Unlike the day of the road race, Sunday was warm and sunny with no wind. The course had wide roads and 8 clean corners. 130 starters. I should have been excited.

Like the day before, the announcers called up the conference champions from each region, then called up one rider from each team. One at a time. Because I went first the day before, I decided to go last this time. So I started out in the back, which is where I spent the entire day.

The crit was sketchy, with lots of bad crashes. One crash was bad enough that the race officials stopped everyone while an ambulance took away the injured rider. We started up again and immediately another group of riders went down.

After a half hour of racing, I just lost all motivation to ride and pulled off the course. I had been at the back the entire time and I was not having fun. I was mad and felt defeated, knowing that I would just be racing for 80th place at best. I was still pissed about yesterday and about the whole weekend in general. Orion, proceeded to make fun of me for dropping out for the rest of the day and during the 6 hour flight home. I made fun of him for DNFing the road race also.

The trip was fun and we all joked around a lot, but none of us were too pleased with the racing. I was and still am pissed at the road race. I hate the altitude now. Here are the team’s results.

Lisa: 12th road race, 20th crit
David: 45th road race, 62nd cirt
Takuya: 112th road race, 63rd crit
Peter: DNF road race
Orion: DNF road race, 12th crit
Kennett: 58th road race, DNF crit

Nationals. Three days away.

Collegiate nationals are coming up this Saturday. Lisa, Orion, David K, Peter, Takuya, and myself are leaving on Friday afternoon and arriving in Fort Collins Colorado, elevation 5,000 feet. The elevation is going to be a disadvantage for us, but I’ve been looking at a picture of the Himalayas every night, which should help with my acclimatization.

We aren’t competing in the TTT, which runs on Friday, because we would not be competitive. Instead, our main focus is the road race. Peter won the road race a while back when he was at a different school, and it would be great to have someone from the team win this year. It is a real possibility, which is why I’m getting nervous. I guess I don’t get too nervous for big races that I don’t think I can win. But when there are expectations to be met and the chance of success actually exists, the pressure seems to be greater. I do well under pressure though, so bring it on. (Well actually there will be less pressure up there…crap).

I have been resting this week and my legs will be fresh on Saturday. This is the first race that I have tapered for this year. Just about every race preceding this one, I have either done a couple hundred miles in the days leading up to it, or my legs have been toasted from intervals earlier on in the week. It will be interesting to see what I can do with a rested body.

The course is rolling hills with a couple steep, medium length climbs, and the finish is a flat sprint. It should suit me well. Both lanes of the road will be given to us, and of course there will be no traffic. I have only had this experience once before (Sea Otter) and it was great. But there will be twice the riders there were at Sea Otter: 160. Hell yeah!

The downtown crit is the following day. It has 8 corners. It will not suit me well at all, but should be crazy exciting. My plan is to be in a breakaway on both days. It’s a pretty complicated plan, and I’m sure no one else has thought of it.

Here’s a link to the site.