It feels good to win one

It’s been a while since I won last.   But the day finally came once again, and when I (sort of but not really) least expected it.  Because when I would least expect it would be on a day where I didn’t even have a bike race.  If I won then it would definitely be when I least expected it.  So it’s not accurate for me to say that I won when I least expected it yesterday.  I think that phrase (when I least expected it) is over-used.  Much like the phrase, “hey let’s go pick some ripe peaches from that peach tree.”  Or, “those cows look like cows.”  Or, “How’s about we eat some clams and jam.”  Or, “Trees seldom seem to be green after eating pickles and watching the news at 8:00 on a saturday.”  Or, “I just shat myself and now I can feel corn in my pants.”  Or, “Lamps eat pine cones all the time, and I mean ALL the time, if you know what I mean.”

My big top secret plan of the day, that I only a select few about, was to ride to the race via a long route that would be about 4 hours.  I had my plan all planned out too.  With a long list of directions taped to my handlebars.  There were 5 pages of directions, and over 50 turns that I had to make in order to make my 70 mile route from Sherwood to Swan Island.  But I must have slept through my alarm or something, and I woke up late.  Turned out I only had time for a ride in the morning, no time to do my ride.  

I got in about 2.5 hours before the race and drove up to Portland with my mom, brother, and his friend from Germany, who spoke a language that I was unfamiliar with and therefore felt threatened by.  Rightfully so I’d say.  I mean, if you’re gonna come here to the US and of A and take our jobs and put your kids through the public school systems and crowd our hospitals and mow our lawns, you’d better be able to speak the language of the god fearing white folks that built this nation into what it is!  Now I may be old fashioned but that’s just the way Fox News tells me to think, and by golly there aint nothin on this god damned fearing planet, that god made for us, that doesn’t give me a bigger boner than tellin other people what to do and saying screw you to the rest of those heathen countries in Europe.  Comin here and stealin our jobs and…stealin our…corn.  And stuff.  IT’S OUR DAMN CORN YA DAMN GERMANS!!  We saved your ass in dubya’ dubya’ two for god fearin sake!

I was a bit tired and sleepy as we lined up for the race, so I decided the best thing to do would be to attack right away.  With a little under a half a lap down, I went off the front and had some piece and quiet to myself for about five laps before getting caught.  But it wasn’t long before I got off the front again with a solid group of four: Nick Skinzzzik, Evan Elkan, myself Peterson, and a TAI guy (sorry I forgot who it was).  We built up an ok gap, but were soon swallowed down by HP Chiro, the strongest team in the race without a guy in the break. 

Sitting in the field was easy and boring, so I bridged up a few laps after we were caught to a group that had just formed up the road.  This time it was me, Paul Bourcier, Evan Elkan, Patrick Marzullo, and Christain Tresser.  Most of the major teams were now represented and built up 20 seconds pretty fast and kept it there for the rest of the race.  

With a couple laps to go, Evan attacked a few times but it was all covered.  I guess I attacked once, although I don’t remember doing it, and eventually we all just sat behind Patrick as he kept us going into the last lap.

I made  a super crafty move, pretending to attack but not really, and everyone was so fooled they went cross eyed.  Just joshing ya, I don’t think anyone fell for it, because when I pulled off to the side after my fake sprint attempt, no one had even reacted.  In fact, I think they were so unimpressed that they didn’t even realize that I now actually had a 15 foot gap.  Paul had let it form and yelled at me, “GO! THAT WAS  A GIFT!!”

 “Oh,” I thought.  “OK.”  And I took off with 3/4 of a lap to go to the finish.  I looked back and saw Christian leading the chase, but it was too late.  I already had a big gap on them.  I looked back a little while later and the only guy I could see was Evan, closing the gap at an alarming speed.  I got to the final corner and stood up to sprint the last 200m.  He pulled even with me and we stayed like that to the line, with me taking it by just a few inches.

I rode into downtown with my teammate Andy for some Qdoba, then back to the course.  Then I rode back home to Sherwood to complete a hot, 107 mile day.  Boo yeah.  

Today, Sunday, I was going to race but thought better of it and took a rest day, since this is a rest week.

Important scientific question

If a pig carbo loaded right before it was slaughtered, would the meat be extra sweet from all the glycogen?  I would bet so.  And I want to taste that ham if it’s true.  That would be some good eatin there I tell you what.  I actually have one more question too.  If I drank a bunch of blood would that boost my hematocrit?  I’m guessing yes, of course it would.  Now for the grand finale:  If a pig carbo loaded right before he was slaughtered, and I drank his blood, would I get the double benefit of boosting my own glycogen levels AND boosting my red blood cells?  We’ll see.

Third one down. Elkhorn.

I attacked right as the neutral role out ended, just to see if the field really felt like racing. It was my one hope of winning this weekend, a solo break away let go by a complacent peleton. They weren’t complacent though, and I was caught quickly. I attacked again a little while later but the other guys that came with didn’t feel like doing much work and I was reeled in once more. The next move stuck. I wasn’t in it, but Chris was. Along with a couple other guys. I spent the next 15 to 20 miles covering attacks. But f I had known how hard the first stage of Elkhorn was going going to be, I would have just sat in.

An hour into the race, or maybe a little more, it began sprinkling. I put my arm warmers on. Then it began raining. We were going down hill at this point. Then the temperature dropped and it began pouring. Soon, the road became one giant puddle, inches deep across both lanes. Our brakes lost their power while our bodies lost theirs.

The rain stopped or at least let up, I can’t remember, when we reached the first climb. It wasn’t real steep, but it hurt. I covered an attack by a Land Rover guy, then immediately regretted it. I stayed in the front group without too much difficulty, although the pain level was definitely rising with every pedal stroke. At one point I stood up to climb on the pedals, but sat right back down as my arms almost gave out from being cold and water logged. I really wished I hadn’t ripped off my garbage bag wind vest at the start line, thinking that it was going to be nice and sunny today.

I decided to eat my cliff bar on the decent, and while trying to get it out of my pocket and then open it, I found myself a little ways off the back with some stragglers who had just barely made it over the hill. I didn’t think much of it, and continued eating/trying to eat the bar. Finally I had the entire thing in my mouth, balled up in my numb gums, slobbering brown sticky spit everywhere. And that’s right when I realized that the pack was completely strung out in a stiff cross wind and I wasn’t in it anymore. There were two or three small groups behind the pack, and I was in one of them. The chase began and I ended up having to spit out the cliff ball so I could breath.

My group of 5 guys eventually caught up by the first of the extremely painful rollers. They were quickly dropped for good once the climbing began, and I suffered on the back of the pack just barely there, wishing I hadn’t been so far off the back on the decent. I held on as many others dropped off. I finally got separated as the guy in front of me slowed down over the top of one of the hills. His tire was flat. I went around him, but never made it back onto the lead group, or what was left of it. Me and another guy just dangled 40 meters behind the pack for, I think, maybe 6 to 7 hours. I’m not sure.

We picked up some guys dropping off the pack and soon had our own little group to ride in with, going as fast as we could to make up time. I finished 1:07 behind the leader that day, and I was done. 26th place out of 90. I was penalized 20 seconds for crossing the yellow line twice–both times were during instances when the entire group I was with swerved a foot over the yellow line because of the crosswind. And I was the only one singled out of the 90 rider field for time penalties. Thanks.

My time trial was lame. I couldn’t get my breathing or heart rate up very high and I kept looking down at my power tap to see that I was riding below 300 watts at times. Very very weak. I finished 47th, then went to Safeway with Will and bought a feast of food. You won’t even believe how much food we got for the price we paid:

1 really big sub sandwich. The kind that are usually 8 dollars but today they were 5 dollars.
1 bunch of bananas
1 cup of chicken and bean soup that was 2 dollars off
1/2 gallon of chocolate milk
1 bagel

Now you might think that we paid $46 dollars for all that right? That would be a good deal. But you’d be sorry. Because we didn’t pay $46. We didn’t pay $36 and we certainly didn’t pay $26.
“Wait wait wait, Kennett,” you say. “You bought all that and didn’t even pay $26?? I’m having a hard time believing you!”
Well, friend. It’s all true. And you know what the amazing thing is? We only paid a mere $10.67 for all that. Plus we had a bunch of samples for free.
“HOW??” you ask. “How did you get such a great deal?”
I’d like to say it was our charming good looks and rugged demeanors, but Will was there. Standing next to me. So I’d have to go with amazing intelligence…no no, I keep forgetting about Will. Hmmmm. Maybe they felt sorry for me for having such a crazy-looking and foul smelling friend. Yeah, that must have been what it was.

We took our bounty to Derek’s tent at the high school, where the race’s headquarters were, and took a nap before the crit at 6:30.

The crit was super easy. When I was just sitting in, I could nose breath for almost all of it. I found out the secret to crit riding last week. It’s very simple: don’t break at all in the corners. I wish someone would have told me that years ago.

I almost won the first prime, after pulling some lazy guy around for a full lap and then having him barely outsprint me for the $20. Obviously he wasn’t interested in a break away because he was weak and stupid, so I sat up and we were caught. I missed the next prime I went for also, by just a foot or so. I cursed loudly at the line. I kept on going and the two guys that I had sprinted against got on my wheel. I pulled for half a lap, then elbowed for them to come around and take their pull, since we had a good gap on the field. But they were lazy and stupid and didn’t want to be off the front because they feared the big bad Mr. LAB (lactic acid, bitch!). We were caught.

I finally won a prime with a solo move at half a lap to go. I had a big gap by the time I crossed the line, and there were only four or five laps to go. I went hard for another half lap, looked back to see the pack at the same distance, then thought better of it and sat up, knowing that I’d be caught and would lose my position near the front.

I held a great spot in the top 8 up until the last lap, when I got swarmed from both sides and immediately found myself sitting 25 guys back. There wasn’t much I could do at this point, and ended up sprinting for 16th place. I know I could have won if I had just kept my position to the last corner, I passed about ten guys in the last 250 meters. I was pretty mad during my first cool down lap.

Will and I got a ride back to Tony’s cabin (where we had been staying each night) and made some burritos. I was feeling tired, but not super tired. I had mainly been feeling sore and lackluster in my legs, not mentally tired or unmotivated. So I planned on going for the long bomb the next day. Breakaway from mile 1 on the 100 mile Mt. Dooley stage. There was no way my legs were taking me to a top 3 spot in a group climb up that last 7 mile ascent, but a lucky breakaway had at least a tiny chance.

We woke up at 6 something to the sound of pounding rain. It didn’t let up for the next half hour, while I tried to decide whether I was going to race or not. The weather report said it was going to be raining hard for the next three hours, let up for an hour, then continue raining until the late afternoon. The only warm clothes I had brought were arm warmers and leg warmers, and spending 100 miles in that cold rain sounded like a great way for me to get sick, especially since it was my third week of stage racing in a row. I went back to sleep after eating breakfast. The race directors ended up postponing and then shortening the stage to 18 miles when half the field didn’t show up and the rain continued beating down. I would have done that, though. 18 miles in the rain wouldn’t have been too bad, but I don’t care too much anyways. It’s time for me to take a rest week.

Oyyyy, me legs!

The title of the post pretty much says it. But I’ll indulge a bit. My legs. They be hurtin somethin fierce don’t ya know. I sat around all day Monday and didn’t ride. I went on a 30 minute ride Tuesday. So I expected by today, Wednesday, they’d be good as new!!! But not so is the case of the situation at hand of the matter in which I speak of at this time and place. They have one more day to recover then Kaboom! Four more races. I have a theory that they’ll either be super strong for Elkhorn or they’ll be super not strong. I’m not going to say the W word (pronounced the same as “week” but spelled differently) because that word is sacrilege on this blog. It simply doesn’t exist in the ‘Tron Universe, much like the english language’s lack of its own word for “Tomahawk” or the expression “Bon Appetite.”

My bike is working well though. I just got new cables and housing for the shifting, plus new chainrings for my cranks. So yeah. That’s pretty cool. And I washed my bar tape yesterday. Ok enough rambling, it’s time for more food.

Nature Valley second half

Thank you to:
Russell for getting me on the wheel and sprocket composite team.
My teammates for the week–BK, Dan, and Andy. And also a huge thank you to my host houses over the last 12 days and 11 races: Tony’s family for Hood and CJ and Jen Faulkner for Nature valley.

The last three stages have gone by too fast.

I’m mainly going to talk about the Mankato road race, because that day was just plain bad ass.  For one reason, my teammate won.  I’d like to say I had a hand in it, but the truth is I didn’t even know he was in the breakaway (which got away at mile 15) until we were about 10 miles from the finish.

Saturday–My plan was to be in the breakaway again and this time stick it. Andy, the guy who won, began placing me up near the front when shit began going down at around mile 10.  The pace was fast and attacks were going and getting caught constantly.  For my first attempt, I picked a good one that stuck for a few minutes at least.  It seemed like a great group, with first just three of us and soon about eight.  That easily could have been it. But the pack was still hungry and brought it back before anything substantial happened.  I went again a little later without success.

We turned right, and the headwind became a cross wind.  A bunch of groups formed as the pack got spread out a bit and this is when the winning break got formed.  I bridged up to the lead group of 20 or so, some dudes attacked, some of us followed, others behind us attacked, blah blah blah until finally there was a group of 10 or 11 up the road with Andy in it.  The breakaway was quick to gain 30 to 40 seconds on the pack, as we continued attacking to try and bridge up or bring it back.  I went three times, each without success of getting away from the damn peleton for more than a minute.  One time I followed Sam Johnson as he attacked off the front and nearly flew off the road as my front wheel chocked on a large piece of gravel going around a turn.  I secretly hoped that someone else back in the pack would eat it hard on the gravel there and cause a pile up so the two of us could be left alone to get up to the leaders.  But unfortunatly no one crashed–most of the people here like to crash by:

A) clipping a pedal around a corner of a crit
B) touching wheels of the person in front of them while descending at 45 mph
C) looking up at the clouds while day dreaming and running into the person in front of them
B) something else equally stupid. Did you realize I just said B again? Because the first time around, I didn’t.

Somewhere in the next mile or two, three other guys got off the front and I wasn’t in it. I was pissed. I attacked hard this time and brought their 30 second gap down to 10 seconds in no time, but I was dragging the entire peleton, which isn’t what I wanted to do. I eased up and let their gap grow again. I wanted them to stay up the road so I had someone to bridge to, work with, and catch the lead break. I sat second wheel as the pack slowed down up a false flat and regained some strength before I made my next attempt. Here’s where I made a big mistake. I should have gotten my teammate Dan on my wheel at this point, since he was trying to do the same thing I was. I didn’t see him, or even think about any of my teammates while I was doing this though, an amateur mistake.

A minute or two of soft pedalling behind the guy in front of me and I drifted off to the far left side of the road and stopped pedaling, showing that I was going to drift back off the front. But instead of doing that, I slowly started pedaling, then without standing up to sprint, surged and began hammering on the pedals. I looked back after a few seconds and saw that I had a large gap already. I kept on hammering, with the group of three up ahead of me by less than a minute.

I got to within 20 seconds of them, and couldn’t get any farther. I held them at half a minute forever. 20 minutes into my attack they had a minute on me. At this point I was hoping they’d just slow down or one of them would get a flat or something, but I had no such luck. At about 30 or 40 minutes in, I had around 5 minutes on the peleton and the three man chase group was getting smaller and smaller up the road. No chance of catching it now.

The three chase guys eventually caught the breakaway and after about 35 miles by myself, the pack caught me. My day was done. My legs were toast. After it was clear that I wasn’t going to catch anybody, I had decided I’d just go hard for as long as I could and hope for the most aggressive rider’s jersey. But that didn’t happen either so if you look at the results, it doesn’t look like I did much yesterday. But I can assure you, I came very close do doing a lot!

One thing that could have really helped in my attempt to bridge up to the three guys would have been a race radio. Why you ask? Because about 15 or 20 minutes after I got off the front, my teammate Dan did also. He got to within a minute or two of me before the pack caught him. It’s possible that if we had communication, I could have sat up right when he got off the front, let him catch me, and then the two of us could have worked together, caught the three guys, caught the break away, driven it super hard and sacraficed ourselves, and gotten Andy the win AND moved him into a top GC position. What I’m basically saying is that if we had had that one simple piece of equipment, we would have won the entire Nature Valley grand prix by at least 45 minutes. Probably much much more, considering how many levels we’ve gone up since downing two cases of FRS in the last week.

The rest of the race was like this: I got caught, I was tired, very tired, I sat in the back and talked to Dan, two guys crashed right in front of me going 40 miles an hour or more, I didn’t crash (barely), Dan and I had to chase back on after the crash, I got really thirsty, some guy on another team told me Andy was in the break, we got into town, I sat up on the first of four finishing circuits when we got to the steep hill, I got pulled after two laps and got a huge chunk of time added on to my overall.

The other two days:

Friday–The day before the Mankato road race (the one I was just talking about) was another evening crit. It was really cool and had tons of people watching again, which is fun. I started taking the corners better as the race went on, and actually moved up to mid pack, sitting 40 or 50th with 4 laps to go. Then I started taking terrible corners and within 2 laps was already sitting at 100 something place. I’ve realized that crits are all about cornering and positioning. Speed is second, specailly when the crit is flat.

Sunday, which brings us to today. Today was an anticlimatic day for me. Under normal circumstances, I would have loved today’s crit. It was a 1.2 mile nasty brutal circuit with an 18% average grade climb for about 400 meters, then a false flat, followed by down hill. 20 laps. Basically it would have been like doing Nectar Way hill repeats.

But even before I began warming up, I knew my legs didn’t have it today. I hopped on the bike to spin around and it felt like I had already raced 80 miles. Yesterday’s time off the front was a do or die move that I knew would either be super bad ass and place me in a top 5 spot, or make me finish 100 something for the rest of the week. And even though it failed, I don’t regret laying it all out there like that because that’s how I race damn it!!

Back to today’s race. The Stillwater crit. We started at the base of the climb. I was positioned 60 guys back (the top 25 GC plus all hte jersey wearers got a call up). I went hard as hard as the pace would allow up the first climb, the full width of the narrow road was clogged full of riders and fans–of which there were thousands–and I couldn’t pass anybody. But that didn’t really matter because my legs gave out very quickly and witihn four or five laps the pack was splintered and gone, with poor kennett left behind.

My legs were so gone today that I wasn’t even breathing hard while going up the hill. I could have nosed breathed for most of it. Anyways, Andy–who was trying to do well in GC and also sprint points, came up from behind me after lap five or six and I drug him around the course a few more times to try and save his GC time some harsh harrasment. But we got pulled at about the half way point. I know it was supposed to be a brutal day, but I wasn’t even that tired after doing it because my legs just had no glycogen in them at all and wouldn’t let me go hard. Stupid legs, I aught to teach em a lesson and ride 100 miles tomorrow. That’ll show them who’s boss.

Overall, NVGP was great. It showed me that even the pros aren’t really that much stronger than me. They may be tactially much smarter and have way better sprints and cornering skills, but those guys are going down!!! SOON!

Nature Valley

Over the past few days,  I’ve had a bunch of great ideas about how to start out this post.  Such as, “Up here in Miiiinesuuuta things muuve a bit sluw at times.  Peeople talk kinda like thr brains might be in tha hibernation doncha know.  In a deeep sleep, way up in da cold muuntains.  But one thing’s for suuure, da bikin n’ da ridin n’  da racin’s not slow one little bit.

I had another idea about how I’d talk a little bit about the Midwest in a more positive tone than I did here.

But last night I had a cunundrum.  I think that’s the right word.  Maybe not.  Anyways,  I decided to write about regret.

Bike racing, to me at times, always seems to be about regret.  You regret not being in the front when the pack splits, not getting behind so and so’s wheel for the sprint, not going hard enough up a certain hill.  Or like yesterday regreting not sticking it out in the break away.  It kept me up all night.  My teammate, Andy who’s sharing a bed with me, told me to forget about it and try to think about a red sphere instead.  It didn’t work.

Here’s what happened: midway through the race I bridged up to a Vita e Amore rider (Chad Gerlach).  He was a hundred meters up the road and the pack momentarily slowed as if it was catching it’s breath.  That’s when I jumped away and struggled up there onto his wheel.  Within a few minutes, we had a sizeable gap.  The biggest gap a breakaway had all day.  I had tried a couple other times to get into a move without success.  One of the times I attacked, looked back and saw people on my wheel,  but kept going hard for a minute, just in case we did have a gap.  We didn’t though.  About six guys passed me as I came off to the side to let them by and get back in the draft.  But after six of them passed, some lazy guy let a gap open up.  “Who is this weak guy not willing to pull through? ” I thought.  I looked back and there’s Floyd Landis, content to let those six guys just walk off the front.  Well that sort of thing doesn’t happen under Kennett’s watch.  So I jumped in front of him and closed the gap myself.  I attacked one more time after this I think, which also didn’t work.  Then sat at the back, where I spent the majority of the day.

But back to the break that actually stuck.  I got up there, we worked together (although he did the majority of the work while I sucked air for all I was worth).  Soon we had over a minute and the pack was becoming more and more distant.  Gerlach was getting pissed at me for not pulling enough though, and every time I went to the front for 30 seconds to take my pull, he would come around me so freaking fast it required almost a full out effort to get back on his wheel.  After each of of my pulls and the resulting pain it took to get back on his wheel, I’d vow to myself to not take any more pulls because it was all I could do to just sit on his wheel.  But once the acid cleared out of my legs enough for me to think somewhat clearly, I’d go for another pull.  After about 20 minutes (I’m guessing here as it felt like an hour), I was about ready to blow up.  I could have held on for a little while longer, but I was worried that I’d crack and die, then not be able to hold onto the peleton as it came by and I’d get dropped, not make the time cut for the day, and then be out of the race. So I dropped off his wheel and soft pedaled for a minute.  An OUCH guy passed me and I jumped on his wheel, now with the hope that I would be able to get back to Geralch and the three of us could work together.  But the pack caught OUCH and I fairly quickly after that and my moment of glory came to a full and complete stop.

Chad Gerlach stayed off by himself for another 20 minutes maybe and then got caught.  But even though he didn’t even come close to winning the race, he was awarded the most agressive rider’s jersey and got a big ol’ interview.  I thought he might have been attacking me while coming around after I’d take my pulls, but it turns out he wasn’t.  And he really could have used me to stay away longer.  Even if I’d just taken 20 second pulls, it would have been much better than a one man effort, which is what I left him with.  Communication should have happened.  And above that, determination.  Long break away opportunities don’t just happen all the time for every rider in NRC events like they do in local OBRA races.  I should have gone until I couldn’t go anymore.  Then I should have gone a bit more and blown myself and my bike to bits all over the road so that the peleton would have to slow down and swerve into the opposite lane to avoid riding over my slimy bits and pieces, for fear of dirtying their bike’s wax jobs and gunking up their chains with blood and fecal mater from my smashed intestines.  

I’m using a PC right now and I don’t know how to get pictures off Velownes, so here’s the link to the sight of a cool picture of us in the break away:

I sat near the back, not on purpose that’s just where I ended up, for too long and I didn’t know a gravel section was coming up.  It wasn’t long, but when we turned onto the small gravel road the peleton died.  People were going down left and right.  Our speed came to a standstill and some guys had to unclipp.  The first couple hundred feet were slightly up hill so they had to walk or run their bikes.  I lucked out and got through OK, but was at the very tail end of the survivors that made it. 

The gravel section was only about 500 meters long, then it turned into an equally narrow road with tons of potholds, going down hill into the town where we had 5 and a half finishing circuits.  The pace here was blistering like a crit.  Everyone was strung out.  I would pass a few people each lap, but I made little progress.  It came down to the last 1.9 mile lap and I was sitting at around 60th place.  Gaps had been opening up as people’s legs failed to hold the wheel in front of them.  A small gap formed a couple guys ahead of me and I’m guessing that two people merged into each other to jump around the guy letting the gap form.  The went down hard.  53×11 gearing hard (which by the way we spent quite a long time in that gear all day).  Their bikes flew up in the air and I was heading straight for them with no time to swerve.  I didn’t even put my breaks on.  I made myself narrow and squeezed through the gap of their flying bikes and tumling bodies that must have been exactly 40cm wide–the width of my handlebars.   My teammates here have been giving me a hard time about having such narrow bars, but they paid off today…yesterday actually.

A big gap, maybe four or five seconds formed during the crash and my group lost contact with the leaders.  We chased but I ended up maybe four seconds behind the tail end of the pack as they crossed the finish line.  But I was docked 28 seconds–the time from the front of the peleton to me.  Damn it.  F.  I finished 86th and now I’m 103 or something in GC.

Quick recap of the first two stages. 

The time trial was in the morning and the crit at night.  I sucked at the TT.  I went  too slow on the flat part and my 30 second guy (behind me) caught up to me at the base of the 1k climb.  I put 20 seconds into him though on the climb.  I need to learn how to TT.  That’s my biggest goal for next year.

The crit was hard and fun.  I tried to start at the front, but ended up 40 guys back anyways.  But there were over 100 behind me so I shouldn’t complain.  There was a huge crowd and the couse took us through the streets of downtown Saint Paul.  I ended up riding near the back most of the race and with three laps to go two guys crashed right in front of me (kind of like the road race yesterday) and I lost my position as the pack got away and guys passed me from both sides as I tried to get back up to speed.  I finished with a couple other guys maybe 5 seconds back from the pack, but like the road race yesterday, they take the time of the front end of the peleton, not the back.  So I was docked over 50 seconds. 

Ok time to go ride.  Maybe time for another FRS.  We stole three pallets of FRS from the registration hotel and we’ve been downing the stuff like water.  It tastes like crap, but it has quercetin and B vitamins to help “bring you up a level and keep you there.”  So every time we drink one, we go up a level.  And it keeps us there.  That’s how we do things here.  So if you want to go up a level and stay there.  You know what to do.

Mt. Hood–last two stages

This is going to be a quickie.

Saturday’s road race was a killer.  92 miles and 10,500 ft of climbing.  We started at the parking lot of Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort, and finished there a little over four hours later. 

The descent was sketchy, mainly because my bike kept getting speed wobbles.  The front wheel kept vibrating and going all over the place, which I first thought was because I was shivering (the temperature at the top was in the 40’s).  But today I found out that it was because my steer plug was jammed up in my steer tube.  The idiots at the airport (I flew to Minnisota yesterday) aparantly took the steer plug out, spreading loose pieces around the inside of the bike box and left them there because they obvioulsy had no clue how to re-install it.  When I got to the bike shop today to get it put back in, the mechanic said the steer plug was a piece of crap anyways, which is why I was getting speed wobbles.  So I bought a new one.  Now there won’t be anymore death wobbles going down hill at 60 mph. 

Back to the race:

We went up the first hill hard, a break away got away, then we spent the rest of the race fighting for position behind Bissell, who all sat at the front setting tempo to keep their leader’s jersey protected.

A big crash took a bunch of riders down with about 40k to go.  I was off the back at this point, taking a pee so I didn’t even see it happen.  It was the first time I’ve ever successfully peed off the bike.  I’d say at least 90% of the pee didn’t get on my hand or leg.

A half an hour later, Chris went down on the black top while riding up a hill when the guy in front of him rubbed wheels with the bike in front of him.  I pulled off a few mintues later to wait for Chris, then paced him back into the pack.

With 10 K to go, attacks started going.  I was feeling tired at this point (having not done enough long rides recently), but stayed as close to the front as I could. 

3k to go saw the turn off onto the Meadows access road, the steep part of the climb.  From there on out it was every man for himself.  A c0mplete suffer mania.  I finished 36th.  Not how I wanted to finish.


The crit was a lot of fun.  There were crashes, especially in the first half of the race, but they all happened behind me.  I went off the front twice, once trying to bridge up to the breakaway, and another time when I went to the front to help Bissell (who I thought were trying to bridge to the break but they actually weren’t).  I ended up getting off the front by myself because I pulled by them too fast, so my attempt to help didn’t help them at all.

On the last lap, a crash split up the field on a corner.  I was on the inside so I got by unscathed.  I sat on, about five or six guys back from the front (the break of 8 guys had stayed away though) and I ended up sprinting for 11th place, 3rd in the pack sprint. 

I spent that evening shooting a potato gun with Tony’s younger brohter, Christoph.  We started with potatoes–going for distance.  Then swiched to shooting potatoes straight up, then moved to the potato/golf ball combo, which of course lead to the firing of potatoes with a nail or screw sticking out of them.  We were shooting a piece of plywood and, no joke, one of the screws went straight through the 3/4 inch plywood. 

I woke up the next morning in a bit of a panic, after having multiple dreams about missing my plane flight (because my teammate Will was taking too long to get ready).  I checked my email to see when I was supposed to leave for Minnisoooota donch’ know for Nature Valley, and saw that my flight was THAT MORNING, not the next day like I had thought.  I was still in Hood River at the time but got a ride from Tony to the airport and made my flight.

I showed up at Minniapolis/Saint Paul (I’m not sure where I am exactly) and got picked up by CJ, a friend of a friend of Russell’s.  But not before seeing two people with real mullets, not the euro kind.  Big ones.

CJ and his wife are hosting me in their house right now.  It’s cold here in Wisconson and I only brought flip flops.  All my clothes stink like old sweat and sewage and my water bottles are moldy.  Man was I hungry last night.  I ate the dinner that CJ’s wife made, which was Quinoa, vegetables and chicken, then we went to the store to go shopping.  I came home and ate two bowls of cereal, three sandwiches, and crackers.  I start racing tomorrow, and luckily all my bad luck is overwith for the next week because I just broke a spoke on my ride today and had to go back to the bike shop for a second time, where they said I needed to get all my spokes on the drive side replaced.  It’s time for me to go eat some more sandwiches.  I’ve got six more races to do in the next five days!!!

Mt. Hood update

I haven’t quite done as well as planned so far.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I’ve been sucking very much so.  On a scale of 1 to suck, I suck.  But not to get anyone in an upset mood after reading this post, I want to also let you know that I’m having a good time anyways.  Now, on to the sucking:


My chain broke eight pedal strokes into the 3 mile prologue.  Snapped apart real good just like a bicycle chain isn’t supposed to.  I came down hard on my right pedal stroke and swerved jaggedly to a stop as my left quad rammed the pad of my aero bar.  The pad broke, so now it’s being held together with duck tape.  I got off the bike, yelled the f bomb loudly enough to let people around me know that I was indeed upset, and then handed my bike to the mechanic who had run up to me.  I gave him my bike and told him my chain was broken.  He said that he could see that and ran back down the hill to the pit stop.

Damn was he fast.  He took out the broken links, put a new link in, took the bike off the stand and stood on the pedal to snap the quick link into place in record time.  The record being of a made up criteria that I just invented, but you get the idea.  No?  You don’t?  Ok, well he fixed the chain so fast I hadn’t even finished yelling fuck.  He fixed that chain so fast it actually turned back time a quarter month into the past.  He fixed that chain so fast he had time to eat a really really big sandwich with grilled chicken, cheese, bacon, spinach, hummus, and salsa.  Yo’ momma so fat and stupid I saw her running after a garbage truck with a shopping list.  Oh, I’m getting side tracked a bit.  Back on topic.

I hopped back on the bike and did an all out effort to get a time of 7:52, which wasn’t too bad considering the circumstances.  I’d like to have known what my real time was because it might have been smokin.


My dad drove the support car for Chris and I and the Therapeutic Associates team and had a fun time listening to the radio chatter and speeding down the hill at 80 mph after us.  And it was a good thing he was there too, because on the second lap on the downhill section, I ran over a large chunk of gravel and got a front flat.  I grabbed a wheel from the car and caught back on without too much panic, but I’d have to say that was , unfortunately, the hardest part of my race.  I was feeling fine sitting in the pack all day despite the heat and the constant battle to stay near the front on the uphill section of the laps.  A break away went off on the first lap and got up to 4 minutes, and with a couple big teams without anyone in the three man break, everyone pretty much knew the break wasn’t going to last.

Bissell put in the final dig to bring back the break with about 10k to go in the 85 mile race.  The pace stayed consistent with the other four times up the hill, and I didn’t make an effort to move forward coming into the final 5km climb.  I started maybe 60 or 70 back, and immediately realized my mistake when I got a glimpse of the front of the peleton sprinting up the hill as they rounded the first corner of the finish climb.  I frantically started passing people and bridging gaps as the strung out pack disintegrated.  A few kilometers into the hill, with about 3k to go, I gave up.  The lead group was now out of sight and there was no hope of catching it.  I rode tempo for the rest of the way up, pissed that to have made such a stupid tactical error, and already planning my vengance on Saturday’s road race.  But even though I sucked yesterday, I did manage to move out of 101st place and up to 50th.

Today.  Friday.

I have never ridden a good time trial, so today I wanted to change that.  I did not.  I rode probably a sub par TT, although I don’t know the results.  I did the 18 mile course in 49 minutes.  The wind was insane to the point of being in and/or around the membrane.  That’s from a song in case you didn’t catch on.

The wind was gusting so much that I rode a good portion of the corners and the downhill in my drops instead of my aero bars.  My front wheel was vibrating and shaking like a gasping fish and I gripped on for dear life.  Well it wasn’t that scary I guess.  I only peed myself a little, but not very much.

Basically I went way to slow on the decent and flat.  I noticed that during these times my breathing was way too relaxed.  I did manage to push it hard on the hills though, and passed one guy with 3k to go, but then he passed me back going downhill somehow.  Stupid guy.  Didn’t know his place.

Tomorrow is the final road race and sunday is the crit.