Elite national championships

This happened last week. As in the day before yesterday and a few days before that. I’m almost caught up on my blogging race reports. As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging that much this year. I’ve gone over the reasons before. But I have noticed that I don’t remember anything that I don’t write down, so I have huge gaps in my memory this year, along with huge gaps in my blog. The problem is, writing events down is like taking a picture. You don’t remember what you actually saw, you remember what the picture shows. With writing, I remember what I wrote, not what actually happened.  Not that I make things up or anything on here… So with that in mind (and it’s only in mind because I wrote it down up there in that other paragraph) I’ve decided to try to write more in this blog so I can remember things more good.  On to the good part: Well, not the good part.  The good part is the pictures.  When I used to read other people’s blogs, I’d only read the words briefly and then look at the pictures.  Same thing goes for a book with pictures.  The words are just filler.  So, on with the second best good part: Day 1: I’m counting day 1 as Monday, the day Sean and I waited around in the airport for a full day and flying from one coast to the other while we made our way to Portland from Minnesota.  I pretty much just explained this day.  Plus we drove to Bend once we got to Portland.  We got there late.  1:30am.  Plus we were on midwest time so it was more like 3:30am.  I slept in Sean’s sister’s bed.  She was not in it.  Dang. Day 2: Sean and I went on an easy ride.  I felt terrible.  My cold was just about gone by then, actually it would be gone in another day, but my legs felt terrible anyways from all the racing and traveling.  Sean’s didn’t feel good either, but once he found out how bad mine felt, he tried to put the hammer down just a little.  Plus he was on his TT bike.  This is what teammates are for.  Later that evening, Lang, Phil, and Sam showed up in the team van and picked me up and we all went across town to our host house. Day 3: I won the sleeping contest, logging a full 11+ hours.  We played a lot of video games today.  In the morning though, I rode over to Quinn’s RV, which was parked near the TT and road race course, and hung out while he made some strange concoction of coffee/thai food.  I’m not sure what it was, but it was breakfast for a hungry Quinner, who hadn’t showered since Saturday?  I cut my toenails in someone’s lawn that Quinn was parked in front of.  Then we went on a ride around the road course.  It was sunny and warm again, like the day before.  My legs were feeling less terrible.  I rode home and ate and played video games and made jokes with the rest of the guys about Spencer’s mother.  Spencer is on our team but isn’t at most races with us.  We like Spencer.  But we like his mom better.  Spencer is from Canada.  I can’t remember who has access to this blog other than my mom and both my grandmothers. Day 4: Lang and I rode out to cheer on our teammates at the time trial course.  Neither of us raced it, since we were pretty sure neither of us would place in the top 10.  Sam placed 10th, although to him it was a disappointment since he was hoping for a top 3 or a win.  Later, Lang and I rode the road race course again, my legs felt very good today.  I did an effort on the main climb of the race and dropped a junior who had been drafting off of us for the entire lap and had never said a word to us.  Lang rode up easy.  Lang is a whimp.  Not really though. Day 5: Race day!  Phill, Lang, and I did the road race course again in the morning, played some video games in the afternoon, and rode our bikes out to the crit course in the evening.  It was a 50 mile crit, starting at 7:30pm.  There was a good crowd, but not humungous like the USAC brochure assured us it would be.  Doesn’t matter though, I got about 20 gatorade bars from them during my sign in the previous day. The race started, I attacked on the 3rd lap.  Didn’t get away.  Attacked again a little later and didn’t get away.  Then I drifted to about 50 guys back and started day dreaming because the race was so boring and it was so easy to sit in.  Another 90 minutes to go.  I moved up eventually and threw in a BIG attack and got away for a lap and a half by myself.  Apparently there were like 8 guys trying to bridge up to me, and Joe yelled this to me as I went by him, but they and I were all caught before we hooked up.  This crit course was stupid.  4 corners, completely flat.  My legs were feeling very good, but there was nothing I could do.  Nothing anyone could do.  It was simply too easy of a course to sit in, making breakaways very hard.  So it came down to a bunch sprint.  I think there were only about 30-40 guys left in the pack with 4 laps to go.  I was towards the front of it, about 15 back.  On corner 3, a couple guys crashed.  I braked and rode into them, hoping off my bike somehow and landing on my feet.  A couple more guys crashed behind me and on top of my bike.  By the time I got my bike free, the peloton was long gone and there were no more free laps.  I sprinted for a half lap, then gave up.  I was pulled a lap later.  I was so mad I threw a little tantrum back in an ally way.  There was nothing to punch.  Nothing to smash.  So I didn’t.  I calmed down a bit and watched the finish.  I swore under my breath at the guy who won.  At all the racers who finished.  I got my wheel trued by Shimano and met up with the team.  No one had done well in the sprint.  Later, some drunk hooligans tried to tell Quinn and I that it was rude to stop in the middle of the sidewalk right in front of them as they were walking.  I said some things back, hoping they’d retaliate.  They did not.  I was still furious apparently.  It was ptich black as we rode home, Quinn coming along for dinner not served out of a can.  Some guys on motorcycles cut me off and I swore at them loudly, still furious and wanting to punch something.  We got home and ate and I finally wasn’t mad anymore at those idiots who crashed me out.  Then Phill and I played video games until 1am.  Violent video games of course. Day 6: Woke up late.  The entire nationals  team went on a ride, except for Sean.  Guess where we rode.  The road race course.  Even after doing it for four days in a row, the same 2 hour loop, I still wasn’t bored with it.  Sam and I broke off and left the others guys part way through.  We went to the finish area and practiced the final 300 meters with the round a bout turn.  Then we sat in the grass in the sun for a while, then rolled through a small farmer’s market, and eventually made our way to a coffee shop and played a game of chess.  Then rode home.  Eventually the day was over after eating, laying around the house, and of course, playing video games. Day7: At last, the day we’ve all been waiting for.  The road race.  Winning here or getting top 3 could mean a spot on a pro team the following year.  I salivated.  We all salivated.  The previous day, we had a team meeting with Joe and he decided that Sean, Phill, and I would attack early and Sam, Lang, and Chris would save themselves for the end.  I didn’t like this plan, because it meant that I would most likely have a bad finish.  But it’s a team and the team pays for me to fly and race races I wouldn’t get to otherwise, so I obeyed.  I attacked immediately, once the neutral 2 kilometers were over.  I unleashed a sprint, sat down, put my head down for 400 more meters, then looked behind to see the damage.  One guy was on my wheel: Galen Mitterman, my old rowing coach and fellow Eugeneian, one of the few other Oregonian’s in the race.  We both smiled at each other and he said, “No regrets.”  We traded pulls for a bit and then Donald Reeb pulled up with us (another Oregonian).  The three of us went fairly hard for a half lap before getting caught by a big group of 9 guys, including my teammate Sean.  “Sean we done good!!!”–is what I immediately thought.  The break, now 12 strong and 2 minutes up the road, was exactly where I wanted to be.  Everyone was working and our gap was growing.  Every big team except Exergy had guys in it, with Yahoo! and us being the only teams with two guys in it.  For a second there, I thought we might stay away all the way to the end.  But half a lap later, there were only 5 or 6 of us taking pulls.  Joe came up to us and told me to sit on and for Sean to keep rotating through in the pace line.  So I sat.  And sat.  And half a lap later when Sean and three other guys got a tiny gap because no one else wanted to pull through on the feed zone climb,–I still sat.

We all watched as the four of them slowly rode away from us.  Anyone could have bridged across but no one did.  At the top of the climb, two guys went off after them.  Now it was just four of us in the last group.  I continued to sit in, along with a Yahoo guy, while the other two did all the work.  At the top of the climb the Yahoo guy and I started working to pull back the two guys in pursuit of the four up the road.  We didn’t work very hard though.  The four of us eventually caught them.  Now our gap was only a minute to the pack and 2 minutes to the lead break.  We were doomed unless the four guys without teammates up the road really started pulling hard. They did not.  And shortly after 2.5 laps, I flatted.  No wheel car came until after the main field passed me.  I drafted Joe in the team car back to the pack and sat in for a long long time, very angry.  We had three and a half laps to go.  Within a half lap, the group I was in was caught.  Within one more lap, Sean’s group was caught.  Now the pace started to get higher on the climbs.  I worried about positioning and tried to stay near the front coming into the feed zone climb, the tailwind section at the top of that, and the steep climb afterwards.  With two times to go up the feed zone climb, the field broke apart a bit.  Olheiser attacked and got away and somehow soloed for the win over the next lap and a half.  Not humanly possible for a non-world champion in my opinion.  Oh wait, he’s the 30+ world champion.  Still, not humanly possible in my opinion.  Anyways, breaks tried and failed to get any permanent grounds on the field.  Lang tried hard.  Quinn tried hard.  Nothing could stick.  We went up the feed zone climb and the field shattered even more.  I was still in there, to my disbelief.  I was starting to fantasize about the finish just a little.  But not for long because the pace on the tailwind section was brutal, and the steep climb after it was brutal too.  I took a corner hot on the downhill before the climb and hit a big chunk of gravel and my rear wheel slid out.  I swore.  And stayed upright.  I wasn’t sure if my tire was still holding air though.  Nothing I could do about it now though.  The pace up the steep climb was hard, but not too bad.  The field shattered even more, and by the top of the climb and the short downhill and the climb after it, there were only 20 of us left.  Maybe less.  With 3K to go, some guys attacked at the top of a little riser.  I was too far back to respond, and didn’t think it was worth responding anyways since they would surely be chased down immediately.  They were not.  And they stayed away to the finish by a few seconds.  In fact, the last of them only stayed away by 1 second.  2k to go and I was at the back of what was left of our group of 6? 10?  15?  I don’t know.  Gaps opened going up the false flat as we sped towards the finish at 30mph.  One opened in front of Lang and I yelled for him to close it.  He did, and I followed his wheel around the roundabout.  I hadn’t felt any pain whatsoever in the last 2K.  And with 250 meters to go, I still did not.  And I unleashed a wicked sprint and passed about 6 guys like they were standing still.  At the finish line I had multiple bike lengths from me to the next guy behind me.  But it was only good enough for 9th.  The seven guys in front had stayed away by a few seconds, including my teammate Chris, and Mike Olheiser stayed away by himself to win by almost a minute.  I was immediately happy, relieved to have made it to the end and gotten a chance to sprint, but also immediately pissed at myself for not following the attack at 3K to go.  I could have stayed with it, no problem.  Yes, I was suffering and tired by then, but I certainly could have pushed out another 80 watts over the too of that 3k to go riser and stayed with the move.  And I don’t mean to sound cocky, but there is no one in the world who could have beaten me at that last 250 meter sprint.  Not even a fully fresh Cavendish who only had to race 250 meters and hadn’t done the other 99 miles of the race.  Not even a wagon team of clydesdales fueled by genetically modified oats–designed to create mutant-strength farts, which were lighted by a spark mechanism attached to their tails, creating a rocket boost to launch them into outer space.  No one could have beaten me in that damn sprint I know it!!! Damn it why didn’t I just follow that move!!!!???  It wouldn’t have been for the win, but it would at least have been for 2nd!!

I should be happy, especially since I was in the early break of the day for almost half the race.  9th at nationals is by far the biggest result of my life.  Only 8 non-pros in the country were ‘faster’ than me that day.  But, unless you win you’ll always be left wanting.

pictures to come later.

And by the way, Chris finished 6th and Lang finished 15th.  We had 3 guys in the top 15, which no other team had.  Plus Sean got plenty of exposure in the breakaway and made it possible for our team to sit in for the first half of the race, while other teams were forced to work at the front.  All in all, the whole team agrees that this was the best single day race we’ve done this year.  This race and our team GC win at Mt. Hood have stood out as our best team races so far, with everyone chipping in and racing super aggressively.  The next big one is the Boise Twilight crit, then Cascade Classic, where I plan on getting some redemption on that final stage.

The video game room.

Yes, this is the Killcam.

Lang, enjoying some delicious fruit by the foot.


Sean’s GQ pose.


Sam wasn’t happy with his 10th in the TT (almost anyone else would have been ecstatic). Don’t worry Sam, you’re still my friend.

Lang, as he flexes his abs as much as possible: “Kennett, take a picture of me.”

Our host family made us dinner.

Tommy T at his best.

A link to a pic of me off the front in the crit:


Another one:


Nature Valley. Nationals report to follow

Let’s get back to it. Ok, NVGP stage 4? I think that’s where I left off, which means I need to dig deep into my memory bank and start remembering what happened last week. This will be difficult, because a lot of the same things have happened: travel, bike racing, riding the bike, eating, sleeping, making fun of Spencer’s mom. As I recall, stage 4 of Nature Valley was a crit. In fact, now that I think about it, I didn’t write anything about this stage. I could check, but that would mean leaving this page that I write in and I’d have to open a new window. That’s too much effort. Actually, in the amount of time it took me to write these last couple sentences, I could have checked. Too late now. Stage 4 was a crit.
A crit.
I’ve been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut lately.
I was rolling up to the line about 20 minutes before the race when someone in the crowd called me over. It was CJ, the guy who hosted me last year for this race. I talked to him for 5 minutes and by the time I actually got over to the line up area, I was at the back. So after the kid’s one lap race ended 15 minutes later, I rode around in circles behind the pack for the next 10 minutes until we finally started. I tail-gunned for the first 15 minutes of the race. Tailgunning is when you’re at the very back or close to it and you let a small gap open up in front of you before each corner. The guy in front of you will break before the corner because the pack slows down a bit when it takes a turn. When you go through the corner, you don’t break at all, or you break a lot less, and you catch up the the guy in front of you, all while getting to coast. You continue to coast while everyone in front of you has to sprint out of the corner–you’re still carrying more speed than them. I’m sure I just thoroughly confused some of you non-racers with this, but I won’t go into any further detail.

I began moving up in the 150-man pack and avoided getting split off the back when the pace continued to get harder. I was feeling better than the past two days, but I was still feeling sick. And I could really feel it over the last 10 laps, which were blistering. I think I finished 100th, in the same time as the main group. I took an easy lap, found my teammate Soren sitting on the sidewalk, shaking his head saying “that was really fast.” I agreed. We rode over to the team van and I had a coughing fit that made me throw up on the grass. I took another cool down lap as the course was being de-constructed, and then changed and we all went out to dinner–which was paid for by the team!!! I think we got back to our host houses around 11:45pm. Late crits aren’t good for sleeping.

Stage 5: This was probably the hardest day, since it was the only real road race we did and it was also the hilliest. I was feeling slightly better than the day before, so about 20K in I bridged up to a group that was just getting away in a cross wind section. I was the only non-pro, which I felt good about. Here’s a couple photos during this attack:

Here’s a link to get to all the picures:


Me on the back of the break sucking air. I think I stayed there for a good five minutes before I started taking pulls.

The group looked good, but we weren’t working fluidly. We needed a bit more cooperation, or a few less guys. And everyone was thinking about that–dropping a few guys so there’d be more cooperation, which in turn was why people weren’t working very well–because they didn’t want to go too hard then get dropped when the attacks came.

The field looked content to let us go though, and there was still a good chance the break would last until the end of the day–when it would most likely be chased down on the finishing circuits in town. But…two of my teammates tried to bridge across, not knowing I was already up the road. A Kelly Bennefits rider chased them down and asked why they were chasing down their own teammate–him wanting the break to succeed so his team, which had the leader’s jersey, could start setting tempo instead of responding to attacks with the wrong combo of guys in them. My two teammates looked at each other and hung their heads in shame as they retreated back into the fold. It was too late though, their attack had inspired others to try the same and the field was soon back to riding hard. We got caught after about 15-20 minutes off the front. I don’t necessarily think my teammates singlehandedly ruined the break’s chances, but they didn’t help. They now owe me a cheeseburger.

The rest of the race was hardish over the steep climbs, and my lungs were at full gas over some of them, but nothing too hard to shatter the field beyond repair. Soren eventually got in the lasting break of the day and earned the red jersey for the most aggressive rider. We heard from some other teams that he mainly sat on in the break, so we think the race media (who decide who to give the red jersey to) wanted to give it to our team since we had multiple aggressors throughout the day, which was good for an amateur team.

Anyways, I’m boring myself writing this so I’m going to finish it up quick. Long story short, I was too far back on the final climb and a huge gap opened up a few riders in front of me as we crested the hill and rode over the top, flat windy section before descending back into town. I was ready to be done anyways, and since I didn’t care about GC placing anymore, I dropped out of the chase group once we got to town. I rode 3 of the 4 finishing circuits, riding really slow. I can’t remember what place I got.

Next day and final stage 6: This is a day when you don’t want to have a chest cold. It’s a 20 lap race that goes up a 22 percent climb. It shatters immediately on the first lap. Imagine doing Nectar Way in a race, but there’s also a false flat section of 300 meters, then another small rise of 100 meters of 8-10% before heading downhill. I think I lasted in the lead group for about 5 laps before getting popped. Funny thing was that once I got popped, I recovered fairly quickly and chased for another three laps or so without losing any more time to the field. They were about 15-20 seconds ahead of me FOREVER. And on a steep climb, it feels like they’re just within reach too, even though they aren’t. In fact, I felt so good (relatively) that I was the only one in my chase group to take a pull for about 4 laps. The gap started rising after that as I lost steam and the pack gained steam. I think I did a total of 12 laps before being pulled–to get a finishing time you only have to do 5 laps. I finished 70th I think, but after the race was over I crossed the finish line again, which messed them up and they have me down as 54th or something. Not that it matters. My final GC was 101st maybe. Even though I was very sick throughout the entire race, I still did much better than last year, making breaks in both road races and even doing better on the last day, which was the most anaerobic day of all.

The team rode home from the race, which took about 2 hours. I probably shouldn’t have ridden home. I felt very sick and tired. But it was a good ride along a bike path and it was warm and humid out. I think the only reason my cold didn’t get worse throughout the race was due to the hot and humid air. If I had been in Oregon doing this race, I’d probably have pneumonia or mono right now. I’ll upload some more photos from the trip later. Time to go ride.

Lang keeping his people informed about him.

I went through a lot of watermelon this trip. I mean tissues.

The sky turned a very strange glowing orange when we got back from the cancelled stage 3 road race. Tornadoes make the sky orange I guess.

Before stage 5, just hangin out.

Lang’s quote for this picture: “Ok Kennett, when you see the cars start forming echelons up the road, that means it’s a cross wind.” No joke, Joe told Sean and I something very similar to this before the start of the race.

Another one of Lang’s quotes for this picture: “Phill, I’m going to need you to go get my wind vest.” This is our director, Joe, by the way, who we both love and hate.

After the last stage.


Soren and Lang. Lang’s crying. He went THAT hard.

Lang and Terra, a friend and fan of our team.

Terra taking us on a cruise of either Minneapolis or St. Paul. I was never sure which was which. I don’t think anyone really is.

NVGP stage 3. NOT!

After the disappointing crit the other night, I was preparing myself for another let-down during the cannon falls road race yesterday. And I got it–but in a much different form than I expected. Yes, I felt terrible and my lungs were only functioning at 50%. Yes, my legs were full of lactic acid on the first climb out of town, which I suspect wasn’t really that hard. But no, it wasn’t my faltering body that killed the day, it was a bunch of pansy officials and police motos who didn’t want to ride in the rain. Apparently out here in the Midwest, if there’s a storm a bruin, there’s a race a ruined.

15 miles into the race, right after the break of the day was established (which I was in) the race officials canceled the race because of tornado warnings. Just an hour before, the ride had started out bright and sunny, with temps in the upper 80’s and enough humidity to make that really sticky glue that holds wall paper on in bathroom walls fall right off without having to do any scraping whatsoever. Now in my book, none of this adds up to a potential storm. Especially not a tornado. Science has taught us that tornadoes are caused by light, cold air rising when it’s trapped under hot, denser air. And as I just explained, the weather on the ground was hot ‘n heavy, so tornado conditions were not likely at all. Furthermore, golf-ball sized hail was falling nearby, and everyone knows hail dampens tornadoes by forcing them down to the ground, since hail is heavier than air. And thirdly, and this is my last point, lightning was going off all over the place, and lighting has been shown to burn off tornadoes before they touch the ground–since lighting bolts are hotter than the surface of the sun, you can easily imagine how this is possible.

So basically, there was no threat of tornadoes.

All humor aside, though, I DO think it was perfectly safe to continue the race, or at least have us race back to town on a more direct route. I mainly say this because I was off the front–with a bad cold. How likely is that to happen again at an NRC stage race? Probably as likely as another NRC race being canceled because of tornadoes.

So here’s a recap of the race: We head out through the tiny town of Cannon Falls, where there’s a big expo with a bunch of tents and stuff and loud speakers blaring with the race announcers yapping like a bunch of howler monkeys–all to the racers since no one lives in Cannon Falls. We head up a hill or two. There are attacks but nothing gets up the road more than 10 seconds because it’s a heavy head wind. I feel like crap. A watter bottle falls out of my bottle cage as I go over some pot holes in the first 3 miles. Some guy almost takes Sean out, as I witness the event directly behind them. Eventually I find myself near the front and I attack. I look back and there’s one guy on my wheel. There’s also one guy up the road, who we’re rapidly gaining on. Kelly Benefit was sitting on the front of the pack and it looks like they’re content to let us go. A hill looms in front of me as I’m pushing way too many watts into the headwind and my lungs begin to cackle. I’m pretty sure I’m doomed. I elbow for the guy to come around me and he takes a big pull up the hill, with me hanging on, hoping that the hill ends around the next bend. The guy trailing behind us catches on shortly after we get to the top of the hill, and I take another pull as we go down hill and turn left up another small riser, but now we have a tailwind for the first time in the race. Perfect timing. At this point, we were 30-40 seconds in front of the pack, and we were about to catch the lone Kenda rider up the road, which would have given us a fourth guy. Later after the race, I heard there were two more guys trying to bridge up to us, who might have caught us and given us even more horsepower. It looked like the lasting move of the day, which would have probably gotten swept up in the final circuits in town, or sooner, but it would have been great to ride in the break all day, even though I was feeling about as fast as a zero-legged toad.

But it wasn’t to be, for a moto cop came up to us and told us to turn around. The race was canceled just before we hit the 1 hour mark, and we all re-grouped while the officials and the team cars joined in a huge cluster F. After 10 minutes of debate, they had us ride back to town the way we had come and it turned into a huge NRC group ride, which in a way was pretty cool. Just 20 minutes earlier we had been chopping each other to get ahead in the group, bumping bars, all in silence riding 3 inches apart. Now, we were acting like a big group of friends, chatting about the world cup, the idiot decision-makers, the lightning, and whatever else–all while riding with good group etiquette. The bigger pro teams eventually pulled out and loaded into their vans before it started raining, but the storm never really materialized in the race’s vicinity and it was all for nothing. A perfectly good race canceled because of some dumb wind that was 20 miles away. This is a perfect example of a situation where my motto of “Better sorry than safe” should have been applied.

Nature Valley–2nd stage

I just got back from the night crit in St. Paul. It would have been fun with the big crowd, cool course running under the skyscrapers, and warm weather, but I was sick, so it wasn’t exactly fun. And worse, it looks like my race is pretty much over. I made the time cut, but I don’t think starting tomorrow is going to do any good. I felt like I was getting better until this morning, after the TT. I came home from it, slept and laid in bed for four hours, then rode over to the crit course with the team at 6:45, feeling like crap. It only gets harder from here, and if I have any chance of getting better for Nationals next weekend, rest will do it.

I started the crit and within two laps my face was covered in snot and I was rocketing towards the back of the pack, and soon counting down the laps each time through the start/finish, waiting for the lap sign to read 20 to go–the half way point–so I could pull out and throw up. Tomorrow is a short but brutal road race. It starts at 5 pm, so at least I’ll be able to sleep in if I do start. That’s all for now.

Nature Valley 2010

Saint Paul Minnesota–

Sometimes you look forward to something for a long time and it doesn’t quite work out the way you planned. I’ve been looking forward to this race the entire year and ended up being sick for it. Ever since Hood ended a few Sundays ago, I’ve been hacking up pieces of my lungs every day. This morning was no exception. Although I’ve been feeling better the past two days, my sinuses are still producing way too much mucus. I’ve told them to quit it, but they’re not getting the message. They see all that space down below in my lungs as a problem, and their mission is to fill the void. Well done boys, well done. You’ve shown your valor. If there was such a thing as a mucus-making factory over in China, you might be productive enough to not be outsourced.

This morning was the 6-mile time trial with a short and steep hill at the end. I paced myself well and pretty much went as hard as I could go, but ended up placing 98th at 1:30 back from the leader (out of 150 starters). Not exactly the top 20 spot I’ve been dreaming of, but at least I beat two of my teammates, which is what bike racing is all about. Beating your teammates. Tonight is a crit downtown in Saint Paul. It’s going to rock.

Races of the past

I hate it when people start out blog post with “it’s been a while since my last post…” So I won’t do that. There, I already accomplished that. But seriously, it has been a long time. Why? Well, because no one really reads this anymore since I made it private. And what’s the point of doing something unless lots of people can see you doing it? Does a tree make a sound when it shits in the woods if no one’s around to hear it? No. Because trees don’t poop. And even if they did, it wouldn’t make noise because trees are very polite. Maybe if a tree ate a lot of spicy chili. Then it would make a pretty big noise. And of course trees don’t need toilet paper, since they have plenty of leaves. Why was it that people were complaining that I hadn’t written enough in here lately? Anyways, enough about trees. Now onto the races.

I think my last race that I wrote about was May 2nd. That would have been about Cherry Blossom. After that race, I got sick. Probably from Galen Mitterman, a fellow racer who’s been sick since March 2009. A couple other guys on Hagens got sick too, but we all managed to get over it by our 2nd NRC race of the year, Joe Martin, which was May 6th-9th. Joe Martin has been my favorite race of the year so far. For starters, I had NO flats or mechanical problems. I also did fairly well. No top 10’s or anything, but I did manage a 37th final GC out of 160 starters.

Joe Martin was a four stage event in Arkansas, with an uphill time trial on the first day, a road race on the second day, another road race on the third day, and a crit on Sunday. The TT, although uphill, suited me well since I feel like I can pace myself better on those than flat TTs, even though I should be better than a lot of the small guys at flat TTs. I placed 65th, over a minute down from the fastest time.

I’d never been to the South before, so seeing the dead armadillos on the side of the road was exciting. Also, it was warm and humid. In Seattle, where I had been for the previous couple days, it had been raining with temperatures in the mid 40’s.

The second day of the race was a 110 mile hilly road race that slowly ate away at your energy reserves without you realizing it. I spent too much time at the back and missed the two moves that went up the road. The first one went away at mile 50 and came back about 10 miles later. Then another move of a dozen guys went up the road and stayed there, winning about half a minute ahead of the field after a somewhat technical and hilly finish coming into town. I placed 50 something. And moved up a spot or two on GC.

Stage three was an easier stage, with only one climbing section in it. Of course, I was too far back in the pack the first time up the steep climb and missed the move. But lucky for us the pack chased it down before the last 10K to go. It ended in a group sprint on a wide road and I finished mid pack.

Finally, stage four came. The most technical, dangerous crit I have ever done. It had 12 corners in 1.3 miles. It was 90 minutes of pain as the course was very hilly, but also 90 minutes of panic, as there were 70 crashes in our race. 70!! Of the 130 starters, only 78 made the time cut of 45 minutes! Whoever chose the course deserves to have their knees taken out with a crow bar, for compensation for all the damage they inflicted on the people who crashed.

After pre riding the course and seeing someone already lying on the ground at corner 11, I realized the importance of starting up at the front today. So I made sure to barge my way up to the very front of the pack when we lined up. After the call ups, I was 20 back, but still close to the front. The gun went off and it was game on. I was sitting in the top 30 or so during the first lap and a guy went down right in front of me on corner 11. I unclipped in time and slid into a hay bail, but avoided going down. The pack rushed by, getting a glimpse of what was to come. Corner 11 was off camber, with sand. There was a crash there ever other lap, for 40 something laps.

I took a free lap, got back in the race, and suffered through the first 45 minutes without another mishap. I was close to the front. Holding steady between 20th and 40th on the road. I had to take two more free laps while I was involved in two more crashes in the final 30 minutes of racing. With two laps to go the pace skyrocketed and what was left of the pack split up. I stayed on my Dutch teammate, Soren’s, wheel coming in with one to go. I should have gone around him at this point and closed a gap that some guys in front of us had left open, but I didn’t. I took the next couple corners poorly and soon was gaped off with half a lap to go. I had enough in the tank to close the gap and finished 32nd, keeping in contact with the second group, a few seconds back from the front group. This moved me up to 37th GC.

I was happy with the race, but realized later that if I had taken the corners better during the last 2 laps, I could have finished in the lead group and had a chance to go for the top 10, which I think I could have pulled off since the finish was a short steep hill–which suits me well.

Let’s see, after Joe Martin we flew back to Seattle on Monday, then on Tuesday Sean dropped me off in Sherwood on his way to Bend. And just a few short days later, I went back up to Seattle on a train to meet the team for the drive out to eastern Washington to do the Wenatchee stage race. I had a terrible race here, riding a bad TT, a decent crit, and then completely failing at the road race. It’s not even worth getting into detail about. Basically I didn’t get enough rest in between Joe Martin and Wenatchee (too much riding during the week and too much traveling).

Wenatchee was my last race until this past week of racing at the Mt Hood Classic, a six-day stage race where our team won the team GC. I didn’t have any good results myself, but managed to help out the team. Now I’m sick again and our next big race is Nature Valley in Minnesota. This has been one of my main goals all year. Having a good race here will make up for the lack of results I’ve had the first half of the season. And hopefully being sick right before the race like I was for Joe Martin will give me a bit of a boost (from the extra rest).