Univest Grand Prix

I know I’m late for the race report on this one, but here it is at last.

The Univest Grand Prix, 9/11 – 9/12, is a UCI race in Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philadelphia.  The day after the Univest GP is the Univest Doylestown crit, which has all the same teams but isn’t part of the UCI race.

It was warm out.  I lined up close to the front after the call ups.  I was faced with 11 laps of a 5.8 mile loop and then 5 laps of a 2.8 mile loop, one steep KOM climb that was about a minute long, thousands of spectators lining the road, a large contingent of pro and “amateur” european teams, and last but not least: 154 other riders who desperately wanted one last result before the year was over.  Lucky for me, I had legs of steel.

My legs felt a little too good actually.  After the previous week at the Green Mountain stage race in vermont where I took 9th GC, I was riding with new confidence.  I had never felt better on a bike.  I was riding like an entirely different person, able to climb at the front of the pack with ease while others were popping.  This is also how I felt at Univest.  Except even better.  I was the first person to attack, and quickly got away by myself and caught the TV motorcycles within the first mile of the race.  My effort was short lived though as the pack obviously wasn’t about to let a lone rider off the front.  I got absorbed in the group and others attacked and chased for the next couple miles while I regained my strength.  I attacked again before a sharp right hand corner (there was a total of 400 corners throughout all the laps of the race).  I got away solo and bridged up to a guy who had been off the front for a little while.  I blew past him as we went up the false flat.  I hammered too hard actually.  A minute later a group of five guys caught me and I clung on.  Took a pull.  Rotated back.  I took a look behind and saw that the field was strung out in a long line of 150 riders with gaps opening up at the front, trying to bridge up to us.  A UHC rider who was in the group with me attacked and one other guy and myself followed.  This was only prolonging the futile move as I continued digging myself a large hole.  We were caught right before the steep KOM climb.  A perfect place to get caught after being off the front…not.

The KOM climb tore me a new one as I was pretty quickly shed to the middle of the pack.  It was only half way through the first lap at this point and I had already attacked 3 times and was actually getting worried that I might get dropped if the pace continued on like it was.  We tore around the countless corners at 30 mph, 35 mph, 40 mph.  The 88 mile course was being raced like a 90 minute NRC crit, which are hard enough in themselves when they’re only 90 minutes.  I hung on, continuing to lose places and slide further back in the group.  WTF?!!  I was supposed to be the strong guy on our team for this race.  Before we started, Joe had chosen me to be the protected rider–for the first time all season.  I was beginning to have my doubts as I hung on at the back of the single-file portion of the peloton, strung out with gaps forming in front of me.

I regained my strength by the start/finish though and made a hard chop in the next two corners and went from being 130th to 60th.  Over the next lap, I continued moving up and soon found myself near the front.  Although, now that I think about it, it might have taken me 2 laps to move up back to the front, which would have explained why I never saw the huge breakaway of 15 riders get off the front.  Yep, I finally figured it out.  Funny how writing something down helps flesh out the actual memory.  Damn it.  Reading this, I feel pretty dumb.  Nearly attacked myself out of the race within the first 4 miles of an 88 mile race, which also caused me to miss the breakaway.  Then spent the rest of the race trying to bridge up.

When the break was still only 45 seconds in front of us, there was a good chance at being able to bridge on the KOM climb.  I attacked on the climb or closely followed attacks almost every time up it.  And we went up it 16 times in the race.  Once every lap.  My best attempt was early on in the race, maybe on lap 6 or 7.  I got onto Lang’s wheel and he took me up on the side of the pack during the beginning of the false flat section before the KOM.  He then got on the very front and absolutely drilled it for about 2 minutes to the base of the KOM climb.  A lot of guys were certainly hurting that time up it.  Because Lang’s huge pull and then my attack on the KOM was by far the fastest and hardest we went on that section–which was the hardest section of the race.

Although none of my attacks worked, I guess I have to be happy with how my form was.  Yes, I messed up tactic-wise for attacking to hard and early and missed my chance at being in the break.  But at least I was ABLE to tactically mess it up.  Most of the year I’ve just been hanging on mid pack or only able to throw in attacks at the very beginning of the race when it’s flat.  Today, I was able to attack throughout the entire thing, and in my opinion was possibly one of the 10 strongest guys in the race.

Back to it:

I went off the front right before we started the 5 small circuits.  The breakaway was still away by a minute or so (they never gained more than a minute).  I wanted to be positioned well on the small laps since I knew they were technical and knew there would be crashes, seeing that it was our first time through.  My attack was weak on purpose, and I let two guys catch and come around me.  I was now sitting third wheel as we entered the first new turns onto the small laps.  The rest of the field was right behind.  Perfect spot to be.  If I kept this position, I could even launch another attack on the KOM climb about a mile later.  Perfect.  Except that that didn’t happen and I crashed immediately as we went around a sharp right-hander.  The guy in front took it too sharp and lost his front wheel to a pothole or bump in the middle of the turn.  All three of us went down, me riding over the guy who had caused the crash and then flipping over the bars (flying mostly over the sidewalk and rolling into the grass).  I was up on my feet BEFORE my bike was even done flying through the air.  I grabbed it, set it down back on earth, and got on.  The chain was off and the shifters were bent inwards.  I got off and fiddled with it in a panic.  The entire peloton was gone by the time I got it figured out and re-mounted.  I wasn’t hurt, but was shaking with adrenaline and anger.  I screamed FUCK!!! as loud as I possibly could and started sprinting off the sidewalk onto the road.  Joe came up in the team car and I got into his draft.  He yelled at me to calm down.  He floored it and I sat on the bumper at 35mph.  I looked ahead and saw Sean coming off the back of the pack.  It looked like he was going to be helping me get back on, but he was never able to catch onto the car’s draft.  I shot past Joe as we took some sharp corners leading into the climb.  Out of the saddle, sprinting into the base of the KOM, I could see the pack up ahead, half way up.  Part way up the climb, Joe caught me again and gave me a huge power feed.  I was still pedaling.  I had to because I couldn’t hold onto the bottle at the speed we were going up that hill.

We caught the car in front of us, nearing the end of the caravan.  I let go of the bottle and hammered my way to the back of the pack and caught the field as they summited the climb.  I wish I had a power meter for that whole section while I caught back on.  It would have been a crazy number.

It took me the better part of a lap to get back to the front.  But when I did, I felt strong and relaxed.  The Amore Vita team was on the front bringing the breakaway back, although it didn’t look like they’d be caught.  I sat easy on the climb the next couple laps, watching for moves as I sat in the top 15.

With 1 lap to go I realized I had lost about 30 spots in the group.  Even worse, I got boxed in on the last time up the climb and lost more spots.  After getting chopped in the next few corners I was sitting way back, roughly in 50th position.  I made up some ground but by the time we came to the 1 km sign, the race was decided.  I didn’t risk causing a crash trying to sprint for 25th place as we came into the final 200 meters and I rolled through at 31st.  In a lot of other big races I did this year, 31st would have seemed pretty good.  But I wasn’t happy at all with this one and I was pissed and bitter about it for a full week.

The next day was the crit.  It was raining and I didn’t feel like racing.  I had invested all my emotional energy into the day before and now I just didn’t give a shit anymore.  I lined up near the back.  Got stuck behind some crashes that caused the field to split apart (there were tons of crashes today).  And eventually pulled out even though there were only 60 riders left and my group eventually caught the front a few laps later.  Funny how one day you can be more motivated than you’ve ever been and the next day the least motivated you’ve ever been.  I watched the race from the sideline and immediately regretted pulling out.  My legs were probably decent enough to have sprinted to a top 10 that day.  Oh well.  There’s always next year.

Herb Round #2

I started writing this a week ago so it’s a little out of date.  Here it is:

You remember Herb, right? The guy who attempted to put a hex on our team for Utah when we decided to stay at someone else’s house instead of his? https://kennettron.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/breaking-up/

Well, we decided to get a little revenge on him last night when we were driving from Burlington Vermont down to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. I remember being told it was a 2 hour drive, tops. But it turned out I heard incorrectly and it was a 7 hour drive, minimum. So we needed some entertainment. This killed two birds with one stone.

Here is that original evil hexing transcript from our last texting episode way back at the end of July:

Herb: Hi what happened?
Me: We found another place.
Herb: Lame. You suck. Bad luck will be yours.
Herb (about an hour later without me replying): You wasted your trip. You don’t have a chance in the race.

Yesterday evening, while we were heading down to Pennsylvania, I texted Herb saying we were in Idaho–similar to the time when he called me on our drive to Park City, asking where we were and why we were late.  I had told him then that we were still in Idaho.  We were actually in Park City at our alternate house.  When I texted yesterday I thought he would still have my phone number saved and pick up on our joke, but he didn’t…which led to something much much better.  Here is the transcript from yesterday’s drive. The entire conversation lasted about 4 hours.

Us: Hey herb we’re on our way. I think we’re in idaho but we’ll be there soon!
Herb: To see the Jeep?  (You can imagine our excitement when this opportunity presented itself).
Herb: Where are you?
Us: Just passed tremonton. (a southern Idaho city).
Herb: Call me.
Us: Phone speaker is dead.
Herb: Going south to see the jeep?
Us: yeah.
Herb: Ok I thought you were coming from salt lake.
Us: Yeah had some family business up in idaho.  (If he asked us what the family business was, we had a planned response of “I had to perform a vasectomy on my grandfather’s horse.”  Unfortunately he never asked and the opportunity for the story never came up).
Herb: You sure you are going south? I am near park city.
Us: yeah im just heading back from up north. Want to meet in kimball jct? Easy for me to get there.
Herb: I am 2 blocks off freeway. What time will you be here.
Us: 7 pm. Id like to meet at redstone somewhere. (Redstone is a Mall in Kimball Junction–about 15 minutes from Park City).
Herb: Let me know when you are close. I will be at the school coaching till 7 or so.

2 hours pass.

Us: We are about 45 minutes away. We should meet by the bobsled. my boys wanna play on it.

The bobsled at Redstone Mall.

Herb: Keep in touch. at soccer practice now.

40 minutes pass.

Us: I’ll be there in 10. The boys are blue with excitement.
Herb: At red stone? I’ll be there in twenty.

15 minutes pass.

Us: We are here.
Herb: At red stone?
Us: At cafe rio now. My boys are digging into a big messy burrito. (Cafe Rio is the mexican place we ate at a few times.)
Herb: Be there soon.

15 minutes pass.

Herb: Out front me cafe now.
Herb: Out front of cafe rio.
Herb: Please come to right out front of cafe rio.

15 minutes pass.

Us: Ok we must have missed you. We are at kneaders now getting my boys some buns. Come in and say hi.  (Kneader’s is a bakery right next to Cafe Rio).
Herb: In kneaders now.

5 minutes pass.

Herb: Going home. Let me know if you want to come see it.
Us: See what?

Race Report GMSR stage 1-3

This is from the team email that I sent out yesterday about the current race I’m at in Vermont:

Hey, I thought maybe someone who’s at the race should write up a race report. Thanks for getting us on the ball, David.

The cat 2 guys are going to write their own race report since they know what happened in their races better than I do. But just to let you know who’s here, here’s who’s here: Robin Secrest (sp?), Lang Reynolds, Spencer Smitheman, Chris Wingfield, Alan Adams, Alan Schmitz, me.

This is going to sound pretty one sided (my side of the story) but that’s because I’m writing this.

Stage 1: It was a time trial. It was on a road with some up hill and some downhill too, which I enjoyed very much–the down hill part. But it did have a big ‘ol hill right from the gun which was pretty steep. It was also pretty humid. With about 2K to go I got passed by the guy who ended up getting 2nd. He had clip on aero bars, which were illegal for this race (Eddy Merckx style). I passed him back with 1K to go, and complained to the officials about him later, but he got away with it. Spencer’s race quote: “it was all right, nothing special, though.” Lang’s race quote: Nothing, because he’s not in the living room right now and I can’t be bothered to go ask him. I got a flat after my race was over and had to hitch hike twice to get home. Then Spencer and Lang and I drove the RR course for Sunday. Nothing else happened after that. Nothing at all. Especially not something like accidental car theft. That certainly did NOT happen.

Stage 1 9K time trial results:

Kennett Peterson 10th.
Spencer Smitheman 29th.
Lang Reynolds 45th.

Stage 2 was a bit longer. It was a circuit race. 75 miles, which felt really short since the last couple races I’ve done have been around 100 miles. With big mountains. This race did not have mountains, despite the race’s name (Green MOUNTAIN Stage Race). In fact, I haven’t seen any mountains whatsoever since I got to Vermont. Mainly just really tall hills. Stage 2 had a small hill. Using our highly-tuned race intellects that we’ve been sharpening for many months this year, Spencer, Lang, and I all attacked at least once on the down hill section in the first couple miles. For some reason, nothing stuck.

Later in the race other things happened. I got in a move before the first sprint points sprint. I got 4th in the sprint and was awarded 2 points. Then we got caught by the pack. A while later I followed wheels and closed a ton of gaps over the first KOM and also got 4th. I was awarded 0 points for that since the points only went 3 deep. But I did make the front group of the field split over the hill. It was a big move that had all the GC guys in it. I thought it would stick but I think Lang and Spencer were pulling really hard back in the field. Nah, just kidding. Whenever I was away Spencer and Lang covered moves and made sure to chop as many wheels as possible.

When we got brought back I attacked right away and got clear with another group before the 2nd sprint hot spot. I got 4th again. That’s three 4th’s in a row for those who’ve been keeping track. Our group got caught again after the sprint because the guys I was riding with were weak little cry babies.

There was a break up the road for the 2nd KOM so the pace was pretty chill that time (these are laps by the way. 3.75 laps in total). Another break slipped off the front somehow after that one I was just talking about was caught, so the 3rd sprint hot spot points were taken away and I didn’t get a chance to spring for 4th again.

Now came the last lap. I started out waaaay too far back on the KOM climb, despite Spencer pushing and yelling at me to move up a few miles earlier. Luckily I had the legs to close some gaps and make it over the top with 8 other guys. The 9 of us quickly caught the break of 5 that was up the road and that was the lasting move. 14 of us went to the finish line together about 15 miles later, with Reid Mumford attacking with 1K to go and holding it by half a wheel. I knew I should have gone with 1K or so to go like he did, but I wussed out and opted for the safe move by waiting for the sprint (as if sprinting against David Veilleux was a safe bet). Obviously that wasn’t the right choice. I felt great even at the end there, but ruined my chance at the win by being a damn wimp!

Spencer and Lang came across the line a little while later, safely in the main bunch. For dinner we had some delicious burgers compiled of pastrami/chicken/bison (or bizon if you ask Spencer). They were awesome. Then I had ice cream, chocolate banana bread and beer (I took a page out of the Book of Sam Johnson for that sage recovery meal). Spencer had almond butter and maple syrup on his banana bread (Robin made the deLISH banana bread by the way). Lang might have had some too but he probably didn’t REALLY need it. Then the power to our house went out (Spencer whimpered ever so slightly in fright). With no other option other than having a meaningful conversation, we sat around the dinner table with a candle and watched “I’m on a boat” on an iphone–multiple times.

Kennett Peterson 7th.
Spencer Smitheman 39th
Lang Reynolds 47th

Stage 3:

A 70 mile road race with 6,600 ft of climbing! That’s a lot of climbing in 70 miles! Plus it was like really really steep. A break got away after the first climb on the descent (go figure). I got in a move with four other guys at mile 15ish and we were joined by about 15 more guys, 5 miles later. So I sat on as the work horses in the front tried to pull back the 7 guys up the road. They did not go fast enough. 5 more guys bridged up to us to make our group 25 or 30. Then over the second big climb ANOTHER 5 or 6 guys caught us to make us 30 or 35! And then the rest of the field caught us to make our group 80 or 90 guys. That’s one BIG chase group!

By the numbers at this point in the race: we had been riding for 45 miles, I had taken 1 bad pee of the bike that got mostly on my hand, I had eaten roughly 6 hammer gels, Spencer had murmured lines from “I’m on a boat” 3 times (that I heard of), Lang had chopped 57 wheels, there was still a breakaway of 5 guys up the road, now with almost 4 minutes on us.

Onto the grand finale climb starting at mile 60: It was a combo of two climbs, actually, that lasted about 10 miles in total (including the downhill and flat sections which I know don’t qualify as climbs but I’m counting them anyways since they were hard).

Both Lang and Spencer kept me very close to the front and out of the wind throughout this whole ordeal. Spencer backed me up and hit a guy in the hip flexor after I yelled at him and pushed him for trying to chop my wheel and take my spot behind Ted King. Now that’s team work! The climbing here is really freakin steep and with 2 K to go I got popped from the lead 10 guys. Lang caught up to me a minute later and drilled it as hard as he could to keep me close, and with 500 meters to go I stood up for one final all out effort up the 20% grade and came across the line a groveling pile of lactic acid and misery. Lang followed right behind a few seconds later and Spencer just a few seconds after that.

Stage 3 results:

Kennett Peterson: 13th
Lang Reynolds: 16th
Spencer Smitheman: 17th

GC going into the stage 4 crit:

KP 9th
SS 16th
LR 17th