Redlands build up

A long drive awaits our team tomorrow morning. Across the Rocky Mountains and the northwest corner of the Southwest lies our destination. Redlands is the land of orange groves, months of uninterrupted sun, and broken dreams. The broken dream part comes with the bike race. Because it’s one of the first big races here in the States, like San Dimas, everyone has been dreaming about it for months and months over the winter, secretly fantasizing about slipping away into a breakaway and claiming the climber’s jersey for a day. Maybe the dreams grow even loftier and you somehow realize you can climb really well and also sprint well and you win a stage. Hell, maybe you magically find your time trial legs and, in your dreams, you find yourself standing on one of the overall podium steps. If the winter training ride is long enough, that fantasy might turn completely wild and you begin winning the GC and stages of every NRC race, get picked up by Garmin after winning a stage at Tour of California and the national championships, go over to Europe and begin winning the Monuments within a year or two. You carry on your cycling career with huge success for 15 years, all the while writing hilarious memoires and meaningful, societal-changing works of fiction under a crafty pen name. Since you had time to go back to school and earn PHds in engineering, physics, and math, during your pro cycling career, you put your genius to work and invent a plethora of green technology. You start up a dozen companies and begin growing wind and solar technology, outpacing climate-altering energy sources once and for all. You use the proceeds to buy millions of acres of BLM land and transform it into mountain biking and hiking trails, build wilderness lodges deep in the woods and stock them full of food and supplies for gypsy hikers to live on, you construct thousands of miles of paved, car-less roads for cyclists, and close off the rest of the land just for Nature.  Your novels, the words now empowered by fame and fortune, start a revolution that overthrows Capitalism and brings peace to the world by creating actual equality. Everyone lives in simple mud huts and subsides in small communities, farming small plots, grinding grain with a shared donkey, and hunting from the re-grown wilderness. The global population falls to a healthy 10 or 20 million people and the world is finally rid of human-made problems.

Then, as if from nowhere, a solar flare suddenly destroys all life on earth in a split second. Shit. That last little bump in the grand plan was you just getting dropped at Redlands.

Because there’s so much time spent glorifying and dreaming about certain beginning-of-the-season races while you slog out five and six hour days during the winter, it can be hard coming to terms with reality. Reality says that you’ll be dropped, finish mid-pack, get sick, crash out in the first 20 minutes, forget how to put your shoes on and miss the start. Wait, that last one is just a re-occurring nightmare.

To be a successful cyclist, and by successful I mean not quitting before your time is up, you have to continue living in the fantasy world even though, deep down, you know there isn’t the slightest chance you’ll ever win or podium during a stage of Redlands. This is where I currently stand: believing yet not believing. It’s a strange place to be. Even now as I type this I don’t truly believe a win or a top three is out of the question. Irrationality is a wonderful tool; blind religious faith will save me.

I got home last Monday from San Dimas, unable to bask in the warm sun in California with most of the rest of the NRC peloton as they trained and rested in preparation of Redlands. I got off two buses and drug my bike bag and gear to work at noon, and stayed late until Adelaide picked me up. The next morning I did a motorpace session with Garrett (the driver) and my teammate Nick. It was cold when we started but both of us warmed up right away once the hard effort started. My legs were totally ruined from San Dimas and the prior day’s travel, but even so I felt like we were going too slow, so I began attacking the scooter. With twenty minutes to go on the way back into town, Garrett began ramping the pace up. I kept yelling at Nick to tell Garrett to go faster and faster–all the while the fire grew in my trembling legs. All of a sudden I realized how screwed I was. I lasted until five minutes to go and got popped. I was trashed, and wondered why I even thought this was a good idea at all today. I rode slowly in to work.

I did a couple hours easy on Wednesday, now having isolated myself from the rest of the office by working on the computer desk in the kitchen. There was a cold going around and I didn’t/couldn’t bring myself to comply with normal social manners and be in the same room anymore. That night we had a team dinner at Rio for Scott’s birthday (Kim and Jake’s cakes were present). Showing great self-control, I took home almost my entire burrito for lunch the next day. Now THAT is dedication to a diet. I only ate like 1,700 calories of chips and salsa too.

Thursday was another hard day. A very hard day. I did my favorite workout: 8X4″ VO2 with equal rest. Despite my legs still being tired from only two sort of rest days since the race last weekend, I was able to pump out some good power. I cracked on the sixth and seventh intervals, but did a big effort on the last one to bring the average back up. I finished off the ride with three all out sprints up some rollers. That night I rode down, fast, to Adelaide’s house from work, late as usual.  She, Eric, and I went to a Lindsey Stirling concert in Denver. Lindsey Stirling plays electric violin dubstep while performing modern, ballet-esque dance. It was pretty sweet. Check it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHjpOzsQ9YI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf6LD2B_kDQ

Friday was two and a half hours easy with a long climb. Saturday….Saturday was the blowout day and MAN did I blow it out! I started off the day right, with a large Freezie: oats, yogurt, banana, peanut butter, coconut milk, and cinnamon stirred together and left overnight in the fridge to solidify and “freeze.” I washed that down with two mugs of coffee and was out the door for the Gateway ride, still tired and with aching muscles from everything I’d done the past week and a half. The tiredness would fade. It always does with enough riding.

The Gateway ride was small. Super small. But we had a good pace-line out to the Carter Lake climb turnoff. From there I smashed things apart pretty well and everyone got to enjoy varying levels of pain on their own. We rode back to town two-up; I felt pretty good and fresh by the end, and had a short rest at home, ate some food, and cleaned my bike before the second ride of the day.

There was a fast local crit down in Boulder that afternoon, which was the reason the Gateway ride was so small. I rode down there and met my team before the start. Our goal was to attack a lot and get in some good training, and if a result came out of that then cool. Of course results never come that way– treating races like training. And they especially don’t come after training hard before the race like Nick and I had done. I should mention that Colt did win the Collegiate race earlier in the day, getting the first Rio victory of 2013.

I attacked out what little brains I had left, putting digs in all the way till the end of the blustery course. I really suffered with ten laps to go after initiating a three-man breakaway. I even had to skip pulls, feeling like I was obliged to tell the other two guys that I wasn’t being lazy or trying to screw them over, but that I was already 110 miles deep and my legs were more than leaden. I didn’t say anything though, just in case they realized that if they stood up to sprint for 10 seconds I’d be dropped in an instant.

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Weak little Kennitto hiding from the wind, still doing 450 watts for some damn reason. Photo by sportifimages.com, from 303 Cycling.

We were caught anyways; the pack won the race. No wait, there was a two-man breakaway that no one knew about that almost lapped us. They won.

After the race (no the mayhem wasn’t over for the day) I rode up Super Flagstaff with Liam. My legs still felt good but about a quarter of the way up I realized I was on the verge of bonking. Plus it was getting really cold. I decided to get dropped and let Liam go on on his own while I just rode up slowly by myself. I got colder and more bonky as I went, really wishing I’d fueled better or that I’d spot a fallen Cliff Block on the pavement. Normally I can get by on one or two thousand calories on even really hard six-hour rides, but with all the sprinting and hard efforts, and the six hours of riding being strung out over the span of most of the daylight hours, I was clean out of glycogen. I turned around and rode down, getting colder and colder. I got to the bottom and turned back up to climb more and meet Liam on his way down (my race wheels and bag were at his house where I’d dropped them off, so I couldn’t just ride home by myself). My eyes started crossing and my vision blurred. My head hung low, mouth slightly gapping open. I began shivering as the sun slowly set. Finally I saw Liam and we rode down again.

Heading through town to his house, still shivering and cross-eyed from hunger and the cold, I challenged Liam to race up a small hill and thoroughly crushed him. Even in the depths of despair, one must put forth challenges, because in most circumstances things are worse off for someone else.

We got to his house, I wrapped myself in a blanket and did a quick raid of his food cabinets for hot chocolate and peanut butter while he showered. After warming up a bit we drove to Chipotle for victory burritos (victory for crushing ourselves) and he dropped me off at home, where I ate more food.

Now I rest, sit in a van, rest, and prepare myself for failure at Redlands. I mean victory. Either way I know I couldn’t legally or sanely do much more to be stronger than I am right now. Given my work time-constraints, I’m super happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish this winter and spring. I’m stronger than I’ve been in the past even with less recovery time. My training is a bit more focused and sharper for sure, but I think the main thing is that I’m just more happy this year–with how everything in life is going.

San Dimas 2013

I left off when I was in the airport on Wednesday. After the flight, one of my college friends, Will, picked me up at LAX. He lives in Palms, 10 miles away from the airport and right next to an In N’ Out. I got everything.

The next morning I lugged my bike bag and backpack a half-mile to the bus station and missed my bus by one minute. It was warm and sunny out, so the next 45 minutes went by quickly as I waited for the next one.

Everyone kept tripping over my bike bag on the bus since there was only standing room left. No one seemed to mind though. A short hour later and I was at a light rail station. The train was much more pleasant than the bus and went the same distance in less than half the time.

From the end-of-the-line train station in Pasadena, I drug all my stuff a few blocks to a huge Mexican restaurant for each chips and salsa while a short wait for Colin and Ross to pick me up on their way.

A brief summary of the rest of the day: they picked me up, we drove to the Double Lemon Tree Inn, picked lemons, drove to Glendora Mountain for a TT preview ride, went to Trader Joe’s, I rode back to the motel, and we slept. Colin rolled around in his sleep like a claustrophobic trapped in a sleeping bag.

Stage One was 4.7-mile uphill time trial. They lengthened it from recent years, which I was not happy to hear about. It only took me a minute longer than it did last year, but that last minute was the most painful minute. I’d gone into the time trial with a goal power output in mind, which I maintained for the first four minutes. Then my body revolted and decided to go 40 watts fewer. The 4K to go sign was not a welcome sight, for I’d started going to piece even before that. I was shooting for top 30 but finished 56th. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Stage Two was the circuit race, which in my opinion is the only reason this race is worth traveling to. I like it. I like it a lot, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s most people’s least favorite race day of the year. There’s no caravan so if you flat your day is over, which has happened to me before. Of little concern to most but certainly of concern to me was the fact that there’s no neutral water. I managed to craftily steal a bottle on lap two. Alan gave me a bottle on lap three. Someone else handed me a bottle a lap after that. Then a few laps later another racer offered me a bottle, probably feeling guilty after seeing my pleas from the feed zone start to finish. All in all I had five bottles since one of mine popped out on the first lap, which was just enough. Oh, and I forgot to mention that earlier in the day I’d done a thirty minute spin before breakfast on the course and found a (mostly) unopened pack of Cliff Blocks. Strawberry flavor. It was the first thing I ate in the race.

Water and difficulty of the stage aside, the main reason the circuit race is feared and loathed is because it’s super sketchy. The road is pot-holed, laden with road furniture, technical for a US road race, and parts of the course are only sort of closed to oncoming traffic, but not really. That last bit is the main problem. We’ll be spread out on the road with half the field on the left side going into a downhill turn at 45mph and somebody will scream “car” just in time for there not to be a massive list of casualties.

The biggest upset of the day was unfortunately a result of the race leader, Phil Gaimon, crashing out into some barriers and being airlifted away. We neutralized ourselves in the pack after he and others went down, going slow for almost a full lap since no one knew what was going on or whether he was trying to get back into the group. The hesitation gave the breakaway a winning chance for once. It’s usually not worth going for the break, but every once in a while it pays off big. Their gap went from one minute to three.

The day before during the time trial my legs had still been a bit cooked from the intervals I did earlier in the week and all the plane, train, bus, and car travel, but I felt good today. I was positioning fairly well going into the climb each time and was always in the main group and ahead of all but one of the crashes. With two laps to go the field was down to less than 100 from the original 170 starters and I could sense that most of the burning lungs and aching legs surrounding me wouldn’t be making over the climb the 12th and final time. Sometimes this race ends in a pack of 60. Not today.

I moved up alone in the wind as we approached the climb, deciding that it would be better to be a bit burnt for it than get stuck too far back. This proved true as I had no major difficulty getting over it in the lead group. I can usually stick on the wheel if the climb is short enough; the psychological blow of having to close down gaps to maintain contact with the lead group is much worse than using energy for positioning properly.

Roughly 25 of us made it over the top and descended upon the 2KM finish straight. I stuck close to Ben Jacques-Maynes’ wheel, knowing he’d be good for the finish. Possibly unwisely, I made my way around him when he wasn’t up as far as I wanted to be. I’ve been too far back too many times for the sprint and decided I’d rather be up front and risk blowing up in the wind getting there than be too far back and never get a chance to sprint.

A couple short-lived attacks were brought back since nothing was going to stick with the cross/tailwind and still enough guys to ensure a sprint. I moved up on the left by myself with just under a kilometer to go, ready to jump on someone’s wheel and get the hell out of the wind as soon as possible. With 300 or 400 meters to go Ben Jacques-Maynes came out of the line and jumped early just to the right of me. I tried to get on his wheel but was immediately gapped off. Couldn’t even get on the damn wheel for half a second. This is because they guy I’d thought was Ben was actually JJ Haedo. He gapped everyone off and took the pack sprint by a full second. Two of his teammates had survived off the front in the breakaway by 40 seconds, making it 1-2-3 for Jamis. After I blew up from too much time in the wind and then attempting to follow Haedo, I finished 10th in our sprint, 12th in the race. Pretty decent considering the depth of the field and the difficulty of the day. Only 86 guys managed the time cut.

I was happy with the result for most of that afternoon, but the feeling passed as I thought about how nice it would have been to at least be top 10. Or maybe a single digit placing. Or maybe top 5 and get on the podium. Or maybe if I’d been perfectly positioned on Haedo’s wheel I could have stuck on him and nipped him at the line for third. Screw that, what I should have done was just ride off the front a lap or two earlier and catch the breakaway for the win. Or ride off the front, catch the breakaway, drop them and win by two minutes to take the GC lead. The upsetting thing about cycling, or life in general I guess, is that it’s impossible to be completely content unless you win the Tour seven times. But even that won’t be enough and you’ll have to come out of retirement and try for an 8th.

Sunday was the crit. It was a bit of an anticlimactic day for me. First off, I was all alone since Colin and Ross left the night before. I rode to the race after checking out of the motel and settled down in the Starbucks along the course for a couple hours, drinking coffee and loosing a bunch of chess.com games in a row. I won a bunch after the time trail, but have been on a rapid decline ever since. I’ve lost 13 games in a row in the past two days, proving that practicing something makes you worse at it.

After losing at chess it was time to go warm up and lose at bike racing. Since not attacking at all the day before had paid off with a good result, I decided to at least stave off any inclinations of attacking in the first hour. Maybe if it looked like things were breaking up or disorganized in the last half hour I’d start attacking. If that didn’t look like a good option, I’d just conserve and wait for the sprint.

So I tail gunned the first 60 minutes, just sitting at the back and coasting through the corners. Back in 2010 I got dropped from this crit somehow. After I got pulled, my director, Joe Holmes, took me to one of the corners and showed me how certain guys at the back didn’t have to pedal for roughly 300 meters. They did this by allowing a gap to open up, coast through the corner with extra speed, bypass the bunching accordion effect, and be back on the wheels in time for the acceleration out of the corner—which they didn’t have to do and therefore would save massive amounts of energy all throughout the course. This is called tail gunning and is further proof that most crits are stupid. It was so easy back there I was breathing through my nose almost the entire time. And my nose was stuffed up!

With 30 minutes to go I began moving up. I hovered around 30th to 40th wheel with 15 minutes to go. I pretty much just stayed there in the laundry cycle of passing guys on one side and getting passed back on the other. I ended up doing too poor of a job positioning and just rolled in at 37th, which kept my 20th GC and earned me $72.

Will drove in from LA to pick me up and watch the race. Later that evening we drove down to Venice Beach and I went body surfing for twenty minutes as the sun set. I hadn’t been in the ocean for over two years and it was right up there in terms of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in a while.  Now for a long day of travel, work, unpacking, and rebuilding my bike before a team motor pacing session tomorrow morning. Redlands is fast approaching.

Getting there

Greetings from humanity’s sewer. The modern day airport is everything that’s wrong with the world. The low-wage laborers toil through mundane days with little pay, are fed a steady diet of McDonalds and diet Pepsi as they throw my Precious around like a bikecase full of trash. Fake security instills our fear of fake terror–an old ploy by the missile man to sell three million dollar peace-makers built for reigning down shock and awe upon 30-dollar mud huts. The airport is a place where everyone is in a hurry to go sit down some more. It’s a dirty trough filled with stinking lines of impatient slobs tripping upon themselves in a crowded, uncomfortably sterile, fluorescently lighted mall of coughing, diseased, overweight and out of breath sheep who stand and pant upon moving sidewalks and stairs while they spike their insulin with frappacinos in preparation for going down to sit some more. Meanwhile, snow-capped peaks loom on the fading horizon, completely unfilled to the brim with screaming babies and crying parents. Silent they are, and filled only with cool, fresh mountain air and pine trees…still smoldering from last season’s forest fires and ready to ignite from the first Spring spark. Dry and dead, decaying in a dying world, the trees are proof that our blinders are so tight we can’t even see straight ahead. We’re fighting for seating zone 2, complaining about the lack of free snacks aboard our three-hour flight, texting incoherent crap in boredom instead of talking to the person sitting next to us. We’re prodded onto the plane, sit down in front of our personalized advertisement screens which are implanted in the seatback 20-inches from our face. They chant USA, USA and scream Best Buy, Burger King’s Baconator, and also get a Cadillac to haul your lard-laden ass to and from nowhere and nowhere.

Each of us is everything to somebody. Each of us is nobody to everyone else. So fuck em I guess. Fuck em all to hell, except you of course. For some reason I thought about this as I lay in a nest of 75 million down feathers in the backseat of Adelaide’s car while she and I and her sister, Lydia, drove down from the mountains two weekends ago on a Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining brightly upon my face, I’d recently eaten leftover Mexican food and I’d just finished a four-hour ride. Content doesn’t begin to describe my disposition at the time.

We’d spent the weekend in Salida, leaving work and a snowstorm down in Boulder on Friday, arriving at a hostel late at night to lay in bunks and only dream of sleep all night long. The snores from one of the other patrons would have been loud enough to keep a sleep-deprived narcoleptic awake and annoyed. I hit the culprit with a pillow multiple times to no avail.

The next morning Adelaide set out on a 26-mile trail race, which left the cozy mountain town of Salida and went straight up into the surrounding peaks. The run would take her over five hours. 150 other runners set out with her, some finishing and some succumbing to reality. It was cold, growing colder and began snowing later in the day. Since my legs were crushed from back-to-back days of VO2 intervals, but mainly because I was barely functioning on the three hours of sleep I’d gotten the night before, I decided to spend the day inside and in bed back at the hostel. But before that I rode to a breakfast diner and devoured a thick stack of pancakes and biscuits and gravy, all drowned in syrup and peanut butter.

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On the start line for a long, cold day.

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Adelaide, before the race and also before she lost her Camel-pack.

I was all set to race in Tucson last weekend at the Tucson Bicycle Classic but I got sick the day before my flight. I cancelled last minute, took two days off work to sleep and eat chicken soup, and quickly regained my strength in time to start up my intervals again before San Dimas. That takes us up to present time. Already today I’ve spent a full day at work, got a ride to Denver with Dan, who I work with, did an hour spin from his house, packed my bike and got delivered to the bus station just in time for the bus to the airport. Now all I have to do is fly, get picked up by a college friend, Will, and crash at his house tonight, somehow get to San Dimas tomorrow morning from LA (not sure how this will happen yet but it will likely involve buses and walking), meet Colin and Ross, whom I’m rooming with, ride the road race course for two or so hours, do packet pick up, eat dinner, find our cheap, run-down motel, and finally sleep before the race starts on Friday. Keeping the stress levels low before a travel race is key. Sometimes it’s easy to burn out before you even get to the start line.

Also of importance: we had our team presentation a few weeks ago right after I got back from Merco. A section of Boulder’s Rio Grande was closed off for the event while Dave Towel announced and did a quick interview with each of us and a number of our sponsors, including Rio’s owner Pat McGaughran and BCSM founder Andy Pruitt. I managed to stay pretty professional and only dropped the F-bomb eight times by accident. It would have been easy to REALLY overeat, considering there was a fajita bar, endless enchiladas, stuffed peppers, horse-meat hors d’oeuvres, and drinks. I refrained and only had two and a half plates of food and two slices of cake from Kim and Jake’s Cakes.

Here’s an article about our team in the local paper

And one from last week in Velonews

And last but not least, I waxed my chain a few nights ago. According to recent science, but not previous science, paraffin wax is the shit for riding fast and clean. I’ll attest to the cleanliness part of the claim. After cleaning my drivetrain and applying the wax there’s still not even one spot of grease or muck on my chain and I haven’t cleaned it since. It was super easy to do and pretty fun.

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I bought two pounds of Paraffin but only needed one. They’re $5 each. One pound will probably last for 20 waxes or more.

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It took like 20 minutes to melt while I cleaned my chain.

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I did quite a bit of finger waxing too.

 

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I let the chain sit in the pot for 15 minutes or so.

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Seasoned the chain.

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Once it dried it came out real stiff of course but is running super smoothly now. I estimate that it saves roughly between 1 and 40 watts.

 

Merco Cycling Classic Stage 4

I’m writing to you from the bus, heading back to Boulder from the Denver airport on Monday morning, mentally preparing for a long day at work followed by Team Rio Grande’s team presentation tonight at the Boulder Rio Grande restaurant. So this will have to be short and to the point with no side stories.

Okay, say you’re hiking in the mountains and you get lost for three to five weeks. Eventually you’ll starve since none of us know how to get food in the wilderness. But what if a pill was invented where you could eat parts of your own body and re-grow them later? Like a lizard’s tail. Obviously you’d have to consume more calories outside of your own flesh to do this, so the re-growing would occur later, once you’ve made your way back to civilization. Tearing and cutting chunks of flesh from your torso and butt would be excruciating, but I think this invention would be well worth the pain and a lot of people would find this beneficial. Please contact me about this if you have any experience in chemistry or pharmaceuticals and we can discuss setting up a Kickstarter. Also, I think it would be a good idea to genetically engineer our blood to taste like teriyaki sauce. That way our meat would basically be marinating for YEARS in delicious, delicious sauce. If this was invented I might find myself getting lost in the woods all the time.

Sunday morning: David and I sulked past the front desk of the Marriot at 5:55AM, hoping it wouldn’t look too suspicious that we’d been outside the hotel before 6AM for some reason and were now coming in for breakfast. If anyone asked I was going to say we’d been sleep walking. The front desk didn’t care, and we successfully snuck in to our fourth and final consecutive breakfast (and lunch). I made sure not to eat too much since the race started just two hours later. So I packed my jacket pockets to the brim.

We arrived deep in the rolling hills, surrounded entirely by almond orchards; the scene was hazed with early-morning fog, slowly clarified with the emptying of my coffee cup. The scent of pink almond blossoms filled my nostrils and the sound of waking bees filled the silence as I spun my legs out after kitting up. The race began. It started fast, averaging 30mph for the first hour (so I heard). Too many people wanted to be in the break. I was one of them, never content to let anything go without ME in it. I flatted half a lap in (there were five laps total for 120 miles) but got a quick wheel change and a good draft back up to the pack by neutral SRAM support just after we turned onto the choppy section of pavement. As soon as I got to the front I immediately began attacking and following moves, relieved the break hadn’t gotten away while I was off the back.

By lap two I’d been in what I knew was THE move–like six or eight times. CashCal was keeping things together near the end of the laps for the sprint points and Bissell was keeping things together for GC leader Gaimon, no scratch that. Bissell didn’t really hadn’t done any work by this point. They didn’t have to. We were doing it for them by chasing each other down.

On the third lap my right glute gave out suddenly and without any previous warning at all. It had been really bothering me ever since my TT training ride the afternoon of the crit, and was still sore this morning (I’ve been riding the TT bike too much?? Amazing). On lap three the pain became a stabbing pain instead of a dull throb, and for the next two and a half laps I tried to pedal 70% with my left leg. I constantly massaged it and took my right leg out to pedal only with my left. This meant I had to stop attacking (for the most part). Luckily a move got away for the majority of the third lap, then another move escaped for the lap after that.

I escaped a bad downhill crash with about 20 miles to go. Guys were crashing in front of me, behind me, and one zesty fellow even came shooting past me on the right, avoiding the brakes like a big dummy, and crashed into one of the guys on the ground. This is why you don’t try to swerve through and carry your speed during a crash. I didn’t avoid anything, just braked hard and got real lucky, and narrowly slipped through, believing that I’d used up the rest of my good luck for the race.

With 800 meters to go I was in a decent position, sitting somewhere in the top 30 before a slightly twisting, uphill effort before the 300 straight meters of false flat downhill to the finish line. I was too boxed in to move more on the uphill part. Should have done it sooner. But as we came over the top I got around on the left, moving up to a position that would have at least gotten me something like 15th, which wouldn’t have been too terrible. Baby steps. But with 250 meters to go it happened again. Two guys in front of me went down hard. Really hard this time. I jammed my brakes on, scrubbing as much speed as I could to avoid the massive amount of road rash I was about to receive. My rear brake caliper was super loose since I’d originally been riding the new 27.5 mm-wide Zipp rear before my flat, and was now on the older SRAM neutral  Zipp, which was much narrower. Also, my pinky finger was doing something weird with the shifter when I braked, I think because I’d been in the process of shifting down a gear, so neither brakes seemed to do much. Anyways, I knew I was going to crash. I didn’t crash. I came through it—an even tighter squeeze than the other time. That’s what sh…I crossed the line in a slur of excited expletives, ecstatic to be alive and pissed that guys never seem to be able to hold their line as they fight for 10th spot in a flat race where they probably sat in for 99% of the time. I finished 33rd on the day and also 33rd on GC out of the original 150 starters, meaning I got another C+ (percentage-wise). Cs get degrees. They don’t get jobs though. Or pro contracts.

All said and done, it was a grand race weekend. The final day could use some hardening up. Something to really blow the GC apart and drop the fat sprinters would be nice (not too hard to drop fat me) but I won’t complain since I had a great time and built just a bit more speed in my legs for the big ones coming up. The next race is Tucson Bicycle Classic in two weekends. And this one’s with the team!

Kickstarter for Podiuminsight

Racers, cycling fans, teams, race sponsors, team sponsors, and race promoters: abandon all hope!! All is lost! American cycling is in the shitter and the toilet, stained with my decaying hopes and dreams, is about to be flushed.

When a business starts going under one of the first things the high ups think of doing (if they don’t know any better) is to cut the advertising department’s budget. This is the exact opposite of what the company should do. I know this because I took a 200-level advertising class way back in college. You may think to yourself, “Well of course those advertising, PR-machine bastards taught that in an ad class…damn biased liars are just fighting for the crumbs.” Well, that’s exactly what cycling needs: self-promotion. Lucky for us, race coverage is all we need for self promotion. 

For years Lyne Lamoureux of Podiuminsight has had the best race coverage, photos, and in-depth interviews out of any media outlet featuring men’s and women’s North American cycling. The amount of work and time on the road she’s put in throughout each season is baffling. And, due to little or zero funding, the feat has been even more awe-inspiring. But the word on the street is that Podiuminsight is no more.  It will not continue for 2013 due to the financial strain of hotels, travel, and other expenses that have mostly been footed by Lyne alone. I didn’t ask her permission to write this or to start the Kickstarter thing, and she isn’t aware that I am doing it. But I’m not doing it for her. I’m doing it to help us all, so mainly for selfish reasons.

To everyone who’s livelihood is dependent on North American cycling: chip in and let’s get Lyne to continue this great service. Cyclingnews and Velonews do some coverage of the domestic scene, but not nearly enough.

There are just a handful of men and women US continental teams for 2013 and I personally don’t want to see this depressing downward trend continue for more seasons to come. Races, sponsors, and teams are disappearing. This we all know. The last thing we should do is cut our best advertiser and leave ourselves in the dark.

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How would this fish attract any food in the dark? He’d starve! (I mainly just needed this pic for a cool facebook thumbnail to attract you guys–much like the angler fish attracting its prey).

Assuming you’re all a bunch of cheap bastards like myself, this won’t work. So my hopes are not high. I’ll be the first to pledge $110 though. If each continental team and each elite domestic team gave $500 or $1000 we’d have a good amount for Lyne to work with. I realize this is a lot for some elite teams. But it will help us all in the long run. If you want to give some personal money, go for it. But teams like Bissell, Jamis, Optum, Exergy Twenty16, Jelly Belly, Tibco, Five-Hour Energy—you guys stand to lose the most with the demise of Podiuminsight. And you too race promoters. Cough it up!

Lyne, I don’t want you to feel compelled to take on another season if we do in fact raise the cash. But I hope you go for it. Everyone else, please spread the word by sharing this and littering the Kickstarter link (below) on every social media outlet you can think of. Thank you!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1604270513/save-podiuminsight

For those of you who don’t know, the way Kickstarter works goes like this: you donate however much money you want (let’s say $4) and if the project reaches its goal amount you get charged $4. If the project doesn’t reach its goal, you get charged zero dollars. You can add or subtract however much money you originally put in AT ANY TIME! The deadline for meeting the goal amount is Sunday night, April 7th. That’s just over a month away. Let’s make this happen.

Merco Stages 2 and 3

My vacation is down to just one more day: the final 120-mile Hilltop Road Race. It may sound like a big bruiser of a stage, but I’ve heard that it’s dead flat and easy. Gaimon is still in the lead after the crit and TT, and with eight Bissell teammates to sit on the front tomorrow, everyone will likely be kept in check and it’ll probably be a borring stage to sit in on. So I will be going on the attack early and often, even if the break doesn’t stand a chance. The race starts at 8AM….so never-mind. I will be sitting in the pack and finishing my coffee.

The TT was yesterday. I didn’t do rul good at all and finished 47th. It turns out that you can’t get fast at time trialing in just a single week, which I’d pretty much banked on. But I did limit my losses to being crushed by Ben JM by only two minutes, instead of 2:30 like Valley of the Sun the other week.  So my very recent obsession with the time trial bike has shown some slight improvement. If I keep this 30-second-per-week-and-a-half rate up I’ll win the Redlands time trial five weeks from now. And I’ll easily win the Gila time trial by well over a minute. I guess I’m okay with this.

Today’s crit was a bit sketch, not hard, and fun–I guess, now that it’s over and done with. 30 or 40 minutes in some guy got pushed into a sharp metal road barrier on one of the corners–the inside line that I’d taken almost every single time–and he crashed hard. We were neutralized the next couple laps as the ambulance scraped him and his blood and guts off the ground. This is why crits are dumb. This happens every time. Crits are season and career enders. And it’s all for the entertainment of a handful of random “fans” that don’t have any idea what’s going on or really care about bike racing in the first place. Crits should not be in stage races. If we’re dumb enough to go do them on the weekend then so be it, but leave them out of stage races where 140 already tired guys all want to be at the front.

Anyways, I avoided that inside corner for 12 minutes after the crash, then decided it was worth the risk because you could gain like 10 spots every time there. I held good position for the majority of the race, sitting 15th to 30th. But with five laps to go I realized I was too far back, then didn’t chop enough people to get back to the front for the final two laps. I ended up 39th, so again no result to speak of. Might as well lose is a great book by Johan Bruyneel. I should have been more aggressive towards the end. But I can’t complain too much because my face is still in tact, having avoided going head first into that barrier’s sharp metal corner.

After the crit I rode home to the motel room and hopped back on my time trial bike to slay my glutes for another hour, finishing off the day of the making the pedaling for 95 miles in all. Since I’m not at work and it’s not snowing I might as well take advantage and put in some training hours while I’m here.

My day wasn’t over just yet. I got back from the ride, covered in slimy sweat because it’s WARM! here, grabbed my wallet and a handful of David’s and my Subway receipts for one free cookie each, and rode the 100 ft to the Subway right next to our motel. I was still in my kit and brought my bike into the Subway, leaning it up against some chairs. I got in line, right behind a big guy who I could sense was already mad at me for being a cyclist. Pretty quickly he started chatting with me–in a surprisingly friendly manner actually. Had I judged this guy wrong?

No, I had not. He asked if I was one of “them guys who ride on 135.” I said maybe, and that I didn’t know any road names around here. He replied, “Yeah, they’re always wanting to ride side by side, taking up the whole road with us semis coming both directions. Some of em in the center of the road even! I have to lay on the horn. Like, ‘hey buddy gotta move over before you get squashed.'”

“In the center of the road? I doubt it,” I said. “And no, I’m not one of those guys. I’m not from around here.”

“Right in the center,” the fat bastard replied, somewhat grinning and hoping for me to agree and sympathize with him.

“Well I wasn’t there so I wouldn’t know, would I?” I said.

I just stared at him in silence for a moment, plotting how I’d get my revenge for the poor suckers that this fat idiot had run off the road.

“They have the nerve to flip me off sometimes too. One time this guy who was riding right in the center flipped me off. I jack-knifed my trailer and got out. He sees me get out and I see him turn around and go right back the other way,” the fat fuck proudly said.

“Well, I’m sure he saw how big you are,” I said looking him up and down. “That guy probably only weighed 150.”

This did the trick. No yelling, no cursing. Just an insult to this man’s physical appearance was all it took. He changed the subject, saying he wouldn’t even be in this crap restaurant if it wasn’t for his doctor. “Have to eat health food.” (Um, since when is Subway health food?) He told me that his doctor wanted him to quit drinking and smoking too, on account of the blood clot in his leg. (Well no shit).

“I quite drinking but not smoking. Can’t give them both up you know?”

“Huh,” I said, staring back at him as I waited for him to speak again. He turned away and looked ahead at the overhead menu for a moment.

I asked what he was thinking of getting, and let him know that the Italian BMT looked good. “And so does the salad.”

He fidgeted around and said he didn’t know what he’d get. It all looked like crap.

“What do you normally eat?” I asked.

“Usually bout this time I’m grilling up some ribs.”

I stared back and said, “Oh,” in a really disgusted tone.

Without warning he complained that the line was taking too long and walked out the door, muttering that he’d go to the Subway across town instead. It was a pretty bizarre   conversation for the two of us to have. It felt a little like I’d been antagonizing a teammate for eating too much, which is the best way to make someone (at least a bike racer) feel bad about himself. Apparently this also works for obese, diabetic truck drivers  who hate cyclists. Who would have guessed?

I moved up in line when the truck driver left and stopped next to a table that seated three high schoolers, who’d been checking me out for the couple minutes. I could feel their eyes on me as they thought of something to say. I’ll just summarize since I’ve already written a lot of dialogue and dialogue takes forever to make up I mean remember. They asked about the race, ooed and awed when I replied, then blatantly began hitting on me, saying how good my legs looked. I thanked them and one of them said, “No, they’re really nice. They look really good. You have great calves.” “Your thighs are really nice,” another one of them said. “All you bikers are like super fit, huh?” They asked me how old I was and said 27, to which they replied, “Oh wow we thought you were like 22!” “You look so young.” They had now confirmed to me that they wanted it, and all three of these dudes were HOT too. Haha just kidding. They were girls. I’m not a pedophile AND gay. That would just be wrong. In fact, is it even considered pedophilia if it’s with a girl? I’m pretty sure in some states it’s just called being a good father. (Disclaimer for my non personal-friend audience: if you don’t see my sarcasm in any of this, it’s because you don’t understand sarcasm).

Despite the coyness gleaned from a pair of gleaming braces, I skirted away as fast as I could when the line finally moved forward. They said it was nice to meet me and I agreed, feeling their greedy eyes on my ass when I turned away. I’m more than some pretty face, beside a train. And it’s not easy, to be-he me. 

This is the only picture I’ve taken this week. I do realize it’s a terrible picture and also very boring and has nothing to do with racing, but I have to put something in here for a thumbnail to reel you guys in.

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Last night I rode to a grocery store for some food and lotion. I found a huge Mexican grocer with tons of cool stuff. I got these Duros, which taste a lot like Pirate’s Booty but for only 99cents. Plus I got a large papaya (not pictured but it was also really good). Oh, and the Duros came with a couple hidden packets of hot sauce. All in all a great find. Some might even call it a durom good find! HAHAHAHAH.