Gila Build Up slash Break Down

Written Monday in the van:

It’s dusk and we have less than 40 miles to go. We’re currently winding our way up the narrow mountain road from Truth or Consequences to Silver Cit, NM. The van is leaning over further than I like to lean in crits but we’ve been driving so long now I don’t even care about the massive ravine to the left. Assuming Scott doesn’t drive us off the road we should be there before 9:30. I should probably put my seatbelt on.

There wasn’t much time between Sea Otter and Gila so I made sure to overcook myself right away. Despite only going hard two days this past week, I’m definitely going into Gila with a hefty amount of fatigue in my legs. I’m hopeful though and hope alone will pull my tired leg muscles together.

I took Monday through Wednesday easy or off, then blew my legs to bits on Thursday with a nasty set of VO2 intervals right before a hard afternoon group ride with Nick (the Bus Stop). My recovery was ultra slow the following two days, which I had to take easier than planned.

I just found this out, but I realized I was fighting off a cold the past week. Adelaide is mildly sick now, and I was a slight bit more nasally than normal two days ago. This helps explain why I was so low on energy and weak. But, since I never actually got sick, this proves that my body is either A) vastly superior at fighting off colds than it has ever been before, due to sheer will power, B) taking bovine colostrums really does help, or C) I don’t have a third option but things sound better grouped in threes.

On Friday night Adelaide and I drove down to Colorado Springs for her 50km trail race with 8,000-feet of elevation gain, which she did in six hours the next morning, Saturday. I spent the day eating two breakfasts at the hotel buffet, riding for 90 minutes, being tired, then basking in the sun beside the trail as the runners panted by in the dusty heat.

The following day I raced a local road race called Deer Trail. It was in the town of Deer Trail (cool name bro), which is east of Denver. I wasn’t aware people lived east of Denver. Deer Trail has a population of 28 I believe. It is the “home of the eagles,” NOT the deer. I assume the only reason they haven’t changed the name of the town to Eagle Trail is because Eagles don’t need trails nor do they make them, like Deer do.

The road course was a V except with a 90-degree angle in the middle. So like half of a square I guess. Or an L except with the lower part being equal in length to the upper part. We did two laps of it, which meant going around cones in the middle of the road on either end twice. Imagine the most boring course you’ve ever done. Okay, now imagine something even more boring than that.

Within a couple miles from the start I formed a five-man breakaway (Brad Bingham of Horizon, Kevin Selker of Groove Subaro, Drew Chistopher of Primal and Chris Carr of Falcon Networks). The break became four on the second lap, but before that, literally within three minutes of getting up the road we already had a four-minute gap on the field. At the end of the race it was 9 minutes despite a lot of soft pedaling for 20 miles then five miles of attack, sit on, attack, sit on, etc. There’s your definition of ‘lollygagging’ right there back in the pack, except for a few select guys who I heard attacked precisely 297 times each.

The road was 100% completely dead flat except for the constant rollers. The wind helped make it a bit more fatiguing as well. I was able to take some decent pulls, but was feeling pretty awful. I would have attacked way more at the end, or half way through actually, but didn’t have it in me, so it ended up being a four-man sprint. I got 2nd.

I’d driven the van out to the race with Nick, who won the field sprint for 5th place. Combined, we made a grand total of $80. The race entry was $40 each, plus $32 of gas money. Stay in school kids. Wait, I stayed in school. Okay, stay in school and then don’t take up bike racing for monetary gains. Just do it for the world-wide fame and leg veins.

Nick and I turned the van heater on after the race for 40 minutes on the drive home and got it up to a svelte 110 degrees in preparation for the heat of Gila. Turns out it’s only going to be in the 60’s and 70’s this week. PS I know that’s not the proper use of the word svelte. There is no proper use of the word svelte. It should be deleted from the english language.

That night as I washed my bike I discovered a large crack that was 75% through my seat stay. The remaining thread of carbon was just barely holding the bike together–aftermath of the Sea Otter crash. Luckily we have a spare frame that our mechanic, Alex, has agreed to assemble with my old components. Building a new bike the day before a race is pretty routine for me these days.

Man this is a super boring post. Maybe tomorrow I’ll doctor it up a bit with some good exuberant words and junk stuff. The van is vibrating and swerving so much I can hardly see the words on the bright thing screen right now.

Written Tuesday:

I went through yesterday’s writing and made it slightly better. Today we rode the TT course and I found out my Planet X TT bike is a stupid piece of shit. I’ll spare you the boring details but I spent an hour at the Bike N Hike this afternoon and they fixed it with a new derailleur and a handmade shim, saving Alex a lot of swearing and unsuccessful hassle, since the new derailleur was a necessity. Thanks Silver City Bike N Hike! Now I must go eat more kippered herring to lube my poop so I can be light for tomorrow’s big climb up the Mogollon.

This is how much I peed on the drive back from Deer Trail.


Please note the thick froth:


Story of The Jump

I guess this photo has made the internet rounds and I’m now even more semi-semi-famous than I was before. Some of the comments are pretty entertaining:

Bike Rumor Pic of the Day

Pink Bike 

And of course, Drunk Cyclist. Before I signed the waiver to do the jump I was actually asked if I’d been drinking. I said no. The guy looked at me hard for a few seconds before he said okay and agreed that I could do it.

I wrote this for work so it’s a full on explanation of what I was doing there, the race, stuff most of you already know, etc. But I can’t be bothered to write it all again in my regular voice. I did add in a few swear words and one or two lines to make it feel a bit more bro, like a true mountain biker would:

In the Spirit of Sea Otter, I got some sweet air on my time trial bike. As a roadie, I was in Monterey for the four-day stage race. I’d won the climbers jersey on Friday’s road stage, so I was having a pretty decent weekend already. Things would get better though.

On Saturday I finished 7th on the Stage Three time trial, which I was pleased with. I was supposed to take part in the podium presentation because I was in the climber’s jersey, so I had to be back at the crowded expo at 6:30PM. Plenty of time to ride the long way there.

Half an hour later, as I entered the jam-packed festival, I had a group of mountain bikers mockingly encourage me by shouting, “Faster, faster, you can do it!” What they really meant was, “Hey nice time trial bike, nerd.”  Immediately after that another couple guys yelled, “Go Lance!” That was it. I needed to find some way to get even, show those bastards what’s up. I had a few minutes before the awards ceremony and on the way there I saw a large jump going into an air bag landing. Air bag landing? No sweat. Now I had a mission.

Unfortunately, one of the guys running the Camp of Champions jump told me to come back tomorrow since it was currently closed for a private session. “Even if I do it on this?” I asked, pointing between my legs at my sweet Planet X time trial bike. He looked confused at first. “What? Seriously? Hey, get this guy a waiver!”

The wooden ramp was tall and steep—45 degrees and around two stories high with a large platform and covered roof at the top. Down at the bottom the jump was 8-10 feet high and steep enough to do back flips. One of the guys in charge followed me up and yelled, “Hey, this guy goes next!” There was a crowd of people at the top waiting to jump and the GoPro guy filming at the bottom didn’t want to wait for my inevitable tacoed wheel, face-plant crash at the bottom. How hard could it really be though? A little kid was doing it and really, this was at most soft porn compared to descending the circuit race corkscrew at 50+mph. Not even soft porn. More like Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana. So still pretty good actually.

As I came to the top I stepped around the line of people and off the grippy, metal-footed strip by the hand rail. My feet quickly went out from under me as soon as I attempted to walk up the slick ramp. Unable to stop myself, I slid down on my stomach until I grabbed onto someone’s foot. The crowd down below licked their lips in anticipation. This guy is going to EAT it.

When I did finally reach the top I had someone hold my bike (time trial start-house position) so I could clip in. By this point all the spectators down below at the cyclocross race were watching and cheering for me to hit it in the aero bars. I contemplated it for a second but decided I’d rather keep all my teeth instead. I took a few pedal strokes and went for it. Hitting the ground after the ramp was a bit of a jolt on skinny road rims, but I held it together. I took aim at the jump and a second later I was soaring majestically in space…very briefly. Not nearly enough air. Bigger is better, so I hit it two more times.

Sea Otter2013

Photo credit Colin Meagher of Pinkbike.


Bloody Knuckles: KP vs Laguna Seca. Sea Otter Stage 4

Written Monday:

I bled first.

Stage Four was a big let down. I couldn’t sleep the night before since I was so excited about it, so to have such a crappy race sucked quite much. Stage Four took place on the Laguna Seca (or Mazda) motor race track. There’s a steep one-minute climb into some headwind followed by a corkscrew descent, where we reach the harrowing speeds of ‘something way too fast’ miles per hour. The rest of the course is flat and curvy, and I think like 2 miles long or so. I can’t be bothered to fact check right now. Seems longer than that. I’ll say 2.5 miles.

I took the first KOM sprint point with ease, missed the other two since breaks were up the road, then snagged the final one with three laps remaining. No problem. Goal number one of the day to keep the KOM jersey was all locked up. Now I could focus on blowing that final lap climb out of the water and going for the win either solo or out of a small group. It would have been hard to stay away on the flat section to the finish, but I was going to give it a shot since my confidence was sky high. I’d been conserving my energy well and had never felt like I was in any difficulty so far. But disaster struck at the very top of the climb with one and a half laps to go (out of 15). I was sitting fifth wheel after a somewhat hard acceleration mid-way up the climb. Just as we approached the top of the climb, the guy in front of me threw his rear wheel back and swerved to the left just a bit too much for how close behind I was. I went down immediately. I won’t point fingers….but it was definitely his fault.

Actually I don’t know. In hindsight if that ever happens to you it’s partially your own fault for being too close behind, except on a dead flat road when things are lined out. I’ll take 3% of the blame, hows that. Although I’ve hit my head almost every time I’ve crashed in a bike race, this was the first time that my head hit the ground first, smacking loudly and shattering my helmet–while also taking much of the impact off the rest of my body, which is the important thing. I’m sore a tiny bit sore and have a little road rash, especially on my hand since I wasn’t wearing gloves, but nothing bad.

I would have been able to get back on and finish with the group had I been able to straighten my derailleur hanger out in time. Instead, I finished three minutes down with a couple other guys that crashed on top of me. There went my somewhat decent 10th GC, but more importantly the chance for the stage win or podium placing. I wasn’t down for long though, since it was a beautiful day and I had that nice KOM jersey for more than enough consolation. I spent the next four or five hours riding out to the beach, getting a double flat, hitching a ride back to the race, begging for a free tube, refilling my bottles with Osmo (11 bottles of it) and then going back out for more riding. It’s such a cool area and the weather was fantastic that I could hardly bring myself to stop. I felt like I could have kept on going for hours. Neither boredom nor tiredness could find me that afternoon. After the great day I spent three hours driving 80 miles to the Bay Area, where I had a big dinner with my grandparents, a short night of sleep, and started a long day of travel and work on Monday, beginning at 3:30AM. Yowza.

I’ll definitely be back to Sea Otter next year. The environment, the cool venue and big crowds, the scenery–all of it’s fantastic, and of course the racing is a blast. Next up is GILAAAAA!!!

Sotter Stage 3. See what I did there? (I combined Sea and Otter)

Written Saturday evening:

Last night’s dinner of behemoth sub sandwich and beer did me good today, so I decided to stick with what works. I’m currently a third of the way done with each. There were two races today. One was the bicycle time trial race. The other was the important one: the race to the Nob Hill grocery store in Salinas before the deli closed. I made it just in time, right before 8PM. Actually I’m not sure if it closes at 8PM, but since I made it there 10 minutes before, I’d like to think so. Sort of like making a yellow light. Feels good.

I got the same sandwich as last night, though the bread is different this time. They were fresh out of fresh ( as well as stale) 12-inch bread rolls so the guy had me grab some bread from the bakery. I picked out two rolls of Dutch Crust. Most things Dutch are pretty amazing, as was/is this bread. I don’t mean this at all figuratively…I would end the lives of 134 baby bunnies just to eat a single bite of a well-baked Dutch Crust bread roll. The sandwich had to be spread out over two rolls since a 12-inch Dutch Crust is purely a thing of the imagination—this meant that I got even MORE sandwichs for the dollar than last night. Day=success. I think if this Nob Hill grocery store existed in Boulder I’d eat there every night. Man do I love NOB. That was a joke. A play on words if you will, because nob means penis in England. I love explaining jokes.

As always with stage races, I like to get in some good training volume so I rode this morning for an hour before breakfast. Then I got in a good solid hour and a half before the TT, which was eight miles long (one lap of the road course). Then I rode more afterwards too for good measure. For some reason I’ve been thinking of Winnie the Pooh a lot lately. Not in a sexual way or anything. And not just today either, but for the past two weeks. I have no clue why. I don’t mind it, I just think it’s a bit odd. Uh oh, I think my beer to sandwich ratio is off. And by off I mean just perfect.

Okay, the TT. Usually I suck at time trials. Today was no different. No wait, it was different. I got 7th somehow and moved up to 10th GC! This is happy news, no? Actually not really. Though I am happy about it, it also helps instill my natural instinct to regret every decision I make in bike racing. Had I sat in during the road race there’d be a solid chance I’d be top 3 or 5 GC today, and by chance I mean for sure. When did I get so arrogant? Oh yeah, since always. Arrogance is armor for weakness. But since I’m saying it sarcastically it doesn’t apply to me. 

Regardless, Kirk Carlson of Predator Carbon Repair showed us all why he used to be in the Pro Tour. He crushed the TT and took the GC lead like a true manager. I mean boss. I feel like I’ve used that joke before but whatever. Alex Hagman of Jelly Belly had a misfortunate mechanical that took him out of the top GC contention. Or did it? Dun dun duuuuuuun!!! Tomorrow will be an ultimate show down between Jelly Belly (with Morgan in 3rd and Alex in 11th) and Cash Call (with four guys in the top 10). Throw in the loners: Kirk, Justin Rosi, and myself and you’ve got a good ol’ fashioned street BRAWL! Minus the fighting and meanness. Oh wait never mind, Roman Kilun will be there. Haha, hi Roman. Just joking. Don’t hurt me please. Whatever, he probably doesn’t read my blog anyways. Holy hell this sandwich is delicious. And by sandwich I mean beer. And by beer I mean NOB. See above explanation for joke understandingness.

Zack from Bikereg told me today that he noticed I began sobering up in my last blog post near the end. This will not be the case today. I swear I’m not a drunkard though. It’s just a single beer to help calm the nerves and induce sleep. Bicycle racing is all about uppers and downers. Gotta get high with Starbucks and get low get low with Lil Jon and a Guinness or eight. Or just one. I didn’t have any coffee today though.

Great, now I have sandwich juice and crumbs all over my sheets.

Here’s yesterday’s shot of yours truly soaking up the attention of at least 11 random passers by whilst on the podium. Just kidding. There were more people than that. But seriously, the mountain bikers all had huge sections of cheering and jeering fans!

podium shot

Thanks for the picture, Todd (of Cycling Illustrated). Note to self: do not imitate a bat/bird learning to fly during next podium presentation.

This will be my last purposfully ridiculous manor of blog writing. For EVER. 

Sea Lion I mean Otter. Stage TWO!

Written Friday night:

I’m a little drunk right now. Not drunk, but tipsy. I just had a FULL beer. A Guinness, so yeah. Feelin pretty darn good actually. I’m in the process of making a Ride With GPS route for Steve F. right now. It’s been snowing ever since he got to Boulder with Chris except for like two days, so I need to vicariously live through them and take them out on, or show them via the internet, one of my favorite rides with 15,000-foots of climbing. I just had to zoom in to 150% on Microsoft Word right now because my vision is a little hazy. I’m not going to check for spelline errors BTW. Wow, that wasn’t on purpose. Ima leave it like it is. That beer is hitting me hard as shit right now. And no, I don’t care about the graffiti language. That’s not the right word…bad language. There we go. PARAGRAPH!

Okay, just saved the ride on ride with gps. It’s not working actually. Uggghhh, today was the second stage of Sea Otter. I just lost all motivation to right any more, especially about the race. Here’s a picture for you:


Ciabatta bread, roast beef, provolone cheese,  regular mustard, honey mustard, mayo, banana peppers, pickles, tomato, onion, lettuce. Photo credit KP

After the race I went into a grocery store for some peanut butter and a toothbrush because I forgot my toothbrush at home even though I currently own like four toothbrushes, which is three more than I’ve ever owned before. I just noticed that I forgot my toothbrush this morning. I left on Wednesday. Does this mean I only brush my teeth every three days? No, I swear I brush twice a day. I just have a hard time remembering while traveling sometimes. Wow, getting side tracked a bit. Anyways, while I was in the grocery store I also got that massive sandwich and beer. I started getting in an argument with the woman who was building my sandwich, which was 14 inches…I measured with my mini Kennett…multiplied by four just kidding! Oh man I’m going to regret righting all this tomorrow.

Wow sidetracked again. News that the Boston Marathon bomber had been caught just broke in Salinas. So the woman was getting in a big fuss about foreigners and letting them into “our” country—meaning the country especially for white Western Europeans and no one else. I held back on telling her that if it was anyone’s country it’s the Native Americans’, but couldn’t resist when she started saying that the government should do a better job checking “people like that” when the let them in. She and one customer said they should “torture the bastard.” All I said was that there are plenty of messed up people who grew up in this country and that I found it strange that so much extra hate occurs when it’s a non-native. Wasn’t that recent school shooting caused by a true, red-blooded American, not a Chechnyan? He was crazy though so it’s okay. These bombers…they weren’t crazy. No. They were terrorists. And foreign terrorists at that. Sure…just as crazy in my book.

Now of course I think whoever did the bombing is an evil fuck, though I also believe the US war machine is an evil fuck too. So is Philip Morris but that manhunt wouldn’t be as entertaining I guess.

Most countries are full of racists, nationalists, and closed-minded people. A lot are much worse than the US, even parts of the Utopia of Europe. Depending on the region, Americans are actually pretty welcoming (rich white man’s guilt). But there’s still a long way for us to go.

A few moments into the somewhat heated discussion, I realized that the woman I was stupidly arguing with was in the midst of constructing what could possibly be the best damn sandwich of my entire fucking life. When I realized this I immediately shut my big dumb mouth and began nodding in agreement. The sandwich was saved. I think there must have been a full two pounds of roast beef on the thing! I continued agreeing with her, nodding, smiling…salivating at the sight of my growing sandwich. “Yes, they SHOULD check those damn foreigners more thoroughly. Yes America IS the land of the free, home of the brave…the BEST country in the world!!!! Torture the bastard!!! My sandwich is HUGE! Freedom of speech doesn’t mean a thing, nor should it, when there’s a monstrous sub on the line.

Now onto the race: holy mackerel I smashed it today. Not in terms of results so to speak, but in terms of brute power. Total race time was 3 hours, excluding the long neutral section. I was in the pack for 10 minutes of that. In the breakaway I averaged 334 watts for 2 hrs and 50 minutes, while the normalized power was 371. Hot dang! Is the power meter off?

I didn’t want to be in the breakaway, but I accidentally found myself up there when I went for the first KOM points of the day, which turned out to not be KOM points. The KOM points were on every other lap, not that first one. But anyways, me and one other guy, Zack Noonan of, got away together on that climb by accident. We got bridged to pretty soon afterwards by Conner McCutcheon of Get Crackin. The course was short, at just under 70 miles with eight hilly laps and 7K feet of climbing.

I asked the two guys if it was okay if I took all the KOM points, since that’s what I decided I was going for. They said yes. Man, I’m already bored with this. I want to go pee and watch a crappy ache bay ohhh movie instead (HBO in Spanish).

So I pulled quite a bit and never really got that tired until the last 10 minutes of the race. I think it must have been somewhat slow and boring back in the field since no one ever bridged up to us. We dropped Conner on the seventh lap since he’d been pulling quite a bit more than Zack, who’d been sitting on a fair amount…very wisely I might add. No sense in dropping oneself out of the break. I’ve done that one before.


Breakaway. Photo credit

The cohesion in the break was good though, don’t get me wrong. This writing doesn’t sound like me at all. I never say stupid cliché things like that (don’t get me wrong). One dumb saying that I hate is when someone says, “it is what it is.” Yeah no shit. Thanks for that sage advice you twat. I wouldn’t mind it so much if it was still a somewhat unsaid saying like it was three years ago. Now everyone says it, like all the damn time.

Anyways, with two laps to go when we were the three of us were still all together we heard that we had a whopping 1:50 on the field. That meant that we’d stay away for sure. It turned out we only had 40 or 50 seconds though. I didn’t know this until after the race, so I’d been dreaming of glory and began to conserve a tiny bit, just to make sure I could drop anyone on my wheel on the last 2-mile, stair-stepped climb to the finish line.

Anyways, on the last lap with  five mile left we saw the field behind us at 20 seconds. I continued pulling, then dropped Zack at the base of the final climb and went on my own, knowing I’d likely get caught by the diminished field since the 1K to go sign was still way up the road. I got caught with about a mile left, stuck in the field for a while, which was down to like 40 guys or less at this point, then got popped with 800 meters and the rul steep section to go.

As I hovered a few seconds behind the 20-man lead group with 500 meters left, I realized I’d completely blown the race. I could have won, or at least been on the podium if I’d just sat in, been smart, and smashed the climb instead of blowing myself all over the course in the break. I still managed 19th, finishing 35 seconds behind THE MAN Alex Hageman. Well done sir, and well deserved. Guy’s a champ.


Finishing climb. Photo credit Geoff

Matt Cooke…shit I should have taken your advice! Next time though. It did feel good knowing that a lot of guys had to work hard and suffer to bring me back. Take that you mother bitches! Thanks Zack for the Cliff Blocks. And it was cool seeing my roommates Kim and Geoff, and also Kim’s dad for coming out to watch. Oh, and I won the KOM jersey and got to go up on the podium and get kissed by the podium girl (sorry Adelaide), so all in all the day was a success. I’m currently 15th on GC and will make sure to go home with the KOM shirt on Sunday after the circuit race. Later.

Sea Otter Classic 2013 Stage 1 Crit

I think the lead up to this race wins the “worst preparation ever in my life” award. I’ve never had such a bad day of travel combined with lack of sleep the day before a race, so I guess I’m content that I made the lead group of 40 (I was 24th) in the crit this morning, despite the field being a bit tamer than the last two California stage races I’ve done.

Back up to yesterday: I woke up way too early at 7:00 or 7:30. It was so long ago that I can’t even remember. I rolled out of bed directly into my kit, which I’d fashioned  with coat hangers, tape, and some cardboard the night before in such a manner that I could literally roll into it. I’m also literally being sarcastic. Or am I? Yes. Groggily throwing a leg over my TT bike, which was set up on the trainer outside on the porch, I cursed the blizzard for the last time. This would be the last of three trainer days in a row. I’d be off in sunny California before sunset.

I quickly packed my TT bike after my one-hour session at a solid 172 watts. The road bike had already been packed in a cardboard Frankenbox the night before, which I’m pretty proud of. Then, without showering mind you because I was in a big rush, I bundled up in winter clothes now wet with sweat and boarded my fixie to work for a few hours. The snow was coming down heavy now.

My work day had to be cut way short since my original ride plans to the airport fell through due to the snow storm, but luckily Tim Srenaski gave me a lift to the airport since he was headed to Sea Otter too and we had earlier planned on carpooling from San Francisco to Monterey (where the race is). Perfect solution. We got to the airport and I waited for 8 hours since my flight was delayed.

Long and super boring story short, I got to my Motel 6 room in Salinas at 3:40, put  my bike together with very heavy eyes (somehow it didn’t fall apart today) and was asleep by 4:30 (5:30 my time). This is AM of course. I slept in until 6:30 because the Stage One crit began at 9AM. Crits should never start this early. I ate two bagels and a cup of coffee.

My legs actually felt good today but my body and mind were so tired to the core that I felt ridiculously terrible. I went with attacks for the first 30 minutes then decided to mainly just sit in as close to the front as I could and not crash. I was actually having trouble taking the corners since my balance was so bad from lack of sleep. The course was pretty cool and fairly technical with a couple swooping 180 degree corners and a small hill, so I wish I’d felt good enough to do some real attacking and position-fighting. Also, while my average power was pretty average, my normalized power was 381. Surprisingly high.

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 3.49.49 PM

Look how wide my mouth is while the guy in front of me, Mike Olheiser if this is when I think it was, is nose breathing! Jeeze I must suck. Photo from Cyclingnews.

After the race David Benkowski and I took a lap and a bit of the road race course, stacking up the ride time to 3.5 hrs. Still gotta get in the time when I have the time. It was sunny and warm and felt good. After that I attempted to regain my $150 race fee by raiding the huge expo for its freebies. I didn’t even come close. Some of those vendors are pretty cheap with what they’re willing to hand out. While Hammer was giving away gels, GU was selling them just 31 meters away! “Can you believe that?” uttered a perplexed Private Benjamin Buford Blue.

I still made off with a decent-sized hoard, plus I stopped off at our hydration sponsor, Osmo Nutrition, and introduced myself to Lisa. She gave me a whole new bottle of the PreLoad mix, which is exactly what I just ran out of and needed to order more of. The PreLoad is a powder of super secret specialized salts in huge concentrations with a little sugar; it’s designed to increase blood plasma levels, aiding in cooling and increasing stroke volume. I think it works perfectly and I’m not just saying that because they’re a sponsor.

Check out the SCIENCE behind the madness:

Holy shit I just figured out how to embed videos!!!!

My day got even better when I was shopping at the grocery store after the race and a women ended up inviting me over to dinner on Saturday night. She cooks for a bunch of the racers (up to a couple hundred) at the camp ground every year. It’s going to be a pasta feed. We’ve really gotta carb up because Sunday’s race is whopping 90 minutes! WOW!

Tomorrow is the road race and Saturday is the time trial. My goal here is to podium on a stage and/or get a top 5 on GC, though I bet I’ll wind up something extremely mediocre like 27th. Better get some sleep.

Recent races and stuff

I took most of last week pretty easy, recovering from Redlands and was still feeling pretty bad by Friday. As my teammate Jake explained to me, only one thing can crack the dead leg shell that your body produces when it goes into hibernation mode like this: hard efforts. This weekend was full of them. I had a time trial followed by a team time trial on Saturday, then a road race down in Colorado Springs on Sunday.

I rode from home to the time trial and did an extra long warm up, knowing that my legs would need it. I spent almost too much time warming up and only got to the start line a few minutes before my start time. Cortisol was jacked. I busted out an 11th place, which was only 10 seconds slower than my teammate Scott, who wound up 5th. I think/hope I’m slowly improving. On another note, Colorado might be the only state where neither Chada Haga nor Tom Zirbel would for sure win a local afternoon time trial. Tom Peterman of Sonic Boom crushed it.

After lounging around for about an hour  with Scott and the the Rio Grande masters team in the parking lot, I re-warmed up for the team time trial with Jake, Scott and Colt. The wind had picked up significantly at this point, coming strong out of the west. As we got under way I felt like we were off to a slow start, so I upped the pace a couple times on the front, doing a bit too much surging. This wasn’t good because it caused Jake to blow up about two-thirds  into the race and it was down to just the three of us after that, working in the crosswind and trying not to get blown into traffic. We finished 4th, out of the money but it was a lot of fun.


Front to back: Scott, Colt, me, and Jake.

With four and a half hours of riding in my legs, and the wind increasing, Adelaide and I cancelled our plans to drive down to Colorado Springs that night and camp out for my road race and her 18-mile group run. It was a damn shame because she’d bought all the necessary camping food: hot dogs and hot chocolate.  We ate them at home instead.

The drive down to the US Air Force Academy road race took place way too early in the morning, especially since Taco Bell was closed and I’d wanted to have a post-race burrito ready to go. The course was up on the side of the mountains on the Air Force Academy base, a school Adelaide had attended a while back. So she gave me a quick tour as we took a lap of the race in the car. She dropped me off to meet with her group run, which was previewing the course of a 50K race Adelaide is doing at the end of the month. I wandered around looking for the parking lot and my teammates.

I wasted little time getting things rolling in the race. Held on an always undulating, blustery course at over 7,000 ft altitude with an equal amount of elevation gain, I figured a breakaway would win. And being possibly overly confident, I decided that I’d be able to go with EVERY breakaway attempt, even if I started going from the gun. It was only a 70 mile race anyways, and according to Nick it’s impossible to get tired in a race that short. True fact not.

Throwing caution to the wind, I attacked into the wind and got away solo by kilometer two. Five or six minutes later,  Julian Kyer of Bissell and Liam bridged up to me. We worked it for a bit, but were caught at the base of the main stair-stepped climb, which is about half the course long. The climb is super non steep, has flat sections, but is incredibly windy and goes forever. I retreated to the back of the pack as I took my wind vest off (despite the cold temps I was already warm from my effort. And there’s no point in wearing a skin suit if you’re sheathed in a bulky wind vest).

Going irritatingly slow, I realized the peloton was no place for me today. I worked my way up the gutter and attacked again, having spent a total of 70 seconds in the peloton since being brought back.

Again, I got away solo and DRILLED it into the headwind climb. I hammered close to a 20K max time trial-effort wattage for a solid lap (five laps total today), increasing my lead to well over a minute before getting caught by a group of seven riders, back on the climb. After my lap and a half solo attacking I had to sit on a bit for 20 minutes as I recovered, but was soon back to my old self after downing a few hundred calories of maple syrup.

By lap three we were down to five of us, but were soon joined by two more that had bridged from the field. The gap to the peloton ballooned from there. By the last lap it was just me, Tom Zirbel of Optum, Ian Burnett of Jelly Belly, Ian Holt of Natural Grocer, and  Austin Vinton of Think Finance. Tom attacked early on the climb while I was on the front, but realizing that I was likely the only one with the legs to follow, I knew I had to close it down. I went immediately without a thought. I was the only one to respond, so it was just Tom and I from there on out. I asked him politely to not attack again, at least not until we had a good gap. He was nice and agreed. He’d also given me a piece of food earlier when I’d run out (I had forgotten half my food at home). What a nice guy!

Tom attacked with three or four kilometers left to go before the base of a small riser. I’d been watching for it out of the corner of my eye, this time making sure to be in the big ring. I got onto his wheel and sat there, content on making it a two-up sprint. The finish was at the top of a small climb, maybe 200 meters long. Perfect for me.

road race 2

We soft pedaled to the foot of it, him keeping an eye on me, waiting for an attack. At the base he swerved off to the left to force me to the front. I took my chance and gave it full power. I got a good gap and had time to sit up at the top for a victory salute and a smile–my first win since 2010. A long dry spell.

After the race we all went out to Rio for dinner. I’ve wised up since the last team dinner and got the Fajitas For Two. Up next is Sea Otter, which I leave for on Wednesday. It’s currently blizzarding outside and will be doing so for the next two days. We’ve already gotten a foot and a half today. Good thing Steve Fischer decided to come train here for Gila.

Post Redlands Slump

I’ve heard of athletes achieving a big goal and subsequently becoming depressed afterwards. It’s sometimes a strange notion: succeeding and being upset by the fact. Maybe it’s caused by a lack of future goals or races that can surpass the recent achievement. It could be because all that focus and energy required is suddenly gone now that there’s no longer a goal for which to train, strive, and dream. For me Redlands was a huge goal this year, and a top 20 was pretty much beyond what I thought I was capable of. Of course I hoped for a top 20, wished for stage wins, breakaways, KOM jerseys, etc. I spent hundred mile bike rides thinking  ONLY of Redlands. But in my own mind, being completely honest with myself, all those goals or fantasies seemed equally distant and impossible. Keep in mind that I’ve only finished Redlands once, and that was like 85th place.

There are plenty more big races to train and dream of this season, but I’m still a bit down anyways. In fact, the only time I felt really content was descending the Sunset Loop hill for that final time, knowing I’d made it, yet was still existing in that moment of success. This is probably why long celebratory victory salutes feel so good. It was hot, the sun was getting low, the pace was high at the front where Optum frantically set chase to Mancebo, but I was finally at ease–the one time all week that I let myself drift to the back and rest my mind and legs. I thought I had the amateur jersey locked up and was super content about that. But when we finished and I didn’t place as well as I wanted on the stage and then immediately found out that I was also not in the jersey, I very quickly took away any feelings of accomplishment from myself by wishing I’d done better. There’s always something to improve on in a stage race unless you win. Maybe that’s part of what got me down–knowing there were still 16 people in front of me and plenty more who could have been if they hadn’t been towing  their team leaders and us around all week.

The last bit of depression comes in the form of settling back down in normal life. Stage races are just so damn fun!—the travel, meeting new people, eating good food and not worrying (too much) about counting calories, semi-fame (in the eyes of very young children), being around your friends and teammates, and of course the constant adrenaline from races. Coming home to the 9-5 and getting outside in the snow to ride for two hours during lunch isn’t quite the same. I do have Adelaide though! And THIRTY cans of smoked herring to make endless rolls of sushi! Too bad I can’t eat sushi though…because of the calories.


Thanks for the photo, Evan Hyde. We all hope to see you back on the bike one of these days.

Redlands 2013 Final Stages

Would you take $50 today if at some unknown time (it could be a day from now or 40 years) someone peed in your open mouth while you slept? I think you know my answer. My apologies to the guys behind me descending Sunset; they got a mouthful without the monetary reward. I pissed myself twice today since there was no place at all to pee except the 55mph descent. And I dared not take my dick out at that speed.

The race went well for me–almost fantastic, but not quite. I needed one particular guy to crack: the current best amateur in the white jersey. I never saw him at all so I assumed he’d been dropped, and since I knew the other two guys in front of me in the amateur competition were out of my group, I thought I might have the jersey sealed up. In fact I was so happy at the thought that I was smiling while we descended back into town after the 12 circuits. But the guy, Justin Rosi, had been dangling at the back all day so sadly I ended up second in the best amateur competition.

Sunset is a ridiculously difficult 94-mile day. We start out in town and do two abbreviated laps of the crit course to give the sprinters an opportunity to go for some extra sprint points. From there we do a gradual climb on big roads up to a 6.5-mile circuit, of which we do 12 laps. The circuit opens with a steep ramp, a gradual false flat, and some rollers at the top with bad pavement. At the top you’d be able to overlook the whole LA valley if the smog wasn’t so thick. It’s basically up one direction and down the other, with quite a few technical turns at high speed and a lot of big chunks of gravel shooting up at you from the crappy roads. The course was designed to crack the human spirit, which it’s done to me twice before. But not today.

I had Aaron help position me during the run-in to the circuits. It’s crucial to be in the top 50 at one particular corner when you get onto the circuit. From there it’s a super tight, twisty road and hard to move up. I put in a solid dig on the left side after losing Aaron’s wheel to get myself up into the top 10 in that corner. So far so good. After the twisting, rolling section we take a couple more left turns and the climb begins.

Feeling abnormally good, I moved up pretty strongly on the first steep section, getting back up into the top 20 or so after losing position on the twisty lead-in. I crested the KOM feeling good but breathing pretty damn hard. After the KOM there’s still some hard rollers before the feed zone and the descent.

The following nine laps went by fairly easily. Easily is a loose term. At one point some attacks were going off and I stood up to follow and dropped my chain super hard, creating a big gap in front of me. Like 25 guys, including most of the GC leaders, got up the road for a lap because of it. Well aren’t my cheeks red! Luckily they got brought back. I even closed the final gap to them, dropping my chain again in the process. I made sure to not shift down anymore while standing up. Before the race I had the mechanics at the neutral Shimano pit check out my shifting and they noticed that my rear derailleur cable was cracked and splitting. There hadn’t been time to fix it.

I put in an attack of my own mid-way in the race, hoping to draw some other guys out or at least get up the road and be positioned well during the false flat section where all the gaps would open up if things got hard. No one even thought of going with me, likely because I’m still a nobody apparently. So I sat up and waited for Five Hour Energy to bring me back. Side note: I’ve never been pushed around and disrespected so much in a race before. I was climbing in the top 10 or 20 for most of the laps and would constantly get guys cutting in front of me and stealing the wheel. I assume it’s because everyone was super stressed about finding the right wheel that wouldn’t get dropped and since no one recognizes our new Rio kits yet and no one expects a random rider to be strong, they weren’t comfortable being on my wheel. That or they were just a being douches. Probably that actually. I’ll get my revenge.

Anyways, things didn’t really get that hard until the final two laps. Matt Cooke and Mancebo attacked hard and blew shit to pieces at the base of the climb. Gaps were opening up everywhere and guys were coming apart left and right. I made it through (barely) in the main chase group of 15. Things came back together at the top when we slowed down. Mancebo was now off by himself in pursuit of Andrez Diaz, who’d been off the front solo for the three previous laps. He caught Diaz and the two opened up the gap with Chad Haga (the race leader) being in a spot of bother like the rest of us mortals. His teammate Zirbel came to the rescue and the two of them started pulling to bring Mancebo back, to no avail.

We went slower the final time up the climb to my delight, though in hindsight maybe if we’d gone harder I’d have ended up in the amateur jersey. I think most of the pack was on the rivet. I’ve been timid about attacking or going with the hardest attacks this whole week, not confident that I’d survive a counter attack after my own dig failed. Probably best for me to be conservative until I get a better idea of my current form and how I actually stack up against the fast guys. I feel like a completely different rider than in years past. Something’s finally clicked.

The Optum boys were never able to pull Mancebo back, who dropped Diaz on the final lap of the five crit circuits back in town. He won the race and the overall. Crazy strong doesn’t begin to describe it. Jamis, Elbowz, Jelly Belly, AND the biggest, strongest guy in the race (Zirbel) couldn’t pull him back. On a descent followed by a flat road!

I was too far back, as usual, to contest the close sprint for second place. I was hurting but not as bad as some other guys. We had 35 left in the group and I only managed a mid-pack placing with 16th. Should have moved up more with three to go. I really didn’t expect it to be single file with big gaps forming on the last two laps. It’s all about positioning you idiot Kennett!

But I won’t complain with a 17th GC and 2nd amateur, which is my best result to date. I’ve got to get better at the time trial though. That’s what it really came down to. Next up is a local TT and TTT this Saturday, followed by a good local road race on Sunday. The following week I tackle Sea Otter solo and go for the podium.

Nick pulled out a wicked strong performance today (he’s from the East Coast so I assume wicked is fitting), and finished in the lead group with me. Colt, Aaron, Scott, and Garrett (who suffered a flat tire) all finished and our team ended up 11th in the team GC competition, beating out a ton of other strong teams including Bissell. Yeah. I didn’t see that coming either. Thanks to Trevor and Alex we were supplied with plenty of water and Coke during the race from the feed zone, and everything logistic-wise was taken care of for a super stress-free week of racing. Or as stress-free as one of, if not the, biggest races of the year can be.

After the race we got packed up and headed to Eureka! Burger and meowed down on some fatty meat patties, fries, and beer. We’ve got another hour or two in the van before we reach Vegas and it’s already 11:30. Gonna be a long day. Tomorrow will be too. The $5 breakfast buffet in the morning will heal all.

Random Nick quote of the day: …“and that’s saying something because I’ve seen a lot of dick…just sayin.”

Oh yeah, I forgot to write about the crit yesterday. It was 90 minutes, fast, fun, I held good position, didn’t crash, didn’t contest the sprint since I was too far back with two laps to go because I hadn’t moved up in time, and I got 25th. I’m happy I conserved and didn’t go with any attacks, though it was tempting. Also, I got in a lot of good training yesterday and put in 4.5 hours of total ride time. Stupid? Yes.


Redlands Stage Two 2013

I’ll jump right into things as I haven’t much time before the crit tonight. Yesterday was a hard day: five laps totaling 124 miles with a few significant climbs. Not significant as in long or steep but significant in terms of being really god damn hard. My goal for the day was to make the front group and go for a high placing in the sprint. A top 10 would be awesome. A top 20 great. Finishing in the main group, still great actually. I’d never done that in years past, though I knew it was feasible given that I’d done it at San Dimas on a similar course.

So without any intentions of getting into early breakaways, I lined up at the very back. It was cold and foggy, unlike any Beaumont stage in the history of the race. The first year I did this course back in 2010 it was 100 degrees.

The first three laps were very unmemorable for me. I stayed at the back, where I felt it was safest and the easiest to ride, except on the main KOM climb. I positioned really well the first three laps, leading into the climb somewhere in the top 20 or 30 and always cresting it in the top 20 or so.

Lap four was a different story. I’d taken a pee a few kilometers before the base of the climb, maybe like 5K out. But really these last 5K were crucial to be at the front in case there were crashes, things got strung out in the wind and false flat, or gaps opened up. After peeing (I peed every lap of the race) I was at the very back of the 100 riders still left in the race from the original 190 starters. I used up a bit of fuel to work my way back up, but eventually got swamped and boxed in with a few hundred meters before the base of the climb. This was not a good lap to get boxed in on.

Breakaways came and went throughout the day. I think the current break was caught by this point of the lap. The fast climbers drilled it up the climb and gaps started opening up in front of me everywhere. I came around broken guys, mouths gapping, lungs panting, legs searing. I made it over the steep section and could see up ahead that it was do or die time. A group of 25 was getting away and there was a large gap to span. I smashed it hard on the flater section by myself and was the last person to make it onto the group. I didn’t stop there and continued on as it got steeper again before the first descent, making sure not to get gapped off again.

We did the short corkscrew descent (like 40 seconds long) and started climbing again up the final bit before the longer descent. I can’t recall exactly what happened but there was a group of around eight guys up the road from my group, which at this point was down to like 10 or 12 guys I think. We worked it on the descent and following flat headwind section to catch them, right as our group was joined by 10 others.

As we came through the start/finish section I asked Matt Cooke his opinion on what we should do. Guys were attacking and I felt like something real could stick for the final lap, given that there were only 30 guys left. He said he was just going to wait for the final climb, with me agreeing that that was the best option. Not five seconds after saying that I began following moves and attacking.

It was short lived though because the rest of the peloton caught back on pretty soon afterwards. I drifted to the back again to rest and get a bottle of water from Nick and Garrett, my last two teammates in the lead group.

Still feeling “good,” or gooder than most, I knew I had a great chance of making the top group of 20 or 30 that would stick to the line over the next climb. This was the easy scenario that I played out in my mind. But judging on how things broke up on the previous lap, I didn’t think this would happen. I assumed the groups would be small again. 10 or so guys per group fighting to regain contact with the one in front of them on the descent before the finish line.

I positioned myself pretty well going up the climb the final time. If I was right on the wheel of the guys attacking I think I could have held on, but I wasn’t there. I followed Michael Olheiser the whole way up as we passed guys who were blowing up. Six of the best climbers in the race made it over the KOM with like six seconds on us (Matt Cooke, Mancebo, Acevado, Ben JM, Luis Amaran, and Cesar Grajales). My group was nine guys contained myself, two of my former HB teammates (Jon Hornbeck and Ian Crane), Freddy Rodriguez, race leader Chad Haga, Alex Hageman, Max Jenkins, Olheiser, and one other guy in a black kit.

Being isolated from any teammates and content with just finishing high in the group I was currently in, I didn’t do an over abundance of work to bring the six leaders back. I did work though, but refused to kill myself. We let Haga do most of the pulling, with Olheiser taking some big pulls as well, until we got to within 5K to the finish line. Our gap was staying at 8 seconds, probably because there were three Jamis guys in the lead group of six, all going berzerk to get Ben the win and the jersey. Whoops. Now there were just four guys up the road. A touch of wheels and Ben and Grajales went down hard. I let an “oh shit” as I saw them go down and narrowly avoid getting run over by a dumb ass follow car that shouldn’t have been so close behind them. For a second I wasn’t sure if Ben’s head was still in tact. The car was just a foot or two away from taking it off.

We passed the fallen riders and took a left onto the slightly downhill run-in to the finish line. Just 2K to go. I stopped taking pulls, getting ready to conserve for the sprint. I knew I could win the sprint if I played things right, as I generally have a good kick after a long race like this, especially since the final 75 meters rose ever so slightly.

But with just over a kilometer to go were caught by a group of 20. All that work for nothing! I was still going for the sprint though, and held a good position until the final hundred meters before the last turn and the 250 meters to the finish line. I entered the corner too far back, then followed the wrong set of wheels (and stayed glued to them too long also). I saw Ian come around me. I should have hopped on his wheel but I went right instead and got held up by some fading legs in front of me. I started sprinting with 100 meters to go and was gaining rapidly on the guys in front of me, but the race was suddenly over. I finished 12th and moved up to 22nd GC. Not too shabby even though I botched the finish a bit. You can’t be too greedy though, and a 12th is MILES above and beyond what I’ve done here in the past, and to do it on arguably one of the hardest editions of the race in recent years makes it all that much sweeter.

Garrett and Nick weren’t too far back in the next groups. Colt, Scott and Aaron came in later, all safely within the time cut. Unfortunately Trevor didn’t make the time cut after losing contact with the group on lap two. He’d gone too far back in the caravan to get water for us after waiting half a lap for our team car to come up to the tail end of the peloton (it always takes forever for the team cars to get called up in this race). He got water but during his journey back to the peloton one of the officials stopped him from using the caravan to pace back on. Uhhhh, do you know how bike racing works!!!?? Ridiculous. Trevor, with five bottles in his jersey, made it back onto the group just as we started the climb but was of course popped immediately due to the work he’d had to do to get back up to us.

Tonight is the crit. Tomorrow is the day of days. My goal is to not lose time tonight and to ride as hard as I possibly can tomorrow and hope for the best. Yesterday I was able to climb in the top 15 or 20 guys so my hopes are high. The climb is a lot longer tomorrow though, and we do 12 laps of it too, so it’s a much harder course. I predict the race will split up so much that only half a dozen guys will make it to the final five, 1K finishing circuits of the crit course in town to duke it out for stage placings. I currently sit in 4th GC for the amateur jersey. Only Ian and Jon were climbing with the front or second-to-front groups with me yesterday, so if things play out similarly the jersey will be going to HB or a former HB rider. Pretty amazing to think about, though the current race leader in the men’s race (Haga) AND the women’s leader (Powers) are both former Rio riders. (I pick good development teams apparently).

Enough speculation for now. All I can hope for is good legs. It all comes down to recovery. If I’m on a great day I have a chance. If I’m on a bad day, well at least I already have a result from this weekend. Even yesterday was already a dream come true: realizing that I can, in fact, hang with the best guys in the country. That’s all for now.



Garrett took a spill early on.



Dinner over at one of our host houses. That’s Garrett, Colt, Nick and our mechanic/driver/swani Alex.


Building up my stockpile since Colorado STILL doesn’t have a Trader Joe’s



Herring on cheesy, light rye. Doesn’t get any better.