Second half of Nature Valley 2013

(Written on Tuesday)

I’ve learned that you should forget your failures just as quickly as your accomplishments. To dwell on either is to practice the art of status quo—stagnation.

This past weekend I came close to my greatest result on the bike yet. Had I not gotten sick, and assuming I would have placed near the front of the field on Sunday (a no-brainer), I would have wound up 8th overall. At an NRC that’s pretty decent.

But what you could have done doesn’t mean a damn thing. The important thing is what you did. Actually that doesn’t matter either. The only thing that really has any worth to it is what you can do.

Enough hypothesizing. Onto what happened in the race:

Stage 4

The Minneapolis Uptown crit is a pretty big ordeal. It has somewhere between 30 and 900 thousand of spectators, plenty of annoyed traffic circumnavigating the blocked roads, and a large VIP tent. The VIP tent has food—little sandwiches, wraps, shrimps, cheeses, and crackers. I didn’t have any though. I was leaning over the fence just looking at it when a guy on the greener side of the fence asked me what I’d like. Suddenly the food lost its appeal once the legal means of obtaining it was offered. I said I’d pass since I’d probably throw it up half way into the race. The Uptown crit, unlike the Saint Paul crit, is fast and hard.

For me it was hard because I was doing a poor job guarding my position. I’d get chopped in and out of every other dag-nab-it-all corner. And I never quite made it up far enough to get out of the scrum. My legs were there but my head wasn’t quite in it I guess.

I avoided the many crashes of the opening laps and got to witness Brad Huff of Jelly Belly tear into a guy for two laps straight, angrily pointing his finger in front of and screaming right into this guy’s face (while cornering mind you. I was impressed). If I were that guy I probably would have immediately apologized, peed my pants, and dropped to the back of the pack. But this guy didn’t do that. Instead he argued back then proceeded to crash himself out the lap after Brad was done yelling at him. I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy. He just slid out, likely out of fear.

The reason Brad was yelling at him was because this guy had chopped both of us super dangerously before the last corner of the first lap. I don’t know how I didn’t crash when he did it. It was so bad it was actually malicious, as if was trying to cause a pile up behind him. But karma came back and slammed this fucker into the pavement at 30+mph. Thank you baby Jesus!

From then on out I stagnated mid pack, riding like an uncaring wimp. I began moving up near the end and thought I was safe with two or three laps to go sitting 30th wheel. But a gap opened up just two guys in front of me on the last lap. I came around in the final 100 meters and was just a single second off the tail end of the lead group but of course the time is taken from the front of the group to the first gap, so me and three other guys were awarded a 9-second time gap. Fair enough. I should have been farther up. I placed 28th on the day and moved down to 14th on GC. I wasn’t too concerned about this though. From the rumors I’d heard, the group tomorrow would be smashed to smithereens. And I knew for certain that I was going to be the jackhammer that helped done it.

Stage 5

The Menomonee road race takes place in the steep hills of Wiscaaaansin. The course is 101 miles including four, 2.5-mile finishing circuits through town. The last time I did this race was 2010 and I was sick as a dog. I was gapped off on the final KOM climb into town and finished like 15 minutes back. This time I was also sick but finished 20th and moved back up to 13th on GC.

A slight trickle in my throat was all it took for me to know I was infected during my warm up. My teammates had been getting sick from each other throughout the week. Note: the most beneficial thing a teammate can ever do, in my opinion, is to not show up to a race when sick. Just stay the hell away! (Unless you’re me. In which case you probably aren’t contagious. Ever. So don’t worry about it).

I put the viral thought in the back of my mind, convincing myself I was just parched. I drank extra water.

It took a few little rollers before my legs felt decent. Even the neutral section hurt me a bit as we trucked along at a very ‘neutral,’ friendly pace of 541 watts over the little bumps. The opening attacks to form the breakaway didn’t last long today once the red flag dropped. Six or seven brave souls guys got up the road fairly quickly and Optum set a medium pace for the next 25 miles or so. I sat in, waiting for that second KOM, which was the nastiest climb of the day. It was short and steep, and I was told that it would determine the race’s outcome. A strong group would most likely get away there, or the field would be so hurt and shattered from that climb that the winning move would get away on the following 3rd KOM, which was just a few miles after the 2nd.

I was the first to attack on the steep slopes of that crucial KOM #2. I didn’t give it full gas since I wasn’t quite sure how long the top rolling section was before we went downhill. Janier Acevedo (Jamis) and six or seven other strong guys came around me and I did a big effort to hop on the back of the line. We tore up the rest of the climb and pretty quickly started working at the top (Not me. I sat at the back like I new I should. I had no teammates and a great excuse not to pull: weak amateur!) I was hurting pretty bad but we had a good gap by the time we got off the top section and descended down to the flat.

Unfortunately we got caught here by a hard-chasing Optum train, lead by Tom Zirbel, which was protecting Friedman’s yellow jersey. I bided my time then attacked again on the next steep KOM a few miles later. This time I didn’t have nearly enough in my legs to get a solid gap since I’d started the climb like 20 guys back, due to poor positioning. I led the field up the climb and swung off when I saw that again, Optum was chasing me and fellow Pacific Northwesterner, Morgan Schmidt.

I wasted no time and attacked 30 seconds after we were caught and got my gap. I pegged it hard to establish some daylight between me and the field, hoping that others would follow and the field would shatter over this top rolling section, but no one else deemed it wise to disrupt the steady, crushing pace set by Optum. They were just too strong for us today I guess. That or everyone was riding like wimps.

The rest of my race, until the final series of climbs into town, was spent in the pack being bored and pissed off that the race was so easy.

When we approached the final five or six mini climbs before the finishing circuits, I was attentive and followed half a dozen moves. Each time I thought there was a chance the field behind was doomed, but alas, they were continually saved by the strength and cohesion of Optum. Finally, once all the hard attacking was done, it was the semi soft attack on the flat that got away and won the day. Optum just let it roll once they saw that there wasn’t anyone up there that was going to be a threat to Friedman’s jersey. I’m glad the stage was won with a hardman effort though. Travis Mcabe was in the early break all day, which was caught like 20 miles from the finish, then he went again with that last attack and helped drill it all the way to the line for the win. Well done sir. That’s how bike races should be won.

Stage 6

I spent Stage 6 in bed. I amassed a total of 21 and a half hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, which I believe is a world record if I’m not mistaken. I have never been knocked out this hard by a cold before. Here’s what my sleep schedule entailed, starting Saturday night. I slept from:

11pm Saturday night to 10am Sunday morning.

10:30am to 5:30pm.

6:00pm to 9:30pm. Then I was back to sleep by 11pm.

I woke to eat a few times and to pack my bike for the trip home on Monday morning. Almost the entire time I had terrible nightmares about missing the final stage of the race, only to periodically wake up and realize that I was currently living that nightmare. I was clinically depressed all that day and the next. I’m fine now though.

As quick as the cold came on, it’s now almost gone. I thought there was no way I’d be fit to race Mt. Hood by Friday but now I’m having second thoughts. Maybe they’re dumb second thoughts. But, since there’s a pretty cheap one-way ticket available, I’m tentatively planning on flying out there to meet the team on Thursday morning. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

During times of depression, as well as elation, it’s good to remember that your fortune can change in a heartbeat. One second you’re crushing fools off the front of the race, the next you’re laying in bed, missing the race altogether. And then, with some luck, you’re crushing it again half a week later. Time for me to go eat a ton of hot and sour chicken soup to get over the last drips of this cold.

Nature Valley Stages 1-3

Going to bike races is all about getting pampered. I’m being taken care of the right way here at the Faulkner residence. CJ is a bike racer himself so he knows the rules. If I have a bag that needs carrying he’s there at the snap of my fingers. If my wheel needs truing at the bike shop every day he’s there to drive me to and from. I need groceries? From which store? he asks. I need to be driven to packet pick-up during rush hour after he’s been laying bricks since 5am and done intervals afterwards? He’s on it. I desire a car to drive around for leisure? He asks which one I’d prefer to take. Yep, I can pretty point my good results directly at being spoiled rotten by CJ and his wife Jen.

That and a shit load of intervals.

I’m here guest riding with Full Circle. My teammates for the week include Marcel DeLisser, Chad Adair, and Brad Tuhi.

Day one (Wednesday) was really spread out over what I think may have been 73 hours. It was a really long day. Time definitely slowed to some extent, maybe even stopped completely for a while. An observer of my life would have witnessed me come to a complete halt as time, for me alone, appeared to stop as if I were approaching a black hole. It definitely felt like I was at a halt during the morning’s 7.7-mile time trial.

Stage 1

I woke to rain and dark thunderclouds. The ride to the course and the health of my knees were saved by a bright metallic blue pair of warmers I had to borrow from Jen. I tried to remember the last real time I spent riding in the rain. Two years ago. Colorado ‘rain’ doesn’t count. I did my warm up near the course under increasing precipitation and increasingly soggy shoes. Thunder and lightning shook and flashed awake the black sky. The rain turned into a downpour. Potholes and gravel strewn about the crappy road surface were covered in thigh-deep puddles. Small poodles would have drown if they’d been taken for a walk. The only reason I wrote that last line was because the word puddle triggered my mind to think of the word poodle. I should have used them in the same sentence. Small poodles would have drown in the deepening puddles.

My hope for smashing out a top 20 was high since this was an Eddy Merckx style TT: no time trial equipment. I have to admit, I did enjoy the effort. Who wouldn’t? It was pouring rain with thunder and lighting! Aside from the pain and terrible time I put in, it was fun. I finished 40th. I was shivering within minutes of finishing but of course CJ was there to drive me home.

Stage 2

The Wednesday evening crit in Saint Paul was much more pleasant. After spending six hours in bed watching TubePlus and scouring facebook I rode downtown for the 75-minute crash fest–or what I assumed would be a crash fest. It turned out to be pretty safe, at least for me and the guys directly in front of me. The course was technical and fast but all the mayhem seemed to occur directly behind me. Causation or correlation? It was safe up front. I finished 27th and ended the day with a 33rd on GC. I got home at 9:45 and had the lights out by 2AM.


Photo by Mathew Pastick

Stage 3

And now onto the main event–for this blog post anyways. The 93-mile Cannon Falls road race on Thursday went better than I expected. I assumed it would be a straightforward race: a small break gets away and Jelly Belly sets tempo until Jamis takes over for the leadout sprint, resulting in a boring group ride for three hours and a fast, lined-out 15 minutes at the end where I come in 38th.

Ten miles into the race, a strong group of 20 just up and split off the front at the top of the second KOM. It was hardly even a hill, but it was enough for some weak-assed punk to let the wheel go. I was too far back to respond. I’d been up near the front for the first KOM and had been following wheels and attacking in between the two climbs but was caught with my dick in my hands leading into that second KOM. No really, I think I might have been peeing.

The next two plus hours were spent chasing and attacking as teams and riders tried to bring back the large group, which contained many of the overall contenders.

I bided my time, not doing any work or attacking whatsoever until half of the breakaway had come back to us. The eight leaders’ gap was down to 45 seconds when I tested the waters for the first time. No dice. Still too may people willing to chase every little move down. I continued waiting for another 20 minutes before I did my second attempt. It was inspired mainly because I felt like a big pileup was about to happen and I wanted to be up the road when it went down. We were in one of the many crosswind sections of the day with everyone crowded on the very left side of the road, trying to avoid the rumble strips while remaining in the draft. I’d had enough of the jostling around and rolled off to the right side of the road once we slowed down for a moment. I pretended I was just drinking water and looked over across to the left side of the road at the front of the peloton, taking extra long sips as if saying “Hey guys, I’m just really thirsty right now and for some reason I can’t drink within the peloton and I have to ride way out over here in the wind by myself to properly rehydrate.”

I slowly accelerated, still with the bottle up to my mouth, without making a sudden jump, ramping my speed up as un-threateningly as I could. I looked back and had a large gap already. The field was still sitting up and no one had responded to my move. Excellent. Wait. This is the opposite of excellent. I was headed for no-man’s land. The break was almost two minutes of the road. This would be impossible to bridge alone and just a huge, amateur, waste of energy.

Head down into the wind, I decided I must keep going. If I sat up immediately I would look weak. I’d rather blow myself up than look weak. A few minutes later I picked up one rider along the way. I’m not sure if he’d been dropped from the break or if he was a remnant of an attack 10 minutes prior, but I can tell you one thing: he was completely worthless in my pursuit of the leaders. I used more energy yelling at him to pull than I gained from sitting in his draft for the six seconds at a time that he did pull. The only real work he did was when the TV camera was on us for a few minutes. He complained that he was hurting bad, and I’m sure he was, but if you can talk you’re not hurting that much. Some people need to learn how to suffer.

The gap went down: 1:20, 1:10, 50 seconds, 25 seconds. The eight leaders were agonizingly close for the last six or seven minutes.

After 20 or 30 minutes since I got away, I finally made contact with the leaders. I’d thought about attacking the guy on my wheel and dropping him so that he didn’t get up there with me (because I was still mad at him), but decided to not make an enemy out of that team. We came up on the back of the break during a small rise, I took a bottle from the Optum car, and went straight to the front for double time pulls. If I alone could catch these guys, that meant that others behind could do it in half the time. Our gap to the peloton was three minutes, which was a good amount of time but easily catchable with 25 miles left to go. We needed more speed.

Within maybe eight minutes of catching the break, the moto came by and told us there was a group of 18 just 30 seconds behind us. Great. All that time in the wind and I could have just sat up and gotten a free ride. Oh well. At least I was in what would certainly be the winning move. I didn’t stop taking pulls though. My legs felt good and I thought that as long as I wasn’t pulling above 500 watts I’d remain pretty fresh. What an arrogant bastard I am!

Just seconds before the 18 guys caught us, and right before the final KOM climb, I launched another crafty attack and got away alone.

Nature Valley Grand Prix, 2013

Photo from Velonews

I plugged away up the climb, looking back to check on my gap every twenty seconds to gauge my effort. No sense in going too hard. All I wanted was the KOM points. I began soft pedaling with 200 meters to go in order to let them catch me right after I crossed the KOM line. 15 seconds later Janier Acevedo (Jamis) blew by me on the left. A second after that an Optum rider, Jesse Anthony, came by in pursuit of Acevedo. I got on his wheel, wondering what was going on. Were they really attacking each other already? I thought the new group of 28 (18+10) would motor along together to at least the finishing circuits. Shows how much I know about bike racing.

A minute later, next to join us through the feed zone was Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly) and Andres Diaz (Elbowz). Freddie immediately began pulling the hardest, and once we all began cooperating, which didn’t take more than a minute, our gap grew quickly. Soon we had 1:26 on the group behind. I became excited, thinking of the finish already. At the very worst I’d finish 5th and be 5th on GC, assuming we kept this gap or grew it. I pulled but took a break every few minutes, just to keep my legs from going acidic. I wanted to be able to respond immediately to any attacks and knew that it wasn’t even expected that I take a pull at all, since I’m obviously just a weak, worthless amateur.

I took us onto the 1-mile gravel section that lead into town, which was fun, even pleasant, in a small group as opposed the the chaos of a large peloton. Freddie and Janier took over soon afterwards.

Nature Valley Grand Prix, 2013

As we came upon the town and the final four, two-mile finishing circuits, I looked back to see that our gap had come down to just a handful of seconds. Doomed. The group that consumed us at the start/finish line was down to 14 riders (now 18 with us). I sat eight or 10 guys back, wondering what I should do. I was one of the only guys without a teammate in the group, so sitting in seemed like the best option.

I attacked a minute later but quickly sat up once I looked over my shoulder to see them just a few bike lengths back. Guys continued to attack on those first two laps. Freddie took a hard pull to bring back Joe Schmalz (Elbowz) and an Optum and a Cash Call rider. I thought about doing the counter attack since I was right on Freddie’s wheel but hesitated. Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly) took off on the left. I almost got out of the saddle to join him, but again hesitated. There seemed to be too much fire power in the group and I was certain it would come down to a sprint. It took all my will power to not go with Mazich as I saw his move out of the corner of my eye.

That hesitation, in this case, turned out to be the wrong decision. I thought I was being smart but he ended up staying away to win. I botched the finish sprint and came in 10th. I need more practice at this whole trying to win thing. I’ve got to get out of the survival mode to which I’ve grown accustomed over the past couple years on the NRC circuit.

I secretly hoped for the most aggressive rider’s jersey as a consolation but didn’t get it. Anthony was a good choice since he’d been up the road in the original move all day. I currently sit 13th on GC and hope to improve on that tomorrow, and of course the final day–Stillwater. My main goal remains to win that stage. After witnessing the mayhem yesterday, all my prior belief that a team can hold onto the lead by setting tempo on the front is gone–for tomorrow’s road race or Stillwater. Pure agression will win, and that’s what I like best anyways.

Heading to Minnesota

Last week was stressful. I got into work at noon on Monday and stayed late after a long morning of travel. My subconscious was transfixed on how I’d get a new bike frame within the end of the week for Nature Valley. I ended up calling in a favor from Hagens Berman and was sent a used Blue (Ian’s?) the very next morning. I stripped down my Specialized and equipped the Blue with my components on Friday and it was ready to race on Saturday morning—after an evening stop at Steven’s house to pick up a seat post and front derailleur clamp. Indubitably, things went wrong with the bike later but I got everything sorted out by the end of the weekend and it will be good for Nature Valley.

Other possessional and monetary turmoil included losing my ipod on the bus from the airport, realizing I lost my City Navigator card in my Garmin when I sent it in for a replacement Garmin, dealing with my Zipp rear that won’t stay true (Dan trued it on Friday…it was out of true by Saturday), and last but not least, I stressed about my ongoing ‘necessity’ of purchasing plane tickets and replacement bike parts that I can’t afford (in this case shifting cables and lube).

While sitting on the bus (I’m on the bus to the airport right now), stressing about bike parts I need from QBP, trying to remember who I need to call about the Garmin and ipod, I recognized that the more worrying you do in regards to menial tasks and physical objects, the less time and energy you have for free thought. Creativity, daydreaming, and wonder are more important than thinking about all that other crap, at least in the developed world where you don’t have to worry about malaria or starving to death.

Truly creative people are so absent-minded and forgetful because they’re occupied with actual thought. While most are stressing about the grocery list or remembering to change the oil in the car, creative people are wondering why it’s necessary that all the seats on the bus face the same direction or how a dragonfly’s wings work.

The world needs both: people who think about tangible things and people who wonder, but I believe we’d be better off by doing more of the later. I know I’m much happier when I spend time daydreaming than when I stress about details.

Moving on, I had a fairly good week of training and rest. I could have done with more rest. I did the Bus Stop ride on Tuesday, which was my biggest mistake. I pulled off with like 20 minutes to go but the damage was done. I should have rested after Philly on Sunday and the travel day on Monday. I went to the sauna on Monday and Tuesday to finish off my month membership at the rec center. Both times felt surprisingly easy and restful, unlike the normal suffering to which I grew accustomed.

Wednesday I rested and Thursday I went hard and did VO2 intervals with Matt. Despite being tired, my overall average power for the intervals was the highest they’ve ever been at altitude. So I haven’t declined from a peak yet, which is good news.

Friday I rested, Saturday I raced…for five minutes during the Sunshine hill climb. I pulled out a mile in, realizing I was being stoopid and that if I wanted a result at Nature Valley I better stop before I did more damage. Instead of finishing the race I got a free massage at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine from Kate Dean, rode to Safeway for a huge sandwich, then went home and sat in bed while eating the sandwich and watching a movie. I slept for almost 12 hours that night. Matt won the hill climb and Nick took second.

I felt better on Sunday for the North Boulder Park crit but my mind wasn’t in it. It was a flat, technical course that I’d never done before and a dangerous break got away in the first 7 minutes. I took pulls and did some chasing but my lack of cornering prowess that day kept me from doing any real damage. Once it was apparent that the break was gone for good, I lost all motivation, which made me corner even worse. I spent half the race covering my own damn gaps after every corner. It was very frustrating. I felt like I was driving a tractor.

I pulled out with 15 minutes to go once my motivation to continue riding for 4th place diminished completely. Usually I’ll race hard for 20th, especially if there’ money, but today I just wasn’t feeling it. You only have so many motivated days a year for racing hard. It’s not necessarily wise to force one out when it isn’t crucial.

It never feels good to DNF, especially twice in a row, but the extra rest was needed. Assuming I remember how to steer my bike by Wednesday night and with the strength my legs have had the past couple weeks, Nature Valley should go pretty well.

2013 Philly Race Report–I went too soon.

I went a lap early. A gad damn lap early! I’ve never been especially good at math, though simple addition usually isn’t a problem. During the race, having lost count of the laps with a few to go, I fumbled through my computer screens to find out that we’d raced 87 miles. “So that means that we have two more laps,” I thought. “Because two times 12 (mile-laps) is 24. And 24 plus 87 is 122.” This is not correct. By the way.

The roar of the crowd yesterday was unlike anything I’ve heard before. I could feel the boom of screams and yells in my chest, and as I attacked to the finish line from the field on that penultimate lap, at first thinking “Wow I’m fast! No one is even close behind anymore!,” the crowd helped turn my legs over even quicker. Then, as I continued passing dropped guys from the break, I realized that up ahead the remaining breakaway wasn’t slowing down after the finish line. My heart sank. Okay, do or die now. I went even harder to latch on the back just at the top. I could have drifted back into the field and rested my legs for that last lap and still had enough to given anyone a run for their money at the podium, but the excitement and adrenaline had me do otherwise.

In hindsight I should have just sat up right then and there, but who knew what was going to happen? We could have stuck it had there not been quite the large number of guys left in the field to chase us down. If the group had split over the climb that second to last time up, maybe they wouldn’t have had the organization to bring us back.

I’ll start at the beginning. And the beginning always starts with breakfast. I woke first when Allen shook my leg, second when Joe yelled at me to get up, and then finally a third time when Joe coaxed me out of bed with the bribe of a free meal.

There was another buffet going on downstairs, this time in the conference room specifically for the racers. Well, for the pro teams actually. Us worthless amateurs had to pay…as if I was going to do that. Diego, Leo, and Victor were already down there and Leo had snuck in (sort of) and was eating food off of Diego’s plate. I was a bit more bold and walked in like I was supposed to be there. I piled a few plates with eggs, sausage, my own oats, peanut butter, and yogurt mixture that I’d prepared the night before, and a large omelet with all the omelet ingredients available. I ate just enough to not feel sick. Perfect.

We rode down to the course  at 11AM and were already drenched in sweat by the time we got to the top of the Manayunk Wall, from where the race started. It was hot and humid, though not quite as sweltering as the day before. There was even a chance of thunderstorms, which I hoped would hold off until the group of 200 was whittled down quite a bit. The descent would be sketchy if wet.

Like I just mentioned, the race started at the top of the Manayunk Wall, which is a 2 to 2.5-minute climb that has pitches of up to 16%. It’s lined with thousands of fans, some slightly less drunk than others, and all screaming at the tops of their lungs. I’ve never experienced that level of cheering/sheer madness before. Even the start was a rush as we rounded a corner and headed down hill. Most of the 12-mile course was lined with people. Lemmon hill was packed to the brim too.

I sat mid-pack for the first couple laps, not doing a very good job moving up for the Manayunk but usually getting up into the top 30 by the top. I missed a large split that went at the end of the second lap. It was pretty worrisome actually, because most of the favorites and just about every big team was had representatives in it. I feared the race was over. The 20 guys that got away at the top of the climb had 40 seconds on us, plus another 10 riders had broken away on the flat section before the split happened. So now there were 30 guys up the road.

Not to worry. Olheiser, Barry, and a handful of other guys got off the front a few kilometers before the Manayunk in attempts to bridge up there. I came across to them on the climb and after some work on the descent and flat section, we made it into the split’s caravan and into the group, just as another guy crashed in front of some cars. There were crashes everywhere today. The feed zone was mayham, guys were going down on the descent, the strung-out tailwind section, the climb…everywhere.

I looked around the group I was in and knew the large breakaway would come back. We had 30 guys and all of the contenders in the group. Unfortunately another 30 came back on later that lap. But now, half way into the race, positioning would be quite a bit easier leading into the climb.

The 10-man break split apart eventually and reshuffled with guys bridging up there at some point. I’m not sure when this happened, but a mostly new group of a dozen or so riders were up the road with somewhat fresher legs.

Side story in the race: I’d say one of my favorite moments of Sunday was when Cole House’s seat fell off. He’d crashed earlier, judging from all the road rash and torn shorts, and was standing up in front of me out of the saddle when his seat just fell off onto the ground to my left. I yelled at him that it fell off, and assumed he heard me because he kept standing up for what seemed like an unnecessary amount of time to stretch his legs. But he sat back down (hard) on the seatpost and let out a yelp. Race over. I laughed. Sorry Cole but how could I not? That’s cartoon material right there.

Laps five, six, seven, and eight were pretty chill in my books. I sat near or on the front on the climb with no difficulties at all. I managed to get enough water in the feed zone to feel too full, and my food stock was holding strong. With just under two laps to go (at the time I though we just had one) we began bearing down on the remaining eight or ten riders up the road. Half a lap later they had like 30 or 40 seconds at the base of the Manayunk. This was shortly before I attacked.

Going up the base of the climb, I wondered why we weren’t going all out yet. Was everyone really this timid about going too early? I’m usually not timid about going early, so I went “apeshit” according to Matt. But of course I realized my mistake and had to overcome quite the mental blow to find the strength to do that one true last lap. At the top of the climb I struggled to hold Elbowz rider Eric Marcotte’s wheel on the descent. I took a few corners too slow and had to do a couple keg-sapping sprints to catch the four riders left in the breakaway, which included Chad Beyer (Champion Systems) Scott Zwizanski (Optum) and Bruno Langlios (Garneau)–he was also the KOM winner and still riding like a beast unleashed.

We only had 12 more miles, but I was out of water and food, my legs were still acidic from the climb attack, and I was nearly void of mental stamina. I struggled to pull through and had to sit on a bit for longer than I wanted, but luckily the guys let me rest a bit and no one yelled at me to take pulls, which is more than I can say I did about 15 minutes later when one rider was too gassed to take continuous pulls.

But, for the most part the break worked very well together over those last 10 miles and our gap went back up to 30 seconds from 20 that we had at the top of the Manayunk. I knew we’d need at least 30 seconds at the base of the climb to hold off the guys in the peloton that final time up, and also knew that there would probably be a concerted chase effort if the group was as large as it was the previous lap. My only hope was that it had broken up that penultimate climb. It had not and there were still 40 guys left in the peloton.

philly break

Doomed with 3 or 4K to go. Zwizanski in orange, me on the right in yellow/black, Marcotte behind me, Beyer behind him, and Bruno tucked behind Zwizanski. UHC did the lions share of the work to bring us back, then Optum took over when it was obvious we were done for, in order to give their man Anthony a lead out to the base of Manayunk.

As we came into the town of Manayunk we could feel the peloton breathing down our necks. I attacked. Bruno attacked. I attacked a few more times and then it was over with less than 2K to go. I looked back and saw Optum lined out with Zirbel crushing the front in an all out kamikaze pull. They charged past on the left as we went up a slight rise. I didn’t even latch onto the back in time, because they were going balls deep, and I went from the very front of the race to the very back (of the guys still in contention. Only 67 finished).

My shot at glory was over but I wasn’t done yet. I went around the three 90-degree corners in Manayunk and headed up the climb for the last time, intent on catching at least a few guys that had just been hanging on all day. I grabbed a beer feed from the crowd and pounded about a quarter cup of warm beer, immediately feeling it burn in my chest, wondering if it was actually a strong mixed drink. The crowd didn’t care that I wasn’t in the lead and gave me a huge cheer the entire time as I continued to grind out a hard pace and pass by a few stragglers. I crossed the line 36th, 1:11 down on the winner Kiel Reijnen of UHC.

I was pretty bummed at the finish, though I received quite a few congratulations on my effort and the good show I helped put on. If anyone knows where I can find the TV footage let me know!

While riding the break that last lap was certainly exciting, it wasn’t what I came to Philly for. I came to get a damn result. I know I could have been in the top five that last time up. And yes, maybe I’m being arrogant but I still think I had a shot at the win even though Keil was absolutely flying that day. What a race though. Hands down the most exciting race I’ve ever done. The crowd, the intense climb, and the huge prestige of the race just made it an absolute blast. I knew about this race even before I was a cyclist. To get a chance to race it was a big deal for me.

After the race I rode down to PennAC on Boathouse Row to check out my old rowing club. The guys there used to talk about the race and I remember discussing how cool it would be to do something like that (back in 2005 during my rowing days). The boathouse was closed though.

That night, we went over to eat a magnificent surf and turf dinner at a fire station.  Victor, Leo, and Olheiser spent the drive there and back farting on each other, during a heated debate Leo and Victor had about who was darker (they’re both Hispanic). We got a few crappy beers from the most ghetto liquor store any of us had been too and headed back to the hotel lobby to hang out with any fellow racers who’d be seen with us, where I saw Morgan was busy chatting up some girls. Not surprising at all.

I have to say, for a composite team, we had a phenomenal race. With five guys in the main group (Barry, Olheiser, Diego, Adam, and myself) we placed between 15th and 36th. This was better than quite a few of the pro teams. Andrew, Leo, and Victor did a terrific job getting bottles, which was no easy task since Joe drew the worst caravan spot possible (the last car at position 24). Joe did a good job keeping things in line the days before and the day of the race, while Allan worked tirelessly as well and organized a good crew out in the feed zone as well, including himself. The Nutela on bread was a great idea. We just needed a slower feed zone for it to work!

I’m hoping I can adjust back into the real world for a week before I head off to Nature Valley next Monday. I’ll be guest racing with Full Circle and gunning for that best amateur jersey, as well as the win on that final circuit race. The Stillwater crit is like a miniature Philly actually, except with zero flat. I think I’ve done everything needed to show I’ve got what it takes except for getting a big win. I can feel it coming though. It’s on the verge.

Philly–Getting Here

This is how my voyage to Philadelphia unraveled yesterday, going from the best to worst kind of transportation: bike–>bus–>airplane–>car…more car–>some more car–>holy shit storm more car.


I woke early on the morn of May 31st, excited for the day of travel and hungry for the race. Actually I wasn’t hungry yet. I was still pretty full from the pad thai the night before. I’ve been fighting fantom sore throats and colds for the past couple days, almost scaring myself into sickness on more than one occasion. So Adelaide’s suggestion of pad thai was exactly what I needed to mentally fight off whatever it was that was getting at me. The combination of cock sauce, chicken, shrimp and lots of noodles did the trick and now I’m firing on all levels, whatever that means. Probably vomit + diarrhea + sneezing + orgasm all at once. So basically a normal orgasm.

Speaking of firing, I’m racing with the Firefighter’s team, which is based out of Washington. Or Sweden. Or maybe it’s an East Coast team from Mexico/CA. I’m not sure. We have riders from everywhere. Here’s our roster:

Mike Olheiser of Cash Call (California)

Adam Carr of 1K2Go (California)

Andrew Seitz of Panther (East Coaster)

Diego Milan formerly of Aqua & Sapone, among others (Spain) Check out his website. My respect for him just doubled due to the fox pic.

Victor Ayala of Firefighters (Mexico)

Leo Don’t know his last name from Mexico? Leo where you from?

Barry Miller of Firefighters (just came back from Sweden but he’s from the East Coast)

Kenneth Peterman of Rio Grande (Colorado)

Team Manager: Allan Wahlstrom of Tri Cities, Washington

Director Sportif: Joe Holmes of Bremerton, Washington. I mean BAINBRIDGE. #upgrade #isolated #ridingwithwinger

But without farther adieu (with an A not a U and as in distance not extent–because it was a LONG trip), I’ll bring us back to the traveling.

Adelaide and I set off  to the bus station at 6:40AM on Friday. I strapped my Pika pack to my back and Adelaide carried my backpack. Luckily it was a strong headwind for the first 20 minutes and a nice crosswind for the second 20 minutes. Gotta get those legs opened back up. I packed my bike at the bus stop, said goodbye to Adelaide, and hopped on the bus. I fell asleep in the back and was woken up by a nice woman when we got to the airport. This is usually what happens. One time I fell asleep heading the other way and the bus driver had to walk all the way back to wake me up when we reached the end of the line.

The flight was good. I slept for almost all of it.

I got my bike at bagage claim and waited for Allen to pick me up. An hour later I was still waiting, watching a fat little traffic cop waddle around with his chest/stomach puffed out, yelling at cars to move along now, bah ya here? The car rental place had our passenger van for us, it was just 100 miles away. So Allan ended up in a small SUV. This could prove difficult transporting eight guys and eight bikes.

But we didn’t have to worry about that just yet. I was the only one Allen needed to pick up at the moment. He finally got to me and we drove downtown to the fire station. One of the firemen was retiring that day and the celebration was just about to get underway. I’m not entirely sure why we stopped there. I think it was mainly to pick up someone’s bike. An hour later and we took off to New Jersey, where Allen would drop me off at our host house. Hmm. New Jersey? I guessed that the state of Pennsylvania must have been all full.

Two hours later and my mouth was getting pretty dry. I hadn’t drank much all day and had now been without food for like three hours. Yeah, I know. It was rough. We drove around the countryside looking for the host house and calling everyone on the team in attempts to find it out if it was #25 or #26. Either way we were screwed because the population of the town we were in was most likely equal to the number of smashed armadillos on the side of the road. I mean this as in there weren’t many houses out there. I realize this simili is confusing because you might assume that the number of smashed armadillos was high. This is actually what I mean. Seeing 50 smashed armadillos would be a high number, though that would be a very small town population. This is what I was going for. In actuality I didn’t see any smashed armadillos so in the end this comparison doesn’t really work. On a similar but different note, I did see a small muskrat/hedgehog-like animal on the side of the road today. He was eating some grass and gave me the stink eye as I rode by.

Back to driving through the lush forests and past the hillbilly shacks and gigantic Wall Street mansions of New Jersey:

Allen, who is an extremely kind and mellow fellow, decided to say fuck it and gave up the search, though he didn’t use that sort of language (yet), and we set off in search of food instead. I slowly realized that, yes, we were going to get food but it was going to be on the way to the JFK airport to pick up Diego, who was coming in from Spain. Okay not too bad. Little did I know, JFK airport was in a different state. Actually I did know that but it sounds funnier if I don’t. What I didn’t know was that it would take us another two and a half hours to get there.

We got turned around somewhere, hit Brooklyn, hit Coney Island, continued not seeing any signs of life other than cars and semis, and finally got to the airport. With some highly skilled packing, we managed to get three bikes, three humans, and a good amount of luggage into the SUV. Back there amongst the baggage, Diego sat intertwined with handlebars and wheels prodding him from every direction. It was now 10:30PM. Probably 4:30AM his time.

At last we stopped to get food just before midnight at a big Turnpike convenient stop. The food prices were outrageous, as was the cholesterol and saturated fat. I got the healthiest, least caloric thing I could find, which was two slices of pizza. It just made me hungrier.

The plan to drop me off at the hidden host house was scrapped, and instead I would stay with Allen, Joe, Diego, and Leo at the race hotel back in Philly. I liked this plan…I like this plan a lot. Mainly because I like continental breakfasts. I’ll share a bed with Joe Holmes anytime if it involves free breakfast sausage. No pun intended.

After some more turn arounds, we made it to the hotel just as the clock struck 1AM. Lights were finally out by 1:30 or so. It sounds worse than it really was, since for me it was really only 11:30. But still, a 40 minute bike ride, an hour bus ride, a four hour plane ride, then almost eight hours in the car adds up to a long day.


I woke at the crack of 9:48, 12 minutes before the continental breakfast closed down (I assumed). I ran downstairs and found the small room where the free buffet was. Sausage, bacon, eggs, pancakes, bagels, just your normal stuff. I made a plate and sat down at a table by myself. The table was set up with nice glasses and napkins, strange for a buffet table I thought. I made it most of the way through the pancakes before I noticed that the other patrons of the buffet were being given what resembled bills by who resembled waiters. Oh shit.

The free buffet was not free. It was $13. My heart began pounding as I realized I’d be dining and dashing, because there’s no way I was paying $13 for what should be a free, crap buffet. I got another plate as I planned. A waiter came over to me, asking if I’d like anything to drink. “No, nope, no thanks!” I said. A few moments later, pretending I was just getting up for coffee, I made my escape. I filled my coffee, took an approving sip, nodding that yes, this was fine coffee, looked out of the corner of my eye to see if anyone was watching, then went for it.

I got past the hostess at the front without incident, saying thank you and smiling on my way past. I continued on through the lobby, feeling lazer beams in my back as I went. At the elevator I mixed in amongst a large crowd of racers and other people, then slipped behind a pillar while I waited. I was on the sixth floor and there was no way I was walking, even in these circumstances. The elevator took forever but I got in, ran to my room, and slammed the door behind me, making the buffet food taste even better.

Since the night before was cut so short and because the other guys had to drive in from way up north, our ride was pushed back to 12PM or later. For me, riding was the only thing on the agenda. For Allen and Joe there was also a thick stack of meetings, finding 1,000 race bottles, race food, switching out the SUV for a passenger van, etc. The other guys had to move all their stuff too, since the host house wasn’t going to work out due to the vast distance between it and the course, plus I think it was only equipped with a single bed (California King) and a small hammock. I heard Olheiser claimed the bed and made the rest of the guys sleep on top of each other in the hammock.

With the cluster fuck the previous day and all the logistics to take care of today, it didn’t take long for the team to start trembling in fear of Joe Holmes. I reassured them that no, he wasn’t angry, no he doesn’t despise you, yes you should stop crying because this is actually him in a happy mood. It takes a while to get to know Joe Holmes. I think it took me the better part of three years. But once you do, things actually run pretty smooth. And just so all you HB guys know, Joe is alive, doing well, and hasn’t changed a bit. Example: directing Allen on how to fill bottles—“What you wanna do is fill it to here (pointing on the bottle and looking Allen directly in the eye, pausing for effect). This is important now. You wanna top it off with a little bit of water, got that? #holmeswisdome

Riding the course was hands down the most stressful ride I’ve ever done. Our mechanic, Jeff, navigated us through the busy streets of Kelly Drive, cursing loudly at cars and yelling LEFT or RIGHT every few seconds. We hopped up on sidewalks, bike paths, went down one-way streets. The traffic was heavy but gave us our space since there were dozens of other teams out there too. The riding was hot and sweaty. My sauna training has already paid off. I felt good and rested, opened up even. I’m insanely excited about tomorrow. I almost never get this excited about races. It’s hard not to with all the commotion here at the race hotel. It’s packed with hundreds of racers. The lobby is crowded and noisy with men’s and women’s teams coming and going. It’s a who’s-who of US cycling. And little old Kennett made it here somehow! I’m not the only rift raft though. They added 10 amateur teams in the last week to make the race have 194 riders. I predict it will be half that before half the race is over.

Also here is Morgan Schmidt, who I ran into at the Chipotle right next door to the hotel (I’ve been there twice now already). It’s a strange lifestyle to see a certain group of friends only in far off cities in random Chipotles and hotel lobbies. He was with Freddie Rodriguez, who just won the national championships last week and who I’d just been reading about in Velonews and Cyclingnews. Velonews had a pretty bold article, suggesting Freddie to be an unclean rider solely because he raced in an unclean erra. Freddie used Cyclingnews as an outlet to defend himself. It was interesting to see the two competing news sources (both with two opposite stances), who were basically creating news, not reporting it, and then even stranger to sit down with Morgan and Freddie for burritos after just reading about it.

I spent the rest of the day in bed writing this blog, eating more Chipotle, and trying to relax amongst a day of craziness. Tomorrow I unleash. Time to go downstairs and get a beer with Allen to wash down this last burrito and cradle me to sleep. In fact, I may get one more burrito. Still hungry.

Stuff I did last weekend

I wrote this a few days ago, was going to go back and edit/put in some sweet jokes but didn’t have time. Gotta push it through to make room for the BIG one. Stay tuned for the next one. Philly starts tomorrow. I just had a dream last night that I got second twice in a row. Like we raced it Saturday, then again on Sunday. Same course. I’ve always thought that would be a great idea for a stage race. Same course like 10 days in a row. Instead of only the strong surviving it would be only the easily entertained surviving, since everyone else would quit out of boredom.


The Stuff I Did Last Weekend

A novel

by Kennett Peterson

(abridged version)

Saturday: rode bikes and shit

Sunday: rode more bikes and did some other shit too.

Monday: see Sunday.

Tuesday: took three craps from all the food I ate over the weekend.


I slumped over the bars, gasping desperately at the semi-thin, hot mountain air near the base of Linden St. Both my feet were unclipped and spread wide. I was mostly off the road and the blind corner behind me was far enough away that cars could slam their brakes on in time to avoid hitting me if I happend to be farther out in the road than I thought I was. I hadn’t been seeing straight, but I when I’d finished that last effort I had enough wits about me swerve to the right and stop instead of the left. Currently, my crotch rested heavily on the top tube, supporting the weight that my dead legs no longer could. I was continuing to hyperventilate so much that I couldn’t regain my breath in the normal hunched over position that I usually assume after the last hard interval. I got off my bike and leaned over it, now resting my forehead on my top tube with my forearms dangling over the seat and bars. I almost laid down but thought better of it. I’ll should save that for when I really need it. This is just an interval. Lying down should only be for races. A minute later I was recovered enough to get back on the bike, barley able to swing my left leg over the saddle without my right leg buckling underneath. Bile leaked up into my throat but I didn’t throw it up. Throwing up is only for REALLY hard efforts. This was just a normal Sunday.

I’ll have to start before the weekend to bring you all up to speed on my super exciting, top-secret training preparation for the second half of the season.

After the Superior Morgul stage race two weekends ago, I took two days rest to top off my legs for a serious throw down. My goal was to to amass a huge amount of intensity with a fair amount of volume in the week and a half before Philly. Wednesday was my first of the hard days. I did 8×4 minutes VO2 on Old Stage, which is a steep, stair-stepped climb in north Boulder. It’s perfect for these four-minute intervals and close to work so I can get this workout done in two hours or less pretty easily.

The next day was more intervals, this time 8×1 minute with 10 minute rests. You may think this workout is easier since the intervals are 400% less (is this math correct, David?) But you’d be wrong. Dead wrong you damn fool! This is THE most intense effort you can do. Don’t even get me started on the “Well the 30-30 workout is harder because you only get 30 seconds of rest blah, blah, blah” bullshit. Thirty shmirty. When done properly, as in all out every single time, the 8×1 intervals will gladly escort all your hardest intervals to the guillotine. Unless you’re doing 9×1 minute. That would be harder actually.

Anyways, I really like this workout because it hurts so good and it require very little focus compared to a long threshold or VO2 interval. You just start out as hard as you can go and keep doing that until one minute is up. They went okay on Thursday, but not great. I had to stop pedaling for a second on the first one to avoid a deer, then I had some shifting issues on the fifth or sixth one and nutted myself infront of an oncoming school bus. I hope I at least entertained a few kids with that one. I rode home pretty shagged. (Shagged means tired in England. I think because they have lots of shaggy-haired dogs there that mope about with droopy, tired eyes begging for morsels of bread and biscuits. But everyone in England is either too poor to ever drop a crumb or too snooty and proud and posh to help out a stray dog. They aren’t stereotypes if they’re true).

Friday was a rest day. Adelaide’s sister, Lydia, and Lydia’s boyfriend, Jeff, were out of town for the weekend so we got to stay there in the guest room and look after the cat, Apollo. Their apartment is right next to Boulder Creek, which is more like a river right now. I already miss the sound of the rapids and being in the heart of downtown…so close to both Sprouts.

I woke up early on Saturday at 8:20, excited for my first double day in a long time. The morning called for a 26K TT in north Boulder. After that I’d head to Old Stage and murder myself with some more VO2 intervals. I stopped by home on my way to the TT registration and picked up my TT bike and aero gear. I signed in, did the rest of my warm up and got to the start line with five minutes to spare. A little too much time but I didn’t feel like warming up anymore. I was out of water and it was warm out.

Four minutes later and I found out that I had missed my start time by four minutes. Hey thanks for calling out my name race officials! I was right there so I don’t know how it happened, but I missed my start time. I’d originally read that we started at 11:35, saw that I was second off and assumed that meant that I started at 11:35:30. But, since everyone else seemed to get there on time (by actually reading their start times) I was at fault. Oh well. I started and road hard anyways to see what I could have done. I could have gone fast enough for second place (out of 16) but instead came in second to last. Jim Peterman won by a minute, I found $7 on the side of the road, switched out my bike, and headed to Old Stage for those intervals. The rest of the day was spent at Sprouts and the Boulder Creek fair with Adelaide, scrounging for free samples. I ate 12 garden burgers!

This brings us back to Sunday when our story began. Adelaide and I rode to Amante to meet Matt, who had agreed to join me on my interval quest that morning. I was only doing 6×4, but they would be hard and I didn’t want to completely blow myself up for the intervals that afternoon. But after the first three, Matt told me I should be going harder. If I’m going to take advice from anyone about going harder, I guess it’ll be from him. I pushed it a bit more on the fourth, eeked out a bit more of an effort on the fifth, then blew it all out on the sixth one. I rejoined with Adelaide and we rode home. I ate some granolla and laid on the couch.

Ride number two of Sunday you already heard about in that first paragraph. It was a good one. I averaged 74 watts home and eventually got things ready for a BBQ. Various bike and non-bike people showed up with appetites of large, but not nearly as large as mine. I never got full. Even Liam, who’d ridden seven hours that day up to the newly opened 12,500-foot Trail Ridge Road, only had two or three plates of food. Child’s play.

All week I hadn’t been able to decide upon Monday’s workout. Originally I wanted to do another double day, but after Sunday’s massacre there was no way I’d be able to put out any high-end watts for an interval day. I’d also wanted to do a really long ride that day, like six plus hours, but was worried I’d get sick from that. It seems that whenever I do a really hard block of training I get sick from that one last day where I do too much. So instead of that, I did a medium ride. 4.5 hours with Nick and Liam. We started out with Adelaide, Steven, Haley, and Zack for the first 20 minutes out of town before taking off on our own.

A steady, strong headwind slowed us as we made our way up from Lyons on highway 9. Despite the hard riding and racing over the last two weeks, my legs felt good somehow. I churned away at the cranks until my legs felt like butter themselves. They were weak and shaky when I stood up to climb but I could continue putting out the power despite this. Up at Peak to Peak highway, I kept drilling the pace until I was, left alone by myself to wonder how I still had anything left. We regrouped and rode down Lefthand, stopped to fill our bottles at the spring, and continued down to Lee Hill and then to town. We went our separate ways from there, with me opting to hit up the gas station for a liter of Dr. Pepper and a bag of potato chips.

Fueled for more climbing, I went up Linden, crossed the dirt, and topped out on Sunshine with plenty left in the tank. I would have liked to descend and hit Magnolia to Nederland (adding on another hour and a half) but I thought better of it and coasted down the mountain to home. I mean the apartment in which we were cat sitting. I think I did things just perfect this weekend in terms of riding. Even one more hour would have been overkill. Equally important and fun was the mentally relaxing aspect of the weekend. Hanging out at the creek, swimming in the pool, and walking around the ongoing festival were all a great change from the normal weekend, whatever that is. It was definitely a ying and yang affair. Super strenuous riding, super chill recovery.