4/30/12

Squaw Creek Race Report

Sunday was a good day for the Green Team at Squaw Creek.

Ladies first: Nichiole Nicole Fiala and Deb Wood finished 1st & 2nd resectively in the women cat 4 field.

Paul Deninger won the masters outright and later served masterfully in the cat 1|2 race.

I counted 11 American Equity guys toeing the line in the cat 1|2|3 race. The 3's would race with the cat 1|2's but be scored seperately. We opted to race it straight up, without regard to categories, since our 3's are so strong. Our strategy paid off when after several attacks by our 1|2's to soften things, Louis DeWild attacked the field taking the right combination of adversaries with him to neutralize the peleton. In the end, Louis finished 2nd overall and 1st in the cat 3's. Joshua Wandrey, in only his 5th bicycle race ever, went on to take 2nd in the cat 3's. The balance of the top ten cat 1|2 results list included several American Equity names.

Hats off to Larry Howe and HBA Racing for hosting a super event!

4/23/12

Gettin' Paid - Yeah Bouy!

The Tour of Hermann was not in the cards this weekend. Instead, Wendy and I enjoyed a leisurely couple of days around the house. After spilling my guts at Hillsboro for 90 miles last weekend and 2 good training days this past week, my legs are feeling stale. This all comes at end of a good training block, so that is to be expected.

Teammate Kevin Severs has been crushing the collegiate racing tract all spring and he was racing in Iowa City. AJ Turner and the Iowa Cycling Club were hosting the event and they added a couple of non-collegiate divisions. Since the course was already set-up for racing, why not?
Josh Wandery and I decided to go over and jump in.

Kevin had already won the road race on Saturday and finished a close 2nd in the Sunday criterium earlier in the day to Tony Olson of Minneapolis.

Set in a newish residential neighborhood, the criteruim course was a short, around .5 mile loop, with a punchy climb and 90 degree turn into the finish line. I told the boys, to win the sprint; you need to go into the final corner on the front.

Several of the Iowa “A list” were down in Hermann, MO including our own Paul Denninger and Chad Bishop, along with many other guys with good early season fitness, so the field at Iowa City was limited, but there were still several perennial favorites like Jim Cocran, Lee “socks” V, AJ and Andy B. In addition, Brandon Krawczyk of Wisconsin and Tony Olson - Grand Performance, Minneapolis were on hand to animate things. All total there were only about 30 guys in the cat 1/2/3 race.

At the start line, I always take a quick scan of the other guys in the race and decide who to mark, who will be pack fodder who will be off the back. When referee Brett Griggs said “go” and Brother Severs shot off like a banshee, I had a feeling there would be few surprises.

Brendon attacked repeatedly – finally getting a good gap on the field; a suitable gap to bridge to. I hit the stick (that’s for Jed), and took AJ Turner and Tony Olson in tow. Within a few seconds we had a 4-man breakaway!

Kevin and Josh did good duty sitting in with the main field, and it only took a few laps on the short course before the four of us had lapped the field.

At the start finish line they started counting down laps – 23 to go! I was worried about chasers catching us, so I asked Kevin to move to the front and keep things rolling. Josh was not in the group of lapped riders and I was worried he’d had a mechanical problem. He was riding so strong. After the race I learned that he was in no man’s land and finished 5th. Nice work for his very first criterium.

Coming up the final climb, Brandon went first and I caught his wheel rounding the final corner – exactly what I said “not” to do. And, in fact, in the short 150 meters to the finish with a headwind, I could not come around him at the line and had to settle for 2nd.

I waited a few minutes to pick up my winnings envelope. Tucked inside was a twenty and a ten dollar bill. I asked the pretty cashier to exchange the twenty for 2 tens so I could split the cashola with my boys - $10 bucks each. I love making a living as a pseudo pro cyclist.

Thanks to The Iowa City Cycling Club, and referees Mark Guthart and Brett Griggs for a very well run event.  

Next up, Squaw Creek on the 29th and then Iowa City Weekend. I’m looking forward to having a full squad on hand for both events!

4/17/12

Hillsboro Roubaix - 2012 Edition

Ever since my first trip to Hillsboro, IL racing on Team Mack, I have always thought this is one of the most fun races on my annual calendar. I won that one, and keep going back looking for similar results. So far, I haven't come close.

I think it used to be an NRC race, so there are still good bunch of pros who show up to beat up on us mere mortals. This year, there was a full squad from Bissell, Texas Roadhouse, Tradewinds, Mercy and Dogfish. Cutting to the chase, Bissell won solo - no big surprise there. For me, although I always enter a race expecting to win, I conceded that this day would be about strengthening team relationships, remembering how to race together and hoping for a top 10 result.

The course is set on a 29 mile remote loop in and around the small city of Hillsboro, IL - home to UFC Champion Matt Hughes. In 6 trips, I keep hoping to run into him at the local Casey's filling his F-150 up with gas or grabbing a donut, but no such luck as of yet.

New teammate Josh Wandery rode down with me. JJ Bailey and Louis DeWild carpooled together and Paul Denninger and Chad Bishop shared fuel costs in Paul's green Toyota chick mobile. We all checked into the Holiday Inn in Litchfield, about 10 miles outside of Hillsboro late on Friday evening with the plan to meet at Denny's at 8:00am to plan strategy. Josh and Louis are racing together as cat 3's looking for upgrade points, leaving JJ, Chad, Paul and me against the dragons in the big boy division.

Laying in bed at at 6:00 am listening to rumbling thunder and watching a lovely lightening show with pouring rain, I felt the plot being set for a long soggy afternoon in the saddle. Springtime in the Midwest also always brings plenty of wind. In fact, it was blowing at around 25 mph.

At breakfast, it didn't take long to learn that Louis and JJ were opting out of the festivities in lieu of a 6 hour drive home and then a training ride back in Des Moines. Josh, suffering from stomach flu and a triathlon past, left his bike safely stored in the back of my pick up and took a spot on the mutiny bus back to Iowa. We are weekend warriors not professionals, so I fully support whatever a guy thinks is best for him and his individual situation.

At starting time, 11:00 am, it was only sprinkling. The guys who did not start were immediately replaced with a long waiting list, so there were 100 starters. Paul predicted the first 10K perfectly. With winds and rain, it would be a fast and furious start.

These days with all of the new carbon technology, weather (specifically rain) plays a significant role in the safety of the peleton. On this day, half of the guys were rolling with aluminum wheels and rubber brake pads, making it relatively easy to stop. The other half were running carbon wheels and cork brake pads, making it almost impossible to stop. In fact, the carbon/cork set-up takes about 5 seconds to wash the water off the wheels after the brake is engaged before any slowing sensation occurs. If everyone were running with this set-up that would be fine, but when half of the 100 guys can stop on a dime and the other half have a 5 second delay, there will be major problems. Now place us on the Hillsboro course with twists, turns, narrow roads, wind, lightening, and torrential rain and you get a recipe for disaster. Paul was running aluminum/rubber, Chad and Louie were running carbon/cork.

Let's just say, I was scared to death for the first 10k. As predicted, it was FAST. There were crashes. I rode into the ditch once but recovered and chased back on to stay with the peleton. The only way that I could not crash was to leave a 10 foot cushion between me and the rider in front of me. The problem with trying to leave a 10 foot cushion in a peleton of 100, is that someone is always filling the gap, eliminating the cushion. So I just kept slipping further back, requiring me to come around the outside to make up 30 places only to drift back again.

At about mile number 10, a crash happened right behind Paul, and directly in front of me. In fact, I had to bunny hop the guys neck. When I looked at his face, his eyes were closed. I was sure he was unconsious from hitting his head. Even though I did not go down, I couldn't just ride way and leave him laying there in the middle of the road. I stopped with him. He was ok, but his bike was toast. After helping him off the road, I took up chase with 2 guys that came rolling through.

And that is how the next 3 hours looked in my world. The 3 of us traded 30 second pulls in the pouring rain for the next 76 miles. Each time we crossed the start/finish line, I had to play mind games with myself not to DNF and have to listen to the little people back in Iowa take shots at me on Facebook or behind my back.

In terrible weather, I finished. I can say, that this "finish" feels as sweet to me as other "W's".

So I say goodbye to Hillsboro for good. Over the years, I won once, crashed and had an ambulance ride once, had mechanical issues and DNF'ed twice and finished twice. In fact, I'd rather do this race and have these results then to win a parking lot criterium 10 times in a row.

Next up, Tour of Hermann. Last year, without a TT bike, I felt like I was at a gunfight with a knife. I'm hoping for different results this time around.


Quite the road-grime tan line huh?