Yesterday marked my long ride ever, coming in at approximately 139 miles as a part of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We headed out to the beach (Lincoln City) on Friday evening and stayed in a suite at the Inn at Spanish Head thanks to team president Jim who served as sugar daddy for the evening. [...]
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My current do-it-all bike has served me well for four years now (including surviving two Oregon winters), but it’s about time to retire it to full-time rain bike status. It still has original components – a mix of 9-speed Dura Ace and Ultegra. It’s been crashed, spokes broken, 5-gallon bucket handles wrapped around the fork, scratched, scraped, and yet somehow it has persevered mostly the better for wear.
So here’s to you, Leader Bike USA for making affordable only-semi-crappy bikes that perform admirably and hold up really well. That affordable part was a life-saver in college.
Now, on to the new.
I’ve been saving for the past 8 months and I’m finally acquiring everything to put together a bike that will put everything I’ve ever ridden to shame. Thanks to some great Team Oregon sponsors this year, I’ll be on a bike that would cost upwards of $5,000 retail. When everything is acquired, it will cost me significantly less. This year is also the first year where I’ve truly hit my stride in training, and my form this year should be deserving of a fast bike.
I’m also replacing some old gear that probably outlived its expected life by several years:
New Shoes: Specialized BG Pro Carbon road shoes
New Glasses: Rudy Project Rydons
Here’s what the bike will consist of. You’re going to have to use your imagination for now to put everything together. Pictures coming once everything gets here and it’s built.
Frame/Fork/Seatpost: Blue AC1
Component Groupo: SRAM Force
Wheels: Rol Race SL (these are from last season, but still in great shape. Depending on budget later in the season, I’ve got my eye on a set of American Classic Carbon 58s for crits and flatter races.)
Bars: Ritchey Pro Logic II
Stem: TBD after custom fitting. Something stiff and alloy (not carbon).
Saddle: Fizik Arione CX Kium
Tires: Schwalbe Ultremo
Pedals: Speedplay Zero
Bottle Cages: Something not carbon that looks cool (that’s what it’s all about, right?)
With all that newness, I’m probably going to have to drop it in the parking lot before I race it for the first time to get the first scratch out of the way early to make sure it’s not a big one.
It’s the off-season! Back to some running, bodyweight workouts, and I think I’ll be joining a gym for the next couple months. Time to keep the metabolism and aerobic capacity high while building some leg muscle and toning core/arms.
It’s also cyclocross season. I had a bit of a rough introduction to cross – crashing out in the second lap of my first ever cross race. I raced in the Bs and found the pace and intensity in the first lap about right – aka insanity. People crashing all over the place, sliding around in corners, bumping and grinding over grass, dirt, gravel and pavement. I missed getting a good hole shot, but still managed to slot into about 20th position when the race singled out. The major run-up on the course followed a downhill dismount and a run down a very steep hill across a bridge.
The crash came on arguably the most straightforward part of the course, and ironically, on pavement. I was headed towards a curb and barrier leading to a grass section and began my dismount. I swung the leg over, had a hand on the top tube, and all was going as normal when I went to turn my second foot out of its clip to go into a run. The shoe wouldn’t come out, and my balance was thrown off. I ended up hopping along before finally falling, winding up going just about face-first into the curb. My reaction time was quick and I got a hand out to catch myself, but I was rather surprised to suddenly find my faces stopped inches away from a curb. The hand took the brunt of the impact, and as I went to get back on my bike and keep going my hand hurt rather badly. I couldn’t put much weight on the handlebars, and decided to call it a race. 15 minutes later, I was rather worried I might have broken my hand. Luckily, that turned out not to be the case – just a pulled muscle and some nice bone bruising.
So now the plan is to cut the tread on my shoes down further to ensure that doesn’t happen again. And then I’ll get out there and try again.
That’s mostly it.
I’m also currently coordinating the OBRA Meet the Team rides, which are a number of rides for different teams that encourage new riders interested in joining a team to come out and ride.
The rest of life consists of my morning routine, working on a variety of fairly interesting projects at the office, coming home, spending some time on the computer, eating dinner, and then usually one or more of the following: a) working on side projects, b) an evening workout, c) dishes, food shopping, cleaning, etc., d) hanging out with friends.
I’ve got no complaints. That said, I still regularly think back to the exciting adventure that was my life this time a year ago.
I’m formulating plans to begin riding my bike to work 3 days/week coming up in the next week or two (now that I’m aware of the showers and lockers hidden in the basement of our building). The other two days I’ll spend in the gym doing weights. Then as the winter base miles season comes around, I’ll drop the gym in favor of riding to work 5 days a week. That’ll end up being a minimum of 110 miles per week during the weekdays, not including any weekend riding. This will also come with a necessary sleep schedule change (hello waking up at 6am). I’ll let you know how that goes.
This weekend was Eugene Celebration Stage race, a 3-day, 4-stage race including a hill climb prologue, road race, individual time trial, and criterium.
The 3 mile mile prologue climb up MacBeth was my old stomping grounds, and I set a new personal best of 12:00 flat up the climb (old record was 12:41) to finish 6th in the cat 3s. In the road race, the finish came down to a bunch sprint and I got pretty decently positioned to make some passes and took 4th. This morning in the time trial I proved to myself that it’s really the discipline I need to improve in for next year, as I didn’t do particularly well and finished mid-pack again with a time of 36:21 for 15th. This stage race is almost entirely decided based upon the time trial, and that 15th place dropped me from 6th overall to 13th overall. The criterium was fairly non-eventful other than an early breakaway I got in for 4-5 laps, and I probably finished in the 15th-20th range as I never found a good wheel to hop on in the sprint.
It’s a little bittersweet to have the road racing season come to a close, but at the same time I’m tired and could definitely stand a break. I’ve been racing regularly since March, and there was a three-month period where I raced nearly every weekend. This has certainly been my best season ever. By the numbers:
31 starts, 30 finishes (1 DNF due to a flat tire)
2 flat tires (DNF as mentioned above, and the other cost me dearly as I waited 5 minutes for a wheel change and watched my chances at Elkhorn GC disappear on the first day.
0 crashes, 1 should have crashed but somehow didn’t, 3-4 other close calls.
11 top ten placings:
2nd x 2 – Rehearsal Road Race and Portland Twilight Criterium
3rd X 1 – Overall GC at Cherry Blossom Stage Race
4th X 4 – Eugene Celebration Road Race, OBRA TTT Championships, Mt. Tabor week 6, and Cherry Blossom SR Columbia Gorge Road Race
5th X 1 – Kings Valley Road Race
6th X 2 – Eugene Celebration Macbeth Prologue and Silverton Road Race
7th X 1 – Cherry Blossom SR Time Trial
I also finally got the upgrade from cat 4 to cat 3 (cat 2 next year?).
All this, and a great team to share it all with. I enjoyed having great company, and it was a huge plus to constantly have a good number of teammates in races.
Now just a secret 130 mile race-ride coming up shortly, and then it’s cross season. More to come on that. Then it’s winter training to get ready for next road season. So really, I don’t know what I’m feeling bittersweet about – next season will be here before I know it.
I don’t even know where to start. This race was something else.
First, I have to say the the Portland Twilight Criterium is everything it’s cracked up to be, and then some. Technical corners, fast racing, rough roads, and crashes galore. It was one of those races where your rear wheel feels like it’s in midair going through corners as much as it is on the ground. You kind of get used to navigating your bike as it floats under you without ever quite having full control.
The crowds… amazing. Thousands of people yelling at you, ringing cowbells, and generally creating the most intense and exciting racing atmosphere I’ve ever been in.
I knew I was in trouble when I was rolling around the course warming up and came up to the finish line to find most of the other riders already staged and ready to go. Starting in the back in any sort of criterium is generally a bad idea. In this one, it almost guarantees your race is over from the start. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me.
The race got off to a fast start and I burned myself hard trying to move up. I spent 7-8 laps moving myself from 60th to 30th. Then I found the opening I’d been looking for and jumped from 30th to the very front of the race in less than half a lap. It didn’t take me long at the front before I decided to test my legs and attacked off the front of the race. I had one other guy go with me, and we stayed off the front for several laps. While off the front, I picked up a prime – an hour long massage ($60 value). After we got reeled back in, I was pretty spent and took probably another 10 laps to recover, but I managed to find a good spot near the front where I could hold my position about 15th.
While trying to rest up a bit, I also was rather distracted trying not to crash – a task made more difficult when an errant tennis ball went flying into the road from the crowd. I avoided it, but it caused a pretty significant pileup further back. Derek was one of the victims of that one, but all was not lost – he got to sport some stylish neckwear to cover up a nice tire burn. That’s a new one.
With about 10 laps to go, I was starting to think about setting Robin up for the field sprint – which was my primary goal for the race. The pace had slowed a bit for a lap, so I went to the front and pushed the pace to get things moving again on a $100 prime lap. Half a lap later, I found myself still on the front of the race thinking I was an idiot for burning myself at the front. Then things went nuts.
Coming through the last corner leading to the back stretch, I was still on the front, and the guy sitting second position right on my wheel crashed himself, taking out much of the front of the field with him. I looked back to see a significant gap with only one racer chasing me down. I realized a $100 prime was mine for the taking, so I drilled it and took the prime easily. As soon as I took the prime, I sat up a bit and signaled the rider chasing me to grab my wheel. With 7 or 8 laps to go, we had a bit of a gap on the chasing field and absolutely had to make a go at staying away.
I don’t know about the other guy, but I was digging deep with my head down, giving the pedals everything I had. We got into a good rhythm of trading pulls every half lap. I looked at the lap board and saw 3 laps to go. By that point I was hurting and had reached a point where things start to get a bit foggy.
In the break, faster than the speed of… a cell phone camera
Now, here’s where I have to tell two separate stories – what I thought had happened, and what actually happened.
What I thought happened:
After 3 laps to go, we had put distance on the field and I was pretty sure we were going to go 1-2. The only thing left to be decided was who got the win. Coming into one of the last laps, the other rider got out of the saddle a bit and I wondered if he was sprinting for the finish. I looked ahead at the lap board and saw one lap to go, so I easily hopped on his wheel and let him drag me through into the first corners of the last lap. I came around to take my pull and he didn’t immediately grab my wheel, so I sprinted to put some distance on him, which I did. I held that gap coming into the final corner and laid everything I had left out there, taking the win. We talked right after the race and congratulated each other, both seemingly thinking I’d won the race.
What Actually happened:
Turns out that first time that the other guy kind of half-sprinted – yeah, that was the finish. We mis-counted laps. I sat his wheel when I could have probably easily come around him and actually contested the sprint. They left 1 lap to go up for an extra lap, and with the crowd noise, I never heard the bell signaling 1 lap to go. I hadn’t been paying close enough attention to the lap board and missed the real one to go, but naturally assumed that seeing the lap board with one to go meant the race wasn’t over yet. Bad thing to assume. Apparently the other rider thought that the real finish might have been the finish, but was also confused and kept racing just like I did. So sorry to all the crowd expecting to see a sprint when the announcer is saying we’re about to sprint. Instead you got to see one guy towing another guy through the finish line.
All in all, not a bad way to take 2nd. And I made bank. $60 massage, $100 prime, and $250 2nd place prize for a nice $410 haul.
The outcome was frustrating on several levels -I’m still in search of my first win to add to numerous top 10 finishes this year, and if I’d actually contested the real sprint I’m pretty sure I could have won it. Regardless of the bizarre outcome, this was by far my best race of the season, if not ever.
Note to self – watch the lap board like a hawk in the future.
Some photos from JLV and others:
Everything and nothing new to update on. Life is work, play, and bike racing. Most of the play is, not surprisingly, bike racing. I’ve raced a ton this year. I go into every weekend thinking “oh, I’ll just take this weekend off from racing” only to find myself halfway across the state flying down the road chasing an attack. I’ve raced enough that the pre-race nerves are gone.
This weekend it was the High Desert Omnium in Bend. I went partly just to relax and have a quick weekend getaway, but that can only be achieved to a certain extent when you’re packing three races into two days.
First up was a criterium on Saturday early afternoon. I attacked a few times, bridged up to a rider off the front and then got caught, missed the winning move (which countered an attack that I had been a part of) and threw caution to the wind and jumped off the front of the pack with a lap and a half to go. I got caught with about half a lap left, and was gassed for the sprint.
My time trial was pretty decent. Up a hill for 4 miles, then right back down it. My time would have been good enough for 3rd in the Cat 4s, but I can’t think that way anymore. I took 12th of 21 in the 3s. Not bad, but very average. I feel the need to get faster.
The road race was great. Everything I had hoped the 3s would be that the 4s weren’t has been realized. The 3s race. Like, actually race. Not just a hard group ride and a sprint at the end. We spent the first 20 miles attacking each other at the front trying to shake something out and get a group up the road. The attackers then got tired, and we had a nice little casual group ride for about 5 miles. Then it was back to attacking and chasing some more. We drilled it pretty hard up the second climb. The pack nearly split several times into a strong headwind headed for the finish. I played my cards wrong at the finish and chased an attack that I shouldn’t have. I burned my last good match that I should have saved for the sprint in that chase, and came in 15th. Overall a very solid three races, but just out of the points each time.
One of the other racers dubbed me most aggressive rider, which was a nice compliment. What I need to do now is set my next goal to work towards. Otherwise I’ll just keep dinking around in races without something to work towards. Granted, attacking, causing chaos, and putting the hurt on other riders is great fun – it just usually won’t produce results in the end. I think my remaining goal for the season is centered on Eugene Celebration Stage Race in late August. The goal: top 10 GC. We will see.
The last Tabor race is this Wednesday. I’ve got something interesting up my sleeve. We’ll see if I can pull it off. And yes, it’s a stupid idea. It’s more fun that way.
I came into Friday not really sure if I was racing either the Swan Island Criterium Saturday or the Salem Fairview circuit race Sunday, much less both. But both it was, and I’m glad I did.
As a newly minted cat 3 I’m not particularly worried about getting top results immediately. Instead, I’m much more focused on working for the team and making some other teams take note of my number. I think that might be happening, as after yesterday I had several riders from other teams recognize me today.
First up, Swan Island. It’s a short criterium course about 1 kilometer long with two 90 degree corners and a gradual 180. Our race was 45 minutes plus two laps. I came into the race wanting to take a prime and then work for another teammate in the final sprint. The race started off fast and fairly early on I figured out that they seemed to be calling primes out every other lap. As such, I decided to attack off the front of the race on a non-prime lap and then hold on for two laps to take the prime. The first time I did this I caught another rider up the road and we worked together for a lap, and then he fell off my pace. I got caught by another rider that had attacked off the front and ended up getting worked over as he sat my wheel and came around me in the sprint. I knew this was going to happen, and tried in vain to shake him off my wheel.
A few laps later I went again, this time coming into a prime lap just before we got to the finish line. I was making an educated guess that it would be a prime lap and was happy to hear the bell as we came through the finish line. This time I managed to get away, catch the one rider up the road and promptly pass him, and stay away for the rest of the lap to take the prime. I now have $25 to spend at Quiznos!
After winning the prime I rested up and then got back to the front to make sure things stayed together for Robin in the final sprint. I chased down a few attacks and found myself a good spot near the front. With just over one lap to go, Ironclad (another team) brought a leadout train to the front of four riders.
Note: It’s important for this recap to understand what a leadout train is. Basically, at the end of a race the pace will intensify and speed up drastically as everyone tries to make their way to the front of the race to position for the sprint. A lead out train is a team that lines up several riders in front of their sprinter they want to win. They get the pace extremely high at the front of the race so that no one can come around them. The lead rider of the train goes until he starts to lose speed and then peels off for the next rider to continue the high pace. If it’s done correctly, the last rider will peel off just as the sprint is beginning giving their team’s sprinter perfect positioning and a clear shot at the win.
If it’s done correctly being the key part of that last sentence. Ironclad brought enough guys to the front and coming through the finish with one lap to go I had Robin sitting in perfect position – 4 ironclad riders, myself, and then Robin. You can see the lineup in this photo (I’m hiding behind rider #4, you can see my helmet).
Anyway, so things were fine and dandy and my plan was to come around the leadout train just before the last corner to give Robin his own leadout into the sprint. Things went wrong when Ironclad’s lead rider never peeled off and the pace started to die down at the front. A huge swarm of riders came around them to the right side, and I tried to go around them to the left. As I started to pass them, they moved left and forced me straight into a sewer grate on the side of the road. I made quite a scene of bunny hopping the grate as my back wheel came down on the far lip of the grate and I half-bumped the Ironclad rider next to me. I managed to sprint back up to near the front of the race, but at that point I’d burned my last match trying to get to the front and had nothing left to give a leadout. Robin managed to still take 4th, which was great.
Salem Fairview Circuit Race took place today (in Salem, not surprisingly). It’s a 1.9 mile course with a gradual rolling uphill and downhill, followed by a flat section (with a tailwind today) into the finish. The race was 50 minutes plus one lap. We had a great turnout from Team Oregon, and I had 9 teammates in the race. My plan was to attack and attack some more in order to make things interesting at the front. That’s pretty much exactly what I managed to do. Swan Island was all about attacking wisely and then recovering. Today was more about attacking with reckless abandon and throwing the whole “recovery” thing out the window.
I attacked immediately from the start of the race and ended up going the first three laps plus a bit solo off the front (nearly 6 miles). I was caught by two riders that bridged up to me – a Hutchs team rider and teammate Robin. We stayed away off the front for another two laps, during which time I won a prime uncontested ($10 plus a coffee table book and t-shirt today). As soon as we got caught I got myself back to the front and one lap later I was attacking off the front of the race again. This one didn’t stick. I attacked again. Didn’t stick. Then I chased another attack, but couldn’t get clear of the pack. After spending nearly the first half of the race off the front, I was digging deep, but I refused to stop attacking. Anytime I got near the front of the race I mustered whatever I could get out of my legs and attacked again. I think all told I ended up attacking or chasing at the front 8-9 times in 12 laps. I’d pretty much blown myself up with two laps to go and just struggled to hang on going up the climb. The last lap I actually fell off the pace on the climb and had to give it everything I had left just to get back into the pack on the descent. I came into the finish towards the back of the field, but we did have a teammate take 2nd.
I had a blast trying to kick my butt as much as I possibly could, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as spent after an hour long race as I was today. I got back to the car with my legs shaking and mild dizziness. And I’ve now won 3 primes in my last 3 short-course races I’ve done!
Check out our team at the race today:
…is what this weekend is going to be. Epic, but brutal.
But first, some less painful news. I volunteered at the Cirque du Cycling race on Mississippi, which happens to be less than a mile from my place. Fun race, big crowds, great atmosphere.
The race course lined with people
Banner hanging crew
Zach doing barrier takedown after the race
After a long day, I had a much needed margarita at Por Que No.
Oh, and I managed to get in a 60 mile ride with the team earlier in the day.
- I finally have the title to my car after a month of mailing paperwork back and forth.
- I’ve gotten into A Thousand Splendid Suns and have been reading in the hammock the last several days.
- I broke a personal record for amount of pasta made tonight. This weighs probably 10 pounds and will last me for several days easily:
Anyway, things will be getting interesting as of this Thursday. After a quick car oil change in the morning, Pat and I are carpooling out to Baker City for the Elkhorn Classic Stage Race.
This will easily be the hardest weekend of racing I’ve ever done, and I’m stoked.
Stage 1 is about 75 miles and includes 3 good sized climbs that gain close to 1000 feet elevation each.
Stage 2 is an 11 mile individual time trial – out up 400 feet elevation gain and then back downhill.
Stage 3 is a downtown criterium in Baker City.
This is the stage I’ve mentioned before -105 miles, two good sized intermediate climbs and then the 6 mile finishing climb up 2500 feet.
All this, and the base elevation in Baker city is 3500 feet.
And I’m racing the cat 3s.
I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.
Justin La Vigne put together a video from his handlebar-mounted camera at Mount Tabor on Wednesday. Check it out – I’m in it quite a bit. This was confirmation that my race wheels do indeed look pretty sweet when rolling.
Tonight’s race at Tabor was a blast – and my first cat 3 race. It’s a field that will challenge me, but at the same time I think I’m definitely at the level I need to be at to be competitive.
The race was 9 laps long, which ends up being about 10 miles – and it’s over before you know it has begun. The first time I noticed the lap board coming through the finish line was with 5 laps to go, and the second was with one lap to go. We averaged 23mph for the race, which is really fast given the constant up and down. When the race is that short, every time up the climb is fast.
As far as the actual race goes, I spent much of the time figuring out the best lines to take, where to position myself, and where good places to attack might be. I chased a small breakaway attempt up the climb on the third lap, and I tended towards the left side of the road – so much so that I ended up in the gravel twice when riders next to me moved over.
The final lap was pretty chaotic. At the sharp corner at the top of the climb, (teammate) Justin was nearly forced outside into the gate on the side of the road, and I was riding to his left. I hit the brakes and had to reaccelerate hard down the hill to get back decently positioned. Everyone sat up and slowed a bit more than I expected, and at the bottom of the course leading up to the finishing climb I found myself too close to the front of the field for my liking. I decided to be stupid (while thinking repeatedly in my head “this is stupid!”) and ramped my pace hard at the bottom of the finishing climb. I had come around my teammates just before the base of the climb and I was really hoping one of them was on my wheel and I could provide a leadout. Not so much, turns out I gave a bunch of non-teammates a leadout instead. I started to die off pretty quickly on the climb (a little earlier than I was expecting – lots of lactic acid stored up in my legs from sprinting up the hill 8 times already) and went from the front of the pack to the very back of the pack in the last 300 meters of the race. Fun times.
Here’s a great photo from Heidi Swift of the 3 field coming up the bottom section of the climb. I’m way over on the right. Like I said, I was favoring the left side of the road.
I think I might skip Tabor next week in favor of being well-rested for Elkhorn, my biggest race remaining for the year. Then again, it’s such a short, fast race it might be good to open up my legs before Elkhorn begins on Friday.