Sunday, March 30, 2008

Witty Comments about Adventures from the Previous Days

Let's see..... Since last we left Adam, it was Easter Weekend, or Zombie day depending on your beliefs (Resurrection= Miracle or Zombie?) no races and a long time to prepare for the upcoming race. Now let's tune in....... oh yeah, this is going to be a long post and I'm not splitting it up.

Tuesday Night Worlds. 45 minutes plus 3 laps.
No numbers, no prize list. Pride and bragging rights only. I rode the 35 miles from Lawrence to KC to do the race. In the end, it was myself and Shadd riding off the front, being the anti-social folks that we are. We finished 1, 2 and Shadd was obligated to let me win. Seriously, if he wins all of them, like he normally does, the Feds are going to sue for violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.

Hillsboro Roubaix. Hillsboro, Il. 90 miles.

This is probably one of my favorite races I enter all year. The course is a 22 mile loop on some state highways, rural roads, a bit of brick and some roads that are, "paved." The 120 man field limit was solidly oversold so it was a big race. Again, another race without any sort of team meeting. Some guys may think that's a bit strange. But not for us. It's more common that we don't have a meeting, which we should change for the new guys on the squad, just so they know what we expect from them.

On our side, we brought: Steve, Bill, Adam, Nick, Joe. Nick is getting more and more aggressive and continues to improve with every race, especially big races. Joe is a junior who is a new acquisition. It seems like the best guys in the area (6 hour drive radius) show and it's really the first big race in the Midwest.

So, Bill gets into a three man move after about 12 miles and we don't really see him for a long while. Meanwhile, the rest of us keep riding slower, and slower, and s l o w e r. . . .

But then about at mile 75, like a cannon, BOOM! Fireworks. Woo Hoo! Time to race. When the dust settled: Bill was still up the road, Steve and I were in a small move with 6 other guys, one of which was Brian Jensen. Brian started the move, established it, and drove it so hard that some of the guys either couldn't or were unwilling to keep the move rolling. With Steve and myself there, I was obligated to take pulls and let Steve stay rested for the throw down at the end.

Once we were clear of the field, I decided that there were too many guys catching a ride. I understand that they have reasons for not pulling, but that places me at a disadvantage.... Time to turn the tables and forces some decisions. I did what any other bike racer would do when you have an ace like Steve Tilford on your team and in great position. Attack of course. The attacks weren't meant so much for me to ride solo, but to enable a split in the group and get a group of guys willing to work together. Well, it ended up being Brian, Steve, Myself and Josh Carter.

We caught up with Bill's group with about 6 miles left. Then on the two tiered hill leading into town, things got ugly. Brian jumped with Josh and Steve (who had the luxury of sitting on and was very fresh) right there. Josh got dropped on the first hill; and at the top of the second tier, Bill and I were next two over. Steve was able to hand Brian a second place for the third time in this epic race while Bill and I rolled in for 3rd and 4th place. I scored a 3rd place, which may be one of my best results ever. It also landed me my first ever bike racing trophy. Some guys have a whole bookcase of these, but this is my one and only:

Competition is very interesting and does different things to different people. In a utopian's world, friends especially would be like Sam Sheepdog and Wile E. Coyote when competition comes into the fold. You know, friends until the whistle blows, adversaries during work hours, and friends again after the final whistle. However, sometimes things happen and feelings get hurt. I'm not saying they did here by any means. From a personal standpoint Brian is a good friend of mine and a former teammate. Now, he's in my group and wearing the "wrong" jersey. I know he's wanted to win the HR race for a long time and he's probably one of the single most talented riders I've ever had the privilege of riding with. I can personally recall a few races where Brian has utterly shattered a peloton consisting of some of the best riders around. His abilities deserve the utmost respect.

However, this was a different year, a different day and a different situation. Brian is no longer on my team and I'm obligated to ride for the team first. This put me in the uncomfortable position of having to race against a friend. It wasn't my favorite thing, but I did it. I tell myself that I'm not racing against Brian, but racing to win and make sure that myself or a team mate is the first across the finish line, regardless of who is there. Does that make sense?

Perhaps that's why this third place is so rewarding. It may have been the best place I could have gotten that day. I'm not sure I was ever able to beat a Jensen, and Steve was the only one who could have matched and countered Brian's attack on the final hill. Either way, 1,3,4 is an excellent result. If Brian was still on the team, it would have been 1,2,3,4. Wow.

Quote of the trip: "Oh fuck..." -name held anonymous to protect the guilty, but you know who you are...

You know, in hindsight this was actually a very good week for me..... Let's recap:
Tuesday Worlds, 1st. Hillsboro Roubaix, 1,3,4. KU vs. Villanova= W. KU vs. Davidson= W. FINAL FOUR!!
If anyone wonders what happens in a college town when your school gets into The Dance, I present Downtown Lawrence, KS; March 30 at roughly 745pm.

And yes, this IS a 1980's KU Blazer. Bundy, be jealous.....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Can't Stop Laughing!

I know, I know. But this is SO gawddamm funny! The Caption is:

"I fucking love coloring!"

Can't stop laughing.....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hell's Kitchen Sink

Everyone I know who races claims they love the bike racing part of the bike races. I'm not so sure that's true for me. Okay, true that bike racing IS fabulous. The speeds the tactics, the effort etc. Every time I pin on a number, no matter what the conditions, I believe that there's no where else I'd rather be at that point in time. If you can ever think that, then you are where you belong.

But the real fun from bike races is the road trip. You get away from the static confines of home and get to experience something new. There's always something new in every road trip. Small things make for big differences in experiences. A new person, new place to eat, different coffee shop (for better or for worse), new warm up ride at an old race, etc.

Road trips always have the "Quote(s)" of the trip. For example:

Late Dec. 2006, Cable, WI: We're an hour into a hike in the middle of the woods in back country WI. Freaken middle of nowhere and no way to guide ourselves except for a compass. Then you hear this, "We're assuming this compass works right?"

March 2007, Austin, TX: "I'd be the lickee, but not the licker."

March 2007, Hell's Kitchen: "I'm pretty sure I can get podium here." AND this:

Incredible, ain't it?

So the plan was to drive to Fayetteville, AR. Ride all afternoon in the "warm" weather Saturday, then race on Sunday. Well........ The weather didn't quite get the memo. We rode, but it was SO warm and sunny that this was the attire:

Yeah, I know. It's a far cry from Austin. But we rode. Man, AR has some really weird places... like AR kind of (I don't really want to type the whole state name if you can't tell). Wonderfully paved downhills that bend around a corner and turn to gravel without so much as a warning. That's fun at 45 mph. "For sale" signs everywhere. Oh, How normal is it to come up on a cul-de-sac with 8 trailers and about 40 cars, but no people? Weird.

Driving to North East AR was a bit amazing and sad. Arkansas is a place that sells itself on the hills, wilderness, hill billys, etc. But if you travel on 71 heading south, then you see a different AR. The hills through which the highway once meandered have been pulverized by the mighty bulldozer and lots of dynamite. Now, it's starting to look just like your typical homogenized suburbia, but with hills as a backdrop. It feels like the only unique thing AR had going for it was just plowed under and paved. And, why is it that developers name their "sites" after what it is they destroyed to create space for the houses. "Babbling Brook," "Whispering Woods," "Daisy Meadows," etc. But where have those distinguishing landmarks gone? Hmm........

But, if you're looking for the BEST Italian food in Fayetteville, look for this sign:

And right next to it is this place:

Best food ever. On College Ave, I think.....

To the race!
There were about forty or so guys riding 60-ish miles. A good distance for March, and the numbers. I'm not complaining. The course rolled, twisted, looped, and had a 1.2 mile section that was 15%. That's steep, like 39x25 steep. I think I rode a 39x kuthunk 19 or 21 the first couple of kuthunk times up the hill. Steve was probably the kuthunk strongest guy that day. After all, he did kuthunk split the field on the hill each time. I had a stiff link in my kuthunk chain and had to ride for 45 of the 60 miles with my kuthunk chain making a kuthunk every time the link went through the pulleys and onto the cassette. kuthunk Awesome.

For those of you that kuthunk haven't taken the time, read the Shimano manual that kuthunk comes with the chain, you should. That kuthunk is really, really annoying.

At one time we had 4 of 10 in the kuthunk front move, which was good for the home, I guess away team at kuthunk that point. This got narrowed down to 3 of 8 after the kuthunk second time up the hill. Steve disappeared with a guy and the remainder of us started jumping each other. It's much better when you're with a team mate in that kuthunk situation. Bill and I were able to work together to get a good situation that could have worked very well for us. Right about then, I noticed that my chain stopped skipping. Woo Hoo! Now I can pedal.

When it was all said and done, Steve-1, Adam-3, Bill-6, Joe-8. Not a bad representation at all. Now we just had to come home..... For anyone that thinks that a car is full, you should take, Packing the Car for a Bike Race 873- Graduate Course; taught by Steve Tilford. In his van, we packed: 5 bikes, 10 sets of wheels, air purifier, full mechanic kit, stand, 2 air mattresses, first aid kit, 2 laptop bags, grocery bag of food, maps, 5 large duffel bags, five people, and an English Setter- with food, oh and a kitchen sink. How is that possible? I present exhibits A, C and B:


I'm guessing there were about 9 hours of phone time spent between 5 guys over 4 1/2 hours. That's the way it seems. There's guys calling girls, guys calling parents, girls calling guys, fellow racers calling us, we're calling and giving the updates. BUT most importantly, there was a KU game happening! There were 53 Three point shots made between both sides. That's crazy right?

For all of you MU fans out there: I think I need to buy some dancing shoes. You? Oh, right maybe you should go buy some oranges..........

Monday, March 10, 2008

Perry Series, Round II and some ramblings

First: Lung burn and the inevitable coughing with a cracked rib= bad news bears. But SNEEZING! Probably one of the most painful things ever. On to the update!

I absolutely love racing bikes! AND racing season is the BEST. My seasons go something like: Winter, cold races (spring), warm races (late spring), hot races (summer), fast races (fall) and Cyclocross (early winter). It seems that even when it's cold in the morning, you bounce out of bed on Sunday because it's RACE DAY! Finally, all that "training" can pay off. I've been in Texas so I'm "Texas Fit" which is really just more fit than I was before I left. I was hoping I was fit... only to be informed that when you are, "fit" and on, "good form," you don't complain that a race is too fast when it starts at 23mph. Hmmm.....

Okay, so the plan was to get our new kid, Joe Schmalz in the early move. I didn't think that would be on the first downhill, but about 3 pedal strokes into the day Joe and Kris Tilford were gone. Phase I complete. Now, we just had to figure the rest of it out.

All of us on the HRRC/ Trek Stores team have raced together for years. It's almost as if we're brothers now and there's definitely a feeling of getting the band back together when we all show up for the first reunion of the season. That being the case, often times we don't really have much of team meetings at most races. I think that's because we've all done this so many times that it's just another race. There's a certain mellowing feeling to that. There's no guesswork. "Am I good today?" "Is so and so ready to race?" "Will he know how to lead out a sprint or a prime?" "What are the team objectives?" None of this needs to be discussed much anymore. The guys are all willing to do what it takes, we all know what each other is capable of and we will turn ourselves inside out for each other. That's cycling at it's most pure. That's fun. The common theme is this: put as many guys in a position to win as possible. Once that happens, you can end up with this at the front end of the race:

Geez, I wonder what team is going to win here. Anyone?

Now some observations and assumptions. In talking to a few people, I came to this conclusion: Not everyone gets to race bikes twice a weekend= fine. Some people could race bikes twice this last weekend but chose not to because they were worried about a poor showing because the course is, "not for me"= not cool.

Cycling is a game of chess. The chess masters can adapt to scenarios and situations very well. The same goes for cycling. I'll start by prefacing this with the fact that I have been dropped on that hill more than 50% of the times I've raced on it when you count all the races I've done there in my life. That's a lot of getting dropped.

Not all of us are phenomenal bike riders who are virtually incapable of being dropped in a local event. Hell, many of us are just plain mediocre when it comes riding our bikes. The key to getting to that next level is to improve the things you're horrible at. Become a better bike rider vs. a stronger rider.

A good bike racer will even be able to eliminate the hill as an obstacle to victory. Case in point: Last Sunday the two winning moves went away on a downhill. Kris and Joe got away while virtually coasting downhill. Excellent move! Then a lap later, Shadd and Bill escaped with Adam Lang and Andy Choca during the downhill on the backside of the damn. Then I got away a minute later on another downhill to ride up to Mark Smelser. So there you have it, 1-6 place all got up the road without even needing the "big Dam Hill" for help. To all you readers: Do the races that are local. Try new tactics, new ideas. They might work. If not, at least you'll know for next time.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Life and Time.

Sometimes the path we take in life is one we least expect, yet can change your life the most.

Austin, the iconic symbol of spiritual freedom for all of Texas, has called. For the first time, I’m listening. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to get on a plane and be in Aruba all last week. For a few days, I was supposed to live a different time line that could have changed my life.

But I’ll never know what could have become of that time line. That time line faded, withered, and died before it ever sprouted. That time line never did and never will happen. That time line never was… What did I miss? I’ll never know for sure. Did I miss the chance to interact with someone in particular as well as hundreds of people and change their lives….. Yes, I missed an entire lifetime that could have been.

On the other hand, this time line has changed me. I met dozens of people, interviewed, lived life, took risks and lived a different time line. Every experience influences your life and helps to make you who you are and this has changed my life possibly forever. Already I’m returning home and it doesn’t even really feel like home anymore. Home is a relative term, but I believe it somewhere you feel that you belong.

I think I realized sometime late last year that life is short and you’ve got to live your dreams and make things happen. You’ve only got so many years to have adventures and adventures I will have. I think I’ve about used up my experiences in Lawrence, which inevitably means that Lawrence probably won’t be home much longer. I guess that’s okay, after all, “all good Kansans get the hell out Kansas.” Right Mr. Lash?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Exit, stage left

Well, it seems as though my time here has come and gone. I wish I had some more pics to show, but sometimes, some memories are best left as such.

Austin is a great town with an exciting group of people and enormous mix of... well, everything. People. Sixth Street to the Warehouse District cover most of the spectrum of interesting folks. One block you're nearly getting puked on my drunken college goofs, the next block you're dancing to the Spazmatics, and then another block over, you're enjoying a martini with a bunch of ritzy yuppies all bent on showing off their money.

As I lie here listening to the owl who resides outside my window I remember what it's like to be woken by the songs of birds coming through your open windows. I can't wait for spring.

My road rash is mostly healed and is actually starting to get itchy, a good sign. The cracked bones are another story, but their getting better also. I no longer feel beat up... as much. I do have some sort of intermuscular hematoma on my calf muscle which is very painful, but that should subside with time. Months maybe.

I'm so very happy I came. Austin has been good to me this time.

Okay, tomorrow's the day to drive and I'm too sleepy to type more. Wish me luck!