Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stupid Week, still!

Great Downer Avenue Criterium.

80k, one U- Turn, one corner, one sweeping U- Turn, 10k people, one prime.

This is probably my favorite bike race all year. It’s fast (28.9 average speed this year). It’s really tough, and it’s so much fun I don’t ever want to miss this race. The finish line is on a traditional downtown street. Barriers line the road on both sides with a Tour de France style with a crowd numbering 10 deep along the 5-6 block stretch. Turn corner one and there was The Party (more on that later). From the last corner all the way to The Party just after the first corner, there was a gradually increasing volume in an insane tunnel of noise! Round the second corner, a U-Turn at 21mph, then back up to 31mph. The entire back side of the race was barbeque after barbeque. More parties and parties and parties! Wow. Turn the last corner and there was a city park where picnickers lounged and watched then it’s back to the finishing stretch.

This was my fifth day in a row of racing and I must admit, I had that not so fresh feeling. Ha! We did the morning ride and I could barely keep up going a mere 18-19mph. Not a good sign, but that’s okay. This was the last day and then it’s back to the furnace of KS. However, there’s a chance I could be back up here in a few days for Elk’s Grove…..

Super Prime: Corner 1 + 50 meters.

This is probably the second biggest block party I’ve ever been to (the first being on Mass St. when KU won the NCCA basketball championship) there’s just one difference. At a typical party you would have the usual: dolled up girls and guys, liquor, smokes, and super loud music. Everyone struggles to talk while shouting over the noise and dancing eventually becomes the dominant form of communication. But here, the racers are the entertainment. There’s still the loud music and craziness, but we are the rock stars of the day; and the riders live up to all expectations as we scream around the course, bombing and hot routing corners while constantly being enticed by the mass of people making the tunnel of noise to ride faster; always faster.

Beers, Brats, Burgers for $20. AND there were Super Prime T-shirts (if anyone has a pic of this shirt, please send it to me). All the money from the T’s and food went to the Super Prime. It’s quickly becoming a legend in the realm of bike racing. Ride a super tough course for as many laps as it takes for a chance to win a one place, one lap, winner take all prize. It was $4k- cash- before the race even started. By the time it was called…. Seven Thousand Dollars, $7,000. Holy Crap. I was pretty far back in the field when I heard the Bell for the prime. I turned to the guy next to me and said, “this lap is gonna be really hard.” Okay, here we go! I went around the U-turn pretty fast and came out of it in my 13. From there I only shifted down as my speed was 36mph on the backside of the course. Rock Racing won the prime and, as tradition, the winner stops then and there and joins the party. Well deserved and I completely agree with the policy.

After the Super Prime, the Kelley Benefits started their stupid lead out train again. Once again, not fast, and the only way they would keep control was to intimidate and hinder forward progress of anyone trying to come around. Sorry guys, but 30mph is not fast enough and your little swing out, chop and swing tight maneuver only works when there isn’t any sort of organization behind you. Actually, on, multiple riders were complaining that it wasn't fast enough:

More than a few riders were critical of the lead-out train of Kelly Benefits Strategies-Medifast, saying it was not nearly fast enough, including Cantwell.

"Coming into the finish [Magnell and I] were shadowing each other, and the guys the front were not going fast enough at all. If someone can hit over a lead-out train and stay away for a half lap it means they weren't going hard enough. I thought we were going to chase him down and then I got boxed in the sprint."

Keep trying though. With a ½ lap to go, Sterling Magnell of Rock Racing jumps the lead out train of KB and holds it for the victory, making all the KB riders look like chumps.

The best part: When the race is over and the riders can stop and join the party. Never in my life have I been in a place where a bunch of skinny, sweaty, and super fit guys in team kits can simply join in a party and be accepted as part of the celebration. Beers, brats, burgers and more beers for all! Ahh, Milwaukee…. Only here would I expect to be enticed to a party by a six year old holding a bottle of ice cold beer! Classic. I wish my camera wouldn’t have broken.


Super Week definitely is a celebration of bike racing. It’s been around for a long, long time and many people, famous, infamous, regular, or international stars, have all been here. I had a chance to meet up with some guys I haven’t seen since I raced the Vuelta Zulia in 2006. Seth and Jamiel. Those guys are loads of fun and I hope to be able to race with them again soon.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kenosha Criterium

1k loop, 100 laps. Average Speed with 15 laps to go: 29.6mph. Avg Speed with 2 laps to go: 29.8mph. Avg Speed the last 2 laps: 35mph (really, really fast). Nascar.

I started in the back and decided to "cruise my way forward" because I had 100 laps to get there right? Ha! The problem with moving efficiently through the field is that it takes me a while to do it. Probably 15-20 laps. By then, I had missed the move. Oh well. It was so, so, so easy in the front! Just cruising along, turn, cruise, turn, repeat.

Then my problems started. Milwaukee and really all of Wisconsin has absolutely no desire for public health and safety concerning tobacco. Oh, SURE the liquor stores close at 9pm but the smoking! With 40k to go all I could taste, smell and feel in my lungs was cigarette smoke. I started coughing, wheezing and basically lost all power. When a super good rider loses power they are still effective just uncomfortable. When I lose power, it's ugly. I basically was riding on pure determination to finish the race. Hot routing corners and doing everything I could to not ever use my brakes. Ugly, but I finished. 13 guys lapped the field and the Columbian Olympic Track Pursuit team took over from there and rode tempo at 30mph on the front of the field for 50k.

I read this on

"He was just bashing guys off the wheels, throwing elbows and doing anything to win in a very unprofessional way," he said. "Yesterday I gave him credit for the way he was riding, but today he almost killed half the bunch! My respect is just slowly getting taken away from the guy. He might be a professional but he is certainly not riding like one."

In response, Magnell said he was riding in response to others, saying the rubbing was going both ways. "Page in particular wanted the wheel I had and he actually punched me in the back with five to go," he said. "I'll use my skill but I'll never take my hands off the bars. A lot of guys were yelling and had problems but I didn't have any problems - I can ride my bike."

Magnell, may be able to ride his bike, but he definitely takes his hands off the bars, lots. Strange how violation of that rule should result in disqualification..... Should.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Super Week, the Vortex.

It’s 1am on Wednesday night, actually, Thursday morning. Super Week. Stupid Week even, because there’s so many tough races, it’s just stupid. This is the land of beers, brats, burgers, and bikes- The Four B’s. For some, it’s a golden land of cash flow. For me, it’s a vacation from work and triple digits heat indices. But Super Week is different.

Entering Milwaukee during the 17 days of racing the ICC is an entirely different experience than any other bike race in the country, world even. The beauty of Super Week is that you can pick and choose the races you do and don’t want to enter, coming and going as you please. Myself, I didn’t even arrive until Monday night, a full 11 days after Stage 1.

This is a time vortex of bike racing, where time takes on another meaning, another existence. Wake time typically happens at 10am to the Tour de France, or at least the ending. Follow that with the morning ride. The morning ride is a bit touch and go. 20-25 miles of “easy riding” at 18-20 mph speeds during which a sort of Systems Check is performed. Are you rested enough to race? Do you want to race? Lunch, nap, then on to the races.

The races all begin at 4:30, 5:30, 6:00, 6:30pm. Something of the sort. There’s the line up, the call up by Eddie Van Guiess (sp?), I hear he played the “Italian” in “Breaking Away.” Then it’s 2:20- 2:40 to race 100k (66 miles), or more, or less depending on how many laps the officials decide you’re going to race that night. I’m keeping a running tally on the statistics of the races. So far, here are the numbers: 2 races, 190 miles, 7:02 of racing, average speed of 27.8mph, max speed of 40mph. Number of corners, too many to count.

Flying around a criterium course at “ludicrous speed,” for 100k does a few things to you. Adrenaline much? Hell ya! AND the races aren’t over until nearly 9pm sometimes. After dinner and a shower it’s midnight, you’ve raced 100k and you’re no where close to tired and even though you want to sleep, it just doesn’t happen. That’s where I am now. Sitting here, in the living room wanting to sleep but unable to.

Here’s some recap of the races so far….

Tail Gunning the Cedarburg Criterium.

I wasn’t sure of my form following my illness a few weeks ago. Actually, I’ve been struggling to simply stay in the field in some of the previous races, including the KC training race a week ago, but that’s another story and now here I am.

The weather helps here too, 70 and sunny at the start of the race.

I was looking to get in some early moves, grab a prime or two maybe and then try and finish the race out by not getting dropped. If I could do that, then I would consider my first stage a success. Well, the early moves were not to be and I actually just settled on tail gunning the entire race for the better part of 100k. Oh yeah, this race ended up being 120k, or about 72miles.

In the end, I do have the form to be here and I have returned to my former self. It’s about time.

Okay, now it’s about 2am so I’m going to have to end this one for now.

Oh, we have to go all the way to Panera Bread Co. to get internet which is a bit of a pain. Unless you hold the computer just so, and stand in just the right place….. Steve will demonstrate:

Hales Corners Criterium… I mean Road Race.

100k, sweeping and undulating course. It wasn’t too hard and I was looking for moves. Got in a little one that was short lived, thanks to the Columbian track team. Oh well. Has anyone ever seen the movie “Jumper?” In the end one of the Columbian guys took off with 4 miles to go. He rode 45 seconds across to the break in a mile, then through the break and away solo. Crazy fast! I rode in at the back of the group and just finished.

Racine Criterium.

Stage 3. This course was the epitome of a Super Week race. Fast, flat, not too technical. BUT it had little “quirks.” Corner 1 had some sort of cross walk asphalt tiles, corner 2: potholes, Corner 3, FAST (yee haw Nascar!). But corner 4, more of a curve really, was a neon pink spray painted nightmare, of a pothole, manhole covered minefield. And then, there was corner 5, an open seam about 3” wide, ½” lip (perfect for pinch flats- ask Chad Cagle), and potholes, Corner 6- last one- fast.

I got in a couple of little moves, none lasting but whatever. I even had an outside chance for a couple of primes but blew it. 5 guys lapped the field and the last 9 laps the entire Kelly Benefits team lined up and did the super boring, not so fast, semi dangerous, totally bullshit lead-out/ field controlling thing. I’m not so sure what the deal is there, but here’s a couple thoughts:

What does it tell you about the quality of the team when the A squad, all 8 guys, are at Super Week? Don’t they have other races that are bigger, badder, and more prize money to be at? If I’m jumping the gun, and I’ve been wrong a few times, then where are the Toyota United, Health Net, Team Type 1, etc? Rock Racing is here too, but they are much more willing to let everyone race. If this turns into riding behind 8 guys for 100k…. it’ll be really boring. Crowds show up to see chaos and free for all bike racing. Not this organized, swing out and then chop 27mph escort for 10 laps. If the guys would go faster, they wouldn't have to do it that way, but they can't go faster. I guess....

With 3 to go, I got my wheel cought in one of the seams of the “tiles” on corner one. This resulted in me going around the corner completely sideways. I thought I had a front flat tire but wasn’t sure. In the end, I sat up and earned myself a DNF. No front flat, but it does spook you when you slide out and have no idea why. Next up, stage 4- Kenosha.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Keep on Keepin on, Man.

Victor Continental X
This was.... Awesome. VC is basically a vulgar, crude, lude, and absolutely hilarious show! I don't think I've laughed that hard, or been that buzzed in a while, all in the name of comedy. Well, since the show a year ago. You should head to Lawrence and see the show, provided that you don't take it too seriously. If you're that type, sorry.. and go away.

Keepin' It Rollin in the Team Car!

The best part about going out on Friday night and seeing a show is the waking up on Saturday morning and putting your life back together. How did I get here? What time is it? When do I race? Is my bike clean? Do I have enough clean clothes?

Got everything?! Okay, here we go! We did have a "Team Car" in effect for the weekend. Yup, that's right; the Shadd-uar is team ready! On another note, Chris Hall has a VW bus that he can convert to a "team bus." The pics have been reduced in quality to make the bus appear to be in much better condition than it really is. If we use the VW as a team bus, do we still have to equip it with hippie music, bongs, and expensive beer?

The plan was to meet at Shadd's house around 1pm. That way, we would have enough time to get to the hotel, check in, ride/ warm-up, get to the race with plenty of time. Little did I know what would transpire.......

Yup, we were still on the New Plan so our 1:45 (old plan) trip turned out to take f o r e v e r! You know, the problem with Iowa is that it's just there. Think of the ease with which you could get someplace cool like Chicago if Iowa just wasn't there... So the story goes, with 7 hours available to travel, check in, pre-ride, get to race, sign in, warm up....

We did exactly nothing except check in to the hotel, and go to the race. What's more, is that as of 20 minutes until race time, none of us had even gotten our bikes off the car. Yup we were running a bit late. Actually, I'm certain we had too much time. If that's possible.

Papillion Twilight Criterium.
0.7 mile course, 2 hills, narrow roads, 8 turns. Tight and crazy hard, at least for me. Sports Base Online was there and John Lefler did a stellar job announcing (as he always does). After going to a few "big time" races it's easy to assume announcers are good, but it's a tough job and John does it superbly.

HRRC/ Trek Stores had everyone and the kitchen sink in the race. The entire roster plus Jay Thomas and Kent McNeil were both in attendance minus the Minnesota contingent of Derek. Actually the only sponsor/ director not in the race was Josh Crow. If anyone sees or talks to Josh, give him some grief. Ha!

I'm still suffering from my virus I had/ have on my return trip from Austin, TX. I would say that beginning in the "Day After" criterium until now, I have probably suffered more than I ever thought possible. Never have I ever had to rely on my bike driving ability simply to stay in the race. I never was a threat to do anything besides get dropped today. It felt like I was dragging an anchor/ plow/ wagon etc. behind me. Actually, the only thing I was good at was turning a corner. This is not very enjoyable for me right now.

Alex Boyd got away with Steve, Shadd, Bill, and Chris. In the end, Alex was the winner. Yes, 4 on 1 and Alex got it. This kid is the real deal and definitely deserved the win, in his hometown.

Steve did his Priceline thing again and scored us Courtyard Marriott (between the Quest Center and Old Market) for $56 each, with taxes. Normal rate $199/ night. Uh Huh. The only problem is the parking. Get a spot early and don't move your car. Even the "overflow" lots get overflowed.

Back to that, "pack a nice set of clothes" for Wedding Crashing......

Dave Babcock Memorial Criterium.
0.7 mile triangle course, with a hairpin corner. Hot, dry. Once again, my lack of form or abundance of "out of form" depending on how you look at it, showed itself once again. No power, but I could turn a corner. Unenjoyable. Steve, Bill, and Matt (Nebraska Medical Center/Team KAos) lapped the field. I was powerless, but I sure could watch and go for primes. Some tires, a gift certificate, and a kick ass Chrome Messenger bag, camo style.

In the end, Steve won but the tough man rides of the day go to Alex and Matt. Alex was probably the best single rider all weekend. But in the end, you're not going to beat a full squad of HRRC guys two days in a row. Matt rode hard enough chasing Steve to "stun" the field into no longer attacking, until the end when Bill escaped on the last lap for second.

I have no idea why this race is attended by so few people. It's two days, good prize money and tough courses. Perhaps it conflicts with other races in the area. This seems to be a recurring theme of 2008 and I can only hope, in the future, the promoters take a gander at the regional calendars before dating the races.

I don't know what it is, but whenever Shadd is on a road trip, there are no damn Dairy Queens anywhere! Seriously, Shadd...

We drove all the way from Omaha to St. Joe without a DQ to be found until......

It's like seeing the gates of heaven until....

The doors are LOCKED!?! Awww, Horse SHIT! But wait, the drive through is open but there's 25 cars in line. Okay, let's do it!

30 mintues later, I had my Blizzard, and we got to watch 8 cars full of people refuse to wait in line.

Now what? Heading North soon. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rain, Rain; stir crazy; Okay, HERE WE GO!

This post is a bit convoluted as I've been sitting around the house for a few days with nothing new going on. I need to find my memory card for the camera. I've got some great things ya'll need to see. Including, but limited to: gophers, fruit, office furniture, plants of unknown origin.

Stir Crazy! Holy crap. I've been waiting since Austin, sometime in June to race again. All my attempts were foiled the last few weeks. I got sick. Was still sick. Well, actually I could have raced that day, but I had no horsepower, no motivation, no ability to pedal faster than 15 mph. Okay, maybe I couldn't have raced- but it's fun to talk about. Whatever I had was some sort of virus that hung on and fought tooth and nail to keep me in bed and tired all the time. Finally, I feel well and that is awesome! I don't really have any top end but that should come back, "fast" right? Right.

Rode in the rain yesterday for something like... forever. I really wanted to race but I'm not doing that in the rain, in a ..... I've already been over that.

Victor Continental Returns!!!

I've been waiting for this show since last year, right about now! Behold, Victor Continental X. I know, I know. You're going to say, "Adam, this is just some sketch comedy/ drinking game." SO! It's fun! And besides, who else makes this the name of his auto biography: " Donkey Punch: My Life in Women and Comedy" ? This guy is like James Bond; but dirtier and without a firearm. Actually... well, just watch this. I can't wait for Friday! Until then.......

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Austin Races, times from yesterweek. June 21-22.

Oops. Thought this got posted a few days ago. There was actually supposed to be a couple of posts but I'm combining them now.

Friday Night VIP party- Cougars on the Prowl.

Maureen hooked myself and a few of her lady friends (names will remain anonymous- again, to protect the guilty) with some VIP passes to the VIP party the night before the ATT Crit. Interesting night that started out with wine and hors devours, then moved onto the party. As the only guy in the group I was able to be a fly on the wall and gather some insight to the inner thoughts of the ladies. Let me just say this: guys, you may think you are on "safari", but when it comes to cougars... none of us has a clue. None.

ATT Crit
Cycling is in dire need of good marketing and public relations if it's going to crawl from the status of "fringe sport" to mainstream. It needs showmanship. It needs heros. It needs Rockstars. Bike races should be a show. People go to sporting events to be entertained, so let's find some marketeers who can get this done!

Enter Barry Lee, the promoter for the ATT Crit. Barry has a unique understanding of cycling and great vision in marketing. He created a flat, fast criterium in the 2nd Street Entertainment District (aka: bars) that had thousands upon thousands of spectators.

The course was a square, wide open, fast and dark in places. The last corner in particular was interesting. Four lanes to two lanes for the sprint and the street lights were out so it was literally pitch black. Oh, except for the hundreds of flashes as you were turning! Crazy! I was closing my eyes through the corner so I wouldn't have those ghost images for the next half a lap. People made mention that the last corner was "dangerous" but there was only one crash in it and that's probably about the number there was going to be anyways. Crashes at night are cool to watch because you hear them and you see the sparks. Ha! I'm assuming the streetlight not being lit on the last corner was not the plan so that should be fixed for next year. Oh, did I mention it was FAST?! I had a 29.8mph average after the cool down lap. Yee haw! Momma I'm goin' FAST!

In hindsight, I was actually getting sick this day, I just didn't know it. I took 3 naps over the day, rode about 30 minutes and was tired. Probably not the best thing for a fast and furious race. I was fine sitting in the field but any time I had to go out into the wind I'd be gassed instantly and then I'd spend 2 laps just recovering. Not good.

In the end, Toyota was "leading it out" for their guy, Ivan (I assume). The only problem is that I believe that the art of the lead-out has been lost. If someone is going to win this race, the leadout needs to be so fast that there's no coming around anyone. Everyone is in their spot and that's that. There's really no passing anyone after the last corner. In order to do this, a team must sacrifice everyone to get the leadout spot on. This means that simply going, "hard" isn't enough. The leadout should be doing a full gas sprint, except you're x number of meters too early (assume 200m per rider- so if you're 5 guys you can start 1k early). However, some domestic teams have been trying to stack the front spots, get more money and still win. I think that's what Toyota tried to do. The money was good and they wanted more of it. The leadout wasn't fast enough and as a result guys behind the train were fresh enough... Alejandro Borrajo of Colavita Sutterhome jumped the Toyota guys, got to the corner first and won! A great move but he was enabled by the shabby leadout of Toyota. As a result Borrajo took home $4000 for the win and the entire Toyota team looked like a bunch of chumps.

The "Day After Criterium"
This one was in the middle of the afternoon, in hot, hot, hot Austin. I don't think I've ever felt so horrible in a bike race ever. At the time I thought it was just a sinus infection (if only!). Most of the pros went home, unable to be enticed by the $2000 prize list. Rock Racing stayed and so did a couple other guys from different teams.

To put my race simple terms: If I didn't have a wheel to follow, I couldn't go anywhere at any sort of speed. I couldn't jump, bridge, or really even pedal hard. Basically, I only was able to hang on because of the corners. Corners = coasting and not breaking if you're willing to risk it. I was willing. If I were my normal self, I would have, could have, should have been able to be involved in at least one of the small moves that rolled away from the field of 70 or so riders. But I was not and ended up getting 4th in the field sprint, 15th on the day. Stefan Rothe won the race in his hometown so that's great for him.

A big thanks to Rock Racing and their Rockstar support that provided neutral bottles to any of the P, 1 racers that held their hand out. It was much appreciated!