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.