Wednesday, June 18, 2008

LAMBRA District RR Championships

Last weekend, or the weekend before(?) was the LAMBRA District champs in Natchez Mississippi. Our race was at the perfect time of 1pm, so we got the chance and honor of starting with the hottest weather - sweeeet! We went in to get Dustin a win since the course really suited his explosive short hill climbing mad gangsta skillz. Our guys Brian Bradford, Daniel Lebeoueoeuoeuof and Jay Bookman went to the front according to the blueprints we skillfully detailed the weeks before and kept the pace high. Usually this wouldn't do much, but it was hot, and a fast painful course, and it did much in the ways of putting people in the pain cave. In weather like this, people like to go over a hill a little easier than normal, and recovery for twice as long. No such luck this time homeskillets. It was hard up the hills, and zero recovery time on the way down. A couple of the race favorites were drifting off the back and we spread some batman like tacks behind us on the fast downhill sections. It was a really sweet course, with a sweet 3 tiered climb followed by a covered fast downhill section with sweeping turns. We had 11 laps to do in the blazing heat and were saving Dustin for the finishing blow. Brian initially got off the front, and was bridged up to by some strong riders. This was really the only threatening break in the race, and upon seeing Brian drift back after out front for awhile I went to the front and drilled back the break. Jay came up to Dustin with 5-6 laps to go and told him one of his big competitors was suffering near the back so Dustin launched an attack, knowing it would be followed since he was a fav and hopefully would pop the suffering riders off the back. It worked, but not at first. I heard a guy say to another rider trying to bring him back "hey don't worry about him, it's only one guy" I almost said something like, "one man, with the power of 100 bison you mean?" or "you mean lance? lance armstrong?" we came aroudn the corner and Dustin was out of site. Panic ensued and people started ripping it at the front to bring him back. The suffering fav on the back popped off, objective#1: complete. When Dustin was caught it was Daniels turns. He went tearing off and we sat up and waiting for the attempts to bridge to ensue. Me and Dustin sat up front along the road, attempting to sort of block, but there's only so much 2 riders can do over a whole road. We got yelled at, bottles thrown at us, death threats, and a couple prison shank attempts, but we came out alive. We were wondering why a guy was yelling at us to get outta the way, when there were only 2 people at the front in his way. Maybe his wheel was locked in a straight position and he couldn't turn around anybody... that must be it.. Eventually he got around and bridged up to Daniel. That's it!? The race was over. I figured they'd stay way as there were only 2 teams, represented, but 2 strong teams, and our guy was a beast sprinter coming from a track background. We sat around and took it easy until we saw Daniel up ahead, but not the other guy.. What the crap?! I went to the front and jumped across to him to see what was up. Bloody cramps man. The heat was taking it's toll and anyone who dared not take at least 5 bottles each feedzone, was destined to cramp. Up ahead was the 3 tiered hill. Jay told me beforehand that near the end of the race, if we just road up th ehill at the same pace at the beginning that we'd probably ride away from everyone. So I did just that, and lo and behold, I had a quick gap. Pat Luke was the only rider with me and I said, "Let's ride let's ride GOOOOOOO?!" He countered with a, "dude, you think we can make it?, cause if we go, we have to go all out". "that's what i'm freakin doin ride now *pant pant* take a bloody pull *pant pant*!" While I was attempting to convince him to go with me since he was obviously strong enough, and trying to go hard at the same time, another rider bridged, and this seemingly lifted Pats motivation and we began drilling it. We caught the lone rider off the front and came around through the finish for 1 last time. In the feedzone, you take a left turn up a hill, then a u-turn up onto a dam where you can look down to the finishing straight and see how far of a gap you have.. Well by the end of the dam we had no site of the peleton so that meant we had around 3minutes.. I went off the front in a desperate suicide attempt to set up Dustin, but it was obvious we weren't getting caught, so the cat and mouse game ensued. I went to the front the started hammering.. by hammering i mean, shifting body back and forth but only soft pedaling about 100 watts. They stuck me on the front for a couple miles until they let me to the back with about 1.5miles to go.. mistake #1. I was now behind Patrick, who is the only sprinter known to ever come close to Bennie Flores the hulkinator monster sprinter.. So I knew i'd have to go early. There was a section about 1k from the finish that went through a gated road over some sketchy gravely pavement, and then there was a 4foot long gravel section that was as wide as the road. Throughout the race everyone slowed down in this section because of the bad quality of the road, but also it had a twisty nature to it. I saw my chance with 400m to go and blasted off the back. I went churning as hard as I could through that section. Each pedal stroke I felt both wheels come off the ground through the turns and skip over a few inches. I jumped over the gravel, and sprinted around the last little hill around the turn to the finish. Before hand I walked the finish line. Nothing hard to spot, a HUGE checkered flag at the line. Someone decided to take it down for our finish so I was kinda half sprinting, half wondering if I had crossed the line already. I keep going anyways, and was glad I did. I still had about 50meters to go and had Pat Luke on my wheel. I ended up lunging for the line once I finally spotted the camoflauged duct tape on the road. I thought I had it easy but decided since Dustin lost his rr by 1 inch at Rapides because he didn't lunge, I decided to just for the hell of it. Good thing I did?! I won by about half a wheel. Sweeeeeeet?!? Dustin ended up getting 11th, but put some important points into some competition for the LAMBRA overall title.

I chugged down some chocolate milk, got my medal (no money? god crap it) and me, Cary, mom and Leah went to get some food, and to this saloon right on the mississippi that supposively has some wicked bloody mary's. The bloody mary's turned out to be good, but not so much the people, nor the music. We walked in to a blaring band of has-been oldies trying to live out their dreams of being rock artists playing Hotel California. Their audience was a scattered bunch of alcoholics all over 50, one which was about 120, wore a short short freakin SHORT skirt in bright lime-green, cussed like a sailor, smoked like a chimney and drove around in a electric chair.. gooood times.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Racing Rapides

I got to race back to back weekens which was fun. I did Racing Rapides Omnium in Alexandria and the District Road Race Championships which are both on the LAMBRA calendar.

For Rapides we drove up the night before. Got some terrible service at Caribos or something.. Some "country italian" restaurant.. Sounds like a bad idea? Definately. I got a new Jamis TT bike 2 weeks before but it only decided to show up the day I left, so I did what I could to get it all together, which completely didn't happen. That left me with a quite a bit of work to do once I got to the hotel. When we finally got there around 9:30, I still had to finish putting together the bike, ride on the trainer, and shaaave?! God crap it. I don't think I have it in me to show up at a race with lairy hegs, and i'm glad I didn't. It was bloody hot. I think temp said 98, so heat index had to be over 100. I finally got to bed around midnight, woke up at 5 and drove out with everyone to the TT. I spent another 2.5 hours waiting for equipment to show up with cary, mom and leah, and trying to get my bike set up. Well when it came down to it, right when I got my shoes on Whitney comes haulin ass over to me telling me i'm up. I couldn't believe I didn't get any warm-up, so I was already dooming myself for failure. I got to the start line and Dustin was already taking off down the road so I had to get in there with 15seconds left and go go gooooooooo! I road at a good 70% of maximum figuring i'd ramp it up near the end if I felt better. Well I came around the corner and there was the finish line. So I shrugged off the time trial as pointless and looked forward to helping Dustin get as many points in the RR as he could.. In the end I got 4th in the time trial, which was kind of.. extremely surprising

The race was pretty typical. Attack after attack and no one wanting to let a break get away. I really can't stand to win a race in a pack sprint. It requires a lot of chance and sometimes you have to completely turn you brain off and do something completely retarded in order to win. I would rather get dead last from blowing up from an attack, then sprint for the win with the pack. So that's what I did sort of. I attacked, and attacked again. I would get these really big gaps attacking up hill then it'd go screaming downhill and it'd seem to lose a lot of my advantage. In the end, it came down to a sprint and our guys set up Dustin pretty nicely. Dustin goes blasting by everybody and it was a photo finish between him and Michael Pincus. Upon looking at the picture, Pincus was completely stretched out in a lunge, and Dustin was all tucked back like he was trying to touch his chest to the bars or something. Unbelievable?! It came down to less than 2 inches and Dustin didn't lunge. Dustin has got to be the most consistent finisher in a road race that I know and it killed me to see him lose by that much. Dustin was pretty happy with the result though and we were looking forward to working for Joe in the crit the next morning. Unfortunately Joe was involved in a nasty crash in the last 5 miles of the race. He came to the finish in a track with blood dripping everywhere, and had to get a lot of medical attention and stitches to his face. Well to the surprise of everyone Joe decided to race the next day. Bloody hell?!

The crit was pretty slow, but my legs didn't feel like it was at all.. I totally neglected to eat before the race and was running on empty. I attacked a couple times to take the pressure off the team and chased a few attacks down, then I was pretty much shelled. In the end, Joe got an unbelievable 2nd and Pincus won, sealing his overall victory. Anyways, awesome work by Joe who went directly to the MED after to get new bandages. That's a guy you want to have on your team

Monday, June 2, 2008

Joe Martin Stage Race 2008 Fayetteville, Arkansas

Joe Martin Stage Race 2008 Fayetteville, Arkansas

^ Joe Martin Album ^

Joe Martins was last weekend. Me, Josh and Stan drove up to Arkansas on Wednesday where we were gonna meet Joe Long the next day at Stans time share. We stopped at CompetitiveCyclist on the way there in Little Rock. Stan purchased 2 SRM powermeters from them and was having trouble with mounting bracket. There's a padlock on the door, and upon getting approved to come in, it was a plethora of Cervelos, Pinarellos, BMC's and all their other brands hanging everywhere. We probably saw close to 300-400 bikes, and every single one was built up with SRAM Red. We got to tour the whole place. This place is retarded big. They have a whole store sized room just for clothes, accesories. The biggest mechanics workshop, demo rooms, fit rooms, offices, wheel rooms, and a massive warehouse where the bikes are stocked.
We got to Bentonville where the timeshare was (about 30miles from fayetteville) and drove up to see the whole mercy specialized team unpacking and what not. Josh busted out his bike stand and we did a little work on the bikes. Me and josh got to sleep together on the fold out couch. Josh was couldn't sleep and wanted to cuddle so he resorted to taking some benadryl the first night to put his mind at ease. We slept in, sat around, and then drove off so Stan could do his TT at Devils Den park. Josh fell in the parking lot and scraped his new campy record... dumb piece of crap. We went down to the course and immediately start climbing up the tt course. I rode with a healnet guy, and then Karl Menzies came up next to us. It was cool riding around these guys. Most all of the big American teams were there minus Toyota United. But Jelly Belly, Bissell, Healthnet, RiteAid, Colavita were all there. Stan went off and beat his time by over 2 minutes from last year so he was happy with that. He averaged 383 watts for the whole climb to come in at 10:45!

We met up with Joe that night, and had no idea of what lay ahead of us the next day. Stan had a 110 mile race, and we were gonna be getting him food at the feedzones. Only problem was, we had to get around the peleton, which meant getting around all the support vehicles, which meant getting around the ambulances, which meant getting around the first line of defense, the popo's. We were following Russ' sister Catherine. We had an agreement with the Mercy team that we'd help them in the feed zone and we'd follow their main guy there. He decided to take a 15min stop to get gas, use the restroom and buy some stuff, and then once we finally left, he got lost. Josh was driving and we took over leading and finally caught up with Catherine who was behind all the action tryin got get around everyone. We had about 45miles until the first feedzone so that gave us about 1.5hrs to try and find our way around. As it turned out, we ended up getting by with .5miles left till the feedzone. It was absolutely madness, and I loved it. When else can you ride a cops ass, drive in the wrong lane on a double yellow, and go flying by a cop at 90mph. Kudos to Josh for driving like a madman and keeping us alive. People were dropping off the peleton every mile and from what we saw, not 1 person chased back on. They were movin it! We saw some nasty nasty crashes, broken derailleurs, flats, and 5minute water bottle handoffs. Stan started cramping and got popped off but still finished the race strong. We headed back to get ready for the next day, and finally it was our turn to race.

The road race went as expected. It was pretty easy, sat in and marked some riders. Darron Savoye was there from New Orleans and as it turns out me and him were marking eachother. Some riders attacked strong at times, but cracked right at the top of the hill or down the road, so I knew if Darron went, I could go with him and we could work well together. The whole field was strong. It's kinda like if you take the strongest 5 riders at a Lambra race, and multiply them by 10. Seeing as our race was so short, the chance of getting a break to stick was kinda small. I figured i'd have a better chance of picking up a few seconds if I caught them by surprise in the last 1kilometer. I went to the front and since I don't use a computer, I wasn't sure where we were distance wise. I knew we were getting close so started looking for the 1k sign. I knew if they caught me it'd be in the last 200meters, and Joe would easily take the sprint. I never saw a 1k sign and attacked over a hill only to see another one way off in the distance. Where's the 1k?! Turns out there weren't big markers, so I had no idea if I was 1k out or 10k. Turn out the finish was over the next hill. People started sprinting and Joe was right up front waiting to launch and I hear riders going down. 1,2,3,4 I look around and keep seeing riders go. I saw bikes 6feet in the air smashing into road signs. Up ahead I saw a rider go down and was lucky enough to just clip his tire and managed to stay up. Joe had a guy grab onto his shorts, and felt the guys hand clawing all the way down to his ankle and then got hit by the guys handlebars. I have no idea how we both stayed up, but we coasted in at 48mph so the sprinters were probably above 50mph. 8 guys total went down. One broke his tibula, another broke his femur, and one guy immediately went into a seizure and slipped into a coma shortly after. Joe was pretty upset about the sprint as he was in perfect position, but I think we both realized that staying up was the best thing that happened all weekend.

We watched the cat1,2 race come in and there was a very bad crash after the finish line. 3 guys went down. The smell of the brake pads loomed in the air, carbon fiber shattered everywhere, and a spectactor fainted at the sight of the blood. 1 guys bike was in 2 pieces. Alot of crashing, but the ambulances were there quickly and worked efficiently. Josh slipped off the back in his race and formed a 3 man chase group to try and get back on. Apparently they started ramping up the place to sprint to Josh's surprise, so Josh quickly made play of them and diced them in the sprint.
We went to eat, then to the TT course. Our tt was the same as the Pro's and 1,2's. A 2.5mile climb. It was pouring, but finally let up. I got in a good warm-up and went to the startline 30seconds before my start.. Peeerfect. I heard if you could make it up in the bigring then you'd do a decent time. I kept that in mind whenever I was about to drop it in the small ring from the intense pain and agony that I was in. Little did I know, this was only the beginning of the paincave for the weekend. I managed to keep it in the big ring all the way up. I had Darron Savoye behind me so I think that gave me extra motivation to go as hard as I could. I found out later that night that I did a 10:32 and was in 6th place overall. The top 5 were all from tennessee, and arkansas and were about 5'11" and 120lbs so I was happy that I was in a good position.

My strategy for the crit was to get off the front and just absolutely fly through the corners and try to move up to 5th place overall gc. The crit course was amazing, and very hard. It was in downtown fayetteville, right through some awesome street and up so extremely steep hills. I got there a little later then I wanted, and it was FREEEEZING?! Felt liek 40 degrees, and 30mph winds. I meet up with Joe and hop on the complentary CycleOps/Saris trainer. Upon getting off I can't get air into my wheel. I was using the American Classic front, and zipp404 rear. The other AC was back at the car, and all I had was my Powertap wheel with a trainer tire. The 4's were lining up and I was running over to the SRAM support guy to get some help. Well he wasn't. He just stood there on his phone looking at me while I asked for help. Told me I couldn't use any of his equipment, and his pump didn't work. So I slapped on my Powertap wheel and headed for the start line. I tried squeezing into the front but got sent to the back behind 50other riders. The official told us to take a parade lap to see what the course was like. I treated it as a real lap and tried to move up as much as I could, but unfortunately, so did everybody else. So I started at the very back. We started off fast and upon getting to the super long descent through downtowns roads, I could see about 800meters up the road, and to my disappointment, I see the front of the peleton going through the turn at the bottom of the hill while I was just getting to teh descent. I had alot of work to do. Gaps opened up everyturn. I was in the back with Darron and we worked pretty well closing all the gaps. We eventually closed enough gaps and made our way through enough turns fast enough to get to the top 10 riders. They were absolutely flying. I didn't know at the time but there was a rider off the front. I was so blown from making my way to the front that I just sat in as much as I could. We eventually moved clear of all the other riders and were in about a 10man group. This was hands down the hardest part of the weekend. Lap after lap went by and I managed to hang on and came once the sprint up the super steep hill to the finish came I somehow managed find it inside of me to sprint. I came across 7th in the crit and waited to see if I moved up. I noted that alot of the people in the lead group were not going for anything in GC. As it turns out, we put enough time into everyone for me to move up 2 spots into 4th. That was more than enough for me and standing on the podium in the top 5 was the best feeling. It's awesome to finally have hard work pay off.