Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Snake Alley Criterium

The second race of the weekend was the infamous Snake Alley Criterium, located in downtown Burlington, Iowa. This race takes part on the "second crookedest street" in the world. A full block climb that averages 12.5% for the climb. Positioning is essential to do well in the race. I had won the race on two previous occasions, as a cat 4 and a cat 3. Each time, I was in the top 5 to enter the Snake.

My legs were feeling pretty toast after chasing hard for 45miles the previous night, but I was ready for battle. The only American Equity boy to take to the pro 1/2 start line. I was a bit late in registering and could only muster 3rd row. This is about where I entered the Snake on the way up, about 20th back. I never felt bad during the race, but just couldn't seem to muster the legs I needed to maintain the best position. What I was not looking forward too were other riders getting to the top of the climb and letting off the pedals, and coasting for 50m or so. This allowed the groups ahead to pull away, and left no chance of regaining contact. So I resigned to doing some work to maintain placings/etc. After 15 laps, my little group was pulled, but I did end up as the 3rd Iowan finisher...but the results got messed up and I was listed as 5th....cool I guess?

Coming from success in the past, I always feel as though I should have done better, maybe I road within myself, as I said I didn't ever feel as though I was going to blow up. I just need to gain the confidence to put in a long attack or effort in order to improve my chances. I have the legs and training under my belt, I just need to take the risks and believe in myself.
Up next will be a report from Melon City Criterium.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Burlington Road Race

First race of the Memorial Day weekend races occurred in Burlington, and consisted of a 102 mile road race. This race has always been 80 miles in the past, but recent events in the small town of Wapello elicited to not have any part of the race. Drove to Muscatine and Chad and I headed down to the race. Lou, JJ, TJ, Chad, Jeff and myself were all there to represent for American Equity. Plan was to try and set Jeff up for a great birthday present with a win. Some big name teams were present with Texas Roadhouse, ISCorp, Aerocat, Panthers, etc.

Race always starts out fast, and no difference today. No break was sticking until around 30miles into the race when a group of 3 got away (Aerocat, Panther, Texas Roadhouse). Great......there goes the 3 strongest teams that could pull a break back. From mile 40-75 or so, the rains came and hit the peloton with a light but steady rain that soaked the body. With about 45 miles to go, Jeff calls us all the front of the group to ride tempo, and thankfully ISCorp also helped out. We had 8 guys or so rotating at 28-30mph to try and bring the break back from 4:45 down. Things were looking up as the moto ref called out splits of 3 minutes, then 2:05, but then the gap didn't go down. We were losing some power, and attacks started flying off the front. With 10 miles to go or so, the gap was down to 1:15 and it was getting close. Somehow I had ended up off the front with an ISCorp guy for about 5-10min but we were brought back, and the pack resigned itself to a field sprint. In the end, we almost caught the break, coming within 30sec of bringing it back. Jeff had good positioning and ended up 13th, I rolled in next in 27th, with the other guys finishing in the pack as well.

So this race was awesome, our first large road race together with most of the whole team and we did what we could do bring a break back. My legs were so thrashed after this race and chasing for 40 miles. Now I can say I have an idea of what it means to be a domestic riding on the front for hours upon hours to keep a break in check. Props to those guys, the team leaders couldn't do anything without you. Jeff was very happy with how we worked as a team, so that is a plus when you can make an ex-pro feel good about his team. Maybe we can set him up for a win in the same fashion this year!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tis the Weekend!

Memorial Day Weekend 2011!

Its that time of the year again for some high speed and pain induced criterium racing in the Quad City area. This year I will be competing in the Burlington RR, Snake Alley Crit, and Melon City Crit. Going to have a full team for the American Equity boys! Lou, Jeff, Chad, JJ, and our resident strong man TJ Tollakson will be returning to the Iowa racing scene to show off his power. Gonna be a good weekend!

The road race has been lengthened from 80 to 105miles this year. I am hoping this will cause some problems for some of the field, but still can't bet on it. The race is pan flat, except for a few risers and the pack motors along at 30mph pretty much the whole race. The sprint occurs on a 6 lane road, and riders are spread all over trying to win. No real draft as it is a downhill sprint, but hopefully we can set up Jeff for a Tour de France style bunch sprint!

Snake Alley will be another hard 20 laps up the climb again this year. I have had great success in the past, winning as a Cat 3 and Cat 4, but those races are in the back of my mind, it is a much different race in the Cat 1,2. Going in as the only American Equity racer in the Cat 1,2 as the other guys are looking to cherry pick the masters races and get some money back :) No team work in this race, so why not! Last years results were messed up, as many guys pulled out or were lapped by Vladimir Starchek (European Pro). Looking forward to some pain! and hearing all the local fans cheer for local riders. Always takes a bit of pain out of the legs.

Muscatine is a race I have never done as a Cat 1,2 and with a peloton of over 80 guys going over the speed bump at the bottom will be something of interest I am sure. I have also done well on this course, placing 2nd in the past. Looking to get in a couple breaks on this course, as they always seem to stay away.

Recaps will come as the races go on! Good luck to all the Iowa boys this weekend, lets get some good results!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Calling All Triathletes

Every thought of doing an Ironman? Even if your not planning on doing an Ironman, perhaps the Half-Iron Pigman? Here is an opportunity that would be a great experience to learn the ins and outs of completing long distance triathlons!!! Certified coaches in swimming, cycling, running will be on hand to train, educate, and help you along the way. Professional triathlete McKenzie Madison will be on hand to give a couple presentations!

Check out Zoom Performance if you are interested!

Zoom Performance Ironman Epic Camp

Join the coaches of Zoom Performance and fellow triathletes for an epic weekend immersed in IM training in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin June 24th through June 26th.

Register now on Active.com!

  • Train on the IM Wisconsin course in all three disciplines.
  • Learn strategy and skills necessary to excel at long distance triathlon racing
  • Daily training sessions on the official IM Wisconsin course lead by the USAT Certified coaches of Zoom Performance
  • Three Ironman-specific trraining presentations (Ironman nutrition, execution of an Ironman, open water swim)
  • Full Course Support
  • Two nights at the Sheraton Madison
  • Secure bike storage
  • Two healthy breakfasts
  • Swag Bag (includes Zoom Performance T-Shirt)

This camp is great for everyone from the beginner to the advanced triathlete.

$450 (Discounts available for Zoom Performance athletes)

Friday - 6/24/11

  • Welcome - 1pm
  • Swim/Bike/Run - 2:30-4:30pm
  • Presentation - 5:30pm
  • Dinner 7pm

Saturday - 6/25/11

  • Breakfast 5:30am
  • Ride - start at 6:30am
  • Ride distances supported, 110 and 75 miles
  • Run either 30 or 50mins off the bike
  • Break
  • Presentation - 4:30pm
  • Dinner 6:30pm

Sunday - 6/26/11

  • Breakfast 5:30am
  • Open water swim presentation and swim 7am
  • Run 8am
  • Run distances supported, 15 or 10miles
  • Head home

Monday, May 9, 2011

Collegiate National Championship Criterium

Sunday was the final event of the three day Collegiate Cycling National Championships. A new crit course this year of .90 miles in the University of Madison Research Park. Although the winds were fairly strong, the course was not selective enough to make a factor in the race. I awoke fairly early, for the 10:30am start. Had breakfast and coffee, watched part of the Giro stage, and thought about the race. I didn't start the TTT on Saturday, but my legs were still fairly cashed from the road race. The good thing is Josiah's place was only 2 miles from the course, so I kitted up and rolled off on the bike.

I got to the course and watched a bit of the D1 Women's criterium. Finished my warmup, and the legs started feeling better. I was able to get a spot in the third row thanks to school callups. Race started off very fast from the gun, with many breakaway attempts from the large schools: Mesa State, Mars Hill, Western Washington. It is amazing that these are all Men's A riders (Cat 1-2), but so many of them are not comfortable in a pack at high speeds. A crash happened behind me about half-way through which sounded bad. I was able to stay in the top 20ish riders for most of the race. A break of 3 got up the road with about 20 minutes to go, and it looked promising. It wasn't until 2 to go that somehow we caught them. The pace slowed for a split second, and my great top 10 position for the sprint, was lost as the renowned swarm occurred on both sides. I spent the next lap trying to reposition myself, but it wasn't going to happen and I was only able to muster a 25th position. There were still 80 riders in the field, so I was still up in the top 1/4 of the field...but I wanted better.

So that finished my first national championships. Some really great sensations came out of the race, but a few coulda woulda shoulda's as well. I have no regrets in the RR except for maybe being a little more aggressive in the finally. As for the crit, I still have some work to do in the pro/1/2 fields in order to get some good results.

My biggest factor I think limiting my ability as a rider is to just take a chance, believe in myself and make a big attack or follow that breakaway with 30miles to go in a RR. I have the endurance, and the high speed work is coming around well, just gotta focus on the mental aspect now and gain some personal confidence. When I won Snake Alley 2 times, I didn't think, I just went for an all out attack on the climb and ended up gaping everyone. While it will be harder to do this in a pro field, I have to find the courage to just do it.

Next up for me is work work work. Gotta start making some money if I wanna continue traveling to bike races. I will also be competing in the Pigman Triathlon in June, so I will be complimenting my cycling with swim/run workouts as well. I also start coaching my Z3 athletes and really looking forward to that!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Collegiate National Championship Road Race

I have done something a little different this year. Raced collegiate as a cyclist. Something I never did at Luther, partially because we didn't have a club, and I really didn't know about it. So this year, I successfully started a cycling club at UNI and was able to partake in some races. It has been fun, and you never know how a race will pan out. I was excited to qualify for the D2 National Champs after some good placing in the races I could go to. UNI is a school of less than 15,000 and that is why I am a D2 rider.

Fast-forward, I finished my first year of grad school on Wednesday, and left for Madison on Thursday. I am staying with Josiah Collins, a teammate from Luther College. I stopped at the Blue Mounds RR Course on Thursday to do a lap in the spitting rain. This course is the proposed Olympic course if Chicago would have gotten the bid, and now I see why! This is a race that my friend Matthew Busche won when he was an amateur pro, and the climbing is unbelievable! It is a 14 mile loop, with 3 big climbs of over a mile each lap. I rode the course, and almost wished I had a compact/26 to ride on :) Total for the race is 74miles, 8100 FT OF CLIMBING! Anyway, packed it up and drove the rest of the way to Madison to packet pick up and Josiah and I had some Olive Garden to get some good carbs!!!

Alright, so race day! Got up early, my staple Oats, cinnamon, pbutter, bananna, raisins, and some coffee for the road. Got to the start, kitted up and headed to the start line. 85 riders were to take place in our race, with 2 riders from NDakota from the NCCCC. Race started off really fast with 2mile downhill. No real breaks stuck for the first couple laps, but there was a split each time up the final climb to Blue Mound which is 1.8miles long with a average gradient of 6%, pitches up to 10%. The support on the climb was great through the feed zone, I could hear my name being cheered by some Iowa guys, Mark Guthart and Ben Morris(CFalls Guy). Starting the last lap, there was a big surge by Andy Baker (Furman) towards the feed zone and only 5 guys could go with him. Andy is a pro rider for Bissell, and just got back from Tour of Gila, lets just say he was riding everything perfectly, and didn't ever seem to be in trouble. Anyway, he got away with 5 guys, and the rest of us were inclined to chase. I was in the first chase group of about 30 riders for the last lap, but we were still losing time to the Baker group. My legs were really starting to hurt towards the end, but I was still able to do my share of work on the front, while others were skipping. So I could tell everyone was hurting.

Coming into the last climb, a group of 10 or so were able to pull away away from me. Others would surge past on the climb, but I would just ride within myself (HR still near max) and end up catching them later when they blew. I came up to the line with a surprising 17th place finish!

Overall, I was fairly happy with this, I really didn't know what to expect from this type of race. I was gunning for a top 15, and nearly made it, but with the type of riders in the field, a top 20 is pretty good in my eyes, especially with the type of course it is and me being a larger guy. A large thank you to Mark Guthart for the support and ability to ride the race!

So I left with a smile on my face, and headed back to Madison. This morning I got up and my legs didn't get out of bed with me. They are thrashed! No TTT for me, with no teammates, but I'll do a short spin coffee ride with a couple openers to get the legs fresh for the criterium tomorrow!

*Pictures aren't of great quality but check out VELONEWS for better quality!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Old Capital Weekend

Hey everyone, if there is anyone! Sorry for the late post on Old Capital weekend that occurred last weekend in Iowa City. I am no officially done with my first year of graduate school at UNI and I am looking forward to a break this summer!

Saturday morning was the Iowa City road race, on a great course in Amish country southwest of town. With the addition of an omnium event (TT) this year, the road race was decreased to only 52 miles. A good idea or a bad idea? The winds were out of the SSE at 25mph which meant it was gonna be a gutter fest! Steve Tilford and his boys from Tradewinds came up, Adam Bergman(Texas Roadhouse) and the Bianchi-GrandPerformance boys were all in attendance to make it a fun regional race! Chad, Paul, Lou, Jeff, and I all lined up with the other 51 starts to tackle the wind and rolling roads. The first 3 miles were pretty fast and when we turned the corner into the crosswinds, all hell broke loose. I was able to make the first echelon and sit in while we finished the second leg of the lap. Fast forward to the cross-tail wind section, and echelons were forming as Tilford and his guys guttered everyone. The funny thing is, everyone knew it was coming. I was able to make the 2nd echelon, and we rotated well. Unfortunately, I saw Lou, Paul, and Jeff get spat out the back of the first echelon, so we did what we could the rest of the race to make things fun. All but 6 guys were shoved out of that first echelon, and Tilford and his guys took all but the 2nd spot (Bergman) on the day. What a show of tenacity and power. I was able to rotate well and roll in in 18th place, not a bad place but hated that it wasn't better. I actually was hoping for another couple laps, but you gotta work with what you got!! Either way, it made me pumped for Sunday.

Old Capital Crit
52 starters again, this time we didn't have Chad as he had bike mechanical issues. Hung on for dear life as Tilford and his boys once again were driving the pace to form a breakaway. After 10 laps or so Paul and I were sitting in the pack, and looked behind us to find that we were riding tailgun. Only 25 guys or so were left. I couldn't believe this, didn't think the race had been terribly hard so far, but none-the less, we had to move up or end up in the same place the other 25 did. My body was starting to open up as the laps were ticking down, a good sign! With about 5 laps to go I was moving up each lap and was trying to settle into the top 10-15 riders. Brian Jensen and Adam Bergman were able to get away, but nothing else could, so we were still racing for some good money and placings. Last lap, I came off the hill in about 15th place, not anywhere where I needed to be, but that is from lack of experience on my part. Ryan Nenninger (Mercy) hit the corner fast and washed out taking Steve Tilford with him, and causing some chaos. This allowed me to get into the top 10 wheels rounding the final corner. I was sprinting for the money, but don't think anyone's positions changed in the last corner to the line, and I ended up 12th. Just out of the money, but good result. So I didn't make any money during the weekend, but the results are getting better, and my form is coming alone.

I have had some great endurance since the beginning of spring, and now my top end form is starting to come, just in time for collegiate nationals and memorial day weekend! Speaking of Madison and collegiate nats, I am sitting in Madison now after pre-riding the Blue Mounds course and getting my numbers. That course is brutal, and I understand why it was a proposed Olympic road race course design for Chicago. I am feeling good, and just need to have the confidence in my abilities. It will be a great race, and I will be eager to report afterwards!