Camping, training and Crits

Over the last weekend, page there weren’t any road races in Oregon, well there was a cross race, but my cross bike isnt built up right now anyways, so that was a little out of the realms of really being possible.  It was good though, because I had a great week of training last week, with a lot of good miles, so I was ready for some easy time over the weekend.  Actually looking back on it, it wasn’t so easy.  Saturday was a 3 and a half hour ride, up arguably the steepest hills in the world that have roads on them and half of it was dirt logging roads.  I rode with Quinn, we weren’t going that hard, but it was no recovery ride thats for sure, and I only had a 23 on my cassette, so those steep hills weren’t being very friendly.  While riding, we stopped to talk to a couple of guys doing some shooting, they offered Quinn and a chance to shoot their gun.  Looked like a .22 with a scope, and their target was about 20 feet away(is that really challenging with a scope???)  but we denied the opportunity to be manly.  They suggested the road went all the way to the coast, but Its pretty evident it doesn’t get even close to the coast with a glance at the 5ft x 5ft map you pass as you enter the recreation area.  That evening Karey and I went camping and escaped from the world for a little bit, Sunday was an easy 3 hour ride in the hills on some new roads Ive never ridden before, but our destination which was a Look Out station that all the signs were posting mileage to ended up turning onto a ten mile dirt road climb to a mountain summit.   As much as I would like to say we climbed the ten mile dirt road to a mountain summit, we didn’t.  Sorry to disappoint.  But we did witness a fire helicopter taking water out of a river in a giant bucket hanging from its underside, and I managed to not run over a lizard that ran out in front of me as well, so hey, if your saying “Where was the epic ten mile climb up to a mountain top?  Damn it, I want my epic climb!” you’ll have to wait for another day.  It got progressively cloudier as the day went on, but no rain.  At least not until the middle of the night, when I woke up to rain drops, boy was this a great!  I ran out of the tent and quickly put on the rain fly, crammed all the bikes into the car out of the rain, and searched the grounds to make sure there was nothing else getting soaked that shouldn’t be getting wet.

Monday was a rest day, and yesterday was two rides, in the morning we rode Wolf Creek, then came home showered and ate and then had to run off to the Tuesday night crit.  It was a pretty good race, I went in a break (and was really surprised that it got away).  The break wasn’t tight enough, and people in it werent pedaling through the turns, so we lost some time there and eventually a chase group made it up to us.  Diesel Mike was in this group, and he got up there just in time to give a bombin lead out for nearly a lap that set me up for the win.  Good times, and I won some pizza which is half Mikes.   It was really nice to have a team mate situation and be able to have a lead out for the win.  Nice work Mike.  The win also put me in 2nd place for the series standings, missing out on first(Nick Skenzick, who else?) by just one point.  Close one Nick!

First post in a while

Well it looks like I havnt posted for a few weeks.  Guess seeing that Im done with the summer term of school, skincare the feeling of not having to do something seeped over into the world of blogging as well.  Training on the other hand, has not deflated in the least.  Did a couple of other crits, Swan Island and the State Crit Champs.  Thats in addition to the Co motion Twilight series.

Swan Island was run as a points race, with points sprints throughout the race, double points for the final sprint, and whoever had the most points won the race.  This was my first time racing a criterium as a points race, so I had to spend a little while figuring out the best way to get up to the points during the sprint laps, I decided to get up the road where points were practically guaranteed as long as the pack was out of sight and there werent too many riders with you.  Unfortunately, the saying “Never get in a break with a sprinter that can out sprint you.” was stuck in the back of my head as powerhouse Nick Skenzick’s wheel was right in front of me.  I knew that Id have a tough time beating out Nick for the sprint, but I thought with some consistency on my part, the finish might work out all right.  We stayed away for a few laps, and sure enough, on the points lap Nick handed out a good whip’n as usual.  We got brought back to the pack, and I made a few more efforts to get OTF with some other riders, but nothing seemed to be getting off for very long(thats what she said).  I did manage to pick up a few primes along the way, but missed out on any real point primes, and I wasn’t in a good position for the final sprint.  Nick won the field sprint, handing out a good whipping to the whole field.  Nick is very consistent with the whippings, and he doesn’t discriminate either, anyone wanting a good whipping in a sprint, come to Oregon and race against Nick, 5 bucks says he’ll whip ya up good.

The next day was the Oregon crit champs.  I was excited, as this race was a little more of my liking than Swan Island.  A more technical course, and outside of an industrial park was a plus too.  Showed up for the race and it was another really hot day, although it wasn’t quite as bad as it was at Swan Island.  Ate some food and chilled out watching Kareys race, and didn’t get ready quite fast enough, so I didn’t have a lot of time for a quality warm up.  Sitting in the shade when it was 90 degrees out definitely sounded better than chamoising up to get on the bike.  After finally getting ready and toeing to the line, I was ready for a good race.  A lot of good riders were in the field, so it was going to be a good race for sure.  There were some good attempts at break aways, but nothing seemed to get more than 10 seconds on the field before it was brought back.  It was a pretty event full race, and would have been a fun race to watch.  No crashes Either, which is always a plus.  At about 6 to go, I kinda spaced off a bit about staying at the front, and had drifted a bit farther back than I wanted to be.  Opps.  I started to move back up front, but there wasnt enough time in the race for me to get right in the sweet spot.  Going into the final sprint, I took what looked like the fastest line and ended up breaking into the top ten, getting 8th in the sprint.  Super track star sprinter stud Steven Beardsley took the win.

Sunset Criterium

After sleeping in and watching the Olympics all day, prostate getting up and going to race wasn’t something my body seemed to be expecting.  I felt a little lethargic loading my bike on the bike rack and heading over to the course.  We got there with about 30 minutes before Karey raced, not a whole lot of time for her to warm up, but considering she got 3rd place and two primes, doesn’t look as if it mattered much.  Took a few laps around the course to check it out before starting.  A little hill, some tight turns in a parking lot, and some wooden ramps to smooth out the transitions from parking lot to road.  There was  sea of pink at the start line with a bunch of Gentle Lover guys dominating the field, and with the first lap the were starting to send off guys.  I went up with a few moves and made a few attacks, but just as I came back from one effort, Elkin made a hard attack that turned out to be the move to be in.  I was tired from my last effort but wasn’t going to give up on chase yet.  I chased for a few laps, but before long a group of 3 riders were working together and I was on my own and didn’t seem to be gaining on them.  I sat up letting the field catch me hoping to bridge up after I could rest a bit and maybe bring along some help.  A few laps later I made my move, no one hung onto my wheel as I exploded out of the down hill turn and through the finishing straight.  I had a lot of speed and I was able to hang onto most of it as I went into the parking lot.  I chased a few laps, and was making time and had cut the time gap from nearly 20 to 7 seconds.  But then the break started to pick up speed, shelling one rider and my gap started to get bigger.  Darn.  I went back to the back to accept a sprint for 3rd, or maybe another break would go off.  Before long the two riders had lapped the field who had given up any real chase efforts and was flooded with the ebb and flow of attack, chase, sit up, cycle.  After going through the field, Elken went OTF again and this time another rider went for his wheel, taking a little flack from the pack for going OTF with a rider who had already won the race.  I decided not to chase him down, which was not the best choice.  At 3 to go, the pack was still together, and a rider attacked.  I went with him, we had a gap on a field.  I pulled through and looked back moments later to see I had dropped him on my pull.  With 2 to go, I was committed to where I was and kept the legs going as I took the turns as fast as possible.  At 1 to go, the gap was still strong, and the rider clinging to Elken had gotten dropped, I rode harder not only to stay ahead of the field, but catch the rider ahead of me.  Going through one of the corners I clipped my pedal slightly, but it was just a touch and I stayed glued to the ground.  Down the hill into the final corner, and I began my sprint to the line.  I was just a few meters short of moving into 3rd.

All in all, this is the first race weekend this year where Ive actually come out of it making more money than I spent, that was pretty nice.  The crits were pretty good and Sunday consisted of an 80 mile training ride with a few efforts tossed in for fun.  Now its time to get ready for the Swan Island crit and the Oregon state crit champs.  Should be fun, and Ive definitely have some good crit fitness after this weekend of racing.

Healthnet Portland Twilight Crit

There was a fair bit of hype approaching this race.  Aside from the NRC Hood and cascade races, psychiatrist this is the fastest crit in the neighborhood.  After having a poor base training, nurse working on crits was one of my goals for this year since I knew it would take me longer before I was as competitive for the longer races.  Its definitely paid off and now I feel pretty at home in them.  After doing the Tuesday night crit, remedy I took it easy the rest of the week to be rested this weekend hoping for some good things to happen on Friday night.   After we got to the race venue, there was enough time for a nice relaxed warm up on the trainer before heading to the line.  I got to the start with some time to spare, but still ended up 2nd row after the call ups.  When we finally got started, I looked around to see that I was mid pack going into the 3rd corner, a little surprising since I started relatively near the front.  I knew that I was gonna have to put some work in to move up.  The corners in this course were tight and had little banking, so pedaling through them was only an option when you had a great line chosen, so moving around was a little bit slower and left to sticking your nose in the wind on the straight sections.  After about 25 minutes of racing, I finally had gotten up to the front.  I didnt want to just sit in passively and watch things go off, so I went off with an attack by Trebon as soon as I was up there, but it became clear that Health Net was going to take control of this and not let anything get away.

In the past, this race usually has a break away that laps the field, but not this year.  A lot of attacks were made, but nothing went off.  Some big money primes were being offered to keep it interesting, but it seemed that it wasn’t my day to pick any up since they were ringed out whenever I was in the wrong place to get them.  The race was pretty aggressive, and there were a few crashes from clipped pedals, but for the most part the course felt safe and everyone was riding smoothly.  A few elbows were being thrown as we got closer to the finish and position became more important.  I moved back up and went off in another attempt to break away, but once again it was chased down.  Just before the pack caught us at the line, I realized I had totally lost track of time and went to look at the time left, the lap card read 6 laps.  “Ooops” I thought as I attempted to recover from the effort, and fought to get back into the strung out pack.  By the time I got to speed and squeezed between riders to catch the draft, I was about 25 riders back, a little far back to really save energy to contest in a sprint, but I had to make it work some how.  Unfortunately for me, everyone else knew it was 6 to go as well, and no one was letting gaps open up, or giving up wheels.  A few more crashes happened, and I only got a few positions gained by the time we hit the final lap and I was in no position to contest in the sprint.  Ended up 18th, not great, but not terrible, and I made a little money out of it.  Looking back on the race, I would have liked to be at the front sooner, but once I did finally get there I was in quite a few moves and raced aggressively.

Tuesday night training crit

After a day of rest, view I decided to do the tuesday night crit…well, patient kinda, more of I was talked into going by Karey.  I didnt really want to spend the money to go race since Im broke, but finally after some persuasion, I decided to mount my steed and chamois up.  Since I didnt have any team mates, I had to make the team tactics come from two legs.  I wanted to keep the race together tonight so I could test out my sprint against local hero Nick Skenzick, the man is a sprinting beast, and if you can out sprint him, Im pretty sure you can out sprint anyone.

Since I didnt want any breaks heading up the road to keep it together for a field sprint, I had to light my matches carefully.  I made sure to stay out of the wind unless I was chasing a wheel, a hard thing for me to resist.  Since it was together, I was in a descent place to pick up the prime and make back my money for once.  I attacked on the back side of the course hoping I would be able out drag race anyone to the line.  Things were going according to plan, I had a good gap but Nick was coming for me.  I was sprinting hard and went to shift down into my 11 tooth cog, but nothing happened.  At this point nick started to really close the gap, and it still wasnt shifting down.  I got caught just before the line, passed at the same moment my dérailleur clicked into the 11 tooth, and my 10$ clicked away.  It pays to keep your bike tuned up kids.  I had the mouth of a sailer for a few minutes there, sorry officials and spectators at the line , couldn’t keep it in.

Im sure every one loved it that I would chase them down and the pack stayed together, I know it really makes my boats float when it when it happens to me.  Galen got pretty peeved when I wouldnt pull, but the pack was right there, we werent going any where even if I took my pull, sorry man, next time.  Towards the end, one guy kept on attacking, it was great, he was really putting the pain on me at this point after spending so much time on the front, so I felt like I was getting my ten bucks worth now.  Before long, it was the final lap and the Hutches guys set up a lead out train for Nick as expected.  I set up about 5 wheels back from the front getting ready for the sprint, a little farther back than I wanted to be, but so be it.  Coming out of the corner I sprinted hard, and was making some time on nick, but starting 2 wheels back from him wasnt ideal, and it was pretty clear I wasnt going to get it.  2nd place for me, good sprint Nick!  Next up is the health net criterium in portland.

High Desert Omnium

I haven’t done this race for a little while, look the last time I did it was when I was a cat 4 in my first year of racing.  The packing job to get here was an adventure all of its own.  To cram 4 bike racers and all the required gear for a stage race into Karey’s Jetta with only a 3 bike bike rack on back, pharmacy it required engineering genius and patience.  We barely got everything in the car…well actually, clinic we couldnt which is why two wheelsets had to be zip-tied down to the bike rack.  The drive wasnt so bad, but I was in the front seat.  The poor folks in the backseat of the car were crammed in with bags surrounding them.  They said they were all right, but I suspect that there was more discomfort that demonstrated.

I was excited to see what things would be like in the p/1/2  field for this race after a couple of upgrades,  more miles in the saddle and more experience.  The first day didn’t go that hot.  Despite making some good efforts in the crit, I just couldn’t time things right.  I never seemed to be in place for any of the primes or the overall.  The course was interesting enough, but I just seemed to be making the wrong decisions through out the race.  I crossed the line a little frustrated that I couldnt seem to pull it together and grab some omnium points, but I tried not to think about it too much and to just move on to the next stage; the TT.

After lunch, I couldnt get super pumped for the TT.  I knew the course pretty well since Ive already TTd on it once this year, and have raced it a few times in the past as well.  No full TT rig for this race, just the bars, wheels and helmet(not enough room in the car for a 5th bike).  After finally getting my chamied up, I was able to get into the race a little more, and was ready to feel the pain of a TT.  I had hoped that some how this TT would magically surpass some of my most recent TT results, but it blended in with them a little too well to make me happy with the result.  I went home to some food and exciting games of ping pong.  I was looking forward to the RR the next day, and figured that it would be more of my kind of race than the ones on saturday.

We packed the car and headed to the road course with only a general direction, and the name of the snow park parking lot we were supposed to park in.  By far, this was the most unaware ive been of the location on any race start in my career of racing.  I knew the general area, and that we had to turn left at some point to get to the parking lot.  I was happy to see that the course was a section of course that cascade was run on, and I would say it was a great improvement to the high desert omniums previous road race course.  It started with a down hill, and there were attacks from 200 meters into the race, looked like it would be a fun day.  There were a lot of moves and I tried to stay in as many as I could hope into, and initiated some attacks, but nothing seemed to stick too early on.  Heading over the hill in the middle of the course, some guys went OTF, but since there were a lot of long flat straight stretches of road coming up, I didn’t give it much chance of staying away.  Sure enough, the whole front half of the pack was riding at tempo speeds and the break was slowly but steadily getting closer.  The break was back with the group just after the feed zone, and the pack seemed to be a little more at ease.  When we got to a small climb, the attacks started up again, and some hard efforts threatened to break apart the pack or get some riders off the front again, but nothing was hard enough to split the field, and the hill didn’t prove long enough to cause any real damage to the outcome of the race.  We descended down the back side and more guys attacked, but everyone chased.  When we got to the bottom, some more guys attacked, but this group started to roll away.  A little later, I went up the road with 4 other guys.  We put in steady smooth pulls and caught the leaders at the base of the climb with nearly a minute on the field.  We were only a few miles from the finish, the guys I was with seemed pretty hosed from the effort to get to where we were.  I was the only one who seemed willing or able to do any more work, but I didn’t want to be tricked by any cat and mouse tactics.  I upped the tempo a little bit to see if anyone would follow me, but they just let the gap open up.  I figured there was a little more than 2k to the finish and I would go for it from there, I upped the tempo a little more and looked back to see the gap opening up even wider.  It wasn’t long until I saw the 1k to go sign, and checked the gap behind me, it was only getting larger.  I was confident I could hold the pace I was setting, and would fend off any chase efforts behind me.  I wasn’t aware of any pain that climbing fast and hard usually comes with, I only felt a surge of excitement at the thought of maintaining my gap and taking the win.  At the 200 meter mark I looked back, and saw nothing but wide open road and a lone chaser leading the charge behind me.  I focused on the finish line in front of me, and knew it would only be seconds before I crossed it first, with a large gap on 2nd place.  I rolled over the white line marking the finish, savoring the feeling of accomplishment as I won.