off season, almost over!

Well the off season break is almost over, skincare and I cant wait.  I’m already dreaming about being on the bike again.  Last night, it was a dream about a long training ride where I had stopped at a visitor centers map board, trying to figure out where to ride to next.  Those are the best rides, but rides like that will have to wait a little longer, because it will be back to the gym.  Its always a welcome site, the warm dry gym.  Especially living in this part of Oregon in the winter, where rain, snow, sleet, hail and any other kind of miserable weather to ride in exists.  Oh yes, winter is coming…

The Off Season

After being unsure of whether I was gonna be able to race this race or not, sale I was jazzed to find out that I was in the race a week and a half before its debut.  Ive been feeling really good in crits lately, and was looking forward to a race where a great A game was required to finish.  This race is the next to last stop for the USA Crit calender, the Championships being the finale this weekend in Los Vegas(sadly, I wont be able to make it there.  Next year Baby!!!).  I knew it was going to be fast and aggressive, but felt it might be a good race for me since the really big guys were at tour of Missouri, so I was hoping to make some moves.  It was also starting just after twilight, so it was dark for the entire race.  It was a lot of fun racing at night like this, but there were a few pot holes I would hit just about every other lap, and couldn’t quite figure out where they were in the dark.

We were started on a numbered grid pattern, with assigned spots on the start line according to your race number.  I was started near the back, so with a field of about 150, it was going to take some crafty riding to get up to the action.  The first 15 minutes were fast as can be, with the whole pack strung out single file.  There was definitely no easy way to the front, but I kept my eye open for any gaps opening up and gained a few positions every lap.  It slowed down just a tad, and made moving around the pack a little easier when it became two or 3 riders wide, providing you were willing to fight for your spot and throw a few elbows to keep it.  I moved up and was starting to get somewhere when there was a pile up I got caught up in.  Considering its night, dark and nearly impossible to see wheels on some stretches of the course, including this part, it was bound to happen.  I made my way over to the pit for a free lap, luckily I wasn’t banged up from the mishap and my bike and I were ready to hop back in the race.  When I got back into the race, I ended up catching onto the pack in about the same position I was when crashed, so I was happy that I didn’t lose any positions.  A few laps later, I was at the front, going along with a move to try to get a gap.  But this race wasn’t going to go down that way, the whole field was super aggressive and thirsty for some action, so it was brought back shortly.  I went with a few more attacks, but nothing was sticking, both because of the packs speed and unwillingness to commit by any riders getting OTF.

I was at the front when the mid race sprint came around, but like some idiot, I was on the front pulling, so I knew that I probably wasn’t going to take that sprint given the timing.  Sure enough, a mass of riders shot out on my left going into the up hill section, I moved into the draft and broke into the pace line of the screaming fast racers, but was at least 15 riders from the front, no place to be winning anything from.  I still had a good seat to watch the sprint from though.  The continued into the night like this, a couple of riders would get off, then they would come right back to the pack.  It was a blast racing at night, and the screaming, cow bell ringing fans energized the pack, keeping the speed and energy up.  There was a crash going into the final lap, I hit the breaks, and managed to avoid this one, but was far outside of making it into the money, so I just rode easy around the last lap to the finish.  About half of the riders who started the race actually finished, so it seems it was a fast race and I wasn’t just imagining it.  Good times on the streets of San Francisco.
Bike racing is finally done for me for 08.  Ill be at some races in the next few months though.  Standing on the side of the course, side effects
cow bell in hand, generic
heckling my friends as they suffer through the mud, unhealthy
tight turns, sand pits and barriers of a cyclocross.  Maybe next year Ill join in for the fun.

Not having to ride poses some very interesting questions, like “what do I do now that I have all this time??”  Well ill tell you what, clean the bath tub and play the bassoon.  Im sure thats what most other hope to turn pros do in the off season, what could be more exciting?

I am looking forward to the off season training though, a chance to be able to train differently for a little bit.  Mostly, Im looking forward to next year, where I can race after having a solid set of base miles in my legs, which wasnt how it went down this year.  With some luck the base miles will take place in the warm dry weather that the south west can provide.

But for now, its some school and a little time spent in the gym.

SF twilight Crit

After being unsure of whether I was gonna be able to race this race or not, sale I was jazzed to find out that I was in the race a week and a half before its debut.  Ive been feeling really good in crits lately, and was looking forward to a race where a great A game was required to finish.  This race is the next to last stop for the USA Crit calender, the Championships being the finale this weekend in Los Vegas(sadly, I wont be able to make it there.  Next year Baby!!!).  I knew it was going to be fast and aggressive, but felt it might be a good race for me since the really big guys were at tour of Missouri, so I was hoping to make some moves.  It was also starting just after twilight, so it was dark for the entire race.  It was a lot of fun racing at night like this, but there were a few pot holes I would hit just about every other lap, and couldn’t quite figure out where they were in the dark.

We were started on a numbered grid pattern, with assigned spots on the start line according to your race number.  I was started near the back, so with a field of about 150, it was going to take some crafty riding to get up to the action.  The first 15 minutes were fast as can be, with the whole pack strung out single file.  There was definitely no easy way to the front, but I kept my eye open for any gaps opening up and gained a few positions every lap.  It slowed down just a tad, and made moving around the pack a little easier when it became two or 3 riders wide, providing you were willing to fight for your spot and throw a few elbows to keep it.  I moved up and was starting to get somewhere when there was a pile up I got caught up in.  Considering its night, dark and nearly impossible to see wheels on some stretches of the course, including this part, it was bound to happen.  I made my way over to the pit for a free lap, luckily I wasn’t banged up from the mishap and my bike and I were ready to hop back in the race.  When I got back into the race, I ended up catching onto the pack in about the same position I was when crashed, so I was happy that I didn’t lose any positions.  A few laps later, I was at the front, going along with a move to try to get a gap.  But this race wasn’t going to go down that way, the whole field was super aggressive and thirsty for some action, so it was brought back shortly.  I went with a few more attacks, but nothing was sticking, both because of the packs speed and unwillingness to commit by any riders getting OTF.

I was at the front when the mid race sprint came around, but like some idiot, I was on the front pulling, so I knew that I probably wasn’t going to take that sprint given the timing.  Sure enough, a mass of riders shot out on my left going into the up hill section, I moved into the draft and broke into the pace line of the screaming fast racers, but was at least 15 riders from the front, no place to be winning anything from.  I still had a good seat to watch the sprint from though.  The continued into the night like this, a couple of riders would get off, then they would come right back to the pack.  It was a blast racing at night, and the screaming, cow bell ringing fans energized the pack, keeping the speed and energy up.  There was a crash going into the final lap, I hit the breaks, and managed to avoid this one, but was far outside of making it into the money, so I just rode easy around the last lap to the finish.  About half of the riders who started the race actually finished, so it seems it was a fast race and I wasn’t just imagining it.  Good times on the streets of San Francisco.

Eugene Celebration

Well here it was, doctor the final stage race of the year.  I was really excited for this one for two reasons.  One, cheap its the first stage race this year that I was going into knowing I had good legs, this web two, it was in Eugene, so I had all the relaxations and resources one could want, since it was here at home.  The first day, Maxon Road Race, is the “Thursday Nighter” course, so me and all the other Eugenites were pretty familiar with the drill for this one.  The course itself isn’t particularly challenging, or going to make or break the final results, but nonetheless, it was a chance to make some time.  I went off with a couple of moves that looked like they could stick, but by this point of the season, everyone knows what everyone else’s legs are up to, and something that went off with intent and had some good riders in it, was brought back fairly quickly.  It didn’t help that Mid town was there in force either, the fact that there were about 4 red mid town kits at the front at any one point definitely made you think twice about who was going to get up the road.  Eventually, Quinn rolled off the front, very smoothly and with no attack, just rode off and no one went with him.  A little later, Rob and Paul went off to join him.  I made the motion to do the same, but got about half way, looked back and saw the pack chasing and figured it wasn’t going anywhere with only about 5 miles left in the race.  I sat up, the pack went hard over sprinters hill, but then people started to go into field sprint mode, and the pace let up.  I attacked in a last ditch effort to gain some time, managed to stay way to take fourth, but the field sprint was right on my wheel, so even though I went off at 2k to go, I took the same time as the field.  Darn!

The next day was the TT and the crit.  It was cool and overcast for the TT, you can definatly tell fall is almost here.  I warmed up for the TT and got ready to go and try to not lose time, but since I was starting behind Galen, and in front of English, I was in the middle of TT specialist sandwich.  I threw down a descent time, nothing to brag about, but it was enough that I wasnt that far out of the running for a top GC position.  I got passed by English, and tried to use him as a carrot, but I guess I just wasnt man enough to push a 55×12 on the flats with out blowing up.  Man that guy can go!  Maybe next year.

The afternoon consisted of a nap, it was wonderfull.  It made me think of just how great a house cat has it.  Gets to hang out, play do whatever it wants, and then come home and nap in the warm laundry.  The life.  But not mine, I woke up to rain, and knew that unlike a cat, I didnt have a choice wether or not to play in the weather, and would have to ride in the rain if thats what it was doing.  Went to the crit pretty early so I could watch kareys race before warming up and racing mine.  It was a pretty exciting race, and Karey won the field sprint, her first P/1/2/3 win.  Looks like all that sprint practice shes been doing has been paying off!  Luckily for me, the rain had moved on and it was cool, sunny and dry when my race started.  I tried to stay in the pack and save a few matches for Mondays race.  The field stayed together despite some attacks and attempts for breakaways, and it came down to a sprint finish.  Took 2nd in the field sprint, and got a time bonus, which was nice and it moved me up a few spots in the GC.  Time to go home and get ready for the main event.

It took me a while to get to sleep, probably from taking such a long nap in the afternoon, but woke up feeling pretty fresh for the Wolf Creek stage.  I knew today’s race would be decisive in the GC order, so I wanted to make sure to show up with my A game.  The race got off to a pretty slow start.  Everyone knew that the race was going to come down the climbs, so despite a few attacks, it was pretty chill rolling into the climbs.  After the main climb, Quinn went up the road on a false flat uphill, and I joined him shortly after have to make a couple of attacks to shake the field off my wheel.  We worked together on the false flat climb over its top and down the descent until we had caught some of the other riders that were off the front.   One would normally think this would sound like a good deal, but considering Quinn was sitting 2nd in GC, and the GC leaders team mate was one of the guys OTF that we caught, you can bet that he wasn’t going to put much effort into this break away.  Me, Quinn and another rider ended up doing all the work.  Got a gap with two riders and left Quinn and mid town to battle it out for themselves and rode along, but it wasn’t long before Collard attacked Quinn on a climb and joined us at the tete de course.  We rode tempo over the climbs, but there was a chase group of 5 that was coming up on us on the False flat where Quinn and I had gotten away the previous lap.  Collard said he wasn’t working since his team mates were in the group behind us, so I sat up, coasted down the descent and waited for the group to catch us.  Now, in this group of 8, there were 3 midtowns so I was cautious not to put too much into it, especially after being OTF for a lap.  On a short climb before the finish, Miller attacked and English went with him, I shot after this group as well knowing it was likely not coming back.  We got the gap over the climb, but English was refusing to work, so it was all up to Carson and I to open up the gap.  We made the corner onto the final 1k to the finish, I felt pretty toasted from the days effort.  I didn’t quite have it to take the win, and came in 10 seconds back behind Carson for 2nd and moved up to 3rd in the GC.