Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tour de Ephrata

I was looking forward to spending the weekend at home and getting ready for what is going to be two and a half months of fairly non-stop weekend traveling to various races. I had even signed up for a Prospect Park race. Then I saw this great little race in Pennsylvania and some of my friends from Empire were doing so I decided to go down there and race. It was 2 days and 3 stages so it would be good preparation for Joe Martin in two weeks. The stages were a little short but still the competition was good and I was looking forward to seeing if I could finally win something. Well it wasn't to be.

On the first day was a 60 mile circuit race made up of 12 laps of a rolie course. The wind was high so fairly quickly in the cross winds the race started to blow apart. I paid attention to always being in the echelons and after being in a few moves that had no legs I found myself in the right move with 3 riders from Rite Aid, 2 from Empire and 2 from Harley Davidson. I looked around and thought "oh boy, here we go again." The break worked well and within a few laps we were out of sight and until the end everybody pretty much pulled through. A few times guys were skipping pulls but all in all it was pretty even. I felt strong but not confident enough to attack and besides with two guys from Empire in the break I thought that we could keep it within New York. John Lohner was in there with me which was nice since we keep talking about riding in breaks together and it finally happened this time. If I couldn't win, I was hoping John could. We came into the sprint together and I sat on Bobie Lee's wheel from Rite Aid and he practically gave me the perfect lead out. Unfortunately when I stood up my legs didn't have much response and he quickly opened a gap. I made the mistake of sitting down and soft pedaling to the line while getting passed by 3-4 people when I probably could have just gotten passed by one or two. It was to prove a bad decision by the end of the weekend. The first stage I finished 6th

On Sunday there was a morning time trial and an afternoon criterium. The TT was only 14Km but it finished on a 2.5 Km wall. I decided to use the TT bike until the bottom part of the climb and then switch to the road bike. I started out well and stayed within my targeted wattage for the first 5 Km but after that I couldn't keep the same rhythm and fell by 10-20% for the second 5K. In the last part of the race I was just trying to get up the climb and didn't feel like I was going particularly fast. I ended up 7th for the day but close to 2 minutes outside of first place which in this distance is a long time. Since the race was based on points time didn't really matter and so far I was in 3rd place on GC. Still I wasn't happy and didn't think that I could win the whole thing so I decided to do some cooling down for about 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes of motor pacing to keep my legs supple.

The afternoon criterium went pretty well. My legs were good and I just kept an eye on the moves making sure that I didn't miss anything too important. The pace was fairly fast and I thought it would come down to a sprint and it almost didn't. The last break and the most dangerous of the race which I had missed got caught on the last turn of the last lap and I knew that the position you came through that turn would most likely be the position you would cross the line. Apparently a few other people knew that as well and it became a dash for the last turn. I jumped to the left and started my sprint to the turn and got beaten to it by Bobby Lea who won the stage and I finished 2nd a few bike lengths back. I can't match that speed and was happy with 2nd. On GC I ended up 4th one point behind 3rd and 2nd and as I had suspected after the first day that soft pedal cost me two spots. Even if I had finished one place up I would have ended up 2nd overall. Oh well, still learning apparently.

I was happy the race was over and it was great to hang out with old friends from Empire as well as some of the CRCA Juniors. Drove back home and felt fairly tired so I decided that this week I will take 2 days off and then ride easy for the rest of the week to see if I can get some snap back into my legs because its going to be a bumpy couple of weeks and the team is good right now so I want to do my part whether that is carrying water bottles, leading people out or maybe just maybe bringing a victory home.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sea Otter

It seems that most of my posts are coming out of airports these days. There is a new rule at home that I can't go on the internet in the evening after training so no blogging from home, and I can't blog from work to be fair so it seems that when I get a few minutes its always at airports. Right now I am waiting to board a flight back to New York from San Francisco after Sea Otter. It was nice to get a call up to the line - amazing what $20 bucks can still buy you The race was super windy and the pace was blistering fast from the start. By the halfway point in the race it was game over and unfortunately I got caught in the back half of the split along with two teammates (Graham Howard and Burke Swindelhurst). Luckily for us one of our guys made the front split (Morgan Schmitt) and he ended up finishing in 16th place. I was feeling good up the climb but was having a real hard time entering the climb in the top 15 or so which is where I should have been most of the time. The cross winds were insane and it was gutter all the way up. I didn't have my SRM on so I don't know what kind of power I was doing but it had to be a lot because I was climbing in the 19 on most laps. The race was 31 laps of the laguna seca course with 325 feet of climbing per lap. The winning break with 3 guys from successfull living went in the first 5 laps and Rock Racing had Clinger in it so it was up to the other teams who had full squads there to chase. Health-Net and Colavita weren't able to bring it back and everybody was pretty soon left racing for 5th. Last year I didn't manage to finish so in a way I am happy that I got to the line although dissapointed at the same time since this race was very important for me. I had a lot of friends and colleagues watching me and cheering for me and I wanted to make them proud. So I will have to settle for 28th place. Yes I sprinted for 27th place. Thanks to Thomas Prehn and Lyn Lamauroux for the pictures. The good news is that the legs are pretty good there is good progress and I am looking forward to the onslaught in my calendar in May and June.

Last week I did a local race in New Jersey called the PNC Classic. It was a nice course with a little hill. I was able to get into a break a little before the halfway point with 2 guys from Rite Aid, 2 from Empire and 2 from Batley Harley Davidson. I worked hard in the break to make sure I got to the end tired. I still wanted to win but one of the guys from Batley was smart and attacked from behind on the last time up the climb and I didn't want to be the one to bring him back. I gambled and lost and could only come in 5th out of 7. Oh well.

Next race will be next weekend in Prospect Park and I'm looking forward to that especially since I'll be home with Liam and Tiiu for the weekend which is a nice change for the both of us. I'll try to post pictures from Sea Otter as soon as I get some. Gotta go now zone 7 is boarding. Luckily I got the upgrade. Woof.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Eddy Merckx is pissed at me

I could tell by the tone in his voice that he was pissed. We were running late for our lunch and when I phoned to tell him we were on the way and should be there in 45 minutes I knew he wasn’t happy. I was in Belgium this past week for a few meetings and our Editor in Chief Steve Madden and Executive Editor Bill Strickland were arriving that morning from the US and their plane was late. But that’s not the reason why we were late. We were late because I had to clock two and a half hours on the bike this morning and even thought I hit the road at eight in the morning I still hadn’t managed to get out of the hotel in time to head to Meise. So it was either I don’t ride or Eddy waits. I chose the latter, sorry Eddy.

Thankfully, if you’re going to rent a car in Europe the best place to do it is Germany – there’s a better chance you’ll get a fast car, and we got the new Audi A4. It’s fast but not fast enough since I wasn’t able to get it past 140 MPH. We finally arrived at 1 pm and Eddy said that we had to find a restaurant that was still open since he was expecting us at 12. In all fairness I said I’d be there for lunch not at 12. Sandy from Gita said I’d be there at 12 but he never told me that. So really this is all-his fault. OK Eddy you made your point no let’s go it before I go into glycogen recession.

The restaurant was nice, but a bit empty since apparently in Belgium lunch is at 12! Now when you walk in somewhere with Eddy Merckx especially in Belgium its kind of a big deal. Heads turned, people spoke in low voices to their companions and then went about their business of finishing their DESERTS. Nobody asked for an autograph and nobody bothered the man. Although I was with two journalists and Jason Nikic one of our sales reps there were a few moment of silence. Eddy was asked a few pointed questions and he was very accommodating but I couldn’t help but wonder how often he’s asked these questions. I mean after all of these years and after all of the times he has spoken to reporters does he actually get asked a new question. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. He told us that in 1975 (great year) he raced 190 days and that in those days the riders had contracts with him and not with the team. He said that he retired because he was tired of having all of that responsibility and that if he was racing today that he’d race less. By that he meant that he wouldn’t do as many six-day races, cyclo-cross races and criteriums where the start money was attractive. At the top of his career he made the equivalent of 150,000 Euros and that team budgets in those days were about 400,000 Euros. He misses his son who is now living in Canada and his grandson likes to ride bikes.

Although I had brought my camera I didn’t have the balls to ask for a picture for the blog. Sorry about that folks. Madden however did make away with the empty bottle of Bordeaux and Eddy’s signature.
We made it back to the factory and said our goodbyes and I again apologized for being late. No problem Eddy said. Yeah sorry about that I replied again.

You can see Bill’s blog entry on Bicycling.com about our lunch which I am sure is a lot better written than mine but the guy can’t sell advertising to save his life so I think I still win the all around competition.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Quick Post from JFK Airport

Well I landed last night after 4 or 5 flights in what feels like the same number of days. Had the chance to go to a great Speedplay event in San Diego on Sunday where Sharon and Richard invited one of their top pros to come and ride with some friends. I'm on my way to Germany now for a few meetings and some riding with our Editor in Chief Steve Madden, Bill Strickland and Jason Nikic. Over the next few days we'll see Storck, Eddy Merckx, Vermarc, Ridley and Pinarello. This Saturday I'll do part of the Tour of Flanders Grandfondo and on Sunday the Selle Italia Grandfondo. I tought this picture was funny so I am posting it. It's Tom Zirbel and I last week riding in Boulder with Thomas Prehn (photo credit) from Cateye, Steve Brawley from Bicycling and Jon Graf from Skins. Tom is the tallest rider on the team and I am the shortest. Thanks to everybody for all the messages. When I catch my breath I'll start writing about some of the suggestions.