Sunday, June 22, 2008

Boy it just keeps getting better

You know how sometimes things just can't get any worst. Well they can. I was getting my ass handed to me all over the east coast and now I have opened franchises and have expanded to the west coast. Technically in my last 8 starts I have had 0 finishes. After joyous Philly week I tought I'd go to a local training race called Floyd Bennet. It was a race where last year I actually got dropped in and I wanted to see how my fitness was compared to last year so I rode out to Floyd Bennet feeling pretty good and pretty confident that I would be just fine. The race is 12 laps long and I did my first little move after 5 laps to see who was there and who wasn't but mostly to see how my legs were. All systems go. Felt good, broke it up a little bit and then it came back together. Next laps we go again. This course is dead flat but its on a former airport so it has a lot of wind. It's just attack, attack, attack and see who survives by the end. I get a little move going that gets caught and then a counter goes, next lap with 4 to go now I try to bridge accross with a small group and I am just killing it with the pulls. Really feeling good and pittying the guys who were with me and who were literaly pulling through and pulling off. Yes I am thinking today is going to be a good day. We are getting closer and closer and all of a sudden. Kaabbooommm. Wow what was that. Yeah I kind of ran out of juice and I see two United guys (Burrow Brothers not Toyota United) jump accross and make it. I'm thinking jesus where did those guys come from. Now the group that was 5 seconds up the road is getting further and further away. I take another pull and finally get so frustrated that I just pulled off. Next lap around half the guys had caught the front group. How do you like them apples. I got my stuff and took the hell out of there. Man that was embarrassing.

I was on the team to do Nevada City before Tour de Nez but John Eustice asked me to stay in New York and do the Harlem Criterium, which of course I was thrilled to do since its in NYC and its been a whopping 4 days since I've gotten my ass handed to me in NYC. Bonus that my whole family gets to come out and see me and it's fathers day so I can do whatever the hell I want to. Harlem this year had the support of Rock Racing so it should be a good show. And John being one of the best promoters in the country no doubt that it would be a classy race. I had a lot of motivation coming into this race and I intended to at least go down swinging. I took the first twenty minutes of the race easy to see who was there and what was going on. The race was pretty fast and it seemed like it was going to come down to a sprint so I attacked. I got into a little move that showed some promise but the two Rock Racing guys didn't really want to pull since they had Freddy Rodriguez and Rashad Bahatti with them so we only managed a few laps out front. As were getting caught there was a cab in the middle of the road and I had to chuckle because there is always something interesting happening at this race. The streaker a few years ago was the best and the kids throwing the waters baloons at the field last year was a close second. There were plenty of crashes to keep the racing interesting and since I was on a brand new bike (first ride) I was trying to avoid them as much as I could but man there are a lot of bone heads doing these races. I mean guys taking serious risks for absolutely nothing. We come down to the last 5 laps and I'm feeling good but since I have nationals in two weeks I'm not going to get into the middle of the fighting going on for the Rock Racing train. I decide to stay a few feet to the outside in the wind but in the top 20 and then see what happens in the sprint. We come to the last lap and its a little bunched and very dangerous, I take the last corner and bamm a crash right in front of me. I managed to avoid it by the skin of my teeth, I see a clear line down the left hand side of the road and take it punching it to the line. Mind you that I am not in contention here but merely sprinting for around 10th or so. I'm thinking man that was close and are my glad I didn't go down...then I see Pollo from Mengoni skidding into my lane on his back with two other guys right on him. I have nowhere to go since I am all the way to the left about 50 meters frmo the line and boom go full speed into his bike and I don't remember anything else expect thinking I cannot believe this just happened. I won't even talk about my beloved bike. She bled. Although I went down hard I wasn't very harmed and only had a few minor scratches. So technically I didn't finish that one.

Tour de Nez was the perfect leadup to Nationals. A few short crits, two tough road races and a time trial. Good field but not stellar and we were there to win so it should allow me to do some serious riding at the front. Ah it's at altitude. OK I can deal with that. First crit was 1:15 minutes in a casino parking lot. A little sketchy and dangerous and I was still a little gun shy from my crash but the altitude was just killing me. I tought I was going to get dropped from the start and I managed to survive the crit barely. With 10 minutes to go I get popped. Luckily the team was flying and after a very agressive stage Sven Howard takes the sprint by 3 bike lengths. 21 and his first NRC win. Life is good. So I kind of finished but not really so another one.

Hey I am at the airport so I am going to make this quick. Second stage is a TT, I soft pedal to the finish since there is no time limit so technically I finished it. In the afternoon there is another short crit and this time I get popped a whopping 8 minutes in. My legs felt fine but I just can't breath. Not good. Not good.

The good news is that the team was good and we won the overall with Aaron Olso. Burke Swindlehurst rode incredibly to also finish in the top 10 and Tom Zirbel along with Graham Howard just killed it riding support. Sven won a stage and poor Morgan was sick the whole time but still managed an incredible top 10 in the TT. Omer was there and had a crash in the first day after pulling way too hard in the crit.

Gotta go heading to Portugal for Nationals. I'm sure it will be better. Will put up pictures soon they are calling us and my wife is antsy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Rest of Philly Week

I took two days off work after Tuesday's race so that I could arrive relatively fresh to Reading on Thursday. On Wednesday we all went out for an easy ride and spirits were high for Thursday. The Reading course was hillier than Lehigh and it had a a 500-800meter long climb each lap and on the last three laps it was a 2.5 Km climb which was sure to break the race apart. The rest of the course was very up and down with a lot of turns. On the very first lap there was a crash and the race was neutralized for one lap while a few riders caught back up. I wish I could say I was sorry for that but I was really happy we were going slow. Once the race started it was full gas. Not quite as fast as Tuesday since it was up and down but it was still hard. There were a few spots where I was just suffering to stay on and usually it was in the false flats. I was feeling good on the climb but once we started the big loops I just couldn't get good position to pass the climb with the leaders. I came off at the top of the big climb with 3 laps to go but came back to only come off for good one lap later. Glen called on the radio for me Scottie and Garrett to go to the front and help bring Sevilla's break back but I only managed to get about halfway up to the front before I had to tuck back into the pack before the climb. Once on the climb I again began to have problems and was off the back about halfway through the climb with another few guys including Magnus Backstead (poor guy weight 205 pounds). I wanted to finish so I just kept riding the last lap by myself and came in amazingly again exactly 8:26 down on the winner. But show up as DNF again which is annoying as hell. At the end of the race I was completely destroyed and was not looking forward to the 3 hour drive back home. But Friday was a work day and also Tiiu's birthday so I had to be back.

On Saturday I went to do Gimbles and my legs felt terrible on the hills which worried me a little bit. I got to Philly mid-afternoon just in time to miss my massage but was in fairly good spirits. Sometime during the evening my head just started to spin out of control and literaly everything came apart for me. All of a sudden all of the different pressures of family, work, responsibility to the team, knowing that people were looking for my name and wondering how I would do came crashing on me and I just fell apart. By the time I lined up on Sunday I was frightened beyond belief and the last thing I wanted to do was be in that race. It is hard to explain but it literally all fell apart. I remember the very first lap just thinking of turning right and going to the hotel. The only thing that kept me in the race was a sense of responsibility towards my teammates. My job was simple. I had to help Scott Zwizanski and Richard England start the climb in the front each lap so that they could do it at an easy pace. I tried to do that as often as I could although Richie really does like hanging out in the back like most sprinters. My legs were actually really good and the heat was a good thing for me since it didn't bother me too much. Each time up the wall I felt better and better and outside of a few times where the speed was high on the flats I never really had any problems. Yet my head wasn't there and I couldn't turn it around. With two or three trips left up the wall Scottie flatted and I helped bring him back spending a lot of energy in the process and I paid for it a few minutes after we got back on. On a flat section before the finish the pace was super high and I just couldn't hang on and came off. Normally this is something that I should be able to recuperate from by staying in the cars but this wasn't the day and I packed it in. Showered, put my bike in the car and drove home to see my son and wife. It was the first time this year that I truly gave up and I wasn't proud of it so I couldn't face the team and just left. Its not pretty but there it is.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Philly Week

A quick post from the host house about yesterday's race. Oh was that tough. My job was to get in the early breaks. I sort of did that. Well not really. Technically I am not sure that 4 seconds up the road for 20 seconds with 10 other guys is considered a break. Especially when I saw the Liquigas guy come up wait for him and then suck the hell out of his wheel to the move. It was quickly broken apart and I was back in the pack suffering like hell to recover for the next 2 laps. My legs weren't great but the race was super fast. Stretched out the whole time. And I was counting laps down from the start as I know most guys were. I knew I wasn't the only one when I saw a CSC and a Liguigas guy get popped. I made it into the last lap and then got dropped myself with 10 other guys. In the last 10Km we lost 8 minutes and it was super frustrating to get to the finish 8 minutes behind the winner and the road was already barickated. Hence the DNF. I finished damm it. Tomorrow is another day and I am hoping for better legs.