Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spin City Classic (3/24/07 - 3/25/07)

Curtis told me this morning that memory fades with time, so I had better fill out this race report soon...actually, I was waiting in hope that the memories of the pain from this weekend would fade!

Saturday - Downtown Criterium
We lined up Saturday night around 8 pm for a criterium in downtown Orlando. Before they started putting this race on, I had no idea Orlando had such a cool downtown area. There are lots of restaurants and night clubs, which are surrounded by brick streets near Lake Eola. All that being said, the course has 4 corners and is very bumpy. There are many exposed man hole covers, storm drains, crosswalks, and other obstacles that are pretty jarring at 30 mph.

We had Curtis, Victor, Clint and myself vying for the larger than normal prize list. Our team had chosen to take the last 2 weekends off from racing, and I really felt the lack of speed in my legs! The race was 90 minutes, plus 5 laps...so it was also fairly long.

I hate racing from the back, so stayed toward the front mixing it up the best I could. It took a lot of effort to stay near the front, so I went through about "30 books of matches" or "a case of bullets" or...whatever you want to call the energy used during a race. Curtis said he was at the back with a heart race of around 150 bpm! I was near redline 75% or the race...in retrospect, I should have dropped back and took a breather. A break of 7 or so were off the front for the majority of the race, which was pretty astonishing considering our speed. But, as the race started it's final laps, they started losing their lead. I wasn't feeling very well at all, but Curtis and Victor brought me to the front with about 4 laps to go. Curtis kept going and pulled the break back together. With about 2 to go I almost puked, not a good sign...on the last lap Victor came by me before the last turn...but I tell him I don't have it, and it turns out he doesn't either. I sprint out of the last turn, but I can't make up ground on anyone...so like an idiot, I let up halfway down the finishing straight. I end up 26th place...and they paid the top 25...hmmm, nice move. Curtis, Victor, and Clint all finished right behind me. For the last 12 minutes of the race my heart rate was 180-193 bpm, ouch.

Sunday - Circuit Race
This race is ALWAYS windy, and in the gutter all day long. For some reason, I have never had good luck during this race weekend...I was hoping that would change. On Sunday we had the same team as last night, but added the fresh legs of Andy and Jeff. Nice...a full squad! The race started pretty fast, and the wind made it really hard. We all took turns trying to cover different breaks, and pull back the ones we didn't make. At one point, I was in the gutter...on the rivet...in the hurt box...only to look up and see it was Jeff on the front chasing a break! If I had the strength, I would have went up and told him to slow down before he dropped me!

As the laps wound down to about 6 to go, I looked back...and there was nobody there. Around 80-90 started, and only about 45 were left. At that point, there was a big break up the road of about 25, which had Victor and Andy in it. Jeff attacked to try and bridge the huge gap. A few seconds later Jason Snow attacks, and I chase after him...Jeff and I get together with Jason and start chasing. Jeff is pretty cooked from his work throughout the day, and does his last hard turn to bring us closer to the next group. By this time my legs are cramping pretty bad, and Jason does 75% of the work to bring us up to the split. Now there are around 2 laps to go. I look up ahead and there is a break of 5 away...then Victor bridges across...nice! I'm still hurting, and just trying to follow wheels. Our group splits up a bit more on the last lap, and I end up 17th. Victor does the lion's share of the pulling in his group, and takes 6th. Victor is finally starting to recover from getting sick while racing in the Dominican, and showed it today.

It was a VERY hard day/weekend, especially with the break we all had since our last race. It was great having everyone together on Sunday...overall our results weren't exactly what we would have liked, but unless you win...they seldom are...

This next weekend we do a 3 day stage race in Perry, Georgia...with the road race called Perry-Roubaix, and part of the course is on dirt road. It should be a tough course, but a great weekend of racing.


Monday, March 5, 2007

Georgia Cup #1 - Albany, GA (3/3/07 - 3/4/07)

Curtis, Jeff, Clint and I headed up to do the first Georgia Cup race of the season. These are well planned, and include at least 3 races over the weekend. The race in Albany consisted of a 3.3k time trial and criterium on Saturday, followed by a 148k road race on Sunday. The field was well attended and consisted of a full Aerospace Engineering pro squad, a VW squad from Canada, a variety of Georgia amateur teams...and single riders from the professional teams Navigators, Health Net, and Jelly Belly (who just returned from the Tour of California).

The time trial was in the morning, and encompassed part of the criterium course...plus a little extra...including a round-a-bout at the bottom of a downhill. After seeing some of the earlier riders crash while trying to negotiate the round-a-bout, I made note to not overcook the turn. We all made it through unscathed, with Jeff Kopp securing his first Pro 1,2 podium with a 3rd place! I was able to squeek in for 4th, with Curtis and Clint not far behind.

Jeff almost "towering" over his competition in 3rd place

Considering the short length of the time trial, the gaps were very small going into the late afternoon criterium. The course was a 1.1 mile, 8 turn, windy ride. During the criterium there were 4 time bonus sprints going 3 places deep, 5,3,1 seconds respectively. They rang the bell, and I saw the Health Net rider attack...so I jumped on his wheel. He forced me into doing all of the pulling through the last 3 turns, but I still beat him in the sprint. After that huge effort, I was a bit cooked, and went to the back to rest for a while. I didn't take part in the second bonus sprint, but had a go at the third...I was just nipped at the line and got second. Not too long after that effort, the Health Net and Jelly Belly rider took off. They didn't have a big gap, and I wasn't too worried because Aerospace had missed the move, and would logically either pull it back or send someone across. Neither happened, and since this was a time based event...the entire field gave the race away. The last laps were free form chaos...Aerospace went to the front with all their riders to lead it out, and Curtis was right behind them with me on his wheel. Unfortunately, Aerospace wasn't able to keep it strung out, and the last lap was spent trying to stay upright as we were swarmed by everybody and his mother. I haven't seen the results yet, but I was around 8th...with Jeff a few places back.

We weren't able to see the full results of the overall going into the road race on Sunday morning, but thought I was in about 5-6th and Jeff in about 10-11th. Sunday brought weather in the very low 40's, and a bunch of incredibly wicked wind...everyone of us Florida boys were freezing! Each of the laps brought several fierce crosswind sections, with miles of riding in the gutter with no draft...Belgium style. Going into the final 25 mile loop, there was a 5-6 rider break with about a 1 1/2 minute lead. In the longest, most windy crosswind section, Aerospace combined with the Jelly Belly, Health Net, and Navigators rider to put it in the gutter for good! Jeff and I had been fighting all day in the crosswind sections to hold our spots near the front...so we were at least close to the front when the bomb went off. Guys were getting dropped left and right, and there were many gaps that had to be closed. I had to close one huge gap and looked over my shoulder to see the two guys behind me blow...that was the last we would see of the pack. The next several miles consisted of time trialing in the gutter with no draft...and as I came to find out, this would be the same for the remainder of the race.

We caught the front group, which gave us a pack of about 15 or so riders fighting out the finish. Aerospace kept attacking trying to unseat the Jelly Belly rider, but he was getting help from Navigators and Health Net to keep it together. About 2 miles to go Donny Autore attacked and everyone waited. Aerospace decided to chase, and Todd Henriksen started leading it out with 1k to go, with me on his wheel. I knew I was a little too close to the front considering it was a head/crosswind finish slightly uphill...but I didn't want to have to try and come from behind. Spying the 200 meter to go sign I jumped, passed Donny, and thought I may win this one...but Frank Trevesio from Aerospace was just able to squeek by me with the "leadout" I have him. I ended up second, which is good, but will be evaluating what I could have done differently on this one for the rest of the year. As I always say, "You win VERY few, and lose MANY" when racing bikes.

Road race finish...me on the left...Frank Trevesio on the right...Keith Norris in the middle...

I ended up 2nd on the stage, 3rd overall, and 2nd in the Most Aggressive category (based on the sprints the day before)...and was the only amateur on the podium for all three podiums.

Second in Road Race

Second in Most Aggressive

Third Overall

Third Overall

Overall we had a very successful weekend, and keep knocking on the door of that first elusive win.


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Team Florida TT & Criterium (2/24/07 & 2/25/07)

On Saturday we participated in the season's first time trial...ouch! The course was an out and back 10 miles, with rolling grades, and some very hefty crosswinds. The way out was a head/crosswind, and the return was a tail/crosswind. By the time the Pro 1,2 field left the start ramp, the wind was really kicking! The earlier categories luckily didn't have to deal with such windy conditions.

As of today, the entire Pro 1,2 results haven't been posted on the internet, but I did see some results at the race on Sunday. Jeff "Kenetic" Kopp came in with a time of 23:14 for 11th place, I had a 23:18 for 12th place, and Curtis Long had right at 24:00.

Sunday brought us the downtown Gainesville criterium. A rectangle course with a downhill/uphill section on the front and back stretch, and a large section of cobbles from turn 1 through and after turn 2. As the race proceeded the section between turn 1 & 2 was filled with people yelling. It actually reminded me of Athens...it must have been because of all the drunk college kids screaming their heads off every time we ripped through the cobbled section.

We covered attacks the entire race, and in the waning laps had Curtis in a 3 man break. I thought it was going to make it, but it was brought back within 4-5 laps to go. Andy Mills covered the last serious move, but it all came back together. I found Curtis with 1 1/2 laps to go, and followed his wheel going into the last lap. The race course wasn't too difficult, so there were a LOT of people at the end. This always makes for a dangerous, pushing shoving match as the race winds down...and today was no different. I lost Curtis' wheel somewhere on the last lap, but was able to latch onto Dan Larson & Rudy Robania from Cyclescience. Curtis took it hard down the backstretch to keep it lined out, but as we hit turn 3 a Wheel & Sprockets rider swung wide and pushed Dan and me wide right. This put us on the right hand side coming out of the last turn...and of course, the wind was coming from the right! At this point, all you can do is sprint as hard as you can into the headwind. Andy Crater won the race, and I ended up 6th with Jeff taking 11th.

Next weekend we head to Albany, Georgia for the first Georgia Cup race of the year...it should be fun.