Monday, July 28, 2008

The Chicago Criterium!!!

This Grant Park venue for today’s race was second to none! The promoters did an outstanding job through and through. Everything ran as an event should-Superweek promoters could learn a lot from these people. Punctual start times, friendly volunteers, smooth check-in, 2x JUMBO-tron’s & more… Thank you sponsors and City of Chicago!

Now to the race report… The course layout was great. The second turn was the only real concern I had (slick pavement and tight corner with 4 lanes consolidated to 2) as it was recipe for disaster.

As I took a long warm-up amongst the sea of the large local teams, I was anticipating a very fast & very tough race that would see many attacks. I needed to stay at the front all day (ready to go with an attack & stay safe).

Unbelievably, none of that took place. There were a few attacks but nothing worth chasing. There were some large prime’s that the field was more interested in so I just sat in near the front and waited for an opportunity. I started to chase a prime but wasn’t in the right sport coming out of the last turn so I sat up. I needed to be top 5 out of the last turn at the finish…

Last lap and the field was in tact & incredibly jumpy. I was about 1/3rd back and managed to find some holes on the back-stretch. There was 1-away (early attack) and the field was bunching up in the turns (with others diving into the corners) so I jumped. I figured it was my only chance to place or stay safe through the finish. I made a clear break from the field with 1 in tow while approaching the last turn. I hit the last turn full-tilt & ready to jump again and then it happened…

Some morons decided to dive into the last turn and take me (and many others) out from the side. It’s ridiculous, stupid and just plane lame!
I went from 2nd, to DNF, to medical, just that fast. I ended up sliding across 4 traffic lanes and through the metal barriers. A great venue & great race ruined by selfish & ignorant racers with the inability to handle a bike!!! Jackasses! Major jackasses!

Superweek Wrap-up

Superweek is a must for all racers at some point through their racing career! I’ve met a lot of very nice people and made friends from all over the US. Racing Superweek is fun & demanding (mentally & physically) and will elevate your game-there is a lot of talent that shows up. The racers are fast and determined to win. Bring you’re a-game!

I struggled terribly the first week of racing. Injuries and rest taken from my crash a month prior had taken a toll on me. Fortunately, I was able to regroup heading into the second week and find my legs.

Some personal opinions:
Superweek, the event-
The volunteers, registration ladies, officials and staff do an amazing job! Day-in and day-out these people are the reason (the only reason) this event is a success. These people go out of their way to “grow the sport.”

Unfortunately, the event is poorly organized at best.
--Races start late, race times & distances are drastically cut as a result.
--Officials cut laps from races during races and even in side of 5 laps to go! Unacceptable!
--Courses are unsafe & unfit for racers (last minute changes to course to allow for race) ***Promoter dropped the ball & USA Cycling failed to inspect the course prior to race day.
--Race schedules & bible not available for racers until race series begins (not allowing “International” racers to plan ahead

This event should be cut back to 1-week of really good races at good venues with really good planning. The promoters are way over their heads right now.

This year I raced 13 of 16 days, with 2 rest days (needed) taken and 1 injury (Angela) to care for.

I witnessed (and was mixed up in) more crashes in “my races” in 13 days than I’ve seen in the last 2 seasons of racing in the southern US combined.

Racers at Superweek (many local teams) have no regard for personal safety or racer diplomacy. They will cuss you, threaten you, swing at you and physically take you out (unintentionally but due to poor skills and aforementioned disregard for safety). The problem is wide-spread and it is a BIG problem…

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Superweek Day #15 "There will be blood"

It keeps getting worse.

1st off, Angela suffered a rough fall early on in her race. She managed to get to the wheel pit, take her free lap and jump back in. Unfortunately a break of 7 had gone in the same lap (all 7 ladies in the top 10 overall). That attack would surely stay away. Angela is resting well but will be out the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.

Due to Angela’s injury I was unable to race today. After the carnage that occurred in yesterday’s Cat 3 race I had been debating weather or not to retire from the series early and return to Texas in one piece. The decision was made for me today.

I received reports from friends in Milwaukee that today’s race (Cat 3) drew the capacity 150+racers! There was a 20-racer wreck in the 2nd lap and another pile-up half way through the race. I didn’t miss anything today…

Friday, July 25, 2008

Superweek Day #14 "Crash up derby day"

It was a great course today-just like yesterday-short, flat, smooth and fast. It just wasn’t fast enough… Angela and I took an easy 30 minute spin after breakfast this morning to work out some kinks-it helped. I went into today’s race pain-free, which was much better than yesterday.

For the most part the day was incident free-until the last 20 laps… Wreck after wreck, people cutting corners, cutting wheels, coming unclipped (cause of 2 separate wrecks) and just being ignorant. It was really bad. I’m not just talking about 1 or 2 guy’s going down; I’m talking about large groups. To add insult to injury they were going to the wheel pit, taking their free lap and jumping back in to cause more damage. I counted 3 separate crashes in the last lap alone. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to pack up and call it a trip because I’m running out of lives.

I felt tired, but great all day. Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to wind it up at the finish. Just too sketchy today, maybe tomorrow.

Angela's $.02

Thursday July 24, 2008- Racine, WI
30 mile crit on 0.8 mile course
We were in the nice little town of Racine, WI. The course was a few blocks away from the water which provided for a nice warm up. My legs were a little sore from all the hills over the past two days. But, this was a good race. I sat in the front half for most of the race. They called 2 laps to go two times. The first time was a mistake. This didn’t mess with me me, but it did others. I just kept my same place in line. We had a strong head wind on final sprint and I placed 10th. 2 women were already off the front, so we were racing for 3rd. Got a massage tonight...hope it doesn't interfere with tomorrow.

Friday July 25, 2008- Kenosha, WI
25 mile crit on 0.6 mile course= 50 lapsVery short course with a lot of attacks. I spent most of the race towards the front and on front few times; I was top 10 coming out of last turn and one woman cut in and took first. I ended up 6th today.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Superweek Day #13 "sitting in"

Angela asked me tonight “why were you in the back all day today?”

It’s called being really, really tired from 12 days of racing… Try “recovering” while doing a 45-mile & 65-lap Criterium on a flat and fast course. It’s not the easiest thing in the world-can you say ATTACKS??? After killing myself to get into a break (that didn’t stick) yesterday, I was really tired and really sore. Sitting in was about all I could do today.

The course was fun (but rough on the back stretch) and the weather was great. My legs (although sore) are coming back-along with my timing. The finishing stretch was 4 lanes wide and about 800-900 meters with a slight head wind. I came out of the last turn with an attack up the left side sitting 3rd wheel. We snaked the entire field and I was able to hold out for 3rd across the line in the field sprint. Good day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Superweek Day #12 "More hills!!!"

Regarding yesterday; we figured that course was the equivalent of a 120 hill repeat workout. Just FYI…

Today’s course was very similar to New Braunfels circuit race. In fact today’s course was called a road race but it was much more like that of a circuit-rolling hills, some false flats, and a steep winding climb to the finish line. The distance today was 40 miles and we covered it in 17 laps (1:25).

I felt really good considering yesterday’s brutal course. Even in warm-up I wasn’t stiff or sore but I was a little fatigued.

I felt comfortable in the field & with my legs right from the start. There were some attacks early on but nothing to be concerned about. With 7 laps (14 miles) to go an attack group of 7 went off the front-from the back side of the course (through the rollers & false flat). This was not good considering the level of fatigue in the field and the timing… As we hit the 180 turn and the winding turn up to the finish I was feeling strong and climbing well (around 10th) when somebody attacked up the left-I went with. We made a clean break very quick & managed to bridge (huge gap) by the time we hit the false flats. It was a SOLID break with 8 away (my helper cratered) and the field out of sight. We’ll stick this (I was spent but recovered quickly and jumped into the rotation)!

The field let us go for 2 laps but quickly shut us down. I managed to jump back in, recover and wait for the finish.

I felt good about my legs and managed a good move up the last climb but got pinched and was forced to give way (not crash) only to accelerate again and hold on for 13th.

Nothing spectacular to show for as far as results go but my legs are coming back to me & I’m excited about that. I’m feeling stronger (and sorer) every day; which is hard to believe considering the number of races I’ve done in the last week.

4 days (races) to go...

Angel's $.02
Wednesday July 23, 2008- Whitnall Park
30 mile Road Race
I started the day off with a mechanical issue right before start and did not make it to the line on time. Ugggh. After Jason tinkered with by bike a bit, I took it over to the SRAM mechanics (neutral support) for them to take a look at it. My derailleur hanger was bent and my shifter cable was frayed. So all was repaired and replaced and the officials let me jump into the race as long as I did not go for the sprint at the finish. I started 4 laps down and had a good training ride. The pack stayed together today and I might have done well, but we will never know. The finish was uphill, so not to my liking and it may have been best that I did not “race.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Superweek Day #11 "Back in business"

We departed Chicago early to get Angela to her race at 1130am (race report to follow). The course was rectangular with 3 sides of climbing and 1 sharp descent into the last rurn w/an uphill finish. This was by far the toughest course of the series… Suffer-feast!

Attacks, after attacks, after attacks, caused about 20 riders to get dropped in the first 4-10 laps (of 45 lap race). After that we shed about 1-2 racers per lap-CRAZY. Thankfully, my legs felt great going into the day. Although I just wanted to lie down in the grass and take a nap; my legs responded to everything I asked of them-a first since I’ve been at Superweek.

With 10 to go I moved toward the front and managed to hold a good position into the last lap. Coming out of the last turn I was sitting about 10 back (where I wanted for an uphill sprint) and making ground quick when my rear derailleur pulley threw my chain. I was able to hold the sprint but unable to gear up any further. I ended up 8th in the field sprint.

It was a tough race but a great mental and physical test. Tomorrow’s race is pretty hilly as well, so we’ll see…

Angela's $.02
Tuesday July 22, 2008- Cedarburg
25 mile crit
This course was KILLER, a rectangle with hills on 3 sides. The first few laps were fast, and then 4 women attacked and went off the front. The group immediately tried to chase and I was in the first chase group. We chased for a few more laps, and then we just settled in. About 2/3 into the race, the sprinkles and rain started and the temperature dropped to 65. On the turn 4 of the final lap, I let myself get gapped due to the wet pavement and finished the day 12th out of 35.