Monday, August 27, 2007

Pro Crit

ProCrit 2007: Rain and a bunch of crashes

Man that was an unreal race.
A safe estimate would be that there were about 10 crashes in our race, but I'd be more inclined to say it was closer to about 20 crashes. It was unbelievable, people were crashing everywhere. I saw a poor Tony Cruz hit the deck, slide into the curb, bounce up onto the curb and then he started rolling, ah yes nearly missing a sign post as well. Oooohh, I didn't recon he'd be getting up again after that one. But to my surprise, he was back at it fighting his way to the front a few laps later. I guess while the perimeter of the country is going through some record heat waves, the interior has been blessed with rain, rain and s'more rain.

We had a 50K crit Sat. evening that was scary enough because it had been raining, and the field was a Pro/Amateur mix. I don't want to sound like a total elitist bastard, but there sure seem to be a plethora of amateurs out there who just ain't concerned with keeping their skin intact. Meanwhile the majority of the Pro's are either thinking of of the championship race the following afternoon, or they're like me, thinking of the road & TT championships in two weeks time. Hey I've been training hard and I'd rather not get crashed out because some goofball decided that while he was in the middle of the pack, he'd remove his vest and throw it to the curb, you know like they do in the Tour de France. You ever tried to throw a piece of tissue paper across the room? Yeah this guys vest did essentially the same thing. Man I don't even throw my clothes to the side of the road, that stuff is valuable, and I don't even pay for any of it!
Back to the championship race: well if we were scared the night before when it had been raining earlier in the day, I think we were all horrified at the realization that we'd be racing 100K IN the rain. It's one thing to do a road race with a turn every now and again in the rain, but when you've got a soaking wet 3/4 mile course with 8 turns and TONS of road paint, that you need to circle 62 times, chances are there's gonna be a crash or two. I'm still thanking my lucky stars that I was able to stay upright and more or less out of trouble the whole race. I did get to do some fancy footwork every now and again avoiding the carnage, but I'll tell you I heard some awful moans coming from the pavement. For the most part though I know exactly why I was able to keep the rubber side down. It's simple, all you gotta do is stay in the top 5 to 8 riders all day long and you'll easily stay out of trouble. You can't get caught in a crash if they're all behind you! OK well I should thank my coach Craig because I think I've got some pretty darn good fitness coming around, and right in time for Road Nat's. It's also a ton easier to do a race like this one at the front, because you're not jamming on the brakes and then jumping on the pedals in and out of every turn. At the front it's just smooth sailing and following wheels, which is the other great thing. When you're constantly at the front, you get a really good feeling for just how fast you can go through the turns (yeah once your front wheel starts sliding, you probably wanna ease off a bit.) But the guys who haven't been at the front, have no idea how fast they can take the treacherously wet turns, so they always go way too slow through them. So when Bernard here has to follow attacks and make sure nothing get's away without some Nav's representation, catching guys (who just attacked from X number of riders back) in the turns makes life a whole lot easier.

So it was pouring rain before the race, stopped for the start of the race, then started back up again several times during the race just to ensure the course remained properly soaked the whole day. By about 3/4's of the way through the race, there were way too many but cheeks hanging out for the world to see, all from guys touching down. Pretty early in the race Team Slipstream hit the front and started driving it, I didn't think it would work but sure enough it did, they split the field. Too bad our ace sprinter was on the wrong side of that split. Bummer. As the race went on our director would come on the radio and tell us that one teammate or another was now out of the race, this was happening to most of the teams though. At around the half way point I was told to take it a bit easier and wait for the last 10 laps. Darn, sure wished I hadn't ridden so hard that first hour. However, I did pull in a couple of cash primes here and there so once we split it 9 ways... yeah I'll see about 45 cent's worth. Mehh, it's good for the self confidence knowing I'm riding well just before TT Nat's.

Well like I said I definitely spent way too much energy in the first half of the race to realistically be hopeful for the sprint at the end of the race. However with crashes happening all around me I figured I might as well stay in the race and se what happens. You never know, there could be a huge pileup in the last turn and all of a sudden you're in the money. Hmm well go figure, all it took was two big pileups in the 2nd to last turn and the last turn to get me in the money! Because of all the crashing, and because I was definitely getting tired I wasn't able to fight it out at the front of the race in the final 5 laps. I honestly didn't really want to risk life and limb in the chaos when I knew it wasn't likely for me to even go top 5. But just surfing in the field for the last 10 laps was great for speed work and it earned us some much needed prize money. I can't complain.

Well with ProCrit behind me, all I have is some fine tuning for my final Nat's prep, which takes place Sept. 1st and 2nd. So wish me luck, I hope I feel as good or better Sat Sept. 1st as I did for this crit.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Die Niedersachsen, Germany

Day 1:
I love racing in Germany!!! Oh man it's good to be here. Nice roads, good food (except there seems to be a serious lack of junk food of any sort here) warm sunshine and some mighty nice views as well. To top it off today was pancake flat and generally pretty easy for most of the 160k day. Good stuff I tells ya. Even driving to the race was nice. Germany is just so much more of a modern or maybe western style country that the likeness to home is a welcome treat. Today we were riding through the countryside where the flowers are in bloom, the fields are green and the beer gardens are full. Man it was a hot one today as well and each beer garden we passed I was just salivating. I'm going to have to sneak out one of these nights and hit-up one of these gardens, yah that'll make me happy. Not that I wasn't happy today. A break of four riders went up the road, which we missed, oops. Well as soon as they got a gap established, all the Italians start hollering Pisse, the group goes curb to curb and we all hit the brakes. It was wonderful! Now it was warm sunshine, easy flat roads (with not a crosswind in sight thankyou very much) and the ProTour team Milram setting tempo on the front. Who could ask for more, we even had some new tasty treats wrapped in foil thanks to the soigners. Ahh yes I can definitly say that was the easiest day of racing I've ever done in Europe and I loved every moment of it. Since it was so mice and easy for just about everyone, once Milram brought the break back with about 40k to go, well the gas started comming on. Well since it had been an easy day for me, I actually had the strength to get to the front and help our sprinters. Yup I'd definitely have to say that was a scarry endeavour. At times it was safe and peaceful enough, the MIlram boys were more than happy to let me drive the bunch for a hot second, but the few times we'd get swarmed and everyone starts crowding for room, and then pushing and squeezing into holes that don't exist, ooh man scary. We'll we're doing like 50+ k/hr all the while to so that's the thing of it, we're all going so fast that if something goes wrong, ugh it's gonna be ugly. I was able to help Oleg out until about 3k to go, then I nearly got pushed into the curb and that's just about when my legs gave out and I raised the white flag. But it was definitely a nice change of pace to be at the front in the Finale.

Ok I'm tired, definitely don't feel as good as I felt yesterday. Actually most of the day I felt like I wasn't getting any draft, yup it was a bit grim. But it was a buch kick, easy day right, no problem just a field sprint. Yeah right, not a single team really had it together at the Finale today. Milram had it best but even in the last 4k, they only had 4 guys left. Sheesh I got ridden out on one of the climbs BEFORE we really started racing. Well before the gas really ame on that is at about 25k to go. We were not to miss the break today and it was everything I could do just to try and follow moves this morning. Thankfully it only took a half hour of attacks, instead of the usual hour, before the break was established. We had Daren in the move so we were happy. I was more than happy cuz I was really begining to suffer. Some scenario though, break goes, Italians yell 'Pisse' and we hit the breaks. Then two poor bastards from Milram hit the front about 5 minuts later and bgin their long slog of riding that breakaway back over the next 150k or so. Two guys, towing the entire field around all day, riding the break back, hmm how do they do it? It was a bit windy today and as I mentioned, I felt like I just couldn't get out of the wind all day. Gonna have to work on that tomorrow.

Day3: Hmm ok well that was a terrible day. Made a huge rookie move and screwed half my team, which then got me cused out someth'n fierce by one of said teammates (it was an amazing display of profanity strung together with such eloquence I wish I had it recorded) then didn't have to mental will to kill myself in the final 10K... hmm yah that was a dark day.

Day 4:
OK spirits are much higher today. What a beutiful country this is. The rolling hills with the flowers in bloom and the picture perfect villages, man I wish I had a camera mid race.
OK so funny story: Choco Brooks is attacking the bunch. He has Petachi (cuurently the worlds fastest sprinter) and one of Petachi's cronie teammates on his wheel. The 140lb wafe rides both Petachi and his teammate off his wheel!!! Then has the gaul to look back and literally flex his arms like a body builder to thumb it in their faces. Man we all almost fell off our bikes laughing! Next best was Hilton calling one of the Astana guys Borat and then telling him to shut up. Man everyone who heard that one was laughing!
GREAT NEWS! I'm comming home. There was a chance I could have been here for another two weeks, surely snuffing out any sparkle I had in my eye. But I'm comming home Thursday May 3rd!!!
Last day tomorrow, I gonna destroy myself tomorrow!
Oh geez what a death march of a day that was...