Monday, December 8, 2008

What Goes Into A Season

I was curious what it takes for a small team like ours to wage a successful season of both road and 'cross racing. The results were staggering to say the least. All numbers are approximate but pretty close.

Number of Races entered: over 200
Entry Fees: $5600+
Top 20 Finishes: 68
Top 10 Finishes: 15
Podiums: 7
Miles Driven To Races: 16,604
Miles Training: 145,600
Bicycles Raced: 38
Wheelsets used: 53
Tires: 80
Inner Tubes: 100
Cassettes: 65
Chains Broken: 4
Short Sleeve Jerseys: 49
Long Sleeve Jerseys: 13
Shorts: 32
Gloves: 39
Hats: 28
Socks: 50
Helmets: 23
Energy Gel: 400
Energy Bar: 200
Energy Drink: 75 gallons
Water: 375 gallons

I am sure the list could go on and on and on. Once I started figuring out how much time and effort has gone into this little thing we call bike racing I was absolutely floored. For the thirteen of us to race, just in 2008 it cost nearly $70,000. Are you kidding me? And I am sure I missed something somewhere.

Our 2008 season would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors, Beverly Bike and Ski and Vee Pak, Inc., SRAM, Cannondale and Spinergy.
More importantly though our season would not have been possible without the love and support from our biggest fans, our families. Without them allowing us the time to train and race none of what we accomplished in just a few short months would have been possible. While none of us will ever be champions in the true sense of the word, our families have given us the opportunity to chase our dreams. What we do on a regular basis may seem ridiculous to someone not familiar with cycling, but for those involved, especially the athlete that pushes to their breaking point day in and day out for even the smallest bit of glory, the sacrifice does not go unnoticed. From sacrificing on a personal level, to making ones family sacrifice their precious time, none of this is lost on the cyclist. We do battle with our bodies, with our bikes, with our heads and with our commitments in order to fulfill a dream. For every cyclist from every team, we appreciate what those around us do so that we can race our bikes. From the new Cat 5 down to the best Cat 1, we are all thankful for the support that is provided to us year in and year out.

To all those that look to this blog as a source of information or inspiration, or for any other reason, I thank you. This has been an incredible year, and while 2009 will bring new and exciting challenges, I know that BBVP will step up to meet those challenges head on and conquer them. From the rolling roads of Hillsboro, to Michigan Ave downtown, to the hills of St. Charles and the roads of Wisconsin we will give it our best, no matter the result. I know this to be true because I have shared hours upon hours with those men that I call my teammates, and I know that each one has the heart, and soul, and drive to not only fight for something that is important to him, but also important to the team. That is the essence of a team, the quest towards a common goal, the unrelenting drive forward to create something that is unique and exceptional. I am grateful to call these men my friends and I am grateful that we can achieve something together that makes the team stronger and greater than any of its individual components.

And Then It Was Over...

As they say, parting is such sweet sorrow. Sunday saw the conclusion of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Series and as usual the weather played a significant role in the racing, or the mayhem depending on how you chose to look at things.

I knew things were going to be rough after speaking to Tony who had to do the Masters 30+ due to familial obligations. I think he said treacherous at least a dozen times during our brief conversation while recounting his race to me. He mentioned that he went down 5 times during the 45 minutes, 3 of those occurring during the first lap alone. This wasn't going to be a walk in the park by any stretch. He mentioned deep snow, deep wood chips, a sand section and the nasty underpass. What he failed to mention was how everything seemed to be turning icy.

After my brief course inspection where I saw Scott from SRAM go down I knew things were going to be rough. And with a family cruise scheduled for next week, I wasn't in any position to take any unnecessary risks. I had resigned myself to more or less riding the course rather than racing it, and proceeded to spend my pre-race in my car staying warm. As we approached race time, Elvis, Patrick and myself found our way over to the start area. I managed to have a brain fart during the lining up process and found myself sitting in the third row with Patrick and Elvis close by. Maybe because I had taken the pressure off of myself and any expectations I had about finishing, but in the corral I did not feel any of the usual pre-race jitters. The final instructions were given and the countdown began.

Thats when things changed. The whistle was blown and we were off and I was racing, without even realizing it. About 200 yards in there was a massive pile up that had bodies in the air and bikes on the ground. As the leaders rode away from us I had no choice but to hoof it. So I got off the bike and started making up ground as best I could. I could hear Elvis behind me telling me to get back on, but I seemed to be passing people so I continued on foot until the under pass. I am assuming that Patrick was caught up in the initial scrum, as I was onlt able to catch glimpses of him when the course double backed on itself.

Elvis and I rode together for the rest of the race trading pulls and bringing back riders. I was starting to feel good and was taking the corners pretty well just as the race was starting to wind down. On the third lap we started to hit lapped traffic and therefore lost a bit of the impetus and caught fewer riders. Going into the last lap we surged in an effort to bring back just a few more places and also to keep from getting caught from behind. Things were working well and the minutes were counting down to the end of a succesful season when with about 5 corners to go my front wheel washed out and I went down for the first time all season. Elvis was able to capitalize and came past me without hesitation. I chased back but couldn't close the gap any further. As we neared the finish another rider capitalized on my fall to close the gap to me. We started a sprint, but I was a bit undergeared for it. I threw the bike at the line but was nipped for 27th. Elvis finished 25th and Patrick 33rd, never able to make up the ground he lost in the first pile up.

After finishing I quickly made my way to the car and some warm clothes so that I could take in the 4B race. I missed the start and Bob's first crash after he and Jorge had great starts. Turns out he also took out Jorge when his front wheel washed out. They both chased back and only lost a few places. Things didn't go to well after that though as Bob was brought down again just after the underpass by a fallen rider. Bob remounts and heads for the left hander in the wood chips when a rider goes down in front of him again and Bob has no choice but to ride over him, or at least try to. Back on the bike and he is left no choice but to chase Jorge and the rest of the field.

The remainder of the race was clean for both Bob and Jorge as they steadily made up lost ground. Bob was able to put down his TT power in the straights as Jorge made his way through lapped riders. Bob was able to claw his way back to 21st, while Jorge pushed through and finished 18th. Incredible considering both men have only completed 9 events previous to this.

So with this report, the 2008 season is now in the books. From our beginings til now we have come a long way this year. If this is any indication of things to come for 2009, I can hardly wait.