Sunday, April 26, 2009

Leland Cat/5 Race Report

PAIN!! I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, I thought I was going to die after the race. I was cramping up so much I couldn’t even bend over to get off my shoes.

The race started off ok enough; the pace into the wind was about 20mph with guys rotating off the front. That’s when the guys from Cycle Smith came to the front and the race was on. As soon as the pace quickened the heard immediately thinned out. I was fine until we hit the back section of the first lap, that’s when I was behind a rider who let a gap get between him and the group going around a turn at high speed. He slowed down and the pack accelerated. I tried to come around to bridge the gap, but I didn’t have it. So I hunkered in and tried to keep them in site. I figured they would ease up a bit on the gravel section, if they did, you could have fooled me. I just sat out in the wind and died.

Now that I’m by myself with no one around me, I had to suffer alone. I thought about throwing in the towel, and giving up. But that’s not me, I’m to pig headed for that. I know I am not supposed to jump in with a higher cat group, but on the last lap I didn’t care. I was headed into the wind doing 13-14 just dieing. That’s when I saw a cat 1 and 3 riders working together so I jumped on. I took a min to get my legs back and I started taking my turn in the rotation. I was glad they didn’t ask me to drop off, thanks Guys.

Ok I have one more thing to say, there are some guys out there that are a group of class act guys, Cycle Smith for one (thanks for the words of encouragement). Then there are others. If there is only 6 inches of room between 2 riders, then don’t try and force your way in, and then get an attitude that were not making room for you. I don’t like hearing wheels rub, especially if there mine. I saw the same team do that with multiple members. Just remember, once you get a reputation it’s hard to change people minds that you are not what you seam to be.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Criminal Intent?

Here is a better view of the incident between Theo Bos (Rabobank) and Daryl Impey (Barloworld) during the run in for the finale'. It appears that Impey does not change his line at all as Bos has stated, and that Bos grabs a handful of jersey and throws him to the ground. There has been much chatter about this today across the web, some even calling for criminal proceedings against Bos. Watch and decide for yourself.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hardman of the Week Award

Daryl Impey (Barloworld)may not have finished with the bunch today at the Tour Of Turkey, but he did still win the overall as well as the green sprinters jersey regardless. During the finale'Impey can be seen being thrown to the ground by Theo Bos (Rabobank) just a few hundred meters from the line in this video, .Watch at the :28 mark as Bos grabs a handful of jersey and slings Impey like an empty bidon towards the fencing.

VeloNews reports: Impey eventually remounted to ride across the finish line, then was taken to a hospital in Alanya where doctors reported a fracture of the third disk of his lumbar vertebra, a micro-fracture of his neck, a facial trauma, a few broken teeth and a deep cut in his lips. He was to remain hospitalized for 24 hours, organizers reported.

With his overall title on the line, and the knowledge of the 3km rule in effect, Impey recieved medical attention including the application of a neck brace and after nearly 20 minutes remounted and finished the race. I have to admit that I will keep that picture in the back of my mind the next time I contemplate bailing because of injury or fatigue.

Monday, April 13, 2009

6 hours and 37 minutes

This is what you look like when you chase for nearly 95 kilometers with 10 sectors of pave' to go. Martijn Maaskant, my pick to win ended up 98th and over 17 minutes down after an untimely mechanical just before the 5 star rated Trouee' d'Arenberg. Proving that at Roubaix it takes more than just great form to get the win.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Paris-Roubaix 1996

Maaskant On Form

Martijn Maskaant is undoubtedly on form for this years spring classics campaign finishing just off of the podium at Flanders behind heavy hitters Devolder(QuickStep), Haussler(Cervelo) and Gilbert(FDJ) while unfortunately missing the break at Ghent. The Garmin-Chipotle team has gone all in for the 2nd year PRO for this years Paris-Roubaix after he finished 4th in his Hell of the North debut last year.

Team Garmin-Slipstream will have no less than 6 bikes available to the 26 year old, as well as
mechanics and soigneurs offering up wheels at various points including the treacherous Forest of Arrenberg which offers up some of the worst pave' of the 259km parcours. The 107th edition of the race will serve up nearly 53kms of the slippery granite cobbles in 27 sectors along the route from Compiegne to the industrial town turned mecca of hardmen, Roubaix. While he may be young, he more than makes up for it with courage and guts beyond his years, and if his performance at Flanders last week in the horrible conditions is any indication, look for Maskaant to surprise the elder statesmen of the classics.

With teams like Quick Step packing a 1-2-3 punch of Boonen, Devolder and Chavanel, it seems as though Lefevre may have a lock on the race, but I wouldn't discount the fact that Boonen and Devolder will be marked men. Last weekend Pipo Pozzato(Katusha) never let Boonen leave his sight, and in fact sat on his wheel for the last 50-60kms. While Slipstream may not be as deep a team as Quick Step or Columbia, look for them to make the right moves when necessary, and let the work fall on the shoulders of the other teams. If they play their cards right JV and team may just find themselves standing on one of the steps of the podium, if not the top most, hoisting a cobble into the air.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We Are Hardmen

In most things we do, the biggest battles come from within.

The above statement holds no truer meaning than to the cyclist. The ability to push ourselves whether in racing or training, to push beyond what is comfortable, to battle with our bodies telling us to stop while our brain tells us to push even farther and harder and for longer, that is what makes us hardmen.

This time of year always brings to the forefront the hardmen of our sport. In races like the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or Ghent-Wevelgem and of course the queen of them all, Paris-Roubaix, we hear words like epic, and fierce and battle thrown around to describe race conditions and we love it. To hear the descriptions from writers and commentators of the atrocious conditions in which these men race is humbling, yet we can all empathize with them because we have all been there at one point. We are all hardmen. All of us who put a leg over their machine and set out to conquer the local "classics" or grind their way up a 20% grade to see if they can beat their own best time, or simply push the pace for no other reason than to test their own mettle, we are hardmen. To ride in the weather that we call spring with the gusting cross and head winds that never seem to be at our back, we are hardmen. When the radar says rain, yet you head out to put in the time, we are hardmen. When the clock only reads 5:30, and your family still sleeps, we are hardmen. When you push your body and mind to the breaking point, and you can only think about quiting, but you don't, we are hardmen.

Most of us will never fulfill our cycling dreams because of age, or ability, or family or for a million other reasons, yet each time we dress and head out the door we are one step closer. And each step closer to realizing your potential is a mile closer than you were the day before. Every time we conquer our fears and push the pace harder and faster than we ever had before, we become stronger. What makes us hardmen is that we are passionate about what we do. Cycling consumes our thoughts and emotions and desires. It takes over our lives and gives us more than we could ever measure. It is when we surrender ourselves to this lifestyle that we truly become hardmen. When we wake and think about what the plan is for today, or train for the next race, or work on the bike, not because we have to but because we need to, we are driven from within by a desire to succeed. That is when we become hardmen.

Hardmen are no longer only the PRO's who race the Northern Classics in horrible weather, on horrible roads, but also those of us who also put in the time and the effort and the sacrifice for our own glory. Often times we sacrifice more than the PRO's do, we give up time with those around us that often need us the most, yet we find a way to make it all work. We spend more money than we know we should in an effort to push ourselves up the ladder of cycling's hierarchy, all so that we may one day live up to our expectations of ourselves. And there is no greater motivator than the fire that burns within each of us, the fire that pushes us out of bed, and onto the road when commonsense says not to. We do this because it makes us stronger, it makes us faster, but most of all it makes us harder. The training and the racing make us fit, the mental battles that we fight on the bike and against our selves is what makes us hard.

The next time you have to decide what to do, whether to back down or stand up and fight against the weather or the road or yourself, choose the fight, because every victory is one worth fighting for.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hillsboro 2009

Déjà vu

Everything seemed to be going great. The weather was fabulous sunny skies with temps in the mid 60’s. What more can you ask for? Well to answer my own question a fresh pair of legs would have come in handy… but wait I am getting ahead of my self.

Joe, Nikki, my wife Lydia and I got up that day nice and early. The sun was already shinning brightly and was clear to us this was going to be great weather for racing. After going to local eatery for a quick breakfest, we got back to suit up for the race. The biggest problem for me was not to overdress which is a common problem for me. We (Joe and I) headed for the race to register which was only a mile away thanks to Lydia’s great hotel pick. On the way Joe and I were each caring a spare wheel for the race. As we rode on the pave or cobble section I noticed a skewer nut fall off what I thought was Joe’s bike. I immediately yelled to him”stop and get off that bike your skewer is going to come off”
Joe quickly pulled over and checked his bike. Luckily the nut belonged to the spare wheel he had and not to the bike he was riding. This was clearly an omen of sorts. The cycling gods were warning us. But we just shrugged it off and seemed to thumb our noses at them. As if to say “we are here and nothing can stop us.” Little did we know… little did we know.

Registration went fairly smoothly, kudos to Hillsboro they always run a tight ship.
As we lined up, the first thing I noticed was the size of our group. The cat 4 s had 100 max riders however I think only about 85 riders showed. As we started, the pace was very calm but as we made the second turn off the double lane road onto the one lane. The pace immediately kicked up to 26 mph. the peloton was tight and nerves were on edge. Being in the 2nd half of the peloton, riders were breaking and causing a snake-like effect. Within 5 miles I narrowly avoided two near crashes. I couldn’t even scratch my forehead for fear of crashing. The pace was steady and brisk. I felt comfortable and eager to move up the peloton. After about 15 miles, I decide to look back and check on Joe. To my amazement Joe was gone. I immediately realized something had gone wrong. My suspicions were realized afterwards when Joe told me that just like last year( déjà vu) he dropped his chain coming out of the turn. He told me by the time he got his chain back on, the peloton surge had put him too far behind. I wish he would have called out I would have waited for him. We could have both worked to get back. Unfortunately, Joe rode the rest of the race by himself, but he hung in there and finished. Way to go Joe!!!

As the pelaton was coming back to the start/finish, I knew from last year, two major climbs were coming up. The feed zone climb was very long and steep however the pelaton was pretty neutral. I looked down and noticed I was averaging about 170 bpm on the climb which was very reasonable. I figured get past this climb and recover on the other side and get ready for the final climb into the start/finish. As we were coming down, I felt the pelaton surging to the next climb; I knew I was in serious trouble my heartrate kept climbing instead of recovering for the next climb. By the time I hit the climb I was in the 180’s bpm I tried not to panic but there was not much I could do. I hit the wall on the climb and immediately saw flashbacks of last year (hence déjà vu) where I got dropped last year. I was on my own and thought if I can try to work with any body I could to get back to the pelaton. A couple of miles down I caught up to a XXXer and passed him by saying “jump on lets work together”. He was happy to see someone eager to catch up to the pack. I didn’t get his name but if your reading this “thanks brother” it was good riding with you. We kept trading off pulls and I could still see the pelaton about 1 mile away, but sadly it just got farther and farther and you could see riders just dropping off.
As I headed back in for my final climbs, the race had taken its toll on me. I could feel my legs cramp up, and my biggest fear was not finishing. On my way up the final climb I saw one racer walking his bike up inch by inch with the bike between his legs. I quickly thought it could always be worst. I thanked God he had given me the ability to finish. Afterwards I thanked my wife for supporting me even though she was ill. I will be back next year for my revenge stay tuned. Hopefully Joe can keep his chain on as well!