Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wonder Lake Criterium

This was my first time racing in Wonder Lake and I enjoyed the course and the atmosphere very much.  The promoter did a great job, and I love the idea of  having a lake right next to the finish.  In fact I am going to the next ICA meeting and propose that all of the races should end next to a body of water.  Nothing better after a race on a hot day than jumping into water and submersing yourself in a nice cool down.  I guess a portable pool with the ICA logo on it would do.

Ok let's talk about the actual race day.  Bob and I showed up early to set up our tent and get ready for everyone else on the team who was showing up.  Bob was racing right away so that gave me time to settle in and finish setting things up.  I am much more relaxed when I can get there early and take my time getting ready and know that I can get a good warm up in.  We had brought hotdogs and sausage to cook up on the grill after the first race so we could be ready for the later races too. I also had time to step out 100meters and 250 meters to get ready if it came down to a field sprint. The day could not have started out any better.

I first competed in the Elite Masters 30+ race which ended up being a pretty fast race.  In fact the average speed of this race was faster than the P/1/2 later in the day.  I think that came from the numerous attacks during the race.  I had three teammates (Tony, Curtis and Bob) which always helps with confidence because they are great riders on their own and really shine as support riders.  I had tried to get a break to go but to no avail.  Seems like pack continued to reel every break in after a lap or so.

The atmosphere of the pack changed at the end of the race with three to go when everyone came to realized that it was going to be a sprint finish. So the pace slowed.  Almost every break that got away during the race went on the back stretch into the headwind.  And with two and half to go a lone rider went off. in the same spot.  Everyone just watched as we figured he would never survive.  But the gap increase quickly.  There were some lame attempts to start a chase but so many were worried about saving themselves for the sprint. With just under two laps to go Curtis pulls up along side of me and said Tony had flatted.  That was a let done because I know Tony would through it all out on the last lap to string it out for me.  But no sooner than that Tony pulls up along side me as the paced had slowed again and said he would still lead me out.  I looked down trying to figure out what Curtis was talking about and noticed Tony was riding on a flat front tire.  I yelled out ‘No’ very loudly.  I could only think about how unsafe that would be.  But ya got to love this guy.  He would give his right testicle to help me out in a sprint and get a good result for the Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak. 

That inspired me and I knew we need to reel this solo break in.  And with a lap and a quarter to go I  put in a bigger dig than I wanted to but figured if we did not work we would be racing for 2nd.  I pulled the pack from the top of the hill through the start finish and then pulled off before turn one. And that effort sparked the pack which is just what I needed and wanted.  Now I could get back into the draft.  And then coming up in four wheels was Curtis.  That really got me going.  I know how strong he is and the kind of effort he can put out.  I knew he could make it safe so I road back up to him in turn two and told him to string it out and give me a good interval.  And just like that it got crazy and I waited to catch a good wheel and got in line.

Curtis put the pressure on into the headwind the whole backstretch and there was another big acceleration right before turn three which I did not miss.  Now sitting fifth wheel I was just waiting for that 250-meter mark that I paced off earlier to go all out.  We still had not caught the solo break and it was going to be very close.  But I knew the downhill could help us.  As we got to my mark I was already standing going around turn four and started to pass the rider in front of me and just as I started my sprint number two and three riders from the pack pulled out and made the most perfect leadout for me.  I was able to accelerate right into their draft and by the bottom of the hill squeak through the small opening that was on the left side of the road.  And as I looked to my right I could see I had the pack beat and better yet also passing the solo break.  I powered up the hill a little more and was able to sit up and post up.  The day just got so much better.

As I have said before I owe this win to the team.  This is my second win of the year and just like at Monsters it was a team effort.  Curtis had thrown his heart into that last stretch just like in the beginning of June on the Midway.  Tony is always giving his all chasing down attacks or attacking himself so I can find time to recover.  And although Tony and Curtis were the ones in the race helping out with direct support, there is more to a team helping out an individual win a race.  All my teammates there cheering on the sidelines, calling and texting good luck, or calling after to see how things went.  There are the sponsors in Beverly Bike and Vee-Pak that make sure we have everything we need to accomplish our best performance.  This has been a much better year than I had expected for my goals were to chill out and relax.  Maybe the fresh start on the southside, great teammates and sponsors is all I needed to get me out of the rut I was in last year in the fall.  So for not expecting many results this year I am very ecstatic about my performance, but more so of our team's support. 

This was another excellent Team win for Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak Racing.


P.S.  Great job to the lone three officials taking care of the day.  Nice job, Nikki, Brenda and Loch.  Also thanks again to the promoter for a fine day of racing that ended up with me jumping in the lake after each race.  I can see it now the ICA portable pool.  I will bring the hydrant wrench and the hose to fill it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Race the Bend Weekend P/1/2/3

It's hard to believe that four weeks ago I raced in leg warmers and long sleeves at Monsters of the Midway.  This weekend was a scorcher.  Driving from Chicago to South Bend on Saturday I left 90 degree weather and drove through a torrential downpour where my thermometer dropped to 74 degrees.  It was going to be a rainy one.

As soon as the race before ours finished, the sky opened up.  Bob Murray told me about his race, which was a crashfest but a good result.  I was glad it was raining.  I simply haven't raced in the heat enough this year.  I blew a gasket at Spring Prairie in the heat last weekend and only lasted a lap of the road race.  During the rain before the race I rode around the course to warm up while everyone else in the field huddled under a willow tree.  I don't mind crittin' in the rain though and I figured getting wet was inevitable so I figured I'd embrace it.  The race started slow and safe.  A few gaps opened up here and there but nothing lasted.  I spent the first 20 minutes trying to make a split happen but then I gave up.  A promising move went with a few laps to go.  My field sprint strategy was to hang back and drill it to get to the front on the backstretch, but I got caught out.  I coasted in for 20th or so.

Sunday was another hot one but not as bad as it could have been.  I went on the attack a few times.  The weird thing was I kept ending up off the front with local South Bend guys that I know.  It seems to me that if guys know me well they'd know I haven't been riding well and they'd NOT want to attack with me, but whatever.  Somehow the few teams that were there let a killer two man move go.  Every other serious move from then on attracted attention from the one Optum Kelly Benefits pro team rider, which (due to no fault of his) killed the move since everyone wants to piggyback on the strategy of the pro guy rather than think for themselves.  So I gave up the chase and committed to the field sprint again.  Whoever lead it out on the backstretch did a magnificent job.  It was totally strung out.  Yet again I was caught out and rolled in outside the money.  I've felt so terrible on the bike lately I can't complain.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Race the Bend

This weekend I headed out to South Bend IN. Yes, there was a race in downstate IL, but I’m a Hoosier. And let’s face it, a 5 hour drive each way was not my idea of a good time. Now a 90mi trip was ok.

I entered the Cat 4/5 race thinking the field would be small. I’ve been having a hard time this year finding my race legs, so nice easy race would be right on time. Well, I was wrong. We had 41 starters on a .6mi loop with a small hill on the back of the course.

At the start of the race I moved into 4th wheel and decided I would try and stay in the top 5 riders to stay out of trouble. We did the first few laps at a good pace that’s when things slowed down, like way down. So I went to the front and put in a really hard effort for 2 laps. I looked back and saw 3 riders from the Spin Zone team leading the pack on my wheel. So I flicked my elbow and moved over, but none of them would pull through. So I sat up and soft peddled. That’s when someone else made a big attack. The guys from spin zone did the same thing. They shut it down than sat on the lead rider’s wheel. I told myself that’s fine I will slide into the middle of them, and let them do all the work. The only problem was they slowed way down and the pack would rush up the sides. It caused a lot of turmoil leading to several crashes. Midway into the race I got caught in one of them. 2 riders got their handle bars caught up and then freaked out. I was directly behind them and had nowhere to go. I had my front wheel hit, but was able to put a foot down and saved myself from crashing. When I tried to clip back in I was hit from behind by a group of riders off the back. I managed to get back to the wheel pit and change out the front wheel to get back into the race. I went right back to the front to reestablish my spot.

On the last lap the field got ugly again. The field rushed the inside to turn 1 and the front guys were not going fast, so the field bunched up, and down they went. This time I was sitting mid pack on the outside. I had to hit the brakes to avoid the carnage. I saw around 8 riders in front of me with a huge gap. So I hit it hard and passed few of them before the last turn. I was able to sprint past 1 more on the final straight away before the finish to take 4th Place        


Friday, June 1, 2012

ABD Memorial Day Weekend

I received an email from Pat saying he was headed up to the Monday’s race in Wood Dale. This is the long course, they combine the Saturday and the Sunday courses to make a long 1.6mi circuit race. I have raced the Saturday race before and I liked the course. It was wide open and fast with only one turn you couldn’t peddle through at full speed. So I figure that I need to do this race because I’m still looking for my race legs. I think they are still in the basement hiding. 
When I arrive at the race, who do I see? Paul, he’s out to do the masters 1/2/3. Looks like Pat and I weren’t the only ones looking for our legs. Paul road well but faded in the end with a lot of pressure being put on by a very strong field. It was still good to see him out racing. 
Now to the Masters 4 race. It was a 30+ rider field with some strong riders in it. I wanted to get to the front as soon as possible and try to push the tempo. In the first lap, 2 other riders and I went out fast putting 20sec gap into the field, when the guy from Tower sat up and wouldn’t pull. So the field quickly pulled us back in. I stayed in the top 3 riders for a few laps and then faded back to get some rest. That’s when they let a guy from xXx got off the front. No one wanted to try and bring him back, so I decided I would try and bridge the gap. When I talked to Pat after the race he said they were going to let me go, and that I would die in the wind. Then all of a sudden they ramped up the speed and dragged me back.  As soon as the caught me Pat tried to make a counter move. But the field quickly jumped on his wheel. By this time we only had 4 laps to go so I sat in and tried to recover. 
On the last lap the field was getting a bit crazy with everyone trying to gain position without putting their nose into the wind. That’s when a tire blew or someone touched wheels. All I saw was bikes flying through the air and one of the coming right at me. I was able to calmly avoid the carnage but huge gap opened up. So I came rolling in just behind the field.  All in all it was a good day. My race fitness is slowly coming back. As Brian and Seegs keep telling me, you have to race, to get race legs. It’s impossible to simulate the tempo of a crit race without racing. 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Coast 2 Coast 4 A Cure

Hello everyone, this is Tony. For the past five days I have been on a bike trip that will take me and a group of nine riders and four support personnel across nine states in twelve days for 2,800 miles. We have raised money through the Chicago Fire Department's charitable organization Ignite The Spirit to help fund research into pediatric cancer through the 41 and 9 foundation.

We started in Torrence, California, by dipping our bikes in the Pacific. We left that town accompanied by a police motorcycle escort. Needless to say within 30 miles debris on the road flatted both my tires. At least it happened quick in the route and hopefully won't happen again for the duration of the trip.

Since California we have been in Arizona, staying in Tulsa, through unbelievable elevations with many cat 1 climbs. In New Mexico we stayed in this haunted hotel in Maintainaire (elev 6600). We also saw Billy the Kid's grave. We were then in Texas where we have taken in our fair share of smelling cows. We are just outside of Amarillo and almost half way through our trip.

I would like to thank my sponsors for letting me use their equipment. My LAS helmet is not restricting any airflow to my head and I forgot as I was waiting my pull once that I already had it on. Also my Serfas sunglasses and my new 500 lumen light. It's pretty neat that this thing is so bright I can see it shining on the ground when the sun is still out. And of course, can't forget my horse- Giant TCR SL bike. In 6 days I look forward to dipping my bike in the Atlantic at Myrtle Beach.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Multisport Report: May Madness Triathlon

This weekend I made the trip south on I-57 to Effingham for their annual May Madness Triathlon. This is a sprint distance event, and is used mostly as early season gauge for measuring fitness. I wasn't sure what to expect since my swim and run training has been spotty at best. I have been riding consistently, but have only been able to run and swim 1-2 times per week with my current schedule.

Once again I did not listen to Seeg's advice and made adjustments to the bike two days before the race... although this time the tinkering was performed by a professional bike fitter. It felt good in the fit shop, but this would be the first time I would ride it on the road.

I also used an unprecedented swim warm-up technique that I am hesitant to share.... it will certainly be used by all the top finishers in Kona this year...

On to the race... since it was a sprint distance I wanted to get in front of the pack during the swim. I do not like swimming in close quarters with others, bumping and kicking. I was able to get towards the front, leaving the water in 3rd place, but it took going into oxygen debt to do so. Although I wasn't really able to recover fully from going out too hard in the swim, I was able to PR on the bike averaging about 24 mph and was only about a minute off where I wanted to be on the run. I finished 4th overall. It was a fun event and the weather was perfect! Big thanks to Beverly Bike and the team for supporting triathlon!

Friday, May 4, 2012

"I Love Goshen" Twilight Crit P123

The town of Goshen, Indiana has "First Friday" festivals.  They shut down the streets, and local businesses set up tents.  There's food, drink, merriment and happiness.  This month, there was a bike race.  

The vendors and crowd at the race

At first I was all like, "hey, that girl is staring at me pretty hardcore...could you be more obvious, honey?"  Then I realized she's a model who's been hired by Jules Boutique to be a human mannequin and is being paid to stare in the exact direction I was standing.   That made much more sense.

The crowd was 3 or 4 deep along the finishing straight and the first corner.

Last year I did this one and really blew it...I bridged to the winning break, and right when I was on the tail end of it I freaked out because I was crosseyed from the effort and thought I saw something in the road because it was already dark out.  I overcooked it around a turn, crashed (solo) and had to take a free lap and ended up back in the main field.  This year I was looking for a good result.    I'm in the middle of finals, which is a 2 week period where I cant ride much, so it's important to get in a good race so my legs don't turn to spaghetti.  The field was somewhat substantial and had some fast riders this year.

Basically, the pace stayed pretty high with only like 10 minutes of "slow" dispersed throughout the race.  I spent a lot of energy closing gaps down from riders that couldn't handle the pace, but a lot of guys seemed to catch back on.  Some guys just can't corner I think.  I got sort of annoyed with some team tactics people were doing, like "blocking" at the front when they're really letting a 20 rider break go (that's called being off the back, dude), and blocking, but then trying to bridge solo to the break and bringing the field up to the break.  Didn't really hurt me any but I just thought it was weird.  

A few times, promising groups split off the front.  I made it in to about half of the more dangerous splits, but nobody had the legs to take advantage by attacking once the rubberband broke so guys kept catching back on.  With 3 to go it was all together.  I moved up into the top five assuming that one of the teams would start a leadout, but these teams aren't exactly Team Sky so the field kept churning and I ended up 20 spots back.  Then a crash happened right in front of me, but I got around it (I think I was the last guy to do so).  There was a split and I was on the tail end of the lead group.  I tried to punch it a few times but somebody who is competent was at the front so I couldn't make up ground in the turns like I usually do.  So I rolled in for what was apparently 14th on the provisional results, but I could have sworn there were more guys in that group.  I definitely would have been more aggressive if I knew that was it. 

Anyway thanks again to the town of Goshen.  It really is a nice place.  I'd HIGHLY recommend Chicago riders make the 2 hour drive out.  There are lower category races with the same crowds.  Rarely do Cat 5s through 3s get to race among crowds three deep (rarely do Pro riders too come to think of it) so it's worth the experience.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cobb Park Crit P/1/2/3

It looked like rain in Kankakee.  We had a field of about 35 riders, with a good combo of Chicago guys plus downstate guys like the riders from Enzo's and Sammy's.  We also had some riders from over the border in Indiana for team Upland Brewing.  I had Tony with me.  Last year I came 200 meters short of taking the win in a field of a dozen after a last-lap solo effort, so this year I was looking for redemption.  Today, I was going to try.

The race started off nice and relaxed, which is a welcome change from the collegiate stuff I'd been doing. A few moves went but guys were pretty good about not letting them get too much room.  Halfway through the race we started getting a mild mist.  Moves started to stretch the rubber band a bit so I started to go with them.  A promising one with a Sammy guy and Nick Ramirez in it got a few seconds, so I tried to bridge to it.  Unfortunately my breakaway power isn't there yet so I couldn't get a gap on the field.  So I accidentally killed the break (and violated my policy against not chasing guys I know well...sorry dudes).

Eventually a few riders rolled off the front and it stuck.  What made it stick was successful blocking from some Enzo's guys and maybe some Bicycle Heaven guys during the narrow part of the course.  All 15 seconds the move got came from blocking in just that one part of the course.  A few guys like Doug Ansel from Upland bridged up so that the break ballooned to like 7 or 8 guys.  When a third of the field is up the road, you can't really call it a break you're off the back.  Thus, I told Tony that we would need to do something about this, and we would shut it down if we needed to.  But first, we would wait to see if other riders would do so.  Much to my surprise, guys were pretty cooperative up front, and gradually reeled the move in.  By now it was pouring rain.  I spent the last three laps biding my time in the front of the group, ready to pounce when the time came.  I expected the break to disintegrate once we caught them, but somebody up front in the break kept it stretched out so, in an unusual turn of events, the break became the first 7 or so guys for the last lap.  The result was I went from being 6th or so in the field to 15th when we caught the break.  Unexpectedly, the pace stayed high enough that I couldn't really make a move on the last lap when things slowed down.  So I rolled in for 14th and Tony came in at 20th (in his second race of the day).  Like Bob Murray signs on his emails, "if you don't risk losing you never win."

Thanks to the Wheelmen for once again putting on a great race.  Good to see Mike Kelly and the Feeherys and the rest of the SCW crew.  Thanks to Tony for sticking around for a second race.  It was good having a teammate in the race because it frees me up to do some work at the front.  When I'm racing solo and take a pull, I'm vulnerable to the attacks that come when I pull off.  It was also good to see all you guys from downstate.  I won't be going to Champaign next weekend because I have to take law school finals, but I'll see you all at Monsters.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cherry Valley TT

On Sunday I decided to pull out the time trial bike from the moth balls and head to Cherry Valley, just outside of Rockford, for their 20k. Fortunately the stormy weather that hit Hillsboro on Saturday missed us on Sunday, but what Sunday lacked in rain was made up for with wind! Since the race was only 20k, I decided to race twice; one in Cat 4/5 and in 30-34.

I could tell almost immediately that it had been quite some time since I had been on the TT bike. I could feel  my tris and shoulders from holding the aero position about five minutes into warming up... I'll probably be sore tomorrow.

About 15 minutes before my scheduled start I began riding the roughly 3 miles from registration to the start line. About half way there I see a freight train on the horizon crossing the road. Now I'm at the tracks with a growing number of riders waiting for the train to pass, maybe 5 minutes from my start time, and still nearly a mile away. As the trains clears the road I push it to the start line and luckily made it with about two minutes to spare.

At the start the wind was cutting from the right side. A few minutes in I could see cones ahead signaling a right turn. Once I rounded the turn the "fun" began... 5 miles of 20-25 mph headwind! I played with a few different gears and cadences trying to find the one that made the wind stop and/or got me over 17-18 mph. After that failed I just kept my head down with my eyes glued to the distance counter on my Cateye watching it slowing tick toward 10k. Somewhere during this stretch I had made up my mind that there was no way I was putting myself through this again... once was enough for today. Finally the turn-around came and along with it the tailwind. 17-18 mph was replaced with 32-33 mph! I clicked down for my highest gear but nothing happened... probably another reason I should have taken it for a test spin before today! I did my best to keep up my cadence and speed with the tailwind, but really could've used that last gear. Before too long the finish line came. My time of 31:00 and change was disappointingly slow. I'm not sure how much of that can be blamed on the windy conditions or if this is an accurate measure of where I am...

After I had a few minutes to recover, I decided to at least get a good workout from the day and race again, even if my results were less than expected. I was up again about 10 minutes later, not leaving enough time to get my other number, I was instructed by the official to "just yell out your number at the finish line". Good enough... The second go around was just as fun as the first one, and only a minute slower!

I wasn't sure if I wanted to check the results, but I eventually did. I finished 3rd in both categories, so maybe it wasn't as bad as I initially thought. Some of the times, especially of the 1/2/3 riders, were really impressive considering the wind! After comparing times and some reflection I can set better defined, challenging, yet realistic goals for this season. Less wind next time would help too...


Monday, April 16, 2012

Hillsboro 2012 Edition

Just a little background. This was our first race as a formal team in 2007. I have tried to make it down there ever since.
I went down there with Mike Seguin and a Bryce from xXx. We started our trek at 4:30 in the morning. Luckily they allowed me to sleep a little on the way down. Once down there we were greeted by the rain that put a chill in the bones. Registration has always gone smooth at this event. We got our gear on and went for a spin as this was Bryce's first time down. I'm glad we did the in town loop as it seems the transition from the downhill pavement to pacers has deteriorated a bit. I was a little concerned about how to dress but once you are soaked to the bone it really doesn't matter.
The field was a whole lot smaller than the registered 75 in our Masters 40+ field. We had 47 at the line. Off we went. I finally was wet through about 4 miles in with my glasses fogging up; so off they went. I made my way up to the top 15 before the downhill right/left at about mile 6. This is where I was told the field split as that section of road was the first true test of braking and turning on the rainy roads. I even felt my rear wheel slide just a tad.

At about mile 8 I see Mike and about 5 other guys go off the front. Two of the big teams had people up there so I moved to the front to tell their teams to start controlling the front. They weren't listening very well and Mike's group was caught soon after. Needless to say the counter attack by two riders stuck for the remainder of the race.
The first lap was pretty tame after that. Up the hill going back into town I shifted down to my small chainring before the climb. I was happy staying with the pack up but did get stuck behind a slower rider. Seeing as how I was spinning it didn't affect me too much. At the top of the hill is an odd left hand off camber turn with a drop off to the outside. It was nice to see they placed hay bales there. Needless to say I took the turn wide and rolled onto pea gravel that I rode through until I hit grass versus trying to turn and get back on the pavement. There were also two other riders who went off at the same spot. So now I'm off the back. I bomb the hill rattling my teeth and holding on for dear life on the rough transition. I was able to reconnect at the rough left hand turn on the pacers.
The second lap was met by attack after attack. I was happy I was able to predict when they would occur and covered them fairly well jumping from wheel to wheel. On one acceleration I was glued to the guy's wheel in front of me as he and the I slammed into a hole. This particular hole I remember on the first lap as having many water viroids around it. On this lap it claimed both of mine. Now I'm without water for about 15 miles. Of course after that incident the pack started calling out road hazards. More attacks with a guy from Mack and another guy doing an unbelievable amount of the attacks.

As we headed into town the pace slowed considerably. I thankfully went down to the small chainring and sat and spun as many stood with a slower cadence. Up the hill in town I felt good as I sat in about a third of the pack back on the cone side. I made sure I wasn't directly behind the guy in front of me. When a guy locked up his real wheel and endoed to my right I made my move to fill his hole. This momentum carried me up the hill. At the top I was sitting about 6 back. Now my mind started to race. How do I play out the last 3 turns? Well, it didn't matter as I took the same damn turn bad and went off the road again. No catching up to the pack this time. I came in 14th.
After the race I found out Mike got a flat 10 miles in. He still did well on his own for 50 miles coming in 27th.
Another memorable Hillsboro in the history books.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Dusted off the track bike

Since I wasn't able to race in March my legs aren't putting out the torque they need to this time of year, so I took out my extremely overgeared track bike and did a couple hours on the road today.  Check out that build sticker.  I bought this bike used several years ago, but what can I say, I'm a loyal customer.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trying to Shaking the Cobwebs Out!!

Last Saturday I headed up to South Beloit, Il to do my first couple of races for the year. The Burnham Boys have always put on a great race with the Spring Super Crit. And Blackhawk Farms Raceway is a great venue to start the season with and shake out the cobwebs from the winter. I will say that I was a bit nervous going out there. I had taken a lot of the bike this winter and did not feel like I was in the shape I needed to be in for racing. I am also riding for a new team this year as I just joined Beverly Bike - Vee Pak Racing Team. I am very excited to be racing for them and getting some good results for the team, because of the outstanding support I have already received this year from the shop, sponsors and teammates. And lastly, it is the first race of the season.

So I set up simple goals for myself in the three races that I was competing in? Race #1 - 30 + Cat 1,2,3,4 - Use it as a warm up and shake the cobwebs. Race #2 - 40 + Cat 1,2,3,4 - Top Ten finish. Race #3 - Cat 1,2,3 - Use it as added training for the day but do not get dropped from the pack.

It was great to line up again at the start of the race and see all the racers and friends that I have met over the years. We get our instructions, the whistle blows and we are off. The pace was fast and I felt sluggish. So I told myself it was for a warm up and to just stay with the pack. As time past, I was getting into the swing of things and made my way to the front. I did pull at the front but did not last long and went to the back again. Then a break formed but it did not seem all that aggressive or strong willed, but enough teams were involved to make it work. I could not get out of position so I watched it slowly pull away. After a lap or so I started to worry that it might stick, which is no good for a sprinter like myself. The team mates in the pack really did some good work to keep others off the front to avoid chasing down the break even though the break seemed a bit lazy. So I went to the front and finally three or four of us continued to rotate and go around the blocking teammates in the pack. After two laps we had them down to about 60yds with two laps to go. Time for me to fade back and recover for the sprint at the end because I thought there was no way that the break would stay away now. The teammates of those in the break took over at the front again and the break succeeded. Oh well it is just a warm up race for me anyways, but still tough to handle. As we came to the final turns I practiced moving up to the front and was in great position for a sprint but decided to stick to the plan. Save it for the 40+.

As everyone started to line up for the next race, I could see many were doing the same as me and competing in both master races. I got the feeling that another break might not work here as there was a bit of frustration by letting the last one get away. The pace was just as fast and there were a number of breaks that went off but none got away. When it got down to three laps to go I started to get that feeling and the focus began setting in. That feeling is hard to explain. You do not feel pain. You become hyper sensitive to everything that is going on around you. Your mind starts calculating every little action of every rider around you and how it might affect your position in the field. I guess I am going into battle and survival mode has kicked in. I start to think about the previous race and getting into the same position for the finish, but this time no holding back. And then one of those funny or crazy things happen as they always do in bicycle racing and you see your race going down the tubes. Going into the final turn I am sitting about tenth spot which is a good position for this long drawn out sprint, but I find myself getting pushed out on the turn and then I realize I am not going to make the complete turn. I have but two choices. One, slow down, get boxed in, lose momentum, and lose any chance of a good finish. Choice number two, ride off course, over the rumble strips ( two sets), into the rocks and rough asphalt, then try and get back in. For those that know me, this split second decision is an easy one.

I continue to pedal but steer straight and go over the rumble strips, make the turn on the rough and bumpy asphalt, put in a small sprint while merging to get back into position that I had lost from the incident. From here it is about four hundred meters and time to sit and recover but only briefly. I continue to power up the straight away holding my position and waiting for the right time to put it all out and up to the line. I stay protected from the wind. I stand and start my sprint going up the outside and passing rider quicker than expected. This is a long sprint if you start from the corner, and guys are fading quickly. I see that a podium is now possible and continue to push all the way through. As we cross the line, I am thrilled with a third place finish after being so doubtful and nervous for the first set of races for the year. A podium for Beverly Bike - Vee Pak and me. Great way to start the season.

Final race of the day is the Cat 1,2,3 and of course the toughest. Just stick with the goal; stay with the pack, good training for racing myself into shape. I have to be honest and say I was definitely struggling for most of this race. There were attacks right from the get go and they did not stop until a group got away. Then it seemed like everyone was struggling as we tried to chase them down, the pack thinned out and another separation opened up.  Now the chase group was getting away too. I did not have much in the tank but I said, "What the hell, it is for training".  And I jumped from about ten back and sprinted around the outside to catch up to the second group. Halfway there my legs are screaming why are we doing this? Pressing on I make the first chase group of seven and hope that as a group of 8 we can catch the front 6. The confidence is building in my head with all that has gone on today and a group of 8 should definitely be able to pull these guys in.  I can not do a pull right away and call ‘Fill’ twice, still tired from making the junction. But then I make my way to the front through the rotation and take my turn. Then my mind can not longer overpower my legs and I start to fall apart but so is everyone in this group and we are soon caught.

I am able to hang on in the back of the pack and stick to my goal. And this is where the fun begins and the cobwebs come back. I start to feel strong again and although we will not catch the break I start to gear up for the field sprint. And with three laps to go the focus sets in but is clouded by cobwebs. Down to the last lap and I continue to move up for a good sprinting position and am ready to give it one last effort. We approach the last turn and feeling confident yet comfortable with what is about to happen. And as I come out of the last turn I move up some more and then sprint like never before? Soon I am at the front and shocked that I am there. I start to feel the fatigue sent in and still do not sense anyone around me. So I give the small peek to the sides. No One? Keep Sprinting. Why is no one coming around me? Why is no one near me? I give the full over the shoulder look and sure enough I have a big gap!!?? Something is wrong. Then I realize that a small bell is ringing and that I went one lap too early for the sprint. I laughed as the cobwebs and fatigue had clouded my thinking.   I could not latch on to the back of the pack as they came screaming by me for their final lap.  My legs were toast and I coasted the final lap and enjoy it and every minute of the day.

What a fun day of racing and a good feeling to get the first race day under my belt. I would like to thank Burnham Racing for putting on another outstanding event this year at Blackhawk Farms. What a great course for racing! Also thanks to all the officials for their hard work and professionalism to make these races possible. Nice work even if there is a problem with the lap counter, ha ha. And lastly I would like to thank Beverly Bike Shop, Vee-Pak Inc., and the entire team for all their support and the opportunity to ride with the team this year. It has been a more than surprising experience and I only hope to provide more success for the Team.

Mike Seguin

Friday, March 2, 2012

From the Archives: Tour of the Bahamas

I've been lucky that cycling has taken me to some interesting places.  I looked at my photo file this week, and realized I've accumulated quite a bit of stuff over the last eight (!) years of racing.  Before the season gets into gear I might as well share some of them.  I'll start with the best one.  Back in February of 2006, I really lucked out and got to go to the Tour of the Bahamas.  It's hard to believe it was six years ago...

 That's my college teammate during our spin into Nassau.
 Some guys selling seashells down by the docks

 This is us packing up after the final stage.  That's (part of) me on the left.  My college teammate Taylor is on the right, and my roommate for the race is in the middle.  That's TeeJay, who made the jump to Europe and got in the climber's jersey in the Tour de France last year.
At the end of the race, the locals helped out with some bike transpo.

I'll post some more stuff like this next week.

Monday, February 27, 2012

And the 2012 Season Begins

Not being ready to race didn't stop me from taking the trip down to Columbia, Kentucky for the first collegiate race of the year.  Two weeks ago I went to California for work.  It was really nice to know that some places have weather that isn't miserable this time of year.  I wanted a taste of spring and a break from the trainer, so I figured power numbers be damned, I'm going south.

I've always been willing to get crushed early in the year.  I follow the somewhat unorthodox (old-school) theory of building verrrry slowly over the winter so I don't get things like tendinitis later in the year.  So I did about a thousand easy miles to start, wrapped that up in January, and started training for real a few weeks ago.  With the major goals of the year several months off, I figured I was ready for a shock to the system.  I got it.  Collegiate races are great training because not only are the fields as strong as most P/1/2 races, but they're never slow. If the good riders take it easy, the slower guys who will be dropped later make it hard by attacking.

Since this was my first time getting over threshold in several months, the question wasn't if but when I would get popped from the group.  Sure enough, it happened early in all the races.  But I got the effort I came to Kentucky for, and--as I hoped--getting racing early got me excited to get the season underway.  Now it's time to start building so I'm strong when I need to be--when Midwest racing for BBVP ramps up.

Stay tuned for some pictures of me slobbering all over myself as I lumber up some steep hills chasing the group.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The First 1K in the Pain Bank

Well it’s still February and I have already deposited my first 1000 miles in the pain bank. For me that’s leaps and bounds ahead of where I was last year. This time last year, I was still having trouble lifting anything over 20lbs after surgery to remove my gallbladder.  I wish that on no one.  I was just happy to get on my bike and be able to turn the crank. It took forever to get in any kind of shape to race a bike. I remember always telling Pat that I was 2 months behind everyone.  That’s till I got lucky for one weekend in July.

This year I have dedicated a bit more time to see if July was a fluke, or do I really have a shot at riding with the really fast old guys. I think someone forgot to tell them when you’re near or older than 50 that you need to slow down. So this season I will give it a go. Hopefully I can hold that wheel, and just maybe get a few top 10 finishes, if I can do that all the work will be worth it.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New BBVP Sponsor for 2012

What do Fly V Australia, the Italian Olympic Cycling Team, and Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak have in common? They'll all be sporting lids from LAS this season. BBVP proudly welcomes the Italian company as one of their sponsors this year as they compete in Pro/1/2, Cat 5, and all the races in between. You'll see the red, white, and blue train from the Southside of Chicago racing at your favorite weekend crits wearing the Victory Supreme model, LAS's top of the line helmet. Made entirely in Italy, it is one of the lightest helmets you can buy, weighing in at a mere 230 grams. Go to for more info. A BIG thanks to LAS!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Training

Back in Chicagoland the team was taking full advantage of the unseasonably warm holiday weather, logging a decent number of endurance rides. I had to tough it out on my own... 

I went on a 50-miler from Marathon, FL to Key West, FL, which includes beautiful stretches along the overseas highway, including the Seven-mile bridge as seen here.

Thankfully I'm back home now and can start training with the team again....