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.