Thursday, October 8, 2009

2009 u23 Nationals

After I finished up with Cascade, I had just 3 days before my big target for the year; the u23 nationals road race. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't get enough recovery time, but considering most of the main contenders I would be facing also did Cascade, I couldn't use that as a legitimate excuse. Lucky for me, nationals was in the same town as Cascade, so I didn't have to do any more traveling. Ashley and switched housing to stay with our coach, Christian Williams, and the GS Tenzing crew. As a Tenzing alumni, it was cool to get to hang out with the younger guys and share some insight with them as well as goof around and play ping pong.
For the most part my recovery consisted of lots of time in the coffee shop and a few easy spins. On one day, Ashley, Gonzo, Kyle and I rode up the tt course to a huge waterfall that was part of the local state park. It was a pretty cool view and well worth the 3 miles of gravel road to get to.

Before the race, I thought long and hard about what would give me the best chance for success. I figured I had some success in the past by being in the early move to limit the surges. I decided that would be my plan of attack. Luckily, my instincts paid off. As it does almost every year, regardless of the course, the early move stayed away. And I was in it. We got rolling about half through the first lap of 6. Originally, there were about 22 of us, with only a handful of amateurs. I was fortunate to have the company of 2 Kelly Benefit riders, 3 Garmin, and 3 Trek-Livestrong. I knew I was in the right move. On lap 5, Ben King of Trek- Livestrong gave a little fake attack before the first climb and it forced Alex Howes and Peter Stetina of Garmin to hit the gas and close the gap. In doing so, half the break got shelled! I was close to being one of them, but clawed back on through the feed zone. Now there were 9 of us. Still the 3 Garmin riders, 3 Trek- Livestrong, Scott Stewart of Waste Management, and Will Dugan for Team Type 1. Going into the second and steeper of the 2 climbs of the lap, another Garmin attack put me into difficulty. At the top of the climb, I put my head down and fought hard to catch back on. After a couple miles, I managed to latch on to the back on the group, but so did Kirk Carlson of Garmin, who had bridged up solo out of the chase group. Now there were 4 Garmin guys in the top 10! By the time I caught back on, the decisive move was gone, and with just a lap remaining, they weren't coming back. 4 guys snuck off the front and consisted of Alex Howes (eventual winner) and Peter Salon, both from Garmin, then Ben King and Scott Stewart. I was back in the first chase group with Peter Stetina and Kirk Carlson (Garmin), Guy East and Bjorn Sealander (Trek-Livestrong), and another guy. At this point in the race I was about cashed. The pace was pretty blistering and the course was so difficult, that only about 40 people got scored and about 25 crossed the line. I finished up 10th. Last out of the remaining guys in the original break away. Several minutes behind Alex Howes. By far the biggest dig I had at a national race in my career. At the end of the day, I was just no match. I like to think that the European program of the other guys was the difference maker, but they were just on a whole other level. Alex deserved the win and I was pretty content with my 10th. Next year.
The time trial was not exactly my strongest event, but I ended up surprising myself a little bit. My goal was to top 20, but I knew I had to put in a good effort for that. There were about 60 starters in the u23 time trial. My 30 second man was Kolt Bates, a good yet catchable rabbit. Behind me was Alex Howes and Julian Kyer, both very strong time trialists. I thought I would get passed eventually by both of them but I had to stay on the gas. About half way up the steady ascent before the turn around, I caught Kolt. I was in a good rythem and felt pretty good. Almost too good, I felt like I could go harder. But with close to 25k left I thought I should save some gas. Just before the turn around, Alex passed me as expected. With the next 10k being primarily downhill, I stayed on the gas. It wasn't long before Julian Kyer blew by my. At this point I am just angry. I start to pedal faster and catch up with Alex and pass him back. I was feeling a bit more confident now, but with the final 8k being technical and anything but flat I was half way expecting my catostrophic meltdown. I could still see Julian ahead of me, and I had passed 2 other guys along the way. I never caught Julian back and when I finished, I was sitting in 9th. I felt pretty tired but was thinking back and wondering where I could have made up time on the course. I had gave it my all, and by the time everyone was in, I finished 23rd. Exceeded my expectations, but I was bummed. I wanted top 20. Peter Stetina repeated and Julian Kyer finished in 5th. Hard to complain, but still a lot of work left to be done.

With the crit being the final event of the week, I was whooped! I had done more races in the past 2 weeks than the entire month prior! I had very high expectations for the crit. I wanted to be on the podium and improve on my 7th place from last year in California. I had a very hard time getting ready the morning of the race. I was sluggish getting dressed and had a hard time pounding my pre race coffee like I usually do. The nerves were getting to me. I knew I had a very good shot at winning and really wanted to deliver. I got a pre race call up to the line with Jake Keough and Justin Williams. I was motivated to more damage than I have ever done. Unfortunately my legs were not. I could stay toward the front of the field and float back without much difficulty. But I couldn't fight... or sprint. I was tired! 3 guys got away early, Alex Howes, Bjorn Sealander and Bobby Sweeting. The big teams dropped the ball in bringing them back. Kelly and Mt. Khakis couldn't get organized to bring the trio back. They were at a manageable distance to jump across, but it wasn't happening, not today. I wanted to bring them back by myself, but i had no one back there that could have benefitted from my work. So I sat, like I always do. I finished 16th and the break stayed away. I was disappointed to say the least. I wanted the jersey so bad I could taste it, but at the end of the day, I simply could not deliver. Next year.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just because it's awesome!

From Rouge Roubaix this year. Christian and I going 1-2.

Christian won the final Texas Premier Cup race in Denton today. Attacked going into the final lap and held a 5 second gap all the way to the line. What made his win even more impressive was that he had gone the entire week leading up to the race without riding at all, and in fact was on his feet at Interbike most of the time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Boise Twilight and Cascade

After Superweek and a little family visit, our next stop was Boise, Idaho for the Boise twilight criterium. Along the way we decided to stop for a couple of days in Laramie, Wyoming, for a little altitude riding. It was a nice little college town with a coffee shop on every street corner. Since I have acquired a love for the taste of coffee, I was in heaven! The town is surrounded by mountains on every side but it sure is windy. It made riding in the Dallas suburbs seem easy. After a few days at 7,500 ft, we drove to Boise where it was 5,000 ft. We stayed a couple days before the race and rode some of their surrounding mountains as well. I had never been to this part of the country so I was excited to see all the new sites. Laramie, Boise, and Bend have all become one of my favorite little towns. I highly recommend visiting sometime. The day of the race, Ashley and I did an early morning spin to the Boise State football stadium to experience the famous blue turf first hand.

The race was pretty fun, with all of downtown lining the streets. I felt pretty good the whole race, but only managed 13th after losing my positioning on the last lap. Ken Hanson from Team Type 1 took the win with his teammate getting 2nd. Once again, I was able to make some much needed money! Life on the road was getting tough. Between the 3 days I was at Superweek and the Boise twilight crit, I was able to offset my expenses, so that's always nice.
Just 3 1/2 hours away was Bend, Oregon, site of the Cascade Cycling Classic and US Nationals. This race leading into nationals was at the top of my priority list. I new I wasn't going to be a contender, but since I had never done this race before I really wanted to get the experience racing a week long stage race with the best pro teams in the country. Not to mention Rock had their entire European squad racing, which included Tour de France stage winners. My main objective throughout the race was to finish, and to minimize my losses. The first day went well, a group of 20 stayed away to the finish and I was safely in the field. Not too difficult. The next day however, I had some bad luck. With 10k to go in the stage, all of which was uphill, I got taken down from behind and broke my frame and fork. I was sitting top 15 at the time, so the entire field barreled on top of me. I stayed pretty calm and got a neutral bike from Shimano. I finished the stage 7 minutes back with Stefan Rothe, who also got tangled up in the mess. Luckily the tt was the next day so I had time to get BH to overnight me a brand new Connect. Thanks guys! After a less than stellar performance in the tt I got my bike built. It ended up being a tad heavier than the G4, but overall the Connect was way better. Stiffer, stronger and more responsive. My first ride on the new beast was the Mt. Bachelor stage. The stage was pretty flat to rolling with 2 10 mile climbs that book ended the stage. I ended up 2 minutes back from the leader, but overall I was satisfied. Next was a normal 4 corner 90 minute crit. Rock controlled the race for Oscar Sevilla and I finished around 30th. The final stage was the most important part for me since it was the exact same circuit course that was going to be used for nationals. It gave me an extra chance to race the course before the throw down just a couple of days later. Right from the start I felt horrible and tired. I just wanted to salvage something. I was so happy just to finish the stage and the entire race. The course had 2 little climbs on it, one leading in to the feed zone that was a couple kilometers long and then the next one just a couple miles later. The second climb stepped up a little bit and was much steeper. On the last lap, going into the finish, I got separated from the front group and ended up back in the second group. Again, I was 2 minutes back. I finished 71st overall, which is quite awful, but when I think about the race I am not too bummed about my performance. It was a good learning experience for me and I had never done a race that hard before. I think with a little bit more hard work and a bit better luck, and I can finish in the top 20-30.
Now I just had a 2 days before the u23 nationals road race to rest and recover.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Whew, where to begin? Last I checked in, I was making a car change in Boston after the Fitchburg-Lonsjo Classic. After staying a few extra nights in the hotel in Fitchburg, we packed up and headed west. Next stop, Superweek. The plan was to stop and do a few days of Superweek before heading to the west coast for Cascade and nationals.
I have been lucky enough to travel all over to race my bike, but rarely have I been able to see any of the sights this country has to offer. Since we were gone for so long, driving was the easiest way to get around, and after coast to coast and back again, I got to see a lot. On our way to Chicago for Superweek, we stopped and rode just outside of Buffalo along Lake Erie. 4th of July had just past and people were still partying it up. Along the way I stopped at my cousins house in Indiana and got in another good ride on roads I've never been on. it was good to see some of my family again. After we rode, we ate lunch with my 2 cousins, Dana and Cassidy and their children. I don't get up north too often to visit with them and I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity. We got to Chicago the day before the first race and stayed in Lombard, the same town I often stay in for Downers Grove.

This was my 3rd time doing the Superweek races, and I was hoping for better luck than in the years past. It was cool to see Carlos and the San Jose guys tearing it up as always. My expectations weren't really too high. My primary objective was to just use it as training and maybe get some leg speed in me. ANy money I won would have just been a bonus. The morning of the first race was pouring! I opted out of an easy spin and worked on my bike instead, not sure if I were going to race or not. With races like Cascade and nationals coming up, the last thing I wanted to do was wreck, which I have done the 2 years prior. By the time the race rolled around, the weather was all cleared up. I got ready to race and before i knew it, I was in a 15 rider break away with Jonathan Cantwell,Bernard Sulzberger, Hans Dekkers, half of Team MTN among others. About half way through the race, we had lapped the field and gone straight through the field. With about 10 laps to go, we were close to lapping the field again. I ended up getting 10th out of the break.
The next day was a flat, 4 corner crit, and for the first time in my Superweek career, I was getting a call up. I was feeling pretty good and able to be active most of the day and stay out of trouble. With 1 lap to go, a break got caught to set up the field sprint. I was in pretty good position with a half a lap to go. Coming around the last turn, I was on the outside passing people. Right as I began to open my sprint I got forced to the curb and had to sit down. By the time I got up to speed again, Josh Carter was raising his hands in victory. I was pumped for him to win it against such a good pro field. I finished 11th, but moved up to 7th in the overall.
The 3rd day of Superweek, was going to be my last. I had other races on my schedule that I had to get to and wanted plenty of time to get there. The 3rd stage was the Elgin Cycling Classic. Historically, it is also a u23 race that runs with the pro race, but recieves a bonus jersey as well as $500 to the winner. Since I had some success the first 2 days, my priorities had changed for this race. It was the first road race of the series on a hilly 6 mile circuit. I wanted to finish as high up overall as possible and hope that it was good enough to win the u23 prize. Half way through the race, a break got away through the feed zone, and though I was in perfect position to cover the acceleration from Carlos, I let it go. I thought it would come back on the down hill, but it never did. The gap quickly grew to 2 minutes and with Team MTN from South Africa setting the pace of the field, the gap went up to 4 minutes. Team MTN was a contintal team using Superweek as training. At least that's what they said. They ended up winning half of the race plus the overall and points classification. Once the break got established, I began to focus more on the u23 prize. All the espoirs were still back in the field, including a rider from MTN, Fly V Australia, and about 10 others. With a couple laps to go, the field size was down to about 30. Everyone else had dropped out. Finally after a few unsuccessful bridge attempts by some riders, the field began to set up for the sprint. Team MTN was on the front for their guy and I was about 15 riders back with 1k to go. I didn't want to take my chances in the sprint, so I launched out of the field and pinned it all the way to the line. It was almost like I was leading it out, but I was able to catch a lot of guys off guard and get a gap. Only Andreas Muller, Josh Carter and a Team Kenda Pro guy came around me. I ended up in 12th overall, but more importantly, I was the top u23. Team MTN went 1-2 followed by Hans Dekkers and then Carlos. It wasn't the biggest result I've ever had or the most prestigious, but being back on the podium was nice. Plus cashing a check for $500 always feels rewarding.

Once Ashley and I wrapped up our time in Chicago we got back in the car for more driving. We stayed at my uncles house in Omaha, Nebraska for the night where I recieved some pretty bad news that my grandmother had passed away. It was a pretty sad time for everyone, but my supporting family insisted that I carried on with my plans and try not to dwell on something that was out of my control. Needless to say I had a little extra motivation for the upcoming races.
Next stop, Laramie, Wyoming and then on to Bois, Idaho for the Boise Twilight criterium and some altitude training.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fitchburg report

A couple weeks ago, Ashley and I began our month + long road trip across the U.S. Our first destination: Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
The race started with a 14k time trial. Time trialing isn't really my strong point but I gave it an all out effort. My only real goal was to pass people, and not get passed. It is usually hard for me to stay focused during the individual efforts, but I managed to do it some how this time. It still wasn't my finest performance, but I did manage to pass my 30 second guy, and no one passed me. Good day.
Stage 2 was a very difficult 75 mile circuit. The roads were all beat to hell and the final 500 meters were straight up to the finish! As if the race itself weren't hard enough, about 30 minutes into the race it began to pour down rain! Usually, I get a little nervous in the rain in anything other than a road race; however, this time was different. It was actually fun! I did a good job at staying at the front and was able to go with moves, none of which stuck. By the time we finished, a group of 7 stayed away and I found myself cruising in around 30th. Only about 65 people finished in the front group, with everyone else finishing minutes behind.
The 3rd stage road race had changed a bit from previous years due to the crappy road conditions caused by the harsh winter they had. Instead of the finish going up Mt. Wachussette, it finished on the feed zone climb we went up each lap. The course was pretty fast and relatively easy, except for the final 5k, which averaged about 9%. The race went pretty well for me overall. Going into the final and decisive lap, I had the feeling I was cracking and ended up popping out of the front group. Unfortunately for me, that feeling only lasted about 5 min. By the time I was good to go again, the race was over. I was left in the groupetto on the final lap with everyone content with rolling in 5 minutes behind. I still finished 35th but I couldn't help but think it should have been better. Next time.
Going into the crit, I was kinda tired. I didn't really have any objective for the race other than don't suck. I pretty much just followed wheels and a little before the half way mark, I found myself up the road with Mike Friedman, Tony Cruz and about 8 other guys from Kelley Benefits and Mt. Khakis. Just my luck, they weren't really interested in anything other than sprint points and primes. For the rest of the race I just sat in and tried to stay at the front. Again, a break of 7 or so stayed off the front, and I just followed wheels into the finish around 30th. Nothing great, but again it was the front group after the field split up. During the crit one of my all time favorite cyclists, Tyler Hamilton, came to spectate. I think he is from the Boston area, so it was cool to see him there. During my race, Ashley took a picture of him and just by accident got me in the picture. How cool is that right!?

Overall, I was pretty satisfied with my performance. Considering that was one of the biggest stage races I have done to date. I think more strong performances will follow. This only made me stronger and prepared me more for nationals.

Check back soon for more updates from my journey. I have a ton of photos that I plan on uploading also.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back on the road.

So last week I began my summer long voyage cross country. My first stop is in good ole' Greenville, SC. Where I am presently. I love the riding here, and the weather is hard to beat. Especially compared to the heat and humidity of home. After a couple of weeks of training in the mountains, it will be off to Boston for the Fitchburg stage race. Since I haven't raced since Tulsa, I am well rested and have some good miles in my legs. I also recently started working with a sports psychologist, Chris DuRoy, so my confidence is increasing as well.
After Fitchburg, it will be back in the car for more driving. This time, it's to the west coast. My race schedule will be Boise Twilight, Cascade and then u23 and elite road nationals. Luckily i have almost 2 weeks between Fitchburg and Cascade, so there is no big hurry to drive from coast to coast.
Before I left Dallas, I scored some Sugoi compression socks, courtesy of Bill Ball at Richardson Bike Mart. (Your one stop shop for all of your cycling needs, now offering the Retul fit. Ask for Mike or Gary.) ;-)
I already have some medical grade Jobst compression tights, but they tend to get a bit hot and sweaty. I think the socks will do just the trick in this summer time heat!

At the next few races you will also see me sporting a fresh pair of these....


I am a pretty big fan of the Radars and M-Frames, but these are definitely the most comfortably pair of glasses I have ridden with. It is basically the replacement to the old Racing Jackets, that George Hincapie made famous. The main difference is the lenses in the new Jawbones can me changed. In fact, all of the Jawbones (for the exception of the transition lens models) comes with an extra set of lenses as well as a case. They are a little bit more money than the radars, at $195, but for what you get, it is way worth it. The guys at Richardson Bike Mart already have them in stock if you want to check them out.

Anyways, I am pretty excited about my summer campaign and can't wait to kick it off in Fitchburg. Ashley and I are leaving around the 30th, and all the racing starts on July 1st.

Thanks again to all the readers who patiently wait for my posts. I plan on giving race updates while I am on the road. So check back at the first of the month.

Oh yeah, Metro isn't going anywhere. Just a small speedbump.
To quote the great Corey Ray, "Metrovolkswagenfightneverdies!!"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Time is flying by...

So the last time I posted on this thing, I was back in Mississippi and I had just read about Tyler Hamilton getting popped again. Sad day, whatever whatever.

Fast forward. Where have I been and what have I been doing since?

Well, racing mostly. The team went out and did the crit series in SC, followed by Joe Martin, or, as my brothers down south call it, Jose Martine. We also did the Matrix Challenge, Memorial weekend crits, and Tulsa Tough. The team overall raced well and was able to pick up a few results. I have had a sub par season of racing so far but am optimistic about things still come.I took a brief 2 week hiatus to Greenville, SC to train and stuff. It was much needed. I love the riding out there and the weather makes it hard not to enjoy a long day on the bike.  Christian is now running the team full time and he is trying to rebuild the whole program for next year. He is definitely the best guy for the job. I think it will all be ok.

As of now, my plans for the summer are as follows. Leave next week for Greenville, SC and train for another week or so. Then head up to the Boston area for the Fitchburg stage race. I haven't done that race since I was a junior in '06, but it's a good one. After Fitchburg, we will head cross country to Boise, Idaho for a crit and then up to Bend for Cascade and nationals. It is a ton of travel but luckily we aren't crunched for time.  This schedule I know for sure, after that I will iron out some details, but i have a good idea what will follow.

I turn 21 today. Not really sure what that means. Kind of a random number really. Just another day of training followed by the Tuesday Nighter.
Hope to see everyone out.

If I don't post for a while, send me an email and tell me to.