Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Downers Grove

This past weekend I headed up to the Chicago area for the Pro/Elite crit nationals. Shaun and a hyper Bryan picked me up around 5 a.m. and we drove the 14 hrs north straight through, getting to Shaun's friends house around 9 in the heart of downtown. Walking distance from the Sears Tower. The first race was the Saturday night Pro/Am. At first I wasn't planning on doing this, but since I had an extra entry fee and had never done the course before, I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn the course. Figure out where to move up at and the best lines. I purposely started on the back row, just to see how long it took to get to the front. The course was super fast and technical. With the field strung out, it took me about 5 laps at a pretty hard effort to get into the top 10. Bryan and I both managed to avoid the wrecks. Although Bryan did have a close call with 2 laps left. he finished in a solid 49th. I seriously thought about pulling the plug with 5 to go, considering I was still on Jim Hoyt's bike. I figured racing is racing and i might as well stick it out. With 2 to go I found myself in the top 20 and just kept surfing wheels to maintain my position. on the last lap I was a few spots behind the Colavita lead-out train. What I thought was the place to be. Wrong. Rashaan, Kayle, and Sterling Magnel, flew by Colavita on the downhill. I ended up getting swarmed a little. While Sterling and Kayle went 1-2, I ended up cruising in , in 17th. Not bad for not really "racing".
I ended up getting to bed around 11:30 after some intense Olympic watching, and of course cheering on the love of my life, Shawn Johnson.  I woke up early to watch Bryan dominate the cat 2 race in convincing fashion. Finally he gets that big win. He was due. Shaun also pulled out an awesome 6th in the 2's. 
I had pretty high expectations for the national championships. Simply win. I knew exactly where to be at every point during the race. I knew all the lines and when to move up. I knew who to watch for and who I was going to have to beat. This wasn't my first song and dance, but I definitely made a huge mistake. The legs were feeling good and I was ready for the final 5 laps. I popped a gel in my mouth for a little extra energy for the finish. What I forgot to do was wash it down with enough water. The last lap I was sitting comfortably in the top 10 and moving up on the climb. I went to accelerate into the top 5 for the downhill and felt that gag reflex we all love. I never have this feeling and I all i could think was, what bad timing. Going down the final downhill I could feel it coming again. So I decided to try and puke and maintain my position and get ready to sprint. I tried to get rid of the feeling but nothing came out. I came around the last turn somewhere in the top 10 and finished in a very disappointing 9th. I felt like that was my best chance to win a national championship and I screwed it up by a rookie move. Still a pretty solid result but not exactly what i was hoping for. Just like u23 nationals though, there is always next year.
next up on the calendar is Hotter N Hell this weekend followed by 100k in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend.

u23 nationals road race

After the crit and a couple days off for some quality beach time, we had a tough 120 mile road race around the Irvine subdivisions. This is kind of a touchy subject for me, and a bit of a long story, but here it goes.
The first 2 or 3 laps of 7 total were pretty tamed. After a big pack split came back together, at the end of lap 3 a break of 15 or so got away. I was fortunate enough to have Corey up in the break. This made my job easy. All I had to do was follow wheels and keep making the front selection up the 2 little climbs. After 4 laps, the break had about 3 minutes up on our chase group of around 18 riders. According to the officials, they were only allowing a 3 minute window before you got pulled. Yeah. Pulled. In a road race.. with 35 miles left in the race. Since I was just sitting on the back of the group getting my free ride, I ended up being scored at 31st. Not even knowing that was going to be our last lap. Since there was still a lot of racing left, no one in our group wanted to bail. We continued our chase for another lap. During the chase, we dropped all but 6 in our group and ended up catching and dropping about 5 guys out of the break. We picked up Corey who fell off the pace of the front break, but was able to hold on to our group. With one lap remaining, Kirk Carlsen was solo of the front still 3 minutes ahead of our group. Clearly he wasn't coming back. The rest of the break however, were only a minute and a half ahead. At this point we had ridden into the top 10 with podium spots still in contention. With a lap still left to race, it was too little too late, and all the chasing we had done was all for nothing. We had already been scored at the end of our previous lap.The worst part of the whole thing is that the race was unfolding exactly like it had last year in Seven Springs. With all but a few guys out of the break being caught.  USACycling and whoever said 3 minutes was a large enough window clearly messed up, and at nationals. Good job guys. Oh well I guess, it is what it is.
Corey had the ride of the day, being scored at 13th. Not bad for his first nationals.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Huntington Beach

Yesterday on our first "off" day before the road race on Sunday, we decided to ride out to Huntington Beach for some swimming and body boarding. The ride from Whittier was about and hr and a half. If you go a normal pace. Since Corey had the board strapped to his back it took us a little longer than expected due to the head wind. The water was pretty nice and the waves were pretty solid. Much better than the Gulf Coast of course. Since our little adventure, I have decided that I really need to move to California. Especially right off the coast. It's so nice and the weather is perfect. Plus it the scenery isn't bad on the eyes. So that's a huge bonus.
I'm not too sure when I'm going to make this big move, but it's going to happen. 
Today was the last prep day before our 115 mile road race. At first I thought the race was going to be a race of attrition that came down to a field sprint, but all of the woman and junior races today and little breaks getting away. It should be pretty tough.

After the race tomorrow, we will get showered up and loaded and head back to Dallas. 21 hr, non-stop drive. Yes, I am excited. Downers Grove next weekend and I am officially registered.

Sleep time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nationals crit

My first of 2 events this year at nationals is over. It was also my first race with my new team, Metro VW. The course was basically the king of all parking lot crits. It was a pretty tight and sketchy course in the Angels baseball stadium parking lot. That's right, parking lot crit with barriers lining the course and a man made round a bout. Probably the sketchiest crit I have ever done. Top 5 for sure. Only because There was a wreck in almost every corner. When there wasn't a crash, there was a good close call because people can't ride their bikes and they hook bars with the rider next to them. With 3 laps to go, all I could think about was the last thing Jim Hoyt said to me before I left for Cali. "Don't "fubar" that bike while your out there." I was very afraid of fighting for positioning simply because I really want to go home after I leave here. However, I sucked it up and grew a pair and managed to avoid a crash going into the last lap that was about 20 riders back. I could hear all the carnage behind me. Riders hitting the barriers, carbon wheels hitting the ground and derailleurs going into spokes. Tristan went down but is ok. Too bad, he was riding well.
Around the round about on the last lap (about 500 meters to go), I moved from 12th or so into the top 10. With 20 meters to go, it was on! I was hesitant to jump and waited for the favorites to jump first. Not too sure why, its not like I was going to sprint around them. In hind sight I would have jumped when I should have but I'm still not sure it would have made much difference. I ended up in 7th. I am very happy with that place, all things considered. I have done nationals since 2005 and I have only been in the top 10 one other time, and that was a 10th in the tt in Seven Springs in 06. So needless to say I was satisfied. Yet left a little disappointed. The podium was within my grasps and not out of reach. Justin Williams and Jake Keough battled it out for the win. It could have gone either way, but went to Justin. Halloway finished 3rd followed by Eric whatever from Time Factory and then Alex Boyd! rounding out the podium. Boyd is the man! Alexi Martinez finished right ahead of me in 6th. It makes me feel a little better knowing that I was the 2nd amateur, but there is no jersey for that. The rest of the guys rode well. Covered stuff early on so I didn't have too. They all stayed out of trouble and didn't crash and finished with the group. Not bad considering NONE of the guys have every done nationals before. Talk about being thrown into the gauntlet. Even Thacker Reeves threw down a good ride in his first nationals with a 10th. Hes got talent.
It was nice being able to jump across to a break or cover an attack and ride at the front and not get yelled at for being "selfish". Not a bad start to nationals, but I will need a little bit of luck for the next race. 115 miles on Sunday is gonna be rough. I am confident though. Winning or making the podium will be no easy task but this isn't my first dance.
Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Just to clear things up.

So I just want to set the record straight and let everyone know. TxTough and myself have parted ways. For people that cant draw their own conclusions, it was just a bunch of different things. Eventually something had to give. A week before nationals was not the best of timing, however it needed to be done. It was a mutual decision and no relationships were harmed. That I can see anyways. It is a disappointment, but not a surprise. I had originally just wanted to finish out the remaining part of the season unattached, but that was not very cost effective. Thanks to all the friends that gave me advice and support. I will be finishing the year with Metro VW starting with u23 nationals. My schedule is a little different than originally planned but it should still be good. After my departure in California I will head back to Dallas for a few days then straight to Chicago for crit nationals at Downers Grove. Then Hotter n Hell and 100k in Atlanta over Labor Day. I will also get to race the remaining crit series races with San Fran. and then the finals in Vegas. 
I'm pretty excited to get a new start with a new team. I was pretty lucky Nathan offered me an opportunity to ride for his team.

A huge thanks to Mike Gacki, Gary Woolfolk, Woody Smith and Jim Hoyt at Richardson Bike Mart for loaning me a bike since I have been back from SuperWeek. They definitely made things a ton easier on me.
Our first race isn't until Thursday with the crit at the Anaheim Angel stadium. The tt is tomorrow. We rode the course today and its pretty tough. I wish I were doing it, but its kinda expensive to fly 2 bikes. Maybe next year.
The road race is on Sunday. Its 186k, luckily its pretty flat with some gentle climbs. It should still be pretty hard though. 
Wish me luck.