Can't Catch A Break

Monday, June 30, 2008

Elm Grove

I showed up early. Being and Endeavour(tm) race, I volunteered on the course before my race. I was marshaling on corner 4, the nastiest of all the corners. I did not see, but heard the worst crash of the day. Cat 4 dude I think. He devastated his bike and his face. On a mailbox. His front wheel buckled in and his frame was broken in several places. His head was largely en-bandaged.

The race was to be 60 minutes plus two laps. I opted to bring only a single bottle. It wasn't so sunny any more. And they shortened it to 50 at the start out of scheduling concerns. Good. The shorter the better. "Riders Ready. Go!"

My goal for this race was to watchBring it nature! the lap cards. I did pretty well, catching it on most laps. And the clouds en-darkened. Maybe 10 minutes in the first drops of rain fell. Within a lap and a half, the heavens were rent asunder and the apocalypse was upon us. The sky got very dark. Rain was coming down HARD. It actually felt like hail, but that could have just been the pine cones flying in the insane gusts. I can handle wind, but these gusts were crazy. I actually *saw* one coming at me across a lawn. It hit me like a punch and almost took me down. There were branches falling and brush in the road. I threw my glasses in a yard because I couldn't see through them. Of course, it's also hard to see when you're getting sprayed in the face with wet sand. Or maybe my eyes just hadn't adjusted to the lightning. But I didn't think that far ahead.

Oh, and in case I didn't mention it yet, it got SLICK. A rider next to me (outside, luckily) went down on the UPHILL corner. That's not good. The pack was definitely cautious around corner 4. The danger corner.

"2 laps to go"

What? We're not even 30 minutes in! They had shortened the race due to the impending end-of-days. Gaps were starting to form all over. I don't know if it was due to caution or pace, but I felt good, so I got myself to the front. Prior to the race, I had decided with some teammates that the race would essentially be decided at the top of the rise on the back. In the last lap, I was in about 8th position coming up to that point. I saw my teammate Jason making a move, and jumped on it. He got the front by turn 3, and I was right on that wheel. Brian Kaker came through and got to the front with some impressive speed considering the condition of corner 4. So it was Brian, Jason, me out of the final turn. We all jumped as soon as we had the pedal clearance to do it, and that's how it stayed until the line. 3rd for me.

I left my fuzzy slippers, my only civilian footwear out in the sun, and subsequently rain. I had no dry footwear, except some fancy socks I happen to accidentally leave in my car. Thank you novelty dress socks.

(Thanks to JohnWilkes for the photos)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Must be something in the water

Today, I set a personal best 20 minute power. Twice. After accidentally setting a new 20 minute power last week, I bested it again today by 13 watts. Then I rested 9 minutes and did another 20 minute interval. I went out way too hard. My average was like 50 watts higher for the first 5 minutes, but I held on to average another 1 watt higher again.

And then I got the number of the girl from the coffee shop. I mean, but I already knew her. Still seemed like a fitting end to the ride.

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Two For One: Grafton and Sheboygan

Hello dear readers. Let me tell to you the story of woe, adulation, and intrigue that is the Wisonsin Cycling Series. (aka Giro d' Grafton and d' Sheboygan)

It starts with some preliminary drama. Bam! My room mate has my car parked in. I called him all over, but his cell phone was home. Just like his car and motor cycle were. Luckily he left the window open. My other room mate and I shifted it into neutral and rolled it out of the way. The motorcycle was a little more challenging. I'm still sore from that.

But I got the car out, picked up a racing dude, and we were off. And then 94 was down to one lane because of some dumb nature conditions. "Flooding" or whatever. But with perseverance, we prevailed over all that crap.

Awesome race. The plan was that Ryan and I would go for all the early primes, and then block for Jason's break with four to go. I got the first prime. It was a massage prime, so I don't think people were feeling too motivated. I wasn't feeling nearly as good for the next one, $50. Despite being denominated in US dollars, there was still significant interest in this prize. I was nowhere.

Deep in the middle of the race, I found myself behind a Baraboo Shark way on the inside of the final and sharpest turn. He clipped a pedal hard and went down. I rolled over his arm or something. I think it put a wobble in my precious front wheel. I hesitated for half a second and spent the next 500m trying to catch up to the group in front of the split that had been created. It shortly all came back together anyway.

The laps kept ticking by. With all the turns in the course, I figured a small group might be able to make it. No one could get away, although plenty of people tried. Final lap, final turn: I was maybe 15th wheel. Way too far back after coming out of the corner. My sprint was feeling good though. Unfortunately, two up-sitters converged on my location from each side. I had to drop ~5mph, move around them, and try to salvage what I could. 12th in the 3s. That paid $25. These are some well paying races.

Note to self: Move up earlier

I stayed overnight in Milwaukee, because the next day was

A totally flat long skinny rectangle of a course. This probably has the longest straights of any crit course I've ever seen.

The streets were just drying out as we started. At some point during the race, I think it started raining again, but I didn't really notice. It's funny how much I dread rain before the race, but can't even notice in when it's in progress.

In the first half, Jason made an epic bridge to a 3 man break that I knew would stay away. At that point, Endeavour, GDVC, and B&B totally shut down the pack. The break quickly gained a half lap advantage. Geargrinder and shark attacks came frequently, but they never worked together.

It came down to a sprint for 5th. Wait, what lap is it? Oh yeah, last lap. I waited for the firetruck sign and jumped. I got out in front of the Shark train suspiciously easily. Here's a picture of my confusion. Of course, it was actually one lap to go. Damn! At least I messed up the Shark train. Supposedly Chris and Ryan went to the front on the back stretch, but I was busy paying back that oxygen. I was maybe 10th in the pack at the final corner and turned in a modest sprint to pick up a few places to net 10th overall, good for $50.

At least I followed my advice from yesterday and got to the front early. Still needs a little tweaking.

Note to self: Practice watching lap cards every lap.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Race Registration (phat cash stacks)

I just dropped >$400 in the last 24 hours registering for races in June and July. That's probably nothing for some Ironman registering guy, but that buys a lot of $25 to $30 race registrations. And that's still not counting the four additional races I'm planning to do before the end of July that don't offer pre-registration.

I hope I win some money back.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WI Crit Championship

Saturday was the state crit championship in Ripon. I drove there with two dudes, what with gasoline being what it is. My car was crammed to the brim with bike racing nonsense.

On the way there, we encountered water flowing over the road on highway 26. We saw some cranes and and some fish swimming across the road.

The weather was great. Sun and wind. The course was nice with interesting turns and this little jog maneuver. And one short steep climb. If you could maintain speed through the corner, you could get at least halfway up the hill. That's the kind of hill I can get up.

Halfway through the cat 3 race, my teammate and current Wiconsin cup points leader rolled off the front solo. I did some weak blocking-like maneuvers, but the pack really didn't even seem to take notice. Eventually a total of 4 dudes were in the break, and the real chase started, but they already had a 20 second advantage. By two to go, it looked like they might be in striking distance, but the catch never came.

I wasn't feeling very agressive all day. I wasn't in very good position in the last lap, and failed to move up. I rolled across the line in 13th. But it was a fun race. And my teammate in the break won the sprint, the race, and the cat 3 Wisconsin crit champion jersey.

In other news, my powertap's working again. Apparently alkaline batteries are not so good in there. Silver oxide is what you need.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Straight gangsta


Monday, June 9, 2008


No racing last weekend. It was family vacation time. We camped. At Perrot Park. Outside. With the owls and torrents. It stopped raining long enough to get halfway into a family ride with a big hill. Then we waited in a rusty farm shack for it to pass. Thanks farmer dude!

When we got back, we pulled up huge bagloads of garlic mustard. Despite sounding delicious, they are an invasive species. And then it rained some more. I needed to ride some more, but the constant thunderstorms persuaded me not to.

The drive back to Madison was very.... rainy. Traffic was 10mph on I-90, but the new Garmin GPS came up with an awesome detour. The basement and backyard have standing water.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Powertap's busted

Before it stopped communicating entirely, it was fun being able to hit 1300w with a light spin, and killing myself to hit 90w. I think the torque sensor went bad or something. As a bonus, I had no idea if I was doing my hill climbs yesterday. Perceiving exertion is hard. Let's go shopping.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cold windy practice crit

Yesterday, I raced in the weekly practice crit. The forecast called for rain, and if it had been correct, I would have bailed. Rainy crits make me nervous. But it didn't and I didn't.

There are two races. First the 'B' race, then the 'A'. The organizers are always looking for racers to help corner guard the course. Since the whole thing is a volunteer effort, I organized traffic at corner 2 during the B race. That means I didn't warm up at all. After sitting in the cold wind, I did one lap, and it was time to race.

There were a lot of break attempts. I didn't initiate any, but I attempted a few ill-fated bridges. There were primes, but I couldn't go for any. On the last lap, I was in the pack. There were a few riders in a break. With half a lap to go, the pack inexplicably slowed down. If it was a real race, I would have waited it out, knowing that I'm weak at long finishes. But I seized the opportunity and went for it. I'm not sure if I ever got a gap or not, but I was giving it what I had. But by the final turn I was getting swarmed. I put my head down and held on for 9th or so.


Monday, June 2, 2008


Saturday, I went on a longer ride. Essentially the HHH 100k route. I felt the burn. I chased a turkey. I used all my gears.

Sunday, I raced at Sussex. Surprisingly, the legs still felt fresh after the punishment of Saturday. It was pleasant course with smooth pavement and wide roads. There was one shallow but long (for a crit) climb to the finish. I went for a few KOM sprints, and managed to get second in one.

Ryan Law pulled off a 4 lap solo flyer. He got totally out of sight. At some hilarious point a LAPT guy was pulling the pack and no one would coming through. Thanks to the terriffic Endeavour blocking. LAPT pulled way off to the left and succinctly explained the blocking conspiracy to the rest of the field. Good stuff.

The last KOM sprint was with 3 laps to go. There were two riders up the road. I decided to sit in to the finish. My hypothesis was that people were going to sprint too early and burn out. So I was going to wait until halfway up the hill and then unleash the fury. I started from 12th or so, which could have been better. Then I went at the appointed time. And sprinted for the wrong line. The KOM line was like 20 meters ahead of the actual finish line. Oops. Still, I got 8th.

It was a hot race. In temperature. I drank a lot before the race. And about 40oz of non-malt-liquor afterwards. I think I like hot races.