Monday, November 7, 2011

Shutting Down

Serving notice...

I'll be shutting down this 'blogspot' at the end of November and will be posting to my new blog going forward.

Check it out! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gateway Cup 2011

The Gateway Cup in St. Louis is one of the best racing series for amatuer racers in the Midwest.  The competition is always strong and the races are fast, very fast.  This was the second year that my family and made the trip down to St. Louis to enjoy the racing and the Labor Day weekend.

The Gateway Cup consists of 4 criteriums starting on a Friday evening and running through Monday.  The Friday night crit is held around Lafayette Square, an older historic neighborhood surrounding a park in the square.  Saturday's crit is in another great beighborhood in which the race encompasses a large park.  Sunday's race is in the Italian neighborhood and is a long but tight 4-corner course.  Finally, Monday's race imore of a circuit race than a crit and runs near the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Racing didn't go the greatest for me this year.  Legs were a bust again at the end of the season.  I finished the first race safely in the middle of the field.  Finishing safely is the main thing as the race was very dangerous due to some horrible riding.  This is not an occurance only at this race, they were all dangerous.  The second race on saturday went about the same as the first and finished in the top 1/3 of the field.  Sunday's race at the Giro della Montagne was the end of my racing for the weekend.  Remember the statement about dangerous earlier?  I was finally feeling great and was racing strong, attempting a break off the front and remaining near or on the front the majority of the race.  With two laps to go coming out of turn 4 there was a massive pile-up.  I was riding about 20 wheels back and accelerating hard out of the corner when a few riders went down and slide across my path.  I had no where to go and one of the downed riders handlebars caught my front wheel, sending me head-over-heels onto the pavement.  I bounced hard off the pavement and tucked in as the field piled up on us.  When got up (slowly) looked and saw 3/4's of the field laying on the road.  I was hurting pretty bad and didn't resume racing.  Broke the carbon fairing of my front wheel, twisted the shifter, and broke my helmet.  I didn't race the Monday race and just enjoyed the remainder of the weekend.  That's racing!

Again, the Gateway Cup is a great series but it was a tough way to end the road season.  Luckily, there's always next year!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

N.E.W. Wheeling Weekend

This last weekend was the first time the North East Wisconsin (N.E.W.) Wheeling Weekend was hosted in the cities of Manitowoc and Menasha.  Great weather was on hand for both days, especially on Sunday.  Saturday's race was held on a wide open industrial park circuit with a slight riser before the start/finish.  The 3's race only 13 participants but that didn't mean the field would be together after 4 laps.  In one big acceleration the field was decimated.  6 of the 13 starts were off the back and there were 7 of us left to fight it out for the win.  On the last lap a racer made the perfect move on the back stretch to open a gap into the headwind that proved to be the decisive winning move.  The rest of us had to field spring for our places in which I finished 4th.  

Sunday's race was held on the old Otto Grunski course in Menasha that featured a 4 corner circuit with a false flat on the back side.  I participated in the 3's and 1/2/3's races.  I kicked off the 3's race with a massive attack on the 3rd lap which was covered immediately by the field.  Another attack came quickly and I was positioned badly in which I was unable to make the break.  I worked furiously at the front of the field to pull the break back but was getting absolutely no help from the field.  None, whatsoever.  I was quite annoyed at this point and decided it was best to sprint it out for 4th place in the field sprint.  I was very tired but positioned well and took 2nd in the field sprint (5th overall).  The 1/2/3's race started immediately after the 3's.  I had just enough time to grab another water bottle before the start and we were underway.  I sat in the field the entire race not doing anything ridiculous.  Unfortunately, with 16 laps to go I was out of water and began cramping.  Conserving as much energy as possible, I finished the race without a sprint.  It was great just to be part of the race in which we averaged just shy of 27 mph.  Good stuff!

There are no races on the schedule for me the next few weekends until Labor Day weekend where I'll be participating in the Gateway Cup in St. Louis.  For those of you racers out there that have never participated in these races, you should really look into it.  Some of the best racing of the year in a great city.
In other news, my little boy William turned 5 months old this past weekend and already has a tooth cutting in.  The little fella is a drooling machine!  Also, the destruction of our upstairs bathroom has begun.  My parents came down on Tuesday and we tore out 3 of the 4 plaster walls and the cast iron tub.  Quite a bit of work already done with plenty more to go.  Should be fun!   Later!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All Geared Up

The Madone is back!  Trek sent me a brand new 2011 Madone 6.9 SSL and even put my yellow and black colors on the frame.  After some analysis on the previous frame, Trek identified that there was a defect in a carbon seam that led to the break in the rear seat stay in addition to the stress that the frame encountered during the race.  Trek warrantied the frame and I'm now back training and racing.

The Tour of Elk Grove was this past weekend in (you guessed it) Elk Grove, IL.  This race is one of the best races of the year and boasts one of the best payouts for a Cat 3 race.  The race started fairly uneventful until one guy went off the front and I jumped the gap up to his wheel.  We managed to stay away from the field for about 6 laps, gaining upwards of 15 seconds at the max.  Unfortunately, the guy in the break with me wasn't strong enough to hang onto my wheel and he eventually gave up when he noticed the field started gaining time on us.  Had to try for the breakaway!  The rest of the race was trying to stay upright.  Halfway into the second last lap, two goofballs in front of me tangled up but managed to keep the bikes and bodies off the pavement.  I went to the outside going into a right-hander but one of the Spaceballs shot out wide and forced me off the road.  Cyclocross!  I bunny hopped the curb and then again over a massive mud hole, onto a drive and back on the road.  I lit a few matches getting back to the front going into the last lap.  On the sprint I was positioned well, I went early and was making up ground to the leaders when the door was shut.  I called an audible and went left allowing myself to take a few more places.  8th place for the first race on the new bike and $100 in the pocket.  That's right, $100 for 8th place.  Did I mention it was the best payouts of the year?

Anyway, the road racing season is beginning to wind down with only a handful left.  My scheduled races are as follows:
Saturday, Aug 13 -  N.E.W. Wheeling Weekend - Manitowoc, WI
Sunday, Aug 14 - N.E.W. Wheeling Weekend - Menasha, WI
Friday, Sep 2 - Gateway Cup - Lafayette Square Crit - St. Louis, MO
Saturday, Sept 3 - Gateway Cup - Tour des Hills - St. Louis, MO
Sunday, Sep 4 - Gateway Cup - Giro della Montange - St. Louis, MO
Monday, Sept 5 - Gateway Cup - Benton Park Crit - St. Louis, MO

That's it!  Maybe a Wisport road race too up in Cleghorn... maybe.  It may not be the end though.  I'm thinking about trying cyclocross this year, however that means some additional investment in another bike.  Not sure the financial budget will allow for cross this year.  We'll see.

Well here is what the post is really about...  Later!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Single Speeding

My ’67 Schwinn Supersport single speed bike has been getting a significant amount of use of the course of the last few weeks.  As noted in my previous blog, I managed to crack the right rear seat stay on my 2010 Trek Madone 6.9 during the first race of the Tour of America’s Dairyland.  The picture below is slightly hard to see but the crack is between the “R” and the “E” of Trek.
Extreme Ski & Bike sent my frame back to Trek for analysis on June 27th.  Trek, being the best bicycle company in the industry, is warranting my frame and has currently has the frame in the paint department.  Yup, the paint department!  Trek is going further out of their way to put my ProjectOne yellow and black colors on the Madone.  This type of customer service has definitely won me over and I will only be riding a Trek road bike for the rest of my life.  The new frame should be arriving in the near future; however, my patience is starting to wane because of not having a geared road bike for almost 3 weeks during the middle of the racing season.

Being without a geared bike for 3 weeks left me with little options on how to precede with training after late June, so my vintage single speed bike became the training tool of choice.  Whether it was a good choice or not is currently up for debate though.  Riding a single speed is good for smoothing out and increasing cadence; however, is not a good training method for keeping up fitness for criterium racing.  I suppose that a short period of time training solely on the single speed would be beneficial, may a week or so, but after about 2 weeks the point of diminishing returns is established.  

Yesterday I participated in my first race during the month of July.  I borrowed a teammate bike and tried to set up my fit dimensions on the bike to help ensure a bit of comfort.  Race started out fine but by half way through I could tell my fitness level had decreased.  Turning a big gear over like I was used to has become a bit of a struggle.  Sluggish muscles didn’t allow for an easy race, even one in which most of the time we didn’t work that hard.  Any hard acceleration had me going from the front to the back because of having to take a while to wind up the speed.  Finished mid-pack, did even try to contest.  Good race nonetheless to open the legs up a bit.

A few good races are coming up this weekend with the Downer Classic in MKE on Saturday and the Evanston Grand Prix near Chicago on Sunday.  Should be a good time and an enjoyable weekend in the racing community with my best supporters, my wife Amy and my son William!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Play The Hand Your Dealt

Holidays have come and gone and so has the month of June so I figured it’s time to update this blog.  The end of May and all of June have been extremely busy resulting in my lack of providing updates.  Or is it my pure laziness that led to the neglect of this blog?  I’ll let you decide the verdict on this one but I’ve got plenty of evidence to acquit myself from the latter.  Anyway, May ended with a few races in the Mississippi River area of Illinois and Iowa with Snake Alley and Quad Cities criterium.  Snake Alley was tough as usual and bumpier this year than last.  Rain caused mayhem and overfilled tire pressure caused some climbing issues.  I finished the race nonetheless but managed to crash after the finish thanks to a an idiot stopping an pulling a u-turn 30 meters after the finish line.  I clocked him at over 30 mph but I took the hurt from the crash.  Broken helmet… ouch.  Confidence wasn’t shaken though and two days later I was able to race to 5th place at Quad Cities criterium on a 8 corner, hour glass shaped course.
June came and disappear in the blink of an eye.  No racing in the first half of the month and travel to Florida for work made for a relaxing setup before the Tour of Americas Dairyland (ToAD).  My category for ToAD this year was 2/3 which made for tougher and faster races than regular cat 3’s are used to.  One would surmise that the races would be fairly safe with experienced racers partaking in the events.  That conclusion would be on the opposite spectrum in the terms of safe riding.  Each race with exception to the individual TT was marred with crashes.  On the opening day I managed to use a guy’s bike as a ramp to do some tricks in the air.  I didn’t exactly stick the landing though, but did stay upright.  While not an elegant landing and not crashing, the bike took some strain of some sort that cracked the seat stay on the drive train side.  Being a determined racer and knowing that the area the crack was in wouldn’t cause a catastrophic failure if the seat stay completely broke apart, I continued to race on the frame for the remainder of the Tour. 
The highlight of ToAD for me was having an absolutely fantastic day on the bike during the individual TT.  Placing 3rd I got the chance to stand on the podium.  Overall my average result for the series was between 10th and 20th.  Those somewhat consistent results landed me in a tie for 10th place overall.  I’ll take it considering I was racing with guys a level up!  After a bit of research I was able to identify that I placed 3rd overall for guys that were Cat 3’s!  Definitely a confidence booster!
With a broke frame I had to send the bike back to Trek for evaluation.    The owner of the shop I race for (Extreme Ski & Bike in Thiensville, WI) sent my frame to Trek a little over week ago and I just got word yesterday that I’d be getting my new frame either late this week or sometime next week.  Trek prides itself on great bikes and excellent customer support.  Their bikes and in my opinion, world-class support have definitely made me a lifetime customer of Trek bikes.  I can’t thank Extreme Ski & Bike and Trek enough for the continued support they’ve provided me over the years.  Two top notch companies!
Going back to the title of this entry, one thing I’ve learned over the course of the last few months is that you have to play with the hand your dealt.  Crashing and coming back to place well in the next race, racing on a broken frame, and dealing with the fact you’ll never have full use of your arm again.  Yes, after analysis by a specialist in neurology, there is nothing that I will be able to do about my right arm in which I only have 40% range of motion.  Long story short, had a small surgery that may have caused scar tissue to develop on a nerve that provides electrical signals to the shoulder muscles.  This is only in theory because the recent MRI didn’t show any nerve damage or excessive scar tissue buildup.  The specialist noted that only a small layer of scar tissue may compress the nerve enough to interrupt transmissions to fire the muscles.  Any further surgery to investigate the problem could result in more severe consequences so there’s no option but living with having to compensate with other muscles to utilize my arm fully.  Play the hand your dealt.  Better yet, I’ll just change the rules.
July will be another month full of racing starting with the State Criterium Championship.  I may not be able to participate in the championship due to lack of a bike but being that I haven’t participated in this race for the last two years, it doesn’t bother me too much.  It’s only one race with a title of a championship.  There’s bigger races out there that mean a lot more to me.  Speaking of those, ICC-Superweek starts at the end of this week.  I’ll be looking to participate in a number of the races around the MKE area.  Those races will make up the majority of the racing in July.  And a few of the biggest races that I have my eye on for the remainder of the 2011 racing season include the Tour of Elk Grove and the Gateway Cup, a 4-day racing series in St. Louis over Labor Day weekend.  Those races are what I call championships.
Check back periodically on this blog.  I’ll try to be a little more consistent with updates

Monday, May 23, 2011

Racing Update

Four races have come and gone since the last post and the racing has been going strong.  Two weekends ago was the Wheels on Willy criterium which is normally held in Madison, however due to construction the race was moved to a business park in Fitchburg.  I carpooled with one of my teammates whom participated in the 3's and 1/2/3's races with me.  The wide open course offered up fast racing but because of strong winds, no breakaways were able to be established without being reeled in on the backstretch.  In the 3's race I positioned horribly going into the final corner and sprinted from anywhere between 20th to 25th position to finish 6th.  The 300 to 400 meter sprint felt great and was my best sprint of the year.  The 1/2/3's race was also fast and I worked only to survive.  Hanging on I was again able to put in a decent sprint but didn't move up any positions.  26th for a result.

This past weekend offered up two days of racing, the first in Hartland with rainy and wet conditions to being the 3's race.  The field stayed together the entire race.  Any break attempt was quickly stifled.  The race came down to a field sprint, soft of.  Approaching the final wide open corner (and I mean WIDE), the first two riders crossed up wheels and hit the pavement slowing the entire field, except for one...  the person those two were trying to lead out.  It worked for them the wrong way but they got the win.  Myself and another competitor sprinted it out for 2nd place in which I was able to muster out the battle by a few bike lengths.  I didn't even think about racing the 1/2/3's race due to the weather, which ended up to be a wise choice going into Sunday's race in Sussex.

The Sussex course is located in a business park and has a decent climb up to the start/finish on each lap.  The 3's race started as usual with a number of futile attacks by individuals to feel out the field.  After two repeated attacks by one team, I saw an opportunity to jump off the front and start a break (make everyone race my type of race).  I was boxed in but a wide driveway was coming up on the right.  I took the gutter through the driveway and sprint off the front of the field into a strong headwind.  By the time I reached turn 4 I had over 100 meters on the field.  I put my head down and drilled it solo for one lap and then noticed there were 4 chasers coming up to me.  I let up allowing the chasers to catch on and we quickly began working together to further distance ourselves from the field.  Each lap we continued to gain time.  By the final lap our break was down to 4 and had over 1:40 on the field.  At the start of the final lap one guy in the break jumped, none of us reacted and he was off.  I was sitting on the front and being given the hook.  After pulling half the lap I knew no help was coming so I veered to the right quickly and slammed the brakes.  The two went on by and I was able to jump on the back and save some for the finish.  I shit hooked the two up the final corner when it was an all out sprint to the finish.  I was quite tired and pulled of 3rd.  Great result for starting a break solo.
I tried the 1/2/3's race immediately afterward but was completely cooked.  I hammered out 1.5 laps and pulled the plug.  "That was a waste of 10 bucks!"

Great racing though over the last two weekends.  Memorial Day weekend races are upcoming this weekend with Snake Alley (epic) on Saturday and the Quad Cities criterium on Monday.  Two fantastic races.  If you've never heard of Snake Alley, look it up. (