Jul 26, 2007

Finally, an update.

Work, Race, Sleep

It seems like that's my life the last few weeks. At least it seems to be slowing down. The last time I updated I was going down to Peoria to race the Proctor Classic, hoping for an upgrade to a 4. My upgrade didn't come in time, so I raced as a 5. Things went well enough. Saturday was the road race, which Anthony and Calvert did with me. I won, and it was pretty much the strongest I felt all year. I was controlling the race from the beginning and in the end I was able to bridge a last minute break and still win the sprint that started 100 yards from the line. I was really impressed with Anthony. For someone who just started road biking a few months earlier, he was able to hang with the group on a the first set of climbs and still finish the race pedaling the last lap on his own. It was fun to hang out with everyone from school that night and, probably partially due to the night before, I finished third in the Crit on Sunday.

Pictures from the crit in downtown Peoria.

Coming home from the race my confidence was great with two races coming up quickly: the Northfield and Hopkins crits. My upgrade came through and I was able to do both as a four, meaning I could do both the 4/5 and 3/4 races. Little did I know that neither race would go especially well.

The Northfield crit runs down Division (main) street downtown, up a steep hill and winds back to the start on Division. At the start of the 4/5 race I lined up next to Chris Fischer, Sam Oftedahl and Eric Oftedahl, three semipro mountain bikers. A rough, hilly course was perfectly suited to them and they took advantage. Half the field of forty DNF'd and it was all I could just to hang on to finish second to last. The 3/4 race didn't go much better and I pulled off three quarters of the way through.

The Hopkins crit was the next weekend, on the flat, fast roads of downtown Hopkins. The 4/5 race was huge and I just didn't feel comfortable in the big pack filled with sketchy 5's. I finished at the back of the pack and in the pictures below, I just don't feel comfortable.

The 3/4 race went better. I was able to find a comfortable rhythm, sit in well and move my way up towards the end. Finishing 20th out of 50+ racers wasn't great, but it felt a lot better than the previous finishes.

Flanders, controlling the front of the race at Hopkins.

Or not.

The next race was the first of three sponsored by Hollywood Cycles at Dakota Tech. Its the same course as the Summit crits in June. I showed up and who walks up next to me but Adam Gorski. Gorski is hard core into cycling. He works at Flanders and rides year round, making next to nothing and putting it all into his bike. Livin the dream. The thing is, he broke his collarbone back in May and I didn't get much of a chance to race with him. Anyway, the race starts and Gorski is STRONG. I don't know where a guy who spends May and June with a broken collarbone gets this kind of fitness, but next year I'm doing the crash in the early season races and clean up in July and August training plan. He ended up winning the race over a hard charging Chris Fischer and we were all just happy just to see him riding again, let alone racing. I finished with the pack in both the 4/5s and 3/4/5s and felt like I'd lost most of my motivation for the year. The Granite County Omnium was next weekend and I was having a hard time convincing myself that I needed to drive to St. Cloud two days in a row when none of my teammates were going anyway.

In the end I went to Granite County. I drove up Saturday morning for the Road Race. I wasn't really expecting much and wasn't really sure whether I'd stick around that afternoon for the time trial or not. Well, the road race went a lot better than expected. Not having a team absolved me of all responsibility to work at the front so I could sit in until I saw an opportunity, attack, and then sit in again. In the end, none of the breaks stuck, but I found myself in fantastic positioning for the final sprint and was able to finish third. I think I could have finished better too, but as we were coming over the final little hill, I totally forgot the finish line was coming and wasn't prepared for a sprint! If I had just paid a little more attention, 1st wasn't out of the question.

With my good position in the GC, I decided to stick around and try my luck at my first TT. You see, time trialing is heavily dependent on equipment and since I don't have a TT bike or helmet or wheels, I've just been avoiding it. This TT was short and sweet, since we'd already raced that day, only 5 miles one way on a flat highway. I didn't know what to prepare for, going all out for 5 miles, but in the end I finished in a respectable 13:04, 2:30 minutes off Doug Swanson's best overall time and good for 12th in the Cat 4's. Wait... thats not so respectable. Nonetheless, I was still third overall in the GC after the TT, so whoever beat me in the TT must not have done very well in the RR. What was respectable was that despite my not-so-spectacular time and being spaced by only :30 intervals, I wasn't caught and passed by anyone behind me. I was alright with that.

Going into the crit the next morning, my goal was to sit in and let Loon State and Silver Cycling do most of the work, since they had the biggest teams in our field and sprint it out for a better place in the GC. It worked out well, as I sat in for most of the race, started working my way up with 5 laps to go and finished second on the day. It was good enough for 1st on the weekend and enough to prizes to pay my race fees! Woo hoo! I'm almost a pro!

The next race on the schedule was Hollywood #2 and I was feeling good about it. With my decent placing in the Granite County races and a second place from earlier in the year, I was one or two good finishes from upgrading to a Cat 3. TBoughts and I drove down to Dakota Tech together and got in a good warm up before the races. I lined up and with no Chris Fischer this week, I liked my chances. The race started going really well for me; I won the prime and with 1 lap to go I felt like I could out sprint everyone for the win.

The thing is, Dakota Tech is a closed circuit on some interconnecting pavement used for teaching people to drive semi's. Usually the course is a tight, winding course around the outside of the circuit, but this time the organizers set up the course with four long straights, three wide turns and one tight hairpin.

Coming into the hairpin, we'd slow from 25-30mph to 10 in about 25 feet. The first 9 laps I'd taken a hard pull down that straight to put myself in good position for the turn, but on the last lap, I wanted to save my effort for the final sprint. I sat in line and as we began slowing, two riders came up on either side of me trying to get a better position in the turn. We squeezed tighter and tighter as the corner approached and then my wheel and the rider's to my right touched, stopped, and I flew over my handlebars. My helmet hit the ground first, my elbow next and my shoulder last. In a split second the rider behind me ran over me and my bike and landed a few feet later.

When I got up, I had a broken helmet and right shifter, torn jersey and shoe, plenty of road rash and two wheels that looked like they came out of a Pringles can. Suffice to say I'm not feeling to good about it. I was really lucky about injuries, I could have broken a collarbone, wrist or leg, but all I got was some scrapes that will heal up in a couple weeks. Tearing up my bike sucks, but I think I can fix it up relatively easily. I'm really ticked off that a potentially good finish was wasted on a silly little crash. I can't wait to upgrade to a 3 and get out of these crummy races with 5's in them. At least Tboughts was there to drive my poor self home. I guess its time to start running and preparing for that marathon in Philidelphia next November.

It was a really good race for Tboughts. After some less than stellar crits earlier in the year, she was able to stay with the pack, make a couple good moves and finish respectively. Now if only I could operate the camera better and get a picture of her.

Tboughts is kicking ass on her creaky green Bianchi.