Archive for June, 2009

Tour Time Team Tips

June 27, 2009
Horner will resume his Rickshaw service this July

Horner will resume his Rickshaw service this July

Oh boy, the team selections have been announced, and there are controversies in all of the teams with key Americans. First, it was a shocker to hear that Chris Horner was left off by Astana. Horner proved his form in the Giro, but had another mishap. And, Astana is deep. And, Astana had to take a Kazakh….Or else, they’re never gettting paid again. You can bank on that. Even one Kazakh may not be enough to ever get the Kazakh mafia to pay again. Truth be told, Astana had SEVERAL really strong riders  who didn’t make the squad. Including Colom, Rubiera, and Vaitkus. So, Horner was among four really strong guys, one of whom got screwed when they had to choose a Kazakh kid. My take is that Vaitkus is the guy with a beef. He’s been riding strong, and the real reason not to choose Rubiera, Colom, or Horner is to prevent dividing the team in case of a 1986-like team split between Armstrong and Contador. As it is, there are two Spaniards and two Americans, then a full international set (which also maximizes global marketability).

Next, poor Tom Danielson didn’t make the squad at Garmin. At first, I thought this said something about  TD’s form, but now I think  Tyler Farrar is the reason. Unfortunately, Christian Vandevelde is probably not gonna have a great Tour. He may win the Vuelta, but he’s barely raced since his injury this year. So, it’s better to have a Julian Dean as an extra fast guy to help Tyler Farrar, than it is to have TD struggling with Vandevelde. With Wiggins and Millar in the stable, they have guys who could solo off and steal sprint stages, and they’d still have strong guys to help finish it off for Farrar if Wiggo or Millar get caught. It’s a great strategy. Farrar is the shit. He has beaten them all, head to head:  Boonen, Pettachi, McEwen, Cavendish, Freire, Hushovd…and, notably, Boonen and Pettachi ain’t gonna be there. Cavendish isn’t going to finish, even if he cleans up in the first week.  So, Farrar is a strong contender for Green.

Ah, then Columbia. Greipel, their second winningest rider this year, isn’t going. Who hung in the balance? George Hincapie. If you’re all for Cav and all for Cav, then it seems like you’d pick Greipel. But, Columbia wants to win other shit, and they should. They have a legit chance for the White Jersey in Tony Martin, and with Kim Kirchen and Michael Rogers both on form, they want to win some other stages (and maybe a polka dot, who knows?). I’d peg them the favorite in the TTT. With those goals, you’re better off having Hincapie–who can lead out, time trial, and make it up mountains–than having a fifth sprinter for the leadout train. Cav’s gonna win anyway. And, Cav’s been working with Renshaw, who would be the weakest selection on paper.


Winghaven 09, Danny and Kron get some Wings

June 24, 2009


Danny and Justin battling it out, Thx Beth for pic

Danny and Justin battling it out, Thx Beth for pic

I was bummed when I saw early on in the season that Winghaven would conflict with an annual father-son camping trip we had planned. I hoped for a delay on the camping trip after the storms down here, but, alas, they found a new site. I really like Winghaven, and I’m usually able to help the team in a race like that. Robert Kron was doing fine, though! Robert’s won this one before, and he was only bested by Dave Stone this year. Dave’s a really nice guy, and an incredible racer. From the chip results, it looks like Stone took it out of a small break which had Robert and Gary Dyer (another great guy!). Mack had a lot of usual suspects in the race, with Darrell coming in next, followed by Jeff, Gary, Robo, Mark, and his brother Mark.

In the 2-3 race, Danny the Rocket Robinson took 3rd! That’s an incredible result for a fairly new (and very young) Cat-2 in an NRC race!!! Wow! Justin Armstead was also up there in 13th! Justin just cat’d up to 3’s, and he’s already scoring points in 2’s races!!! And Gina Champion pulled into the finish in a huge race! That’s serious shit at an NRC race.

I’ll be racing the Masters at Webster Groves this weekend. I can’t swing an overnight stay in Peoria, unfortunately. I love the Proctor Crit, but it’s hard to justify the 4.5 hour drive and overnight stay once the road race got canned. Especially since I can get to Webster in 2 hours. After that, I’ll be giving it a go in Louisville for the Masters National Road Race. Woo Hoo!

Stormin’ Sandia, or not…

June 17, 2009


This hurts....

This hurts....

The Sandia Crest Road Race is one of the hardest races in the US. It sports 7800 feet of climbing over a 57 mile course, finishing at 10,500 ft. Check your TDF info and you’ll see that that Mont Ventoux is 6,300 ft, and the Alp de Huez is 6,100 ft. This race starts at 5500 ft. 

I was glad to once again have Mike Pease helping me out with the details. It doesn’t hurt that he lives less than two miles from the start line. We tooled over to the race start prepared for the usual day of sweltering heat and sun. It was supposed to be cooler and cloudy, but we didn’t believe that and packed four bottles–instead of maybe packing a rain jacket for the trip back down the mountain, or something….

The 3’s race started out just like last year, rocketing off out of the parking lot. A psycho kid was passing our lead car before we even turned the corner out of the Albertson’s. After about a mile, the pack started to chase, and it was strung out for a good five miles before the Sports Solutions kids decided to bag the chase until later. That was good, because I was sitting on lower 190 BPM on my heart rate for a few miles, and was wondering if maybe I should turn back and see if they would let me in the Masters race (which does half the course).

The breaks kept coming, but were mostly short lived until we got to the Mailbox climb. Then, the Sport Solution kids put down a hellish pace. I was worried at first. We were hammering really fast in the big ring on most of the climb. I didn’t know how much I could take. I knew I had to match the efforts or I’d be done. But we were flying, and it hurt. But, gradually, I felt better. I went from not trying to get dropped to making sure I wasn’t behind people who were popping. I was hanging, and I wasn’t the weakest guy in the group. I was moving up as the climb went on.

Then, I saw Pease. He was done. He didn’t feel well that morning, and had some kind of a stomach thing. Pease was heading back down from Mailbox, resplendent in his Big Shark kit, giving me a thumbs up which seemed to mean in equal parts: (1)  good job, (2) I’ll meet you at the top with the car, and (3) I’m going to puke, again.

The kids put in another hellish surge as we neared the top of Mailbox, but I was fine. I’d done it. Getting over that first climb without being dropped was my main goal. There was no way in hell I could be dropped again until Heartbreak Hill, and by that time I’d be in some sort of a chase group.

Then I dropped my chain on a small riser c0ming into Triangle. I couldn’t pull it out. I had to stop. Fortunately, it was a pretty significant climb, and the pack had backed off–which is why I was shifting into the small ring…But, I’d have a tough chase. It was starting to rain, but mostly I had a tailwind, and I hammered fuckless over through Triangle and down the long descent of Hwy 14.

Then the rain started to come down in buckets, and the temperature dropped 15 degrees, and the wind picked up to a swirling gale. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t hold the white line, but I had no follow car on a major tourist highway. I was going 43mph on a long downgrade with a 30-35mph tailwind, and my wheels were slipping on the flooded pavement. I was cold.  But, I was hammering. Then the crosswinds nearly blew my front wheel out. I thought “gee, surely there will be a crash in the pack and I’ll pick up some people.” I slowed down. I was freezing, and I knew there was no way in hell I could climb Sandia.

About the time I should have been crossing the line, Pease and I were sitting at a really nice italian brew pub at the base of Sandia. Even there, 4500 ft below the Crest, it was 60 degrees and spitting rain. I’m fairly certain that if I had not dropped my chain, I would have continued, and I may have wound up in the hospital. Ah well….it was fun to hang for a while.

Congrats to the Mo Chumps!!! Kurt Russell!! Not a surprise in the 40+, the man can climb.  The problem with ST. Gen is that Dave Hixson’s grandkids live within spitting distance of the start line. That makes the 50+ race rather difficult….But I guess he’s not from Mo….

Sandia Crestfall

June 10, 2009


Last year at this time I was racing up Sandia Mountain, which I thought was a better first race back after breaking my hip and wrist than Tulsa Tough.  I’m not so sure it was. It was bad. I was hurting, and was the last fool still trying to climb the mountain–Mostly because I had no choice, since Mike Pease was at the top with the car….

So, this year, I was definitely going to Tulsa Tough. Only, then my kids’ school was closed for a week of ice storms, and then a week of inland hurricane, and next thing you know, the kids are in school until June 6! Inconveniently, we were going to visit the in-laws in Santa Fe the week after school let out….and, wouldn’t you know it, they backed up the date for the Sandia Crest road race by a week.

So, instead of racing that easy flat race in St. Genevieve this weekend, I’ll be stuffing as many water bottles as I can get into my jersey and trying not to get dropped on the first climb. It’s Pease’s last year in Albuquerque, before running off to a REAL JOB as assistant professor of geography at Central Washington University in Ellensburg WA.  Pease claims that this year he’s going to suffer it with me. We’ll see….

O’Fallon goes on Like a Blister, in the Sun

June 4, 2009
Nurse Shirley wisely dons latex

Nurse Shirley wisely dons latex

The O’Fallon Grand Prix race was a great event. Dave and I got to ride in a golf cart. It’s a much more technical course than I thought it would be. I had fun. Team Mack did a bang up job all around. Uncle Gary went off the front and won the 50+ race, with Mark Shea in 3’rd and Steve Hall in 6th. Justin Armstead came back from a chase group and posted a 3’rd in the 3’s race. All accounts have this as a heroic feat. Steve Driscoll was up there as well, taking 14th, right in front of Young Danimal Williams. And, Gina Champion posts a 2nd place!! And, Marilyn Powell used the powers of grandmotherhood to secure 5th.

Dave crashed out of the main chase in in the 3’s, and well, you can see above from the photo stolen from Dave’s blog. Pretty nasty blister. We managed to keep it from cropping up on the way home through generous intraveneous infusion of bood light. Gloves are good. Still, Dave was having a great race, and it’s a shame since that finishing straight was made for him.  Just a silly crash. It happens. Chad helped him in to a top 25 finish, even with the crash.

Molteni and Gary did the 5’s race. They were stylin’. Sebastian was up there somewhere in the 50+. I couldn’t stay for results.

The 40+ was quite a slugfest. Things got pretty hot and heavy halfway through the first lap. Darrell Bratton won the second prime sprint, and then he opted out of the third to take a flyer. That was about halfway through the race, and it was a perfect setup. There had already been several breaks, and Robo had softened the field with some hard pacework. But, Springborn was just too much for Robo in the end. Robo got 2nd, with Darrell in 6th, and Mark Tank took the group in with 7th while I was 9th. Gary Dyer was up there in 4th, I’m not sure who was 3rd. Rob Landes was in the race, finishing somewhere in the main chase.