Monday, April 30, 2007

Mad Cow Race Report

It was a great day for a race in Grand Junction. I felt like I was
fighting an uphill battle from the get-go as I lined up with 3's and
35+ opens. (The P,1,2,3 field only had about 5 people. Shame on the
3's in my race for not stepping up and playing with the big kids.)
There were probably 30-50 people in our group and I ended up with 8th

The course starts off with few miles of easy climbing before hitting
some steeps. We started off at a civil pace, but of course someone
had to push the pace and try to split up the group once we really
started heading uphill. It was a pretty serious effort, but I stuck
with it and stayed with the lead group.

A little while after the long climb, we made it to the loop part of
the course which we would be doing 3 laps around. It starts out with
a long set of rollers with virtually no downhill, then there's a nice
long descent and half mile steep climb. After some more "gentle"
climbing, you're back at the start of the loop. To make a long story
short, someone got away and stayed away near the beginning of the
second lap. The group was steadily dwindling with every climb. I
buried myself numerous times just to stay with some of the group
surges. I got gapped the last time up the steep hill of the loop and
couldn't ever reattach. I was within 20 feet and someone attacked
that group. Argh!

Another rider and I caught a guy that got popped off the main group
and the three of us rode together to the finish. I wasn't going to
sprint them for the finish, but one of the guys (who I had been
chatting with before the race) egged me on. I'm not used to
sprinting. For fun I threw my bike at the line, but I forgot to give
some sort of salute for my spectacular finish. Sorry Isaac, clearly
we need to work on that some more during the group rides.

Organization is clearly not this race's strong point. It had a little
bit of an outlaw feel to it this year. There was no official riding
with us and I think some people's general feeling was "What yellow
line?". That aside, this is probably my favorite course of the year.
Great climbing and spectacular views. Hopefully it doesn't get
scheduled over a front range race next year, because I'd love to get
some more people out there to race. It's a great weekend hang. We
skipped the downtown Fruita crit on Sunday and biked through through the
Colorado National Monument instead. Then we hit some wineries before heading

Here are a couple pictures of part of the first big climb of the race course:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

It feels good to cramp - Deer Trail RR 04/28/07

When I've put in a hard effort, forced a break and did my job... it feels good to cramp. Now don't get me wrong, cramping sucks! However, what's worse is getting to the end of a race feeling like all I did was 'sit in' and let the group pull me along. I made up my mind that this race would be different.

Today was the first time I've really made an effort at a breakaway. Usually I surf the pack, stay in the top 20 and then try to contest the field sprint at the end - very very rarely with any luck. But today I watched my teammate Barry fly off the front with a group of 10 or 12 and stay away for over 30 minutes. When the peloton caught Barry and the other escapees, I took up the reins and moved off the front enticing 3 others to join up. We created a 2 1/2 minute or so gap and for over 30 minutes we pace-lined. The rollers were tough, especially since we had a 5280 junior with stick legs and huge power that I had to keep asking nicely to ease up on the hills so we could work together on the flats and downhills.

We finally got caught, right as I cramped bad. The cramps started in my calves and when I stood up to stretch, they moved above my knee and infiltrated every muscle fiber in my legs. Somehow I hung with the pack for another 10 minutes, but then as another wave of cramping arrived, I sat up and limped home by myself.

But I had done my job... like the team members of the Pro Tour teams we watch and read about, I had forced a break, kept the pace high (average speed for our 4 man/30 minute break was 26 mph, my heart rate averaged 180 bpm and power averaged 285 watts... hey this is kinda fun having a Power Tap). The fact that I cramped and 'blew up' for the last 10 or so miles of the 73 mile race was fine with me, my job was done.

Bike racing is painfully fun!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Falcon Cycling Road Race

Lee and Rob cheering Jenna to the finish (photo by Ryan).

Today Rob, Katie, Jenna, Isaac, Lee and Ryan soldiered down to Colorado Springs to the Falcon Cycling Road Race. Racers were greeted with hefty winds, lots of sun, and climbs of varying grade. In the 4s the screws were turned right from the gun as half of the 100-man field was dropped in the first mile. All of the BlueSky 4s made the split, but with such a selective course the race was shattered within 10 miles. Isaac finished 8th, Lee top 15, Rob 40th, and Ryan's day ended prematurely as his entire group was led off course. In the Women's Open race, Jenna and Katie both made the prime selection on the first lap. Jenna soloed the last 2+ laps after losing touch with the breakaway but held on for 7th, while Katie paired up yesterday's win at Boulder-Roubaix with a fine 6th place.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Blue Sky Velo at Roubaix

SM4 (MikeO):

Two days ago we were certain the weather gods would give us a spring storm to remember replete with up to a foot of snow. But Friday morning we awoke to see bare, dry ground and we knew that the bullet we'd dodged meant that the 2007 Boulder Roubaix was ON (a week late). The race is an important one for the Cat 4's as we fielded nine riders in two categories and intended to show the cycling world that the hometown Blue Sky boys were serious.

The cold, 32-degree start was warmed by the prospects of a good race as the course looked great and the sun was shining! At 8:33 the 4's rolled out for their 43 mile journey and three minutes later the 35+4's.

The Boulder Roubaix is a classic by local bike racing standards. Its 8.5-mile loop is over 75% potholed and loose dirt. Road bikes are used for greater speed but it certainly beats you up. Generally thought of as a tough rider's course, several hills and tough turns test the nerves and strain the legs of the riders. Many riders get gapped as the field surges over thehills and riders constantly attack to be first through the loose and technical turns. By the end of 4 or 5 laps, the whole body is tired, the back, legs, arms and lungs. To do well here is to prove one's early season form; to win is to be more than lucky. It means you're the best.

The Cat 4's fielded Lee, Isaac, Kyle and myself and we managed to stay in touch with each other throughout the race. Isaac and I talked strategy and we each encouraged one another to fight the pain as our ever-dwindling lead group surged ahead. By the last lap this group was whittled to 25 riders or so and it looked like we'd be together to the finishing straight. After the final turn it was every man forhimself with Kyle and Isaac getting good positioning on the hill. In the final kilometer spectators cheeredthe unusual sight of a long line of riders all on the rivet. In the end it was Kyle (8th), Isaac (9th), Lee (13th) and myself right behind in 14th place. Not a bad showing and though we'd like to have been a few places better (just wait, folks) it looks like good things are coming Blue Sky's way in 2007!

SM35/4 (Brian M):

First, I need to give some props out for the Shop. My race began Friday night at 7:55 when my rear derailleur cable snapped while I was adjusting my gears. I called the shop and Suzanne, not knowing that I was on the team or that I was racing in the morning, said she would keep the shop open until I arrived to pick up the part. At the shop Tim walked me through replacing the cable and showed me how to stretch it to make sure I would still be able to shift for the whole race. Thanks!

The race started with a group of about 50, with BSV represented by Bill Teasdale, Dan Farell, Dave Kilmoyer, Kevin Graboski, Jason Kaminski and me (Brian Moroney). From the gun, guys from Rocky Mounts and Boulder Velo Racing pushed the pace to spread the field with a particularly tough 10 minutes from the beginning of the second lap until we hit Nelson Road . Kevin and I hung on and got into the lead pack of 14 riders. Oddly enough, for the next 2 laps the pace seemed to ease up on each successive lap. A few solo riders tried to break away on the West side of Table Mtn heading towards Nelson, but the group always brought them back. Once on Nelson Rd the group always sat up to recover prior to getting back on the dirt. Kevin took the lead on the Nelson 3rd lap to keep the pace going.

On the last lap the pace picked up significantly going through the rollers East of Table Mtn as everyone jocked for position for the final turn onto Oxford Road. Heading into the turn mid-pack the guy directly in front of me lost control as he hit a sandy spot. The crash looked like Joseba Beloki in the Tour (when he hit the melted asphalt) as his rear wheel locked and he slid one way and then went over the other side of his bike when his wheels caught hard-packed dirt. I saw his head hit pretty hard, but after the race heard that he was OK . I hope so. I made it through the turn without losing much momentum, but unfortunately Kevin got stuck in the melee of riders trying to avoid the crash. Looking back briefly I saw the rear half of the lead pack at a standstill as they tried to get around the fallen rider. I was the last rider over the final hill and spent a lot of energy trying to catch the lead group. I managed to pass 2 guys in the final stretch and ended up 5th. Kevin led the charge in his group trying to get momentum heading up the final hill and finished in 12th place. Bill came in after that in 23rd, followed by Jason (30th), Dave (33rd) and Dan (41st).

It was a tough race early in the season and I am glad to get off the dirt (at least until Sept when Bill and Dan will school me in cyclocross).

A few photos can be found here.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Blue Sky Velo at Koppenberg - Isaac's SM4 Race Report

Today was the annual Koppenberg Circuit Race in Superior, CO -- 5 miles of fast dirt roads, wind, and a very brutal climb. Blue Sky was out in full force with Lee, Mike, Bryan, Bill, Isaac, and Jose in SM4, Brian and Dave in SM4/35+, Jeremy in SM3, and Jenna and Katie in SW1/2/3. Also out to cheer everyone on was Jason and Angie. Dan cheered, but his real motive was to serve as Bill's personal soigneur.

After hearing about how the tactics typically play out -- a selection of guys ride away after the first trip up the climb -- the SM4 Blue Skyers were vigilant about getting a good position on the start line and the first trip out the dirt. On the foot of the climb I surged to the front and had a very photogenic first trip up the climb, as you can see.

I stayed with the 20+ group of racers that proceeded to ride away after the climb, but toward the end of the first lap I welcomed the company of fearless SM4 captain Mike Olivero who had bridged up to us. The second trip onto the dirt was far nastier than the first lap, and coming over the climb I was d-o-n-e. The red button on this turkey had popped. Mike was riding strong but decided to wait.

Mike and I found ourselves in a chase group of about 10 chasing the lead selection of 10. The gap stayed at about 20-30 seconds for the next lap or so but we couldn't bridge it. Mike, a HART rider, and a Vitamin Cottager did the majority of the work. On the final trip up the climb I was able to get a gap but it didn't stick, and I tried again on the pavement but with the same result. Leading into the final corner Mike made a strong move before the corner and sprinted his way to 13th and I held on for 14th.

On to the awards section. Mike clearly had the ride of the day ... bridging up to the selection and riding strong on that nasty 2nd lap and still having enough gas to finish strong in our chase group. The other award that needs to be given out is to Bill Teasdale ... if you look at this picture you will see that he is clearly the happiest climber of the bunch. More pictures here.