Friday, August 31, 2007

9/1/07 Santa Fe Trail Stage Race (Stage 1) - Horacio

Since you won't find it on velonews, here is the update...

Well, stage 1 (20 mile TT) is over. My TT went ok. I gave what I could today. Not my best race but not bad considering that I've not been able to recover my June peak form. The course was a straight out and back relatively flat. Tailwind out and tough headwind on the way back. I finished 4th of 19 cat4 35+. Unfortunately, I lost time to 1st and 2nd on the way back since I could tell I was pretty even or ahead on the way out (we started near each other). Right now, I'm 70sec out of third (BPN), 80sec out of 2nd (Mix1), and 2min out of first (BPN) with two guys within 45 sec behind me. It will be tough for me to gain a place but hopefully I can hold on to top 5.

Jose had a great TT. He is currently 8th of 21 in the cat4 but within a minute of 3rd (10 guys within a minute).

Tomorrow will be interesting. 75 mile RR rolling course with wind. 40 guys (19 35+4 and 21 4's). BPN has 4 or 5 guys in my group so I'll have to watch them and mix1 guy who will probably be gunning for first. I expect the 4s to really stir up the race with so many guys close. Jose and I will try to watch out for each other but we're not sure how things will play out since there will probably be a long headwind home stretch. Hopefully, tomorrow will go well for Jose and me. Then, it will be time for me to conquer my nemesis, the crit, on Monday.

- Horacio

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Niwot Criterium -Would you like some Cheese with your Whine!

First let me say that the Niwot Criterium is a GREAT venue. Since it is a figure 8 you can stand in one spot and actually see almost 2/3rds of the course! Anyone who did not get out and do this race this year, mark it on your calendar for next year. It is technical, fast, close to home, and a great race.

Coming into this season in March I had been off the bike for 15 years and weighed about 195 lbs. Being the last race of the season, Niwot was going to be a real test for how far back I had come. With around 50-60 starters, a technical the course, and seeing how much work Jose, Bill, Horacio, etc. had to do to close gaps that morning, I decided staging at the front was worth the extra 5 minutes of just standing there.

As usual, Einstein's sent someone (Michael Gibson) right from the gun (yea, Lee you are going to like the 35+'s a LOT MORE). Since this was a non-BAR/BAT race Einstein's was the only team to show up in force and their usual tactic in these cases is to keep sending someone until it sticks. Gibson was slowly reeled in by a series of counter attacks including a couple by yours truly. I am sure that everyone's idea on these was the same as mine. If you can get away clean and get up to Gibson, all the Einstein's guys are now blocking for you.

Unfortunately, none of these early moves stuck as they did not have the right combination and the field still had to much energy.

At about the half way point in the race another series of attacks lead to a three man break including Gibson again and Bob Dahl (the BAR winner for this year) getting a gap. A lap or 2 later, a chase group of two was dangling about 5 seconds off the front of the field when I decided I was tired of letting Einstein's slow the entire field into each and every corner. As a result of simply going around them and quickly rolling the 2 quick corners at the far end of the course I found myself off the front in between the field and the 2 chasers without making any real effort yet. After I quickly bridged to the 2 chasers, we were joined by a 4th about a 1/2 lap later and the second break of the day was off (yes, Isaac there is a Santa Claus...I mean breakaways).

With plenty of support and time gaps from Dan and Jennifer, we then set about the job of trying to pull back the original break. Unfortunately, there was one guy in our group of 4 that either would not (or could not) help and I was having to wait through the technical parts of the course as the other 2 either would not (or could not) peddle through a corner. As a result several times I had to sit up and wait for the other 3 and then spin the pace back up on the straight-aways. Obviously, with this situation we didn't make much head way on the 3 farther up the road but did manage to put a decent gap between ourselves and the field. With about 7 or 8 laps to go, we were finally joined by another group of 3 who had bridged from the field, our gap swelled to about 30 seconds, and we started to eat into the original break's lead.

Unfortunately, it was at about this time that I ran out of water and came to realization that we were going to run out of time to catch the original 3. To make matters a little more complicated, one of the new comers to our band of merry (and winded) men was a Subway guy who all of a sudden started letting large gaps open in our pace line. He would simply rotate to the front and then pull off behind the lead rider and not take his pull. This combined with the other guy already sitting-on lead to one of the riders from our original group taking a solo flyer. While I knew I was fast enough to get across, all of us with something left were just looking at each other going "I'm not going to pull you across that gap with a couple of laps to go." As a result, we now had 4 up the road and were now looking at a sprint for 5th which was probably a big mistake on my part. (As it turns out from what happened on the last lap there were probably only 3 of us with enough gas left to get across. But hindsight is 20/20!)

Coming into the last lap I had drifted to the back of our group of 6 as there was no longer any reason to chase and it was time to start thinking about how to set up the sprint I wanted. Given the 2 greater than 90 degree corners were the 2nd and 3rd to last and the last strait away of any length was between them, I knew that anyone who did not consider their acceleration excellent would have to go there. As a result, I decided to jump just hard enough to get 2nd wheel going into the 2nd to last corner. In essence I consider this a tryout for the rest of my break companions as they have their own little mini race to see which one gets the honor of giving me my lead out into the last corner. After this going exactly to plan (experience is a wonderful thing) going into the 2nd to last corner, I spent just a split second to long congratulating myself (overconfidence is a terrible thing) and was not paying attention to the guy on my wheel. He jumped immediately on the 2nd to last strait-away (rudely interrupting my self-congratulatory interludical...yea it's a word) and got a slight gap on me going into the last corner. While I immediately went after him and took the corner much faster than him, I simply ran out of room and had to settle for 6th. In the words of Maxwell Smart, "missed it by that much!"

Despite making a couple of mistakes that may have cost me 2 places, it was a "stone cold groove my man" (name that movie) and a light year forward from March!

Finally, thanks to everyone who has been dragging me around in training all season and making my first year racing in a LONG TIME a stone cold groove!

Kevin A.

Roadie makes good on dirt

It took all summer, but I finally got around to doing a mountain bike race. On Saturday I went up to Winter Park for the finale of their summer mountain bike series. The course was the 25 mile Tipperary Creek point to point.

I hemmed and hawed about what category to enter, and eventually I settled on racing as a beginner. I don't mountain bike much (maybe 6 times this year) and I've only done a couple mountain bike races before. I was worried about getting in people's way if I raced in the sport class.

The race starts out on a wide dirt road for a few miles before getting to a long single track climb. Shortly after the start I was sitting third wheel enjoying the draft. The front guy peeled off and the second guy almost immediately sprinted up the road. I let him go a little bit, but then decided to reel him in and caught him right before the single track. He looked back, saw that I had dropped the rest of the field, and said "Let's work together." Ha! In a mountain bike race? I dropped him on the climb.

My game plan throughout the race was to gain as much time as possible on the climbs because I'm a pretty timid descender. I was hoping that I would blow up the other riders on the climbs and that they would have to take risks on the descent to catch me. The first ascent went according to plan. I was constantly passing people from the other race groups, but more importantly I was putting time between me and my competition.

I was taking it easy after the first major descent and I kind of forgot that I was trying to race. I eased up for a bit and I tried to eat a gel (making a mess of myself in the process). Around that time, someone from my group passed me. That woke me up a bit and I was able to stick with him and drop him again on the next climb. I never saw him again.

There was really only one somewhat technical section. I clipped my bar on a tree and took a spill at the beginning of it and ended up walking most of the rest of it. That was a bummer because the section wasn't that technical, and I know I could have ridden it if I hadn't lost my momentum.

There were times that I felt like easing up a bit, but then I would think about someone nipping me at the line and I just couldn't have that. A couple people passed me in the last couple miles, but I wasn't sure what group they were with (I just knew I couldn't match their speed). I pushed as hard as I could and I was super tired at the finish where my great wife met me with some dry clothes and a recovery drink. After I hung out and recovered, I checked the results and saw that I had won! It's fun to win a race, but next time I'll race sport for sure.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Riding in the Rain - Niwot Crit 2007

Wet pavement, tight corners, a few elbows, and something close to a 25 mph average made for a fantastic race!

The Niwot Criterium on paper looked to be a crazy crit with 8 corners, 2 of which were 120 degree turns. In reality, it was crazy but lots of fun. I went over early in the morning to catch the SM4 and SM4, 35+ fields and watched Lee, Jose, Bill and Horatio (see pictures here: show how to string out a field and hang right in the pack. Although overall the race course seemed mostly safe, just strung out and fast, I did see one crash doozy (seemed like everyone got up OK)

A few hours later, with the sun beating down and the temps 90+, I arrived back in Niwot. As I sat on my trainer track-side watching Kevin (SM35+) school some of the top pro's of the decade, I shivered as dark clouds started moving over Niwot.

Around the same time Kevin was sprinting to a great 6th place finish, I was moving to the start line. I got front row right in the middle of the street, then made a bad mistake. We had 10 minutes to the start and I had never ridden the course, so along with half the field, we took a reconnaissance lap. The mistake was that when we got back to the start line, the other half of the field (total of 80+ starters) had taken up the first 3 rows. Fortunately, there was no hole-shot at this start and so within 300 meters I was in the top 10.

I stayed right between 3rd and 20th for the rest of the race and (or more) that proved (due to crashes) to be the right place to be. Within 3 to 4 laps the field strung out so far that the last 20+ started dropping off. Within 20 minutes my front group of 12 to 15 was 1/2 lap ahead of the back of the field. Every time we took the corner onto main street, the back half of the pack was coming towards us on the front side of the course - not a place you'd want to be. And, to make the race even more exciting, right about the same time - 20 minutes into the 60 minute crit, it started to rain. And I mean POUR sheets of rain. Through my very muddy 'sun' glasses I had squint to keep the water from drowning my eyes. The mud puddles that quickly formed created crazy rivers in all the wrong places. Fortunately, the group took the corners carefully and I don't remember any wrecks after the rain started (or maybe I was concentrating so hard on seeing the road and keeping off the brakes that I just didn't hear any crashes).

With 16-year old Andrew Barker (I think that is who it was) near peak 'cross form off the front in 3 different solo breaks for over 12 laps and the Feedback Sports team driving the chase and finally the last sprint lap, the pace stayed high the entire race. My rear tire jumped 6 or so inches on one corner, on another corner, someone hit my rear tire and possibly went off the road. And the closest call I had was only a few laps into the race on the 2nd corner. I didn't see the crash, but the sound of bikes, bodies, helmets hitting the pavement was loud and definitely worthy of a nightmare or two. The lesson learned: pay attention only to your line and the bikes directly affecting your line.

Regardless of the wet pavement, tight corners, elbows, crashes and something close to a 25 mph average, the Niwot Crit was a fantastic race! And one I'll definitely plan on next summer…. And so should you… just bring a rain jacket!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

8/25/07 - Beaver Creek Vertical Ascent - Kraig Koski

It's called the Beaver Creek Vertical Ascent. It was really hard, but fun too, and beautiful.

You run up a 3.5 mile trail gaining 2,100 vertical feet, then take the chairlift down (14 minute ride), then repeat. You do as many laps as you can, and you have to start your last lap before 6 hours expires. (Kraig did 7 laps!)

The first 4 laps went great, I did them in 42, 41, 41 and 41 minutes.
Then I started to crumble. The 5th lap took 46 minutes and the 6th took 52 minutes.
I made it back down to the start with 8 minutes to spare, so I went again for my 7th lap finishing it in 53 minutes. I was reduced to power hiking mostly and I was shattered. It was more mental at this point and I slowly made it up the mountain. I am pretty happy to have completed 7 laps....that's 14,700 feet of climbing and 24.5 miles of uphill running/hiking. This is a similar amount of climbing that I did in a couple bike races in Europe this summer, but running uphill takes a lot more out of you. I was totally exhausted. It felt similar to how I feel at the end of an Ironman. This difference is no pounding. Just 2 days later and I'm already feeling pretty good again.

I finished 4th overall and won $100.

Here is a link to the results and above is a photo that was in the Vail Daily newspaper.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

08/21/07 - Xterra Mountain Championships

Score: Xterra Mountain Championship bike course - 1 Mike Starck- 0.

After racing in Ogden last year, I figured I knew what was ahead of me – I was wrong. The rainstorm that came through the night before had passed and left a beautiful, crisp morning. Water temps were in the upper 60’s and the swim leg went great, exiting the water with a few of the pros. The rainstorm also left the bike course in perfect condition – nice and tacky, no dust. It also left the wooden bridges and stairs, nice and slick. And unbeknownst to me, the bike course had changed. It put a hurting to me – 19 miles of mostly singletrack with over 3,000 ft. of climbing. At about mile 15 I realized I hadn’t eaten enough food and started to hit the wall. I managed to limp into T2. I squeezed down another Enervit gel and started the ascent of the ski hill for the run leg. I managed to finish a respectable 9th of 28 in the age group but a bit disappointed for petering out. My buddy and I hopped in the car, bought an espresso shake, and headed back to the Front Range. Nothing like an 8 hr drive after a 3 hr 20min race. Note: Ogden may not be on everyone’s top 10 list of outdoor destinations but, after racing there 2 years in a row, it should be. The town welcomes outdoor enthusiasts and has a Boulder-ish feel, being laid back and situated up against the mountains. They are also hosting some world championships there this winter.

- Mike Starck

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dillon Crit

the alarm went off at 4:20 saturday morning. "what am i thinking?" i thought to myself. i dragged myself out of bed, had some breakfast, and headed out the door at 5:15. good thing i packed the car the night before. head out on the road and it's still dark out. "what AM i thinking?" anyways, the nice thing about going to the mountains at 5 is the lack of traffic. it's a very peaceful drive and i catch up on the news on am radio.
i get to the race course and i'm the first rider there. man it's cold. 49 degrees. within 5 minutes everyone else begins to show up. i fiddle with some stuff and go register. i'm bib #2. "interesting" i thought to myself. maybe this is a sign. nah. i get my stuff together. luckily i brought a rain jacket for the mountain biking i plan on doing later in the morning. i bundle up and do some pre-race laps. man. what a short course. even at half speed they're a little over a minute. and the whole course feels flat or downhill. i thought this was going to be such a lame race. man was i wrong.
next thing you know 20 minutes have passed and the race is about to start. we head out and the guy next to me swerves in front a little and can't clip in boxing me out from being in the first 5-10 guys. eventually i swing around him and we're off. holy mother, we're off. the pace for the first 10 minutes was rediculously fast. couple that with altitude and the time of day and i just kept hoping for a flat tire (i never bring pit wheels). i was pretty much ready to quit, flat or no flat. and then i start to hear cheering. "who is that?" it took me a few laps to realize, but Kevin A. made the trek out to dillon early to watch, cheer, and yell advice at me. which he did throughout the race, telling me to move up, keep my position, and time gaps on any breaks. that was great. of course my first thought is f#$$%. now i can't quit. luckily the pace starts to settle a little. my legs are just screaming at me though. they're probably upset that i didn't do much to open them up during my warmup. just cruised around a little and this was their way of getting back at me.
but the course is short and fast. about a half mile with 1/3-1/2 the course being a long sweeping downhill into 4 corners and back up to the start/finish. each lap was taking right around a minute. man i got dizzy. about 30 minutes into the race RMRC got a solo break off the front. he maxed out at about 11 seconds. I sat in about 10th position yelling for people to catch him. at first everyone was just sitting in, but eventually with enough coaxing, some guys finally started to put in a solid effort to catch him. i got that from riding in a combined 3/4/35+ race before. it was a 35+ guy that egged on everyone to do his bidding. the dude was annoying. but effective. so was i. as the break got caught a gap formed where there ended up being 5 guys with a small gap off the front. i saw the gap form and bolted up to bridge. there was no way i was going to just let that go. and in bridging up, I charge the front and we end up with a gap formed for three of us. i take a massive pull to try to build our gap and pull through. but we've still only got about 20 yards, if that. potentially enough b/c now we're down to 6 minutes of racing to go. but it doesn't hold. we are all strung out in a long line for the final 4 laps. with a few laps to go i find myself right at the front of the race. usually not the best spot, but i figure what the heck, i'm not going to drop back and completely lose position. so going into the final lap I put in a strong effort just before the descent and try to recover a little. things were pretty strung out. but i let up just a little too much as a Twin Peaks rider puts in the perfect attack just before the set of corners grabbing a 10 yard gap. I honestly thought someone would have been on his wheel, but nope. just solo right in front of us and I don't have the chance to pull it back. we come out of the corners and onto the straightaway for the finish. i charge as hard as i can, but now my legs are really feeling the effects of the last few laps. right at the line I get nipped for 2nd by an echelon rider and finish 3rd.
i am elated. there are things i could have changed, done different, etc. but it was a hard, fast race and i did what i could. so no regrets there. and it's my best finish of the season. after the ups and downs i went through this summer, it's great to be able to finish off on a high note. one more to go. i can't wait for next year...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

8/19/07 - Rattlesnake Triathlons - Jason Kaminski

Saturday's Rattlesnake Olympic triathlon consisted of a 1.5k swim a 40k bike, and a 10k run. If anyone's ever been down south to the Aurora reservoir, you know how hilly the roads are down there. After my sub-25 minute swim, the hilly bike leg was next. The Rattlesnake triathlons are unique in that they have a time-trial start, that is each swimmer starts individually every 3- 4 seconds. You never know where you stand within the race in this type of format, but I preferred it over a mass wave start since the swim is my weakest sport and I didn't have to fight the crowd. The women started first at 7:15AM, and the guys who were doing the back-to-back races went next. I ended up starting about 8:15AM, thus avoiding most of the heat of the day. I turned in a 1:10 bike leg ( 21.2 mph ave), and then it was onto the run. I only had 2 guys pass me on the bike, and one of them was a pro triathlete from Denver. Having only run 3 times since February b/c of a torn MCL in my left knee, I knew this would be my toughest leg. I turned in a 51:12 for 8:15 pace, and I was pleased with that. Out of the 50 people in my category, I finished 12th in the swim, 9th in the bike, and 14th in the run for a total time of 2:28:37 which was good for 11th overall in my 35- 39 age group.

Sunday's Rattlesnake Sprint Triathlon served as the USAT (USA Triathlon) National Championship, and there were guys from all over CO and a few out-of-staters. Unlike an Olympic distance triathlon, there are no set distances for a "sprint" race. The distances here were 500m swim, 12 mi bike, and 5k run. This was going to be a walk in the park after yesterday's 2 1/2 hour romp. Again, the swim is my weakest sport, but I was thrilled with my 7:38. I had a good T1 and it was off to the bike. I threw in everything I had- I was either going to blow up or turn in a fast time. My cycling legs felt pretty good after yesterday's race, and I hammered the bike in a respectable 34:27 on 12 miles of the same hilly course as Saturday. I zipped through T2 and was moving pretty well, considering again that I'd done nearly no running the previous 5 months. Right before the run turnaround at halfway, my knee popped and I felt this incredible jolt of pain. I pushed through it and finished strong, passing mostly women but also a few back-to-back racers who started with me. My placings were 12th in the swim, 9th in the bike, and 10th in the run and I ended up 8th of 58 in my competitive age group (the winner and 4 of the top 10 overall guys were in the 35- 39 age group). I knew I'd have a strong bike, but was ecstatic with my 7:03 run pace. If my running injuries ever heal up, you guys might not see me much on the bike next season :-)

Monday, August 13, 2007

08/12/07 Triathlons

We had several Blue Sky Velo triathletes tearing it up this past weekend. There were two big races, 5430 Long Course (1/2 Ironman distance) and The Great Colorado Triathlon (Olympic distance).

Here are those results:

5430 Long Course

Leann McAllister – 5th in 40-44 women (awesome result!!)
Wayne McAllister – 28th 40-44 men

Great Colorado Triathlon

Maggi Kelly – 2nd in 40-44 women
Beth Coppock – 4th in 40-44 women
Eric Coppock – 1st in 40-44 men (we are hoping to have him join us next year)
Kelly Dykema – 2nd in 45-49 women

The Great Colorado Tri also featured the Jr. National Championship after the adult race. These were kids from the U.S. as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and more. It was very exciting watching how fit these kids were and that the future of triathlons is in their hands. In addition, there was a Pro/Elite race which started at about 12:00 (very hot for those athletes) and included some top elite racers who weren’t out racing the 5430. It was a great spectator course in that we did 2 loops of 750 meters in the swim, 6 loops on the bike and 2 loops on the run. I have attached some photos from that race.

8/11/07 Leadville 100

"I am rocking and rolling the end of the pipeline and it feels like I am bouncing on a trampoline. After some internal mind chatter"... - Report by Ernie Wintergerst.

The morning started with the usual breakfast at 4:30 a.m. Then it is off to the start at 5 for check in and getting a good starting spot. I seed myself at the end of the projected 9 to 10 hour finishers. My goal is a sub 10 hour race. This is big for me; my previous finish was 10:45.

The start draws near I chat it up with a guy from British Columbia. He is super cool and we talk about the mtn. bike stage race that was up in his neck of the woods. I ask my crew to keep an eye out for Floyd and snap a photo if possible.

The gun goes off and here we go a mass start of 850 mtn. bikers that normally ride in small groups. Needless to say as we rolled along the first few miles 10 to 15 riders side to side there was a good speed of 20+ miles per hour and fair amount of disc brakes squealing and guys yelling woooooo woooooo when there were turns in the road. Things get going more smoothly as we ascend the first climb. I am amazed with the skill and fitness of a single speeder in front of me as he chooses amazing lines and stands up on the pedals for what seems like 10

We finish the first climb; I blow by the first aid station with out giving it a thought. We enter a fast decent on pavement everyone drinking and grabbing food for the next climb. We get into
the next climb and I recognize Eleanor, a woman I went back and forth with during the firecracker 50. Off the bike she looks like a librarian, on the bike she comes across as a barbarian in her Christian Cycling kit. She finished first in her age group Firecracker 50; I am in good company for sure. We talk about how nice it is that things have spread out and how the start and the first climb can be a bit wacky.

I take in the beautiful mountain views as the climb progresses up to the power line decent. This decent can be tricky notable by having areas where there is just one good line as well as deep ruts. I am talking ruts that suck you in and climbing gear is needed to get out. This section goes smooth in part due to the fact that I have 10 feet of space between me and the
rider in front. It is never pleasant when riders are stacked up one in front of the other rear wheels skidding on ball bearing type sand. That is how it was in 04.

I roll onto the road and see a train of riders 10 long up the road a spell. Some juice to the big ring for a a few minutes and I latch on for some efficiency and speed. As we motor through that section I hear a random "go Blue Sky" and I feel like a rock star. I dig into the pipeline section of the course making good time. My time check as I roll through the Pipeline Aid Station is right on. As I descend the second steep short section of Pipeline I see a rider being attended to by a medical person, I shout out a "take care brother" to help ease his pain. I later learned this guy went over the bars and broke his femur. By the way that is the largest bone in the body, the one between the knee and hip. OUCH!!! I am rocking and rolling the end of the pipeline and it feels like I am bouncing on a trampoline. After some internal mind chatter I hop off the bike to test a feel and sure enough a slow leak in the real tire. A quick shot with CO2 and I motor to Twin Lakes aid station to change it there. I find my crew easily, change the flat fairly quickly, swap out some bottles; grab a down a power bar and I am off.

Up and up I go to the Columbine Mine aid station. As I am about half way up the climb when
Floyd and four time previous winner Dave Wiens roar by in full race face mode. Wiens seems to be marking Floyd's wheel about 10 yards back. I reach the upper section of the climb stay on the bike more than riders around me who are walking up some of the steep tricky sections. This is good in keeping my rhythm and passing people at a snails pace is still passing people.

As I am riding one of the trickier sections I see Chris Carmichael going down. I must have
looked pretty bad because Chris gave me a look like I was some big timber that was going to come down on him. I give him a greeting of "hey Chris" like were friends since way back in the day. I get to the mine aid station at a stout 12,600 feet of elevation. The time projections on a small sheet of paper taped to my bars tell me, I am running a bit behind. I smoothly and efficiently navigate the upper sections of the decent. I shout out some greetings to my preride
pals as I see them on my way down. Scott, Gale, Dave and Steve all looking strong.

Descending skills are pushed to the limit as I rocket down on my 50 psi rear tire to the Twin Lakes aid station again. That high air pressure pays major dividends with speed during
the decent. A quick stop with the crew and I'm off and pedaling towards Pipeline. I am still feeling good but the tank has been emptied a bit during the Columbine Climb. I rock out Pipeline and soon enough I am on the road section again. I start to recognize a
somewhat familiar trampoline feeling again. Can it be true or is it just the fatigue and altitude messing with my head. I reluctantly hop off the bike to check the rear tire and sure enough a slow leak again!!! A quick shot of CO2 and I am off with the thought to change it at the fish hatchery in the comfort of a chair with my crew.

I motor along in the big ring. Another stop to air up with CO2 and buy me some more air pressure time to get to the hatchery. Thoughts of air loss help me push the pace to maximize time during this slow leak. I get to the fish hatchery and as I am changing the flat I
struggle a bit. Getting the last six inches of tire over the rim is very difficult after 75 miles of racing on the mountain bike. I stay persistent and finally get it over the rim with some deep focus and effort.

Time check. I am on track but it is going to be tight breaking my sub 10 hour goal. Now it is over to my nemesis the Power Line climb. This section really put the hurt on me in 04. I am
bound and determined to better my time on this section. As I get into it I stay steady during the hike a bike lower portion. My mind replays some of race director Ken's words during the pre ride race talk. "I am stronger than I think I am, dig deep" this race is going to sting for 365 days or more if I don't give it my all. It seems to go on for ever as there are some false summits that tease me into thinking I am there.

My gut starts to hurt with that stitch in the side, cramp type of feeling. I have not experienced this kind of feeling since I was a little kid. I press on telling myself that things change and during the next decent. I finally get to the top and shoot down the decent and grind up the next climb. This climb goes on for forever too. I top out this climb, stop at the last aid station for a final top off of the bottles and off I go. At this point I am fearing dehydration and bonking. I do not want to bonk or have the muscles lock up in the final stretch of the race. I force myself to drink to get the calories and liquid down. I roll into the final climb which is a dirt road that leads to town. I get out of the saddle every couple of minutes to wring out every last ounce of
power from my body. I see pavement, yea I am close!!!

A volunteer tells me I am sub 10 and that the finish is in sight at the top final little climb. I get out of the saddle some more. I see the finish and put it into the big ring for the last little down hill. The road turns up hill one last time as I stay in the big ring, get out of the saddle and give it everything I can muster to launch a viciously ugly sprint to the line. I am running out of juice… sit down, head down and power across the line.

Look up at the clock and see 9:59 and a lot of seconds. I straddle the bike slumped over the bars. Crew members and a volunteer come over to check on me. They ask questions, but I cannot speak. I am in a very strange place then out of nowhere I recycle my stomach contents onto 6th ave. Everyone jumps back to avoid the splash of pure liquid streaming out of mouth
and nose. I recycle 3 more times. Feeling better now I walk over to a less crowded area to collect myself.

Fast forward to bed time. I am lying in bed slow to fade off into sleep. In my head I hear the
slapping of the chain on the chain stay. In my body I experience subtle shifts in my core and twitching in my legs as if I am still pedaling and going down one of the many descents of the course. Wow, what a Leadville experience.

A big thanks to everyone! Thanks to the directors and ride leaders for all the work they put into the team and club. The Blue Sky shop for getting my bike in tip top shape, she ran like a dream. All the people I rode and raced with throughout the year helped keep me motivated. I really appreciate the support.

8/13/08 Gateway Canyons Race

A small combined group of about 30 including cat4's and 35+ (at least 2 fromer pros including Scott Mercier) took off easy for the first 6 miles. Jose and I chatted a bit. We were surprised at how easy it was to find yourself at the back of this smaller group if you weren't paying attention.... - report by Horatio Gutierrez

First off, I agree with Jose that this a great race and venue (nice vibe, nice resort, great views, great for family etc.). I highly recommend this race to everyone. The promoters work hard. They really care about cycling. Talk this race up to friends in the front range because it would be a shame to lose this one. The TT, RR, and possible future crit also give you another shot at a state championship placing or title-USCF.

Clinic:The clinic was fun and informal. I got some good racing tips and tactics from several pros including Scott Mercier (US postal, olympian) and Ken Christoff (former national champ). I enjoyed their many stories of racing with the international pros we all know. I also got some honest opinions about doping in the pro ranks-yes, it's even more prevalent and worse than you thought. In one pro's opinion, 100% of the tour de france peleton has doped in some form preceding the race. Anyway, I would be happy to share some tips and stories. Just ask me some time.

Racing preamble: This weekend's racing was all about training for me. My low expectations made for a fun weekend despite poor performance-especially in the RR. I used this weekend to help me get ready for the Santa Fe stage race in 3 weeks since it included a 40 kmTT followed by a long RR. I've come to the realization that by keeping my competitive nature in check and focussing on myself rather than results, I'm having a lot more fun, which is what it is all about! So, on paper my weekend's racing looks like crap but I had a blast.

40(42)km TT: The course was great- flat with a few small hills and rollers some headwind on the way back along a beautiful canyon valley with little traffic. I was surprised that my time was 1:02...since my average speed was 24.9mph but I later learned the couse was really more like 42km. I only got 5th out of 7 in the cat4's but was within 2 minutes of the top cat3's and 4's (faster than the 3's) and I took a minute off a cat 3 that I know I'm fairly even with based on prior TT times. It was hot and I could definitely have gone harder. Oh well. Longer TT's are tough. It's hard to hold that edge of blowing up for the entire time, which is what you have to do if you want to do well.

RR (aka the 75 mile individual TT): The course isn't as bad as it sounds- not steep 3-7% climbing grade 5,000+ feet of climbing, 88 miles total. You climb up hit a long plateau with lots of rollers, go down then do it in reverse. Headwind both ways!

A small combined group of about 30 including cat4's and 35+ (at least 2 fromer pros including Scott Mercier) took off easy for the first 6 miles. Jose and I chatted a bit. We were surprised at how easy it was to find yourself at the back of this smaller group if you weren't paying attention. Jose moved up and I stayed about a 1/3 from the back. Then the pace picked up as expected (there was a KOM prize at 9 miles). The pace didn't even seem that fast but I began to feel those tight weak legs that I often feel when I try to climb the day after a hard effort the preceding day. I thought I was the first popped off the back but I looked back to see 3 other riders already well behind me. It was hot. I had to pace myself or I would blow up early. As I crested the initial climb, I could see a few others strung out individually way out in front of me. I climbed some more. Later on the plateau rollers, I bridged to a young Durango guy, we worked together and picked up a third guy just before the descent to Whitewater. The third guy fell back on the descent but caught up later at the turnaround feedzone. As I neared the bottom of the descent, I saw Jose alone but not too far behind the main lead pack being driven by two cat 4 GS Boulder guys. If only I were a little stronger, it would have been nice to work with Jose.

As I climbed back, I dropped the Durango guy and was dropped by the third rider in our group. Then, half way up the climb, sudden massive leg cramp in my inner right thigh. I had to unclip my right leg several times to rub the cramb out. Then new cramps developed in my outer right thigh. I spent about 20 minutes dealing with severe cramping that I thought would surely end my race leaving me hopping on one leg along the roadside. Somehow with deep rubbing I managed to get the cramps to a manageble level (they never really subsided until the final descent- I even feel them a little today the day after). During this time the Durango guy had slowly made his way to me but he looked even worse than me. I slowed but soon realized he would be of little help to me. I went on alone. Up the rode, I saw the third guy very slowly zigzagging up the road as though the grade was 22% but the grade was only 2-3%. I passed him encouraging him to grab my wheel but he was totally blown- he said he could pedal no more. Poor guy. But, I would not give up. I was determined to finish this thing. I continued solo (the entire 2nd half of the race) into the wind and in the heat. A pick up truck carrying 3 racers, including my 2 prior companions, handed me a water bottle as I marched on. I went thru 11 water bottles during that race. Later, on the plateau a brief but welcome thunderstorm hit. At this point, it was just comical for me. The added headwind gusts and cool rain actually felt good and I was beginning to feel good again. I eventually hit the fun descent home. I felt great- Ah endorphins. I crossed the line in a brief sunshower not much under 5 hours. I got top 15 (ok, there weren't many more than that that but I know I finished ahead of at least 4 or 5 other guys and at least 3 cat4's despite it all). I wasn't dissapointed though. It was actually a fun day of perseverence.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Colorado Bike Law and Bannock Criterium Race Report

"...up at the front and slightly to the left of me a rider goes down with about 150 meters to go..." - report by Kevin Abraham

Colorado Bike Law Circuit Race at the Federal Center Masters 35+ Open - This was a Master BAR/BAT race so they are virtually always won in a break containing the 3 teams that seem to really care, Green Mountain, Excel, and Einsteins. The first serious move came up my left side on lap 2 and was my old teammate from Good Earth, Danny Sullivan. Unfortunately, I did not jump to his wheel and that was it. Eventually 5 riders ended up in it with the 3 requisite teams and they put almost a minute into the field. Given that those teams still had 10 guys left in the field who were all over the front, any chase was impossible. Another 3 or 4 guys got a small gap on the last lap when all the sprinters are looking at each other and I got approximately 7th in the field sprint for 17th. In retrospect, I did virtually nothing all day long and that was my down fall. When the key break went, I decided to wait (until next year as it turns out) and in the field sprint I started way to far back and waited to long.

Bannock Criterium Masters 35+ Open - This was not BAR/BAT but $1,000 cash 15 places deep brought out all the usual suspects. Unfortunately, I did not stage on the front line and the guy in front of me had cleat issues. By the time I got around him and a few others and got to the front (about a lap) the winning break was already gone. It went right from the line! This time the 3 big teams did nothing to go after the break (I think Green Mountain, and maybe Einsteins as well, thought they had a guy in the break.) The speed was very fast and the main pack even split with about 5 laps to go. This probably shelled about 20 guys but that break was to far off to be caught. On the final lap with less than 1/2 a lap to go making the left to go down the hill, I was in about 10th place when an Echelon guy right in front of me clips his peddle and hops his bike twice right in to my line. Needless to say feathering my breaks cost me a couple of places and going back up the hill, like Lee, I was to far back, about 15th. We take the turn and I chose the right hand side of the road. Unfortunately, up at the front and slightly to the left of me a rider goes down with about 150 meters to go and this causes everyone to swerve right leaving me with no more room and essentially bringing my race to a close. I sat up from there and came across for 25th. Very disappointing but a GREAT RACE! I would suggest that everyone give this one a try next year. Outside of a few pot hole issues, it is a great downtown criterium.

Monday, August 6, 2007

8/4 - 8/5 Bannock and Fed Center Crits

"We take the turn and the bonehead on the front takes the
corner way to fast and hard and goes sliding off the course..." - Report by Lee Gerakos

So the racing this past weekend was fantastic. I had heard so many
bad things about these courses and all I can say is that they are
completely wrong. I saw two crashes this weekend. In both cases it
was a guy taking a corner too hard by himself and crashing out.
Otherwise the peloton was great.

So, I showed up at the federal center early saturday to get in a
good warmup. I was presented with a very mellow atmosphere. Jumpie
castles and a few tents. Did my warmup and reviewed the race map.
This is a twisty course with a slight hill on the backside. Each
lap takes about 10 minutes, so we did 4 in total. Knowing that it
is twisty, I was the first to line up and stayed in the front 5 guys
for the first lap. Actually I spent the first 3 laps in the front
15 just trying to get some kind of break going. Either attacking,
countering, soloing ahead, something. But nothing really took.
Hart, rmrc, echelon, louisville, twin peaks, etc. all had good sized
teams representing so I was hoping one of them would actually try to
work. but alas, nothing. i guess that's cat 4 racing. so going
into the last lap, I decided by best option would be to recover for
the first half and then move up at the hill. So, I have everything
going to plan, going into the final turn with 200m to go I'm 6th
wheel. We take the turn and the bonehead on the front takes the
corner way to fast and hard and goes sliding off the course into the
grass. The guy in second goes around him and off course into the
grass and pulls a lance as we muscles his way back onto the course.
In the pandemonium, the 3 guys in front of my all slow down, but
spread apart, effectively boxing me in. So a big rush of 10+ guys
come around and I'm scrambling to jump on a wheel. I go, but my
motivation has been deflated by this point, so I complete my 40 mph
sprint for 15th. But I had a blast. That race was really what
makes racing fun.

So Sunday was even better. I had never done Bannock before either.
And with a 7 am start time I didn't know what to expect. So I got
up at 4:30, ate breakfast, drank some coffee and headed down there
for the start. Actually, heading out that early is pretty cool.
It's neat to see such a busy place be so quiet. So Bannock street
is right south of downtown. Actually, there's a great Cuban
restaurant on the corner of the course called cuba cuba. I highly
recommend it. Anyways, this is a really cool course on city
streets. Kind of like longmont, but a bit larger of a course with a
downhill and uphill section. For the finish, you take the final
hill, turn right, and then sprint for about 150-200m. As usual,
there's still about 60 guys at the start and we go from the gun. So
today, I figure I will chill out the first half of the race and just
sit in and feel it out. So I just navigate the field, watching
riders, see who's feeling good, who's sketchy, etc. The biggest
advantage I've gotten out of doing a full crit season is that I know
who is who. I know the sprinters, the sketchy dudes, the guys that
go off the front and do nothing, and the guys that tend to find
themselves in the top of every race. Plus, the huge benefit of
getting to know these guys is that you get (and give) favors. Like,
you get stuck out in the wind as you move up, and the guys you know
let you move in. Or you go into a break, and the guys you know are
willing to work with you. It takes away a lot of the guesswork and
makes the race much more relaxed.

So, at about minute 20, we have a prime (of which there we 10!) and
3 of us get a gap. I'm drilling it at the front for about half a
lap and our lead is going. The next guy pulls through, our pace
slows, and nothing. Agh! man, I really want one of these to work
out. I try again like 3 more times during the rest of the race, but
nothing. I just think that would be the coolest way to finish. Off
the front in a break in a cat 4 crit. anyways, I'm spend the final
5 laps following the wheel of the guy I thought won the race the
previous day. Going into the final hill I'm about 15 back. I
realize already that I'm not where I need to be. F#^%$#! oh well,
take the turn and haul a$$ to the finish and take 11th. Not bad,
but not great. Having done that course now, I would think 3rd wheel
is the place to be. Actually, just about every race I've done, I
think 3rd wheel is just about perfect.