Monday, May 31, 2010

Casey Crit. Race Report and Pictures

I showed up to the race early.  A Junior racer I coach was racing in his second crit so I made sure I was there.  Carter Baker, age 10, did well and looked really good.  His bike handling and comfort has really come a long way.  Look for him in the next few years.

The Cat 3 race didn't start till 3pm so I decided to also race the Master's 30.  My plan was to chill and just ride and not really care about how it played out.  Yeah right!  Too competitive.  With nearly half the field from Atlantic Velo and a few from Nature's Path, it was going to be an interesting race.  I was the lone VBW racer.  Moves happened and everyone included riders from the big teams.  That meant no help from them.  I bridged 3 times.  Good bridges too.  Solo efforts covering a decent distance on the back stretch.  Each time I got in a break we got caugth, but I had to keep trying, right?  Well the one time I didn't try was the one that got away.  I said to myself, "next lap I'll jump across."  Next lap when my legs were feeling right, they were too far.  So I went to the front to see if I could chase.  Three laps later, with 3 laps to go I finally sat up.  Didn't content for the sprint.  Ended up 15th place.

Also racing from VBW was Chris Larkin.  He competed in the Masters 40 and the Cat 4.  Both races were good for him.  He placed in the top 10 in both of them but just outside of the needed upgrade points.  He looked really strong and played tactics well considering he didn't have and teammates in the race with him.

After a good lunch and a couple hours to recover I got ready for the Cat 3 race.  I had a teammate in this event.  Kevin Horvath and I talked about some tactics during our warm up and decided to race aggressively even though we didn't feel great.  This race actually had a fair number of teams present but Nature's Path was still the dominate team.  The race started easy but built up with a number of attacks.  They were covered and really we didn't do that much work early on.  Kevin then went for a prime that caused a seperation and a small move from the field.  I held back to cover attacks and allowed a few riders to get free from the field.  I figured a break of 7 or 8 would be good for Kevin since he was fighting a sinus infection.  The move got some distance on us and that is when I saw Kevin get dropped from it.  So know I chased.  Kevin jumped back in the field to recover but I got no help from anyone else.  I kept it steady and hard (at least for me it was hard) and pulled close to the break.

They were within attacking distance when I had to pull off.  I set up for a second then decided to give it one last surge.  That last surge caused a reaction from the field and a move went to finish closing the gap.  Kevin was in that move.  I moved to the back of the pack to recover.  The problem was the gaps that then formed.  My fault, I went back too far.  After I noticed the gaps I was too fried to close them and ended up away from the newly formed field.  The break now had the majority of the riders so us stuck back were really dropped riders.  So I decided to sit up and get lapped.  At least this way I could help look after Kevin.  The problem is that Kevin's breathing was bad and he ended getting dropped and pulled himself out.  So I just ended up staying with the lead move, but one lap back.  Sucks.  I think I ended up 17th or something like that.  Not the day of racing I expected to have.

These pictures were all pulled from BJ Samuel's Smug Mug.  She was out there and took over 300 pictures.  Check them out here:

Thanks to JRVS, Vince Kidd and all the other volunteers.  Another great event.  I really do like that course.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Story of the Smackdown. Sleepy Hole Report and Pictures

Sleepy Hole Park is located in Suffolk, VA.

The City of Suffolk is a great place for a bike race.  They are bike friendly, and they want races there.  Three years ago a representative from Suffolk Parks and Recs contacted Don at All About Bikes about holding a crit in Downtown Suffolk.  He gave that information to me.  I met with the police and all the people responsible and it was determined that it couldn't happen at that time.  There are too many churches and wedding season conflicts with cycling season.  But they wanted us to show we could run a race and get people there.  So they suggested Sleepy Hole Park.

In 1993 I moved to Virginia Beach from Hawaii.  At the age of 17 I was excited to race with and against a larger pool of juniors.  A race at Sleepy Hole Park was my very first race in this region.  I lined up against Mike Tamayo, Tim Shockley, Jon Nisbet and one other racer from TBA also.  I was the only one on a different team.  They killed me.  Attack after attack.  After the race, I joined TBA.  Here we are 17 years later and Mike, Tim, Jon and myself are still on the same team.  So when we had the option to promote a race at Sleepy Hole, we jumped on it.

The course is great.  Half mile course.  The road surface is great.  Its not smooth.  It actually adds to the difficulty of the race.  Its the type of surface you find in parks.  A couple of roots pushing up on the edges and they type of paving is the type that's a little rough.  The first turn is a fast 90 turn.  Turn 2 is a nice bend, there really isn't a turn 3, it just bends around, and turn 4 is a nice bend also.

View Larger Map

This weekend the threat of rain was real and we were competing with some great NRC races in Baltimore.  So I was not too sure how we would do.  There seemed to be a dome built over the park this year.  No rain until the very last race of the day.  We had a pretty good turnout.  Not the turnout we got in Smithfield, but it was good.

I raced the Cat 3 race with teammates Kevin Horvath, Mike Tamayo and John Gray.  We had to work to chase some attacks down and even tried to make a move or two.  Andy from Fat Frogs did a lot of work trying to control things.  Careytown once again did a great job of attacking and making it a hard race.  Greg Witter of Gam Jams was so strong it was sickening.  He almost got away on lap number 1.

With 5 to go I started getting my guys on my wheel for a leadout.  Kevin and Jon were there and Mike was right in front of me when I was going to pass him to get him on the train.  Then in corner number 1, Robert Netcsh clipped a pedal and went down hard.  He was near the front, no more free laps and it caused a gap.  Mike was near the front and I was able to follow.  We worked hard to keep with the front, but a smart move by Careytown made it hard.  They got to the front and really picked up the pace.  Mike faded and wasn't able to get on my wheel, Kevin still had it and I don't know where John was.

On the last lap I was in good position but not great.  I wasn't able to move up to create the leadout.  I did the best I could to give Kevin something.  But I was only in the top 10 into the final corner.  Kevin clipped out and I don't know how he managed to stay upright.  I got 7th, Kevin 8th John 12th and Mike 15th.  Tough race.

I then entered the Pro/1/2/3 with Kevin.  We had both been at the course setting up and working since 6:30 am.  I know I was spent.  I only lasted around 10 laps before my chair under my tent started looking really good.  Kevin lasted much longer than me but also pulled out before the end.

Chris Larkin represented us in the Cat 4 race where raced well and got 5th place.

Chris, Jon Nisbet and Mike Tamayo raced in the Master 30+/40+ race.  This was the only race affected by rain.  It started to rain just a few laps into it.  The guys said the road was getting a little slick.  Thunder was heard around us all day long but no lightning was seen, until this race.  The racers were all told that the race could be shortened at anytime do to a lightening sighting.  That's exactly what occurred.

Mike and Jon pulled out early due to conditions and Chris stayed in.  When the bell was rung there was one rider in a solo break.  Dan Netzer was riding strong but a hugely strong field now wanted the win on the last lap.  Unfortunately for Dan he was a little confused by the sudden end of the race and didn't understand why there was so much excitement for a prime.  He was so much in the zone that he didn't hear "last lap".  He didn't sprint and only held on for second place.  Chris managed to get a 7th place.  He was in perfect position was pushed off the road slightly by a rider who took a turn too fast.  Everyone stayed upright and we got packed up before the lightening hit near by.

Here are a couple of pictures taken from Facebook:

Photo by Tim Pope

Photo by Tim Pope

Photo by Robert Netsch.  The one crash of the day.  Hope you heal quickly.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sprint into Spring Fort Lee Crit

Our buddy and teammate Chris Larkin is moving next month.  He is a Cat 4 racer who is definitely strong enough to be a Cat 3 or even a Cat 2 when he has the time to train.  His days of racing just Master's or triathlons hasn't given him the points to upgrade yet.  So this year we asked him to be on our team and wanted to help him get the points to upgrade before he moves.  So a race like Fort Lee that was a Cat 3/4 race was nice to be able to help him out if possible.

So here is how it went for the Virginia Beach Wheelmen:

Myself, Kevin Horvath, Chris Larkin and John Grey entered the Cat 3/4 race.  I think there were 61 starters according to the promoter.  Careytown had a lot of racers and they have been pretty strong this year.  I was impressed with their strategy, attack after attack to try and free a break up the road.  It didn't work.  Teams like Nature's Path, Bike Works, Fat Frogs and the Wheelmen seem to chase most of the stuff down.  Actually I don't think any team just sat in.

I am fighting a chest/head cold and so for the first time in a while, I just sat in and watched.  I was perfectly willing to work if I saw my team was over worked, but because a lot of team's were working and being a fast course, nothing was getting away.  My guys did a lot of work, made some attacks and and tried to latch onto some of the moves, but like I said, nothing was getting away.  Not when the average speed in near 27 mph.

Ten laps to go I moved closer to the front.  I had spent the majority of the race about 20-30 people back, but I wanted to move up to the top 10-15.  Five laps to go they rang the bell for a prime.  I latched onto a Bike Works leadout.  I had no intention of going for the prime, but I thought about a possible break following the prime.  It didn't occur but I was ready for it.  Two laps to go, Kevin asked for a leadout to the outside.  We were both inside at this point.  So we began to move outside.  Bell lap first turn, Kevin was pushed outside into the curb.  Someone even grabbed his shorts and held on in order to keep from crashing.  No one went down but now Kevin was out.  So I redirected my leadout.  I went inside and found Chris and John.  Through the sweeping bend I told Chris to prepare to get my wheel when I come past him.

Through the big turn up the small incline I was on Chris's wheel to the inside.  Suddenly the pack shifted to the right and I made my move.  "Chris, on your left, get on my wheel".  I passed him he got on my wheel and I gunned it.  Off the front hammering through the turn down toward the finish line.  Leading the pack out.  I was getting closer to the line and it seemed quite behind me.  I refused to look back, if Chris wasn't on my wheel then I had to give it everything I had.  I started thinking I might be alone.  I even stood up to produce some type of sprint, but after leading out hard for about 1/2 mile, I had nothing.  Near the line two riders came around me.  I couldn't sprint at this point.  One rider was Nature Path and the other rider was from GamJams.  I held on for 3rd place.  I turned around and saw Chris come across the line in 5th place.  John Grey was not too far back in 14th place.  Even after nearly going down on the final lap Kevin maintained composure and came in 25th place.

What happened?  Why didn't Chris have my wheel?  He did get my wheel.  Unfortunately with my acceleration he had to shift to accelerate with me.  His hands were numb and he couldn't feel his shift lever.  He accidentally downshifted instead of upshifted and spun out.  The two riders then went around him.  So it was a perfect set up and we are more than pleased with the results.

This was the first "podium" finish of mine, so I was very excited about it.

Great race to all and great course.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sleepy Hole Smackdown

Registration is up and running on Pre-Reg.  Register early.  Primes will be determined in each field by the pre-registered numbers.  Here is link:

Check out the race flyer here:

Race Flyer

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Mountain Won!

Wintergreen Hill Climb, yeah I'll do it this year. Here is my history with this mountain:

2006: I decided to do this race. It was my team's first year as a team and we were just getting back into racing. I had never done this race before and never even seen the mountain before. I showed up with a 39/25 as my smallest gear. I weighed 195lbs. It was a painful ride and I completed it in 49:48.

2007: I was going to conquer this hill. I was lighter at 189 lbs. I was using compact cranks so had a gear of 34/25. Plus I was borrowing a set of super light hill climbing wheels. I was going to fly up this mountain. It didn't happen. I had a time of 51:49. I think I took it too easy on the lesser slopes and just spun too much with my easier gears.

2008 and 2009: I skipped this race.

2010: Here we are at this last weekend. I am lighter at 185lbs, stronger and more fit than I have ever been. I also more confident in my abilities. I chose to go with my first year gearing of a 39/25 and would power of the mountain. It was a hot day. My warm up was pretty good:


We drove up the night before and stayed close by.  I got to the race early and was able to take my time.  Because of the heat I was careful not to over do my warm up.  I got about 40 minutes on the trainer with a couple of short intervals and then easy spinning.  I was also set up in a nice shaded area.  Then I finished up the warm up on the road to ensure everything on my bike worked well.

Then I started.

Everything seemed good.  Of course I felt good on the lower slopes, who doesn't.  As soon as I hit the area of the 15% grade near the guard shack my legs began to leave me.  I couldn't get them to turn around.  I could not push that 39/25.  I'm not too sure I could have pushed any gear at that point.  I was all over the road just trying to keep my bike upright.  I had to stop and put a foot down three times.  I truly, in all my racing years have never felt this bad.

So I quit.  First DNF of the year.  First ever in a time trial.  At one of the points my wife was stopped for pictures, I got in the car.  Very shameful and embarrassing.  Everyone has a bad day, mine came on this day.

I'm not claiming to have been able to contend for any positions.  I can throw excuses out like I'm a big guy, I live in a flat area, I'm a wuss.  What ever it is the truth is I don't prepare for hilly races because we race in flat crits mainly.  The mountain beat me.  I am not giving up.  What doesn't kill only makes us stronger.  I will revisit that mountain again and it will not repeat.

My other VBW teammates who showed up did well.  Kevin Horvath climbed in 44:59 and John Gray, first time Wintergreen racer climbed in 50:46.  Great job guys, sorry to disappoint you in my performance.

Here are some pictures taken by my wife of our suffering: