The End of College Racing

It has been a few weeks since my last post, gushing about our team’s win at Hillsboro, in case you forgot awesome it was, here’s a sweet picture depicting our awesome-ness:Anyway, the past two weekends have been somewhat bittersweet as they have been the last two weekends of collegiate racing for the season, and for me: ever (unless I go to grad school). As much as I feel like I’m ready to move on from college racing I really will miss it. My first race kit was old gold and black, and for the past five years from February to May I’ve been driving hundreds of miles to wake up at 5 am, cheer for teammates, and race in the pissing cold rain. As fun as it sounds, and even though there’s no huge prize list or media coverage outside those who race the circuit, it’s really a lot more fun than regular USACycling racing.

The reasons are pretty simple, everyone racing is there for the same reason, to race. No one’s racing for prize money, for media coverage, to get that one elusive result that will land them on a pro team. As much as I love aggressive racing, talk to anyone after they’ve done a week of Superweek or any big Crit series and ask them how their nerves are. They’re probably not good, and they’re sure as hell not going to go make friends with the guy they’d just been leaning on for the past 3 laps at 30 mph, or the guy that cut them off to protect a lead-out train:
Regardless of who did what wrong in that whole Dana Point Race, it’s pretty evident of how high strung the last few laps of the big races are. But in collegiate racing, it’s amazing how less aggressive racing becomes when everyone’s not racing for a whole $50 and their livelihood (which is probably about $50 if your a pro-cyclist).
Anyway what I’m getting at is that college racing was the best way that I can think of to be introduced into racing, and I’m glad that I was able to do it and make friends with everyone in the college scene.
Oh yeah, and I won the last race of the season too. So that might be distorting my memories of college racing a little.
We had Purdue’s race this weekend. The Road Race and TTT were alright. But the crit was around Ross Ade Stadium, fitting for a last Purdue race.
It was extra fitting since we didn’t let our awesome sledge hammer trophy that Joey and Andy made go to any other schools where cycling is a varsity sport.

And Greg got third in our home race around the stadium, which is fitting since he lived a block away from Ross Ade for over a year, unfortunately the 2nd place guy was too cool for our sweet podium.
Anyway, long race report short, I broke away with Marian rider a few laps in, then cornered/risked my life enough to drop him and lapped the field by myself. That was definitely a first, and another first for realizing I could go 25 mph by myself without a lead-out.
Anyway, I wrote a sweet VeloNews article about the race weekend that will get published as soon as the editor guy gets back from tweeting updates on Lances every move at Tour of the Gila, so just enjoy some Pics of the racing:

So I guess this is so long to college racing, it has been fun, and messy.


Mo’ College Racing

This past weekend was quite the race packed weekend. Racing took place in downtown Indianapolis at Marian University. Since it was easter weekend though, there was only day of racing on Saturday.

The skies opened up up for Marian’s race giving another wet weekend of college racing, which seems to be the prevailing theme for the spring races. Cutting to the chase, I won the collegiate race, netting some face time in VeloNews. It ended up being Dave Williams and I in a breakaway that never got more than 15 seconds on a field that grew smaller and smaller with every lap. Eventually it was just Greg chasing…still at 15 seconds back.
Got some good pic’s from the win thanks to Stephen Sehr.

The Attack

The breakaway

The Win
There was also a 1/2/3 race that had a surprisingly large turnout of 60 some riders after the collegiate. Fortunately the skies cleared after the collegiate race and we went from racing in 50 degree rain to 70 degree sun.
Immediately the difference between collegiate racing and real racing is apparent. The 1/2/3 field was not much faster, but the maneuvering that went on within the pack was much much more aggressive. Ryan Knapp got into a breakaway with a few other teams, and the group was pretty well represented.
Then another group of a few riders got off the front that had Kenda and Texas Roadhouse, I bridged up so that our odds wouldn’t be so terrible. Once in the second group I realized I was in for a world of hurt, the group broke up a few times shedding the weaker riders and eventually ended up with Jake Rytlewski of Kenda pulling me around for most of a lap while I deprived my brain of oxygen.
I found this video on VeloNews, skip the creepy webcam interview with Neil Rodgers to 5:00 where they interview a few pro’s about how they describe suffering on the bike.
I’m going to go with rooting the pig from behind as my suffering of choice for the Marian race (not sure what rooting actually means but pretty sure the term implies have intercourse with a pig…from be behind). Anyway we finally managed to catch the break, they had sat up as to not lap the field.
Once all together it was two Kenda, two Panther, and a bunch of other teams. When Greg Strock from Texas attacked way out on the last lap I went to follow, then out of the corner of my eye saw the red kit of Kenda standing up to start following Strock’s wheel. I think we both sort of saw each other and thought the same thing at the same time, “Hey…you chase him down, I’m tired,” (at least I had a good excuse since I already won a race that day). So Kenda and Panther both sat up and let Strock get the W, with Ryan and I rolling in 5th and 6th. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it’s good that we’re getting these kinks in the team tactics worked out at small races like Marian before we head off to do some serious racing.
This weekend is Hillsboro Roubaix down in southern Illinois.

Back from the South

I’ve finally been able to decompress a little and sit down for some blogging action.

The past week the Purdue Cycling club went down to Mountainburg Arkansas for a week of relaxation, tanning, and a boat load of riding. The first weekend though was spent racing, not in the collegiate conference but USAC. I finally got a chance to kit-up with some brand spanking new Panther threads and race for some cash money. Also, since the race took place in Arkansas I was able to meet part of our Southern contingent of the team which consisted of Kris, Noah, and Wade.

Greg, Derek and I had done the race last year to come up a little short of the pitchfork (the prize for winning), Greg getting out sprinted at the finish by Brian Jensen. So it was time to win some quality farm equipment.
The 80 mile race, which contains one super steep mile long climb called Hell’s Kitchen, started just like it did the year before, really really slow. With only 30 some riders in the field no one really wanted to drill it for 3 hours. So we rode along pretty leisurely for the first lap, taking a pee brake and chatting it up.
The second time up Hell’s Kitchen climb Steve Tilford attacked over the top, luckily I was chillin on his wheel when he went and was able to tag along. Once Tilford’s teammate, Brian Jensen, joined us the break was really formed and started moving. The pack came within seconds of catching us at one point, but we managed to pull away again, but this time with yet another of Tilfords and Jenson’s teammates. Going into the last lap there were five in the breakaway, three from Trek-Tradewind (Tilfords team) Joseph Schmalz of the Mercy team, and me.
The group made it up the final climb in one piece, then the Tradewind team started attacking. The Mercy guy and I were on top of it for a while. I was following Jensen and Schmalz followed Tilford. At one point Tilford attacked and I expected Schmalz to follow him but I guess he was feeling pretty fried. In retrospect I should have just sucked it up and followed him, but hindsight is always 20/20. We sort of looked at each other for a bit, Jensen followed every one of our attacks we made to bridge to Tilford. We started working together a bit but it was too little too late. I ended up chasing down Tilford in the end, but never made it. I was fried and Jensen got around me in the sprint.
So no pitch fork, but 3rd’s not bad for the first USAC race of the year. Tilford also said our kits looked sweet in his blog, which is the real victory.

So then it was on to some good ol’ Arkansas riding, full of hills for your threshold work, and crazy dogs to help your sprint.
We did Greg’s patented 111 mile Apocoly-epic loop on Tuesday. In all we averaged 18.1 mph for the day, 8400 feet of climbing, at least 10 miles of some pretty ugly dirt roads….and a stream crossing:
The coolest part was the road that went through the Ozark national forest, which had two climbs that nearly climbed 2000 feet each:

Compared to this, the rest of the week was pretty tame: even Mt. Nebo seemed short. Other than that it was a lot of hot tubbing and one icy swim in Lake Fort Smith.

It was sad to leave, but we had more racing to do up in St. Louis at the Lindenwood collegiate race. The road race was four laps of a 19 mile loop with a few decent climbs in the first five miles. It was also pissing down rain for our race. We had a particularly small field this weekend, which, when combined with the poor conditions, made for some really aggressive racing.
By the second lap a big field split had occurred and I was on the wrong side of it. But so was Ben Damhoff, current points leader, locomotive, and the dude everyone calls ‘spider monkey’ for some reason. He spent most of that second lap chasing down the split. When it all came back together I followed a move from Zach McBride of Marion and we managed to get away with Nick Chevalley of Lindenwood. Since Lindsey Wilson was on spring break, we had both the big teams in the break. Zach seemed like he wasn’t quite on form yet and we dropped him going into the last lap.
So we were down to two. Nick, was pulling me along like a locomotive engine pulls a load of coal, which is how my legs were feeling after Arkansas. Thankfully neither of us were feeling like getting lonely so we rode in together to sprint it out. I was worried my sprinting legs had been asleep the past 6 months, but apparently they were a few fast twitch guys still limping along:

Sunday’s crit was a really cool course, but with more shitty weather. Not so good a day for me either. The winning break got away in the first five minutes of racing, I realized a little too late and tried to bridge across a 20 second gap pretty much solo. I got really really close, then blew up and headed back to the pack, where Naveen started throwing in huge counter attacks.
From then on out I was practicing my tail-gunning skills in the rain. If I were paying a little more attention I could have probably gotten across with a two man group that also lapped later in the race, but I was pretty freaking worn out by this point and just cruised in for the finish.
So now it’s back to school and reality.

Lindsey Wilson

Oh man, first race report of the year, I’m getting all giddy inside.

Ok, well… now that VeloNews is covering the collegiate scene, It seems somewhat useless to spell out every excruciating detail of the race. So in the morning there was this race, but you didn’t race against any one, you just went out and had to ride by yourself for like 10 minutes and call it a day. That before a 75 miler, no thank you.
So on to the RR, I’ll just say that Lindsey Wilson provided possibly the coolest race course the Midwest has seen for a while (and I mean a while, this is my 5th year of collegiate racing). Not only is the area around Columbia, KY very scenic, it also has some hills! I don’t mean the kind of hills you see in the rest of the Midwest that you can hold your breath going up, real hills more than a mile long that really make you hurt.
The race started out pretty easy, second lap of three I managed into a breakaway that worked pretty much flawlessly together. After initially getting away we rode pretty steady.
Once we hit the final lap though, we heard the breakaway up the road still had 4 minutes. Our group suddenly got a little quicker, dropping off a few riders who were just tagging along for the ride. We picked up all but two of the breakaway riders by the finish. My race was pretty much over after mile 60, which is about the longest ride I’d done prior to the race. I rolled in a pretty slow 6th. Here’s my super sweet Garmin file:

Unfortunately this might be the last I see of my location, accurate to 50 ft, for a while because as of today my Garmin mysteriously stopped working. Surely it had nothing to do with the spill it took off my bike in the Crit on Sunday.
We got to the crit very early on Sunday, so we all decided to try out for the Adair High School football team:

Needless to say we should stick to cycling (we actually did move it!). So after that quick warm up Andrew Otte and I went for a little stroll about the countryside north of the Crit course. Our ride went from really sweet to epic. First of all, for whatever reason, as soon as you get off state highways in southern Kentucky the roads turn into paved roller coasters. Twisting about a zillion times, with bunny hills that you zip down, sprint a few pedal strokes, and are over. It’s a lot of fun. Additionally, all these roads are super narrow, think bike path size.

On our way back into town we were riding one of these bike paths and it started getting narrower, and narrower, and narrower. Then it turned to dirt. Then it crossed a river:That’s literally what we rolled up to. I also forgot to mention that the road by this point had turned to dirt, which gave me a flat front tire. So here we were, about a mile from the Crit course, so close yet so far. So we just decided to take off the shoes and wade across all 3 feet of the raging torrent, which was really cold. After watching the Egyptians drown trying to chase us across the river, we rolled back to the course.

Again, you can check Velonews for the details of the crit, but let me first describe how wise I’ve become in my years of cycling. Before the race we had a little team meeting, what do you think we should do? “It’s a pretty tight and short course, It’ll probably be a breakaway,” said Hogan. And I replied “No way in Hell is it going to be a breakaway, I’ve been racing collegiate for 5 F–king years, I know a thing or two, etc, etc” I said.
So about 20 minutes into the race I saw a five man group with about 10 seconds that looked pretty promising. I got across and we lap the field in a matter of ten minutes.
After getting back to the field I was sort of fried, one: from going off into the grass and having to chase back on at one point, and another from losing my water bottle in while in the grass.
The race was winding down and Hogan was positioning to lead me out, Joey went for the late race flyer, everything looked good. Then Joey got caught in a lap, I lost Hogan’s wheel, and then proceed to bump elbows with someone mid pack on the last lap and pretty much lose all my steam. Thankfully Hogan didn’t wait up for me and killed it in the field sprint to come in 9th (3rd out of the field). I managed to get dead last in the breakaway, which was still good for 6th!
So racing is pretty much a learning experience every time for me…otherwise I’d be wasting my money. So here is what I learned from the Lindsey Wilson weekend.
1 – I need more long rides
2 – You actually have to be at the front of a pack if you want to sprint (very important fact I forgot over the off season)
3 – I really don’t know as much as I thought I knew
4 – Always bring a spare tube, no matter how short and simple your ride seams
5 – McDonald’s is still the best breakfast in town
Yes there’s only one, and she lives in the sewer.

Back 2 School…again

It should be easy to tell from my recent lack of blog postings that my ample amount of free time has been reduced. The reason? Yet another year of scholastic adventure. Yes for the fifth time around I returned to Purdue University to stare down the barrel of a gun filled with learning. If you are confused right now, allow me to explain. Most collegiate degrees are meant to be obtained in a mere four years, the last of these four years being your senior year. However, for some truly exemplary students, the University may wish to keep the student an entire extra year and elevate them to the status of “Super” Senior. Being a “Super” senior has quite a few cushy benefits, another year of avoiding the responsibilities of the real world, another year of the Neon Cactus, one more year of collegiate racing, and another year spent in my favorite state of the Union: Indiana! Some of the additional benefits of being a super senior include taking some odd classes to help you graduate. During my sophomore year I took Italian 101. Unknown to me at the time I had to take another Italian class in order for my first Italian class to count towards graduation. However, the first 101 did not go so well, so the prospect of taking another was a dreadful one. Before you start thinking I’m now forced to fake my way through another forign language class by mumbling let me tell you that I found the answer:Italian 330: Italian Cinema (with subtitles!!). So far we’ve watched Cabiria, a silent movie from 1914 that ground along for a whole two and a half hours accompanied by a single piano that would be at home in a Vaudeville theater.

The entire year will not be devoted to odd GenEd classes. I will also be taking actual Aerospace Engineering classes also. One year long class involves designing a thrust augmentor (afterburner) for model airplane turbojet engine:
As far as bicycle racing has been going two weekends ago was the Marion NRC classic, which sucked for me. Ten turns in 0.8 miles ain’t quite my style of racing, but it suited Ryan and Derek just fine, both of who finished in the money. The next day went slightly better, Panther missed the race winning breakaway, but I got into a late move with MWCCC alumni Phil Mooney, and stayed away for 6th place.

Last weekend however there were no races, except for one way up north in Michigan. But we had a better idea. Instead of driving 12 hours for racing, we decided to throw Derek a going away party. That was a lot of fun and Derek left for Korea on Sunday. Next weekend I’ll be going back up into Michigan for a Labor Day filled with some good racing.

Check out this video that somehow ended up on our Panther Website:
(it really speaks to my feelings)

Also, check out the exciting finish to Tuesday’s Vuelta a Espana stage. Go to 0:50 to see what happens when 100 riders all lock it up on wet pavement.