NVGP #3 (actually stage 4 and 6)

Last night was a late night, which will sometimes happen when your
race doesn’t start untill 7:45 in the evening and wraps up after the
sun goes down.

Yesterday we had a ‘day-out’ in Minneapolis. We woke up to tour QBP.

If you’ve never worked at a bike shop let me fill you in, most likely
everything you’ve ever bought from a bike shop comes through the
distributor QBP. So we set up a tour of their state of the art and
environmentally friendly warehouse. The two guys I was with, Dan and
Noah, who are both major bike shop geeks, and were really digging the
whole distribution process blah blah blah. They do ship out 8,000
orders per day which is pretty impressive and only have something like
40 some errors per 100,000 line items. I was just digging all the gobs
of sweet bike components everywhere, plus the QBP wheel lacing guy and
tensioning machine, which was pretty sweet also. Tom Boonen apparently owes his rainbow stripes to the distribution practices of QBP.


The pro wheel lacer guy that laces all the wheels you buy from Quality, he did a demo for us, took him about 30 seconds to do a 32 spoke 3x pattern.
Team of wheel true-ers.
Want a Powertap?

Next on the agenda was the Mall of America…not all that impressive,
just saying.


Last on our tour we stopped off at one of the local shops in Minneapolis called
1on1. This shop was really sweet. Its half coffee shop, half bike
shop, and the lower half is a bike scrap yard. It’s hard to describe
the amount off cool, old, beat up crap that was in their basement.
Noah walked away with a pair of Ambrosio tubular rims, and we had a
coffee at their shop to celebrate our find.
Welcome to One-on-One!Old school suicide shifter where you had to reach down behind you to your seat tube pull a lever in order to shift.

The basement of old goods.
No idea what kind of shifter this is but it requires two cables to pull the derailleur up and down the dual railing.

Finally we did have to race. Friday was the Minneapolis Uptown
criterium. Uptown is the trendy neighborhood of Minneapolis, complete
with hipster gangs rolling around. The atmosphere at this race was
very cool, the entire 6 corner mile long course was completely lined
with people, even 10 deep along the finishing straight. It was a huge
event.

I did not make the same mistake I had made in the first crit, I got to
the start early and started mid pack. That coupled with a pretty wide
open course helped my own start. I even managed to keep the front of
the pack within sight during the first half of the race. Considering
how my previous crit went, this was quite an accomplishment. One of my
fellow collegiate racers, Rob Bush of Marion University, was
completely tearing it up at the front, attacking for pretty much the
majority of the crit.

I got a little too comfortable at the front and drifted back to the
vortex of the second half of the field; where any attempt to move up
would drain you to the point that you’d get passed by a ton of people
trying to recover.

I finished the race at the back again, but it was a good experience
and a lot of fun with the huge crowds.
This dude built a vehicle that is powered by doing an elliptical machine type motion, he was riding around at the race.
The Minneapolis skyline while riding the pedestrian only ‘Million Dollar Bridge’, fortunately this one didn’t fall into the river while we were going across it.


Saturday was the big road race that was supposed to shake everything
up and split the fields to pieces. The day started in Menomonie
Wisconson, and did a large 85 mile loop around the county, hitting
four categorized climbs with a few more thrown in that were big enough
to hurt pretty good.

The plan for the day was to attack from the gun to try to get into the
breakaway to get some representation in the race. I did my best to
follow moves from the bigger teams, but the race started with a tail
wind and was really fast so it was difficult for a move to get away. I
followed a handful of attacks, finally in the run into the first big
climb I got away with an 8 person group with a bunch of teams
represented. However what could have been a promising breakaway was
killed by one of the Jelly Belly riders and an Austrailian form UHC
complaining to each other about who was pulling more, while another
amateur from Hagens Bergman, and Jake Rytlewski, and I were doing a
good portion of the pulling.

Even though this was one of the hardest 15 minutes I’ve ridden in a
few months, a few Jamis riders bridged up to our move and that pretty
much killed any chance we had of staying away.

Thankfully we were caught right before the first KOH point, so I had
plenty of recovery time. When we got over the climb I nearly got
dropped after getting slowed up by a crash in the feed zone. I caught
back on and was pretty much completely fried by mile 35, it was going
to be a long day. Three more big KOH points were ahead, along with a
handful more of medium sized climbs. All the climbs that they found
out in Wisconson seemed to ride the same, start of pretty easy at
about 5% for the first half mile to mile, then ramp up to nearly 20%
by the end.

From then on in it was the normal shennaningans of a 150 person Pro/1
field. The final climb before the finish was followed by some false
flat and cross winds, which really gave a chance for the big guns to
actually start racing. It was pretty hard for a while, but the field
all came back together when we went into the finishing circuits.
The finishing circuits were in town at 3 miles a piece, with 18 turns
per circuit! The circuit hit up just about every single street in this
little town, including the worlds most uneven and bumpy street.

Because of my earlier fiascos off the front earlier in the race I was
popped pretty quickly in the circuits.

Tomorrow is the Stillwater criterium, supposedly the hardest crit in
the nation. I’ll find out tomorrow if this is just a way to scare
racers and make the race sound cool.

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