Saturday, July 26, 2008

A little bit of Superweek & Chicago Crit

After not having been here for 3 years I'm back up in Wisconsin for the last couple of races of the 40th edition of Superweek and the Chicago Crit. Together with Chad and Chris Z. of Tulsa we are having a great time up here in Kenosha. We got a nice spot the bay of Kenosha in walking distance from the local bike shop, coffee extravaganza and Kaiser's Pizza - a real post-race treat.

Friday night was a good opener, 100k crit with 29.6mph avg raced like a track race on a .6mile course. Lots of Texans up here: THSJ, Ryan W., RBM, and Ronnie S. along with some other guys. Good times.

The following morning we got to check out the beaches (!) and some history of Kenosha on our morning 1hr spin. Lots of interesting things to see here - not only beer and brats!

Chad pulled off a nice 9th place Saturday evening at Downer's Ave in Milwaukee and this was one of the harder crits I've done this year. A beer-drinking and screaming crowd of 15,000 was there to support the 150+ rider P/1/2 race. I got in a break of 4 together with my German 'brother' Markus W. At one point but was reeled in only 2 laps later. A couple of nasty crashes marked the race for the 2nd night in a row but I was lucky and stayed away from that type of action. The best part of the night were the friendly locals post-race who brought out a keg and cookies to us racers. Some Colombian family came up and took pictures while we chatted about racing, Colombia, Germany and beer (in spanish, of course).

The final day of racing for me was the inaugural Chicago Criterium on Michigan Ave & Grant Park. They are trying to set up a big event and a $25,000 payout for the P/1/2 definitely helped out. The Superweek organizers must be pretty pissed about that since only some 70 racers showed up to the final race of their series whereas 130 riders showed up in Chicago. Both races were only a 2hr drive apart.

Anyhow, after a short drive down from Kenosha we arrived just in time for Chad and Chris' warm-up: the $3000 Master race. Chad made some serious cash and got a nice warm-up in. For the big race, there was some good competition with Horner, Toyota, Kelly, and Rock Racing. The 50mile race seemed very slow from the beginning so due to a lack of warm-up I jumped a couple of times and only 15minutes into the race I found myself in a break of 20 which stayed away. We rotated very well, courtesy of every pro team represented. I did my share and felt good. With 10 to go the sh... started to hit the fan as everybody was chasing and attacking everyone and we went back-to-back from a 12mph granny pace to 36mph in an all-out attempt to decide the winner. Well, I followed wheels and tried my luck here and there but in the end I just finished in the group, 17th, just a few seconds before the field came back down on us. Thanks to the generous prize-list, 17th paid for most part of the 3-day trip.

Side Note: I don't know why everyone is talking about "end-of-season", "time to wrap it up", or "getting into base for next year" - it's still July and there are plenty of races until the end of September. For example TxTough is Sep. 11

Chad gets in some "training" for Crit Nationals...

The break rolls over the bridge back to Grant Park...

Enjoying racing down Michigan Ave in a "Bissell draft"...

mhhh...following eventual race winner A. Bergman

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Time Trial blog

Well, we all followed the biggest bike race of the world and saw the time trial in yesterday's stage 4. Wow! Did anyone noticed this bad boy...?

That's Bert Grabsch's new TT rig on which he won the German TT Nats 2 weeks ago with a blistering time of 46'51" (!) for the 39.8k course. That's 50.8kph (31.36mph) for almost 50minutes of riding time.

And yesterday, the other fast German Schumacher (Michael retired from Formula 1 racing a few years ago), put in an amazing ride to win Stage 4's 29.5k TT in a time of 35'44" which translates to 49.5kph (30.5mph)...

Interestingly, the publicity gets totally fooled when looking at his bike. It says big time Specialized on it even though Specialized doesn't own any patent rights on that one other than the white sticker with their brand name on it. It's a Walser frame, a tiny company based in Switzerland which makes some sweet bikes.

As always, the TdF always reveals some new toys which won't go into series production til next year. One of those things were the Di2 electronic shifters by Shimano featured on Sebastian Lang's (Gerolsteiner) TT rig...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fitchburg Chronicles - Last Call for Sprints

Today's goals were simple: Maintain where we were at, 11th GC for Olheiser and 2nd place for me in Sprint Competition. Mike was only one second behind Russ Langley so there was something "possible" in the 55miles of Criterium time. The Green Jersey competition was pretty much locked up, at least for Shawn Milne. Best tactics for me today were a) sit in and participate in some sprints and b) hope that several breaks go off the front with riders who had no points so I can keep my 2nd place because moving one place up was impossible against a 7 man squad of Type 1. Everytime I only attempted to go to the front and and attack I would have the Green jersey right on my rear end...

So I ended up 2nd Overall there and got a nice paycheck in return. Pretty much covered the trip up there. I now feel like a fat sprinter, as I got 3rd-to-last in the Overall Classification :-)

Check out my "part-time" teammates blog for some cool data, pictures and reports!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fitchburg Chronicles - Sprint Day

Fitchburg, Day 3. Ouch, that hurt again. Stage 3 was some 3mile loop ridden 25 times and featured a killer climb every time you come up to the finish. The team is riding well, Mike O. is now 10th GC (2nd best amateur I believe) and he gave me some killer lead-outs today for my sprints. First place is out of sight in the Green Jersey competition but I was able to score 65 points today and sit now 2nd - in a Type1 "sandwich". One more day to go, a 55mile crit in Downtown F'burg. Should be fun ;-)

Campus Pizza on Highland & Pearl St - typical Fitchburg house - Cafeteria Food

okay, I won a couple of intermediate sprints but when Shawn Milne launched, than it wasn't easy to stay on his wheel. His cowboy-hat wearing team director (left) knows that, too.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fitchburg Chronicles - Independence Day

Happy 4th of July ! Today we raced the Wasachusetts Mtn. Road Race - 104 miles on a 11mile loop with 140 guys and the yellow-line-rule in effect! That was quite interesting :-)

Out of the 9 laps we did I spent 1 lap in the field, 5 off the front and 3 off the back :-) Our team was quite active and finally I was lucky and got in a move with Shawn Milne. That was hard. My legs are not really ready for 104mile RR after all those crits. We worked well and "shared" the sprint jersey sprints but 6 laps into it I could feel the legs getting "achy" and I had to let it go. At the same time, I flatted but thanks to SRAM I had a new 404 in no time. Once the field caught me, I was done. Spent the last 2 1/2 by myself and finished 30minutes down...the final 3K ascent to the Ski Station was a sufferfest....

...Sam, Mike, Toone and I getting Free WiFi in the Suburban, parked in Downtown Fitchburg

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fitchburg Chronicles

After last weekends short trip to the West Coast I headed to the East for Fitchburg NRC race. Mike Olheiser & Co. (who just won 30+ Elite Nationals on Wednesday) got me here and I'm racing once again composite with Marx & Bensdorf Team from Alabama.

Getting here was quite interesting. Austin to Washington, D.C., from there over to Manchester, NH and then on to Fitchburg, MA via private taxi with an arrival time of 1:30am on Thursday.... Well, my bike didn't make it with the plane so I was without a bike knowing that the opening TT starts for me at 4:41pm...After some phone calls (I love UNITED) they delivered to our host house at 3:20pm...That was close....I threw the bike together, put on the Mini Vision bars and got in a mini-warmup for a slightly uphill 10K TT...That hurt....A TT bike would have been a better choice today but all I had was the SCOTT R4 courtesy of the best Regional Sales Manager Doug Looney and Mercy. It went all right and I ended up 39th with a huge field of 140 starters...Oh well, after some R&R it was all good again...:-)

...our Feedzone Cooler

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Last Wednesday I decided last minute to head to Cali for Manhattan Beach GP just South of L.A. Over the past years, I always wanted to go there since I heard good things about it and obviously it takes place in one of the nicer spots in the US: beach, sand, sunsets, mild temperatures, the ocean etc. I did not get disappointed when I arrived Saturday evening and went for an hour spin on the sea from 17th Street going South.

The race was good, 120 starters, lots of R&R again, and the 80minute crit was more like a show than a bike race. No break would really stick for longer than a couple of laps and a field sprint was the predicted - and actual - outcome. Like at AT&T a week ago there were various small breaks but I never found any "Okay, let's go" attitude among the riders once we were only a bit off the front. Various riders get in break-aways but unless they are solo nobody seems to be interested to be pulling through...uh?

Bahati won, which was good for their guys after having bunch of PR out there and being s0-close in the past couple of weeks a couple of times. Ex-Mercy Huff actually made it through the corner first but Bahati won pretty clear I think - I saw it from 45 places back, among the other "non-field-sprinters".

Check this out, though...That JB rider seems to be introducing a new tactic on how to keep the competition away in the final sprint :-)