Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tour of KC

After a few mellow days in KC we raced the "new" Tour of Kansas City this past weekend. New courses, new organizers, and a decent prize list attracted a few powerhouses from the region. But still the Tour of KC Part # 2 in August will happen, too.

Day 1 was pretty technical and more like a circuit race with some false flats and lots of turns. Scott Moninger came out of retirement and him and Alex rode away half-way through the race. So the chances were 50/50 and that only "ok" but not perfect if you wanna win the race. I got away from a little chase group with about 5 or 6 laps to go and could distance myself from the field but didn't catch Alex/Moninger. I got close but had to settle for third and "The Cagle" did what he does best and just jumped the field for 4th place. Mat A. rounded out the Top 10 with a 9th place. 2-3-4 is solid, but we knew we gotta win one of those days here. Also, it was great to see some new faces on the team: Joseph Schmalz and 52x14 junior Chris Wallace rode very well and did lots of work for the team.

Day 2 was over in Lee's Summit, MO. (That's the place where I sent LOTS of paperwork - and even more $$$ - since the Dept. of Homeland Security Center is based out of there...) It looked like it would rain before the race and everyone I asked told me it wouldn't. So I left my MAXXIS rain tires in the pit and went with the slick Michelins. Not the best choice since it started pouring on us 20minutes into the race. Above mentioned Chris Wallace made the race winning break with 3 others and while the peloton was busy chasing each other and not crashing, the leaders rode away. Alex and Mat made the split with a few others, too and the field got lapped with 1 lap to go. It was a bit "problematic" to figure out who's who in the last lap and we ended up with a 4th, 5th and 7th place while Moninger - yet again - took the win. First crit in the rain this year and it was actually not bad at all once the dirt was washed off and we could go fast again.

The final Day of ToKC was held in downtown and was a pretty tough, short and fast course. It was just below 1K in length and we ended up doing 54 laps on it - ouch! The best lap time was a flat one minute or 32mph, courtesy of "The Cagle". Hats up to the organizers for finding that course. That was challenging and fun at the same time. 25minutes in I found myself in a break of 10 along with teammates Joseph and Mat - 2 Big Shark guys incl. Moninger and 4 (!) Trek guys were with us, too. That was a tough one to crack and I wasn't really sure how we can get a win out of this. But, things turned in our favor when Mat came from "almost-getting-dropped" to attacking over the S/F-line along with Hartman and C.Hall. The three rode away and the rest of the break (we already had the field lapped once) took it easy for the last few laps. Mat's group of three ended up lapping a few riders again and Chad gave him a killer-leadout to take the win. I managed 7th while Joseph got 10th. Not bad and we finally got one win out of the weekend.

Next stop: Tour of Lawrence next weekend.

Alex showing some golden shoes and making funny faces...

Chad and Alex taking over Marshall's backyard after a rainy crit on Day 2

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A cyclist's guide for Kansas City

I spent the last few days in Overland Park riding, working on some new business ideas, and checking out the town with old college buddy Todd. I've been to KC a few times but didn't get to see much other than crit courses and a few restaurants.

But there's actually lots of stuff to see and do here in the Midwest. Sunday we checked out Shakespeare's Pizza in Columbia, MO. Apparently that's a favourite among the locals and one of the highlights of student life at University of Missouri. The long wait was well worth it and a 12" is definitely "eatable" after 84miles of racing in the heat of Winghaven.

The +100 temperatures definitely made training a bit more challenging but I can't complain "growing up" in the "Falls" in North Texas. On Tuesday Todd and I rode out to to the local "Tuesday Nighter". To quote Mr. Wallace, "no Stefan, it's not the Driveway" but still competitive and I got a very solid 40minutes of racing in once I found myself in a break with a few locals. I also had a teammate, Chris Wallace, a very good junior rider who's already done CX World's once and will one to watch on our team in the future. We rode back home with the organizer of this weekend's Tour of KC and am already looking forward to 3 days of Crits here. The "Cactus Grill" in Overland Park had some Mexican Food and deals on Margaritas. Nothing beats the "sans-alcohol-license" Black Sheep in Austin, though :-)

Something you gotta check out when visiting KC is Shawnee Mission Park, just west of town and a great place to ride some miles on trails without cars and - during 100 degree heat - pedestrians. Great for intervals or to just go for an easy spin. Watch out for deer, rabbits, and plenty of bluebirds - they're everywhere. The only downside is riding through on the busy East/West roads but once you're over the Interstate it's not worse than riding in any other metro area around the country.

If you're ever (always???) in need for some cold refreshments you'll need to visit the Flying Saucer in Downtown. They have more than 200 different beers and +50 on tap from around the world. Lots of German Pilsner's, Bocks, Ales,Wheats, too. Until we talked to the bartender, I didn't even know that Austin has a location, too, so will have to check this one out in the future!

Today I did some intervals on Tomahawk Rd in the Mission Hills area. Good "urban" road with smooth asphalt, plenty of $$$ homes left and right, and a Country Club in close proximity. Was lots of fun to ride fast there except for one soccer mom in an Audi S8 who ran a stop-sign and almost t-boned me. I'd hate to have an accident with a $96,200 base-priced piece of German-engineering...

Tour of KC starts tomorrow and should be plenty of fun with the whole "gang" being in town for a few days. Just one week later is another - bigger - Crit series here in the area, the Tour of Lawrence. When was the last time you had 3 big cycling events back-to-back-to-back in the KC area, two of them brand new events? I think that's pretty cool and good for the region.

Oh, and if you ever wondered what's fair game and not in a Crit, check out Steve's latest blog entry. A bit detailed, but he makes a very good point.

Monday, June 22, 2009

28 hot laps at Winghaven

After an eventful week with team changes, 30hot laps at the Driveway and some traveling from ATX to KC I drove with Todd C. over to O'Fallon, MO for the Winghaven NRC race. I've never done it but only heard good things about it and teammate Mat won it back in 2006. It's a really nice, new neighborhood where they have the race and the 3mile course was definitively challenging to say the least. Combined with a few pro's and 100degree heat those 28laps in the middle of the day made for some good, aggressive bike racing. We had probably 8 or 9 guys in the race and I was looking forward to it as I've done way too many crits in the past and a 85mile RR sounded like a nice change.

Alex started off the race by going into a two-man break with Jensen and they stayed out for a while. This was really a Jensen course and as soon as they were brought back he went again in an attempt to go for the KOM laps/primes. A few others followed and Mat made it into a 10-man move chasing the leaders. By that time (halfway through) the pack had split into two groups, leaving a bunch of guys OTB and DNF'ing early. It was weird in our group or what was left from the "field". We would go 15mph at some points and guys would just ride away solo. Than someone decided to chase and soon after we would go super slow again. Unfortunately Mat cramped up and suddenly we were out of the race and there were only 10laps to go. I was really ready to call it a day since the race was up the road and we were in no-men's-land. But it got a but more interesting when we could a group of 10 or so and suddenly we were still racing for 14th place. With a $15K purse for the Top20 some people found a little bit extra juice and we were going a bit faster again. Still, the 13 guys ahead of us ended up lapping our diminished "field" on the last lap and we sprinted for 14th place. Thanks to my new/old teammates Joseph Schmalz I got a good spot before the last round-about and found the wheel of big Slovenian sprinter Ilesic of Type 1 and ended up 16th on the day. Not really what we had hoped for but considering this year's competition, the course and way it played out we can be happy with that for now.

Next stop: Tour of Kansas City 6/26-28, then Tour of Lawrence July 3-5, and a well-deserved break after that.

two-man TT at Thursday's Driveway with PMc
(photo by DCM Photography)

Todd "arguing" with the order-screen at McD's on I-70 in Booneville, MO

What you probably shouldn't eat before a 85mile NRC race...still was delicious. BBQ Pork w/ coleslaw!

Some pictures from the race are here:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I heart Crozzy !

Teammate won Tuesday Night Crit again- that's 6 (SIX!) in a row!

UPDATED 6/9/9 - 7 (SEVEN) in a row

Photo by Lee McDaniel Photography

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tulsa Tough

Another End of May, another Tulsa Tough. After a quick 50min Driveway warm-up we drove up to DFW Thursday evening and got to spend some time on Trinity Trail in Ft. Worth. Later that day, we arrived at the best Host Housing we could ask for - that of teammate Chad.

rest-stop Texas-style

Night #1 was rather uneventful. Rode out to the course, met up with friends and teammates, watched Jed Rogers sprint to 2nd in the 1/2 race, downed some energy drinks, and did a 65minute Twilight crit. There was not much to do for me in that race as the field sprint was pre-determined with 10laps to go and Chad already found his spot behind the winning Jelly Bean squad around eventual winner and former teammate Brad Huff! CC ended up 13th which was a bit disappointing since he was 6ht wheel going into the final turn but a OUCH rider decided to go against the laws of physics and dived into the final corner way too hot, rolled a tire, and crashed - causing a major rumble in the front.

Day#2 was already more exciting. We got to pin our numbers at the Soundpony, had more energy drinks, and socialized with (some already intoxicated) cycling fans on Main Street. After a quick rest stop at New Medio (the media/PR company behind Tulsa Tough and one of my teammates' employer) we rolled to the start in the Brady District with a nice 90 F heat around 6:30pm. It was - yet again - fast and furious and it took me 10laps to move anywhere to the front. When I finally did, I punched it through the Start/Finish and about a dozen guys came with me. Every major team had at least one if not two guys in the break and we rolled pretty good for a few laps. The pace there was so much harder than chilling in the field. I would go 200W less in the peloton vs. riding in the rotation in that move. But, the break was probably a bit too big and once Floyd Landis punched up the little rise on the backside the break fell apart and I was back in the peloton. I recovered, and recovered some more. With 10laps to go I got CC on my wheel and got him in the Top20 when I saw an opportunity to go off the front. Adam Bergman was dangling off the front of the field with 15seconds and we're kind of going slow. I punched it up the rise by the Soundpony and quickly joined him w/ 9 laps to go. We rode hard for a few laps before they rang the bell for the biggest prime of the day - $500. Since I'm not gifted excessively with fast-twitch fibers I figured I need to get this. So once again, I rode flat out over the rise on the back-side of the course and my race was done with 5 laps to go while collecting some change for the day. Chad came in 11th so we're improving from day to day :-)

this is for you, BigDaddy Walker

Day#3 usually suits me well with a hilly crit course but not this time. Somehow, my legs were MIA after going okay the last two nights. I was there for 50minutes and then had to call it quits. Weird. One day you roll, one day you're slow. CC saved the day for us with a Top 10 and an 8th place in the Omnium while "Huffy" dragged his through-cheer leading-formed body over the hills of Riverside and held on to the Omnium lead. Impressive.

scene on "The Hill" during Stage 3's Riverside Crit