Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Good Week in Review (7/13-7/19/08)

Overall, this past week was a good one. The weather was good and temperatures stayed steady in the upper 80's, low 90's. So why was the week so good? Here's why:

7/15/08 - Tuesday Night brought about Westlake World's Race #15 and to top it off, it was Zipp Demo Night. I arrived at the bus lot at 5pm and saw an already forming line to get a hold of a set of Zipp wheels for racing. By 5:30pm, I was outfitted with a nice set of Zipp 404's. Funny thing was, almost everybody else had 404's, 808's or 303's too. No real advantage for me.

Another interesting thing about Zipp Night is that there are always larger than normal fields. The Zipp demo's and special merchandise primes are a great incentive. I think there was about 80 racers contesting the A & B Races. Plus, there always seems to be a few racers that come out that only race this night. (Go Figure)

So with all that info, Team SBR lined up about 6 riders to contest the B group. As we rolled out, only one thing mattered to Jason Rapp, win the prime for the Zipp carbon fiber cage to match the one he won last year. That's a good team goal to start with. I hope the other 25 riders didn't mind. As the race started, things stayed relatively uneventful. No riders were allowed off the front and not to many attacks were being launched. Jimmy Nic did a great job staying near the front and handling any attacks. Of course, Jason did his little fyers off the front but nobody wanted to work and the three women riding up front did a good job pulling the main group back up. I stayed about mid pack for the first part of the race waiting for the Zipp carbon cage prime to help Jason win. As the prime for the Zipp cage was announced, funny thing was, nobody contested it and Jason won it with no problems.

So now there was about 5 laps left and like I mentioned earlier, the race was pretty uneventful. The pace quickened a little bit and I then started working my way to the front to get ready for a late attack or a final group sprint. So going into the bell lap, still nothing. Then, things picked up quite rapidly. As the pace was ramping up, a few people in the group moved to the front that normally don't race in the weekly series. I made it a point to follow those people that I didn't recognize. This year's series has giving me a few racing first's and I was soon to experience another first. As I was going into turn #3, I was approaching from the inside line. I was clearly in view of the rider on my outside and not diving into the corner. Well...the next thing I know, the rider is coming down hard into the corner and pinching me into the curb. Was this rider wanting me to hit my brakes or drop back? Too bad, I was already committed and the next thing I know, we were hip to hip. Not just lightly touching but doing the Hip Bump from some 60's dance. Luckily, we made it through the corner upright and continued to race toward the front. Now this made me a little mad because I know this rider is experienced and was not expecting something like this.

As the last corner approached, I stayed about 5 riders back and was looking for a good leadout by some unsuspecting rider. Jason was still in contention and was about 2 or 3 riders back on my left. As the sprint ramped up, a young college kid started to go a little early on the inside. I was able to pick my way through a few riders and found my way right behind Jason and Stark Velo's, Tim House. As the line rapidly approached, the college kid was clearly running on fumes as Jason, Tim & I sprinted toward the finish. As we hit the line, it was clear that Jason won. The question was, who got 2nd and who got 3rd? Well, thanks to the picture at the line, the question was clearly answered. I was awarded 2nd after Tim was DQ'ed for being over the double yellow. That was too bad, because it was a hard fought finish.

So, as the attached picture shows, the race was really close. Great job by Team SBR for a 1-2 finish!

I would also like to give kudos to Zipp, Dick Brink, Bike Authority and Chris Riccardi for another successful Zipp Demo Night!

7/17/08 - Thursday Night meant race #2 of The Chapel 3 Race Series. Once again, Jason Rapp and myself were the only two Team SBR members contesting the series. One thing about Thursday, it was hot! Racing on the blacktop made it even worse. As Jason and I warmed-up before the race, we tried to come up with a gameplan to keep both of us in front and hopefully, in the point standings. Having a few Westlake regulars (Gwen, Kevin Kimmich & Rick Bennett) riding in the B Group helped as well.

So as the start approached, the B Group field grew quite large at the line, over 30 riders. I swear that 1/3 of the field was Stark Velo riders. I was hoping that the start would be like last week, smooth and under control. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I quickly buried my HR in the 180's for the first 4-5 laps. Every time I was able to rest during the technical part of the course, the long backstretch came up and so did my HR. we entered the back corners that pointed us towards the front of the church, I found myself safely on Jason's wheel and I was finally able to get my HR under control. That feeling didn't last long when the dreaded "Hissing" noise started and everybody was looking to see who was going flat. The race continued without anyone fessing up and we didn't find out who it was until about a lap later. guess it. It was Jason. I didn't know it was him until I saw him at the start/finish in his street clothes.

So now I have no teammate, I'm struggling, and the 30 minutes is almost up and the last 5 laps were ready to begin. Jason now turned into my coach and was barking out orders. As I started the first of 5 final laps, Jason yelled out, "Get on #2!" I knew what that meant but the Stark Velo guys didn't and Tim House actually rode up to me and jokingly asked what Jason meant since his teammates were asking him. So...up to the front I went to sit on Drew's (#2) wheel. Now Drew is a very good rider for only being 14 and he's always sitting second wheel and Jason knows this. The bad thing was, I couldn't stay up front for too long and I fell back about 7-8 riders. So there I stayed for about 2 more laps. That's when my other coach, Chris Riccardi, yelled at me to get my ass to the front and stay there. Now Chris was using the B Group to warm-up for his A Group race and was helping other riders as well. comes another hard effort to move to the front while on the long backstretch.

As we made the turn back toward the start/finish for the bell lap, I was sitting about 7th wheel and I knew that I needed to make my move on the backstretch to get in the top 5 going into the final turns. As we approached the end of the backstretch, I was able to make it up to 4th wheel behind Drew, a Summit guy & Rick Bennett. Now two or three riders pulled up beside me as we rounded the last turn going into the finishing straight but I had the inside line as I started my sprint. Drew was able to get away but I was hot on the Summit guy's wheel and barely missed getting second. I settled for 3rd.

Now Drew has a commanding lead by winning both races so far. With Jason finishing 2nd the first race and a DNF for this race, it makes his chances of a top 3 harder. But having 14 points keeps him in the points race. I'm sitting in 2nd overall with 20 pts. after scoring a 4th and 3rd place finishes. Hopefully, Jason and I can score two high finishes in the final race this week and finish 2nd and 3rd in the overall. Thanks again to Jason and Chris for lighting that fire under my ass!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Last Week (7/6-7/13) in Review

Last week's action started with Westlake World's being cancelled due to the stormy weather. I still did a 1.5 hour training session on my trainer. I struggle to stay on the trainer that long. Good thing the Tour De France is on my DVR.

Thursday saw the 1st race of The Chapel Series in Green. Only Jason Rapp and myself were there to represent Team SBR. This made our strategy easy, stay in the front and stay close to one another. With Jason giving me tips and advice as we warmed up, the start rapidly approached. (Thanks Jason!) Now as the rest of my teammates know, I need a warm-up. I struggle with the clip-in and hammer starts that some of these crits and road races start with. There was a great turnout of B Group riders and Stark Velo had about 7-10 riders taking the start. With that in mind, Jason placed us in the front row and at the start, we were in the top 7 riders as we rounded the first turn.

As I was waiting for the pace to rapidly increase on this technical course, it never did. Jason and I stayed near the front the whole 30 minutes and once the 5 laps started counting down the pace finally increased. Now I was sitting about 3rd or 4th wheel going into the bell lap. Jason was behind me and our plan was for me to try and lead him out going into the last couple turns. As we hammered down the back stretch, I still sat 3rd wheel behind two riders without teammates. As we approached the end of the backstretch, Jason yelled "Watch the Stark guys!" With that, I looked over my left shoulder and saw a Stark Velo guy attacking. As I ramped up my speed to jump with him, I noticed Jason firmly attached to his wheel. I jumped on Jason's wheel going into the final turns as well as a young rider, Drew. The four of us hammered around the last turns headed in the finishing straight. Jason on Drew's wheel and myself right behind Jason and The Stark Velo guy. As the sprint progressed, Jason secured 2nd behind Drew and I settled for 4th.

With 1 race down out of the 3 in the series, Team SBR is sitting in 2nd and 4th in points. I hope we can have just as good, if not better results to move Jason and myself up a spot or two.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wow...It's Been Over A Month

After looking at my last blog, I've realized it's been well over a month since posting anything. Not too much has been happening but there has been some significant things since my last post:

Westlake Race #9 - 6/3/08 - found 9 of us racing in the B Group in a slow rain. My evening ended early on lap 3 when I went down in the sharp turn #2 at around 22 mph. Lucky for me, the road was wet and I slid across the pavement with only receiving a rather large strawberry on my right hip. That was my first race crash and certainly, not my last.

6/8/08 - After getting dropped from the Mill Creek Crit in Youngstown, I decided to lose about 20 lbs. Well the progress to date is 7 lbs. lost. Current weight is 183lbs. and I'm shooting for 170 lbs.

6/10/08 - I followed up my disappointing showing in Youngstown with a 1st place at Westlake Race #10. This added the fuel to really lose the weight I need to.

Most recently, Westlake Race #12, found Team SBR back with numbers in the B Group. With my teammates, Matt O., Jason Rapp, Mike Larimer, Jimmy N., Ian Hoffman, Dave Kovach, and El Presidente, we fired off attacks the first part of the race. With about 6 laps to go, Jason attacks and El Presidente bridges up. At this point, we had 4 SBR riders at the front of the group blocking. Two riders squeezed thru and made the bridge up. With us at the front of the group, we did all we could to let the break get away. Matt O. took over as the Team Leader and directed the rest of us here and there to help maintain the break. The race finished with Team SBR taking 1st and 3rd. Great job all around to Team SBR for using good team tactics and to Jason and El Presidente for their podium finish.

Stats: 40 miles in 1:38:00 @ 24.3 mph avg.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Cleveland Canvas in the Books!

For some of you that don't know what my day job is, I work for AT&T Publishing. My responsibilities include selling advertising for AT&T Yellow Pages and, online Yellow Pages. Now that you know this, I won't need to explain it anymore. Anyways, we just finished the Cleveland Canvas that I've been working on since last September. I'm excited about this because it means that I'll have more time to dedicate to training and racing.

Like Matt O., I'm going to finally lose that extra 10 lbs that's been hanging around for the first part of this season. A little tip for Matt: Cut out the soda and eating those Big Mac's doesn't help either.

All I need to do now is come up with some witty blogs to amuse the masses.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Westlake "B" Race #5 - A View from the Break

Last night I wrote about my view from the main field and the chase of the break from Tuesday's race. So today, I got an email from Mike L. and ask him how things were in the break with him and Gary. Here's what Mike L. had to say:
This is what I remember from the race:

We were all riding as a group for the first several laps when an attack occurred by the other teams. I saw Gary mark the attack and I followed Gary . At that point we looked back and saw Team SBR in the front blocking any chase efforts. That would be the last I would see of the field. There were about 6 or 7 of us in the break (Gary, me, PDQ, Team Solon, Team Case Western, and the others were unattached (Rick Bennett was one of them)). From then on we were running a paceline between all of the people in the break. Gary and I were trying to run a continuous paceline but the others were trying to make us take the lead for a longer time by not moving up. This continued for most of the race at an average of 24.5 mph. With four laps to go, Gary started to attack the group and I was thinking he was trying to form a break away from the others so I would mark his attack. That is not what he was trying to do. He wanted me to get to the back out of the wind. I am still learning. It worked out well though, because every time he would attack we would loose someone off the back and I would have needed to bridge the gap. At this point I could tell that the others were better at shorter races and were getting tired. On the final lap the break was down to 4 and Gary told me to get to the back of the pack and he did another attack around the last corner. I hooked onto the wheel of the last rider and where I stayed until the last 100m when I sprinted around the other two riders to take second... Michael"

Thanks Mike for painting a picture of what happened in the break! Once again, great job Team SBR on Tuesday Night's Race!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Westlake "B" Worlds #5

Well another week has gone by and another Westlake Crit Race is under my belt for 2008. Race #5 featured 8 SBR Riders, a break, team tactics and a great finish for Team SBR. Here's the recap...

Great weather was on tap for Tuesday. To my surprise, Team SBR lined up 8 riders to contest the "B-Group" race. Joining myself was Mike L., Matt T., Dave Kovach, Paul M., Jason Rapp and guest appearances by Gary B. & Mr. El Presidente. Definitely a wave of orange and blue. The B-group was rather large with about 25 total riders though.

The first couple of laps were uneventful but there was a lot of squirrelly riding going on by some new faces to the crowd. As things started to settle in, a break of six riders started off the front. Team SBR had two riders in the break, Gary & Mike. The rest of the team moved to the front of the main field, slowed things up and watched for any bridge attempts. With the break established, I just sat in the main group and got pulled around for a couple more laps. At around lap 6, I decided to try a flier off the front to possibly bridge up to the break. Unfortunately, that didn't work and I got sucked up by the main field by the end of the lap. So once again, I sat in the middle of the main group waiting for another team to start working to catch the break. Talk about frustrating. However, there was no way Team SBR was going to do any work with two teammates in the break.

After another lap and after a few stronger riders took turns pulling at the front, Jason noticed the front of the main group wasn't paying attention. So off the front he goes. I'm about 7 riders back and with no time to decide, I jumped with him. As I came up on his wheel, I noticed that no one from the main group countered and I said, "let's go" as I pulled thru. Now, this was my first flier off the front with someone else. Even though it wasn't a break, I felt like this was a perfect opportunity for me to work with someone else and definitely push myself.

So with that in mind, little did I know that we still had 6 laps left and we could not see the break in front of us. As Jason and I took turns hammering, Jason says "We keep going until we catch the break or get sucked up by the main field. Don't look back!" Thanks for the motivational words because I was suffering. All I could think about was, "Pedal in circles, pedal in circles..." as we kept rotating around the course. The countdown of pain continued...4 laps...3 laps...2 laps...bell lap. Not once did we see the break. Good thing was, we didn't get caught by the main group either.

As we approached the start/finish line after our warm down lap, we finally see Gary & Mike and find out that they finished 1st and 2nd. Great news for Team SBR. Jason and I finished 6th and 7th respectively.

After reflecting on the race, I feel good about my performance and the effort I put out there. Yeah, I wasn't in the break but I worked real hard to try and bridge. Now I know what I'm capable of doing. Plus, this was a good race in regards to using team tactics. Great job Team SBR!!!

14 laps/28 miles
23.8 mph average


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Westlake "B" Worlds #4

Tuesday Night was the Westlake Crit Series Race #4. Team SBR only had 4 riders in the "B" Group with a few teammates going up to the "A's". Dave, Ian, Matt and myself rolled out to contend the 13 laps, 26 mile race.

Things started well with Matt rolling off the front in the first few laps to claim prime #1. The rest of the race comprised of a lot of work being done by a few riders in the group, especially by Matt and myself. Ian was riding strong in the front when he flatted late in the race. In the closing laps, I was watching a few riders and where they went, I went. Our initial finish was waved off and we had to do an extra lap. With the extra lap, some teams were able to move some riders up to help. Once again, I pegged the same three riders . Unfortunately, I got caught on the inside by a lead-out rider and had to slow up to get around. With that said, I was unable to make-up ground on the three riders I begged and finished 4th.

Great job by my teammates. We fell one placing short but won the one prime.

Time = 1:14:44
Miles = 28
Avg mph = 22.9