05 July 2011

Nature Valley Grand Prix 2011

Monday, 13.Jun.2011. We loaded up in Fort Collins at 8am and drove through Wyoming & Nebraska. It would be an easy load up since we didn’t need time trial bikes. We spent the night in Omaha at the home of a friend of a friend of a former Rio rider. Our lucky connection set us up in a beautiful home with wonderful hosts, Rick & Susanne. An excellent dinner was ready right as we arrived. We were joined by their neighbors, Anne & Lou, who happen to be big wine connoisseurs. Oh boy did they bring over some great wines! Amazing how the sharing of a bottle of wine… the fun conversations, camaraderie, and friendship. After dinner we relaxed with some billiards, foosball, and our team favorite show—BBC’s Top Gear.

Tuesday, 14.Jun.2011. Tuesday is usually a rather uneventful day and today was no exception. Just a moderate day of driving through Iowa & into Minnesota through some heavy rain. We had some good laughs taking photos of our faces in a cutout of a Wild West “Wanted Dead or Alive” style poster at a pizza place in Iowa. Finally we arrive at Sue & Jay’s house, our homestay for the week. Our good luck continued as Sue, a phenomenal cook & baker, had dinner ready for us!

Wednesday, 15.Jun.2011. Nature Valley GP begins with quite a busy day: first is the morning 6.1 mile Time Trial then there is the evening Criterium in downtown St. Paul. This distance is a bit shorter than my slow twitch legs prefer; nonetheless I got in a good warm-up and went as hard as I could. Can’t say I was pleased with my result. Now to rest up for tonight’s Crit, which would be a rather hairy course. We arrived to a very festive atmosphere in downtown St. Paul. Right next to the crit course was a large event center hosting a Taylor Swift concert tonight! After checking out the tricky corners in our course, I had a bad feeling in my gut—not really looking forward to this one. Sure enough, on the first lap 2nd gnarly corner there was a crash and unfortunately Drew went down in it. Fortunately he bounced right back up and was riding strong on the next lap. A few laps later another crash in a different gnarly corner. Ugh. The pace was very fast on the straightaways, which made the acceleration out of the corners very very hard. There were some splits and I found myself in the groupetto working to survive for another day. We lasted just long enough to count today and be able to start tomorrow. Chad, who won the green Best Amateur Jersey in the morning TT, rode strong to keep it and Drew also kept his great GC position.

Thursday, 16.Jun.2011. After all the action yesterday, we were fortunate to have a late afternoon start for today’s 66 mile road race in Cannon Falls, MN. For the most of the day it was fairly relaxed, until near the end. After the cool & wet weather yesterday, today Mother Nature treated us to heat & humidity. I was doing ok on fluids but went to grab a bottle in the single feed zone just for insurance. Some rascal grabbed my bottle right before I was to grab it! I was furious and went right to the thief, “Hey Man, you owe me that bottle!” He was honest, “Sorry man!” and handed over the bottle. Right afterwards I rode up to Chad who needed the bottle, so my repossession effort paid off. Today’s roads were smooth & wide, until right before we started the finish circuits. Here we were treated with a ~1mile section of narrow rough dirt “pig path.” I love a Roubaix style course, but this didn’t belong in this race if you ask me. The pace went high, then chaos with guys sliding all over the place. Sure enough a big split… Fortunately Chad, Drew & Ian all made the front split. In our group, I witnessed Scott prove himself an exceptionally skilled rider. Entering a very fast 90 degree turn, the rider directly in front of Scott flatted and changed his line no less than 6 times. Scott stayed calm and got around the rider as he finally went way wide in the corner & tumbled into the grass! Whoever said road cycling is easy & boring has never seen racing like this. Seriously, these skills belong in the X-Games!

Friday, 17.Jun.2011. Another well planned day: rest all day for an evening race. This time is was a twilight criterium in Uptown Minneapolis. The weather was about as perfect as possible and there were a ton of people out to watch the action. The course had some bumps & cracks in the corners, but wound up being a really smooth race. Not being a Crit man, I was conserving for the long day tomorrow. I found myself at the back, not where I want to be, but it was a fairly safe place to be. I could burn a lot more energy and move up to a position where guys were occasionally crossing wheels & crashing… or I could relax a bit… It was an easy choice tonight. Plus more people could see & cheer for me. Again Chad rode strong and kept control of the Top Amateur jersey.

Saturday, 18.Jun.2011. The only real Road Race was what I was looking forward to—95miles of rolling farmland outside of Menomonie, WI, were our treat for the day. The problem is my allergies decided to wreak havoc on my day. After about 30 minutes, they were pretty bad and only got worse. Constant stream of water from my eyes & nose, plus my arms and legs were very red & itchy. I blew up about 30miles in on a steep climb, chased in the caravan for a while, but ultimately got dropped into the groupetto. Pretty upset because I had 3 extra bottles to bring up to my boys. Feeling pretty miserable and just riding tempo with these guys hoping not to get time cut. I drank all those bottles, and really wanted more… the final feed zone seemed to take forever to reach. Finally I see the Rio van and the feed zone. I see Annie with bottles for me. I mumble “Wait up Amigos, this is for me” to my groupetto companions, who oddly enough slowed down while I exchange bottles! The fluids were enough to get me to the finish in enough time. Chad rode great and again kept the Top Amateur jersey with only one stage remaining. We then stayed at Sue & Jay’s family “Farmhouse” out in the countryside of Wisconsin. It was an incredible place to say the least! We enjoyed a relaxing quick dip into the pool and hot tub before another wonderful meal that Sue & friends prepared. After pushing our bodies to their limits (and then some), the R&R at the Farmhouse was very much appreciated!

Sunday, 19.Jun.2011. Today was the Stillwater Criterium, featuring the brutal Chilkoot Hill—at 21% grade and 200 meters long, it was a real monster. After my implosion yesterday, I just wanted to hang on long enough to finish. Again, the crowds were out to watch our high speed racing. I got myself in a good warm-up, knowing this stage would start like a rocket. Seems like we waited on the start line for at least 20 minutes… just long enough for the legs to shut down! Finally we start and its chaos! On the very first lap, I have to slow to avoid several guys crashing & skidding all over the last crazy fast right hand turn. I was gapped, but soon caught up with a small group. We would never catch back onto the main peloton, so our goal was to last long enough not to be time cut—a simple 5 laps of 20. Our group worked pretty well together and lasted 7 laps before being pulled. Not my favorite place to be, but now time to relax and cheer for my teammates. Chad, Drew & Ian all rode well today, with Chad fighting hard to keep the Top Amateur Jersey all the way to the finish. According to the race director, this was the first time one rider had held onto this jersey from start to finish! Now time to rest up and get ready for the second half of our season!

23 August 2010

Summer Roundup

I've been busy since my last post. Traveling, racing, training... all that good stuff. First up was Powerman Alabama where I was 10th. Still one of my favorite races around. Definitely enjoyed the new course at Oak Mountain State Park as well as the usual awesome Southern hospitality in Birmingham... but would have liked a better result.

Next was the first of the Mile High Duathlon Series, the Barkin Dog Duathlon. This sprint series has never been my forte, but still a fun day & fun workout. Had a solid effort and finished 4th. Pretty happy with that, especially considering I had so little high intensity training. The big goal for the Spring was the long distance American Zofingen Duathlon on the following weekend. AZ, as its known, is known as a brutally hard & hilly race in New Paltz, NY. This intersection of the Shawagunk & Catskill Mountains did not disappoint the "Hard & Hilly Course Department." My race there started out good, coming into transition in 4th, right behind the others. On to the bike, my luck changed for the worse. About 18miles in I ran over a screw and flatted. It was un-repairable. Needless to say, I was very disappointed to have that opportunity slip away. Just have to use that as motivation for the next one...

The Screw that got me at AZ

After a little mental break from the Spring racing, I was back in gear for my Fall goal race: Powerman Zofingen. Long & hilly training is the norm. Yet, my summer races were sprints again. First was the Big Sky Duathlon out in Bennett. My shortest multisport race of the season at 4km run/25km bike/4km run. It was rather uneventful other than the weather (about 50degrees & raining, a deluge at times). I didn't have a stellar result (7th Elite), but this is not what I'm training for.

A cool & wet day in Bennett at the Big (wet) Sky Duathlon

Next was the last of the Mile High Series, the new Westside Duathlon in Arvada. The new course was great--several fun rolling hills on both run & bike. Hope they can have this same venue for next year. Here I was 8th Elite... good enough to get 4th overall in the series.

Inbetween all this has been some solid running & riding for Zofingen. Even jumped into a 10mile run for fun at the end of a very hard week of training--ran a 1:00:25, nothing earth shattering, but very good in the big picture. Definitely in my best hill climbing shape. My farmer tan is probably the darkest ever, and I'm wearing SPF70 these days! So the work has been done... just have to go take advantage of it. 13 days to go!

02 February 2010


I've always enjoyed learning new things. I was reminded why I'm like this recently with a trip to Georgia to visit my family. I have an awesome grandmother that is 88 years old and still super sharp. She is still active and in great physical shape--walking a few miles almost every day. Whats really amazing is how dang smart she is. She got her Master's degree in 1948. She reads the newspaper daily, as well as all sorts of books all the time. She's a killer crossword puzzle solver. Without a doubt, a razor sharp mind and body that is truly amazing and inspiring.

So that I can keep up with my Grandma, I'm learning some new stuff myself. For starters, I got an acoustic guitar for Christmas (thanks Mom!). I've always wanted to learn to play--no time like the present! Despite a severe lack of musical talent, I can now play a few song intros that actually resemble what the artist wrote! Its definitely a challenge learning this new 'language' and especially the specific finger coordination. I doubt I'll ever master it, but looking forward to learning a good bit on it.

I'm also learning to ride a unicycle. Always wanted to learn, so I'm playing around on it this winter. Not going nearly as well as the guitar... but I did ride it 30 feet last night... so there is some hope.

Probably the biggest thing I'm learning is how to run. Yes, I'm totally changing my run form. With major help from my new coach, I'm working hard to improve my run speed. Right now, I'm early in the transformation, but making progress. Hopefully we'll see the results come in 2010 and beyond.

So, cheers to learning and a great 2010!

05 November 2009


Saw this link the other day. If that doesn't get you going, I don't know what will!