Archive | May, 2013

Da Faja And Other Racing Tales

28 May

Those of you as sophomoric as I will recall with a chuckle, the seminal Austin Powers movie, ‘Gold Member.’ (I hope you caught the pun in that first sentence). You’ll recall that Powers travels back in time in a souped up  vintage 70s caddy, resplendent in his Pimp Daddy attire, landing in Studio 69, owned by none other than Gold Member, himself. Gold Member, of Sve-e-e-e-dish descent, has a very peculiar accent that sounded like this when Austin was captured and taken to a back room where is father was being held captive (by two or three lovely young kittens): Da Fa-ja….. and now de Pro-di-gal Shon. Later, in the presence of Dr. Evil, Gold Member peels away a shred of skin and leers, ‘Ooooooh, datz a keepah.’

What in the hell does any of this have to do with racing, you might ask? On Saturday the 18th Deb and I participated in the Ft. Harrison Triathlon/Duathlon as a duathlon team. Deb ran 1K, I rode 11 miles, and then Deb ran 5K. The race promoter from American Multi-Sport, is headed up by a very Sve-e-e-e-dish sounding man who bears and eerie resemblance to Gold Member and sounds exactly like the villian. As you can guess, I couldn’t stop saying, ‘Da Fa-ja.’ Nor could I stop laughing at the thought of the old guy pulling his leg up such that his ankle touched his ear while rolling around the parking lot on roller skates. (Datz da vay, uh huh-uh huh, I vlike it). Apparently, the old man must have been aware of my self amusement because he scolded me for warming up in the bike transition area.

The race was delayed by nearly 30 minutes because no volunteers had shown up to marshall the corners at the fairly busy northeast side ot town. A light drizzle and cool temps caused athletes to cool down during the wait period. I grew frustrated with the shivering wait and began softly pedaling through the transition area as there was no one else in it because Deb and I were the only team in the team competition. Thusly scolded, I rode an 11 mile TT on leaden legs. This was definitely: O-o-o-o-h, Datz NOT a keepah.” Nonetheless, Deb and I enjoyed the event, including the free beer from Triton Brewery after the race (at 10:00 a.m.! – hey, it was noon somewhere).

Deb has been competing in a Planet Adventure Triple Crown and has placed 3rd in her age group in the first two events, including last Saturday’s 8K run through the trails at Eagle Creek Park. Like many of the B.I.T. winter training participants, Deb says the intervals over the winter have prepared her well for the diverse challenges of her various races.

In other B.I.T. athlete news, Adam Perler has been racing to qualify for Masters National Track Championships in Indianapolis this summer. So far, Adam has garnered two 3rd places and two second place finishes. He’s also qualified for the Festival of Speed tournament held this summer at the velodrome. Those of you who partook of winter training will recall our flying 200 meter intervals: 10 sec in Z5, 10 sec in Z6 and 10 sec in Z7. We did those for Adam’s benefit – it appears they are paying off.

Preston Conrad raced Masters 60+ in Chicago last Saturday, finishing in 8th place on the day. The Chicago event is a long running event hosted by Athletes By Design (ABD Cycling) of Chicago, called ABD Masters weekend, with the focus being on us old farts. The races are held in an industrial park in Wood Dale, on the western edges of Chicago with Saturday and Sunday being run on a short course that undulates with a downhill sweeping turn 1 that carries through turn 2 where the road grades up at a slight ascent, curves to the right and then levels at the final turn for home with a nice, 200 meter downhill finish. But before I get to my own racing in Chicago, I also raced the Ft. Wayne Criterium on Saturday.

Congrats to Court Maple who won the Masters 40+ event in dominating fashion. Court went off the front early, was reeled in, and went again with 11 laps to go, growing his gap over the final 10 laps to win in fine style. Court hails from Ft. Wayne, so this was a sveet win for him.

The Masters 50+ followed the 40+. 18 riders took the start line, some of whom rode the 40+ race. Four of us animated the race; Todd Anderson of Men of Steel Racing, Mark Swartzendruber of Scarlet Fire, John Schmitz of Indie Bike, and myself. The four of us took turns attacking with the other three reeling the solo rider in. Unfortunately, a bulk of the small field was able to maintain contact with the agressive bridging faction, thus bringing it all together a number of times.

Late in the race Anderson and one other rider slipped away. Swartzendruber took a deep dig, brining us close and I came by to finish the catch. We had 4 of us off the front, but the pesky pack just latched on with 3 laps to go. John Schmitz jumped out of turn two and held his gap to the line for a nice win. Out of position, I battled through traffic to finish 4th.

I arrived to Wood Dale on Sunday with a different mind set. I felt I did not race aggressively enough on Saturday so I planned to ride ultra aggressive on Sunday and Monday. Thankfully, another Scarlet Fire racer, Mark Sills, had the same idea. In the Masters 50+ (combined with 55+ and women’s fields), we had a large field of perhaps, 50 riders total. Sills took off from the gun, opening a nice gap. Myself and three others were quick to respond. After Sills’ explosive start, I took up the pace and then it was Sills again, coming through. He and I drove the pace for the opening 3 laps, by which time our group had grown to 10 with 8 very hesitant riders.

A lot of times racers don’t want to fully commit to the inital break of the race, thinking it might be caught and they will have burned too many matches. But after 3 laps of trading pulls with me, Sills and I both gave a glare to the rest of the bunch that said, ‘Do some work or you’re gonna get shelled.’ It seemed to work as the rest of the group began rotating through in a smooth fashion, although it can be noted some took longer (better) pulls than others. Within 17 minutes of the 50 minute race, our group had lapped the field.

I was chagrined by this b/c I did not want the group to mess up a final sprint for the win. With 10 riders a lap up it can be difficult for officials to sort out the placings. So as we approached the lapped field I floored it and rode right through the bunch, forcing the pace. My break companions were quick to respond, towing the field with them, but the pace remained animated with lapped riders trying to sneak away. In particular, Tom Doughty of Scarlet Fire, made two or three hard break attempts.

I wasn’t letting anyone go, though and at one point, one of my break companions said to me, ‘You know he’s a lap down.’ I did not care. Being from out of town, I did not who was who and did not want to chance letting one of my break companions get away. The official gave a prime with 4 laps to go. Gary Doering, a former olympian who is coming back from a terrible injury suffered in racing last year, jumped for the prime and took it easily. I gave chase, as if to feign going for the prime, but what I was really doing was opening a gap to hopefully, initate another break from the big bunch.

Doering sat up after taking his prime, but I carried on and my strategy worked. Sills was quick to respond, along with 4 others of our break away group, forming a 6 man group for the final 3 laps. Sills was strong and smooth in our final 3 laps. Mark McGeen of Team Mack and Wisconsin, was also very strong those final 3 laps. He won the previous day’s race, so he was a rider to contend with. Sills led to the final ascent when a couple of riders attacked from behind. McGeen covered the moves and landed in front heading into the final turn. I jumped just after the turn and held the lead to the line.

I joined the 40+ race immediately following the 50+ race. The field had 50 or more riders. I was active through the first 18 minutes of the race, even (stupidly) attacking after lap 1. But the old legs were not as willing in the second race on the day and third of the weekend. By 20 minutes into the 50 minute affair, I’d had enough of taking the wind, so I rode back in the draft to finish out this one, placing 20th at the end.

Post racing, Deb and I enjoyed the company of Tom Lobdell, Allen Galloway and Bill Stone at Marino’s Italian restaurant. We enjoyed a fabulous pizza and too many beers to count. It was learned that Stone has become engaged to a lovely lady. We wish Bill all the best in his forthcoming marriage.

Having lots of racing in the legs I knew I’d need a thorough warm up Monday morning. We were up and turning in our key by 8:30 for the short drive over the course and the 10:30 a.m. start. Upon turning in our key we briefly visited with a weary Stone, Galloway, and long time friend, Kent Menzel. All three slumped over the buffet table with coffee cups in hand and wondered how I could be up and ready so soon. The trio made quite a sight and I coined them The Breakfast Club. I explained that being old, I can’t just roll out of bed and race a third day in a row without loosening the legs.

As soon as I began pedaling I knew I had assessed correctly. My legs felt like lead. So I took a long, liesurely approach, just pedaling softly around the extended (1.6 mile) circuit when it was open, and through a nearby parking lot when racing was on-going. The Monday course featured a longer ascent, which was to my liking. Over the course of my warm up I could feel my legs loosening, gaining the sensations needed for racing. By the time the race started, I still felt fatigued, but determined.

Instead of my B.I.T. kit, I wore the Team Treachery & Deceit kit that honors Karl Raynor. Last week was the one year anniversary of his passing. We all miss him and I felt like it was a way to honor his passing by wearing the kit Adam designed as a tribute to Karl. When the race began I took the front at a tempo pace and no one bothered coming by. I led for perhaps a lap and a half when some wise acre remarked, ‘You’re doing great, keep it up!’ (Insert Dikembe Mutombo finger wave here). Someone finally attacked shortly thereafter and the pace remained hot for a lap. Approaching the ascent again, the pace stymied so I attacked and opened a gap. As I came across the line the officials rang the bell to announce a prime for the next lap. I figured I was out there so I’d keep going long enough to secure the prime.

I ended up opening about a 20 second gap that I held for several miles. The cross winds and previous racing prevented the legs from going any faster and after those several miles, the group led by Sills again, reeled me in. At this point, less than 20 minutes remained in the race and cautious riding took over. Two men in the 55+ category rolled off the front on the uphill and no one responded. About half way up the hill I jumped hard to make the bridge. No one got on with me, so when I arrived I told the pair, ‘Let’s go.’

One of the riders eventually fell out. I saw that he was laboring and offered to nurse him along, but he came out anyway. Richard Krueztfelder was my other companion and he was a tough old bird, having already raced the 60+ race on the day and was competing in his 6th race of the weekend! Richard initally was hesitant to work b/c he did not realize we had a gap, but when he saw that we had a gap he dug in and took nice pulls. We eventually opened a gap of over 30 seconds.

On the final lap Richard acknowledged that he was gassed and couldn’t do much more. Seeing that he was in the older category and that no one was in sight behind, I told him just hang on. To his credit, Richard still came through for short pulls on that final lap. As we approached the final turn and seeing no one within striking distance I jumped to secure the win. Richard took 2nd and was awarded first in the 55+ age group.

Once again, I encourage the Indy area racers to go over to Illinois and the Chicago area to race. Fields are typically much larger than our own, with many more racers willing to take the race by the horns, like Mark Sills.

In summary about this weekend, all I can say is, ‘Now datz a keepah.’


Tour De C-U

6 May

Before I get to the cycling let me recognize some of our Brooks Integrative Training athletes who competed in Saturday’s Indy Mini Marathon. Julie Renshaw participated in her 30th straight Mini on Saturday, this time walking the course with her sister, who participated for the 1st time. Angelia Kniesly cruised through the event in 1:55; Anthony Barr came home in 1:44 and Josh Ginsburg had this to share about his Mini experience:

After the somewhat dreary forecast all week, coming on the heels of a horrific Boston Marathon tragedy, two things quickly became apparent upon stepping into the “C” corral on Saturday morning, just after 7 a.m.; the weather conditions were arguably ideal with overcast skies and high 50s temperatures AND the presence of security was far more prevalent. Those two attributes set the 2013 edition of the One America Mini Marathon, apart from any other.

Having entered yesterday’s event with less than ideal training over the last few weeks, I was mentally in ‘happy place’ where my focus was simply to enjoy, find my rhythm, and once there, stay there. What unfolded was a freakishly even, and perhaps best ran race- regardless of personal condition – than I ever have completed. My opening mile of 7:27 was followed by another twelve splits that never strayed further than two seconds from that mark, resulting in a 1:37:42, which was a 7:28/ mile average.

More importantly, Jenni completed her first Mini Marathon, in 2:55, and that was far more gratifying, even if I had ran under 1:30. Great day, wonderful experience, and we will certainly be back in 2014. Our sights now turn to Tour de Cure, where I will do the 100 mile event and Jenni the 50K.

I am now looking forward to more dedicated time in the saddle and seeing friendly, familiar faces, more often. … ’nuff of this running stuff! 😉 Well done to all of you!

Mike Garrison participated in the 3 State 3 Mountain Bicycle Tour on Saturday in very soggy and treacherous conditions. Mike shared a sobering summary:

Definitely not one of the more “ideal” days for riding a century this past Saturday.  50’s and solid rain for all 7 hours and 100 miles.  But, those kinds of days make finishing a ride like that all the more satisfying!
I can honestly say that there were two things keeping me going.
1) Lots of experience racing in lousy conditions during adventure races and learning not to quit, (mind over matter all the way!).
2) Constant reminders to “spin smooth circles” on all those uphills that I really wasn’t prepared for.  Other than the final kicker on Burkhalter, where I was doing everything and anything in my power to keep that bike going and not put a foot down, I was very steady (albeit slow) on all the climbs.
I’ll have a ride report done in the next couple days.  If you want to check out the route, I think this link will take you to my ride data.
You likely already heard from Tim and/or Larry, but there was unfortunately a fatality at the bottom of the final descent off of Lookout Mountain.  I rode by shortly after the accident, before they had removed the body.  Very sobering, and a solemn reminder about how fragile we all are when we’re out on our bikes.

The Tour de C-U is an annual event consisting of two criterium courses on or near the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Although the weather was dismal on Saturday with steady rain and only tolerable with heavy cloud cover on Sunday, the events were well run. The promoters did a great job in securing the courses well ahead of race time and despite the rain, kept the spectators entertained with their non-stop chatter. The promoter’s organization extended to post race activities as well. Immediately following races, podium finishers were called to the podium for pictures and interviews. And finally, results were posted and payouts were awarded in very quick fashion. We’ve all been there where results are taking forever to tabulate, sometimes having to wait 2 or more hours to find out if we finished in the money or not. Not so at Tour de C-U. Druber and Co. were organized, efficient and entertaining both days.

Saturday’s course was a 4-corner loop with wide turns and a slight rise out of turn 2. Wind and rain played the larger role in Saturday’s race. I entered the Masters 35+ category and lined up with maybe 20 other nuts willing to race in a steady rain. Of the 20 riders a handful were active, including myself, in attacking or bridging to breaks. John Schmidt of Indianapolis was one of the main animators of the race.

About half way through the race I was brought back from an attack when a rider from Enzo’s countered the move. The pack let him go, never to be seen again. He stayed away and took a hard earned victory. At 6 laps to go I was brought back again when another rider countered the move, and he, too, stayed away for 2nd place. John Schmidt rolled off the front of the group on the final lap and opened a gap that no one was willing to close, earning himself a nice 3rd place and the final podium spot. I began my sprint before the final turn and opened enough of a gap to hold the spot for a 4th place finish.

Sunday’s course was a pure Crit. specialists course with 8 turns tightly packed into 1 kilometer of racing. I was entered in a combined 35+/45+ category and the field size doubled with nearly 40 riders. Although it did rain early Sunday, by race time the course was mostly dry so the only weather element was wind, which was howling from the east (in our faces) on the back side of the course. With the larger field and fresh legs on those who did not race Saturday, the pace was hot from the start. The attacking never let up until about half way through the 50 minute event when 3 riders slipped away, including Ben Weaver of Columbus, IN, the eventual winner of the race.

The tight course can be tough to negotiate and I normally labor on these courses. Yesterday was no different, but I did manage to get to the front a couple of times. After the 3 man break was established, attacking resumed. An Enzo’s rider launched off the front. With his gap widening, I jumped hard and made the bridge, rolling through him in hopes of working to break away from the peloton. To my chagrin, one of the rider’s teammates was sitting on my wheel the entire bridge. In bike racing, when you have a teammate off the front, your job is to sit on anyone trying to bridge to your teammate and that’s what the Enzos rider did. Once we passed the former off-the-front rider, the pack was breathing down our necks so I let up. The pack saw this and let up; and then the rider who took my wheel for a lap, jumped. Tired from chasing, the pack relented, allowing the rider to stay away for 4th place.

After a lap or two of sedated effort, the fury resumed with 6 or 7 laps to go. Guys were taking all kinds of chances, diving into corners where no space was available, in hopes of gaining front position for the final sprint. It was interval hell over those final laps; I’d move up, fall back, move up, fall back. In the end I finished approximately 14th and was 7th in the 45+ group.

Overall, the weekend was an enjoyable one spent at a very well run race weekend. I highly recommend this weekend for those looking to break out of the normal local racing routine next year.