Saturday, February 27, 2010

AZ Bike Racing vs. MI Bike Racing

Though one would argue that bike racing is bike racing, there still are different aspects that each state brings.
Here are all the things that I have noticed about Arizona racing:

-There are a ton (and I mean a ton) of riders in the Category 4-5 ranks (at VOS there were 110 cat 4s, and there would have been more had the field limit not been reached). When there are that many guys in your category racing every weekend, getting a top 5 finish is a very difficult task. Thus, a lot of strong guys would would have upgraded to a 4 or a 3 much sooner had they been faced with a smaller field end up making Cat 5 and 4 really fast. Also, there seems to be more organization and larger teams, even in the Cat 5s. Bikehaus (biggest team in the valley), will usually line up 8 or so riders in Cat 5, and even more in Cat 4.
I believe this is where the fallacy that Arizona riders are stronger than Michigan riders was developed, because if once those fast Cat 4s get into the 3s, they will notice a much smaller peleton, and honestly not that frightening a pace. Of course I have little experience, from doing a mere two Cat 3 races. U of A combined the 3s and 4s, so it was a blisteringly fast 60 ride peleton. Sun Devil had about twenty guys in the 3 race, and it only averaged 24.
My dad was very surprised about the 1/2 race at Sun Devil. He commented that it was no faster than the masters races he had done at U of A. That brings up another topic.

-There are more opportunities for masters racing out here. At every race, there is 30+, 40+, and then 50/60+. In Michigan, only couple race had a 30+ race, but here that comes standard. Some races have all of those races PLUS a masters 30+ Cat 4-5. That's a lot of races. A lot of Cat 1s and 2s will race masters like my dad does, so there are some fast fields that go somewhat faster than they did in Michigan.

-Time Trials were much more simple in Michigan. Either Willow Metro Park or Hines Park, a flat, all-out test. There are a great deal more TTs in AZ, and as far as I know, only one of them is flat. Vulture Mine is very ungulating. Flapjack/3 bears are all half uphill. It's awesome that they are mixing up the courses and avoiding the standard flat, out-n-back TT, but a couple flat, out-n-back TTs would be cool as well. I think the Picacho TTs and the State TTs are flat.

-In crits, the timing system is not as good. In Michigan, for a typical junior race, we would race 20 minutes + 2 laps. In Arizona, the junior races are 20 minutes long, and just 20 minutes long. At Sun Devil, the officials went to five laps to go at 20 minutes, and the same at Avondale and U of A. The races lasted pretty much exactly 20 minutes, which is not so good. 20 minutes is not that great a length for a junior race, but no biggie.

-There are a TON of races in AZ, but not as much money goes into it as it did in MI. In AZ several teams promote many races, so their money is really spread out. The total purse for U of A was $350. It's not the money that counts though; I'm just happy that teams are so willing to put on these races. Of course with such big fields, you'd think that the promoters are making a fortunate by giving a smallish pay out, but there's obviously something I don't know about.

-Junior races are a lot different. In Michigan, there would normally be 3 or 4 really fast kids who dropped everyone else and sorted the race out amongst themselves. In AZ, there are big fields, and though the fastest kids in AZ aren't as fast as the fastest kids in MI (i.e. Rudy, Alexey, Toma, Veltkamp) everyone is competitive. It's really tough to make any breaks get away, so it usually comes down to a 10-ish rider sprint as it did at Avondale and Sun Devil. A big reason why the breaks don't get away is that most of the races are 20 minutes long. The San Tan Crit on Saturday has a 30 minute junior race. I am excited and ready to rock!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Silly me

I woke up fairly early this morning. I groggily stumbled out of my loft, got dressed, put my contacts on, and was considering a shower. I then looked at my phone and saw that it read "12:24"...a.m.
Yeah...not cool.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I am one happy dude

And that's all I've got to say about that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sun Devil Crit: Report

I talk a lot about God giving and taking away. Yesterday he gave!!!

There were questions as to participation in this race when rain started pouring (it rains once a month in Arizona). However, we decided to race, and the course was dried off by the time the Cat 3 race started at 1:30.
After the manner in which the Cat 3 field kicked my butt back in January, I was a little hesitant but I knew that I had to try it again.
It was not a very large field, as you can see. There were about 20-some riders. I knew that the key to this crit was position. I need to stay away from the back of the pack. I had to fight for position, and fight I did.For the first 25 minutes, the pack would yo-yo. Pretty much due to the size of the field and the presence of two very large teams (Bicycle Ranch and Procon), we all knew that a break was going to get away. Three riders got away: Michael Dziedzic (he is 17 and races for Bicycle Ranch), Drew Albert (he is 19 and won the Avondale Crit), and two riders from Procon.
Things slowed a bit once they were out of sight, but after 35 minutes, once it was clear that the breakaway wouldn't be caught, people kept on attacking the field. For my part, I was just holding on all race.I stayed with the pack to finish 14th! I was stunned, honestly just stunned. I rolled up to the side of the race course, where my family stood congratulating me. I couldn't stop grinning. Then I realized the junior race was up next. I put down all the hammer gel I could possibly put down, while dad scissored off my cat 3 race bib. Thanks to my pit crew (Dad, Neal, Mom, Maria, Abi), I made it to the line just in time! Jake had raced the cat 5 race earlier (got 19th!) and Stephen had raced the cat 4 race (11th!), and they were both lined up and ready to rock.

The big guns for this race were Robert Chorost (far left), Nick Thorpe (fifth from the left), Sean Biever (to Nick's right), Colton Taylor (white jersey, 3rd from right), Blake Savage (far right), and of course the DNA boys!!!
From the start, I knew that I did not have the legs to win. After racing 50 minutes with Cat 3s, I had only gotten in a 5 minute cool down. I used the first five minutes of the junior race as a "warm-up". We raced really well. Stephen was fourth or fifth wheel all the time, while Jake and I were kind of on-and-off. Jake put in a great early break, with Stephen blocking for him and forcing the other guys to do major work to pull him back. After a while, I figured I might as well put in a little dig. I attacked hard into the second (and last) corner, generating 836 watts, which is almost a power record for me. I finally got that separation that I have never been able to get, but I blew myself up in the process. Nick Thorpe chased me down quite quickly.
It had become apparent to me that I just didn't have the legs to pull off the "V". I told Jake that I would go to the front and police all breakaway activity.
This involved chasing down a couple moves from Colton Taylor and Blake Savage.
I figured the less Stephen had to work to keep others from getting away, the better shot at winning he had.Stephen tried hard to get off the front, but in a 30 minute junior race, it is almost always going to come down to a sprint. This was my fear, because Nick Thorpe and all of his Strada teammates are wicked sprinters (they swept the podium at Avondale). The race was decided on a last minute surge by Stephen right before the final turn. He accelerated away to give himself just enough room to hold off the rest and WIN THE JUNIORS RACE!!!!

1. Stephen
2. Nick
3. Sean
4. Don Henley
5. Blake Savage
6. Colton
7. Scott Ford
8. Jake
9. Me, and it was the most satisfying ninth place I have ever taken!

I'm telling you that it is tough to win a junior crit in Arizona, and Team DNA just did it!

Thus far, it had been a great day, but it wasn't over! Dad was determined to take on the Pro 1/2 race. He was fearful of droppage, but after 1/3 of the race had elapsed, he had gained major confidence. He told me later that this race was no faster than the Masters races he did at U of A.
I wonder if watching the Bissell, Essex Brass, WSC, and RGF dudes race in Michigan gave him the wrong impression of the speed of a pro 1/2 crit.

Again, Chris was working his butt off for the team.

Again, Eric Mercotte took the win (fifth or sixth win of the season). Sal (DNA's guest pro rider) got 3rd, and Chris got 4th. Dad got top 20!

We enjoyed the race. For the first time in a while, my whole family came out to see it.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rest Needed

Since VOS, I haven't got that much rest. Monday was an off-day, but I tagged along with Dad and Neal to check out the new weight room that our owner's club has. I did some easy lifting just to familiarize myself. On Tuesday, Coach Patterson worked us hard in gym class. We ran the mile and then did a full upper body workout. When I got home from school, Coach Anderson had me doing VO2 Max intervals. I did four of them. They were hard.
Today was a bit easier. We ran the mile and did a lower body workout. I rode in Zone 2 for 2 hours today. Tomorrow, we will be working hard in gym again, and I get LT intervals. I'll get some real rest on Friday, because my parents can hopefully write me a note to get out of gym. The reason for getting out is the fact that we are racing on Saturday (the Sun Devil crit). I should sleep now.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On Saturday...

You're racing the Valley of the Sun Road Race...
On Sunday...
You're missing the Valley of the Sun Criterium...for this.

Multimedia

Just a couple photos on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/album.php?aid=2052633&id=1316404539&ref=nf

Here's a crash in the Cat 4 race.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valley of the Sun Stage Race: Report

This was a very fun weekend hanging out at one of the biggest races in the midwest! The whole southern California gang was out there as well as a couple peeps from Michigan (Zoe Reeves and Kevin Collins). I said hi to Floyd at the TT. Jr. Men 15-16 had 29 racers, and fierce competition.

Time Trial- 14.2 miles out'n'back with a slight false flat on the way back. I went off at 3:19, really feeling ready. I settled into a rhythm of 23 miles per hour on the way out, realizing that I would kick the speed up significantly on the way back. On the way back I averaged around 27. My time was 34:18, an average speed of 24.9. I was really, really happy with this time! It gave me 6th place, 1:47 back on Kyle Torres, who is one fast dude. The top ten looked like this.

Kyle- 32:31
Alex Darville- +1:06
Marcus Smith- +1:18
Alistair Eeckman- +133
Erik Volotzky- +1:43
Me- +1:47
Ryan Geiger- +2:10
Stephen (my teammate)- +2:48
TJ Eisenhart- +2:50
Pedro Zaragosa- +2:59

In 17-18, the Team Specialized Juniors from North Cal went 1-2-3. Jake suffered without good aero equipment.

Road Race-
41 miles, and three times up a mile long climb. I had expected the race to be a hammerfest, but it was more or less a case of "attack and shadowbox". Erik Volotzky and Alex Darville were really aggressive, but none of their attacks stuck. Every acceleration was immediately countered. The first serious move happened on the second slog up the hill. Stephen was itching to go, so when Alistair Eeckman attacked, Stephen was right on his wheel. As they started working hard, Kyle, Erik, and Alex started jumping to catch back up. I just followed wheels as they chased back my teammate. Erik attacked to get a 3 second KOM time bonus, but we brought him back. Although we had narrowed the field down to about ten riders, most of the pack gritted its way back on the downhill. There weren't many more attacks after that. Nothing that was intended at least. Some of these kids were really really lazy on the front, creating gaps that formed breakaways. No one wanted to pull, so Stephen had to chase back a couple kids.
At the bottom of the last climb, Chris Laberge from Team Specialized attacked hard. He was low on GC, but absolutely NO ONE in the pack wanted to chase him. The peleton was five riders abreast, simply watching Laberge get out to a 10 second lead. I had to chase, so I jumped with Stephen right on my wheel. I brought Chris back fairly quickly, and then I tried to get situated for the final showdown. Then I cramped. I couldn't believe it. I suddenly couldn't hold 210 watts, when I had been pulling much more before. The pack slipped away from me, riders that I had just dropped rode right by me.
Erik Volotzky, Marcus Smith, and Alistair Eeckman broke away in the end, gaining 10 seconds on the pack. Stephen got FOURTH!
I lost 1:20, dropping me two places. This put Ryan Geiger in 6th and Stephen in 7th. Pedro Zaragosa was now one second behind me on GC.

Crit-
The idea was to lay it all on the line and attack the pizza out of the group, but things turned out differently. The officials decided to combine 15-16 with 17-18. It would be a 60 rider field filled with some of the fastest riders in the nation. Attacking was not an option, because I was in survival mode. I'm not a great crit racer as you all know. However, I gutted it out to finish with the pack and keep my place on GC. Stephen took 5th on the stage for our respective category and 7th overall. Jake held on until one lap left and brought himself up to 24th in the GC of a monstrously competitive 17-18 field.

Miscellaneous-
-Chris was one place behind Floyd in the TT.
-Zoe got second for Jr. Women behind Tara McCormick, who is one of the fastest girls in the U.S.
-Kevin got second in the crit for Masters 40+.
-Four Arizona juniors placed in the Top 10 for 15-16: Colton Taylor, Stephen, Ryan Geiger, and I. In the past few years, Californians have always dominated. WE ARE LEADING A REBELLION!!

I am very happy about the race. Sure, I should have fueled better in the road race to prevent the cramps from coming, but I can't take back what happened. It was my first real regional race. I went up against some fast dudes (Kyle and Erik raced in Europe last year). I gained a lot of confidence and made some friends. My teammate got on the podium twice, so the team definitely scored a victory!
It is going to be a fun season!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

3 Days!

The start list was posted on Sunday. This is gonna be fun!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Phase 2

I get braces tomorrow!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Flapjack TT: Report

First time trial of the season. Summit Velo put it on without any problems. It's such a nice atmosphere here. I can tell that we're making new friends all the time at these races.
It was the same course that I did in July, only reduced to 20km. The first half was a 1.5 grade with a cross wind a lot of the time.
I was riding the road bike with clip ons and a wheel cover, plus a chrono TT helmet.
My power was phenomenal. I averaged 240 watts for 34 minutes, which gave me a superb power/weight ratio. The problem: it took me 34 minutes. We don't know how, we don't know why, but something was just wrong with my setup. It was almost as if a brake was rubbing. The last time I did a time trial, I averaged 216 watts and averaged 24! And now I do it 24 watts better and I'm two miles per hour slower? It's all good though, considered that this was a "C" race, merely meant as a test. It was a good test for me.
Dad threw down a 29, good enough for a win in the Masters 45+, so for the first time since 2006 we took home a Father-son win!
Jake was cruisin' today, beating me by six seconds, and that blew my mind.

I was pretty disappointed at my speed. Dad and I theorized how much time my setup cost me.

Compared to what I usually have:
Louis Garneau Chrono instead of Giro Advantage helmet= 30 seconds.
Road bike instead of TT bike which gets down sooo much lower= 30 seconds.
Normal front wheel instead of Zipp 808= 30 seconds.
Given that there was a cross wind which my wheel cover didn't really help with=10 seconds.

That gets me down to 32:20, which is still annoying. This was a pretty slow course (my dad had a 29 going at a wattage that would have gotten him a 27 at Hines Park), so I could maybe reduce 1:30. That's a 30:50. I guess that's okay. I'm not worried though. It was an insane workout.

Next week is the big dance...VALLEY OF THE SUN!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The News

-Maria is going to Michigan tomorrow. She's going to the WCA homecoming. Lucky.
-Flapjack TT on Saturday. It is an out'n'back 20km course, half of it uphill. It's a low-key race, because there is a circuit race the next day, but with less people doing the TT I think I can focus more on beating the clock.
-VOS starts in a week. 657 people are already registerd, and all the fast kids are registered. It's going to be intense.
-T-Max intervals on the trainer tonight. They are going to hurt like no other.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Observations from School

-Gym is slowly grinding us down, with our workout duration and intensity going up every week. I am so tired now.
-We're watching "Much Ado About Nothing" in English class. It's quite entertaining and it features Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves. I know I should see him as Don John, but all I see is Neo Anderson.