Friday, July 29, 2011

Totally Rad Jumping Yo!

I willfully stole this from Brison's FB page. It's up a Whistler, BC. Every time they get down toward the bottom of the course I see the hotel I stayed in last time.

Me: "Ohhh! There's my hotel. (Pause the screen.) my room was right... There!"

Hollie: *Eye roll* "I know! You've shown me on every video of Whistler Village that you've ever shown me."

Me: "Don't be jealous...."

  I think I'm just going to do the Gresham Crit tomorrow. And skip the Vancouver Courthouse Crit. Maybe I'll go on a nice ride with my beautiful wife and friends. Or maybe it's because we are going to Oregon Brew Fest Saturday night. And more than likely I won't be "Feeling it" on Sunday. We shall see. Have a great weekend!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Twilight Crit Last Night

There was a crew of four that went down to the Twilight crit Tuesday night.  Myself, Brison, Thomas and Kevin.

We got there with about a half hour to spare before the race (I like to have a little bit of warm up time before hand.) As we piled out of the ol' team van we were putting our bikes together, airing up tires, etc. I went to grab my checkbook to go pay and there weren't any checks left in it! (Doh!) Since about the only time I use that them anymore is for race fees. I guess I just didn't notice that I used the last one. So I made a mad dash off for the Made in China, uh, I mean Walmart that was up the road a few blocks. Grabbed some cash and made it back with about 15 minutes to spare. Crisis averted.

As we lined up for the start there were maybe 35 guys for our race. Which is a pretty good turn out. At least for the times I've shown up. The officials gave the usual shpeal and blew the whistle.

It was fast for the first 4 laps or so. No one was willing to let any shenanigans happen.

Brison and Kevin both attempted a couple of the early breaks. Which were all reeled back in pretty short order.  Thomas and I were about a third back in the pack just kind of watching and waiting.

Did you ever have one of those days where you felt totally and completely normal? Not Great. Not terrible. Just plain blah? 

Well, that was me. I couldn't seem to get into any kind of semblance of racing. I was never in the red zone. But I was never dangling off the back either. Even mentally.  I felt a lot more comfortable than the last time I was there but I just didn't seem to have that top end kick that I had even 4 weeks ago. Meh.  I'm sure it will come around.

About half way through the race Thomas got a flat. And unfortunately couldn't use my spares. He's still using 9 speed and I'm running 10. So his day was done.

In the mean time there was a pretty good crash. With about 4-5 guys going down and a bunch more skidding to a stop. It looked to me to be a touch of wheels after someone drifted out of a corner. On the next lap through everyone was up and moving so I assume it was just road rash and no broken shit ( I hope.).

We continued around and round for a while and with about 4-5 laps left the kid that has won the last two races in a row made another attempt (This was probably his 4 try.) to create a break. And Brison and a Hutch's guy went with him.

I was really proud of Brison. He fully committed himself and went all in trying to make this one stick. And for a while I thought it just might.

There was a Blue Sky rider trying to bridge. And it looked like the group was content to let him. But then another Hutch's guy tried to go with him and the group just wasn't going to have that. I don't really understand the tactic there. If you've got a teammate in a break why would you try and drag yourself up there if it means your bringing the peloton with you!? Just seems dumb.  Made doubly dumb by the fact that I don't think he even knew that's what he was doing. Oh well, gotta love 4/5's

I think I was pretty asleep at the wheel because next thing I knew it was two laps to go and I wasn't in a very good position. So I moved up the best I could (Maybe to 10-12 wheel.) With one lap left. And coming into the second to last corner had some guy dive into my inside. I had to brake and re accelerate (Dropping me to about 20th.). And that pretty much ended my sprint before it even started.  I really need to stay diligent in those last couple laps. I ended up 15th. Which is not great. Not terrible. But not great.

Kevin did well with 5th. It was really tough to tell where he ended up because everyone was straight across the road lunging toward the line. He it was still a good showing.

Brison was pretty cooked from his effort and cruised in at 22nd. I think he was a little disappointed. But I don't think he has any reason to be. He gave it all he had. And when not everyone is willing to work it's real tough to make a break stick to the end. But those times they do are great. He'll live to fight another day.

Cat 4/5

PlNumFirst NameLast NameTeamNotes
15212AlexanderChowLife Cycle Bike ShopWarning: Dangerous riding
84227marklipchickLife Cycle Bike Shop
94263SteveTrosethPacific Power Blue Sky
10414MaireOsbornLife Cycle Bike Shop
115272KenRodgersOregon Paddle Sports
125200DanMahoneyTeam Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing
135509RyanGarnerTensegrity PT Cycling
154129EarlHazekampCapitol Velo
172588BrickLantzSLOCUM Race Team
185031ChrisJacksonPacific Power Blue Sky
195012JeffHamlinPacific Power Blue Sky
228078BrisonMonroeCapitol Velo
255452ScottRemiroLife Cycle Bike Shop
297213FloLeibowitzPacific Power Blue Sky
DNF4656ScottFildmanLife Cycle Bike Shop
DNF5037TomCordierPacific Power Blue Sky
DNF4452RandyPaschallLife Cycle Bike Shop

Oh! The warning on the winner was that he threw his hands up when he won. With guys bunched up all around (Sides and back.) him. It was a dumb move. I've seen guys get relegated for it before. He's lucky. I can understand being excited. And maybe he has the handling skills to do that. But who's to say if the guys around him did. It would have really sucked to have another pile up right on the line.

Next race is either Saturday or Sunday (Or both) up in Portland. I'd like to get at least one two more races before the OBRA Crit Champs.  Hopefully my snap will be back by then.

Tomorrow I wanted to talk about a couple observations I made on a group ride last weekend. Until then...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And Now Depression Sets In...

Cadel Evans (BMC) with .Andy and Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek)

The 2011 Tour de France is over.

Like a good meal I was a little sadder with each bite (Stage) because that would mean one less that I could enjoy. And now with now more left depression sets in. Sigh....

But what a hell of a race it was. The most action in a tour that I can think of in resent memory.

The terrible crashes of the first week.

Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) extracts himself from the barbed wire fence he landed on after being taken out by a French television car.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) accepts the thunderous applause of the gathered masses.

Incredible tenacity and will from guys like Thor Hushovd and Thomas Voekler.

Thomas Voeckler was amazing on the Galibier and held onto the yellow jersey

Finally the fireworks coming from The Schleck's and Contador in desperation to try and dislodge each other and Cadel.

Alberto Contador makes his first attack on the Col de Manse, which drew an immediate response from race leader Thomas Voeckler.

If I look back on my predictions for this years tour I got almost nothing right.  About the only two things I did guess correctly at were Andy being on the podium. As well as, Mark Cavendish getting the green jersey. That's pretty much it.

Radioshack imploded and most of the other guys I thought might have some sort of shot either hemorrhaged time in the first week or crashed out. I guess it's true what they say. You won't necessarily win the tour in the first week. But you can lose it...

And speaking of losing it. I don't mean to kick someone when they're down. But I'm going to a little anyway.

 Andy, Andy, Andy....  Why weren't you more aggressive in the one place you knew you could kick Cadel's ass? Cadel is a good climber. But he can't handle those changes in pace or those really hard accelerations like you and Contador (Version 1.0, not so much 2.0) are capable of. You could have put two minutes into him in any number of the mountain stages.

But instead you chose to keep an eye on where Contador is. Or where your brother is...  You can't think like that man.. And choose a time to create a break and commit for crimany sakes! I lost track of how many times I saw you make a dig for 15-20 seconds and look back to see what happened. You've got to go man! I can't believe Jens didn't grab you by the scruff and tell you how to attack.

And the one time you did attack it was spectacular! To little, to late. But spectacular none the less. Had you made even one more move like that. Weather Contador went with you or not. You probably would have won.

But committing to a plan and sticking to it is something that Cadel and BMC did extremely well this tour.
He knew that if he just followed the wheels and limited his loses that he would own them in the TT. And in a lot of ways that's all that it took. That consistent and ever vigilant need to stay on those guy's wheels.

As well as a lot of luck. Because lets face facts. That's something that seemed to be in very short supply. Especially in the first week. A massive amount of respect has to go to the guys like George Hincapie on the BMC squad. They ferried Cadel through a huge amount of danger and set him up to succeed. A feat not a lot of other teams managed to do. So good on them. How's that go? Luck favors the prepared...

But kudos to Cadel Evans he more than earned that victory. It maybe wasn't the flashiest way to win. Not as much panache as the French (Or anyone except the Australians.)would like to have seen. But he was the little engine that could. And when it really counted he pulled himself inside out. And that's what it takes. Congratulations.

Team BMC

Rubber side down,

Big E

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cadel Freakin' Spanked It!

Cadel Evans burns a groove into the roads of Grenoble

Cadel put more than two minutes and thirty seconds into Andy! Holy Crap! Just amazing...

Andy Schleck was shattered after his devastating loss in the time trial.

I feel really bad for Andy. After his attack two days ago I felt like he was starting to become a truly great champion. But they don't call it the "race of truth" for nothing. I do feel that if he had go attacking in a couple of the earlier mountain stage he would have had a legitimate shot at winning the over all. But unfortunately he played to conservative to long.

I had a feeling being in the yellow jersey would give Andy wings. And while I think that he rode to the ceiling of his ability, it just wasn't enough.

I'm sorry Andy. You will live to fight another day.

Chaupue Cadel. You certainly earned the champagne tomorrow...

Rubber side down,

Big E

The Tour De France: Wow!

Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) in the maillot jaune, with 57 seconds on Cadel Evans heading into the time trial

Just when I thought that the tour couldn't get anymore exciting. A stage like today's comes along and blows me out of the water. Twitter was freaking out pretty much from the word go (The most immediate way for me to get coverage).

Alberto Contador attacked the Col du Telegraphe and pulled away the favourites

Once Contador decided that he needed to fly the coup only 15km into the stage. The fireworks came thick and fast.  And really didn't stop until everyone crossed the line. I swear I peed myself a little...

He may not have any chance of winning the tour this year (Unless Frank and Andy die in a strange pony watching accident. And Cadel sleeps through his alarm in the morning and is 15 mins late to the start). But I think he showed everyone that he is a true fighter. Not everyone may think he's a moral champion. But you've got to show him respect on the road.

Which is exactly what Andy Schleck was doing. As soon as Bert jumped. Andy was on him like a fat kid on a cupcake. Which was a wise move. Because I wouldn't have put it past a super strong Contador to take back all the time he lost and then some. I don't think he is near as strong as he was in the Giro (Obviously). But I would never disrespect him enough to just let him go. On top of the fact that if they could continually work together they would put more day light between Andy and Cadel. Which is really what both Schlecks should be worrying about right now.

Cadel Evans (BMC) answered all the attacks from the Schlecks and even tried his own

And speaking of Evans. I think that guy may have given himself hemorrhoids pushing so hard today. After all the tough luck he had with a bike mechanical (Evidently his rear wheel moved because of a loose quick release.) earlier in the stage. He fought his way back to the group. Then continued to tow the line when no one else would, or could help. It was an amazing testament to him.  He will NOT give up easily. I would say he's as tough as the come. And by keeping the time gap reasonable (57 sec to Andy) I'd say he has a really legitimate shot at taking the yellow jersey into Paris.

But you never know. The yellow jersey has an amazing effect on some people. I wouldn't expect Schleck just to roll over and pee on himself in submission during tomorrow's TT (Unless he's into that kind of thing...). So I would guess that it's going to be super close. Putting myself out there I would venture a guess at between 15-30 seconds either way.

Tomorrow is going to be freaking sweet!!!!!!

Thomas Voeckler chased alone for ages until he finally gave up

I would also like to give some massive props to Thomas Voekler and Pierre Rolland from Eurocar. First to Thomas (Speaking of the yellow jersey giving you wings..) And then to Rolland. He is certainly up for the domestique of the year award. Every time the main GC contenders were the only ones left Rolland was still there trying to tow Voekler up the mountains. Really impressive... I would be really curious to see if he's still with the team next year.  With a tour stage under his belt and such an great showing the rest of the time. I would guess that he's going to have teams banging down his door.

Pierre Rolland celebrates his Alpe d'Huez triumph

Well I'm going to shoot this out now. Hopefully the final TT will live up to what we've all got to believe that it's going to be.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ironclad Crit

 So sorry for this taking so long to get up on the blog. I've had a busy last couple of days. Our two oldest boys turned 16 and in turn got their licence's the same day. I know, RUN!!!!!!!!!!!! Head for the hills! And make sure to put on a helmet! But in all seriousness they did great, are very good drivers and make their Mom and I very proud. Good job guys! And now, on with the show...

So the Ironclad crit was this last weekend. A couple things stick out to me about this race.

First, that in only the second year of it's existence this race has jumped in popularity probably three fold.  My race had almost 60 starters (A good chunk were pulled and not counted before the race was done.) in it. Considering the tight course it made for a very "interesting" start. I knew I was in trouble when I looked at the two guys in front of me at the start and the both were in the little ring up front and about 3/4 the way up the cassette in the back.

As soon as the whistle went off I was dodging guys fumbling with their cleats and busily shifting gears. I was expecting a fast start but I was in for a rood awakening. There were a hand full of guys at the front that were putting the hammer down! I was gnawing on the stem for a good lap and a half just trying to latch on to the back of that front group.

I'm really glad I did. Because with in about six laps we were already passing riders. Our average speed at the end didn't really show it (23 mph) but on both longer straight aways I was seeing very consistent  28-30 mph speeds.

There was only one crash in the race which happened around lap 10-12. A pour guy on the outside of turn two lost control (Clipped pedal I think.) and hit the outside curb. He seemed to get up pretty quick so hopefully he was alright.

Lana and a couple teammates keeping us safe on corner #2.

One thing I was really happy about this race was that I felt a lot more comfortable. I pretty much got into the groove straight away and staid there. Thank God. I really didn't want to continue getting over nerves (Well, more than usual anyway.) before each and every race.

So we continued round and round at a pretty high pace. That caused very little attacking. Which quite frankly is very unusual in a 4/5 race. Most upper category races are defined by people looking at someone else doing the work. Everyone acting like they're allergic to the wind and generally hiding out unless someone tries to make a break. Then it's game on! until they're caught. After which it goes back to everyone staring at each other. Rinse and repeat...  But because of the high pace no one was feeling that frisky.

The only time that wasn't true was on prime laps. But even then there was only a 100 yard (From the final corner.) dash and then it went right back to the high pace.

I had a difficult time staying towards the front. Because of the large field and narrow corners (They had these planter beds that were curbed and jutted out into the corners on both sides.) that made moving up even a few places really tough. At one point I was somewhere between 5-10th wheel but lost it in a sketchy moment (In a 4/5 race!? I know, weird!). Then spent the remainder of the race trying to regain what I had lost.

To be totally honest I was never really at the pointy end of the race. But I ended up a respectable (For this race anyway.) 17th. Meh. I'll take it. I'm usually not a fan of mediocrity. But I'll take feeling more comfortable in the pack and still being able to pass some people in a supper tight finish as a good sign of things to come.

No racing this weekend. I'll go down to the Twilight crit with the boy's next Tuesday though. That should be a fun time. And then I have a double header the following weekend with the Gresham Crit and the Vancouver Crit. They're coming thick and fast now! Next thing you know our not-a-summer will be over and I shall be bending all your ears with talk of cyclocross.

Good times.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, July 15, 2011

Floyd Landis Interview

This is a really interesting interview with Floyd Landis.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This Weeks Twilight Crit

It was an interesting race....

It was my first time back since the accident (At Pringle Creek). And I'm glad to report that I did in fact, manage to keep the "Rubber side down". Which I was very happy about.

What I wasn't so happy about, and quite frankly a little surprised by. Was how nervous I was. I guess that would be kind of a "duh" moment. But it really caught me by surprise. I was totally fine until we lined up at the start. I had to fight the nervousness the whole race. In fact it really screwed my sprint at the end because I was to timid.

I guess the main reason it took me by surprise was that I've ridden with the Scott's group a bunch of times since the crash and never felt un-nerved at all.

Couple that with the fact that I had just re-glued my tubulars from the crash. And even though I've done it many times, the first race after I do that I always get a bit nervous (Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn't have used them at all and just taken that little extra bit out of the equation. Meh, live and learn...). Sitting in the back of my mind every time I leaned it into a corner I was thinking, "Please don't roll, please don't roll!" But they didn't. In fact they were totally fine the whole time. But I can't seem to help myself...

I did however really enjoy having a full crew (As many guys as I have bike racks for...) go with me to the race.  That was a lot of fun. Bullshitting our way down to the race. Debating the trials and tribulations of the day, tactics and any thing else that happened to pop into conversation. That's the good stuff about bike racing in my opinion.

The other guys (Brison, Adam, Thomas and Kevin) all had varying degrees of success in the race.

Kevin was pretty active through out the race. And still managed to be there for the sprint in the end. He got 8th.

I feebly tried to lead out Brison and Thomas in the final sprint. I'm not really sure how much it helped but Thomas got 10th and Brison got 7th.

I was really happy for all of them. I ended up a meager 17th. But considering it was my first time back. I'll take it. Hopefully the nervousness will subside with a few more races under my belt....

Adam did great. All things considered....  He ended up getting popped off the back of the group during one of the prime laps and couldn't regain contact. Which in and of itself is a pretty demoralizing blow (I've been there many times...)

But to add insult to injury he had to deal with three douche bags on a corner heckling him every lap. They were hanging out on with their hipster fixey bikes and their PBR in a paper bag (You know, cuz on a count they're so cool.) Supposedly those guys were racers too. But if that's the fact then those asshats are probably the most un-sportsman like racers I've ever heard of. Most everyone who races knows what it's like to suffer like that. As well as getting dropped and how that can mess with your head. But instead these guys built themselves up by beating others down. I mean really, who the hell does that!? They must feel like real men taunting people at a race. Had I known they were doing that I would have brought a water bottle full of pennies and hucked it at their heads. It's what they deserve....


Okay, I'm good.

Tomorrow more uplifting, feel good things. Like puppies, kittens and rainbows.

Rubber side down,

Big E