Search This Blog

Apr 23, 2014

Team meeting and sponsor shout out

Team meeting and sponsor shout out

Unfortunately the group ride was canceled due to rain. However, we still held a team meeting and get together. A big shout out to Farmer Girl grass fed and pasture raised meats! They provided us with some delicious burgers for our event. We got some team t-shirts and took a team photo. I had a good time catching up with the other members. I was doing my best to talk to everyone and encourage them to get out there and race as much as possible. A lot of the team is new to racing and are looking to get more involved. I think it's great to get more people out there in the cycling community. It's a great way to stay fit and healthy and I wish I could convince more people to start riding.

I'd like to thank the full list of sponsors for our team. We really appreciate everything you do for us!
Trek Store St. Louis
Midwest Cycling Community
Bright-mann Contracting
Farmer Girl grass fed and pasture raised meats
Old Rock House- Bar, Concert, and event venue
Main & Mill brewing Company
Royal Prestige
Knockouts- haircuts for men

Related links:
Our Team's Facebook Page
Our Team's Strave Page

Tuesday Night Worlds Criterium with CRASH - 4/22/14

Tuesday Night Worlds Crit race - 4/22/14

Another day, another race. The weather has been great for the most part in St. Louis lately and I've been able to get in a lot of riding. I am really enjoying becoming more of a cyclist and improving my skills and speeds. We had another larger group racing with the young team showing up again to fill out the numbers. I am all for growing the sport and allowing for the inexperienced to get better. However, it does make it a little less organized throughout the group and tends to make for a higher chance of mishaps.

We started off as per usual with a bit of a surge after the neutral lap to thin out the lead group a bit. There was still a large number of riders together though. I even led most of the second lap by default. I wasn't pushing a tough pace or anything. Just after the 3rd lap, there was a move on the inside to try to break away from the group. Our race is not one for letting any sort of riders go off the front. I think it's the lack of any large teams (besides the young group). I wouldn't say there's a team with more than 2-3 riders. So the top riders are always quick to take up the chase to ensure they aren't left behind and out of the running. The move was just before the downhill section and into a pretty sharp turn. According to my Strava data, I am around 30-33 mph for that turn and it's by far the fastest section of the course. I was not in a rush to react and was still contently in the top 12 or so. Had I know what was going to happen next, I would have done things differently. CHAOS in front of me. A rider went down and slip into the far curb, taking another with him. A rider went wide to avoid the mess and hopped the curb to go off into the grass. Most of the riders in front of me were hitting their brakes hard, trying to skid to a stop. I hate to admit it, but my brakes don't really work all that well. I normally don't really care and avoid using them at all costs. I did try to slow down as much as possible, but I wasn't going to lock it up and go skidding like the others. I had somehow found a clear line right through the middle of the mess. Whew! That sure was a close one and my first real experience with a crash in a group like that.

There's no time to sit back though. The race goes on! It looks like only the top 5 riders made it through without getting slowed at all. I was one of only 3 that managed to make it through quickly enough to give chase. Luckily my friend and teammate, Griffen Bailey, had also made it through with me despite behind just behind the crash. He was riding a new bike that he had just gotten yesterday, so that could have been a real disaster. I pressed on as we climbed the hill section and settling back in. At the top, I made my charge to try to catch. I pushed hard through the flat, downhill, sharp turn with riders still there trying to access damage to their bikes and themselves. I just can't seem to carry enough speed to the hill section and Griffen flew by and carried on without me. I hung onto sight of the lead group, but couldn't seem to make any progress. As the minutes went by, my hope was fading. I was now barely holding onto the other riders wheel that was with me. Even he would get a gap that I just couldn't close down. I was still able to stay on the lead lap and managed to average 22 mph for a mostly solo effort. Not bad for a guy on a cyclocross bike if you ask me.

I probably finished around 8th place. There was an issue with the results as they had counted a couple of lapped riders who got back into the lead pack after sitting out a lap or two. I was just happy to have made it through with my bike and myself in tact. I've got a big adventure race coming up this weekend and a crash this close would have been disastrous!

Related links:
Big Shark Tuesday Night Worlds
USA Cycling Results - Vann Knight Tuesday Night Criterium Series
Strava Tuesday Night Crit

Apr 15, 2014

Tuesday Night Worlds Crit race

Tuesday Night Worlds Crit race - 4/15/14

I was back to toe the line for another round of the Tuesday night criterium races. I was looking to have a better tactical race and hopefully improve on last weeks 4th place performance. I really don't know the people I'm racing with for the most part, so I really wasn't sure who my competition was going to be. Griffen Bailey was there and he would surely stay with the lead group. The big youth cycling team wasn't there this week, so last weeks winner wasn't there.

We got led out with a neutral opening lap. I wasn't afraid to stay right near the front this time. It doesn't take long for a 0.7 mile lap even at an easy pace. We were off! The pace picked up right away. I stayed with them and the pace came down to a more reasonable level after a lap or two. It was probably best to try to weed out some of the slower rider so they didn't get a free ride from the start. I did much better at keeping with the lead peloton. There were a few areas on the course that I felt like the group was slowing me down. I tested my legs a few times and went out front, but not wasting too much effort trying to hold off anyone that wanted to take the lead back. The race was much more organized among the riders and the peloton was much larger than last week. They sounded the final 3 laps to go and I knew the real race was on. I just worked to keep up with the leaders and waited to make a move. I tried to get a lead going through the downhill and sharp left turn. My hope was to hold onto as much speed as I could for the uphill section to get to the finishing straight. Well, it didn't really work. Enough riders were able to stay close enough to catch and pass me on the hill. It really seemed like they passed me much faster than I thought. I burried my head an pushed hard for the top of the hill. I was doing my best to conserve as many spots as I could. Finally, I was at the top and pretty maxed out. I had a couple riders on the verge of being able to pass me and I was determined to hold them off. I kept the pressure on and was holding the half a bike length lead on them. I did a lunge for the line (I've always wanted to do that!). I had done it and managed to get 6th place which is the last recorded spot for the C racers, so it was more important than I knew to hold off those riders in the end. See the full results here

I feel pretty good about the race. I did have a smarter race than last week. I wasn't having to constantly catch up to the leaders and wasting effort. I still have to put some thought into my best strategy for the finish though. Actually, I just need to get better at climbing hills. Practice makes perfect. I hope to be able to race again next week and see what other lessons I'll learn then. I followed up the race with a 5K run at Tower Grove Park (21:09). Not bad to be under 7 min/mile pace and to get the Strava course record as well! It was my first week having results to upload for the criterium race so I couldn't compare lap times, but I estimate the average pace to be about the same. It will be nice to use that to see if I can improve on those lap times and climb time in future races.

Related links:
Big Shark Tuesday Night Worlds
USA Cycling Results - Vann Knight Tuesday Night Criterium Series
Strava Tuesday Night Crit
Strava Tower Grove Run

Apr 10, 2014

Big Sharks - Tuesday Night Worlds

Tuesday Night Worlds Criterium race - 4/8/14

It's been since high school that I'd raced in a criterium race, or in a cycling only event for that matter. I love to ride, so it was time. Another big difference is that I was used to racing with others in my age group, which was no more than a group of 5 riders back in the day. I was only in one other race with a large group which I wasn't able to stay with for very long. The first hill of any significance was able to unhitch me from the pack. I also have never been on a group ride that consisted of a large group. It doesn't help that there's a general sense of trepidation when pure cyclists talk about riding in groups with triathletes. That and my lack of race experience had me very uncomfortable, but I'm not one to back down from a challenge.

We had a decent sized group for our CAT5 "C" race. There was a large team of young riders. I didn't want to get beaten by these young kids and I was a little afraid of riding with so many of them in case their bike handling skills weren't what they should be. There was a chance of rain and the occasional rain drop here and there, but it never manifested into anything. The race director took some extra time to talk to everyone and try to ensure a safe race with some tips and guidelines of proper racing eddicate. We also were waiting for a rider that had a last minute flat to fix. They decided to start us off with a "neutral loop" where we ride at a slow comfortable pace to keep everyone together and sort ourselves out with where we want to be in the pack. It doesn't take long to complete a 0.7 mile loop, even at a moderate pace. That starting line was soon there and the race started!

I held back to the middle of the pack, not know what to expect with the pace or my comfort level. It didn't take long for me to feel comfortable and want to be at the front of the race. There was a bit of traffic and tentative riding to have to navigate around, but nothing extreme. It did slow me down though and there were at least a couple guys in the front wanting to push the pace. I was playing catch up and had to do the work myself. Progress was slower than I'd have liked, but I would catch the lead group. It seems that when I did that, the rider at the back that I caught would decide to have to drop. It took me a few seconds to identify it as I was busy trying to catch my breath a bit. That's all it took for the lead group to get another gap on me. This pattern continued throughout the race. There finally came a time when there were only 5 riders in the lead group in front of me. I made one last hard push to catch them, knowing I needed to do it quickly and try to catch my breath as much as possible before the time was up and the 3 lap countdown started... too late! Right as I caught the lead group we were rounding the start/finish line to the announcement of 3 laps to go. Shoot! So much for a rest. I pushed onward. The pace quickened and I pushed hard to keep up as best I could. I stayed with them to the bell sounding off for the final lap. Three of the riders were able to push harder than me up the last climb and got a gap. At the top of the hill, I could see the 3rd place rider in front of me fading quickly as the top two kicked a final time for the finish. I was catching 3rd, but the finish line came to quickly. I had to settle for 4th.

I was very happy with that result for my first race back and I learned a lot. I look forward to competing again in this series. I won't be so tentative at first. I'll have to be more aware and responsive to the lead group, and quickly identify riders that might be slowing me down and distancing me from the lead group. I hope they are closer to the full time limit next time. It is supposed to be 25 minutes plus 3 laps, but we only did 20 minutes total (including the 3 laps). The longer we go, the better my advantage, I think. I bet i only needed one more lap to be in third.

Related links:
USA Cycling results - Vann Knight Tuesday Night Criterium Series
This race results

Apr 7, 2014

Tracks N Treads - off-road duathon

Tracks N Treads - Metro Tri Club 4/5/2014

I have been pretty happy with how my training had been going. With a 4th place overall finish last year, I was coming into this race looking to do something special. Unfortunately the weather had decided to play a factor and caused the race director to use an alternate route for the bike section. The rain was just too much for the single track trails for us to use them without completely tearing them up. This was a bit of a disappointment for me. I'm not really the best at single track riding, but I do love it and wanted some practice racing it. The more open paved, gravel, and field sections actually played to my favor I thought. However, upon pulling into the race site, I was surrounded by racers with their cyclocross bikes. What!? I didn't even consider that as I thought it wouldn't be allowed. My advantage just turned back into a disadvantage. No bother, I was still feeling fast and felt I still had a shot to stay with the best of them.

I'm pretty used to doing a setup in transition to have everything I need ready. The biggest question marks was with the temps. It was a little cold but seeming to warm up. Disliking the cold, I decided to start warm and could dump layers in transition if needed. I also left a hood in transition in case I thought I'd need it for under my helmet for the bike. A quick bathroom break and I was ready for this party to get started. There was a decent amount of pre-race instructions with the changed up course. We were going to be close to some roads, but were instructed to stay off of them because we didn't have the permits for that. I was thinking to myself that I hoped nobody cheats that as it would be a huge advantage. Soon enough, we were all toeing the line awaiting the start. It seemed like people were tentative to be at the front of the race, so I wasn't shy about being right up in there. A mini accidentally air horn and we're off, followed by a much louder, more deliberate air horn. Ha!

We were on our way... I stayed just back from the true front of the race and tried to settle into a comfortable pace. There is a little unknown with the people around you possiby doing just the trail run, or being part of a team. I stayed in the top 8 or so runners on the mostly paved route to the actual trail section. It didn't take long for my first distraction. Within the first half mile I'd already had a shoe string come untied. Oh well, I pressed on and would wait to see if it would actually cause me any trouble before wasting time fixing it. The trails were fun and were actually in decent condition. I was admit-tingly expecting a lot of slop. There's a lot of steep uphills and downhills, but nothing with a prolonged climb or descent. Some of the turns in the trails were pretty sharp and held you speed in check to stay on course and in control. About half way through, my other shoe came untied as well. Sheesh! Maybe it would have
been smart to take the time to tie them, but I never did. I had settled into a comfortable pace and was staying within sight of the next 3-4 runners in front of me. It also appeared that I was the last of the lead group and there was a decent gap after me to the rest. I remember thinking to myself that I was probably going to easy, but I didn't want to burn out early and not have anything for the bike. Soon enough we came out of the woods and were headed towards transition back on the paved section. Thinking ahead, I was prepared to lose my jacket, and not worry about anything under my helmet. I started shedding the jacket before even getting to my bike to save time. I forgot to unvelcro the wrist straps and it caused me a little extra effort to pull my sleeves free. I guess it was a good thing I started that process early and was done with it by the time I got to my bike.

Transition was pretty quick from there. Drop the jacket and lose the already untied shoes. Put on my biking shoes and helmet, and I'm out! Ran out to the mount area, hopped on, and was on my way. There was a biker just in front of me and he was taking time to get a drink. I took that time to pass him. I was only ahead for a few seconds when he overtook me in the grass heading for the first climb. He took a wrong line and I slowly peddled past while he dismounted and had to run the rest of the way up.

It didn't take long for him to catch back up on the paved trail section with his cyclocross bike though. I was forced to just push hard and try to hang on. There was a lot of gravel and loose soil around turns that were forcing me to be careful to avoid a crash. I came close a couple times, but managed to get my wheels back under me without incident. Finally away from the paved sections for a while, I was able to catch up to the cyclocross rider in front of me and he had caught the rider in front of him. We passed a voulenteer that was telling us our place, I was 8th. It was a bit of a let down actually, but there were some places ready for the taking just in front of me. The cyclocross rider made his pass and I did soon after as well. The course really didn't give us a chance to let up at all to catch our breath. My fitness was good and that played into my favor.
My cyclocross target was wearing down and I was reeling him in. I also was able to see the rider in front of him, Doug Havlin, a known good triathlete racer. I keep the pressure on and soon got the pass and was chasing Doug. I was reeling him in as well, and that was a boost. That's when I saw Doug sit up a bit looking confused. We had made a wrong turn and were back to a section of the course we had already done. OH NO! A wasted half mile or more. No time to shed tears and we pushed on realizing our mistake and getting on track. Unfortunately, it was back to the paved section for the long straight heading towards the finish. I had Doug in front of me on a hybrid and possibly the guy behind me on a cyclocross bike (if he hadn't overtaken us both during the wrong turn). I pushed hard and was catching Doug. The 75 meters was widdled away to 15-20. There was a last little grass loop at the finish and I was holding onto hope of a catch. I kept the pressure on and was ready to take advantage in the case of a mistake, slip, or trip over the barracade just before the finish. He made it through cleanly and I came in close on his heels.

I got some of the good post-race food and drinks. I congratulated Doug for a hard fought battle to the finish and talked to him about the wrong turn. We think we lost at least 1 spot there. I talked to some other racers and friends before having to head out before the results were posted or awards handed out. I actually still don't know where I ended up. I could have been 6th unless I got passed during the wrong turn section. I had Kourtney from the Arnold Trek Store who was going to be around to pick up any award for me if I had managed to get one. I would have loved to stick around, but it was my both my parent's birthday celebration weekend that couldn't be missed! They are both turning 70 this year and there was a fun weekend planned with a picnic, hiking, eating, cake, presents, and a zip line obsticle course at Go Ape!

I just saw the results posted! I was 4th Overall and 2nd in my Age Group.

Here's some other links for information about the race:
Race Results and Race photos
Facebook Event Page