Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a gorilla attack

I'm happy for the Gorilla.

Really, I've been a Greipel fan since at least this, and I think it's great he gets to beat Cav in a mano-a-mano shootout. It's good for everybody.

But look at this picture... Look at the size difference between these two! And what I love about the story of stage 10 is that it was Omega Pharma-Lotto's strategy to try to dump as many HTC riders (including, hopefully, Cavendish) on the Cat 4 climb leading up to the finish...assuming that Greipel, the dude nicknamed after the largest and surely the least adept at climbing of the hairy primates, would have a better chance making it through the difficult lead-up to the finish than teeny-tiny Cav.


I wonder how much more power Greipel had to put out over Cav to get over that last climb. I mean, compared to Cav...that dude looks huge!.

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 mid-year race wrap-up

With the Tour de 'Toona this past weekend my road racing for the year is pretty much done. I may jump into something in late August or September (and hopefully at least one more mountain bike race), but my mind and focus is pretty much on cross from this point forward. Two weeks off, then a comfortable build-up for the mud-slinging good times of the cx circuit. (And the blessed cooler weather of the fall months.)

So, a review of what's gone down in 2011 thus far.

March 19. Philly Phlyer (3/4). 18 of 50+
March 20. Prospect Park CR (3/4). Somewhere in the middle of a pretty big crew.
April 2. Marysville MTB team relay. (Does this race even have results?)
April 9. Fulton RR (3/4). 1 of 50+.
April 16. SoYoCo CR (3/4). 3 of 30+?
April 17. Carlisle 40km TT. 2 of ? (57:02)
May 1. Michaux Maximus (20 mi). 2 of 26 (age group); 4 of 84 (overall)
May 7. Turkey Hill RR (3/4). 37 of 100.
May 14. Poolsville RR (35+). 13 of 75.
May 28. Killington SR, Stage 1, CR (3). 62 of 88.
May 29. Killington SR, Stage 2, TT (3). 18 of 88.
May 30. Killington SR, Stage 3, RR (3). 38 of 85.
-- Killington SR, GC (3). 25th.
June 11. PA Elite State Championship 40km TT (3). 3 of 13. (56:04)
June 17. TOWC Kick-Off Classic Criterium (3/4). 45 of ?
June 17. TOWC Kick-Off Classic Criterium (1/2/3). dnf.
June 18. Guy's Neshaminy Classic (Expert 19-39). dnf.
July 9. Tour de 'Toona SR, Stage 1, RR (3). 21 of 42.
July 10. Tour de 'Toona SR, Stage 2, Crit (3). 23 of 48.

That, friends, is a resume of mediocrity.

I told Valerie after Fulton (easily my biggest result in the past five years) that I should just hang it up for the year...I wasn't going to beat that result (it was a kind of Johann Van Summeren right-place-right-time, just-strong-enough thing). The comment proved prophetic.

But I feel good about my result at SoYoCo. Out of how many ever started (a good portion of the pre-registered riders didn't even bother to show up), only about a dozen finished. Conditions were terrible--heavy rain, wind, running water on the roads...and probably my favorite race of the year. Not only do I love that course, but those conditions were just awesome. That was bike racing. (That those who didn't even bother to show up can call themselves bike racers is a travesty.)

The second place at the Michaux Maximus was pretty good too, but I'm sure all the fast guys were doing the 40-miler...

A near miss at Poolsville... I finished 13th...but what that doesn't say is that I finished the day near the back of a select group that saw attack after attack over the last five miles with no one getting anywhere for long. I was in several breaks, the last of which formed on the dirt section of the final lap. There were five or six of us, then another six or seven bridged up within a mile or two after the dirt. Anyway, I felt great, rode a super aggressive race, and among a really stellar field finished right there among the leaders. Thirteenth place overall, fifth cat 3.

But besides feeling good about the bronze medal in the PA Time Trial State Championships (finishing four minutes under an hour in a 40km ITT feels pretty decent), the rest of the season has been mediocre at best. That's not to say I haven't had fun at the races (note the last post), because I have, but I also like to do well, and I finish poorly more often than not. But that seems to be bike racing, when you find your level of incompetence rising through the USAC category system, as apparently I have.

Hurrah for cross season! (Hope springs eternal for the rider...)


The elevation profile of Saturday's stage...

...except that the race was really more like 70 miles long...apparently our race started some eight miles in from where this profile begins. Anyway...

The first climb was much longer and much steeper in places than I was expecting. It was a haul. But the ride down was great fun. I've become much better at descending. On the steep descents, if I was leading I would invariably look back to see that I'd distanced my riding mates by some considerable margin, or if I started behind others, I was quickly shooting past them...

Perhaps it speaks to my poor finish* (21st of 42) that the most exciting thing about the race for me was the descending, but it really was fun. For me, anyway, there are few chances to really race down long, steep descents. And I found it exhilarating.

The ride that offered this exhilaration: sub-15 lb '08 S-Works SL2 w/ Zipp 404s glued to Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubulars. It's such a lovely ride. Others have nice bikes too, really nice bikes, but I can't remember looking at anyone else's rig this year and thinking I'd rather have their ride.

*I hate the "what-if" and "could have/should have" post race whine ritual, but I can't help it... Two weeks ago I was just getting over a week-long bout of stomach flu that obviously kept me off the bike, but also fevered, bed-ridden, dehydrated, and running to the toilet...usually making it on time. The week afterward, when back on the bike, I was completely gassed. This last week I felt pretty ok, but on Saturday... Well, I really should have (yup, I said it) been doing better up those climbs. I mean, at Killington, when I was destroyed on the last climb, well I was just destroyed. I felt like I was going pretty good, but there were just a lot of folks going a lot better than me. But Saturday, well, I was capable of much better...

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Are there harder men than cyclists?

And this dude (Johnny Hoogerland) not only got on his bike and rode the 24 miles (presumably with a new pair of shorts) left to the finish, he's going to be back on tomorrow to race another 100+ miles. Well, not really tomorrow, as Monday is a rest day, but he'll be back on again Tuesday, and if Monday wasn't a rest day he'd be riding.

Behold, a hard man.

Here's a video (in Flemish) showing what caused the wreck. Someone lost their job today.

But it wasn't all bad for Johnny. Due to his work earlier in the stage, he finished the race with a lead in the climbing competition.

Nice work, man.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

stage four

I wonder if Contador is aware that his handlebars offer a more aerodynamic sprinting position. Who knows, he might have won...

Congrats to Evans for a great show in today's final. I got my money's worth.

And how about that Thor Hushovd? I mean, did you see the list of dudes he finished with? Totally out of place in that crowd...and yet maintains his lead in the GC. Crazy impressive.

I'd like to have been inside Evans' head when he turned around at the finish and realized Hushovd was in his group. Nuts. Though, the truth of the matter is that if he (Evans) had attacked at the bottom of the hill and really went for it, regardless of what other riders were doing, he would have lost the stage, but pulled on the yellow. Hard to say which outcome would be preferable. But at least this way he gets to wear polka-dots tomorrow. If he later gets yellow, he'll have been able to spend at least one day in each jersey, as Gilbert already has. That's pretty cool.

I wonder how often that happens... It's probably happened a few times the way Gilbert did it--winning the first road stage. It probably happens a lot less the way Evans may do it--not winning a stage until later (in this case, day four), and wearing yellow the last of the three. My guess is that if that's been done, it's only been once or twice before.