Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wait and see

Contador got popped. His performance in 2009 certainly suggested that he was being powered by more than just spaghetti and water. But this year he looked more human. Which suggested he just might be clean. I’m not alone in hoping that he was.

The levels of clenbuterol detected were too low to be performance-enhancing. That much is certain. It was a secondary effect of something else. Just what, precisely, it was a secondary effect of remains to be seen.

Contador’s camp is claiming it was tainted meat. It’s possible. Clenbuterol increases muscle mass and decreases fat. Farmers have been known to (illegally) give it to their livestock. That doesn’t change the fact that athletes are held accountable for everything they ingest, whether it knowingly contains PEDs or not.

Another possible explanation is that Contador took the clenbuterol previously, it remained in his system when his blood was drawn and stored, and then he transfused that blood during Le Tour. [Update: It appears there may be some evidence other chemical agents indicative of a transfusion were also detected.] Cyclists, like livestock, are worth the most when their lean muscle to fat ratios are optimized. Getting body composition dialed—perhaps with the help of clenbuterol—is something that would happen earlier in the season, not during competition. If clenbuterol remains in the blood (anyone with a pharmacology background know whether this is the case?), transfusion may explain why such a low level was present when it was not detected in previous doping controls.

My opinion? Wait and see. I don’t believe Contador won the 2009 Tour clean. But he didn’t get nailed in 2009. I don’t know if he was on the juice or not this year. Time may tell. But I don’t really trust the UCI to seek justice. They’ll do what they’ve always done: regardless of the facts, they’ll watch out for number one.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why I don’t wear leg warmers

Though the thermometer would tell you otherwise, it’s fall. Cool weather riding will start any day now. We’ll be thinking more about keeping warm than keeping hydrated. Which means pulling out the baselayers and skull caps and long-fingered gloves*. One thing I will not be wearing, though, is leg warmers.

*I knew my transition from mountain biker who occasionally rides on the road to full-on roadie who only rides MTB in the off season was complete when I realized I preferred short-fingered gloves to the long-finger variety I used to wear every ride, regardless of temperature.

Leg warmers are for ninnies. And Flashdance. Hard men don’t wear leg warmers. If it’s truly cold, it’s cold enough to wear tights and keep them on for the duration of the ride. But if you just wear leg warmers to take the teeth out of the chill until things warm up and then take them off, you’re soft.

OK, maybe you’re not literally soft, but you lack self respect. Or, unlike most cyclists when regarding their own legs, you lack vanity (why else do you think we shave them?). Because only the leanest, fittest cyclists can pull on leg or knee warmers and not end up with the tops of their legs looking like something spilled out of a sausage casing. Muffin tops. You know what I’m talking about.

Self-consciousness is the real reason I don’t wear leg warmers. Sure, call them sprinters’ thighs. Flatter me. They have some girth, that’s for sure. But draw an elastic band around the tops tight enough to hold up a leg warmer at a 100 RPM cadence, and you’ll see that those who can get away with wearing leg warmers aren’t the soft ones. It’s the same effect as Mr. Incredible fastening his belt—there’s more to the girth than just fast twitch fibers. Thank goodness for embrocation.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Harvest moon

Saturday’s Harvest Moon Criterium was the last UCA race of the season, and with Revolution Cafe Rio sitting atop the UCA cat. 3 team standings and Steve leading the individual standings, it was an opportunity to finish strong what has already been an excellent season.

The “plan” was pretty simple: Steve, Jeremy from Masherz, Eric from Skull Candy, and I were going to hit it hard right from the beginning, try to get a gap, and try to stick it for the duration. The course is a four corner crit around one city block in downtown Ogden—very similar to the state championship crit course in SLC. With so many corners and no long straights, I thought a break could stay away.

The problem was that nobody wanted to let a guy (Jeremy) wearing the state champion’s jersey go. In fact, nobody wanted to let any group go, which is not to say nobody tried. It was attack after attack after attack for 50 minutes. I’d attack or just move to the front of the field to have better position, and the next lap, I’d find myself near the back again. Seemed like everyone wanted to be in a move, so nothing got away.

Easily the worst part about all the rotation within the pack was the dude in Realcyclist kit riding the Tarmac. Seriously one of the sketchiest racers I have seen. He bumped my elbow from behind, nearly putting me into the racer next to me. He went outside in on people in the corners and frequently changed lines with no regard to who was already there. After the race, I talked to probably half a dozen people who, independently of one another, complained of encounters with the same guy. Cody from Ski Utah went down on the last lap, breaking a Reynolds wheel and cracking his frame in the process. He doesn’t know who caused it and neither do I, but I know where I’d start the investigation.

With five laps to go, it was clear it was all staying together. It was also clear that with four good sprinters in the field—Steve, Mike, Scott, and me (Bart C. had taken the most promising solo flyer of the race and then withdrawn)—that our team should get a decent result. In fact, there was no reason one of us shouldn’t win. But here’s the nice thing about racing without thinking about upgrade points: you don’t worry about protecting a top 5 finish, you just get to race how you want to race. So I decided that it would be foolish to leave anything to chance.

The list of people who can outkick Mike in a bunch sprint is very short, it’s just a question of whether he has ground to make up. I figured I could make sure he didn’t have much if any ground to make up, so I told him to get on my wheel for the leadout. Steve and Scott were up ahead, so they were positioned just right to get on the train as well. If our guys were the first ones around the final corner, it was just a question of which one of them would win.

With two to go, Mike and I were sitting about five back in the field just waiting for our moment. Steve and Scott were just in front of us. Carl from RMCC made a move after turn three—it was the perfect setup. As he came around, I got on his wheel and followed it through turn four to the start/finish. Carl started to fade, so I went full gas around him to string things out and keep anyone else from attacking.

We accelerated through turns one and two and were doing 50kph through turn three, which was probably a little too hot. My rear wheel drifted and I clipped a pedal. Mike also drifted, but we both kept it upright, barely. At this point my legs were burning, and my work was done, so I went wide to let the sprint come around inside.

Mike, Steve, and Scott were lined up right behind me, along with TJ from FFKR, with a small gap to the rest of the field. Those four came around me between turns three and four, and I was hoping we’d sweep the podium. Mike and Steve got first and second. Scott and TJ were tape to tape, and TJ got the last podium spot by just more than the width of his tire. I got swallowed up and coasted through in 13th, happy to have been able to watch the win from the best seat in the house.

Winning a race is an awesome feeling, but it’s no more awesome than watching your teammates get first, second, and fourth place finishes. Steve and Scott won the two primes, so as a team, we came pretty close to cleaning up everything there was to win in the race.

I decided to stick around for the Masters race just because I like to take advantage of my senior citizen* status once in a while, and Steve covered my race fee as a thank you for the leadout. In the small field of 14 starters, five were from Canyon. They launched attacks in succession until Andre got away along with Barry from Ski Utah. The four Canyon guys obviously weren’t going to chase, but nearly everyone else seemed content to race for third (with Andre up, that was a realistic expectation, but I wasn’t willing to concede without a fight). Nick from RMCC and I took turns trying to keep the gap at a reasonable distance until Nick’s teammate Chris launched with another guy from Canyon.

*You think I’m joking, but Paolo Bettini, who is all of three weeks older than me, is retired. And by the looks of things**, he’s enjoying retirement.

**Pudgy as he is, he could probably gain 20 more kilos, take an entire year off the bike, and still beat me into submission at will.

Two breaks were now up the road. Had I been less jumpy about covering attacks, I probably could have made one or the other. When Sam from Canyon also went, I figured it was my last shot and went with him. Nobody chased, and we were off.

The nice thing about being in a break with Sam is that he works super hard. You just have to be prepared that he’s going to yell at you for something, or more often than not, several somethings. That’s fine. I can close my ears so long as he continues to take his turns, which he always does, often doing more than his share of the work.

The two of us rode hard to try to get to chase one. When we had them in sight, Sam accelerated and bridged up to them. I didn’t have the legs to follow. The Canyon guy fell off, so then it was Sam and Chris in chase one, with me alone in chase two—fifth on the road, which is how it finished. Andre lapped the field and then rode away from them again. I was glad not to be in the group for that.

Overall a great day of racing, even if attendance, particularly from our team, was light. A lot of Utah racers build up to Lotoja and then call it a season, which is a shame because Ben T. does a great job promoting the Harvest Moon Criterium. It’s well-organized, the course is fun (although it would be a bit safer if Ogden City would let us have one more lane of road between turns one and two), and the prize money envelopes are filled with hard currency. Our cat. 3 team has been solid all season, and we showed why on Saturday. We’ll find out next season whether success as a cat. 3 leads to success in the big show (Pro/1/2). My guess is that the learning curve will be steep.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bring two racers, race for free

Tonight may be the last of the Spin Cycle race series at Miller Motorsports Park due to waning daylight. To try and maximize the field size, they’re offering a bring two racers, race for free promotion. Anyone who has done any of the races in the series that brings two racers new to the series gets his or her entry fee waived.

I’m racing no matter what. If you haven’t tried it and want to, leave a comment and let me know. If I get two new people and a free entry, I’ll kick back part of it to you. I know several others who will be out there racing tonight, so I can probably hook up as many new racers as are interested with a similar deal.

If you haven’t raced out there, it’s a ton of fun. The track is wide and super smooth. You can pedal through all the corners, so speeds are really high. If you’ve wanted to try crit racing but have been scared off by dicey corners, this is the perfect venue to give it a go. If you’re training for cross season and need to get some intensity, you’ll get your intensity. Races are also USAC sanctioned, so if you’re looking for upgrade points, those are on the line as well.

There will be four flights of races: Men’s A, B, and C, and women. There’s also a free kids race, so plenty of fun for the whole family. Awards are on the line every race with payout five deep plus a prime lap in every field. I’ve come away with some good schwag almost every time I’ve raced out there. Come give it a try—the track is only about 40 minutes from downtown SLC.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Like a gentleman


Photo credit: Tony Brown

I spent the evening at Rocky Mountain Raceway again last night. Jeremy from Masherz was there. I knew he was getting ready for cross season. So am I. Sitting in the group for 40 minutes wouldn’t help either of us with that, so on the back stretch of lap one, I accelerated away from the field.

I kept the gap just big enough to keep it from closing but just small enough that someone would come across (and I wouldn’t blow up). Jeremy took the bait. Shane from Ski Utah also came across, which would have been a good thing because it would have kept a strong team from chasing. But he burned his matches making the bridge and fell off.

Photo: T. Brown

The two of us got a margin and kept the gap pretty steady. Nearly every time I looked back, Steve was on the front riding tempo, keeping the gap open. When it wasn’t Steve, it was Alex K. Whenever someone tried to bridge, they reeled it in. I think when Shane got caught, half the field thought it was all back together and were happy to let our guys continue to “work.”

Photo: T. Brown

With three to go, we thought staying away was realistic, but we had to keep our heads down.

Photo: T. Brown

Bell lap, and it was pretty clear we wouldn’t get caught. Jeremy is a smart racer. He’s the current Cat. 3 state crit champ and won the season series in cross last year, so he knows how to win. But instead of goofing around to get position, we just kept working. Jeremy took a long pull on the back stretch. When he started to fade, I came around and was on the front rounding the last corner.

It would have been really easy for him to sit in behind me and come around for the win, but he didn’t. With about half a K to go, he pulled up alongside me so we could sprint it out two up. No drafting, no advantage—Jeremy’s a true gentleman racer. Who did what from there really doesn’t matter, because that was the winning move of the day.

Steve pointed out after the race that he and I have been a pretty good one-two punch at the crit series lately with one of us having won seven of the last nine races we’ve entered. It’s been a fun way to end the season, but it can only mean one thing: time to move up (and get humbled in the A flight). But not until after one more week of racing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

10 things I would rather do than play golf

Friday is our annual (except for last year, when we thankfully didn’t have it) company golf outing. And seeing as how I’ve been with the company for just under two years, it’s my first. In fact, thanks to last year’s hiatus, I didn’t even know it was a tradition until a few days ago.

It’s a four-man scramble, so I can completely suck, and as long as my team has at least one ringer, we’ll still do fairly well. Even if my team doesn’t have a ringer, I can blend into the mediocrity that is everyone else’s golf game.

You see, my company has about 25 people, all of four of whom play golf on a regular basis. We have eight people who ride bikes on a regular basis and about 25 people who like to go to the movies on a regular basis. So I can think of at least two other activities that would have been more popular than a golf outing.

But we’re having a golf outing, for better or for worse. I have therefore established two goals for myself for the upcoming round, a baseline goal and a reach goal. Baseline goal=hit the ball without missing. Reach goal=hit the ball productively enough that at least one of my shots is used.

In order to give myself even a reasonable chance of hitting my baseline goal, today at lunch I went to the driving range with Daren. In addition to opening up his garage as if it were my own personal service course and acting as my mentor for the upcoming ‘cross season, Daren, who is the equivalent of a Cat. 1 golfer, also agreed to accompany me to the driving range. Which basically meant do his best to coach me into some semblance of a decent swing only for me to ignore all of his coaching. I’m not sure which of us was more frustrated  with my pathetic skills and failure to implement his constructive feedback. At least I was consistently making contact (albeit not productively) by the time we were done.

I can’t say I had fun, though. I simply do not enjoy golf. Here are ten things I would rather do than play golf:

  1. Chop onions.
  2. Watch any of the Twilight movies.
  3. Get tattoos on my eyelids.
  4. Watch all of the Twilight movies back-to-back.
  5. Shave another man’s back.
  6. Invite the Jehova’s Witnesses in for a discussion.
  7. Listen to Glenn Beck.
  8. Perform my own vasectomy.
  9. Campaign for Sarah Palin’s presidential election.
  10. Work.

I’m trying to figure out if there’s a pressing deadline that I can invoke so I can stay at work instead of attending the golf outing on Friday. I’m sure I can come up with something between now and then.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Even more pathetic

I’ve been waiting anxiously all week to see which domestic cyclists are going to get nailed to the wall for purchasing from Joe Papp’s online EPO store*. Although unrelated to Papp, the first suspension announced this week was Tour of Utah veteran Oscar Sevilla. Big surprise there, since he’s been dinged before.

*Seriously, how effing stupid do you have to be to buy EPO online using your credit card.

Today it was announced that Jonathan Chodroff has accepted a two year suspension for purchasing EPO from Papp. Chodroff has accepted the suspension and admitted guilt, something some, including Papp, are describing as “honorable.”

Hardly. There’s nothing honorable about cheating. There’s nothing honorable about admitting you’ve cheated after you were caught. Honorable is playing by the rules. Next to that is confessing, without compulsion, when you’ve made a mistake. But cheating, getting caught, having no defense, and then saying “OK, I did it” when you’ve already made the decision to retire and attend medical school sounds to me like you’re just trying to get it over with so you don’t get expelled.

As Turbo put it, “if you need to dope to be ok in the US, your natural ability is not very good.” But here’s the worst part: in 2007 when Chodroff purchased his EPO, he was a cat. 3. If you need to dope to be a good cat. 3, your natural ability is pathetic. Your honorability even more so.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lotoja 2010

This is my 500th post on this blog. Don't know what, if anything, that means, but thanks for reading--it's cheaper than therapy.


It was 34 degrees (1 degree C) when we pulled into the Lotoja starting chute Saturday morning. I was dressed lightly for the weather, with bare knees, half-finger gloves, and a vest and arm warmers. Then I saw Garrett from Barbacoa--no vest, no arm warmers, just skin glistening with embrocation. This is a hard man, I thought to myself.

Steve and me, in the dark, just before heading to the start.

In the couple of races I've done in a combined Pro/1/2/3 field, I've noticed that when someone attacks, it's game on. The rest of the time, it's pretty leisurely. You just never know when someone is going to attack. We rolled slowly through town in the dark, but it wasn't long before we were doing 50kph because someone had decided to have a dig. It was off again on again like this all the way to Preston.

I was glad for the “on” moments, because I was freezing my baguettes off, and the effort almost kept me warm. Plus my only realistic ambition for this race was turning in a personal best time, and we needed to keep the pace up for that to happen. By the time we reached Preston, I had been shivering most of the ride, and my hands and feet were numb. I had been nervous about my feet hurting because I was in new shoes. The numbness made the shoes a non-factor, especially since full sensation would not return to my feet until after the race ended.


A couple of guys escaped in the feed zone (which would be a recurring theme, ahem), but they were more or less ignored because they were bigger guys who just wanted a little head start on the climb to Strawberry summit. This climb was where the winning break of three got away in last year's 1/2/3 race, so I think we were all a little wary of what might happen.

Sure enough, the good climbers set a pace the rest of us simply couldn't match. Many racers were shelled off the back, but I ended up settling into a nice group led by Josh from Wright Medical. The pace was higher than comfortable for me, but sustainable. The guys up the road must have been really moving, because my teammate Curt got dropped from that group, and Bob H., a legend in Boise for his domination of the Bogus Basin Hill Climb, was also with us, along with Drew from Logan Race Club. I knew any group with Drew in it had a good chance of catching anyone up the road. As we reached the summit, we were told the gap to the leaders was three minutes.

The let-gravity-do-the-work part of the descent didn't last long (enough), and we were soon in a rolling paceline through the foothills above Ovid and making good time. I was hesitant about chasing because teammates Justin and Scott were ahead, but Curt said we should chase, so that's what we did. I don't get the impression that the group was working particularly hard to stay away, as we caught them well in advance of the Montpelier feed zone.

The Parade

After the feed zone, things were pretty leisurely as people were sorting out their food and eating. Justin and I needed to pee, so we rode ahead to find a place to stop. As we did, we noticed someone up the road from us that looked an awful lot like Cameron from Biker's Edge, who's won this race the last three years. Justin and I decided to get a little closer to make sure that was him before peeing. It was, so when the rest of the group caught us, we let them know who was up the road.

Cameron didn't seem to be trying to get away, and we caught him easily. Things ramped a bit over Geneva Summit, but that climb isn’t long enough to be decisive. Once again it was back to parade pace until the rest of the group decided to stop for a natural break. As we paused, Mark S. upped his tempo a bit and rode away from the group alone (ahem). By himself, he apparently wasn't perceived as a threat, so no pursuit. Then Curt tired of the slow pace and went up the road. He too was ignored. Then Dave B. from the Colorado-based Twin Peaks team joined Curt. Dave and Curt together are a real threat, as both are incredibly strong. But we still had one more climb, and I guess the group didn't think they were good enough climbers or far enough up the road to worry about.

The Meatball Express

This last climb up Salt River had me very nervous. This was where I got dropped from the lead group last year, and I expected the pace to be even more demanding this year. I figured I could bridge to Curt and Dave, and if the three of us worked together, we could get just enough cushion to stay with the leaders as they came over the top, but I had no intention of trying to get away with nearly 200k still to go.

I'm the smallest of the three at 73 kilos, so letting three meatballs go right before a climb apparently didn't look like a dangerous move, although when Steve and Josh tried to go with us, the field didn’t let them away. Dave, Curt, and I worked together and had a nice gap as we started the KOM. As the road tipped up, Dave dropped off, but Curt and I rode together and made up time on Mark S. as we climbed. We could see the chase behind us as we summited, but just barely. Curt and I caught Mark S. on the descent, and the three of us cooperated to try and maintain the gap.

As we approached the Afton feed zone, I could see a chase coming from behind, but it was just a handful of guys, not the full field. Two Biker’s Edge guys were leading it, and I naturally assumed one of them was Cameron. The catch was inevitable, so we eased and let them scoop us up. Turned out the Biker’s Edge guys were Jake and Jonny—Cameron had sent them ahead on the climb to catch and sit in on the break while he chased it down. Garrett had gone with them as had Nathan from Rooster’s and a Cat. 1 from California named Art. They caught and passed Dave on the climb, but he got back on.

We were now a group of nine, but Jonny and Jake were limiting their efforts for tactical reasons [edit: see Jake's comment for clarification--I got this part wrong], while Art, Mark S., and Nathan were all looking pretty spent and did not seem too inclined to pull. Garrett, Curt, Dave, and I did much of the pacemaking. Art and Nathan sat on the back, not pulling at all, Art whining how he didn’t get a feed and we were going to beat him anyway and he was just barely hanging on and on and on. I gave him a gel and told him to pull through or get off. He took one pull.

If I could pick three guys to be in a break with, they would be Dave, Garrett, and Curt. We were generally moving quickly, 50-55kph, but when Dave took the front, he’d drive it up to 60kph and hold it there a good 30 seconds. I’m convinced that every second we gained on the chase was when Dave was on the front.


The main group coming over the summit included my brother Steve, teammates Justin and Scott, Darren from Team Excelerator, Cameron, Cameron’s teammate Quin, Drew, Bob H., and Bob’s teammate Jared, among others. It was a strong group including plenty of guys with incentive to chase down the break. When they reached the Afton feed zone, however, Cameron blazed through and gapped all but Justin, Scott, and Darren.

Justin and Scott refused to chase since they had teammates up. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but something spoiled the cooperation between Darren and Cameron, so Cameron was left shouldering the burden.

Time Splits and Rumble Strips

We had a two minute gap when we got our first split after the Afton feed zone. Our next split was 90 seconds. We were nervous but kept driving. The next one was 2:05, which was encouraging but by no means were we home free.

Anyone who has ridden a bike across Star Valley is familiar with the rumble strips. Choosing a line is tricky, as to the left of the rumble strips, it’s chip seal, and to the right, it’s a narrow path of smooth asphalt, littered with gravel and rocks, and barely wide enough to rotate through on a paceline. Considering that this stretch comprises 200km to 250km of a 332km race, and that nutrition is as critical as driving the pace at that point, eating, pulling, and rotating became a delicate balancing act.

Curt took a pull then went to the back to try and eat. Nathan was not taking pulls and let Curt in front of him. A truck pulling a trailer passed, and at the front of the field we heard a loud noise. We thought it was the trailer on the rumble strips. But when a minute or two went by and Curt didn’t come up, we realized he had fallen off.

While he was reaching for his bottle with one hand on the bar, Curt hit a rock that sent his front wheel sideways. He went down hard, and Nathan crashed with him. A strong pacemaker and an ally at the end was now out of the group and we were down to seven.

Nails in the Coffin

With Curt gone, Dave, Garrett, and I were driving the break. Of course, maybe to the others we seemed just about to pop. We were all tired. Our last time check was 2:15, but we had no idea if we were gaining or losing from there. I said something to Garrett or Dave (can’t remember which) about attacking the group and the three of us trying to hold it off, but we didn’t. Not sure why, but I guess we thought the other guys were nearly expired and wouldn’t be factors at the end, never a safe assumption.

The lead break of seven approaching the Alpine feed zone.

After the Alpine feed zone, we got into Snake River Canyon, which is one roller after another. It beats you down if you haven’t already been beaten. Art and Mark S. were now shouldering some of the load on the front, but a Biker’s Edge support vehicle had come up and yelled to Jake and Jonny to sit in, which they did with more determination than before.

Cameron, Justin, and Scott coming through the Alpine feed zone.

We were dying for a time check. If we only had 90 seconds, it made sense to sit up and save something for the finish. But if we had more than that, we might just stay away. The official finally pulled up and held up the whiteboard. 4:55.

Shortly thereafter, I saw a car drive by with what I was pretty sure was Cameron’s bike on the roof. He had abandoned—the break of seven would succeed. I realized I just needed to beat two guys from the break to finish in the money and on the podium and that one of the seven of us would take it. I forced myself to keep focused on the task at hand, to keep pedaling, because we still had 50k to go. A lot can happen in 50k, and winning was a long shot that would get even longer if we were caught.

Snake River Canyon—we knew at this point the break would stick.

Let the Games Begin

As we passed through Hoback Junction and approached the town of Jackson, a few short hills loomed ahead. I was leery that the Biker’s Edge guys who more or less had a free ride in the break could attack and get away. They didn’t, so it was just a question of when the attacks would begin on the road to Teton Village and what I had left. I knew it wasn’t much, I just hoped everyone else had less.

Approaching Teton Village, I was on the front and nobody would pull through. I offered some encouragement, but Garrett told me to settle down because nobody would come around at that point. Then he went to the front and with 5k to go took a dig. Everyone was sitting on my wheel and did nothing in response. Dave had been boxed in at the back but came forward and tried to close it. Dave had him close when “you’re going to beat me anyway” Art suddenly found some legs and attacked. I countered with Jonny, Jake, and Mark S. behind me. We were close with 1k to go, and I just hoped to have something for the sprint.

Garrett kept driving and it was clear he would hold it. With 200 meters, I started sprinting but just couldn’t hold Jonny and Jake off, crossing the line fourth (which presented a small problem—we were planning to go home after the race and didn’t book a room but now needed to stay overnight for awards the next morning; huge thanks to Pat for hooking us up with the UVU team cabin).

Garrett rolls across the line, arms held high.

Then there were a couple of disqualifications for yellow line violations and illegal feeds. When the final results were posted, guess who was in first place?


Gotcha. For some reason, the milliseconds site temporarily and erroneously had me in first while they were finalizing results. But it’s fun to pretend.

A very tired SBJ tries to comprehend what just happened.

Gleaning the Field

After the break of seven came through, Curt, Scott, and Justin took the next three spots and deserve all the credit for the break staying away—can’t thank these guys enough. Steve was first across the line in chase 2, so out of 43 starters, Revolution Cafe Rio placed all five of our guys in the first dozen across the line. Pete M. took fifth in a very tough 3/4 field, while Scott P. took fifth in his Cat. 4 race. Dina H. and Nancy S. took first and fifth in the Women’s 45 race. A good day for the team that certainly would have been even better were it not for Curt’s crash.

Scott and Justin in chase 1.

Hard man Nate P. coming through second in the 3/4 group. Nate was on track for a new course record but punctured with less than 30k to go. His breakaway companion Al set the new mark at 9:01:44. Next year, Nate, it’s all yours. Sub 9.

Steve outkicked Drew to lead chase 2 across.

Pro/1/2/3 podium l-r: me, Jake P., Garrett, and Jonny H. Garrett commented as I walked to the podium, “that’s a huge damn belt buckle.”

Had you told me before the race that I—along with Jonny, Steve, and Scott, one of just a handful of cat. 3s—would take even the lowest spot on the podium, I’d have never believed you. There were just too many smart, strong racers in that field for me to think I had a chance. A top ten finish was an optimistic outlook, and then only if I were able to follow wheels all day and come to the line relatively fresh. And now, as pleased as I am with the result, I can’t help fixating on the would haves. I will be forever proud of yet haunted by this race.

Congratulations, Garrett. You earned it. A hard man, indeed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

For Rick

Rick was kind enough to find the perfect race for me. And I would enter it if I didn’t already have plans this weekend. Seriously, I would. Because believe it or not, I like riding single speeds. I have a single speed. For a while I wasn’t riding it much. I thought about selling it but couldn’t bring myself to do it, because I realized I have an emotional attachment to that bike.

Single speeds are fun. They’re simple, and they force you to ride differently, to ride smarter if you will. Momentum becomes a key consideration. Pacing strategies are different. And of course, it’s challenging, not just climbing in a big gear, but riding flats and descents in a small gear.

I don’t, however, ride a single speed every day. And certain comments that I’ve made may have been interpreted incorrectly. Lest there be any mistake, please allow me to clarify. I’m not pointing any fingers, just expounding my position.

Single speeds are a choice. And if you choose to ride a single speed, you should also choose never to complain about the trail or race or whatever you’ve just ridden being harder because you’re on a single speed. You can complain all you want about how hot it was or how steep it was or how rocky and loose it was. We seek out the hard, we endure it, and then we complain about it amongst ourselves afterwards. But it’s best left unspoken that the hard everyone experienced was harder for you because of your equipment choice. Everyone already knows what everyone else is riding because as cyclists, we examine each others’ gear with the scrutiny of a sex addict at a strip club.

I’m not opposed to having a single speed category at races. Want to line up against others on similar equipment? Go for it. You can also race your regular category on a single speed like Brad does. But Brad never complains that he got gapped on the flats because he was spun out or anything else related to his bike choice. There’s never any mention of what he thinks he could have done were he on a geared bike. He chooses to ride a single and lives with the consequences.

Other people recognize that single speed riders are tough, and they respect that. All I’m saying is that if you’re riding a single, people will notice and make the connection that you’re tough (or have a screw loose)—you don’t need to point it out for them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Memo Paris

Remember in The Natural how Roy Hobbs becomes romantically interested in Memo Paris and then he goes into a slump when she’s at the games? Yeah, I didn’t either*. But my wife did, and she said she must be kind of like that at bike races. With the exception of one mountain bike race, I’ve never won when she’s been present.

*Unlike Dug, I do not remember every scene and every bit of dialogue from every movie I’ve ever seen. In fact, I have to strain to recall the last movie I saw (Inception) and what it was even about.

At RMR last night, Shane from Ski Utah and Alex from Canyon went on a flyer from the gun. I didn’t think the two of them would stay away alone, but nobody was really chasing, either. If I was going to do the work to bring them back, I would rather bring one guy who could make the break stick than the entire field.

On lap three, I told Cody from Ski Utah to stay on my wheel while I tried to get some separation from the field and get in the break. We bridged, and shortly thereafter, Jon and Drew from Canyon, Chad from Bicycle Center, and Dave from RMCC also joined us. We worked together for about 30 minutes, nobody in the field was willing to chase, and we were away for good.

With eight guys in a break, you either have to like your chances in the sprint or make an early move. Cody made a move with three to go, which Jon and I covered. The other five brought us back, and then there wasn’t much activity until the final lap.

Coming around the last corner, Cody was on front, and I was on his wheel waiting for the first attack. We got closer to the finish and nobody went. My confidence grew as we drew closer to the line. With about 200 to go, I sprinted and had enough to keep Chad from coming around. Rachel, of course, was not there to watch. Or keep me from winning, depending on how you look at it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The difference between boys and girls

Boys believe that the world is their urinal. They will pee anywhere any time the need, nay opportunity, arises. Privacy and discretion are afterthoughts, if considered at all.

Girls will hold it to the point of getting a kidney infection unless they can utilize an acceptable facility, which almost always means a spotless, shiny piece of porcelain in their own home and that smells strongly of recently applied disinfectant.

Lest you think this is a nature versus nurture argument, bear in mind that I’m using my two youngest children as case studies. Two children who have slept in the same bedroom, bathed in the same tub, and eaten at the same table most of their lives.

While hiking yesterday, my son had to be told three different times to move further still off of the trail before relieving himself. My daughter was asked three different times if she needed to go, answered “no” each time, and then peed her pants.

Aside from the pants peeing incident, it was mostly a good weekend.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Three u’s

Ordinarily on this blog, I’d take today to tell you about the race I did last night at Miller Motorsports Park. I’d tell you about how I stupidly sprinted for the prime a lap early because of a spectator ringing a cowbell. I’d tell you about Eric E. making a solo break with the strength of ten men (because that’s how many chasing together it took to bring him back). I’d tell you about what I learned from racing with The Rev or about Rich B’s sizzling sprint that was so strong neither Mike nor I could get around him.

But I’ve had enough of talking. Maybe it’s because the season is winding up and people are getting it all out of their systems before it's too late, but the bitching, whining, and drama that ordinarily make racing so endearing have risen to a fever pitch.

In the last week, I’ve been accused of being lazy, been yelled at for not pulling through after covering an attack, and had a guy lambast my team for our tactical choices and accuse the guys he’s in a break with and whose cooperation he needs of not knowing how to ride in a paceline.

And that’s just on the road bike. On the mountain biking side of the sport, I’ve seen people announce ad nauseum that they’re excited for the upcoming point-to-point race (as if we somehow didn’t already know). I’ve seen two different people publish their detailed race strategy plans (as if anyone actually cared what someone else’s race strategy was). And then of course there are the guys who are trying to convince everyone else how tough they are because in their minds PCPP is a “real” MTB course, while Leadville is not. Need I remind you that only one of the two courses is ever more than 15 minutes from the nearest McDonald’s?

I’m guilty of it as well—my diatribe about guys who choose to ride singlespeeds and then proceed to complain about how hard it is to ride a singlespeed is example enough.

(The ‘cross racers have been conspicuously quiet.)

It’s time to be done talking and get on your bike. Laurent Fignon believed that it was not enough to win—one needed also to win with panache. But as Mike so bluntly countered on our way to the race yesterday, you can’t have any panache if you don’t win. And while I’m new-age, touchy-feely, liberal mamby-pamby enough to allow that how we define winning varies from person to person and event to event, the rule that there’s no I in team but there are three u’s in STFU still applies. So let’s add some STFU to the HTFU and let our results speak for themselves.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Four in a row

I think we’re all guilty, when we come close to winning but just miss because of one decision or another, of replaying the final moments of the race and thinking if I’d done this or that, I could have had it. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent doing that over Chalk Creek or Sugarhouse or the TMac crit or even Tuesday night at RMR. All of those are races I think I could have won had I made some decisions differently. But I didn’t, and I didn’t win.

In each case, I learned something valuable that I can hopefully apply the next time around. But no matter how much I preach about the learning experience or the value of failure, such philosophical rhetoric is a smokescreen to others and a salve to myself for a lack of results. I would trade what I may have learned by losing for the win every time.

On the rare occasions when I’ve won, I’ve learned at least as much from those experiences as I have from the dozens of times that I’ve lost. Even when replaying the would haves, it’s only conjecture that a different decision would have led to a different outcome; there’s no way to know for certain. Only when you win are you certain that your training was adequate and your tactical decisions were correct.

As evidence, look no further than the weekly Ski Utah Criterium at the DMV. Dave Harward dominates the A flight. Even when Tour of Utah pros showed up, Dave put on a clinic. He knows how to win on that course and knows how to win more than one way. The collective knowledge everyone else has gained by losing to him more often than not is not enough to overcome that.

My brother Steve has lately developed a similar record in the B flight. Last night he won for the fourth week in a row and the seventh time this year. He too has learned how to win, and the rest of us are at a disadvantage because we don’t know what he knows, and the only way we can learn it is to beat him. Good luck with that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


After Monday’s post about getting in the break at Sanpete, Mark T. commented: “you learn more about yourself on the front than you do in the pack.” Well here’s what I learned: you win races by being smart. And riding on the front early in a long race is not smart. Winning races requires riding away from the competition, and smart racers ride away at the last possible moment that will ensure they are able to get away and stay away.

Sometimes, however, that moment comes early in the race. Last night at RMR, a well-meaning and sentimental racer with the words “Adieu Professeur” pinned to his jersey attacked on the first lap. It would have been a nice tribute to Fignon, but we all knew it didn’t have staying power. When he ran out of gas after one lap, Jeremy C. from Masherz and Todd T. from Ski Utah countered. Eric M. from Skull Candy bridged soon thereafter.

Jeremy is the criterium state champion, and he won that race in a four-man break that went early. My plan to sit in for the duration and sprint it out at the end was doomed if the break stayed away, so I bridged with Jon M. from Canyon on my wheel.

The five of us cooperated seamlessly and without a word changed our direction of rotation from front stretch to back stretch to optimize efficiency in the crosswind. The gap slowly grew until we could no longer see the chase behind us.

On the bell lap I figured we’d see Jon attack the group to try to get away—he looked strong all night and seemed to take his pulls with ease—but it never happened. I was on the front approaching the final corner and nobody else pulled through, but that was the extent of the shenanigans. With a large gap on the chase, I could afford to slow down while I waited for the sprint enough that being on the front wasn’t too much disadvantage.

Todd went with about 300 meters to go. I tried to move hard right to get on his wheel, but Jeremy was in my way, and the two of us bumped shoulders pretty hard*. We both stayed up, laughed it off, and resumed chasing Todd. Rubbing is racing.

*Smart crit racers spend a good 90% of the race in the drops. This helps prevent getting your handlebars hooked and keeps you low and stable so that when idiots like me come off their lines to try and get a wheel, nobody goes down from the collision.

Todd had a good gap at this point, but I kept digging. 3 more meters of track, and I would have had him. It was close enough that he asked me which of us had won. Not that it particularly mattered. Taking nothing away from Todd, when the break succeeds, it’s a shared victory, and we were all happy with the result.