Saturday, June 30, 2007
Great fun today at the Fremont Crit. Good, fast racing with lots of action, aggression, and high tempers - just the way it should be if it's done right.
Larry and I were up against like 38 Slaveway boys for the M35s. Hervanderzoo was, shall we say, active. He would repeatedly put 11 nails in our coffin but none of his boys could figure out how to hammer in the last one. Finally Lar got away with 2 Safeways and I was fine with those odds. But gawdamn if that wasn't good enough for them, so they kept trying to make it 3 to 1. That was just too greedy so I had to grit my teeth a few times to stamp that out, but that meant that eventually it all came back together.
So we're rolling around pretty good and I'm wondering what's going to happen next and I'm hoping it doesn't involve a bunch of black jerseys up the road and two blue ones having to chase, and the next thing I know Ovanderflower is up there again gleefully riding away from us with that goddamn gerber daisy looking back, dancing and laughing at us. And that's triply humiliating, because b) it's like the 18th time he's powered away, and c) you know he's going to play all modest and coy and specifically not mention his superhero exploits on his flog even though he's got legions of fans begging him to. It's like the judo of bragging.
So Larry's cramping from the 14 races he did all morning and I'm blechh and what do we do now? and all of a sudden this guy comes along and gets it in his head to ride hard. Now, Brian Bosch is no mere spark plug. He's a blown 427 bored 30 over with three deuces, tuned headers and glasspaks. And nitrous, as I found out later. Bosch evidently decides to take pity on me and Lar and help us out in the good fight. He sits on the front and starts winding it up. We're still 8 laps out and I'm wondering how long he's going to last because he starts out in the high 20s and it's hurting me a little to sit second wheel and there are 50 eager beavers sitting on me. And I don't want to get left out here to die when he finishes. But the dude just doesn't slow down. We start creeping up on the break and things aren't looking so bad after all. The lap cards flip, the gap keeps shrinking, and death is in the air.
As we catch I'm trying to figure out how to manage the impending swarm when Bosch blows, but that just doesn't happen. He keeps going. Larry comes up with 2 to go and gives him a breather, and with 600m to go peels off and Bosch once again takes point and accelerates. I'm stuck to him like glue, fixated on his cogset in disbelief as his chain drops kerchunk from the 13 to the 12, then no not again kerchunk to the 11. And he's pulling away from me. I have to repeat this: After 7 laps of full-blown chase and about 30 seconds rest, he accelerates! I'm having trouble staying on his wheel as we pour into the last turn. Gaps are opening all over the place behind me. None of us have done a stitch of work in the last 15 minutes and yet we can do nothing but observe, admire, and respect the Bosch. I pathetically stand up to try to pass him at 75m to go because that's what I'm supposed to be able to do but this day is his.
There were some heated words spoken during and after the race about if there's a right way to disrupt a chase, etc. My .02 is that anybody can use whatever legal tactics they want to in a race. It's a free world. But if you've mounted a steady, hard chase for whatever reason and it hurts a lot and somebody starts messing with you it's not going to make you very happy. So if you use such tactics don't be shocked if you invite a little wrath. For what it's worth, pro teams almost NEVER use blocking tactics, and if they do, they are almost always passive (sitting on, rolling through gently, etc). In U.S. crits... sometimes you'll see it. But only when a chase is disorganized. Once another team assembles a chase, everybody else backs off and lets them do their jobs.
There are gray areas to these things. It comes down to a matter of respect. Respect for another's efforts, respect for tactics, respect for every one of the other 60 guys who are out there trying to enjoy an hour of good clean fun the same way you are.
Friday, June 29, 2007
The first ever AMD-Discovery Channel Junior training camp, hosted by Jeff Angermann, turned out to be a great success. After a long and tiring drive, five juniors and three parents arrived at the beautiful and spacious house in
The next morning, after a filling breakfast of pancakes, french toast, bacon, crumpets, and more, the juniors went out for a quick ride. Attempting to breathe in the thin air quickly warmed us up for the pain to come. Jeff’s partner, Dr. Andrew Pasternak, arrived, and he and Jeff began setting up the equipment for the lactate threshold testing.
The Lactate Threshold Step Test was designed with pain in mind, not a little but a lot. We started at a low wattage, and every four minutes we had to push an additional 40 watts. Along with the increase in power we had our blood lactate levels taken. After a few base levels of blood lactate, the pain really started to begin. Pedaling on the computrainer for about half an hour was all I could take, and when I was done I couldn’t have been happier. I don’t think I could have lasted nearly as long without the encouragement of Jeff and Andy. When all the Juniors had finished their rides of pain we had some time to relax and refuel before the afternoon festivities began.
All the Juniors were eager to hear about the team building exercise that Jeff had designed. When it was finally explained to us, we were ready to begin. Our quest was to ride around the area with the aid of an unlabeled map and find 5 out of 6 markers that Jeff had positioned by the side of the road. As our team rolled off, we made sure that we knew where we were on the map, and where the markers were relative to our current location. After quickly picking up the first few markers, we realized that our opponents had not picked up any. Confident that we had an insurmountable lead, we all took a hard look at the map and decided to go for all the markers. After a delay due to confused parent supervisors, we finally started to head back. We arrived home with our lead intact and celebrated our victory.
While the juniors were on their adventure, Jeff was hard at work printing out the results of the tests. Jeff reviewed the results with me, patiently answering dozens of questions. It was really cool to start to understand the relationship between exercise and science, and how I can apply that knowledge to improve my training and performance in the future.
The remainder of the day included preparing and consuming another scrumptious meal, and witnessing the arrival of some nice high tech time trial equipment when Kevin and Craig arrived and prepared for the next day’s race.
The next morning brought an early wake up call for the Juniors to head off the Sattley Time Trial. As always, the Juniors were the first to go off with times as early as 8 o’clock. Mind you this is no and 70 degrees. It was freezing as we unpacked and set up our trainers.
The excruciating pain of time trialing began and unfortunately it didn’t get easier as I continued, in fact got harder. As I approached the 10km turn around there was a bit of mix up with the officials where they were signaling me to turn around. Fortunately I knew I was not half way done and I made sure with a yell to the official and continued on my way. Sadly the 20km course has expansion cracks the entire way, so we had another 10km to go with a bump every 3 seconds. All I can remember from the last half of the time trial is how painful it was and how much I wanted it to stop. To think of it the lactate step test was just as painful as the time trial and I’m glad that I have less than five time trials a year.
The juniors (along with the masters) had excellent results in the time trial, so we hung around for some podium photo’s then rolled off for another ride. This time the goal was not pain but enjoyable climbing. Riding up to
A terrific weekend, and many thanks to Jeff for putting it all together. And thanks to the parents for driving all us up.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Craig was aggressive early. I attacked for a prime, got pimped (of course) and stayed away for a lap. I got caught just in time for them to ring another bell. Thanks! By the time I got myself back to the front Craig was in a small group up the road. Then Dean bridged across and we went into defense mode.
A few laps later we came around the library turn to see Dean and another guy getting up after crashing.
Didn't Dean crash on Saturday in Stockton???
Towards the end the gap started getting smaller. Several riders like Nathan Parks and Clint Gaver made big efforts to close the gap. I was poised to jump across the gap when Clint's huge pull started to fade. I set myself up to jump on the left coming towards turn one as Clint started to slow.... Just in time to box myself in like a dumbass because that is the direction Clint pulled off on. Okay, back to blocking.
Over the last few laps it seemed touch and go as to whether the break would stick or not. Dylan was doing a fabulous job of patrolling the front and discouraging others from chasing. Letting riders get small gaps alone only to fade back, etc. He was really putting on a clinic.
At the end Craig gave it everything he had and Dean took the win! Craig finished 9th and Scott was 10th.
It was a good team effort with Dean picking himself up after the crash to win (gotta pay for those new shorts somehow!). Craig slayed himself in the break for Dean. Dylan and to a lesser extent myself and Steve patrolled the pack to help the break stay away.
Also, Penn Velo as usual did a great job putting the race on.
I won the Tennessee PRO/1 Criterium Championship on June 24 held in Cookeville, TN. The race was 75 minutes timed plus 5 laps on a 0.8 mile course. About 45 riders started in 95 degree heat with rain threatening. This was a race of team lieutenants that lapped the field as the team leaders watched each other and negated each other's moves. Dirk Pohlman's team Krystal lieutenant Brad Spears went from the gun. I tried to get across but was brought back before I could bridge. Then Geri Mewitt (Team Hincapie) jumped and I followed him up to Spears. We lapped the field with one other random rider. I am certain Mewitt, the World Small Country Road Race Champion from Bermuda, could have done this all by himself. He just kept us around so that Dirk wouldn't chase. After getting back in the field, some local pros including Eric Murphy (Toshiba/Aerospace Engineering) and Spencer Beamer (VR and winner of this year's Tour de Moore) got away. Dirk did the noble thing and pulled for lieutenant Brad to prevent the escapes from lapping. On the last lap, Dirk was leading Brad and Geri, but forgot to close the door on an important turn. I attacked just before the turn on and uphill before three sweeping downhill corners with 600 meters to go. The downhill turns in rapid succession prevented anyone from passing me on either the inside or outside. I celebrated the win with one arm raised as the others came blasting past .... just after the line. In addition to a decent payday I was given a wonderful hand-cast relief of a cyclist for a trophy. Remember back when they used to give trophies? Kent
Monday, June 25, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
|1||Mick Hellman||20:40||29.03 (NEW COURSE RECORD!)|
Sorry Dr. Bailey!
Here's the link to the website for this event for those who want more TT practice. Don't all rush the barn door at once! Next one should be July 3 (because Wed July 4 is a holiday) and then July 18.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
3:08am. Eats bowl of shattered glass covered in motor oil for breakfast.
3:24am. Rides through the darkness to Oakland train station, pauses on the way to catch gangbanger's bullet in teeth, saves teenage crack ho. Wordlessly ties blubbering naked john to 880 billboard to face the morning traffic in shame.
3:36am. Straps himself to undercarriage of the Amtrak Zephyr for 8 hour ride to Reno. Feeds himself off dead bison scraped from tracks at 55mph.
2:01pm. Arrives in Reno. Rides through downtown with an ice cold shockwave of sheer righteous valor in his wake that sweeps through the needle-strewn alleys and gambler's lairs, causing evildoers to shudder uncontrollably.
2:15pm. Arrives at Tour de Nez bike race. Meets with teammates, claims he is not a closer and only hopes "to help out somehow".
2:30pm. Tour de Nez starts.
2:43pm. Becomes angry at the lack of opportunity thus far to inflict pain on himself or others (doesn't matter which), chases attacker into corkscrew, hits the pavement sideways at 30+ and friction-burns about a square foot of gnarled, scarred flesh from the entire right side of his body on the searing asphalt.
2:44pm. Allows himself to savor the feeling of salty sweat running across his open wounds, gets up. Rejoins field.
2:52pm. Makes break, begins slaving away for team.
3:18pm. While diving into corkscrew again, experiences flashback from Nam, mistakes blacktop heat waves for napalm detonations and instinctively dives, burns another square foot of gnarled, scarred flesh from the entire left side of his body on the searing asphalt.
3:19pm. Allows himself to savor the feeling of poisonous, molten asphalt mashed into his open wounds, then peels himself off pavement, grinning.
3:20pm. Rejoins lead group and crucifies himself for teammates.
3:30pm. Teammates win race.
3:32pm. Scoffs at medics' attempts to rub salve into wounds, instead grabs cheese grater from nearby picnickers and scrapes the black tar out of his roadrash while calmly recounting race story to speechless 9-year old fan.
3:35pm. Debriefs with teammates, allows paparazzi to snap a photo (below).
4:00pm. Straps himself to transaxle of big rig for ride back home.
11:08pm. Arrives East Bay. Cuts blubbering john off billboard with a scowl.
11:23pm. Home. Kisses sleeping brood goodnight, cuts tattered skinsuit from limbs. Uses hot coals to cauterize wounds, then stretches out on the wooden plank he calls a bed to regenerate broken cells, rebuild strength, and attack again tomorrow.
Just another F-Truk day.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
In the end, Jeff prevailed and scored a cherished “home town” victory.
1st Jeff Angermann, AMD-Discovery Channel Masters, 2nd Dirk Copeland, and 3rd Mark Noble
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Over the last few years, USCF Road membership growth hasn’t slowed since Lance’s retirement, in spite of recent ongoing doping scandals among the Pros. The fastest growth has been Junior & collegiate participation, although even greater Junior growth remains my top priority for the future. Ironically, the biggest problem for Juniors last year turned out to be closed fields at National Road Championships. This was also a major issue for Masters & Elites, but I believe it has been addressed for the coming year with more realistic field limits, phased entry for the top Elite riders, & plans for active waitlist management.
One ever more critical area for USCF Trustees to address as we continue this rapid growth is a better race category upgrade system that is consistent across all regions of the country & all types of competition, including Cyclocross. If there were an easy solution, we would have already implemented it.
After one year on the USCF Trustee Board, for the last 2 years I also served as one of two USCF representatives (elected by the Trustees) to the USA Cycling Board of Directors. The USAC Board oversees our CEO Steve Johnson & the entire USAC budget. USCF, Mountainbike, PRO, the Development Foundation & BMX are all represented on this Board. The primary role of the USAC Board is to help to establish future direction & funding priorities. Currently USA Cycling is far healthier financially than at any point in our history.
Unexpectedly, one of my greatest contributions last year on the USAC Board was leading USAC BMX initiatives to broker a working relationship between the long feuding NBL & ABA. While Americans have recently dominated BMX World competition, a total lack of trust & cooperation between these organizations was threatening to sabotage our efforts to qualify the maximum number of USA riders for the 2008 Olympics. We successfully established BMXA as an affiliate member of USAC, and finally got the international BMX races we needed the year before Beijing to qualify for maximum UCI points, leading into the final selection for our BMX Olympic team in 2008. [We learned a painful lesson in Athens. American Women only had 1 entry for MTB Cross Country in 2004, due to non-participation internationally & lack of UCI points the preceding year. With USAC refocused on international UCI competition, American women have more than enough UCI points to qualify 3 riders for 2008, & even more importantly, they have raised their performance significantly from harder competition.]
I have tremendous confidence in Steve Johnson as our CEO, the staff he has assembled, & the future direction of USA Cycling. Last year a permanent Women’s training facility was established in Italy, to complement Noel’s program for U-23 & Junior men in Belgium. For the entire membership, communication has continually improved, & USAC offers ever more value through affiliate business partners. The website is dramatically upgraded – easy to navigate, with interesting articles & useful information.
Previous bicycling history: After rising to VP during 23 years at Shimano, I have remained involved with the USCF as a component sponsor over the last 18 years. After racing on the National Team from 72-87, I have continuously stayed informed of all USCF racing programs. Before joining Shimano in 84, I was on 3 Olympic Road Teams, and a Pan Am Games Gold Medalist, & in ‘99 I was inducted into the US Bicycle Hall of Fame. For 13 years since my last Master’s National Road Championship, I have continued to seek an elusive 11th National Title. I have been an active racing member of the same team since 1989, from Subaru-Montgomery to Postal to the AMD Discovery Master’s racing team. Maybe this will finally be my year back in Seven Springs, PA.
Thank you for your patience in reading this far. You can always reach me @ email@example.com to express your opinions or ask questions.
This election is very important, and if you agree with me that USA Cycling is headed in the right direction, I am asking for your vote for a 2nd term.
Given that my last post created so much good will and I've captured your attention :), I thought I'd use this as a chance to give a shout out to Wayne Stetina and Shimano, who provide huge product support of the team, in the way of a glowing product review.
Up until last year I had used Time products for almost 10 years but have since been totally converted to Shimano. Despite some production delays, I walked up to my porch on Friday (the day before the infamous Pescadero RR) to find a nice brown box from Shimano with a brand new pair of SH-R300 cycle racing shoes in it.
Never, and I mean never bolt on, put on or use a product in a race for the very first time. (Mick)
We've all been there....you get a shiny new fandangled part etc. and despite your instinct, you use it anyway. Well, I couldn't resist the new silver shoes either. They went on like a glove so I headed down to the shop to have them molded via the Shimano oven. It's around a 2o minute process. Since I have my own orthotics I opted to not use the moldable ones provided by Shimano...but they looked as if they were top quality. The guys at the shop told me to let them cure for 24hrs. I said, "but guys, the Pescadero Norcal Road Championships are tomorrow". Well, it turns out that you can have them remolded up to 10 times. There was some danger that the cure wouldn't stick, but I decided to chance it.
In addition to all the cool features, straps, weight, carbon, air vents, reflective heel, etc. the shoes just fit well. While standing on the pedals it didn't feel like any one part of my foot was bearing all the weight...it was evenly distributed.
So I rolled up to the start line with my shiny new shoes on and the first time up stage I couldn't help but notice how much better my pedal stroke felt. I have a tendency to point my toes, but it felt as if I was pushing with a flatter foot now. While following a few moves and really standing on the pedals, it felt as if all the power was going straight to the pedal with no shoe flex. Yeah, it's possible to do this with other shoes, but generally it requires that the straps tighten to the max and with the SH-R300 I barely had the straps tight. As the race wore on, I tightened the straps, most likely due to being less hydrated, and didn't feel as if my toes were going to go numb.
Despite breaking the rule(s), the shoes felt great, my knees didn't hurt and overall I rate the shoes as the best I've ever used. No lie. I'm absolutely sure the new shoes contributed to my stellar 2nd place finish. Maybe a GPS system will help me win so I know what obstacles are in the last 200 meters. ;)
I'm sure Dave Prion down at Bicycle Outfitter would love to hook you up with some.
Here is link to the product: Shimano SH-R300
Juniors, despite the fact that I broke the rule and didn't have any problems, I promise you that it's very rare. So follow the rules and don't use new or untested equipment for the first time in a race. You'll save yourself a ton of grief.
Monday, June 11, 2007
It's true, even though I was the first rider across the finish line of the race, I'm not the official winner per the USCF officials. The short story is that the 4 rider break, that I was in, rushed up on dropped riders (a few cars at 1k to go too) as we approached the last 200 meters to the finish line at the top of Haskins Hill. It's also important to point out that the last 200 meters are covered in a chicane(Google Map) of sorts and as I launched my sprint I was forced to make a split second decision to go on the left side of Chris, Team Safeway (plug to his sponsor), to avoid the dropped riders on the right hand side of the road. At the instant I was passing Chris, he moved slightly left and I was (gently) forced across the center line. I was already going at least 10km/h faster at that point and easily made it to the line in front. I won, didn't I?
The details if you care:
Did I break the rules according to the USCF rulebook? Technically yes, I crossed the center line in the last 100 meters. Should I have been relegated to 2nd place? I say no. The officials argued that I broke the rules and that there was no room for subjectivity or discretion despite the situation because they were there to enforce the rules. Their explanation was that if a CHP had witnessed the finish, the permit for next year would be denied. It's important to note that the center line rule is not put into affect for rider safety, but in place per the road permit issued by the CHP. On a side note I would argue that it's more dangerous to not have a full road closure w/200 meters to the line vs. an open finish. I even asked why they couldn't simply hold traffic for the 10 seconds it takes for riders to travel the last 200M (especially for an uphill sprint), they don't let riders ride back down the course...in fact when I stopped to get a drink the officials were yelling at me to turn around and go the other way because the next race was finishing. While I fully support the race's longevity in front of my own individual situation, I think the argument is a bit on the weak side and looses sight of the reason we're all out there racing our bikes.
I asked the officials the following questions with the intent of positioning their subjectivity on the important elements of bike racing vs. the perspective that focuses on the exact placement of where the number is pinned:
1. Did they recognize that there were lapped riders in the road while we were sprinting? Yes.
2. Was it their opinion that I won the race as a result of crossing the center line? No.
3. I even asked Chris, the Safeway rider, if he thought I won as a result of crossing the center line? "Uh, probably not."
I personally would never want to win a race because the guy who beat me was relegated for a minor infraction. Remember when a certain person didn't want to wear the leader's jersey due to the circumstances that gave him the lead? Yeah, I know..it's not the same and I'm not that person..but I'm positioning your perspective to see mine.
Am I trying to convince you that I was wronged? No...Then why does this matter? Well, with all due respect to the officials and commissars, I feel strongly that a race should be decided on merit, strength, and in the spirit of competition....of course while recognizing the rules that actually matter. But what's the real issue here? I can't help but recognize that it seems like the small local race officials (generalization-doesn't apply to all of them) think small. Example: Don't fold the 4 numbers we gave you, wear your helmet to the porto-potty, don't stand here etc. etc. I'm sure from their perspective they're totally 100% correct and please know that I'm appreciative of their time/energy standing out there all day long while we ride around...but why don't they see the big picture? Is it because they themselves haven't' experienced anything on the big stage? Did they race? Did they win races? I don't' know...probably doesn't matter but why does that official yell with such ferocity that I need to move my number? OK, yeah the camera can't see it etc...but won't I suffer as a result of not being picked? Perhaps they have the same passion for officiating that I do for riding my bike?
On a side note...the Pescadero Road Race is by far one of the best road races in the country and should be a much bigger event given that it's the type of course that will really prepare Juniors and U23 for going to Europe.
OK, back to my rant....there has to be room for discretion with an emphasis on the spirit of sport. Hell, I know I crossed the center line descending down stage road earlier that day...and I bet you did to. I also crossed the center line turning off stage to 84...Should we all be disqualified? Why not? Perhaps you'll recall a race where the main peleton finished well outside of the time limit, but the officials looked the other way due to how lame a 10 rider race would be the next day. How about when a rider drifts back to talk to his director in the team car during a low point of the stage and holds on for a few seconds....the commissars wouldn't think of penalizing the rider. On a tangential note, I was way off the back in the 11th stage of this race in Spain and in real trouble. The race official came to me and said (in Spanish), "look, you're too far back to make the time limit and the police who are keeping the road closed for you need to get to the hotel for dinner, I'm going to look the other way and that motorcycle over there is going to help you get over this climb." Needless to say, my arm was a little sore the next day..but presented with my options it was either hold on for a bit or go home. The official recognized that I was having a bad day and that it wasn't going to change the outcome of the race if I started the next day (I suffered in the next stage too) and besides, they all wanted to get home for dinner. You get my point.
The Lesson and important reason for my post:
In the end, the officials ruled and I lost. Does it really matter to me? No, but what matters most of all is that the Juniors on our team, and those of you who are reading, learn vicariously through my experience. The take away from all of this is to pay attention to the rules, but put all of your value/passion into hard work, dedication and winning. When the officials make a ruling that you don't agree with just take your medicine and think about how you're going to win the next weekend. Cycle racing is full of ups and downs...mostly downs, so being able to roll with the punches and focus on the silver lining is the key to surviving the sport and having any chance at making a career out of it. You must learn how to eat bitterness and like it.
To end, I'd like to give a shout out to Cassani for not even hesitating when asked to ride on the front and to Billy for having my back and laughing at everyone when I went up the road. My 2nd place was a real team effort (including the officials) and I'm very proud to be a part of this squad.
Also, an overall shout out to the Alto Velo Bike Club for putting on an amazing event. Next year, I'll be sure to show up to the finish line solo. :)
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Mick Hellman is the 2007 Elite District TT champ. Because that's how he rolls.
Jeff Angermann is a quadruplet. Read on for more details.
Kevin Metcalfe is back. He's sooooooo back. Be afraid.
Rob Anderson reminds me of Kent Bostick. No, seriously.
I swear, I used to be good at time trials. But now I'm just full of excuses.
Now for the details:
Ahhh, the District time trial. It has always brutalized the tender part of me that sits on the saddle, and today was no exception. It usually also brutalizes my fragile ego, and today was, once again, no exception. 40 kilometers of pain. A test of manhood. That crucial moment where you find it in yourself to keep the hammer down for the full duration, or you talk yourself out of it. And of course, let's not forget that precious time spent diddling around afterward on the gravel patch near the start, waiting for the results to be posted. Did you man up? Did you ride fast, did you rock the clock? Then you can stand tall, you can look people in the eye, you can modestly (with bashfully downcast eyes) say that you're "going pretty well right now, I guess". You can patiently listen to the excuses of your fellow competitors, stroke their damaged egos, all the while knowing - and knowing that they know - that you are better than them. A better rider. A better person. Go ahead, admit it. You'll drive home with your head held high, satisfied, eager for your next chance to impress your strength on the whimpering, huddled masses - now they know. And I won't let them forget it.
Did you not have it? Did your body quit? No, there is no such thing. If your legs were tired, it's because your mind made you train more than you should have. If you were weak, it's because your mind - your pathetic mind - Oh, how you hate it! - kept you off the bike when you should have been riding. If you crumbled, it was - once again - a cavitation of the mind. It truly is all in your head. But I digress - let's discuss what it means with respect to the gravel patch - the one with the port-a-potties on it - yes, those port-a-potties, the ones that are mounted on a trailer, the ones that rock and sway whenever some poor soul clambers into or out of one of them, in the throes of some massive pre-race gastro-intestinal explosion. It means that you have to come up with some good excuses without seeming to be making excuses. This is an art that few have mastered. "Actually, I felt really good. I rode 500 miles last week, but I don't think that mattered." But it also means that you can't be proud of yourself as a human being. You have to hover over the results, looking for some shred of consolation, clinging to a 2 second victory over some other rider with the desperation of a drowning man. At least I beat all of the 60 year olds. You have to drive home, remembering your silly, childish goals, knowing that you're a fool. A failure. An embarrassment to the uniform.
On a gusty June morning in the Sierra valley, Mick Hellman was a man. Kevin Metcalfe was a man. Jeff Angermann was a man (four men, actually). Rob Anderson was a man. This reporter, on the other hand, was not.
Mick gutted out a victory (53:12) over James Mattis in the Elite category, Jeff (53:15) generously allowed Brian Bosch a one-second advantage in the M35-39, and Kevin Metcalfe rocketed to a 52:20, the second fastest time overall, good for the win in the M45-49. Rob Anderson clocked a 55:00 in a ruthlessly Bostickian display of will. The conditions were relatively horrific, with a ripping headwind on the return leg that crushed the spirits of many, and led to some astonishing outbound/inbound split differentials - far more than the usual minute or so. I stammered to Kev that I was "on track for about a 50 flat at the turnaround", to which he laughingly replied that he rode a 23:20 for the first 20 km, adding later that "I am so on - SO on - for Putah Creek." Twist the knife, Kev. Go ahead and twist it. Just remember that I didn't wear shoe covers today.
What is it about Jeff Angermann that makes it seem like there must be four of him? Jeff, I'm sorry if this uncloaks the mystery, but I've learned all four of your identities:
1) Georg Balzac Angermann IV - postdoctoral fellow, soon-to-be faculty member
2) Wade Tarquin Angermann - biodiesel-driving, environmentally responsible alternative energy researcher
3) Vin Spanky Angermann - sports performance clinic, coach
4) Jeff Erik Angermann - husband, father, rider
Most of us live a 168 hour week. Jeff's week, if you add up all of his four incarnations' activities, is 672 hours long. No joke. And he's impeccably well-mannered.
In other news, I was able to impress Craig Roemer (victim of a mechanical failure, soon to be avenged at Tour de Nez and Nevada City) with my wide-ranging oenological knowledge: I've had both red and white wine, and I can tell the difference. Sure, there's the occasional rosé, and that tends to throw me into a bit of confusion, but for the most part, the secret is simple: red and white wine are different colors. Craig already knew that, but I can see why - it is, after all, his job.
Yours in crushing and absolute defeat,
Dejectedly stuffing myself full of chocolate chips and butter,
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Monday, June 4, 2007
# 1) You've seen Jeff's win on the final day of the Mt Hood Classic (read the next post if you have not)
# 2) Davis Bentley (15) won the Junior 15-16 Northern California/ Nevada district time trial championships... wanna share your ride Davis? Maybe after school is out!
# 3) Dave Bailey romped to a M35+ win at the Steve Dunlap time trial. The elite and masters Nor Cal/ Nevada Time Trials are this coming Sunday so it looks like Dave is tuned up!
# 4) James LaBerge (14) bounced back from his .75 second loss in the same time trial to take the 15-16 sprint later in the day at the EMC Criterium. Joel was 2nd and took every prime. Marcus was there too. Great teamwork!
#5 and #6) I scored rare double wins yesterday at the EMC Crit by taking the M45+ and M35+ races. In the M45+ event Greg Betonte (Reno Wheelmen) and I countered attacked a two-rider prime that pre-race favorites Bubba Melcher (Clover), Steve Gregorios (Morgan Stanley) and Joe Saunders (Spine) went ballastic for. Greg and I worked well together for the next 25 minutes and I took the win. In the M35+ race, the wind picked up (15mph) yet the speed was still high on this incredibly smooth (newly paved) Pleasanton industrial crit course. Teammates Dean LaBerge, Billy Innes and I were active at the front, but it wasn't until half way through this one hour race that the break was gone (I followed Chris Wire of Safeway going strong for a prime). Fortunately I made the 7-man break. Unfortunately, so were Brian Bosch (June 2 WOT winner) and Eric Easterly (both CVC), 35+ District Crit Champ Steve Reaney (Cal Giant), 30+ District Crit Champ Andres Gil (Pacific State Bank), Joel Robertson (Trumer Pils) and Chris Wire (Safeway). With Dean and Billy's speed in the sprint I didn't need this break to stay away like others did (Brian was working A LOT) and Steve had no teammates so he was the workhorse. The final attack came 1000 meters out from Brian which Chris and then I latched onto. I jumped Chris with about 500 meters to go (long, but it was the tailwind section) and I held on for the win. Dean and Billy took the field sprint for 9th and 10th. Great teamwork!
We kicked off at 3:30pm or so for a 75 minute speedway race. Super fast course with wide streets and gentle corners on glassy pavement. Stiff crosswind, 70+ dreamers. What more could you ask for?
All the usual players were present. I was happy to see teammate Billy Innes as we got rolling, thinking maybe we could mix things up a bit. Pace was refreshingly FAST! No dicking around today. The wind meant that breaks were painful but the course made them so tempting. It was pretty easy to get a 5-10 sec gap if you just waited for the field to stretch out for a lap or two, then take a few hard pedal strokes into the headwind after the inevitable pause and you were gone. Problem was, nobody else picked up on the trick and you really needed 4-5 guys to keep it rolling. I got away with a monster from Starberries and we rolled pretty good for 3-4 laps or so. But when your recovery takes 5 seconds longer each rotation and nobody's bridging up, forget it. You better have more than a weekday commute in your legs if you want to play in that sandbox.
Despite every other race breaking up, it really looked like things might stay gruppo compacto. Of course, as soon as I decided that was the case five guys got out there, compared notes and put the hammer down with 20 mins to go. They got 10 secs and the field couldn't figure out what to do about it. Go fast? Go slow? Cross the chasm? As we got into the lap counter with 5 to go they stretched it out to 15 secs, then 20. You could look across the course and see them hurting each other, but they were moving - fast. Luckily with 2 to go they started coming apart at the seams and the gap came back to 15 secs. It started looking like it might turn into a bunch gallop. Billy got up there and did his part, and coming into the final lap we were only about 10 seconds behind the 3 survivors who were still rolling good. I had good position behind Briggs, who also provided much entertainment barking into his FBI collar microphone at his teammates. Then we hit the backstretch at a half lap to go, the engines at the front stalled out, and 20 guys passed on the outside. I can't figure out why these guys can go so fast during the race but can't decide what to do in the last half lap.
The one thing about this race - as in many crits - is that the race is actually to the last corner. You can hit it at 35mph, spent, get 2 seconds rest, and it's 15 pedal strokes to the line. And while people always say they know that trick, they almost never really commit to it. I could sense that pregnant pause on the second to last stretch, and it was a piece of cake to repass the 20 guys who passed me plus pick off a few more to finish in the money. The three stayed off for the V.
Good times. Anybody for Nez?
It was a hot and surprisingly humid day in downtown Hood River. After picking the short straw, Craig got stuck driving the rental car down from the Cooper Spur Inn while the rest of us got a nice 23mi, mostly downhill warmup, allowing us to slowly bid adieu to the beauty of Mt. Hood's subalpine forests.
I could not have imagined a better crit course. Lots of turns, with short stairstep climbing pitches inbetween, an uphill finish, and a fast, off-camber hairpin descent into a tailwind backstretch through the 'stink' (the backside of the Full Sail Brewery: Essence de fermentation, according to vintner Craig).
The day before, I lost 2'20" to the 6 leaders on the final 35mi climb, and Jonathan "Jock" Boyer (first American in the TdF, former winner of the Coors Classic) displaced me for the last GC podium spot. With a 34" deficit to Jock, I was eager to get away in the crit without him and try to move into 3rd GC. I was hoping he might be a bit tired from the previous day's herculean efforts (according to Kev, Jock was doing the Lion's share of the work in the break), but I could not shake him and it soon became evident that due to the brevity of the race, no single move would gain more than 10-12" on the field.
So I decided to wait and watch. Dan Martin and Kev had been dangling 6-12" OTF almost from the gun, and traded a Nike rider (who got dropped) for Shaun Locker (who bridged) in the closing laps. Random riders made sporadic efforts to get across, but Craig, Dylan and I were vigilant and smothered these attempts.
With 6 to go, OV (the poor bugger) was following an Amgen rider during one of these attempts and I hooked up to his wheel. Cresting the first rise, he looked over his inside shoulder for a tenth of a second... just long enough to miss the Amgen rider slipping on a manhole cover and going straight into the pavement. Mike barely had time to turn his head back around before he was in a full somersault, airborne and over the top of the crumpled Amgen rider. Amazingly, Mike took a free lap (along with Dylan) and got back in, but I'm sure he was too shaken to salvage a result with only a few laps remaining at that point. He banged up his knee pretty good, and I hope he's OK. Didn't hear about how the Amgen rider fared.
Craig and I continued to watch the gap as the race drew to a close. Dan Martin picked up a number of primes in the last 6 laps, which sapped some of his go-juice, and with 2 to go the gap was down to 6 seconds. With 1 to go, the field seemed to have given up even though the break was in striking distance. I followed an acceleration to the top of the finish climb, and when this subsided, I knew the time had come. I accelerated into the hairpin and came out of it at full speed. I got away clean and put my head down, digging into the stink of the backstretch with my gaze locked on the backside of the break.
I connected at the top of the first pitch, a mere 250m from the line, and immediately concealed myself from Martin, who was second wheel behind Kev and getting ready to start his acceleration to the line. I knew I had to get the jump on him, so I inserted myself between the two, swung to the inside, and held it for the win. Shaun was 2nd and Kev 3rd, while Craig hung on for 9th.
Props to the Safeway crew for a fine four days of racing! Mike and Robert rode their tails off to secure Dan's GC victory. Those guys really earned it.
The 6 of us were very happy with how we raced, and came away with a more thorough appreciation of each other's strengths. Everyone made the most of their talents and rode selflessly on behalf of the team. Dylan's wealth of experience and perspective was pivotal in defining strategy each day. What a great team effort!
Sunday, June 3, 2007
If we had brought the kitchen sink we would have thrown it at Dan Martin, but it STILL would have been for naught. The Canadian ball of energy went with almost all of the 30 or more attacks we threw at him, and still prevailed to win the stage. Kev was a few bike lengths behind, and the rest of us dribbled in gradually over the next 40'.
The crit is next, and should be fun even though a mere 30'. We plan to go out with a bang on this one. Results to follow...