Sunday, March 4, 2012

Race for Humaity Road Race and Crit

Race for Humanity 11-12 February

Saturday Road Race-

With a big week in the legs from camp I wasn't expecting much but deep down I wanted to have a good race.  I was racing in the combined CAT3/4 race as a CAT4.  We had 7 people total in the race, including 2 CAT3's, 4 CAT4's and a CAT2 Women, Peggy, who is super strong.  Once we got up to the start line they called up our whole team to the front and thanked us for our military service and we got a good round of applause from the few fans and the rest of the racers.  We by far had one of the larger teams in the filled which ended up not working in our favor.  A solo rider went off the front from the gun and never looked back, he ended up winning the race.  With not being a local I didn't know who the strong riders were, and I had already been given the green light to race "freely" by our team manager and director.  I was told if I liked something to go after it.  About 3/4 of the way through the first of 3 laps on the 17 mile course I found myself in a nice 5 man break.  We were doing a good job of opening up the gap and slowly working on bringing the solo guy up front back in.  We stayed away for quite a while and then got pulled back in.  When we got caught 3 guys went off the front again and I wasn't too worried about it as everything kept get brought back in so I didn't think much of it.  They slowly started opening up a gap and for some reason no one else wanted to pull it back in.  By this time we were starting into the third lap and they had 2-3 mins on us.

I knew we needed to get our guys up front as the peloton was expecting us to pull them back.  Well come to find out there were only 3 of us left in the main group so we tried to do some work up front and get some others to join in.  I don't know what it was but no one else wanted to work, it was like they were satisfied to field sprint for 5th.  I made a few attempts to get away in hopes that someone would bridge up with me and we could get away from the group.  Every time I would get off and open up a gap no one would bridge or they would just bring the whole group back, it go frustrating so eventually I just sat in.  With 1.5K to go I attempted to make a move but it didn't stick and at that point I just went off the back and coasted in.  There was no reason to be in a 3/4 field sprint in February for 5th place, besides I still had the crit the following day to get back after it.

After the race I hung out at the race to watch everyone else race.  I went over to help Frank our mechanic out in the feed zone for the P/1/2 race, which all of our elite guys were racing in, the guys I trained with all week.  So I was hanging out with Frank and he was talking to an athletic, good looking girl.  I overheard some talk about the Olympics and asked Frank if I heard that correctly.  He said yeah she is going for Triathlon, I just chuckled, looked at her and said "O you must be Gwen Jorgensen".  She seemed a little shocked that I knew who she was and I told her that I am more a triathlete than a cyclist and that I follow the sport.  So during the rest of the race I was able to talk with her here and there, and I have never found a "bad" pro triathlete to talk with, but she was by far one of the most down to earth triathletes I have talked with.  It was really funny how shocked she was that I knew he she was, I guess it must not of quite sunk in how big of a deal it is to be the top contender for a medal in womens triathlon yet.

After the elite guys finished up myself and Gunny (Don), packed up his car and headed up to Ocala to watch Bryan Clauson race his sprint car.  I grew up racing with Bryan and the last time I saw him race was in Madera back in 2009 I believe.  It was awesome to catch up with him and his Dad, Tim.  I hadn't seen Tim since March of 2007 when Bryan made his Late Model debut in the ARCA car, in of all place FLORIDA.  The running joke now is that I just randomly show up across the country to watch Bryan race, and it is pretty much the truth.  Bryan is set to make his Indy Car debut this year at the Indy 500, now if only I could figure out how to make it there...................Bryan ended up taking 2nd and putting on a great show.

 At the start of the race
 In the 5 man break early on
 Gwen Jorgensen, the Olympic Triathlete who will WIN in London!
At the races with BC and Tim

Sunday Crit-

With a disappointing race the day prior I was excited to get out and race again.  Probably the best part about bike racing other than the team aspect is the ability to race back to back days or multiple days in a row.  This is the one race that I was not expected to do exceptionally well at, I mean I am a "triathlete" and all, which means I am not suppose to have great handling skills ;)  The course was 1/2 mile long with 6 corners, a brick section and a pretty rough corner.  Not the most ideal course for me, but I figured if I was back in the states I was going to race as much as I could.

The race started off pretty slow and then the attacks started happening.  Within the first 10 minutes I found myself in a 4 man break, which turned into a 5 man break when a solo guy bridged up.  We were working quite well minus one guy, and then I started yelling.  There was no way I was going to work my butt off to lap the field and have this guy take the free ride.  The interesting thing with crit racing is once you lap the field you are all on the same lap, except the guys that lap the field will be sprinting for 1st-X (however many people lap the field) and everyone else will be sprinting for the rest of the spots.  So with us being in a break I wanted to make sure we ended up lapping the field and not get brought back in.  This guy continued to not work and was more of liability to our group.  I kept yelling at him and my final words to him were "If you don't start working I am going to ensure you get dropped out of our group".  He looked back as we entered a corner to say something back and well karma must not of liked him in our group because he slid out in the corner right in front of me.  Another interesting part of crit racing, if you go down you get a "free lap" and join back in the race with the group you were in and stay on the same lap as them.

Just so happened when he went down was during the time period that we lapped the field.  So we still had 5 guys sprinting for the win, not all that ideal.  Once we lapped the field we still had about 10 minutes left until we hit the 5 laps to go.  I slowly worked my way back up front and tried to slow the race down and keep it under control.  There was no reason to get taken out at this point, so I wanted to be up front but not to far up front.  Well by sitting up front and controlling the race I found myself in that no so ideal position.  With a lap to go I was still at the front and no one wanted to come around.  I attacked with about 500m to go and 4 corners to go on a slight false flat.  I got a small gap but by the next corner a guy from our break was with me.  Into the next corner I grabbed quite a bit of brake and then accelerated out of the corner to open up another gap and gave it the go from there.  I had 2 more corners to go and just had to go for it.  My sprinting skills in my opinion had been decent in the past, but I am not quite sure what got into me during this race.  The winning sprint of the day found me fully seated and on top of the horns, definitely didn't maximize my sprinting abilities nor did I win any stylish points, however a win is a win.

It was nice to be able to pick up the first win of the year this early in the season, even though it was a CAT4 race.  I look forward to being able learn from this experience and hopefully next time I am in the states I will have some other races here in Korea under my belt so that I can upgrade and be racing with the CAT3's.

Huge thanks to all of the sponsors and supporters of the US Military Cycling Team fueled by FRS: FRS Healthy Performance, American Classic, Lazer Helmets, Chamois Butt'r, Primal Wear, Challenge Tires, SRAM, QUARQ, and Van Dessel.

Leading our 5 man break

 Coming through the corner

Putting the US Military Cycling Kit on top of the podium for the first time in 2012!

Day 3-5 at US Military Cycling Team Camp

Day 3-

Today was going to be a "big" day and the schedule had us putting in 100 miles.  We headed out around 8 and off we went.  We rode some of the similar roads but today the main purpose was to cover a loop of the race course for Saturday.  It was going to be 3 loops of the 17 mile course for myself and the P/1/2 guys were going to have a 4 loop course on race day.  We only covered one loop of the course, but we hit it pretty hard and learned some of the key points where people would be looking to attack.

About half way through the ride we stopped in a small town that had an awesome little sandwich shop.  They had some great food and we were able to sit around outside eat a good lunch under some great weather.  After that we headed back out to enjoy a great day on the bike.  Our director sent 2 guys off the front and let them open up a decent gap and then the rest of the group had to chase.  There were 5 of us working together and we worked really well together and pulled them back in.  It was nice to put what we had worked on with the pacelining the previous day to work in a "real" situation.  When it was all said and done we got back to the hotel at 97.5 miles.  Little shy of the 100, but still a great day in the saddle.

After the ride we came back to ice cold coolers of FRS and started the recovery process right away.  They have a great protein drink that starts the recovery process off just right.  We sat outside the hotel and just talked about the ride and how great the weather was.  After that I headed in to shower, grab a quick bite to eat and a quick nap.  FRS then had a product orientation briefing for us where they went over their different products and what they had to offer.  It was a great briefing and got me excited to have such a great company sponsoring our team.  We then took a break for dinner and the next briefing was with a local guy, Jeb Stewart who did a talk about training, the "whole" concept.  He talked about how to break your training into different blocks, how to target certain races, and then the most forgotten about part about racing the mental part.  He covered visualization and how to visualize winning races and to visualize the race in your head.

All in all Day 3 was a great day!

Day 4-

If there was a day to show what you were made of today was the day.  The rest of the week had been under control and there was NOT to be any testosterone throwdowns to show who the "big" dog on the bike was.  Well today you could lay it all out on the line.  With already having 307 miles in my legs from Sun-Wed, it was going to be a painful day.  They had us setup to do a 19.5 mile Eddy Merckx TT.  No TT bikes, no aero helmets, no aero bars, but everything else was game.  I just had the road bike, training wheels, normal bibs and jersey and that was it.  The course was on the same bike path we had been starting our rides on all wee so it was nice, flat, smooth rolling, minimal traffic, and no intersections.  I was 5th to go off and there were 2 minute gaps between everyone.  There was a decent head wind blowing at us on the way out and then of course it returned the favor and we had a nice tailwind on the way out.  The 4 other guys that started in front of me were all on the elite team, so I figured they would put the hammer down.  The guy right in front of me was Jay, a whole 145lbs so I was hoping to try and at least compete with him, because the other guys were some TT specialist!  At the half way point me and Jay were still 2 minutes a part.  And on the way back he put 11 seconds into me and he ended up beating me by 11 seconds, he is a strong one for 145lbs ;)  I ended up riding 47:XX putting out 331W, so I was pretty happy with that and I ended up 7th out of 19.  The 2 other guys that beat me are some super fast "masters" riders, one of which Don Davis, who we call Gunny for being a prior Gunnery Sgt in the Marines, is a Florida and Louisiana State TT Champion.  Scott Giles is the other guy and he is just pure FAST!

The rest of the day was setup with some time to ourselves so I took advantage of getting in a recovery nap.  That evening they had a sponsor dinner setup with American Classic Wheels owners Ellen and Bill.  It was out at a golf course country club and it was a nice way to spend the evening.  They are both great people and are huge supporters of our team.  It was a great dinner and another great opportunity to get to know our sponsors and teammates.

Day 5-

We headed over to McDill AFB in the afternoon and road with some of the local riders from the base.  It was just an easy 20 mile spin as we were going to be racing the next day. It was nice to get to ride with some of the local guys and here their stories and race plans for 2012.  There were a few triathletes in the group and it was nice to talk a little triathlon talk with them.  After the ride we headed back to the hotel for dinner and a briefing on race tactics.  Pretty mellow day compared to the rest of the week but you could tell everyone was getting the itch to put the hammer down the following morning.

Overall I was extremely happy with how well organized and prepared the camp was.  I couldn't of thought of a better way to spend 8 days away from the Korean winter, other than being at home with family, but I had already accomplished that over the holidays.  Being able to be part of such a great team and group of people is something that I am very thankful for.  I am really looking forward to where this team is headed and to all of the great results that are to come in 2012.  I can't say thank you enough to all of the people that made the camp possible!  Below are a few pictures from the camp.

 Unloading the pallet of FRS
After the 97 miles recovering with some FRS
On the way back in from the group ride at McDill

 Once we got back from the group ride at McDill, it was time for the national anthem, which in my opinion created one of the best moments of camp and this picture caught that moment.
 The Team Photo before dinner on Thursday