Tuesday, June 05, 2007

three months along

i can't believe it's june already, man.
i got into racing bikes while living in mason city, when i started riding with a triathlete friend of mine, don berry, who was at the time mr. triathlon in the midwest. nearly 25 years later, i'm having more fun than ever. by no stretch is it my most successful year, when measured by victories, but in terms of teamwork, challenging races, great training rides, and progress over the past few years, it's by far the best in years.
a back injury in september, 2001, began an off-bike odyssey that resulted in a level of fitness i hadn't experienced since, um, junior high maybe? pretty lame. after a few false starts the past few seasons, i finally began to get a grip on my shit last year, and began to feel pretty good by the end of the year. cross season threw me for a little loop,
but i was back at it after a little r and r.
lane anderson, seen below, put together a really under-appreciated gravel series in march of this year. for three straight saturdays, a hardy band of racers could be found slogging along doing two laps of a 30-mile loop east of des moines. it's the best capper to winter training i've ever found. count on it for next year, folks. perseverence found me getting some iowa climbing fitness, while racking up some pretty good tough guy points. none of which helped me at kent park, but who cares? that race is always just a goofy little ride that measures nothing that matters to me.
just another training ride.

[aboe, top-five at the final gravel race, no particular order: lippold, lane, me, jared & ben. jared and ben were cat 5s at the time, but should be 3s by the end of the year.]

the eagle point crit in dubuque in april was a good day for me. after racing hard in the 50+ race in the morning, i did the pro 1/2 race in the afternoon, and had one of my most animated races in a long time. finished 4th. great teamwork, lots of confidence. really enjoyed the handling characteristics of my new little litespeed.

memorial day weekend is always a good test.

snake alley saw me getting a great start--as measured by first to the bottom of the snake. but by the time i got to the top, i had fallen some ten spots, and spent the rest of the very short eight-lap race catching up. the photo above shows me creeping up to bob benedum, a long time nemesis from wisconsin, who was closing in on tom eaton, who was riding third at the time. i caught them both on the next lap, passing them at the second hairpin, and dropping tom on the next lap. i was feeling pretty good at this point, and going up like nothing mattered.

i wish i could feel like that all the time.

here i am with bob on my wheel. i was getting a little concerned because he wasn't pulling through at all [during the two laps we rode together], and i was closing in on charlie townsend and jeff liebowitz. bob has always been a really quick sprinter, so i knew i'd be screwed. next time up the snake i hit it a little harder, and he was gone. but i got no closer than a half-block to the leaders, and i finished 3d. i've been third before here, and i remain determined to win. but i felt great. okay. melon city, next day, is a race i've won before, and in which i have generally done quite well. but not this year. i rode hard and led the first couple laps, just setting tempo, and got in a couple breaks, one of which should have worked [me, charlie townsend, jeff, and gary doerring] but gary wasn't working, so the others sat up, and--poof--back in the pack. another break went up the road, with grand perfomance and mack riders, so i chased for a lap and a half, and brought it back. charlie and flickenstein [mack] countered, and i was spent. dangled off the back, recovering, for a lap too long, and finished near the back of the pack after chasing back into the field on the last lap. good workout, but no money nor iowa cup points. whatever.

the quad cities crit [i still can't remember whether it's the moline crit, or the rock island crit--i'm just glad they moved it] was another day. again, i led the first lap, hoping to establish either an early break, or at least a fast tempo. folks got away, i chased back [bringing everyone else along], charlie, jeff, and tom countered, i sat, and then went shortly thereafter when another mack rider and someone else jumped. i didn't quite catch, but with some 13 laps to go, i didn't want to just sit in, ride slow, and get lapped by people i should be with. i HATE that shit, man, fucking hate it. so i chased by myself. got into solo mode and rode. and, damn, it stuck. steve dagg, and many others, took lots of photos which made me feel lots better when i was able to see that the pack actually was working to reel me in. i guess they got as close as nine seconds at one point. sweet: finished sixth. down side: paid five deep. but i love hearing my name--and the sponsor's--every lap. thanks to everyone who cheered for me. take a note, though: a FIELD PRIME is a great idea. i should have garnered a hundred bucks or so. despite what some neophytes might think, money IS a wonderful reward for a race well-ridden. i do this for my health, true, but as everyone knows, good health ain't cheap.

and then last weekend, the hummer hammer. rains, planes, and automobiles. large field, lots of iowa city riders. [question: why don't you iowa city riders come to OUR races here in central iowa? i don't get it.] anyway, we delay the start to let another downpour pass, and then start. good start, but as the field jams into the first of three hairpins per lap, and i do a quick calculation and observation of the masters contingent, i determine to ease up a bit, soft-pedal [please note the proper spelling of this bike-related term, fellow central iowa bloggers] and allow the masters field to drop back a bit. sounds like a rationalization, but as the ensuing crashes revealed, it wasn't a foolish choice. we [about a half-dozen 50+ and 60+ or more, plus some other open men riders] rode as a group of maybe 12 for a while, which was whittled to six after a few laps. pretty consistent bunch. i attacked several times, trying to get clear, but always got reeled in. apparently, though, it took a toll, and it came down to just another rider [team 14] and me for several laps. steve robinson, doing his second race of the day, rode very well in the second race, and deserves great acclaim. that kid is riding hard, using and not saving it. it shows. nice job, steve. with about five laps to go, i spotted the rest of the 50+ group up the rode, and decided to catch and lap them. no biggie, but just a goal for the balance of the race. so i kicked it up a bit, and got them with one to go. no one probably noticed [except for mark, the ever-vigilant race official], but it was just one of those things. sorry, guys.

so what's the scoop, betty boop? good question. three months along, twenty-four races later, and i have this to report: three wins, nine top-3s, thirteen top-5s, sixteen top-10s. not bad, better than the last few years, but it's not what i want. those are just numbers. i am determined to get more wins, and more top-10 pro 1/2 results. for this season, i'm still at maybe 50% of where i want to be. but at least it's within sight.

within grasp, however, remains to be seen.


Bart said...

Attack, counter, chase, bob and carefully weave, sounds like good aggressive racing fun to me. It's good to see you come back to a level where you enjoy the racing. Now if folks would follow your example instead of just following the barking pack.

Bart said...

Make note of barking pack as it's rather relevant

the mostly reverend said...

i just want the curious and skeptical to know that i posted this topic as a result of several requests and inquiries regarding what the heck i've been up to lately.
you don't like current and political events?

john said...

Not much.

the mostly reverend said...

not talkative today, john?
see you soon, right?

Mistress Julie said...

I like current and political events....and I like your racing stories. Nice job on getting your shit together.

One day, I'm going to be a bike racer too. I just haven't decided when that will be. :)

the mostly reverend said...

mistress--it will just happen. after a while, you'll notice the change in attitude and lifestyle and go "whoa, i'm a bike racer!"
it's always a welcomed change.