Turtle Pond Circuit Race

This weekend we were off to New Hampshire for the Pro 1/2 Turtle Pond Circuit Race.  This is about a close to a 20km loop with two good climbs and then a lot of downhill in between, a couple tight corners, and a bit of an uphill sprint finish.  From Hot Tubes, we had Anders and I, battling it out against a couple teams with lots of riders.  There was a team from England who had come over for the UCI Tour of the Battenkill, but got stuck here with the volcano, and Bikereg was fielding a fairly strong team as well.  We knew going into it that we would have our hands full.

The lap starts with about a kilometer of good climbing, and then has a super fast downhill section for a while.  Unfortunately, the climb was neutral on the first lap, and the race really only started on the top.  As soon as the speed picked up, a bunch of the English riders got their big gears rolling and jumped away.  It’s never a good situation when the break is going on a downhill section, and you are really limited by a junior gear!  Anyway, that move got up the road a bit, with a bunch of the Brits, and one or two others.  For the next two laps Anders and I attacked so many times to try to get a group that could cross, but nothing was working.  It was really frustrating racing, it seems nobody actually wants to get in a break, they just want to shut down whatever chances you have.  I can’t even count the number of times I would get a gap with a small group, be cleared to fly, and then just have everyone sit on and refuse to pull through!  Anyway, that’s my rant, and in any case, nothing was getting away.  Meanwhile, my legs were starting to feel worse and worse.  Somehow, I learned after the race, I became fairly dehydrated and finished up with a huge ring of salt around my mouth.  This is strange, because I drank a pretty normal amount, but who knows what was up.  At least I was able to determine the cause of my rapid decline in strength as the race went on.

So the rest of the race was pretty uneventful.  In the bunch sprint I went a little bit early for the difficulty of the finish, and got nipped on the line by a few guys, but I think I still ended up 5th or 6th.  So, it was not a great race, but could have been worse too.  I’m bummed about how I was feeling, but glad that it was from something we can fix before going to Europe next week.  I’ve been downing glasses of water like it’s going out of style, and hopefully my legs will turn themselves around for next weekend’s stage race in Holland.  Thanks for reading!

Hot Tubes training camp 2010

This past week I have been in the beautiful mountains of northern Georgia for our team training camp.  As I mentioned in my last post, we drove straight from Battenkill, so Anders and I were pretty dead after the 20 hour drive, but with all the excitement of meeting the new guys, riding, and post ride fun, we settled in quite well.  Unfortunately, the whole team wasn’t able to be at the camp, as Lawson, Cameron and Brendan couldn’t get out of school, but we did have 5 of us, so it was me, Robin, Yannick, Austin, and Anders.

Most days were around 3 to 4 hours of riding for the first of the week, which was really good training.  It almost felt like none of us had been allowed to ride for the last month, and once we were finally let loose all we could do is hammer!  The first few rides were averaging power numbers I see in races!  I think part of that intensity comes from the terrain of Georgia though, there really isn’t any flat, just straight up or straight down.  It was a good reminder of just how hard Brasstown Bald, the epic climb used in the Tour of Georgia, is when it kicks up to 23 or 24% for about 700 meters.  This thing is a beast, and the rest of the climbs are not a whole lot easier.

So apart from really great riding at camp, we also worked just as hard afterward with various games that inflict just as much pain as they are fun.  We kicked off with a sting ball tournament, which is a mutilated version of ping pong where you play shirtless, and every time you lose a point the other guy gets to slap the ball as hard as he can at your back.  We looked like dimpled golf balls with the welts by the end of the night!  For some entertainment, there is a video of this on my facebook if you get a chance to check it out.  Other pain inducing activities included tubing on lake Burton with Toby trying everything he could at the wheel of the motor boat to knock us off.  This was a truly awesome time with lots of laughs from everyone.  Most impressive tube runs came from Yannick, who did a complete barrel roll over a wave, and Robin who held on for a ridiculously long time despite Toby’s best efforts.

Other team activities included a night of bowling, which was won by the stellar team of Yannick, Austin, and me, winning both stages, individual GC, team GC, and the Dairy Queen prime for fastest ball.  It was a dominant performance to say the least.  To cap off the week we did some white water rafting down some pretty serious rapids.  I was jettisoned from the raft a couple times, but all in all it was a great time with the guys.

On the way back we made a quick stop in Atlanta for a big group ride/cook out with some of the sponsors.  This was a nice day and really cool to meet the guys who support us.  After everything wrapped up we loaded the van, dropped Yannick, Robin and Austin at the airport, and hit the road for the long drive home.  We all had an amazing week riding and getting to know each other, and I think it will be a great year ahead for all of us.  In a week we’ll all be headed to Europe where we’re doing a stage race in Holland, maybe a Kermesse in Belgium the next day, and then over to France for another stage race.  Can’t wait to race with everyone and be back in Europe fighting it out for the win.

Battenkill-Roubaix

Sitting in the team bus as I write this, we’re on our way to training camp in the Georgia mountains.  We’ve been driving for about 15 hours and are officially deep in the south.  Yesterday was the ever so epic Battenkill Roubaix in Cambridge New York, which is a favourite race of mine to do.

This year it was a nice, sunny, but cool day with lots of wind.  We had 133km on the agenda for the Cat 2 start, with about 100 guys on the line.  Early on there were the usual riders randomly attacking that makes you wonder about what these people think, attacking and going as hard as they can for all of 30 seconds into a tailwind, only to get swept up by the pack who is freewheeling.  However, after a while 2 guys put in the whole effort to actually get a gap, and they set off for what would be a long day in the saddle.

Battenkill Roubaix is named after the hellishly brutal Paris Roubaix for the pros that was today going from just outside Paris to the velodrome in Roubaix.  The pro race is known for its sections of cobblestone roads that wreak havoc on the riders.  Naturally, there are no cobbles in the US, so they substitute many dirt roads, with potholes that seem to be strategically placed by the organizers.  The first dirt section came after only 8 km, and this is where things started going wrong for many riders, including me.  With so many huge potholes in the road, it was impossible to avoid all of them.  I clunked over a big one and then looked down in despair as I saw one of my precious bottles go crashing to the ground.  This wouldn’t be so bad, but unfortunately I told Toby I woulnd’t need a bottle until the 2nd feed zone, which meant I had some serious rationing to do with my one remaining bottle.

The race was puttering along at a very chill pace, with nobody overly concerned about anything.  This was a big change from the euro racing where if you lose focus for a second you find yourself at the back.  Although this easy pace can be nice, it’s also frusterating when there is a break just gaining time.  Anders and I, the only two Hot Tubes riders in the race, tried to get away numerous times while there was still lots of time left, but everyone was so fresh that they would just mark you and sit on.  That is really frusterating, but it seems as though everyone just sees every break as a threat, and not an opportunity for them if they will work with it.  In any case, the race remained together going along fairly easily.  Right about here there were some more problems for me.  Someone kicked up a stick on a dirt section and it found its way into my spokes.  Of course, when it came around to the fork, it sent me back wheel kicking up into the air and jolted me pretty good.  I didn’t crash, but did break a couple spokes and needed to change a wheel.  Not a big deal, there was a bunch of climbing in the next few kilometres and it didn’t seem like it would be a problem to get back, but as soon as the wheel car went zooming past me back to the group, I flatted the wheel he just gave me!  Now I had a problem, because the next wheel car was a ways back!  Anyway, after getting it all sorted out I just tried not to panic and eventually got my way back into the group.

Everything stayed pretty similar to the start, with the break getting about 5 minutes with 40km to go.  This is where the real racing starts though, with steep, punishing climbs that break the field into groups of 2 or 3, tops.  Anders and I turned the screws here, really hard.  After not much time at all the lead group that was 80 or so guys was down to 3: Anders, me, and some guy from California.  We both knew we could go faster with just the two of us working together like a well oiled machine, so we knew it was time to put this guy through misery, but just then I ran into more troubles, big ones this time.  I heard the horrible sounds of my rear wheel losing all its tire pressure, and with the peleton strung out for as long as the eye could see over the climbs, the wheel car was nowhere close.  I wished Anders luck, and then sat by the road with my bike.  I literally had time to take a leak, drink some water, eat part of a Clif bar, and then sit some more before the car came.  My day was done.  After changing the wheel I finished up hard for nothing but the training benefit, and finished a very disappointed kid.  The good news is Anders got 3rd, only 50 seconds back of 2nd place and a little over a minute back of the winner.  That’s not too bad considering they had 5 minutes!  The thing that really stings is that I’m really confident that with the two of us, we could have flown across that gap and we would have had 2 guys in a lead group of 4.  Anyway, that’s just racing and shit happens, but I do wish I could get some love from Battenkill, the exact same thing happened last year!

On another note, I want to say a huge, huge congratulations to my teammate Lawson Craddock, who got 3rd in the junior version of Paris Roubaix!  This is essentially a shorter version of the pro race, but covers most of the cobbles section.  It’s basically the hardest parts of the pro race, and with the best juniors in the world, that’s an awesome result!  Of course it’s no surprise, but it certainly deserves some recognition, so way to go Lawson!