Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Progression. Oops, I meant Where Tha Hood At?

I almost screwed up my dreams of starting every Mt. Hood related blog with a song title involving "Hood". I did very well though, I made it one blog entry before screwing up.

Except I go to bed at 9:15
DMX sang a song about Hood River, Oregon. In it, he said:

Don't play with these cats cuz I ain't got nothin to say to these cats
For the mothers that really do love em, please pray for these cats

What DMX was referring to was the host house kitten that roamed the premises.  

Rawr. Ferocious lion beast. DMX goes on to explain how:

 Don't want me havin no patience turn into more patients, 
 More trips to ICU cuz I see you

I got the pleasure of "staying" in the room that this was displayed on the door of. Also displayed on the back of this door was a large photo of Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber leads me to these four adorable photos that I took of Bro-cal and Staz over the course of the weekend:

(not shown in photo montage):

You, the readers, will have to decide who is Jon and who is Staz in this photo.

I left you hanging with a post about the first road race and how I pedaled hard and made my legs hurt. Turns out that was a theme of the weekend, one that as of today, Tuesday, the 20-something of June, I am still sore in the lower half region. Biking!

Saturday morning we did some time trial riding along the old scenic highway. I thought it wasn't quite scenic because all I saw was the area in between my hands for about 42.5 minutes. But, in the realest of deals, this was an incredible bike race course that made it so concentration, aerodynamics, stubbornness, and lack of cookies were pivotal in finding success over the course of the race.

Credit to Oregon Cycling Action
I had a ride that I was very happy with and ended up fifth on the stage. This was the longest time trial that I have ever done and I did not know what to expect going into it. The real win for me was that when I was done, I still enjoyed riding my time trial bike and I look forward to my next chance to severely assault my legs while in aero position. Also, cookies are good.

We started the crit with a decent plan. Protect the French National Champion, protect Colby and my GC spots, and dominate everyone with our Czech Staz.

kom kom kom kom kom (that's how many kom sprints there were on the first day)
WOW, Steve's femurs look long in that photo. Letsbehonest here, illusions in photos are super cool. Here are some more!

Photo credit: The internet

So the crit happened, and I made Alan and Doug angry by flatting TWICE. I would have said Hangry, but between the two of them and Burke, they ate two Large pizzas while we raced in L shapes for 75 minutes. The first time that I flatted was a quite slow leak, and it took two laps of me wondering what the hell was happening to my cornering before I realized that I had about 12 psi in my rear tire. Then, with six laps to go when I was preparing to lead out Staz, I blew my new tire into a corner and surfed that mother- Laird Hamilton. Free laps were over, so I watched people sprint and shook my fist in outrage at the fact that there was no pizza left for me.

Heading into the Queen Stage, I was 5th on GC and looking to move up. I was somewhat nervous for this pedaling tournament, because the last time I did this lumpy bike race I went through roughly three hours of personal torment.

If you add all that up, it equals 9,990 feet of elevation gain. I'm going to assume that I took good lines and the race actually had 15,000 feet of climbing. The light green means "super painful" and the dark green sections mean that "you should probably take up chess".

Amazing photo of one of the climbs on Sunday's course by Tim Aiken
I wrote more about what actually happened in the race here, on the Hagens Berman site. I don't really feel like doing a complete race report here as well. Because I'm still tired.

After quite the day of rainy, slippery, hectic, and narrow bike going upping and bike going downing, I finished 7th on the stage.

This is the most proud that I have been about a race this year. It wasn't winning, Mt. Hood isn't an NRC or a UCI, and I didn't win the GC because of how I finished. However, I conquered a stage that I was quite nervous about, and had a ride that not only defended my GC but moved me up a spot as well. There were lots of moments where I had to dig extra deep over the course of the race, and I think this photo summarizes it well:

Credit: Darcy Miller
There is lots of pain in my world in that shot, but I am looking ahead.

I'm quite thrilled to have finished 4th on GC at the Mt. Hood Classic. I love bike racing, I love improving weaknesses in bike racing, and I love cookies.

and I love YOU!!!!!


Friday, June 21, 2013

In My Hood

I don't go nowhere without my strap*. Today I raced bikes in Hood River, Oregon!

*Heart rate strap.

If you were questioning my grammar in the beginning of this post, please be reminded that since I am staying in Hood River, most of my jokes will involve songs with the name hood in them. Luckily, I can think of at least two so I should be set for a couple of posts.

Hood River is NOT what they talk about in rap music. Today I listened to rap music- mostly in honor of Utah-Chris and his birthday but also partially in honor of the fact that I was sitting in the front seat in control of the music selection. For Chris, I played the Birthday Song by 2-Chainz and Kanyeezus. Terrible song, entirely appropriate for this situation and this situation only.

Ok, anyways. We came into this race pretty motivated to crush it. After an incredibly difficult first hour, the next two were also very hard. There were different reasons for this conundrum. The first hour was spent covering attacks and trying to go into the breakaway. The second two hours were spent chasing said-breakaway that didn't structure how we could've hoped.

We chased for most of the race, caught the breakaway, and the next reshuffling was better for us than the first. I experienced a bizarre feeling of tiredness and hunger while everyone who had sat on for the last two hours started attacking. The finish is my ideal type of sprint- fairly steepish uphill for about 45 seconds. I was hoping for some time gaps here, so I went on givn'r from way too far back and ended up second in the finish group.

Steve rode off the front for about 84.5 of the 85 miles today (including the last miles, the ones that really matter) and he got the KOM jersey for his efforts. 

The break of 10 finished 48 seconds ahead of the main field. This, unfortunately/fortunately enough, does not actually equate to having to do less or more of a time trial tomorrow.

Let's talk about that briefly. In last year's TT, the top ten was separated by TWO minutes! This means that tomorrow we go ride our bikes hard for a long time with wind and uphills and sort of downhills. Then we see how the GC looks after that.

Bike pedaling!

Credit: Oregon Cycling Action

Credit: Trent Hightower

I'm going to go eat, again, because I think that I did four-hundred thousand kjs today. Yikes.


Also, Instagram now allows videos. This was the first one that I watched. And it will be the last one since it was excelente.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ballard Crit

Saturday night was one of the bigguns in NW racing. At least to me. Ballard Crit is one of those races that has a certain allure to it, a buzz surrounding it that makes it circled on everyone's calendars. I think that it's the loudest race of the Washington calendar, in huge thanks to the number of drunkards spilling out the bars that line the course. And my four-year old neighbor participated in the yelling, but I can only hope that he didn't spill out of the bars.

Let's start with some more pleading.  G-Shock: I don't know what more you want. We serenaded you with praise and reason (http://craneimal.blogspot.com/2012/07/request-for-sponsorship.html) and we continue to display your product on a global scale. And I can say global, because I got 12 hits from the Ukraine on my blog TODAY. That's the World Wide Web for ya. Anyways, G-Shock POP:

I know what I see in that photo.

Ballard Crit is a good one. It is rectangular, on a slight side hill. The pavement is on the decline and the second-to-last straightaway is rough cobblestones. I won this race in 2010- It was one of my first wins as a Cat 2 and came as a complete surprise.

This year there was a bit more added pressure. This was a race that we really wanted to win, knew that we could win, and knew that we would have a brunt of the work to do during the race. We were ready, motivated, and knew it would be a hard day.

Previous winners get call-ups. Last year Steve and I had an adorable photo taken:

Steve and I decided that we probably should continue that trend. I guess.

The guy behind me appears to be disturbed though.

The race started, Lang pedaled hard for one lap which was expected. Hole shot expert. What we did not know, plan, or expect, was that Steve and I would get off the front in the first two laps of the race. I countered Lang, Logan countered me, Steve countered Logan, and all of a sudden the three of us + Steven Beardsley had 15+ seconds on the field. This was a good move: 3 previous winners + Logan who is definitely the most dangerous guy in the race. Dangerous fast, not dangerous turning weird style.

After Steve and I powered the move to get it established, we had 1/2 a lap. Logan and Beardsley started rolling through and soon we were starting to lap dropped riders. This, plus the psychotic crowd, motivated us to roll through a bit harder and the field was in sight. We lapped the field in 18 minutes.

You can certainly see the Dank-set. The Reynolds 60-80 combo. Basically didn't need to pedal the whole tailwind section.

I'm not sure what happened the next hour. Steve attacked lots, Logan attacked lots, and I made sure that Logan didn't ride away alone.

There was some confusion in the final laps. The easiest way that I can think to describe it is that Myself, Logan, and Beardsley weren't really sure when the finish was. The crowd was so loud and we were so focused on eachother that we didn't see the lapboard/hear the announcer. I had been paying attention to the crowd and I had heard them yell two laps to go. The next lap, I yelled at David to go to unleash his massive leadout. I didn't hear a bell or see a lapcard. David did an incredible final lap, and I rolled past him at the line and he put his hand up. There was no sprint. At first, there was lots of confusion, but looking at photos from the finish: it appears that everyone knew it was the finish except the three of us. Oops.

Huge, massive thanks to my teammates. David for knowing what lap it was an setting me up for the win, Steve for driving the break and being that annoying gnat that keeps attacking when people are tired, and Winger for motoring on the front in the last 10 laps.

It is always great to come to a local race with a plan and execute that plan. Then, I saw my good ol' friends Sean and Ian T and was quite excited.

Please go to:


and support these photographers.

Thanks to everyone who screamed for us on Saturday. We had fun putting on a show.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

CAPITA/ol Stage Race


If you're not from Washington, I wanted to let you know that the state's capital is not Seattle. It is Olympia. Our state bird is a finch. At one point, David gave me the finch as a power animal, and at first I was offended. However, I learned that the finch is quite aggressive, speedy, and handsome so my offense was soon negated.

We had quite the weekend in our state's capital. We went there to pedal bikes, naturally, but instead of just pedaling we had SEVERAL experiences worth sharing. Starting backwards, at dinner on Sunday night David made some joke to the waiter about how "you look young, you've probably never done drugs". Then the waiter awkwardly laughed. I'm no expert in reading people's noises that they produce but I think he was trying to tell us something.

He may or may not have driven this car:

This weekend was the Capital Stage Race in Olympia. Which is Washington's capital as mentioned previously. Turns out I, and many other people, didn't know the difference between capitOL and capitAL. According to the world wide web, capitol is the government, buildings, street names, etc. Capital is the place that the capitol is. Or something like that. So technically, within the Capital Stage Race, we did the Capitol crit. Is that right?

Another thing that was the subject of some debate, at least to me, was the difference between an Alpaca and a Llama. I was trying to keep it easy for the first half of the road race on Sunday and when I saw one of those two creatures standing on the side of the road I realized I hadn't even the darndest clue which was which and who was who. I asked seven people, none who knew. Finally,  I made my way to Colin Gibson who went to art school. Sorry, liberal arts school. What this means is that he knows lots of Jeopardy related trivia. Turns out an alpaca is nicer and softer. Llamas sound like terrible creatures.

Ok. Bike racing. Capital Stage Race is three races: A short, 3.5 mile TT ; a crit ; and a 90 mile road race with three climbs in the last 30 miles.

I've been close to a GC win in our regional stage races. I got 2nd at Walla Walla and 3rd at Enumclaw. I went into this race very motivated to finally get that top step in the overall.

I'll ruin the ending.

Finally! No thanks to Tarantino, I'll now work from the beginning.

After several (no really, three) exciting/stressful moments on the way to the TT start, it was finally time to pedal. "Finally time" is a loose term. I woke up at 5:40, met David and Steve at 7, arrived at the race course at 8:30, and TT'd at 9:50. I'm a 120 guy, which means I prefer two hours. Also 120psi. I rode hard, felt ill, ate a delicious sandwich at Meconi's, and found out I had won the TT. Great! Then, the good news kept coming. David and Colby had gotten second and third. This was an optimal start to our stage race.

Trying pretty hard here
Then, we spent several hours at a coffee shop, followed by heckling at the crit course for another decent amount of time. Proof!

Thanks RRNW for the photo
Then we raced crits. We are motivated for these pedaling contests, and the goal was to win the time bonuses and win the stage. With the TT being only 7 minutes, EVERYONE was still in GC contention. That meant the bonuses were important. Short story, we won all three time bonuses with three different guys and were able to win the stage as well. My coach, Dave Richter, went for the gamblers prime with 2 to go and kept going, and Steve and David went all in to bring him back. I was able to hit it hard on the second to last straightaway, catch Dave out of the final corner, and sprint for the win.

The guys bringing back a dangerous Colin Gibson-y move. Credit: Darcy Miller
Credit: RRNW
Also important, I got a sunburn!

We went home Saturday with a bit more breathing room on the GC. A whole 12 seconds more. This is not a lot of time, but after I lost Walla Walla by 1 second, we race for every possible second on the course.

Sunday's race is on roads that I've done races on before, and it took me about 60 miles to actually realize where I was. Luckily for me, Steve knew exactly where he was. This was important because our planned "3 guy breakaway up the road to take pressure off of us" turned out to be a more stressful "5 guy breakaway with 3 ex HB guys 6 minutes up the road" type game. At about mile 12, Ryan and Winger got on the front. Soon Steve and David were there. Soon Colby started chasing. I watched and thought about Alpacas and Llamas.

That amazing photo is from an incredible gallery titled "25 Alpacas with the Most Amazing Hair Ever". I strongly suggest you look through it.

Anyways, the plan was for me to chill early, saving energy to follow the attacks on the three climbs in the final 20 miles of the race. The guys caught the breakaway on the second climb, the attacks started, and when the metaphorical metaphysical creative dust settled- Steve, David, and Myself had made the front group. Steve decided that his goal for the race was to ride the front the ENTIRE day, so he kept pedaling hard for the flat run into the finish the last 10 k. David set me up perfectly, dropped me off with 180 m to go, and I was able to sprint for the win, sweeping all three stages of the Capital Stage Race and winning the GC.

Sunday's finish. Credit: Laurie O'Brien
I like that photo because David has a big smile on his face.

So, lots of firsts for me this weekend. First TT win, first GC win, and first sweep of stages in a stage race. I'm happy about that, but what is really awesome to be a part of is how our guys are gelling together. Everyone is riding incredibly, and the weekend's result is truly a teams result. We took the race entirely into our control and left with three stage wins, the top two in GC (Colby flatted at the base of the final climb, losing his third on GC), and for everyone but me, quite a bit of HARD tempo riding on Sunday.

Here are some more awesome things from Sunday. Steve brought Medium shorts. He is not the same size as me, so he was looking awfully silly.

The Garage guys parked next to us. They win the "Cool tshirt team" award.

Thanks for all the cheers out there this weekend. Next up is the Ballard Crit on Saturday. This race is Crazyyyyyyyyyyy.

Also, if you were wondering. Here's the creature I channeled this weekend: