US Grand Prix of Sprinting

So… That didn’t quite go so well! Before Friday morning I don’t recall ever doing a flying lap. Nothing quite like doing it for the first time at a UCI race. I managed to not set the world on fire with a 20.195 ride over the 333m lap which works out at a slugging 59-ish kph. I even got chicked by some of the pro women. Oops.

Next race on the schedule was the Points Races. I figured this would go better being more of an endurance event… Not so much. I was a lap down within <20 laps of the 90 lap race, then suddenly there were a couple pistol shots and the race was stopped. No one knew why but we later found out that the UCI realized there was no medical people on site. Oops. So we all sat there for 30mins while the organizers arranged for medical support. They eventually arrived just in time for the hottest part of the day, we resumed racing, and no longer had I started, I was pulled by the UCI official as I was getting lapped again. Damn… Maybe not having my road bike to train on has screwed up my form more than I thought.

In the evening I ventured back to the track for the Elimination Race… At this point I was sitting in last place in the Omnium so I lined up at the back for the race start. Not the best place to be in so as soon as the race started I got my nose to the front of the pack. I managed to stay in for a few laps before being eliminated. I guess it could have been first… At least I wasn’t eliminated on lap 1!

Overall, the first day mostly sucked.

On Day 2 the first even I was going to ride was the Individual Pursuit. I got in a good warmup and was all ready to go, did one last spin around the infield when I got the dreaded psss psss psss sound. Yup, I flatted my rear disc on all the crap on the track infield and apron. Not enough time to borrow a spare wheel from someone so I decided to scratch it and pull the plug on the remaining racing for the weekend. In hindsight that wasn’t an entirely bad decision as the other events got rain delayed until 8pm with racing not concluding until 11pm.

Time to figure out how to re-align my duck before Nationals in LA in 3.5 weeks time!

CO State Track Champs

Warming up for the Team Pursuit. Photo: © Dejan Smaic | 2013

What better way to drop into the local race scene than sign up for the State Track Championships 3 weeks after arriving at altitide! That’s exactly what I did last weekend, racing on the track both days. I wasn’t expecting any spectactular performances as the 10 days leading up to the race were spent trying to get my back to feel like normal while also trying to train at the same time. Nothing worse than being in a conflict between wanting to train hard, but trying to not do any further damage to your back. I think I screwed up my back lifting my daughter into the car. She’s not getting any lighter, and combined with a removable car seat, that’s ~50lbs of awkward weight to deal with. 1 rep of that is nothing, but do it constantly 7 days a week and you’ll get it! The other genius part of the equation was my employer and shipping company delaying shipping my goods (and bikes) so that they could wait until other coworkers stuff was ready to sail across the pacific. Great… So the past three weeks have been spent navigating Denver’s roads on my track bike w/out brakes and trying to get some kind of training effect out of it all. Not ideal!

So excuses aside, the racing went reasonably well… I signed up for the Omnium so I had the Individual Pursuit (4km), Scratch Race, and Kilo on Saturday, then the Team Pursuit and Points Race on Sunday.

Individual Pursuit – I felt OK, but I was also matched up with the rider that ended up winning the IP (and Omnium) and he caught me towards the end. First time I’ve been caught in a pursuit… Ouch. Not wicked fast, but good enough for 4th and less than 1sec out of the medals. In some ways, I’m happy with 4th vs. getting the chocolate medal, but it would still have been nice to been in the 4:40’s and not a 5:06ish.

Scratch Race – This started off reasonably OK, then later in the race I thought I saw 13 laps to go on the lap board, but after a group had accelerated ahead I realized it was 3 to go and the game was over. Dumb mistake, but better to make it at a non important event than something like nationals! I think I got 6th.

Kilo – It went about as good as a Kilo can go. It hurt for all 1 min 13seconds which was good enough for 4th and a hair outside of the medals again.

After a 70 mile drive north back to home in Denver, a 9hr nap in my own bed, then a 70 mile drive back south to Colorado Springs, it was time to try and redeem something from the weekend!

Team Pursuit – I raced with the winner of the previous days IP (Jacob Deuhring), Steven Herzfeld, and Greg Auld, we combined out efforts to come away with the Gold medal with a 4:44 ride. Not wicked fast but fast enough to get the job done over some faster older geezers from Boulder that included a couple master world champs.

Point Race – The final race of the weekend and I had a plan of action. Nothing to lose so I might as well go for it! I crossed the line 5th at the 5 lap sprint, then took a flier on lap 8 and stayed away to take max points on lap 10. I sat up to be absorbed by the group, but things went from good to bad when I got blocked in and ridden down onto the Cote d’Azur while a strong group of guys sped off never to be seen again. I stuck it out and finished in 4th again, slightly irritated at what could have been a better ride. C’est la vie.

Overall it was a fun wekeend of racing, the Colorado track crowd are really cool, I get to be 1/4 CO State Champ, and got some cool photos out of it too. Roll on this Friday/Saturday’s US Grand Prix of Sprinting! Ouch.

Track Time!

The first few couple of weekends in Colorado were spent hopping between Ross, Target, and various furniture stores in an attempt to make our apartment livable! With that situation much improved I had time to drive south to the 7-Eleven Velodrome in Colorado Springs for a bit of training. Last week I managed to do something to my back and on Saturday when I rode, I could barely put any power down with my right leg and almost turned back for home after a couple minutes. Things were a bit better on Sunday, but still definitely not normal. 1.25hrs of driving later and I made it to Colorado Springs. After signing a pile of forms and handing over a total of $30 in fees, I was up on the track and doing laps. It was definitely good to be back on the track after not being there since Master Nationals in 2009… The banking seems more tame that the track in LA and the headwind going into turn 1 was just as bad I remember it being. I did a bunch of laps, a few efforts (well, as close to an “effort” as I could get with my back pain), then packed my stuff and drove back north to Denver.

The rest of the day was spent being a tourist around downtown denver… Convention Center (to see the 40ft tall blue bear “I see what you mean”), Denver Art Museum (designed by Starchitect Daniel Libeskind), then City Park (to get one of the best views of the downtown skyline with rocky mountain backdrop).

Into thin air!

I’ve been living in Denver, CO for just over a week now so I’ve had time to get in a few rides. Thanks to my stuff taking 6 weeks to get from HI to CO vs. 2 weeks that I was told it would take, I only have my track bike. As such, my training rides have consisted of riding around without brakes. Makes for an interesting ride, but fortunately I live in an area that has a good selection of flat, smooth, quiet roads that allow me to rip it up with minimal danger. So far the only real dangers I’ve encountered were a bunch of squirrels and a thunderstorom.

Walking around I feel fine with the move from sea level to 5500ft, but on the bike, the powermeter definitely tells a different story. What used to be a 400w effort is now a hair above 300w. Hopefully things improve soon as I’ve got the CO State Track Champs on July 6-7 then a the US Grand Prix of Sprinting less than a week later.

Colorado – Day 5

We’ve now been living in Colorado for almost a week… So far, so good, although we’re still living out of a hotel and not fully moved into out new apartment thanks to our belongings still somewhere between Hawaii and Colorado. My track bike made it here thanks to FedEx along with my race wheel which I took on the plane, so I’ve lined up a few races between now and nationals in August. My first race will be the Colorado State Track Championships on August 6-7, then I’m throwing myself into the fire racing the US Grand Prix of Sprinting which is a UCI event which should have a solid international field. I’m racing the Omnium there which will be the perfect dry run for US Elite Track Nationals at sea level in LA in early August. Now all I need to do is fine tune my training and find suitable places to ride.

Pacific hopping

Well that was a crazy week! It all started last Sunday with an early morning flight from Honolulu to Kauai to race Pedal to the Meadow for the first time – A mass-start hillclimb with 3835ft of elevation gain in 15.75 miles. A couple weeks before race day there was news that a pro from the Philippines would be doing the race. Sure enough, on race morning, said rider was there along with his entourage. I felt pretty good and was hoping to put in a good ride. It’s not like I island-hop purely for fun… I’m in it to win it.

I lined up on the front beside the pro (Mark Galedo) and the a handful of the best cyclists on the island (Ray Brust, Penn Henderson, Rick Beach, Joe Funk, etc). As soon as the race started Galedo took off pretty damn fast. Not one to sit back and watch 1st place ride off into the horizon I got down to business and chase on. I caught onto the back wheel of Galedo and was briefly joined by a rider who I later found out was Carl Brooks, but not much later it was just me and Galedo. His reportedly 116lb carcass was out of the saddle setting a pretty blistering tempo up the climb. I felt good so decided to follow and see how long that pace was going to last for… About 10mins into the race Galedo had a glance between his legs, probably to see if he had ridden me off his wheel, then he accelerated away as if he was on a moped. I’ve done my fair share of pro races including some UCI events and I’ve NEVER seen climbing like that. Quite baffling and it was apparent that I wasn’t going to see Galedo again until the race finish. I plugged away at 400w for a few more mins before easing up and just cruising the rest of the race. I rode with Penn Henderson for a bit before peeling off, and a few others, eventually crossing the finish line in 8th place. That 1100w effort off the line and subsequent 6+ mins riding at 400+ watts pretty much finished my race. I could have just sat back and cruised up with the rest of the guys and tried for second but that just isn’t my style. Go hard, or what’s the point. In hindsight, it was nice to ride the climb and enjoy the view… I just wish I had time to ride back down.

After inhaling some post race food, I got my flight back to Honolulu, packed my things, then flew to Denver, Colorado with my family at 6am the following morning. We stayed in Denver for five days to find a place to rent when we move there in mid June. Going from highly humid Hawaii to bone dry Denver, plus throwing in the 5400+ elevation was quite the contract. Working and living within a few miles of where the Batman shooting happened in Aurora feels a bit surreal.

38th State

Last week I threw out a pile of boxes that we used to move into our current apartment about 1.5yrs ago. Merely days later my employer asks me “How do you feel about working in Denver, Colorado for 2 years? Maybe I jinxed myself by throwing out those boxes!

Getting word that I need to move to Colorado and start work there in mid June results in quite an increase in cortisol levels and creates a tornado of thoughts to whirl around my cranium:

– Oh, there will be lots of cycling opportunities!
– TWO velodromes (well, 1 right now, but 2 once Boulder Valley Velodrome is completed).
– How bad does the snow get?
– Where is my work location relative to various shootings that have happened.
– Am I really ready to leave Hawaii?
– Can I survive in the mountains, away from the ocean, and with no source of fresh ahi poke?

I’ve already been using Strava to figure out where I can train, climbs I want to do, races that I want to race, where the new Trader Joes (opening in Q4 2013) is located, etc. I know it will all work out, but in the meantime I’ll be busy driving myself a little crazy.

Racing in Hawaii has been a fun journey from 175lbs and slow to 138lbs and fast at my lightest racing weight. Being a bigger fish in a small racing community where everyone knows everyone is fun but it’s going to be nice to have a fresh batch of competitors to kick my ass. Having a ton of cool racing such as Mt Evans and Pikes Peak hillclimbs (in the same weekend) should be enough to get the racing juices flowing and my motivation back to where it used to be.

Another bonus to living in CO is that I’ll be there in time to see the USA Pro Cycling Challenge!

I lived in Colorado for 9months as that was my first stop when I arrived in the US. The move from CO to HI was never really planned and happened within 2 weeks. Once I had left Colorado I had some regrets about things I should have done or seen. It will be nice to be back there and fill in the blanks! I’ll definitely be making a Colorado bucketlist so that I accomplish all the things that are not possible in Hawaii.

Team Time Trial

Post race chat with Kevin Kawainui (BME Racing) and Mark McClay (Hickam Area Cycling Club).
Photo by: Sau Hsu.

This morning I raced a 40k Team Time Trial with one team made and a couple friends. I haven’t had luck sourcing a 1″ fork for my TT bike so I ended up using my TK2 track bike with 53 x 14 (Fixed).

We hadn’t practiced together as a team, but three of us have raced a few TTT’s before so we just picked a rider order, agreed on rotation direction, and went for it.  We were the first team off… Dry roads and minimal wind (rare!). We were working together really well then at about half way to the turnaround it started raining. I survived the turnaround and it looked like we had a good gap over the team that started behind us. As we were going through Punalu’u, I was riding on the front and a silver truck pulled out right in front of us then proceeded to cruise along well below the speed limit and about 10mph slower than we were travelling. We slowed down, then the driver slowed down some more, so we went to go around the guy. Next thing, the driver speeds up a little, and I tried to gesture him to accelerate and get out of our way. He then decided to hit the brakes right in front of us almost causing a crash. Eventually he drove off, but the damage had been done… We must have lost at least 10sec, but probably more. We got back down to business and did what we could to the finish and crossed the line in 53:43 based on the officials watch. We were beaten by BOCA by 2 seconds.

Prior to starting the TTT my aerobars felt solid, but a mixture of road vibrations, wet weather, and my death grip resulted in the left extension rotating 45deg and the right one creeping forward almost coming out of the clamp holding it in place. Trying to wiggle / slide it back in while riding a track bike in the rain with 3 guys makes for some exciting and nerve-racking times. Fortunately I kept the extension in there until the finish.

Moral of the story? If you see a silver truck on O’ahu with the license place RGD 814, please feel free to do whatever you see fit. The driver really doesn’t give a shit about cyclists. I brought up the incident to a cop at the race but he didn’t seem to care either… Probably too much to expect him to write a report and follow up with the driver.