My 9 Days as a Domestique


The 2012 Tour of America’s Dairyland has finally come and gone.  I was fortunate enough to be able to race all but the last day of the series this year, 9 days in a row.  I am still a Cat 4 on the road, since most of my racing experience has been on dirt (where I am a Cat 2).  My road experience before ToAD was a grand total of 10 races over the past 3 years, and 3 of those were this year. 

Overall, ToAD was a success for me.  I am definitely a better rider now.

Here are a few things I’ve realized:

  • I can race for 9+ days in a row.  Not every day will be my best day though.  I started the series strong, faded a bit in the middle and came back even stronger at the end.  I found myself wishing that I could have raced a few more days to see my best efforts.  Prior to ToAD I had only raced 2 days in a row once.
  • Staying hydrated cannot be overstated.  I am very conscious of this, so in addition to the recommended daily allowance of beer I added Pedialyte.  Gatorade, and most cycling specific sports drinks are too sweet and/or “chemically” and tend to give me a stomach ache.  I used plain Pedialyte before and during the Bone Ride this year, and it really helped.  So I made sure to down a bottle every evening at home during ToAD.
  • Eating enough calories cannot be overstated.  Like most cyclists, my motor’s always running.  I tend to eat something about every 3 hours just about every day.  Also, like most cyclists, I try to eat pretty “clean” – good food, high in protein and complex carbs.  Halfway through the week I realized that I was eating like I normally do, not like I was racing every day.  That night I came home and ate a whole pizza, then went to Kopp’s and ate a chicken sandwich, onion rings and a chocolate shake.  The next day, I was twice as strong as the day before.  I did go back to eating clean that day too, but filling the void of negative calories the day before seemed to help tremendously.
  • Warming up on a trainer is awesome.  I have always warmed up on the road before races.  Such a simple thing, but I will always do it this way now.  It allowed for a structured warm-up, and it was cool to talk a little last-minute strategy with teammates before we launched.  Plus, I had access to anything I needed.

Leatherman making his daily move to the front…
Photo courtesy of Nick Schwietzer
http://www.nickschwietzerphotography.com

  • Crit racing is a science and an art.  Like golf, a lot of guys buy expensive equipment thinking it will make them better.  It doesn’t.  The best crit racers are smart, patient, tactical and smooth riders.  They have the ability to ride unnoticed until the last lap or 2, then be in the perfect position to sprint to the line.  They could probably do it on a Schwinn Varsity and still kick most people’s ass.
  • Speaking of ass, there are a few guys in every category that believe we are out there to fight to the death and defend the honor of our dead grandfathers – at all costs.  I took a bad line early in one of the races.  It was partially due to excitement and partially my lack of experience.  For the next 2 laps, everyone within 50 yards of Speedy McJagoff had to hear him drop F bombs about my bad line, etc.,  etc. etc.  Really?  I hope his paycheck from Team Douchebag doesn’t bounce.  I’m still learning, and anyone around me would have realized that it was a mistake on my part, one that I did not repeat.  I even tried to ride up next to the guy and apologize, but he wouldn’t shut up, so I didn’t.
  • Speedy McJagoff was never on the podium.  Enough said.
  • I was not riding for myself, I was riding to put my teammate on the podium.  I have never played team sports in my life.  I have always gravitated toward things that were a test of myself against the clock, or someone else.  I have never had a “role” to play in sport.  WORS races are all about going as fast as you can, by yourself  (at my level anyway) until you cross the line.  Hopefully you win, or at least don’t cough up your spleen when you’re done.  I have a whole new level of respect for the no-name guys going off the front in the Tour, or the guys blowing themselves up with 5K to go to get the lead out man into position. 
  • Crashing and getting back into the race is instinctual.  I flipped into the barriers around a corner in the Waukesha race, and I was back on my bike and pedaling before I realized it.  Thankfully, it was a minor crash.  My shin caught the corner of a metal barrier and it took a nice bite out of it, the only bad thing was that there was not enough skin left to stitch up.  The allure of racing is the adrenaline rush, and I got a double dose that day.  I have crashed in mountain bike races, once bad enough to require a trip to the ER, but I never realized how fast my body automatically puts me back on the bike.  
  • The only thing cooler than going 40 miles per hour on a city street with hundreds of people watching using only your own body for power is going 41 miles per hour on a city street with hundreds of people watching using only your own body for power.

2012 Bone Ride report


2012 Bone Ride.  Done.

May 23.  257 kilometers. 2 stops.

It actually started with dinner at Tutto on Tuesday evening.  Jim Mellin and the AXA pro team graciously invited a bunch of us out for drinks, food and smack talking the night before the ride.  It was great listening to a brief history of the ride from Tom Schuler – almost as good as the calamari and Guinness.  Unfortunately as we were getting ready to leave one of the riders came back in to tell us that Tom Winkel’s van had been burgalarized.  1 smashed window and 1 missing laptop, which had been hidden behind a rear seat.  Definitely a buzzkill, and Tom was unable to make the ride the next day having to stay back and get everything taken care of.  Selfishly, I was bummed, since Tom would have been pulling the whole way…

The morning of, Chris McArdle, Dave Dineen and I met at John’s in Tosa for a little carbo loading and then rolled to Schuler’s.

The Full Monty Crew – photo courtesy of Marty Vander Velde

A few brief notes by the Master of Ceremonies and we were off.

Schuler gives the rollout instructions – photo courtesy of Marty Vander Velde

50 degree morning temps quickly gave way to 75 and sunny and the roll to Madison was easy like Sunday morning…

Burritos and the standard Yellow Jersey picture in Madison, and then back on the road.

Local legends: Yellow Jersey. Otto Wenz. Andy. Ronsta…

 About 5 miles out of Madison it was go time.  2 groups went off the front and after not giving it an ounce of rational thought, I chased.  I bridged to the second group just in time for them to slow down.  Waste of effort #1.  Go time again, I bridged up and this time brought Rudy with me.  Waste of effort #2.  Rudy thanked me for the pull and disappeared into the pack.  I had just enough gas in the tank to hang at the back before my brain started firing again and asked me what the Hell I was doing with 60 miles still left to ride.

I dropped back and drifted in no man’s land for a while until the next group caught me.  We worked together for a while, but guys were dropping like flies.  The heat, the miles and the dehydration were starting to work their magic.  Just then, like a prayer answered, the Mt. Borah Sprinter van appeared and John Grisa, Dave Dineen and I jumped behind it for a little motorpacing.  At some point, Dave and John dropped and I stayed on for a few free miles at 30 mph.  The super draft allowed me to recover a bit, but made the South East wind seem 10x worse when I got out on my own.  I ended up rolling the last 20-25 miles back to Tosa by myself.

Already looking forward to next year!  Could 2013 be the year of the fixie ride??

Full belly, ready to roll home.

2012 ~ the year of the fat dude?


Maybe I should consider racing Clydes?

With the world coming to an end in just 353 days, I figured that I had better get a little scientific about my race plan this year.  For the last 2 years I’ve only averaged about 4,000 miles (that’s 6,400 Km for the roadies), but I’ve also managed to average a ride every other day (year-round).  I have never really done any focused training “program” and I tend to burn out halfway through the year.  My strategy has been ride whenever I can, and ride as hard as I can.  Usually that means quick, early morning rides before work.  No LSD miles in Spring, no recovery rides to speak of, no focus on weaknesses, in fact no focus at all.  

As much as it sucked to think about it, I picked up some training books and got a new HR strap for the Polar monitor collecting dust in my closet.  I structured a plan that will get me to peak fitness for ToAD, and leave me fresh enough to finish WORS too.  On paper it looks good, even though my mileage will go up by somewhere between 25 and 50% (depending on the end of season tapering).  The real challenge will be embracing a plan that makes me better without sucking the life and fun out of riding.  As far as my weight, I’m not a twig like most of the guys I’m racing.  I usually focus on gaining some weight in Fall/Winter, but this year I’ll focus on taking it off too.

Today felt good, but it’s Day 1.  Even crack addicts can probably stay focused for 1 day.  The real test will be my results and overall fitness this year, as well as avoiding mid-season burnout.

I’m excited about doing some real road racing this year, and moving up to SS Open @ WORS.  I’m not really built for the longer courses, so hopefully the focus on my weaknesses will pay off.  I might even try to dial in my diet a bit, although a quick Google search reveals that “cake” and “beer” are the top 2 diet choices among competitive cyclists.

Now, if I can just avoid crashing…

Team Wisconsin Whitnall Spring Classic


The Big Red Train rolls out!

My first race in the new kit, hard not to feel fast in this gear!  This was my 2nd road race of 2011, and that means the 5th of my life.  Great time, but I still have a lot to learn.  12th overall in the Masters 4/5.  I’m just not getting up to the front on the last lap fast enough.  All on me.

Team Wisconsin had a very strong showing, especially in the 3s where we took 1st and 2nd.

Now onto Iola where the real season begins!