Friday, May 6, 2016

As my first week in Europe comes to a close, I am sitting in the Vienna airport with a 2.5 hour delay on my flight to Berlin. The airline has comped €4,50 for refreshment at the bar near the gate so I am enjoying a nice Austrian lager along with my favorite Ritter Sport marzipan chocolate bar. (The Gilmore Girls really made marzipan out to be so bad...?)

My travel day (or two) to get to Europe was long. I took the Bolt Bus to Seattle and the next day flew out from SEA to London. London to Helsinki. Helsinki to Vienna. The flight was cheap in Finnair and the check in was thru British Airways. I've had decent luck not getting too gouged on baggage with them. At check in it seemed briefly like I was going to get the full fees as the check in agent had me taking a couple kilos out of the bike case to get it under 32kg to even be allowed on the flight. Then suddenly as she printed my boarding pass, she told me it was my lucky day and not to worry about it. My theory is that she noticed my "VGML" (vegan meal) on the ticket and maybe she was also vegan but who knows. Total score.

After a long day of traveling I arrived in Vienna but I could not say the same for my bikes. Apparently they didn't make the long haul from terminal 5 to terminal 3 at Heathrow in the three hours I was layed over.  They were supposed to be delivered before noon the next day but when 1 o'clock rolled around, Viktor,  my awesome host, called the airline and arranged to pick them up since they now said they would be deliver until 5pm. Luckily his place is very close to the airport. I then got the bikes built up and Viktor took me for a little ride around the island in the middle of the Danube River that is great for flat easy riding.

The following day I took to exploring some hills near the city. I found the sweetest cobblestone (but fairly smooth) road that was a great rolling terrain for 16km. So fun. That night we went for dinner at a restaurant a ways outside the city to a place that served traditional Austrian style food but all veganized. It was pretty damn good but it was almost too much fake meat for even me to handle. If probably didn't help that I got the sampler dinner platter for two.

In the morning it was time to leave for the track race in Prostejov CZE. I caught a ride with some young Austrian riders leaving at 8am from the velodrome. I jus my had my backpack with everything jammed into it and my track bike. Early in the morning with not enough sleep or coffee in my system I was smart enough to jam a half full container of vegan yogurt in my bag with the flimsy lid on. Upon arriving at the track to leave for CZE I discovered much of the contents on my bag covered in vanilla flavored Alpro yogurt. 10 mins in the bathroom rinsing things off as good as possible and then we were off for two days of racing that, according to the weather forecast, might not even happen. We arrived and I checked into my cool hotel just behind the velodrome. It was a "tennis club" and apparently partly owned by Jaromir Jagr complete with many photos of my childhood hockey hero #68 on the walls.

Surprisingly the weather cooperated for the most part for the two days of racing albeit quite windy and cold. On day one we raced an elimination and a points race. The track is a 300m concrete surface, with some good bumps at the seams but a decent fun shape. We ran the elimination with every other lap pulls and a field of 25. So a pretty long race. The race was fast and quite physical (the Polish riders are usually pretty... aggressive. About halfway thru there was a small crash and at about the same time there was also a light rain starting to pick up so the race was halted. About 10 mins later we restarted with 12 riders. Now with fresher legs, things were even faster and more aggressive. After a few pulls I kept having trouble keeping myself towards the front with out spending lots of energy aka my legs were hurting. So instead of burn too many matches at the front and risk getting swarmed, I decided to play the devil (sit at the back and pick off one rider each time at the line). I don't play the devil often because I am usually trying to win these races and this tactic isn't usually very sustainable but one thing is for sure, the crowd LOVES IT. So what better way to introduce myself to Prostejov than having some fun. I managed to pick off a few riders before my legs started to really feel the repeated accelerations so after the 6th place pull I just went all in and attacked. I got a gap that lasted one more pull until I was caught. I dragged one off the guys off the back with me and we battled for 3rd but I was toasted and had to settle for 4th. The small crowd that was there were so stoked for me tho. They cheered for me like I had won race. Although it would have been nice to at least been third and win some money for dinner. The points race was less exciting. Mostly just hard and controlled by the big teams as well as a long full 40k in the wind and cold. I really hate track racing where teams collude especially when it's a UCI race. Team tactics should stay on the road, if you aren't on the track to win, then don't race. But the flip side is having to combat this tactics as an individual only makes you a stronger and smarter racer. I never seems to find the right moves in the points race and I ended up 10/25 mostly using the race as a way to open the legs up for the next day after t was apparent that I wasn't going to get a lap or place too well.



Then second day or racing started at 14:00 but our scratch race and Madison were an hour or more into the schedule so I was able to sleep in catch the tail end of breakfast get a short warm up in the track and go out for some lunch after. During my morning session, with out any words exchanged, the coach from the Hungarian juniors motioned to me from the infield to ask me to help one of the riders with his madison exchanges. Of course I was more than happy to. My enthusiasm for coaching and helping the juniors must just be that apparent. For lunch I ventured to a vegetarian restaurant that I was surprised to find in Prostejov. It was a lunch spot, buffet style, and in Czech style was crazy affordable. The food was totally amazing and I wished I had another day there just to eat at Koza Zustala Cela again.



The scratch race was my main focus of the race in Prostejov. I knew it would be hard with all the team tactics coming into play and enough people in the field knowing that I am a decent sprinter. I tried my best to observe, be patient and use my efforts wisely. At one point an early move was coming back and I knew there would be a counterattack. I figured everyone was still pretty fresh so the counter might not go anywhere so I prepared for the counter to the counterattack. (Haha) The next move seemed to be being pulled back like I thought it might but then the group stopped chasing and a STRONG group of three rode just slowly snuck away for a lap. The the blocking and marking of moves happened and I never had much of a chance in taking taking mine myself so I was left with a sprint for 4th at best. A few polish guys really hammered the last few laps and I had to come across a cracking bunch and in the end couldn't come around the final Pol in the pole lane and finished a very hard fought 5th. I wanted to win this race but I knew that I rode well and I felt pretty good. The final event was a Madison and I had found a partner in Denis Rugovac, a Czech rider with a lot of experience in the UIV six days. They graciously decided to shorten the race from 50k to 42k. With 11 teams starting, 10 finishing we finished 5th. The sting Polish team dominating and taking a solo lap and we finished on even laps with the three other top teams. It was my first madison since Madison Cup at Ttown in August last year and it left my throwing arm plenty sore. 💪



I returned to Vienna after the races and had a couple nice days exploring the roads and having some good foods with friends. ZakCurry was made at the house on the last night and I just finished off the leftovers at the airport while I wrote this post. Hopefully the plane will arrive soon so I can get to Berlin before the trains stop running.

P.S. I'm sorry Berlin, but I think Vienna might have taken your place as my new favorite city in Europe so far. The riding is great and the city is beautiful. The road riding is really the biggest thing. The lack of hills in Berlin gets old fast. I don't have quite as many friends there yet, but ones I have made are quality.  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

On the road again.

I am really bad at writing about races, trips and adventures I have been having. Part of the problem is the feeling that I need to catch up and recap the things I've missed but I am going to try to start fresh and write a short journal every week or of the goings on this summer. I moved out of my house last night. I put all of my belongings in storage with a friend save for what I will need for three months of traveling and racing. I am currently on my way to Seattle and I will fly out from there to Europe. I will first land in Vienna to go to a CL2 UCI race 2 hours north in Prostejov, CZE on 3-4 May. Then it's on to Berlin and the amazing race in Forst, GER on 14-15 May. The first day is a derny paced criterium on a 600m cobblestone circuit. The second day is a relatively mellow day of stayer races on an outdoor 400m track. From Germany I will head to Paris 20-21 May for a CL1 UCI track race at the worlds track from two years ago. I will also have some down time to explore Paris and maybe hop over to hangout in London. After three weeks of Euro travel I will fly to Dallas for a race on 28 May in Frisco, TX. From there I will fly to Philly and take up residence in Trexlertown for all of June and July, including track nationals which will be at the end of July. I can't wait for the adventures ahead!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter track racing and the remainder of the 2014(-15) sesason.

The tail end of my 2014 season was quite busy with winter track racing. There was the Burnaby 4 Day, the UCI Milton International Challenge and finally the Berlin Six Day.


Kelyn Akuna and the crew at the Burnaby Velodrome have been doing a great job putting on fun and exciting events for racers and spectators alike. Their marquee event for the year is the Burnaby 4 Day. This year had one of the best fields in recent memory and a more 'Euro Six Day' feel. Each night of racing there was junior and lower category racing, sprint events, a stellar women's field and a crazy fast elite men's field that was based on two man teams and the madison. In addition there was music, food and most importantly lots of BEER.

The racing was fierce. I was paired with US road sprint superstar Tyler Farrar. Germany was represented by the super solid Schwiezer borthers, Michael and Christoph. Canada had the Flying Squirrel Jacob Schwingboth and Zach Bell. The event was eventually won by the other American pairing of Daniel Holloway and Jacob Duerhing who took a lap early of the first chase of the first night. My partner seemed to be having some difficulty finding track legs after some time away from a Velodrome and having come from off season with a big road season with MTN-Qhubeka coming up. I am already looking forward to the winter season at Burnaby for 2015-16!

http://www.dbcphoto.com/
http://www.dbcphoto.com/

The UCI Milton International Challenge was the test event for the Pan-Am Games to be held this summer in Toronto. the Velodrome was still just completing construction and the was just the 2nd event to be help at the facility, with Canadian Nationals happening just days before. This a beautiful facility with all that you would want in a world class velodrome. It is also the new home of Canadian Cycling. In the three days of competition I rode in the team pursuit and scratch on day one, the omnium over the second two days and finshed up with a madison following the omnium points race. I got to meet one my favorite track cyclists with awesome hair, Curt Harnett! He is involved with the facility and was also handing out medals. I ended up 2nd in the scratch and team pursuit and 3rd in the omnium.
photo: Jeremy Allen
 
photo: Jeremy Allen


Berlin...

Wow Berlin. Every year people ask me how Berlin was and I really have a hard time summing it up. Its Awesome, Overwhelming, Inspiring, Loud, FUN. I am so lucky to have ridden the stayer races at the Berling Six Day for the past three years. Going 80-90 kph behind big motors, racing against 7 other teams of cyclist/motors in front of 13,000 enthusiastic people every night for six nights in a row. its amazing. It is also really hard to return to reality afterwards!


Friday, November 14, 2014

LAGP

The Velo Sports Center hosted the Los Angeles Grand Prix UCI track race again this year. On tap for the endurance side was just an omnium. The attendance for the women's field was awesome and the racing was damn exciting. the men's field was small with only 12 riders, but there was plenty of talent. There were good crowds for the evening sessions and riding in front of a crowd always makes things more fun! This was only the second time I have gotten to race the "new new" version of the six event omnuim. If you don't know about that change you can read HERE!

Event 1. Scratch Race.
My most confident event. things played out well for me. the bunch stayed together and I had a good wheel headed in to the final sprint. I won quite comfortably. This was huge for my motivation.

photo: Jinna Albirght


Event 2. Individual pursuit.
Not usually a great event for me. I have been spending more time trying to get better at the pursuit. I did break the 12 year old Alpenrose Velodrome pursuit record this summer. I would be in the last pairing riding against Bobby Lea, who has been flying this year more than usual even. During the start I actually felt in control. I didn't start too hard like usual. My 2nd-4th laps were a touch fast but I then settled into my tempo. I rode my target or one tenth below for EVERY lap of the final 3k! I had a very steady ride (perhaps a little more to give in the tank) and huge PR with a 4:41 in LA that was good for 2nd to Bobby Lea in the omnium standings. Bobby rode a crazy impressive 4:26 and rode a 4:16 at the world cup the following week in Guadalajara, 1 second from Taylor Phinney's 4:15 National record that got him a world championship! Dang.

Event 3. Elimination.
The final event on day 1. In theory I really like these races but one tiny lapse of concentration and they can end way too early and leave you very pissed at yourself. This race went pretty good. I may have spent a bit too much energy and was left with a very hard sprint for 2nd, which I won, but I was totally spent. It would have been nice to at least be able to contest for the victory but much better than finishing not tired on a tactical error. Finishing the first day with a win and two 2nds was pretty sweet.

Event 4. Kilo TT
I usually fell pretty good about these. I had some hesitations about which gear to ride, like any track racer, always. At the last minute I decided to go smaller and I felt like I would have gone better in a slightly bigger gear. I did ride a PR but I felt like it could have been more! I ended up 4th.

Event 5. Flying Lap
Usually another strong event for me. I was a bit bummed after my Kilo ride and now I was definitely unsure of what gear to use. I eventually decided to gamble on a big gear because it seemed like the track was fast that morning. Enough time had passed between events and if it was fast in there before, I don't think it was now, or at least I wasn't. My wind up was great but when I stood on the pedals, there was no power, and I just struggled to turn the gear over for 250 meters. Finished 5th. bummed but still sitting in 2nd going into the final event, the 40k points race. In retrospect, I had not really done and leg speed or pure sprint work since before nationals in August. So it was understandable that the pure sprint events suffered.
 
photo: Gus Sarmiento



Event 6. Points Race.
Now with the new omnium format, everything basically hinges on the points race. Had this been the previous format, I would have essentially had 2nd place sewn up. But with 16 Sprints over 160 laps and 20 point bonuses for lapping the field, lots could still happen. my goal was to grab points where I could with out spending too much energy in the sprints. all the while watching for the big attack when Bobby would try to take a lap. Jacob in 3rd place had gone of the front with another rider and I wasn't worried about them gaining a lap so I figured id let them tired them selves out. after a bit, Bobby jumped across to them quickly. I followed suit and tried not to bring 4th place, Adrian, with me. I am thinking now that maybe I should have brought him along. It took me about a lap or so too long to close on the trio up the road. The moment I made contact, the other rider down in the standings pulled up track for some reason, and took me with him because I wasn't expecting it. My competitors took advantage of my situation and attacked. After the big effort I had done to get across the gap, I had a hard time responding. Bobby drove the duo and they closed the gap to the field and gained a lap. I was eventually reeled in without gaining a lap and the points and been pretty much settled. I had been bumped down to 3rd place.

photo: Gus Sarmiento

I was happy with my racing and fitness. Small things can have big implications. I am so glad that I am still learning things every time I race. I think its important to be open to learning new things as you go and it keeps things exciting!

2014 Recap!

Time to play catch up on this blog. 2014 was another busy season as usual.

Southern Games in Trinidad.
-won 5k crit
-grass track

Forst Derny Cup and Stayer race
--crash in the derny
-riding stayer injured

Early summer in TTown

Alpenrose Challenge
-track record pursuit

Marymoor GP

Nationals Rock Hill
1st TP
2nd Scratch
3rd madion
5th points
5th omnium

ttown Madison cup

Gatewap cup st Louis

Saucebox cup Atlanta dick lane velodrome
two track records
great crowds

Burnaby

Lagp

Burnaby 4day