Monday, December 18, 2006

Off Season

I haven't written here in a while, about two months. Some things have changed since then. I won that race in Ocala but didn't write about it. Ivan Franco, Paul Kavan, and I lapped the field about halfway through the 80 minute race. Ivan and I worked together till about two laps to go. Then we just let it come down to a field sprint. Jason Snow won the sprint and I took second, meaning I won the race. I finished school about a week ago. I won't be going back in the spring though because I am going to race pro for AEG-Toshiba-Jetnetwork cycling team. I am pretty excited about this. I hope some good things come out of next year. At the moment I am in Roswell Georgia at a friend's house. I drive to the mountains in Dahlonega to train in the mountains most days. I need to work on that for next year . It is nice weather here at the moment- in the 50s-60s and sunny. That's about it for now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Atlanta Georgia Cup

This past weekend was the last Georgia Cup race of the year. It took place in Atlanta. Saturday was a circuit race on a 2.5 k rolling circuit with 4 turns. The last turn was about 400 meters from the line. The Pro 1,2 race was 20 laps for a 50 k race. There were a lot of good riders this weekend like Frank Travieso from Aerospace and John Murphy (USA U23 National Team). The Subaru team started Tim Henry, David Guttenplan, Wes Garland, Whit Clifford, and me. There were many attacks throughout this race, but none seemed to really go very far. If a gap did get large it seemed like it would get shut down shortly after it got large. For the first half of the race I got in some of these moves, but after a few attempts I believed no moves would stick and I decided to save myself for the bunch kick. With about ten laps to go David was off the front by himself for a few laps. As soon as David was brought back Tim attacked, and Bobby Sweeting (Nerac- Outdoor Lights) and a Colombian rider followed him. Tim timed his attack perfectly because he instantly got a gap of like 30 seconds and it went up to a minute. These guys worked together and stayed away for the rest of the race. From what I heard Bobby attacked on the hill with half a lap to go, and the Colombian rider brought him back. Tim countered this move and rolled in solo for the win. Coming out of the last turn I was 4th wheel right behind David. David went with about 200 meters out and I followed him. I went about 150 meters out because the sprint was a little uphill and won the field sprint for fourth place. David was 4th in the bunch kick for seventh place. This race goes to show that if you really want a break to stick it can if you work hard enough even if the course doesn’t look like it will let a break work.
Sunday was the big day. The Pro 1,2 race was 60 laps on a tough, 4-cornered course that was about 900 meters long. It was uphill from the start line through turn 2, which was off camber, and still went uphill a little after that. Then it was downhill to another off-camber turn three. It was flat and a headwind from turn 3-4 and an uphill drag to the line. The prize list was $10,000 about 30 deep. The winner would get $1250, so our tactic for the day was to attack a lot and try to get away. This race was really fast from the gun. It was so hard I wanted to quit 15 laps in but just kept ticking away. Tim, David, and I followed many attacks, but none seemed to last very long early on. Then Frank Travieso (Aerospace) attacked with about 32 to go. I chased him down and Bobby Sweeting (Nerac- Outdoor Lights) came with me. We worked very well together and got a 30 second gap. I was tired at first so didn’t work so much at first, but after a lap or two I found my rhythm and did my share. Then we got brought back by none other than Bobby’s teammates. It was a kind of crazy tactic if you ask me. Then once again there were a bunch of attacks and primes. I set up Tim for two and David also got one. Then after a really hard point with about 13 laps to go I launched a solo attack. After I lap my gap wasn’t large, but I kept the power down and kept chugging along. The gap increased to about 20 seconds the next lap. Then with about 8 to go John Murphy (USA National Team) decided to chase me down. He got within about ten seconds of me and stayed there until about 2 laps to go it looked like 5 seconds or so. I started to cramp about now, but I just put more pressure on the pedals then and didn’t want a repeat of the Lagrange race a few weeks ago. With one lap to go the gap ballooned out to about 20 seconds. I knew I had the race won then. The next lap I crossed the line with my arms in the air for victory. David won the bunch sprint today and got 5th place. This race went to show that if you are mentally tough and use good tactics you can still achieve victory even if you fell physically tired. I am very proud of how this weekend went. The Subaru team rode cohesively, rode very aggressively, and achieved victory both days. I only have two more weekends of racing left this year. Next weekend is a hometown race for me in Ocala, so I hope I can keep running well.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Venice Crit

Yesterday was the downtown Venice crit in Florida. I have always liked this course because it is technical and favors small breakaway groups because there are a lot of tight turns. I also like this course because I won here as a cat three and had a plan of what I wanted to do going into the race. The course is maybe around 1.5 k long. It starts out with a fast 90, then another 90, then there is a curve that takes the group through a sharp 150 to two tight 90s, down about 150 meters to a tight 180/ U-Turn about 50-75 meters before the line. The pro 1,2 race was 90 minutes plus five laps. Usually the first person in this turn wins the race. I had one teammate in David Guttenplan. The race started with attacks from the gun. I got in all the moves that I could until I spent all of my firepower and could only chase stuff down. After I had no snap I would chase groups back, and they would be really mad at me because I brought the whole group. Then David got in one group and I had a chance to rest up a bit. I went with a counter of 4 guys and we started to work. Then I think some guys bridged up to us making us a group of ten. Then Bobby Sweeting (NERAC/ Outdoor Lights), a local kid, attacked our group. Ivan Franco (VisionQuest) bridged up to Bobby. Shortly after this Joel Chavez (Vista Velo) got up with Bobby and Ivan. I just thought uh oh I gotta get up there. After all these attacks my group became 5 guys, and two of them were Vista Velo, so they wouldn't work with us to catch Joel. The gap was 15 seconds now, and I just knew I had to get up the road to that group. So, I started going crazy and taking risks in the turns and got a gap with only one Vista Velo rider on me. He crashed in the 180 when I had about 5 or 6 seconds to the leaders. I felt crappy possibly from my early efforts but knew I would be happy if I got in that group, and I eventually made after about two laps of chasing. Once I got in that group we just rolled through, increasing our lead on the peloton. We got away about 30' into the race, and I knew it was going to be a long day. We all pretty much did equal work, but sometimes Ivan would take a long hard pull. This is more or less all we did the whole time we were away. I felt bad when I first got the group, but as we settled in a rythm I started feeling better and better. Towards the end of the day I realized I was taking the turns better than all the other guys in my group. With five laps to go we had almost lapped the peloton, so we slowed the pace down because we didn't want to get back in the bunch because that would comlicate things. Going into the last lap I decided that I wanted last wheel. I jumped with all I had for the 150, just like I did when I won the race in cat 3, but Ivan saw me and also jumped beating me there. He took the next 90 too fast and ended up on the outhside of the cones separating the course. I just kept it going hard through the next 90. I sprinted for the 180 as I was catching the peloton. I saw a hole on the inside of the turn. I figured the people in the peloton could act as blockers for my breakaway companions. Ijumped in the hole as I skidded my back wheel through the 180, not panicking at all. I managed to keep it upright through the 180. (I guess my goof off rides on dirt roads and mountain bike trails paid off today!) I gased it through to the line and won. I am very happy because this was my first pro 1,2 race win, and I hope I can keep improving from now on.

Georgia Cup Lagrange

Last weekend was the Georgia Cup race in Lagrange Georgia. It started off with a 5.9 K prologue. When I first checked out the course I thought it would suit me well. There were a few short hills, a longer gradual climb and a fast descent. There were a total of three fast turns I think. There were also a few other turns that were at the top of hills and slow, so they didn't matter that much. When I was going up the first hill I realized I wasn't on a super day, so I just told myself to rail it as much as I could and I'd still probably do well. I ended up ninth on the stage with a time of 6'42" which was 20 seconds behind the winner. My teammate Tim Henry was 8th about one second faster than me.
That night there was a downtown crit that took place on some of the same roads as the prologue. It had six 90 degree turns and was about one k long. We did 50 laps. It went left for the first three turns then a right and two more lefts to the finish. There was also a short 50 meter climb between turns 2 and three. The Subaru team started 6 guys: Rob Gable, Tim Henry, Wes Garland, David Guttenplan, and me. It was a really good race for us because at any given point one of us was off the front. David was off the front for quite a bit with another guy at the begining of the race. Then shortly after that Tim was off the front from about 20 to go to 10 to go. As soon as Tim was caught I jumped and rolled pretty much solo from then even though I was very tired and cramping. Another guy bridged up to me, worked with me for two laps, was slowing me down, so I just jumped him. By this point my calves were cramping like no tomorrow and I was really tired, but I just tried to keep rolling with the effort with the group ranging from 8 to 20 seconds behind me. With about 1.5 laps to go the group was on my heels and swallowed me up. Tim ended up our best finisher as 6 and David was 14th I think. After I got caught I rolled back through the field like a cannonball floats in water. But I was happy with my aggressive race and maybe if I keep racing like that I can win solo some time.
The next race was the road race which was to be 3 laps on a 30 mile course, but all these guys complained about it being the last road race of the year and they shortened it to two laps. This really annoyed me and was probably a sign of things to come. Tim was sitting 8th in the omnium points at this point, so we wanted to work for him. The race was on a rolling course and there was more or less no wind. The race was very negative all day. Groups would go up the road and groups would be chased back and then nothing for a while. That is how it was all day. Then Tim and David got in a big group with about 20 miles to go that looked promising because all the teams were represented. Then Eric Murphy from Aerospace dropped out of the front group and that break was doomed from then on because Aerospace started to bring it back with about 10k to go. I was just sitting too far back and being dumb. I planned on moving up with ten k to go and the group just remained bunched up and slow until the sprint. Therefore, I couldn't really find any holes to move up and probably ended up around 15th in the race. This weekend was pretty good for the team, but we really never got anything together in the end.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

North Carolina- South Carolina State Road Race

Today Whit Clifford, Tim Henry, Hayden Brooks, and I took part in the NC- SC Pro1,2,3 State Road Race. It was 90 miles on a 15 mile loop that had some rolling hills and only three turns. Tim got in a move early in the race with three other guys. This meant Hayden, Whit, and I covered moves that tried to bridge. If a large group got up the road to Tim it would have been bad if we weren't with it. This break looked promising because there were no NC or SC citizens in the group. But with about 1.5 laps to go this break was caught. Then there were a lot of attacks but none stayed away. During the last ten k Tim asked me how I felt for the sprint, and I told him I felt well. Hayden, Tim, and I were together with about 4k to go. We began to gradually move to the front of the field. With about 2 k left we were in the top ten together, and some guy decided to hit his brakes for no reason. Tim and I managed to get by this mess by almost riding off the road. Then it appeared there was no way out. I told Tim as soon as he could get out to rail it. This was about 1.5 k out. Tim was on the front going until about 700 meters, and I was left with no one. I tried to make it to the last turn(200 meters to go) on front but 4 guys passed me right at the turn. The finish was kind of downhill and I retained my fifth place to the line. I am happy with this result, but maybe if I had more patience I could have won.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Augusta Georgia Cup

This weekend was the Georgia State Championship weekend. There was a 37k TT on Friday that I didn’t do but my teammates Tim Henry and Hayden Brooks got 5th and 8th respectively.
Saturday was the crit. The Pro1,2 race was 60 laps on a course that was 1 k long with 4 corners of 90 degrees with a chicane between turns three and 4. The distance between the last turn and the finish line was about 250-300 meters. The Subaru Cycling Team started 5 riders: Hayden Brooks, Tim Henry, John Green, Wes Garland, and me. This race was pretty fast from the gun with constant attacks that had at least one Subaru rider in them the whole race. The race got really mixed up between laps 10-30 because there were primes of 25 bucks each lap. Tim was off the front with one other rider at this point and picked up seven of the primes, and Hayden picked up two. After Tim’s break got caught there were a flurry of attacks that didn’t work until Hayden got off with a group of six with about 12-13 laps to go. This group contained Cesar Grajales (Navigator), who won the Brasstown Bald stage of the Tour of Georgia in 2004. He attacked that group with about seven laps to go and rolled in solo for the win. Hayden’s group was caught with about half a lap to go, and I was near the front of the field. I yelled at him to drill it. He strung the field out single file with me in tow second wheel until the last turn. I jumped on the gas from there and took the field sprint for second place and first amateur rider. I am very happy with this result and would like to thank my teammates, especially Hayden, who made this result possible.
Sunday was the road race. It was a tough 24k loop with a bunch of rolling hills the whole loop. The Pro1,2 race did 6 laps on this course. We started five riders again today with mostly the same guys except for Rob Gable taking John Green’s place. There was an early attack containing three dangerous riders: Tiago (Logos), Thad Dulin (Nerac), and Phil Gaimon (VMG). This break lasted until about two laps in because Phil dropped his chain and Thad got a flat tire. Then there were a few attacks that weren’t so serious. With about two and a half laps to go Hayden got in a group of four. Then about a lap later Tim bridged up to the front group with another rider. I was having cramps for the last few laps and was getting dropped on all hills trying to avoid cramp. So I dropped out with one lap to go because I couldn’t have done anything with the cramps just getting worse as the race went on. Three guys rolled in separately. Then Tim and Hayden rolled in for 4th and 5th respectively. This ended a very good weekend of racing for the Subaru Cycling Team. We all worked well together and got some results.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tour of Elk Grove Cat 2 Race

Today was the Tour of Elk Grove Cat 2 Crit. The day started out pretty sweet because when I was warming up on a trail near the house where I am staying I fet someone come up on me and turned around to see a bald man with red Oakley M-Frames in a Davitamon- Lotto jersey. I knew immediately that this was Chris Horner. We rode togetherfor about twenty minutes and just talked about racing. He was really cool and laid back. Now back to the race. The course was in the shape of and L. About 150 meters from the start there was a left 180. Then there was a curvy, narrow road for about half a mile until the next 90 degree right hander. The course got wider and straight from here through the next 180 until the 90 degree left hand turn to the finishing straight, which was on the other side of the curvy, narrow road. The course was rather long for a crit at 2.5 miles, and it was a pretty open course also. The race was 45' plus 2 laps. I didn't think a break would go because everything seemed to be getting pulled back by the pack. I just sat in the pack for most of the day, but followed a few breaks that looked serious. Then with about two and a half laps to go three guys got off the front and got a pretty large gap. It was small enough to be brought back if teams worked hard to chase it, but if the didn't it would stick. I had to take this gamble because I didn't have any teammates at the race to shut it down. With half a lap to go the break was still at a good size and like it would stick for the day. I tried to position myself near the front for the field sprint. Going into the last turn it looked like I was going to be nipped on the outside, so I told the guy in front of me that I was on the outside. He said that we were even and wouldn't give in, so I accelerated and cut him off. Then I was in about tenth wheel going into the final straight, which was a bit far back to my liking. So I shot every gap I could and bumped shoulders with at least three guys in the mad dash for the line. I had enough momentum to win the field sprint, but because the finishing straight was winding one of the last guys I had to pass before the line was closing my lane. The three guys in the break just barely stayed off the front of the race, and I rolled in third in the field sprint for sixth place. I think it was a pretty good race for me. I did pretty much everything I could have done, and I am very pleased with my scrapping skills I have acquired since I raced in Europe. Tomorrow is a Pro1,2 race, so it is going to be faster and tougher. I am excited for it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Winston-Salem Cat 2,3 Crit

The Final Day of the Crossroads Cycling Classic was the Winston- Salem crit. It was once again a cat 2,3 race and lasted about fifty minutes. There were about 60 riders in the field. The course was about 2.5 k in length and was rolling, winding, and had five turns. The final four turns were in the last kilometer and a half or so, so positioning in them was important. I knew from the first lap that a break wouldn’t get away because the course wasn’t difficult enough and one team had a few strong riders and would control attacks for their sprinter. I spent the day trying to maintain position at the front of the pack and bumping shoulders with guys. Small groups of guys would go off the front of the group, but all their attacks would be brought back after less than a lap. During the last five laps I remained in the top ten in the group and was still conserving for the sprint. During the last lap I thought I was going to crash in one turn but managed to keep it upright. I went into the last turn which was about 250 meters before the finish line in fourth wheel. It was ideal position for me, but I couldn’t come around one rider in the end just because he had a faster turn of speed than I did. I am satisfied with my first weekend back to racing and hope I can continue my progression into the Tour of Elk Grove Crit in Chicago next weekend.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Charlotte Coliseum Cat 2,3 Crit

Today was the Charlotte Coliseum parking lot cat 2, 3 crit. It was a pretty tough course with 4 corners, and it was about 1k long. It was uphill from turn one to turn three. Then it was downhill to turn four and about 100 meters uphill to the finish line. There were about fifty starters, and the race was supposed to last fifty minutes. For the first twenty minutes I just sat in the field. Then I started to get tired, and other people were attacking so I figured it would be a good time to attack. I was off the front for about three laps with different people coming up to me and dropping back to the field, and eventually two guys got with me that stuck. We immediately got a gap of about 10-12 seconds. We were told we had 18 laps to go. The gap remained the same to the field until about five laps to go when it went up to twenty seconds. A fourth guy bridged up to our group at around this time and with two laps to go attacked. I wasn’t expecting it and hesitated, so that was it for first. During the last lap I tried to bring the guy back in vain. Then another rider attacked on the downhill, and I just followed him thinking I could pass him after the last turn. But I couldn’t come around him and rolled in for third. All in all it was a good day, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow because I am riding well, and the course is supposed to be tough.

Charlotte Coliseum Cat 2,3 Crit

Today was the Charlotte Coliseum parking lot cat 2, 3 crit. It was a pretty tough course with 4 corners, and it was about 1k long. It was uphill from turn one to turn three. Then it was downhill to turn four and about 100 meters uphill to the finish line. There were about fifty starters, and the race was supposed to last fifty minutes. For the first twenty minutes I just sat in the field. Then I started to get tired, and other people were attacking so I figured it would be a good time to attack. I was off the front for about three laps with different people coming up to me and dropping back to the field, and eventually two guys got with me that stuck. We immediately got a gap of about 10-12 seconds. We were told we had 18 laps to go. The gap remained the same to the field until about five laps to go when it went up to twenty seconds. A fourth guy bridged up to our group at around this time and with two laps to go attacked. I wasn’t expecting it and hesitated, so that was it for first. During the last lap I tried to bring the guy back in vain. Then another rider attacked on the downhill, and I just followed him thinking I could pass him after the last turn. But I couldn’t come around him and rolled in for third. All in all it was a good day, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow because I am riding well, and the course is supposed to be tough.

Statesville, NC Cat 2,3 Crit

Today was my first race back after about a month break off the bike. It was a cat 2,3 crit in Statesville, NC (near Charlotte). The course was about one k long and shaped like an L. All the turns were 90 degrees. The first turn being left and slightly downhill into another left that kicked uphill, to a right, left downhill again to a long flat straight, to the final left about 150 meters before a slight uphill kick to the line. The race was to be 45 minutes long, and I started at the back, which didn't really matter on this course because how fast it was. I just pretty much spent the first thirty minutes of the race doing nothing. I never panicked and just moved up through the pack during turns and whenever there was a reprieve in the pace. It didn't really appear that any breaks would stick just because of how fast the race was, so I didn't try anything. I just made sure I was in good positioning in the top five in the last five laps. There was one guy off the front by like 15 seconds during the last few laps, and I just sat in taking a gamble he would get caught. With three laps to go the pace let up a bit I guess and I got swarmed by about ten guys. Then the guys at the front were drilling it, and there was really nowhere for me to move up because it was fast in the turns, and it took a lot of energy to move up on the two long straights there were. The guy off the front got caught half a lap to go. I managed to get to the last turn about tenth, way too far back. I ended up passing a few people before the line and took seventh. It was pretty decent for my first race back, but we will see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

UCI 1.2 Willebroek

Today Brandon McKeever, John Murphy, some guys from the Cyclingcenter, and I took place in a 165k long UCI 1.2 race called Willebroek. There was one big loop of 137k and 4 local laps of 7k. It was a very flat race with only one supposedly decisive section, a 1.3k long cobbled section 78k in. It was a very hot day today. Since the course was very flat and it wasn’t a very windy day I decided to just sit in the group, make splits, and try to stay out of trouble. I also wanted to be toward the front for the cobbled sections. There was a group of ten or so that dangled off the front from early in the race. I missed my bottle feed at 60k into the race. Nothing decisive really did happen until the cobbled section. I conserved a lot of energy until the cobbled sector but couldn’t get to the front, but I was lucky enough this time to have just made the selection. I was in the back of Murphy’s group. I was running low on water and figured I would wait toward the back of our group of 50 riders for the caravan to get water for myself and Murphy. Though this was an error in my thinking. About 20 k after the cobbles the caravan still wasn’t behind our group, and Murphy got off of our group with about 15 or 20 other riders. So I was useless to Murphy. I was also feeling dehydrated, covered in salt, and starting to feel some chills coming on. I decided to put up my bottle and try to get a feed from some other team’s car. There was a neutral car that was behind our group. I gave them my bottle while I held on to the car, and they filled it up with water. They gave me my bottle and stepped on the gas, but I was still 50 meters behind my group and feeling bad. I was too dehydrated to go on. I just started pedaling easy and tried to make it to the local laps. Three groups later Brandon came up to me. We rode on with that group to the local laps. It was a bummer that I missed my feed and had to abandon my last race. I felt really good today and really wanted to help Murphy. He said he also felt really good today and thought he could have gotten a top ten if he had some help. I don’t know what place he got but he was among the thirty riders that finished. I have one more day here in Izegem and head home on Tuesday. It’s been a bit hard for me over here in Europe this year, but I learned a lot from the races and people at the house. I will be able to put this knowledge into all my races in the future. It has really been a great experience.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brugge Trip

Today Brandon McKeever, Zach Hockett, and I decided to go to Brugge, a big city about 40k from Izegem. It is the town where “de Ronde” starts. We left the house around 9:20 to catch a ten o’clock train. We arrived to Brugge about 10:30 and had no clue where to go. We just followed a town that said “centrum” or downtown. When we got to the downtown area we just walked down lots of alleys and got a lot of pictures of the cool architecture. We also went in a bunch of the small shops. There was a chocolate store that had some very interestingly shaped chocolate figures. We eventually found the downtown, the place where “de Ronde” starts. I got some pics of that area. Then we went down an alley and had a Belgian waffle. I got one with whipped cream and ice cream. The weird thing was the waffle was cold, so I don’t think it was an authentic Belgian waffle. The “real” waffles are cooked fresh and are served warm. Then we went down a bunch of other alleys that ended up leading us to the downtown. There was this huge clock tower in the downtown and we decided to walk up it. All 366 stairs. There weren’t your normal stairs either. They wound their way up very tightly up to the top. They were also very narrow. And the closer we go to the top, the more narrow and steep the steps became. We could literally use the steps above us as a handrail. When we got up to the top of the bell tower it was about five minutes to one. We decided to wait until one to hear the bells go off. This tower was very interesting because it wasn’t just one bell. It was many bells of different sizes and many strings to pull the bells to make a noise. Then one o’clock came around and I was treated to a one or two minute musical with the bells. It was pretty sweet, and very painful to my sensitive ears. After “the show” we decided to trek back down the stairs and eat lunch. We decided to go to an Italian place. I had tortellini with some meat sauce. It was a lot better than the pasta I have here most days. After we ate, we did some more walking around shops for about an hour or two, and Zach and I headed back to Izegem. Brandon stayed in Brugge a while longer to find a gift for his girlfriend. That was about it for a day with a bunch of walking. I am happy I went to see Brugge because I would have regretted going all the way to Europe and not seeing one big city. I will post some pics tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Today Brandon McKeever, John Murphy, three Cyclingcenter riders, and I took part in a UCI 1.2 race called IWT. It was 175k with a bunch of climbs. Some of the climbs were cobbled and some weren’t. There were also a few cobblestone sections. We did a big 112k loop. Then there were 4 x 15k finishing circuits with two climbs and two cobbled sections. Some big teams that were there were Beveren 2000 (Quicksteps devo team), Davo (Unibet’s devo team), and FIDEA. I was sick with an upper respiratory tract infection a week and a half before the race, and until about three days before it I could start riding, so I wasn’t very sure how I was going. The race started with some attacks, and a split of about ten riders went off. The first climb was about twenty k in. It was pretty easy until then. No other splits happened on the first climb because it was only 300 meters long. Stuff didn’t really start happening until the Bosberg (a 1k cobbled climb about70 k into the race). This climb was easier than I expected it would be. After the Bosberg I tried to stay near John Murphy since he has a lot of experience. The next point of significance was the Muur Van Geraardsbergen, a two k cobbled climb with some pitches of over 20%. I started the climb in about fortieth place about ten or fifteen riders behind John Murphy. All the way to the top people were passing me. It was really a tough climb. John ended up making a split of about ten riders over the top. I think a lot of people passed me up the Muur because I haven’t been riding consistently from being sick. After the Muur I was in a group behind another split. It didn’t appear that my group would catch the next group, so I bridged the gap on my own. About ten k later I got a flat, and there were no neutral cars behind me, so I had no choice but drop out. Less than a k later Brandon also got a flat and had the same fate as me. The group I was in ended up being the peloton, which was pulled after one finishing circuit. A group got off the front of that and ended up finishing the race. I think if I didn’t get a flat I could have made that group. John finished about 30th I think. He was off the front of the third group on the road. It was a little annoying that I got a flat, but I look forward to my next and last race here this Sunday called Willebroek. It is also a UCI 1.2. Hopefully the 100k I did in the race helped boost my form enough to have a good race.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Today I went to the doctor because I haven't been feeling well the past few days. I have had a sore throat, some congestion, and some tightness in my chest. The doctor's office here has some differences to doctor's offices in the US. First of all I just walked into a room where I waited for the doctor to come. There are no receptionists to take your name or anything. There were just a few chairs and a Lego set. The doctor came in after about ten minutes of waiting. Then we went into his office/ patient room. His computer and desk was in there along with a patient table. We first sat at the desk, and he took my name and asked my symptoms. Then he took a look at my throat, ears, and breathing. He came to the conclusion that I have an upper respiratory tract infection. Then he gave me a prescription and I was off. I didn't even have to pay anything. It was pretty sweet. Hopefully I will be well for my next race, IWT, on the 28th.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Today Brandon McKeever, Chris Stockburger, John Murphy Ulric Deyounge, and I did a race called Geluwe. It was a 162.5k UCI 1.12 race. It took place on a 12.5k circuit that we were supposed to do 13 times. There was a lot of wind today, and there was a 200 meter false flat cobbled section about five k into the course. We knew the race was going to blow to shreds early on and it would be important to be at the front. We got to the start line on about the third or fourth row. It was flat out from the gun. I began to move toward the front of the group. I was going decently, but after the cobble section got towards the back of the group. After that section I kept losing contact with the back of the group. I got the feeling that I had at the Rock Hill Crit earlier this year. I couldn’t breathe, and it felt like I was tasting blood. It was no use for me to try to stay with the group because it would just get worse. John Murphy was sitting in the top five but crashed in a turn during the first lap. He got bruises on both hips and separated his shoulder, but he should be fine. Chris still felt sick, and he and Ulric pulled out on the third lap. The race split on the second lap and Brandon made the second group that was pulled with three laps to go. Today was a pretty rough day, but the next race should go better.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Today Ulric Deyoung, Alexi Martinez, Chris Stockburger, Brandon McKeever, Scott Jackson, and I did an under 21 race called Renningelst. The race was 140k long. We did 2 large 20 k loops with 2 climbs. The first climb was about 1.5 k long that went up to 10% in the last 300 meters. The second climb was very gradual and not very noticeable. Then we did 10 x 10 k laps that had one 800 meter climb that wasn’t very steep. There were also a bunch of small roads we rode on, but the wind wasn’t so bad today. So those roads weren’t much of a factor. The crazy thing about today was the wining move went on the first climb, about five k into the race, nine guys got away. We had Chris in that move, so we just followed wheels for a while. Some of the Belgian kids got very mad at me for doing this. Two at different times grabbed my jersey, pulled on it, and yelled at me for sitting on. Then the race situation changed about halfway though. Chris dropped out because he had bronchitis for a while and couldn’t breathe. The break was about three minutes up the road at this point. Four riders also were off the front of the break going for the win. We all tried to follow wheels to get up the road but nothing got away. Eventually Scott got in a group that caught the group going for fifth. Then some riders surged on the side of him and he crashed. He dropped back to my group. Brandon and Alexi were in the third group on the road sprinting for 27th place. Brandon got 29th and Alexi was 33rd. Scott, Ulric, and I were in the last group on the road. I think I probably could have gotten up the road with another group if I didn’t follow so many moves at the beginning of the race. My next race is called Geluwe and is on Tuesday. Hopefully I will keep improving.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Renningelst Recon

Today Brandon McKeever, Scott Jackson, and I rode 40 kilometers to Renningelst with our director Christ to recon our course for Saturday's race. There is a 20k loop that we do twice and then we do 12 x 8k laps. The 20 k laps have one long 1.5 k hill and one short hill of about 400-500 meters. The 8k loop has a hill of about 500 meters also. All the hills aren't very steep. There are also some narrow roads that might make a selection on Saturday. It was a pretty sweet ride of a little over 3 hours and about 105k long. The weather was like weather I dream for back home, about 60 degrees and raining. The ride was also pretty epic because we got four flats. I got three front flats, and Scott got a rear flat. By the time I got a third flat we realized there was glass in my tire. One other thing that was pretty cool about our ride today was that we rode near the Kemmelburg climb used in Ghent- Wevelgem. However, we didn't get to ride it because it was raining, and the descent is pretty treacherous even in dry conditions. Hopefully this training will pay off on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wakken Kermesse

Today Scott Jackson and I rode 20 k to a kermesse in Wakken. The circuits were 7.3 kilometers long and we were to do 15 laps of them. There were a lot of turns as are common in kermises, and there wasn’t much wind today. Although, it was very hot out, around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. We both only had two bottles for the 110 k race. We got a good starting position on the front line. We spent the first five or so laps never leaving the top 15 and following all moves that appeared dangerous. However, we ended up missing the winning split of about ten riders because two people isn’t really enough to cover a lot of attacks. If we had one or two riders we probably would have had one person make that move. For the rest of the race I ended up conserving energy and following any moves that appeared like they would stick. I really focused on saving energy. I sat down out of corners, spinning, like Brian showed me. I also focussed on being relaxed in the pack riding on the hoods. John Devine told me I need to do that because I am too tense in the group. Scott did pretty much the same thing. 11 laps in they gave our group one lap to go. I just stayed in the top 3-5 the entire last lap biding my time. Scott got in a move of 3 with about three k to go. He ended up attacking that group with about 1k to go. I thought it was going to stick, and I was sitting in good position for the sprint. It appeared like we could get top 2 in our group for top 15 placings, but Scott got caught with about 300 meters to go. I started my sprint with about 250 meters to go and about ten guys passed me. It was weird for me because I am usually a good sprinter, but I guess it is different here because the racing is tougher. I am very satisfied with today. My form is progressing, and I got 90 k of race kilometers in today. Then we ended up riding the twenty kilometers home in the rain, which was much welcome. It was great. I should be rolling well on Saturday for the 19-20 year old Renningelst race.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

UCI 1.2 Cras Avernas

Today John Devine, John Murphy, Patrick McGlynn, Brandon McCeever, Scott Jackson, and I took part in the UCI 1.2 Cras Avernas in the Wallone region of Belgium. The race was 200 kilometers long. It had a long circuit of 168 kilometers with 5 categorized climbs of about 1-2 kilometers in length that weren’t very steep and 4 x 8k finishing circuits. There were a few pro continental teams present in, Chocolade Jacques, and Lambouwkredit Colnago. The first climb was sixty kilometers in. The job today was to help Murphy and Devine get a result. I felt good at the beginning of the race. I was happy with how I was riding because I rode smart. I didn’t move up to the front in the wind. I just moved through the group to get towards the front and didn’t waste any energy. I was also shooting gaps I wouldn’t normally shoot. About 15 kilometers before the first climb I was up in the top 20-30. Then the pace got really quick because riders were fighting to get to the foot of the climb near the front. I lost some position and couldn’t make it back up before the start of the climb. As a result I started the climb in a relatively bad position. I felt good on the climb and told myself I would just make sure to hold on to the wheel in front of me. Because the climb was only about two k long I was hoping I wouldn’t get off the back if I did this. I felt really good on the climb and passed a lot of people, but because of my bad positioning I ended up in a second group of twenty on the road. There were two Chocolade Jacques riders in my group, and Scott was also in my group. Brandon was off the back of us. Pat and the Johns made the front group. Originally I thought my group would work together and get back with the peloton, but riders started getting excited and attacking. So the two Chocolade Jacques riders ended up attacking and riding away from us. I am not sure if they got back on the peloton. My group ended up getting a little lost on the course, but we found our way eventually and got in a good 128 k training ride. John and Pat popped on the last climb, and Devine ended up finishing in the main field for a top 25. I am disappointed that my position on the first climb was bad. However, I am feeling very good with my form, and my comfort of moving through the large pelotons here in Europe is improving each race. I think I am going to do a local kermesse this Tuesday, and next Saturday there is a U 21 race I am doing. Hopefully I can position myself better and do something in it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Vlaamse Ardennen

Yesterday John Devine, Scott Jackson, and I rode the N36 for 40 kilometers south into the city of Ronse, the heart of the Flemish Ardennes region. When we got there we did a few of the climbs included in the Tour of Flanders. We rode the Patterburg and Oude Kwaremont, which are two steep cobbled climbs. Those cobbled climbs are tough. Pros make them appear so simple, but I had to ride pretty hard just to get over them. Then we did a few paved climbs and headed back to Izegem. This picture I took from the top of the Oude Kwaremont pretty much sums up how the Flemish Ardennes look. They are green, rolling, and have red brick houses that can't be seen in the background.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


This morning John Murphy and I rode with John Devine for 1 and a half hours and did a few openers to get ready for the Oosterzele race later in the day. We left for Oosterzele at about 1:45pm to get there for the four o'clock start. We got to the registration at about three pm. They almost let John register. Then some guy looked at my license and asked for some papers, so I gave him my passport. Then a guy that spoke English said we needed papers granting us permission of race in Belgium from USA cycling. Therefore, they wouldn't let us start. I was really looking forward to doing this race in order to prepare well for the 200km UCI 1.2 Cras Avernas. There will be pro teams there like it will be very fun, hard, and interesting.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ozkozebeke Kermesse

Today Brandon McCeever, Pat McGlynn, and I rode to Ozkozebeke, about ten kilometers from our house in Izegem. When we finally found the registration a lady who I later found goes to races and cheers and helps foreign riders told us where we needed to go and even pinned our numbers. She later informed me there were a bunch of expros at this race. The loop was 6.7 km long and we were to do 16 laps on it. It was dead flat, had a bunch of turns, and it was a very windy day. There were about seventy starters, so a relatively small field compared to what we have been used to lately. My stomach was feeling better today, so I was happy about that. My goal for the race was to race toward the front of the group, remain conservative, and finish the race. That is what I did at the beginning of the race. Brandon and Patrick tried some attacks on the first two laps but were unsuccessful. These attacks proved to be their downfalls and lead to them pulling out of the race shortly after. There was a crosswind section that was completely nuts. It was in the gutter every lap. Then on the fourth lap during that section the funniest thing that has happened in my cycling career happened to me. I was in the gutter going all out and suffering fine. Then the wheel in front of me kept going up the road. I went harder but just didn't have the power to keep it. I didn't blow up but just couldn't stay in. I was a bit annoyed that I had to pull out but was happy I am feeling better. After I pulled out I realized a lot of people were behind me and still working even though they had no chance at all of catching back on with the leaders. In the end I think fifteen riders finished. Two off the front and a group behind them. It was crazy attrition. If i can look at any things I did wrong I would say I need to stay even more to the front, in the first echelon and gain fitness. That is it. I was moving up smartly, in turns and following through the pack and not outside of it, like I usually can do in the US. I race again on Wednesday. Hopefully I can finish that.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Photos Volta Tarragona

Photos Volta Tarragona

Conclusion Volta Tarragona

Today Matt and I mostly rested in our room all day. He had problems with diarrhea all night and didn’t feel like doing anything. Steve didn’t think I should ride but I still went out for about an hour to see if it would make me feel better. During the stage nothing changed but there were a lot of attacks from a Dutch team in attempt to get John out of best foreign rider. By the end of the day he was still in third place on the general classification, the best under 23 rider, and best foreign rider. I still feel a little sick to the stomach but mostly better. This race didn’t go too well for me but I won’t let it get too me. I still have many more races to come and got some good training in the mountains.

Stages 4 and 5 Volta Tarragona

Today was a bad day for both Matt and I, but it was a very good day for our team. Matt and I were supposed to ride 20 k out to the 5km uphill time trial (TT), do the TT and do the 100k road race course. As we were riding out to the course there was a tough headwind. I wasn’t feeling well and felt like throwing up. I ended up throwing up three times before we got to the course. When we got there Steve said we should go back. Matt was feeling decent at the moment and did the TT course. I just sat in the team van trying to keep warm. Then Matt came back and said his stomach hurt too and he felt like he had diarrhea and like throwing up. Steve gave us some Diet Coke in an attempt to get our stomachs feeling better. Then we rode back to the hotel with a nice tailwind and rested for the remainder of the day. John got fourth in the TT and did well in the road race today. He ended up third overall by the end of the day.

Stage 3 Volta Tarragona

First of all Matt and I had to get pointed in the right direction of the race course. We got to a town called Reus and were looking for a road called C-420. There were a lot of signs for it but none lead to it. Some Spanish people saw we were confused as they were driving by us. The stopped and told us to follow them. This got us off in the right direction. Today’s stage was tougher than yesterday’s but I felt better, so it was better for me. I felt a lot better on all the climbs. It is strange that in cycling you can feel like crap one day and feel good the next. There were three notable climbs that we did. They were all not very steep. The first climb was about eight kilometers long. The next two were about five kilometers in length. The funny thing was that there wasn’t supposed to be a third climb according to the stage profile, but the descent off the last climb was very awesome but caused many, including the yellow jersey, to crash because they were taking stupid risks This 140 km ride took Matt and I about 5 hours. In the race the front group did it in 3:45. John once again finished seventh today, which we had the opportunity to witness because we finished our ride about three hours before the stage finish and it finished in the town we are staying in, Salou. Some Spanish riders who abandoned today named Miguel and another whose name I forgot drove us to the finish. Miguel said he rode his bike a lot competitively since he was about twenty, and he now owns a bike shop. He is twenty six now and just rides for fun. He said this race is very tough for 18 year olds. The other rider was twenty. The Spanish people I have encountered so far are very nice. John will probably move up into the top ten in GC after his great ride today. Tomorrow is the five kilometer uphill time trial in the morning and a 100 km road stage in the afternoon. Matt and I are going to start very early and ride both of them during the same ride.

Stage 2 Volta Tarragona

Today Matt and I rode the stage 2 route of the Volta Tarragona from Alcanar to Cambrils. This route was pretty tough. The first thing we had to figure out was how to leave the town of Alcanar. After about twenty minutes of asking people how to leave town and them telling us the race starts that way(pointing to where the area where the race leaves from) we just said let’s just go, get to a road and roll with it. About an hour later we arrived on the course further from town. The race passed us at the top of the first climb and I got two water bottles from Steve. At this point John was sitting toward the front of the group and was looking good. All the other guys were further back in the group. The fans here are amazing. They cheer for everyone whether they are first or last. Then we continued into the mountains and I felt like crap from dehydration because it was very hot out. I was so bad that I ended up holding on to Matt’s jersey up some climbs. It was very hot out and I couldn’t get any feeds anywhere. This feeling like crap went on for about two hours until we finally stopped at a store. We were both very stressed because we didn’t know where we were and didn’t know if we would make it back to the hotel that night. Then we finally got out of the mountains and realized we were about thirty kilometers from Salou, the town where our hotel was. I began to feel better and started riding on the front. We finally got back to the hotel for the end of an epic day. As far as the race goes John ended up seventh on the stage. There were three main groups on the road and everyone left in the race was in one of those. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be the same for Matt and me.

Stage 1 Volta Tarragona

Today’s stage was very tough. There were two cat 2 climbs at the beginning and it was supposed to be “flat” for the rest of the stage. My stage pretty much ended on the first climb. I was on a bad day where I just didn’t have much power and was popped off the back of the group. After the first climb I caught two other riders midway up the second climb and someone else was behind us on the road. It was a bit demoralizing going up the second climb because it was winding and I could see the front group rolling it fast at one point. After the climb myself and the other two Spanish riders worked together of the flats, which were up and down these small hills. After about two hours of this the broom wagon was behind telling us we weren’t going to make the time cut. At this point I was dehydrated because we were too far back to get feeds and very tired from all the work I had to do with the two other riders. My race ended. Matt Obregon also ended his race early. He ended up in a crash at the beginning of the first climb and tried to catch back on for two hours also. There was a small group that got off the front towards the end for the stage win. John and the two Sams were in the main group. Nick and Patrick ended up making the third group on the road about seven minutes back from the leaders. Now Matt and I have to ride the courses everyday and get to the finishes before the leaders. We have to leave as soon as we get to the starts, which is roughly an hour and a half to an hour before the starts. This is going to be very tough training because we will be fighting the wind and mountains alone, but this will get us stronger and in better form for the races we have coming when we get back to Belgium.

Arrival Volta Tarragona

I’m sitting outside my hotel room in Tarragona, Spain, which is located about 100 kilometers south of Barcelona on the Mediterranean Sea. I arrived here last night with my teammates: John Devine, Nick Frey, Patrick McGlynn, Matt Obregon, and two mountain bikers Sam Schultz and Sam Jarekovic for a five day six stage race called the Vuelta Tarragona. The first thing I learned upon my arrival to Spain was that the sun actually shines outside of Belgium. The weather is perfect and this race should be really tough. There is going to be a lot of climbing and we are going to try to help John get the best result possible because he is the most experienced of us and is on good form. Matt, Nick, Patrick, and I went on a ride when we first got here last night. I got some pictures of the city and the sea. I also have some pictures of the view from my hotel room.

Friday, May 26, 2006

UCU 1.2 Hasselt- Spa- Hasselt

Hello Everyone,
I am once again writing from sunny Belgium. Yesterday’s Hasselt- Spa- Hasselt was a very tough race. Apparently UCI 1.2 is almost the toughest races we can do. I found out the 2 means pro continental teams/ division 2 and amateur teams can race them. The race started in about 50 degrees Fahrenheit conditions and it was raining constantly all day. This weather is common to the Limburg region. The race wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated. There were many crosswind sections and when there wasn’t wind there were hills as the race twisted its way from Hasselt to Spa and back to Hasselt again. If any of you have done the Festival of Speed circuit race it was essentially like that race except with many climbs that were about one kilometer long when you weren’t exposed to wind.. I ended up dropping out about fifty- fifty five k into the race. The hills and wind together ended up being too much for me that day. However, I think my main problem was positioning. I found it tough to stay toward the front with a group of just under 200. I started the race near the front and got passed by people but didn’t constantly move up to counter the movements of people moving up. Then I would start the hills too far back and need to move up and go into oxygen debt. Then I would have to move up on crosswinds also and go into more oxygen debt. Then a hill would come and more oxygen debt again. Eventually this amount of time spent in oxygen debt ended up popping me. I think I can finish races over here if I can get that positioning problem under control. But after I was out the race wasn’t over for me. Our director, Chris, told me to wait for the broomwagon. It would eventually come by but never did. Luckily I was off with a Danish rider, Kasper, who spoke English. He told me to follow some red signs that the race followed. A Belgian rider who spoke French directed me in the right direction also. Once in a while I would lose the course because there wouldn’t be a sign. But the fans are really cool here. They cheer for everyone even if they are off the back. And these other Belgians who spoke French following the race helped me find the right direction again. Then a rider from the cycling center caught me and told me the broom wagon would probably never come. This was about three hours and 95 k in. He eventually got a flat and got a ride back to the finish with some fans. I eventually found the finish after four and a half hours and 135 kilometers in rain and cold. At least I arrived to the finish and didn’t get a flat. The way I look at it I got in a good training ride in Limburg since the broomwagon never found me. I will use this experience as motivation to finish my next race. I know I have the ability to finish these races and will try to be smarter in my next race, which I believe is a stage race that starts in Spain next Tuesday.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Arrival to Izegem

Hello Everyone,
I arrived in Izegem yesterday after an 8 hour flight from Orlando to London filled with babies crying, but I somehow managed to get four hours sleep. Once in London I connected to Brussels via a much less eventful forty minute flight. Once at the Brussels Airport I proceeded to the place where taxis are, believing to find someone waiting for me. I stood there for a while. Then I called my mom. My mom wanted me to call Noel but my cell phone had no bars and for some reason it didn’t work to call Noel by the pay phone. My mom got in touch with him and he said someone had been looking at me for forty minutes and to go back where I was. I waited again and could find no one. Eventually after about two hours of this I called my dad again, and he told me someone was waiting for me with a sign. I went there and found Herman, a Flemish man of around 60. He spoke very little English also. On the ride to the house it was quite windy. So windy in fact, that a tree blew over on the interstate. A semi hit the tree and kept going. Part of the tree he our windshield but that was it.
I got to the team house in Izegem yesterday and Els, Noel’s wife showed me around and everything that was expected of me. There is a list of chores and some of our names are next to chores and we have to do them for that day; like take out the trash or wash dishes. There are also signs around the house telling us things like no shoes upstairs, turn off lights,etc. This was all done while the mechanics were putting together my bike. I didn’t end up riding at all yesterday because by the time my bike was set up the Giro was on and I was jetlagged. It is pretty sweet that there is coverage of races like the Giro here everyday on about three channels. It was also pretty sweet that my friend, Rudy Robaina from VMG, happened to be here and rooming with me for the night because VMG is doing a race in Luxembourg. They all left today. There are some pictures of my room below. It is pretty cramped, having three people living in it, but it is great to be here.
Today I woke up rather late for me, 8:30, after going to bed at ten. I was surprised I slept so late, as I usually sleep for about 8 hours. But I guess the traveling took it out of me. First of all I had breakfast and then went on a journey to find an adaptor from an American to European adaptor. The weather was typical Belgium This journey ended up taking about an hour as I went to many stores and most people only spoke Flemish. I finally got to a store where a man spoke English and directed me to another store. Then I rode for about two hours on a narrow canal road. There roads are nice because they aren’t crowded at all and it is pretty much impossible to get lost on them. After I rode I went to downtown Izegem for a sandwich for lunch. I took some pictures of the downtown area and they are above. Tomorrow I will try to remember to take my camera when I ride. Also, I learned today that I am doing the Hasselt- Spa- Hasselt race this Thursday, which is a UCI 1.2 Top race. I don’t really know what 1.2 mean, just the first number means one day, and Top means it is part of the Top race series they have over here in Belgium. From what I can hear this race is supposed to be very tough and hilly. I am very excited about finally getting to race over here.

Until next time,