Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stage 3 Vuelta a Chihuauha

Yesterday was stage 3 of the Vuelta a Chihuahua. It was 200 k with a cat 2 climb, a cat 1 climb, and a cat 3 climb. It started off in Perral and headed to the small mountain town of Guachochi. For the first 50 k it rolled up and down to the cat 2 climb but mostly upwards. It was fast on these rollers and many riders fell off the back including Eric Keim and Yosvany Falcon of my team. Eric eventually pulled out of the race because he is tired from a long year. It was very tough but I managed to hang on through the cat 2 climb. After the cat 2 climb it went downwards for about 50 more k. However there were rollers in this direction too, and there was never really any time for rest. Then we hit the cat one climb at 110k. Almost immediately riders started popping off the back. I went off the back by a little bit but could see the group in front of me for most of the climb. I was in a group of three riders: myself, a Mexican, and an Italian. The Italian riders team car came up next to him and he held on to his team car until he was back in the group. That was kind of annoying but there was only around 70k to go around then. I planned on chugging through until the end. By the top of the climb I was about 2 minutes or so behind the group. I dropped the Mexican on the climb, and Martin Gilbert of Kelly Benefits rolled up next to me. We planned on working together for the next 70 k. Then Gus, my team director, came up next to us and told us to hold on to our car. I didn't really want to do it, but I saw other people doing stuff like this so I did it. He brought us up to a group of about 20 guys. We rolled in the last 60 k with this group. It was pretty tough at the end of this course too. There was a climb that was just as tough as or tougher than that cat 3 climb, and it wasn't even categorized. So I finished the stage and thought I would be able to start today.
Then Gus came into my room and told me he saw the results and they disqualified Gilbert and me. I was a little annoyed because I saw other people do this. I could have made the time cut because Yosvany was behind me and he made the cut. I feel decent and know I could have finished this race. It is just annoying because I came here to race and I have five more days here where I am not racing. It's also annoying because stuff like this happens at bigger races and nothing happens, but I will just make the best of my trip here in Mexico and come home.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Vuelta a Chihuahua Stage 2

Today was the 2nd stage of the Vuelta a Chihuahua. It was 150 k from Chihuahua City to some other town. It looked like we climbed out of Chihuahua from the profile, but it was just kind of rolling in an upwards direction. We started off really fast, and I got a flat like 10k in. Luckily the pace lessened and it was easy for me to get back in the group. There was a cat 4 kom about 35 k into the stage. A group of two went and one more guy bridged up to them. They quickly got three minutes and I thought this group would get caught. The peloton seemed unmotivated and the gap kept growing. With 40 k to go the gap was up to 8 minutes. I was scared by now because I thought that I missed out on something big. About then Saunier Duval, Relax Gam, Canarias, and Liberty Seguros got on the front. The gap plummeted very fast. By 20 k it was 4 min. By 10 k it was 2. 2 of the guys stayed away to the line but they didn't have a gap at all. I am happy with today because I used very little energy and lost no time. Tomorrow is a 200 k stage with a cat 2, cat 1, and cat 3 climb. It is going to be tough but I think I am ready.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Stage One Vuelta a Chihuahua

Today was stage one of the Vuelta a Chihuahua in Chihuahua Mexico. This is a UCI 2.2 Stage race that has teams like Saunier Duval, Relax Gam, Slipstream, and Agritubel. It is 7 stages over 8 days and will be the toughest race of my life so far. Today's stage took place in Juarez, just over the border from El Paso Texas. It was a pretty easy stage. It was flat 6 k hotdog course. We rode down a 3 lane road with a median for 3 k did a 180 rode back three k to do another 180. It was a headwind one way and tailwind the other. So today was really really easy. I just sat in like all day and wasted no energy. It kind of sucks because a group of about 40 go up the road 12 k in, but we got Eric Keim in the move so that was good. I was near the front and said to myself that a group this big is going to get away no way this early. But I was wrong and this group gained like 3 min on the field. However, it isn't so bad that I missed the split. I wasted no energy today, so that is important. The gaps in this race are large by the end because of the long mountainous days, so I can make up some time by the end and will move up some in the general classification probably. Who knows what will happen it is a long race. I feel good and am ready to give it my all. I got a flat today too and they gave me a free lap on this large circuit. That was pretty crazy. So that was about it for today. We go to the airport en route to Chihuahua city pretty soon.
The flight was pretty uneventful and everything seemed good. Mexico is a very nice country. It is a lot less crazy than I thought it was going to be. We arrived at our hotel for tonight around 6 pm. It is called Palacio del Sol. It is nice but seems kind of old. The rooms have a kind of retro style. Some people were stuck in the elevator between our floor and another. The staff was running around trying to figure things out. Finally they got the people out of the elevator. It was pretty crazy. Then we went to dinner. This consisted of watery spaghetti, bread, bananas, and what they call a sub (a hoagie roll with 2 slices of peperoni, a little lettuce, and mayo). This was just more like just bread. Big band music was blaring loudly over some speakers. Maybe they thought that the bad music would make us forget about the bad food. At least this food won't give me food poisoning. It is fine. I have internet at the hotel. This place is pretty nice. Tomorrow is a 150 k flat stage that will probably finish in a bunch kick but anything can happen. This is bike racing.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Arrival to the Dominican

After a 3 am wake up in Philadelphia and a 9 hour layover in Miami Prokic, Alex, and I arrived in the DR. We were picked up an hour after our arrival by two guys in a bus who spoke not a lick of English.
At first sight the country was decent but it was night time. Lights lined some streets but were not lit up. People drive around on scooters almost getting hit in the dark. There are potholes you can get lost in. The way people drive here is scary. Nobody regards traffic lights or stop signs. Every car has at least 10 good sized dents in it. The maximum speed we can go in the city is like 10 mph. It really is something else.
After much confusion and driving to one hotel a few times and eating dinner at some sport hall we arrived at our run down hotel. The hallways are narrow and so is the staircase leading up to the second floor. It was a fun task to bring up all of our luggage and put it in a tiny two bedroom room where beds take up most of the space. The toilet has no seat and is blocked by a wall. The shower has just one weak stream of water pumping out. There is also no sink. We have fans, but air-conditioning is something of the past. This trip is going to be crazy.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tour of Virginia

The Tour of Virginia is a 6 day 7 stage event that started started this Tuesday. It started off with a 4 mile individual time trial on an out and back course near Natural Bridge. The course went up a gradual climb of about 700 meters then the rest of the way out was downhill, and the route back went up that hill to a pretty fast downhill into the finish. I started off pretty hard on the first uphill and just set into a decent rythm on the downhill. Then at the turn around I hammered it home as hard as I possibly could. I was satisfied with my ride afterwards. Then about an hour later some people from the race came to my hotel room to tell me I got third place only 2 seconds slower than the winner. I was pretty happy with that result at my first big stage race. As an added bonus to my third place ride I was given a jersey for best U-23 rider.
The next stage was a short 50 minute crit on 4 corner 1 mile course in Lynchburg on Tuesday afternoon. The course had a large downhill between turns 1 and 2 and a steep uphill between turns 3 and 4. I got called up to the line because of my good ride in the time trial. Early in the race a rider in front of me came to a halt in turn 4 and I had to unclip and moved back a bunch of places in the field. I didn't want to waste any energy by trying to move up, so I pretty much stayed in the middle of the group for the rest of the race. The race stayed together so I retained the U-23 jersey for yet another stage.
Stage 3 was a 180k road stage from Bedford to Covington. Along the course there were 2 category 3 climbs and a 12k cat 1 climb at about 140 k into the race. There were also many rollers along the way. I felt pretty good for most of the day. A break went about 80 or so kilometers on one of the rolling hills and stayed for the rest of the day. I was too far back for this split, but two of my teammates made the split. I felt ok at the base of the cat one climb, but about 2 k later just lost my power and started to go backwards in my group. As the climb progressed I went further and further back and felt really bad. Over the top I was in a group of three people and just chugged on to the finish that was 30 k away. I finished 12 minutes down on the winner and lost the best young rider jersey.
Stage 4 was the toughest stage of the race. It was also about 180 k long and started with a cat 3 climb to start the day at about 50 k in. Then at about 80 k there was a 12k long cat 1 climb, and at 145 k there was another 9k long cat 1 climb to finish off the day before a decent into Waynesboro. I didn't feel that good today but mentally told myself I could do it. I was ok on the cat three climb and was in decent position on the first cat 1 but felt horrible. I was going as hard as I possibly could which was horrible and just started going back and back and back. I crested the climb with a group of 3 or 4 guys and we worked together for a while until about 10 or 12 more guys caught us. This was around 100 k in. I didn't have any more water and food and just felt horrible. There was a feed zone around 125 k and I got some food and bottles from other teams and decided to keep going. I ate and drank but still felt horrible. I started getting dropped on little rollers and knew that a cat 1 climb loomed in the distance and there were still 50 k to go. I knew there was no way that I could stay with the people in my group over that climb and decided to pull the plug at kilometer 135. It was a very tough decision, but I didn't want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere dehydrated and cramping.
I am a little disappointed that I didn't get to finish this race, but it is literally one of the hardest races in America as far as terrain and distance go. I also know what I have to work on for race like this in the future and am confident in myself. I am also very happy with my result in the first stage.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Perry-Roubaix Stage Race

This past weekend my teammate Bobby Sweeting and I took part in the Perry-Roubaix stage race in Perry Georgia. It started off on Saturday morning with a 9.5 mile out and back time trial on a rolling course. I went as hard as I could and thought I would do a good time. My time was 19:14 which was good enough for third place. Bobby clocked a 19:06 for second, and Dan Larson (Cycle Science) won with a time of 18:57.
The next stage was a 52 mile circuit race which was 20 laps on a 2.6 mile circuit. The circuit was relatively flat and there was no wind. Bobby and I tried to get away for the first half of the race with no luck. By the halfway point we came to the conclusion that we wouldn't get away. I just saved my energy sitting in for the remainder of the stage. Bobby covered a few moves but nothing came of it. Two guys who were lower down on the general classification managed to get away in the closing laps. I set myself up well for the sprint but still didn't quite have the snap that I had before my knee problem and came in 11th on the stage. The GC at the top stayed the same going into Sunday's road race.
The road race consisted of 7 laps on a 12.5 mile course. The course had two decent sized hills at the beginning. It also featured two red Georgia clay road sections that were separated by an interstate bridge hence the name Perry-Roubaix. The total amount of dirt probably was about a mile long each lap. I made sure I was in the top 5 positions every time we hit the dirt because I didn't want to be caught up with a crash. The first two laps were uneventful. Then on the toward the end of the second or third lap Shawn Coleman, who was only about 10 or 15 second down on GC from Bobby and I rolled off the front with one other rider. We figured he would burn up off the front by the end of the day. Cycle Science seemed to think the same thing and didn't chase either. Attacks came and went but nothing seemed to get away. Then on the fifth lap on the dirt section I was near the front and a Jittery Joe's rider was drilling it pretty good, so I kept his effort going to the end of the dirt. This established a move of about five riders for a short while, but this was also swallowed up. At the beginning of the sixth lap David Guttenplan (Sakonnet) got a move going with Jason Snow (Cycle Science), James Sweeney (American Bicycle Racing Team), and a few others. This looked good to me and I bridged up to it just before the dirt section with two other riders. David and I were clearly the strongest in the move and did most of the work. People also looked at me to do work because I was the highest placed on GC and would benefit the most from it. Then at the beginning of the last lap a group of about 15 or so that included Bobby got back on with my group. David attacked with one other rider on one of the hills and I was right there but was starting to cramp in my hamstring so I didn't follow for fear of making a bad cramp. David was another threat to Bobby's and my GC position because he was only about a minute down. Bobby was too tired to do any work in the group, so I set the pace the whole time with some help here and there from some random rider. In the last two k's attacks started coming and I paid the price of my work. I almost got gapped off with one k to go but managed to just stay in the group. Shawn Coleman managed to rough the day out and keep about 1'40" gap over Bobby's and my group at the end. It was a pretty impressive ride. Both Bobby and I finished toward the back of our group on this stage. I am proud of the work I did because Bobby kept his second place on GC by one second over David as a result of it. I dropped down to fourth place on GC by the end. Even though Bobby and I didn't net a win by the end of the weekend, I am happy that I got in some quality training in a rather long race before I go to Richmond, VA next weekend for the US Open.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spin City Race Weekend

This past weekend was the Spin City Crit and Circuit Race. I had a knee problem over the last month and had only been training consistently for two weeks before this race, so I had no clue how I would go. I thought the crit would be pretty easy. It has always been a fast race that comes down to a field sprint in the past. This course is about one k long and fast with 4 90 degree corners. The last turn is around 300 meters from the line. This year a break of about six riders went rather early. The break consisted of Bobby Sweeting, Ivan Franco (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork), Grant Potter (Potter's/Bike America), Phil Gaimon (Sakonnet), Rudy Robaina (Cycle Science), and John Durango. They were rolling it pretty hard. The gap dangled at between 15" to 30" throughout the race. Joel Chavez's Preferred Alliance team missed the move and tried a very disorganized chase for most of the race. In the last five laps they seemed to get everything together and all the break but Ivan Franco was reeled back in with two laps to go. Ivan was brought back on the last lap and the field was motoring. I entered the last lap in 4th position and thought I was sitting pretty for the win. I started my sprint about 200 meters out and couldn't come over anyone. I got passed by a few guys near the line and came in seventh. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't turn a gear I usually could, but I was happy that I could still position myself well. I guess the lack of finishing speed is from not racing for a while. It should come back soon.
Sunday was a 90 k circuit race on a 3.5 k course near the Orlando Airport. It is always windy out there and few people ever finish the race. The race was 25 laps this year making it around 90 k long. There were attacks from the gun but they always seemed to be brought back within a lap or two. About 8 laps in I thought it was getting tough, so I decided to initiate some moves myself. I put in a few good moves but got nowhere. After a few laps I started to pay the price of my injuries and lack of racing and blew up. I went from off the front in a group to off the back in less than a lap, so my race was over prematurely. In the last five laps or so a few moves got away for good. Joel Chavez came in solo for the win. Then there was a group of five. Ivan Franco was the best placed rider on our team coming in for seventh. It was a decent weekend for the team and I was happy just to resume racing again. This weekend there is a race in Perry, GA that I am doing. I am looking forward to it with another good week of training behind me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

San Antonio Road Race/ Dade City Crit Weekend

This past Saturday was the San Antonio road race. The Aerospace Engineering Group (AEG)- Toshiba- JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team fielded a strong team of nine riders for the race (Chris Frederick, Bobby Sweeting, Yosvany Falcon, Ivan Franco, Joe Fernandez, Nelson Garcia, Alex Gutierrez, Gabriel Larrea, and myself Winston David). The race was 85 miles long on a 17 mile hilly circuit (5 laps) and was destined to be tough. I was pretty confident going into the race even though I got food poisoning in Belize last weekend. I recovered last week and got in some good training at home also. The race started with attacks from the beginning on the first few rollers. I got myself toward the front of the group to cover some moves. About ten miles in a or six man group got away that included Bobby. This group would be the front group for most of the day. During the next two laps the rest of the team followed any dangerous attacks and Ivan told me to follow Kyle Wamsley (Navigators Insurance) because he is a strong rider and would want to get to the front. A few miles from the start/finish line on the third lap the race got hard and Yosvany, Ivan, and Chris all got in moves that bridged up to Bobby's break. I was up toward the front but managed to miss all of these. For the next lap I just sat in the pack following moves here and there but mostly thinking the race was over for me. Then the race officials told us that the break was disintegrating up the road and we still had a chance. At this news Wamsley went with two other guys and I just watched it go. Then I thought if he caught the front group and I wasn't with him I'd be disappointed at the end. I noticed everyone in the field was tired, so I put in a good effort on one of the hills and bridged up to the three guys. I just sat on when I got there because I already had four teammates up the road and had no reason to work. We caught the second group on the road with about three miles to go. Chris told me that Ivan and Yosvany were up the road with Josh Thorton (Kodak- Gallery/ Sierra Nevada) and Joel Chavez (Preferred Alliance). Ivan was cramping torwards the end he said and came in for third. Yosvany was dangling off the back of Ivan's group and got fourth. Josh Thorton won the race and Joel was second. My group seemed to be not so aggressive and just waiting for the sprint for fifth place. I just waited and waited toward the front of the group and went with probably 300 meeters to go which was a little early considering the headwind. I got passed by a lot of people and came in 15th. Bobby and Chris were both in front of me. It was a pretty good day considering the team got 5 guys in the top 15.Sunday was the Dade City crit. It is about a 1k course with six that is shaped like an L. From the start/ finish line there are three right hand turns, a left, and two more rights. Between turns one and two there are bricks, and there is a slight rise between turns two and three. It is a tough technical course. The AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team fielded seven riders at this race(Bobby Sweeting, Chris Frederick, Gabriel Larrea, Nelson Garcia, Yosvany Falcon, Ivan Franco, and myself Winston David). Joe broke his crank early in the road race on Saturday, and Alex had to go home. The race was 80 minutes plus five laps. This race was fast from the gun, and I had a bad start position. By the time I got to the front which was about three laps in, the break of six riders had already gone up the road. The move was good for our team because we had Bobby and Chris in it. The other riders in the break were Josh Thorton (Kodak Gallery/ Sierra Nevada), Chris Scott (Locos), Rudy Robaina (Cycle Science), and Joel Chavez (Preferred Alliance). These guys quickly built a lead of thirty seconds on the peloton. Attacks were coming every lap and Yosvany, Ivan, and I were covering all of them. The break lapped the field about forty minutes in. Ivan and I immediately went to the front to set a fast pace for the group so attacks wouldn't come. It was a very tough forty minutes for me, but I knew that Chris could sprint better than all the other guys in the break and he would come through with the win. With about three laps to go I couldn't really stay toward the front because the pace was getting faster for the sprint. Ivan was drilling it at the front. Bobby was behind me and wanted me to drag him to the front, so he could get a good placement. For the next two laps I sat in the wind trying to help Bobby to the front. With about one lap to go we were in about sixth and seventh position. I gave it everything I had and then some on the last lap until the last turn for him. Then I thought I was in a decent place, so I might as well sprint too. I came in thirteenth and Bobby was somewhere around me for fourth. While I was doing all that work on the last lap Yosvany was lighting it up at the front for Chris to get the win. When I came across the line I saw Chris with his arms in the air and knew I did my job well. It brings me great excitement to work so hard for my team and for them to deliver. I think this is the beginning of a very good year for the AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dan's Bring It On Pracetice Crit

Today my AEG-Toshiba-Jetnetwork teammate Bobby Sweeting and I took part in a practice crit in Alachua, FL. The course is D shaped and a mile long with the two 90 degree turns coming toward the end. The pro,1,2,3 race did 25 laps. The race was intense with attacks from the gun. You really wouldn't have thought it was just a practice race. About 5 laps in a group of about 15 riders got away, including Bobby and myself. There were alot of attacks and small breaks that came and went. Bobby and I covered it all. Nothing could stick because everyone in that group wanted to win the race. Then with about 3 laps to go this Raul, a Belgian rider attacked and Bobby went with him. They stayed about ten seconds off the front of the group. No one really wanted to chase too hard. Then with half a lap to go James Sweeny jumped hard and I was on it. I followed him to the last turn. We were right on Bobby and Raul. I was cramping and in lots of pain by now. I jumped to sprint from the last turn and passed everyone but Bobby. It was a sweet race because Bobby and I took first and second place. It is the best possible scenario. I am also pleased with my current form considering it is early in the year.