Saturday, April 23, 2016

Joe Martin Stage Race Stages 1-2

Over the past couple days the Lupus Racing Team has been racing the Joe Martin Stage Race. It is a 4 day stage race in Fayetteville, AR that features a 3 mile uphill TT, 2 110 mile rolling road races, and a criterium on the final day of racing. We fielded a team of 7 riders that included Michael Olheiser, Barry Miller, Bryan Lewis, Evan Murphy, Oliver Flautt, Jonah Mead Van Cort, and myself.

The time trial was a pretty straightforward effort. It was uphill for a few kilometers, had a false flat downhill, and dragged uphill for about 800 meters to the line. The key was to give it full gas over that false flat downhill. Our team placed Bryan in 17th at 37 seconds, Mike in 21st at 38 seconds, and Evan in 44th at 51 seconds. It wasn't our best day. I expected to get more out of myself, but I gave it my best and that is all I can do. Jamis ended up taking the win with Janier Acevedo.

Stage 2 was 110 miles over rolling terrain and had a 9 mile 2%-3% stair step climb that finished with about 25 miles left to race. The plan for the day was to put Oliver, Mike, or Bryan into a break. The race started off fast from the gun. The first 20km were on a highway and guys were killing it trying to go off the front. Oliver and Bryan did a great job making it into all these small moves. I positioned myself near the front in case one of our guys missed a split. We turned onto some smaller roads and Mike was positioned near the front. He went into a move of 20 guys at this point and that was the move of the day. The peloton was not happy with this move, and Jamis put a couple riders into the move. That meant Jamis did not control the pace, and the pace was very fast for most of the day. Barry made it into a group of 6, but the peloton went bananas and caught that group. Finally the pace settled down, and I thought to myself "This is one of the hardest races I've ever done." At that point I realized my front brake had been rubbing. I loosened my brakes and the race became a lot easier. We turned onto the highway for the final 40 miles and the 9 mile climb. It was a headwind, so that meant the pace would be easy on the climb as Silber set pace to reel in the break. During the final 10km Bryan and I stayed close to Evan as he saved energy off of teams doing the work at the front. With a few km to go I jumped into the wind with Bryan and Evan in tow until 2km to go. Bryan took over from there and delivered Evan into the final tight turns in third wheel. Evan took third in the field sprint for 6th place as three of the breakaway riders just survived to the line. Jamis ended up taking the win again with Sebastian Haedo. We were happy with the day because all the riders did their jobs and we delivered Evan where he wanted to be at the end of the race.

Today we have another 110 mile stage with 4 laps on a circuit that features a steep climb each lap. I am sure it will be a fun one.

Monday, April 18, 2016

USPro Crit

Yesterday the Lupus Racing Team raced the USPro Criterium Championships on a 1km, 8 turn course in downtown Greenville, SC. For me this was a very exciting race because a national championship was held only a 15 minute bike ride from my house. I trained hard in the the two weeks between Sunny King/McClellan and the USPro Crit and was eager to see the fruits of my labor. We fielded a 5 rider squad of Jonah Mead Van Cort, Nolan Tankersley, Evan Murphy, Oliver Flautt, and myself. The course was very tight, so I made sure to get a start near the front. It would have been difficult to move up on such a tight course if I started near the back. The pace started off fast from the gun with Rally sending riders off the front immediately. I wanted to be careful with my matchbook because I learned last year that a 2 hour crit takes forever. For the first 20 minutes I stayed near the front but did not cover anything. My teammate Evan Murphy covered a good early move, but the fast pace of the field brought this move back. After Evan's move was caught I began to cover. Around 40 minutes into the race I got into a move with Danny Pate and a UHC rider, but they were not working well together. As soon as our move was brought back a counter went, but I had to sit in to recover. It isn't possible to jump into every move as that may cause you to blow up and DNF. I didn't want that to happen to me, so I sat in. Oliver jumped off the front and tried to bridge to that counter, but that move was also brought back. Then a group of around 10 riders went roughly one hour and 10 minutes into the race, and Daniel Holloway set a vicious pace in an attempt to bring the move back. When he seemed to tire I jumped across to that 10 rider move and sat on as UHC had 3 riders in the move. About one lap later a UHC rider attacked, so I attacked with Joe Schmalz to try to bridge. Our move was short lived as the field was breathing down our necks. We got 15 laps to go shortly after, and UHC started to set pace with Jesse Anthony and Tom Solladay of Rally both off the front. UHC caught the duo with roughly 8 laps to go, but in the end Brad Huff of Rally ended up overtaking the UHC train to take the win. Evan was our best rider in 11th place. I am happy with my race because I felt strong the entire race, was able to ride aggressively in such a strong field, and was never in any real difficulty. It was also fun that we were able to put multiple riders in breakaway groups and work well as a team. I look forward to racing the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, AR that starts on Thursday.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


A few weeks ago I was sidelined due to an injury. I ended up having to take a little over a week completely off the bike. The timing wasn't ideal but when is a good time to be injured? At first it seemed like a big deal because I had to miss Rouge Roubaix, a super fun race I won last year. It also threw a wrench in my training and preparation for Sunny King Criterium and Ft. McLellan Road Race. As a cyclist, when anything affects your training and preparation, it is easy to worry and doubt yourself. However, after some reflection I realized it wasn't such a big deal. I knew I was going to get well again and would be able to ride at my same level soon. Like I said in an earlier post, when my team manager's wife spoke at our team camp about the living with Lupus, it really struck a chord with me.  I decided to use my down time to educate myself about the autoimmune disease Lupus.

Lupus is a cruel, mysterious, and complicated autoimmune disease which effects roughly 5 million people across the globe. Lupus symptoms are different in each individual and can range from mild to life-threatening. Since the symptoms vary from individual to individual it makes Lupus a difficult disease to treat. Lupus is a disease of flares which means sometimes the symptoms lay dormant and out of the blue the symptoms can become active causing the patient to have an attack. Lupus can attack any organ within the body. The immune system is composed of B cells and T cells which help create antibodies to fight infection. The B cells in patients with Lupus incorrectly fight the healthy cells of the individual as opposed to foreign antigens. This means the immune system is constantly fighting even if there isn't an infection to fight. This can cause individuals with Lupus experience increased fatigue. Melissa Higginson, a woman who hosts our team at the Redlands Cycling Classic, gave me some insight into her experience with Lupus. Simple tasks such as getting dressed in the morning, watering plants, or taking a shower can be taxing for her. She has to plan her day around this fatigue. Her doctors tell her to exercise more because the exercise will increase her energy, but if putting on clothes is draining how taxing would exercise be? This is a psychological struggle because it makes it seem like the doctor does not understand what she is going through. What bothers her the most though is the inability to be spontaneous and do things like take a vacation. Not all Lupus patients have the same experience as Melissa, but this is just some of what she experiences on a daily basis.

Above are a few things that people with Lupus have to struggle with on a day to day basis. I wanted to shed some light on why the word Lupus is printed on my team jersey. We all have our own struggles, physically and mentally. We all go through difficult times. Learning more about this disease gave me perspective. If I get sick or injured or if a race doesn't go accordingly, I recover and have another race on the horizon. If you have Lupus you have to live with it every day, and it isn't going away. I have so much respect for people like Melissa and Marjorie. Living with Lupus makes them way tougher than I'll ever be. Click here to donate to the Lupus Foundation of Georgia. If you want more info about the disease you can get the book called the Lupus Book. I want to thank Melissa very much for her insight and info on Lupus.