& Kel

//**Covering four races in this post. There will be plenty of soundtrack, but you’ve been warned**//

I had a friend give me the Good Burger VHS a couple of years ago and I remember I was so excited to relive those childhood memories. I think I must’ve watched it 50 times on my friend’s vintage VHS all-in-one TV that summer. The cassette itself was bright orange and the opening credits immediately brought back memories:

This movie is fantastic. It has some really funny writing, good music, great guest appearances (GEORGE CLINTON!!), and 1990s innocence.

Also, this song:

Rogers Cycling Festival–1/2/3 Race–Saturday

I think this is the second year for the Rogers Cycling Festival. This year it was also the location of the Arkansas state age based and category based road race championships. The course was one that the whole team was familiar with, we had done a few races out there in a local bi weekly road race series. We did the counter clockwise course on Saturday, making for a longer climb right before the finish. Jared and I entered the 1/2/3 race because Arkansas does not have a jersey for anyone from the age of 20 to 29. Shanely and Joel entered into the age based 35-40 category–going 1st and 2nd respectively.

Our race was largely uneventful, Jared helped me keep it together and even though there was a longish hill nothing was getting away from the group of twelve of us. At one point, Andrew Evans launched a solo attack in the valley 4 laps into the 9 lap race and had a good sized gap with probably a good group of 4 of us chasing hard to bring him back. Turns out he was sprinting ahead to take a pee break. If he would’ve just said something, I’m sure we all would’ve been fine at keeping the same pace until he caught back on. Instead a few of us had to use up our energy in what we thought was an attack. On top of that, Andrew had 2 other teammates in the race with him, which meant that he would have someone able to sit back with him and help him get back on and someone to sit on the back and slow us down. Since we had already started on this wild goose chase for 0 reason, I got a little ticked and decided to go ahead and put in a hard effort up the climb and through to the finish line. Why should it be easy if you’re pulling shenanigans like that?

This gets under my skin for a couple of different reasons. One, there is an expectation that just because your name is XXX, then the group should respectfully neutralize and wait for you to join back on. Bullshit. Again, I’m sure if he would’ve just said something, none of us would’ve had a problem with keeping it steady until he came back. Also, pee break neutralization largely occurs in a stage race and is called by the general classification leader. Secondly, it’s a 2.5 hour race. If you gotta pee that badly an hour into it, learn to pee off the bike or hold it. It’s arrogant to have an expectation that everyone should just wait up for you. Would he or anyone else in that group have neutralized if I needed a pee break? Probably not and nor would I expect them to.

/rant

I know that my actions would be perceived as poor taste, but to put it bluntly, I don’t give a fuck. I was already in hammer mode and I wasn’t going to let up just because. He ended up catching back on just fine, I just hope that he had to work hard for it. We all stuck together for the rest of the laps, with a few light hearted attacks here and there, shutting down after a few seconds. On the last lap, Andrew attacked on the long downhill and we got up to 41 mph. The pace slowed for a few seconds and Jared sprinted in the valley and opened up a big gap rather quickly. He can be a really surprising rider–he’s got both a sprint and a really good 5 minute power. I rested in the draft of the group while they worked to bring him back in, catching him at the bottom of the climb. Shortly after catching Jared, Andrew launched another attack on the hill and I quickly got on his wheel. He saw me on it and relaxed a bit and I launched my attack as we crested the top of the hill, giving it everything I had for the next 2 minutes. I could see that there was definitely someone on my wheel, but it was the only move I could really execute. My sprint is mediocre and was not going to win in a head to head. We railed the last two corners and I was immediately overtaken by Kevin Soloman and a kid from Dallas, Fred Vincent, ending up in 3rd place. I was really happy with the day overall. Jared and I coordinated really well and I was able to get on another podium for the year.

//**Edit: Apparently, Andrew did say something about a nature break and Jared had heard him. Obviously, was not very clear communication because there were three guys who were legitimately chasing him down like he was attacking. I’m leaving in my dumb rant to provide context and I really don’t want to rewrite a bunch.**//

Apparently, this guy is the son of Hugh Everett III, the originator of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory. The theory says that in an alternate universe, I started racing bikes a lot earlier.

Rogers Cycling Festival–Arkansas State Category 1/2 Road Race Championship–Sunday

We knew that this race was going to be really hard. Some of the guys competing didn’t race the previous day and Oklahoma Bike Project showed up with 4 guys. They’ve all been racing really well this year with plenty of podiums and cool achievements. Jared and I knew that it was going to be vicious attacks until they could get away. This time we had Shanely in the race with us. The plan was to try and keep it all together until the last lap, where Jared would have the best chance out of the three of us to get a result. That plan quickly went out the window once the race actually started. From the very beginning OBP was very active and throwing down attacks. By lap 3 we had let one of their riders and a Tyson rider off the front. At some point, the other three OBP riders and another Tyson guy broke off and bridged up to their teammates. The whole group was in trouble. We started getting organized, creating a rotating paceline and taking short turns on the front of the pack, driving the pace. I heard plenty of chatter from Tyson about how the race was shot if we couldn’t get our act together, yet when it came time to do their duty at the front of the race, they wouldn’t pull through. I asked why at one point and was told that it was because they had a guy up the road with the OBP guys. If 4 out of the 6 guys in your break are from the same team, you’re screwed. There’s no way you’re getting out of there alive unless you cut a deal. Really, for Tyson to have a good opportunity to get on the podium, they needed to help pull the break back and reshuffle the groups or try and send a couple of guys up the road to bridge the gap.

I think we went 4 or 5 laps of the time gap between the groups staying right around 30 seconds. It definitely started feeling futile. 30 seconds isn’t a lot, but an hour of chasing at a high pace and not making any ground is frustrating. Eventually, we burnt out Shanely and Jared trying to bring the group back and we were left with a group of six of us or so, including a few guys who I had raced with the previous day. At one point, Andrew Evans was in between our group and the breakaway and OBP dropped one of their riders back and sat on Andrew’s wheel. We could see them at the hairpin turn and it felt like it was so close, but it was probably 20 seconds vs 30 seconds. Eventually, we caught Andrew again and slowed down the pace a ton. We all understood that bringing back the break was just not going to happen. Right before we had given up, I had averaged 320 watts for 20 minutes, working so hard just to catch them. We had maybe 4 left (about an hour) and we could not get Andrew to just pull through and share some of the duty on the front of the group. We weren’t even going that hard, maybe 220 watts on the front, 18 mph average? Honestly, I know everyone in the group just wanted to finish the damn race. It was hot and starting to get really boring. It’s not like Andrew taking a turn at the front of the group would’ve helped reel in his teammates. I’m surprised we didn’t get lapped while we were going that slow.

On the last lap we were approaching the hill before the hairpin and I was on the front and the kid behind me let me float off, probably trying to bait Andrew into chasing me down. When I looked back I already had a good 5 second lead, so I put my head down and went for it, making it all the way to the line for 6th place. That last effort hurt so bad after that many miles in the heat and then 370 watts for 6 minutes. The tactical error this time was looking at the wrong wheels to follow.

Summer Waffle Series #5

A couple of weeks ago Chad, Shanely, and I drove up to Springfield to help defend Shanely’s waffle jersey that he controversially won last Tuesday. There were a lot more Kuat jerseys and even a couple of guys from Tyson showed up from Fayetteville. It was Chad’s first race since his vacation in Mexico and his first Waffle race. The whole group stayed together for basically the whole race. There were some half hearted attempts at attacks, but nothing too serious. At one point the two Tyson guys, Andrew and Ben Gramling put in a big dig and quickly got a 5 second gap before Ben dropped his chain, getting it actually too tangled to ride. With a half a lap to go it was a group of 8ish, including Shanely and I. The whole goal of the race was to set Shanely up so that he can get the points that he needed for his upgrade. Andrew launched an attack and I had thought it was early and that I would get some assistance to bring him back in, but it seems that the groups only goal was to just not see Shanely win again. I time trialed on the front, closing down the gap slower than I should have. By the time that I delivered the group & Shanely to the bottom of the short, final climb the gap to Andrew was still too large to make up. Shanely still beat out the rest of our group for second place. If you didn’t gather from the Road Race State Championship, Shanely applied for his Cat 2 upgrade and got it the same day. Super excited to have another super talented guy to race with next year.

Many people don’t know this, but Shanely is a blood relative of Rick James.

Summer Waffle Series #6

The last race of the series, Chad, Shanely and I decided to make the trip one last time for the summer–plus they gave us a heads up that there would be free ice cream at the end of the race. It ended up being pretty similar to the week before where there just was not a whole lot of action for most of the race, or if there was action, it didn’t really result in much. In the last two laps there was a freak wind and rain storm on the backside of the course for about a mile that made things a little sketchy and annoying. On the last lap, Chad took over leading duties and ramped the pace up to 32 mph on the raining backside. It was hard to even hang onto the wheel in front of me. He wanted to keep a high pace so that there would be no attacks in the last part of the race. We got onto the last stretch leading into the final hill and Chad retired, playing the best role he could. I stuck to Andrew’s wheel all the way up, passing a couple of people to have a clear shot at the corner at the top of the hill and then the rolling downhill finish. I pulled up alongside him on the downhill, waiting for him to make the first jump, which was pretty silly. All I was doing was wasting at least as much energy as he was by putting my face out in the wind. I’ll take ‘Silly Ego Flexing’ for 400, Alex. When he did make his move, I was late he beat me by the same length that he jumped. That’s what you get when a climber gets into a sprint situation. A smarter move would’ve been to let a tiny gap open between Andrew and I and then launch on the actual hill right before the corner and try and hold it to the line. C’est la vie.


This picture says everything about how I felt about that finish. Mostly it says ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’

//**Hey, thank you for taking the time to get this far. I always feel a lot of wonder when I look at my Google Analytics and see how many page views a post will get. I really appreciate you taking any amount of time out to read a 2300 word diatribe about a bunch of adults playing a kids game. Feel free to leave an anonymous comment or link to something. Next post won’t come for a few weeks**//

Kenan

This is my new Nick obsession. Been watching all the old episodes and there are some strange character dynamics going on.
 
Tulsa Tough has put up replays of all of the races from the weekend up on Vimeo. It’s cool to see it from another perspective, but after a while my midwestern modesty kicks in and it feels strange watching myself. The Sunday video will autoplay (Seriously, Vimeo, no control over autoplay? Lame.) so be sure to give it a pause if you want to read the race report from this weekend first. I’ve started the videos of Saturday and Sunday right around where the action happens.

Tulsa Tough 2017 Saturday Men CAT III

Tulsa Tough 2017 Sunday Men CAT III

Summer Waffle Series #4

So last night Shanely and I went up to Springfield to win the Waffle Jersey for the fourth weekend in a row for Bentonville Racing. My role again this week was to be domestique for Shanely–his goal is to get as many upgrade points as he can before August 15th ish. He’s really close to his Category 2 upgrade, so every little thing counts.
 
There was a two man jump about halfway through the 1st lap and one of the guys is the Kuat guy who had been in breaks with us every single week. Shanely jumped and I followed his wheel, coming around him when we approached the two breaking away. They had slowed considerably, so Shanely and I trucked on for the rest of the lap, eventually coming back to the group. Because it was just the two of us, we probably wouldn’t be able to stay away, or at least the chances would be really slim. The other teams in the peloton would have the firepower to take turns bringing us back in and when we do get back in, we would be too exhausted to respond to attacks from the other teams.
 
The second lap I helped reel in a solo break, letting him hang out in the wind for a bit before closing down the gap. Eventually, Cale the Kuat rider, made another move on the 2nd lap. Shanely called to make the jump, so we bridged up to Cale and the other rider from SBS-PDG. We rotated well for a while and then I noticed we were slowing down quite a bit when the other two got on the front. With two riders from an opposing team in a 4 person break, you try to do as little work as possible to have the ability to counter attack when the time comes. But, we couldn’t just go back to the group, so I decided to take longer pulls at the front to keep us away from going back to the pack. I took a short lived rest before the downhill descent right before the last climb where the magic happens. I got on the front of the 4 person group and laid down 430w for the last two minutes, setting Shanely up for the jump up the steep climb. He held back a bit and let the other two guys go before following their wheels and and then eventually passing them and taking the win.
 
Not without a bit of controversy, though.
 
The centerline rule in cycling is a weird rule. It makes sense for all intents and purposes, but it is not a black and white rule–it’s a grey rule that needs context for proper discipline. Shanely had passed Cale (the series race director who was fading hard on the final climb) on the left and Shanely’s front wheel ended up crossing the first line in a double yellow line. Technically, any break in the yellow line is a violation, but crossing the yellow line happens frequently within a race (for example: sometimes you come out of an apex of a curve and end up over the line or sometimes a rider is going left and your option is to either run into them or cross the centerline [aka what happened to Shanely]) and if it’s going to be enforced with a disqualification, it should be enforced as such for every rider.
 
But, in reality, this is a training race series. Something we should all be taking pretty casual. For sure, it’s good to go into the race with objectives and goals and to race safe, but to cause a huge scene in front all of the other racers, including a large group of juniors, isn’t a good look for the sport. Shanely’s other options would have been to crash out Cale and himself or slam on the brakes and then restart his attack by going to the right. He wasn’t putting anyone in danger (in fact, lessening danger for both he and Cale) as he was already traveling at a much higher rate than Cale.
 
After the race, some other official came up and gave Shanely a talkin’ to, antagonizing him even more. Shanely has been racing for quite a few years, he’s well aware of the rules and doesn’t need two other grown adults talking down to him. It should’ve been resolved in a peaceful way, but instead was made into a problem with threats of disqualification. Largely, I think this has to do with Bentonville Racing coming in from out of town and dominating 4 weeks in a row. Even our juniors got a win in the B race. It’s okay, that just gives us all the more incentive to come up and mop up for the rest of the series.

Edit: It has been brought to my attention that Kuat has “zero interest” in winning any of the Summer Waffle Race Series, so this was not a reaction to dominating their local race 4 weeks in a row. All the same, we have fun at those races and look forward to finishing out the series competitively.

Took my boo to DQ after he got almost got DQ'd for dominating the Waffle Ride tonight in Springfield.

A post shared by Luke Hall (@loukall) on

Natural State Criterium

Friday–Bentonville
There is nothing like a local race to get you all revved up. There are streets that you’re familiar with, people you know screaming your name as come around a corner, it’s always so much fun. There was a chance of early rain during the Cat 3 race that cleared up and kinda dried up off the roads by the time it was time for the Pro/1/2 race at 10:00 PM. Night racing is cool (literally) because everything feels twice as fast in the dark. The course was pretty well lit up except on the back straight away before the chicane leading into the start finish.
 
A few laps in and we had already started to average 28 mph. Luckily, I had gotten a decent start with a good position from the gun. If Kansas City only taught me one thing, it was that tailgunning criteriums (riding from the back and picking off slower riders) were not going to be a viable game plan anymore. I was going to have to nail my start/clip in and get going. It’s not that it’s a particularly hard thing to do, it’s just that when I’ve got the race jitters, I sometimes miss clipping into my pedals and getting going. After about five laps the rider in front of me slid out in the final corner and I didn’t have very much room to miss his bike so I ended up going straight and unable to correct my line. I hopped up onto a 5 inch curb and then went right into a rose bush. Honestly, I was just thankful that I didn’t have road rash or a broken bike/wheels.
 
I couldn’t figure out my chain right away, so I ran down to the mechanic’s tent/wheel pit and they got it sorted out and looked over the rest of the bike, sending me back out when the group came back around. A half a lap later I realized my front tire was going flat, so I went into the wheel pit for the last time and got a new tube put in in no time. Phat Tire’s bike mechanics were really impressive, ready to fluidly handle all of the carnage of that race. I hopped back in with the lead group this time around and settled into 15th wheel or so, holding my position really well for a couple of laps. My luck ran out again just a couple of laps later when there was a huge pileup of 5 guys from Oklahoma Bike Project on the far side of the course. The rider in front of me was probably right around 18 years old and just kept staring at the pileup, even though he had a clear exit. I yelled at him to get his shit together. It was really frustrating. I ended up solo for a bit before they pulled me and placed me 24th. It was a fast, technical race, so it got a bit sketchy, but my parents were there to support and I had a lot of local friends yelling so that was really cool.

Saturday–Rogers
This was probably my favorite of the whole weekend. Roughly a quarter of the race was bricks and cobblestones with a short rise leading into the finish line. It was also at night, so there was a section of the course that was pitch black while we were going up to 39 mph. The whole course required the full attention of all the racers. I had said previously that there were going to be some big shots showing up to this weekend’s races and boy were we in for it. Three guys from Elbowz Racing out of Austin, Texas cleaned up the entire weekend. It was definitely impressive to see, but I felt like the difference was more ability and timing than power. They were super active and animated the whole race. I got into some good positions for most of the race staying between 20th and 1st, even helping chase down a break. It wasn’t really my responsibility, but I was nervous and felt like I was racing like a Cat 4 again. With three laps to go I was sitting in the top 5, but my legs were definitely feeling tired. I was taking corners pretty sloppy (pretty sure I got yelled at, but who can tell for sure) and had to sprint out of the corners to catch back on. Soon I had filtered back and ended up 28th. Having power is only half of what makes up a good racer in this sport–execution is the other half.
 
What was really cool is that my Aunt and Uncle had come from out of town to visit my parents and it timed perfectly with this series, so they got to see this race and the next race. They were really blown away by how fast we were riding (30mph average on some laps) and how tight the pack was riding.

Sunday–Springdale
Initially, this race looked like 100% rain and there is a ton of road paint on the course from crosswalks and lane indicators. If it was going to be wet, I would’ve been fine with not racing. Luckily, it was sunny and actually rather hot. I noticed a lot of people seemed tired from the Bentonville and Rogers races. My legs were definitely sore, but I quickly loosened up and was feeling pretty good. I floated through the pack really well and felt more confident in my cornering during the day. It didn’t matter too much, though, on the last lap I didn’t have the best position going into the last few corners before the finishing straight. There was a crash on the outside of the corner, taking out a few riders and I knew I didn’t have a very good chance of getting higher than 20th. In the end, I was 22nd. There were around 40 riders in each race, so I was right around mid pack for all of the races. Going into the weekend, I had decided that all three of the races were going to be more of a learning experience than anything else. If I could hold on, finish well and not blow up, I would be happy. I wanted to get comfortable with cornering at high speeds and getting into good positions within the pack. Definitely a successful weekend.

This album is one of my favorite Beastie Boys albums and it’s all instrumental. The production just sounds unreal and I always imagine how much fun they must’ve had making it.

& Pete

I don’t have too much to talk about since I just made a post, but there isn’t anything scheduled for a couple of weeks until The Natural State Criterium Series. Natural State was started last year and drew a bunch of big teams with it’s large prize pot. This year added another day of racing and is even bigger with some really exciting, national level racers showing up. We really need some volunteers to keep this race going.

With all of the heavy hitters showing up, I thoroughly expect to get spit out the back of the pack all three days.

Summer Waffle Series #3

Made my way up to Springfield yesterday with a van full of junior racers and their mother. Shanely had gotten into a wreck at the Tour of Kansas City and was feeling too sore to ride the Waffle. I have a blast being around people that are just starting out. There is a fire in their bellies and a thirst for knowledge. One of the juniors, a Cat 4, decided to race with the A race last week and opted for the same this week. Always put yourself out there in the tough situations, that’s where you will see the most personal growth.

The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end.Ralph Waldo Emerson

We started off and I found myself immediately leading the group. It wasn’t out of choice, I just happened to roll out first and everyone filed in behind me with the Waffle Leader’s Jersey. I took the hand I was dealt and made the best of it, resting for a bit and then hammering on a series of 4 or 5 rollers. I wanted to set the tone early for how hard the race was going to be. It hurt, but it was definitely worth it, we eventually created some natural separation right after the first lap. The race was playing out very similar to the week before. We ended up with 4 Springfield Brewery riders, 3 riders from Kuat, and a junior from my team, so nine total in the break. I knew that with 8 riders, my chances of winning from the break were going to be low, so I pressed hard on the hills in an attempt to drop some people from the other teams. We ended up dropping a Cat 1 female, Danielle Dingman of Springfield Brewery Company, who apparently also recently won the Sprint and Standard distance duathlon National Championships, both in one day. Unfortunately, in the process we also dropped the junior rider. It was down to 3 guys from SBC, 2 guys from Kuat, and 1 guy from A+B Cycles, which is a sponsor for Kuat as well. They could’ve very well been on the same team, just in different generation of jerseys.

We hammered for the next couple of laps, with the guy from A+B Cycle and one guy from Kuat occasionally throwing attacks to make us work harder. With a half a lap to go, SBC threw a big attack while I was on the front and I was too late to catch and follow his wheel. I put my head down and increased my wattage by a little, slowly time trialing the group back up to him. He probably stayed out solo for 5 minutes, but the key was making sure that he used enough energy to not be a factor during the finish. There was a short hill that I knew I could make up a lot of ground and by the time we got to the top, we had almost brought him back. With maybe 3 miles to go, we got him with an immediate attack by a Kuat rider leading into the biggest decent on the course. I’m pretty good with the first couple of left hand corners, but then struggle with the immediate right, usually scrubbing too much speed, or going too wide on my exit. I got out of my saddle and brought back the small gap of two riders that had opened up. The group soft pedaled on the road going into the last two turns, waiting for the first person to make their move.

I was still soft pedaling on the front when we took the second to last turn and let a couple of riders start accelerating up the 8ish% average grade hill, with my eye on one SBC rider in particular. I knew for sure I needed to make it to the final corner first, but I just needed to time it just right. The SBC rider had a moment where his head dropped and he looked tired, getting up out of the saddle to get more power. This was my opportunity, 10 yards before the corner. I got up out of my own saddle and gave it everything I had, accelerating past the SBC rider and into the first position going into the final corner. I just prayed that no one had caught my wheel going into the downhill, ready to nip me at the finish line. Accelerating all the way to the line, I had gotten my Waffle win two weeks in a row. I don’t think there was the minimum amount of Cat 1/2 riders to qualify for upgrade points, though.

On paper, my last two seasons have been similar, but I can say things have felt a lot different. I feel more confident in a lot of different aspects that I was lacking before. I’ve been able to identify my shortcomings and my tactical execution has been refined. Last year I had 26 race days and I’m already at 24 right now and there looks to be roughly 10-15 more race days left in the season. By the time September rolls around, I’ll definitely be ready to take some time off.

Pete

If you haven’t noticed, I have a weird obsession with Nickelodeon, both it’s nostalgia and it’s various shows. I have a long running game where I can usually know what you grew up watching as a kid–Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network or PBS. It’s easy to tell once you start looking for the different signs–television shaped the personality of my generation growing up.

Anyway, bike racing.

Tour of Kansas City

This last weekend was my third year of racing the Tour of Kansas City and my first big race in Category 2. Usual category 2 races are combined category 1 and 2 together. Typically, this is because there just isn’t large enough fields to individual, but it’s almost like a double upgrade when you move into category 2. Not only are you having to adjust to ability of cat 2, but also guys that have been racing for 5+ years and are cat 1 or pros. I almost didn’t sign up because I kept thinking that the field size was going to be 60 something and that’s not something that I wanted my introduction to racing in Pro, Cat 1, and Cat 2 fields. I kept watching the entries and I very drunkenly remembered to check it the night registration was closing. The field size was only around 30 per event (Time Trial, Circuit, and Criterium). It would be a great introduction race because I knew quite a few guys in the field from the racing scene in Kansas City and had raced the courses a few times. So, I signed up.

My teammate Shanely was also going up to Tour of Kansas City, but with a different purpose and that was to gain points as a Cat 3 for his Cat 2 upgrade. He is currently at 15 and has another 15 to go before mid August. It’s entirely possible, but it takes a lot of smart racing with very focused goals. We stayed with my old GP Velotek teammate, Trevor and his weeks-away-from-having-a-new-human wife, Erin. They live in a really cool house in North Overland Park and the commute to the race courses was right around 25 minutes. It was great getting to sit around talk to them and play with their super smart Australian Shepherd, Percy.

The time trial is an interesting course. You start off going downhill into a 90 degree right turn that immediately goes into a 90 degree left. There are a couple of long straight aways, and then a big turn around and back again, eventually climbing a 40 ish second hill lovingly called the Gooseneck. I wasn’t sure what my goal, just that I knew that I had done around 368 watts for 6:18 last year. This amount of time is my bread and butter and my 5 minute power had made a big jump this year. I knew I wanted to at least be over 400w for the whole thing, and 440w would let me know that I had executed to my very best ability. You can’t lay down full power through every corner, though, so there is some watt loss from that. In any case, I couldn’t find the right screen for the first 2 minutes of the race. When doing an out and back time trial, Eddy Merckx style (no time trial bike, or deep dish wheels, or aero bars) I tend to look at what everyone else is doing and overthink my position on my bike. It’s something that I definitely need to focus on.

By the time that I had started and stopped my Garmin 520 on the finish line, I had 5:57. The timing results ended up saying 6:03, which I’m not sure how that happens, but it seemed to be pretty standard amongst a lot of categories, you can only hope that the 6 seconds or whatever they were off was across the board. I ended up averaging 409w. Stoked and I was right around the middle of the field at 14th place.

The circuit race was in the same area and used the same Gooseneck for the finish. The P/1/2 field had 13 laps, or right around 36 miles. The guy who got 3rd in the time trial that morning had also won Joe Martin Cat 3 GC that year, so I knew that he was on a roll this year and very strong. I wanted to target him because I knew if a break left with him that was well represented from other teams, then it would probably stay away. I missed my opportunity. It was right after a “KOM” or prime lap where you could get extra points for the weekend’s omnium prize. This is a pretty ideal time to start a break. Either you are a part of the charge to get the points or prime prize, or your sitting right behind them and when the pack sits up after crossing the line, just keep going and hope that you have some people come with you. I believe they ended up having a break of 5 guys. I tried chasing them back a little bit and even trying to bridge across, but it didn’t work. I really just expected to be shelled off the back. I fought hard up the last hill to the finish and got 19th. Probably could’ve finished a little higher, but tactically, I’m not quite ready for this level yet.

Sunday was the last race in the series, the criterium in the Crossroads Art District. I don’t like this course. The first year, the course was out at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Awesome setting, while not very technical, had a long steady 2% hill to at least make some moves on and an incredibly fast straightaway into the finish. They changed it the second year and it ended up being an 8 turn course that was really difficult to move up on. Last year as a Cat 3, a local team got on the front and drilled it for the entire race and I barely moved any spots. This year was a completely different beast of masochistic/sadistic tendencies. I was sitting 2nd to last wheel and halfway through the first lap, the guy sitting 4th to last wheel sat up and decided he had enough and wasn’t going to race 75 minutes, but only 45 seconds. A huge gap immediately opened up and we worked our asses off to close it up and get back on. The first 5-6 laps of a criterium are always balls to the wall fast. Eventually we got back in and I was last wheel and immediately got spit off the back again. I spent 30 minutes chasing my ass off, averaging 328 watts, an absurd amount. There was a lot of encouragement from the crowd, which was really cool and helped me continue. Even when I had caught back up to the group, there was no resting because I would just get dropped again. I told myself that I wouldn’t quit, though. I was about 5 seconds down from catching the group when there was wreck in corner 1. Passing by, I saw a recent category upgrade and Tulsa Tough comrade, Leo on the ground and one other person with 4 people around him.

The organizers paused the race for 25 minutes and they brought down an ambulance and a firetruck. There were a lot of rumors and jittery people all around, the whole thing was pretty unsettling. When they restarted, they started the 3 man breakaway, the main peloton and then my group of five guys that was trying to chase back on all together. I think otherwise I would have been suffering those last ten laps alone. We worked together and reeled back in the peloton, I even had a decent position for a half a lap before I got shuffled to the back again. It was a weird sprint to the finish, but I ended up 21st.

It’s times like these in which I think, What Would Steve Tilford Say? He always had something to say about something. Didn’t matter the subject matter, he had an opinion. What happened to Casey Saunders on Sunday was a shock to all of us in the cycling community, local, regional and national. This doesn’t happen all the time in bike racing. Sure there are crashes and the worst of it is a broken bone or some stitches. We assume this risk when we put on our helmets or go out for group training rides or go to the local cemetery to practice cornering. All of us want to mitigate the danger of crashing as much as possible. We have a lot of time invested in the sport and taking any off is like not getting to eat pizza for 8 weeks. We have a lot of money invested into our bikes and our kits and it sucks replacing wheels or framesets or bib shorts. We have a lot of camaraderie in the pack because we are all out there suffering and in the end, it’s just adults playing a kid’s game in a very organized fashion. From what I’ve heard and read about Casey so far, I am confident that he is still riding a bike wherever he is now. Bicycles were Casey’s life and while tragically also his death, I doubt that he wanted to die at 79 of heart disease or cancer. It’s really just all too soon. Much love to you Casey, you’ve had such a positive influence on so many people.

I’ve been talking it over with friends and events like this definitely make you reconsider the risk vs. reward in this sport. For myself, my alternative is to give up cycling and go back to being an alcoholic chainsmoker with no direction. Cycling gave me back my life, gave me drive, gave me confidence again. I can’t ever quit this sport, I’ve got too much time, too much money, and too many friends to say goodbye.

Summer Waffle Series #2

Last Tuesday I raced up in Springfield, Missouri. As I said above, Shanely is trying to get upgrade points to move in the 2s and he won the start of the series the week before, gaining 4 points. The goal was to work the field hard so that he had a chance to nail it at the end on a climb that was perfect for his power profile. Unfortunately, I hammered it a bit too hard at a couple of different points and accidentally ended up in a break after the first lap that stuck for the remaining laps. The two main teams Kuat and Springfield Brewing Company were both represented, so their teams played defense and Shanely could never break out to join us. I played dead dog for the remaining two laps, pulling through with little effort and even skipping turns. I tried what I could to bring back the group to the pack and give Shanely a chance. Halfway through the last lap, I knew we weren’t going back because the pack was nowhere in sight. It eventually ended up being myself and a Kuat racer, and when we turned onto the road that lead into the final climb he told me he didn’t have anymore gas in the tank. I immediately took off and finished the last 3/4 of a mile solo for the win. It was really cool to go into my first “A” race and get the win, even if it was technically a training race series.There was the minimum of 5 people in the race that were 1s and 2s so I got 3 points towards my Cat 1 upgrade for a criterium win. There were a lot of tactics at play and it was fun to try out new things. I got the leader’s jersey and will be back tonight to try again.