Thursday, January 31, 2013

Exciting News for the 2013 cycling season!

As all of you that read this blog know I race bikes competitively and have been doing so for the past 3 years. For the 2012 season I joined the brand new Sammy’s Elite Racing program based out of Sammy’s Bike Shop in St. Charles IL.

After a strong 2012 season the team has grown considerably and with that growth has come some additional ways for you and many other people to follow our news.

We now have our own website and I have created a fresh blog that will auto post its self onto our team home page. We are still working out the formatting kinks but our site is up and running and the blog is nearly there.

At the moment my plan is to keep my personal blog up to date with a variety of posts containing cycling and non cycling material, but since I am also maintaining the team site spare time may get tight.

Check out our team site and learn about our new riders and sponsors for the year.

I am really looking forward to the 2013 season and posting the play by play right here and on our site!

All the best,


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Easton EA90 XD Review

When its 1 am local time but your body thinks its half past 2 in the afternoon, you do two things, consider yourself lucky to be in a comfortable United lounge for the entire 8 hours that United has delayed your flight and second  write a review of your new cyclocross wheels, duh!

Pic borrowed from
Having a whole 6 CX races under my belt makes me feel confident enough to know just about nothing when it comes to CX and the many lessons a seasoned CX racer learns about training, equipment, tires, tire pressure and clothing. What I do know is the difference between using garbage OEM wheels and taking the time to find and invest into a wheel-set that does justice to the frame and groupo that you bought. 

Before I get specific on the wheels let me tell you about the bike they get fitted to:

2013 Colnago World Cup 2.0 Disc w/Sram Red shifters, RD and Cranks
Single 42 tooth chain ring and Sram 12/27 rear cassette
Brakes soon to be upgraded to Avid BB7 SL disc
A great shot taken by Kelly Alexander w/ Alexander Photography @ Campton Hills CX

After getting fitted to my new Colnago early this season I noticed two major characteristics, the bike had extremely tight and responsive handling but it accelerated like it was underwater. It didn’t take long to realize it was the generic rebranded “Colnago” wheels that were drowning the Ferrari like handling of this bike. It’s important to note that EVERY bike on the market and especially mid-level race oriented bikes come with wheel sets that don’t belong on any race course, they are slapped on bikes to keep cost low and get the consumer what they really want, frame and group set for a good price.

This pic also borrowed from but is the exact rim and tire I am running
Hot on the hunt for new wheels that were light enough to unleash the beast on the CX course but reliable enough I could train on them during the off season. Obviously two wheel sets would be optimal for this situation but since CX is far from my cycling focus and these wheels needed to be disc specific, one utility wheel set must fit the bill.

I chose the Easton EA90 XD wheels for a couple of reasons:
·         Road Tubeless Rims
·         Easton’s sturdy MTB M1 6 bolt disc hubs
·         1,600ish grams for the set
·         Reasonably priced 

Basically Easton took their road tubeless (supposedly different than UST, don’t ask me why) rims, MTB disc hubs and laced them with a few more spokes than you get in a road wheel  and wala, they created a CX specific wheel with parts they had in the warehouse, genius!

You would think that this frankenwheel would do some things well but nothing great? Not so much! For a pieced together CX specific wheel I am currently two months in and still really pleased with the performance and feel that these wheels have delivered.

Pic borrowed from
In all honesty besides the disc hubs the only feature to these wheels that really impress over your other comparably priced aluminum race wheels is the fact that with the right tires you can run these wheels tubeless right out of the box and pull off some seriously low tire pressure for critical traction in tough conditions.

Note: finding the right tire can be tricky since very few tire manufactures produce a  tubeless specific CX tire (yet) and any clincher CX tire is a crap shoot weather it will seal properly on the rim or not. If you don’t use a tubeless specific tire I have heard that tires with stiffer side walls and Kevlar beads tend to work better. 
Sammy was able to procure a fresh set of Vittoria’s new TNT (Tube No Tube) CX EVO tires that matched the Easton rims like a glove.  

I have honestly not had enough time on the wheels to give you a full in depth and detailed review of the wheels  but if you want big bang for your buck in a race ready bullet proof wheel set you cant go wrong with these Easton’s.   

This is obviously just a first impressions review, if these wheels make it thru the winter in one piece or even if they don't I will have all the details right here in the spring.

Dollar bum hand-ups at Campton Cross
Stay tuned for some Sammy’s team news over the next couple weeks…

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happenings review…

It’s been a while since I updated my blog, not because life has been slow, actually quite the opposite but finding the time between happenings to write about them seems to be the crux.

So here is a “happenings” review of the past 3 months or so…


Between my work travel and Corie going solo for some family vacation in August over the past 2 months we haven’t seen too much of each other, but even after 4 years every day with Corie gets a little sweeter.

Corie and I @ Sammy's Bikes on our way to a wedding last week
Last month my sister Julie who resides in my old hood Fresno, CA came out to Chicago sans husband and kids for the first time ever to join my oldest sister Janine (Ohio) for an extended weekend of pre-1999 Selph family fun.  

The siblings, Janine on the left and Julie on the right.

Over the past two months work travel has taken me to the Philippines, London 2X, and Toronto2X. I am hoping that Q4 is limited to around 30k miles or less but who knows with RIM ramping up for the supposed BB10 launch I might be living on United for the rest of the year.
Travel Quiz: Identify this flight… where in the world can you take off at 6am and land at 6pm the previous day? (Clue: one location is a U.S. Territory)

In general my industry is still struggling but thanks to my international focus I can rely on non-U.S. centric economies to keep my supply chain full but when your company trades in USD and things are tight I am finding it hard to get some of my projects completed and into the market place.


As many of you know I picked up a MTB sponsorship thru a work contact in Indo, so for the past three months I have been discovering the world of “the baggy shorts guys”. I have yet to race XC but hopefully next year I can get out for at least the Palos Meltdown.  

My team finished up the road season two weeks ago with a solid showing at the first fall fling race held at the Pella-drome, unfortunately schedule conflicts kept us from racing the rest of the series. It was during that race that I pulled off my very first successful long distance bridge. I made it up to the winning break long enough for them to spot me tucked in and gassed it hard enough to snap me right off the back again having not yet recovered from my effort, doooh!  

Dustin and I chasing back the first break of the day during the fall fling

My title sponsor Sammy’s Bikes set me up pretty with a new Colnago World Cup CX bike that I am excited about getting more proficient on. My first CX race of the season (and 3rd ever) was last Sunday at Hopkins Park, the second stop on the Chicago Cyclocross Cup. Even if it was my 3rd CX race ever any competitor will tell you that getting you’re a$$ handed to you in a race is never fun. Due to my road USAC license I have to race CX in Cat3 or higher regardless of my experience so because the Cat3 event is often too early for me to get to post church my only option is to race the Pro 1/2/3 race with all the big boys. If I can make enough races and improve my fitness I’m sure I will earn my place among them but for the moment my learning curve is pretty steep!  

Last min update: I wrote the above last week and as of this posting I got to race at the Dan Ryan Woods CX race on Sunday. I am happy to report that my first lap on the very open and power hungry course was screaming. I managed to place myself mid pack after staring in the back and felt great! Heading over the last set of barriers before the finish a poorly tightened rear quick release gave way causing my rear wheel to drop out of the stays! I managed to get the wheel back in and tightened up but b/c of my rush I unknowingly messed up the disc break alignment and road the rest of the 50 min with a dragging rear disc. I did however make up at least 10 of the 15 positions lost during the mechanical and improved my finishing place significantly over last week’s race. Getting better…      

Next on tap are a few CX races and maybe a product review or two…

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Prairie State Cycling series presented by Sammy’s Bike Shop in St. Charles, IL

Last weekend was the inaugural Prairie State Cycling series kickoff event presented by Sammy’s Bike Shop in St. Charles, IL.  If you take a larger than life bike shop owner who is committed to his community and growing the sport of cycling and mix in a highly organized and professional bike race promoter you will get one of the most impressive first year racing and community events I have ever taken part of.  What’s even more impressive is that the volunteer manpower and much of the race prep work was all done by the brand new Sammy’s Cycling Club!  Hans Van Delft the clubs president and Sammy’s right hand man took this event and executed like only a seasoned club could.

The Sammy’s Elite Road Team had two goals our rookie year, win the P1/2 IL Cup and take over the podium for our own race. After checking off goal number one a few weeks ago the team shifted focus to this event. Once the event schedule was released I was pleased see that 3 of our 4 riders would have the opportunity to race in two events (this does not happen often for elite CAT2 riders). First event of the day for the team was the 50min CAT2/3 event followed by our full complement of riders in the 90min Pro 1/2 event.

As the race drew closer I kept a good eye on the pre-registration list keeping tabs on the riders in both events. About 3 weeks ago my jaw literally dropped open when I read over the list of Pro UCI teams registered for the Pro 1/2 event. The intelligent date set for our race was one week prior the Tour of Elk Grove a Chicago Pro National Racing Calendar event, aka one of the biggest, largest paying pro races in the U.S. our race just a week prior would be a perfect opportunity for these traveling teams to tune up before the main event.

After the bombs dropped in the p1/2 registration it was obvious our energy would be best spent in the 2/3 event. Dustin, Chris, and I entered the 2/3 race confident that all three of us were capable of winning this race and like all year would support our best positioned rider to do so.

The 2/3 race started as I thought, hitting 30mph on the straights and cornering around 23mph. I stayed toward the front rather easily for the first couple laps and tried to sort out the best lines around each corner. A few min down and 5 or so KS riders moved to the front and very obviously shot two riders off the front. I jumped around the block and closed the gap with in a half lap, Dustin saw this as a good place to attack and he went off the front with one other rider.

I poked around on the front as long as I could before the KS team felt it necessary to put in the work and pulled them back. As soon as Dustin was back and before KC could recover I decided to jump out on my own. I got a decent gap before I looked back to see if I had any riders coming with me, in hind sight I should have stayed on the gas hard to make sure the only riders that made it up deserved to be there.

6 riders made my wheel but only one who wanted to race, I knew this break would be my best opportunity to win and I was rather ticked that we had 4 turds in the group. Lesson #1 for the day, remove head from sphincter, talk to the other strong rider in the break and attack the crap out of the turds until they fall off and then make off with the non turds. Instead I drug out the inevitable by putting my head down and wasting precious matches that could have been used at a more opportune time followed by watching the group slowly catch our dysfunctional break. P.s. it’s ok to kill a break!  

Back in the group with 10 laps to go and I am starting to plot the next move as two riders with excellent TT legs go off the front. I wasn’t too worried since they didn’t represent large numbers in the group. With 4 laps to go, Dustin grabbed me, shot to the front and drilled it for 3/4 of a lap. I was slightly confused as to what he wanted me to do with 4 to go but if a teammate drills it for you at the front you seize the moment and hope your legs feel as good as Dustin hopes they feel.  Unfortunately, this move seemed to light the groups chase fire for me and the break quickly bringing me back and closing in on the break.

At this point I thought my cards had been played for the day, but then Dustin shot up the gutter with Chris in toe on the back side headed into the final turn. I quickly made it onto Chris’s wheel while Dustin killed himself to pull us up the gutter, just before the turn a few riders moved over hard putting me up against the curb and un-able to pedal and a small gap opened between Chris and I. That little gap is all it took to lose my position and free ride to the front. Fortunately, Dustin and Chris made it up before the turn and Chris was able to jump out and take 3rd on the line. It turns out the two man break had survived to the last 20 yards and one of the riders Gareth Reeves stuck it out and took the top spot, impressive.

Putting a Sammy’s jersey on the podium was the goal, of course the top spot was the aim but none the less we played our cards as hard as we could and the rest is racing.             

The Pro Race… (Abridged version)

It was obvious this race would roll at warp speed and if I was going to survive the full 90 min I would have to race SMART. The 4 UCI pro teams all had full squads to start the race including the newly crowned national champion. I have only had the opportunity to race at this level once before and I was retired early due to a dumb mechanical problem so I was determined to hang in and learn from these teams so I could return the favor to our local rivals down the road.  I spent the majority of the race in the last third of the pack I tried to move around as much as I possible to get a feel for the pack. A larger than usual break got up the road and nearly lapped the field which I find shocking because the field was rarely under 30 MPH, goes to show how much faster you can corner in a small group versus a 70 man field.

I ended up 33rd of 80+ starters and felt pretty good about the work I did and more importantly the work I didn’t do. Looking at my power file the next day I used approximately 20% less energy over 90 min averaging 28mph than I did averaging 27mph for 50 min. This is a clear picture of what sitting in vs. attacking means on your legs.

All that said and done I was still massively impressed with this event and want to thank my wife Corie, my family and friends who all came out to cheer us on and I want to especially thank Sammy himself for all the support he has shown this team.      

All the best,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Michigan Racing Re-Cap

Last weekend, 3 of 4 Sammy’s riders (Dustin, Sean, and yours truly) headed to Kalamazoo MI early Saturday  morning for a Criterium held on the campus of Western Michigan University followed by a road race Sunday morning in the nearby city of Lawton MI.

I raced in these events last year as a CAT3 and good results aside I really enjoyed getting away and mixing it up with riders I didn’t know and who especially didn’t know me.

The Criterium course is rather large but straight forward, the start finish is just after a road fly over and thus is partly downhill and immediately leads you into a chicane. The first right turn of the course was a bit rough as you had to sweep way left and cut right hard in order to keep your speed and hit the raised driveway curb transition as straight on as possible.  This road transition facilitated a nasty crash at the front of the group late in the race but for the most part was navigated safely. The back stretch of the course was largely exposed to cross/ head winds sweeping off the nearby highway and caused consolidation of the group most laps. The course finished with a wide right turn again with another driveway transition (much smoother than turn #1) and quick uphill pull over the road flyover and down into the start finish.        

To the race…

At the line it was obvious that three teams had serious numbers, Priority Health, Bissell, and one other team in green kits that supposedly had a former national elite Criterium champ on it. The race starts unusually fast for an elite event but none the less as I get reacquainted with the corners I am relatively pleased with my positioning thru the first 10 laps. 35 min down and the bunch is surprisingly still together, after the leaders chased down three more escapees I noticed a slight slowdown in the pace and an opportunity to attack in hopes I could stay away long enough to collect on the midway cash prime.

From 6th wheel I jumped out and nailed it for 15-20 seconds before I looked back to see plenty of daylight behind me. Ok great! I knew my team mates would do their best to block and I would have to settle into a sustainable pace if I was going to last more than 2 laps. After 3 times around I noticed a single rider off the front coming across to me, good for our odds of staying away but bad for the cash prime coming up in 2 laps.

After the chaser made my wheel I asked him if he wanted the cash or if he wanted to say away? He said “both” yes, it was a stupid question I know but at the time I was optimistic of our chances for the win and if we crushed each other for the prime we could kiss our break goodbye. So we agreed to split the cash and keep our pace consistent. Looking back I should have known that two nonmembers of the power house teams on a flat open course stood no chance of staying away for 45 min and I should have kept my mouth shut and destroyed the guy in the sprint, another lesson learned.

Not more than half a lap after grabbing the prime the two of us were reeled back and Dustin joined a good looking break of about 6 riders, after recovering from my effort I moved back to the front and did my best to slow things down. With a few laps left it was obvious that Priority Health was organizing a serious chase/lead out train that was pulling the break back very quickly.

With half a lap left I was sitting 20th or so (way too far back) when we caught Dustin and the break. 
Sean managed to position himself much higher in the lead out and sprinted to 6th place behind some seriously organized riders.

All said and done Sean and I finished in the $ and along with my prime we covered our travel expenses and dinner out at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, good times. 

Big shout out to Meg for letting Dusting and I crash your place!


After couch surfing in Kalamazoo for the night we had a short drive over the Lawton MI for the start of our p1/2 race. Our race was 30 or so riders and without surprise Bissell and Priority Health showed up in numbers.

The course was a 13 mile rolling course with 3 kicker hills of note, the P1/2 was scheduled for 6 laps 78 miles total.

The race started with a quick acceleration from the front followed by some halfhearted attacks from solo riders. This is the part of the race that I need to be more heads up, I am learning more and more how flipping important it is to see the composition of the attack before it can really establish its self because if you get left out of the move and the two strong teams have representation in the break consider yourself hosed.

A few miles into lap two 3 riders got off the font and out of sight pretty quickly. On the back side of the course I was pretty frustrated for being left out of the move and looking for a good time to attack. 

Dustin must have read my mind because he strung the field out nice and thin with yours truly in 5th wheel. The second he started to slow I was down shifting and on the hunt. For the second time in two days I was off the front with no shadow, actually unfortunate because I could have really used another rider to rotate with in search for the 3 man break.  

I don’t know how hard the group was chasing or not but I gathered about 30-40 seconds on the group headed thru the start finish and while keeping my head down I heard the official give me the time gap to the leaders, 3 min! I didn’t give up but I certainly lost a lot of motivation to kill myself in chase since making up a 3 min gap solo on three CAT1’s was not likely in my current state of fitness.  My best bet was to wait up and see if any solo riders had started to chase me down and I could join them or just wait for the whole group and try again later.

After soft pedaling for a while and taking in some calories I was swept up by the group and back in the fold. Almost immediately a group of 6 attacked hard including Dustin that stuck, I was glad Sammy’s finally had representation in a select group. 40 miles into the race I thought my job was done and started to relax a bit in the group alongside Sean.

The chase group with Dustin was well up the road and I wasn’t too worried about the group organizing enough to bring it back. I was sitting second wheel behind a Bissell rider when he accelerated hard up one of the hills. I sat on his wheel without too much trouble and before I knew it we had a gap on the group and he was flicking me thru. At this point I was thinking that I might as well get a good workout and if anything Dustin could use a good lead out should the two of us successfully bridge to the break.

The Bissell rider and I worked together seamlessly for two laps and brought the chase group back into view, I estimated the gap about 30 seconds. It was about this time I noticed a Bissell rider heading backwards pretty fast. Unfortunately, this was the Bissell rider in the original 3 man break causing his team mates in the chase to pull hard in hopes to bring back the Priority Health rider in the now 2 man lead break. In retrospect this was our last chance to make it to the chase group and in short order the Bissell riders in the chase pulled the group out of sight within minutes.

My chase partner and I headed into our last lap knowing we would never catch the chase or the break but certainly didn’t want to be caught by the group. We rotated evenly for the rest of the lap keeping an eye on our six to make sure we remained alone. At best we would cross the finish line in the top 10 so I didn’t think we would beat each other up for the sprint too far out. Turning into the home straight I was willingly in the front and keeping a decent pace and the moment I saw him purposely drop my wheel just a tiny bit I laid into the pedals and took to the finish line first.

The two man break had stayed away with Dustin holding his own in the chase group sprint, the Bissell rider and I came in 12 and 13th 2 min behind the chase and 3min in front of the group so not a great result but a valuable workout and learning experience.

After the short drive I was back home in time for a late lunch!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morton Race Re-Cap and IL Cup Results

This Saturday we had the whole team together to defend and hopefully improve our 1st 4th and 5th place positions in the last IL Cup Series race hosted by Proctor Cycling in Morton IL.

Early Saturday morning Sean, Dustin and I loaded up our new team van (compliments of our title sponsor Sammy’s Bike Shop in St. Charles) and headed south toward Morton,  after stopping along the way to pick up our  4th teammate Chris we arrived at the course 90min before the start.

Going into this race I felt a bit on the ropes of the IL Cup points race, my fitness has been on a slow decline since the beginning of the season thanks to injuries and work travel. Fortunately my travel has calmed down and my ribs have healed enough for me to make a late season push for competitive form.

Headed into the last race of the series I was 11 points ahead of 2nd place rider (Bicycle Heaven) and 12 points ahead of 3rd (Enzo’s) followed by two team mates in 4th and 5th.

I fully understand that the IL Cup is not as hotly contested as say the IL Championships and there are plenty of CAT1’s and Pros in Illinois who could mop the floor with me should they have chosen to show up to each race. However, the series rewards consistency in a set schedule of events and Sammy’s road team decided at the beginning of the year that winning the IL Cup would be a good starting point for our new P1/2 team. Thus the team has made it a concerted effort to show up and do our best at these events.    

Aside from the top IL Cup riders and teams who showed up for the race I was surprised to see some very strong national CAT1 talent registered. This meant that I couldn’t afford to let my two marks get up the road with these riders knowing that the field would seriously struggle to pull them back.

I have never started a race with a defensive mind set and frankly after the fact I didn’t like it. I don’t like the idea of entering races to consolidate losses I want to enter races to win. Perhaps this is a taste of what stage racing is like and the need to keeping long term goals prioritized over singe race results.

On to the race…

42 riders rolled out at a moderate pace, I immediately trying to get my barring and find my two marks. Within two laps both of my marks are heading off the front in a decent size group and I am not with them, FAIL! Fortunately Dustin also noticed this and came to the front and pulled the group back.

This was the last I saw of the 2nd place BH rider who ended up finishing well back in the pack and out of the cup points.

Now my target was clear, I had to make sure that the Enzo’s rider stayed in my sights. This is the part of a defensive race strategy that I HATE b/c I acted like a leach. Every move Enzo’s made I was right there with him never allowing for more than a couple bike lengths to open up. In the mean time I was happy to see a couple of my team mates go up the road which made my job two fold, protect my points advantage and block the group from pulling the break back.

The only rider left in the peloton that had the legs to bridge up to the lead group was my new best friend, who was royally pissed about his Sammy’s shadow.

20 min later…

It was around mid-race that I lost the ability to think straight and I became a single minded idiot. I would like to blame the incredible heat for my temporary retardedness but it was most likely my rookie understanding of higher level racing strategy that did me in.

Had I realized that the break with my team mate was safely up the road it would have been in my best interest if even for a short while to work with my mark and form a chase group separating ourselves from the peloton and increasing our chances of a good result and payout. Instead I refused to work and did nothing but sit on wheels as if the break was still in sight. The whole point was to stay connected to my mark and that doesn’t necessarily mean we had to stay in the peloton.

With 15 laps to go I didn’t even realize that in chasing Enzo’s down for the billionth time we had formed a small chase group of 2 other seemingly strong riders, and without knowing it I was sabotaging this group from gaining much time on the peloton. Again, I was in my own little world and after being yelled at by these three and physically pushed around a bit I was getting seriously pissed off and even less likely to cooperate and or think straight.

As there always is two sides of a story, had I been in their position I’m sure I would have been fuming mad but at the end of the day its bike racing and as long as your opponent isn’t posing a physical danger to you his strategy like it or not is his choice. On a side note, I wasn’t hiding my strategy or playing coy I straight up said what I was doing and didn’t back down.   

Back to the race…

With 10 laps to go our small 4 man chase group was brought back into a 6-7 man group that was off the front of the peloton, I think… the heat at this point was quickly reducing my level of consciousness.

I moved to the back of the group and prayed that Enzo’s was as tired as I was and luckily he stayed in the group as we rounded the last corner for the sprint, I was hoping to put up a fight for the sprint but frankly my legs had long sense gone and I pedaled in crossing the finish in 12th place.

30 min after the race it was made official that I had done the work necessary to win the IL Cup and 
Dustin had fared well enough in the break to jump into 3rd place! Effectively sandwiching Enzo’s in 2nd place.

Even though I am disappointed with how I raced in this last cup race the strategy did still work and most importantly we won as a TEAM regardless of who we pissed off along the way.  

The season isn’t over but in our first year we have indeed achieved our humble but personally important goal of winning the cup and we can move onto bigger and better things next season.    

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Race Report Catch Up

Well since I am pretty behind on race reports let me get you caught up quickly and concisely.

Tour De Champaign

This P1/2 race by the looks of the start sheet would qualify as a regional level race, which means the region’s top domestic pro/amateur teams show up to duke it out as the local and amateur teams try to work in and steal away some placing’s. Flat 4 corner course that was FAST, averaging 27MPH. I made a hard effort to bridge into a break that looked strong but it didn’t stick more than a few laps. After the failed break attempt I decided to stay in the pack and continue working on staying relaxed and efficient in the pack especially in the corners. In the end I was 20th of 50 and enjoyed every minute of it.

Urbana Criterium

Of the two races this weekend I knew this one would be the more challenging for me. Held in downtown Urbana this crit course was a fast and technical 8 corner playground of pain. Being this was an IL Cup Race and I am still leading the P1/2 series I was called to the line first (slightly embarrassing, considering the talent stacked up behind me). After the shot I settled in mid pack for the first 30 so minutes again trying to get as comfortable as possible in the turns. With about 45min to go I moved my way up to the front of the group in hopes to bridge up to a couple strong men off the front. With Dustin laying down a really hot lap for me I seriously did my best to get off the front but without much effort the blocking teams on the front brought me back into the fold. Now being totally spent from my pathetic bridge attempt I was starting to feel the course and not in a good way. With about 25 min to go I was doing everything I could to hold wheels when I jumped my chain clear off my big ring thru some rough pavement. If I hadn’t been so oxygen deprived I would have thought to walk back to the pit and get my free lap but instead I lost my edge mentally and pulled out of the race.

Big thanks to Mark Swartzendruber for promoting and putting on a great weekend of racing.

Monsters of the Midway

This will be my 3rd year competing at MOM, and let me just say that this course should play to my strengths however, historically this race loves to spite me in new and creative way each year. For example, consistently bad weather, multiple tubie flats and stupid crashes. I truly don’t know what it is about this course its a pretty straight forward 4 corner and two long straight track. Why riders leave their self-control and good judgment on the side lines is beyond me. Unfortunately, this year would be no exception to my bad luck. Once again in the rain this IL Cup race gets going at a decent clip and we ride away the first half of the race mostly together. With 9 or so laps left two are off the front both with team mates who know how to block at the front of the group so I go off the front only taking a xXx wheel sucker with me. 2 laps and a match book later I am within 20 yards of the two but looking back and seeing the group chasing hard I decided to pull the plug and rest up for the now very likely bunch sprint. All together now on the bell lap Enzo’s squad was organizing at the front to lead out their sprinter. 
Coming out of turn 2 I managed to glue myself to the Enzo’s train and I remained determined to defend my position into the finishing straight. About half way down the back side I noticed a slow in the pace, and for any of you that have participated in a lead out you know that a slow in pace is a kiss of death. Before the pace could quicken or I could think of what to do our lead out got over taken on the inside and in the process of this acceleration an un-named rider freaked out and came careening over into the Enzo’s rider just in front of me. Despite his best effort the Enzo’s rider and un-named idiot hit the deck hard. Seeing this happen in the blink of an eye I was able to scrub some speed before smashing into the mess of bodies and bikes. I went over the handlebars and did very well to avoid any road rash, however, once the dust had settled I quickly noticed the wicked pain in my chest and the immediate shortness of breath. 
Not all was lost with a podium appearance from Sean who avoided the crash and kicked hard to a great sprint. Being that I was leaving for Asia in less than 24 hours my loving wife convinced me to get checked out at the hospital. After assuring Corie that I had just bruised some ribs and that everything was fine the nurse delivered the results of the CT scan… fractured 10th rib. Besides justifying the pain and recovery time nothing much can be done for a broken rib. Fortunately, I was cleared to fly and with pain killers in hand headed to Singapore.
Thanks to all who prayed against the suspected internal bleeding and for the speedy recovery.

Lake Bluff Twilight Crit.

Using my highly advanced cyclist brain I decided to apply for entry into the Pro/Cat1 Lake Bluff Criterium in order to ease myself back into racing post injury and travel. Fortunately, only a hand full of the top point’s leaders in the National Pro Criterium series showed up and brought along 90 of their pro/cat1 friends. After being granted entry to this death wish I did the dumbest thing possible, I showed up…

After soaking in the fun of staging with some of the best domestic pro’s in the country at a race with huge crowds and exhilarating energy it was time to put my big boy pants on and hang tight. This would be 90 min of a vertical learning curve. During my warm up I had noticed some strange skipping going on in my drive train but didn’t think too much of it once the Sram guys took a look and cleared it. Immediately the race started and I knew I was in for it, the gear issue I was having during my warm up was multiplied by ten during the race, every time I accelerated with any force my chain was skipping over my cassette and getting me nowhere. 
After three laps of just holding onto the back of the pack I rolled out to the pit to have the Sram mechanic take another look, (since this issue was my own dumb fault I did not get a free lap). Once the Sram tech started asking me about the chain/cassette age it struck me I committed a carnal bike sin. After the MOM crash our team mechanic (John) was nice enough to replace my chain and worn cassette. However, for this race I had grabbed my tubie wheels that had an old cassette on it and the combination of a worn cassette and new chain is that it will skip. Stupidly I didn’t ask for another wheel in the pit so I would have a chance at finishing the race; instead I let them push me back into a gun fight wielding chop sticks. Needless to say this would be my third DNF in a row. 
For the record I HATE DNF’s!

Glencoe GP (State Crit Championship)

After the rookie mistake the night before I was determined to finish this race no matter what. Having landed on the podium last year (notice whenever someone says “I made the podium” 90% of the time it means they took third? Just an observation) I was optimistic I could hold tight and if things played well I could have a chance at a high finish. I tried to get as good of a starting position as possible knowing that staying at the sharp end of this race was going to be key especially with my current lack of race fitness and 90+ man field. I managed to pick the one guy in the field that temporarily forgot how to clip in and immediately I was at the back of the large field. Dang! Not how I wanted to start. Three laps in the inevitable crashes started on this very tight and technical course. I managed to navigate around a few quickly gaining some position in the pack. 
Two laps later a big crash right in front of me brought me to a dead stop both feet down and now chasing hard to get back on. I traded pulls with one other rider for two laps before we made contact back with the pack. Finally able to recover from the chase with 10 laps left I am following a wheel hot into the only left hand turn on the course and I swear this guy got sniped. All by himself in the apex of the corner he loses it and goes down right in front of me, I touch the brakes and down I go. 

Quickly taking stock I was ok, just some road rash on the left leg and a bum rear wheel. I was actually proud of myself, I stopped and rationally though thru my next move. I calmly walked back to the secondary pit and asked for rear wheel and bike check knowing that I would be placed back in mostly the position I was in before the shooting.

While the mechanic was sorting out my bike I was thinking to myself that in the last 24 hours I have spent more time in the neutral support tent that in my first 3 years of racing, hmmm… Holding tight to my goal of finishing, I was pushed back out into the race with 8ish laps left (really nice to have a good shuv by the way, it helps you get up to speed and back into the mix of a quickly moving pack). I had recovered a couple matches by sitting out two laps but I knew my legs would not be happy with the quick start stop. 3 laps left I knew it was now or never so I took advantage of a slight slow up and moved to the front of the pack only to get snapped back after a hard acceleration by the leaders. 
I simply didn’t have the legs to get myself into contention and stay there. I finished 30th out of 100+ starters and honestly was pleased with my effort and state of mind but all too aware of my lacking race fitness.