Sunday, February 9, 2014

The value of a dollar

I was having a conversation with a friend a few weeks back about a Jr. devo team in the Midwest that has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to crashing often. These are really young kids that have a ton of talent, and maybe a bit faster than their ability can handle. They race like they are in bumper cars ad I have been told that they are instructed to not fear crashing because it just happens. To an extent I can agree that yes it does happen, but the frequency that it happens to these kids is absurd, and they just tend to put themselves into situations that are dangerous. They seem to race every lap like there is a race to the front, rather than than the race actually just being to the finish line at the end. I have a theory that they also have no idea about the price of their crashes. The cost to replace equipment and clothing is a factor to many people, the only people I know that it does not matter to are pros and kids.
So tonight while I road my trainer for a few hours I was thinking about kids and them learning the value of a dollar. In coaching I have a lot of kids that have never had a job, have very wealthy parents, and don't know that their jacket they left on the floor cost $150, or if they do, they don't know what it took for their parent to buy them that jacket. But when you have a kid, who trains 20+ hours a week, is a A+ student that studies 4 hours a night, and goes to school 8 hours a day, you don't have much time for anything else but sleep.
So my thought was, give your kid the dream, make them a pro athlete. For the kids that race bikes, especially on devo teams, this is the goal anyways. Now you are thinking, "Crap I already spend enough on this kid, now I have to pay them to do a sport I already pay for?" Just give me a sec to explain. So you make your kid a part time employee of the Parent Government, you are the "government" because you supply them with many things the government does for some low income people. Housing, food, healthcare, etc. So you are still giving them a place to live, food to eat, they are on your healthcare, you buy them clothes, if they have a car to drive to practice they still have that. So now you pay them like a minimum wage employee, say maybe $9 a hour. Sorry if that is wrong, it was just a number I chose. So when they have practice they get paid. If they don't go for any reason, they don't get paid. Doesn't matter if for school or anything else, if you miss for work, you don't get paid. So lets say your kid trains 20 hour a week +$9 an hour times 4 weeks a month. That is $720 a month. Now as a government you are able to to tax your citizens so lets say 25%, I know low income doesn't necessarily pay taxes, but this is about learning what life is like and I doubt you want your kids to grow up and struggle so much they don't. So now their take home is $540 a month.
Next your kid has to pay for training. For my kids at the gym that is $310 a month so now they only have $230. A good cycling coach might cost $180 a month, in that case they would still have $360. If they have a car they need to pay for gas, lets say $120 a month, that is $110 or $240. If they have an injury or a car accident, they will need the deductible or co-pay. Entries into races or competitions are paid by them. If they need equipment or clothing for their sport, that is on them. As you already know, the money is gone fast, and your kid will learn that too. They will start to see how hard it is to earn that money, and how fast what they think is a lot of money, is gone.
I have friends whose kids hate to spend their own money and are always asking for money to go to the movies or for gas. This would have to be avoided for the lesson to be learned. This is also a great time to teach them about credit and how fast debt can get out of control. You can tell that the money your kids are "earning" would not cover anywhere near the cost to compete and you could "lend" them the money.
So really this is money you are going to spend already, and truthfully money never really even needs to change hands. This could be good to as the world is more and more a credit debit card place. So just a thought, think it is what I would do.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Man time has gone by fast! The end of the season for cycling was not something I was looking forward to. I must admit that I have what I would call an addiction to racing my bike. To me it is strange to know there is a race anywhere in the US and not be racing. Not just locally or within a few hours, but I drove up to 9 hour to race this year. Yeah it is an addiction.
This year, more than ever I was really into my national ranking at USA Cycling. I am (was) just a category 3 racer (to my gymnastics friends it is like a level 8) but I still reached a ranking of 3rd in the country out of about 5600 racers. The great thing was that the 1st place guy was still a friend of mine in the region and we were able to race against each other often and I had a lot of fun trying to knock him off the top. We traded a lot back and forth but he is just a better racer right now, maybe next year....... :-)
I again won my team's own race with a lot of amazing help from my team in Maplewood. Then I was able to take 3rd at state after our top guy for the race broke a foot in a car packing accident the week before. Again it was thanks to the team work done throughout the race. I missed the following weekend when I was out of town trying to get a new business going with my partner. ( When I came back I was able to jump in a race with Mike and tried to help him but I did not get a warm up at all, jumping out of my car and right to the start line, so I was smoked with 3 laps to go and Mike placed 5th. With 2 weeks of the season to go a bunch of the team traveled out west to do a couple small races and get topped off with speed before the Gateway Cup. I helped a teammate in the first race to win and took 3rd myself and took 3 of 4 primes. Then I jumped into the P123 race, took a $100 prime, sucked wind for a big part of the race, and then got my shit together enough to start helping another teammate win. Big day for Quantum Mesa Cycles. The next day was a road race, I don't know why we did it, the race sucked, I really don' t know that I am ever going to do that race again.
The last end of the season in this area is marked by a great race called The Staenberg Group Gateway Cup. It is a pretty big deal, and if you think you are a big deal and you have not raced this race then you are wrong. I wanted a shot at winning the Omnium at the GWC and my team was down to help as long as I could help with Mike winning his season long races, day 1 and day 3. Day 1, Lafayette Square, an amazing neighborhood in St Louis, is a great start to the 4 day Labor Day weekend. It is a fairly flat, very wide, four corner crit that is raced at night. GWC is a race that you have to have nerves of steal, luck, and your head on a swivel to hope to stay out of trouble. I have yet to go a season without getting involved in a crash here. I had gone all year without one crash and I was really hoping to keep it that way. It was the same for Mike (3 years without a crash) and Keith (all season). Almost as soon as I thought of this, while we were racing, Mike and Keith went down in a pretty bad crash. I was right in front of Mike, but I knew it was him that went down. I sat in for a few laps trying to find Mike and Keith. I couldn't find them on the side or in the pits as we went by so I hoped they were just in the back of the pack. Finally after what seemed like 10 laps I saw them both in the pits. Neither was able to get back in. Keith was plowed into and hurt his back bad, and Mike sliced the tip of his finger off and was going to the hospital. I think this messed with my head a bit as I had not planned on really trying to win in the race, I was working for Mike, so I ended up doing some things that I would not have done. I tried to be in a break that I thought was going to work, they NEVER WORK at GWC, and I did work on the front of the pack, I must have been hit in the head I dunno. I ended up 13th on the night. I was pretty pissed at myself, I was screwed in the GC if I didn't pick it up. Day 2 was very similar to day 1, just in a new location. St Francis Park, another great neighborhood in the lou. I have always hated this race, for me it was just too wide and I always felt like the gas was always on. This time though, I was bored. I never hit the front and didn't do any work until I was sprinting for the win. Now I was back in the hunt, 3rd in the GC. Day 3 was The Hill, an historic race in St Louis' "little Italy". This race is Mike's white whale, he has been so close so many times and this was another year he would have to miss out. He helped me a lot with a plan but I was nervous. This was a race that I had never actually been there at the end. I had always helped and was smoked by the finish line so I didn't know how the finishes ever worked out in person. I was supposed to go with about 500-600 meters to go but when that line hit the race was FLYING and I was 12-15 riders back. I just didn't think I could make it happen. As we were coming around the final turns I was able to get on a few fast wheels and I made up a lot of wheels. In the final turn I hit a hay bale and was slowed slightly losing some ground. I wasn't going to win, but I kept the power on. With 150-200 meters to go I opened up my sprint and was able to close down on everyone but first place, missing him by a bike's length. 2nd wasn't too bad at all. Day 4 in Benton Park was my kind of race, turns, turns, and more turns. And then it happened. I crashed. All by myself, no one to blame, and thankfully no one else went with me. First lap, 6 turns (out of 10) in, I just washed out into the curb. I am stupid. The only way I could win the GC was for 1st place to not finish and I had to win. That wasn't going to happen and now I was not into it 100%. I was now ready to be finished. I road the rest of the race and crossed the line 10th. I finished in 3rd in the GWC, 3rd in the MOBAR competition (season long competition in MO) and 3rd in the USA. Hmm, I just realized that......
I am now a category 2 and I have a lot of work to do to be ready for next year. I am hoping that my experience in the last couple years will help but I am told it is going to be faster that I can imagine. Bring it on.

The guy to the right in the red was the #1 ranked rider in the USA. He also won GWC. Good guy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tour of Nevada pt 2

WOW that was such a great weekend! I have to admit that I was really nervous about the races this last weekend in Nevada, MO. It is the biggest race that I have put on and since I was partnering with the city of Nevada I really wanted it to be a success. The biggest reason for the success were the great people of Nevada that helped to put the event on. There were so many people that went above and beyond and made this event what it was this weekend.

Night one was on a 12 turn, yes 12 turns, course that had amazing pavement. It was smooth  and flat with almost no holes or bumps. The start finish stretch was the best part of the course in my opinion. It is one of the few courses that I have raced on this year that you got a chance to ramp up into your sprint rather than jumping out of a corner. I was able to clock my fastest speed ever in a sprint at 39.1 miles per hour.

The P1/2 race was held in the dark and it was exciting to watch and I hope race. Our team was very active in the race going for primes and getting a rider in the break of the day. Grant, who is our youngest cat 2 on the team (23) made the break and in the end was able to make a great sprint for 3rd place. His first cat 2 podium! Luke Bligh, our top sprinter won the field sprint after a great lead out by the team. I also saw Matthew Kelly of Chicago Wheelmen hold off the field's chase to finish between the break and the field and Cameron Rex laid it all out trying to get away from the field over the last quarter of the race. He was just pipped on the line by Luke. It was great to see a race with so much talent and power in it that anyone could have won.

Sunday at the school yard crit we were offering some of the biggest and most primes that I have ever seen. We not only had $1800 + in payout for the P123 field but $1000 in primes. The biggest one was a $500 prime and we were told when the prime was going to happen. On the second lap of the race, as long as there were no crashes on the first lap. This was going to hurt!

First I was going to race the Cat 3/4 race however.  We had Keith, Mike, and I racing with only Kyle Cress and Rob Landes being our only real competition. We used a tactic that has worked over and over again this year, we sent Keith to "wear people out" on a break away, and he ends up sticking the thing for the whole race! The dude has a motor that just doesn't quit! Rob and Kyle did their best to catch Keith, but the rest of the field did little to really help pull him back. I only went for one prime in the race as I was a little worried about the slight uphill finish and wanted enough for that finish. Mike did a great job helping me keeping me out of the wind and near the front. On the last lap I asked Mike to lead me out through the last two turns. Mike took me through turn 3 in 2nd with Rob fighting me for his wheel. The plan was for Mike to go from the inside of turn 4 and swing out wide and I go right into my sprint. With Rob fighting me for his wheel though I was overlapping Mike's wheel on his left and would have had to slow down to go inside him. I started yelling for him to go right after the turn. This did two things, it allowed me to swing wide and carry good speed into the sprint and it also put Mike a little into Rob's way. Nothing illegal or dangerous, just enough to give me a bit more of a jump on him. I took 2nd in the race after Keith. I was turning out to be a great day for QMC as Brian had placed 2nd in the masters race with Mike in 9th.

The last race of the day was the P123, I think I was the only 3 in the race but I wanted a chance to help my team win the big $500 prime. I had told my team that I was going to bury myself to try and help us win that thing. I didn't even care if I finished the race, or even the next lap. The race started and I moved to the front right after turn 1. There was a rider that had taken a flyer and I wanted to make sure I kept the speed up so that Luke could get into a good spot. We came around the start finish and they rang the bell, the prime was on! I was starting to hurt now but I just kept pushing as hard as I could. I remember seeing 28 or 29 mph, not a bad speed to keep things stretched but I didn't have much gas left. As we rounded turn 2 I started asking my teammate to come up. I kept my pace up as much as I could but we were in a pretty stiff head wind and I was tiring fast. That was when we were jumped and Luke last his position a bit and was now behind one of the fastest guys in the area in a sprint, Devin Clark. As I was quickly dropping back through the field I knew we had lost the big one as Devin started to ramp it up and Luke had to come from 2 riders back. I believe Luke was able to catch Devin, but was not able to come around him, pretty good but not quite there.

After the prime, Devin just kept going with Josh Johnson. I was just barely able to latch onto the back of the pack and spent the next couple laps just trying to recover. At some point there was a crash in turn 1 off into the grass. Grant and Luke both went down with Luke landing hard and on his head. Grant was a bit flustered I guess and instead of taking his free lap he jumped back on his bike and tried to catch the pack......he never made it. Now there was a group up the road and we didn't have anyone in it. I didn't have much left but I had enough to do a small pull and try to do something. I hit the front and pulled for a little less than half a lap and then pulled off. I was just hoping to get close so the gap would close, but luckily Jason was on my wheel and jumped hard and was able to make the break. My day was done however. The stress of getting the race set up, racing, and running it all weekend was just too much to be racing twice this day. But it was a great time and I would do it again.

Turns out I most likely will too, look for the ToN next year, bigger and better!

Keith winning the School Yard Crit and me in the sprint. Not a very fast sprint but a win (2nd) is a win (2nd place :-))
It might look like I don't know what is going on, but that I just how I look.

Banners at the start finish
The local police were great and seemed to have a good time.
Not the biggest field of the year, but this P1/2 field had a lot of heavy hitters in it.
First year of the race and we already brought in riders from Chicago. These guys know what a good thing is.
Just FYI, Luke has a gold bike. Like real gold.

Monday, June 17, 2013

2013 O'Fallon Grand Prix

The O'Fallon Grand Prix is a three day race held in O'Fallon IL. Over the last few years it has grown to be a really nice race on the calendar and has Saturday's race has been the IL state road race for quite some time now.

Last year OFGP decided to add a time trial to their weekend. It is a 13.1 mile TT with plenty of turns, rolling hills, and for a Midwest TT what can be considered a climb. They call it a prolog but it is over 20km so I think it is really a TT. This year they made the race weekend an Omnium which I was a big fan of. It is always more fun to add more levels of strategy to races. For our Cat 3 team we were going into the weekend's state road race with a two point plan to try and finally come home with a rr title. I was also going to try and work out a way to do well in the Omnium. A bit hard to do while trying to help teammates win a 70 mile road race.

The TT went really well. I have never put out more power on my TT bike and for more than half the race I we feeling really good. I need to spend a bit more time on the bike and work those muscles a bit more, but it is coming around. Too bad for me however that there are a lot of good TT guys in my category, and my teammate Keith is one of them. Keith slotted in at 3rd place I took 5th.

The IL state rr is on a really nice course that the promoters change up from year to year to keep things new. We change directions and even use different roads it seams from time to time. There is really no significant climbing and there was no hard wind, the only thing making the race hard was the heat, the road melting, and in the end, this distance. For the most part the race was slow, like really slow. There were a few larger teams in the race but for the most part their plans involved putting someone in a break and then sitting on the front. There was really no counter attacking or anything to stretch the "rubber band". Our plan #1 was to put Keith in a break away but we wanted to wait till later in the race. So all the breaks that went away too early we made it into and sat on, or we pulled back. This seemed to make a lot of other teams mad, not sure why but o well. So when it was finally time to try and make the break happen we went hard. We sent attack after attack, countering off each other. But with only 4 guys to make things happen it was very difficult. Luckily Keith had enough for one more go and it made a very large break with what looked like 2 from every team but our. This might have been a bad decision on my part but after seeing that I thought I should try to get up there to even the score with Keith. I jumped hard and had a good gap but as I was coming up on the group it looked like no one was doing anything and Keith was a few feet off the back. So after about 20+ min of trying to make the break go we switched to plan #2 which was a bunch sprint for Mike. I think this made even more people mad as now nothing was going away. The problem for me was I had to now do a lot of work. Keith was really worn out from trying the breaks, Roy was now out with cramps, and we had to keep Mike fresh for the finish. Mike ended up having to help out and he even tried to get in one or two small breaks that could have worked. He never over committed and had plenty for the finish. As we came closer to the end we were set up at the front with some strong guys right in front of us. I thought we were on the fast track to the finish line. About 1km from the finish there was a small climb and then about 700 meters to the finish. I was able to hold a very good position in spite on my thighs starting to cramp with every push on the pedals. We came over the top and there wasn't a hole lot of snap left. I was sitting second wheel with Mike right on my wheel. When it was time to jump though I had nothing in the tank, I could only just keep the power on in my seat. Mike had to jump around and opened it up. He was looking really good but looked like he went just a bit early and took 5th place. I was pretty bummed with how I finished, I was hoping to have more to give Mike.

The last day was the crit. It is held on a course with 10 turns and bad pavement. The weather was sucky with rain forecast for most the day. There were only 15 or so riders that lined up for the 3s race with QMC having the most (4) in the race. The guys were going to help me sprint for the finish. I told Keith to try and make an early break to help us keep the pressure off us. Turned out that was the move of the day as he went up the road with a Prairie Path Cycling rider. I wasn't worried about Keith as I thought he would be the stronger rider and would take the win. He got a bit unlucky with his break partner flatting and getting some time out of the race. This tired Keith out and he ended up doing more time on the front than he might have otherwise.

In the peleton, or what was left of it, Mike, Roy, and I were sitting pretty. The other four  or five riders with us were spending a lot of time trying to pull Kieth back which was great for us. With the race coming to a close Roy was right on the front to give me a great lead-out. We got a little help from a Rhythm Racing rider pulling on the front, but when I hit the front stretch I was able to get a really good jump and came around for 1st in the field sprint.

After the 3s race I jumped in with our cat 2 team for the pro 1/2/3 race. The plan was to get Grant into the break of the day as he was the highest placed rider in the GC for the team. We were going to cover moves and if Grant wasn't there, wait for him to get there. I was pretty far back at the start of the race and took me a couple laps to move up to the front. I got there just in time though as my teammates were recovering from previous moves and others were going off. I made it into a couple moves that were brought back before the final move went and a chase went after it. I was just barely able to get a hold of the chase. Hayden Warner, Casey Saunders, and I tried to catch the lead group of 4 but only got as close as 10 seconds before they started to put in more time on us and the pack. Our chase group started to put in a lot of time on the pack to so I started to work more with the group. After about 30 min though we had a bit of a mix up in the rotation and Casey dropped me. I sat up a bit for about a lap and then got to work again trying to stay out front. I didn't know if I could stay out there the rest of the race but I wanted to try. I was out for about another 15 min and once I was caught I was out the back, my race was pretty much over.

The team did a lot of good work for Grant though and he was able to sprint for 3rd in the field taking 7th in the crit and moving up to 2nd in the GC. A great result for him!

It was a really fun weekend. I am leaving for ToAD on Thursday for 11 days of racing and I am feeling pretty good about it.

Cat 123 race in the chase group.
I am first guy in the picture up the road chase down Nick Ramirez who let me catch him really. Grant was trying to go with my but ran off the road.... 
Cool pic of my sprint in the cat 3 race.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tulsa Tough Brady Village Crit and Cry Baby Hill

I had a great time at Tulsa Tough! Other than my friend getting hurt it was a great time and I raced pretty well 2/3 days. The Brady Village crit was a 6 turn crit in an L shape with a slight uphill and downhill section. Again the race was totally full but my teammate Roy was able to get into the 3 field with a few riders not showing up I guess. I talked to Roy about how important it was going to be to be near the front. We did a great job in the race to the start line with Roy right on the line and my behind him. At the word go Roy shot off like a bat out of hell leading the field for a lap. Then coming into the start finish a rider shot up the side and Roy went to follow but a rider jumped sideways into him (happened a lot last weekend...) and into his rear wheel and derailleur cable. His cable got pulled out of whack and he had to go into the pit. He didn't get a good release back into the race and he spent most of the race trying to get back up to me. I was able to stay very near the front and went for one prime winning it by a big margin. The rest of the primes were much bigger and I wanted to go for them but I decided it would have taken too much energy to go for, hurting my chances at a good finish. The race stayed together pretty well with only a few small breaks trying to go away. Near the end of the race Roy made it up to me for a moment but was then separated from me again. All I was hoping for was to stay near the sharp end going down the last hill into the final turn. I thought I was in a good spot but looking at it now I was too far back. But being so oxygen starved isn't good for thinking clear. I was able to sprint for 15th place and took home some good money to split with Roy.

Cry baby hill on it's own isn't much of a hill really and I think if it was done as the first race of the weekend it wouldn't be as big a deal. But I put it in the same category as Snake Alley and Shlitz Park. It is a climb with a decent and go again. This climb is a big ring ordeal for about 20 seconds. The great thing about cry baby is the party on the hill. I thought snake had a good atmosphere but this was amazing. There are films all over about this thing. Like I said the hill is short but it is violent. You come off the start finish stretch and turn right up a steep ramp for about one block, then you turn right again and into the party. This thing is CRAZY!!! The sound is unreal and is the closest thing us wanna-bes will ever get to feeling like we are riding the Tour. The second half of the climb is not as steep as the first but after a while it still hurts. There is a nice downhill section right after followed by another slight uphill, although if you are following a few riders the second uphill is almost completely coast-able. Then after another right turn there is a steep downhill followed by a final right turn that is more than 90*. For most of the race I felt great and was having no problems. Then that changed and I just got pissed. Not really sure why, I just didn't want to race anymore. So I quit. I don't remember another time I just decided that fast but I really have no regret about it which is also funny since I always hate quitting. I did have a great time though, and my power numbers are saying that I am still on my way up. I am taking a couple days easy and then I race in O'Fallon IL this weekend before heading up to Wisconsin next Thursday. Things are looking bright.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tulsa Tough Blue Dome District

Wow what a race! I had no idea how short this race lap really was going to be but we were around this thing fast! The field here was completely full with over 100 riders. I was wondering why they closed it at 100, once the race started I could see.

Eric and I got a really good spot on the course just after the final turn and about 120 meters from the start/finish. The course was a figure 8 with no real elevation to speak of. The wind was really non existent as well. I got a good warm up in really just getting my legs moving as the temp didn't require you to get the body really warm. I started to pull up to the start finish and wanted to take one lap around the course to see what it was all about and put on my gloves. When I cam back around everyone had already lined up.......CRAP! I hate starting at the back, and when there are 100 guys, and those guys are fast, and the course is small and tight, things can suck. So I just prepared myself for three to four laps of just hammering and making up ground. It turned out moving up was not a problem, I think a lot of guys were scared so there was a lot of room between riders to move around and up. I used the turns to make up a lot of ground and hold up my speed. I also quickly learned where I would be able to move later in the race. By the 4th lap I was up in the top 10 and just worked to hold in that area. There were a couple of times that I allowed myself to get swallowed in swarms and I tried a few other things to keep that from happening. They worked really well and for the rest of the race I had no problem staying where I wanted to be.

There were a few hard crashes in the race, only one was in a corner and it was only because the rider was turning at too high a speed and I would guess too high a tire pressure. I sort of have been railing on this for a while now to anyone that will listen but people just don't seem to get it. High tire pressure will not make you go faster, and you will have a harder time in the corners. If you are laying on the ground, you are not moving at all. But over and over guys are telling me they are running 110-120 psi in their tires. Not only is this dangerous to that rider but the other riders that he, or she, is going to take out when they slide out in a turn. It is really just the idea that more is better, well it's not! There are actually article out there where Pro Tour mechanics will say what they are putting in their riders tires, none are over 100 psi, and for a lot of races they are much, much lower. The really funny thing is hearing ex mountain bikers who will ride with super high psi, these guys know all about pressure but whatever.

Okay so the biggest crash of the night took out the back half of the field, it was crazy coming around to the pit to see all these guys waiting to go. The last crash was on the last lap with 3 turns to go. A guy took a flyer and washed out in the turn. As always the guys behind him grabbed a bunch of break, instead of just continuing their turns, and washed out with him. That meant I and a few others had to wind our way through and jump back on the gas. I was sitting 4th wheel chasing the 3rd place rider, with him about 10-15 feet in front of me. First place had about 20+ feet in front of the 2nd and 3rd place riders. My power meter showed I had 2 jumps over 1000 watts in the last two straightaways before the start finish, this is too much for me to have a sprint left and I lost 2 spots in that last 200 meters. It was still a good finish but I wasn't too happy about losing those places. Just one more thing to learn from, and I have to be happy I did not get in any of those crashes.

Speaking of crashes, there were a ton of them in all the races last night. My teammate Eric had a pretty bad one where I thought he had broken his collar bone. Luckily the x-rays were negative, we just had to spend a bunch of time in the ER. He is going to be super sore, but at least he will be back racing sooner than later.

We are racing again in a few hours on an L shaped course. I am sure it will be very similar to last night, so I will be trying my best to be at the front. I will let you know how it goes.

These are just the top 33 riders, there were a few more pages.
Saturday's course, Bradley Village Crit

Cool photo of Murphy coming through, he is number 299

Eric's helmet. He still had a pretty big bump on his head, but imagine if he didn't have this thing on.