Sunday, April 29, 2012

Joe Martin Stage Race, Stage 3

Boy, where to start with this post. I,m sitting here in Ft.Smith AR looking out the window at sunny sky's contemplating how Nick and I will make our way up to Fayettville for today's final stage of the race. Since we both went out of the race on stage 2 we are doing training rides instead of racing. It's a huge bummer but at least training on the roads around here softens the blow a bit.

Before I move on to stage 3 I'll have to explain what happened on stage 2. As a team we were riding well, we had guys in all the breaks and everybody else was working on the front covering anybody that tried to join them. About 20 miles into the race Dillon flatted and both Jason and I went to the back of the field to make sure he got back on. Once Dillon came around the officials car I went back fort him and pulled him backup to the field. For the first 50 miles or so we were going straight into a stiff headwind so it was tough sledding to get back on. All three of worked our way back up to the front of the field after a few miles and then I flatted. I actually hit a huge rock in the road that exploded my tire and threw my wheel off to the right. I had to unclip from my pedal and tripod it for a few moments before I could start going straight. My save earned major kudo's for not crashing and taking out half of the field but now I had to get a wheel change. The wheel truck was right there but unfortunately it was staffed by a inexperienced guy and his son. I stopped and the kid came running up with a wheel that was all ready flat and tried to put it in my bike. Then he ran back and got another wheel and had a hard time getting it past the lawyer tabs(dumb UCI rule). The end result, a 3-4 minute wheel change and the field was completely out of sight. For miles I chased because the field really wasn't going that fast and eventually I caught up to the wheel truck, ambulance, and officials car. As I reached each car I rested for a second and then jumped up to the next one. as I got behind the officials car I tried to jump up to the field and got so close, maybe 50ft, and just couldn't do it. For the next 20 mile I continued to chase about a 1/4 mile behind the field until I finally blew going up the feed zone climb.

At this point I was pretty much mentally crushed but I figured I should continue on for training. What a mistake. 20 more miles into the wind with plenty of rolling hills thrown in and I was totally shattered. To top it off there was no sign that I was actually still on course and I had been riding by myself for over and hour. Eventually I came to a spot were the course turned and saw a race worked so I continued on. I was thinking at this that I am never going to make the time cut so my race is over so I just need to make it to the next feed zone and get a ride in. The only problem with this is that when I hit the first feed zone there was nobody there but volunteers. All of the people that were helping the Mercy team had all ready left. All I could think is that there would be nobody there at the 2nd feed and I was going to arrive at the finish sometime after dark. So I'm crawling along up the 9 mile climb up to the 2nd feed when a guy with a pickup truck rolls up beside me and asks me if I need a ride. I must of looked like a ghost that was about to fall off my bike at that point so I said ok since my race was over anyway. So this guy takes me to his destination which was only on the other side of the mountain. 4 miles was all I was in the truck and I still had 25 miles to go when I got back on my bike. 4 miles.....and I felt like a new man when I got back on my bike. Mentally refreshed I rolled to the finish with another rider for company.

When I crossed the line I immediately went to the officials to let them know what happened. Apparently they felt sorry for me and did not DQ me for hitching a ride. So I could of raced stage 3 but that's just not how the game is played and I don't want anybody to discount the performance of the rest of the team because I was allowed to continue the race.

Nick also had issues on Stage 2 with dehydration and ended up with an IV in his arm by the end of the day.

So yesterday was a great day for the Mercy Team. We had guys in the breakaway all day and the break only got caught on the final run in to the finish. Then the guys got it together to position our sprinter Zach for the finish. At the line it was a photo finish and he lost by the width of a tire. Missing the win was a bummer but the time bonus moved him from 4th at 11 seconds to 2nd at 5 seconds. Today's criterium is going to be pretty interesting.

So I have to get going. Time to get packed up and head out for our training ride.

Early break in the Pro race

Pro race leader Mancebo rolling through the feed zone

Pro Race caravan

The sprint in the 1-2 race. If you blow it way up you can see Zach coming from way back.

After race carnage, the boys were tired after 90 miles in the heat and humidity.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Joe Martin SR, Stage 2

In a bit of a rush this morning so this is going to be short. Good and bad day for the Mercy Team yesterday. We now have 3 guys in the top 13 with Zach only 11 seconds out of the lead. But we are down to 5 riders with Nick and I both out of the race. No worries, we are not injured but it's a long story that I'll have to tell in tonights post. Right now Nick and I are doing a training ride up to the stage start in Fayetville, meet up with the guys and then work the feed zone. Total powertanning day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Joe Martin Stage Race, Stage 1

Hanging out this morning at the hotel waiting to head out to Stage 2 of the race. Yesterday's Stage 1 Uphill Time Trial was both good and bad for our crew. The results were not as good as they were last year but we still have 4 guys in the top 25 and all are within a minute of the leader. I really don't know why I have such a difficult time with the TT but I just can't seem to get it right. I suppose part of the problem is just that I really have no chance of placing well and my job on the team is to help our best placed riders. Kinda keeps you from going too hard so you have a little more energy for today's stage.

Speaking of today's stage, 110 miles with plenty of climbing thrown in. I'm hoping our young guns can ride well and be in the front when we hit the grind up Mt Gaylor. For me it's just a game of survival mixed in with riding at the front and making sure nothing gets away without one of our guys.

On a side note, the bummer of the day was Tradewind Energy's Steve Tilford going down while warming up for the TT and suffering a badly separated shoulder. I'm not sure what happened but wish Steve a speedy recovery.

As usual Mercy Hospital is treating us right. A posh hotel in Ft. Smith and meals at the hospital.

Yesterday's setup. Probably go for Bontrager XXX lite wheels today to save a little weight. I'll need all the help I can get.

Nick pinning up his number.

Nice day for a TT.

Ok, time to head oout and get loaded up, more after today's stage.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Last weekend part of the Mercy Cycling crew headed off to Illinois for the Hillsboro-Roubaix road race. Adam and I decided to head out late Friday morning in hopes of going for a ride when we arrived at our host house. An early start was out of the question because I decided to take JoBro to the doctor just to make sure nothing would go wrong while I was out of town. Mission accomplished and we were off. After a easy drive we arrived just as the rain started, bummer, no ride today. So it continued to rain all night and was still raining when we woke up. After a leisurely breakfast we decide to head out to the race. After about an hour drive we arrived at the race site to guessed it, more rain. Whatever, 50 degrees, rain, and a 100 rider field, bring it! With no warm up of any kind we rolled to the line to start the race. Off we went into the rain and it was actually not too bad. In a wise move we decided to wear the old red kit instead to the new white kit, saved some clothes since we were riding on narrow country roads that were full of dirt and mud from the farm fields.

Photo: Elizabeth Rangel, (Thanks!)

The race itself didn't go as we had hoped for the team. While we were all riding pretty well and in good position the wet roads would take their toll. Austin was our strongest rider so we were all looking to help him. Unfortunately, Austin flatted just before there was a huge crash in the field. Nick and I were ahead of Austin when he flatted but Adam was there to wait and pace him back up to the field. Here's where the unfortunate part comes in. The wheel truck is right behind the field but it's now the 2nd of 3 laps and all but 2 of the wheels in the truck are flat. By time the guy finds a working wheel the 30 sec wheel change has now taken 3 minutes. Game over for Austin and Adam.

Nick and I continued to ride near the front of the field to keep out of trouble. Nearing the end of the race I was actually feeling pretty good but was just happy to finish the race. I never thought about going for a good finish and didn't look behind me. If I had I would of seen that the field had gotten much smaller on the last lap. Rolling up to the last climb into town I knew that you have to be near the front to get a good finish. Well.......I was nowhere near the front as the climb began and ended up picking my way through riders all the way up the climb. In the end I ended up 26th. Better than last year but still leaves me wondering if I could of finished better.

Oh well, since the race in St.Louis got cancelled we loaded up the van and headed for home. Kind of nice to race and then have a family day on Sunday. Lot's of long weekends coming up and races to do.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Last weekend

Maybe I should start with the week, the week that could not end soon enough! Mathgeek had the end of the quarter workload, pretty much a 8-8 day, everyday. The kids were sick, and the shop was overlaoded with work. I guess you could say the the shop was fine, I was overloaded. I just kept reminding myself that it's just the spring rush that happens every year. By Friday I was just completely fried, I actually came home and took a nap, and I never nap. So I rolled into the weekend with one ride all week and a race on Saturday. I woke up Saturday morning looking at a radar showing rain at the race site but after a fair amount of second guessing I got loaded up and headed out.

Got to the race and got signed up, suited up, and out to warm up. Considering how late I got there it wasn't long before we lined up to start. I was a little surprised that they separated the 50+ and the Women from the rest of the Cat 1 riders but whatever, I just wanted to get a race in. Actually, I just wanted to finish a MTB race. The fact was that I had not finished a MTB race in over 2 years. crashes and mechanical in the few races I've done took me out so I really wanted to finish this one.

So the race started and it didn't take long to catch some the the Cat 1's that started a minute before our race. This was a huge bummer, it is well known that if you get caught by the leaders of another race you move over and let them pass. I let these guys know I was coming but there was no way they were going to let me by with out a fight. It took a while but I managed to get by these guys without getting too aggressive. I will say that it is tough to pass on the River Trails course, but really guys, slow down jump off the line for just a second to let the leaders by, then jump back on. It's way faster to do that than have both of us riding off line in the weeds.

Anyway, after that it was pretty smooth sailing, a few waits to get around a lapped riders and long 2 wheel drift that had me on the ground in the end. Good times just ripping around the trails for the last 2 laps. In the end I won the 50+ race and was 4th overall for the Cat 1's. Pretty happy with the race considering the week I had and looking at the lap times I wasn't too far off the fast guys times.

So here's this weeks pictures.......

The start up on the levy, the old guys are off!

Zach sporting the new Mercy Cycling kit on his TREK team bike,

He did us proud taking 2nd at the CSU crit in the Pro 1-2 race

Rocking the State wheels as well

Yea buddy, Hot wheels are still under a buck! I was working the MOPAR collection  but I had to get the Mooneyes car last week.

Sunday was Easter. Plenty of eggs were decorated and now the egg wars have begun.

Time to get to bed, got to get rested up for Tuesday nite Worlds crit. Sounds like it's going to be pain full. Heard the one they call "Joe" is going to be there and he's bringing a former Pro rider with him......