Monday, July 28, 2008

Salida Omnium, July 25 - 27, 2008

Masters 55+ blue boys at the Salida Omnium:

We got to Salida on Friday afternoon in time for their first heavy rains in a month. The time trial started late at 7:35 PM for us but happily late enough that the rains subsided. Randy poured it on and won handily, with Rio Grande’s Steve Workman and Mike Myers in second and fourth. Barry took third. Steve held 5th Paul 7th and Bill 8th.

Into the hard “queen” stage of the omnium on Saturday, the hilly and technical road race west of town. We rode three and ½ laps of the 12 mile circuit: The skies had somewhat cleared and it was cool (compared to the blistering heat back in Boulder) as we rolled out at noon. We planned on Barry going up the road with Rick Montgomery who climbs well and we knew would take off. Barry would do no work and drop him on the final climb for the win. It happened as planned although Barry demonstrating his trademark patience went with a full lap to go for the win. The rest of us stuck close to protect Randy. Paul rolled away with two other riders with a lap and a half to go. One was in front of him on GC so he had to go. He dropped them on the final climb to take 3rd and our boys came in with Bill in 5th , Steve in 7th, Jonathon in 8th and Randy in 11th having struggled on the final approach just before the final climb. Barry moved into Omnium yellow with Paul in 2nd on GC and Bill and Randy tied for 4th, Steve in 7th and Jim holding his own a couple of places back.

Now for the Sunday Criterium: We recognized that we would need to get Bill or Randy the win to lock the top three in the Omnium. We planed our usual two-up attacks and agreed that no red riders would be with the attackers or we would go back and try again. Workman went from the gun actually pulling Paul and red team Mike Myers off the front. A half lap later, Steve and Bill exploded out of the chasing pack, came by and were gone. The two red boys chased hard putting in huge efforts for several laps. As they tired with Barry and Paul covering their every pull, Randy surged up the right side, solo. This lit a fire under the reds and they re-doubled their efforts to keep Randy close and were succeeding until Randy pulled out with what we thought was a mechanical so I attacked up the side and bridged to Steve and Bill. They pulled hard and we lapped the field with Bill taking the win. Barry had attacked the bunch and soloed to fourth. Omnium results: Barry 1st, Paul 2nd, Bill 3rd, and a podium sweep plus gold in all three stages.

An awesome weekend for blue!!!! Is this fun or what?

Salida is such a great little town. There are good rides all over the valley and the Arkansas River, a playground for the kayakers, rafters and Labrador retrievers is right in their front yard. We had a couple of great dinners at the Boathouse, a place on the river and walked around downtown on Saturday night. There are big 14-ers all around and the valley is lush and cool in the summer.

Paul Mack

Mt Evans Hill Climb July 19, 2008

Mt. Evans Masters 55+ Report or Alpe D’Huez Aint Got Nothin’

Race day last Saturday was one of the hottest in Denver, about 99 degrees, and we couldn’t have hoped for better. The translation is perfect conditions for racing up to 14,000 feet. Our 55+ Masters group lit up with a bang at about mile ½, after two out-of-state riders pulled away. Hmmmm, for an important race the only allowed stragglers should be off the back, yes?. Our two leaders rudely never came back. The early break dictated the rest of the race, as the higher-paced peleton thinned and broke up over the ensuing 5K.

It’s amazing what altitude can do, over 28 miles and 7,000 feet of raced climbing. At about 13,000 feet before the final switchbacks, I felt as if all it would take would be a spectator blowing on me, and I would have fallen over. By 13,500 after those brief downhill respites I strangely felt much stronger, all the way to the top. At the 14,000 foot finish, the sun was so warm and strong it would have been easy to lay out until lobster red was the color of the day. Through an energy-drained haze I remembered though, that last time I rode down in similar weather it felt like my bike frame was broken…. My two layers of jackets left me shivering. Paul Mack and I both put on clothes to match a 35 degree Winter ride including Paul Mack signature Lobster gloves, kindly ferried up by volunteer drivers, and that was just enough. The ride down finally allowed enough time and energy to take in views from the most gorgeous road in North America.

- Bill (lessons {re}learned) Simmons 3rd, first for the Colorado Masters Hill Climbing Championship.
- Jonathan (I’m back) Montag, excellent ride, 9th.
- Paul (valiantly chasing early) Mack, 10th.

Beth Wren-Estes put together a fantastic race, with challenges most promoters never face. Additionally this year financially strapped sponsors pulled out. Beth and her cadre of volunteers truly deserve our gratitude for a race that puts Alpe D’Huez to shame.

Bill Simmons

Sunday, July 6, 2008

2008 Masters Nationals, Day 9

50+, 45+ Criteriums

It was an early start for Team Blue on the final day of Masters Nationals. The fog hung heavy in Louisville on the drive to Churchhill Downs, but the rising sun burned it off, leaving nice but humid conditions for the racing at hand.

Mike's 50+ criterium opened the day of racing at 8 AM, with 50 laps of the 1/2 mile loop in the infield of the 133 year old horse race track. Mike was feeling great, and covered or initiated countless moves. However, the field was not inclined to let anything up the road today, and the stage was set for a pack sprint.

Mike saw Gordon Aubrey moving up on the last lap, and knew that was the fast wheel to be on. Coming into the final turn, Aubrey was 3rd and Mikey was perfectly positioned in 5th, but the rider in 4th hit the deck, forcing Mike to swing wide to miss him. Mike stayed upright, but lost several spots, and crossed the line in 10th, a solid result under the circumstances.

Joe was up next at 9:30, also racing 50 laps in the 45+ field. Thurlow and his two teammates came to play, and swapped attacks back and forth. His legs still suspect, Joe hid in the field except for one brief trip up the road with Thurlow and a couple other riders. Thurlow doesn't play well with others, though, and the move didn't stick.

At last, Thurlow found the move he was looking for: up the road with only his teammate Richard Meeker for company. They pounded out 1:05 laps of the half mile course, a pace the field was not inclined to exceed. With 8 laps to go, they caught the field, and blew right through to the front. At the start of the bell lap, Thurlow had Meeker tucked in behind him, and the lead-out train left the station. Joe tried to climb on board, but some fading riders drifted across the road, blocking Joe just long to get him uncoupled. On the back straight, Joe chased them down, and was able to regain contact coming into the last corner, but didn't have anything left to advance his position on the finishing straight. He was able to hold off the pursuing field though, and snagged 8th place.

With Thurlow's perfect set-up Meeker had a gift-wrapped stars & bars jersey waiting for him. Joe took some small satisfaction from passing Thurlow before the line. (Hey, even if Thurlow was a lap up, and started coasting, it still counts, right?)

The boys in blue headed back to the hotel, grabbed showers, and packed up for the trip home. Mike and Joe bid farewell to Bill, who's flying out tonight, and climbed aboard the Caravan. After obligatory stops at Starbuck's and White Castle for some long-anticipated (un)health food, they hit the road for the 1133 mile drive.

The current plan is to pause briefly in St. Louis to take in the sights at the Gateway Arch, and then drive as far as possible tonight. The boys should be back in the 'hood by sometime Monday afternoon. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

2008 Masters Nationals, Day 8

55+ Criterium: The Usual Suspects

Bill here, after a great crit race day mixed with great adventure, awe/respect, and always the lingering bit of remorse. 10th place is respectable, although the podium is the objective of all. A medal in this 55+ field requires no hiding, plus willingness to attack with the likes of Wayne Stetina, Kent Bostick and Dave LuDuc. It was so encouraging to stretch the string multiple times with world champions, as the first seven laps averaged 30 mph. But, when the string broke, Subway/Peerless was not on the leading end, as Stetina and LeDuc rode away with a happy passenger. Task two, hang with Bostick. Three attacks later, I dropped back for a breather, again to watch Kent pull 4 others away. By the end we almost caught him, but almost meant a few meters gap at the line and a sprint finish with the hopeful sat-in crowd . 2nd up resulted in 10th , and the neverending drive to come back for another go. Cheers.

Friday, July 4, 2008

2008 Masters Nationals, Day 7

Rest Day

4th of July: A day off for millions of Americans, and for some tired bike racers. The boys in blue hit the town last night for some well-deserved relaxation. The nightlife was getting underway on 4th Street in downtown Louisville when they settled into some patio seats to sip a glass of Kentucky's finest at the Maker's Mark Bourbon Bar. They toasted their survival of the road race, and recounted their adventures to date. After stopping by a dueling piano bar to enjoy a little music, they headed back to their hotel to rest.

After sleeping in a little this morning, the boys took it easy today. A good breakfast and espresso, an easy recovery ride, a few errands, and then they kicked back at a movie theater to catch "The Hulk".

This afternoon, the skies opened up big time time, and the boys took pity on the women's fields racing the criterium at Churchill Downs this afternoon. The forecast for tomorrow isn't predicting rain, but then it wasn't calling for a "quick, build an ark!" rainstorm today, either.

Now, the blue crew is sipping a little merlot and watching "Jaws" on TV while washing their kits and their rides. Happy Independence Day to all!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

2008 Masters Nationals, Day 6

45+ Road Race: Good News, Bad News

Today it was Joe's turn to play on the Cherokee Park road race course, and it was a good news/bad news kind of day.

Good news- the predicted rain didn't materialize before the start; bad news- it started to rain at the start. Good news- Joe managed to stay upright through some of the slickest corners he's ever ridden on a road bike; bad news- many other riders didn't, including a guy laid it down in the middle of the road on the tight downhill turn after the start/finish line, blocking the official's vehicle which had come up into the middle of the field for reasons unknown. The driver came to a complete stop, blocking (Joe's) half of the field.

Good news- Joe soloed the last half of the 48 mile race; bad news- he wasn't off the front. After repeated attacks by Thurlow Rogers and his Amgen teammates over the opening few laps, the pack was starting to stretch and splinter, and then Thurlow got serious. He charged up the hills like he was on Paul's Ducati, single-handedly decimating the field into groups of 5 or less. When Joe detonated (you could probably hear the "BOOM" in Colorado, the only riders in his vicinity either pulled the plug or crashed in a corner, leaving Joe on a solo quest to avoid the dreaded "DNF".

Lap after lap, Thurlow and Joe each rode in solitude, one cheered on by the adoring crowd, the other by the hardy Bill and Mike support team. Realizing that he had the wrong tool for the job at hand, Joe considered asking them to run to the rental van for his TT bike, but figured the officials would frown on that move.

When the mist settled, Thurlow won by something like 3 minutes, Joe limped home in 21st place, and 31 of the starters never saw the finish line. Good news- it was a day of racing to remember; bad news- it was a race Joe won't be able to forget.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

2008 Masters Nationals, Day 5

Road Race: 55+, 50+

Several masters men road races were contested in sunny, hot, and breezy conditions today, including Bill's 40 mile 55+ race at high Noon, and Mike's 50+ race following at 2 PM, also 40 miles (8 laps of the roller coaster course).

Bill was looking cool and collected at the start, which was a good thing because the attacks went from the gun. After covering several early moves by Kent Bostick, Dave LeDuc and Wayne Stetina (calculate the collective horsepower represented there!), Bill made it into 2 moves that went up the road, but the field was still fresh enough to pull them back. After those major efforts, Bill was somewhat tenderized, and the 3 kingpins were eventually able to slip away, accompanied by 3 others. By the end of lap 3 the starting field of 60 was reduced to 20 riders.

Bill hung tough as the laps rolled by the the temperature climbed. In their wisdom, the race officials have prohibited feeds for races under 50 miles, but there didn't seem to be any rule against spraying. Joe dumped a bottle of water on Bill each lap to try to keep him cool. The break stayed away to capture the podium places, but Bill hung tough with the chase group to finish 15th.

Mike was up next, and lined up early for a front row view of the action. He kept himself safely positioned near the front in the early laps, looking comfortable up the climbs. Then, a Specialized rider threw down an attack up the climb that only one Amgen rider was able to follow. Mike was next up the hill, but no one was ready to assist.

The Specialized rider eventually shed his companion, and appeared ready to claim a stars and stripes jersey. However, Mike wasn't ready to concede, and led the chase up the climbs. On the last lap, a lone rider slipped away on a downhill, and gave all to the chase. Still a few seconds behind at the crest of the last major climb, the chaser closed the final gap in the last flat run-in to the line, and claimed victory.

Mike crested the feed hill climb in fourth, but the fresh legs hiding in the back of the chase group emerged for the final kilometer, relegating Mike to 15th place.

After a day of hard-fought battles, the blue trio showered off and headed out to re-fuel.

Barry's Power File from State Road Race

Hi cycling fans! Here is the file from Barry Messmer's winning ride in the 55+ category at the 2008 State Road Race: Victory!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

2008 Masters Nationals, Day 4


After two days days of non-stop activity, there was finally time to relax and recover a little bit. After picking Bill up at the airport, the blue boys swung by the Liquor Barn and picked up a Merlot Cabernet blend to toast Mike's excellent TT adventure, and then sipped a glass while while Bill assembled his bike. Then it was off to bed for some hard-earned rest.

The next morning was clear and unseasonably cool, perfect for a easy recovery spin through the neighborhood. After the ride, it was time for the boys to go to work with Bill's super duper scale, dialing in the bike weights to comply with the UCI minimum weight of 14.99 pounds. After applying engineering and black magic, the rides weighed in at 15.01 to 15.03 pounds. The boys decided that was close enough.

With everything locked and loaded for tomorrow's road races (Bill at Noon, Mike at 2 PM), it's time to go find a nice place downtown to eat dinner, then swing by race headquarters to get Bill checked in. Another big day awaits tomorrow....