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Thursday, December 21, 2006

stage racing

i love stage racing.

LOVE stage racing. One time at band camp i raced something like 28 out of 31 days. It was heaven.

But last year i did, for the first time since i started pedalin', not one stage race. Not one!

This is the year of the stage race, baby.

- - -

There are some favorites of mine. I love the Bisbee - Gila combo punch to the gut. I've never had a decent overall at Gila and really want to give that a go this year (if i can actually break into the double digits in hours training per week, that is). Last time there, I was 10th after the Mogollon stage (got cracked by Moniger ... again), yet felt wonderful for my chances to keep it together for the remaining days. But, got an uber-bad case of food-poisoning from the pre-Mogollon breakfast at "Caballero's". The stomach began rumbling in the last few miles of the race, and then it went straight-up ballistic on the car ride back to town from the finish. It was one of those blast-out-both-ends episodes, all night long, leaving you a husk of a human, jerkified and emptied for days to come.

I started stage 3, one of my favorite road race courses in the US, struggling and getting dropped on the rollers out of town. I weaved and wobbled, barely able to put together two C-notes of power down. Finally I just flat-out fell apart and lay on the side of the road until I could flag a car to bum a ride back to town. Made it not more than a handful of miles out of Silver City. Race over.

I want revenge.

- - -

Another of my favorites is Mt. Hood. That crit is just heaven on a stick, baby. Hood and Gila's crits are my favorites because they allow the wee-boys, such as myself, opportunity to dig and dive for wins. UNlike that fukkal Redlands crit ... which you need to be a raw-beefed locomotive to stand half a chance. Those bastards go fast in that bloody crit.

- - -

I loved the Zinger back in the day, but it was just when i started racing and I didn't have the oompf or experience to get up those long, gradual climbs. I remember getting shelled out of the lead group something solid on one of the stages. It was on a forever climb that I saw no light on the horizon for. Of course, it didn't help that in the 50 miles preceding the climbs, I contested every damn sprint point and attacked 43 times to get away from the pack.


Anyway, me ... being me ... i never gave up and kept the hammer down as best I could - chasing, chasing, chasing. I would collect boys on the way and ride with them if they felt inclined. This would be the first time I would meet Trent Klasna. Now, Trent's a cool dude and all, likes to do his thing and was a monster that one year in the NRC. But, he's also one proud mo-fo.

Anyway, he kept jawin' at me, "why you goin' so hard? The race is up the road?" You know, that kind of thing.

We were in a group of about 10, he at the back, getting the free ride from me and another guy trading pulls over rolling, difficult terrain. Everytime our group would roll up a hill, I'd keep the gas on and drill it ... forever. And each time there'd be the complaints behind, "what's up hammerhead, who you chasin'?"

And then, as we rolled through a canyon and got view of yet another one of these 4+ minute climbs ... there we saw the team cars behind the lead pack. No bloody way, there they were.

Klasna attacked to try and bridge across.

yeah, i logged that one in the memory banks.

- - -

Couple years ago at the Tour de Nez ... Klasna caught me on the opening day hillclimb TT of the stage race. I'll admit it, I didn't like it. But, i fended off his 30 seconds until the final 100 meters and he had to put a bit of sprint to get past me.

Still, that shit stings.

Then, in the crit ... I missed the break that went away on the first lap. Klasna was in it, of course. I had to use the pack watching and following in fear of Fast Freddy the rest of the race - finally countering off one of his full lap blisters to get away for some scraps in the omnium.

The final stage was a bitch of a road race that was waay beyond my endurance and strength. Maybe half-way through the race there was a long flat section that i knew pretty well. I was tinkering with the idea of shooting off to get a bit of a headstart on the hardest climb of the day. I remember BJM saying, 'now would be a good time to go ...', just taunting me.

But, of course, i had to go. Off solo went I, humping my bike something ugly on the flats to get away from the pack. Up creeped the gap to 2 minutes and I thought, hey ... might just be enough to get over the top before the thundercats swept me up. Not even close. I was going backwards on the final 20% grades and was left for dead by all the real riders. But, as always, i never give up and keep bashing my head against the wall in chase, chase, chase. And after the climbs, who do i roll up on but ... Klasna. Eventually we would have a small group riding out the final miles of the race. Me, remembering.

In through town, towards the finish ... he led out the sprint in a group that wasn't really interested in sprinting. Well, all except me. None of us had any idea where we were placed, how many guys were ahead ... but, Klasna wanted to make sure he got any points left over.

I came around him. Got 20th on the stage, last place for points available in the omnium and moved ahead of him in GC with it.

hollow victories ... still sweet on the tongue.


Dr. X said...

makes we wanna stage race, minus the both-ends-blasting part...

Brent Chapman said...

yah baby. Stage races are cool.
Good for da fitness.
(note that i don't do em).

Jens favorites are bisbee, gila, hood, cascade, and the one in Arkansas. Also the tour de delta in Canada was a pretty cool small time race (+ Gastown the day before was bitchen).

trac said...

what a great story! makes me get all racedy-racin' excited.

p.s. Hasn't Klasna ever heard of a time cut?

Chris said...

Klasna kan't kope!

Anonymous said...

Olaf, when we mere mortals line up with the fast guys, we know that the real race is going to be up the road. So why do it? For the race within the race. The pushing, the challenging, the feeling of accomplishment from going beyond what we've dreamed is possible... even if the real race is up the road.

you know what I mean. Keep dis shite up man, it's what makes your scribbles such a pleasure.

Anonymous said...

If we can essemble a solid group of guys we might hit up the Gila.

I have never done a stage race. It would be cool to do for sure....

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

docX ~ good clean fun. well, you know what i mean.


chappco ~ madera. you should come and play at madera with us this year. you'd like it.


MsT ~ Klasna wouldn't have been TC'd. No promoter would have dared!.


CBrit ~ killed it krazy, though!


shawndawg ~ trainer daze ... remember the stories we used to toss around? good stuff.


NickO ~ yikes. talk about jumpin' in headfirst, baby. for a first stage race, Gila's a toughy. Lots o' logistics to worry about with that one. Bisbee is a good option for a traveling SR. Great town that gets behind the race, solid brewery within' walking distance of everywhere, and all the start-finishes are centered and easy.

But, the Oregon SR's are probably the best run on the west coast. Those guys may have scoring issues sometimes, and hell-all favor the locals over foreigners, but man ... they put on good times.

i'd recommend Hood for an epic adventure. Or Cascade. Columbia Plateau is more hard-man ... but sooo memorable.

Anonymous said...

bet you wish you got one of these awards tho...

Anonymous said...

Stage races are very cool, stage races with a team that works like a team, even cooler.

Me = Worker bee-aholic.

Velo Bella said...

lovin the sleigh ride

grey said...

Total love/hate relationship with the Gila for me. I love the races, all of them (ok, except the ITT, but TT's were never my thing). Hate it cuz as a 3 I never did well there, despite being a climber, and as a 2 I was never strong enough to hang with the big boys... But man, I love it out there. Amazing races in beautiful country.

Completely different epic day was racing at Willamette in '00 or '01 on one of the stages where we did about 100 miles of BLM roads. I punctured after the first climb during a stretch of false flat descent, so all 133# of me got to pretend that riding as hard as I could after the wheel change was going to make a difference with the pros driving it at 35 mph. So I got to ride in and out of different small groups all day where the temp never got over 50 and it rained, rained, rained...saw some serious carnage that day. People really stop thinking straight in weather like that.

Anonymous said...

1st Olaf, Klasna was number 1 ranked on the domestic circuit for two years not one. And he was not on synthetic testy stuff but on synthetically grown green stuff that you rip up in your big bong too. You 2 both have a few things in common, you like fine wine, fine green kind, and fine women. And you both can really ride.

#1 ranked means that when you were racing and even close with him he was on a bad day.

Naturally when you were going Hernando on him and he was not breaking away like a "cutter" in a classic film he couldnt have liked the fact you would acted like a that.

How dare you ride hard when the race was up the road, or you were sprinting for 20th place.

But the truth comes out when he tried to jump across when you both finally saw the field and team cars after you kept the chase alive with your drive to thrive.

We are all humans, and when oportunity knocks you have to sometimes run to open the door. But his pride means that if he wasnt going for the win, then what the heck were you doing fighting like the true champ you are olaf.

I can remember one racer who I had really never met before. He was a little guy with a big head(ego) and maybe he had a little man's syndrom. It was a Crit and the group was going around and around and around. I was on a bike with my shifters on the down tube and probably wearing a flourecent green kit with some bright orange color mixed in you like find on the cones they use to mark cyclocross courses with. I think I had toe straps on too. Well a break of 4 went up the road and I am a fighter first and a lover when i am done fighting, so I was the guy who really tried to chase the front group of escape heads. Well I chased and chased for 1 lap then 2 laps then 3 laps then another. The whole time there was a little guy behind me just right on my wheel, he was so close I couldnt figure it out. it was like he was drafting me or something. I was chasing and chasing and the guy behind me just followed me and all I could think was I was so strong that he liked following me because i was chasing so fast. After 4 or so laps of me chasing and chasing my pace certainly started to slow, and BAM this guy was gone, like he had rocket power to the pedals. I was amazed at how fast the little guy went and he was out of my sight very quickly. I dont think he got up to the lead dudes, but he came across the finish by himself well ahead of me. Then he rides along side and says "whats up wheel sucker??" Something in that effect. At first i didnt get it, being i was as green as the stuff you smoke and the stuff i had on for cycling clothes, but then i saw what was his deal. He was only better then me because he drafted and then dropped me that day, he was smarter in cycling then me, had i been the one not to chase and sit back, he would have not gave me another thought, but i was his worst nightmare.....a guy who just chased and chased and was in it for the fight. Sure he could drop me that day and and call me names like wheel sucker of fred, but every pooch has his day, even if it is on Olaf;s knee! You cant keep a good man down, and all he did was fuel my fire.

Another time i did a liebold race high in the mtns, a cross race witha few cones and lots of water and mud and cold. there was maybe 6 guys in the final race and i was there to race, not draft or play games. so i tried attacking right away. i tried again and again and 2 guys were able to hold my wheel. It was still before i had any race tactics in hand except to ride as hard as possible until i drop. So i kept the pace high and just tried driving everyone off my wheel. every now and then one guy would pull threw and do a little turn at the front. But there was a tall guy who just followed. The tall guy sat back there and followed and stayed right on our wheels but never really did anything. I thought he would be the first to drop off, i thought i could drop him! then all of a sudden with about 4 laps to go on a 4 minute course, the tall guy does a huge flyer and is gone! he drops me and the other dude like we were a 10 ounce sinker on a party fishing boat. I was shocked, this tall dude rode me the whole race and then had power to just give it gas and drop me. i thought it was wrong, that guy never took a pull and yet when it mattered most he was ready to go and his attack was all she wrote.
I didnt think it was fare! that was wrong! NO, that is racing!

I still see that tall guy at some races, not all the races i go to, but the races he thinks he has a chance in. And that tall dude even has said things like, "I race right and i pull through" trying to build his ego up as tall as he stands. He has even questioned others who had drafted and followed...... seemingly forgeting about that day in the mountains when he followed and followed and followed and did one attack and won the race. He probably did a nice 2 arm salute as he won.
But that is racing!
Pay back can be a bitch, and there are so many little races in the race itself.

I think i am going to give you a call Olaf when Floyd and Trent are in town, they are both buddies of mine, and we are going to get together and drink some wine or beer or tequilla, or maybe have a puff of the green stuff together.

And i am going to ask Floyd and Trent if they remember any of Olaf's stories about them?

I know they might not remember, just like that tall guy and that little guy wont remember their parts in the drama that they played in the story above.

But hey thats racing..............

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

that's crackin' my ass up.

i think you are definitely someone i should get in a break and/or/while takin' a pull on the green stuff with.

just don't make me late for work.

classic stuff.

ah ... bike racin'.

Brent Chapman said...

ok, that was a long post by anonymous.

So about Madera. I done it. Im done with it.

See my 2 DNF's? 3 man Breakaway over the Pave and crack goes my bars with mile to finish.

Next year, lined up for TT and the guy told me I was 4 minutes late.. HUH? Finished 3 minutes down on the winner after that 4 minute delay and without aero equip.. doh, that would have been a good result. :(

i have been ticking the idea of the TT around my head now that I have some clip-ons.

Boom shaka

Anonymous said...

I smoke, snort and inject with Flandis and T-Klas on a regular basis. I asked them recently where the sweet spot in the peloton is. They both replied almost instantaneously that it was without a doubt, Hernando's wheel. They also went on to volunteer that they think you're gay. But hey man, that's racing.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

Good then, Brenty is signed up for Madera. That was easy enough.

and you know i only dress gay, johnny.

well ... mostly.

PAB said...

I hate bike racing.

Especially stage races.

And I especially hate Madera. What a hell-hole.

And, for that matter, I'm pretty sure I hate bike racers, too.

What a bunch of immature jerks.

Oh wait, Madera...

We found a good place to eat there last year that served great margaritas in pint glasses.

I'm there.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

trust me, brudda - Madera won't be a repeat of that silly boy-juice heard of last year.

i love that race. can't wait to get back there.

Anonymous said...

Im thinking Johnny Sprocket maybe has a few skeletons in his closet.

sounds like he is being a little uptight, which isnt right, when your taking the hang gliding flight

Johnny when you point your finger at someone being gay(like you), well when your pointing at someone and there are a few of your fingers, who the lord only knows where they have been up, pointing right back at you! So you point at someone and your only pointing at yourself.

You are a hang glide instructor for one reason i am thinking..... you do those 2 man rides where you are strapped behind, and on top of another guy in a spooning position during the flight! whith who knows what else you have strapped on?

thats when you pull out your jhonny sprocket that always likes to stay upright.......and you do your flight instructor thing!

look up in the air,,,,,,,, its a bird,,,,,,,,its a plane,,,,,,, no its johnny sprocket dry humping a poor hang gliding student!

go johnny go......
johnny be good........

Anonymous said...


i remember seeing footage on oln a couple years ago of you off the front at the tour de nez rr.

and madera? it's on.

Jen said...

Yes, Madera is absolutely the best stage race EVER! I love the things that people complain about like the rough road section, endless headwind in the tt and boring four corner crit.

I agree that the one two punch of Bisbee and Gila are epic and I don't think I learned my lesson last year. I might have me another in '07.

It's really too bad Hood and Cascade are not back to back, logistically it makes perfect sense and I can only imagine the stories that would come from that pairing.

I don't know why Brent said I liked racing in Arkansas. If waiting 10 minutes on the side of the road for a spare wheel is anyone's idea of fun then I guess it's the race for you. Although there is interesting road kill to check out while waiting. Arkansas is also the state that I discovered Waffle House has pretty decent pre-race food and I don't think there is anything on the menu over $5. We followed the Healthnet Team over to Waffle House one morning and actually had our best day of racing after consuming mass quanities of grits and greasy eggs and pancakes.


X Bunny said...

stage races are too hard for me

but i'll be at madera

gotta get around that tt without a flat

Anonymous said...

Dibs on doing Madera with anonymous on a tandem. I get to stoke. Later I'm taking him hang gliding.

Anonymous said...

i love johnny sprocket in hi cute bathing suit with his arm around his wanna be lover

Anonymous said...

no jhonny no
jhonny be good