Category Archives: Racing

OTB Driveway Finish…Same Old Story

The Driveway was packed last night for ladies night and the P1/2 contingent was stacked w/ all the San Jose guys back for this weekend’s Tour of Austin omnimum. Barry Lee, Ronnie Strange, Heath Blackgrove, Sean Sullivan, Robbie Robinette, Rurri Day-Stirrat and Robert Biard. ALL of the races were fast tonight. Riders were single file much of the early laps with gaps forming everywhere. One of the rare 3/4 breaks actually got away successfully. Wes Jerman worked like a horse to bridge with a wheel sucker for about 4 laps – strong ride. Johnathon Perry, who hung at the back early – surged for a great finish trying to pull the pack back to the break. Brent rode strong but abandoned like me – but he was beat up after a finish line crash at HHH.

I raced awful, as seems to be the case recently. The pace was way too fast from the clip in. I slotted in at third in a line of riders single file covering about 1/5 of the course. It was the top short course which I have begun to like and it was fun as usual. After about 5 laps (still in 3-4th) the pace never settled down. No rest spots. Everyone was hammering out of the turns all the way around. About 18 min. in, on the finishing straight, I went wide to follow my draft and about 20 guys went by on the inside (left). I had to stand late in the stretch to get on the back of the last rider in that surge. Got on, but a big surge after the backside S’s left me gapped (with about 10 behind me) and I couldn’t get it back. I rode solo a lap and on the next lap about 5 more went around. I was at 182 most of the race and was at 185 at this point, in the drops with waning power. Looked back and there were about 15 still behind me in 3 seperate small groups. They 1st group was 1/3 lap behind me so I punked and rolled off with 5 go go. Daniel Sato had the ride of his season. In the pack all thru the early blistering laps and moving up when things settled down. Nice surges and smart use of energy. He placed very well in such a quick race.

Immediately after I abandoned I was angry with myself. Two reasons – earlier in the year, when I was dropped I finished every race regardless. That made me better mid-season when I had a series of pack finishes. Secondly – the pack rolled up for the 1st time with 5 to go, compacto’d and softpeddled to prep for the finish. 5-4-3 to go were all managable laps. Had I hung in another lap, I might have gotten back on and finally got the rest I needed to recharge. Didn’t happen, and I’m certainly not happy w/ myself.

I’ve been taking 1000 mg of Clarithromycin (an antibiotic) daily for almost two weeks now for a throat infection. That’s a big dose of a powerful antibiotic and I do think (hope temporarily) it’s affecting my performance. I take it in the AM and it makes me feel queasy and certainly not very hungry. That metallic taste in the back of the mouth. Have about 3 more days to deal w/ these pills and I’m done. Guess we’ll see if things improve after that.

I have signed up for the Cat. 5 race at Manda on Saturday. Hope I’m feeling good and can pull off some sort of redeeming (at least in my eyes) performance.

Nooooo…..DNF at Driveway Last Nite

Willis addressing 4/5's before the start.  You can see where my head was at.

Willis addressing 4/5's before the start. You can see where my head was at.

Lot’s of ceremony for Kevin Underhill tonite. Lots of flowers, guy on bagpipes, neutral laps in each ride, emotional speech by Andrew, Kevin’s family there. Andrew read a letter from a racer who spoke with someone at Seton who had a patient who received Kevin’s heart in a transplant this weekend. Pretty emotional.

Willis' emotional speech to the riders.

Willis' emotional speech to the riders.

Not a great DW race for me last night. Heat was a small factor as my car temp. guage registered 105 on the track. More so was my lack of mental focus and desire. I just wasn’t excited about racing last night, more apathetic than anything (not good). I was concerned about getting back out on the bike and how I’d perform after last week, but knew I needed to get back sooner than later. Waaaay to cerebral, too much thinking and not enough racing. I went to the front early on, as usual, and slotted in from 2nd to 5th (again as usual) for the 1st few laps (171 bpm). Actually felt pretty OK at this time.

On the long straights, where I usually slot in and rest, I found my self losing places and getting into the wide body of the 2nd half of the pack where I was not at all comfortable. I’d push to get back near the front at the riser and was expending too much energy in doing so. I think I experienced more mental fatigue last night than physical. Also caught in the pack in the bigger turns unfortunately means breaking. Breaking in the turns is not good as I have to really push coming out of the turn to stay on the wheel or to maintain position with those around that didn’t have to pull the breaks in the turn. Waste of energy. I knew it was happening and what the result was going to be, just didn’t do anything about it.

Soon it was 5 to go and the pace slowed and I just sat in, still, though, in the widest part of the pack, where I was not at all comfortable (175 bpm). With three to go, I got gapped a bit on the long out downhill and was off the back by the backside turn, I got on a wheel and worked back to the rear end of the pack (183 bmp). With two to go, I was yo-yoing on and off the back and not feeling it at all. Looked behind and there was no one close to work with to get back on. I rode off the track and put my bike in the car. Not happy with myself at all, don’t like abandoning, but just wasn’t into it last night. Stayed until after dark helping Willis pack up. I’m more sore from the post race lifting than the actuall race. That’s pretty pathetic.

Lot’s of trouble with consistency this year. One week good, next week awful. Need to get a handle on this, it doesn’t make for a good racing experience. This was my 16 Driveway Race this year. After starting off the back early in the season, I built to pack finishes and then top 25’s pretty consistently. Now every week is a crap shoot as far as finishes. Like a box of chocolates.

Full Monty Grand Prix Course Tonite

Riders will experience the whole enchilada at The Driveway tonite.

Riders will experience the whole enchilada at The Driveway tonite.

This week’s criterium course at The Kenny Hill Autowerk’s Driveway Crit Series will be the full Grand Prix course, utilizing all the features of both the upper and lower loops. The full Grand Prix Course is a challenging 1.73 miles long, 36′ wide, 15 corners and with 40′ of elevation change. Technical and challenging.

Best Wishes and Prayers to Our Friend and Injured Rider at Driveway Tonite

Tuesday Nighter Regular Kevin Underhill

Tuesday Nighter Regular Kevin Underhill

Race reporting tonite is about the furtherest thing from my mind right now, so my apologies for my melancholy. There was a pretty bad accident in the 4/5 race tonite. It unfortunately involved one of our LTC Tuesday Nighter riders, Kevin Underhill (Bike Journal handle – daunhiru). It was one of the worst accidents I’ve witnessed. Many, many seasoned racers were shaken tonite, the race was neutralized, then stopped as EMS were called. Kevin was rushed to Brackenridge Hospital in critical condition and just, at this writing, completed over 2 1/2 of surgery on his face and head. He is in the ICU, post-surgery.

It was a very scary thing to have to see, made all the more heartwrenching after I found out it was one of our own. LTC’s Hector Garcia was in the race as well and I saw him attending to Kevin (next lap around), before I knew it was Kevin. There is a thread started on the TXBRA site (forum) regading Kevin and the accident. Please keep Kevin in your thoughts and prayers. He is THE nicest most humble guy on our rides. He had been coming to the Driveway several weeks and meeting lots of folks in preparation of his inaugural ride tonite. Let’s hope he has a good night in the ICU and comes out much better in the AM.

I’ll get with James and see if there might be something we might want to do as a club for Kevin. He’s a really nice guy, and will certainly be dealing with some serious issues ahead.

Racing Down Under

Tomorrow Night Willis Has The Driveway Dialed in for Speed

Tomorrow Night Willis Has The Driveway Dialed in for Speed

Last week we were playing up top on the 9 turn in .8 mile City Course, looks like Willis is opting for the 3 turn lower level speed loop tomorrow night. This track offers a great opportunity for the beginner critter to “hang” with the pack as the lack of corners tend to make the lower Cat bunches stay together longer. Look for:

1) After the start the 1st downhill to flat is typically a good place to soft-peddal back into the pack. Grab some draft and allow your HR to recover (but maintain speed for position sake).
2) 90 degree sweeping right turn. Often goes 4-5 across. Maintain speed thru this turn or you’ll be out of the saddle to stay on a wheel with the exit acceleration – more pronounced when lap cards appear.
3) The back stretch (finish line) – this stretch typically alternates, sometimes a good rest stretch and sometimes people are moving up all over the place. If you are forward placed, this is a spot you need to keep an eye behind as riders will definately jump out and attack here.
4) The lead into the short uphill right 90 – for some reason this is the pileup spot. Just hold your line and be very aware of changing speeds and positions. Folks are prepping for the short pitched uphill, there usually is an acceleration going in and a mass slowdown on the riser. This is a great spot to gain some places or get boxed in behind riders who mis-gear and slow.
5) The 90 – Upon cresting get immediately on your horse to stick the wheel ahead, hesitate and you’ll waste lots of energy (and spots) trying to grab a wheel on the surge that happens here. Folks bomb back down this hill and lots of position changes occur here. Try and maintain your spot all the way thru this stretch. Many tend to lock on a dying wheel and then get stuck behind when riders carrying better speed start rolling around both sides.
6) Finish – Finish prep usually starts on long out stretch, riders start moving up to be placed well for the backside right 90 into the finishing straight. This lap is “on” from here. The backside 90 is usually fast and really crowded, carry speed here as the acceleration out is dramatic (no one is sprinting yet, but definatley bending cranks for a spot near the front). About halfway down this stretch the contenders stand and deliver for the line (last time we raced here it was 6 across the front line).
Good luck, have fun.

El Bobo de Pueblo

A Simple Sign (the wrong sign) Proved My Tragic Undoing Tonite

A Simple Sign (the wrong sign) Proved My Tragic Undoing Tonite

OK folks, we had two Lake Travis Cycling members out at the Driveway tonite (3 including me). How about that, race fever is catching.

Confidence-wise I didn’t have alot going for me at the Driveway tonite. I’m coming off the worst week of form I’ve had on my bike this year. I was late getting out of the house, I left my water bottles in the freezer (Holly gave me a freebie just before my race), I thought I left a part of the PA system at home (turns out I didn’t), it was the super-short top course (which I can’t stand) and it was 103 degrees. I had mentally resigned myself to the fact that I would certainly be dropped by the pack and hoped to keep from getting lapped by the leaders. Boy thats the mind of a winner ! I was warming up constantly asking myself “am I up to this”, “can I hang tonite”.

I started on the outside front row and quickly slotted in at 3rd. The 4/5 race was by far the biggest field of the night. Rode about 2 laps in 3rd wheel and passed the no. 2 guy in a corner and beat him back to the front wheel to slot in at 2nd. Was actually feeling really good. The line was stretched out single file so people weren’t sneaking up to go 2-3 wide in the turns. About lap 5 the puller wanted a break and I wasn’t going to the front, so were passed on the start/finish stretch by about 5 riders. I slotted back in, after some work to find a hole (no one was giving anything), and stayed in the drops and maintained a short draft whenever I could. On this lap, on the start/finish stretch I heard a scrape and a crash and knew someone went down. I didn’t know how many and I didn’t know that the accident had caused a split in the field. By about 21 minutes into the race I was still positioned in the 1st 15 and in, what I didn’t know was, the lead group, gaining spots in the turns and losing them back at the end of the short straights. This is where I spotted the 1 to go sign.

Now I thought, hmmm. 22 minutes racing, one lap to go, I’m in about 15-16 and I feel pretty OK (I’m at about 182 bpm). I’m gonna really push this lap and try and get some points. So I stood thru the start/finish and got to second wheel, but outside and not in the line. This gave me an inside right turn, but an outside on the 180. I got punked on the 180 and lost about 6 spots to guys slamming it on the inside, I didn’t have a wheel and was pushing air. Stood again thru the crowd section and hit the frontside S’s in about 8th-10th. Came out of the turn and ducked my head and buried it and lost one spot to Brad at ATC.

I thought, man I think I just scored some points. I sat up at the finish and everyone rolled by. Then they started cranking thru the next corner all still in a line. I was thinking, what’s going on, it’s over guys. I started soft -peddling and the another pack came by me. I still hadn’t snapped to the reality the race was still on. I rolled back to the start finish and yelled, “it was one to go, why are they still racing”. The Judge yelled back, it’s still 2 to go, see the card. You looked at the wrong card”. I had looked at the wrong card. There is big card at the start/finish that says “1”, but it has something to do with the race cars. I looked at that sign instead of the real sign. What a moron. Chalk that one up to pure stupidity.

I rolled off the course as the race finished, feeling like the idiot I was. More foolishly, I was working pretty well all race. I still don’t think I would have been top 10, but certainly a top 20 pack finish and with different groups all over off the back. So….. I AM a moron, but I take from this night the fact I do have some of my form back and was comnpetitive for what I thought was the whole race.

Also, I’m beginning to like the short course. After so many nights racing at the Driveway this year (13), my cornering skills are much better, add to that the Zipp tubulars and I am passing like crazy on the inside line on almost every turn. If it is single file, I’m able to cut the turn tighter and still continue peddling thru the turn, so that I don’t have to stand and deliver coming out to stay on the wheel. So I’m getting more rest than I had in the past when I had to jump out of the turns and dig for a wheel. Folks, tubulars do turn better than clinchers. No doubt about it. They hold a magnificent line and maintain speed thru the turn better. That combined with the light weight of my bike (14.7 lbs.) allows me to hang with guys stronger and better than me. Though to win, you need to have an engine, equipment can be a bit of an equalizer for the mid-packer.

Ezell capped his 1st Driveway showing of the year by pulling his AT&T boys (and the whole pack) back to a pretty solid break in the 3/4’s. AT&T finished 3 in the top 5 thanks to James strong effort. Nice debut !

Twisted Course….Great Racing

The Driveway 7/23/2009 - Pulling Back to Break

The Driveway 7/23/2009 - Pulling Back to Break

Fantastic night at The Driveway tonite. Willis dialed up a schitzophrenic crit tonite my friends, part long straight hammerfest and part twisted off camber tech monster. The combination was explosive with great racing in all 5 contests of the evening.

Before the 3/4 start all the 4/5 guys planted themselves at the top of the riser to watch how the virgin 200 degree righty was going to play out. Much tamer than expected, at least in the early laps. A couple of breaks went off, the longest including San Jose’s own Jonathon Perry, all were covered until, AT&T’s Jason Lewiss made a run w/ 2 to go and got a nice big gap. A single rider jumped to bridge w/ 1 to go but was swept up on the frontside downhill on the last lap. Jason finished with a softpedal last 50 meters to an easy win, made even more meaningful as two more at&ters took the next two spots in the sprint for an all at&t podium. Damn !

My race was super fun. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel as work was awful today (one conference call after another – the kind you can’t hit mute and go to the fridge cause you’re actually an important part of the conversation…you know) and I was only able to eat once (oatmeal) at about 11:00 AM. NICE ! Oatmeal, a multi vitamin, fish oil and glucosimine at 11. That’s keeping it together. At 4:00 PM I forced down a peanut butter Cliff Bar and drank a full bottle of water warming up. I was still worried I wasn’t fueled up enough…cause obviously I wasn’t…why worry, just race.

Slotted in about 8th at the start and just rode the first two laps (the 1st of which was single file toward the front) in realtive ease. My HR was about 161. Riding was sketchy as usual with guys jerking all over the place. I’ve become pretty vocal in the pack, not nasty but trying to keep folks on-line and in-line. So, as usual, a bit a battle of nerves as well as physical. Had the usual ups and downs, getting pinched inside behind a guy that roared out of the bottom turn, then hit the wall 100 yards in and everyone rolled by to the left. I had to sit behind and wait for a gap. My strength, HOWEVER, is the uphill S. I can get from mid-pack to front 15 everytime up that chicane. Gear down and spin up it at speed while many seem to try and grind up it. It works if I find a slot, it doesn’t when it’s crowded and I have to hit the breaks half way up. Tonite I thought I had it dialed in pretty well. Well enough that at about 18min. I came out of the two turns in about 8th moving past about 10 riders, but with no one in front of me. It was 20 meters to the front 7, who had just pounded out of the turn. So I had to hammer it down the hill way too long and then rolled back into the 7 way too fast with a big burnt match. That is where I need to learn to have basic common sense and discipline and pace back to the front, not go bananas and blow-up rolling back into the group 5 mph faster than everyone else. What a waste. Looked down at this point, 180 on the HR (damn).

7/23/09 - The Driveway - Cat 4/5  3 to go.

7/23/09 - The Driveway - Cat 4/5 3 to go.

Thought I’d rest on the way back and did get a breather by spinning out of the bottom turn with pretty nice acceleration and sticking on a wheel so that I could sit up w/ the pack (172 bpm). I did not know where we were lap-wise, no idea (but did see we were at about 27 minutes) and I heard the bell. Things got crazy pretty quick with the sketchyist ride thru the turns at the top, guys in the grass, guys rolling over the bumps, guys hitting the breaks hard and guys standing to stomp all at once. Had to get out of the saddle to stick on the downhill (181 bpm). I was about 15-20 into the turn I think and decided I would just go ahead and die on the bike like Tom Simpson since I was alreay at threshold. Ducked my head and stood in the biggest gear I could find (not sure which one), only to hear to shouting, alot of shouting.

Seems a gaggle of young racing felines were soft peddling dead center in the middle of the drag race finish. Let me 1st explain this finish, it was unique. Knowing that it would be a drag race out of the bottom turn, everyone spread out on the turn and tried to get to the front, leaving a 10 across front line on the drag strip (with 6 softpeddling ladies in the path). It was just as crowded in rows 2 and 3 (where I was). Everyone was yelling for them to move….bad idea… which way were they going to move. Fortunately for everyone they were smart enought to stay right where they were as the pack roared by on both sides. Not so fortunate for me and the others stuck dead center behind them. I sat and looked back for a place to go when the guy in front of me jumped into a very small gap to the left and went, though he was leaping away from me, I jumped in his gap and got by the ladies on the left (191 bpm). I was in the second 20 but determined to die to the line, didn’t get passed by the back packers and passed quite a few soft-peddlers who weren’t stupid enough to sprint for 18thish like me. Best part is coming.

Climbed up the S and wobbled off my bike, seeing some stars and thinking I’m hammered, loopy, lightheaded and staggering, I hope no one is noticing. Didn’t have to worry about that , cause right at that moment a guy behind me barfed all over the track……and kept hurling until finally someone brought over a trash can for him. Let’s just say it wasn’t any secret that the guy had spagetti for lunch. Just want to thank that guy for taking the spotlight at my vulnerable moment. NO ONE spied me zigzagging to the water jugs.

1/2/3 was, as usual, crazy fast. Breaks off the front, brought back, more breaks , more brought back. If I remember correctly it was Super Squadra (Wikoff), Korioth and Benz in the final break. Benz and Wikoff dropped Korioth on the backside and Wikoff took Benz and Wheeler bridged to run down Korioth for third. For Eric, no worries. He hopped right back on his bike and crossed first in a super hard masters race. Looks like Mr. Benz is peaking just in time for his favorite event.

Another great (and actually cool {95 degrees}) night at The Driveway. Thanks again Holland Racing. Ah…say good night Gracie!