Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dave Breslin Podiums at Nationals



Congratulations to my teammate, coworker and friend Dave Breslin on his sterling ride at Nationals to grab a podium place and some major bragging rights. Look out midwest, it's game on for him from now on...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Marathon Worlds 2008



Did Christophe Sauser deviate from his line in the sprint, justifying his being relegated to second place? Judge for yourself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Too Much Too Soon



It happens nearly every year, a talented rider whose previous exploits on a single stage of the Tour leads the collective cycling press to proclaim them a "future winner" of cycling's biggest race. This rider then spends the following season amassing results in lesser races to hammer home their potential and when the time comes to deliver the goods, they find themselves empty of the reserves that were to carry them through to victory. One of the most recent examples is Iban Mayo, whose win at Alpe D' Huez had many championing his obvious talent. Fearsome though he was on a good day in the mountains, it takes more than one spectacular day to win a three week bike race. One such day can net a rider a string of one week races, as Mayo proved time and again in 2004, but it is durability over thousands of miles that brings home cycling's biggest crown. It is with this in mind that I winced as I watched Alejandro Valverde storm through this year's Dauphine Libere, winning multiple stages (including a time trial) and the overall. Velo News even fell victim to the deception by running the same headline it ran when Mayo won the Mont Ventoux time trial in '04. That he then won his national championships with ease and the very first stage of the Tour confirmed that his peak of form had come tragically early in the summer for him to be considered a true contender to the crown of the 2008 Tour. For many riders, a stage win in Le Grand Boucle and a stint in the yellow jersey would mark the highlight of their season if not career. Unfortunately for Valverde, he had set his sights on yellow in Paris, not Brittany, and as such, it will be hard for cycling enthusiasts to view his 2008 bid as anything but a mistimed failure following his undoing on the slopes of the Tourmalet. By all standards, this year marks his best season to date, but if he truly wishes to top the podium on the Champs Elysees, Valverde will have to learn to suspend his formidable June form for three weeks to make a genuine run for the final maillot jaune in Paris...

Photograph copyright 2008 Graham Watson

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

STXC

The race begins as I attempt to force thoughts of the previous week's suffering to the back of my mind and focus on the task at hand. Seven days prior I was deep and inexplicably in the red, struggling to survive and being passed by most of my competitors. That I inevitably finished 13th is of little consequence, the battering my Landahl induced confidence had taken was the main issue. Despite being a newstyle of racing for me, I had expected better and was frustrated to say the least.

Fortunately, the local STXC series is a weekly event with regular chances of redemption and with this in mind, I ignored the blackening skies and personal insecurity and left the shop for Castlewood and what I hoped would be confirmation that the fitness is on the upswing, rather than plumetting to the depths as I was beginning to think.

The race began on a slightly altered and reverse course to the previous week and the relief was instant. The legs were there and I was not immediately gasping for oxygen. The top experts were slightly off the front in a group of five and I was in the first chase group with Kocelski pulling followed by Laberta, myself and Scott bringing up the rear. Albert hung between the groups. After sitting in for two laps, Scott came around and Laberta surged to pass Kocelski. I followed and held Laberta's'wheel while Scott slowly pulled away on his cross bike. At lap's end, I came around Laberta and tried to set a pace that would both separate us from the rest of the race and potentially unhook any stragglers. At the end of this lap I was alone chasing and worked my way up to Albert who completed the lap with me in tow. Through the start finish I took the lead of our two man group and pulled. Mid lap, a single speed rider from Seagal passed us and while he was in sight for a while, his superior state of mind allowed him to pull away. The next three laps have me pulling Albert and all the cheers through the start/finish are for him to keep going and such. With four laps to go it starts sprinkling and with three laps to go the skies open with a deluge. The course, which had been tacky and firm, is now pooling with water and rapidly turning to slime. I nearly lose it on every corner and have to back it off a bit to stay upright. This plays right into Albert's hand who attacks me through a corner on the last half lap and holds the gap to the line..I narrowly held off Metz who came up to me at the the end, but a well executed slow motion sprint kept me in eight place, fulfilling my goal of a top ten placing and restoring a bit of my bruised confidence.

Afterwards, there was much beer and food for us to watch the B/C's race in much muddier conditions and I kept thinking about the amazing time I'd had and how it was a taste of what's to come for cross season. The downpour was a blessing and a reminder of the beauty of off road competition. The rain's only blemish was my inability to see through the new super optics, but they will come out again soon enough. In the meantime, I will remember my mud splattered grin and hope for the form that I believe is building...