Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ride with the Lion King and all his Safari friends.

The US womens team is racing here in Italy near the house so we went today to watch them, and it turned out to be one of the best rides of my life. We took the hilly way to the race which was hard but awesome. The riding here is amazing and the climbing is even better. After a technical descent we traversed across the valley and went up another climb to get to the finish. At the finish is where things got magical, while waiting for the race to come we saw the lion king him self (Mario Cipollini) riding up with his friend Jorg Jakshe. After I got my picture with Mario we went down the hill a little to get a better view of the race, there we saw Thomas Dekker and three other riders on team CSC. After watching the finish we headed back to Lucca, but it wasn't any ordinary afternoon ride, we were rolling and talking with Mario and all the other riders listed above, plus the womens team containing Kristian Armstrong who just won a gold in the Olympic time trial. It was by far the strongest group I have ever ridden with and it was sweet.

I will try to post pictures but it hasn't been working.
Living the dream from Italy with the lion king

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Giro di Basilicata

Seven hours south of Lucca just above the boot heel of Italy in Basilicata is
the home to the 3 stage 3 day race we did last weekend. The race started Friday
afternoon with a 107km road race with one good 15km climb in the middle and a
hard 3km finishing climb. I was in the days first big crash but came out
unharmed. Thankfully I was one of the last people in the pile up so i landed on
top of the others. After some hard chasing i got back onto the pack and found
out that both Jacob and A.J. were off the front. A.J.'s group was caught
shortly there after however Jacob was in for the long haul. Jacob survived the
whole day off the front and finished 4th and was winning the K.O.M. Nate was
aggressive later in the race and finished 5th. I came in 19th with the rest of
the team close behind.

Stage 2 was the queen stage with several hard climbs. Everyone made it over the
first climb together and in the lead group. The second and biggest climb of the
day was different, gaps opened and near the top everyone on our team but Jacob
was in the second group on the road. We never caught the leaders but Austin and
I put in a hard chase and finished only a minute behind Jacob. It wasn’t a great
day for the team after our strong showing on stage one, but the heat and lack of
water on stage one really drained us for the second day.

Stage 3 our plan was just to attack, attack, attack, and so we did. It was a
long 119km race and 20minutes in it began to pour rain which was off and on for
the rest of the day. The rain made for some slick roads and lots of crashes. I
was in a lot of different moves off the front but none were a success, going into
the final big climb at 30 I was blown, I got dropped out of the lead group and
soft-pedaled it to the finish in the pouring rain. Jacob continued to show great
form and took second on the stage which made the day a lot more worthwhile for

We arrived back in Lucca last night and will stay here until Thursday when we
will leave for Croatia for a nations cup race which has a much stronger field,
so hopping to rest up this week and try to carry any form I still have this late
in the year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Well Italy is worlds away from the rough windswept roads of Belgium. My travels here went fine and I met up with Ben and all the other riders Monday morning in Milan. From the airport we had a three hour drive south to the town of Lucca which we will call home base. The house is the headquarters of SRM Italy and the home of the women national team for the US.

The riding here is amazing and you know just how good it is because Mario Cipollini and Bjarne Rijs both live next door. On our first ride we went to Pisa a saw the leaning tower of Pisa, which was one of the more historical things I have ever seen. Even though there is so much history of humanity everywhere it almost takes a back seat to the natural geographical beauty of the area.

The weather is awesome and I’ve changed from riding with leg warmers to riding with sun screen. It’s been a big change of lifestyle as well. Life here is deffently more about looking the look and walking the walk. The drivers are also another big change from Belgium, they aren’t as friendly to cyclist but this is still the best place that I have ever ridden my bike, the climbing is awesome.

Yesterday we did an long ride and we all would have bonked had we not stopped and grabbed a couple cokes, and it worked magic because we all made it home.

Below are some pictures but they don’t even really do justice to the actual beauty of the area, it is really something you must experience yourself.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Racing bikes and……………Go Karts!

That’s right after spending too many nights around the house we decided to find some Belgian excitement. Wednesday night Ben, John and I drove to a near by town which has a movie theater and saw The Dark Night the new Batman movie. I was skeptical at first about paying 7.50 Euro to watch a movie that I might not enjoy, however it turned out to be one of the best films I have seen in a long time, and it was a nice change up from the standard routine.

The following day was a long and wet one and my motivation was low, so I figured that another rest day wouldn’t hurt. That night we got the erge to do something again, and on the back of our movie tickets from the night before was an advertisement and discount for two euros off go karting in a town just 10 km south of Izegem. Again the three of us got into the van and went out to have some fun. The karting track was home to the Go Kart World Championships earlier this year so we knew it was going to be challenging. The 17 Euro for 12 minutes of driving was a downer at first but once I got the jumpsuit on and went out on the track my heart started pumping ever so quickly. Once in the Kart I was ready to go, when I first hit the gas the kart went zooming away. The first few laps were scary as I got use to sliding and going faster and faster through the turns. Then 4 laps into it Ben who is a great go kart driver (I don’t know about his skills on the road he’s the one who put the van in the ditch) passed me up and then I was really ready to drive. From then on I got the hang of it and was getting faster every lap. Before I knew it the 12 minutes was up but the 17 Euros was well worth it.

Yesterday I did my final Belgian race of the year in Kooigem. A very demanding course with one good hill and a lot of wind. Things started splitting up from the gun, the combination of a strong cross wind section and then the climb made for some big gaps. Groups got away and I was to far back to make the split but got into a good group of five for the last 30 km. I finished 18th which wasn’t great but feel like I have some good form which I hope to carry over to Italy and Croatia.

Now I’m off to the train station where I will take a train to Brussels airport then a plane from there to Milan this evening.

I’ll keep you posted and will also try and keep the CMG junior blog updated as well. The link is at the top of my blog.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

some random photos

Brussels and The Climbs of Flanders

Yesterday I had the chance to go into Brussels and visit some family and friends. I first had lunch with my friend Romain and we caught up on all the racing that we both have done and talked about how the weather in Belgium is rough (he said he has only trained in shorts 4 times this year, every other time is with leg warmers). He is doing very well and getting ready for some big MTB races in France.

After eating I went to the house where I lived for nearly 10 months last year. I saw everyone in the family and it was funny to see how some things never change. We had a nice afternoon and then it was time for me to go back to Izegem. So I got on the train and headed back to the house where its just John, Ben and I because the under 23's left yesterday for the Tour de l’Avenir.

Today John and I went on a very ambitious ride. We rode down to the climbs of Flanders where the Tour of Flanders takes place. It was awesome to be riding the same roads that you see on TV but let my tell you that riding up the cobble climbs is not fun at all. You start every climb thinking your Tom Boonen but once your half way up you want to turn around and stop the painful assault. Anyway we had a good ride and the sun finally decided to shine in Belgium even though I still did the whole ride with leg warmers, a jacket and long fingered gloves.

After todays killer ride a walking around Brussels yesterday I think I'm going to take tomorrow easy before I do an other race on Saturday.

Living the dream

Monday, September 1, 2008

GP Ruebiland

After a seven hour trek through four countries the day prior (Belgium, Luxemburg, France, and Switzerland) we were in Ruebiland and ready to race. The race started and the insanity began. Quickly descending at over 70 km/h, I could tell it was going to be a crazy race. The roads were wide but because the race used such busy roads that there were cars randomly stopped in the left lane so you always had to ride with your head up looking at what was coming.

20km into the race I fallowed a move that went off the front with 5 other riders. We rapidly opened the gap to 20 seconds but didn’t get much more then that. The first sprint point out on the road was coming up at 42km so our group worked hard to keep the gap until there. We held off the pack and I took 3rd in the sprint, but our group was caught shortly there after. When I returned to the field I realized that two of my teammates weren’t there; Max, Evan, and Ian were all caught up in crashes. Ian rejoined the group but Max and Evan rode hard but couldn’t close the gap to the main field. About the time that my little group was caught a large group with 14 riders went clear of the pack with no Americans present. Once the group was gone it was gone, most of the stronger team had riders up the road so they didn’t want to chase.

Going into the finishing circuits which were hilly, the group up front only got more time. As we hit the hill on the final lap I moved to the front to try and get a good finish. I finished 33rd but 3minutes and 38 seconds behind the group that got away, but because I got 3rd on the sprint out on the road I got a 1 second time bonus and moved up to 18th on GC.

Stage 2 was a shorter 70 km race but had one hard switch back climb and a descent that could make you pee your spandex. The race was again fast from the start but there were not so many cars on the course which made it a lot safer. The first time up the climb was hard but the first time down the descent was jaw dropping. Thankfully I started the descent in the top 15 riders, because the first time we went through a hard turn I almost went over the bars. However I made it down safe the first time and before I realized we were on the climb again. This time I started a little further back at the start but by the top was in the top 20, two riders behind my teammate Marshall. When we got to the first switch back on the descent Marshall took it too fast and washed out his front tire in the dirt. I was just behind him so I saw it all. He just lost control and slid across the road. There was a Japanese rider behind Marshall who hit Marsh and went flying. I had just enough time to swing right around Marshalls out laid body and make it clear of the crash. However the scariest part was after I passed Marshall and the Japanese riders bike bounced along side me as I was just waiting for in to fall into me. It didn’t however because I didn’t crash. The final time up the climb I stayed in front and finished 13th on the stage but stayed the same on GC because the riders ahead of me had a lot of time in between.

Stage 3 was that after noon and was a short 7.7km time trial. I got to use a TT bike but it was a little to small. It was a fast course and I finished 5th just 2 seconds out of 3rd.

Stage 4 was Sunday and was another hard hilly stage. Despite all the climbing the group stayed together for the most part and I finished in the lead group in 32nd, and moved up to 17th where I finished on GC.

The race was a leaning experience for everyone. I will be staying around Belgium for another week then driving to Italy to do some more hard stage racing.

Everyone was fine after all the crashes some road rash but no broken bones.

Hope you enjoy Ian