Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back in Belgium

I arrived in Belgium early this morning for the second time this season and the fifth time in my life. As the plane was about to touch down I had a flash back to the first time I visited Belgium. When I first arrived as a sixteen year old two years ago, my eyes were as open as ever, even after the long overnight flight. Walking off the plane two years ago I felt like I had stepped into a new world. Everything appeared to be different; the buildings, cloths, and obviously the language. Now looking back I feel like I have come full circle and look at Belgium as a second home. I no longer notice the difference in these small details, but now look onto them as part of who I am.

It’s good to be back over here, and some of my best friends are here as well so I know it’s going to be a great trip. Tomorrow we start a stage race in liege, I’ll keep you posted.

It’s not such a big world after all

Monday, July 20, 2009

Red River George and Worlds

This past weekend team Hot Tubes and I traveled to western Kentucky for the UCI 2.1 stage race, The Tour of the Red River George. This year was the inaugural event; however there was a road race which took place there last year as the junior worlds qualifiers.
After along but enjoyable car drive from Mass to Lexington, KY we were ready to race. The opening stage was a 1 mile prologue on an out and back course in downtown Irvine, KY. Such a short event is not my forte, I finished 21st six seconds behind the stage winner Charlie Avis. Our however did good, putting three riders in the top ten. The afternoon of the prologue was the first true test with a 100km road race. The heat and humidity only added to the hard and hilly stage. After 30km had elapsed the racing started to pick up. I soon found myself off the front with a few other riders, and it wasn’t long before both Nathan and Anders were by my side. With three Hot Tubes riders out of the ten or so in the group we began to drive hard towards the finish. We worked hard and opened the gap to 1minute and 30 seconds before I almost lost it all. On a fast down hill road I miss lead the group off course. The riders at the back were able to turn around quickly and keep it; however some riders kept on riding in the wrong direction. I then made the turnaround and began to chase the group I was just leading. Thankfully I had two honorable teammates up front who waited for my return. Some riders never returned, thus our group was down to six, and going over the final KOM (king of the mountains) the group was minimized yet again. After the final climb with only 5km remaining Anders made a very tactically smart attack and quickly opened a big gap on our lead group. Soon after Nathan jumped and rode up to Anders, so I was the lone hot tubes rider with two of my teammates off the front. With 1.5km till the finish I knew that Anders and Nathan would stay away, so I then tried an attack of my own. I finally got a gap in the final 800 meters of the race and hot tubes went 1, 2, 3 on the stage and took 1, 2, 3 on overall classification.

The following day was the individual time trial, it went pretty straight forward. My teammate Lawson won, Nathan second, Gavin fourth, myself eighth, Anders ninth, and our Canadian teammate Stuee sixteenth. This moved our team into 1,2,3,4 on overall classification going into the queen stage.

Stage 4 was a long 120km road race with over 8,000 ft of climbing, a hard race that would separate the players from the pretenders. The first few climb were uneventful other than Lawson getting a flat, then Nathan having to stop and dislodge his jammed chain, but both Stuee and Gavin where there to help them back to the pack. Once the rejoined Gavin ran into a front flat so dropped back to get it fixed, but just as Gavin reintegrated into the pack a crash took him and a good percentage of other riders off the road. He just cruised in after that. Each time the road when up, riders went back, and going into the final 30km of the race the lead pack including four of us hot tubes riders was under twenty riders in total. The final two climbs where were the players came to play, Nathan in his yellow jersey went to the front of the pack and turned the screws. Riders quickly fell of his pace and by the time we summated the final climb the group was down to seven riders, but four of those hot tubes. Once on top the hill the course consisted of short but steep rollers. We weren’t on top for long before the attacks started. Most of them came from our team and after some hard efforts; Lawson and Jacob Rathe from Portland Oregon were off the front and free to fly. After some cat and mouse play, I jumped the group in pursuit of the leaders. When I was ¾ the way across and starting to fade, Nathan came up to me to give me some help. Together we caught the leaders and had 3 out of the 4 riders in the lead group. With 10km remaining we began to drive towards the finish. Theoretically we should have had an easy stage win, but Jacob is a very smart and very strong. I jumped the group with 500 meters to go but Jacob caught up with Nathan on his wheel. Nathan has a great sprint but the downhill sprint was too fast for Nathan to overcome on junior gears. Jacob took a very big stage win and moved into 5th overall. Nathan finished 2nd me 3rd and Lawson 4th.

The final stage of the Tour of the Red River George was a twilight crit in downtown Lexington. The goal was to stay safe and hold our GC placing. Both were accomplish and then added on by Gavin’s stage win. It was a great race for us as a team we won the overall plus 2-4, and the best young riders and the sprint jersey, but to show how well we rode as a team we won the team classification by over 16 minutes.

Because of how well we and I rode, I earned a spot on the world championship team. So next week I will fly back over to Belgium and then on to Moscow for the Junior world championships, which was my year long goal.

Thanks for reading and more posts soon.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Attleboro crit by Gavin

Today was the Attleboro Crit. Hot Tubes sent a full 7 man squad for this local Pro 1-2-3 Crit. The team used this race as a warm up for Red River Gorge UCI 2.1 Stage Race in KY next week. After about 10 laps into the 60 lap race Ian, Lawson, Stueee the Canadian, and myself found ourselves off the front alone. After settling into a team time trial for 15 or 20 laps we lapped the field. The rest of the team set tempo at the front of the pack keeping the race in control for the remaining laps, until we lead out Downtown who took the field sprint making it 1,2,3,4,5 for Hot Tubes. He claims he's the next Cav. Since I was the last leadout man I ended up taking the victory. My fourth crit win of the year, one of these days I'm gonna win a road race...

By far the best part of the day was capitalizing on the excess food after the race. We left the race with 2 large pizzas, 2 footlong subs, and close to 100 bagels. Hopefully that will be enough to fuel our team on our long drive to Lexington, KY tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fitchburg stages 1&2 By Anders

This post is by my teammate Anders Newbury

Fitchburg is the beginning of my second big block of races. Since getting back from World's Qualifiers in Tennessee, I hadn't done much racing other than some practice crits and time trials and the Housatonic Hills Pro/1/2 road race where I came in 7th.

When I arrived at Toby's house this past wednesday, it was cold and pouring rain. Conditions didn't change much by thursday morning's time trial, when I was awoken by the sound of pounding rain and deafening lightning strikes. The fact that I was comfortably lying on a mattress was made even better by the knowledge that my family was tenting in a campground and probably swimming by now.

The time trial was happily uneventful and I came in 4th place. Nate won with an average speed of over 29mph, and the team took 3rd, 9th, and 12th places. The next day's stage was a fast circuit race of 22 miles featuring a hard 5oo meter hill. Before the race, I was informed by certain doubters that a breakaway was impossible on this course and had never succeeded. Most of our team got front row call ups for the start of the race, so we began with good position. Nothing much happened early on other than a short-lived breakaway of 5 riders that I tagged along with. Then my teammate Ian Boswell attacked and was holding a slim lead over the field. When Nathan Wilson, who was sitting top ten after the time trial, went to bridge across I covered the move and soon found myself in a three man group just off the front.

We rode hard but the pack was strung out and doing about 40mph down the wide slightly downhill back stretch of the course. They brought the gap down to about 5 seconds, and it looked like our little adventure off the front was done. But we kept hammering and the next time I looked back the gap had shot back up again. Another rider had bridged across while we were close to the pack so now we had 4 riders. We drove the break hard until the finish. Boswell took the win and I came in with the same time at 4th place. The pack came in nearly a minute down. Ian had also taken some points sprints so he had captured the green jersey. Nate Brown kept his leader's jersey behind, and I moved up to 2nd place in the overall.

Afterwords, we came back to watch the pro race. The thunderclouds that had been looming all day finally rolled in and the race took place under a deluge. A breakaway including Vermont boy Will Duggan and Cyclo-cross champion Tim Johnson held off a hard chasing pack to the finish. The pain on their faces gave me a good idea of what to expect in a couple years.

With two out of four stages completed, our team is in good position to take the lead all the way through the final stage. I'm also considering sending my family some snorkels to help with the camping in the flood water.