Thursday, September 28, 2006

catching up

ummmm....ok, so my foray into the blogosphere for the 2006 road season was ...well....not so successful as far as the part that includes me actually getting posts up regularly. So I'll try again....this was a very strange season to say the least. I'm not getting any younger, but this season took a lot out of me, mostly from a traveling perspective.

After worlds in Austria I came home and was in a funk for a week or so...I won't call it depression...more like sustained disappointment that took a while to dissipate. A week after coming home I did the US 10K Classic in Atlanta on Labor Day. The field was stacked and the race was super fast...and even fun. We rode well, but somehow managed to miss a 20 rider split with 2 laps to go.....ooops. I have always ridden well at this race, but never nailed a result (I think my best was like 15th?).

The following weekend was the Univest Grand Prix up in PA. This is one of the only uci races held in the states ...and the ONLY one an amateur team can even get into. While I was not personally looking forward to this race, I was psyched that the team was invited...especially for the younger riders to get the experience with the European riders etc.

Univest has a special place in my racing memory. It was the first "real" big time bike race I ever did its very first year back in 1998. I had just catted up from 3 to 2 and was asked to ride on a regional all star team for the inaugural edition. I lasted one hour going flat out as hard as I could to try to stay with the field.....I was blown off the back and destroyed. I couldn't believe how fast these guys could go.....needless to say THIS was the racing I wanted to be doing. I got to watch a young Jon Hamblen duke it out with 2 French guys for the win (Jon was 2nd). In 99 Univest was a big goal for me...I was riding well and made it off the big loop with the field...40 miles to go, feeling great....then got taken down in a crash. I got going and would have made it back to the field, but I got a flat just as I was about to make support around: game over. In 2000 I FINALLY, on the 3rd try, finished ! (63rd??), this was the year some no-name called Tom Boonen won....exciting stuff. The 2001 version was cancelled due to 9/11, 2002/2003 we were not invited and 2004 the race was shortened due to a tropical storm ( I was there, but DNF'd). No invite again for 2005 which brings us to this year.

We had a team with a couple of guest riders and our team leader (Hekman) broke his hand 2 days before the race. Even though I knew my form was nowhere in sight , I love the course and was hoping to finish the race. In the past this event had been amateur and U23 pros only...this year it was full-on pro team racing.....and it got ugly quick. We started fast and I was comfortable....enough so that I started to gain confidence....but that only lasted about 30 miles until the field splintered on a long gradual uphill. Again, I was OTB. I went as hard as I could and made it back into the caravan of follow cars....where I languished for about 5 more miles. I almost got back to the field, then we hit a big hill and it was over. An easy ride back to town with a teammate after watch the finish of the race.

Even though I didn't fare too well, one of our guest riders, Graham Howard (22 years old), had an amazing ride to finish 12th. It was inspiring to watch this guy pull himself inside out to stay at the front of the race. ...just seeing this made the trip worth the effort. The following day was the Univest criterium...and ...well...nothing more needs to be said about that....except good job to Ryan Gamm for finishing that thing.

Richard Fries did let me know that I was in fact the oldest rider in the race ...had I done well this would have been something to be proud of.

The Univest weekend concluded my 2006 road race season: next up ......CYCLO-CROSS !!!!!

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