Tag Archives: criterium

2013 Tour of America’s Dairyland

Results
Wednesday – Fond du Lac road race – 70th out of 150 starters, 124 finishers
Thursday – Road America road race – 94th out of 150 starters, 102 finishers
Friday – Fond du Lac criterium – 59th out of 105 starters, 61 finishers
Saturday – Downer Classic criterium – 62nd out of 150 starters, 116 finishers
Sunday – East Tosa Grand Prix – 37th out of 119 starters, 86th finishers

Somewhat disappointing results, but still some great racing/training over the past five days. I missed the first six days of the series so I could race the SRS race weekend in Montgomery — hard to pass up on such a great venue so close to home. Still working on a race report for that weekend, but I thought I’d go ahead and finish this one up first. We started driving up immediately after the Montgomery race on Sunday expecting to make it 700 miles up to La Porte, Indiana but instead only made it about 400 miles up to Elizebethtown, Kentucky. On Monday we finished the drive up to La Porte to stay with Kristine’s grandmother. Then on Tuesday we finished the drive up to Wisconsin where I dropped Kristine and the kids off at Kohler-Andrea state park to go camping on the shores of Lake Michigan while I headed back down to Milwaukee to race the last five days of the 11 day Tour of America’s Dairyland.

Wednesday – Fond du Lac road race
First day of racing at the 2013 Tour of America's DairylandFirst day of racing at the 2013 Tour of America’s Dairyland

I finished near the back of what was left of the field in a field sprint after our race was cut short by the county sheriffs for center line rule violation. This was my first race of the series as we started our drive up on Sunday immediately after the Montgomery SRS race but didn’t arrive in Wisconsin until Tuesday. On Tuesday, I had a nice ride starting from Saulkville and heading west into the hills.

On Wednesday, I headed up to the race where I found out there was a waiting list to race (field limit of 150 had been reached). Fortunately, I had pre-registered but that meant that our field was huge with 150 riders. As you can see in the rollout video below, there was no pre-race instructions that I could hear and so I wasn’t sure if we had the whole road. For a field of that size and roads that small you have to have a rolling enclosure. Even though we weren’t supposed to have the whole road, that is how the race ended up playing out as you can see in the videos underneath the jersey pic above.

During the race, there were several breaks but with such a large field there was always somebody chasing. This kept our pace extremely high as we averaged about 28mph for the race, but that was only because of the slow uphills. The rest of the time we spent well above 30mph including bouts of closer to 40mph with some nasty crosswinds that had us guttered. I heard several people comment that this is what a European race probably felt like. I managed to get in one chase group that worked well for about 2 or 3 miles but we got caught shortly before the field caught a small break that was still off the front.

It was crazy being in a field that large, at one point I crested a hill with most of the field stretched out in front of me. It was amazing to see so many riders strung out over a distance that probably measured a quarter mile and 30 seconds of ride time. In the end, there was well under 100 riders left in the main field as many people had been guttered and dropped in the heavy crosswinds. There was several times that I thought I was going to open up a gap with how hard I was working to just barely hold the wheel in front of me while also trying to get as close to the edge of the road as possible without hitting debris or holes.

With about five miles to the finish, I was moving up on the left when the field swerved left and I ended up going off the road on the wrong side of the road (that’s how closely the yellow line rule was being observed). At this point, I realized I was the very last rider in the field! So I tried to move up again and stayed attentive to see if there was any chance of blasting up one of the sides and passing a lot of people — but the opportunity never presented itself and so there wasn’t much point in contesting the sprint from the very back.

The course was a really great course with classic Wisconsin farm fields covering rolling hills with cool barns dotting the landscape. There was hardly any traffic (maybe saw three or four cars the entire race) so it really would not have been hard to have a rolling enclosure with one lead moto ahead of any break, an official with the field, and then the support cars behind the field. That’s actually pretty much how the race played out, but the sheriffs were not happy since I’m guessing they were told we would be on one side of the road. They cut our race short by two laps (20 miles).

Thursday – Road America road race

The last time I raced this race (2010), I was much more aggressive staying towards the front, and the field was quite a bit smaller … maybe 100 guys instead of more than 150 which we had in the race this year. I ended up 4th having made it into the day’s break. I figured there would be a break again this year, but I was too far back to make it into it when the break went, or when any of the several chase groups established themselves. I always seemed to find myself finally making it to the front just as another chase group had already left. So by the time our field was sprinting for the end, there were more than 30 guys up the road. I had been fighting off cramps so I didn’t bother sprinting the uphill finish and risk locking up my leg and throwing off the rest of the weekend. The one highlight of the race was finally making it into a chase group with about 3 laps left but we only lasted a lap and a half before getting reeled back in by the field.

Friday – Fond du Lac criterium and chasing windmills
My bike at the base of a huge windmill (probably 100 feet tall with 50 foot bladesCycling and Don Quixote
I blogged about this race separately here: Cycling and Don Quixote

Saturday – ISCorp Downer Classic criterium
View of downtown Milwaukee on my ride back to the hotel after the raceView of downtown Milwaukee on my ride back to the hotel after the race

Fun commute to/from the race … huge field again, raced well until big surge on inside late in the race. I remembered this from two years ago and was on the correct side moving way up the field, but this year I opted to stay on the easier, safer, slow side and lost tons of position. Finished mid-pack of the field sprint. Awesome commute back on North Avenue – lights were easy to time and even in the dark it was really well lit. Rode right through the finishing stretch of Sunday’s criterium.

Sunday – East Tosa Grand Prix criterium
Awesome warm-up on the bike paths of WautosaAwesome warm-up on the bike paths of Wautosa
Fun neighborhood criterium. Definitely my best race of the series – missed the break though. Rode well near the front until again a surge on the inside saw me lose a lot of positions. I favored the outside and found it easy to move up each lap on the downhill between turns 2 and 3 – but the problem was how many positions I would lose through the start/finish on any slow laps where everyone would surge up the inside. Felt great during the race, though, so this was a good way to end the series in preparation for the elite amateur national road race and criterium this week in Madison, WI.

Heartrate/power data
Tons of data, these are all in chronological order: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
2013 ToAD, Wednesday Fond du Lac road race summary2013 ToAD, Wednesday Fond du Lac road race summary

2013 ToAD, Thursday Road America road race summary2013 ToAD, Thursday Road America road race summary

2013 ToAD, Friday Fond du Lac criterium summary2013 ToAD, Friday Fond du Lac criterium summary

2013 ToAD, Saturday Downer Classic criterium summary2013 ToAD, Saturday Downer Classic criterium summary

2013 ToAD, Sunday East Tosa Grand Prix criterium summary2013 ToAD, Sunday East Tosa Grand Prix criterium summary

2013 ToAD, Wednesday Fond du Lac road race annotated heartrate/power plot2013 ToAD, Wednesday Fond du Lac road race annotated heartrate/power plot

2013 ToAD, Thursday Road America annotated heartrate/power plot2013 ToAD, Thursday Road America annotated heartrate/power plot

2013 ToAD, Friday Fond du Lac annotated heartrate/power plot2013 ToAD, Friday Fond du Lac annotated heartrate/power plot

2013 ToAD, Saturday Downer Classic annotated heartrate/power plot2013 ToAD, Saturday Downer Classic annotated heartrate/power plot

2013 ToAD, Sunday East Tosa Grand Prix annotated heartrate/power plot2013 ToAD, Sunday East Tosa Grand Prix annotated heartrate/power plot

Cycling and Don Quixote

Windmills and the setting sunWindmills and the setting sun

Two years ago, I raced all of the Tour of America’s Dairyland including the Fond du Lac criterium. I raced well and crossed the line in first at the start of the last lap trying to maintain good position. Unfortunately, I managed to get passed by 20 people during the last lap to finish just out of the money. I was quite distraught after the race having blown such good position to end up outside of the top 20. I was hoping to redeem that performance with a top 20 finish this year, but with huge thunderstorms and rain showers all across the sky and approaching Fond du Lac before the start I was not very optimistic. We managed to start the first few laps dry, but then it started to rain, and I drifted to the back, off the back, and then expecting to be pulled was told that I could continue to race. I am never going to willingly pull out of a race again after a disasterous race in West Virginia in 1996, so I raced for another 20 minutes or so getting lapped 3 or 4 more times by the field. I used the opportunity to continue racing to work on my rainy cornering skills, as I have had several recent rainy slideouts losing a lot of confidence in the rain.

It was barely halfway through the race by the time that the officials decided I had raced enough and pulled me from the race. I just checked the results, and I was rewarded for my efforts by being placed in the results instead of a DNF — 59th out of 105 starters. Afterwards, wanting to get some kind of training in, I started wandering towards the hills, first looking for some good climbs, and then seeing windmills in the distance riding to try to get a good picture. The windmills are huge so that they appear closer than they really are. And then even when you start to get close to one, you find that the road is gated off or unrideable in the mud or the windmill you were heading towards was actually on a different ridge beside a different road. Eventually, as it was getting dark and as I was getting farther and farther away from Fond du Lac, I started to feel like Don Quixote chasing windmills, and I began to suspect that somehow for many people including me such is the lot of the bike racer. Finally, I found a cool valley with a bunch of windmills with a farm gravel road that was not only rideable but also quite pictureesque. It was amazing to be standing underneath something so gigantic and hearing the whoosh of the three blades as the passed overhead. Standing directly underneath it as the blades headed towards you was a bit disconcerting as you wondered unreasonably that you might have misjudged the length of the the blade and it would suddenly hit you standing there on the ground.

So, anyway, even as I was chasing the windmills I thought of Don Quixote. I don’t know the story all that well, but I believe the basic idea is that poor Don thought that the windmills he was chasing and trying to defeat were actual enemies that needed to be defeated. He continued to pursue these windmills never realizing that they were unbeatable. Comparing this to bicycle racing, the idea is that we as bike racers try so hard to win or at least do as well as possible romanticizing that one good result to the point that it lures us back for more even after a series of really bad results. Often the level of competition is so far above and beyond our own capability that it is truly like Don Quixote chasing windmills – an impossible and illogical vain pursuit.

Again, I don’t know the story all that well, but Don Quixote must have been fulfilled, fully alive, full of purpose as he chased after those windmills even if it made no sense to anyone else. The danger though is the damage that Don was doing to those around him as he sought after those windmills even as he tried to do good and help/rescue/save the world. I am fortunate that my family is supportive of my windmill chasing, and I do everything I can to turn bike races into family trips and family experiences, and I think the good far outweighs the bad, but the very real danger is pursuing too far without putting everything into context.

As I was trying to find a windmill I could ride right up to and set my bike against on my 10 year anniversary with my wife 100 miles away camping with her family in Door County, I realized both the beauty and the danger of bike racing. I had spent the night before camping with them and the morning of our anniversay was awesome with a nice trail run/ride with Kristine and the kids finding a cool boat landing and then a climb up to a tower overlooking Sturgeon Bay and the entrance to Green Bay followed by a little bit of caving with Josiah and then more trail riding and finally capped off joining Kristine’s dad as he finished 1100 miles of hiking the entire Ice Age trail which ends at the tower we had found earlier in the day. All of this before leaving my family to go get dropped in a bike race, but then finding beautiful rolling hills, picturesque farms with barns, cows, and fields of corn, big sky with clouds from various storms on all sides aglow with lightning and the setting sun — surreal, almost perfect, forgetting that an hour or so earlier I had just gotten dropped and pulled from a bike race – I was content realizing that bike racing in the context of life is so small, but in the moment if you look in the right places you can still find something worth pursuing even if it looks like windmills to everyone else.

Pictures from earlier in the day camping with Kristine and the kids -