Friday, June 26, 2015

Upgrade Request Approved

In the past week, my upgrade request to cat 2 was approved. I have published some thoughts about upgrading on my team's blog at harvestracing.com. Go check it out.


That's it for today. Happy Friday, thanks for reading.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cry Baby Hill

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a race recap on the Harvest Racing team's blog about what it felt like where everything came together so I could stand on the top step. Similarly this past week, I had a taste of what a professional racer may feel like at a big race venue.

It happened at Saint Francis Tulsa Tough. Aside from Nationals, this three-day criterium race is among the biggest racing venues an amateur racer can experience. Well-managed with the backing of the city of Tulsa's huge crowds, and three very different courses (Blue Dome, Brady District, Cry Baby Hill) made for an exciting weekend of racing.

My favorite of the three days was the crown jewel: Cry Baby Hill.  As a racer, I appreciated many things of Cry Baby Hill. To begin, the course was quite technical. It features a three-step climb from which the name "Cry Baby" hill comes from. The hill itself isn't long, nor steep, but it's just long and steep enough to cause the peloton troubles. There's a short descent after Cry Baby, followed by a one block climb to climax point. From there, a couple blocks of recovery followed by a sharp descent and a 120 degree off-camber turn, bringing you back to the final 200 meter sprint to the finish. It's a short course at just under a mile, which means lots of hill repeats are required to finish the race.

What I also appreciated about Cry Baby Hill, was the Tulsa fan support on the hill itself. Watching the Grand Tours, I've often wondered what it would be like to be in a race where a throng of people swarms the course until the pace car, moto judge and peloton splits the seam as it pushes through. Now, thanks to Tulsa Tough, I think I have an idea of what that's like. It didn't matter if one was first or last (I was 9th), I felt like a pro. At least for a day.

Feeling like a pro is marvelous. I wish everyone who cared as much about something as seemingly trivial as amateur cycling could experience this.

Well, you can. Put Tulsa Tough on your calendar next year. Just remember to sign up early: there are only 115 spots, and they'll be going fast.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

On The Attack at Tulsa's Cry Baby Hill (credit: Lucas Marshall)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Racing Updates: Tulsa Tough, NOW recap

A partial squad of the Harvest Racing Team will be competing in the St Francis Tulsa Tough races this weekend. Harvest's Lucas Marshall and Paul Webb will be racing all three days of Cat I/II events, and Greg Shimonek and I will be competing in the Men Masters A criterium races on Saturday and Sunday. If you have nothing else to do, you can watch us race online.

Live Streaming begins with the first race Friday and runs all weekend.

Harvest Racing Schedule @ Tulsa Tough:

Friday Night Lights, June 12
MCNELLIE’S GROUP BLUE DOME CRITERIUM
7:00 pm: Men Cat I/II (Lucas, Paul)

Saturday, June 13
BRADY ARTS DISTRICT CRITERIUM
3:25 pm: Men Masters A (Brady, Shim)
5:35 pm: Men Cat I/II (Lucas, Paul)

Sunday, June 14
NEW MEDIO RIVER PARKS CRITERIUM
12:20 pm: Men Masters A (Brady, Shim)
2:25 pm: Men's Cat I/II (Lucas, Paul)

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Nebraska Omnium Weekend (NOW) Criterium Recap
In case you missed it, I climbed to The Top Step of the podium at this past weekend's Nebraska Omnium criterium in Ashland, NE. You can read all about it on HarvestRacing.com's blog.

That's it for now. Happy Friday, thanks for reading.


Friday, June 5, 2015

U45+ Development

This post is a follow up to the Tour of KC Omnium Weekend recap.

My teammates joke with me that Harvest Racing has become my personal U45+ (uber 45) development team. In many ways, it has been, both in terms of my physical and character development.

I learned a lot about racing at this past weekend's Tour of Kansas City, but it wasn't all race tactics. What I learned most was how to conduct myself when presented with temptation to take what wasn't mine.

At least, that's the hope for next time.

As I mentioned in my race recap, I was not proud of how the weekend finished. My omnium win was only the result of taking advantage of a mistake that went unprotested. It was dirty, and I was wrought with personal disgust afterwards.

I'd like to say that my pre-motivation to take the win was due to the tempting lure of category upgrade points. But I'd be in denial to say that standing on the top step of the podium after several recent second place finishes wasn't also a strong factor. And of course, cold cash brings its own motivations.

But a motivator that I wasn't aware came to my attention the day after the race. It was from a story I heard on NPR, about how researchers have linked feelings of disgust to unethical behavior.

Research finds that people respond to feelings of disgust by trying to protect themselves from it — and this can quickly translate into self-interested behavior and cheating
Hearing this after personally experiencing it resounded strongly within me. In short, the research suggest that because I felt disgust from feeling cheated out of a chance to win on Saturday, I acted in my own self interest by cheating on Sunday.

Wow! I wasn't aware of the connection to this behavior previously.

By the time I heard that, there was nothing I could have done to take back what happened on Sunday. That had all passed. But what I have done since was to contact the Tour of Kansas City race promoter to ask him to re-review the omnium results, and if for nothing else, to award the first place check's payment to JJ Shepherd. The promoter thanked me for pointing it out, and said he'd follow up with the primary official to see if the official results could be straightened out as well. As of this writing, I haven't heard back from either of them.

I am ashamed by my lack of sportsmanship this past Sunday. I offer my apologies to JJ Shepherd, the peloton, and to my teammates for accepting this fraudulent victory.

One of the things that I appreciate about cycling is the lessons I've learned along the way. As I mentioned above, the team has chided me about the U45+ development program I've been a part of. Ribbings aside, I do believe that I am a work in development. While my fitness and skills are being refined, I hope there's been a healthy dose of character development mixed in as well.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

2015 Tour of Kansas City Race Weekend

I had a strong showing at this past weekend's Tour of Kansas City.

My time trial at the Tour of KC Cliff Drive Prologue Friday evening was good enough for 2nd place finish in the cat 3 field. I just missed the top step by eight-tenths of a second. Had I previewed the course properly before the race, I am certain I could have made up the difference on the first two corners alone, as I had to scrub a lot of speed by braking heavily to avoid crossing the yellow line. Time trials are all about knowing the course. My mistake. I will do better course recon next time.

--//--

I followed up Friday night's TT with a good race on Saturdays' Cliff Drive circuit, where I had another second place finish. I sat-in most of the race, but with about 25 minutes remaining, I went on the attack as the field began to relax. I quickly opened up a gap, then peaked around to see the young Spencer Seggebruch (Big Shark) bridging up to me. I eased up a bit to let him catch on, and then told him to sit on and recover before we took turns pulling. We only managed to stay away for 3/4 of a lap before the peloton chased us down. From there, I sat on and recovered until the final lap, where it all came down to the final assault up the hill. On the final climb, I positioned myself inside and behind the ultimate winner, Mark Cole (Ethos). When Cole jumped, he caused a big bruhaha in the tightly packed quarters of the group: there was lots of unhappy cyclists making noise as we charged up the hill. I had managed to stay away from the traffic and tucked in along Cole's inside. As we climbed, I was making up ground on him, so much so that I believed that I was going to overtake him before the line. Then, the road started closing in, and Cole's line came across mine. He was pinching me into the barriers just as the road was narrowing for the finish chute. My braking nearly cost me second place as well, but the photo finished showed that I just barely crossed the line before Seggebruch.

Several witnesses, including those in the peloton, immediately encouraged me to file a protest against Cole's seeming encroaching line in the final 200m. In the end, I spoke with Cole personally, asking him what he thought of his finish. Cole said he was unaware that he obstructed me, and that his intentions weren't malicious. He apologized and offered to shake my hand. I shook it, congratulated him on the win and let the protest go.

Still, there will always be a lingering doubt, if not just a thought, that had I had a clean line, I might have won.

--//--

Heading into the Sunday, I was sitting first in the omnium with 36 points, and my chief threats were tied for second with 28 points: Spencer Seggebruch (Big Shark), and JJ Shepherd (Alloy Wheel Repair). My goal was to finish in the top four, which would secure the omnium win. If I finished any worse than fourth, then I'd open the door for losing the overall if those two in particular finished ahead of me.

Sunday's race was a criterium on a flat course around Kaufman baseball field/Arrowhead stadium. With wide, sweeping corners and a 500m downhill sprint finish, I suspected that this race would come to a field sprint at the end. Although this type of race is not suited to my strengths, I welcomed it because I need the most development as a racer here.

As predicted, the race came to a bunch sprint. The winner, Adam Leopold (Bonkers Cycling), was clear by two bike lengths. In second place was Shepherd. That was bad for me. I was in the big pack that came across the line next. I thought that I had finished 3rd in the pack (5th overall), but the photo finish showed Trey Hedgecock (Northside Development) edging me out for fifth by an inch. My sixth place meant that my omnium cushion was in trouble. I earned 10 points for sixth; with my existing 36 points, I had a grand total of 46 points. Meanwhile, Shepherd's second place collected 18 points. Added to his existing 28 resulted in 46 points for him as well. We tied for the omnium. The winner typically goes to higher placement on the final day, which clearly wasn't me.

When the results were posted, however, I was listed first with 48 points, Shepherd was second with 46, and Seggebruch third. It seems that the officials had mistakenly awarded me 12 points instead of ten for sixth place at the criterium. Unfortunately for Shepherd, who had left the site altogether, nobody protested. As a result, I was awarded the omnium by a technicality.

At any rate, I am not happy, nor proud of this selfish behavior. It felt dirty immediately, and the regret of taking something that I didn't earn was heavy.

It wasn't one of my finer moments.

edit: continue reading the follow up post here: "U45+ Development"