Friday, April 22, 2011


Last weekend, Bryan Redemske, Eric O'Brien and I entered the Tour de Husker road race. To say that we had our work cut out for us is an understatement.

First was the course and conditions. The Tour de Husker is staged at Branched Oak Lake, on an 11 mile loop with one longish climb, some rollers and a notorious crosswind section on a dam road. The cat 1-2-3 race completed five loops for roughly 60 miles. The conditions at the start were: 33° F with NW winds at 18 mph with gusts over 25 mph.

Then there were the competitors. Only 16 entrants made up the small field. The three of us, representing Midwest Cycling Community, were all cat 3s. There were a handful of other teams represented including two wearing Iowa Hawkeyes kits, but by and large, Team Kaos and their six riders (a cat 1, four cat 2s & two cat 3s) was the dominant force of the race. They practically had it sown up before the starting whistle even blew.

But nobody could tell us that. Before the race, we carefully drew up a plan on my Big Chief tablet, and it was filled with moxie. Actually, I forgot about these plans until I found them much later, crumpled up beneath a dirty chamois, while unpacking my racing bag.

Anyway, here they are:

STEP 1: Send most experience w/break
Did that win the race? No? Proceed to Step 2
STEP 2: Send next most experienced w/break
Did that win the race? No? Proceed to Step 3
STEP 3: Have least experienced sit in Chase
Did that win the race? No? Proceed to Step 4
STEP 4: Quietly weep, prepare for time trial

Yeah, that's about sums it up for the Cat3 MWCC guys at this year's Tour de Husker.

However, the race wasn't a total loss. In a stinging defeat, there are so many things one can learn. Bryan shared. So did Eric.

During this road race, I learned about tactics by sitting in with much more experienced racers than myself. Like how the strong team gets to mostly sit-in while the others work to pull back the break.

But one thing I didn't learn from the others was how to create a fantastic photo opportunity for yourself. You know, the photo that gets tagged in Facebook for all to marvel at? Or the same one you choose for your Twitter profile? Heck, if it's really good, it can be the one you have Kinkos blow up into a foam-backed poster board to update the triathlon photo you had blown up five years ago.

So pay attention, here's how I did it. Actually, what transpired was totally by accident, but here's how it went down anyway.

On the fourth lap, one of the two Iowa Hawkeyes riders in the chase rotates past me and says, "your skewer's open."

Yeah right. That's the cycling equivalent of someone saying, "Hey McFly, there's something on your shirt," before getting slapped for looking down.

I nodded to brush him off. Eighth place was on the line, and I wasn't going to let a Hawkeye TT off the front on my watch.

But the Hawkeye persisted, "Your front wheel's skewer is open." His eyes motioned downward, inviting me to take a look.

I looked. Darn it , I'm weak.

But by golly, the Hawkeye wasn't lying -- the skewer was nearly wide open.

I glanced at the speedometer. We were doing like 32 mph with a favorable tail wind. I suddenly became aware of the heavy thumping caused by the road's wide expansion joints.

I knew that this could get ugly. I mean, it would be bad enough if I were to go down, but God forbid that I should take out any of the five others in our chase group with me. So with a neutral feed zone approaching, I asked the group if they would allow me to solo ahead to tighten up the skewer and then regroup in the neutral zone. They agreed.

So that's what I did, and in the process of pulling over to lock down that skewer, Georgia Hart O'Donnell snapped the most awesome picture of me. This is the photo I intend to blow up to let everyone at the office know how awesome I am at riding a bicycle.

photo courtesy of Georgia Hart O'Donnell

You see what you can learn by reading this blog? The race wasn't a total loss.

Technically, the race was nearly a total lost a short time later. That's when one of the Hawkeyes finally broke loose to TT for eighth place. Why I'm not sure, but he was gunning for it. When we tried to bring him back, I blew up, and in doing so got popped and also lost 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th place, as well as a lot of time on the G.C. clock that put me well out of contention for a podium. But really, at that point, who was counting?

Still, I can't complain. I've got a new cubicle prop, I didn't crash or take anybody out, and I've learned from failure how not to win a race when the cards are totally stacked against you.

In hindsight, if could do it all over again, I would revise our top secret race plan to actually give us a shot at winning.

Here's how the final draft would look:

STEP 0: Rig skewer to look open
Attack neutral zone
Did that win the race?

Happy Good Friday everyone


  1. That was so not taken from a Big Chief note book. Your a fraud.

  2. We really need to have a better Plan B, Plan C and Plan 0.

  3. Too bad your kit is outdated and doesn't match. With such a big field we had a hard time figuring out what team you 3 belonged on. That why we decided to split the field early. It was way too confusing.

    You guys did have a good plan though. Next time bring more guys.

  4. Shim's just jealous b/c his mom never bought him the Big Chief pad. He always got the Li'l Chief notebook (smaller, not as cool). Also, he's a bad speller.