September 10, 2005 - Natz or Gnats?
Oh Billy, what can I say? Everything was going pretty minty fresh and then Team Northwestern Mortgage got hosed down and violated on the last day. I'll go over all the action from the start so you can get a feel for it.
Day 1 - Pppprrrr Sweet (Pursuit) & Itch It (Scratch Race)
Day 2 - Points Taken (Points Race)
Day 3 - Toilet Paper Shuffle (Team Pursuit)
Day 3 - The Angry-Son (Madison)
I don't even know where to start, really. All I am is what I am and I feel like a rancid can of Spam. The tall order of me having a strong Gnats was too tall. After not doing much on the bike for almost four months (1.5 months taken off after Worlds and 1.5 months taken off to heal from my June 10th accident) that Sam Vanilla poisoning didn't really put me in the greatest of positions right before Gnats. I was totally cool with it though. It put me in a support role for my Team. I don't always have to win. I am very happy when my teammates rock out. I lost a bunch of weight from my Battle with Sam but it's all good now. I am actually in a very good place to get into great shape now; starting again from a smaller size instead of worrying about losing weight is preferable to me. Should be an excellent winter campaign; ssshhh, Tazzy here I come again. I have to - I missed the whole season here so what is a pirate supposed to do?
OK, so we all have our numbers and we're ready for "Freddy". "Freddy" is living pretty large this year. "Freddy" refers to the number of riders we're competing against; participate size. This is the first year since Olympic Trails in 1992 that less people qualify for the finals than the people that miss out. Usually, we'll have two heats that qualify 12 riders for the final and the size of the heat is only about 18. This year we have three heats that qualify only eight riders through and there are still 18 riders in each heat. Simple point that I will make here is that a lot of people paid a bunch of money just to ride heats. Some people have paid 37 bucks to just ride a 200 metre time trial. That is cool with me. The more the merrier. Whatever helps the sport.
OK again, there is no crowd to speak of the entire week of Gnats. Absolutely pathetic is the only way to describe it. Big Bad Bobba Lou (Bobby Lea) rides a 4:39 in Pursuit qualifying and gets second. He bailed from the "Itch It" heats to save energy for the final but to now avail; he still loses and Brad "Puff, Puff, Give" Huff is crowned the new champ. We are going to do a heavy switch to Bobba Lou's training program for September and get him up to his potential for those time trials on October 7-8 (USAC's next Talent Pool Opportunity Event).
The "Itch It" looks good for the NWMC Team. We have the defending champ, Josh Kickoff (Kerkhof), Mike "Freedom-Ham", Gui "Hurting Nacho" Nelessen, Elliot "The Guillotine" Gaunt and yours truly in the event. I am a decoy. I am going to be watched like a hawk, no matter what. My only chance is for a field sprint; only about a 5% chance of happening.
The race starts and we're off. It's all staying together and nothing is really happening at all. Is it going to be a field sprint? That's what I am thinking for the first quarter of the race. Then the crap-hola hits the fan; attack after attack, like a jack jumper that has had his space intruded upon. Here comes a big one and reel it back together. The counter goes and I see Kickoff at the bottom of the track with space to move. I yell to him, "Josh go!" and he doesn't move. I yell again, "Josh go now!" and this time he gets out of the saddle and bridges across. A couple more people bridge up over the next couple of laps but everything I cover gets pulled back and fails to escape clean. The sprint comes and Josh just blows everyone away; destroys everyone. Way to go! You're my boy, Blue!
Mr. Kickoff has been our sixth man in the team pursuit training for about a week now, so that means he wasn't going to get to ride the event unless an emergency occurred. He got Epstein-Barr back in February, so he had to take off all of March, April and May to get healthy again. He is super talented. A lot of people don't want to admit that and others chose to ignore it because Josh isn't their type of guy. Well I say that he's one of the people on this planet that I trust without question. He is on the Dean's List with me. I know his true character and so I spite the "nay" Sayers. He deserved this win and others will follow as long as he decides to stay with this sport.
Day II brings the fury. I am like seven-time US Points Race National Champion. The most anyone else has is two (Jonas "Tornado" Carney and John "Big Mouth Bass" Beckmen). It isn't going to be my day though. I had a rough time in my heat and that is not good news. I win Nationals almost every time I win or get second behind a friend in my heats. Anyway, Itchy Josh Kickoff races the heat in the wrong gear, 15 on the back instead of the 14 so needless to say; he didn't qualify. Gui was a very smart person in his heat and treated the first points race sprint as the Kierin Final. Needless to say he paid for that move by not making the final. We had four guys in the final instead of six. We were out numbered by the Creepy CREEF guys.
I went back to the Hoe-tell and I woke from my nap with a feeling of positivity. The squirrel that had been haunting me in my recent dreams accepted my offer of the peace pipe and we became the dynamic duo. Strange, I know but it was sign. Long story short on this race too: Bobby wins! Kidding, I'll get more into it. We start out with the plan of Mike sort of watching Colby and Bobby sort of hanging near Huff. Elliot and I are just riding support unless something crazy happens. Crazy things do happen but not on this day. After the first sprint, the race gets kind of hard and an opportunity opens. I told my guys to race a little conservative and defensive before the race, but sometimes you have to change plans midstream and go with your gut. The front part of the pack was in the first turn and some of the head honcho riders were heading up the banking. I had those monkeys pinned and covered and I saw Bobby clear for take off. I turned and looked at him and said "Bobby, go! Go Now!" and he did. Now we'll cut to the chase. That six man group went and it was all over. I told our guys before the race if a good group for us lapped, that we were going to stop anything else from lapping and that's what me, Mike and Elliot did. I chased down everything that moved; even stuff that had Bobby in it. That might sound strange but when you lap the field and are winning the race, staying with your teammates is a smarter thing to do than to get isolated. It was smart for Bobby to cover those moves; he had to but for those of you that didn't understand what I was doing now you do. The Madison race that is coming up soon will prove this point.
Anyways, we all do the team thing and help Bobby out. We do so in a legal professional manner and he wins. It was an excellent necessary win for Boob coz that pursuit loss was hard to swallow. It tastes fine now.
Day triple is Toilet Paper cut day. Josh is out for sure. Everyone on my team is doing just fine so we ride Elliot in the opening round. He is last year's Junior National Pursuit Champ and has a promising future. He has already mastered the art of myspace.com so he is like a young Jedi. Zena talks to me in my head and says "Be conservative and vote for Bush". I don't like the conservative stuff but sometimes it's better not to "Go from the Gun". Maybe that's why I love handicaps and veggie butt (vegemite). Anyhow, we go last coz we are the reigning champs. I put my guys on a schedule to beat the fastest team thus far by three seconds and that is exactly the way it finishes in qualifying (4:25).
In the final I know that the Crusty Crew of Kenny G, Curtis "2 Guns a Blazing", Dan "The Man" and Huff Huff Give are just going to unleash the fury. I wanted to go for a sub 4:20 pace but Zena got in my head again. Winning for sure was much more important than going for our PR and having something go wrong. I put my guys on a 4:22 pace and they handle it fine and finish with four guys and do a 4:21. Not too bad since LA is not a fast track no matter what anyone tells you. It's an excellent awesome track but not a speed demon. Look at some of the times from this years Worlds, they are not impressive. Sure there were a few guys that went incredible but it was because they were insanely impressive and could have established World records with the form they had on a faster track. Am I the captain of tangents or what? We win again and I am proud of the hard work my guys have put in. Miller was only working out with us for about a month before Gnats. There is no denying his talent. Just like Kickoff, he just needs to be handled fairly and be understood and the demon within can power out. Cycling isn't a personality contest. Everyone is an individual and their needs vary. I remember years ago on Prime Alliance when Miller got third in the Redlands Crit. He was fat and out of shape and wearing an all blue smurf skinsuit. It was awesome. If I could get Miller Band and Just Kickoff in great form, they would be a world class Madison team. Speaking of which...
The Mad Mad Madison: I have delayed this diary for this reason. "If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all" (is that how it's supposed to go?) Well, I don't play by those rules but I will keep it calm and real. Long story short once again, Colby Cheese (or mini BTN as some say) and Chaz Hart-lee ride super smart and pull off the first two sprints with great moves. Our guys are napping. I am riding with Gui and we are hoping for a top five finish and are looking to do a lot of pulling at the front for team purposes. Josh and Ryan are riding together but they both have too much cottage cheese in their butts to be a real threat. I'm hoping that they just get some experience and get more comfortable with each other during this ride. Elliot is riding with Sky Walker Star and they aren't going to be a real threat either. Elliot has a hand full of exchanges to his name. It's up to Booby and Freedom Ham to save the day for Northwestern Mortgage. They battle back hard and are actually winning by the slimmest of margins with less than half the race to go. This is where BS ensues. Huff Huff Give and his CREEF partner have already lost multiple laps to the field and continue to do team work for Colby and Chad. Most of it hasn't made too much of a difference but it shouldn't be allowed by the officials. In none of the previous races or this Madison have any of the Northwestern Mortgage guys lost a lap to the field and done team work. Anyway, Colby and Chad are off the front with Bobby and Mike and they are clear and gone. C&C Music Factory attack Bobby and Mike and get a small gap on them. What happens next changes the race and we will never know what would have really happened. Huff and his partner go down another lap (3 or 4 now, I don't really know) and they just drill it and tow C&C away from Bobby and Mike. This went on for multiple laps before the officials did anything. Colby and Chad win and controversy is alive and well. Team work is one thing but this crossed the line and it crossed it by a mile.
We protested and of course just like I predicted; nothing was done. Our boys didn't show up for the award ceremony and I have to admit if the same thing happened to me, I would have done the same thing. By showing up, it would have insinuated that the official's decision was acceptable. It wasn't. I think the official's will be more aware now and stop this garbage before it gets out of control. Speaking of Garbage, the new CD is pretty hawt. You should check it out.
Anyway, sorry for being tardy again; you wouldn't have wanted me to write this diary in heated frustration, would you?
Next event: The LA time trials on October 7th and 8th. With my new power animal, the brown eyed squirrel, maybe I will be able to get back to Captain Insane-O form. I am surprised how well my back is holding out from my last week's training.
You all take care and be good to the kids.
Side Note: We are currently looking for additional sponsors for the 2006 season so if you know of anyone that wants to help a brother out and believes in what we are trying to do here on NWMCT. firstname.lastname@example.org is a good place to send them. Thanks.