- Cycling News
July 07, 2007, 1:00 BST,
April 21, 2009, 11:55 BST
After our last solid block of racing in Virginia and Ohio, we've had a bit of time to settle down a...
After our last solid block of racing in Virginia and Ohio, we've had a bit of time to settle down a bit and get back to the basics of training, resting, and not travelling. Travelling and racing is exciting and fun no doubt, but waking up every morning in my own bed, showering in my own shower, and being able to wash my clothes whenever I want - it's MasterCard style priceless.
The TIME Factory Team is based out of Winston-Salem, NC in our fantastic team house. I love Winston, the people there, everything about it really, but when it's time to really get down to business and get back to the simple life, I've got to head home, and home for me is the oasis in the middle of the northeastern Georgia countryside of Athens.
I love racing my bike, but when it comes down to it, I love just riding my bike on small, little used roads till I get tired, going home, eating, going to bed, and doing it all again the next day. I love that. I love waking up sore and pretty much making up my mind that there won't be any riding today, but then I get on my bike, work out the kinks, whine a bit, but an hour or two later all soreness is forgotten and the hours just flow on by. So with this three week period between Ohio and the Nationals, I've gotten a great opportunity to get back to the basics, do some long, hard training rides and work on my tan. Sort of. I don't tan so well, but I do burn better than most.
The riding here is so nice - I can ride all by my lonesome all day, paved or dirt, or I can ride with my good friend Jacob Fetty, or I can hook up with any one of the numerous group rides, none more fun than those led by the inimitable David Crowe and his cohorts. Seriously, everyday I wake up and it's straight to the map to see where I'm headed off to explore for the day, or I just follow Jacob into any number of the unknown reaches that seem to be everywhere for me. It's funny to me that riding hard and beating myself up physically is the one certain path to mental refreshment for me. Just taking a week off doesn't do much, but going home and riding hard everyday punctuated by some good dining experiences at my favourite restaurants with my favourite beverages, what more do I need?
The mental break provided by these few weeks is welcomed to the extreme, and I am raring to go and get back into the racing to come. I need not worry too much about racing over the coming month, because we've got a block that will set a new personal record for me for sheer volume, not to mention quality. Next up on the schedule for the team is the Iron Hill Twilight up in West Chester, Pennsylvania this Saturday. It's a big time USA Crit, so it should have all of the big players, and the biggest baller of them all, Mark Hekman, our very own Winston-Salem homeboy. After that it's on to Nationals, Superweek, and then our home state series of crits, Crossroads, culminating with our hometown NRC, Hanes Park.
It's about time to get back to racing, and we'll be aiming to make our presence felt.
- Cycling News
June 26, 2007, 1:00 BST,
April 21, 2009, 11:55 BST
We've been racing all over since last we wrote, most recently we did a ten-day road trip that took...
We've been racing all over since last we wrote, most recently we did a ten-day road trip that took us from Washington DC and a neutral start around the Pentagon, down to a nice park in Richmond, VA and one day later we were raging across the roads of Ohio.
The Tour of Ohio was a big race for us, as it lined up with our ability level nicely, and we hoped for some good results and an opportunity to really race bikes. Sometimes in the bigger races, like say, the Tour of Sommerville, the actual racing of the bike seems to be lost in the speed and quality of a high-power field. So we came to Ohio with high hopes, decent form, and two new riders - the first, a junior from South Carolina, Andy Baker, and the other just a couple of years older from the other side of the country, Eric Bennett, from Ventura, California.
We ran into a superb Abercrombie and Fitch squad at Ohio, and an even better Mark Hekman; from day one A & F was all over the race, controlling it from start to finish with superior numbers and incredible support for their main man Hekman. This frustrated us for a lot of the race. It was discouraging. When you attacked, you knew there was little to no chance for any real success (except for the pivotal third stage).
We rode well, aggressively, but without that certain fervor that has seen us to good results and encouraging racing in the past. It was with this in mind that we arrived at the final day, yet another stage tailor-made for a bunch sprint - it would make for the fifth group gallop in six stages. We decided as a unit that we were going to race bikes with that often talked about and rarely pulled off 'old school fury.'
We were hellbent on racing our bikes with some old school fury on Saturday, and after a nice, easy start to the stage at the back, we linked up and headed to the front to do our best to make something happen. Exactly what, we weren't quite sure, but the feeling that we had to try and do something was definitely shared by everyone.
So with about 30 laps to go, we got started doing the one thing that has worked wonders for us in the past: attack and counter-attack, so Chris, David, Junior (Andy), and I attacked, countered, attacked, and countered. Pat and Eric had rough times, as they both lost their contacts early on and rode the rest of the race in a semi-blind haze. That must have been fun.
It was plainly obvious that nothing was going anywhere, so after a certain point our goal became merely to make our presence felt and to make sure everyone knew that we were in fact here in Springfield, Ohio, so we did. One time I got off solo and for no other reason than to hear my name called out, I stretched the effort out for an extra lap. Did it do anything? No. Was it worth it? For sure. Call me selfish, I don't know, but I love hearing my name when I race, it motivates me to no end to maybe stay away for an extra lap for just one more, 'that's Jered Gruber from the Time Development Team.'
Maybe it's because before this year I had never had my name called out in a bike race that I can remember. It makes my skin prickle when I hear it. Maybe everyone else on the team likes to hear their names called as well, because they were riding like it. Chris got away late in the game in a good move with Seigler rider Mike Stoop. The two of them were part of a bigger break, but they were the only two really driving it, and they made a good effort to keep it going... but once again, to no avail.
Looking back, it was an unfortunate week for Chris. His first day wreck and loss of an hour was the only thing between him and third place overall on GC. I know the woulda/shoulda/coulda game is not the best to play, but it still stands that Chris rode a good race, and hopefully his luck will improve for the Nationals and the rest of the year.
Back to the racing. It was incredibly motivating though when we really got together at the front. When a move you're in comes back and instantly white, black, and red flashes past on a Time bike - that's just the best thing in the world. To be the person that counters when your team-mate comes back from a move because you know that's what needs to be done is just as cool.
And if for some reason no-one flashes by, you suck it up and go again, because you know the next time they will be there. I haven't felt so amped up mid-race in a long while. Again, it didn't amount to anything, but I'm sure if we can continue to get better at the 'old school fury' we're bound to experience some sort of success at some point down the road. Considering that we're not too fantastic with the bunch sprints either - it seems to be our only option. I think, too, that it makes us an incredibly powerful unit. It goes to the very foundation of team. Sure, we're all moderately strong as individuals, but when we manage to get things going in the attack-counter string, we become something a lot bigger than any one of us could ever be, and that's just cool, not to mention motivating.
I don't mean to make it sound like we become some unbeatable colossus or anything, but it definitely brings all of our racing up at least a few notches, and that's good stuff. Again though, we were x-d out of the bunch sprint, and once again Abercrombie won (they were fantastic all week - huge congrats), and Mark Hekman (same thing - huge congrats) took the overall.
So our 'old school fury' apparently wasn't ferocious enough, but hey, I didn't have much left in the tank afterwards and I don't think anyone else did either - and with a little bit better fortune in the eyes of Eric and Pat, perhaps we might have had that little bit of extra fury that could have perhaps wrenched something free...maybe...we'll keep trying that's for sure.
- Cycling News
May 10, 2007, 1:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:31 BST
This week we ventured forth to the US Criterium Series Southeast . Prior to the Smith Barney Classic...
This week we ventured forth to the US Criterium Series Southeast. Prior to the Smith Barney Classic in Spartanburg Tiago, Chris, Jered and I stopped by the Pine Street Elementary School in Spartanburg for a visit. It was really exciting for all of us and we had a great time. At one point Jered got into the crowd of 300 or so and started signing autographs on kid's tennis shoes! This created a mosh-pit-like environment and eventually I had to physically extract him from it. I think it was as close to being a celebrity as he has ever been. If I didn't pull him out I think he would have stayed in there for quite a while.
That evening with the addition of David, we were off to the race. Erik was not able to make this weekend as he was helping out with bike rodeos elsewhere. So in the absence of our guest director and with me being sick I was the only one left in the coffers to take care of the guys. I was hoping it would be a learning experience for everyone, me included, with a respectable result as a bonus. Everyone was well rested and excited to go. Jered was still living his rock star experience as kids from the school were out lining the entire course shouting his name. This was not the case for Chris or Tiago. We did a mock race at the school which Jered won so these kids definitely were looking for a result. The guys rode ok with Tiago almost making the move of the race. He got away for about 6 laps midway through the race with two guys and it looked like the move that would stick. Unfortunately there were just too many teams present who wanted to race and the move was brought back. Chris broke his saddle, which we fixed and he was able to continue. I learned a valuable lesson from this incident as I hadn't realized that had I put my spare bike in the pits Chris would have been able to continue racing on my bike instead of his with a semi functioning saddle. Need less to say, I won't make that mistake again! I also learned that being respectful and courteous all the time has its rewards, as a broken seat does not qualify for a free lap from the jury but he got one none the less.
Although Tiago had a good ride, finishing 18th, the guys didn't ride great as a team. Tiago and Chris didn't have great starts and rode at the back most of the race. Jered on the other hand had good position and faded to the back as Tiago and Chris moved forward. Tiago needs to push a bigger gear and Jered gets too complacent and comfortable at the back.
On Saturday we were off to the Sunny King Crit in Georgia. Again we helped out with the kids races and once again we all found another extremely rewarding aspect of this sport. Tiago was full of confidence and since he tends to race a lot on emotion I knew he would probably be aggressive. I put the pressure on the guys to race at the front and race more cohesively as a team. Chris rode stellar and was at the front most of the race and he was not going to miss the early action. At one point he attacked on his own and was out front alone for about four or five laps. He picked up a few primes and then was joined by a Successful Living rider. Their time off the front was short lived. In the end the guys rode as a team and were working together to move up through the field. They finished in 22nd, 27th, and 28th with Chris leading the way. I think they thought they finished a little higher, but the result was ok. We would rather see them trying to work together and finish a little farther back than having them work for themselves and have one guy up around 11th. Eventually, when they get it, they will be able to work for a top five as a team instead of getting just outside of the top 10 as individuals. Although they worked together at the end we need them to do this throughout the race. One guy at the front can not do it alone. These guys need to learn how to use the support of the team in these bigger races and how to contribute to it.
On Sunday we were off to Decatur Alabama. The guys were a little run down and not very excited. The racing turned out to be pretty negative after two guys got up the rode as much of the field seemed to be resigned to just finishing out the series. I think they fed too much off of every one else's emotion and missed an opportunity to get a result. Since I too was tired and sick I could empathize with them a little and didn't give them too hard a time.
Getting to Decatur was a lot easier then the long journey home that awaited us. At 1:00AM on Monday about halfway home we started the debate about of the advantages and disadvantages of driving all the way home. I expect to have this conversation many times this year, this time how ever I opted to stop and get some rest.
It was a good weekend. Hopefully the guys will see the benefits in racing as a unit. We did this early this year in smaller races and the guys clearly saw the benefits there. We need an opportunity to execute those same principles in a big race so they can see they can employ those same lessons learned.
- Cycling News
May 01, 2007, 1:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:31 BST
Stages 4 and 5 have passed without too much problem in the racing. Stage 4 from Douthat State Park...
Stages 4 and 5 have passed without too much problem in the racing. Stage 4 from Douthat State Park to Waynesboro went over 2 big mountains and broke up just as expected. Chris was in a group at 3 minutes and had a good day for him in my opinion. he lost contact with the leaders just as they were ratcheting up the pace to attack each other near the top. Jered lost the pace earlier and made the best effort he could to find himself in a decent group of strong non-climbers, and make it in easily without losing a ton of time.
In stage 5 there were no more big climbs, just the up and down all day roads. Since the problem that we have is that we can't follow the best riders in the hill, I reminded them that today there was no hill and that there were a lot of tired legs - today would be our best day for a result or an exploit. Nothing solid and stable worked out, but they went out there and made the effort to take part in the race today and I am proud of them.
In a race like this its going to be hard for young riders and inexperienced riders. If you don't have a lot of racing under you, it’s a tough thing to just come to the Tour of Virginia and expect to perform like it’s a local race. Each individual day is hard and fast, and then there are so many in a row. For us its just going to be about taking the baby steps first, then walking, and then running, and then getting someplace we want to go with speed.
Interesting events and things I think
After the finish of stage 4, we did a quick-fast "get the heck out of dodge" and abandoned our mechanic just like we left Tiago at the finish of stage 3. For stage 5 we managed to get everyone to the hotel without ditching anyone, so that was a small improvement in our organization - head counts are key.
I have an arch-nemesis team car in the race. It's dirty as hell and has no bikes on it and no wheels in the car. I can't figure out why they are there. They are all over the race radio asking to advance to do this and that. They are calling to neutral to get them to service their riders because they don't actually have any wheels in their car. They block the service lane all the time and they create gigantic gaps every time they pass a rider of theirs on the hill because they talk to him and try to give him a million bottles for ten minutes as he is getting dropped. They even do it on the descent, and they make like 5 minute gaps in the narrow roads.
Yesterday, they were behind the third group trying to feed their rider outside of feeding. In doing this they were in the service lane blocking cars from advancing to the second and first groups in the last 20k. so I had to yell at them to get them to move.
My food thing is working out really well. We have all our food in a cooler pre-cooked and the we reheat it on a gas camp stove. We shower and eat in record time, and then we can relax. It would be nice if we had a meal to sit down to like in Europe, or like in the big US races, but we get it done another way. It helps that our food is really good.
Now that we have only 2 bikes to wash, the day gets done earlier and Dee is a lot happier.
Director sportif 101
I was happy to help Rick Crawford set up his race radio. He was on 5-1, not 5-0, so he passed me his radio out the window and I set it up and passed it back. The only reason that I could help him is that Bill Short (with the dog in the car) helped me get mine set. The first day that I wasn't hearing everything, he passed me an extra radio, and then the next day he couldn't spare it, so I went out with my old radio not tuned correctly. Bill called a mutual friend to get my cell number and then called me in the car to tell me that I was getting a service call, and by the way the race radio is channel 5, and the default is 0, not 1. so I set my radio to 5-0 and I was fine all day.
There needs to be a class for new directors to know what we are doing as far as all this technical radio crap.
The caravan is not as fun without big descents to go bombing down in the car.
- Cycling News
April 26, 2007, 1:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:31 BST
Stage 3 of the Tour of Virginia from Bedford to Covington was the hardest day of racing that I have...
Stage 3 of the Tour of Virginia from Bedford to Covington was the hardest day of racing that I have ever seen. The race was blown across the road from the beginning. There were guys 30 minutes back with 60 miles left ride on a 107 mile day.
On the map, it looked like the day was going to be decided on the final Category 1 climb at Warm Springs at the very end of the race, but that's not quite how it worked out for the majority of riders. The first selection of 20 (riders) or so actually ended up being made on a steep roller just after the first KOM about 50 miles in. When I got the numbers of these guys, it was obviously going to be over for everyone else.
Our team lost three riders today. Pat Raines abandoned in the feed zone. David Duncan was time cut. Tiago DePaula was also time cut, but I am going to see about getting him back in because he was ridiculously lost and it probably cost him 30 minutes.
Chris Monteleone rode a nice race to get 40th ten minutes back. He was a junior last year, so I think that this is a good result on a hard day against experienced professionals like Dominique Perras who have had many seasons in Europe. Chris was in the main field and over the last climb up Warm Springs, he was tailed off a bit from the first 12, so it's a good ride from him. In the end, there were the winner, then nine riders at 50 seconds or so, then six 6 at about 1:40, then 11 at about 4:30, then five near six minutes, then Chris and 12 others at about 10 minutes. The rest of the finishers were broken apart in smaller groups like this for an hour after the winner crossed. 26 riders were time cut and about that many more stopped on their own. So we lost 57 riders in this stage alone.
Jered Gruber finished 66th at 17 minutes. He rode a really aggressive first hour when things were going hard and the first selection came as a counter attack on a steep hill after an attack that Jered had been a part of was brought in. He is super-motivated for the next stages because he sees that he could just have easily made the selection with a little different luck and timing. He got in trouble when he flatted and couldn't come back, but he ended the day pumped up about his ability to actually take part in a hard race. I agree with him. It's better to go out there and ride hard because you can learn what you can do much better than sitting in waiting to get pounded on the climb.
Some cool highlights from today:
- Alliance Environmental's team car had a dog in it.
- Marc Dufour, from Quebec, had a big tour group of Canadians who painted the road up with Dom Perras' name and Fleurs de Lys'.
- There were a ton of school kids out to see the race pass.
- Cycling News
April 25, 2007, 1:00 BST,
April 22, 2009, 20:31 BST
Its been a while since I have written much of anything, but that's not because our team hasn't been...
Its been a while since I have written much of anything, but that's not because our team hasn't been busy. We just took the step up from local races to NRC races and it was a real eye opener for all of us. I was a bit unprepared for my first NRC event as a director and the riders themselves were a bit nervous for their first NRC of the year as a team.
We went down to the Jacksonville Bicycle Classic in Florida for a criterium and a road race. The field was definitely more competitive than at what we had been doing for the first part of the year and I was personally surprised by the speed in the criterium. You can see our website (www.factorydevelopmentteam.com) for a recap of the weekend if you like, as I won't spend too much time with it here because I already typed that story once! Overall, I was proud of the team.
We are getting ready to do the Tour of Virginia. This is going to be a big deal for us, and since we didn't really get any real results in Florida there is some pressure that the guys are going to have to do something good in Virginia. We come in with a man down due to illness, David Duncan has some kind of a virus that looks like strep, but isn't.
We will have a daily diary for this race starting today! I know it's early but this is when the race starts for our team. Here is a rundown of all of us folks and what we will have to face up to in order to have good event:
Director (me, Erik Saunders):
This will be my first time driving a car in the caravan, so there is pressure for me. I used to complain a lot about caravan driving because I almost died a few times in smaller stage races, so I hope I can be a shining beacon of competency, safety and respect for the riders. I have also a lot of odds and ends to wrap up to get organized
food, equipment, cars, etc.
Pat will be riding this race. He will probably struggle in the race with a lot of tough hills since he is a big guy, but he will have to be a super grunt worker and he will have to keep everyone on the same page in the race and be there in the criteriums when it counts.
Chris will have to keep the bar high for this one. He has placed some high expectations on himself for the general classification and hopes to figure in some stage results and get a win.
Jered doesn't quite know where he will fit in at this race. If it were not an NRC event, he would surely be going for the win in a stage and maybe he would be confident to try something crazy to shake up the GC. I think that he is likely looking to be sneaky and opportunistic, trying his chances from a large breakaway group.
Out due to illness! Life in a small team is like this. Things are great until you have riders sick or injured.
Tiago is a serious dark horse out there. He is brimming with confidence for this event and he knows in his head that he will do a good GC result. It is within his capabilities, but we will be riding against some guys that we have never seen before so it's hard to know what will really happen.
Shawn is a guest rider. He rides normally with the CCB club from New England, but we are borrowing him through our partnership with TIME, which is also the bike sponsor for CCB.
Here is the list of tasks I had to do to prepare for the race:
- Pick up the roof rack for the car from Ken's Bike Shop
- Pick up the car magnets with our sponsors logos
we don't have a team car, only a van and an suv, so we will have to rent one
the expense of having a car all year is too great and we will save a lot of money if we just rent a car for the three times a year that we will need one
- Load up the trailer: Spare handle bars, spare tape, spare derailleur hangers, spare saddles, bike washing gear, tools, spare tires and tubes, spare wheels
- Make a list daily tasks for our two staff members
- Buy a 2 cases of yuengling lager Chris Monteleone's dad who is on the staff.
The madness begins
- TIME Factory Development Team
The TIME Factory Development Team isn't your average American elite amateur team. Under the leadership of former pro Erik Saunders, the program has created an environment in which riders can gain the experience, knowledge, and fitness to get results instead of simply tossing riders into races and hoping they succeed. Along the way, the riders will live, eat, ride and race together as they learn how to become professional bike racers. For further reading about the team, visit the