Winding down in Aspen
Greetings cyclingnews.com readers, I have to apologize for the recent lack of reporting. I have been ‘OTB’ so to speak. It has not been for a lack of things going on, rather lots has been taking place, I just have run short on getting it in written form and getting it out. Here is a little update from where I wrote last:
My last entry was just post the Brian Head NORBA, were I drove back to SLC for a short three days at home before heading to Aspen for the last NORBA of 2006. The three days at home were full gas, as I was slated in as the team director for a local composite team in the Tour of Utah that kicked off Monday afternoon. The team was sponsored by a local radio station and featured the best category one Utah riders. These guys are the local legends, so it was great to help them out as they stepped up to some serious pro competition, rather than just reeling in the punishment that they can dish out at the local weekly training crit.
Day one of the tour was forecasted to be hot, with the chance of some brief storms. Less than 20 miles into the stage the caravan was experiencing 50+ mph winds and blowing dust as we passed through some small weather cells. Visibility was zero. I had to stop the team car twice to avoid any accidents, as I could not see anything. The race was blown to bits. After a few minutes of this the race was neutralized as the entire race caravan had gotten off course due to the lack of visibility. As quickly as this storm had developed, it seemed to dissipate. As the race resumed, the field got back together, but many riders had burned a lot of matches very early in this stage due to the extreme conditions and would pay for it late in the stage. Day one ended with a sprint finish under sunny skies after a less than announced number of finishing circuits in Provo. It was evident after day one they we were still working out the details of a brand new race on the fly. All our boys made it in one piece, although what had looked like an easy intro day to the tour had been very hard.
I got to the staging area for stage two on day two early and started packing the team car for the stage. An official made the rounds with copies of the results and communiqués from the previous day. As I read the pages, I found that I had been singled out for penalties for driving recklessly, drafting a rider and disregarding the officials. I was stunned; as we had had a pretty tame day in the team car on stage one, with none of the reported events taking place. I missed holding a team meeting before the stage as I had to spend 90 minutes convincing the officials of their mistake and getting our team car back in the caravan. In the end it turns out that our team car (provided by the organization) had been mistaken for that of another nearly identical team car (Priority Health) and their manager later admitted to the ‘minor driving infractions’. Good for our boys that we got the car back in the caravan, as stage two was over 100 degrees F before the start.
The officials allowed feeding for the cars early in the stage, as the heat was very oppressive. The stage was flat on paper, but headed west out of Provo into a pure desert landscape. The stage finished later with circuits on a car race track and the less than 100 mile stage eliminated a number of riders from the race. In the last 20km, riders were popping all over the place, caked with salt and looking overheated. There was lots of feeding going on from the cars with dropped riders inside 20km to go, but the officials turned a blind eye due to the extreme heat. As Chady said, a little ‘overdone’ with the heat.
Day three was an individual TT, kinda short, but enough to worry out guys about the potential time cut. I had a long day as I took the Ford Cycling team van and trailer out to the venue to setup a warmup area for the guys, then repacked it at the end of the day and headed out directly on the drive to Aspen for the weekend’s NORBA. The boys all made it through the TT intact and will race another day. When I pulled into Aspen after a long day of racing and driving, it was time to switch gears to the dirt. The Tour of Utah would only get more epic in the coming days, as the big climbing stages were left. I was sorry that I had to leave the team car for the crucial stages. But, the last NORBA of the year was on tap, and that was even more important.
Aspen is a great venue, the traditional ski resort venue with very steep climbs and fast descents. The results of the racing are documented elsewhere. Aspen represented the last big outing for the Ford team as our Ford sponsorship will not continue next year. It made each facet of the weekend interesting, as the comments about the last time for everything just kept coming. We had some success in the SuperD, but as a whole we were a little disappointed with our XC/STXC results. Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW) gave us a hint of his amazing Worlds ride with a top placing in the men’s XC.
The weekend was not to be forgotten quickly, as the guys at SRAM threw a huge party on Sunday night at a restaurant in the village, complete with DJ and ‘drink tickets’. John Dawson (Head SRAM tech guy) knows how to get it done, as this party had to be shut down at midnight by the Aspen police. But not before I snapped some shots of the festivities, check them out.
The three event Brian Head/Tour of Utah/Aspen back-to-back-to-back left me roasted. Time to come home for a few weekends. But the work never stops, 2007 is just around the corner. Time to start moving some 2006 equipment and thinking about next season. As I mentioned above, Ford is stopping as a title sponsor this year. This has left me to consider new opportunities for 2007. I was flattered when TMobile women’s team called recently to offer me a job for 2007. The offer would require me to move to Germany starting near the first of the year and I have too many things going on domestically to up and move. Other opportunities exist that I am considering; the next week should prove interesting.
The Interbike trade show started today in Vegas. I am heading down there on Wednesday morning to make the rounds at the indoor show. Much that will be new for 2007 will be discussed, drooled over and contemplated there in the next few days. Including my future for 2007. The buzz awaits.
In the short term, I am a finalist in the Dickies American Worker of the Year contest and it ends on October 7th. If you can, head over to this website and cast your vote for me: www.workeroftheyear.com. I would appreciate it. More soon after the trade show, I hope that your 2006 season went well.
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