Ever since it was announced that the Tour of America’s Dairyland (TOAD) series would be returning for it’s second running, it was on my radar. And when my favorite Superweek races didn’t materialize I went ahead and signed up for the Cat 4/5 as this thing looked to be like one heck of a challenge.
This series would be a few things to me; tough, long, challenging, fast and above all else – fun. With there being 8 crits, 2 road races and me only having a handful of teammates at select races, I would really be forced to think about just what I wanted to accomplish on each day. Because I was doing the entire series, I felt that I had a decent chance at placing well in the overall GC. Also, coming back home with one of those spotted cow jerseys would also be nice!
So where do we begin? Since there was a lot of racing, it could take hours to write about what happened at each one. So in the interest of time listed below are the brief highlights of each day. But before we start, there are a few acknowledgements that I don’t want to get lost. First, serious thanks need to go to the promoter – Midwest Cycling Series and their premier sponsor, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Tom Schuler, Bill Ochowicz, Bill Koch, Jim Michler, Paul Weaver and Jack Hirt really know how to put on a Class A event and it showed. All the folks at registration and results also deserve a word of thanks as their hard work made the daily check in and getting paid a breeze. Second, a special thanks goes to the folks at Extreme Bike & Ski in Thiensville WI. On the first day I really found myself in a pinch and they came through like champions. Third, the USAC officials (Mark, Emma, Seth, DeeDee and Carl) did an excellent job keeping it all together and keeping track of where we all finished. Lastly, to all the riders who did the entire series. You guys were some of the best in the business and I can honestly say that I am a stronger rider do to the competition you dished out.
[b]Stage One – Theinsville Fiddleheads Coffee Criterium[/b]
• Course was a four corner affair that had a tight turn two and a slight down turn into 3.
• Temps were hot this day and it showed on the heart rate monitor. No matter how far down I unzipped the jersey, I felt like I needed more.
• The juniors from IS Corp left the gate like thoroughbreds and just ran around the course for the first 10 minutes. Boy do I remember what it was like to have excess energy to throw around!
• Turn two would see a rear tire blow out and me going off course on one of the other laps.
• With 6-7 to go I started my march up towards the front. At 2 to go I was 12th wheel. When I stood on the cranks in turn 3 I heard a loud pop and my bike pushed out into the curb, but I kept it upright.
• Final lap I would hear the same pop in between turns 3/4 and during my sprint. Crappy mechanical put me into 23rd spot and just outside of points for the day.
• Took the bike to Sram and after 3 attempts to fix what we thought was the derailure, Jose resigned that it was a worn chain ring (I had just replaced the chain and cassette the weekend before, but the ring was original stock). Took it to EB&S and they were able to install a new ring that day and keep me in the series.
[b]Stage Two – Giro D’ Grafton Criterium[/b]
• Six turn course with two slight uphills, wide open lanes and a nasty cross wind on a long finishing straight.
• It was a pretty mild start with a few attacks, but nothing that would stick.
• There was a crash coming through the [url=http://peloton-pix.smugmug.com/Road-Racing/2010-ToAD-Media-Shots/12601671_czAWV#907239550_SxBbA]start/finish [/url] line at 15/20 minutes that was the result of two riders touching. I managed to shoot right and miss all of it.
• At 10 laps to go I tried to move up. John Wolters was up front looking good and I wanted to be close to him if I could.
• With 5 to go a break goes off with Jared Craft (Psimet), Chris Moore (University of Iowa) and a Team Extreme rider. They would get caught with 2 laps to go.
• With 1/2 lap to go, the move went up the right side and I was caught chasing on the left.
• In turn 6, two riders go down. I break checked hard and cleared them on the inside but sideswiped Craft as we exited which caused me to unclip and have to restart my sprint.
• Yoeman (Pegasus), me and another rider went in a four man drag race for 300 meters, but I managed to pass someone to come in 20th for my first point of the series.
[b]Stage Three – Appleton Criterium[/b]
• Once again the juniors went on the attack from the gun to get everyone all warmed up.
• I don’t remember hearing it, but apparently there was a crash on lap three. Unfortunately, Konrad Witt (ABD) got caught behind it and was forced to chase for the rest of the race.
• I was felling a little prime happy so I went for the first $20 prime they threw at the field. I went head to head with Joe Curtes (Fule Café) and lost by about 12” after I had closed about 7 bike lengths. Oh well, I need to go sooner then right?
• A break of 4 got off at like 30 minutes. The announcer (Todd Busteed) called a prime for a pair of Giro Havik sunglasses. What was funny was that he called me out and said that I looked like I wanted them. Guess I have to go for them right? In the process we caught the break which I split on the left and an IS Corp junior split on the right. By the time he saw me sprinting (and simultaneously laughing/heckling) it was all over with. I would later tell him that the laughing was all in jest and that I was just trying to get in his head…but the crowd loved it!
• Pace went hot on the last lap and I moved up from 20th to take [url=http://peloton-pix.smugmug.com/Road-Racing/2010-ToAD-Media-Shots/12601671_czAWV#908239143_4yNS9]14th[/url] in the field sprint. Travis Miller (Brazen Dropouts) and a host of juniors would wind up on the podium.
[b]Stage Four – Elkhart Lake Road Race At Road America[/b]
• 4 mile course at the historic speedway that saw the Nationwide Series there on Saturday. We would turn 8 laps on this thing which had three climbs, the most significant one being the one at the start/finish area that would take about 40 seconds to pound up to the top of.
• There was an attack up the hill on lap 2 that I was able to cover, but the one on lap 6 was too much to hold and I got dropped.
• I rode hard for a lap trying to catch back on and then I time trialed the last lap just to save face. Valiant effort but I would wind up finishing 50th. The sad news for the day was that Brian Witry (Spidermonkey) was involved in a crash the last time up the hill and broke his arm. This would end his series, which was a shame because he was riding pretty darn good.
[b]Stage Five – Sheboygan Harbor Centre Bike Race[/b]
• Fast and flat four corner affair with a nice crosswind into a long 400 meter finish.
• Andrew Zens (Spidermonkey) went on the offensive from the beginning as a little retribution for taking out his teammate.
• Went for a $25 cash prime but came up short by about a bike length and the figured I would just rest for the remainder of the race.
• The attacks kept coming and a Spin City rider went off the front for a while. Once he was caught, a break of four riders went off for 4 hellish laps in which the pack chased at 30+ mph to bring back with 7 to go.
• I was sixth wheel with 2 to go and the move went 40 meters before the place I wanted to go.
• Dug it hard up the long finish and took [url=http://peloton-pix.smugmug.com/Road-Racing/2010-ToAD-Media-Shots/12601671_czAWV#910591568_aG6xg]10th.[/url]
[b]Stage Six – Trek Waterloo Classic[/b]
• 1.6 mile course that included some mild climbs up through Firerman’s Park on the back side of the course.
• First few laps were hot. Contested a prime but lost it by a few inches. I would subsequently lead out another prime just to keep it safe and single file.
• Later in the race I was feeling good so I drove on the back side through the climb to keep it interesting (check out 2:43 in [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r7DeJnd-RY]this video [/url]by Brian of Spidermonkey).
• With one lap to go I went for what I thought was a $100 cash prime, but turned out to be a $100 helmet prime. Either way I won it, but was pretty gassed on the last lap and couldn’t turn the peddles anymore when it counted. Finished 27th for the day.
• Side note – took my bike back home to tour the Trek plant, get some pictures of Lance’s TDF bikes and even got to take a photo with my man Rashaan Bahati (who one the Pro race that day).
[b]Stage Seven – Greenbush Road race[/b]
• I do not do well in road races and today would be no exception.
• My legs were not feeling this hilly course from the get go and a bad line up at the rear of the field didn’t help. I was buffeted by the crosswinds when I gapped at the back of the peleton and had to use a lot of energy to keep in contact.
• At 2.7 miles in I knocked my computer off my bike which was just enough distraction to get me gapped again.
• I would take a lap, get my computer and call it a rest day with a DNF. There were still three more days of crits so why kill myself? Davy Jones and John Wolters both did well and even made a little cash.
[b]Stage Eight – Fond Du Lac Grand Prix[/b]
• Four corner crit with a windy back stretch and a massive tail wind on the finishing stretch.
• A solo break went from almost the gun until we hit the 25 minute mark.
• There were random counter attacks, but nothing was getting away.
• There was a crash with 2 laps to go in turn two, at which point I hit the gas and drove down the windy back stretch.
• The move went on the right side on the front stretch before we it one to go. I thought it was too early (should have remembered it was only a 0.6 mile course) so I hesitated to go.
• Hooked up with a Fond Du Lac Cycling rider on the back stretch and moved up as I let the stung out peloton provide protection from the crosswind.
• Gained some more spots on the front during the sprint and finished 13th.
[b]Stage Nine – ISCorp Downer Classic[/b]
• Triangle shaped course with a potentially tight second turn.
• Travis Miller (Brazen Dropouts) and Lionel Rocheleau (Geargrinder) went on the assault from the beginning and stayed off for about 6-7 laps.
• Once they were caught, none of the counters that anyone launched took hold.
• Rode an easy race and railed the outside of turn 2 most of the time to gain position and stay seated (vs. sprinting) on exit.
• With two to go was at the front behind Dave Racine when I saw Travis’ wheel open on the right side. Slotted in behind Travis, but then two riders got dodgy on my left which freaked me out. This put me on the inside for a ½ lap until I could work back to my outside lines.
• Dave Husdon called me to give me the leadout but we got kind of trapped in traffic and had to start sprinting kind of late. Would finish 17th for the day.
[b]Stage Ten – Carl Zach Cycling Classic[/b]
• The day started off pretty eventful. About two hours before our race, we got a nice thunderstorm that left the course nice and wet and the air heavy with humidity. No HED Stinger 60s today, I’d have to run my heavier wheelset with some Maxxis Detonators just to ensure I didn’t have a $90 flat.
• Course was a six turn gear grinder that had a slight uphill drag between one and two, a rollercoaster drop off into turn 5 and then a downhill run into a sweeping turn six and a slight uphill drag to the finish.
• Travis Miller (Brazen Droupouts) set a hard pace for the first few laps. During the first ten minutes I actually considered dropping out as I was stuck at the back and due to the uphill drag and pace, it was almost impossible for me to move up.
• The front guys kept the motors running and the field started to slowly shed riders out the back one by one.
• In turn 5 I took an outside line several times and noticed that if you ran the gutter, you really had to put weight on the front as you came back on the pavement or the front could slide. I warned a U WI rider to watch the outside as he came up on my outside one time and the next thing I heard was a crash. All I could say was “told ya so” and hope that he was okay.
• At 40 minutes in (six laps to go) I had no more juice to keep with the chase and it was my turn to fall off the back. I counted 12 riders up the road (4 in the break and the rest chasing) and just told myself to keep going to the end.
• Hooked up with a Fond Du Lac rider and just tried to hold off a group of chasers (turns out they were lapped riders).
• Got caught on the last lap by the chasers, but drilled it the entire lap to stay in the front and held them off in the sprint. Final position would be 15th and Wolters would come in 8th.
In the end, I didn’t get a cow jersey and my overall GC placing would be somewhere around 20 out of 72. Despite not getting some of the results I wanted, I can honestly say that I am pretty satisfied with how I did. The guns that were fired in this battle were no small ones and I think I held up pretty well. If I can do the series next year, I promise that I will be back with a freakin’ Howitzer!
All in all it was an extremely fun series and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone. This was some of the best racing in the Midwest and is of the caliber of all the big name races around Chicago. July will be pretty light for me and then we’ll finish out the season with the big races of August and Cherry Roubaix up in Michigan. Here’s to rest weeks!