Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My new friend!

This little girl was rescued by my friend, Amber--she was going to be run over by a Bobcat! My mom is not sure we can have another cat, but I think it is do-able.

Set some new high numbers on the Tuesday Night World Championships! Check it out:

That is a little hard to read, so here are the CP20 and CP30 numbers:

It was great seeing a bunch of guys I haven't seen for a while, like JJ Bailey and Tony Nicols, and I felt good to boot. My left ribs are still hurting a bit from the fall at Downers, but I think I will be flying at Worlds. The countdown has begun: 28 days from NOW!!!

HART is going to have a stacked team this weekend at the Gateway Cup in St. Louis! I am stoked.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I have been taking a nice rest week since the last Tuesday Night World Championships. I needed a break after a tough Tour of Kansas City and then Downers Grove and my crash.

My legs are finally feeling fresh once more, something they have not been for a while! Maybe it is because I have been doing rides like this one . . .

I better not stick with this R&R training program for TOO long, I will forget what lactic acid feels like!

I have been catching up with friends in town and hanging out with my parents for a bit, knowing I am going away to school pretty soon. I was invited to do the Univest Grand Prix by Mike Chauner, one of my good racing buddies from the Eastern Conference, with his team, PA Lightning. SO PSYCHED! That race is a huge event, with top American teams as well as many UCI Continental teams from across the pond, so it should be tough. This necessitates an early departure for school, however: Princeton does not start until September 17th, and Univest is on the 8th and 9th, so I will have some time at school before classes demand my attention.

I have been enjoying my little rest and living it up at home, looking forward to the Gateway Cup in St. Louis next weekend--HART is bringing a full team, and we are not planning on walking away without the overall title!

In the meantime, I have another TNWC to go to, and some motorpacing with my coach and main man, Donny Quixote, before I test out the rolling resistance of clincher and tubular Zipp wheels in preparation for the World Championship Time Trial in Stuttgart on September 26th! I am making sure every piece of equipment, including my legs, is dialed in!

Friday, August 24, 2007


scared you, didn't I?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Carney and Dominguez know their stuff

I couldn't have said it any better (taken from a VeloNews article):

"McCook is fast, but he's been a little inconsistent lately," Carney said. "But he's almost always in the top five. Field sprinting is strange in this country, when you try to watch who is winning. The only guy I ever expect to see winning is Dominguez. In other sprints you've seen guys like Ivan Stevic or [2001 national professional criterium champion] Kirk O'Bee, who are not real field sprinters. There have been 10 guys who can win any day, maybe more. The only dominant guy is Dominguez. Dave has as good a shot as anybody. If we have a good day on Sunday we have as good a shot as anybody."

The way Dominguez sees it there are only two outcomes for the first riders who veer into the final left-hand turn.

"You either crash and injure yourself or you win the race," the Toyota-United sprinter said.

Dominguez makes no secret of his dislike for the final turn on the 1.2-mile figure-eight course. Riders who safely navigate their way through the sharp left-hander only have 150 meters to go to reach the finish line. Oftentimes that means being one of the top two or three riders into the final corner is key to gaining a spot on the podium.

"If you really want to win, you really have to take a chance," Dominguez said. "I know it's a tradition, but I don't know why they don't move the finish line to another part of the course. That would open it up for a finish that involves a lot more good guys. Not just the first ones through the last corner."


Downers Grove is famous. The course has been used for decades to decide the Elite National Criterium Champion and the Professional National Criterium Champion. It's a big deal.

However, the course itself is infamous: there is always a massive pileup in the final turn before the false-flat uphill finish. It has been said the the top five into the final turn are the guys on the podium after the race, and the guys just after that are in the hospital. Guess which group I was in.

The race was pretty hard the entire time. Because it was pouring rain, the corners caused an intense accordion-effect that served to string the field out. I love my SRM, because without it I would have just thought the legs were not there that day--it turns out they were, because the race was literally the same power output for two hours as the night before in the Pro-Am with a stacked field. I think this was in part to the terrible rain--normally sprinters can sit in at Downers Grove, which is why the final turn is so hairy (everyone is still fresh), but this time it was a strong man's race.

Here are some of my SRM measurements from the race. The average power for the Pro-Am the night before, in much nicer weather, was 291 watts! Another interesting measurement was the percentage of the race that I was putting out 0 watts, either coasting or soft-pedaling: 26.3%!!

The race was pretty sketchy compared to the night before--I guess that is to be expected, since most of the amateurs were shelled out of the race pretty early on in the Pro-Am. The race Sunday was harder because it was not as easy to carry speed through turns: one could not count on the guys around him to hold their lines or even stay upright.

I stayed near the front for most of the race, but basically didn't have the legs to be where I should have been going into the final turn. The uphill through the finish and then to the top of the course, where there is a 180-degree-left-hander, was just taking it out of me, and on the final lap I just couldn't move up through the downhill sections leading into the final turn.

I found myself in the Danger Zone.

I am the guy in the background, wearing blue and red, trying to figure out how to stay alive through the carnage in front of me.

Another interesting metric: we were traveling at 32 miles per hour into the final turn, in pouring rain, over paint lines.

This is priceless! We were racing for the final podium spot, 5th place.

I saw the the guys had gone down and needed some help getting up, so I kindly got off my bike to give them a hand. Yeah right!

Final interesting metric: somehow I managed to slow down from over 32mph to just 15.6mph when I crashed. Unfortunately I landed right on my head, pretty hard, and was taken away in an ambulance on a stretcher. I got stitches in my left eyelid (yes, LID, not brow), a CT scan, and some Darvoset (that stuff works well!).

It was an unfortunate end to a soggy weekend. However, there were three upshots:

1) I raced elbow-to-elbow with the big boys on Saturday night, in terrible conditions, and was in the top 30 after fighting my way from the BACK of a 200-person field

2) I had a couple very good conversations with Jonas Carney

3) my man Daniel Holloway won the race! We have had issues in the past, while racing as juniors, but Holloway is a classy guy and won a TOUGH race. My hat is off to him--I know what it feels like to be a National Champion, and I am very happy to see someone deserving of it get the win!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

DOWNers grove

What a weekend! After both teammate Randy Reichardt and I flatted out of stage 2 of the Tour of Kansas City last weekend, we pulled out decent 17th and 9th place finishes in 100+ degree heat and healed our egos in preparation for The Big Show: Downers Grove. I had earned 6th overall at the T.o.K.C. without even finishing the one of the three races, and I know that hot races are one of my weaknesses, so I felt my form was good for the Elite Men's National Criterium Championship, preceded by the very agressive Pro-Am the night before.

My Dad and I drove over to Chi-town the morning of the Pro-Am and left plenty of time to move into our nice digs for the weekend. When we arrived, those nice digs were only half covered in wallpaper because the rest had fallen off, and the room smelled like wet dog (we later found out that pets are allowed). I was glad it was so bad, because if it had been slightly better, we really would have been disappointed. As it was, we just cracked up with laughter. And tears.

The Pro-Am on Saturday night is always a fast and frenetic race--most of the top sprinters are resting up for the next afternoon, and their powerhouse teams are sitting back and staying out of trouble. This means that other teams have a chance to shoot off the front and constantly attack in the hopes of making the race. I couldn't tell if this was the case, because I started in DEAD LAST. Monsoon-force rains had been falling for the hour leading up to the race, and I was still pinning my numbers on with less than 20 minutes to go before race start. I tried to get a few minutes of spinning in my legs so I didn't redline and pop immediately, but those minutes cost me in starting position. I had crossed my fingers for a call-up to the line for the U23 time trial win, but no dice--not former winner Brad Huff was being called to the line.

The gun went off, and I waited. I waited. And then I waited some more. Finally, the ripple of 200 riders clipping in reached me, and I clipped in as well. The next rippled through the maxed-out field was one of laughter as an amateur went down in the FIRST TURN OF THE FIRST LAP! He had gone down in the first turn of the third lap in the Tour of Kansas City!! Laughing was quickly replaced by gasping for air as I sat at threshold for the next hour, slowly moving up a few riders at a time.

I kept thinking that I was in terrible position, since I am used to riding in the top-20 for the entire race, but I soon realized that most of the field was behind me. How did I realize that? I crashed and they all passed me, that's how! With 11 of 31 laps left in the race, I had moved to around 40th place, and a crash in the front of the field in the penultimate turn caused yet another ripple of braking. I hit the rear brakes ever-so-slightly, and my rear wheel locked and slid out. My left cheek was the recipient of the consequences (not the cheek on my face, that would come later!). No worries, I got up and took my free lap along with 75% of the field.

Chaos ensued after that, as the few riders who were not victims of the crashes came around at over 30 miles per hour and rejoined us. We didn't really know who the leaders were, since most had gone down in the crash. However, everyone started riding fast again and the race was almost over. I was still in the top 30 or 40 with just a few laps remaining, and I was continuing to move up as my lungs and legs were being incinerated and extinguished by gallons of water in each turn. Then a few guys slid out right in front of me after Turn 2 with 3 laps left--that was when I ended my race. I knew a top-20 placing was probably not in the cards, and I also knew a serious crash had good odds, so I soft-pedaled to the center of the course to watch the final two laps play out.

The race was great, and reminded me of a European event: everyone was aggressive but knew how to ride, and the field was single-file the entire time. That is my kind of racing! Now if only I had started at the front instead of the back!

The Elite race the next day would not be as enjoyable . . .

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hours in the heat lead to a near miss in the Tour of Kansas City

This has been a pretty busy couple of weeks! I will start from the beginning . . .

I finished up work in Boulder, Colorado (I was doing an internship with Ball Aerospace) and packed all of my things into the big Jeep. Mind you, said Jeep has no air conditioning. And the Midwest just happened to be going through an incredibly bad heat wave.

I got up extra early on Friday, August 10th to go meet my teammates Randy Reichardt and Nate Buyon at Spruce Coffee Shop for our trip to Kansas City. The Tour of Kansas City, one of my favorite races, had been expanded to three days, with a new Friday night criterium at 8:30. And yes, we were going to drive for 9 hours to get there, by God.

After keeping my boat-like vehicle between the white lines for hours, with all the windows down, at around 80 miles per hour (although I can't tell because the speedometer is so far off due to the outrageously large tires), we stopped for some pre-race nutrition at McDonalds. It was Nate's idea.

I proceeded to pour water on myself and drive the rest of the way in my boxers. Hey, it was over 100 degrees without the 100% humidity factored in!

We got a nice parking spot at the course, warmed up, and then set off some fireworks. Randy and I were extremely active from the gun, and used brute force to split a group of five off the front--with both of us in it! My SRM had stopped working two days prior, so I don't have any hard numbers to give, but we were pushing on the pedals like the devil himself was chasing us through the shadows.

The break worked well, and after dropping one man we were down to a four-man break: me, Randy, the surprisingly strong Dewey Dickey, and the perennial favorite and defending champion of the last year's Tour of Kansas City, Brian Jensen. Jensen attacked hard up the finishing hill to start the final lap, and I gave everything to keep the gap down to about 30 feet. I bridged those 30 feet through the first turn, a treacherous downhill, off-camber, 40mph screamer. I sat on Brian the rest of the lap, and he had to pull me because Randy was charging hard from behind. I was pretty much blown, but I jumped and gave everything I had on the final time up the finishing hill. I was ahead by two bike lengths with 50 meters to go, then one, then a wheel, then Brian nipped me by inches at the finish!

So close I could taste it!

I am very happy with my result, because Brian is an incredibly strong rider--he was just a little bit faster, and I know we both gave everything for the win.

Monday, August 6, 2007

My very first post

Espoir National Time Trial (courtesy of Seven Springs Mountain Resort)

Hello world. I have been reluctant to start a blog, but now that I have decided to join the dark side and race professionally, I better jump in with both feet.

I plan on posting all of my pictures, race reports, and even power files on here. I will keep the non-cycling rants to a minimum, but I make no promises.

This blog will be updated regularly for the rest of the summer, but when school starts and the brown stuff begins to hit the fan, you might not find new posts for a while!

Hopefully this whole blog-thing is what it's cracked up to be . . . and hopefully I can keep in better touch with friends and people who are interested in how my cycling career is progressing.