Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunburst Show down and Luna Chix

With the Anthem sitting in a box somewhere between San Jose and Madison, I pulled the flat pedals off the 9.8, swapped the super sexy gold fork for Cathy's SID and threw on some decent not completely worn out tires. We got to the course and everyone was saying it was really fast and really short laps. I guess they were right, at 17 minute laps 5 laps ticked off pretty quick and before I knew it we were done. This year has been really hit or miss so it was good to have a hit before the season is over. We are going to be out of town for the last two races so this is it for WORS this year.

At the Reforestation Ramble I asked Choloe if I could get the Luna Chix's autographs for Cathy because she is a HUGE Luna Chix fan. She was kinda enough to hook Cathy up with a signed water bottle. HUGE thanks to Georgia Gould, Shonny Vanlandingham, Chloe Forsman, and, Katerina Nash for a really cool gift!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thrusday night road trip

Last night we headed out to Kettle for the first Thursday of the month road trip. Yes WE - Cathy all 7 months pregnant headed out to get a little night riding in. We took off on the Blue loop at first she wasn't too comfortable as the baby was trying to figure out what was going on, pretty soon he settled into the riding position and things were a lot more comfortable for her. Cathy short cutted part of the blue loop up the red loop hill so she could catch the group, I took off and tried to make up ground from behind. The short cut was more than she thought and ended up never regrouping, she rode back to the parking lot just as it was getting dark and called it a night. I caught up with the group and eventually moved to the front to push the pace and try to catch Cathy not knowing that she was almost done already. In my over zealous attempt I hit a rock and flatted. The fix was quick but I still managed to loose about a pint of blood the the mosquito's. We got back to the parking lot checked in with Cathy and then headed out for a second loop backwards. As long as we could keep moving the weather was just beautiful, but if you even dabbed the mosquito's were out in full force.
Today my bike was supposed to get in via FedEx, I double checked the tracking number just to make sure and turns out it isn't going to be delivered until Monday!! Looks like I will be rocking the 9.8 turned commuter this weekend!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

24 Hour World Championships

This was the first year that the 24 hour world championships offered a team category. It was a little last minute that we decided to go and frantically tried to gather up some plane tickets to get us out there.
The story starts last Saturday when we went to ship our bikes. I went to FedEx and was going to ship them ground to the FedEx in Salinas problem was you can only ship express to a hold at location. I called the FedEx in Salinas and the manager was really cool, she said not to ship it as a hold at location, but to ship it to her and put a note, "hold for Neil Swanson" on them. We did that and they were off. I checked the tracking number a couple times during the week and everything was on track so I thought it might just work out.
Friday - My plane left Milwaukee at 6:30am we get up at 3 get a couple last things packed and on the road. For some reason I only thought it would take us a hour to get to the airport, then we ran into traffic about 4 miles from the turn off. By the time we got through that and Cathy dropped me off I was getting nervous. A sign at the check in counter said no checked bags within 30 minutes of departure, after waiting for what seemed like forever I got the desk, 27 minutes before the plane left. The lady said I was too late and she wasn't going to take my bags. I told her we ran into traffic, ect. but she wouldn't budge. Finally I just said, "look you are going to take my bags, so instead of telling me no you should call someone before it is too late". That seemed to work because she picked up the phone made some calls and then grabbed my bags. I got my ticket and thought I was doing good on time, after all I had 15 minutes left so I stopped by the men's room. While in there I heard a page last call for flight 1756 - AHHHHH I busted out of there so fast I about knocked the door off the stall. I was running down the corridor and was about 20 gates way when a second page for Neil Swanson was announced. I got to the gate scanned my ticket and they literally closed the doors behind me. Once in San Jose, Cory picked me up and we headed off to buy food while waiting for Phil to get in.
Back at the airport we didn't have room for Phil and his box in the car, they drew straws and the bike lost so we tied it to the roof.This was supposed to be only temporary and at low speeds...good thing we tied it on with heavy rope because we ended up at speeds we were not hoping to need!!
With all the gear, people, bike, and food loaded we headed down to Salinas to pick up Cory and My bikes. We got into the FedEx / Kinko's and told the guy that we had a couple boxes to be picked up. He looked around a while and couldn't find anything. After a couple calls and more looking he determined that the boxes were supposed to be delivered that day but didn't make it. Turns out the driver didn't understand the note "Hold for Neil Swanson" and just took them out at the loading station! By the time we figured this out Cory and Phil had gone in search of food. The guy called the loading station and sure enough they had the bikes but were going to close in 30 minutes...and we were over 30 miles away! I got directions and found Cory and Phil, we all piled in the car and busted the biggest move up to Watsonville that has ever happened. Without going into details, we made it about 4 minutes before they were going to close. We got our bikes and put them together right there in the parking lot. We brought a bike rack because the original plan was to leave the boxes at the FedEx / Kinko's and then when we came back disassemble the rack with the bikes and ship it all home. With the boxes in a different city we now had to take them everywhere with us so the rack and bikes went on the back and the boxes on the roof.
NOW we could start heading to the race track. We drove down to Laguna Seca, got signed in (again just before they were going to close for the night) and set up camp. Our camp site was sub-par to what everyone else had..actually a few of the 3 man teams didn't even set up a pop up tent because they came rolling in with huge RV's and campers with A/C, running water, beds, and the whole works - not the case here.
Finally the day was over and we could sleep before a big race the next day...or so we though. It was really hot so we all piled into my tent and left the front door open to let some air through. About part way though the night Phil woke up and said "Neil a fox was just chewing on my hair and is now eating your sandals". I woke up and sure enough a small fox that we had seen digging through garbage earlier that night was chewing on my sandal. I yelled at the fox and he let go of my sandal and ran away. I put the sandals closer to the tent and went back to sleep, not long later Phil jabbed me and whispered, "it's back quick look at it chewing on my hair" I looked up and sure enough the fox was licking and chewing on Phil's hair as I grabbed my cycling shoe it backed up a couple feet, I through and just missed it. I then seen my other sandal was chewed up so I grabbed another shoe and busted out down pit row chasing the fox I took aim and got a square hit on my second throw, he let go of my sandal and ran off. I put the shoes and what was left of the sandal in the tent, we zipped it all the way up and tried to go back to sleep.
Saturday - We got up and got set for racing, it was already getting really hot and we knew that we were going to be in for a long HOT day so the water and Gatorade started to flow early. Cory and I got on our bikes to wake the legs up and make sure that our hastily assembly didn't leave anything loose or out of adjustment. Cory was complaining about his fork leaking some oil so we stopped and it was almost a steady stream of oil coming out the bottom. GREAT!! We headed back to camp and fortunately had set up right next to the Kenda / X-Fusion camp. The guy there was really cool and totally hooked Cory up with a new Velvet fork last minute. We got it set and assembled just in time to line the bikes up and get ready for call ups. Cory had a good run but quickly learned that running before biking HURTS! Even so he pounded out a really good lap and set a good tempo for the race. From there it was race, eat, drink, rest, drink, eat, check bike, warm up, race. The course was super hard, something like 1700 ft. of climbing ever 14 mile lap. Insanely fast downhills followed by huge wheel eating washouts, and braking bumps that would have hurt on nothing less than 6" of travel. By the end of the day we had a 1 lap gap over 4th place so didn't have to worry about losing the podium, so we turned all focus on attacking the 2nd place team over night. We had been keeping them within 3-5 minutes all day. It didn't seem to fail, if we had a mechanical and loss 20 minutes they would have the same thing one or two riders later, bringing the gap back down. When night came we had to be very careful on the downhills as 48mph was way over running the headlights!! We were able to keep the lap times right on par and every rotation through we were getting closer to them. By day break they were getting nervous and I overhead them talking strategy about pulling there girl out of rotation, she was about 7-8 minutes slower and each time she went we would make up any time lost from one of there fast runs. At the same time Cory had a really tough lap and we lost another 20 minutes on them, which made for a 30 minute gap. I took one more run but then when they pulled their girl out their lead grew to 40 minutes. We were all totally smoked from throwing everything we had at them all night, the temps were into the triple digits again so we sat up. We started packing camp, and waited until 10:15am before Phil took the last lap to get us in during the correct finishing time slot. The guys from Don's Cycles went into there two man rotation to try and gain the lap back from the Kenda / X-Fusion team but with no luck. The awards were really cool, giant card board checks, flowers, and Champagne!!
As we were packing up camp I noticed a small plume of smoke coming from just over the hill,
I didn't think much of it but everyone else was getting pretty nervous. Not being from the area I didn't realize how quickly a grass fire spread, with in minutes the entire valley next to us was up in flames, planes and helicopters were on site instantly dropping water all over trying to keep it contained. It was out in about 30 minutes, I was amazed with how much burnt that quickly!
We were all really hurting while trying to tear down camp, everyone was experiencing sleep deprivation as well as all forms of dehydration. We had to get out right after awards to make it back to the FedEx / Kinko's and mail out the bikes again. We didn't pack anything just shoved it all into the car and tied the bikes back on the roof.
The rest of the trip home was fortunately uneventful. The trip itself was a lot of fun, we all through down great laps and left everything we had out on the course. It would have been cool to come home with a new jersey but getting on the podium was a treat in itself.
Thanks to everyone that helped make this possible: Micheal's Cycles, Broadcast Interactive Media, Saris Cycling Group, and Vesrah Brakes.