Note: I wrote this in February during my first trip of the year. Since then I have
been on the road a bunch racing in Arizona (Usury Pass RR and TT, Valley of the
Sun), California (Solano, Redlands, Sea Otter), Colorado and right now Georgia
but thought that I would send this out anyway. If you are more concerned with
more current stuff just skip down to the section about Athens Twilight Criterium...
The Tour del Sol
Hermosillo, capital city of Sonora, Mexico and the home of soccer fans, the
biggest topes (speed bumps) I have ever seen and the Tour del Sol II.
The Tour del Sol is a 4-day, 5-stage race that has all etapas (stages)
starting and ending in the city of Hermosillo. With a cash purse of $15,000 and
fantastic weather there is not much more you can ask for in the beginning of
February. I met up with 7-Up/Maxxis riders Dan Schmatz, Doug Ziewacz and Kevin
Monahan in the Southern Arizona city of Patagonia; from there we
headed through the border city of Nogales and after some serious pleading,
waiting and finally begging at the border we were allowed to continue on our
While trying to cross the boarder into Mexico we were helped by Santiago
Lopez who is from Hermosillo and who for the rest of the trip became our
unofficial tour-guide. At registration we were asked by a local team (VH Norson)
to race for them and in return they would help us with registration, feed zones,
team car and dealing with most of the logistics that go along with stage racing.
Our team of 4 then transformed into a local Hermosillo team of 6 with the two
local guys who we teamed up with (Alex and Christian). The racing kicked off
with a short 5-mile ITT in the morning followed by a 100+k RR in the afternoon.
Since we decided not to deal with traveling with TT bikes we were at a big
disadvantage but I still managed to finish 13th. In the afternoon race we set up
our lead-out train for Dan from about 2k out and he then uncorked a ripping
sprint and landed a great stage win.
The racing was made especially difficult because the Mexican powerhouse Team
Tecos had unofficially entered 3 teams into the race. Going up against that many
riders turned out to be a be a bit bigger task than we (or any team) were up to
but we sure gave it our best shot.
Etapa two was a 100-mile out and back RR. We did a lot of work keeping things
together early in the race (especially Doug) but we kept getting attacked and
Tecos not-so-surprisingly were able to send three riders up the road. We were
chasing but were not able to catch them. On one of the last climbs of the day
Kevin and I made the lead chase-group of 15 over the top of the major climb but
my cleat had broken off and my left foot kept slipping off the pedal and I
wasn’t able to stand up or go with any attacks. I finally got a sneaker-feed
from Santiago in the team car; luckily he and I are both wear the same size shoe
so I was able to at least finish the stage.
It must have been quite the sight, me chasing as hard as I could with a
running sneaker on my left foot….
The third stage was another 100 mile out and back road race on the main road
from Hermosillo towards the costal town of Guaymas. The road was good but by the
time we turned around traffic must have been backed up for 10 miles. There must
have been some angry people who had to drive along the highway at 27mph and not
even get a good view of the race going on just up the road.
A small break got away about 20k from the finish but I was sure that we were
going to be able to bring it back. The chase started up about a minute too late
and Dan won the field sprint for 4th but was about 10 meters short of
catching the break with Christian and myself also both landing in the top 10.
The slightly downhill sprint was super fast with my computer registering 48+mph!
The crit was fairly uneventful with the Tecos not wanting to get into a break
with any American Pros but more than willing to attacking us at every chance
they could. A group of about 15 of us got off the front after Kevin opened up a
gap while I attacked and got away. Our group lapped the field and while I was
leading out Dan he was chopped in the final corner and was not able to give it a
full on sprint and finished 3rd on the stage.
All in all it was great racing, although trying to race against a team of 15
made the racing not as exciting as it could have been, but it was still super
fast and aggressive, and fantastic for fitness and for working on our crazy tan
With a whole new language comes an entire new spectrum of slang and
nicknames. Since we were riding for a local team we became immersed in a part of
the culture that we certainly would not have been exposed to if we were on our
own (and we would not have found the incredible restaurants that Alex treated us
to). We owe a huge thanks to Alex, Christian and Santiago, the chief ‘41’ for
taking care all of us ‘gringo locos.’
Athens Twilight Weekend
How does this sound for a crazy day:
7:00am: Get up and drive 20 minutes to Red Rock Ampetheater in Golden,
CO (where U2 recorded Under a Blood Red Sky) for a photo shoot with my new team,
12:00pm: From there I catch a ride with my teammate T-Ton to the
airport for a 12:30 flight from Denver to Atlanta.
5:45pm: Arrive in Atlanta, get my rental car, put the pedal to
the medal and start the drive to Athens, GA.
7:45pm: Get into Athens and go straight to my life-long friends house
(Frank Teremy) where I meet him and his girlfriend, Hilary, and put my bike
together as fast as I could.
8:15pm: Leave Frank's and motor-pace him from his house to the
start-line of the Athens Twilight Crit. I get the start line with less than 5
minutes to spare before the gun goes off.
Since I was traveling all day and did not get any warm up I was expecting to
have one of my worst days of the year. My plan was to do everything I could in
order to get the front of the race as soon as possible, race from the front and
basically hope for the best. I made it to the front surprisingly easily and once
there tried to pick the moves to go with carefully.
I was feeling great (I have no idea why) but missed the decisive move of the
day and there was nothing I could really do. I finished ‘in the money’ but was
still disappointed because I had the legs to do really well. The saving grace
for me was the fact that my good friend Dan Schmatz (7-Up/Maxxis) won the race
with a Herculean attack with 2 laps to go. Dan is a great guy and I hope that he
will start to get some of the recognition that he deserves. He is the most
talented sprinter I have ever met and with the confidence this should give him
he is sure to put a few more notches in his belt before the year is out.
Saturday was a late night and Sunday morning came early with the second race
of the Twilight Weekend at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers,
Georgia, which is about 35 miles outside of Athens. The course was a 3-ish mile
“hot dog” with a nice big roller right in the middle. I think that everyone was
a little tired but I was hoping to continue to feel good and was not about to
miss the winning move again.
A good size break got up the road about 20 minutes into the race and I
managed not to be in it AGAIN! I did not think that this move would stick but I
did not want to risk it and bridged across to it on the hill. I made it across
and immediately started to drive it. I thought that if were going to get caught
someone in the field was going to have to work for it.
Our lead group was about 15 riders strong but there were only about 5 of us
who were actually doing anything. With one lap to go the attacks started coming
and there were also a bunch of really good sprinters in the mix including Hayden
Godfrey (7-Up/Maxxis), Adam Hodges-Myerson (Sportsbook.com), Roberto Gaggioli
and Mike Tillman (Schroeder Iron). With 600 meters to go the sprint started and
I was caught with my pants down. I jumped but it was too late and I managed to
only get 6th. With racing Tuesday-Sunday this week I will have many more
opportunities to do everything right!
Your online source for pro cycling team gear!