Introduction - Chad Gibson is a 26 year old USCF category one racer
focusing on the strong Southeastern US scene. After first discovering the joys
of mountain biking as a catalyst for weight loss in 2000, Chad abandoned a
sedentary lifestyle to lose 70lbs and awakened a hunger for athletic
competition. After a broken pelvis ended his MTB racing season, he switched to
skinny tires over the winter for a bit of low impact rehabilitation.
In his first road season (2001) he quickly moved thru the ranks from the
Cat.5 beginner class to category 2 in just one short season winning over a dozen
races in the process. The 2002 season saw Chad’s progression from Cat 2 to the
elite Cat 1 class, including multiple podium finishes and a win in the South
Carolina State Criterium Championships.
After an off season spent in Andalusia studying Spanish and training in
warmer climes, Chad now focuses all his efforts into racing and training, in the
hopes of securing a pro contract. This season sees Chad traveling to as many of
the National Racing Calendar events as possible and submitting his thoughts on
the process to this online diary.
Chad Gibson Superweek Diary #1 Days 1-3
Friday, July 11th
Short flight and long delays…..
After kissing my wife Alexandra goodbye for the next ten days, I headed to
my buddy Tom’s abode to crash for the night since he lives just a few miles from
the Airport. I’m actually going to
Superweek! Among the amateurs
where I live, Superweek is almost regarded in tones of awe. This will be just
about the longest haul I’ve ever taken to race and my mind is running a
mile-a-minute, thinking about the races, the courses, and what caliber of field
I can expect to test myself against in the next weeks.
By Friday morning I was too excited to sleep in as planned. I hopped up, went
for a quick spin plus a shower and one last check over my bike before heading
for the plane. If all goes as planned, I’ll be racing in Chicago in a little
over 6 hours!
It was with more than a small measure of smugness that I plunked down my free
bike vouchers at the ticket counter. After paying $110 each way to fly my bike
on far too many occasions it was nice to breeze through scott free. Thanks a ton
to USA Cycling and United Airlines for working out a sweet deal for our
federation’s license holders, even if you only get one set per year.
After a long wait at our gate upon arrival and an even longer wait at the
trusty rental car counter, it began to look like time might run a little tight
on me. What I wasn’t expecting was the almost 2 hours it would take to drive the
30 miles from O’Hare to the race start in Beverly, on Chicago’s southside. After
a wrong turn and some good ‘ole bumper to bumper traffic I managed to make it to
the race venue with a whopping 5min to spare before go time. Luckily I ran into
my neighbor’s girlfriend (?!) at registration who offered to sign me in and pin
me up while I made the mad dash back to the car and assembled my boxed bike.
Day 1 NetVizion-Hewlett Packard Beverly Hills Cycling Classic 100km
The race got a bit of a late start, so all my panic was for nothing. I was
able to roll around for a solid 10 minutes before we were called to the line.
The course offered a short steep climb up to the twisty backside, dropping us
back down onto a long, flat, wide front drag to the finish. The field looked
tough with a heap of strong amateurs, plus pros from West Virgina, Sierra
Nevada, Saturn, and Colavita Bolla.
I felt pretty good, and therefore rode pretty aggressively right from the
start. It didn’t take long for the first threatening break-away to form, with
Victor Rapinski (Saturn) and Andy Crater (LeMond Fitness/Capt. Crazy Soap)
riding strongly off the front. The pack went single file for two laps as we
chased. As soon as the pack slowed I jumped following Dave Fuentes’ (Cliff Bar)
wheel in an attempt to bridge. We made good progress but that only amounted to
about halfway. The pack stayed single file behind, now trying to reel in Jonas
Carney (Prime Alliance) who had gone clear and was closing on Dave and I fast.
Fuentes fell back and now Carney and I pounded along, just a few hundred meters
behind the break. We could see that Crater and Rapinski were waiting for us.
Andy is a friend of mine, and surely they know Jonas has the gas to power any
break. While the break soft-pedaled the pack began to close and Carney took the
initiative to leap across to the two leaders. Two riders were coming behind me
and I foolishly elected to wait for them rather than trying to go with Jonas, an
effort which would have surely cost me dearly. With three of us working together
I reasoned we could join the break within another half lap or so. It turned out
to be a gross miscalculation (or perhaps a lazy mistake) because as soon as
Jonas made the juncture, he put his head down and rolled straight through. I
could only watch in horror as the break went to mach 3 and pulled away from my
companions and me.
After re-integrating the pack, I elected to spend the rest of the race
sitting in and conserving my energy for the sprint. Life in the pack was pretty
easy and I just rode defensively. With points sprints and primes every few laps
we alternated between single-file gutter groveling and tooling along in amoeba
formation. Carney, Crater, and Rapinski eventually lapped the field by midpoint
and the pace really dropped off for the remainder of the race. Only a last
minute escape of two riders would deny the field of a sprint for 4th. Coming out
of the last two corners I had questionable position and started the sprint from
waaay back. Luckily my lack of explosive jump was outweighed by the long
straight drag to the finish. I passed almost dozen guys as I rumbled up to speed
to take 6th in the field sprint -12th on the day.
Lesson of the day: An empty water bottle makes for handy relief when you are
stuck in hellish Chicago traffic, panicking about missing your start time and
with no public restrooms in sight. Just remember to keep the ‘special’ bottle
out of the hands of the UCI lest you be banned for conspiracy to commit sporting
Day 2 Saturday, July 12th
Otto Grunski Menasha Classic Crit 100Km
After the Friday Crit I was lucky enough to crash for free with my friend
and former Greensboroian Clare at the killer Bucktown apartment she shares with
her boyfriend Dov. The big open space used to be a butcher’s shop but now houses
the pair and their collection of self-made art, plus one psycho cat. Lots of
catching up and a few beers were shared, which left no time for silly details
like proper hydration and a post-race meal.
After a morning ride and a bowl of lentil soup I headed out to Menasha for a
pancake flat crit around downtown and by the harbor on Lake Oshkosh. The field
was a little more stacked this evening, with a smattering of foreign riders
including a hand full of Euro pros (from Bianchi and CCC Polstat).
The pace wasn’t too bad, and with only one tight turn things rolled along
smoothly for the duration. The wind was strong, so I mostly sat in. I was
feeling a little flat after the no cool down, no food, and beer combo of the
night before. With 20 laps to go I was cramping so bad that I knew sprinting
would be out of the question. I decided to pull the plug and live to fight
As I changed and packed my bike safely in the trunk, an obviously intoxicated
fat man with greasy hair and a crooked goatee lumbered up to me and demanded,
“You race tonight?” it was more of an accusation than a question. When I told
him I had, he went on a tirade about how “Damn Otto Grunski aint invented no
bicycle, he stole it from somebody in Louisiana, brought it up here and said he
made it.” I asked him if there was any Wisconsin/Louisiana friction surrounding
the scandal. I told him about the ongoing one-upmanship between my home state of
North Carolina and Ohio regarding the Wright Bros and the invention of the
‘aeroplane’ (aka the ‘marvelous flying device’). I tried to explain that
although Orville and Wilbur may have technically been born in Ohio, the first
flight actually took place in Kitty Hawk, NC - and further, probably wouldn’t
have been possible without the North Carolina location’s combination of flat,
relatively crash-soft expanses of sand, lack of trees, and favorable wind
conditions. Thus, I reasoned, the Ohio slogan of “Birthplace of Aviation” rings
a bit hollow compared to NC’s own majestic declaration: “First in Flight”.
Therefore Ohio should just drop the whole charade and come up with something
more meaningful to put on their License Plates and State Quarters - something
like “the Buckeye State” or “Cleveland, not really as bad as you think”.
At this point he just sort of rocked back on his heels, inhaled sharply, and
muttered ‘smartass’ under his breath before stumbling back toward the
Lesson for today: Under no circumstances should you engage in conversation
with bitter drunk hippies who look like former Dokken roadies.
Day 3 First National Bank Maritime Bay Criterium 100K
I Drove up to Manitowoc today for tonight’s crit. Wisconsin really is a
lovely place. Just as I imagined it, with cows everywhere and lots of farms,
silos, grain elevators, lakes—the whole nine yards. There are a bunch of little
tow-headed kids of Norwegian ancestry running around everywhere too. The
landscape reminds me of North Carolina, but with less hills and more wind. I
keep seeing lots of muscle cars too, I guess being up here in the auto making
region gives a lot of people a thirst for horsepower. I like muscle cars, even
though I am an environmentalist and rail against SUVs at any opportunity. I
guess that makes me one other thing, a hypocrite.
Another plus for cheese land USA, does anyone here smoke? Down on Tobacco
road as they call our piedmont region, it seems like 40% of the population is on
their own personal mission to stink up your clothes anytime you go to a bar or
out to eat and throw as many cigarette butts as possible right outside the door
of every building in town.
Speaking of litter, there isn’t much of that either. And the sky is really
beautiful here with tons of puffy white clouds. Maybe I’ve finally found a place
that rocks even more than good old North Cackalacka. Oh yeah, the winters here
suck and there is snow on the ground for 5 months out of the year. Never mind,
Wisconsin isn’t so great after all.
One more thought, then on to the race… Where are all the Black Folks? Jeeze,
I haven’t seen this many white people since last time I went to Arizona. At
least they have a Hispanic community in Arizona. How ‘bout a little diversity,
Midwest? I swear I have not seen one African American since I left Chicago and
crossed into Wisconsin. I’ve been looking, too.
As for the race, in a word, easy. The course is a flat rectangle with four
basically wide open turns. I don’t think I pedaled on the short ends all night.
I sat in a lot, predicting a field sprint. I stuck my nose in the wind exactly
twice, once to win the mid-race $300 prime, and once more to take a $100 prime.
I was rolling tonight and felt like a million bucks. Our average speed for 100k
was close to 30mph - it was like a really kick-ass motor pacing session.
My prediction was a little off on the field sprint, there was a break off all
night, and even though we caught most of them in the wind up to sprint, it seems
that a handful stayed away. As for myself, I was riding fifth wheel on the bell
lap, ready to sprint to glory when some ya-hoo blew up in front of me and
dropped anchor mid lap. I dodged left and got put almost to the curb by riders
trying to force their way around sir bonk-a-lot as well. Unwilling to ruin my
fancy carbon wheels or risk a crash I sat up and watched the field stream by. I
guess I’ll just have to go home, rest my head on my enormously fattened wallet
and cry myself to sleep.
Lesson for the day: Err... Primes are cool? I won more money than the guy who
won the race.
Meeting the host family.
What’s an echelon?
How to lose friends and alienate people.
Adios for now,
Captain of the
Cycles de Oro/ Northstate Chevy Team