Thinking of Bret

Friend and competitor, Bret Neylon of the Heroes Foundation Team, was severely injured in a bike racing accident over the weekend. His injury has left him paralyzed from the neck down. Spinal surgery was performed on Sunday morning and a Heroes Foundation announcement posted at stated the doctors want to give the surgery two weeks to heal before making any further prognosis. All of us here at Team Tortuga send our heart felt concerns and well wishes to Bret, Tracie and Bret’s entire circle of loved ones; his family, the students he teaches, the athletes he coaches, and his teammates. In these trying weeks Bret, know that you have an entire community taking your pulls until you return to full speed. When you are ready to reach out, do not hesitate for we are all here as necessary.  

Lost in Louisville

To say the weekend was a disappointment for most of the team would be the understatement of the year. Furthermore, my own riding was so below the depth charts the only thing I can do is take solace in knowing that it cannot get any worse.

 Starting from the back of a pro,1,2 crit is a death sentence. Our fate was sealed when we finished our warm up while everyone else lined up. It should be stated however, that Karim and John Kelly managed decent starting positions and JK made his presence felt in one or two breakaways during the race. Both guys rode strong races and finished well, in the top 15.

The LMPD Crit was a fabulous course held along the Louisville Waterfront Park, a great place to enjoy a summer Saturday. THe 8-corner course ensured that only the best riders completed the event. Many compliments to the organizers and sponsors of this event, which drew teams from OHio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina and Missouri.

SUnday’s short circuit race took place in Cherokee Park on rolling, twisting terrain that again demaned exceptional fitness and skill, especially when the rain unleashed in a torrential downpour, making the newly paved roads treacherously slick. Chris and I lined up for the 40+ race with about 45 other geriatrics. The field quickly whittled down and split into groups of four or five. Battling a respiratory infection for several weeks now, Chris fought through labored breathing to finish 16th. I fought off the mind deamons who begged me to quit and finished while many others succumbed to the deamons.

It is never pleasant being off the back. Yet when it occurs, it gives reason for contemplating improvement. Where to go, what to do? This weekend illustrated a severe lack of anaerobic capacity for many of us. I’ve lamented the loss of the Indy Southeastway Park Tues. night training crit. for months now and this weekend really illustrated how much some of us miss that type of training.

Although literally right in my back yard, I’ve been slow in finding the SEway replacement. The Major Taylor Velodrome offers great training and racing several times a week. John Kelly is a regular on the velodrome and Karim raced collegiately at Marian, putting in many kilometers on this training gem. Vic Emond owns many District Championships on the velodrome and Patrick Delisle is now also an accomplished track racer.  

Several years ago, Curits wrote on the Truesport bulletin board that, “One year on the track is like 5 years on the road.” The speed, acceleration, anaerobic conditioning and handling you acquire on the track is unparalleled. You can’t get this kind of training on the road. Furthermore, Velodrome Director, Ken Nowakowski, has over 30 years experience in cycling and is always eager to teach racers the velodrome ropes.

Watching my own performance drop while seeing peers such as Bill Bedwell and Brian Murphy improve over the past few years, it is quite obvious the velodrome is the best place to train. And so I, too, have begun the venture into Velodrome racing and training and I highly encourage everyone to give it a chance. Too far away? Don’t tell the guys who come down from Ft. Wayne to train until 10:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Big race this weekend? Don’t tell Curtis, who rarely misses a Friday night and still places in the weekend Crits. I’m sure Vic could provide many more anecdotes that illustrate the benefits of velodrome racing.

With plenty of crits remaining on the schedule, the Major Taylor Velodrome should become quite busy in the coming weeks.     

Great Race Weekend

The Indiana race calendar has traditionally been reserved for the Great Race over Memorial Day Weekend. However, many new events have popped up on the schedule, all within reasonable driving distance, so the 3 or 4 hour drive to Indiana’s northern border is less appealing. Nonetheless, a handful of Tortugans made the trip and a few enjoyed podium success.

Geraint and Adam Fryska represented in the Category 3 events. I’m sure Geraint will provide a fine recap of their performances. GP also handled the mic duties for Sunday’s criterium and received many compliments from the locals who always come out to watch the racing.

The two Tim’s, Davis and Heffner (T2), along with myself and Karim, entered the 30+ Crit. As expected, the pace was quick from the get go. T2 and myself patrolled the front for the first 15 minutes, shielding Karim from wasting any energy so he’d be ready for THE move of the race. Sure enough, when the elastic snapped, Karim was there, making a 12-man selection.

Weaving thru riders who couldn’t quite make the bridge, I found myself between the break and the peloton. Realizing that Curtis was not in the break and lurking somewhere behind me, I shut down and let the 12 go. The 12 quickly dwindled to 8 and our man was looking good.

However, the CT factor hadn’t been played yet. After having already lapped the 40+ field twice earlier in the day, CT pounced from the pack and easily made the bridge to the break. Once in the break, the outcome was inevitable. CT won yet again. K-man, meanwhile, capped a fine ride with a strong sprint to claim 3rd place. Known for his savvy riding, K has added riding in the breaks to his multi-faceted repretoire this season. Who says an old Puff can’t learn new tricks? Nice job to Karim.

T2 entered the 30+ RR on Monday, 58 miles of heat-sapping, rolling terrain agony. I’m not sure how the T’s fared other than I know Davis finished in front of the final small group of finishers. A battle of attrition, the race saw over half the field drop out, so Tim did a nice job of finishing the race.

I opted for the 40+ event, which was dominated, in numbers at least, by two teams. The Road Dogs of South Bend fielded about 17 of the 33-man field and Koehlinger of Ft. Wayne fielded 6. The Indy Masters entered 3 and a smattering of others comprised the rest of the field.

It was a frustrating race in that the two teams with large contingents controlled things by not only sending riders up the road, but by also chasing down any breaks that contained thier own riders! Nonetheless, Greg didn’t-catch-his-last-name from New Zeland, Kent Menzel of Indy Masters and myself kept the race in check by realing in the breaks throughout the 45-mile race.

At about the halfway point, two Road Dogs and a Koehlinger escaped the field. I took a chance and bridged to the three-some, looking back several times to be sure the pack would not chase. We had about 10-seconds and were out of view thru the many twists and turns of the forest-lined route. When I came to the front to take a pull, I glanced back to see none other than the Road Dogs bringing us back.

Occasional attacks were launched by the aforementiond squads, but no serious threat escaped the field and as dictated by the numbers, a field sprint ensued. The two riders with no teammates finished 1-2 with Greg claiming the win and myself snatching up 2nd place. For his efforts, Menzel was rewarded with a 4th place finish. It was a welcome return to racing after time off for some knee issues and a gratifying finish after battling the numbers throughout the race. Next up is the Louisville Weekend.