Brookside Park Cyclocross Race 10/29

October 29th, 2006 by Chris Kroll

I was warned; cyclocross racing would be most painful and addicting.  A perfect statement for those who compete in the sport of cycling.  It is just that.  I got a first taste of CX racing at the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series event at Brookside Park in Indy.  An incredible day with temps in the 60s and Sunny – hard to imagine it’s the end of October.  Adam Rodkey was the other Tortugan represented the squad.  Results – a solid 6th place for him in the Mens B race and I managed 10th in the Masters 35+ after outsprinting the guy who had been in front of me on the final turn.  I’ll take it for a first time ever race.  A great course with 3 sets of barriers and an evil climb up some wicked stairs on the backside of the community building there.  It’s fun as a spectator with lots of action.  Ex teammate and friend Bob Brooks was there to mix it up as well.  He too, just purchased a CX steed and was a first-timer.  If you haven’t got the hint, the sport is really catching on and I’ll admit, a great way to stay in winter shape.  Winner of the 35+ race Mike McShane commented that with just one CX training ride each week and one race on the weekend, he’s staying in good form.  I’d say, as he’s won practically every race he’s entered.  Another funny thing about this racing – it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere; probably from the Mountainbiking influence, but it’s refreshing to see respect tossed around, even to the road racing successfuls getting their arses handed to them in a big way.  If you can spend the money, the time, or the effort to try this out, do so.  Many had mountain bikes there that they already owned, so an entry fee is all your out if you’ve got one.  Time for a few more Tylenol…



Cyclocross Diary – “Please sir, may I have some more?”

October 22nd, 2006 by Chris Kroll

Bought a cyclocross bike last week, rode it 3 times, then went and did the “underground” race today in Bloomington.  – A nice event, BTW – good, challenging course, with a little bit of everything (coming from my expert cyclocross history/knowledge!).  Got my arse handed to me.  Man, is this different than mixing it up on the rode.  For those of you surprised at my purchase of said steed, and even more so of attending an event that I’ve categorically poo-poo’d in the past – things change (yes, I did overhear the disparaging remarks regarding this, made by a local rider at Soma before we left; noted and will be remembered, friend).  And so does my off-season approach to cycling.  Did I mention I got my arse handed to me?  It’s everything that I’ve been told, and then some.  I’ve got the bruises on my inner right thigh to prove that hurtling yourself back on the bike after getting off at mid-gallop is not an easy task.  Brauner has taken the CX leap as well with a new sled and he looks good.  I’ll speak for him and say that yes, we would agree that it’s quite fun.  And for how I feel after doing today, it’s got to be beneficial to my fitness and will make me a better on the road next season.  We’re planning on doing the Brookside Park cross race in Indy next Sunday, and like Oliver from the famous story, I’ll be back for some more.  Stay tuned…

 – CJK

District Crit Championship Aug. 27th- Oh, So Close

August 27th, 2006 by Chris Kroll

Karim, Vic, Tim Davis, and myself represented Tortuga in the Cat 1/2 event at this years’ last minute District Crit Championship as it was blessed by the USCF for the Rum Village Criterium in South Bend. 

First comment, nice job by Tortuga’s newest member Myron Lewis with his podium finish in the Cat 4 Championship race.  Not bad for the 1st year guy – a Gold medal in the road race and now a bronze in the crit.  This guy is going to do some serious damage in the 3s next year. 

On to the Cat 1/2 race…A paltry 20 or less showed up for the event – lots of other things going on, I believe at least 3 other events in conflict this weekend, all within 3 hours or so of each other.  Nonetheless, even with Declan Doyle from Nuvo joking as we warmed up that the race had been cancelled, it was indeed on.  Several guys from Northern IN & Michigan showed up that I had never seen before.  Our veteran lead man Karim, the “Kevin Bacon” of connecting who’s who in competitive cycling in less than 3 moves, pointed out those to watch, which made things a little more interesting. 

The race was called for 70 mins, but the USCF official said he would entertain 60 if we raced “hard enough”, but that if we didn’t, it would be 70 minutes.  It ended up being 70 minutes.  Numerous fruitless attacks filled the first 3/4 of the event, all of which stayed away at a max of 1/2 lap or less on this mile or so slightly turned oval in Rum Village Park.  The last 20 mins or so heated up as everyone realized it would more than likely stay together.  Jeff Weaver of Bacardi and Derek Whittey (sp?) got away in a move that proved to be quite dangerous as we neared the late stages of the event.  Karim in a mild panic called out for us to bring it quickly back and we did so, just within the last lap remaining.  With everyone back together the pace ramped up and the jockeying for position landed Karim in a good spot sitting 4th or so back.  With 150 meters to go the jumps went and from my view (in 9th) I thought Karim beat his man to the line for the win.  Not so, as he was pipped by half a wheel to take second.  Despite the small field, the racing was solid and I thoroughly enjoyed working hard to help put us in a position to win.  This is what it’s truly all about.

 – Chris

National Championships at Downers Grove 8/19-8/20

August 22nd, 2006 by Chris Kroll

This past weekend Vic, Karim and I participated in the nationals at Downers.  For me, this was a first time experience.  One word summation – Wow.  An incredible event put on in perfect fashion in a beautiful suburb of Chicago.  And the weather?  Equally perfect.  Big crowds, festive atmosphere, real barricades along the whole start/finish stretch – big time event, for sure.

Vic and I started the weekend with schedule racing on Saturday, he in the Pro-Am Cat 1/2 event, I in the Masters 30+, 40+ Cat 1/2/3.  My race had 135+ riders and was silly fast – the HRM clocked an average of 27.9 mph.  I’m glad the race was just 40 mins in length.  I had a good starting position and was able to maintain a top 10 position throughout most of the race.  Although it was easy to lose 20-30 places in a turn, I found it could be made up as easily in the turns and straights.  With 2 laps to go, I found myself lying in 3rd as we crossed the line (surprising my teammates for some reason!).  Alas, I was unable to hold that position as we continued and on the last lap I was gapped from the front 20 due to a crash that diverted my attention, but should not have slowed me down.  I crossed the finish in 26th place – I’ll take it for my debut Downers event.  Vic’s Pro-Am event?  I didn’t stick around for the finish (and neither did he), but I saw enough to know that it was used by many pros as a tuner for the next days national championship event and it was ridiculously fast.

Sunday brought the Cat 2 Challenge for Vic & I, and the Elite National Amateur Championship event for Karim.  The Cat 2 race was first in order for the day and had 100+ riders.  We had good starting positions and maintained this throughout the first half of the event, but our concerns of tired legs in the warm up came true as we faded toward the end.  A clean (no crashes), fast race that came to a bunch sprint with I in 40th and Vic in 60th.  My objectives were met – stay upright, finish, and have a good time.  Next year will be different.

The elite mens amateur event had a huge field of 180 riders.  A call up of past winners and former pros prior to the start had me more nervous then my teammate who was in the race.  Man, this thing was going to be sick fast and long (80KM).  Karim had a good start position, considering the numbers, and rode conservatively during the first half of the race, checking out the competition’s back 90 riders.  Some fortuitous crashes and veteran nerve saw him quickly move up into top 25 during the 2nd half of the race.  I had a chance to walk the entire course during the event and was literally blown away by the field going by.  The amount of turbulence that 180 riders going by at 30+ mph UPHILL is amazing.  With 8 laps to go, six Team Bianchi/Grandperformance riders went miraculously from tail-gunning the entire race to lead out train, ramping the speeds to a blur, but unable to hold it for their sprint man.  Some dude covered in tatoos won (never heard of him) by handily beating ex-pro Steve Tilford (46yrs old!) and one of the remaining Bianchi guys.  Our guy Karim ended up 50th.  Not bad, I’d say, given the speed, crashes every other lap near the end, and having a gazillion riders in the field.

All in all, a great weekend and one to certainly put on the calendar, either as a participant or spectator.  See you there next year, for sure!

 – Chris

Madison Cycling Regatta

July 9th, 2006 by Chris Kroll

What a great venue Madison provides for a welcomed Crit by riders itching to race during this typical slow time of the season here in the Midwest.  The 6-turn course winds it’s way through the historic side of town, down along the river for a perfect finish next to the community park and pool.  A good sized crowd turned out to watch the racing and the weather was close to ideal.  Enough of the set up…on to the racing.

Sean Bauer and I travelled down from B-ton to race both the Masters 35+ and Cat 1/2 events.  Training, we said, as we prepare for some upcoming events of the Bacardi Nuvo/Tortuga BB series.  The Masters race fielded a quality group, including Masters National Champs Tolson & Spanbauer, along with a good sized contingent of Papa Johns and Barbasol racers, plus the Heros and Masters from Indy.  I good time to mention that all proceeds from the entire event went to the Bret Neylon support fund.  Nice touch.  Okay, back to the racing – Several laps in and I initiated a break up the one climb of the course, taking along Barbasol rider Jack Sells, plus Curtis Tolson, Steve Spanbauer, and PJ teammate Mike McShane.  We worked well, lapping the field and continuing on while Sells was dropped back to the pack.    Within my group, I came up with the crazy idea of attacking up the climb, not a good idea considering the company, but just wanted to see where everyone was at…I found out; one lap later Tolson puts down a wicked attack up the climb and Spanbauer follows, leaving McShane and I to do battle.  A few laps later Mcshane attacks after I have pulled up the climb and he is able to get away.  Do I chase hard and risk total blow up?  Or do I recover and wait for the break?  I wait.  When I’m caught, Sells and PJ Bob Bobrow plus a few others attack and I stay with mate Sean who has done great work to control things in the field.  Not only do Tolson and Spanbauer lap again the field, but the other group with Sells and Bobrow lap back and place me on same lap as they…Through all this McShane has locked up third place with his solo effort, so the race is on for 4th as we near the end.  On the last lap Sean gets up front and ratchets up the pace on the final turns while I mark Bobrow and Sells.  Into the last turn and we jam on the pedals toward the finish.  I pass Bobrow and pull up to Sells as we near the line.  It’s a close, close finish as I just get a tire width in front of Jack to win the sprint and take 4th.  The win goes to Spanbauer as he was able to gap Tolson and pull ahead.  A nice event for all.

The Cat 1/23 event was just an hour after the Masters event, so recovery was tough.  After much cajoling by Sean, we lined up with mates Emond and Delisle and riders from Roadhouse, Barbasol, Papa Johns and smattering of others.  The pace was reasonable the first few laps with Vic and Patrick up front at all times.  As the faux attacks began and were quickly brought back, a large gap occured at the top of the climb and ensuing turn with Vic and Patrick up in the group while Sean literally put the brakes on the field to create the distance.  The group proved to be the winning break with all teams represented.  Later, Vic did return back to the group and remained in the front to help control things.  Patrick stayed out and we awaited the inevitable lapping by he and the 8 other break members.  It never happened.  With the last laps unfolding, we settled in for the sprint finish for 10th.  Not much left in my legs after 130 mins of total racing, so taking 15th will have to do.  Vic a couple in front and Sean a couple in back.  Good work by all.  And Patrick? – a great ride with a 6th place finish. 

A good day for everyone at a great venue.  I recommend putting this one on your calendar for next year! 

 – Chris