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

Racing August 4-6

August 7th, 2006 by admin

Racing, for me (and John, Patrick and Bob), started with racing at the velodrome on Saturday night. Great weather, and decent competition – due to the fact that it was the special Bike Wave/Lightspeed night – were on tap for the evening. Tortuga was represented well in all of the races in both categories. Bob continued to show his strength and was a force to be reckoned with as the lone Tortugan in the Cat. 3’s. In the Pro, 1, 2 events, our plan for the (world’s worst track event) 12-lap snowball race worked out perfectly. I covered the early shit, Patrick went hard around 5 laps into it, setting up John for a handful of solo laps off the front to earn him plenty of points for the victory. Although neither John nor I did Patrick complete justice in the miss-n-out – he sat at the front and dragged us around for more than half of the race, keeping us out of harms way – I was able to squeek out 4th place (however I got screwed by some questionable riding by the winner of the race and even more questionable calls from the officiating crew.) And last, but certainly not least, the final event of the evening, the 42-lap points race, went Tortuga’s way as well. Although John and I planned on riding for Patrick (who more than deserves it), I found myself in a break for a while gaining points. After we were caught, I couldn’t just pull out early (as I intended to do), so I continued sprinting for points and ended up 2nd – John was 3rd and Patrick was 5th.

Not much to say about the Cat 1-2-3 Bloomington race (Ren-Jay Shei impressively won the 4-5 race, though!) Perhaps our expectations were too high. We certainly had the numbers and the right set of circumstances to do much better than we did. We did score 5 people in the top-20 for series points, but we still wound up in 3rd place overall. Oh well. We may not have won the war, but I think there are still quite a few other battles that we will win this season.

My weekend of racing culminated with the 82.5-mile Indiana State Road Race Championships. The race was supposed to be somewhere around 92-96 miles, but last minute course changes and a smaller-than-expected field size pared the race down to a slightly-more managable distance. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that I scored the victory for the 1-2-3 field in the race. And while I immediately called my right-hand man in the peleton (Karim) to gloat a bit about my good fortunes, my emotional high has worn off a bit and I need to qualify the victory by saying that there are several factors that enabled me to do well enough in the one event of my 3-day weekend of racing where I least expected a good performance. First, the field size was small. I think there were less than a dozen 1-2’s signed up. This was no doubt because the original distance of the race probably turned a lot of people off from coming – that coupled with a hard race the night before in Bloomington and a modest prize list. Second, the promoter wisely decided to combine the 3’s field with our 1-2-3 field and shorten the race by one lap. At least we were able to spend 4 hours in the saddle in a decent sized group. Third, by altering the orginal course (I understand that Hamilton County didn’t want the race to come through a blind corner in a particular intersection), all but one of the hills were effectively eliminated from the race. The race was looking better and better for me as the morning went on. Fourth, the first 41 miles of the race were, in my opinion, basically a warm-up. We weren’t going too hard, as we were passed by the 4-5’s field on their last lap. There were some fruitless attacks here and there, but it was becoming increasingly obvious that this thing was going to come down to a field sprint. The course was just too flat, and a majority of the guys in the race still had enough left in their reserves to let anything go away permentently. I sensed this, so besides one hard effort to jump up to a small break, I was mostly sitting in and letting the other teams do all of the work – and when I was on the front, I was just floating. Prior to the race, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to play survival. I hadn’t done more than 80-miles since my preseason training in Texas, so I wasn’t even expecting to finish the race. The pace picked up during the second half of the race, and still nothing was getting away. With 2-3 laps to go, I was happy to see Tom Cox drop out of the race – because of a couple of wheel mishaps he had no choice but to retire. He was going to be one of the few that I was going to keep an eye on in the finish. Everything was looking up for me and my chances now. Morris Trucking and the 3 Zipp guys had the numbers, so I figured I be looking for their lead-out trains in the drag race to the line. The home stretch was almost a mile long, and from the last corner, you could practically see the finish. I’ve ridding these types of finishes enough to know that there would be plenty of riders going way too early and losing steam long before they got close to the line. The pace was pretty frantic once we came out of the last turn. I made sure I was in the top-5 coming out of that turn so I wouldn’t be caught up in the melee that ensued behind. I jumped from one expected surge to another, careful not to show my face to the wind until we got close enough to the line. I think I heard a few shouts from behind for me (specifically) to “go now!” Not sure what that was all about – I’ll go when I’m good and ready. I couldn’t wait any longer, and by the looks of it (maybe 300-400 meters?), I figured I could hold a sprint for the rest of the way. I jumped hard to my left and gapped the field pretty well and was able to hold off a late charge by one of the Morris Trucking guys. Had the line been about 10 meters further, I probaly would have been pipped (I won by less than a 1/2 wheel length.) On the other hand, had I waited any longer, there’s probably a good chance someone else would have gotten the jump on the field and I may have been hard pressed to come from behind. Anyhow, a “trackie” won the State Road Race Championships – ALL of the cards fell into place for that. On another positive note, if you weren’t already aware, we (Tortuga) won the 4-5 and masters race as well.

Looking forward to the Fast Crit this coming weekend. Smooth and flat, no corners and 1-hour long – some “purists” don’t call it much of a race – but I say to heck with them. These same haters are the ones who aren’t man enough to show up at the track to prove their mettle. No matter what the course is, you still have to prove who’s the fastest and the most savvy to score the “V.” I’ll see you there.

Woodlawn Criterium: D-Day

July 18th, 2006 by Karim Abdelkader

Vic, Sean, Chris, and I represented the team at the Woodlawn Criterium (held in Cincinnati, OH).  The course was decent (4 corners with mild inclines).  Weather was very muggy and hot (95 degrees for a 5 PM race – now that’s silly hot at that time of the day).

The pre-race prep started off (as usual) with one simple question (directed at my trusted coach/true love): “what’s the goal?” – – “win daddy” replies my 3 year old daughter Lena.  There you go.  Top 5 it is then.    I made a cardinal sin the morning of the race – I broke my routine.  Instead of having my usual bowl of cereal and fruit leading up to a race – I decided to have the mother of all breakfast burritos at the Village Deli (a Bloomington institution).  Bad move indeed.  By the time 2 PM rolled around – I was stopping every 10-15 minutes to “drop the kids off at the pool”.  I was suffering from a bat bout diarrhea (the explosive variety).  This was further compounded by a very hot day and only two days of riding the week before (due to business travel).  This was going to be a long 60 minutes in the saddle.

Although the field was not large, notable regional teams were represented (i.e. Nuvo/Bacardi, Mesa, TX RH).    Off we go.  All rode well covering moves in the beginning with Vic doing a great job closing a serious gap that split the field in half at one point.  Meanwhile, I was in the middle to rear of the pack trying to keep my burrito and other matter from spilling on the road.  As soon as I started feeling somewhat better, I began moving to the front.  As I was doing this, a move including Busa, Doyle, and Braumberger went off the front (with about 30-40 minutes left in the race).  This was my ticket.  I jumped on, and we cleared the field.  About 15 minutes later, 6 guys rolled up to us (with Sean in tow – beautiful).  The break is now 10 men deep (all the money is up the road with all major teams represented – the field has shut down).  Due to the mesmerizing heat, the speed was not very fast throughout the race.  What did not feel all that great were the constant yo-yo attacks/accelerations.  Once such attack (by Busa of TX RH) – caused a split in the break.  At this point, I was starting to feel crappy again (literally).  Luckily, Sean saved the day by riding tempo at the front – allowing me to get back in the winning move.  This series of movements unfortunately shelled Sean (although he gets the award of the day for selfless riding).  If it was not for Sean’s efforts, I would have probably pulled out of the race and ridden straight into the men’s room for another pit stop.  The break is now 7 men deep (Doyle, two TX RH, a Mesa rider, myself and two others).  Busa attacks (with about 15 minutes to go) with Mesa in tow.  Knowing that Braumberger and Doyle were the most dangerous, I stayed back (in retrospect I should have gone with this move).  This led to a slow and painful cat-mouse game that resulted in the two guys getting away with Mesa winning.  I sprinted in for 4th  (losing 3rd by a 1/3 of a wheel to Braumberger of TX RH).  Vic was able to break clear of the field near the end (with Rich D of Nuvo/Bacardi) and won his sprint for a solid 8th place finish.  Chris finished off the rest of the field with a solid sprint for 11th.  All in all, not a bad day at all (when considering the circumstances).  We are progressing nicely as a new team.  Next show will be held in Zionsville, IN.  Stay tuned!


Man-up or get out of the way,



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