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Nebraska Omnium Weekend 2015

Saturday Morning: 14 mile Time Trial

By: Michael Allison

These past few weeks have been a blur. Since Quad Cities, my training weeks basically consist of active recovery, and just about the time that my legs start feeling normal, its the weekend and I tear them apart again. It’s wild how racing every weekend seems to make time go by so much faster.

Anyways, Kent showed up to my house around 4pm on Friday afternoon and we headed over to Lawrence to pick up Garrick and make our way North. Kent McNeill, the owner of Midwest Cycling, had offered for us to stay at his house for the weekend. We got to the house around 8pm, and after getting everything unpacked and chatting bikes for awhile, we headed to bed.

We woke up Saturday morning to overcast skies and a looming storm on the radar. At this point I’ve raced in the rain and am so used to it this year that I  didn’t really care. The course was out-and-back and it was warm enough that I didn’t expect it to effect the race much anyways. It began to rain softly just before it was time for me to start.

I was the second to last rider to start the day. Brandon Krawczyk (Twin Six), current leader of the Flyover Series, was my 30-second man, and Colton Barrett (Texas Roadhouse) was the last rider to go off behind me. Brandon told me beforehand that he wasn’t going to be much of a rabbit to chase, and I had heard he had broke a fever the night before. I had never raced Colton before. He has a killer sprint, but I wasn’t sure whether to expect him to fly by me in the first 10 minutes or not.

I started the race and as always found myself going to hard. In a long TT effort, pacing is critical, and I have a bad habit of letting my excitement get the best of me. A couple minutes into it I told myself I had to back off, but I was still probably pushing it a little harder than I should have been. The only consolation was the course profile was slightly uphill for the 7 miles out, and was a cross/headwind. By the turnaround I was feeling tired, but the brief tailwind section offered a bit of recovery. With about 2 miles to go I was feeling the mistake of my pacing, and went into survival mode. The only thing that saved me was the slight downhill the few miles into the finish. I finished with a time of 31:34. 

We stuck around briefly to see if results would be posted. Garrick, Kent, and I did a few laps of the crit course, but the rain began to pick up and we decided not to stick around and went to grab some food. Shortly after getting back to the house we discovered that I had placed 2nd behind Jameson Ribbens (Twin Six). The news was somewhat surprising considering the guys that I was competing against, but it was certainly a great way to start the weekend!

Finish of the TT

Finish of the TT Photo: Mike Dixon

Saturday Evening: 60 minute Criterium

By: Garrick Valverde

I decided not to do the 14-mile time trial on Saturday. A TT that long really isn’t my strong set and I wasn’t interested in the overall for the weekend or the Flyover Series points (at the time anyway). Instead, I did an hour or so easy ride, scouted out the crit course, and helped Michael and Kent pin their numbers.

When Kent and Michael finished, we headed back to the McNeill’s place to kill some time, as the crit wasn’t for 8 hours or so. I’ve really been enjoying host housing this year. I thought I was a huge hotel lover, and I guess I still am, but host housing offers a home away from home feel. Hotel rooms get little respect from our team. We end up having piles of dirty clothes in designated spots and the room inevitably starts to smell. Add staying cramped up in that room, sitting on a bed, and slipping into hotel claustrophobia (which results in me wondering the halls wide eyed like someone with dementia) and a hotel room turns sadly un-luxurious.

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Instead, we arrived at the McNeil’s, I pet their dog Jack for probably 15 minutes, made coffee, and relaxed on the deck. The three of us sat there in the shade for probably two hours. Michael and Kent went over the power numbers from the time trial for basically that entire time. They are possibly too obsessed.

We arrived at the crit with about two hours to race. There was a threat of rain, and we were a little nervous because of it. The crit had 8 turns, some pretty sharp, so rain would suck. Thankfully, the rain Gods were watching out for us, and the race was dry in the end.

At this point in the year, I’ve done about 25 races. All of them have been hard, but this crit for sure broke the top five, maybe top 3 of the most painful. I blame it on Brain West. He took off from the start like someone just shot him with an EpiPen. We chased him down like mad. The tight and frequent turns made the pack really strung out most the race. For the first 3 laps I was thinking, Ok, this is really hard but I’m fine, I’m not hurting yet. But the high pace kept up. Attack and attack one after another. Masochistically, I made a few moves but nothing was sticking. Those moves almost sent me over the edge. 20 minutes in I was thinking I might get dropped. After one effort, I actually was worried I could crash from being so exhausted. Michael asked me how I was doing and I just said, “This is tough”. About 30 minutes in a Twin Six rider went on a solo move and the pack I think used it as a rest period. For about 2 laps we just sort of all took some deep breaths. Once that rider was caught, it was game on again. I was feeling it unlikely that a break was going to stick, however, and I stopped attacking, hedging my bets for a field sprint.

One to go in Saturday evening's crit

One to go in Saturday evening’s crit Photo: Mike Dixon

I told Michael I’d be going for the field sprint. He said he’d help. Colton Barrett from Texas Roadhouse was my main concern. Colton won collegiate crit nationals a couple year back. I knew he was going to be going for the sprint. What I didn’t know is whether I could beat him. He didn’t have any teammates and I had 3. With two laps to go, Scott came up to me and asked what I needed. I told him I needed a lead out. Scott’s a phenomenal sprinter, but today’s finish was up hill slightly and suited me a bit better. I’ve never had Scott lead me out, but he did a perfect job. With a lap to go, Michael hit the front, which allowed the pace to remain high so I wouldn’t get swarmed. As we came out of the second to last turn, I was on Scotts wheel in about 5th place. When we hit about 350 meters to go, I yelled for him to go. I was glued to his wheel, but as he moved up along the right side of the other riders, Brandon Krawczyk from Twin Six tried to go with him. I’m not a big fan of bumping with riders but I do believe there is a place for it occasionally. This was one of those times. I just leaned into him, forearm to forearm with a bit of shoulder. Scott was moving past him so fast I’m sure Brandon didn’t have the time to check if there was a rider on Scott’s wheel.

I was able to hold onto Scott, and I was moving up past the remaining two riders. The way this finish is, you go though the last slightly sweeping turn going uphill, but you’re carrying a lot of speed (about 33mph). The finish from there is still slightly up hill but only about 100 meters are left to the finish. I came out of the turn 2nd, but Colton was 1st out, and he had a bike length on me already. I gave it everything, but there was just no catching him on this day. 2nd place was the result, and Scott impressively was able to hold on to 4th.

Garrick sprinted to 2nd behind Colton Barrett

Garrick sprinted to 2nd behind Colton Barrett Photo: Mike Dixon

 

Sunday: 80 mile Road Race

By: Michael Allison

Thankfully, Sundays race did not start until later in the morning. It is not uncommon to have a Sunday road race scheduled at 8am so that teams that travel have time to make it home at a decent time. This race started at 11:30, which in most cases would have given us plenty of time to pack up and relax, but instead we slept in. We were rushing to get out the door, partly because we slept in until 9am, but Kent had also forgotten where he set the keys to his car, so we spent time looking for those too.

We got on the road, ate breakfast at Panera, and were on our way to the race. The skies were clear and it was about 85 degrees, which made me slightly nervous. The week before I had warmed up for the Cliff Drive Circuit in leg warmers and a long sleeve jersey. I took three bottles with me, which I knew wouldn’t be enough for 80 miles, but they announced at the start that there would be neutral bottles in the feed zone. The course was a circuit just over 15 miles, and we were set to do 5 laps. The first lap was easy. I think the heat discouraged a lot of guys from wanting to make things too hard too fast.

On the second lap things began to get animated. My hope was to get in a break, but I knew that the second lap was still pretty ambitious unless a motivated group got organized. On the tailwind section of the course a move got away with Chris Spence (Kaos) Adam Ventling (Above and Beyond), and one other rider. I saw it go, but wasn’t in the right position to respond right away so I began to move up through the field and launched an attack to bridge up to them. Paul Webb (Harvest Racing) came with me and made it a group of 5 up the road. We made the turn into the crosswind with a decent sized gap on the field, however Paul and the other rider in our group were not pulling. I immediately began to doubt the potential success of the move I was in, but thought if I could get away with Chris and Adam that things would go way more smoothly. After attacking out of the group of couple of times, and being brought back, I decided I would sit on as well and wait for a reset. Shortly after making this decision Jameson Ribbens (Twin Six) bridged up to our group, adding some serious firepower. I was still sitting on, but with Jameson in the group my belief in the break began to increase. There was a chase group in the distance, with a sizeable gap between them and the field. Garrick was in this group, although at the time I didn’t realize that. The chase caught us just before passing through the start/finish. Brian West (Above and Beyond) and Jeff Kluck (Queen City) were also in this group.

For the next two laps I tried to focus on saving energy, eating, and drinking, although none of those were going very well. The heat was sapping my energy, and it was a struggle to eat because I wasn’t drinking enough water. The neutral bottles were plastic, so I would lose a lot of water from them when I would grab them, and they didn’t store in the bottle cage very well. With about 20 miles to go, Brian attacked our group and Garrick responded. Chris pulled them back, and I countered the move going into one of the only climbs on the course. This was a mistake. Jameson quickly responded and came around me like I was standing still. It was all I could do to hang on his wheel, and when we crested the climb it was clear that the effort had hurt us all. This distanced Paul from our group, and we all rotated at a relatively casual pace for the next few miles. Jameson then put in another attack. No one responded, and he quickly gained about 20 seconds on our group. Our group was not chasing all that hard, but at this point we were all very clearly feeling the heat and distance, which made any time I spent in the wind really difficult. Jameson kept his lead until the start/finish, where we had one lap left.

At this point we discovered we had 5+ minutes on the field, and we kept things neutral with each other for the majority of the final lap. It wasn’t until 7 miles to go that we began to ramp things up. The attacks started to go, and I rode up next to Garrick to get an idea of what our game plan should be. He said he was fine surfing wheels in the end if I wanted to have a go at things. I was hurting pretty bad, but thought once we got in the headwind I could possibly whittle things down. With about two miles to go, in a straight headwind, I attacked as hard as I could thinking it was the moment to get away. I looked behind and they were going all in to catch me. Thankfully nobody countered right away, which gave me time to get on the back of the group and recover. With about a half a mile left, I got to the front to lead out the sprint, and Brian was the first to jump working for his teammate Adam. Garrick was behind them, and I filed in behind him. The headwind was a blessing, because Adam ran out of gas before the finish and I was able to ride in behind Garrick to finish second.

We chugged some water, watched the field sprint for 7th, and rode slowly back to the car. We calculated it out when we got back to our phones and figured out that Garrick and I had secured 1st and 2nd in the omnium. The back to back omnium wins the past two weekends puts Garrick in 4th in the Flyover Series, and I am tied for 6th. We are excited to finish out the rest of the series!

This weekend we head to Tulsa Tough, one of our favorites of the year!

Nebraska Omnium Road Race

Nebraska Omnium Road Race Photo: Mike Dixon

Breakaway group in the Road Race

Breakaway group in the Road Race Photo: Mike Dixon

 

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