Everything is packed, and in a few hours I'll get on a plane to fly down to Chile for the next 3 months. Thanks to everyone for their support this year: friends, family, sponsors, training partners, race promoters, directors, hosts, the list goes on and on. Thanks for everything, you made this a great season.

I'll see you in April.


The New Ride

A bit of tweaking to the geometry and a new color, my new frame is in the queue with Tiemeyer. It will be waiting when I get back from Patagonia.

Unintended consequence of all this: Come spring, I'll have the hottest commuter around, as the dented Tiemeyer is taking to the streets.

Name This:

Big Ben is having baby.

So begins the naming contest! I'll be looking for the best male and female names, with the winner getting some sort of prize, sometime. The contest ends Tuesday night, before I skip town to Patagonia on Wednesday.

Here's what you have to work with:

My Rounds

Here it is: the last installment of my Lap Around series from different track across the world this year.

A lap around Burnaby Velodrome

I think I'm one of the few people who managed to race on all 3 indoor velodromes in North America this year. No one else comes to mind, but I'm sure they're out there.

Burnaby wrap and return to Minnesota

The last night of racing in Burnaby was huge, as far as spectators go. About 600 came through the doors, and most of them took to the infield and beer garden. It was a good time.

Tuft and Bell of Symmetrics were the overall winners, but the racing was only part of the excitement on night 6.

If the strategy of getting lapped in a fashion that would allow Brad to sprint off against Friedman wasn't enough, things got even goofier. There had been talk of finding a rainbow clown wig. A rubber chicken accompanies Brad everywhere that he travels. And inspired by some highly fashionable teens in Starbucks, we decided that some oversized sunglasses would really complete the look. Inquiring with the barista, we found out that there was a costume shop just a block down the street! How lucky are we?

Andrew Armstrong, who stepped it up from the A's omnium to race with Brad when I had to abandon was warned that there would be some shenanigans going on, but that was it. No specifics. So when Brad pulled the rubber chicken out of his jersey in the first madison and tried to hand it off to Kirk O'Bee (he didn't accept), no one quite knew what to expect. Jeremy Storie, the organizer and announcer, took it all in stride, and actually seemed pleased and amused.
It probably would have been a good idea to clue Andrew in on what Brad was about to do. But where's the fun in that?

Bothered with nagging knee problems, Brad decided to call it a night after the first race. But what to do with the clown wig and giant sunglasses? Serendipity in finding them could not be denied, so despite the possibility of causing further bodily harm, he took the to rail, decked out in all his finery, with the intention of being the first out in the elimination. Well, he actually (and I believe accidently) was the second eliminated, but no one could match his mad style.

Brad taking to to rail for the elimination

This was probably the most educational few hours I've ever had about bike racing. The lesson: Don't take it so seriously. If you stop having fun with it, bike racing just sucks. You work your ass off, don't make squat, live out of a suitcase, and are usually either injured or recovering from an injury. If you can't throw on a rainbow wig and put on a show every now and then, it's probably not worth it.

That's the look of a true champion. And notice how good the wig and glasses look with the LA Lighting jersey. Just like it was meant to be!

I'd go as far as to say this could be applied to most jobs. If I ever have a job where I would be fired for showing up in oversized novelty sunglasses, I probably don't want to be working there. Try it. See what your boss and coworkers say. I'm curious to hear what happens.

Sunday was uneventful travel, save for a painful arm and lost luggage, but everything turned up the following night. I also went to the doctor and had a bunch of blood drained out of my arm. I don't know why the Canadian doctors were so reluctant to do this; the doctor here told me they could have gotten much more out, alleviated almost all of the swelling, and vastly sped up the recovery if they had drained it within the first 24 hours. Thanks for nothing, Canadian health care.

Check out the latest Bike Throw podcast, where I dropped in Tuesday morning to talk about the race. It was pretty fun.

Last day!

Last night of racing in Burnaby tonight. Last night Andrew Armstrong from Dallas, Texas stepped up from the A's race to partner with Brad. It's great that they let him do this, as I would have really felt bad if my needing to abandon the race would have meant Brad had to quit as well.

Tonight should pack some excitement. Two regular madisons plus a madison elimination. And a rubber chicken. Watch out Colby. Just because we can't win doesn't mean we can't have some fun.

Alex, one member of our homestay crew, cooling down after a night of racing.

Look what I found! It's Der Kruser's old bike, all the way out here in Burnaby.

Burnaby Pics

Ryan McKenzie: The fanciest of pants. I bet Lindstrom is jealous.

This is never going to be the same, but rumor has it that Tiemeyer can weld in a new seatstay. If not, then I've just gotten myself the most badass commuter frame around.

Hey Timmer, can you fix this trispoke? It's only got 3 rides on it.

Or maybe this blade. It's also hosed.

The damage done. That disc is never going to be the same either.

My elbow, as it looks now. I found out this afternoon that it isn't broken (good) but that the doctors won't drain all the mystery fluid (bad).

End of the line

I crashed in the first madison last night. Not entirely sure what happened. In any case, I landed on my right elbow and skinned up my right hip. We kept racing, but near the end of the 200 lap madison that closed the night, Brad noticed that my elbow was getting pretty swollen.

After a night of hemming, hawing, and ultimately balking at the $700 it would cost just to get in the door of the ER, I'm done racing here. This is too much, and I don't want to cause any further damage to my arm before leaving for Patagonia in a couple weeks. Oh yeah, I also toasted my frame, denting in the right seat stay in two places, which respaced the rear dropout by adding about 4 mm. Not good.

Sorry everyone, but I'm out.

Floating Target

After my crash in the first night took us out of any overall contention, Brad and I have had shifting goals for this race. The current goal is to set up for Brad to beat Friedman in every sprint possible. Sometimes this means timing our getting lapped by the leaders so that we can be in a good position for the next sprint. So far, so good.

Burnaby Day 3: Cracked

Tonight was somewhat uneventful, as far as a night of madison racing can go, so I'll just sum up the highlights.

1. Suffer through the first madison. Everyone is a bit ragged by the third day.
2. Find a splinter in what I had thought was just a cut on my hip. Pull it out. Realize it's disturbingly big to have been in me for 2 days.
3. Be on the receiving end of multiple Dave McCook head-butts. You get these for the simple reason of "You were there."
4. Crack hard with 40-some laps to go in the last madison. Not just crack. Blow sky high.

The splinter I found in my hip tonight, with a pop tab for scale. Sleeping on my side should be more pleasant now.

Brad sheparded me in after I blew in the last race. It was ugly. He was doing doubles, we were letting ourselves drift back to whatever next group was behind us when we got gapped, and I still was wondering which would happen first: Lungs burst, legs cramp and lock up, or pass out. Turns it was none of these, but rather "Race mercifully ends."

Staying warm between races. Super Rookie will be glad to see that his hero Svein Tuft is also pictured here, along with Zach Bell.

Tomorrow is going to really hurt. Especially the 200 lap madison. If anyone out there is wondering, 5 weeks on the rollers is not a particularly good way to prepare for a race like this.
They keep us in cages at Burnaby. Brad and I are sharing one with Ryan Mackenzie (sitting in the background) and Matt Chater. My bike survived the first day better than I did. The bar tape is barely even torn.

Burnaby Day 2: Back in Action

After getting knocked silly on the first night, I was back for more on the second. There was a slightly shorter set of races tonight with 2 madisons and an elimination for me, and a points race for Brad. My body seems to have come out of the crash fairly well, and while I still had something of a headache, the only nagging issues on the bike were some pain below my ribs, a bruise under my right knee, and a stiff neck. Considering how hard I went down, it's not too bad.

In the first chase (100 laps, sprints every 10) the power was full on. Symmetrics and Slipstream were still pounding away in the big gears (93+), while most of the rest of us were in either an 88 or a 90. This pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night. I went up to a 90, which seemed to help. Any bigger and I would have gotten bogged down, but it was still an improvement. Brad elected to stay in his 88 and spin like a madman. Seeing as we started yesterday at 15 laps down and in last place, we didn't really have anything we needed to defend. With that in mind, a little cadence work at the expense of race results (which are far gone at this point anyways) seems prudent.

We rode better on the whole last night. Our exchanges were smoother and more powerful, we took some sprint points, and lost few laps. Oh, we didn't crash either, which made me happy. Despite the crash, I felt far better last night than I did on the first night. Traveling and not getting to ride the day before a race really seems to mess me up.

Now my arms are achy from throwing and my legs are tired, but if that's the worst, I consider it lucky. There were a few more crashes last night, and Friedman and Williams took quite the trip to the ground, but they're both back up and riding quickly. There was also a really funny shouting match between a pair of riders after the crash. It lasted a couple laps, and even had them riding next to each other, one hand off the bars gesturing, and all the while cursing a blue streak that would have embarrassed a pirate. I love bike racing. We even managed to climb to 10th (out of 12) in the standings! Time for an amazing comeback.

Burnaby Day 1, or KTFO

After a few delays, we made it to Vancouver, met up with Brad and our hosts, the Popes, and got settled in. Throughout the day, my right eye started to get pretty messed up. A week ago I blew a blood vessel in it during training, but after a few days it seemed to have gotten better. Then suddenly it was bright red, swollen, and painful. We made a trip to a clinic yesterday, I found out that it had become infected, and now have a regime of anti-inflammatory drops to get it back to normal. Oh yeah, and this means I can't wear my contact lens in that eye for 5 days, which means I can really only see out of my left.

On to the velodrome. The track here in Burnaby is a funny thing. It's construction was started and nearly completed when the builder ran out of money. After some wrangling, it's now owned by a volleyball club who has courts in the middle, leased by the velodrome, and the upper segments (those parts that couldn't be completed the first time around) are plywood, while the lower segments are slats. As such, from approximately the blue line down the track is very smooth. From the blue line up, well, not so much.

The racing began looking very promising. The first event was a team flying 200. I threw Brad in, and despite almost being launched into the rail by the bumps in the track as he reached for my hand, he smoked the effort, turning an 11.31. Our time stood until the last team, Bell and Tuft, turned an 11.1. Second place: not a bad way to start out.

Next up was the elimination, but with a twist. Everyone rode, but there were no exchanges, and if your partner was eliminated, so were you. Or in our case, when I was eliminated, so was Brad. I really wasn't feeling the love, and we finished somewhere mid-pack. Zach Bell won the final sprint, and the pattern for the night was established.

Our third event was a 100 lap madison. I was suffering like never before. More times than I care to remember, I got a repeat taste of lunch, and the blurriness I felt was due to much more than my useless right eye. By the time it finished, we had lost about 3 laps. There was a whole bunch of suffering going on. I thought I was going to cough myself inside-out. Oh yeah, Bell and Tuft won.

The final event of the night was a 160 lap madison. Things were starting to feel a bit better, until the rider in front of me decided it would be a great idea to back pedal and swing up track. Never mind that my front wheel was there. The thing about getting your front wheel crossed up in a turn is like this: If you try to steer away from it, it leans you to far down the track, and will generally make you crash. If you steer into it, your wheel stops, your body keeps going down track, and you crash. The most you can hope for is that who ever is in front of you decides to move slightly down track. That did not happen.

It went a little something like this:
Riding into the turn 2 around the blue line.
Rider ahead dumps his speed and swings up.
10m+ of wheel rubbing.
[scene missing]
Crumpled on the infield surrounded by people.

I've got some burns on my arm and a few smaller cuts and bruises, but the biggest problem was that I got knocked out cold. My helmet even has some nice skid-burns on it to accompany the two big cracks it now has.

Looks like I'm going to be needing a new helmet.

My side between ribs and my hip is really sore, but I think I lucked out in that I've once again managed to avoid any broken bones. Unfortunately I was knocked so silly by the crash that I kept almost falling over when I tried to stand up. There was no way I could get back into the race, which means Brad got the roughest end of this deal. He had to take on 143 laps solo. I can't believe he did it. In the first race I was struggling doing normal exchanges. Doing that much on your own is amazing. Hats off to him for keeping us in the event. I certainly didn't have anything to contribute.

I really hope I can put in a better showing tonight. In one respect, it was a lucky crash in that my head took the most of the impact. The rest of my body is mostly alright. I owe Brad a big ride tonight after his super-human effort yesterday.