Monday, May 24, 2010 - Race ReportsTour of California stage 8 was an up the hill, down the hill, kind of course. I usually like those, well, unless Garmin lights it up the first lap. Their little display of power was a bit unexpected and I got dropped near the top.
However, I wasn't the only one and found myself in a nice little chase group after the decent. There were about 15 of us, but at the front it was Fabian Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Jens Voigt and Paul Mach. That's right, 4th wheel behind the Saxo boys.
Only one word can describe that, "Sick!" The whole time Fabian was flooring it I was smiling and hoping someone had their camera out.
I held on to the front group till the last lap and finished about 2:40 down. Technically only 35 people finished the race but for some reason they extended the time cut.
That was a bit lame because I worked hard to stay in the front group. Plus, some of those dudes bumped my teammate, Jeremy Vennell, out of the money.
My wife had an up and down day as well. First, she missed Patrick Dempsey taking a leek in our RV. But then she got a ride in the Bissell team car with Eric Wohlberg.
All the caravan craziness was making her tense so Eric tried to calm here down, "Relax, unless I pull the e-brake, then we're in trouble."
After the finish some lady kept asking me what I thought of the Santa Monica Mountains and if the flowers were beautiful. Look lady, I don't know, but the rear hub of the guy in front of me was black and had a neon-green zip-tie around it.
Anyway, the Tour of California was a lot of fun, big crowds and great racing. Now it's time for some recovery and then on to the rest of the season.
Saturday, May 22, 2010 - Race ReportsToday's Tour of California time trial, near the Staples Center, featured a stacked field. Yeah, there was the GC race, but the start list was also littered with Olympic, World and National Champions.
It's been a long tour, and yesterday was no joke. Thus, I had low expectations for today, I just wanted to enjoy it. That was the idea, but I ended up suffering anyway. At a race of this size they have a motorbike ahead of you with your last name on the front. It helps the fans, but it also helps pick out the real ones.
I heard "go mack" a bunch of times, but the number of times I heard, "go Paul," was overwhelming. Thanks for that, I tried my best to put on a show.
Tomorrow is the last day. One more to lay it all out on the line and race my bike.
Bissell's Mustache Contest
The contest to raise awareness for the Ronald McDonald House is happening right now. While my teammates have put up valiant efforts, they need to be told the truth. So, make sure the best 'stache wins, ie. mine, by "liking" this photo on Facebook.
Friday, May 21, 2010 - Race ReportsGirls used to tell me that all the time, you know, before I got married. But today, I'm referring to stage 6 of the Tour of California.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, knew today's stage into Big Bear was going to hurt. And everyone was right.
I'll be honest, the last 5 days of racing haven't exactly left my legs feeling fresh and it took 1 pedal stroke this morning to confirm that.
It wasn't just the climbing that hurt today. It seemed there was always a cross wind sticking you into the gutter. So when Fabian finally called a gruppetto, I was all in. We finished about 31 minutes behind the leaders.
As for stats, today took 7 hours (including the neutral start) and had 14000 feet of climbing. That puts the 6 day total at over 31 hours.
And that is all for tonight, so tired....
Thursday, May 20, 2010 - Race ReportsMaking the break wasn't part of the plan, but sometimes you just have to race. I'm a bit tired so it'll just be ramblings tonight.
I was right behind the "Lance crash." He was a couple wheels ahead of me and I was surprised to see him so far back. It wasn't long before the RadioShack guys got together to move him and Levi up.
A minute later there was a boom on the left and I swerved right. Headed for the dirt and stopped right in front of a car. I was lucky. My roommate Dan was not, he crashed hard and had to pull out at the feed zone.
As for the break, I was just moving up like a good bike racer when someone attacked right in front of me. And that became the move.
Mark Renshaw was a bit upset I made it since I was only 1:40 down on GC. "Let's drop this F***er," he said. He wasn't very nice to me all day. Not a fan anymore.
Everyone knew the break wouldn't stay away with me up there. Can you imagine, a domestic team taking the jersey away from Garmin? They have way too much pride for that.
The break started playing games early, that sucked. I lost my snap a few days ago so was having trouble following attacks.
I clawed myself back on a few times but the catch was inevitable. As the group came flying past, I got a thumbs up from Big George. That was cool. Of course he could have been telling me to get behind him and out of his way.
Well, it was cool to be the one off the front forcing the field to chase today. Screw the Pro Tour teams, there are no easy days!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - Race ReportsStage 4 of the Tour of California was supposed to be easy, but it wasn't. I was suffering and I don't think I was the only one. It was fast the whole time, if you stopped pedaling on the decents you'd get gapped. I couldn't figure out how they were doing it.
The impressive ride today was by Bissell’s Rob Britton. He made the move that started with 8 riders and dwindled down to 5, 4, and 3. He was out there for 115 miles.
The big dramas happened about 100 miles in. There was a crash and as everyone swerved over I got pushed off the road and fell in the dirt.
Ben JM stopped to help me get back on. He chucked it into the 53x11 and floored it. I just stared at his hub and dug deep.
This all happened right before the race was chucked into the gutter. When we finally got back on there were like 4 echelons. Luckily we turned into a head wind and there were motivated guys to bring it back together.
When something like this happens there is total chaos in the caravan. Guys are trying to motor pace back on and slinging themselves off the cars. The directors are all over the road trying to help where they can.
Before all this we came down into Paterson on the Early Bird Road Race course. Let it be known that I was Cat 5, group A, champion back in 2006. Russell White still thinks he won the race for me by pulling back the dude off the front, and he's probably right.
Anyway, it all happens again tomorrow with another 121 mile stage.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - Race ReportsIt was another tough day for Stage 3 of the Tour of California. It doesn't get any easier, that's for sure.
I tried to get in a break again. I think I did a pretty good job, but the field was having none of it. Ben Dey and I put in a huge dig up Devil's Slide, a nice roller/climb about 20k in, only to look back and see the field just 20 meters behind us.
Later on the flats I hit a huge pot hole and had to get a wheel change. After cracking myself attacking, I was not happy to be chasing back on. Once I got there a couple teammates gave me the easy ride to the front. It was much appreciated.
So I had a tough first hour, but I was loving it. Just being part of the attacks at the front in this race was very cool.
After that I chilled a bit and just soaked in the fans on the climbs. They were OOC and I even heard some "Go PaulMach.com" cheers. I guess I have fans in the bay area too.
But I don't compare to the Jacques-Maynes love fest here in Santa Cruz. The team got 3 requests for an interview with their dad. Now that is big time.
Going into the final climb up Bonny Doon I was gassed from earlier as well as the last few days. I had trouble covering the first accelerations, but did okay once I could ride my own pace.
I ended up in the second group that finished about 1:40 down. Yeah, it was a little disappointing, but I did get to trade pulls with George Hincapie and Lars Boom.
Tomorrow we're up for 120 miles into Modesto. After that we have a 140 mile transfer to Visalia. Yep, it'll be another long day.
Monday, May 17, 2010 - Race ReportsA lot happened today. It started with a warm reception in Davis. Thank you all for the cheers, it was very cool.
I would like to highlight one person, Musa. His defaced RadioShack sign now reads, "I ride with Bissell." I've seen so many of those stupid things out on the road.
As for the stage wrap up, I missed the break, I was up there, but it was not to be. Yesterday the climbs helped, today there were none. Thus I lost the KOM jersey. Not a big deal, I was just happy to wear it for a day.
The racing started in Napa where it was raining. I got a jacket and just tried to stay warm. When the Oakville climb came up I was still freezing and not in race mode. That put me at the back.
Just missed the front group but chased back on before Trinity and was a bit off the back at the top of that one too. The decent off of Trinity was cray cray. It seemed like there was a body in every corner.
I was lucky to make it down alive and chased back on just after the decent. I was the only Bissell guy to finish in the front group of 27. Unfortunately, I passed 3 of my teammates who were on the ground. So while it ended up being a decent day for me, it was not for the team. Everyone is okay and will race tomorrow.
And it looks like Brian Holcombe of Velonews has made up for that collegiate nationals preview article by writing a sweet little thing on me. Okay, you're forgiven.
Sunday, May 16, 2010 - Race ReportsBoy am I glad I shaved my legs this morning. Versus in HD sure does pick out all the flaws.
So, I had a good day. I made the break at the Tour of California and snagged the KOM jersey for my efforts. Very very happy about that. It's a huge result for me and getting to wear the jersey in Davis will be extra cool.
I'm sure you can read all about the race on the internet somewhere, so I'll just list some disconnected thoughts.
On the first neutral lap, Jens Voigt flies to the front and says to Fabian, "Man, I just had to go hard up the hill to get up here and I'm tired." Sure you are Jens, sure you are.
In the break, Maarten Tjallingii of Rabobank said, "They'll keep us at 5 minutes if we go hard or slow, so lets just go easy." That is so anti-american. Here we work hard because everything is achievable, even holding off a chasing peloton.
On the climb I wasn't sure if I missed the 1k to go sign so when I heard some guy yell, "It's a half mile to the top," I waited, attacked, exploded and then finally saw the 1k to go sign. Obviously wasn't a PaulMach.com reader, because you're smarter than that.
Got the super love from the UC Davis guys today. Just want to say a big thanks to everyone who sent me messages, much appreciated.
I'm currently leading the California Cup, so ball's in your court Levi.
The crowds were crazy and got bigger and bigger as we got to Sacramento. Never before have so many people cared about cycling.
About the mustaches. It's an intra-team contest and there will be a vote for prizes on the Bissell Cycling Facebook site after the race. We're also doing it to raise awareness of our supporting sponsor, Ronald McDonald House.
I have data from the race today and it's pretty interesting.
As for tomorrow, I'll tell you what I told Velonews. I'm just going to go race my bike.
In other news, my first bike had a bad crash in the Sacramento Grand Prix today. I'm a little sad, but it had a good life and saw enough miles for multiple bike lifetimes.
Saturday, May 15, 2010 - General"When did the break get all that time?" and "Where did I lose those 5 seconds?" are a couple questions I ask a lot. Racedata.paulmach.com is a web application I developed to find the answers.
The general idea is if you have 2 GPS files, one from a rider in the peloton and another from the break, you can compute a time check every second. In a time trial, it's like the riders are side by side, giving you much more information than just the final time.
If you're interested in this kind of stuff, check out racedata.paulmach.com. There's no manual yet, so you're just going to have to explore. I tried my best to make it easy to use, but there is a learning curve.
While I've been working on racedata for over 6 months, it's still not perfect. For one, it doesn't work with Internet Explorer. All the other major browsers should work and I recommend Google Chrome for its speed. For two, all the values are in metric, ie. kilometers, so you're just going to have to deal for now.
Some races are obviously more fun to look at than others, I recommend:
- The Gila Monster Stage - One can see exactly where Darren Lill attacks for the win and why he almost gets caught.
- Merco Road Race - Ben get's gapped from the break and has to fight back over 30 seconds.
This site is still a work in progress so you can't upload you're own files just yet. But, if you're willing to share data from the last few NRC races, I'd love to include them.
And one last thing, if you have any feedback at all, I'd love to hear it. I haven't really shared this site with anyone until now, so I'm not sure of what the response will be.
Friday, May 14, 2010 - GeneralLevi Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong, and a little Andy Schleck for the Euros. They're all in town for one thing, the Tour of California.
So yeah, the big show is rolling in and for the first time I get to be a part of it. Ever since I first saw the tour roll through Davis back in 2007 it has been a dream/goal of mine to be a part of it.
Anyway, I hope to be posting some updates here along the way, but realistically I may be a bit tired. So please excuse the loosely connected random thoughts that may follow in the next few days.
And here's something, did you know that each finish city is required to have two 24 hour laundry mats? Well, it's true, required by the good old AEG.
Sunday, May 9, 2010 - Race ReportsToday's crit in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas was off the hook cray cray. Even our crit guys said it was, "The sketchiest F***in' course," they have ever seen. And those guys do a lot of crazy stuff.
12 corners, in about a mile, for 90 minutes. 3 downhill corners; one with construction, one with bricks and one that was "like ice."
That last corner was eating people all day. I personally saw 3 crashes right in front of me. The worst was Kyle Wamsley's. He went down hard bridging to the break and broke his collar bone, among other things. Poor guy is passed out in the other bed right now.
I happily called it quits after about 70 minutes when I got gapped by yet another crash. Only Andy, Ben and Jeremy finished to protect their GC (2nd and 3rd) and the team GC (1st).
Right now I'm just happy (and thankful) to be starting California with all my skin.
Saturday, May 8, 2010 - Race ReportsJust a short post on today's stage 3 of Joe Martin.
Basically felt like crap the first hour. By the time I started to feel good I was way out of position on the climb and watched the break go up the road.
Near the end Rob and I were told to help bring back the break to protect Bissell's GC. There were a bunch of guys rotating so you'd go deep, then slowly come back out, and then go deep again.
Dan ended up sprinting for second on the stage. I was in the group.
The stage didn't end till about 6:30, and I'm tired. So yep, that's it.
Friday, May 7, 2010 - Race ReportsThat's how the pros do it and that's how I rode the break today in stage 2 of Joe Martin.
Basically, the race was 2 hours of game on attacking till a break of 18, with 4 Bissell, finally formed. Since Ben was the high GC man, we had to ride.
I'm still not feeling like my old self and cracked early and hard. I sat on a bit and then finally went back to the peloton.
When I got there, some dude asked, "Is that another race up there?" Seriously, what did you think was going on for the last 2 hours? Ah, the joys of no race radios.
In the end, Ben moved to 2nd on time bonuses so it's game on again tomorrow. I finished somewhere just off the back, totally cracked.
Later, at the hotel, I looked at my blood shot eyes and sunken in cheeks and wondered how many years I just took off my life.
Then I remembered what mom used to tell me when I got hurt, "You wouldn't hurt yourself laying on the couch, but then you'd never do anything fun."
And that's why I'm going to go deep again tomorrow.
Thursday, May 6, 2010 - Race ReportsA lot has happened since the last post.
Monday featured a 14 hour drive from Silver City to Oklahoma City. No, it wasn't awesome.
Tuesday started off with a quality session on the toilet. I don't know what caused this "stomach virus," but it sure wasn't fun. Of the 24 hours in Tuesday, I probably slept off 20 of them.
On Wednesday I felt better, but not great. I was still having trouble putting stuff down. Rode for a bit and totally cracked. Not eating for 2 days really messed with my recovery and energy level.
Today was the time trial to start Joe Martin. I wasn't expecting much given the last few days. However, I still managed 16th, part of Bissell's 7 in the top 20. Someone needs to tell Hollywood to get his act together.
And what about that collegiate nationals article on Velonews? Every year I laugh as some intern picks their alma mater as the favorite.
This year was extra funny because people could comment. My favorite was posted by Ash:
Typically even in shoddy reporting the defending champion at least gets a mention...
For those that don't know, the defending champions are UC Davis and I hear Judd will be posting updates this year. Go UC Davis!!
Monday, May 3, 2010 - Race ReportsThat pretty much sums up how the last stage of The Tour of the Gila went for me. Suffering, followed by some solo suffering, followed by a finish in the high 20s.
At the start I decided to play the break because the extra time against the super climbers would be nice.
That worked, but the break was still establishing its gap over the first, "smaller," tail wind climb and I was in the box. I mean really in the box, this is the only time I've ever feared getting dropped from a break.
And that pretty much defined the race for me. I shouldn't have been hurting so bad at the beginning and I never really recovered from that effort for when it went hard.
But it wasn't all bad. Jeremy and Rob were also in the break. Jeremy drove the thing to a 4 minutes advantage at the cliff dwellings. Rob stuck it out and finished 2nd. A stellar result.
Me? I got dropped on the way back over the big climb but still pushed it hard over the next two. After an hour of riding solo the road finally leveled out and I got caught by a small group with Jesse Moore. He offered the much appreciated pull to the finish.
So, I finished about 6 minutes back, and dropped way down on the GC. Not good, but there will be plenty of more races in the next few weeks to give it another go.
Sunday, May 2, 2010 - Race ReportsJust lost my appitite at breakfast after reading about Ben Day's tape worm. That was a poor choice.
Anyway, the most interesting part of yesterday's crit in Silver City actually happened right before it. A lady came up to me with a picture from the TT, asked me to sign it and gave me a copy.
Cool right? So I quickly rode back to the van to drop it off, yelled something in my excitement and then, at that instant, the van window broke. Here's the picture.
It looked a lot like something hit it, a rock or even an air riffle from somewhere. But it's all good, Jim took care of it and our drive to Arkensas will go as planned.
As for the crit, well, same old, same old. I actually was in a move for a lap or two, but that was about it. I heard a lot of cheering for "Paul." Thank you, I appreciate it, even if it wasn't for me.
Some of the other Bissell guys tried to organize something at the end. Cody finished 9th and Jeremy was 10th. So that was cool
Now it's off to the Gila Monster. 107-miles that is truly a monster of a race in which there is no faking. A true man's race because as Jason just told me, crits are for kids.
Saturday, May 1, 2010 - Race ReportsYesterday's TT was windy and cold, very cold if you consider it was 80 degrees on Tuesday.
It was so cold that Bissell's Jeremy Vennell decided to put a garbage bag on his chest. I think he's the only one in the world that worries about getting cold when going full gas for 30 minutes.
Me, I had the short sleeve skin suit and base layer. I figured, go big or go home.
But, go big I did not. I mean, I got beat by 6 Trek-Livestrong guys. I'm not saying they suck, but getting beat by almost a whole team is kinda bad.
I ended up 20th, which is two places back from last year. I did move up a place on GC, so it's not all bad, but I was hoping for a bit more as I'm feeling a lot better this year.
For those interested, I put together the virtual time gap between me and Andy JM. I finished a few seconds ahead of him. Note how I crushed him on the last climb but couldn't match his speed on the "spin out your 55-11" decent.
In other news, I somehow got in a conversation about girls with Taylor Phinney. I mentioned that there was a hot one on the third floor of our hotel. His response, "Yeah, only one."
Kinda sad that even as world pursuit champion he still needs to play the odds.