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The Paul Mach Blog - October 2009

Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Musa Zaid

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October 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009 - Race Reports
So that's it, my first race with a helicopter and Jumbo Tron is over and I finished. Well, I popped off with a lap to go, but still finished.

The hair pins weren't that bad but they did wear on you. I'm also not the best at cornering and that caught up with me when things got more aggressive the last few laps. I finished about 50 seconds back from the leaders.

As for official results, this blog post is so quick they haven't posted them yet.

Overall I really enjoyed this crazy Sun Tour. The racing was hard and the weather was always "almost raining." What more can you ask for?

So that's all I got at the moment and with that I say, "Hello off season!"

Friday, October 16, 2009 - Race Reports
That's how much I lost to Bradley Wiggins in the today's 10k TT.

Stiff legs and a tough course caused most of the problems. I could never spin it up the course was up, down and twisty. It required a lot of shifting and the clip on bars made that a bit hard.

All those excuses aside there was still a lot riding on this race. I was tied with Pete for second in the Bissell cup and this was to be the decider. I was no match for the Olympic medalist and got rolled by 18 seconds.

Tomorrow is the "H" shaped circuit in Melbourne. Eric has told us repeatedly that it will be the "toughest day of the tour" and that we'll have to "fight like tigers out there."

Why? Well, since the Herald Sun Tour is a UCI race and the UCI doesn't do crits, tomorrow's stage is a circuit race. Thus, no free laps and if you get lapped with more than two laps left you DNF.

Thursday, October 15, 2009 - Race Reports
In stage 4 of the Herald Sun Tour I finished with the front group, but it was not easy. Lots of cracking and deep digging. I think the miles have caught up with me.

My early plan was to get into a break, but Garmin wasn't letting anything go. I just cracked myself leading into the big 6 mile climb that started 20 miles in. I ended up in the second group over the top about 45 seconds back.

The heavens opened up on the decent. It wasn't that technical but you couldn't see anything. After that we spent the next half hour going all out trying to catch that front group.

After the groups joined together it was same old Sun Tour wind riding till the last 15 miles. We hit a little seaside town with some cross wind and it was game on. I was sitting cracked at the back and was the last to make the front group as it broke up.

The finish brought back the full on rain. I could barely make out the rider in front of me. I think I was 26th.

Tomorrow holds a 10k TT. The big worry is the time cut. It's 10% and with Bradley Wiggins that could be only a 1:20.

The other problem is bikes. I think the rule is no TT frames, but wheels, helmets and aero bars are okay. This means Wiggins will have a fully decked out "road bike" and we'll have our Easton EC 90s with clip ons and regular helmets.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - Race Reports
Let's see, stage 3 of the Herald Sun Tour was more of the same, cross winds and a constant fight for position. It was about a 100 miles with most of it along the Great Ocean Road, similar to Highway 1 in California. I looked up from the hub in front of me a couple times and it was pretty nice.

We rolled steady in the cross winds and things didn't get interesting till the last climb. The rumor was that Garmin was going to hit it to try and drop Jonathan Cantwell (current leader). The rumor was kind of true. The pace got faster and faster till there were only about 6 guys left including Ben. Me and Pete were just behind and put in race winning efforts to get on, making it 3 of 8 for Bissell.

This was a good situation for Garmin too since they had 3 guys there also. The problem was everyone was cross eyed from the climb. We did some stuff but soon got caught by a group of about 25 that rolled the last 25k to the finish.

I also had a bit of fun in the sprint again today. It was guttered single file on the right coming in. We came up to a slight uphill left with a kilometer to go and as the field took the inside line I tried to move Pete up on the right. That worked till they swung back over. I was a little out of my league and got pushed into the grass.

But it helped Pete move up and he finished 9th. I struggled to get back on and I barely made it. They have timing clip on all the bikes which makes it really easy for the officials to put in time gaps. I was 16th

As a side note, the two riders left from the day's break were caught with just 40 meters left in the stage. Funny how that always happens.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - Race Reports
The rain is coming down here in Warrnambool, good thing it started just as the stage ended.

So the rain held out, but the wind was relentless for Stage 2 of the Herald Sun Tour. It was a pretty flat 90 miles with the wind causing most of the dramas.

There were tons of splits in the group, but the deciding point was about 25k from the finish. We were happily going 12mph into a head wind only to turn right for just 3k. That's all it took for the race to shatter.

It was kind of like the start of the first sprint of the Aggie Race Ride on a windy day in January. Except it was Garmin driving it at the front.

So that's when the front group of 13 separated from the field. I ended up in the second group and we rode hard for a while, but then just rode steady. We finished about 4 minutes behind the leaders. I sprinted a bit because the money is 20 deep and finished 18th. Not bad, but not great.

I also had a couple goes for the KOM. I hit the first one from 500 meters out but that was too early and finished 3rd. On the second one Svein Tuft threw it in the gutter to lead out Alex Howes. There was not much I could do there. Good times.

After the finish I signed like 30 hats for a group of kids. They all claimed to be big fans of mine. Autograph whores.

Tomorrow the wind will be vicious once again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a dry stage tomorrow but it's not looking good right now.

Monday, October 12, 2009 - Race Reports
I've been having trouble adjusting to Australian life. For one, they still play music videos on TV. For crying out loud, it's not the 80s anymore Australia.

Anyway, I've been in Ballarat for the last few days in a hotel without any free Internet. I'm splitting the Internet fee with Ben just to update this blog. Well that and talk to my wife. Here's what's been going on at the Sun Tour.

There was just a rider presentation last Saturday. I thought there was a race, but was wrong. They called all the teams up in their kits and everybody said they were ready to ride and looking for a good tour. That is, every team except for us. After prompting from the MC, Eric just said, "Yes, I've had a colored history at this race and I lured these guys here with the promise of calm winds and beautiful weather." That drew a couple laughs.

The biggest laugh was drawn by Bradley Wiggins. After being introduced as the star of the race he told everyone he was excited to be in Bendigo. The race doesn't visit Bendigo. He just kept talking as if nothing happened. It's been a long season I guess.

Sunday was the crit. It was just for show, times didn't effect GC. It was pretty technical with a 180 at the bottom of a hill. I was getting wasted out that corner every time, even when I was at the front. I was sprinting all out and gaps were opening in front of me.

A group of 18 went off half way. There was a crash in that 180 with a lap to go and I just pulled the plug. Whatever.

Today, Monday, was the first road race. 6 Bissell guys made the lead group of about 40. It was pretty much a race ride for 50k with cross winds, echelons and tons of attacks. Then the lead group formed and things calmed down till about 15k to go. That's when it got super fast. The wind was kind and I stayed in the group till the finish.

Don't know when my next update will be, but keeping the blog updated is priority number 2, after racing.

Friday, October 9, 2009 - General
A mellow day and a half here in Melbourne, Australia. Not much to report as nothing has happened. I haven't seen any kangaroos.

We're 18 hours ahead of Davis, California so it's already Saturday here. This afternoon we're headed to Ballarat for the crit. Tomorrow's stage starts there as well.

A little known fact, this is not my first trip to Australia. I was here over 20 years ago to visit my mom's uncle.

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - General
Art Levi's GranFondo had all the food, people and activities of a great get together. There was a huge expo at the start/finish with food, vendors and music. On the course there were well stocked rest stops, a lemonade stand and even residents cheering us on. Things like this must be why I always think of Christmas when I'm Santa Rosa.

Anyway, the roll out was pretty mellow but once we reached King Ridge, Levi was done playing games. It only took a few, "I thought I was going steady" moments to whittle the lead group to about 15 guys. Levi then pulled off at the rest stop to do whatever it is celebrities do. The rest of us, we soldiered on.

A while later it was just Me, Scott Nydam, Max Plaxton and Kris Sneddon hanging out. But it was about to get serious. Carson Blume of Women's Cycling Magazine and taker of this photo, told us that Mike Sayers (Scott's director) was just 30 seconds back.

That's when Scott put on the gas. It took me a while to realize what was going on, but then it hit me. You don't want directors thinking they can hang with their riders as that would upset the whole social structure of professional cycling. Plus, can you imagine all the comebacks.

Social structure in tact, we finished the loop in 4:48, Scott was the first finisher, I was second. It seems like I can never get a break from the Santa Rosa training buddies. First it was the Grasshopper, then Sea Otter and now this. Plus I got the, "Looks like Scott Nydam and Burke Swindlehurst just finished" from the announcer. Yeah, I know I look like him, but he's 10 years older than me, so is it really a compliment?

I hung out for a while after the ride. Everybody seemed to be having lots of fun. I even ran into a guy on my ride today who wouldn't stop talking about it. I guess that means the event was a success.

Friday, October 2, 2009 - General
Tomorrow is Levi's Granfondo and I'm excited about it, 3500 people on the narrow roads of King Ridge will be total chaos.

I'm supposed to be a VIP but have no idea what that means. At the very least, I hope it let's me calmly walk back out of the pain cave whenever I find myself there.

I also somehow talked the wife into doing King Ridge too. I figured a fully supported ride was was best way to see those awesome roads. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Okay then, got to go to bed. And sorry about the title, I thought of it about a week ago and have been dyng to use it.

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