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The Paul Mach Blog - August 2011

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

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August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - Race Reports
The last couple of days have been non-stop. Finished the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, traveled home, moved stuff out of our Davis apartment, and met with my PhD adviser.

So, USA PCC. On Saturday I attacked right from the gun. We got a gap, but were caught up the first climb. It was risky but I figured why not? Later I learned that Levi thought he knew why not and was heard muttering, "Have they seen the profile?"

At Utah he made fun of me for sitting in and now he comments on my attack. I'll spare Levi the actuarial ass kicking and just say, I had nothing to lose and a chance to gain.

Sunday, there was another climb at the start and it split the field into multiple pieces. That sucked, but after a lot of chasing it all came back together. Frank was 5th in the sprint.

At the airport, on the way home, I saw a bunch of people wearing USA PCC merchandise, that was cool. But as we approached the gate for Reno it got weird. Lots of dreadlocks, hula hoops and tie-dye, we were on the Burning Man plane.

Funny thing, I overheard these people planning to buy cheap bikes at Wal-Mart to ride for the week and then just toss them. Isn't that counter, counter culture?

Now it's off season time. What that means is I can experience Tahoe like everyone else, some other way than by bike.

Friday, August 26, 2011 - Race Reports
The mood was light around the dinner table tonight. There is nothing like suffering together to bring a team together. Everyone had a story about almost blacking out, throwing up or some other form of intense suffering.

So, I honestly thought that after the short day yesterday I'd feel good for the "easy stage." However, that was not the case. I attacked a few times and then the road went up and I was in the box, deep.

Fortunately or unfortunately I was not the only one suffering. As I was trying to sit in, I watched rider after rider attack, explode, and shoot back through the pack. I even saw the look of death on Laurens Ten Dam's face in person.

The second half of the race was a false flat downhill so things calmed down. Rob and I passed the time celebrity watching and cutting in front of the camera to get on TV. What? Sara told me to have fun today.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 - Race Reports
Even with the late race start it was still an early morning. We needed to drive the 2 hours from Aspen to Vail. But the real trouble was getting into the parking lot.

Vail was packed. I mean seriously crowded. Lots of fans, in the way at first, but then the attention was nice. Two girls were even taking pictures of us warming up with our skinsuits rolled down.

Later those girls came by again and picked up Ben JM's rider card, looked at it for second and then carefully put it back. They didn't do that with mine.

The race was the race. Awesome fans, almost too close at times. I made sure to keep it out of the crowd and out of the red.

It's common knowledge that my wife "likes" George Hincapie a little too much. Today George enabled this infatuation. I'm not really sure what I think about it.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - Race Reports
Another stage between 7,700 and 12,000 ft. What a vacation.

I tried my hand at the break, but it took a while to recover between acceleration and I missed it. There was a crash at the cattle guard near the beginning. Some one's wheel got caught in the little gap and it ended badly.

The first climb went easy but it rained on the decent. That was unnecessary. The second climb was harder. I got dropped during the acceleration at about 10,800 ft (according to the data) and rolled it in, slowly but it was not easy. It rained again on the decent.

The fans up there on Independence Pass were out of control. Over the top there was just one bike width of room. It was cool.

I finished feeling decent. My analogy is if you can't put the accelerator all the way down you won't ruin the engine. That's how I felt at altitude.

Here's a fun fact. The race bible suggests Diamox for Acute Mountain Sickness. Unfortunately acetazolamide, the active ingredient, is a banded substance. Oops.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - Race Reports
Alright, just a 100 miles between 7,000 and 11,000 ft. Yeah, it was hard. I actually felt pretty good for the first two hours, but then the stage started to ware on me. Evidently riding at altitude is harder.

The first big climb was chill, the group made it over just fine. Then it was still 65 miles to the finish. There was a headwind and it took forever.

I met a guy at the finish who said, "He reads my blog sometimes." I told him everyone reads my blog sometimes and I only talk to people who print the entries out and pass them around the office. Sorry man.

Anyway, we're sleeping at Mt. Crested Butte which is at 9,500 ft. Basically that means tomorrow I'll feel the same way I do right now. Tomorrow we top out at 12,000 ft twice and the expected ride time is 5:30 - 6:30. Filthier.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - Race Reports
BIg Rocks' It has begun, the US Pro Cycling Challenge. All the big riders are here and there were a lot of fans on the course. There were actually people taking pictures on the prologue course when we preroad it on Sunday.

For all the talk about high altitude climbing, the prologue was a downhill drag. Well, it rolled along the Garden of the Gods and then dropped down into a left-hand turn. Then it was almost straight 5k to the line.

I was cracking with 3 or 4 kilometers to go. That was not good and I didn't have a very good time. Tomorrow is a totally different race.

Below is the Race graph. You can see that the race could be lost before the decent and the left-hander, but was won by keeping the speed up for the last 5k.

Monday, August 15, 2011 - Race Reports
More Pain As I was climbing up Snowbird with Brent Bookwalter, I asked him why he wasn't further ahead. He replied, "A mortal only has so many matches." That was an answer I could relate to. It's been a long race.

Yesterday's queen stage of the Tour of Utah was so hard even George Hincapie decided it was too much for him. And he made a wise choice.

At the start my plan was to make the move. A bit risky but my best chance at success. It turned out the entire peloton had that idea and a breakaway never went. I tired to make wise choices with my attacks, but I still wasted some bullets. All three climbs were hard on me and I finished about 15 minutes back.

This picture was taken by Steven and looks a lot like the first time I did the climb.

This, however, was my best ride yet in Utah. I think moving to Tahoe really helped. Breathing wasn't as much of an issue as years past, I just didn't have the power to stay with the top guys. That might be due to my lack of racing in the last 2.5 months.

Now, it's time for a week of recovery and then it's off to Colorado for another round.

Saturday, August 13, 2011 - Race Reports
Chillin' Tough day at the Tour of Utah. Actually it was a pretty awesome day if you were a spectator. The big climb was a great place to watch, it was shaded and within the final kilometer. What more could you want?

Anyway, the break went the first time over that climb. It was a bit surprising, I figured there'd be a few more fireworks. It was also 20 guys, I thought RadioShack would have wanted that shut down. But when I saw Peter Stetina attack after the feedzone, I followed him across.

The climb wore on everybody and I was having trouble the last couple of times. I caught back on, but then it goes up again. I finished 15th, about 28 seconds behind the winner. All that time was lost in less than a kilo.

Thanks for all the cheering out there. I heard my name quite a bit for not really knowing anyone in Utah. I also heard the live feed was really good. Tune in tomorrow to watch a stage that will feature at least a couple throw downs.

Friday, August 12, 2011 - Race Reports
A couple stages here at the Tour of Utah. I've been sleeping a lot. So here is a short post.

Yesterday's road race was HOT. I was over heating early and looking for water. Mancebo attacked in the feedzone, split the field and caused a ton of trouble. As a result, I saw Levi attack on the flats. That was a very unique experience.

Today I spent 4 hours listening to Dave Towle. Seriously, 4 hours of "Gladiators of the road," and "Like a rocket on rails." Yeah, we got to the TT way too early.

As for the ride, a bit disappointed with it, I felt like I was better than 41st place. Whatever, tomorrow's the weekend and time to relax, or not....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - Race Reports
This is actually my 4th year at the Tour of Utah and you can read all about the last three in the blog archives. Don't stay up too late.

Today's race was 3 laps over the climb we did right from the gun 3 years ago. I will say it was more fun this time, but still hurt a ton. The group split on the last lap. I ended up in a chase group that finished 2:35 down on the 5 big boys.

So I talked to Levi Leipheimer a bit early in the race. If you remember, last year he told everyone he wasn't racing to win. Then he showed us that even when he's not racing, he still wins.

Well, today I asked if he was using the same strategy this year. He said, and I quote, "Yeah, I'm just going to sit in like you." Burn!!! He was joking and we had a laugh, but it still stung pretty deep.

Then I talked to George Hincapie. I told him I hate him because my wife has a crush on him. No, I didn't. I was going to until I saw his dreamy brown eyes and then just stammered out that I'm a big fan.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - Race Reports
Pain Good times in Utah. I used the same porto as Christian Vande Velde and you can bet I sat on the seat. Other than that standard race stuff.

The prologue today was at 7000ft up to the top of the ski jumps used in the 2002 Olympic Games. This is picture of Chase Pinkham, by Steven L. Sheffield, shows just how painful it was.

Didn't know how I'd feel. I had a few good weeks in Tahoe and few bad weeks. I finished 24th and I'm happy with that.

Tomorrow's stage 1 is 113 miles with 8200ft of climbing. That is when things will start to be decided.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - Race Reports
So, last Sunday, Tour de Nez. Basically a pretty hard criterium that was a kick in the pants. I hadn't done a race like that in at least a month and I've been off the NRC for over 2.

I'll be honest, it took me a while to remember how to corner with group and I made some tactical mistakes. But overall, it was good training, a fun race and there was money.

The one paragraph summary goes like this. I got into a few moves, but was on the edge. Eventually the group split up and there were about 10 guys off the front in 2 groups. With about 10 minutes to go they told us we'd sprint for places on the next lap. I was far back for some reason but moved up and finished about 10th in that group and 21st overall.

That was about when Jeremy Vennell's pregnant wife, Anita, started asking if they should, "Go get the boys some cold drinks." My wife responded with a quick, "Um, no, are you joking." She still has so much to learn.

After the hot, dry race my teammates needed some cold drinks because they were all getting drug tested!! It seemed like all the pros in the top 20 were selected.

I'm all for drug testing and I'm glad they were there testing so many riders, but it does suck for everyone when it takes 2 hours to produce a sample. To help motivate them I went to the Imperial and texted them photos of my pizza.

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