Monday, September 2, 2013
After a great race in the Dade City/San Antonio area, it was with great anticipation (and a fixed bike) that we embarked on our second journey. We loaded up the RV with dogs, bikes food and ourselves and headed out on the trip. We made a quick stop at Starbucks on 136th Street off I595 on our way west and north. There is a Trek store next to it so I popped in to get some nutrition stuff when the guy behind the counter said "wow someone just hit that RV parked out front!". I turned around to see the people parked near us chasing them down. It turns out this lady didn't see it and backed right into it. Doh! The cop later said "you didn't see it? its the size of a building!" She fought all the way until she got the ticket. I am just glad she had insurance. With that drama over with (she just broke the fiberglass bumper and dented the body...) we continued on. We arrived at the GPS location for the race in the middle of orange groves in or near Auburndale/Lake Alfred. It was very spooky standing in an orange grove with no one around like that. The smell was unbelievable! Orange blossoms have a very sweet pungent orangy smell and it filled the air. When we woke I was able to open the RV window and pick an orange. Just wonderful surroundings! It was pretty cool out so I bundled up and walked the dogs. My race started pretty early and I met a few friends for the start. The course was pretty hilly and the start/finish was on a big hill with a headwind hammering straight at you as you climb. I was having a great race, probably spending too much time at the front pulling when I rotated back to the rear of the group. Up ahead I saw a big attack and was way to far back to respond. Our pace quickened and I saw one of the guys from Naples Cyclery that I raced along side of in the previous race trying to get back into the draft. He is a big guy with a lot of speed so I let him in and was glad I did! He pulled me up to the front of the group before the big hills started! As we approached the finish I positioned myself perfectly on the front. I could see the banners and people lining the finish ahead up the hill. I couldn't resist. I thought I could jump and hold everyone off so I went hard. I ran out of steam about 50 meters from the line and got passed like I was standing next to I95! I finished 11th. Next was my 1st Time Trial.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Chapter 1: My first races... At the end of last year I was pretty frustrated with my auto racing career. I did get on a few TV shows and did some great interviews but still no sponsors. I has been toying with the idea of focusing on cycling more to get into better shape so I just went for it. A bunch of the guys on my weekend morning group rides (Mike's Ride in Fort Lauderdale) wanted to do a Criterium in Cooper City FL at Brian Piccolo Park. A criterium is a short track race, usually .5-1 mile in length over a time period. Usually 45 minutes plus 3 laps or so. It was January and the weather was great so we were on! We rode out to the track and lined up with what seemed like hundreds of people to race...kinda nerve wracking! Not to mention the Cat 3 race before ours had a pretty big crash at the finish...one guy walked away with a destroyed bike and his lycra was almost completely ripped off his body! We started the race and circulated at a fast pace riding super close to each other minding the pedals in the corners and watching the wheels to be sure no one touched...I ended up finishing mid pack....pretty uneventful. But I did it...my first official road bike race I had raced BMX bikes and mountain bikes but now road bikes! That set the tone for me choosing a race series and a goal. After some research I found the Bill Bone Floridacycling.com road race series. This series goes all over the state doing Road Races, Criteriums and Time Trials. Looked like fun and they had some cool year end prizes up for grabs to the series winners. Now I started racing road bikes in a class called Category 5 (Cat 5=beginners-first year racers to Cat 1=Pro-experts). There are a few choices as to where to start racing as there are also Masters classes(Age dependent 35+ cat 4 and 5, 35+ Cat1-3, 50+ and 60+ not to mention all the youth classes). I decided Cat 5 was for me as I am a true beginner and there were some pretty fast people in there as I am an old guy compared to many of my fellow racers. I am happy I did. My first race was in San Antonio and Dade City Florida (west coast north of Tampa near Zephyrhills). This race is called The Race for Humanity as it benefits East Pasco Habitat for Humanity. David and I loaded up the dogs, bikes and food into the RV and headed north not knowing what to expect....I love an adventure! I had my bike serviced and a new chain installed to try and be sure there would be no mechanical issues. Ha! Never work on your race vessel right before a race...test it and make sure everything is operational before lining up... We arrived at the campground to find someone in our spot so we just took another one. It was a strange place...like staying in someone's yard. Anyways we drove to the site of the road race in San Antonio and got settled into a parking spot and watched the people roll in. It was a beautiful experience watching the timing and scoring people show up and what seemed like instantly put up a finish line that seemed to rival a Pro Tour event finish! (Thanks Topview Sports!) and to see all the beautiful people arrive with their beautiful bikes as everyone seems to have pride in their bikes and bodies. I went out to warm up and found my chain skipping in the lower gears. With no time to really fix it or even diagnose it I lined up for the start. They gave us a short speech about the yellow line rule (do not cross it!), the wheel truck (for spare wheels in case of flats) and how long the race is as well as the be nice speech. We were off! It was surreal going up and down the hills of the area (a very hilly and beautiful part of Florida!) at speeds approaching 50 MPH millimeters from each other! I soon realized if I downshifted too far for the up hill sections my chain would jump and try and fall off. The race was (2) 17 mile laps. At the end of the first lap I decided to have a go at breaking away (silly newbie!). Me and another rider took off at 35 MPH down the front straight into turn 1 and got down the road pretty good. The problem was the whole pack chased and were not far behind. The pace motorcycle came by and said there was someone more than a minute up the road (he broke away earlier)! We just got back into the pack. As the pace increased towards the end of the second and final lap I found it harder and harder to keep my chain from jumping so I had to keep it in a big gear...not good for the hills. I was able to stay in the lead group up until the last few hills when I started cramping out...I watched the pack go over the last crest just ahead of me and there was nothing I could do but watch. Pretty disappointing considering how strong I felt up to that point. Oh well there is always tomorrow! I finished 25th or so... The next day was a bit chilly but sunny and nice. The Criterium was in downtown Dade City. The streets were closed around the town center and we were the show! I had no idea road racing took place in places with events like this! Fun to watch and accessible to everyone! There were cake shops and coffee shops to sit in and watch the live racing action just feet away! We lined up and were off. The race went down a side street that was paved with bricks and consisted of a bunch of 90 degree corners and curbs. This race would turn into a blood sport! There were a few wipe outs then a really big one right in front of me! I was able to sneak by on the curb and get around it but there were quite a few people laying on the pavement. In this case if you go down in a wreck you can get to the starting line and get a free lap to get back into the race, which many did. Here is a link to a really cool video by Steve Mace (the eventual winner): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5F-YwtzLL8 The wreck happens at 6:23 and if you look clos you see me pop over the curb and continue... #514. I was stuck in 1 gear as my attempts to fix the bike failed (my chain actually fell off at one point and I was able to get it back on and catch up) and I was working as hard as I could in the closing laps. One guy, an avid mountain biker, made a break for it (he was bloodied up from the wreck) and we all tried to catch him on the closing laps. He was able to get away for good and won it! I came around the corner for the final stretch (200 meters or so) in 2nd place. I sprinted as hard as I could but got passed by a bloodied up 16 year old junior racer (he was very fast) in the final sprint. I got my first podium!
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Hey all! It has been a long time since I have posted on here and I am starting it all up again. My year has been pretty eventful and I will try and provide some good stories about my dive into road racing bicycles from and old guys/amateurs perspective. I am very competitive and hate to lose anything so going into a young mans sport as an old guy ha been pretty tough! When I was living in NC I got into mountain biking. I got pretty fast playing with some of the Cross Country racers and soon learned that they train on road bikes. Moving back to Fort Lauderdale where it is flat and a bit further away from the trails than I like, I got a cheap Raleigh Capri road bike from the '80's. I enjoyed it and got a Trek Madone 4.5 and did The Smart Ride 8 (Florida Aids ride). From there I started training and did the Smart Ride 9 last year. January of this year I decided to start racing and training more. Strava (strava.com) is a crazy website that you can race yourself or your friends on when they are not there. I got into that and did my first race in January. I will get into the races, series, training and the Georgia GP stage race I just competed in in future posts. I had a bit of fun racing cars last month at VIR and being on a TV show called My Big Redneck Vacation. All that and more if you can stand it :-) Evan
Thursday, January 10, 2013
I have been digesting this for a while. In reading Tyler Hamilton's (and Daniel Coyle) new book I was able to see how it pretty much went down from a competitors perspective. Yes it is only one opinion but there are many more behind to back up the evidence. He doped. Yes it is awful but that is the way the sport was structured pretty much from the beginning. Doping has been around as long as there was competition. Same as there has been cheating in motor racing as long as there has been rule books. The biggest problem was the corruption within the UCI and the people profiting greatly from it (doctors). Now Lance Armstrong needs to come clean. Not in a "poor me everyone was doing it" kinda way. If he plays his cards right he could profit greatly from this ordeal but he needs to not assume the general sporting public are a bunch of idiots. He needs to man up and just tell the truth so he can move on and we can too. I am sure the controlled interview on Oprah will be one of the most watched interviews in sporting history, I just hope we, as Americans, are not made to look like a bunch of morons by how it goes down. We tend to be the butt of many euro trash jokes anyways. We will see...
Thursday, December 13, 2012
It has been a while but I am back! I had a few trips and met some real interesting people...more on that in a future article...My website has changed from edarlingenterprises.com to edarlingracing.com. I don't know why but it is now owned by a Japanese weight loss company...I completed The Smart Ride 9 and had an amazing time yet again! The weather was stunning and it all went very smoothly. I met up with old friends and made some new ones. the Chic Optique team was ready to go and go we did! I was rider #36 this year and got to start way ahead of my last years #354 starting position. Now I know it is not a race but it seems that Fridays 100 miler (103.8 to be exact) is through the streets of Homestead and Florida City before getting to Card Sound Road (the road out to the keys from the mainland). I like to use the first day to give it my all and go for a personal best. I rolled out at a pretty good pace and got to the front with a few people in tow. I pedaled hard for about 10 miles and had one person hanging with me. His name was Mark. He said he had a few fast friends coming through the pack and figured they would catch us but they never did. This was his second Smart Ride (as it was mine as well) and he had a hard time last year and wanted to push and see how well his training program was. We pushed through Miami on to Card Sound Road carrying a 22.5 MPH average and were feeling pretty good. We stopped for lunch at 58 miles and topped up our supplies. The people voulenteering for this event were amazing! They provided food, water, gatorade, medical help, mental help and hugs all the way! We hit Key Largo in good time and were happily buzzing along when Mark started cramping. I was feeling the toll of the speed we were traveling at so we stopped at a few rest areas to eat bananas and rehydrate (and pee) before hitting the final few miles. Last year the first day was 100.1 miles and this year it was 103.8 (due to route change in Miami) and the last 3.7 miles took forever! We rolled in before noon averaging 21 MPH. It was a great ride and I was happy to share it with my new friend Mark! I got a shower then a massage and waited for people to start showing up. soon they were coming in and Dave came in 9th! Top 10 in his first organized ride. the rest of our team was in and we all celebrated in Hawks Cay resort...awesome place! The next moerning we left the resort for the 62 mile ride to Key West. Our team left at different times but eventually found each other on the road and we had a very pleasant ride into Key West stopping at all the rest stops and enjoying the ride and the company. On our team was Tom R, Rich N, Julie S, Fiona, Justine Y, Robyn, David M and myself. We got to Key West High School pretty much drama free (a few flats along the way) and enjoyed the food and hospitality of Key West. We rode to the pier and enjoyed the closing ceremonies...there wasnt a dry eye in the place! I want to thank all the voulenteers and donors that made it happen! We raised over $860,000! for AIDS HIV organizations and 100% of the money raised goes to the benefitting charities! Look forward to next year!! Evan
Monday, November 12, 2012
It has been a strange year. I have been pushing myself on my bike training like a pro athlete for...myself? I have found riding and burying myself in all things bicycle seem to soothe my real world issues. I am working at a pretty cool shop that gives me some pretty good flexibility to race and play with my toys. I am doing The Smart Ride 9 this week (my second one) and could still use sponsors.... https://www.thesmartride.org/8/pledge/pages/36/ but the really big news is still coming...I just got back from meeting some really cool people...you will see me on their show early next year! I cannot say what show just yet but I am sure the ads will be pretty fun! When I am allowed I will let everyone know! I will write another post ride entry...wish me luck! Evan
Monday, October 15, 2012
I have spent the last few days and weeks reading and pondering about doping in bicycle racing. The use of banned substances is pretty obvious in many sports and I really think I have always just chosen not to see it. Look at some of the female olympians...have you ever seen arms like that on a mere mortal? that is definitely not natural. I have always wanted to be a pro bike racer but never had the influence, mentorship or drive to become one. I always thought it was for people that had real enthusiasm and the luck of friends that have the same working together or family pushing them. My family never pushed me to do anything but try and get good grades. I raced BMX bikes as a kid and raced MX for a very short time being told by my parents to stop playing these sports. Anyways, all the years of watching pro cycling and dreaming of being one would always be crashed by the idea that you had to do all kinds of drugs to be there. I am sure there was one guy that never did it and was fast as shit and others did drugs to beat him...then the real talent started doing it creating super humans that do things that are almost genetically impossible (see baseball) setting records that cannot be broken. It is sad that it has become like this. In auto racing it is simple. People always try and "bend the rules" but you do not build a human body in a shop. I always had the notion that if they just tested them and they passed, they win (as in motorsports) but through all this USADA investigation I am realizing the human damage is awful. Levi Leiphimer came out with an interview talking about his childhood dream to race in the TdF and how he had to cope with the realities of drug use in pro cycling was heartbreaking. I look back and am strangely happy I did not go down that road to try and be a pro in that sport. I hope we can figure out a way to keep the drugs out and reward clean racing. The really sad thing is that it trickles down to amateur sports and bike racing. The Cat 4-5 guys I will be racing soon may be doping and no one is even watching that. I guess it will be that much more satisfying if I win. My question is if someone does testosterone, cortizone and EPO while training to get better strength and comes off it to be clean, are they still really clean?