The John Lieswyn Diary 2001

McLane Pacific Races

Merced, CA March 3 & 4 2001

Team 7UP/Colorado Cyclist is:
Jeff Corbett (Boulder) rider/manager
Clark Sheehan (Boulder) co-leader
Ryan Guay (Boulder)
Doug Ziewacz (Boulder and Massachussetts)
Kevin Monahan (Northampton MA)
Oscar & Juan Pineda (The Bronx, NY)
Charles Dionne (Canada)
Andrew Randell (Canada)
Dave McCook (San Jose)
John Lieswyn (all over the place)
Stephanie Roussos (soigneur)
Scott McAfee (director)

Once again, Doug Ziewacz and I are "cutting our own rug".

Actually we're being good boys and going with the flow here, but he just peered over from adjusting his new Time cleats, noticed I was starting to type, and told me I had to open my race diary with that phrase. (refer back to my Brazil diary! To answer a couple questions left by that report, MJ finished about 20th. To all South Floridians, MJ IS NOT Ailton!)

Our new superlight Fuji Team issue bikes arrived at the Colorado Cyclist warehouse this week and a big thanks to Reese Houghton and the staff: they dropped everything and feverishly assembled 8 bikes in less than a day. Ryan picked them up in our new team van. Then he and Doug drove from Colorado to San Jose Airport to pick up the Pinedas, Kevin, and myself on Friday morning.

My first real ride on the bike was Saturday morning when 9 of us went out for a pre race shakedown ride of 2 hours through soupy cold fog. Andrew said he felt like he was in the Sherlock Holmes novel "The Hound of Baskerville". Since I haven't read that since high school all I can say is that it definitely isn't the sunny weather you'd expect of California, but it's wicked nicer than Worcester!

WOW. That is my best description of the fastest bike I've ever ridden. I just wish my conditioning matched the machinery. I have total confidence and optimism, as every year my form comes back more quickly and stronger than the year prior.

The race was a wide open 7 turn course with hundreds of road reflectors to make it interesting. 48 miles (80km). 180 starters! A few large pileups. None of my team were involved. Doug later commented that all the organizer really needed to complete the fun for us was to have hockey players on each corner, randomly high-sticking riders out of the race. Bike racing 2020, WWF style, here in Merced today! John Wordin (Mercury) was cracking me up at one point. He still races despite managing a Div.1 team, and he was a couple guys ahead of me in the line at one point. It was pretty impossible not to overhear him screaming into his race radio "don't worry about it guys, plenty of guys here to chase that". So I shouted at him "hey Wordin, need a megaphone?" I then accelerated on the right to pass and join up with a teammate, and Wordin started in on me with "bring it on." blah blah blah. He's about 180lbs and 6ft 4in so he's hard to push back, and when he started forcing me into the barriers at 33 mph I backed out and waited until later to move up.

End result today was a field sprint and a Mercury 1-2 finish (Gord was second, recovering while racing with a healing fractured wrist!), while 7UP/Colorado Cyclist stayed safe, began to gel as a team, and placed Charles 5th Kevin 12th and Oscar also in the top 20. Way to go Charles, thanks for giving us a respectable result in our first outing!

Tomorrow is the road race and the forecast is for heavy rain.

U turns in the Merced Road Race

Ooof. I'm blown, and I only really raced for 15 miles out of a 100. We awoke at 5:30 am to light rain and high winds. At the start area, most of the riders huddled in their vehicles until the last minute. It was great to see my old friend Chann McRae and weird seeing my old Shaklee teammates Graeme, Eric, and Glen. When I saw Brenda working for Mercury just a few feet away from my window, it brought back the two years we worked together. Our new 7UP/Colorado Cyclist soigneur Steph is really on the ball and very good at her job, so we are lucky to have her with us.

The wind was gusting to 40mph and as we set off on the first of four laps it was quickly evident that Mercury wasn't going to wait around to blow the race wide open. The longer that the 180 riders stayed together the higher the chance of a crash. The peloton fractured into multiple echelons at 10 miles into the race, and while my mind told me where I needed to be to make it into the first group, my body wasn't ready for the intensity level yet. I found myself in the 20 man third group. For the next hour we stayed within 30 seconds of the similar sized second group, but I for one was happy enough that we weren't catching them. If we caught, there wouldn't be enough room on the road for everyone to get a draft and it would have started a mess of attacking and gutter action.

Starting the 3rd lap I felt some muscle pulls coming on, perhaps due to racing straight away on a new bike, and allowed this to become a mental rationalization for quitting. I pulled a U turn to head back to the warm and dry van. No sooner had I turned around a little voice in my head started taunting me and calling me a wuss. I pulled another U turn and set about trying to catch the group I had been with. It took me a solid ten minutes of maximal effort in the stiff headwind to rejoin. I told myself I' d do just one more lap and then withdraw. Well, when we got around to the end of the 3rd lap I was feeling better and decided I needed to finish for my mental and physical benefit. This I did, and I felt better about finishing this early season race than winning a local race in August.

Charles again did well for us, finishing in the 2nd group. Initially we had two riders in the Mercury driven lead group, but Clark was sick and Doug is fighting off patellar tendonitis and had to drop out to avoid making it worse.

Next: Visalia CA