Photos of China with Captions to Tell a Bit of the Story (Part I)

posted in: Adventures, Cycling, Racing, Travel | 0

(Best way to view is to click the first image and then use the arrows to see the captions.)

Photos of China between the stages of the Tour of Poyang Lake which was a two week stage race around Jiangxi Province. The region was way more pictureque and more mountainous than you ever would have imagined. Some of the places we visited you could tell that seeing a “white man” didn’t happen everyday. There are a lot of ways to see the world and doing it via a bike race truly is one of the greatest.

Part 2 resides here since I took too many photos…http://adamfarabaugh.com/photosofchinapart2/

Changing Careers… Or At Least Trying To

posted in: Cycling, Racing, Travel, Uncategorized | 4

 

This is a post that I never wanted to write. A post that reflects upon the past and looks at the future while realizing how the present is not what I want it to be.

My last round of antibiotics was last night and I can finally drink beer again which was/is needed to write this post. To fill those of you in… I crashed on the last day of a two week stage race in China the day after I signed a contract to race with a pro team for the following two months. Instead of living in Shanghai and racing around China, I flew back home the next day with plenty of stitches and a possible broken elbow. That however was not the reason why I’m headed down a road that doesn’t include bike racing at the same level where I was at previously, but it didn’t help matters.

Since getting hooked on cycling at the age of 15 all I wanted to do was ride my bike, race it, and ride pro in bigger and bigger races. Every kid has dreams of playing in the MLB or NFL but they never really come to fruit except for the few. Somehow I kept progressing and riding at the next level until I was racing as a “pro”. I wasn’t in the Tour de France but the riders I was racing against (and finishing ahead of on occasion) were though in a few of the races I was lucky enough to do where they were racing.

Seemingly like everything I do, I took a different path than a lot of riders took to the pro ranks. I didn’t ride for any “devo” teams or National teams but took my own route through a Belgian team and a bunch of Canadian teams. This made me a strong, well rounded rider who could finish with the best. Maybe not beat them but I was there. Pretty much you have to beat them to be one of them. Even though I did this time and time again at the domestic level, not making the right connections and not making the most of the opportunities that I had, I consistently slipped through the cracks. I couldn’t land a contract on a team that could take me to the races to prepare me for the next level not to mention get paid something I could actually live on.

Bike racing, no matter the level really, is based on passion, rather than the money. The tipping point though is at least having enough money to be able to live and do what you want. But when you don’t have enough money to pursue your passion the way you want to it becomes a struggle. At first you’re living the nomad, gypsy life for the experience but to also get to the next level. You know that if you work hard enough, race well enough, and if you’re in fact good enough, you’ll get paid to do what you love. When you do all of these but they end up not equaling what you expected, a contract on a bigger team, you’re left with; do you keep going in the hope that it’ll come next year, or just throw in the towel?

After 2014, I wanted to throw in the towel but I couldn’t. I forged ahead in this sort of middle ground trying to work to make some money while still racing and training here and there. I suffered an untimely injury on the one block of racing I had to have a real shot at actually getting some results and maybe a contract that I could half live on. That left me in a huge hole. I didn’t know what I was doing and if all the sacrifices I was making were actually worth it. Seemingly everything in my life continued to fall apart and I was left with the only thing I really knew; bike racing. I put most of my stuff in a storage unit, moved out of my then girlfriends place, and took the rest of my stuff in my bike bag and backpack on the road to race what was left of the season, like the broke gypsy I once was.

The first race back I raced off the front for half of the final ten laps. I then rode 270 some miles in two days across the state of Pennsylvania followed by a bunch of training to get back some sort of fitness. With nearly 30 hours of training in my legs for the week I then finished 5th out of a breakaway in the Rochester Twilight after riding way too hard to bring back attack after attack of some of the biggest hitters in the North American Crit scene. The following week I did the same albeit with a bit less of a result but once again being off the front solo in the last ten laps.

With more training I headed to St. Louis for four days of crit racing. The first night I rode from 15 until 2 to go on the shoulder of UHC’s sprint train keeping my sprinter safe. They had 5 guys for their sprinter. I was one. I don’t have the speed for a sprint but I can set up anyone, anywhere. The remaining nights consisted of a lot of the same but when directors only look at results, I’m not where their eyes fall.

After a hard four days of racing, and training in the morning to get ready for the next trip, I was off to China for a two week stage race. I did the Tour of Poyang Lake last year and finished third overall while riding for my teammate that race, Ivan Stevic. This year the race was far different with much hillier stages and a deeper field and no dope controls. Even though I was far from the slimmest rider on my composite team I was our GC rider. Somehow I found the legs on the climbing stages and in the time trial to finish 14th overall with a bunch of descent individual and team results through out. The climbing stages weren’t just a bit of hills though. The HC day consisted of a 12km climb that probably averaged close to 10%. Not easy when you’re not a climber and clean. A bunch of Iranians went 3,4,5,6, or something like that. Statistically not normal.

Working a contact I had from the previous year and along with my riding at Poyang Lake, I signed a contract to race the remainder of the year with a Conti team from Shanghai. They were doing all the UCI races in China in the coming two months which were basically jammed packed. I’d have far more race days than off days. This was my last hope at getting some sort of contract for the coming year to be able to still be a bike racer and not make all the sacrifices that I had been making the previous four years, namely not actually living somewhere. Being crashed out on the last day in a separate race from the Tour, but that we had to do to get paid the prize money, was I guess the nail in the coffin.

Throughout the race I was wondering what I was doing and I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing as much as I should have been. This might have been for various reasons but the fact was that I was no longer willing to make the sacrifices to race my bike at the level I was at. I lived a majority of the past year in one place, had an amazing relationship, had some money, and it was amazing but it wasn’t enough. I still wanted to race at the level I was at previously. I couldn’t give it up. I was seeking a balance between the two that I couldn’t get without a contract that actually paid me something.  I tried to get it again but basically it uprooted my life and took me to the bottom. I didn’t, or don’t, have a contract, a place to call home, a relationship. All the things I valued and want in my life went away. The things that all those sacrifices were for are now non-existent. I guess this would be called the bottom. Fortunately, I got a degree so am using that to hopefully find a job in the energy industry, where my passion also lies, which will help to get me where I want to be in life where bike racing isn’t the only be-all, end-all.

Riding and racing will always be a part of my life though. I’ll never give it up. I’ll still race as much as I can but racing is not going to be my life as it is now. I already do a lot of other stuff, or should say have done in the past, such as backpacking, climbing, skiing, hunting, fishing, mountain biking. I want to do these things more than just here and there in the off-season. I want all the things I love to be a well-rounded part of my life. As with anything in life balance is key. I need to work on that but even with a “real” job I’ll still be out there riding in the rain and racing to win, or for someone else to win since I’m a pretty descent lead-out rider too. Life goes on and at least from here everything is up. Racing has given me more than I could have ever asked for. It still will but with this door sort of now closing it feels like I’m parting ways a bit. The future will be great because of it.

I was only on the podium for most Aggressive Rider on the day (ahead of another legit rider, Fumy Beppu). The rider to my right is the current World Champion. The rider to my left is the current Hour Record holder.
I was only on the podium for most Aggressive Rider on the day (ahead of another legit rider, Fumy Beppu). The rider to my right is the current World Champion. The rider to my left is the current Hour Record holder.

 

Winning the Elite Criterium National Championships. Eric Marcotte, to my left has since won both the US Pro Road and Crit Championships.Winning the Elite Criterium National Championships.

Eric Marcotte, to my left, has since won both the US Pro Road and Crit National Championships.

The Comeback of the Rochester Twilight Criterium

posted in: Cycling, Racing | 2

Races come and go. Form comes and goes. Some things never come back but when they do it’s awesome. The Rochester Twilight used to be one of the marque criteriums back in the day but since 2008 and the downfall of the economy and thus sponsors, it hasn’t happened. This year it was finally back on the calendar due to some hard work of a few locals as well as the support of the city. It was the same hard, technical course that it was back in 2007, the last time I did the race.

 

I was a junior cyclist as a category 3 and just graduated high school that morning. I crashed out with 3 laps to go but stayed and watched the pro race.  It was pretty incredible on every level. The speed, the teams, the riders, the number of people watching. A break got away and lapped the field. I think Hilton Clarke won. A rider who was in the film “The Hard Road” of which I watched as a junior and got a glimpse into what riding as a pro in the states was like.  I don’t know that I even had the intention yet at the time of riding pro but any time you’re doing something you think that it would be sweet to do at a high level.

 

Eight years later I’ve raced pro and last night I was in that break away. The race started out fairly fast with breaks getting up the road here and there but nothing gained considerable time. The first real move came from Daniel Holloway (Altovelo SeaSucker) who built a solo gap up to around 20 or 30 seconds. It was never a real threat but a move like that met he was more trying to get a teammate up the road to win.

 

He eventually was reeled back in by a steady stream of attacks of guys trying to get across. There were a few larger moves that looked promising but there was always a team willing to bring it back which was lucky for us (ISA Genix/SeaSucker/Guttenplan Coaching) since we were a bit far back at times. Most of the breaks would gain a gap on the brief flat and descent opposite the start finish after turn two as riders would attack on the brief climb out of the 2nd to last corner and through the false flat of the start finish and everyone would be willing to lay it down to close the gap. Then when everyone was gassed from the effort, riders would just kind of roll off the front after turn two.

 

After a little over an hour of racing, and with an hour still to go, a break still had not been established but a lap or two after a fast lap due to a prime being offered, the right mix  of riders found their way off the front. I sort of just followed wheels and never really had to make much of an effort to get in the break. There were 12 or so riders which is almost too big for a break because half the guys want to sit on.  Fortunately UHC, Astellas, and Champion Systems, all had two riders so one from each was willing to ride. The individual riders should have been more willing to ride but half the break was sitting on. Knowing this I knew I couldn’t be one of the guy’s driving the break but I also wanted the break to stick. So I kind of rode too hard.

 

The final twenty laps or so we’re fairly aggressive with a few riders always trying to get away every few laps along with the occasional offering of primes. The biggest of which was $700 of which I proceed to lead out instead of getting a gap when I jumped early since I didn’t think I was going to be able to sprint around a few of the guys. Oops.

 

Andrian Hegyvary (United Health Care) was probably the strongest rider in the break. He kept the pace high as well as closed any gaps to riders trying to attack off the front. I essentially tried to follow him and not let much of a gap open between him and I. I probably, or actually did, cover too many as guys behind were more just following wheels. Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling) had a number of strong moves of which Hedgeavarry and I would follow. Aldo Ino Ilesic (Altovelo SeaSucker) would also be there at the right times. Champion Systems didn’t have the strongest guys but rode smart covering what they had to and Kevin Mullervy keeping the pace high with two laps to go for his teammate.

 

With one to go it was all together and on the back stretch Aldo Ino Ilesic (Altovelo SeaSucker) attacked and got a small gap.  Hegyvary (UHC) followed to close it and I followed but didn’t quite close down the gap quick enough. Neither of us got straight on the wheel I was left chasing all the way to the finish line.  I ended up leading out Carlos Alzate (UHC) pretty well for second. I opened up my sprint on the uphill before the last turn but couldn’t hold it all the way to the line and was passed by three riders but I passed a spent Hegyvary finishing 5th. I made some mistakes in the last lap along with riding a bit too hard and covering too many moves but I had the legs to be there which is a great feeling. And particularly after a solid 28 hour week of training.

 

It’ll be another solid week of training and then another NCC crit with Chris Thater in Binghamton. It’ll be nice to be home again too and to ride the roads I first fell in love with cycling on. I’ve come a long way in the sport but it’s never far enough. I’m now making some steps to get to where I want to be in the sport in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned, I’ll keep the posts coming regularly now that I’m back to bike racing.

 

 

Morning spin along the Erie Canal.
Morning spin along the Erie Canal.

 

A lock on the Erie Canal. Reminded me of the locks close to where I lived in Belgium on a canal where they had to have someone turn the locks by hand to open and close.
A lock on the Erie Canal. Reminded me of the locks close to where I lived in Belgium on a canal where they had to have someone turn the locks by hand to open and close.
Someone thought they were crafty.
Someone thought they were crafty while we were eating and drinking at Dinosaur BBQ after the race. Jokesters.
Rochester capped off an awesome 28 hour week of riding in Pennsylvania.
Rochester capped off an awesome 28 hour week of training in Pennsylvania.  This is from the top of Blue Knob outside of Altoona, Pa.
We were fully loaded with 4 bikes and a bajillion wheels for Rochester. Couldn't have done it with out SeaSucker Racks!
We were fully loaded with 4 bikes and a bajillion wheels for Rochester. Couldn’t have done it without SeaSucker Racks!

We had a lot of interest in our racks at Rochester.  Use discount code: rochester twilight on My Store page for 10% off SeaSucker Racks.  They’re sweet to say the least.

The Highs and Lows of Bike Racing; Are They Worth It?

posted in: Cycling, Racing, Travel | 0
Winston Salem1
Winston-Salem Classic, UCI 1.2. Before the knee expired for the day. (Photo Credit: Daniela Carrion)

There’s nothing like crossing the finish line with your arms in the air achieving what you had your heart and mind set upon in the weeks and months prior. Even if it wasn’t a victory, the satisfaction of performing at your best gives you an elated feeling knowing that all your hard work and sacrifice paid off. With sports in particular, and just about anything in life, hard work and sacrifice don’t always yield the results you want and when that happens you’re left wondering what went wrong and was it all worth it.

A little over a week ago I left Bend, Oregon where my girlfriend, job, and life nowadays is, for almost a month of racing on the road.  This past spring I worked at a bike shop (Of which is amazing and gives me time off to race. Thanks Sunnyside Sports!) to make ends meat and to be able to still race across the country. My objective was to make enough money to be able to live as well as to still be able to get to the races since I wasn’t on a Continental team anymore.  The working drew back from the training but it was the only way I was going to be able to still race and actually have a life outside of going race to race all year.  Working and training are both big time commitments in their own right let alone when you try and combine them.  Thanks to an amazing girlfriend, not enough sleep, and a lot of determination, I made it work.  Definitely a sacrifice on all fronts but all for a reason; to race my bike and to race it well to make money along with hopefully getting a contract with a team to do bigger and better races.

Today, (Sunday) I was to be racing the Philly Classic, a big UCI race that has been the biggest one day race in the country and going on since 1985.  It was a big target of mine and a race I’ve done the past two years as well as one of my favorite.  Last Sunday I raced at the Winston-Salem Classic.  It was a UCI 1.2 race with with 10,000 feet of climbing on a circuit totaling 110 miles.  A hard race indeed with the best teams and riders in the country.  I knew it was going to be a hard day, especially with out having any racing even close to that recently, but knew I could still have a descent ride.  My left knee started to hurt about half-way through but I’ve had knee pain before and thought it’d be fine.  I flatted with about 4 laps to go which required a hard chase to regain contact with the field (slow wheel change…) but during that chase I definitely knew something wasn’t right.  I rode about half a lap in the main group but knew at that point I wasn’t going to get a great result and that I should just pull out and not further injure my knee.  That was the first time I’ve ever actually pulled out of a race without being dropped.  Can’t say I would have done that in the past but I knew there was more than just this race to be had.

My wheel change. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Devich, Cyclingnews.com)
My wheel change. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Devich, Cyclingnews.com)

Unfortunately I should have pulled out at the first bit of pain as even with careful treatment, position adjustments, physical therapists, and lots of rest, my knee still had a problem by the end of the week.  This is the first race I’ve ever had to not start for any reason.  Even being sick I would race.

Right now at least it feels as if all of those sacrifices weren’t worth it.  And not only my own sacrifices but of those around me; particularly that of my girlfriend.  I also missed an important wedding to now sit on the couch and watch a live feed of a race.

Before I always thought all the sacrifices for bike racing I made were worth it (and there were a lot).  It was what I wanted to do and I wanted to achieve my goals and dreams in racing.  Those sacrifices over the years have gotten harder and harder to deal with, one of the reasons why I’m not on a pro team this year, and now this set back makes me question it even more.  Racing is a hard sport and getting to the top requires a lot of dead-set determination and willingness to do whatever it takes.  I still want to get to a higher and higher level of racing and want to put in all the hard work that’s needed but making hard sacrifices you shouldn’t have to make makes me question how bad I really want it.

It’s a measure and the scale is definitely tipping.  I just don’t want it to tip before I want it to tip. Hopefully with continued treatment and rest my knee will heal up and I can salvage this trip.

On the plus side of not heading to Philly I got to spend some time with my parents and visit the elementary school I went to one last time since it's closing in 2 weeks time.  Around since 1859, 156 years!
On the plus side of not heading to Philly I got to spend some time with my parents and visit the elementary school I went to one last time since it’s closing in 2 weeks time. Around since 1859, 156 years!

And if you’re interested in any of my sponsors products listed in My Store here, use discount code: “sacrifices” for 5% off.  It helps benefit myself and our team. Thanks!

Athens Twilight – Where Some Come to Win, Some to Make Money, and Others to Survive

posted in: Cycling, Racing | 0

Athens Twilight is a spectacle whether you’re flying through the bumpy dark turns or watching from the other side of the barriers a couple beers deep with college girls at every turn of the eye.  The University of Georgia is a really cool college town with tons of coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and breweries which along with all the people makes for an incredible setting for a race at night on a short, technical course.

The course this year was a bit different due to construction on the normal course.  It was still a four-corner rectangle but had a considerable up-hill for a crit out of turn four up to the finish that made for a solid 80 efforts even while you were on someone’s wheel.  To add to the spectacle of being a crit on a short, less than a k course, with inevitable crashes, the back stretch was a fast downhill into a fast and narrow left-hander that was lined with hay-bales along the curb and heaps of people waiting for a pile-up.

The narrow course made starting at the back a night-mare to get to the front as 100+ riders stung-out almost single file makes for quite a distance from the first to the last rider, of which I was in turn one.  With guys opening up gaps, literally on the first lap, getting to the front quick was imperative and with a number of huge efforts on the front and back stretches I made it but after a break was already well established.  With pretty much everyone else being content with the break lapping the field, my efforts to establish a chase group along with a bit of chasing to keep the break from lapping as quick where fruitless.

My teammate, David Guttenplan, nabbed the first lap prime so we started the night with some money but with eight guys lapping, our goal became just to get points for the overall week long endeavor.  I was content with that as my early race efforts didn’t have me feeling great.  We managed to survive the front the last few laps and both ended up top 15 which wasn’t stellar but was alright going into the next four plus one day of racing in California.

After finishing this race you’re a combination of being tired, jacked up from all the sport gels and potentially caffeine, and the adrenaline from a crazy race like that with so many people.  You hear and feel that there are tons of people around the entire course while you’re racing but you don’t really look and take too much notice..  After though, once your heartrate comes down a bit, you see how crazy it is with people cheering you and saying great job as well as giving you beer hand ups for your effort.  I’ve done a lot of races around the world and the big crits like this have a pedigree of their own.  They’re nuts but they leave you wanting more.  Well kind of.  I could go for a 200k road race instead… but when you’re drawn by money, crits are where it’s at in the States.