Ellwanger, Richard E., 73, died Oct. 11, 2018 after being struck by a drunk driver while riding his bike on âAâ Mountain in Tucson. He was born Dec. 4, 1944, and is survived by his wife of 47 years, Judi, his sister, Sheryl Morgan and mother, Penny Laetch. An avid road and mountain biker, Rick was a state and national champion and a member of Team Aggress in Tucson. Rick will be deeply missed by family and friends in the cycling community, and by all those whose lives he touched. Rick loved cycling, he loved racing and was always âthereâ for teammates and friends. A teammate said âI had always envisioned that Rick would be a victim of spontaneous human combustion in his early 100s, at the top of Alp dâHuez in France, after dropping a pack of 20 young men trying their hardest to keep up.â In his honor, a Ghost Bike memorial is planned for âAâ mountain. He earned his Masterâs Degree in Metallurgy at Colorado School of Mines, going on to the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry. He worked for many years in the mining industry and later at Sigma Technologies, Tucson, as a research scientist in plasma and nanotechnology. A gathering is planned for early December to celebrate his life. For those who wish to donate in his name, please contact El Grupo Cycling Club at www.elgrupocycling.org Rick had in full measure what the French say so beautifully – Joie De Vivre â the joy of life. Godspeed, my love. – Judi Ellwanger-Rich
First off, I think Gene deserves teammate of the year. Â He let Tim and I stay at his house, even fed us, and then drove us the thousands of miles around central Arizona to the various sites … all after injuring his calf in the TT. Â He cramped up and had some micro-tears that developed into a full blown calf tear first trip up the hill on the road race. Â Despite all that, he braved the wind and cold, twice, to give Tim a bottle in his race which was about 3 hours after we were finished!
I’ll let Tim tell his story, of course, but I’ll mention what he’s going to leave out, probably. Â He was in a VERY strong Cat 3 group … there were some absolute studs there doing their last Cat 3 races before moving up to Cat 2. Â I follow several of them on Instagram and Strava…that field was LOADED!
As for me, I finished 2nd in the GC for men’s cat 4. Â I’m super happy with that, especially since I never really expected to do a lot of winning this year. Â I thought NEXT year would be my “come-back” tour. Â (That’s a little sarcasm because I’ve only raced half of one season before getting hurt.)
In the TT I had a very, very bad day. Â It was good enough for second on the day, but I felt I didn’t deserve it Â … silly, but the amount of power I put on that TT was what I usually do for tempo intervals. Â But, I was pretty sick, and I wasn’t slow due to lack of effort!
The wind on the TT was pretty strong, a tail cross on the way out, which is slightly uphill, and a head cross on the way back. Â I had a 90mm front wheel on and I got pushed around a lot! Â But, the wheel never got twisted, I just got moved side to side, sometimes abruptly.
The road race figured to be a real shit-show. Â It was windy, blowing all different directions, very wet and there were parts of the course with some bad road, huge rumble strips and a cattle guard right after a turn. Â But, as it turned out, the only people on the day that crashed were juniors! Â I felt better than I did on the TT, but still was just dying to make it up the hill in the group. Â I never really figured into the make-up of the race other than to try and bridge to a break away, but being 2nd, I wasn’t allowed any leash. Â I came in 8th place on the day.
Before the road race both Stephen Pendone and Tom Danielson reached out to me with encouragement and advice. Â It wasn’t advice I was able to execute in the road race, but I felt stronger still on day 3. Â I wasn’t sore and had good legs. Â The advice was, in TD’s words, “Make the race a fucking blood bath.” Â It was interesting because during the crit, someone else was doing just that for the first few laps and I was hurting. Â I moved up and moved up and it got easier. Â I kept moving up until the first prime lap when I attacked, got $50 and got away. Â One dude bridged and then another, but after I think 2 or maybe 3 laps, we got reeled in. Â I just stayed well positioned from them on, until lap 3 when there was another prime. Â I just moved up patiently and then stood on the pedals just enough to get a second prime! Â
On the last part of the second to last lap riders STOPPED holding their lines and people started getting really twitchy. Â All I needed to do to stay 2nd in GC was finish, so I just went on the front and held the pace high until the back stretch when some people started attacking. Â I just surfed wheels in and came in mid-pack, same time as the winners. Â Â ðÂ
I learned exactly what Stephen and Tom were talking about. Â When you’re dictating the pace, even when you’re not attacking anymore, people look at you and treat you differently. Â It gets way easier when they’re a little afraid of you. Â Next time I’ll see if I can use that to get a W.
The UofA crit course was pretty fun, long and fast save one very tight, very technical corner. Â Early in the day, when it was cold, the paint in the crosswalk there was super slick, 7 separate crashes in race #1! Â
I went out to try some different ways of breaking away to see if one would stick. Â I’m just trying to learn and develop some skill and instinct really. Â So if I don’t crash and I learn to be a better racer, it’s all good!
Nobody got away in my race, myself included. Â After reviewing the race I now know how I could’ve won. Â Whoever was first into that tricky corner, which is the last corner on the race, was first to the finish line. Â I should have slammed past everybody on the front half of the race on the last lap and just buried it on the back half. Â If they all followed my wheel, no matter, because once you’re approaching that corner, there’s no passing and so much speed is scrubbed in that turn, that whoever is there first has a huge jump.
As it turned out, I was 7th overall and 4th in my group. Â I made my hardestÂ move in the 2nd to last lap and it didn’t stick, so I just chased down people that were in the omnium competition on the last lap. Â I let one slip away, I didn’t realize he was up there. Â
It was nice having Rich Horn there cheering me on! Â I’m looking forward to racing with some teammates tomorrow in Oracle. Â If I win the race I win the omnium. Â But, twice up that cat2 climb is a tall task. Â Should be fun. Â
Rubber side down and GO!
Here’s the footage:
This was criterium number three for me and since I crashed out in number two, I was a little nervous.Â The field was pretty big compared to the other races on the day â¦ 38 racers I believe. Â The weather was windy and cold.Â
My goals going into the race were as follows:
- Â Have fun – Stay Upright
- Discover weaknesses I have
- Learn tactics
- Gain Experience
Yup, winning was pretty low on the list.Â In fact, I had a very tough week of V02 max work and over-unders (intervals where the rest is at 95% of FTP), a trip to the gym for weight lifting and a whole lot of bad sleep. Also, Iâm working on losing weight and lost 6 pounds the week of the race.Â Thatâs great for the future racing, but lose 6 pounds in a week and youâre weak and tired.
My pre-race ritual was better executed than last race.Â I remembered my gloves (left them in the car last time), and turned on my every-important GoPro!Â My warm-up routine seems to work well for me, so if nothing else, I think thatâs pretty dialed in.
At the whistle there was some dude who just took off, but he was given zero leash.Â Two turns in, on the back stretch (directly into the wind), and the whole field was stretched out single file. I found myself on the back as I didnât line up early enough for a good spot (lesson learned).Â So I had to move up to the front 3rd of the field into the headwind, burning some matches.Â What also got burned off with the match were my nerves. Once I was racing, I was calm.
About five minutes into the race, Team Tolero decided to toughen up the race and they shelled a large portion of the field. Thankfully, racers that were lapped got pulled in this race, unlike last time.Â During this time with Tolero working hard to soften the race I realized that I suck at corners.Â Watching the GoPro footage I realize that I scrub off too much speed heading into the corners.Â I got gapped every single corner for the whole race, but especially when there was a high pace. I burned a lot of matches regaining contact coming out of corners.
The first prime lap was interesting as the field slowed down and they let one dude take off solo and win it.Â Here I made my second big mistake â¦ I chased him down, dragging everybody with me.Â I had planned on attacking after the prime, but had I read the race better I wouldâve known it was a bad time.Â
The second prime was more like I anticipated, but I messed this one up, too.Â There were aggressive moves and the top riders all took off.Â I let them go and reeled them back in. (I was fully confident that nobody in that field could ride away from me, so I could burn fewer matches by not matching their explosive attacks, knowing theyâd blow up, and then have juice to counter attack when I caught them.) On the back half of the course they sat up and looked at each other, which is when I should have attacked.Â I donât know why I didnât attack there, doh!Â Big mistake number 3 â¦ which is perfect, I came to make mistakes and learn from them.
The rest of the race unfolded like the other crits Iâve done.Â I did a good job allowing others to close gaps, just following 2nd or 3rd wheel.Â Then, second to last lap there was a move, I followed it.Â Once that dude seemed vulnerable I attacked him but not hard enough to shell the guy at the second wheel.Â This time I didnât get cute, I played my card which is putting out power and that last lap was the fastest of the day, 27.2 mph. Â Â I figured that if he could hang on my wheel and roll me at the finish, he deserved to win.Â Thatâs exactly what happened.Â I hate finishing second or third usually, but am perfectly happy with how things shook out.Â
It was very cool having Doug and Liz Perry and Tim there cheering me on.Â
Hereâs the gopro footage (edited) of the race:Â 904-565-8680
This inaugural event was my only significant objective for 2016 so I did set up and try to follow a training regimen to prepare for it.Â Since the race was to be 20km up Pikes Peak with a start line at 9,380 ft and a finish line at 14,110 ft I included altitude acclimation as an integral part of my preparation.Â I researched several training blogs and concluded that about one month at altitude was the optimum acclimation period.Â If one cannot do that, little or no time at altitude is the next best approach.Â Most of my training effort was put in between 4 weeks and 1 week before the event.Â I took 2 days off shortly before the event and did a wake-up ride with a few pushes the afternoon before the event.
Weather for this event was forecast to be lousy until the afternoon before at which time the forecast changed to clear and sunny.Â In the end, it was clear, sunny, calm and cold for the race.
The format was a staged mass start in waves.Â My scoring group comprised about a dozen riders (MM70+) and left the line at 0703.Â The first mile or so was deceptively flat and all of us enjoyed a bit of respite before the grind.Â The grade then ramped up to about 10% and was relentless with very little easing.Â Our peloton quickly fractured and soon Durward Higgins and I were alone off the front.Â I have previously raced against Durward last October at the Huntsman World Senior Games where he beat me in 4 of 4 events.Â Halfway up he bumped the pace 1 km/hr which I could not match, although I felt that I was performing well, and slowly but surely rode away from me.Â I continued to be functional to the summit and was actually able to increase my own pace slightly the last 3 km.Â I am admittedly a bit disappointed with my 2nd place finish, yet I feel that I performed about as well as I could, free of strategic or tactical errors, and without any equipment issues during the race.Â Durward is simply stronger than I.Â After summiting,Â I took some time to enjoy the views, which I reckon were 50+ miles in any direction; truly grand.Â
Given that this was a US National event,Â my feelings about how the event was run are ambivalent.Â The choice of venue was a profoundly wonderful challenge and would test the mettle of virtually any rider.Â However, the extreme altitude should favor those who are already living at altitude.Â Yet, having said that, it did not turn out that way for my group; 3 of the top 5 are living at low altitude.Â Of course, for other groups it may well have been different.Â Surprisingly, there were mistakes in posting of results;Â I was initially not even listed in the results, and I know that other riders also had issues.Â Fortunately, I had a âreceiptâ which I had obtained at the finish line listing my exact finish time and my finish position among those who had finished in my group; a neat feature, I thought.Â Perhaps the most frustrating issue was the limited timing window; cutoff shortly after 0900 with riders starting between 0630 and a bit after 0730.Â The road was opened to the public at 0900 and a steady stream of cars was nearing the summit by 0915, intimidating a couple of the racers in my group into giving up and turning around to avoid the press of vehicles in close proximity.Â The Pikes Peak hgwy is city owned and I speculate USAC was simply unable to negotiate a reasonable closure window with the city.Â As usual it was likely about the money.
Howdy, esteemed Aggressors!
First off, congratulations to those that raced, you guys all represented Aggress well! Â Tim, two years after shattering his femur, killed the field. Â I was more excited to see him win than had I won myself! Â I did a dance of pure joy when he told me!Â Â Rich, Shane and Rich and Cathy (who I just met), all raced well and had great results. Â
For me, I’ve never been less relevant in the outcome of a race. Â Yet, I can only think of one race where I was more proud of the outcome. Â I’mÂ literally in uncharted territory regarding my recovery. Â There was hope I’d be “here” by December. Â
As Tim mentioned, the race organizers lumped together all masters under 50 years old in one group. Â I believe that was 35 total men. Â I was nervous, which is very unusual for me.Â No matter what happened in the raceÂ it was to be a surprise, and I don’t like surprises during a race. Â Just before the race,Â out of nowhere, my wife showed up and hugged me. Â I really needed that!Â She droveÂ 6 hoursÂ the night before and stayed at our friend’s cabin! Â I had no clue. Â It was the best surprise I’ve ever had! Â Thank you Tim for helping pull that off!
As for the race, mine wasn’t much of a race. Â On the first real climb, about 18 miles in, I got dropped. Â I tried to position myself up front before the hill so I could drift back and catch on, but I have a negative V02 max…Â I did drop back, but did not catch on. Â
I found my own pace up the hill, and started catching and passing a bunch of other guys who also got dropped. Â As normal, they were all surprised because I look more like a beer league softball dudeÂ than cyclist.Â I went by them all hoping they’d catch up and we could work together to catch back on. Â We eventually formed a small group of about 10 or so.Â They tried to form a pace line but frankly, they sucked and were really slow. Â I was upset to be with such a group.Â When we made the series of right and left turns pretty quickly where there were a few houses around mile 22, I went to the front. Â I didn’t attack at all, just gradually lifted the pace hoping to flick the clingons off the back. Â Well, all 10 of them were clingons. Â So I rode from there to the finish by myself. Â I did just enough to keep them at bay.Â I had about 43 miles of solace.Â It was a great time. Â I really wasn’t hurting, kept my heart rate around 155 most of the time, and just stayed as aero as possible. Â
I had some problems on the ride with my feet and hamstrings, which isn’t unusual still, but I knew how to keep it in check. Â I kept looking back to see how close the chasing group was. Â On the big rollers to finish the race IÂ could them, so I stood up to make it look like I was attacking those hills even though I was just going a steady, relatively easy pace. Â Anything to break their spirits! Â From reading Strava accounts they were trying to catch me, and were upset they didn’t. Â I thought they’d given up really. Â
I’ll continue to take things one day at a time, but this was a big victory for me. Â Not a result I’m used to, but I’ll take it!Â
The weather for this yearâs edition of the highest road bike climb in North America was the best yet forÂ me; sunny, warm (sort of), winds light and variable.Â At least half a dozen other Tucson riders, including Aggress Sandbagger Rich Horn, were also there to give it a go.Â Six were registered in the MM70+ group but at our start (0715) there were only 3 on the line; Herb Johnson, Michael Raber, and myself.Â Within the first 3 miles Michael was gone and it was down to Herb and I, as usual.Â I knew going in that I would be more or less at the minimum point on the altitude acclimation curve (5 days at altitude) but it needed to be scheduled that way to give me a month at altitude before the Natâl climb up Pikeâs Peak.Â I mostly followed Herb as we got close to Echo Lake (approx. halfway point) and I must concede that he was better able to maintain a good pace during his âstand and deliverâ segments then I expected. Â As we approached Echo Lake I began to suffer significantly and shortly realized I would have to let him go; dang!Â My race was basically over at that point and it was henceforth a good training ride.Â I pushed but did not bury myself and in the end finished 2nd, 8 min behind Herb and 13 min behind my own PR, set when I was fully acclimated.Â
The consensus in the training blogs seems to be that when racing at altitude one should arrive at altitude either the day of the event, or more preferably at least 2 weeks prior to almost fully acclimate.Â 3-4 weeks are required for full acclimation;Â 4-6 days at altitude is the low performance point on the curve.Â I guess I will know for sure if that was the difference in this case after Pikeâs Peak.
The Summiting credential is attached, Jim A.; GOATS!Â