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Veal Report – USA Crits Speed Week WRAP

by Ed Veal

May 08, 2013 – I want to start off by saying I enjoy the USA Crits Speed Week series as much as any other racing I do on the entire calendar. It is just a different way of life and something I only get to enjoy a few times a year. I would explain it to others as the life of a pro, travelling from city to city living out of a suit case. We did seven races (eight if you include the grid qualifier) in 10 days.  A few nights in one hotel and then packing up and moving to the next. This is the first time I have actually dreamt about how I can do this more often.

The last two years I was excited to get home and attack the local scene. This year I’m packing up and thinking about how I can do more of this.  The US Crits Series really does suit my style. I love the full throttle intensity and how every race was under two hours. You are gassed at the end of the race but somehow you can get up and do it all over again the following day. It is repeatable.

My body was able and so was my mind. I kept hoping some of the competitors would be tired and not taking these races as seriously as I was. My mind was strong to race but it wasn’t too strong to do anything else. I definitely have problems with functioning with my everyday life on the road. The zombie-like state that this style of racing leaves you in is wild – 90 minutes of 180 BPM and all the close to death cornering leaves you pretty messed up.

I laugh at nothing and get agitated just as quick, it is hard to explain. You are spent but unable to sleep. You can move around but good luck making any decisions. Many nights while on the road all I could do was lay in bed with my laptop. Replying to emails seemed impossible, even Facebook was hard. I’m writing this in the car right now as we travel home – 15 hours in the car travelling from Georgia to T.O.  If it seems like I’m complaining I’m really not. I just have felt this way every time I have done this series and I’m still boggled by what is really going on.

The last three races of the series were awesome. Even though the United Health Care squad was dominating I was still very much excited to give them a run and fight with the underdogs in the field. I made sure they knew I was in the race as much I as I could.  I had a wild thought that I might be able to impress them enough to get them talking.  Maybe impress them enough to get on the team.

Long shot of course but it did cross my mind. If I could impress the riders with my power and bike handling maybe, just maybe they could use another crit goon. I love hunting people down and being a lead-out guy is a role I could fill any day. Is there a better feeling then riding people off your wheel? Blow the race apart while protecting your sprinter? Just writing that here makes me want to train harder.

I could ride on that team and be a crit specialist. I know this, they just don’t know it yet.  The more I do it the more I know I was meant to do it. The team is stacked of course and the roster has no holes in it as far as I can see but these thoughts did make me do some stuff I might not have been able to pull off in years past. These thoughts brought out the best of me. Just like all the “why not me?” and  “why not now?” thoughts got me this far.

Can you imagine being a walk-on to the UHC team at 36 years of age?  It is laughable to most but I honestly had these thoughts. I’m sharing this because a lot of these wild ideas have become reality over the past few years. I have had some wild dreams before, like being a pro elite mountain biker. Then the dream was to be a Cat 1 road racer. I dreamt about being Ontario cup champion, winning the Centurion and being provincial champion on the track. I also dreamt about running my own cycling team.

The thought of owning my own coaching business and indoor training studio was also a passing thought. I even dreamt about writing a race report for a prestigious Canadian cycling magazine and getting it posted on their website. All of these were laughable at the time and all of it has been a dream come true. If you can dream it you can make it happen. Believing in yourself is very powerful. I didn’t always have this self-belief. I write this because I’m still learning what the mind can accomplish and I share this because I want you to learn and enjoy the same kind of success. Even in my critsomina state I can appreciate how being a bit of a dreamer has got me everything I have put my mind to the last few years.

Our ReaDeal/Gears p/b Fieldgate team accomplished quite a bit on this trip. We battled with the best and our team finished 7th overall in the team standings!  Over 30 teams and we got into the top 10! Hats off to everyone who finished a race and made this happen – 7th is huge! Being consistent and in the mix every race got me 15th overall in the standings. I’m coming home with some road rash but I’m also coming home with a big fat cheque. A season’s worth of winnings on one trip!  You need to check this race out.

The entire trip was a success from start to finish. Winning the Grid Qualifier was of course a highlight but I also got to team up with one of the best riders in Canada – Anton “Manton” Varabei of Jet Fuel Coffee/Norco guest rode with us for the last five races. He was an amazing teammate and we had great chemistry on and off the bike. It was awesome to ride hard together off the front.

I hope we get to be teammates again someday. This guy is going places. He finished 35th overall and had the team’s best result scoring 12th at the series final Sandy Springs crit on Sunday. Ken “the Ninja” Ng got his best Speedweek result ever finishing 31st  at Spartanburg and finished in the money placing 40th overall out of 130+ riders. The ninja was a big part of the team getting 7th overall.

The best part is we brought two new riders down to the show who had never done this series before. One 18-years-old and the other 44. Both big kids and enjoying the series for the first time. Both gained life experience and an appreciation for this level of racing. They also added so much to the enjoyment of the trip as we had a ton of laughs and all enjoyed being a part of some “youth development”. Mike “Gorilla” Mandel finished 15th at the Athens grid qualifier and Adrian “the kid” George was brave enough to hang with the best of the best in the corners being the youngest rider in the field.

Thank you to the great people who put on the Speedweek Series. The sport needs awesome organizers like you and we will be back again in 2014 for sure.  Thank you to everyone who makes this team what it is, nothing happens without all of the amazing support.

We really felt the love on Email, Facebook and Twitter and it fueled us every day. Thank you! we appreciate it very much! Oh…and thanks for reading  J

Let the dream season continue…

Final standings HERE.


Ed Veal

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