Archive for October, 2011

menko

If only I had learned more dutch

It would come in so handy now!  I’d get the blow by blow on the Superprestige races!  Oh well its still great to watch:

Ruddervoorde Oct-2011

 

Race Report: BASP #1 Candlestick Point

Date: October 23, 2011
Category: 35+ A
Teammates: Murray Swanson
Placing: 15th
Tires: Tufo Flexus Primus 32c, 23f/24r
Ride Data: Time: 43:20, Avg Power : 226w, Avg HR: 191 bpm, max 200
Strava: http://app.strava.com/rides/2083894

True confession: I was quite intimidated by this course and entertained thoughts of backing over my cross bike “accidentally” so I wouldn’t be able to contest it today.  I pre-rode the course with Jeromy yesterday and found it quickly reminded me of all that I’d love to never ride again—bumpy, bumpy and bumpy sections.  I have a special dislike of this particular type of terrain, as it tends to irritate my long-standing nerve issues, leaving me unable to sit for several days after a race.

That being said, the course was classic and quite challenging—there was no place to rest or recover, and I was pushed to the limits just trying to keep turning the pedals over.  Exhibit A: my HR data.  Out of the 43 some odd minutes, I spent only :48 seconds at a HR below 180 beats.  Even for me, this was an unusually hard effort, and its pretty clear my pre-season injuries have left me a bit deficient in the fitness department.  I had decided that this week I would really focus on staying upright and not making any mistakes—even if it meant going a little bit slower.

Mashing the gears on the long straight to the start finish line

The course had all the excellent elements that make it challenging—loose gravel, sand, high speed turns, low speed turns, little

power bumps and of course the brand new flyover which was really quite fun.  Pillarcitos came through with a great layout and though it didn’t favor me in particular, it certainly was a blast.

After the call ups the gridded us up and I was about 6 rows back, with about 2/3 of the field in front of me instead of behind.  In the back of my mind I was afraid this was one of those races that would be over before it started due to poor start placement, but I didn’t dwell on it and focused on getting a fast start and simply surviving the first several corners.

The field made a mad dash to the first gravel corner and the chaos was flowing all around me

Trying to gain the advantage before the gravel of the first turn

but fortunately paths of opportunity that kept presenting themselves.  I quickly capitalized on those small mishaps that inevitably occur in the first few minutes as riders are making a mad dash to pass and aren’t yet familiar with the intricacies of the race course.  Somehow by the halfway point the first lap, I could see the top 10 starting lineup of riders not too far ahead.  I passed a few more folks unfamiliar with the steep runup section from the pavement, and focused on staying upright and keeping the gas on.

The steep hill section caused quite a bit of chaos on the first laps

All I remember were some momentary incidents—hitting the wrong line up the steep hill a few times and receiving some friendly heckling and assistance from the crew there, missing a remount and sliding off the back of the saddle as a new means of body hair removal, and having the misfortune of looking down at my Garmin to see disheartening information like 9:18 (time elapsed) and HR 192.  I knew lasting another 30 minutes was going to be rough.  And sometime in that haze where the mind goes when it doesn’t want to listen to my body bitch, I heard Bruce yell out “4 laps to go!”  While hardly the bell lap, some part of me felt this was a reasonable and achievable distance, and that I could hang on.  With 2 to go, my legs had done their best, and every little uphill blip felt like it was sucking the life out of them.  Of course other guys were always coming up behind me, so I just kept pushing and focused on not making mistakes.

On the last lap, two Cal Giant guys had me in their sights, and were working hard to reel me in.  I wanted none of that and dug even deeper to try and hold them off.  Going into the last turn, one of them was close to me, and I had to try and outsprint him.  He nipped me at the line, and I only found out later it was the winner of the 45A race, so I didn’t lose any spots in my sprint.

Pen Velo support was all over the course today and the cheering and call outs were hugely helpful as I slogged my way through the start/finish, the run up and steep hill, as well as various other places.  Just seeing the jerseys helped me keep going, because there were moments if I had been offered a shortcut to get off the Sufferfest Express, I may have taken it.  But in the end it was the best I had, and it was good enough for 15th, but more importantly I rode a technically clean race and minimized my fitness disadvantage by keeping any handling mistakes in check.  Overall, a good showing, which could be improved with some more hard riding.  These weeks of 50 miles and a few hours on the bike aren’t really helping!

Here’s a unique view of the race from an aerial camera

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Race Report: CCCX #4 Manzanita Park

Date: October 16, 2011
Category: 35+ A
Teammates: Ken G.
Placing: 19th
Tires: Tufo Flexus Primus 32c, 23f/25r
Data: 52:29, AVGs : 227w, 185 bpm,

After last weekend’s start to the season, I was eager to see how I could do in the As without racing immediately beforehand.  I was aiming for a top 10, but it didn’t work out that way.

Hopping the barricades

The course ran the opposite direction of last week’s course, and I immediately realized this direction was much more aerobic, on the gas the whole lap and that I was in trouble.  My one lap warmup revealed some interesting lines but I just did not get enough loops before the race begun.  After the start gun, I started yielding spaces right away on the climb, and at the top had my first touchdown with the dirt after some touched wheels.  While I didn’t lose too much time, I did notice that my front brake was rubbing and I was hypoxic and chasing down the lead group.

Heading down into the rest of the turns, I really struggled in the loose dirt of the baseball diamonds and repeatedly slipped my front wheel through the corners, especially on the left turns.  It was to be that way all day long—I just felt like I was fighting my bike and constantly finding the limits of my traction at inopportune times.  Before I finished the first lap, I hit the ground again, this time a bit harder and left

Trying to hold off Keith

some skin behind.  This just aggravated me though I was lighter as I shed skin and blood.  I decided I should atleast try and fix the front wheel rub, and gave up about 20 seconds before I even completed lap 1.  Mentally I was struggling to keep focused as I just didn’t feel good on the bike and had watched the top 20 riders now leave me behind.

Thankfully, I had a great cheering section and that kept my head in the game as I redlined myself through each of the next few laps.  Clark thankfully was there with a bottle of water, which is about the only thing that kept me going through the second half of the race.  I continued to lose confidence through the corners when I would lose traction and struggle some more.  For several laps, I kept trading places with two riders that would pass me on the climbs, and I would catch them on the technical turns and wait for them to take a bad line, or pass them on the downhill, only to have them pass me again on the climb.  We did this

Dry, fast dirt

about 5 times, until I finally crashed, yet again, going over the barriers.  My memory of it is somewhat vague, but the word “Joey” came up and I remember letting go of my bike as I soared over the second barrier, and my poor steed stayed behind.  I believe I hit my rear wheel going over the first one, or I stumbled in between, or who knows.  I simply crashed and never was able to close that gap.

The end of the race saw me getting caught by several 45+ riders and I just was completely unable to generate enough power to fight them off.  I was frustrated and aggravated but did my best to hold it all together and finish the day without breaking anything else.  Or my person.

In the end I crossed the line and knew that the next race I would have to concentrate on fitness and speed, but making sure that I don’t give up any time or places from crashing.  This was particularly challenging this time, as my HR was 185-190 but my power was dropping with each lap.  Being over my limits makes that handling-thing a bit more demanding, but honestly its what I love about cyclocross.  Next up BASP #1 at Candlestick.

All smiles before the gun goes off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Menko

Race Report: CCCX #3 Manzanita Park

Date: October 9, 2011
Category: 35+ B/35+ A
Teammates: Erik, Travis, Ray, Paul, Tom B.
Placing: 1st (B) 14th (A)
Tires: Tufo Flexus Primus 32c, 28f/30r
Data: (B): 41:52, AVGs: 207w, 179 bpm, 6:54 lap time
(A): 48:17, AVGs : 195w, 181 bpm, 6:51 lap time

Hitting the corner and trying to recover. Photo by Tim Westmore

This was my first cross weekend this season and I was totally excited to get out and ride. I have made some upgrades to my bike courtesy of several PV members who parted with their go-fast parts, and I was eager to put them to the test. I always love CCCX races because the courses are challenging and fun to ride and last year I had a great day in the rain at Manzanita so I was carrying some good karma into 2011.

The day was rife with challenges—a long registration line, pinning on multiple numbers at the same time, and worst of all an absence of TP in the bathroom (THANK YOU ERIK!). All this meant was I didn’t get much warmup, but did do a lap of the course to get familiar with it. But the Bs decided they wanted to line up 20 minutes early, and having seen the first section I knew to a rear start would make for a very tough race.

The course was interesting—the usual paved road hill start/finish, but they ran the next section through a variety of single track for the first section of the course, with a few off-camber turns and some loose dirt. Had the race been two days earlier in the rain and mud, it would have been a very challenging day on the bike. But after the initial single track, there were some short wide trail sections and a few more off-camber technical sections. Followed by a few ups and downs, a chainlink fence that I had a disagreement with (and lost), and a quick descent and a long flat section around the baseball fields. Finally, just near the end you hit the one and only dismount section right before you climb the paved road. I was thanking my lucky stars there was no hill run ups, as my achillies is still bothering me from a few months back.

Kicking up dust and searching for speed. Photo by Tim Westmore

The B’s race was mass chaos. We didn’t separate out before the single track turns, and I was immediately frustrated and impatient as we slowed to a crawl. All I could see was the guys ahead taking everything full speed and the rest of us falling behind. I took some risks and passed on the “non-trail” portions of the singletrack until a rather large rider decided he didn’t like me doing that, and closed the door on me and forced a slow-speed crash. This worked in my favor because it just pissed me off and made me even more determined to get around their slow arses and ride my own race. The whole rest of the lap was more of this, and I just did my best to pick off one or two riders through each corner or section. At the dismount, I just ran the entire section and passed through traffic with ease which was rather humorous. I was called out by a spectator telling a buddy “don’t let that guy do a run-around on you, get him!” All the more motivation for me, and it really helped that John K rode alongside me up the hill most of the laps.

Tackling the bump. Photo by Tim Westmore

On the second lap, I was still fighting traffic and had a collision with a fence-post in a left turn that was holding up a high chainlink fence. My front wheel slid out and I was falling and ran my shoulder right into it and went flying. Miraculously, I was still in one piece and hopped back up, but a nearby spectator was ready to call the paramedics. All I could think was “Joey’s OK” And damn was I pissed. So I just hammered put my head down and forgot all about the world.

At some point, I started catching all kinds of numbers, but I never saw any more 600 numbers. I thought there was a lead group ahead of me, but I never did see them. Turned out that somehow I had passed all of them despite my brief interactions with the ground. Bonus! Once again, I missed my podium and booty because I’m stupid and wanted to get more training in so I raced the A’s race immediately following. I think I have won 3 CX races and never once got the podium pic. It ain’t meant to be.

Fighting my way through the corners. Photo by Steve Woo

The A’s race was everything the B’s wasn’t. Fast right from the start, smooth and clean and uncongested. The leaders rode away from us right away and my legs just complained about how tired they were and I just responded by reminding them we had $10 on the line and couldn’t’ waste it. I don’t remember much about this race except for all the great call outs and support from Clark, Travis and others. I watched for new lines and different ways to ride the course, but was pretty much in a haze. With 2 laps to go, I desperately needed some calories and water but was too tired to call out for a handout. That’s racing and my bad for underestimating what I’d need. Regardless, I hung on and rode a good race, even if strength was fleeing my legs at a most alarming rate. In the end I finished and loved it. Welcome back cyclocross, oh I have missed you!

A big thanks to Keith DiFiebre and the whole CCCX crew for designing great courses and putting on a fun event.

Lessons learned: train on the tubulars a bit to get the sense of the traction in corners, I was afraid to damage the rims so I ran them too high. Try and be a little patient, even though it goes so against the grain.

Lessons re-learned: Never give up. Ever.

MJ