Archive for October, 2013


Race Report: Surf City #1 Aptos HS

Event: Surf City #1
: Aptos High School
Date: 10.13.2013
Category: Masters 35A
Teammates: Bill Sans (45A), Frank (55A), Shawn, Chris and guest appearance by Justin E
Place: 4th
Weather: 65 degrees, sunny
Tires: Tufo Primus Flexus, 23 psi F/R
Data: 177/184 bpm (avg/max), 205 avg watts (

Once again, I HATE the hills.  Photo by Steve Anderson

Once again, I HATE the hills. Photo by Steve Anderson

The highlight of this race honestly was the transport to and from Santa Cruz, as I got to know Frank M. who was doing his first cyclocross race ever.  He graciously volunteered to haul me and all my gear and even brought the requisite post-race beverages.  I’d never done the Aptos HS event, so I was happy to have a little extra time to make some circuits of the course and figure out what lines work best for me through several of the course “elements.”

The course itself is an interesting combination of several types of terrain: sand, grass, gravel and pavement.  It includes some pavement based zigzags that lead you around a baseball field, then up a very steep set of 4 steps into a run up which pegs the heart rate and brings on the

puke.  Then you do a short climb, high speed road descent and drop into a sharp left hand curb/ramp throu

gh a loose sandy corner that escorts you into the woods.  A few single tracks later and you hit a downhill “Poop Chute” which is a 30” wide track with 1-2’ dirt walls and about 2” of wheel-grabbing sand that’s just itching to take your front wheel and bounce it into the sides and send you head over heels.  If you happen to survive that, then you do a few more twistys,

Just putting one foot in front of the other.  Photo by Cyclemasters of Turlock

Just putting one foot in front of the other. Photo by Cyclemasters of Turlock

head up a 30 second road climb, and make the final uphill run into the finish line.  Basically a course with a lot of on-and-off the gas, but a few strategic rest spots to help me make 50 long minutes.

I learned from my mistakes the previous day and lined up on the front row for the uphill start.  I was about 9th to the first corner, and quickly glued myself to the wheel in front of me and took every opportunity to pass.  Adrenaline pumping, we worked our way through

some off-camber gravel turns, through the grass and into the

the 4 step lunge/run up was not my favorite

the 4 step lunge/run up was not my favorite

first run up.  I found myself behind Don Myrah and used my B line to go around him moving up into 5th or 6th before the downhill.  My goal was to get in front of as many people as possible before the Poop Chute, to limit the odds of a pile up.

Unfortunately, Brock Dickie had something go south on the Poop Chute and as I came up on him he had both feet out and was valiantly trying to keep himself from going head over heels.  I squeezed by and motored on until the first climb.  Myrah came around me on the climb and I was content to sit on his wheel.  As we approached the start finish, the only rider in front of us was Justin Robinson.  I honestly have no clue how this happened, but that’s cyclocross for you.  I spent the next two laps trying my best to hang on Don’s wheel.  If the course was pointed down, I had no trouble.  Every time it went up, he would open a gap that I had to close.  This lasted for two laps as we slowly reeled Justin in and finally Don just ejected me on the climb and that was the last I saw of him.  I spent the next 30 minutes riding by myself until, yet again on that darn climb, I was passed by Brock Dickie.  Brock’s a good friend and I was glad to see him getting back up there after his mishap, but it also pissed me off to be getting worked over by everyone on this damn hill so I dug deep and reattached myself to him on the start finish line.  That last for the next lap until I had a little bobble in the sand and he opened a 3 second gap.  That was the last I saw of 3rd place.

With my hopes of taking home $20 in gas money, I desperately tried to hold onto 4th place and willed my very tired legs to go.  Alan Coats and Basil

Moutsopoulos were rapidly closing the gap and finished only about 15 seconds behind me.  Just like every other race this season—I start out strong, then fade my way to the finish.  I am literally finishing on will power alone, so hopefully the fitness will catch up sooner than later!  Still progress is being made, I’ve progressed from 20 minutes up to about 30 minutes, so hopefully in another month I’ll be able to give it gas and actually speed up the last lap instead of slowing down.  Still January is getting closer, but still a ways off, so I’m pleased with the progress thus far.  Up next is two weeks of non-cyclocross training to try and

recuperate the sore elbow tendons.

Held on for 4th

Held on for 4th

Event: ProCX Lion of Fairfax
: Foothill College, Los Altos
Date: 10.12.2013
Category: Masters 35A
Teammates: Murray
Place: 4th
Weather: 65 degrees, sunny
Tires: Tufo Primus Flexus, 23 psi F/R

First lap was all about moving up.  Photo by Steve Woo

First lap was all about moving up. Photo by Steve Woo

Friday morning, I still haven’t registered and I’ve got that familiar sensation—it starts as a sort of itch, then becomes a distraction, until I find myself wondering exactly how much time it will take at 9pm to prepare my cyclocross gear for a race on Saturday.  Yet, the adult in me kept fighting that urge, reminding me that the last two weeks since Candlestick have been rather painful and what I really need to do is rest my elbow or risk the season.  But then I read the race description again, and before I knew what was happening my inbox had a registration confirmation for Saturday’s Lion of Fairfax in Los Altos.

I lugged all my junk over to Erik’s house for transportation, threw my road wheels on, and caught the PV ride on Saturday morning.  I told myself it would be a few “leg openers.”  It turned out more like leg burners as I struggled through several pulls at the front figuring I’d better get a good workout in case I got wise and bailed on the race. Arriving at the PV compound I found several guys warming up and coming in from earlier races, covered in mud and looking utterly spent.  I knew then, I was doomed and would never ben able to resist racing.  I jumped on my B bike for the first time this season shod in mud tires to pre-ride the course that had been watered

down to create mud since we’ve had no rain.

It was a first class course featuring European-style hill traverses with off-camber turns, quick descents, and lots of 180s.  Add in a run up or two, a little mud, some loose wood chips and adoring fans and you have yourself a fantastic race experience. I especially appreciated this one as the zig-zag downhill traverses were one feature in Louisville that we don’t get a lot of practice on out here, and I definitely have room for improvement there.

Lining up for the start I was a little late and ended up 3rd row, which I wasn’t too worried about as I thought it would give me a chance to practice not blowing up the first lap since we had a full 60 minutes on tap.  We accelerate and enter the most dangerous moment of the whole race—the funnel from the road to a narrower trail over a drainage culvert and some barriers.  I was bandied about by some rather large individuals, but took my time and just picked some inside lines on the 180s and moved up into about 12th place.  We did a triple barrier that dumped us onto a sidewalk before a sharp left uphill turn.  In the pre-ride I was able to get up this no problem, IF I had the right approach.  I watched many others biff it, and knew this would be a trouble spot.

I lined up on the outside of the corner up against a large metal fence, and started seeing in my peripheral vision a rider trying to come up my right side.   He was breathing heavily and probably fully juiced with adrenaline, and I knew without a doubt that if he got alongside me, we were going to crash on the left-hander.  I began closing the door and his bars made contact with my hip.  Some rash insults were exchanged, and I believe I replied “you’re not getting by.”  Credit Larry Nolan who taught me a valuable trick to defending your position on the bike—keep the other rider’s bars behind your hip and they cannot lean on you easily.  I’m a little guy that can easily be pushed, but put his bars versus my ass and I will win every time.  I went in hot, people goofed, and I passed 3 or 4 guys on the outside line.  I never saw the guy who was challenging me, but he was left behind as we hit the pine-tree branch alley as I passed more riders and started to create a gap on the riders behind me.

slow motion pain after the tricky little technical climb.  Photo by Steve Woo

slow motion pain after the tricky little technical climb. Photo by Steve Woo

The rest of the lap was spent trying to work my way up through traffic.  I always spend my pre-ride checking for obstacles and trying secondary lines with the intention of using them when

forced off the main line.  That way I can have a few unexpected places where I can pick a rider off when they aren’t expecting it.  On the back side we hit the climbs and I knew I was going to have a really hard day—other riders just stood up and rode away from me.  Mentally I repeated over and over again to take it easy and stay within my limits as it was a long race. I knew if I tried to gas it and stay in contact, I’d never finish the 60 minutes.  Through the parking lot there was a huge number of supporters from Madelyn Swanson on the exit, Ray Alvarez on the turn, Erik Salander all through the zone and many other racers cheering us on.  That was awesome as I really needed the boost.

After a few laps the breathing behind me ceased and I was alone.  Murray and the leaders were ahead of me, and I reeled in one rider named William (I later met him), and we dueled it out for quite some time.  Sadly for him that dreaded hiss of escaping air came from behind me and he was out of contention.  I will admit that I was relieved as he was working me over pretty good!  This was maybe half way through the race and was the last I saw any riders until I started catching lapped riders.  For the rest of the race it was a balance of managing my efforts, keeping the bike in line, and making sure nobody caught me as I started lagging.  Through the start-finish Erik told me I was in 4th place, but I hadn’t seen anyone ahead of me for quite some time, and I kept seeing flashes of Alan Coats and the 45+ leaders as I went through the zig zags.

At 45 minutes, every muscle in my legs begged me to stop.  Ray said something to me and I replied and he said “you’re not going hard enough if you can talk.”  I didn’t have a chance to say it wasn’t breath I was needing–it was a lactate drain to relieve the burn in my muscles.  Had Erik not started supplying us water during the last few laps, I would never have finished. Chris Cowart’s daughter also gave me a lavender scented wash cloth hand up, which was much appreciated on the backside of the course.

I hated this hill climb.  Really hated it.  Photo by Steve Woo

I hated this hill climb. Really hated it. Photo by Steve Woo

At 48 minutes I came across the line and saw the first lap cards I’d seen all race—and I almost cried when it said “2” instead of 1!  I buckled down and did what I could, and limped my way through two more laps by finding my mental happy place and blocking out the pain.  In the end, I finished 3 minutes down in 4th place, but heard the great news when I finished that Murray had notched his first win of the season.  I was happy just to cross the finish.

Lessons learned: a good pre-ride is a gift: finding the 2nd lines for the first lap and identifying potential flat tire obstacles is key.  Starting from the front is a lot easier!