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  • Race Report: “The Bump” Circuit Race 2015

    Last modified on 2015-02-10 21:50:14 GMT. 2 comments. Top.

    Event: Red Kite #1, The Bump CR
    Location
    : Livermore, CA
    Date: 02.08.2015
    Category: M 35+ 3/4
    Teammates: Tom Dillon, Phil Burt
    Place: 1st
    Weather: 52F, intermittent rain
    Data: http://www.cyclinganalytics.com/ride/277649280427
    https://www.strava.com/activities/252414266

    taking a moment to celebrate the solo win

    taking a moment to celebrate the solo win

    Over the last several weeks, I’ve been struggling to find time to train during busy weekends, and several times decided I needed to pass on some of the early races and fit in some more volume to keep building up my foundation for 2015.  I’ve struggled over the last few years to lay down a very consistent base due to setbacks and some focused cross seasons, but this year has been different and when the opportunity to test the legs after a hard week of work and life, I jumped at the chance.  Granted, it was forecast to rain most of the day, including some pretty significant downpours in the morning, the temperature was so mild that being wet didn’t mean going hypothermic, and this was a novelty not to be missed.  On the drive over I briefly wondered just how much rain could possibly fall at one time as I hydroplaned my way across the freeways, but soon after parking in Livermore the worst of it had passed.

    the bump circuit

    the bump circuit race course

    Team mates Tom Dillon (3 races today!) and Phil Burt joined me for last race of the day, the Masters 35+ Cat 3/4 race.  I’ve only done a couple of these races, and unlike the 1/2/3s where I know all of the main characters, these races are filled with unknown (to me) riders who I have to assess and observe to try and identify the biggest threats.  My goal for this race was to test my legs and take some risks, so I intended to seek out breakaway opportunities and see what I could manage.  The 3 lap course consists of a roughly “D shaped” course with a short climb, a 100m “bump” where you plunge downwards and then sprint up a 10% ish grade to the finish line.  The rest of the course has some smaller rollers, downhill, and typically for this area, a wind blowing from the hills (hence the huge wind farm just up the road).  The field numbered less than 20, who you could call hardy or idiotic, depending on your view of racing in the rain.  Our first lap was extremely civil, and I found myself struggling not to move to the front and up the tempo, but my goals for the race were to work on tactical components, not training, so I kept a watchful eye on who looked strong while staying away from the front of the group for the first lap.  Once we crested the hill, I moved to 3rd wheel to simply avoid being stuck behind any rainy day mishaps on the downhill, but even there the group basically sat in and coasted down the hill.  I decided on the next lap I would test my legs and see how people react if I attack on the downhill.  Normally, this isn’t a great tactic for a lightweight rider like myself, but my aim was to help draw out the riders I’d want to keep an eye on for the rest of the race.

    Lap 2 we increased the tempo intermittently on the hilly sections of the course, and as we hit the start/finish, I slowly upped the tempo and then attacked the riser going into the downhill.  The move was pretty quickly countered, but I noticed it was only 1 rider from SJBX who did the work chasing, while the rest just sat on.  I eased up and reabsorbed myself back into the field to practice a little more patience.  Our 3rd time through the start finish was a prime for points in the series, so the run in tempo went up somewhat, and a few new riders started to show themselves at the front.  Tom came alongside me at this point and offered to attack the climb before his legs imploded, but I was more interested in him finishing the race with us so I told him just to hang on.   I had already told him my plan was to counterattack right after the prime, when the field would be strung out already and hopefully catch out the few fastest guys who had just hit the gas trying to win the prime when they were tired.  Sitting at 5th wheel, I followed the moves up to the finish line, but consciously eased up slightly and let 2 riders get in front of me to fight out the prime.  Once we crested the line, I put in a strong seated acceleration and blew right by the lead riders.  I committed to 2 minutes flat out to get me up and over the hill and started on the downhill, before taking stock.  Glancing under my shoulder, I saw a chasing group 15 meters back, but as I slide sideways on the road I realized it was only 5 riders, and the rest of the field was out of sight.  Knowing I couldn’t stay away on the downhill, I eased up and let them catch me, only to have them sit up as soon as the catch was made.  Not wanting to waste this chance, I immediately began urging them to start rotating, and after a few pulls at the front followed by some emphatic gestures, everyone realized we could make this stick and started working better together.  Two riders were particularly unwilling to take pulls, but looked fine, so I figured these were likely the ones I’d have to worry about coming into the finish.

    On the last run up the rollers, I found myself inadvertently opening a few bike lengths, but was stuck–I wasn’t strong enough to stay away, and yet I had to break this group up to avoid a field sprint.  Our gap had grown far enough that we weren’t under much pressure from behind, but every time the pace started to slow I tried to re-inject some speed into it to prevent others from getting much of a rest.  My plan was to hit it hard the moment the road went up in the last 1.5k of the race, and hope to whittle down the group before the finish.  I was not alone in this thought, and one rider from Bicycle Blue Book moved to the front of the group just before the hill first hill at 3k, and launched an acceleration.  This was a bit farther out than I had planned, but it was as good of a chance as I was likely to get.  His attack was not explosive enough to shatter the group, but nobody made a move to latch on or counter his move.  I gave him 2 bike lengths and then jumped as hard as I could knowing I had to ride all out for about 5 minutes to get myself to the finish line.

    Intervals really do suck.  In the early season, before you have done too many of those 3-5 minute efforts, your own inner voice is probably your worse enemy.  You know how it unfolds: the first minute you dig deep and thrive on the feeling of the attack, thinking “man, that’s good, I can do this!”  Then every muscle in your legs start to burn, and that feeling travels up through your arms, and finally you start to wonder if lactate is going to start dripping from your eyeballs or flying out of your nose.  Perhaps you wonder just what prized possessions you might give up if only this suffering would stop.  That would just be confirmation that you are human, and possessing wits.  All of these things flashed through my mind as I started to pay for my attack, and still had 1k to go.  A quick glance confirmed that I had cracked it all open, and if I could just hold on, I just might cross the line first.  I remembered the pain and suffering of Niki Terpstra as he rode away to the Roubaix win last year, turning himself inside out and used that to distract from the pain.  Finally the right hand turn, and the final ascent of the bump came into view, and I willed my legs to turn the gears over and get me past the line.  Eyes on the ground, I barely celebrated until I was far past the line, because I wasn’t quite sure I had actually done it.

    Afterwards, I still wasn’t really believing it until Tom and Phil rode down the hill with me and it sunk in.  It had been a long time since I had been able to attack a group instead of being attacked, dictate a pace instead of having it done to me, and it felt good.  Thanks to Phil and Tom for being there, getting me to come out, and getting us off to a good start in the team competition.

    Red Kite #1 2015 podium

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Race Report: Deschutes Cup Day 1 & 2

    Last modified on 2013-12-11 23:14:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: Deschutes Brewery Cup, Day 1
    Location
    : Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
    Date: 12.07.2013
    Category: Elite 2/3
    Teammates: None
    Place: 4th
    Weather: 5F, sunny
    Tires: Challenge Limus/Fango, 22 psi F/R
    Data: None
    Partial Race Video: http://youtu.be/JFn4c1abQqU
    Friday Preride Video: http://youtu.be/ihr-dXqur2I

    Please specify a Flickr ID for this slideshow

    Friday in Bend saw temperatures plummet to below 0F and drop about 8” of snow throughout the day.  Pre-riding the course yesterday (http://youtu.be/ihr-dXqur2I) left us all wondering how we would survive today’s racing conditions.  Thankfully, the snow fell throughout the night and prevented anything from becoming too crusty and icy.  All of the wood, metal and road surfaces were treacherously slippery, and the deep snow around the course made riding it very similar to a deep mud race where you put out lots of watts, and move very slowly.

    This race course was significantly modified from last year as a very large construction project removed the forest and technical sections along the river and near the road.  Instead, they ran us through the Deschutes Brewery parking lots and around the backside.  Nearly every traverse was off camber and that created a great deal of challenge for all riders.  If you didn’t survive the ride up, the ice on the hill made for lots of slipping and sliding and unexpected spills.  In particular, there were two run ups and downhillls that made for spectacular crashing as rider after rider was caught off line and off the course.  The officials wisely decided to remove the flyover for the earlier races, as the deep snow on the approach made it tough for the juniors and women to get enough speed to get over, and if you were forced to dismount you would find yourself sliding down and leaving with them no way to get over it!

    The races started late, and so all of our events were shortened.  At the start line they told us we’d only get 2 laps in, but with the temperature and wind leaving us racing barely above 0F, nobody was complaining.  I personally would have appreciated atleast another lap, but they wanted to be sure the UCI pro races go off on schedule.  Such is life.

    The start is about 200m until it funnels you into a left hand turn that promised to be a mess.  I missed my clip the first time, so I got a little gap, but was able to slot into about 4th place by the time I hit the corner.  People were slipping and sliding all over the place and I tried to ride conservatively and yet pick off riders whenever I could.  I hit the technical sections hard even though they were very slippery, and was able to move up quite a bit (see: http://youtu.be/JFn4c1abQqU?t=5m43s .  I kept getting frustrated at the slower speed of the rider in front of me, but tried to be cautious and pass only when it was safe.

    This worked out great for me and after a rather spectacular pile up (see: http://youtu.be/JFn4c1abQqU?t=8m10s) I rode my way into 2 place.  I knew I could go faster and try and catch the leader, but unfortunately for me that hope ended when I hit a corner at what I thought was a safe speed, only to have my front wheel suddenly disappear out from under me and I was covered in a poof of snow (see: http://youtu.be/JFn4c1abQqU?t=9m46s ).  My chain jammed in the process and I wasn’t able to get it going again, so I had to swap bikes in the pit and I gave up several spots in the ensuing mayhem.  That was game over for the podium, and I was super frustrated to have given away the race. I buried myself and tried to focus on riding hard, and not on the fact I gave away my podium spot.

    The last lap I was able to pass a few guys, including one right into the last turn and finished off lap 2.  I thought I was in 6th place, but ended up 4th, which I wasn’t too happy with, but such is life.  My son Mattheus was there cheering like crazy the whole time and it reminded me to look on the bright side and be glad I was able to to race. While more laps would have given me a chance to try and reel them in, I also may have turned into a human popsicle stick.  As it was my hands and feet were completely frozen despite having hand warmers, 2 layers of gloves, and wool socks, windsocks and booties.  Just a cold day.

    Photos: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjNDHcLr

    Lessons learned: Balance taking every opportunity to pass with more conservative handling. Work hard to move up, and don’t give it away!  Deep dish carbon works well in the snow!

    Event: Cross Crusade #9: Day 2
    Location
    : Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
    Date: 12.08.2013
    Category: Masters 35A
    Teammates: None
    Place: 5th
    Weather: 25F, sunny
    Tires: Challenge Limus, 19 psi F/R
    Data: Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/99474490

    Overnight the weather in Bend turned from cold to ludicrously chilly, with a low of -25F outside our condo.  Mattheus had been looking forward to racing the kid’s race and after all of his confidence boosting from kind-hearted pros on Saturday, he was amped.  At 7:30am he had his clothes laid out, and was ready to put them on–but his race wasn’t scheduled to start until 10:30!  We arrived at the course at about 9:45am with the temperature still hovering around 5F, and I saw no setup or anyone wanting to set it up.  The morning races had been delayed by 2 hours to allow for it to “warm up,” so Matty and I went out on the course together.  Sadly I failed in charging my GoPro and left it in USB mode, so I only captured 7 seconds of video of his ride and my race, but he did about half a lap before his hands turned to ice and he had to stop.  I didn’t blame him as my hands were so frozen I couldn’t buckle my helmet strap so we retreated to a warmer locale.  A few minutes later we heard the kids cross was cancelled, so we headed back to the house to warm back up, eat some lunch, and get back for my 1:15pm race.  He got a little action and simply said “Dad, its really hard to ride in snow.”  Every brave soul out there this weekend would agree with that sentiment!

    Lacking a tent and heat to warm up in, I opted to spend 30 minutes on the trainer at the condo, throw on my extra clothing, and land on the start line a few minutes pre-race.  Even riding slowly around in the cold had frozen my hands on Saturday, so I  hoped this would work better.  After freezing my ass off in the morning, I put 2 sets of socks, 2 leg warmers, and 3 base layers on under my skinsuit.  Topped that off with a balaclava and latex gloves,  Glacier cyclocross gloves, and my Pearl Softshell gloves to finish it off.  While I knew my handlebars were under there someplace, it was a bit challenging to grip them with all that crap on my hands.  But if they freeze, I can’t feel the bars either…so I decided to try this.

    The course had been packed down and worn through to a single track compared to Saturday morning, with exposed grass making some of the turns were far more predictable and easier to negotiate.  Other ones had a layer of snow sitting on top of ice, and were treacherous.  Most of the downhill segments had an “ice rut” which dictated the line to you and if you fell out of it odds were good you’d end up on your butt sliding all over.  I vowed to be patient today and dial back the turns 10% to keep me upright and in the game if at all possible.

    Cross Crusade ran 3 races at once: Elite A Men, Elite A Women, and the 35A on 1 minute intervals.  When combined with the fact that passing was challenging on any line but the tracked one, the amount of traffic from the 35As running into the back of the women’s field made for several protracted laps of frustration!  However, once we all made it around the frenzy of the first lap, the women were super cool about making room when I was there, and I just felt bad for them to be constantly being swarmed by the guys coming up behind them.

    From a 3rd row start I hit the first corner in about 15th position, and immediately set about putting myself in positions to take advantage of every bobble and spot where I could pass, without risking too much.  Within moments, we had caught the back end of the women’s field, which created huge separations in the field as the chaos of the icy and technical sections left people falling all over and we swarmed the unfortunate ladies at the rear of their field.  It was really quite chaotic and made me laugh at the complaints of N. Cal folks when they say “there’s no place to pass” as this was a whole new definition of traffic.  Everything was chaos and I honestly just dodged as many riders as possible as they dropped like flies all around.

    Lap 2 I had lost sight of the leaders of our field as we mixed deeper and deeper into the women’s field.  The same pattern repeated itself–a train of riders would form behind the slowest person in the front, and I passed aggressively and picked off stronger riders one by one.  I found that I wasn’t as strong on the power sections, but was always faster on the rest and had to tamp down my impatience as I knew the leaders were getting away.  On the 2nd run up, I was lucky enough to come up on Meredith Miller (who was in 5th place in the women’s race) and had the chance to thank her for signing Mattheus’ jersey.  That was emblematic of the whole race–go out there and have fun, because there were no other options!

    The sun came out and the temperatures went up, and I did lap after lap with Mattheus and Cami cheering for me at all the right places.  I figured out I could power slide down the ice hill and negotiate the off camber and cleaned it every time.  Eventually my hands even got too hot and the outer gloves came off.  I saw 3 laps to go, then came around to Bell lap the next time as Geoff Kabush (dressed as Miguel Indurain) was coming up behind me so they shorted me a lap.  At the finish I had no idea where I was in the field, and was surprised to see that I had somehow made it up to 5th.  It was a great race and a fun weekend, and Cross Crusade put on a spectacular event.

    Hopefully I’ll never have to race in anything colder than this, ever again.  But hey, atleast it was dry!  My tendonopathy in my elbows flared up enough to remind me why I have been off the bike for 2 months, but not enough to rule out giving a go at Nationals if I can bring the fitness back up.  Overall, a great weekend!

     

    Elite A Men’s Womens and 35+ (1 of 3)

    Elite A Men’s Womens and 35+ (2 of 3)

    Elite A Men’s Womens and 35+ (3 of 3)

     

    Race Report: Surf City #1 Aptos HS

    Last modified on 2013-10-17 19:07:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: Surf City #1
    Location
    : 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 (http://www.strava.com/activities/88929061)

    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. Id 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 thats 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 thats cyclocross for you. I spent the next two laps trying my best to hang on Dons 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. Brocks 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 seasonI 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, Ive progressed from 20 minutes up to about 30 minutes, so hopefully in another month Ill 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 Im 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

    Race Report: ProCX Lion of Fairfax in Los Altos

    Last modified on 2013-10-17 19:08:31 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: ProCX Lion of Fairfax
    Location
    : 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 havent registered and Ive got that familiar sensationit 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 Saturdays Lion of Fairfax in Los Altos.

    I lugged all my junk over to Eriks 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 Id 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 weve 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 dont 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 wasnt 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 racethe 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 youre not getting by. Credit Larry Nolan who taught me a valuable trick to defending your position on the bikekeep the other riders bars behind your hip and they cannot lean on you easily. Im 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 arent expecting it. On the back side we hit the climbs and I knew I was going to have a really hard dayother 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, Id 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 hadnt 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 youre not going hard enough if you can talk. I didnt have a chance to say it wasnt 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 Cowarts 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 Id seen all raceand 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!

     

     

     

    Race Report: Bay Area Super Prestige #1

    Last modified on 2013-10-17 19:09:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: BASP #1
    Location: Candlestick Park
    Date: 9.29.2013
    Category: 35A
    Teammates: Murray Swanson, David Collet
    Place: 6th
    Weather: dry, 65+ degrees
    Tires: Tufo Flexus Primus, 23 psi F/R

    it gets lonely when they leave you behind

    it gets lonely when they leave you behind

    Have you ever noticed how much crap you seem to bring to cyclocross races? Even with a well-versed packing system, Im still spending nearly an hour getting all my gear together, selecting the variety of gear and clothing Ill need, and making sure I dont forget anything important. One of those items happened to be my son Mattheus, who was out for his first cross ride this season. Im probably the only racer who was up at 8am making mac and cheese, packing soccer balls, extra clothing and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not your usual cross race gear, and forgotten was a cowbell, beer or anything you would imagine bringing to the BASP races! Such is life, and its great to be sharing the day with my boy and having fun in the process!

    I spent much of the week on forced rest because I struggled to find time to ride so I came in well-rested but also a bit de-tuned. I was lucky enough to get a single preview lap of the course and saw multiple people with slashed tires from the sharp rock sections. Out came the sound waaaaah sound of the air compressor to bump the tires up to 23 psi to give me a little added protection. About 20 minutes on the trainer an hour before the race constituted warm-up as I went over and watched Matty participate in the first BASP kids cross race. He wasnt impressed with the course or its length, which worked out great as he said I want to race juniors and have some real barriers! So we have some of those adventures to look forward to later this season!

     

    Basp#1 2013 rear

    Moving up with David Collet hot on my heels on his way to 3rd place

    Anyway, the actual race was pretty uneventful. My goal for the race was to simply avoid any self-inflicted mistakes and try and ride smoothly. I got a 3rd row callup which put me about 20th into the first turn. This saved me from a lot of the mass chaos that ensues behind you in 30th-60th, so I quickly picked off guys on the alternative lines I had ridden during practice and moved into the top 10. I found myself on Alan Coates wheel which was a great place to be as we wove our way up, right until we hit the barriers on lap 2 and he bunny-hopped and opened a gap. I never closed it. Just before the wheel pit a rider in front of my stabbed his wheel into some loose sand and did an acrobatic maneuver over the bars that was a slow-motion cartwheel. Steering for all I was worth to try and avoid getting entangled or being slowed down I was super fortunate to just barely skate around him. David Collet came around me somewhere around the 10 minute mark and powered his way up to a 3rd place position.

    Eventually I made my way into 7th position on Brock Dickies wheel and we raced together for some time. I felt good technically but by 25 minutes in I was starting to lag a bit as my heart rate would spike on the run-up or other long sections and Id have to back off to avoid making any handling mistakes in my hypoxic state. Eventually I lost Brock with 2 to go and ended up 6th after Murray had to drop back due to a flat. The unusually short race didnt give me much time to try and catch anyone that was fading, but it also didnt give me much time to fade and be caught.

    much of the course was dry, hardpacked dirt with a little sand in corners.

    much of the course was dry, hardpacked dirt with a little sand in corners.

    Overall I am consistently staying in the top 10, but have a lot of improvements to be made in the next 6-8 weeks if I hope to move up onto the podium at the bigger events. But thats a big improvement over the last 18 months that have been nothing but injuries and setbacks that havent seen me able to return to form or even race, so Im happy to be out there!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Race Report CCCX#3 CSU MB

    Last modified on 2013-10-17 18:36:54 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: CCCX #3
    Location: Seaside/CSUMB, CA
    Date: 9.21.2013
    Category: 35A
    Teammates: Murray Swanson
    Place: 7th
    Weather: Slight drizzle, 65+ degrees
    Tires: Tufo Flexus Primus, 19 psi F/R

    trying to manage my efforts

    trying to manage my efforts

    This was the first time I have raced this flat, sandy course and found that my deep sand skills are quite atrocious, especially as I have placed more weight on the front wheel forcing myself to ride in the drops to relieve tension on my elbow. Most of the week was spent trying to recover from a bout of intervals that had me feeling pretty wasted and I was really on the fence about whether it was wise to race at all or spend the weekend doing some longer aerobic work on the road. Murray offered to drive, and that was all the convincing it took.

    The course itself was pancake flat with some longer sand sections, gravel pit, and many corners with hard-packed sandstone with little tiny ball bearings of sand and rock on top of it. Most notably missing was any section where you went downhill, and where I could recover. So be it.

    Small field of my favorite friends headed out and immediately the afterburners were kicking in as I scrambled to stay up with a pace that I couldnt sustain. After about 10 minutes of effort, I started to get gapped and knew I was done for. I lost track of the 6 guys in front of me and rode the rest of the race by myself until Todd Hoefer from the 45s came around me and I got a merciful tow in for the last 2 laps. I struggled throughout on the technical sections just being unable to find a line and desperately trying to avoid any bushes on the sidesas I had been plenty itchy all week and did not want to add to my blistering poison oak collection. This felt a bit like Worldsflat course where I just didnt have the horsepower to stay in contention.

    chasing after the leaders

    chasing after the leaders

    Race Report: CCCX #1 & CCCX #2

    Last modified on 2013-10-17 18:30:45 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: CCCX #1 CCCX #2
    Location: Fort Ord, CA
    Date: 9.14 & 9.15.2013
    Category: 35B (Sat), 35A (Sun)
    Teammates: Jason Bradeen, Chris Cowart, Murray Swanson
    Place: 1st/5th
    Weather: Dry, 75+ degrees
    Tires: Tufo Flexus Primus, 21 psi F/R

    opening a gap on the singletrack

    opening a gap on the singletrack

    After a long road season filled with little racing and very little luck going my way, I finally arrived at my first two cyclocross races of this season. I spent the entire off-season hoping to heal the wounds of last year and have a injury-free season, but my lack of road racing has brought me into the cross season a bit lower than previous years, but the goal for this weekend was simple: shake the

    bike down, start regaining confidence in my skills, and practice flaying myself without falling off my bike in a lactate-filled haze. The fields were small and the courses technical, so I simply rode as hard as I could, blew up, and then hung on. The skills still felt a bit rusty, the fitness a bit lacking, but on track given

    some hard work planned over the next two months. Negotiating the hardpack and sand on Saturday left me with a brown racing stripe from a few close calls, but I started to feel a little better on Sunday.

    My biggest takeaway was a pile of poison oak on both legs, despite using Tech nu. New item added to equipment listportable shower.

     

    alone and suffering

    alone and suffering

    trying to hang on

    just eeked my way onto the podium
    just eeked my way onto the podium

    Race Report: Sea Otter Classic CX 35+, 4.20.2013

    Last modified on 2013-04-22 20:47:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    I lead this section every time, because it was packed with my family and friends cheering LOUDLY for me!

    I lead this section every time, because it was packed with my family and friends cheering LOUDLY for me!

    Event: Sea Otter Classic CX Race

    Location: Laguna Seca Raceway
    Date: 4.21.2013
    Category: Masters 35 1-4
    Teammates: Zack (45 1-4)
    Place: 1st
    Weather: Dry, dusty, 80 degrees
    Tires: Challenge Fango 33/Zipp 303, 19/20 psi F/R

    2013 is the second year for the Sea Otter Classic CX race, which is a late afternoon show for the spectators on Saturday afternoon of the 4 day race weekend at Laguna Seca. I signed up because a) I needed an excuse to repair the drivetrain damaged back in January at Worlds and b) the race is really fun with the spectators as you run through a sea of bodies as the course winds through the beer garden. So I threw on a new chain, derailleur hanger, derailleur pulleys, cable/housing and cranks on the bike, left my semi-mud tires on (I would pay dearly for this) and got ready to roll.

    This was a fun little section with some ups-and-downs and a bumpy little rock section

    This was a fun little section with some ups-and-downs and a bumpy little rock section

    Weather was much kinder to the athletes this year with cooler temperatures and a good breeze to keep us from melting at our 4oclock start time. The course was similar to last years but I was sad to see they removed many of the more interesting features of zig-zags, sweepers and other technical challenges that I really enjoy. They left in the gravel pit and long stretches on the raceway that I would have been happy to see go away! But since the races themselves are cat 1-4, I imagine they wanted to reduce the technicality of it to make it more accessible to people trying cross for the first time.

    Being an off-season race, we didnt get many locals like we did the first year, so when I looked around I didnt know any of the riders so I had one goal in mindholeshot so I could survive the first 180 sweeper that transitions from the racetrack to the sand. From there, my only strategy was to try and manage my efforts so I could make 40 minutes of racing without detonating. I was lucky to hit the race lead so I could pick my lines through the first lap of the race, but it also meant nobody wanted to come around me to pull in the windy sections. As we got half-way through, one rider came around me and gapped me as we went from the sand-racetrack for the return leg. This is a recurring nightmare for mesitting 10 feet off a wheel into the wind where the space between is unbridgeable as the Grand Canyon. The moment I saw it happening I immediately started to sprint and within 10 seconds I was back on his wheel, gassed but ready to make him work the whole return leg into the wind. As it turned out, this was best move I made all day.

    I had to be careful not to get crossed up and carry my speed without jumping here.

    I had to be careful not to get crossed up and carry my speed without jumping here.

    Coming through the first tight turns back into the Expo area I could tell he wasnt as comfortable in the corners as I was, but I was sliding a lot on the hardpack and sand-over-concrete sections. We came together into the rodeo park and I was treated to an amazing site: my own personal cheering section of kids, my wife, and teammates. The chorus of cheers was a shot to the arm and I accelerated around to finish the rest of the lap. Coming through the start/finish I wasnt able to see anyone else within 15 seconds of us so I settled in to work with this guy for as long as I could.

    Fans lined both sides of the beer garden in the Expo area, and the cheers were LOUD.

    Fans lined both sides of the beer garden in the Expo area, and the cheers were LOUD.

    After the first lap we established a gap and started to trade some pulls on the pavement and I would move to the front on the dirt sections. I was definitely rusty in picking lines and feathering the brakes, but I was loving every minute. My dismounts came back to me and all started flowing. 2 more laps go by and we are overtaken by another rider who by quick glance was from the 45s behind us, but I gave chase anyway since he wounded my pride.

    IMG_9177

    After so many long straights, you’d hit this little section of technical and really have to bring your field of vision back to what’s just in front of you.

    Coming into the expo area I came in a bit aggressively and lost my front wheel on the transition from sand to asphalt in the slow speed 180. It was like the front wheel evaporated or slide on ball bearings. My hands never got off the bars so I stopped the fall with my face. The rider with me had the grace not to run me over and ask if I was ok, and I remounted and kept rolling. A quick check of my jaw told me it was still in one piece but bleeding freely, so thank you to whoever designed our kits to have black and red, it hides blood well!

    Coming through the beer garden I had about 10 seconds to make up and I just buried myself and chased. Of course the sight of blood on me made the sharks in the crowd cheer even louder! I fed that energy into my legs and caught the leader just after the start finish with 2 to go. I just kept it down and opened a small gap as we came into the gravel and I put in a hard pull on the pavement and a miracle occurred–I actually dropped him! I had to try and calm down and not blow up but I pedaled through all the sections even harder as I knew he wasn’t able to match speed through there. On the last lap I had opened a gap of about 15 seconds and Jeromy and Erik were watching and ensuring me the gap was not coming back. I was closing in on the 45+ leader but I wasn’t able to catch back onto him before finishing.

    This was just a small reward and encouragement to put into my back pocket to keep me motivated through the harder days. It was fantastic to spend time with teammates new and old and see so many different athletes have success. Ive been away from racing for too long so thanks especially to Warrick, Clark, Jeromy and Erik who all made this weekend possible.

     

    Standing on the top step

    Standing on the top step

     

     

    Race Report: CX Masters Worlds 2013

    Last modified on 2013-02-17 03:17:27 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    CX WORLDS 2013

     

    Please specify a Flickr ID for this slideshow

    This is a small attempt to convey an amazing and action-packed cycling trip to CX Masters World Championships in Louisville, KY. Instead of bumming around in a hotel room with a teammate (there is nothing wrong with that!) we were super-fortunate to be able to stay with my father-in-law and his wife; we had our own beds, family around, coffee and a kitchen available whenever we wanted. We shipped gear like a pop-up tent and other essentials and didnt even need to wash our clothes in a bathtub! It was glorious, and made us feel like we were racing at home, not 2000 miles away. Some photos are here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjDZfa8F

    Sunday 1/27

    It was impossible to believe this day had finally arrived. For the uninitiated, packing for a cyclocross race is

    2013-01-27 21.53.30

    Louisville welcomes us

    infinitely more complicated than road racing because the environment necessitates more changes of clothes than a runway model. Dressing for a course recon, a warmup and then the race in wet, muddy and/or cold conditions requires a small mountain of base layers (wool, wind block, thermal, short/long sleeve), accessories (wool socks, thick socks, wind socks, leg warmers, shoe covers), and outer layers like warmup jackets, pants, and this doesnt even cover post-race! And that doesnt even cover trying to cram two bikes, 4 carbon wheels, spare tubulars, tools, and other race essentials into a soft-sided bicycle case. By the time I finished, I had a 65 lb bike case (thankfully with wheels!) and a large roller bag full of lycra. All told, I think I was entrusting over $12k worth of gear to Southwest all of which could not be replaced if it went wayward. Both Murray and I watched over our bikes until they were escorted over to the oversize baggage security check.

    Our flights were uneventful except for one unfortunate observation: the unloading of luggage. As luck would have it, we were positioned directly underneath the hatch, and watched as my bike big rolled down, and was summarily tossed into the luggage trailer. Thankfully its girth and weight worked in my favor as he didnt HUCK it like the smaller bags, but it still gave us both pause. But recognizing the futility of worry, we accepted our fates and just prayed they made it to our connecting plane.

    Our first night "sleep aid"

    Our first night sleep aid

    We arrived late evening in Louisville, and Murray attempted to take a Rabobank bike instead of one of his. It was the first time ever I have seen luggage confusion with bikes as there was an endless parade of national and international bike racers descending on Louisville. The heart started beating faster as we realized this year-long dream of competing was about to be realized. I was amped until way past midnight but thankfully my father-in-law opened the liquor cabinet and gave us our first introduction to Kentucky Bourbon. After braving what I was sure to be a permanent scorch on my esophagus, I easily drifted off to bed.

    Monday 1/29

    Our only down day consisted of driving up to Cincinnati to pick up Matty and Cami who had the pleasure of an unexpected overnight stay in Chicago when weather prevented them from catching their connection. After retrieving them, we put our bikes together and had just enough time before dark to walk the Masters course before it was officially open for pre-riding on Tuesday morning. While there was still much work to be done lining the course, the old golf course looked ready for riding. I became more and more excited as we scoped out the lines consisting mainly of grass with a healthy number of twists, turns, runs through sandpits, two major run ups and a sweet off-camber traverse S turn near the finish. While it was mostly flat and wide, the course had many turns and bumps that would favor our technical talents and always provide an alternative passing line. We both left with smiles on our face and went and picked up our numbers at the race hotel. I could not wait to ride the course the next morning.

    Tuesday 1/30: Pre-ride

    Murray and I set out early with all of our gear to setup at the course. We ended up with a spot right next to my old friend Ian Moore, who I grew up with and rode bikes together in the early 90s. He had long since moved to Texas and opened a shop, but cross worlds brought us back together which was great.

    Air in the tires and off we went. The course did not disappoint, it was a challenging and well-constructed route, and I knew it was going to be hard. That said, it was 55 degrees outside, and forecast was for rain all night, with a rapid cooling back down to low teens in the next two days. Because the golf course was low-lying and built next to a levee in the flood plain of the river, we all knew it was going to change dramatically after you add some rain. And boy did it.

    tornado

    Early morning tornado alertin January?!?

     

    Tuesday was most notable for the bizarre early morning tornado alerts that came ringing at 4:30am. Thats right, a tornado alert, in January!! Murray was freaking out because 1) hed never heard the sirens before and 2) nobody else in the house was stirring. I figured we were already in the basement, and had weathered several of these alerts while in Ohio, so I just stayed in bed and tried to sleep. What I didnt realize was that everyone upstairs had humidifiers on that muffled the sirens and they were not aware of the situation. I also discovered that apparently iOS has built in alerts for these things, as my phone was muted and on DND mode, but suddenly started blaring moments after I heard the sirens. Who knew?

     

    Wednesday 1/31: Qualification Heats

    Just a bit wet...

    And then the rain came

    Unlike Nationals, Masters Worlds did not use your USAC points to seed you since there is no way to account for these point systems internationally. So basically they take all the entrants for any age bracket, run them through a series of heats, and fill the 80 person final with the fastest riders from all the heats. So not only did it determine whether or not you qualify for the finals, it determined the all-important start line position in the grid. A bad showing in the heats wasnt necessarily the end of the road as they had a consolation race that the top few racers could qualify from, it would guarantee a terrible start position.

    2013-01-30 10.49.12

    Murray leading his heat

    Start order for the preliminaries was done by random drawing as you show up to registration. There were 120 some odd racers registered in my 40-44 block, and I pulled number 35. I was totally bummed as I assumed they were filling heats sequentially. In other words, 1-40 heat 1, 40-80 heat 2, etc. However they were distributing numbers across the heats, so number 1 went to heat 1, number 2 to heat 2, number 3 to heat 3, and so on. So that put me at the very end of the second row, which was much better news! Secretly I had been very afraid of even being able to qualify as only 70 of the 120 guys would advance past the preliminary heats. With 40 guys, I couldnt place lower than 25th and I wasnt sure I was strong enough to do that.

    Sitting on the line, I shuffled about nervously to stay limber and keep my warmup in my legs. The course was completely flooded and I had watched the 45s slog their way through it in slow motion. Guys I *knew* were fast were turning 12+ minute laps and I knew this would be a really challenge for me. No hiding behind technical skills, no coasting or micro-rests on some downhills, nothing. In the words of one racer, it was going to be a tractor pull. Exactly what would reveal my lack of fitness. But I figured I could suffer my way through 2 measely laps, right? 30 seconds to go, I look down at my HR and see 130 bpm and Im not even moving yet. Excitement, nervous energy and fear of the first minute wash over me and I just wait for the whistle.

    2013-01-30 12.18.28

    Matty demonstrates the depth of the puddles out on the course

    I watched as two guys blew their clip in and I was momentarily boxed. No matter, because 50m from the start was a giant puddle that wreaked chaos and water sprayed several feet in the air as we plowed through it like giant ships parting the ocean waves. Riders were shoving and pushing their way forward and fighting for a single line in a rather wide lane. I looked for gaps and squeezed through every location I could as my wheels slid every which way even when riding in a straight line. Within a minute, I could see I was going to be no match for the powerful guys that seemed to have a few extra gears in the mud. I only touched my brakes when people got in the way, because otherwise I was moving too slowly to ever need to scrub speed.

     

    Through the first pit I was steadily moving up and feeling ok, but I knew I was deep in the red, but told myself I just had to go as hard as I possibly could and hope to last the 2 laps. While I had initially even worried Id be able to qualify at all, I quickly moved up into the top 10 riders and just focused on trying to hold that and make charging riders behind me take less desirable lines to pass me. This worked great until the first run up. The hill literally looked as though a stampede of wild horses had climbed it before us. The holes were so deep I was reduced to stumbling up it instead of running, because placing my feet was so difficult. I felt like I was walking and some guy gasping like he was going to die came charging right across me in an attempt to cut the corner as sharply as possible. Lame move to chop me, but I simply hopped back on the bike and hit the 3? inch deep mud on the top of the levee and wondered if I should run instead of ride. I thanked the rider for plowing a rut that I could follow and passed him once we hit the next corner. By this time, I was seriously starting to hurt and a fleeting thought crossed my mind.how the hell will I do this for 50 minutes on Friday when I havent even made it one lap??!? Just as soon as the thought came I slammed the door on the negative feelings and focused on breathing without swallowing too much muddy water.

     

    Lap 2 was a blur for me, but I heard call outs from supporters that I was in 8th place. The lactic acid was taking over my entire body and my battery indicator on my legs went from yellow to red to flashing red. I desperately tried to scramble my way up the run up again, and two guys came around me. That just pissed me off. My inner demon said f&ck that, pass those guys! and so I came in hot around the last two corners, took a more challenging but shorter line, and passed them both. As I hit the final straight to the finish line, I tried to fire the after burners, which lit for about .3 seconds and then sputtered out. One guy came charging past me with 10m to go and I ended up 9th. Must improve my sprint this year, its annoying to always lose them.

    I came across the line and thought that may have been the hardest 25 minutes of racing I had ever done. My mouth tasted like dirt and my son was so nice to tell me Daddy why dont you get all that dirt out of your teeth?? I turned and looked at him, with many less-than-fatherly retorts ready to roll out, when my wife saved his skinny little butt by saying Matty leave Daddy alone, he just finished racing. Amen my dear. We all celebrated Murrays 1st place in his heat, washed our bikes off, and headed back to the house for some R&R. I dont even remember what we did with the rest of the day, but I did take a short leg-spinout ride sometime in the afternoon before the weather went from rain to snow and we went from tropical tornado weather to freezing winter snow and ice. Lovely. We picked up Tom at the airport and the bourbon drinking commenced.

    Thursday February 1st

    Nothing too exciting happened on our rest day. We went to the race course for the 55+ Masters race and saw Henry Kramer win some rainbow stripes. The course looked muddier than the day before as the standing water was giving way to thick mud. Any rider who didnt have a B bike was coming to the end of the race with an enormous amount of mud on their bikes that clearly would prevent them from being competitive. The pits were working feverishly to clean the lead bikes but they were circling the course even slower than the day before. My only hope was the plummeting temperatures could freeze the ground entirely, giving me a better chance of rolling over the hard ground instead of the soft mud. We spent the rest of the day riding a little and we encountered Jonathan Page motor-pacing resplendent in his new Stars and Stripes outfit from nationals. While Murray and I rode, Tom and Cami did a few stops on the local bourbon tour of Makers Mark and came back with several treasures they had hand-dipped and sampled. More drinking ensued except for Murray and I who hit several sporting goods stores and other locations for warmer gloves, base layers, and anything else we thought we would need to race in the 10 degree weather forecast for the races on Friday.

    Friday February 2nd

    The weather certainly disappoint. We had fresh snow on the ground and a nippy single digit temperature that made me wonder if I could put every piece of clothing I had with me on. All kidding aside, I had never ridden in temperatures this cold, and the course was rapidly thawing under the wheels of the riders racing ahead of us. So not only was it cold, wed have splashing puddles of mud to contend with. We stayed at the house as long as we could trying to stay warm and distract ourselves from the endless worries about the race ahead. Should I wear this layer or that? should I wear booties? Cover my face in vaseline? What will I do to keep my fingers from freezing? Eventually I went with a rather aggressive planembrocation from my toes to my quads, covering my feet and lower legs completely. I repeated for my hands and forearms, hoping to keep some blood flowing there. two baselayers and a thermal skinsuit followed, with leg warmers, wool socks, wind blocking socks and my shoes. Head, ears and neck were covered and I went for it.

    This time around I was starting on the 4th row, which made for more start line madness. Guys were locking horns and pushing every which way, even in places that it didnt matter. I kept diving into different lines and focused on passing everywhere I possibly could. Brian Finnerty was next to me and we both jumped through each hole that opened up, but after only a few minutes, I knew this pace was going to be impossible to hold for very long. Even still, I figured I better work my way up as far as possible and force others to pass me than lose time sitting behind and waiting to go around slower riders. The mud was the most challenging I had ever ridden and everything else was still frozen and just grabbed your wheels. My first pass through the mud-wrestling pit I knew I was going to need a bike every half lap. Sadly, the promotors had left their power washers out over night and they were frozen solid. Thus my valiant pit crew of Tom Feix and James Keddie were reduced to using stone tools on my bikea tent stake to chisel ice from the frame and brakes, and wd-40 to keep the chain from freezing up. Somehow they returned a functional bike to me every 6 minutes but I have no idea how the heck they did that. I definitely would not have finished the race without their amazing efforts.

    The rest of the race went by as an agonizing battle of mind over body. Every part of my body was filled with lactic acid and my legs just refused to do any work. But every part of the course was packed with cheering fans from N. Cal, my family, and especially my son who would run up next to me and absolutely scream his head off as he ran faster than I could ride through several sections of the course. Those cheers were all that penetrated the haze of pain and I focused on trying to keep my gaze more than 2 feet ahead of my front wheel. I slowly slipped back in the standings on the last 2 laps until I was finally ready to hit the finishing straight when disaster struck. Suddenly my rear wheel stopped turning, my pedals started freewheeling and I heard the terrible sound of my derailleur hitting my spokes. I immediately hopped off the bike in the hopes of saving my rear wheel and ran through the creek crossing. As I shouldered the bike, I saw my derailleur hanging worthlessly from a mangled piece of derailleur housing, and I knew I was going to run my bike across the line. Along the way, my rear wheel started bouncing around and I tried to hold it with my spare hand, but finally gave up and it literally fell off my bike as I hit the finishing stretch. I ran for everything I was worth determined NOT to get passed in this last section of the course. I stumbled across the line and almost passed out, but Id made it and finished the damn race. I was elated to have done it, and then immediately started realizing I couldnt feel any extremities and I couldnt even form complete thoughts. I went to retrieve my wheel and received a bunch of congratulations from family and friends as I went back to the tent to get changed. Wed done it, and while I wasnt pleased with my result per say, I had exceeded my pre-race goal of top 30, but fallen short of the top 15 I really wanted. 21st was my final resting place and I couldnt complain.

    Post race we tried to clean up and warm up, but I just couldnt get my body to kick back on. I was freezing and desperately out of energy, which wasnt helped by looking at the carnage of Murrays and my bikes. We spent a good hour trying to remove all 8 wheels which, along with everything else, had frozen in place. It was a total mess. We both wished for the first time in our lives for a mechanic to simply take care of this so we could load up, drive home, and pass out. It was a mess we knew wed have to sort out later and just struggled to clean up, take down the tent, and get our asses out of there.

    Friday night

    Friday night was a great Northern California cross party where we celebrated 3 newly crowned champs, Karen Brehms, Don Myrah and Henry Kramer. When other competitors told their stories of racing woe for that day, I felt a little better to simply have made it. It provided me even more motivation to bring back to Nationals in 2014, and Murray and I started talking about doing this again in 2014 in Holland. I never thought Id be saying Id be up for another one of these, especially outside the US, but I have a score to settle, and would like to see myself coming to the race prepared and fit. My favorite memory from Friday was a jubilant toast and hug from Clark where he said Your battle was simply getting here! and that summed up my feelings exactly. Im ready to hang up the cross bike carnage for a few weeks, but I have no doubt I will be even more committed to cross in the season to come. Its a journey and I couldnt have done it without the support of my wife Cami, my early morning training partner Murray, Clark Natwicks unwavering search of solutions to get me through the setbacks I faced all season. Sitting out most of the season and cheering for others would not have been possible without the positive support and commiseration of my PV teammates. I thank you all!

    Thanks for reading!

     

    Masters World Championships 2013

    Last modified on 2013-01-04 23:26:10 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Cyclocross World Championships held in the USA for the first time in 2013

    After a nice visit to my extended family in S. Cal last week, I realized two things needed doing. First, I had to do my best to explain why an otherwise sane person wouldchoose to fly across the country to race his bike in sub-freezing rain, mud, or even snow, and be forced to carry his bicycle over obstacles that were purposely placed in front of me. And secondly, how could I put the sport into terms that non-cyclists would understand. My family is super-excited and learning lots about cross, but Wikipedia’s Cross Page hardly does the sport justice.

    What exactly is a cyclocross race, and how it is different from other cycling disciplines? In simple terms, a cross race involves racing your bike on a ~3k long course that can be located just about anywhere there is pavement, grass, dirt, mud and/or sand. Often times fields and surrounding obstacles such as stadium steps, livestock stables, or any other “features” are used. Bikes are modified road bikes that have slightly wider tires with off-road tread and brakes from touring bikes that will allow for running the wider tires. Its elegance is its simplicity. Racers start together in a mass sprint where they fight for the “hole-shot”–the first person into the corner. Position really matters as courses are narrow and often very hard to pass other riders on without taking significant risks. Races typically last about an hour, where riders neither eat or drink and simply pedal their absolute hardest until they either explode or finish the race. In the best of all worlds, the explosion happens just *after* you cross the line, and not before. And that’s cross, in a nutshell.

    While other cycling disciplines can make legitimate claims as being exciting to spectate, cyclocross offers fans a unique atmosphere in the US to really enjoy cycling in a whole new way. Besides the ubiquitous riot of cowbells, mud and beverages, cyclocross allows fans to cheer (or jeer) their favorite riders multiple times per race. The difficulty of the elements spreads racers out into small groups, making it action-packed with very little waiting to see action. There’s of course the thrills, spills, heroes and underdogs, but fundamentally cross pushes the rider to the very limits of their abilities as they push their oxygen-deprived bodies through a technical time-trial for an hour. It really is an hour of truth where the strongest, most proficient (and a little lucky) rider often prevails. Its a story of triumph where you never know what the conditions or your competitors will throw at you, what parts may fail, and where it requires your mind to be as sharp as your body. There is no tuning out in a cross race–you have to constantly be aware of where you are placing your front tire, what the riders around you are doing, all the while your vision is blurring, your mouth tastes of mud (or is that horse shit?), and you realize the scary truth–there is nothing else you’d rather be doing than being right here, right now, on your bike.

    So for my non-cycling friends, here’s my attempt to explain the inexplicable. Where else in racing can you push yourself to the limits, but grab a dollar from a bottle on the side of the course, or even get a hi-carbohydrate beverage while in the race? Cross has something for everyone, including the spectators. I love this sport, I love the people, the community, the fun that everyone has from kids to adults.

    I personally find cross so rewarding because it pushes my limits physically and mentally in ways I can’t do in other disciplines of cycling. You have to be strong to ride fast, but that’s only the beginning. You need skills, finesse, fortitude and a fair bit of luck. Its you vs. the course and other riders, a challenge that I find all-encompassing. While it may not be for everyone, once you are bitten by the bug, you’ll never be the same.

    Here’s a little montage that might help explain the inexplicable.

    Whatever floats your boat

    CX Districts @ Fort Ord

    Last modified on 2013-01-04 22:41:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Getting a little practice lap in

    Getting a little practice lap in

    Event: CCCX District Championships

    Location: Fort Ord
    Date: 12-30.2012
    Category: Masters 35A
    Teammates: Murray (45A)
    Place: 9th
    Weather: Small mud patches, 45 degrees, sunny
    Tires: Challenge Fango 33/Zipp 303, 23 psi F/R

    Fort Ord is always a challenging course and this particular route was demanding because of the constant gas required with no real place to hide. I hadnt ridden this exact route since my first race a few years ago, and was nervous to make it to the first turn without incident. Fortunately that was no problem

    and I found myself in the top 5 guys after the second turn. That didnt last long, as we hit the first hill I was immediately passed by Chris McGovern and Brock Dickie on the 30 second hill. I knew I was going to have a hard day in the saddle, but I just hunkered down and focused on keeping contact and not making mistakes. I had no trouble holding wheels through the middle parts of the course, but the moment we hit the run up and longer climb, I once again was getting gapped. My lack of 1 minute power and fitness were making themselves well known, so I focused on limiting the damage on the rest of the course and trying to lead the more technical sections where I was little faster.

    Chasing Brock Dickie and Craig Chaney the entire race

    Chasing Brock Dickie and Craig Chaney the entire race

    Eventually I was passed by Craig Cheney and Brock Dickie, both of whom I finished ahead of at Santa Cruz, so I knew I was pretty much where I was going to end up. The leaders continued to put 45 seconds per lap or so into me, and I soon was no longer able to see them. Brock and I traded off several laps where hed gap me on the climb and Id pass him through a series of turns, until we got to the last lap. I knew he was getting tired so I decided to wait until

    the top of the last climb to make a move to come around him and lead into the tricky section right up to the finish line. It was a perfect plan until I lost traction on my front wheel and went down, which gave him the edge. I was right back up again and ready to try and pass him, but my chain had come off and it took a few seconds to put that back on. I wasnt able to close the gap at that point so I just rode home and took solace in the fact that I had made

    Returning the favor to a super-supportive crowd

    Returning the favor to a super-supportive crowd

    the right tactical decision, but goofed on the technical.

    I ended up 3:15 behind the winner, so I still have some hard work to do these next few weeks before Worlds. I hope to try and close some of that gap in the coming weeks. Immediately following the race Matty and I did the kids race

    which is always fabulously done by Keith DeFiebre and I have to say I was really proud of the way Matty navigated the course. Hes not confident on the downhill sections yet, but he was able to the climb the pretty steep first hill which made me super-proud of course! Thanks also to John Kammeyers entourage for looking after Matty during the warmups and race so I knew that he wasnt wandering around by himself.

    A good time was had and looking forward to next weekend!

     

    Matty and I do a few laps of the kids race together

    Matty and I do a few laps of the kids race together

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This is what I hopefully will be doing a lot more of–introducing my boy to the sport of cycling!

     

     

     

    Surf’s Up!

    Last modified on 2013-01-04 22:27:41 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    A long overdue visit back to Surf City

    Event: Surf City #3
    Location
    : Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds
    Date: 12-16.2012
    Category: Masters 35A
    Teammates: Ross (45A)
    Place: 4th
    Weather: Drying Mud, 58 degrees, Cloudy
    Tires: Challenge Fango 33/Zipp 303, 21 psi F/R

    To say I was eager to race this weekend might be an understatement. Ive beenlonging for some mud all season long, and today Surf City delivered the best

    trying to close the gap

    trying to close the gap

    of all worldsa recently rained on course full of mud, but racing under a warm sky with occasional sun. Ross and I loaded up at a leisurely 9am and arrived with just under an hour before race time. Having never been to the venue before we did a few preview laps that revealed a devilishly interesting course with a healthy helping of off camber mud sections, deep ruts waiting to grab your wheel and throw it, and some dastardly downhill mud sections. Did I mention mud? It was perfect, thick gloopy mud with steep, deeply chiseled run ups that made me wish I had run some stairs this season.

    With a smaller field of all the heavy hitters showing up I was on the 2nd row and ready to go. Of course luck was not with me and I missed my clip and watched as 4 bike lengths instantly opened up on me. That never happens to me, except today ;) First lap entertainment included off camber mud wrestling with bikes and bodies going every which way. I then proceeded to throw my front wheel into a wheel sucking rut that tossed me off the course and down a hill, but I didnt take any tape with me. That put me about 15 places back after 1:35 of racing, which just served

    navigating a tricky muddy downhill

    navigating a tricky muddy downhill

    to piss me off. One more bobble a few turns later and I realized I just needed to calm my jets and ride my race. I watched the leaders power away while I fought to pass slower riders without hitting the deck in the slippery, wet mud.

    The rest of the course consisted of a bunch of twisty mud sections that wound their way through some stables at the fairgrounds, and then up and down a few wicked hills that made you pray to your higher power that your brakes would work and youd not end up on your butt. In short, I loved it! Fast forward a few laps and I was desperately trying to accelerate on every section I could without blowing my HR above 185. Ive been really struggling holding these hard efforts past 25 minutes, and today was no exception. Despite that, I was getting great updates from Chris and Jason as I picked off one rider at a time, finally passing Brock Dickie (IBIS) and Craig Cheney (Bell Real Estate) to put me into 4th. Gannon Myall stayed about 20-30 seconds ahead of me for the last 3 laps and I couldnt close the gap. I crossed the line a distant 1:30 behind the winner Don Myrah, but felt like I had won. Its so good to be back in action on the cross bike, a good finish is just reward enough! I need to keep hammering the short duration high intensity intervals to get me ready for Louisville. Nevertheless, Im happy to be racing regardless of whether I am where I had hoped to be this year.

     

     

    Surf City Podium 35A

    Surf City Podium 35A

     

    Hello Bend!

    Last modified on 2013-01-04 21:59:15 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Race Report: USGP Deschutes Cup

    First race back after long hiatus

    Event: USGP Deschutes Cup Day #1
    Location: Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
    Date: 12-8-2012
    Category: Elite Men 2/3
    Teammates: Alden Kroll (Blue Rooster-Seattle, WA)
    Place: 3rd
    Weather: Frozen mud/grass, 32 degrees, Cloudy
    Tires: Challenge Fango 33/Zipp 303, 22 psi F/R

    The family and I drove up to Bend to do the 2-day Deschutes Cup/USGP and met college friends who share a love of mud, cold and cowbells. My primary motivations for racing this was to get a dry run at cold, muddy conditions that arent common to the Bay Area, but are the likely conditions of January in Louisville. Having sat out the last 2-3 months of the cross season, I awoke at 5:30am with the familiar pre-race adrenaline even though this race was just for fun. Yeah right. My goals were to work on my pacing to ensure my lack of fitness didnt lead to pre-finish thermonuclear meltdown, and to ride consistently and technically while being patient enough when racing in traffic. These were two things I failed at Candlestick this year, so I hoped to do better this time.

    Pre-riding yesterday left me with a really muddy bike and I knew I was in for a challenge. The course is a fantastic blend of power and technique located at the Deschutes Brewery. Its similar to the nationals course from a few years back complete with a flyover, several technical ascents which were tantalizingly rideable, as well as tons of twistys, roots, rocks and mud and grass. At arrival time, it was about 30 degrees but the possible precipitation and snow were nowhere to be seen, which was a bonus in my book. My major challenge was keeping my hands and feet warm pre-race, so that over the 40 minutes I would freeze slowly, instead of starting the race pre-popsicled.

    Many guys missed their callups so I found myself in the middle of the second row starting next to my buddy Alden from Seattle. The gun fired and they were off, the first row instantly opened a few bike lengths on as we completed the 100m straight heading into the first turn and transition to dirt. Being out of racing this entire year, I dismissed my initial feeling of dread as nerves while I watched the riders in front of me swerve and bang each other around. Still I couldnt help myself so I moved far to the outside of the first turn just as I heard the first sounds of metal, carbon and pavement colliding with each other. A cascade of riders started with the very inside rider who over cooked the turn and proceeded to take out everyone in the vicinity. I barely avoided a trio of guys fumbling around, lost a little momentum, but in the end I recovered and was in the top 12-15 guys. I proceeded to practice my patience and didnt take any risky passes, but was pleased to see that I was able to take many of the turns just a little faster than most of the guys in front of me.

    The first lap cleared most of the chaos and I found myself trailing about 10 guys who were spread out single file. I simply put my head down, tried to stay inside my zone, and make no mistakes. Fast forward 4 laps and with 2 to go I have picked off everyone but the first and second place rider. I started running out of gas and had to back off a little, so I was never able to close the gaps on the guys ahead of me, but I was able to continue to open it on the ones behind me. My last two laps were solo with a comfortable 10 second lead on 4th place. Crossing the line I felt the same elation as if I had won, because in addition to the unexpected result, I had ridden a technically and tactically perfect race with no mechanicals or mishaps. To do so in front of my family who cheered wildly the whole race was just icing on the cake. I was given a nice pint for my efforts and get to do it all over again tomorrow.

    [edit] sadly my elbows hurt once again and I had to sit out the Sunday race, even though my legs felt great. Total bummer but that’s the way it goes.

    I was good for 3rd place

    I was good for 3rd place

    2012 CX Season Start

    Last modified on 2012-10-05 18:28:05 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

    Race Report: 2012 Bay Area Super Prestige #1:

    Welcome back to the pain!

    Event: BASP #1
    Location: Candlestick Point
    Date: 9-30-12
    Category: 35+ A
    Teammates: Murray, Travis, Reto
    Place: 22 of 47
    Weather: Dry, 80 degrees, Sandy conditions
    Tires: Tufo Flexus, 25 psi F/R

    Chasing, photo by Tim Westmore

    This was my first race of the year and I was carrying a high level of apprehension about my own readiness coming in. To say I’ve been waiting for this day for 11 months is an understatement. The “off-season” took on a new meaning as I was forced off my bike from complications of my surgery in December 2011. I had gained 5 pounds, lost muscle and fitness, and generally didn’t recognize myself as a cyclist when I looked in the mirror.

    This year has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, and faced with the prospect of racing, an unfamiliar feeling crept over me–fear. To test oneself against your peers is part of racing, but I knew my fitness and endurance were shaky, and I was ready for the season to unravel in front of me as I was ejected out the back. Unable to ride much this year, I have been working on my technical skills to see if I could hang. Race day did reveal a lot about my season, but it proved to have answers to different questions.

    Start position as always is critical, and without a call up I was lined up on the 5th row and in decent position. I was nearly caught up in a tussle 50 feet after leaving the gate, but luckily I was able to avoid it and found myself sitting about 20th come the first turn. I was redlining as always, but in the back of my mind I was trying to remind myself that I only had a few minutes of fitness in that zone, and then the race would come crashing down.

    Hill was much easier to get up this year. Photo by Tim Westmore

    Through the first half of the course I tried to settle in, pass at every opportunity, but also not be too impatient. Then Reto stormed past me after the first set of barriers and I was infected with an equal amount of zeal to pass these guys. This would prove to be my undoing. We hit the first run up the hill and as expected there was chaos and I simply shouldered the bike and ran around the stumbling bits of steel, carbon and flesh. Picked a few more off and I was sitting about 12th and feeling like I could possibly hang on for the rest of the race if I just settled into a pace I could maintain. Every corner I was on a wheel I felt I could go faster, and so I kept looking for places to pass.

    Unfortunately, on the last little drop before you hit the road on the backside I took an inside line and

    attempted to pass another rider. He suddenly swerved into me, forcing my front wheel into some bushes that decided it was a great time for me to fly off my bike. Over the bars I went, landed in a tuck and hopped right back ononly to endo in the sand when I realized my chain was off. I pulled to the side and tried to start rolling my bike, only to have the front wheel suddenly stop. Apparently it was run over or wrenched, because a section of tire was separating from the rim. At this point I summoned some mighty curses that made my glad my family was at the start/finish and I shouldered the bike and ran the last section of the course. I watched as every rider in the field rolled past me and I wondered if I could possibly run it all the way to the pit. I knew at once, my race would be over.

    Navigating the downhill sand snarl. Photo by Tim Westmore

    Instead, when I hit the pavement, I put the bike down, pushed the chain catcher out of the way and prayed the tire would hold for the rest of the race. An eerie silence surrounded me and then I got the pity cry Go PV! from a random person on the back stretch, which confirmed I was way behind the rest of the field. I just channeled the frustration and rode as fast as I could. In the end I was able to slowly pick off riders and finish the ride in 22nd. This earned me several nice brews, so life was good.

    Thanks to all of my teammates and supporters out there, because I surely would have bagged this one if you werent out there shouting me on. Hopefully next time will work out better.

     

     

    LESSONS RE-LEARNED

    1. BE PATIENT: races are long, first lap you dont have to pass everyone. Risk vs. benefit
    2. SELF-TALK: keep repeating your race goals. Race smart. Keep efforts in check
    3. AREAS TO IMPROVE: 30 second bursts w/repeatability
    4. CROSS IS FUN: the people matter, enjoy the community

     

     

     

     

    11.12.11 Sierra Point Night Race: Big night for PV!

    Last modified on 2011-11-18 00:58:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Race Report: BASP #2 Sierra Point Night Race

    Date: November 12, 2011
    Category: 35+ A
    Teammates: Murray (2nd)
    Placing: 7th
    Tires: Tufo Flexus Cubus 32c, 27r/26.5f
    Data: 216w, 185/190HR avg/max, 40:53/10.0 mi http://app.strava.com/rides/2310062

    Awesome Aerial Footage of the race course

    Course (in daylight): http://vimeo.com/32094005

     

    Every Dog has his day

    Plowing my way through the corners, photo by Tom Feix

    I dont even know where to start the story of this race. The whole day encapsulated why I love racing with the team; friendship, support, camaraderie, great beer, and family fun. Not to mention, racing!

    I arrived a few hours to support Jeromy in his first cross race (since I have been pushing him to try it for a year) and play parent to his daughter Skylar during Jeromys race. I was rather unprepared for how enthusiastically we would be cheering ALL over the race course. Bystanders were laughing as I was running after her, carrying her, or doing my best impression of a bucking bronco all over the racecourse. It was a blast, and we cheered for all the PV riders in the Bs race.

    Getting back to the tent, my mind was more focused on kicking back and having a beer than getting mentally amped for the race. Sierra Point was memorable for all that sucked about it last year: brutally bumpy, flat, and long sections of road where I was trounced last year. Luckily, the will to not waste my entry fee was stronger than my will be to be lazy, so I got suited up.

    Dressing in the dark was not part of my plan, so I was rooting around in the darkness for my skinsuit, gloves and other black warmup gear, in my black bag, in the dark. Finally, with 20 minutes to go, I got my first warmup lap around the course and slid my way into the assembling field of riders, squeezing up the barricades to get as far up as possible. I lined up next to Chad Rosser, a guy from SJBC that I had ridden behind last and soundly beaten me last weekend, so I hoped to stay glued to his wheel this time around.

    Fortunately, my hard work at Candlestick paid off as they went for 3 rows of 6 for the call-ups, and my 14thplace just squeaked me into the pre-race staging. The lights

    Hanging on to the chase group, photo by Tom Feix

    were blazing and the nerves started firing, and we got the final countdown. Blasting from the start I got a good clip-in and was able to squeeze past a few riders before the off-camber, curb-hop, high speed left hander that funnels into the bumpy sections of the course. I had to stand through this whole section last year but thankfully the rain had softened it up a bit and it was not torturous. The usual chaos ensued through the first few turns until we hit a plywood sheet that covers the transition from dirt to sidewalk and someone went down. The wood had become moist as the sun went down, and it was not to be trifled with! I was able to thread my way around a few people there and then we hit the road section I call the dreaded drag strip. I should clarifymost riders I talk to look forward to this portion of the course: a set of 3 200m straight sections connected by 180 degree turnsbut I find it absolutely horrid as the pure power riders just uncork a can of whoop ass on me and I struggle to not yield too many positions.

    I know I got passed by a few guys, but was confident enough not to stay in the single file line and went up the side and braked later into the turn (thank you TRP CX-9s!) and would win a few places back. Only to repeat the process two more times.

    Meanwhile, as I was riding away in about 12th position, Murray was tearing it up at the front and stayed there the rest of the race. I really would not have performed as well as I did if it werent for him, as Bruce Hildebrands constant commentary and race updates on Murray duking it out for the race lead kept me totally distracted from whatever pain I was feeling in the field behind.

    Briefly on the hunt for 6th place, but it was not to be, photo by Tom Feix

    As the laps started to tick by, I found myself on the tail end of a group vying for 6th-12th positions. Don Myrah and Eric Bustos and a few other guys I didnt know. I was on the tail end of the group, and this is when I finally knew I have matured as a cross racerI sat in. I just kept an eye on each rider in front of me, waiting for them to miss a line through a corner enabling me to pass. I made a conscious effort not to over extend myself, and I found that even though each of these guys were stronger than I was, I was able to brake just a little bit later and less, and thus carry more speed into the corners. It was a great feeling.

    I cant recall much else about the race. I picked off several guys until it was just Don Myrah, myself and guy who I cant say I ever saw, but heard his damn brakes squeaking around every corner. Myrah is a just a monster, and he basically came out of every corner out of the saddle and full gas, and I really struggled to prevent a gap from opening. When we hit the road section, we gapped the last guy and I just hung on for dear life. With 2 to go, it was just us, and I started to look for a place to try and pass him. I knew I stood little chance in a 2-up sprint, but Id rather place 2nd in that then let the guys behind us catch up.

    I passed him a few times and defended a few advances where he tried to sneak through on my inside. He succeeded in passing on the straight aways, and I tucked in right behind him waiting for my chance. Unfortunately, he laid it out into one of the bumpy right hand turns and I was so close behind him I ended riding right over the top of him and endoing. With both of us on the ground, we scrambled to get back up and riding as there was only half a lap left and our chasers were now breathing down our necks. As I remounted my tire was hitting my brakes badly and my heart sankmy wheel looked to be bent up real nice, and my saddle had taken on a nasty tilt with the nose pointing up about 20 degrees. Although the pit was just ahead, stopping would mean getting passed by too many people, so I just decided to keep riding it and suffer the consequences later. Don passed me again coming into the barriers and ol squeaky was back right behind us.

    I passed him back one more time as he missed the line on the sharp right heading up into the hill section and somehow my wheel magically straightened itself out (I then realized that what had really happened was a partial separation of my tubular, but I decided not to think about that as I took the last several sharp turns!). In the end I led the charge to the last corner and got passed

    Sprint for 7th place, photo by Tom Feix

    in the sprint by Myrah, but held everyone else off to get 7th place. Murray having long since finished ended up 2nd and we both high-fived each other and the end.

    This race was simply awesome because of all the cheering and support at all parts of the course. I could only vaguely pick out voices (Paul, Ken, Clark, Tom and others) and I thank you all for your help during the race. I may not have been able to take my eyes off the course for even a second to see you, but your cheers were immensely helpful especially on the long straight by the tents. It was an awesome day for many PV riders, and I felt proud before, during and after to part of such a great group of people.

    Thermonuclear Speed and Destruction: CCCX #6 Manzanita Park 11.5.2011

    Last modified on 2011-11-07 23:58:22 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Race Report: CCCX #6 Manzanita Park

    Date: November 6, 2011
    Category: 35+ B/35+ A
    Teammates: None
    Placing: 1st, dead/last or both
    Tires: Tufo Flexus Cubus 32c, 22.5f/22.5r
    Data:
    35B (181w, 184HR avg, 38:50/10.1 mi) http://app.strava.com/rides/2242663
    35A (157w, 184HR avg, 50:16/12.3 mi) http://app.strava.com/rides/2242666

    Crossing the line, photo by Gary Hudson

    Yet another return to Manzanita Park for CCCX #6this is my third time this season as Ive missed all the other CCCX races. Keith Defibre did another outstanding job on a new course. The

    weather was calling for rain and w

    e arrived expecting mud and slop, but were pleasantly surprised by relatively dry conditions with some sections

    of mud. It had it allsteep run ups, infield twists and turns, uphills, downhills, and a healthy dose of suffering. Having just glued up my new Tufo Cubus mud tires, I decided

    to give them a ride even if they weren’t totally necessary. This course wasnt as technical as previous courses this season, but it required a constant foot on the gas and the course claimed many victims.

    With little training in my legs and sore muscles from a foolhardy assault on Windy Hill yesterday afternoon, I shuffled my way to the front row of the start line determined to make the first 30 seconds up the hill count. We started about half way up, and were

    avoiding roots and chasing them down, photo copyright Steve Anderson

    funneled into a 180 and then into a barrier with singletrack and a muddy run upie: tailor made for traffic congestion and mishaps. I hit the first corner in the top 3 or 4, and cleaned the first two sections and passed two more riders. I jumped hard and passed the lead rider by taking an alternative line and focused on putting power to the pedals.

    I led everyone around the climb, descent and into the infield, and was passed just before we hit a series of 180 degree turns. Im still not strong enough to hold my own on the flat sections, so I made sure I put a lot of

    Muddy rise, the Cubus tires stuck perfectly. Photo by Gary Hudson

    pressure on the leader through the turns. Sure enough he slid out around one of the corners, and I passed him back.

    We completed lap one with him breathing over my shoulder through the start finish line sticking on me like a fly on feces.

    He was there for quite a while through the second lap, but after a few technical sections I didnt hear the sounds of

    wheels cutting up the dirt behind me. I started to catch the tail end of the Bs race ahead of me, so I had to weave my way through the chaos and avoid getting held up as the rest of the 35s field roared up behind me. Thankfully, all the Bs gave me room to pass and I motored on.

    Fast forward a few more laps and I found myself chasing the leaders of the Bs race. They saw me and sprinted like crazy to hold me off and I finished a few seconds behind them, feeling pretty wasted and not particularly happy to be racing again in 10 minutes.

    Remounting after the first barrier, photo by Gary Hudson

    The As race could simply be summed up as The Trouble with Doubles. The first jump up the hill elicited a silent scream from my legs that

    sounded like a

    gaggle of 10-year-old Justin Bieber fans. That was simply a preview of things to come as I hung tight for about 2 laps, and then started losing ground onyou guessed it, the climbs and flats! Still I felt reasonably good and maintained position around 10th, but with 2 laps to go an atomic bomb incinerated all the strength left in my legs, and I struggled to put out even 150 watts on the climbs. Going backwards isn t really conducive to racing, and I watched helplessly and many 45+ riders caught and passed me. I must have looked like roadkill because he offered me a waterbottle on the last ascent, and even said take all of it if you want, man! In my head I replied do you have anything else with something more potent, like perhaps cocaine? But that would have required energy, and I didnt want to waste it.

    John Kammeyer passed in the infield and I was m

    ore than happy to slow his chasers down as I willed my rubber legs to turn the pedals over. I made my legs a promise that I wouldnt eat and more ice cream in 2011 if they would just deliver me to the line. The final ascent to the start/finish felt like hitting Everest without oxygen, but I was treated to a killer duel between two 45+ guys that were killing it to the line. It was a nice distraction from my own suffering.

    Overall, while I didn’t perform physically as well as I would have liked, I rode a technically clean race and lost no time to bobbles. While I wasn’t hopping the barricades like Mr. Coats, I executed a good race on dirt.

    Thankfully, I was treated to the PV post-trackday BBQ and forgot all about the dismal finish. More training is clearly needed! Until next time!

     

    Race Report: BASP #1 Candlestick Point 10.23.2011

    Last modified on 2011-10-27 03:59:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    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 wouldnt be able to contest it today. I pre-rode the course with Jeromy yesterday and found it quickly reminded me of all that Id love to never ride againbumpy, 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 challengingthere 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 mistakeseven 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 challengingloose 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 didnt 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 didnt 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 incidentshitting 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 doesnt 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 didnt 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 arent really helping!

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

    Thanks for reading!

     

     

    Race Report: CCCX #4 Manzanita Park 10.16.2011

    Last modified on 2011-10-21 17:43:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    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 weekends 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 didnt work out that way.

    Hopping the barricades

    The course ran the opposite direction of last weeks 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 didnt 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 longI 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 didnt 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 dont 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 10.09.11

    Last modified on 2011-10-11 17:17:27 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    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 challengesa 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 didnt 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 interestingthe 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 Bs race was mass chaos. We didnt 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 didnt 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 dont 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 Joeys 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 Im stupid and wanted to get more training in so I raced the As race immediately following. I think I have won 3 CX races and never once got the podium pic. It aint meant to be.

    Fighting my way through the corners. Photo by Steve Woo

    The As race was everything the Bs wasnt. 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 couldnt waste it. I dont 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. Thats racing and my bad for underestimating what Id 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

    Race Report: Santa Cruz Triathlon Relay

    Last modified on 2011-09-30 21:07:04 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: Santa Cruz Triathlon Relay (bike leg)

    Date: 09.25.2011

    Teammates: Team Not Related Johnsons (Camille Johnson,/swim, Jay Johnson,/run)

    Time: 58:48

    Distance: 24.5 mi

    Weather: Sunny, overcast/ low 6os

    Power: 222w/549 (Avg/Max)

    HR: 178/183 (Avg/Max)

    Avg speed: 25.0 mph

    Gearing: 50-34, 11-23

    Place: 1st Coed Relay/3rd All Relays 2:10 (Results: http://bit.ly/oy5Ma9)

    First offno I have not been body-snatched and replaced with a hill-avoiding flatlander diesel engine. Its still me! But last week before Folsom the owner of my borrowed Cervelo P3C TT bike invited my wife Cami and I to do a relay with him at the Santa Cruz Triathlon. I figured if the guy who owns the bike invites me to ride it in a relay and hell run, how can I say no? And truth be told, I sort of enjoyed the race against the clock at Folsom even though I was out-classed by my M123 competitors by a significant margin. But that was a short 11 mile TTand this one was 25 miles. I was ready to see what I could do.

    The Santa Cruz Triathlon course starts downtown, winds its way through the western edge of Santa Cruz by Long Marine Labs, then heads out on Highway 1 to Davenport, does a quick turn around and comes back. The course has a lot of little rollers, none super steep but definitely not flat, and the wind usually blows towards the North, making the return leg to town hard. I have many memories of hammering out with the UCSC club on Highway 1 only to turn around and limp home because of the wind.

    My wife Cami rocked the swim and was only preceded by a few other relay swimmers, so I knew we were in good position. I honestly was worried I was going to give up quite a bit of time, as the dudes who were lined up in the relay gates looked more like Ross Tinline and Mark Slavonia than yours truly, and I knew that could be a problem for me! I strapped on the timing chip and proceeded to run about 1k uphill to where we were actually allowed to start pedaling our freaking bikes. It was silly but they didnt want people to mount before a hill, derail their chains, etc. Luckily all that cross practice remounting with Clark a few weeks back translated to the TT bike, so I think I was the only guy with both feet off the ground doing the flying mount onto the TT bike. Adrenaline makes you do silly things sometimes.

    My goal for the TT was to break it into 4 segments, and hold a nice steady tempo and ramp it up in the 3rd and 4th legs. But most importantly, I wanted to keep my starting wattage under control so I might just finish this thing without exploding. What I didnt count on was the fact that relays started last, so I spent the entire thing passing bike after bike after bike and making sure I didnt get taken out by someone randomly sitting up or swerving or by the traffic whizzing by on Hwy 1. The upside was I felt really fast passing all these people, and was forced to keep my eyes on the road ahead which helps with that aero helmet. But at some point I recognized that the dude wearing high tops riding a mountain bike might not really be in the same class as I was. But I took solace anyway 😉

    The ride is pretty boring, the wind wasnt too strong, but at some point I was going about 35mph downhill and getting blown about which brought on some pucker factor, but I figured I couldnt let my team down and forcibly relaxed my arms and shoulders and stayed in the TT position. Corners and turn arounds were the most scary as I was flying through them and felt like I was playing Frogger or something as I had to swerve around the other riders. But in my head, I was loving the challenge and it motivated me to go harder.

    Playlist for the first 3 segments: Soul Asylum Runaway Train

    Runaway train never going back Wrong way on a one way track ?Seems like I should be getting somewhere Somehow I’m neither here no thereLittle out of touch, little insane Just easier than dealing with the pain

    Not the most motivational of tunes, but its what was sticking and I went with it. Then on the last segment, the Doors blasted their way in as I started to Break on Through for the last 5 miles. The mind is a funny thing when its blocking out the screaming pain in your legs. As I was approaching Santa Cruz, I ramped up to 250 watts, and immediately my pedal stroke felt forced and unsmooth. I kept imagining smooth circles and powered on.

    The last part of the course winds through town and goes to a little turn around to extend the distance, and this was a major slow down as I had to navigate turns and other riders that were riding 2 and 3 wide on both sides of the single lane road. Thoughts of T boning or head-ons while in the bars flickered through my brain, but I told them to HTFU and go faster.

    The final straight goes right above the boardwalk and back down the hill. I imagined I was in the TDF and carving the curves but instead of motoring across a finish line, you have to come to a stop, dismount and run down the same damn hill. I flew in, did a cross step through (hard to do on the TT bike with the damn bars in the way) and caused the volunteers to have a heart attack that I was going to crash. But no such luck. I cruised into the transition zone and apparently passed the other teams out on the course, because I was the first relay bike in. After dismounting I underestimated the weakness of my adductors and suddenly found myself squatting to take of my shoes and falling over because I couldnt stand back up. It was quite graceless and undignified, but such is life.

    True confession: I really enjoyed doing the TT. Its pure and painful, but also brings out the best in me. I can hardly walk or sit from the nerve pain, but I will be doing more TTs in the future.

    Thanks for reading!

    Strava segment: http://app.strava.com/segments/770746

    First Impressions: Specialized S-Works SL3

    Last modified on 2011-07-26 03:32:56 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    This weekend I had a chance to really shake out the new Specialized S-works SL3 that I bought recently at Bicycles Outback in Waco, TX. This is a great shop owned by a hometown friend of mine that used to race with me back in the early 90s. They even sent me a cool T-shirt and cycling hat along with the frameset.

    Bicycles Outback in Waco, TX

    This is my first “new” frame since coming back to cycling in 2009, and I’ve been riding a great ’03 Time VSX Pro that was on loan from my good buddy Esteban. It was time to get something that fit properly and this frame fell into my lap.

    The SL3 certainly does impress with its look and feel. While it is a very lightweight frame, its amazingly responsive and just begs for you to stand on the pedals and go just a little bit harder up the hills. Downhill on GMR I could not believe how easily it carved up the corners; it was rock steady and every time I thought I would be pushing it too hard it simply dug in and allowed me to tighten my line at will. In contrast, the Time really had to be coaxed into corners, forcing you to really dive in and commit to the action. The SL3 in contrast leans over almost lazily as if anything you ask it to do is child’s play. I can’t wait to put it through it through some crits to really see how it flies, but so far I am truly impressed.

    Burlingame Criterium 06.26.2011

    Last modified on 2011-06-28 15:44:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Matty pedals for a great cause!

    This weekend I took time off from racing and instead helped my club, Peninsula Velo put on the Burlingame Criterium, and Ryan’s Ride, a memorial ride to raise money for cancer programs through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I was really looking forward to this as Matty has been really excited to ride his bike, and begs me to wear my jersey and ride bikes with him. I can only describe it as feeling like a Super Hero to my son, and I’ve watched him mature into an understanding of cycling and competition to know that Daddy almost never wins, but he always gives it everything he has. He saw me struggle by myself last weekend as I crawled in behind the leaders and he said “Daddy you were going fast up that hill!” So I was ready to return the favor as he pedaled a lap of the course.

    It was a beautiful day and I was an escort for the kids to make sure the all made it safely around the course. There was an endless sea of kids on a variety of bikes just having a blast. Matty had several friends there, and as his race got under way, he quickly wove his way through the rather disorganized sea of riders. If you’ve ever felt unsafe in a criterium because riders aren’t holding their lines, you’ve only grasped the tip of the iceberg with a sea of 7 and 8 year olds all swerving around, some looking forward, backwards and sideways as crowd cheers them on. Its a miracle more of them don’t plow into each other.

    But Matty, true to his character, slammed it into his hardest gear and pedaled his heart out. He motored around the course and was beaten by one other kid who he just couldn’t catch. Daddy of course was right behind him encouraging him to pedal not because I cared whether he won or lost, but because I wanted him to enjoy the sport of it, and give it everything he had. When we finished he was breathing hard, but not that hard and said “I’m ready to do more Daddy!” I smiled and hope this is just the start of a long career of competition in sport for him.

    A great way to end the weekend. One proud Daddy!

    Race Report: Pescadero Coastal Classic 6.18.2011

    Last modified on 2011-06-24 21:36:57 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: Pescadero RR E3
    Date: 06.18.2011
    Teammates: Jeromy, Mark C., Dave N., Tom, Ross
    Place: 37/67
    Weather: 75 Sunny
    Power: 204/227 (AP/NP)
    HR: 175/193 (Avg/Max)
    Gearing: 50-34, 11-23

    Strava Ride Data

    It has taken me nearly a week to even put this race report together, as I am still trying to shake the fog off. I had targeted this as my most important race in the first half of the season, and spent a lot of time and energy tuning myself mental and physically for this race. My form has been continually improving all season long and while I wasnt primed for some of the March/April/May races, I could tell I was getting stronger and felt like my lead in was on target.

    Hamilton went well and I was strong, but the weekend after I really struggled in some road races and took some time off. I was worried I was going into over-training mode so I rested and reduced my time and intensity. Having not rested so completely in the past I wasnt sure how my body would react and what it would do for me. But I was primed and ready to rock.

    Thankfully, we arrived plenty early with Jeromy, Markus and I suiting up and going for a nice warmup. As we were rolling, I tried to shift my front derailleur and suddenly the lever wouldnt spring back. Turns out a small little spring had broken, making it impossible to shift to my big ring. The mental letdown was huge but I tried not to panic and look for a way to make it work. Markus graciously offered to switch shifters with me and put the broken one on his bike, and the day was saved. We found some tools (ALWAYS BRING THE DAMN TOOLS!) and made it all happen with about 15 minutes to spare.

    As we set off up Stage I felt pretty good, but I couldnt let myself settle in and go easy enough. I stayed near the front and probably used too much energy despite my best efforts to the contrary. The descent felt incredibly good; my bike just went wherever I wanted it to and I felt supremely confident despite the lines others were taking. Haskins I started near the front, felt pretty good, but had to dig deep to stay with the front people. Again, I couldnt let myself drift back even though we did the same thing as last yearhard up, slow down and regroup again. A break did get off the front and we quickly lost track of them, which started to make the field nervous.

    I took a quick solo flyer to get up the road to lose some extra water, and that effort really hurt more than it should have. This was the first moment that I started getting some negative feedback from my body. I made sure I put even more calories and water into me as I waited for the field to catch back on.

    As we regrouped, PV came to the front with Tom setting a hard pace into town. Ross and Dave also rolled to the front and it was strung out single file and I had trouble even sitting in. The teamwork was really strong and both Mark and Jeromy felt good still, so I just tried to conserve and see what my second lap up Stage felt like.

    First half of Stage was ok, but the second time up my legs just cramped and wouldnt respond. I wasnt gasping but just felt like crap. I banished all negative thoughts and just focused on staying connected. I survived it, but the fatigue was building and the next trip up Haskins was my undoing.

    I worked to keep myself in the top 1/3rd going up, but I was on borrowed time and slowly slipped back until there was 30+ people in front of me. Then the gaps and stragglers started losing contact and I dug in to stay on, but didnt survive the last 1k and came over the top and couldnt see the field anymore. I was by myself with a few in front and more behind, and just put my head down and dug a little deeper to try and close the gap.

    I was doing great on the descent and passed several people until I came up behind a car that was having trouble negotiating the last few turns before the bottom. To be fair, they had a small group of 3 riders in front of them and were hanging back being safe instead of trying to pass them, but I had to get to them. The best part was the driver had their window down so I just asked him if I could pass him and he said sure! and moved over a little bit to pass on the left. Normally I never would do this, but I was desperate to get back on.

    Once I caught this group, I was spent and really struggled to take pulls. I looked down to see I was only putting out 200 watts, and I knew my race was over. The disappointment was almost overwhelming, but the next moment I was lifted up by the presence of a familiar blue station wagon rolling up behind me with an unmistakable voice cheering GOOOOO DADDDDDDY! A huge smile erupted on my face and my pain was put back in the proper place and I powered on.

    We caught the field just before Pescadero, which gave me a very brief reprieve before hitting Stage for the final time. I moved myself to the front at the start of the climb and started drifting backwards like I was standing still. Once again my descending saved me, and I caught back on to the front. The second bump on Stage proved to be too much, and I sprinted a few times to try and stay on, but my legs were dead and I was screwed.

    I was with a small group of 4 riding 300m behind the field. We were catching them, but I was spent and slowly drifted off the back of this group and lost the field for the rest of the race. Expletives followed and if I had been a sponsored pro, I would have gotten off my bike and tossed it for maximum distance into the weeds. But since Im doing this for fun I just kept pedaling to get myself home.

    The last ascent of Haskins was pure pain. Luckily, my wife and son were in the feedzone and they cheered me on and passed me on the climb to give me a few more ounces of resolve to get through. I put out everything I could, passed a few riders and sprinted for the line to salvage some sense of my pride. Now I have to look hard at the rest of the season and figure out where things have gone sideways and get it back on track. And find the fun!

    Ride Data

    Race Report: Golden Empire Classic Road Race (M35+ & E3)

    Last modified on 2011-06-15 16:24:13 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Date: 06.04.2011, 06.05.2011
    Event: Golden Empire Classic, M 35+ 1-4 & E3
    Teammates: Jeromy
    Place: 48/52
    Weather: Cloudy, low 70s
    Power: 215/235 (AP/NP)
    HR: 176/193 (Avg/Max)
    Gearing: 50-34, 11-23

    Master 35+ 1-4 Road Race:
    With the last minute cancellation of TopSport stage race, I was faced with a dilemmawhere to race instead? The kid was taken care of, and I had a free weekend, and there was no way I would waste it! So Jeromy and I weighed our choices: Mt. Hood Classic (12 hour drive, take 2 vacation days) or drop into lovely Bakersfield for the SCNCAs district RR championships. We could race Masters on Saturday and then do E3 on Sunday. It was perfect! So we loaded up the car and headed out of the Bay Area just before the rain hit.

    The Golden Empire Classic RR is a 31-mile loop with a 700ft climb, a single lane descent begging to be ridden hard, a healthy dose of rollers, wind from all directions, and various course obstacles like carbon-craving potholes, cattle grates with wheel-grabbing slots in the middle, and very large heifer crossings. With no neutral feed, I was thankful for the unseasonably cool weather and loaded 3 water bottles and headed out. I had rested most of the week and felt pretty good after warmup, and found myself stuck on the front as 3 guys motored away right from the start. The field echeloned out behind me, and we just watched the break ride away. A few more guys launched eventually and I drifted back having had to work harder than I wanted to, but also itching to hop into the next effort that gets away as big teams were blocking for their guys up the road.

    My lack of patience was my undoing. By the time we hit the climb about 19 miles in, I maintained position for the first half in the top-10. I had to work fairly hard, and then the surges started. This is about a 700ft vertical gain that takes a good 15 minutes or more. It was never steep enough to really help me, so the big powerful guys just started putting down a lot of power and I slowly drifted back. At some point I hit the wall and desperately tried to stay attached, but my legs just shutdown and I just cursed at myself for riding stupid. Not aggressive, just stupid.

    I cant even recall exactly what happened, but I found myself with a few guys over the top and we hammered like crazy to bring the field back, which was about 700m ahead of us. This chase took about 5 miles, and we finally caught back on up the final roller of a climb. Part of me was relieved, and the honest part knew I was in serious trouble if they accelerated again. I moved up as far as possible into the field for a little protection, and sure enough as we got close to the start/finish area, it strung out single file and I had to put out nearly 400 watts to stay connected. This only lasted for about 2 minutes until I blew yet again, and with blurry vision and spit flying I watched them leave me behind yet again, never to be seen again. I soloed 15 seconds off the back past the start line, where the announcer was kind enough to call it chasing instead of giving up, but I resolved to just push myself through the next lap as fast as I could.

    I caught one more hapless soul, and we motored on and were caught from behind by 3 more ejectees, making us 5 strong at the bottom of the climb. I paced myself a bit better this time and ended up leaving 2 guys behind. We motored down the climb and hit yet more wind and the final 10k to the finish. I was losing more and more power on the flats and was trying to take short pulls and not blow up. One of the guys was a locomotive, and I had real trouble following him in our paceline, so I made a tactical decision and sat out a pull so I could re-insert myself behind the weaker guy.

    As we approached the finish, I stopped Jeromy riding back to make sure I hadnt been hauled off by vultures, and we chatted a bit as we headed into the start finish. With 1k to go, I was determined not to finish dead last, so I knew I had to outsprint one of these guys. The steam engine took up 3rd wheel and I took 2nd, and we slowly crawled in, with the lead out man looking over his shoulder constantly. With 500m to go, I started going faster and faster, and he matched my speed. We both expected the big guy to come around us, but he dropped off instead. So I punched it (for me atleast!) and outsprinted the other guy to the line by a few feet. They recorded him as beating me, but eyewitnesses to event would tell you otherwise. A small victory to an otherwise sub-par ride.

    Strava Ride Data:

    Elite 3 Road Race

    Video of Jeromy and I (starting at about 2:10)

    After Saturdays crappy showing, I was determined to ride smarter. The weather was set to be in the 80s, which was a bit hot for me, so I hoped I could conserve and make it through on 3 water bottles. I sat in, and avoided the damaging road, and stay connected up the climb. We rode considerably slower the first lap (86 mins vs. 82 mins the day before) and I felt pretty good. Lap 2 was a different story however. We hit the climb, and like the day before, the 2nd half started killing me. I heard Jeromy breathing hard next to me as he slowly drifted back with about 1 mile left going up. I was bouncing back and forth off the back desperately trying to stay stuck on. I must have either fallen off myself or had the guy in front of me drop off 5 or 6 times. Finally, right before the last push, I just couldnt do anything more. Now I was just plain angry.

    I quickly gathered up a few other stragglers in front of me and tried to get them to work. One stupidly said just a minute, let me catch my breath! The field was less then 300m away and getting ready for a downhill, and we couldnt wait. I just moved around him and told them to stay on. We worked a bit but were falling apart until I saw the sweetest sight in the worldthe wavy stripes of a pair of Penvelo shorts. I thought for sure I was hallucinating but those shiny white Sidis were quite familiar to me, and Jeromy came roaring past us and pulled directly in front of me. I sprinted to catch his wheel and we were gone.

    This was the best part of the entire racenot only did we close the gap on the short descent, we flew right past the rest of the field to end up at the front by the time we got down. The road is windy, but not super steep or technical, more like Hwy 84 than Kings or Old La Honda. The field strung out single file and we simply passed 8-10 guys per turn carrying atleast 5mph more speed. It was just sheer luck that nobody was going very fast, because there is no way that would have been possible the day before in the Masters field. But I wasnt complaining!

    We had mapped the course out and had our 10k and 5k to go landmarks all set. I still felt pretty reasonable and was ready for the run up to the finish. I drank all my water and found myself needing a little top off. Jeromy loves the heat and clearly needed very little fluid since he had 1.5 bottles left. I waited for a slower section and pulled up alongside and asked for a bottle. Just as he handed it to me and grabbed his own, a few riders ahead of us touched wheels drinking, eating or picking their noses, and I had that horrible moment of resignation when you see the rider in front of you crash to the ground and you are helpless to avoid them. At that particular moment, I had the water bottle in my right hand, and my left hand was on the tops, so I had no brakes at all. I simply did my best to dodge, managed a little bunnyhop over his carbon wheels (They were Reynolds, I got a very good look at them) and somehow stayed up, on the road and didnt hit anyone else.

    After realizing I had cashed in atleast one of my 9 lives, my next thought was wheres Jeromy? Of course he was not as lucky and had gone down. Cursing I kept looking around for him and pulled off to the side and drifted back. I couldnt decided if I should drop off or stay on, as I doubted I would help him much on the rollers. The moto came back and said everyone had gotten up, but as a group of chasers caught on, I couldnt see Jeromy. I went to the front and got everyone to slow down for a minute, but after a bit of that they were eager to motor on. Jeromy wasnt able to catch back on due to a Boonen-esque chain malfunction, but he was luckily just scraped up, and most importantly his bike wasnt broken.

    The slow down let the entire field get back together, so 50+ of us were now riding slow/fast/slow/fast with nobody wanting to take pulls at the front this close to the finish. Add to it exhaustion, narrow lanes, and twitchy excitement, and you have the perfect recipe for more crashes. And crash we did. With about a mile to go, another guy went down and off the side of the pavement, and this really seemed to spook everyone. So we slowed down even more. At this point, we made the last turn onto the slight up hill and everything clogged up. We were 8 wide and packed in at slow speed as frustrated riders in the back tried to force their way up. At 300m to go one last rider fell right next to me and I narrowly avoided that one. I was already 25 guys back and figured this might be the wisdom before glory and I just let off. I wasnt going to be able to hold the speed to the line anyway once the leaders had jumped, so I decided to cut my losses and stay up. So I finished 5 seconds behind the main field, glad to be upright but utterly disappointed that I could not do better at this damn race.

    In retrospect, I can see two areas of weakness I need to improve on: longer hard efforts (10-20 minutes with surges) and building my 1-2 minute power. When they jump on the gas, I just cant hold more than 350 watts on anything but an uphill, and its not enough to keep me connected on those high-speed run ins.

    Jeromy rolled in shortly thereafter and to put a silver lining on it all, we got back to the hotel to shower before the 1pm checkout, which made that 4.5 hour drive home WAY more pleasant!

    Strava Ride Data:

    A few good days on the bike

    Last modified on 2011-06-02 16:35:15 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    For their last field trip of the year, the cub scouts got to learn some bicycle safety and do a group bike ride together. Matty quickly decided he was going to race everyone, and faster than I could even get the camera out, he was gone.

    And besides learning how to pass safely on the left, they somehow found every…single…puddle and bit of mud so that they were covered in seconds. Who can blame them, its a blast!

    Add this to the bike fun we had yesterday as I chased Matty around an office park, and its been a good several days on the bike

    Race Report: Mt. Hamilton Classic 05.29.2011

    Last modified on 2011-05-31 20:09:36 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Event: Mt. Hamilton RR E3
    Date: 05.29.11
    Teammates: Jeromy, Markus, Dave N., Ross (and Tom Dillon in the feed!)
    Place: 14th/61
    Avg/Max Power: 226 w/60s 325w
    Avg/Max HR: 176/193

    Left it all on the road - photo copyright Thomas Preisler

    For those who arent familiar with this course, it starts with an 18 mile climb (http://app.strava.com/rides/643612#9576628) which isnt ever all that steep, but hits 7-8% grade for the last few miles to the top, for a total elevation gain just shy of 3700 ft. The other downside of this course is that it starts immediately on the climbmaking a good warmup essential as you quickly find yourself being forced deep into the red. This year was no exception to that.

    Jacob Berkman set a blistering pace right from the start, and unfortunately for us, he never let up (his name is now on my blacklist!). The ironic part of this was that he had no chance of winning, because in talking with him in the past, his Achilles heel is bike handling, so he loses all kinds of time on descents like Hamilton. So this was his chance to shine, and he shattered the field. Once he learns to handle his bike, he will be a top-notch rider. But I digress.

    This year I was determined to try and stay on over the top, but by mile 15 or so I was digging so deep that no matter how much I mentally dug in, the body was going to hit a limit. I had been doing 50+ mins at about 185 beats and 270 watts, which was just more than I had in me. Jeromy and I both lost contact with the leading group of about 20 riders but worked with a group as I tried to recover for the rest of the ride ahead. I have seen people overreach on the climb and blow on the long windy sections of Mines Rd, so I dialed back and latched on. Even then, I climbed this a whopping 10 minutes faster than last years E3 race! At the summit our chase group was about 1 minute down as we started going down, and I made my first tactical misjudgment.

    I could have bombed the descent, but went over the top 4th in our group, and got stuck behind someone who could not descend well. The gap quickly opened up and I struggled to get around him. Just then, the eventual 3rd place finisher flew past me blatantly disregarding the centerline rule as though he was in the Tour of California. This really pissed me off because I clearly could have gone faster, but my respect for my own life (and the fact that my wife would kick my ass) kept me from following suite. This proved disastrous as the guys in front of us opened up even more space until I could safely get around the block. At that point, the small group ahead had opened up a 500m gap, and we spent a good long time bridging back up to them. Eventually we did and struggled to work well together as the stronger riders would take strong fast pulls that the next rider couldnt follow, so we couldnt put it all together. This is where my second tactical decision of the race haunts me. One rider decided he was tired of our speed and jumped out on his own, and hauled two riders who had been sitting on with him. They motored away and while I waffled on whether I should jump or not, they got away. I was hurting badly on the flat sections and wasnt at all sure I would be able to hang in. This group did bridge back to the lead group that was about a minute up the road. We saw them all as we came to the last significant climb of the race, and they werent going all that fast. I had a glimmer of hope

    Which led me to dig in a little deeper yet again and put everything on the line up the climb. I could see we were making up some ground on them, but I wasnt able to catch them and that was the last time I saw them. We regrouped at the top of the climb and motored the rest of the last 20 miles into the finish. Things eased up a little and I just kept watching the miles tick down, but not nearly fast enough. I had started getting a side cramp at mile 30 that seemed immune to my food and fluid intake, and it finally let up with about 10 to go. Everyone seemed content to take pulls and get us to the finish, but I suspected it was the calm before the storm.
    Sure enough, as soon as we could all taste the finish coming in, Kyle Glernum (Thirsty Bear) tried to launch himself away from us, and I worked to cover all of the accelerations to let Jeromy rest up for the sprint finish. Kyle bombed the final descent and put the hammer down, but the wind was strong so for once I was able to stay glued on and I may just have been smiling as we carved through the canyon.. Coming into town, I saw the bridge and moved myself onto the front just outside of 1k to go. My legs were protesting loudly, but I just put my head down and started leading the train into the finish. Jeromy was third wheel and just waiting for Kyle to go, and when he jumped around I watched the crew speed away and wasnt able to muster much of an acceleration. Unfortunately the miles took their toll on Jeromys legs as well and he seized up just before the line and got passed by two of the guys in our group. But all in all, I came into the race prepared mentally and physically, and left it all on the road with nothing left in the tank. I just didnt quite have what it took to stay with the front group.
    Lessons learned: stay focusedI knew it could be dangerous to not be in the lead at the descent, but that also applies to a group of any size, not just the field. Unless you know them, get in front of them! Tactically, I rode as best I could, and took a fair amount of risk but didnt let it all ride on the line. I need to push myself a little more to see if I can risk completely shelling myself instead of being more conservative. Mental tenacity was strong, at one point I had to keep saying I Can Do It literally over and over to the cadence of my breathing because my body was screaming at me to stop. Forget it. Shut up legs!

    Race Report: Cat’s Hill Criterium 05.14.2011

    Last modified on 2011-05-20 17:22:16 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    at 23% grade, its an achievement to crest it

    Event: Cats Hill Crit

    Category: E3
    Distance: 20 laps (19 miles)
    Date: 5-14-2011
    Teammates: Jeromy, Mark C., Tom, Erik
    Bike: Time with 50×34 | 11-23
    Placing: 17th

     

    Last night getting prepared for the race, I was like a bird in a cage, bouncing around with nervous energy. I had spent the week resting from several weeks of hard work secretly concerned I had inadvertently dug myself into a black pit of over-training in my zeal to prepare for big races in the next few weeks. Add to that the fact that I had a score to settleI was pulled from this race last year with 5 laps to go, and that scar has stayed with me, like a jailhouse tattoo.

    The E3 team lined up behind a goal of getting Jeromy to the last corner in a position to win the race. Both Tom and Mark have had good results already this season, and Erik and I have been steadily progressing, so I felt we had a real solid chance of executing the plan. We had 20 laps to get through, with 9 primes, and knowing it can be tough to move around, we agreed to all be at the front with 5 to go.

    Always nice to clip in fast and be first to the corner

    PV assaults the Hill

     

     

     

     

     

    Personally, this course is a real challenge for me. 20-30 second bursts of power arent my specialty, so I wanted to

    make sure I didnt over-exert myself on the climb, and was constantly moving forward instead of sitting in the pack. Last year I found myself losing a few spaces all along the course, and was suddenly on the tail end and unable to make up enough ground when it mattered. This year, I came with better fitness and the field never really got a consistent group of people willing to take the front, which let me conserve energy for most of the race.

     

    We had some solo fliers and occasionally they were joined by a second, but each time that happened, Mark ormyself was at the front and ready to pull them back if they got too far out. This was made even easier with Clark calling out splits so life was good. And thank god for all of you out there cheeringon the hill, on the backside, and everywhere in between. Each time I hit the wall, I heard someone yelling my name or go PV! and it gave me that extra little boost to dismiss my suffering and dig just a little deeper. It was energizing and empowering (see videos!!)

     


    Cats Hill E3 a video by nekoball on Flickr.

    The video itself shows Jeromy well, but I’m on the far side. What’s great is the voices of our children cheering us with all they have. Its the reason I was able to dig deep on this hill, their support was the extra bonus


    Cats Hill E3 a video by nekoball on Flickr.

    Here’s a great angle of the bottom of the hill when we’re carrying speed into it. That speed drops precipitously by the top where you struggle to turn over the gear and keep the rear wheel connected with the pavement

    Here’s a video from Tom Dillon’s camera of the last 6 laps. You can see we were working hard to control the speed near the end.

    Fast forward to 5 to go, and Im sitting about 12 guys back on the climb. Mark and Jeromy are in front of me, and just as I start to wonder where Tom is, he comes cruising by me with those twin pistons of his putting out some god-awful amount of wattage. I really didnt know if I would last to this point, so I felt great to be there, and proceeded to cross the redline repeatedly as the climb and little bump after started to be faster and faster. Still, I was able to make up spots whenever I wanted on the top straights and downhills as people stuck to one main line to avoid all of the other holes and ruts. I guess I was missing cyclocross, cause I just stuck to the curb and went for it.

    The trick is going fast while dancing around your redline

    Pushing over the top: Photo by Focusoncycling.com

    With two laps to go, I came through the Start/Finish in the top 5, and took a pull for a few corners until the climb. Once I hit the climb, I felt like I started going backwards as people really started killing it and I was forced to ride the gutter to try and stay in contact and keep moving up. Mark and Jeromy were up in the front 10, so I felt like we were still in good shape.

    The last lap is kinda fuzzy in my mind, probably something to do with oxygen deprivation and pain in too many places on my body. Things were getting spirited and I was cut off by someone chopping the corner on Turn 1, forcing me to slow down and sprint to try and catch on. At the hill, I was about 15th, and by the top about 25th. I knew this was it, and I dug even deeper and just kept the hammer down all the way past the bump to the corner. I made a risky move up the right side that forced me to sprint hard to get to the corner while the front was still single file or Id be cut off from my line. As I arrived there, I saw Jeromy about 10 riders in front of me, sitting on the front of the field. That was not the plan, and while I knew he can uncork wicked amounts of power, I wanted to try and give him a better chance. Everyone in the top 5 slowed down at this point watching each other so I put my head down and came around on the inside, picked up Jeromy, and tried to imagine I was Cancellara with 1500 watts waiting to be unleashed. Unfortunately, it was probably little more than a 5th of that, and Jeromy came around me before the turn and I tried desperately to coax just a little more from my legs to get me over the last 250 meters. Unfortunately, the bridge must have been speaking a language the engine room couldnt understand, because no more power came. I was a little bummed because I really felt with 2 to go that I could hang on for a top 10, but it didnt work out that way today.

    Pushing the limit to lead Jeromy out photo by Focusoncycling.com

     

    But all in all, it was a good effort and good day of racing, and I conquered the Hill. Tactically I rode smart and kept myself in the running. Lessons learned: keep moving up, don’t let off the gas after the hill, and do more 5 min intervals before Cat’s Hill to give myself enough punch to make it from the bottom of the hill to the finish line. Practice fast paced turns and keep your team upfront.

    MJ

     

    Lots of great pictures from several people including my wife Cami, enjoy the gallery.

    Race Report: Wente Vineyards Road Race, 04.30.11

    Last modified on 2011-05-12 20:53:34 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Date: April 30th
    Category: E3
    Teammates: Erik, Ross, Dave N, Mark C., Mark S., Tom
    Placing: 18th/60 some odd
    Stats: 3:09, 166bpm avg, 209 watts avg
    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/83438085

    Beaten, but happy to make it! Photo Copyright by martinez_velo

    For those who havent done this race, the course has a challenging combination of climbs, rollers, a fast descent and wind. And boy was there wind. Driving in at 6:30 we saw the trees were swaying heavily and there was grumbling in the car that perhaps we should just toss in the towel and head home. Personally, the wind and I are like oil and water, so I mentally was just preparing myself for it to feel like I was climbing the entire race, whether the road went uphill or not. I made a mental note to throw my invisible lasso and spurs into my rear pockets, to help ensure that no matter what happened, I would NOT let even the hint of a gap open up in those windy sections or I would be toast.

    Course Map

    Our team meeting set out some good guidelines and we all lined up with very little warmup in our legs. The first moments of headwind and my legs were already aching a bit, but I hoped that was just residual from my LT test the day before and that if I could keep from maxing out on the first time up the climb, Id be ok. The team did a good job of riding near the front. We had two riders take off after about 2k before the climb and so I parked myself near the front so that if anyone else decided to try and bridge, I would go with them even though I thought their chances of staying away were small with the winds.

    As the field hit the feed zone, we had really started ratcheting up the intensity and I didnt look back, but I knew we were probably already shedding some of the 80+ riders that started the race. Dave and Mark C. made it look easy and we all floated over the top into the rollers in the top 30 riders. I could already see we would have a group of about 10-15 riders that were climbing better than the rest and figured wed see that selection happen in the next two laps.

    The rollers and descent were a blissful reprieve from the wind and I focused on taking in fluids and eating to keep my energy up for the pain still to come. The descent down was only made challenging by the double-yellow rules and it strung out single file so I took the opportunity to move up a few spots without spending any energy (its my racing mantra: move up whenever it costs the least). The windless section was not to last long, and as we made the right turn to head back into town strong cross winds forced the field onto the double yellow as debris from trees and rather large branches blew across the road. Of course nobody wanted to work together, so instead of echeloning, we just pacelined and I did my best to avoid being stuck on the front.

    The last climb before the start line saw one or two guys blast up the road a little, but nothing came of it and we brought them back a few minutes later. Our two-man breakaway kept plodding on, but we still had them in sight and I counted less than 30 seconds from when they passed a power pole to when we did, so I wasnt worried. The temperature was rising and I had already peeled off my arm warmers and finished one bottle, so I was planning on taking a feed on laps 3 and possibly 4. We hammered up the climb and this time a true selection was made, and Mark C went with about 8 riders. Dave and I were situated at the front so I was more than happy to ease up just a bit and let them grow a gap. Unfortunately, we brought them back on the rollers as Mark drifted back to us and said nobody was really committed and it was too early still. The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful.

    Our 3rd time up the climb, I was really starting to suffer. I ate more but could feel that I was starting to get dehydrated and unfortunately I ended up with a bottle of plain water instead of my superhero drink mix in the feed zone (but was I ever GLAD to get something as some poor guy sat there calling out for neutral water, in the sad hopes that someone would give him something). We caught the break on the climb and I entered that mental state in which one simply thinks about turning over the pedals and finding a rhythm of suffering. Before I knew it, Mark was next to Dave and I rolling on a soft rear tire and thats when things got dicey. I slowed with him and looked back to see we only had about 45 riders left, and no PV jerseys were in the short line-of-sight we had. The problem was, I run Campy and Mark had Shimano, but we stopped and started to exchange wheels anyway when the follow car came up. Mark was able to get a wheel from them, so I started to fit my wheel back on when I saw Ken Gallardo from the M123 field come by off the front. The wheel car was taking its sweet time and then we had the chase group from the M123 field come by and in the confusion I missed Mark getting done with his wheel change and wasnt able to match his acceleration (the boy can sprint!) as he worked his ass off to get in front of the M123 field. This left me about 50 yards back on the tail end of their field fighting the headwind by myself. But on the back of that train was my best friend in all the world, PVs very own Murray Swanson, and he was kind enough to make room next to him so I wasnt working with them, but still could get some relief from the wind before we hit the downhill. This effort put me way into the red, and thoughts of abandoning the race at the start line started to creep in.

    I pulled out all the stops and was gratified to catch two other 3s riders on the descent as I took some crazy chances because if I didnt have a wheel to sit on in the wind I was going to be blown to death before I ever got back to civilization. The 3 of us worked alongside of the m123 field and passed them just as we were going up the climb. I spotted Mark soloing about 25 yards ahead of us, so I started pushing the pace with my group so we could catch him as soon as possible to give him some relief. We caught him at the start area and motored on as a group of 4.

    And then like a desert mirage, I saw this glimmer in front of me that I was sure was a bonk-induced illusion: a neutralized 3s field BEFORE the base of the climb. I immediately told Mark to throttle back and sent Ken Gallardo a mental high five for catching our field and causing this (THANK YOU KEN!). I was being paid back for all those rescued kittens and counted myself fortunate. Dave was happy to see us and quickly escorted us to the front right after we went live again. Thus, I found myself in the top 20 on the climb again. Thats when two guys decided to scratch each others backs or something and next thing you know, two or three guys are going down UP the climb. Dave and I were both right in the middle of it, but I skirted off the to side and prepared to stop if he was caught up, but we both made it through. With that the race was on, the climb was a blur and a final selection was made that was chasing a break of 6 guys that had gotten off the front someplace on the last lap. Mark made that selection and while I was close to the gap, I dug as deep as I could and just had nothing left to give to make it across. I watched frustrated as they opened it up, but looked down to see my HR at 192 and knew I was on the ropes. The rest of the lap was uneventful and at the start area there was some blocking and nobody really wanted to fight it. Then a solo guy launched off the front and I decided this was my chance, because I was so gassed I knew I wouldnt be able to out-accelerate anyone at the finish. We traded pulls and never got much more than 10 seconds, but I just kept going as hard as I could. The field caught us at the feedzone and then I jumped again in a desperate attempt to open a little gap. I was passed by two people who just motored away, and when I tried to catch them both calves seized up (not enough water) then traded pulls with one other rider who eventually out sprinted me. So I ended up 4th in my group, which I was really pleased with. I ended up 18th overall, which on the balance of it was a good reward for a hard day in the saddle. As we watched others come through the finish line, every head was down with eyes glued to their front wheel. It was suffering for all.

    Lessons learned: get your shit together faster when youre going to pace someone back so youre not caught unaware.

    Lessons re-learned: Never give up. Ever. When cycling ceases to be physical, its all mental. It is the crucial difference. And still need more water than I think I do in these efforts. Cramping is bad!

    MJ

    Progress: OLH time comes down

    Last modified on 2011-05-09 17:01:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    Cycling is a strange sport in that you sacrifice a great deal to spend countless hours and miles in the saddle, and yet how you spend that time changes week to week, month to month and year to year. How do you know if you’re improving? Athletes spend time measuring their power (watts), their weekly mileage, intensity intervals, and race against the clock on a course they have done before.

    Locally, one of the legendary climbs in N. Cal is Old La Honda. Its a nice climb that’s not horribly difficult in terms of pitch, but its long enough to make you suffer. I use this climb as a measure of my fitness at any moment in time, but haven’t had much luck on it this last year, despite spending more quality and consistent time on the bike. Last year was my first time really back on the bike in many years, and I have struggled to find my climbing legs and produce the speed and power I used to (I know all old farts were better in their memories, but really, I used to be a good climber!)

    Last year I struggled to break 20 minutes, which really surprised me. I knew I was capable of better. Finally in March, I broke 20 minutes. Here’s my history:

    2010 Results

    • 3-8-2010: 24:10 (200w/178bpm) First real attempt of the season, pretty lackluster but high HR
    • 3-21-10:19:35 (232w/178bpm) Rode this with the PV club ride and was giving it an all out effort. I was not able to repeat this for some time!
    • 6-9-2010: 19:12 (230w/183bpm) My best effort just before Pescadero. I tested at 4.3 w/kg (244w) 2 weeks later after my best result of the year on the road at Pedscadero RR (still only 20th)

    2011 Results

       

      Old La Honda Statistics:

      Max. grade: 15% (18% inside switchbacks)

      Main climb:

      Avg. grade: 7.3% (elev. gain/dist)

      Length: 3.35 miles (5.39 km)

      Elev. gain: 1290 feet (393 m)

      Entire profile:

      Avg. grade: 7.2%

      Length: 3.37 miles (5.42 km)

      Climb: 1290 feet (393 m)

      Old La Honda Profile from Stanford

      Race Report: Santa Cruz Criterium, 04.17.11

      Last modified on 2011-05-20 17:15:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

      Yours truly takes a pull

      Short: Tons of teammates, good racing, redemption!

      After having a rather crappy day on the bike, I spent most of the night not sleeping and the 5:45am alarm went off and all I could think was “screw this!” Luckily Erik was picking me up, so I was com

      mitted or I would have just crawled back in bed and slept. Baring that, I put a little food in me and packed my stuff up and headed out. I’ve been trying hard to arrive early to races this year to get a good warmup in, and I felt much better than at Sea Otter, so I was optimistic and yet worried I’d struggle. Santa Cruz was my first race back last year, and it was pure suffering for me to even hang on. I had hoped I’d made better progress this year, but lacked confidence after my ass kicking on Saturday. I got a good warmup and was confident that Tom, Mark C. and Dave were in good shape to make something happen. My goal was to ride in support of them and not let the race get out of hand. I got a good start at the front and went into the hairpin in the top 5 someplace.

      While not strong enough to pull the field, I positioned myself to keep an eye on everyone at the front and not let people surge around us. There we some nice independents

      digging deep to put some pressure on

      who were perfectly happy to pull us around, so I just sat about 3rd wheel and kept the pace high. This allowed me to take the hairpin at full speed, which saved me tons of energy as I didn’t need to kill it sprinting full speed to catch/pass people. I also did a much better job of defending my position in the field by not allowing people to overtake me or push me off wheels, and by using the sides of the course in the gutter (Thanks Larry Nolan!). I felt confident and controlled, and only was out-classed when people really gunned it on the hill and came around me.

      PV train at the front

      With 2 to go, Mark C and Tom got to the front and totally drilled it. I got caught in a traffic jam at the start/finish on the last lap as someone on the left sat up and the lucky guys blew by on the right. I took all sorts of chances riding the gutter on the descent into the hairpin and on the backside, but just couldn’t make up enough spots to stay competitive in the sprint. I watched Mark and Tom put themselves into the top 10 and Dave went for a strong finish as well. I felt like I redeemed myself from the crappy road race and I never really felt like I was on the ropes during the whole race. I look forward to the next one!

      Here’s a youtube video from a teammate’s camera:

      MJ

      Race Report: Sea Otter Road Race 04.16.2011

      Last modified on 2011-05-20 17:15:14 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

      Date(s): April 16/17
      Races: E3 Sea Otter RR
      Teammates: Jeromy, Markus, Erik, Ross, Dave N

      This will be a short report. I signed up for the Sea Otter RR because it was supposed to be a course that suited my strengths well–lots of elevation gain, little wind, and a long, uphill finish. Having tested my legs a few weeks ago at San Dimas and found them rather lacking. I was hoping this weekend would work out a little better. I should have known by our pre-race antics (imagine: 2 hour drive, hydration, and an unexpectedly long line of cars getting into Laguna Seca, and one not-so-clean Clean Bottle). You get the picture…

      Sea Otter was great opportunity because I knew Jeromy and Ross were feeling strong and my goal was to work as best I could to get them into position. The course starts out with a long neutral start which saw me doing over 340 watts on the climb which gave me pause…but I stayed at the front and just rode it out. The course is short is a short initial climb (2-3 mins) followed by a fun full-speed downhill, a few more bumps and then a steeper short climb at the feed zone. Then you do a few rollers, hit a fast downhill, and make a sharp left back onto the initial climb. Repeat 6 or 7 times (I can’t recall) and then head to the finish which is a good 3k climb to the finish line.

      The field rolled around the course the first time and I felt pretty good–but that feeling was soon to end. We motored through the neutral zone and I saw I was doing 350 watts up the hill just to hold my position in the front. But having never done the race, I wanted to stay very close to the front and not risk getting gapped or dropped on any of the quick uphill jaunts. A solo flyer rolled off the front and we were content to let them roll–there were 5 PV guys in the field so people were looking to us to do some work and chase. We let him hang out a good lap or so, and then a second rider peeled away up the main climb. Now we had two riders off, and Jeromy and I were sitting at the front keeping an eye on them. About half way through the lap I decided we needed to catch these fools, so I went to the front and drilled it until the feed zone. This turned out to be the end of my race as the field streamed past me up the bump past the feedzone. I had told myself I wouldn’t let gaps open, so I worked hard, stayed top 15, and motored on. Sadly, my body started to rebel and I just didn’t feel myself. When we hit the initial climb, I went backwards and just watched everyone go by. I wasn’t even 1/3 of the way through the race and was off the back. I found some friends and we motored through the rest of the race just surviving. I continued to feel like a someone had sent me through the 1200 rpm spin cycle and felt worse as time went on. Finally, on the last lap, I recovered from the ugliness and put in one more good lap. End result: somewhat demoralized and frustrated that my body let me down. I think I ended up about in 20th or so about 15 mins down on the leader. The good news was that Jeromy pulled out a 4th place and Ross did 10th. That felt good even if I wasn’t there to do much to help out.

      Lessons learned: don’t eat Clif Bars and ride a bike. Time from arrival to actual parking may cause in excess of 28 ounces. Always look behind you to make sure there isn’t a cop two cars behind you before taking care of the previous issue

      Why I did SDSR 2011

      Last modified on 2011-05-12 20:53:34 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

      There was no illusion of preparedness
      There was no fitness
      There would be nothing less than maximal effort

      But family, friends and cycling go so well together. Being able to race side by side with Esteban again reminded me of the good times when we were 19, not 39. Friends are like that. And now we have little copies of ourselves sharing those good times with us, so what could be more fun?

      The races themselves pushed me way beyond my limits, and started my season in earnest. I plan on it again next year.


      Suffering at BASP #3: Sierra Point

      Last modified on 2011-05-12 20:53:34 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

      111310BASP#3-2480

      111310BASP#3-2480,
      originally uploaded by Paul Doran.

      This was probably the hardest cross race I have done this season. The course was perfectly constructed to reveal all of my weaknesses–bumpy conditions that I can’t sit down for, and nice long, flat straight-aways on the road, with hairpins at the end. Everyone else was pleased to have these road sections to power and pass on, but all I could do was hang on and take a better line through the corner. Got dropped a few times on them. Why do I race road at all??? It does beg the question…

      BASP3_IMG_0397

      Photos from the 2010 Cycling and Cross Seasons

      CCCX #5: Manzanita Park: Mud, Sweat, Tears and Victory!

      Last modified on 2011-05-12 20:53:34 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

      A rainy start for the 35+ B Men at Manzanita Park

      Category: Men’s 35+ B
      Place: 1st
      Tires: Hutchinson 34C clinchers @27 psi F/R

      When one conjures images of cyclocross, its usually wet, cold and muddy conditions where dirt and water have penetrated every part of ones body and bike, and only a hosing down at the end would make it even remotely possible to get back into your car for the journey home. CCCX #5 at Manzanita park was wet and muddy, but luckily it was pretty temperate except during some of the downpours.

      The course was a fairly long, flat course with several 90 and 180 degree turns, complete with muddy corners and slushy double-tracks, which basically circled a few baseball fields. The start/finish is on the only significant hill of the day, and even that was not more than 350-400m long at about 3% grade.

      Having done dry, technical courses with lots of elevation change, this layout did not seem to suit me all that well. My first warm up lap on the course confirmed my suspicionsI was working pretty hard just to get myself around the course, and there were no real rest points that I could catch a micro-recovery in. Without the fast, technical downhills to help me open a little space, I knew this was going to be a hard day.

      So we lined up for our start in the rain, and I prematurely threw my rain jacket aside thinking wed be starting momentarily. Well some delays were afoot and 15 minutes later we were all shivering and thoroughly soaked through. The good news was however I was 2nd row this time around, no more repeats of

      First lap madness as I take some alternate lines to pass

      BASP where I spend the entire race trying to make my way around people instead of actually racing to be competitive. A few guys shot off the front, but I was able to hold myself in about 6th position going into the first set of 180 hairpins. We were powering pretty hard and I did my best to hold off any challenges from behind while taking advantage of other riders hesitations as we hit the first muddy sections. Throughout the first section I took some more

      challenging but faster lines and passed the leaders one by one until I was in front about way through the lap. However, I was borrowing heavily from my meager lactic acid savings account, and knew I would have trouble keeping this pace going for another 45 minutes.

      So I pushed the first lap really hard and opened about 15 seconds on the leaders and started to

      Working my way up single track mud climb

      catch people from the field that started ahead of us. I tried to strategically pass them quickly so that they would clog up my chasers on the more technical parts of the course. This seemed to

      work in my favor and after 3 laps, I had opened it up over 30 seconds, and that was when I was ready to simply die. I would have given anything for the race to be over,

      and if I wasnt leading, I probably would have slid under a tree and took a nap instead. My glasses were virtually opaque and I just didnt have any more gas in the tank, so I focused on riding clean lines and staying upright. My last few races when I get far into the race, I get so tired that my handling skills go down and I begin to make mistakes. Luckily, this time around that wasnt the case.

      The last few laps are a blur, and I sort of lost track of where my chase groups were. I tried to listen to them

      Uncorking my astounding sprint...but it was good enough!

      call off numbers after I went by, and could tell that I had a good 40+ seconds on the next guy. So my last lap I just concentrated on surviving it and making sure that horrible sound coming from my drivetrain was not going to leave my stranded and running the last half a lap. I passed a few more folks and then hit the hill on

      my last time up and gave it my all. In my delerium, I thought suddenly that someone was catching me, so I gassed it even harder until I simply passed over the line, unable to put up my hands or anything. Turns out it was someone that I had passed a half lap earlier trying to make contact again. I heard the sounds of the heavy breathing and could think only of holding them off with my fearsome sprintright

      Anyway, it was my first win since something like 1995 and it felt great to do. I watched the A riders go by the next hour and saw how fast guys go, so I have a long way to go, but Im enjoying the ride, which is all that matters.

      BASP #1: Merritt College 10-17-2010

      Last modified on 2011-05-12 20:53:35 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

      Category: M35+ B
      Place: 18 of 77 finishers

      BASP #1: Menko carry

      Having ridden successfully the week before at CCCX #4 at Toro Park to a 3rd place finish, I was jazzed to do this race. Since I had flatted at the end of the last race, I even ponied up for a set Fulcrum Racing 5s with some 34c Hutchinson tires so I would have a backup set of wheels. After watching the first race of the day I was sure glad I did, as rider after rider punctured on the sharp rocks all over the course.

      The course was a new one at Merritt College in Oakland, and presented riders with a combination of sand, single-track and sharp objects: thorns, rocks and some glass. Unlike the two previous courses Ive raced, there was no significant stretches of downhill or uphill (these do seem to go together) but there were a few technical sections made challenging by the loose sand and obstacles. I was excited to try it out on my wider tires but put a very conservative 38psi in my tires to insure I didnt puncture.

      Men's B 35 Start

      All of that was for not, because as I made my way over to the start, I saw a large field of attendees already arrayed for the start. You can just barely see the side of my head on the left side here, about 5 rows back. Not a great place to start from, and I knew I was in trouble. Nevertheless, I pegged the first two laps but was held up by the congestion on the single tracks and the leaders just kept opening up space. I successfully passed several more people over the next few laps, but never did get a good sense of where I was in the field. Considering that I was only passed by one person, I figured I was in good shape, but the final results put me in at 18th place. I am not sure thats accurate, and as it turns out, there has been a lot of trouble with the timing chips used so who knows.

      However, I did start to lapse into oxygen debt so severely that I started making mistakes near the end. I took some big chances passing on even narrow sections, and had some fun two-wheel skidding through some corners. However, the 2nd to last corner added some new holes and shredding to my skinsuit, as I lost traction on my front tire momentarily and hit the deck at high speed. Undetered, I just got back up and rode, but was frustrated to crash with only 1 lap to go. I need to work on riding a little more conservatively, which will come if I ever find some fitness. Click the photos below to look at the gallery of pictures.

      Gallery of Photos

      Photos from BASP

      My first foray into cyclecross

      Last modified on 2010-10-06 03:58:11 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

      While cyclocross has been gaining prominence in the last 5 years and moving from the odd-ball cycling sport to a rather popular winter undertaking, I have been sitting on the sidelines about it for more than a year. Not wanting to try it because I was afraid I’d enjoy it, and not wanting to try it because I was afraid I would land wrong and really mess up my nerve. But I put my fear aside and did my first race last Sunday, the CCCX #3 at Ford Ord, CA
      While still pretty unfit from all of my time off recovering from the achillies injury, I was able to crank out 50 minutes above LT and survive, so I’m carrying a little fitness into winter season this year, as compared to last.

      Why do you have to carry your bike???

      A nice photo of me that shows the aftermath of my first 5 seconds

      Race Blog
      Event: CCCX #3
      Category: M35+ B
      PVers: Erik, Dave S., Ross and Yvonne
      Field: 30ish
      Place: 6

      Two weeks ago, I hopped on a cross bike for the first time, and I was instantly hooked. The thrill of sliding around through corners on skinny dirt tires and wondering just how far I push them before they slide out. Ive always avoided cross because I didnt want to go through the whole dismount/run/remount routine, because really bikes are for riding, not carrying, right?

      But over some finely brewed home beer, Erik and Ross convinced me to come out and give it a try. So we headed out and I lined up to do the Mens 35+ B race. After test riding the course, I knew the start was going to be entertaining. It went downhill for about 200m, then went to a near U-tern left hander. I was in the third row, and all I wanted to do was get a decent start so I could get moving. Sadly, the guy in front of me had other ideas in mind. After missing his pedal a few times, he seemed to panic, started swerving, and before I knew it he was full on endo-ing, right in front of me. I tried to break out to go around him, but being elbow to elbow with everyone else and going full out I was resigned to slam into him. So 5 seconds into my first race, I was on the ground staring at the sky and cursing.

      I got up, straightened out my handlebars, and wondered what was broken on my bike and body, and I see Erik, Ross and Dave S. all looking at me wondering if I was going to get up. Then I got angry, because I had just dropped $30 for 5 seconds of riding, so I hopped back on and started chasing after a field that had disappeared from sight. My knee was in a fair bit of pain, so my first lap I was only 80%. The course was a great combination of semi-technical singletrack, sandy straights, and great downhill chutes. The climb was short and had two tracks up it, so I was able to reattach myself to back of the field fairly quickly. I made the mistake of looking down to see my HR pegged up around 190, so I quickly put my eyes back on the line instead. I was able to pick off about 10 people by taking some risks and then settled into a rhythm. I was still exploring the limits of the cross bike, so I had a few close calls but kept going. I ran up on Joe from 3rd Pillar and he cheered me on, which helped me dig in a little deeper and just focus on the riders in front of me.

      the aftermath

      riding home with a little less skin

      Each lap afterwards, I worked hard not to puke or crash, but felt like I was getting the feel of the bike and the course, and was able to steadily pass other riders. On the downhills I consistently went faster each lap and passed people on the climb and singletrack sections. Our field had started 1 minute behind the Mens B race, so I really had no idea where I was in our field of about 30 or so riders. The last lap I pushed as hard as I possibly could, flew through the downhills and corners, which almost had me on the ground several times as my handling skills went down as I got more tired. Finally, I ]cleared the last hurdles and began to sprint to the line only to hear the announcer say and here is the 6th place finisher. Surprisingly, that was me.

      Overall, for my first cross race I was happy to get a feel for how a cross bike handles, remount without killing myself, and finish the race smiling. While Ill hardly become a cross addict like the rest of you, Im certainly going to come along for the ride!

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      2 Responses to “Cycling”

      1. Dee Kabelon 18 Oct 2010 at 9:39 pm

        You certainly cranked up the competition with a Rookie performance coming 6th on your first cyclocross race, Fantastic! Gap Cycling (Australia)

      2. menkoon 19 Oct 2010 at 8:58 am

        It was all that training I did trying to stay on your wheel this summer Warren. It gave me an unfair advantage!

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