menko

CX Districts @ Fort Ord

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 hadn’t 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 didn’t 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 he’d gap me on the climb and I’d 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 wasn’t 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 kid’s 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.  He’s 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 Kammeyer’s entourage for looking after Matty during the warmups and race so I knew that he wasn’t 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!

 

 

 

menko

Surf’s Up!

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.  I’ve 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 worlds—a 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 didn’t 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 you’d 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.  I’ve 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 couldn’t 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, I’m 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

 

menko

Hello Bend!

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 aren’t 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 didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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

menko

2012 CX Season Start

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 on—only 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 weren’t out there shouting me on.  Hopefully next time will work out better.

 

 

LESSONS RE-LEARNED

  1. BE PATIENT: races are long, first lap you don’t 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

 

 

 

 

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 don’t 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 Jeromy’s 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 B’s 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 clarify—most riders I talk to look forward to this portion of the course: a set of 3 200m straight sections connected by 180 degree turns—but 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 weren’t for him, as Bruce Hildebrand’s 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 didn’t know.  I was on the tail end of the group, and this is when I finally knew I have matured as a cross racer—I 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 can’t recall much else about the race.  I picked off several guys until it was just Don Myrah, myself and guy who I can’t 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 I’d 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 sank—my 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.

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 #6—this is my third time this season as I’ve 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 all—steep 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 wasn’t 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 up—ie: 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.  I’m 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 didn’t hear the sounds of

wheels cutting up the dirt behind me.  I started to catch the tail end of the B’s 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 B’s 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 on…you 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 didn’t 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 wouldn’t 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!

 

menko

If only I had learned more dutch

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

Ruddervoorde Oct-2011

 

Race Report: BASP #1 Candlestick Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Race Report: CCCX #4 Manzanita Park

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

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

Hopping the barricades

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

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

Trying to hold off Keith

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

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

Dry, fast dirt

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

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

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

All smiles before the gun goes off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Menko

Race Report: CCCX #3 Manzanita Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tackling the bump. Photo by Tim Westmore

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

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

Fighting my way through the corners. Photo by Steve Woo

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

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

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

Lessons re-learned: Never give up. Ever.

MJ

« Prev - Next »