Archive for the tag 'cycling'

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)

 

menko

Race Report: Surf City #1 Aptos HS

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

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

menko

Race Report: CCCX #1 & CCCX #2

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

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

 

 

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 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

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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

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