Archive for the tag '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.




  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





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

Strava Ride Data

It has taken me nearly a week to even put this race report together, as I am still trying to shake the fog off. I had targeted this as my most important race in the first half of the season, and spent a lot of time and energy tuning myself mental and physically for this race. My form has been continually improving all season long and while I wasn’t primed for some of the March/April/May races, I could tell I was getting stronger and felt like my lead in was on target.

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

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

As we set off up Stage I felt pretty good, but I couldn’t let myself settle in and go easy enough. I stayed near the front and probably used too much energy despite my best efforts to the contrary. The descent felt incredibly good; my bike just went wherever I wanted it to and I felt supremely confident despite the lines others were taking. Haskins I started near the front, felt pretty good, but had to dig deep to stay with the front people. Again, I couldn’t let myself drift back even though we did the same thing as last year—hard up, slow down and regroup again. A break did get off the front and we quickly lost track of them, which started to make the field nervous.

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

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

First half of Stage was ok, but the second time up my legs just cramped and wouldn’t respond. I wasn’t gasping but just felt like crap. I banished all negative thoughts and just focused on staying connected. I survived it, but the fatigue was building and the next trip up Haskins was my undoing.

I worked to keep myself in the top 1/3rd going up, but I was on borrowed time and slowly slipped back until there was 30+ people in front of me. Then the gaps and stragglers started losing contact and I dug in to stay on, but didn’t survive the last 1k and came over the top and couldn’t see the field anymore. I was by myself with a few in front and more behind, and just put my head down and dug a little deeper to try and close the gap.

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

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

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

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

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

Ride Data


Strava Weekly Stats

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Progress: OLH time comes down

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

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

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

2010 Results

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

2011 Results


    Old La Honda Statistics:

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

    Main climb:

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

    Length: 3.35 miles (5.39 km)

    Elev. gain: 1290 feet (393 m)

    Entire profile:

    Avg. grade: 7.2%

    Length: 3.37 miles (5.42 km)

    Climb: 1290 feet (393 m)

    Old La Honda Profile from Stanford


    Suffering at BASP #3: Sierra Point


    originally uploaded by Paul Doran.

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



    How the boys play

    What’s a father and son to do on a hot day left to their own devices?  Well watch and see.  And do note, all those orange things are non-toxic and biodegradable

    I really enjoyed this Wired article talking about Andrea Lunsford’s meta study of student writing from 2001-2006.  What was fascinating to me was to realize how much more writing students are doing, especially outside of class.  Compared to any generation before them, the volume of writing is astoundingly higher.  Yes I know, the vast majority of that writing may seem to consist of meaningless combinations of LOL, ROFL and links in 140 character burst, but Lunsford’s data reveals a rich landscape many of us may not realize exists.  Its worth a quick read, and of course we work very closely with the Writing and Rhetoric program at Wallenberg and supporting their efforts in two of our classrooms.

    Read the Wired article


    Stanford…2 months later

    At last, a new photo

    Two months ago, I accepted a new position at Stanford University work for SCIL (Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning) which is housed inside of Wallenberg Hall.  The history of Wallenberg is a rich one that started back in 2002 when the Wallenberg family funded a massive remodeling of Building 160.  They have been a thought leader in learning space design ever since then, and I was given the opportunity to join them and work towards creating a “version 2” of WH.

    Now that I am settled in and getting the know the community, I am still amazed at the diversity of energetic individuals pursuing interesting projects within the walls of Stanford.  Innovative and stimulating ideas are constantly interjecting themselves into my daily activities and its often hard to focus on getting anything done, because you’re constantly pulled towards another idea path.

    But, my move to Stanford was not entirely unnoticed, and I have received no small amount of haranguing for this writeup in Campus Technology’s February ’09 issue.  Campus Technology has been a great partner while I was at SJSU and I’m humbled by this little spot.  BTW, the photo credit is Bob Smith’s as we walked outside and he literally took a picture in two seconds.  He’s the man.

    At last, a new photo

    Makes me wonder about carrying it in my pocket…or up to my ear.

    popcorn video

    OF course  it has been debunked by Wired…

    Digital video sure makes it easy to do stuff these days.  This one is better than a Michael Phelps video where he purportedly beats up fellow competitors.  While this is simply a ploy to sell more headsets, I do wonder what we will be finding in 10 years as all of us start growing our own Personal Area Networks (PAN) and our cells take on even more technology.


    Matty gets the “all clear!”

    Dr. Tsai and Mattheus

    Dr. Tsai and Mattheus

    On Thursday, Matty started complaining that he was having pain while peeing, and he became quite frantic. Fearing a repeat of 3 weeks ago, I immediately checked a few things, and made an appointment for the following day to see his pediatrician. The last thing I wanted was for a repeat infection to get out of control.

    To confirm my fears, Mattheus woke at 2am and came running into my room and hopped into bed with me. He curled up against me and went back to sleep for the rest of the night. However, on waking, he hadn’t peed all night and was clearly uncomfortable. I took him to school, and told them to keep an eye on him. He stayed glued to his teacher and didn’t do gymnastics, so we knew he was holding it and being uncomfortable. However, once he fell asleep after lunch, the floodgates opened and the kid needed a new set of clothes. Terrified he was sick again, we went to see his doctor and got him checked out.

    Luckily, the tests showed he was in the clear, and we celebrated with some stickers, a new race car and went home feeling good. Mattheus saw pictures of all the kids on the wall, so he asked me to snap this photo so he can go up on the wall as well. I guess we’ll see the next time we visit the doctor.

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