Team Santa Cruz 2006 Race Reports
- Peak Season #1, 12/17/2006, Mike Evans
- PEAK SEASON numero uno, 12/17/2006, Brij Lunine
- CCCX #4, 12/10/2010, Mike Evans
- Surf City #3, 12/9/2006, Mike Evans
- Surf City #3, 12/9/2006, Phil Trenholme
- Piarcitos#5/Districts & CCCX#4 Ft. Ord, 12/10/2006,
- Pilarcitos #5 BASP, 12/3/2006, Mike Evans
- Pilarcitos #5 BASP, 12/3/2006, Julianna
- CCCX #3, 11/26/2006, Mike Evans
- Surf City Cyclocross Race #1, 10/15/2006,
- Pilarcitos BASP # 4, 11/19/2006, Mike Evans
- Piarcitos#4 Golden Gate Park (BASP) & CCCX#3
Prunedale, 11/26/2006, Brij Lunine
- Welsh League Cyclo-Cross Series, Race 7,
11/12/2006, Alex Anderson
- Piarcitos#3 McClaren (BASP), 11/5/2006, Brij
- Mid season Cyclocross race report, 10/29/2006,
- Surf City #2, 10/29/2006, Mike Evans
- 24 Hours of Chamberlin Ranch, 10/28/2006,
- 24 Hours of Chamberlin Ranch, 10/28/2006, Dan
- England Western League Cyclo-Cross Series, Race
6, 10/29/2006, Alex Anderson
- Team Big Bear State XC Series Final, Castaic,
10/22, Ron Riley
- England Western League Cyclo-Cross Series, Race
5, 10/22/06, Alex Anderson
- 5 Races into Cyclocross Season, Brij Lunine
- Surf City Cyclocross #1, 10/15/06, Mike Andalora
- Surf City Cyclocross #1, 10/15/06, Mike Evans
- Surf City Cyclocross #1, 10/15/06, Lindsey Collins
- Surf City Cyclocross #1, 10/15/06, Karen Kefauver
- Pilarcitos Cyclocross #1, 10/8/06, Lindsey
- Whiskeytown 9 to 5, 10/7/06, Daniel Henderson
- Central Coast Cyclocross #2, 10/1/06, Mike Evans
- Central Coast Cyclocross #2, 10/1/06, Karen Kefauver
- Welsh Cyclo-Cross Series Race 1, 10/1/06, Alex Anderson
- Team DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress #4, 9/30/06,
- Team DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress #3, 9/27/06,
- Central Coast Cyclocross #1, 09/26/06, Mike Evans
- Team DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress #1, 9/13/06,
- Team DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress #1, 9/13/06,
- Team Big Bear State XC Series Race #7, 9/9/06, Ron
- University Road Race, 8/27/06, Dennis Pedersen
- 12 Hours of 5th Avenue, 8/19/06, Chris Pearson
- 12 Hours of Willamette Pass, 8/5/06, Daniel
- Watsonville Criterium, 7/22/06, Dennis Pedersen
- 12 Hours of Humboldt, 7/15/06, Daniel Henderson
- Cougar Mountain Classic Supercuts Road Circuit Race,
7/15/06, Dennis Pedersen
- Coyote Creek Criterium, 7/8/06, Dennis Pedersen
- Davis Fourth of July Criterium, 7/4/06, Larry Morin
- Pescadero Coastal Classic Road Race, 6/24/06,
- CCCX MTB Series Race 5, 6/4/06, Dennis Pedersen
- ICCC Dash For Cash, 6/3/06, Larry Morin
- Team Big Bear State XC Series Race #5, 6/3/06, Ron
- ST Bikes Memorial Day Criterium, 5/29/06, Dennis
- 12 Hours of Weaverville, 5/27/06, Daniel
- Pacific State Bank GP, 5/21/06, Rob Evans
- Panoche Valley Road Race, 5/21/06, Dennis Pedersen
- Modesto Criterium, 5/20/06, Rob Evans
- ST Bikes Cat's Hill Classic Criterium, 5/13/06,
- Coolest Mountain Bike Race, 5/6–7/06,
- EMC2/Vellum Cycles Criterium, 5/7/06, Larry Morin
- EMC2/Vellum Cycles Criterium, 5/7/06, Dennis Pedersen
- Firestone Walker Classic Mountain Bike Race, 4/30/06,
- Napa Valley Dirt Classic, 4/23/06, Ron Riley
- Wente Vineyards Road Race and Criterium, 4/22-23/06,
- Copperopolis Road Race, 4/15/06, Matt Wocasek
- Menlo Park Grand Prix, 4/15/06, Rob Evans
- Menlo Park Grand Prix, 4/15/06, Dennis Pedersen
- Sea Otter Classic Cross Country, 4/9/06, Troy Boone
- Sea Otter Classic Cross Country, 4/9/06, Ron Riley
- Santa Cruz Classic Criterium, 4/9/06, Larry Morin
- Santa Cruz Classic Criterium, 4/9/06, David Gill
- Santa Cruz Classic Criterium, 4/9/06, Dennis Pedersen
- Sea Otter Classic Circuit Road Race, 4/7/06, Larry
- Ronde Van Brisbeen, 4/2/06, Dennis Pedersen
- CCCX MTB Series Race 4, 3/26/06, Dennis Pedersen
- 4th Orosi Road Race, 3/25/06, Eric Clarkson
- Monterey Circuit Race, 3/12/06, Dennis Pedersen
- County Line Jamboree #8, 2/25/06, Brij Lunine
- Apple Pie Criterium, 2/4/06, Evan Cushing
- CCCX Road Circuit Race, 2/4/06, Dennis Pedersen
- Patterson Pass Early Bird Road Race, 1/28/06, Dennis
Pedersen and Evan Cushing
- Peak Season Cyclocross Race 1, 1/15/06, David Gill
- Early Bird Criterium #1, 1/8/06, Dennis Pedersen and
Peak Season #1, Watsonville, CA USA, 12/17/2006
I had a pretty clean start. After the finish line, leaving the pavement on
the first little up hill, I bogged down a bit and was passed by several people
including Stella. I still had an overlap on Stella going into the next left
hand turn, but I knew what was coming and back off just in time as Stella chopped
the apex into the corner. Stella would rather eat her first born than concede
a corner to me! I passed her back when she bobbled the little log crossing.
As we exited the muddy path on the perimeter of grass field I was forced to
dismount for the tiny little up onto the grass and Stella passed me for good.
There were three tiny up hill sections on the course that were giving me problems
because I was running the biggest possible gear combination that I on my have
on my singlespeed; being that the rest of the course was so flat. The one after
the S/F line was doable because I could carry a lot of momentum up from the
pavement, but I would still have to grind over the top. The other two, up onto
the grass and up from the service road, I couldn't ride consistently during
practice and decided to dismount and run during the race. I figured riding the
two sections and then bogging down and being forced to dismount and run was
slower than just dismounting and running both.
For the next two laps Stella slowly pulled away from me while my teammate
Erik Thunstrom slowly reeled me in. After remounting from running up from the
service road, Erik caught me. I didn't think to ill of this as I thought we
could work together and try and bring Stella back. Erik went immediately to
the front to take a pull and on the way by he gave me grief for not riding the
hill up from the service road! We hit the double barriers before the finish
line side by side when I heard a Ka-Whack-Thud and I knew immediately that Erik
had tripped and crashed over the barriers. I asked the spectators after the
barrier if he was all right and they replied in the affirmative.
I rode the almost the whole next lap alone while Erik slowly reeled me in
again. By the time we reached the service road he was right behind me. I dismounted
and ran up the little hill, remounted and look back over my shoulder to watch
Erik ride it. He bogged out at the top and was force to dismount and run it!
Erik eventually passed me on the grassy section and I clamped onto his rear
wheel and held on for dear life for the next lap.
My body was giving me the signal that I was about to blow. I figured I would
throw one last move at Erik before he dropped me. Just before the drop in to
the service road I sprinted past Erik. I figured I would be in better shape
if I hit the little hill first. Eric, once again gave me grief for dismounting
and running. 30 seconds later I blew sky high and Erik rode away from me. I
rode the next couple of laps solo and enjoyed the course and the day. With most
of the course being so wide open, I could see I was in no danger of being caught
from behind. I even got to smile and say "hi" to David Crum, who was
a spectator at the little hill after the service road whom I haven't seen in
PEAK SEASON numero uno, Watsonville, CA
After actually putting in a little work Friday afternoon and Saturday morning
it was great to get out on a stellar day and race a course I had tiny bit to
do with. With Nats on and many moving on it was an intimate affair. After waiting
on the start line for Kem and who I assume was Thomas Sullivan the start took
me by surprise. I had to ride like the devil to get from the back towards the
front but it was too late I missed the bus. Howie and Thomas Feix had about
20 seconds and I couldn't find the extra gear to close the gap. (I also pulled
a lame one and had to cut off teammate Eric Thumstrom although I'm not sure
it was a finable offense.) The course was awesome and I was having fun holding
Feix at a steady 15 seconds while Howie absolutely steamrolled. I was able to
ride the run up four of six laps (with at least one dab and a cramp which put
an end to that). My buddy Brett Lambert reeled me in which was fine by me—he's
like an older version of Howie—steady and smooth. We divvied up the work with
Brett probably doing a bit more, although I did wait when I'd gap him. Brett
took a monster hot lap and we had Feix super close. So close I was thinking
there was no doubt we had him (this was just before the descent). But to his
credit he put it down and opened it back up to nearly 30 seconds by race's end.
Had I been able to match Brett's work it might have been a different story but
I was content to ride within my limit after being on the ropes for most of a
lap. Brett was limited when his handlebars loosened up and I was feeling a yellowjacket
bite that sketched me out a bit. Tactically I decided I wanted to be first to
the barriers since there wasn't much room afterwards for the finish. I attacked
with a bit of an aggressive line for the descent and led up the run up. Was
surprised to have a gap but road an easier gear saving it for the final effort.
Brett stayed back and I thought he had decided not to contest the finish but
after I jumped on the pavement as planned he came storming up and we hit the
barriers side by side. I concentrated on not screwing up. Poor Brett hit his
front wheel on the barrier (I think it was) and barely pulled it. Third place—I
was aiming for second but quite happy with where I ended up. Great job by our
team—really nice scene, awesome course, really good burritos after, the whole
nine. If our next two races are half this good we'll be in great shape.
CCCX #4, East Garrison Fort Ord, Seaside,
CA USA, 12/10/2010
Same drill as usual except it was pouring rain! By the time we arrived at
the East Garrison are of Fort Ord for the 4th race of the CCCX series, it was
still pouring. We erected the team compound as fast as possible, surrounded
it on 3 sides with cars, filled sand bags and lashed them to the tents to keep
them from blowing away and finally put plastic sheeting on the weather side
of the tents to keep the wind out. This whole gyration worked amazingly well!
While not exactly toasty, it was significantly warmer inside the tents than
it was outside.
A slight variation of the normal East Garrison course that featured a long
climb (for a cross race), a super slimy mud singletrack and a new paved descent.
In conditions like this it was very important to pre-ride the course and ride
through the larger puddles to see if there were any hidden ruts or holes. I
found a large hole in the first big puddle after start/finish paved section
and almost went over the handlebars. I could tell by my reconnaissance laps
that I was very tired from racing the day before as I was struggling a bit.
From the get go I didn't have it. I had a bad start and couldn't seem to clip
in. The group arrived at the first big puddle and 3 guys augured into the hole
I had found earlier. One guy went head first so deep into the puddle I thought
he would have raise his snorkel! From there I steadily slid backward. Lap 2
was even worse, as I suddenly seemed to forget how to ride a bike. With a lap
and a half to go I was caught by from behind by Robert Barber and Paul Sadoff.
I managed to get a little gap on them on the paved section before the finish
line going into the last lap. Around this time I was starting to feel better
and kept extending my position until the finish. I didn't do much for my overall
standings in the series, but it could have been worse!
The sun came out for the last race of the day (A men) and dried out our tents.
This, however, was the only thing in my van that was dry. Two days of rain and
mud had taken their toll on the equipment. When we arrived back at my house,
we washed everything. I took my kit with me to the shower and tried to rinse
as much mud out of it as possible before I threw it into the washing machine.
I was amazed to find that a small beach had formed in the bottom of my washer
after I had removed the load of clothes.
These last 2 days of racing were amazing and won't soon be forgotten!
Surf City #3, Watsonville, CA USA, 12/9/2006
It was the usual story; up at the crack of dawn, load the van, load Race
Director, Field Marshal/Dictator for Life David Gill, get coffee and breakfast
and drive to the venue. The only difference was that when we arrived at the
Watsonville fairgrounds for the final race of the Surf City Series, we were
told we would not be allowed to set up anywhere near the course and in fact
we would have to set up the team compound in the parking lot a half a mile from
where the center of action and in fact you couldn't even see the course! This
didn't sit well with Race Director, Field Marshal/Dictator for Life David Gill
and he put his game face on and marched off. Upon David's return, he informed
us that everything had been worked out, so we hopped into the van and drove
to the back entrance and down to the lower portion of the course. We set up
at the bottom of the long downhill after the Start/Finish straightaway, next
to the covered cement pad. It soon became apparent to us that the cement pad
would become very dangerous as mud and water would soon coat the surface making
it very slick. This proved correct throughout the day, as numerous riders crashed
The Surf City crew was restricted in where they could put the course so most
of the course ended up in the lower section of the fairgrounds. This location
combined with 8 hours of rain prior to the event could only mean one thing:
MUD!! I did 2 reconnaissance laps and encountered every type of mud on the Dave
Carr's list (http://members.aol.com/napavelo/mud.htm). The mud had turned many
rideable sections into running sections and in fact this course had more running
that any course in a long time.
The Race (Singlespeed):
After watching several people rip their derailleurs off of their bike I was
glad to being racing my singlespeed! I got the holeshot at the start and led
the field to the concrete section where the team compound was set up. I could
hear the collective cheers of my teammates! Just after exiting the concrete,
I got completely sideways and lost most of my momentum, as well as several places.
I now could hear the collective groans of my teammates! After that excitement,
I settled in. I was having a great race! I had lowered my tire pressure considerably
and it seemed to be doing the trick as I felt completely hooked up. I seemed
to be making my best progress on the flat muddy straightaways. While people
were sliding all over the place I just seemed plow straight ahead at good pace.
For the fist couple laps I had been really sticking it to my teammate Mike Martin,
when it occurred to me that Mike was in second place for the series and I might
be jeopardizing his standings, so I stopped and waited for him. I told him we
should work together and see if we could bring the rider in front of us (Monty
Worthington) back. All was going according to plan until I had my first bike
exchange. I had borrowed Team Dictator and Field Marshal for life, David Gill's
bike and I had forgotten to change pedals (Time for Crank Bros)! Duh! This was
actually not as bad as it sounds, but the main problem was the semi-slick tires
on his bike didn't sink through the mud and pack up like you read about! I was
now running sections that I had been riding on my bike and promptly lost Mike
Martin. I finally got my bike back, but Mike was gone. After riding a lap by
myself I spied Monty in front of me. He was coming back to me pretty fast. I
caught Monty on the big run up, he made some excuse about his freewheel not
operating correctly and that the low barometric pressure was making his corns
hurt. We both knew that Barry Wicks was about to lap us again just before the
finish line and this would eliminate the need to ride one more lap. As we hit
the finishing straight, Monty sat up to wait for Barry. I thought about it for
a second or two and thought to myself "no way I'm stopping" and headed off for
my last lap. It was a very lonely lap! I was at the very end of people finishing
and in fact, the Surf City crew had started to tear down sections of the course
as I rode by.
The bike exchanges not withstanding, this was my best race of the year. I
felt good, my bike worked perfectly and even though I got completely got sideways
twice, I never came close to crashing. I was rather shocked how well I rode
in the mud! All the worries about Mike Martin and his second place standings
were for naughtl as Mike was going to finish in 3rd overall no matter what I
did. I did however ruin my chance for 5th place overall as I lost the tie breaker
and finished 6th overall. Ugh!! Cheers to the Surf City crew for all of the
work this year; I know it was difficult!
Surf City #3, Watsonville, CA USA, 12/9/2006
Well this is my first race report and Surf City #3 was what I had visions
of (and feared) when I decided I was going to try and race CX this winter. I
am a new team member, 51 years old and race in the 45 A group. I used to do
a lot of bike racing but pretty much quit 10 years ago and bought a racecar
to fuel my competitive needs. This race was my 4th race and was promising to
be a lot different than the first 3 races where the weather had been pretty
darn nice. It rained hard the day before the race and driving to the Fairgrounds
the rain was still coming down. Fortunately the weather let up just before my
warm up lap. That scouting lap opened up my eyes big time and actually had me
laughing as I could not really imagine racing in mud like that! My bike was
completely trashed after that 1 lap but conveniently there were plenty of hoses
setup so that everybody could wash their bikes down. It wasn't terribly cold
so I went to the start line for my race in my short sleeved jersey and regular
bib shorts, and as we lined up the hardest rain of the day was coming down and
I was kind of wishing I had a rain jacket. I finally got a good start and when
I went by the SCCCC compound I was in 2nd place! Keeping in mind my main goals
of not crashing and not getting lapped I went as hard as possible but still
found myself going backwards through the field. My bike sounded terrible and
would not shift into the big chain ring (although now I am not sure why I wanted
to do that) and I was convinced that I was going to last longer than the bike.
In places the mud was so deep that riding used far more energy than running
although running/stumbling/walking may have been a bit slower. The bike stayed
together, the SCCCC support team kept cheering me on and giving me water bottle
hand ups (thanks!), I didn't crash or get lapped and I ended up finishing 7th
which was my best result of the year. I am looking forward to the club race
series and it looks like there will be plenty of mud!
Piarcitos#5/Districts & CCCX#4 Ft. Ord,
San Burno/Seaside, CA USA, 12/10/2006
Pilarcitos Final and Nor Cal District Championships
Let's see what I remember from two weeks ago…
Great venue and the added districts made for a loaded Masters 35 field. I
got the start I wanted and was thinking good thoughts ("good start, good
start, I'm on D'Aluisio's wheel…") when BOOM I got shoved way hard from
the back and went off piste right at the top of the climb just before the parking
lot reprieve. Lost a lot of ground but figured I could go to work like years
past and move up. Not this time. I wasn't feeling too good and really had a
tough time. I battled back and forth with a Kevin Merrigan riding for Otis Guy
but he won out. Then came a number of others until I found my spot with Jordi
Cortes riding in 12th and 13th where we finished. I was hoping to be up a few
spots and ride a little stronger but I did manage to hold my 7th overall for
the BASP series.
CCCX #4 Ft. Ord.
After driving to LA with my 5 and 2 year olds (and no wife to help, but I
did have my little brother) Friday and then back Saturday night I was in a giddy
state of sleep deprivation and excitement. Happy to ride after not getting out
much at all last week. The motivation to train hard has really faded but racing
is still fun. Plus despite all the extra work I really like racing in the mud.
It's all about attitude and having "the ass of power." Plus General
Gill was there with DS Evans. The compound was buzzing and we had posse running
so deep. Evans' pressure washer took the cake.
I love the start at Ft. Ord and managed second over the barriers. It was
really cold and I had trouble feeling my feet and legs. I quickly got out of
the way of the big boys and tried to hold on to who else? Howie. Ran fourth
for a couple laps and was then caught by Anastasio Flores Jr. We road well together
for awhile and then he dropped me like a bad habit. I don't know to what degree
he speeded up or if it was me slowing down—I bobbled and had to dismount and
it took me half a lap to catch him at one point, but he was soon gone. Then
I was caught by John Kammeyer of the Lapierre/Ritchey team. I would drop him
but he kept coming back. Last lap (of six) good guy Brock Dickie (Buy/Cell)
catches us and it's on. Brock and I start racing back and forth with some good
passes and attacks. We all definitely went for it on the descents—I know I figured
it was time to take a few more risks. I attacked on a flat dirt stretch before
the one dirt climb (a great addition to the course) and got a big gap. But those
boys had me back and on the ropes on the climb. I kept trying to pass Brock
on the right with nowhere to go. I finally got around him at the top on the
left for the mud mogul section which I really wanted to lead through. Cruised
and was thinking how nice it was to make it through this whole race without
crashing when BAM I stack it onto the pavement. So lame. So weak. John and Brock
come around and Brock gives the "Are you OK?" and actually slows up
and means it. I tell him "Yes, go." I straighten the bars and the
ride the brake/shift lever rotated in for a frustrating 7th. Gannon took it,
with Krammer, then Howie and you can figure the rest. John worked Brock over.
These guys are way too nice. After they said they felt guilty…please I'm the
idiot making the mental mistake. I somehow got a shiner and sore chin which
my wife says makes me look like I got out of jail. Just now the poison oak is
coming up—I did take a trip into the bushes in the mud mogul section…you got
love it. Peak Season Baby it's about to be on.
Pilarcitos #5 BASP, Coyote Pt., San Mateo,
CA USA, 12/3/2006
Yet another race over the hill, which means getting up at the ungodly hour
of 4:30. This particular morning was more difficult than the others as my girlfriend's
company Christmas party was the night before. I ended up playing bartender for
four hours, but in the process I managed not to pour myself it oblivion and
only consumed two glasses of wine. Just when I thought we were about to make
our escape I heard the rallying cry "let's go to Brady's Yacht Club," which
is the neighborhood dive bar. Bugger! To make a long story short, I managed
not to over indulge but we didn't get home until 01:00. When the alarm went
off I was convinced it was a terrible mistake!
Field General and Dictator for life David Gill arrived on time and we were
off to Coyote Pt, San Mateo for the 5th and final round of the Pilarcitos BASP
that also doubled as Nor. Cal. district championships. Upon arrival we disemboweled
the van and set up camp next to the water front.
It had been a couple of years since I have raced here and I had forgotten
how hard this course is. From the beach section, to the grass filled with S
turns, to the uphill section under the eucalyptus, this course just sucks the
life out of you! I can't possibly imagine what it would be like if it rained!
The Race (Singlespeed):
This race was absolutely brutal. If it hadn't have been for the sight of Brent
Chapman dangling in front of me, I think I would have quit. Needless to say
this was not one of my best races, but I did finish. Afterwards my body felt
like I had been run over by a cement truck.
All in all, this was a great event and venue, but two days later I still feel
like I was hit by a cement truck!
Pilarcitos #5 BASP, Coyote Pt., San Mateo,
ca USA, 12/3/2006
There's nothing like a sleeping child, a desire to escape more fining, and
a rough finish to yesterday's race to inspire a race report. The latter not
only made falling asleep difficult (the tape rolled over and over), but it made
the morning bed-lingering less comfortable (see below for details)
I hadn't been racing much in the Pilarcitos series, only raced the last two
given the good venue report they had. Coyote Point being the District Championships,
a good venue, AND close to Grandma and Grandpa made it an easy decision. I am
so glad that I decided to race. While the course was challenging, I really enjoyed
The Eucalyptus forest was SKETCHY—the incessant uphill, combined with
downward sloping S-turns and bumpy drops made the whole experience a killer.
While the first lap up that hill into the duffy mess just spelled crashes, it
got a bit easier with more distance between riders. Still, the fun didn't end
with the spill out onto the beach. Thank goodness for the bell-ringing, beer-drinking
crowds to cheer you on (and images of pavement danced in my head). And just
when you thought you could "recover", all those road racers picked
up the pace so you ended up hammering down the sidewalk. That actually was a
good portion for me, as I could see my "bait" in front of me, and
it helped me to catch those who led my way. But where was I to find the strength
for the energy-sucking grass and continued S-turns?
Despite what I write, it wasn't such a nightmare. Hey, we only had to do
FOUR laps. No, the nightmare came when I was on my last lap just yards away
from the finish line and my chain dropped. The woman whom I had passed on the
second lap was creeping back. On the last set of barriers, she was just behind
me. My mind entertained the idea of just letting her pass me, after all, I didn't
have much vested in the series, and she clearly wanted to beat me. But, I had
just a little more to go—enough to have a mechanical problem. I remember
Steve telling me how he had dropped his chain several times in his race, how
I should keep it in the big ring, especially on the bumpy downhill. But nobody
mentioned curbs! *@$#%, I almost had second in Districts and third in Masters
race. Oh well, I guess the cross karma gods were at work—I do remember
last year in a Peak Season race smiling when my competitor blew her tire.
A big thanks to my team mates: Brij and Simone—I love how you place
yourself along the course and cheer me on; Lindsay—your words of encouragement
on the first lap; Mike, Eric, and Philip—for screaming at me as I ran
on the beach, and waving a cold one in front of my nose; David Gill—your
feeds and your update as to my place in the race; Steve—your feeds (despite
saying, no, no to you) and most importantly your shoulder to cry on.
CCCX #3, Manzanita Park, Prunedale, CA USA,
This is becoming the usual drill: get up at the crack of darkness, fill up
water bottles, load into the cooler, load the van, wait for Race Director and
Team Dictator for Life David Gill to show up, load David into the van, drive
to Coffeetopia for liquid stimulation, drive to venue, if it's a long trip,
stop for more liquid stimulation along the way, upon arriving at the course
dump entire contents of the van on the ground and build the Team Santa Cruz
This is what has been going on every Sunday since late September or so it
seems. The only difference on this Sunday was we were greeted by Rod Hernandez's
smiling face At Manzanita Park for CCCX #3.
After setting up the pits David who has been injured all season, asked if
he could borrow my bike and take a lap. "This is an encouraging sign" I
thought to myself and let him borrow the bike. David reappeared on my bike after
taking a lap with sealant blowing out of the front tire. Staring at my tire,
I moaned in disbelief, but little did I know this was to be the beginning of
a day filled with flats. Fortunately all of the flats occurred during warm up!
You can't beat Manzanita Park for a cross race! I think this is the 9th year
I have been coming here for CCCX races and I have raced many different version
of courses here and they all have been great. I think the park has the perfect
combination of pavement, sand, dirt, grass and of course, elevation changes.
This course was a slight variation of the normal course with a new run up added.
Although it wasn't steep or long, it was directly after a high speed straightaway
and had a steep berm at the base. I believe Barry Wicks was the only rider who
was able to ride the run up.
The Race (Master 45A):
I just couldn't seem to get my legs going during warm up and I paid for this
at the beginning of the race. I had a slow start and it took a couple of laps
to feel good, but after that I felt great for the rest of the race. Teammate
Tom Sullivan was dangling behind me so I slowed down and ask him to help take
pulls in an effort to reel the guys in front of us in. This didn't work so well
as I kept popping Tom off of my wheel. I had convinced myself that 2 were better
than 1 on this course and with hindsight this was wrong. The first time this
happened I should have hit the gas and kept going. I'm sure this caused me a
couple places in the end. All in all though, I felt very good about this race.
2nd Race (Singlespeed):
I joking told Pat Schott at the starting line that I would lead him out. So
I did. The whistle blew and I got the holeshot and sprinted as hard as I could,
uphill until we reached the first turn. The combination of the first race and
this sprint just fried me! I spent the rest of the race in pure agony. My legs
were so shot I couldn't ride the little bump after the singletrack at the top
of the course for the last 2 laps. I was very glad when then race ended!!
It's nice to see so many teammates showing up for these events. It makes getting
up so early worth it!
Surf City Cyclocross Race #1, Soquel,
CA USA, 10/15/2006
Yikes, the universe works in mysterious ways. I was talking to Ron Riley at
Alex and Winona's party and telling Ron I needed to change my routine and he
suggested the CX Race at Soquel High.
Now I'm an old mountain biker/motorcycle rider and can't resist falling sometimes.
So Saturday I get my M-Bike ready (I thought) and off I go on Sunday morning.
Funny the feeling you get when trying something the first time, it's like everybody
else there is a pro, you're the only rookie in the whole universe and you know
that there are people who are there for there first time but you don't see them.
I go up to the friendly face at registration. She says its $35 bucks since
I don't have a license and yikes I only have $30! So she gives me the number
and I race on down to the ATM at the Quick Stop and get the 5 bucks, she's grateful
and I am too because she is so patient. So I get my number half/ass pinned on
and the big guy stops me before I get on the track and says I got the wrong
number. So back to my smiling lady at Reg, she helps me out.
Boom, I am out on the track, again I feel like I'm the only one on the planet.
Then (yikes again!) flashes come whizzing by. I finish two practice laps and
I pull up to the Team Santa Cruz booth and David greets me with a "so you wanna
try this?" smile and the team helps me out again with my numbers and bike. I
get my Picture taken and get a last word of advice on how not to get run over
and next thing I know I'm standing in a sea of bikes again.
I feel like I'm in this void 3, 2 1. Gooooo. I carry my whale of a bike up
hills and over jumps and I'm watching not to get in somebody's way. I feel Ron
Riley pushing me up a hill, faster and faster I go, being careful not to crash.
I ride by David, he hands me a water bottle and I think "I always wanted to
throw one away." Then I see Harriet Riley taking my picture and I feel very
good about the warm friendship. Faster and faster I go; I want to make at least
3 laps, getting a little winded now, I don't know if I could make 4, then my
front derailleur casing breaks on my bars and I have to hold it in the middle
chain-ring to finish, faster, faster there's the finish. "You're done!" the
YIKES I DID IT! THANKS EVERYBODY!!
Pilarcitos BASP # 4, Golden Gate Park, S.F.,
CA USA, 11/19/2006
The preface: All around nice guy and Team Santa Cruz Dictator for Life David
Gill and I got up at the unworldly hour 04:ish to make the long drive in my
over packed, lethargic, VW van for the 4th round of the Pilarcitos at Golden
Gate Park. The plain was to get there early enough to find a good set up location
for our team tents and a good parking spot. All was going according to plan
as we arrived a little before 07:00 until we were informed we would not be able
to drive 200 meters up the paved access road to the set up site and would have
to hump the contents of the van on foot. While David and I were staring at each
other in disbelief one of the Pilarcitos workers volunteered his wheelbarrow
for our use. 3 cheers to him! We set up at a prime spot right next to the course
and in fact it was such a good location, people kept coming to our tents trying
The course: This had to be one of the best courses of the year! It had everything:
lots of single track and double track, a high speed sand pit, lots of roots
and some nice paved areas. I really enjoyed the sand pit. I would wind up my
single speed to terminal velocity and just send it into the pit! I never exited
in same place twice! The Pilarcitos BASP series is a bit of an enigma though;
you either love their courses so much you wish you could race 3 times a week
or you hate them so much you contemplate taking up a different sport.
The race: After a bad start I settled in with rider by the name of A.J. and
for the next several laps we traded pulls in an effort to bring back the rider
in front of us. With 2 laps to go we finally caught the guy in front of us and
dropped him. I then got a pretty big gap on A.J. after the little run up (for
me). I'm not sure if A.J. had a bobble or if he went for the money people were
sticking into beer cans. I then blew sky high just after the uphill double barriers.
A.J. caught me on the long paved straight away and when he came around me I
had no answer. I spent the remainder of the last lap making sure the guy we
worked so hard to catch all race didn't pass me. I succeeded in this little
victory and finished the race. All in all I felt good about this race.
A side note: It was excellent to see Teammate and genetic mutant Phillip
Sims back on the course after 3 months of not riding due to an injury. His break
didn't seem to slow him down much!
Piarcitos#4 Golden Gate Park (BASP) & CCCX#3
Prunedale, San Francisco, CA USA, 11/26/2006
Well after a welcomed week off from the Surf City fiasco it was great to
race in Golden Gate Park again. The full squad was in effect and I'm always
extra stoked to race in the city in front of friends and the family. The course
was so much fun and utterly relentless with Chris D'Aluisio killing it on the
long slightly downhill sections. As Team Manager D. Gill said, I really turned
myself inside out. I was racing for third and I'm glad I was in the mix but
ultimately paid the price fading from the group of Howie (some day I'll hang
with him, maybe), Dan Harting, D'Aluisio & Jordi Cortes. I tried pulling through
with Harting and letting Howie sit on (a mistake but I was willing to experiment
after sitting on him numerous times only to be slowed down in to the corners
and gapped continually out of them). We caught Jordi and the erratic riding
D'Aluisio. After Jordi was dropped it was my turn as Howie went to work. I suffered
in no man's land for way too long only to be caught by the holder of the hole
shot, Greg Regan. Luckily I was planning for this and worked him over in the
sprint for 6th. Up front in was all Alan Coats and Steve Reaney with scientist
of sprint winning out. Great fun. This race marked the return of the certified
mutant Philip Sims back after an extended hip injury. He may have lost a little
but it's pretty unfathomable how good he's going after three and half months
CCCX#3 Yo soy pavoté
The team was in super full effect again, great to see DS Evans and the crew.
I felt like a turkey bog. John Funke decided to slum with the old guys including
Rich Maille, Gannon Myall (4th overall in the US Grand Prix!), Kramer, Hoefner
and most of the usual suspects. Made the front group after a few pedal issues
at the start. Sat on Funke who was a little whippier than I'm used to. Then
I got gapped off somewhere, don't remember but predictably I was with Howie.
Then he dropped me, no surprise, I was paying the price for a lot of effort
lap one. Kept him fairly steady for awhile and watched him just about bridge
up to the front group of Kramer, Hoefner, Funke and Maille (Gannon had a mechanical).
I was suffering by my lonesome waiting for my friends Mark Abele, Eric Bustos
and Tim Thompson to catch me. I was glad to see Mark and then eventually Tim
and settled on to Mark's steady wheel. Long story short: I attacked those two
on the downhill with one to go since there was a pause, not the smartest move
but I kept some in the tank. Got caught on the S/F climb and then Tim absolutely
punched it onto the little singletrack section at the very top. I got around
Abele on the first decent (right after all the sand) and chase Tim as hard as
I could. I think I caught him at the last barriers. We had a good sprint with
me nipping him by a wheel for 6th.
This race marked the return of Janel Lodge and teammate Steve Hess—a welcomed
sight on both accounts.
Welsh League Cyclo-Cross Series, Race
7, Abergavenny, Wales, 11/12/2006
Now this was a cyclo-cross race! Great course, a large field, barriers and
After races in Bristol and Bath the last few weekends with turnouts of less
than 25 riders I thought I would try a race in the Welsh League again. The event
was in the historic town of Abergavenny just south of the Brecon Beacons National
Park in a very scenic valley of South Wales. After destroying my shifter on
my ‘cross bike last race I had no choice but to ride my single speed mountain
bike for the event. If only there was a SS class I could have my first UK podium
since there wasn't a single speeder in sight, but I wasn't going to be that
We lined up for the start in the now-expected UK mass start of Juniors, Seniors
and Vets all going off at once. There must have been 70 racers at the line which
was a great turnout since the biggest race I had been in to date had about 40.
We started off on a fast grassy track and then hit a quick gravel section before
a short road climb that lead to a narrow, slick run-up. One of the first riders
in my group tried to ride up the hill, but quickly went down and a group of
10 piled up behind him. The rest of us shouldered our bikes and got around the
crowd. After a little more climbing we had a fast short descent into a nasty
off-camber right-hand turn just below the next run-up and a pair of barriers.
A couple more riders went down as they got off on the downhill side of the turn
and lost their footing in some strategically-located mud. After getting back
on we had a short, quick downhill into a tight series of S-turns through the
trees then back around to the start/finish line. I went around for the usual
fifty minutes plus one lap and was only a little distressed at being lapped
3 TIMES by the winner – a 20-something local star. Still it was a fun, challenging
course and I'm hopeful I placed somewhere in the middle of the pack (if I did
I'll let you know, otherwise the link may get lost)
Piarcitos#3 McClaren (BASP), San Francisco,
CA USA, 11/5/2006
I guess our squad disdains travel north—Lindsey, Eric and myself excepted.
In this case it was y'all's loss. Really a great course if you ride your CX
bike off road a lot. I know riding up & down Wilder really paid off for
The course was really selective. A nice fast flat S/F, great steep dirt run
up, and then tons of hard climbing and descending, basically single track although
there was room to pass on the extra bumpy sides. There was also an overdone
grassy tree section with turns that were close to 280°—a bit too much
in my opinion. (This section was faster to run but too long to.) A real backbreaker
of a day. I was pretty dizzy from being sick but managed to pretty much pass
people the entire race to snake into 10th. Bike handling was at a premium. I
had fun on the descents, passing people on the top of the last absolute grinder
of a hill and attacking through the S/F. My back is pretty thrashed after the
whole ordeal. I wouldn't of raced if I wasn't in the points but once I got there
I was glad I did—I really like all the Wilder-like terrain. Lots of DNFs
and crashes though. Funke has a good description on his blog (link to on the
NCNCA site). And of course Aaron Kereluk with the big WIN. Too cool.
Note: Told ya—Jordi Coates with two wins—Fairfax and Sacto. While
he tries to play it off noting the field size I argue that: it's really hard
to win a race, you can't control who shows up, and, most significantly, any
time you beat Rich Maille you're riding well. Way to go Jordi (a former teammate
and super nice guy).
Mid season Cyclocross race report, 10/29/2006
It's the mid-season, 6 races in. I'm sitting here with an eye infection,
lacking motivation, just like I did trying to put in that one hard day training
Looks like the pecking order has definitely been established in the Master's
A's: The A list: The Strawberry Mob: Gannon Myall, Henry Kramer, Todd Hoefner
and (newcomer to the Masters?) Steve Reaney. These guys have how many wins this
season between them? How many stars and bars and even a rainbow tunic in the
closet? The Specialized employees/Morgan Stanley duo of Chris D'Aluisio and
Alan Coates are to be feared. And good guy Mark Howland aka Howie is definitely
right there. Now there's some other eligible racers who choose to race A's or
who aren't at most races but these seven are money.
On the bubble: Jordi Cortes, Cliff Bar. He's right there with speed and power
The B list: Tim Thompson, Eurosport/Flossaid—barely off the A list.
The Strawberry Mob II: Eric Bustos and Anastasio Flores Jr. The Buy-Cell Squad:
Brock Dickie, Caesar Chavez, Michael Matthews, Kurt Gensheimer—all nice
guys who I'm betting will come on strong in the weeks ahead. Teammates Murray
Swanson and Thomas Feix (over 45 and can beat most of us). The same goes for
the undefeated-in-the-45s, Rob Meighan AKA Buckwheat, not to mention Mark, smooth-as-butter,
Abele, and then there's your truly and injured teammate Steve Hess. On the one
hand, it's nice to be in the top ten consistently even if it's on the "ugly
end"; on the other, I don't where I'm going to find 30 seconds to a minute
to crack the A list. Fun though. I need to motorpace (Philip?).
So yeah the race, Surf City Numero Dos at the Watsonville Fairgrounds. This
course featured the coolest use of a field I've seen: the swirley. It was really
fun to spiral through on grippy grass and then barrel back out to the next section
of loose dustiness. The rest of the course was pretty routine. I liked the new
run up and the long dirt road was a nice—in terms of being able to open
it up. The start was ill-conceived but things sorted out and the above suspects
from the A list including Jordi were grouped up, plus Buckwheat. After passing
quite a few folks on the run up Howie (who was having a bad day and therefore
with me) and I went to work. A lap or two together and we caught the lead group
with Buckwheat on the front. It was nice to be up with big boys for a minute
but when things reshuffled after the little run up it was Buckwheat, Howie and
me for awhile. Howie dabbed after the big run up and I promptly hit his wheel
and fell over. Never saw him again. By the time I got up the gap was too big
to contemplate. Me and Buckwheat. We rode quite a few laps very steady—believe
it or not. It was great to see the leaders and chasers in the spiral. Meighan
didn't contest the final and I ended up pretty satisfied with 9th—few
mistakes and a pretty solid effort. Gannon took the honors and I'm sure it won't
be the last time. I'm definitely stoked for McClaren this weekend. It's raining
Surf City #2, Watsonville, CA USA, 10/29/2006
While sitting across the table from Melanie Dominguez at Simone's birthday
party on Thursday night, I had an idea. Mel told me that she and husband-to-
be Mark were flying to NYC for the weekend. I asked Mel if I could borrow her
cat costume for the costume race at Surf City #2. I said this as a joke but
Mel thought it was great and when I got home the next day, there was the costume
sitting on my door step. I guess I would have to go through with it after all!
To complete the costume I borrowed a skort from Shauna P. and added one of my
old Bike Trip jerseys to complete the look. I wondered if people would get that
I was trying to look like Melanie Dominguez; a lot of them did!
Even though I liked this course, I thought it wasn't very challenging in
the bike handling sense. I think it was lacking some kind off camber section
or some kind of section that would have made me pucker a bit! The new long run
up did seriously kick my ass and the swirl got me dizzy a couple of times though.
While at the starting line we were given instructions that ended with "it's
only cheating if you get caught." At this point, cheating sounded pretty good
to me, as I was encased in fur and was on the brink of overheating without even
turning a pedal! After the race started, I cheated heavily and cut the course
at every opportunity, but apparently I didn't cheat hard enough and finished
4th... or so I was told!
The race (Singlespeed):
I made my usual fast start then instant fade in the first few minutes. Both
of my teammates got past me and I spent the next half of the lap trying to chase
them down. I was just about to make contact with them in the section known as
the "Pit of Despair," when both teammates (Mike Martin and Troy Boone) sat up.
It appeared that Mike was having some kind of difficulty with his rear wheel.
Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I immediately attacked both of
them and got a sizable gap going. On the second lap I could see Mike entering
the swirl section as I was leaving. On the next lap he was even closer and I
shouted to him how much I hated him at his point.
Mike was making me ride very hard in an effort to stay ahead of him. The
next time through the swirl I was starting to blow a bit and he had closed the
gap even further. By the time I had reached the big run up Mike was directly
behind me! From the big run up to just after the pit of despair we were together,
but then Mike attacked me on the tiny little run up out of the pit and that
was it. I blew trying to close the gap back to Mike.
I went into survival/recovery mode and rode as hard as I dared without blowing
sky high! I could see Troy about a minute back and figured I could survive one
more lap without him catching me. I survived the big run up one last time, but
barely. If I had had to do the big run up one more time I think I would have
completely cracked! It is always my intent not to get lapped by my own species
(singlespeed) and I came within 300 meters of my objective. All in all this
was a great race and venue. Three cheers to the Bellas for such a fun event!
24 Hours of Chamberlin Ranch, Los Olivos,
CA USA, 10/28/2006
I know people are interested in how the 24 Hours of Chamberlin Ranch turned
out for me and I'm eager to share the experience.
A few enigmatic statements to start the report:
- Only one small furry animal was killed during the race
- Sleep is a weapon
- Of all God's creatures, cows have to be the dumbest
- Glowing eyes in the dark of the night are not to be feared
- Success is defined by the victor of the battle between mind and body
- Never trust the time keepers
I rode my mountain bike 180 miles, a personal distance record, did 24,000
ft of climbing, and came in first place in the 40-49 Solo rider category. While
the prizes were irrelevant to me at the time, I must say the awards presentation
was unusual. The race director would call up first, second, and third in that
order and each person would pick out two items from a big pile of schwag. I
picked out a new red Specialized helmet for Karen, my one-woman support crew,
and a Light and Motion Vega commuter light (retail $175).
It was a long race with various facets to it. Karen and I arrived and camped
the night before after a five hour drive. I woke up at about 3:30 am feeling
cold—I've never been cold with that sleeping bag before and the rest of
the night passed by slowly since I couldn't warm up. The race started at 11am—a
Le Mans-style start with the front wheel removed. I didn't feel so great the
first lap, nor the second, nor the third. Each lap was 15 miles with 2000ft
The course wasn't too technical. The most difficult challenge was the cows.
They were on the trail and sometimes wouldn't move. Worse yet, the calves would
look one way and then run erratically the other way. I heard coyotes baying
at night, saw owls flying, dodged mice skirting across the trail and herded
cows off the trail.
I was worried about how fatigued I felt during the first four laps, since
normally those would be the best. I thought it might have been the lack of sleep
the night before or the hot conditions (sunny, about 90 degrees). I felt better
when the sun went down and the race really got going. I rode until about 4am
when I started getting loopy, crashed coming into the pit area and decided I
need to lie down. I got in the sleeping bag and closed my eyes for a while.
When I miraculously awoke without an alarm, through great will power, I forced
myself to get out into the freezing cold (35 degrees) and continue riding. When
I looked at the clock, I was surprised to see that an hour and a half had passed.
I figured any chance for a podium place had slipped away. I felt lucky, given
my fatigue, that I managed to wake up.
After getting back on the trail, I realized the sleep had done a lot of good.
I felt much stronger. The sun came up on that lap and things started looking
up. I rode another lap and figured I would just barely have time to do one more.
I asked the time keepers for my placing and they said I had won the race. I
felt relieved that I could stop at 11 laps. However, when I asked how far back
the second place ride was, they fumbled through the papers and then told me
it was neck and neck. So I went out and finished the race with 12 laps (which
turned out to be unnecessary to win it).
If you ever want to have a successful 24 hour race, you have to bring along
someone with great organizational skills like Karen. She set up camp, organized
the food, kept track of times, and was always cheering for me. I don't think
I would have won without her, because I would have had to spend the time and
energy taking care of myself.
It was great to have a teammate at the race as well. Dan Henderson rode single
speed and we didn't see each other after the first lap. However, we touched
based the next day. Hopefully, he'll tell you his story. I will see you at a
cross race again eventually. I am headed out of town again for the next few
days and don't plan to race Sunday at Pilarcitos. See you soon!
Terri Schneider provided me with weekly workouts over the last four months
where were a key factor in keeping me motivated and in shape. Thanks to Team
Santa Cruz for the EZ-Up tent—must have for these races. I also received
well wishes from all over the world: Alex from the UK, friends from Austin,
Washington DC, and various team members. Thanks for the support!
24 Hours of Chamberlin Ranch, Buelton, CA
Well, what can I say? There was a whole mess of riding. Some of it was really
fun and then some of it was awful and really scary. I was super into the glowsticks
they had marking the course at night. Maybe I should start going to raves or
something. Gosh, I don't know. I think I just need some time off the bike.
I think I was about 6th out of 15 total solos. Norman won his class and I
think was 3rd overall.
England Western League Cyclo-Cross Series,
Race 6, The Tumps, Odd Down, Bath, England, 10/29/2006
Another race, another tale of bike woe, but at least no flats this time.
This event was located near the historic town of Bath, in the village of
Odd Down. The course was more challenging and fun than my 2 previous CX races
in the UK. Part of the course was on an older BMX track complete with a pair
of 2-foot tabletop jumps and 3 bermed turns which made for good fun. Although
no barriers (again!) there was one legitimate run-up this race. The course was
very short with my lap-times at about 5 minutes so it was likely under a mile.
The combination of jumps, the run-up and significant portions of the course
on soft, wet grass meant that there were few places to recover. This was the
first of 3 races to be held under sunny skies but there were a number of mud
bogs from the rain of the last few days.
Only 23 of us lined up for the start, with Juniors, Women, Seniors and Vets
all going at the same time for 55 minutes plus 1 lap. I settled into a moderate
pace about mid-pack and tried to concentrate on being smooth considering the
nature of the course as I tried to chase the other vets. This is tough to do
in the UK as we all have double-digit numbers, not the usual 3-digit numbers
of our Santa Cruz races that distinguish the racers in each class. I just convince
myself that the guys passing me are young and the ones I'm passing are old – wish
it were really that simple!
About halfway into the race I slide on a bit of mud and drive my right hand
shifter hard into the ground. When I get up can't shift at all. Fortunately
I'm in the large cog in the rear so although I have to end the finish the race
as a 2-speed my gearing is pretty reasonable. In the last 20 minutes of the
race I get lapped by the young guys, but have no idea how I place relative to
the Seniors and other Vets.
Another fun race, but I sure miss the relatively large classes and high-quality
courses I experienced racing at home.
That's all until next time. Next weekend I have a choice of another venue
in Bristol or a race near Swansea in South Wales – assuming I'm in any
kind of shape to ride after the Guy Fawkes celebrations planned for Bristol
over the weekend.
Big Bear State XC Series Final, Castaic, 10/22
The final Team Big Bear State Series MTB race was held Sunday 10/22 at the
Lake Hughes Park in Castaic, CA. The temperature was in the high 70s under clear
skies as the Sport categories started their two-lap, point-and-a-half value,
My race strategy was pretty simple: go for the win, but avoid a DNF. A DNF
would eliminate my chance for the series (best 6 of 11 races) 65+ Sport Championship.
The Castaic course is seven miles of mostly single and double track. It is
by far the toughest course we race on because of the granny gear climbing—four
tough climbs per lap, one rated at over 30% grade!
I led Hans and Richard, the other two in my class, up the first climb. The
course and a mistake-free ride now became my challenge. Relax, focus, push the
bike when it's faster than pedaling, and stay hydrated. At the end of the first
lap, Harriet handed me a new water bottle and I was away for another hour of
As I crossed the finish line, I realized my long season that started in April,
was over and that I had gone undefeated to win the State Series 65+ Sport Class.
Thanks Team Santa Cruz for your support and encouragement. Hopefully, Mike
Evans won't fine me too many Swiss Francs for my unzipped jersey at the finish.
England Western League Cyclo-Cross Series,
Race 5, 10/22/06
My first UK 'cross race since my unimpressive debut in Wales a few weeks ago.
This time I thought I would try one of the Western League races since I'm staying
in the Clifton area of Bristol and the race was only about a 5 minute bike ride
away. The Western League has 12 races over the season and races occur mostly
in an area bounded by Bristol to the South and Gloucester to the North. This
race was located in Ashton Court and old estate converted to a city park with
some double-track mountain biking and a little bit of single-track riding through
the woods. The course was again a surprise as, just like the race in Wales,
there were no run-ups and no barriers to jump over. I asked the race organizer
about this and he said that they only brought out the barriers for a few races
a year but tried to encourage new riders by minimizing the technical difficulty
of the races—seems backwards to me since a lot of the appeal of 'cross
is the fact that the races were like no other bike races. Met a transplant from
Lancashire (a few hundred miles North) who said the races there were usually
very technical. One race had 13 dismounts in a single lap!
Turnout for this race was less than 30 but there were some fast, young riders.
We started on a flat meadow for about 100 meters before picking up a fast double-track
downhill for about 400 meters before entering a rooty, rocky, single-track section
through the woods. Then out into a meadow where we picked up a flat double-track
before entering the woods again and some more single-track. Finally, a double-track
climb back to the start/finish. I had a bag of excuses (jet-lag being the primary
one I plan to use for rest of the season) but I still battled as best I could
for a mid-pack position until I pinch flatted about 1/4 of the way into a lap
after about 35 minutes on the course. I decided to run it out as best I could
and changed my tube back at the start/finish. Too bad no SCCCC contingent there
with Mike Evans to take care of pit duties. I figured DFL was better than a
DNF (plus I had to ride the bike back home anyway) so I didn't even think of
not fixing the flat. Got back on the bike for 2 more laps but I was happy to
be done after nearly a full hour of riding and a too-long run. Next weekend
the race is in Bath which is only 20 minutes up the road from here. After 2
flats in the last 2 races I'm hoping for a better showing.
5 Races into Cyclocross Season
To avoid any further fines here's my early season update:
Central Coast #1—Prunedale...
...was a good first race of the year. I love Manzanita park and can't wait
to race there again. I like the heat too and after a fairly lame start I managed
to ride my way into the top ten. I was psyched to be with teammate Steve Hess
until he flatted with an absolute gunshot. Passed on the last lap by the indomitable
Mark Abele. 9th place I think.
Central Coast #2—East Garrison.
Same old place but a slightly different course not really to my liking (give
me the jeep track climb any day). Actually started well—third place into
the barriers. I was running OK with Mark Howland until a series of bobbles and
such took their toll. Ended up dropping my chain twice and having to get it
unstuck from the 3rd eye (see bayareacyclocross messageboard for this topic—I'm
running the magic sandwich now). Ended up around 14th with Abele dropping me
again towards the end.
Pilarcitos #1—Hellyer Park.
Tough course, all bumps and a beautiful velodrome. After avoiding some off-the-line
pile ups I went work and moved on up to about as high as 5th or 6th. Steve Hess
and I were together and having fun. I jumped on the super-impressive Jordi Cortes
(watch out this guy will win a race as soon as he puts together a few more things,
mark my words) and hung on for dear life. After getting dropped and staggering
along I was disappointed to get passed by a couple of last-lap-late-chargers.
8th place and I couldn't complain. I was super sorry to see Steve Hess curled
in a ball on the entry to the track. Here's hoping we can mash it up late season.
Surf City #1—Soquel High.
After a day celebrating Oscar's 5th birthday I was running a little slow.
Coupled with the early start time I was a bit out of sorts. Finally got in a
bit of a groove and was really happy to see Eric Bustos and Jordi charging along.
Then I flatted. Ran the whole bottom section, was yelled at, got a wicked wheel
change from DS Evans and was back inittowinit. Then I flatted again on the same
spot (cement drainage crossing). Bummer. The kiddie cross made up for it all
and then some. DNF, I'll take the fine too. Should've listened to Phillip and
ran higher air pressure.
Pilarcitos #2—Candlestick Point.
Donde esta nuestra equipo? Only Matt and I lined up for this one with no other
teammates in sight. After getting snaked out of my call-up by the eager masses
it took a couple of laps to get going again. Lindsey Collins (the only other
teammate I saw at the race), Phillip and I did a great ride Wednesday and I
was feeling OK. Plus the heat was good for the weary bones This was by far the
best course out in the postindustrial wasteland (y'all missed out.) Moved up
trying to follow Gannon Myall for a lap or so (he had had a mechanical) and
ended up with Jordi and Thomas Feix. Jordi dropped us last lap and Feix and
I duked it out for 9th. He got me by a wheel with a hardman's line but I was
pretty happy with a more complete ride. 10th place.
Thanks to Phillip for all the rides and feeds (not to mention strategizing
and moral support), Mike and David too. It's great to be racing for SCCCC. Here's
to improving as the season goes on. Onwards, Brij Lunine.
Surf City Cyclocross
#1 Soquel High School 10/15/06
Now I'm an old mountain biker/motorcycle rider and can't resist falling sometimes.
So Saturday I get my M-Bike ready (I thought) and off I go on Sunday morning.
Funny the feeling you get when trying something the first time, it's like everybody
else there is a pro, you're the only rookie in the whole universe and you know
that there are people who are there for there first time but you don't see them.
I go up to the friendly face at Reg. She says its $35 bucks since I don't
have a license and Yikes I only have $30! So she gives me the number and I race
on down to the ATM at the Quick Stop and get the 5 bucks, she's grateful and
I am too because she is so patient. So I get my number half/ass pinned on and
the big guy stops me before I get on the track and says I got the wrong number.
So back to my smiling lady at Reg, she helps me out.
Boom, I am out on the track, again I feel like I'm the only one on the planet.
Then (yikes again!) flashes come whizzing by. I finish two practice laps and
I pull up to the SC booth and David greets me with a "So you wanna try
this?" smile and the Team helps me out again with my numbers and bike.
I get my Picture taken and get a last word of advice on how not to get run over
and next thing I know I'm standing in a sea of bikes again. I feel like I'm
in this void.
3, 2, 1. Gooooo. I carry my whale of a bike up hills and over jumps and I'm
watching not to get in somebody's way. I feel Ron Riley pushing me up a hill,
faster and faster I go, being careful not to crash. I ride by David, he hands
me a water bottle and I think "I always wanted to throw one away." Then
I see Harriet Riley taking my picture and I feel very good about the warm friendship.
Faster and faster I go; I want to make at least 3 laps, getting a little winded
now, I don't know if I could make 4, then my front derailleur casing breaks
on my bars and I have to hold it in the middle chain-ring to finish, faster,
faster there's the finish. "You're done!" the man says.
YIKES I DID IT! THANKS EVERYBODY!!
City Cyclocross #1 Soquel High School 10/15/06
Directly after the last CCCX cross race I became very sick. This illness lasted
almost two weeks and I ended up missing the first Pilarcitos race as well. Even
though I brought my bike, I had no real intentions of racing at the first Surf
The morning was quite hectic! After emptying the contents of my van and setting
up the team compound, the action started. I have never seen so many flats at
a cross race before! Besides a few teammates and friends having problems, there
was a plethora of other people having problems. It's kind of disheartening to
see somebody pay $25 or $30 to race only to have them flat on the first lap!
Many of the people in the beginning groups don't own a spare bike or spare wheels,
so we at Team Santa Cruz took pity upon them and started to offer wheels to
those that needed them. There is a bit of danger in this. There's good chance
that our wheels and tires could be damaged by the borrower, but it all came
out good in the end. There were plenty of mechanical issues, so we had several
bike swaps as well.
In between this mayhem, I was busy preparing bikes for friends and teammates
and I even rebuilt Rachel Lloyd's rear wheel because she broke a spoke warming
up. I guess all of the activity got me fired up and I started entertaining the
idea of racing. Before I got that far, however, I decided to suit up and take
a couple of laps around the course to see what all of the fuss was about. I
thought the course was very good. I thought the Velo Bella/Surf City people
did a nice job in using the terrain, in particular the little run ups that required
no barriers: the goal post, the baseball backstops and the little culvert. I
was having difficulty with the baseball backstops section and never could seem
to flow just right. As I approached the big drop in section there were four
girls staring over the precipice apparently wondering what line to take. I gave
them a whistle to let them know I was coming and they divided up two by two
as I approached. I hit the apex just right, got my rear wheel to brake loose
as I exited and then hit the drop totally crossed up. This was the best I hit
any corner all day, very fast and smooth, but unfortunately my left pedal hooked
the girl's rear tire on my left! I barely felt a thing, but the force of my
pedal caused her to high side over the edge down to dirt and dust below. When
I was finally able to stop I yelled back to see if she was ok and then I apologized
and took off. I've been on this planet 45 years and I never cease to amaze myself
on how stupid I can be while trying to impress women!!
I decided to race (singlespeed), but in retrospect I wish I hadn't. I almost
choked on my own bile right after the start, I got worked over by Stella Carey,
slid wide in one of the corners causing me to hit a chain link fence and flipped
over the bars, hit a large bump causing my handlebars to slip and forcing me
to ride in a very down position for two laps and finally, I flatted my front
tire on a hole that I was knew was there after riding past it 12 times, forcing
me to ride the last half of the last lap on my rim.
All of this paled in comparison to how I felt after the race. The combination
of being sick, not riding in two weeks and this course, really worked me over.
I can honestly say I have never felt this bad after a race before!!
Surf City Cyclocross #1, Soquel High School,
I had a bit of an identity crisis during this race. First, people kept calling
me Karen. You have lots of supporters, Ms. Kefauver! Now, I've seen the race
photos, and I know for a fact that Karen looks a lot more cheerful during a
race than I do, so I don't know how anyone could confuse a nice, pleasant smile
with a scowling grimace. Nevertheless, I took all the cheering I could get,
as Lindsey and/or Karen. I may have to get a chin-length blond wig to continue
stealing applause from Karen's unwitting fans.
Second, Mike, in his apparent effort to emulate my Texan mama, has really
taken a shine to calling me "Lindsey carol." Yes, Carol is my middle
name. But only my mama calls me that when she's mad. You can imagine how it
rolls off the tongue in an angry Texan accent: "Lindsey Carol Collins,
what the hell are you doing??" So, being ever the southern gentleman, Mike
cheered me on as Lindsey Carol. I think this must be what caused me to ride
like a southern belle on sunday, while my poor, delicate back spazzed out and
cramped up on all that bumpy dirt and grass. As my mom always says, "you're
at the age now where you need to just SLOW DOWN and get off that bicycle." Apparently,
Mike's cheer called out to my inner Texan debutante, slowing me right down to
a painful, but ladylike, crawl.
So, I'm with Karen—or is it Lindsey?—on her race report: I was
just glad to finish. my back hurt like a beeeatch. I can't believe I'm saying
this, but I'm kind of ready for some mud...
Surf City Cyclocross #1, Soquel High School,
I was an inch away from quitting the race today at Soquel High School. I was
ready to bail: I was exhausted from busy weeks of work and was feeling the impact
of ZERO riding since the last race at Fort Ord 14 days ago. On the hilly course
today, I looked for a spot where I could exit unnoticed. Nothing looked good.
I knew I should tell the officials I was a DNF. I imagined the torture would
end soon and forced myself to pedal to the start/finish area to inform them
of my bailout. As I approached the officials, they called out: 2 more laps!
Grrrr. Could I survive 2 more laps? I decided I had to keep going and slowed
down even more in order to pace myself to the finish.
What kept me in the race? My teammates! I did not want to go back to the tent
and say I dropped out just because I was tired and out of shape. Plus, the idea
of Mike Evans sending out an email with me getting the highest fine (in francs)
for being a DNF was a powerful incentive to continue slogging around the course
despite exhaustion. Team Santa Cruz spirit was so amazing! It propelled me along:
David Gill and Winona handed me water; Grant Stoner, posted at the top of the
steepest run-up, cheered my every aching run up; Mike Evans threatened me to
stop smiling; and the whole gang cheered in unison. Janel Lodge helped by encouraging
me over the set of barriers each lap, too.
My biggest victory was simply not dropping out today! Incredibly, I was not
DFL in the Women B's. Also, I feel certain that with my donation of Team Food:
homemade pear cake and chicken rice fiesta bake, I can avoid any steep fines.
Oh yes, Troy and I both donated our winnings: beer and Gizdich Ranch pie for
all! Those treats were from the Limbo Race, which for me, was 3 laps and two
chances to go under a limbo bar. That was fun. Velo Bella did a great job on
this event and I salute Sabine and that team for the work that went into this!
Great to see more women joining our team. Good turnout today from Team Ladies.
Congrats to newest ones: Lindsay, Katie and Deborah. Welcome. Missed Melinda,
Samantha and Simone. Not the same without you all. Congrats to friends Michiko,
Natasha Perry and her husband for their first cross races and congrats to Shauna
for her first victory of the year and for sharing all those delicious strawberries.
Steve Hess is a trooper in handling his injury with grace. Winona, thanks for
reuniting the Go Go Go Girls who raced at 24 Hours: Winona, Karen, Henri and
Michiko. We are going to miss Alex and Winona.
OK, I won't see you all again til November. I will be missing the September
22nd race (will be in Seattle) and the September 29th Halloween Fiesta (Norman
and I will be in Santa Barbara for his 24-Hour mountain-bike race). Harriet,
please go crazy with the photos at the Halloween race. Thanks and Good job to
all Team Santa Cruz!
Pilarcitos Cyclocross #1, San Jose, 10/8/06
Just wanting to hear about how today's race in San Jose went. I didn't go
because of what is quite possibly the lamest bike accident in all history. I
just finished a great ride on my cross bike up on the campus trails and was
stopping at the light at the bottom of campus, when my girlfriend Lara tipped
into me on her bike. My knee took all the impact, and today it doesn't like
to bend very much. Please feel free to harass Lara about her clipping out problems
at the next race.
I remember something about getting fined in Swiss Francs for stupid bike tricks—I
think this might set me back a few.
Whiskeytown 9 to 5, 10/7/06
I raced hard and felt good. I prepared the night before the race by pre-filling
water bottles and making a couple of sandwiches. My goal this race was to finish
well and get my pit times down to about a minute by eating while riding. Even
with the time I gained I still lost by a whole lap to Matt and his friend Jim.
These guys were totally crazed this race and they were riding like maniacs for
8 hours straight. Jim even beat all the teams there too. I had a good battle
going with a guy from Soulcraft for a couple of laps, but he popped about 6
hours into the race and I knew that I had at least sealed third. 72 miles total.
For the series I finished 1st overall, but more importantly I feel like I
learned a lot more about competing in long races. Total 397 miles on a 34:18
gear ratio, some of the best trail I've ever ridden, and some of the sweetest
people I've ever met.
Coast Cyclocross #2, East Garrison, Fort Ord, 10/1/06
Unfortunately, this will be the last bicycle race of any type at the building/church
area of the East Garrison at Fort Ord. This is pretty sad as Keith and Rod have
put on some really fine races here over the years. The East Garrison, with it
chaparral and oak forest, will be leveled to put in (I believe) 2,000 to 3,000
For the second night in a row I had no sleep and when I arrived at the course
I was a grumpy jerk! So if I snarled at you I apologize! After setting up the
team compound I eventually suited up and went to check out the course. This
course was little different than previous years, but still incorporated the
long paved straight and fast singletrack in the back. In fact this was a very
fast course. I could leave it in the big ring for the whole race. While lining
up for the start I wondered what I was doing there as I all I really wanted
to do was take a nap. As soon as the whistle sounded I forgot about being tired
and sleepy and had a great start and in fact for the first four laps I was feeling
great! I was having a fun little battle with the two guys from the LGBRC, but
on lap five I blew. For one lap I staggered around the course until I recovered,
making many silly little mistakes in the meantime. For the next two laps, with
nobody in my class in sight, I set my sights on teammate Ray Mendoza, who started
in the class in front of me. I was slowly reeling in Ray, but the race ended
before I could catch him.
I just couldn't bear the thought of doing the singlespeed race as well and
packed it in. My original plan of doing six races in eight days came short by
one. I'm very sore and brutally tired and I will take it very easy for the next
Central Coast Cyclocross #2, Fort Ord, 10/1/06
Where: Seaside, East Garrison entrance
Wearing: Team SC kit for the first time. Borrowed shorts
and jersey from Norman
Why: So I could avoid the nonstop barrage of "Where's
your kit? " that I endured at Race 1, last Sunday and to enjoy my $10 team
Race Strategy: Tried to relax and let Norman's good race "juju" emanate
from his clothing.
Mike Evan's Suggested Race Strategy for me: Smile less and
race harder! :)
Race report: Great start charging uphill, fantastic sprint
finish trying to catch Julie Brothers, and oh yes, some stuff happened in between:
lost my chain, lost my balance and went down hard on the off cambre section
where the trail split in a "V" in the dirt. But enjoyed myself and
overcame strong desire to quit after lap 2 to go eat pumpkin pie that was in
The Winners: Team SC rocks! This is only my second race as
a Team SC member and I am really enjoying being part of our local team. Thanks
for setting up the Team SC tent. Thanks esp. to Mike Evans, Grant and David
for keeping track of my water bottles and Team SC fashion statement. Winona,
I missed seeing you in the race, but you are a great cheerleader. It's fun having
Maya and Cooper at the scene. Simone and Mike, welcome back to town. Ladies,
looking good out there! Lindsay, what a great way to comeback to cross: with
a victory in the Women's Cs. Congrats to all.
Had fun there and see you all next Sunday!
Welsh Cyclo-Cross Series Race 1, 10/1/06
With my impending move to the UK I figured I should dive into the local racing
series as soon as possible. I had no idea what to expect only that I knew from
my few mates in the UK that I could expect "real" cyclocross weather
(meaning that mud was guaranteed and ice or snow as the season wore on). I knew
I was in for a good introduction when I heard the rain coming down when I went
to sleep Saturday night and woke up to a steady rain with occasional thunder
The venue was in a park in South Wales near the town of Tredegar. Interestingly
the park was situated on the site of an open-pit coal mine that had been restored
like many in the area after the demise of the industry in the 1980's. Luck shined
on me when I got to the race and I had a full hour of dry weather to change
out the 2.1" tires on my single-speed mountain bike (I left my CX bike
in Santa Cruz in the hope of racing Surf City #1) to some narrow 1.5's and also
change my rear cog from an 18 to a 15.
In the parking lot I met a few of the blokes in the Veterans division who
would be racing with me. Definitely a different scene than Santa Cruz with only
about 1/2 the riders on 'cross bikes and the rest on mountain bikes. I had just
enough time to ride 1/2 the course before we assembled for the start. Under
12's, Youths and Novice Women raced earlier in the day. Juniors, Women, Seniors
and Vets would all start at the same time—no staggered start. Also no
ability categories in this series—no A's, B's and C's. It looked like
about 40–50 people with maybe 5 or 6 women in the group.
The start was up a paved road for about 100 meters then quickly into a sloppy,
rutted downhill with a sharp uphill off-camber section at the bottom. This rapidly
sorted out the riders as a few went down hard in the mud at the bottom of the
hill. At the start, I jumped to the middle of the pack from the rear position
where the vets started but lost my chain at the bottom of the mucky downhill.
Not a promising debut and I would lose my chain 3 or 4 more times over the course
of the race. This made for a "competitive" race for me as I would
pass the same 5 or 6 riders after getting my chain back on then see them go
by as I cursed at my drivetrain. I repeated this over the course of the 50 minute
race and ended up finishing 30th out of 41 finishers.
Odd thing about this race was that there were no barriers and no run-ups on
the course—I'm sure Mike Evans would have imposed a 5000 Swiss franc fine
on the organizers if he had been there. It's possible the organizers figured
the two 50-meter sections of 3–4" deep mud was sufficient challenge—I
With ten races over the season in South Wales I'll have plenty of challenges.
With Bristol and Glouchester, England less than an hour away, the West England
series has as many races and I'll race a few of those to see how the scene compares. Results
and other races are posted.
DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress Series, San Francisco, Race #4, San Francisco,
For some inexplicable reason, I had insomnia on Friday night and barely slept
two hours. When I awoke early to go to the last race in the Team DFL Urban Outlaw
Cyclo Cross-Dress Race Series at Golden Gate Park, I was a complete zombie!
I knew this didn't bode well for me and I was right. I crashed five times and
dropped my chain four times! Until this race I haven't dropped a chain all year.
The last the crash was very nice, as I hooked my pedal on a log and was flipped
over the bars, racking my shin in the process. The start of this race was hilarious,
as about 50 people tried at once to go from the pavement to the dirt in a space
that maybe was two riders wide. The resulting log jam had riders from behind
busting through bushes on either side of the course. My handle bar hooked the
guy next to me as we ran away from the carnage and we had to spend a moment
detaching from each other. There was some character in a dress on an old Schwinn
girl's bike who positively railed the thing! I know this from a first-hand account
as I was behind this guy for a couple of laps; every time I went to pass him,
I would inflict something terrible upon myself. Half way through the race I
had enough. It was obvious that I had no flow or finesse so I put it on cruise
control and rode to the finish. I very glad when this race was over!
DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress #3, 9/27/06
"Spectacularly unmotivated" would sum up my Wednesday to a tee.
My phone starting ringing as I was driving to the rendezvous spot for carpooling
to Team DFL race # 3 at Crocker Amazon Park in SF. Teammate after teammate reported
that they were bailing for various reasons. I decided after the last call that
if nobody showed up I would go home for a long ride (nap) on my couch. Just
as I was about to give up and drive home, teammate Jeff Bronack appeared, so
we loaded my car and hit the road.
When we arrived the first thing I noticed was there were no course markings
on the East or South side of the park. After suiting up, I walked over to Dylan
asked him where the course was. He pointed towards a gap between the skateboard
park and the soccer field. I hoped on my bike rolled out in that direction and
the first thing I encountered was a very long staircase; 52 steps to be exact
with an arrow at the bottom pointing up it. "Bugger, this is going to be
fun!' I thought to myself facetiously. There were a couple of other hard sections;
in particular the climb up to Start/ Finish line, but in most cases there was
a long downhill after these on which to recover. It felt a lot like doing hill
After the start of the race I promptly launched myself to the back of the
pack. I was still too tired from Sunday's two-race effort and just tried to
ride a tolerable pace until the end. This was my third cross race in four days
and I plan on doing three more this weekend. Eating heaps of food and taking
naps are sounding better and better to me all the time!!
Coast Cyclocross #1, Prunedale, 09/26/06
The 2006 cyclocross season officially began with the first race of the Central
Coast Cyclocross Series at Manzanita Park, Prunedale. I had a lot of apprehension
coming into this race as the combination of two DFL races and a particularly
hard Saturday ride in Santa Cruz, combined with several weeks of hard riding,
had sent me over the edge. All week I had been extremely tired and very sore.
I had even slept through my alarm a couple of times. I laid pretty low before
this event and prayed my legs would feel better!
Team director and dictator for life David Gill, along with new teammate Katie
London, hopped into my van which was loaded to the gills at 7:00am and headed
to the course. The first thing we did was disgorge the van and set up camp for
I suited up and went and checked out the course. I really like this course,
but soon I was wondering which set of tires to run: file tread or knobbies?
After several laps of swapping wheel sets and messing with tire pressures, I
settled on the file tread. I knew I would be a little loose on some of the high
speed turns, but I thought it would more than make up for it on the pavement
and the long dirt straights. This is a decision I would soon regret!
Master 45+ A
I got a good spot on the line and had a nice start, but faded a little bit
by the top of the hill. For the next couple of laps I held my position, but
I was sliding all over the place. I then crashed over the bars at the 180 turn
that dropped onto the baseball field. I got up very quickly, but decided right
then and there I would swap bikes for my singlespeed with knobby tires. It soon
became apparent that the singlespeed was much slower than my geared bike and
I would have to swap back. The next time around the pits, I asked my teammates
to swap the wheels on my geared bike. Next time around I came into the pits
and had what I would consider to be a perfect bike exchange except for one thing;
the chain wasn't on the front ring! After all of this I still felt pretty good
and was able to keep pushing, but I failed in my goal of not being lapped.
After the race I put as much fluid back into body as possible, as it was very
hot and I didn't want to cramp in my next race. I took the fact that I had to
take a leak before start of the singlespeed race as a good sign.
While on the climb, my legs let me know right away after the start just how
unhappy they were, but by the end of the first lap I felt much better and was
able to push the pedals quite well. My teammate Eric Thunstrom was dangling
in front of me for the next three or four laps, but I just couldn't close the
gap. On the fifth lap I blew very hard and went into survival mode for the remainder
of the race. I guess the combination of the first race and the heat got to me.
After the race I felt completely cooked, but I'm happy to report I had no problems
with cramping as I have had in previous years. I have been taking lots of supplements,
drinking lots of mineral water and it seems to be working; knock on wood!
DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress #1, San Francisco, 9/13/06
I finally got to do my first race since my
bad crash at the Surf City Halloween race last October. After that race
I had water on my left knee for 2 months and I still have nerve damage there
as well. To top it all off I then got tendonitis in both of my knees over
the winter so bad I couldn't sit longer than 30 minutes without being in excruciating
pain. With all of the pain and injuries over with I got to ride a lot this
summer and made good progress towards my ultimate goal: the cyclocross season!
Teammates Winona H. Simone M. Alex A. Troy B. Larry M. David H. David G. and
myself met at Big J's on the Westside so we could carpool up the first Team
DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress race of the year. To say I was excited would
have been an understatement. I was literally bouncing off of the walls inside
the car by the time we made the long drive up to Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately
we arrived very late and we barely had time to pin our numbers on before they
lined us up for the start. "Oh great," I thought to myself, "no
warm up and I have no idea where I will be going." Having no warm up was
bad enough, but not knowing the course would be worse as I wouldn't know any
of the fast lines or what gear to be in. Team DFL leader Dylan uttered a few
words to us, something about not running him over and that he would count down
from 3. He yelled 3 and before he could say 2, the pack, almost exactly 100
of us, took off like a bunch of frightened cattle!
I thought I slotted into the start well, but Larry, who was to my left, seemed
to find a crease in the masses and shot ahead. Without any warm up, I concentrated
on not going out to hard initially as I was afraid of immediately blowing up.
Larry, on the other hand, put the pedal down and soon I couldn't even see him.
Any thought of getting lost on this awesomely sandy and root-strewn course was
immediately put to bed as the first couple of laps were nose-to-tail riders
playing follow the leader.
Somewhere in the middle of the second lap Larry came back into view as if
he was going backwards. I soon passed him like he had thrown out his anchor.
Larry had completely blown and I never saw him again. At exactly 27:53 into
the race I started to blow as well. I glanced at my HRM and saw 184 (I avg.
175bpm for the race) and immediately throttled back for almost a full lap. After
I had recovered, I started having fun with this course as I became more familiar
with it. I must say that Team DFL always seems to lay out nice courses and this
was no exception. There were barely any spots to rest as this course had many
undulations, numerous dismounts and runs, plus one long steep run up that really
started to kick my ass in the last half of the race.
In all of the confusion before the start, I completely lost track of teammate
and arch rival David Gill. I was totally convinced that David had lined up behind
and throughout the entire race I keep glancing over my shoulder trying to spy
him so he didn't lay a sneak attach on me. At the end of the race I thought
I had finally beat David in a cross race! Imagine my dismay when I saw David
standing after the finish line already done! Apparently in all of the confusion
just before the start, David has weaseled a spot on the first row and managed
to avoid all of the bottlenecks that happen behind the first 10 or 20 riders
and was launched. Bugger
Team DFL Urban Outlaw Cyclo Cross Dress #1,
Race was brutal. Basically, everything I worked on fell apart. No decent re
or dismounts. Wore too many clothes—hot! Shoes came off on sandy hill
climbs. Felt like retching. Not in the right kind of shape. Need to do sprints.
Got there late. Noooo warm up what-so-ever. Joined the back of the pack as they
were taking off! To go from sitting in a car for 1-1/2 hours (with a burrito
in my tummy) to sprinting was horrible. Cross is boss!
On the upside: lots of guys in sexy dresses. (Anyone who cross dressed got
in free). Troy looked HOT in his pink negligee. Especially loved the ruffled
panties. Temptress Alex was fetching in his ensemble of see through top w/ his
wife's mini skirt. Incriminating photos to follow. Mikes, Jeff's, David's, Larry's
and Mark's? macho egos were too fragile for cross dressing. Cowards! Thanks
for the support Simone!
Big Bear State XC Series Race #7, Elings Park, Santa Barbara, 9/9/06
What old guys do on a saturday morning
Our four hour drive from Aptos to Santa Barbara on Friday was the maiden
bike race trip in our new Honda FIT. With my Specialized Epic's front wheel
removed and the bars turned backwards, it fit behind the front seats nicely.
The rear seats of the FIT fold down and form a huge cargo space. The 1.5 liter
engine had no trouble maintaining the 70 MPH speed limit found on much of Hwy
After four hours behind the wheel I was ready for an easy pre-ride of the
course that had beat me up pretty good back in June. I found the steep downhill
switch backs that had done me in then to be even nastier with big breaking bumps,
deep ruts and loose powder – gulp! The Saturday 11o'clock start was under
overcast skies and mild temps – a BIG difference from June's 90 degrees
The Elings XC course is a mix of paved and unpaved roads and single track
that ascends and descends a 700' "hill" once each four and a half
mile lap. I escaped my one crash with just a dirty backside. Harriet took care
of my hydration by handing up my water bottles at the start/finish line each
lap. I had a good day, was able to avoid any major problems and beat my one
challenger to win the 65+ Sport category. My time was 1:52 for three laps. After
I washed off some of the grime, we had some delicious tri-tip sandwiches from
the on-site caterers. A couple of New Belgium beers from the beer tent topped
off the "recovery" requirements. At 3 o'clock, after the awards presentation,
we headed for Aptos.
University Road Race, UCSC Campus, Santa Cruz,
A Cautionary Tale
The University Road Race and the San Ardo Road Race are part of the "2006
California Cup" race series put on by Velo Promo. But since they were both
on the same weekend I really couldn't see myself racing both of them. The University
race would be 10 or 14 laps of a 3-mile road course up a long, steady climb
on Hagar Road (with a nasty steep section or two), right on McLaughlin and downhill
to Coolidge. I had originally decided to race the San Ardo Road Race on Saturday
the 26th, upon the advice of Larry Morin, Larry Broberg and Scott Martin. With
2 or 3 laps on a nice, mostly flat, 22-mile course with a few rolling hills,
it sounded like a great way to finish up my season. The only downside was the
long drive down Highway 101, while University was within easy bike-riding distance
for me. But when Matt Wocasek called me and said he was going to San Ardo too,
I was settled.
The Thursday night before the race, though, I slept poorly and was tired all
day Friday at work. The idea of having to get ready that night, then get up
at 4:00 a.m. was totally unappealing! Yeah, I do this for fun, not as self-punishment.
I think. So I called Matt and Larry B and told them I'd cancelled. If I felt
better later I'd race University on Sunday the 27th. The Velo Promo web site
actually had a list of pre-registered riders this time, and I saw that the field
was only about 2/3 full, so I'd likely have no trouble entering on race day.
Sunday morning I woke up at a pretty reasonable time: 7:00 a.m... a big improvement.
And since I felt pretty rested I went ahead and ate my usual huge breakfast,
packed my backpack, dressed in my team uniform and pedalled off to the UCSC
campus. It was gray and damp, but not too cold. The further up the hill I rode
the more damp it was, and my legs didn't feel all that strong either. Still,
I've learned that some days I can feel mediocre at first but feel strong during
the race, as was the case at Coyote Creek.
Unfortunately I discovered that others had the same idea as I did, and when
I went to register I was told the Master 45+ race field was full! But they reassured
me that since I was first on the waiting list I'd have no trouble getting in.
So I waited around while the previous Master 35+ 4/5 race finished. I spotted
Martin Wolff and Scott grunting along, with the whole peloton fractured into
individual riders and small groups. Doug Smith was spectating for a while, and
was riding his cyclocross bike around. He told me the fog was already gone just
a mile away from us, so I decided to ditch my arm- and leg-warmers before the
15 minutes before my 10:30 start time I was back and got signed up! I then
quickly prepared myself for the race, and was lucky that Larry B's wife, Priscilla,
could help me get my number on and stow my backpack. Mark Edwards and Larry
B, both of Bicycle Trip, and Chris Cerruti of Giant Strawberries were also racing
in my group, so I was happy of that. Scott had just finished in the 35+ 4/5
race, so he could cheer us on with Priscilla and Mark's wife Margaret, as well
as a few other friendlies. I told Mark I just wanted to see how long it would
take before I got lapped, and he replied that he had no idea why he even entered
this crazy race. I told him "at least we know the course" (from our
hill repeats training before Pescadero) but he
said maybe that wasn't a good thing. "Yeah, it might just demoralize us," I
We were grouped with the Master 35+ 1/2/3 riders, and started 2 minutes after
the Category 3 riders, so there were essentially three races on course at one
time. Our group had numbers starting with 200, and they'd separate the 35+ 1/2/3
and 45+ racers later on in the results, and the Cat 3's numbers started at 400
so the scorers could tell us all apart on course. We were given a brief spiel
by the starter, and were soon huffing and puffing up Hagar Road on our first
lap. I was glad of the rest downhill on McLaughlin... that was not a
good sign that early in the race. But it was still gray and cold, and the long
drop made me shiver with chills.
The climb back up Hagar was hard! I couldn't believe the pace... well I could,
but I didn't want to! These were the mutants from Patterson
Pass all over again. Even Larry B was looking weak as we neared the peak
at the end of it. I passed him, wondering if I should hang back instead, but
he somehow dug deep and passed me just as we crested the hill. Mark and Chris
were still in the main group about 100 feet ahead of us, but I could tell the
gap was growing. At least I wasn't chilly any more.
The next two laps Larry slowly gapped me... I just couldn't do it. I was wheezing
some, my legs were wooden, and my breath was coming in gasps. I was clearly
not on the form I'd had at Pescadero and Coyote Creek, or the course didn't
favor me, but I hoped I could hang in there long enough. As in Scott's race
we were spread out all over the course. All I could do was team up with a few
other guys and try to minimize the damage, and Larry did likewise.
At the end of my third full lap a smiling guy by the scoring awning said "flat
tire" to me. Huh? I looked: my tires were fine! "What?" I asked. "Please
retire." Huh??? "Why?" I asked. "Because you're 2 minutes
back from the leaders," he said. I was a little puzzled, and deflated.
I was clearly having a really bad day, and I coasted to a stop by the spectator's
As I mulled things over I was joined by some other pulled riders and Scott.
We were a little sheepish, and not too happy either. Scott said I should just
keep going, but I knew it was pointless, and I am too obedient anyway. The next
lap more riders were past the 2-minute cutoff and also got pulled. Larry was
one of the guys asked to retire, but unlike me he just ignored them and kept
riding, as did some other riders. It was sort of a civil disobedience demonstration!
It sucks to pay $30, then suffer for it, then get told that you, well, suck!
Each lap more and more riders were pulled. Larry finally pulled out, but not
before giving the guy a piece of his mind! Mark and Chris did well, but eventually
they too got pulled. Mark said his laps were a fast 7-1/2 minutes, which was
a good speed, but that was still not enough? We all just stood around shaking
our heads, not knowing what to do next. The leaders from our Master's race were
so fast they caught up to, and then passed, the leaders from the Cat 3 race
that had started 2 minutes ahead of us! But the vast majority were flirting
with the 2-minute cutoff, including none other than National Master Champion
Larry Nolan. Somehow none of us thought he'd get pulled, and even though he
did miss the cutoff we were proven right. That's not too cool.
It would have been nice if we could have been allowed to ride so we could
get our money's worth. Larry B felt they could have just crossed out our numbers
instead. But no. Instead I had to ride around town for an extra hour just to
burn off all those calories from my breakfast! I still felt kind of lethargic,
and the next day I came down with a cold.
On a happier note, Eric Clarkson managed to sign up on race day too, and finished
with an awesome 3rd place in the Cat 4/5 race! Way to go Eric! Only 27 of the
60 riders finished with him—we're very lucky to have him on our team.
And Matt finished 25th at
the San Ardo race. Cool! Wish I'd been there instead.
When the results were
posted I saw that only 6 riders had finished in my race. Yes, six! Clearly Velo
Promo can't expect many people to sign up for this race next year if they don't
change how they conduct the race. I know I won't.
Ending my season with a whimper!
12 Hours of Willamette Pass
I arrived at the race in central Oregon a day early to pre-ride and when I
saw Matt's car in the parking lot I knew I had my work cut out for me. This
course was also beautiful, with a rough and steep climb up the front of a ski
resort and a long singletrack descent down the back. I ended up coming in second
behind Matt, who raced hard and had really strong descents. I completed 111
miles but felt uncomfortable coming in second. They were running a 24 hour race
at the same time and the next morning after getting a good 8 hours of sleep,
I woke up to watch a woman from Roaring Mouse complete her final lap with a
bloody nose from a crash. It was very magical and inspiring.
12 Hours of 5th Avenue, Santa
We decided in advance I would be Road Pussy #2, so I rode on over to 5th Ave.
after a nutritious, mid-glycemic index breakfast of cheerios, almond butter
toast, and OJ (sorry Dennis, I could not resist), arriving at 7:50am. I dropped
off my backpack of spare clothes and food/beverages and did some light stretching
and general preparations. All too soon, Dennis came tearing in and breathlessly
handed me our route map and I was off!
My first excitement was nearly getting hit by a pick-up truck and locking up
the brakes two blocks from the start just before dropping onto Lake. That got
the adrenaline flowing. I managed to stay out of trouble on the rest of the
paved section. I was tempted to run the light crossing a largely deserted Hwy
1, but a CHP car waiting opposite on River discouraged me. Then up on to the
tracks, I rode by a few surprised homeless people and made my way to the singletrack.
I got into a nice rhythm twisting uphill and soon enough made it to the top.
I'm really glad we had the pre-ride on Tuesday, as I would have been totally
lost otherwise. Even with the pre-ride and the course markings (thank you volunteers!),
I still had to stop several times to consult the route map winding through UCSC.
However, I enjoyed the singletrack though I was not able to go very fast, and
even managed to clear all of the log jumps. I crossed Empire Grade to Gray Whale,
then cruised down the gravel path making sure I did not overshoot the LH turnoff
to the Ribbon Trail like I did during the pre-ride. About halfway down my friend
Credence, who was riding solo (nut job), caught me, so we rode together for
around 15 minutes and chatted.
Then as he screamed down the rutty bit leading down to Old Cabin trail, my second
water bottle shook itself free and ejected onto the trail. I slowed to stay
in control; and a gap formed between us. About halfway down Old Cabin, I was
again passed by Kazim and another rider, but caught them and Creedence on the
climb out. Unfortunately, I had to stop almost at the top as I nearly collided
with two riders coming in the opposite direction—again a gap formed, and
alas I did not catch up to the racers who passed me.
Except for a low speed fall on the rocky strech before the kilns, I negotiated
Wilder OK, and was psyched to hit the paved part back to down. I dropped into
TT position (or as best I could on my mountain bike) and hammered back to 5th
Avenue and was happy to see Larry Morin (Road Pussy #3) ready to roll as I arrived
on the line. By my watch, first lap = 2:07; not too bad, I felt, for a Road
I hung out at Mike's house eating and drinking and meeting people in the club
while Larry and Dennis cranked out two great laps between them. I emerged from
the port-a-pot around 2:15 just as Dennis finished his awesome second lap, and
I was off for my own Part Deux. Climbing up Uconn proved more difficult this
time as I started cramping in my legs every time I got out of the saddle, so
I concentrated on spinning smoothly while seated. Lap two was uneventful and
peaceful as I did not see any 12-hour racers and only a few recreational riders.
I got into the nice flow you achieve while totally concentrating on the trail
ahead, and soon enough made it down to Hwy 1.
I definitely appreciated the considerable tailwind riding back to town, and
thought I was going to better my first lap time. Came close, arriving at 2:07
again—I'm not particularly fast, but I guess I'm consistent. While Larry
motored off for lap 6, I happily sat down having survived my first MTB event!
Thanks to my team mates, the whole thing was a blast and I'm glad for the experience.
Kudos to Mike and club and volunteers for making it happen 9 years in a row!
Watsonville Criterium, 7/22/06
I love this race, so it was definitely on my list of races to enter this year. Last
year David Gill warned me about the 35+/45+ race at Watsonville, making
it clear that it had a very fast group of riders. Back then I made sure to
race in the Category 5 race instead. That worked out well.
But this year, I felt confident that I'd be able to hang with the old guys
because I'd already raced successfully with them several times. Ergo, I pre-registered
as a 45+ rider. But our newest member, Chris Pearson who we "stole" from
LGBRC, wanted to race in the Category 4 race, so I decided to race that one
too if I felt good enough during warmup. Also, Eric Clarkson wanted to race
the Cat 5s, and I thought it would be nice to show up and watch him.
When I arrived it looked like Eric's race's field had already been whittled
down, but he was looking strong in a breakaway. Eric had been forced to bridge
up to this good-sized break, so he was too tired to really contest the finish.
Even so he finished 4th. Good job Eric! Now we just need to get him to wear
a Team Santa Cruz jersey instead of his old UCSC duds!
The latest heat wave had even affected mild Watsonville; when I got there
the temperatures varied between 84 and 92 so there was little reason for me
to warm up. I just pedalled around a little and tried to keep cool. I felt pretty
good though (maybe it was because of my huge breakfast!), so I went ahead and
signed up for the Cat 4 race after checking to make sure Chris had signed up.
While I wandered around I met David who was helping run the event. He sure is
hard working. I also saw Robbie Abundis riding around on his brand new Trek.
It turned out he was also racing in Cat 4. So with him and Chris I'd be in good
Category 4 Race
We were scheduled to race for 24 laps in about 45 minutes. When I lined up
for the start I saw that the field was huge; 66 riders! Chris, Robbie and I
lined up and listened to the starter's spiel, and I looked around for other
familiar faces. Martin Wolff of Newman's Own was there, as was Doug McKenzie
of Fightin' Bobas who I met the previous weekend and remembered from Pescadero.
Soon we were off and running... er, riding! I had a little trouble clicking
into Brij's loaner pedals (operator error... but my pedals are broken), so I
lost some positions to that. But I rarely feel any need to be up front so soon,
so I didn't care. That turned out to be a costly mistake, because the peloton
just raced off like banshees. Soon we were stretched out in a long group snaking
through the numerous turns (read my race
report from last year for a course description).
When the pace is high, especially on a tight course like this one is in places,
moving forward in the group is even harder because you have to ride really hard
out in the wind; there are no wheels to follow. The only place where passing
was easier was in certain turns or in the climb. But that meant I got very few
breaks. And it's really disruptive to the peloton when riders try to pass in
the turns. Most guys pass on the inside; that forces everybody else to swing
wider, or risk squeezing the passer against the gutter on the inside. Dangerous
either way. Later in the race several guys went wide in a turn, maybe for that
very reason as several riders were trying to pass in the turns, where the race
organizers had failed to move a parked pickup. Slam! Right into the rear fender!
I think three guys went down just ahead of me, and I barely squeezed by them
without running them over. Eek!
This course really demands that you be up front to avoid the usual yo-yo effect
that comes from being at the back of the peloton. But since I was near the middle
I did a lot of braking and accelerating through the turns due to the nature
of the course. My friend Chris Tanner has tried to teach me his energy-conserving
tricks which pretty much involve not using your brakes, but it was impossible
here. So, I spent a lot of energy trying to pass people and dealing with the
yo-yo effect. With the heat and exertion my skinsuit was soon drenched in sweat,
but even so I felt pretty good. Chris did not, however, and he dropped out rather
than waste energy hurting himself. On the plus side that meant that he could
cheer me on from the sidewalk with his family... thanks! Mark Edwards and Scott
Martin were also there and added their own voices. There was also a huge family
who had set up chairs in the shade of their front yard to watch, and other smaller
groups of residents who came out to watch. Cool!
With about six laps remaining one rider from San Jose Bicycle Club somehow
managed to break off the front of the peloton and solo off by himself. He was
quickly followed by another guy who promptly drafted him for the rest of the
race without taking any turns at the front. Classic wheel-sucker! I noticed
this happen, and also noticed a second SJBC rider was at the front of the peloton
and allowing the gap to grow... suspicious. I called out "go around him,
he's blocking!" But this had no effect and they were able to stay away.
On the last lap the pace went up slightly, but since we were already flying
it wasn't as obvious as usual. I had managed to move closer to the front to
maybe 20-something-th or so. As we sped through the last turn and started the
climb up to the finish line I was surprised to find that I was actually able
to sprint! Woo-hoo! I managed to pass quite a few riders by weaving through
the tired masses and staying to the right. I even thought I might be good for
a top-10 finish, but finished 14th
out of 60 finishers. Robbie got 9th! I found that I'd averaged 179 bpm,
which is a huge effort, and maxed out at 196 bpm, burning 728 calories in this
short, 45-minute race!
After the cool-down lap I had to quickly slam a bottle of GatorAde to rehydrate
and get ready for the Masters race. I only had about 20 minutes. I spent most
of my break yacking with Eric. Suddenly I noticed they were staging for the
Masters race, so I quickly got Eric to pin on my next race number and lined
up for more pain.
This race's field was fairly big, but somewhat smaller at 47 riders. Michael
Hernandez of Safeway/GA was there (which made me fearful of the pace we'd be
setting!), Steve Hess of Bicycle Trip, and Mark Patten, Martin and Larry Hampton
of Newman's Own were there, several Morgan Stanley riders, plus the other usuals.
Yes, I was right to be apprehensive; the pace was every bit as fast as my
first race! In fact, Mark and Scott timed our laps and said we were 15 seconds
per lap faster... just what I needed! This time the whole peloton was strung
out in pretty much single-file all around the short course! Ugh. I was hanging
in there, again in the middle, wondering how I allowed myself to forget to stay
nearer the front.
I thought there'd be some slower laps, as often happens in Masters races,
but I didn't notice any, and was I ever looking! That was maybe because a group
of about six riders had broken away and were just tearing up the race without
mercy. They seemed to all be in the 35+ race, so our main peloton was probably
going hard because of the fast 45+ riders in there. I know the Newman's Own
riders were all still in my group.
About 22 minutes into the race the guy in front of me suddenly sat up in exhaustion,
in the twisty area of the course, and before I could get around him to chase
back on the gap to the peloton had grown to almost half a block. Oh no; the
beginning of the end for me it turned out! I wish he had sat up somewhere where
passing was easier, or had pulled away more cleanly.
I chased the peloton by myself for three laps, folks, pretty much maxing myself
out, and that gap didn't get one inch smaller! I kept thinking the pace would
drop for a few seconds and I'd be able to catch up, but this race was like a
time trial. No letup! And there was also that break still off the front for
everybody to worry about. I wasn't sure there weren't any 45+ riders in the
break, so catching the peloton wouldn't have been enough, I'd have to bridge
up to the break to be in contention. This wasn't motivating enough for me. OK,
I confess: I sat up and coasted back to my car. My first DNF ever!
Standing in the shade, drinking water and talking with Mark and Scott was
much more pleasant, and we watched the break build their lead to at least half
a lap. I started wondering if they'd lap the peloton. It would have been funny
to see the whole peloton get pulled from the race! On the last lap one of the
guys in the break slipped in the last turn and crashed in front of us. But because
their lead was so big he didn't lose his position to anybody in the peloton,
even though he staggered back onto his bike and pedalled very slowly up the
hill to finish! Michael Hernandez won in 35+ and Mark Patten finished 2nd in
With the season starting to wind down I guess I am a little disappointed.
I've worked so hard and have only one USCF road upgrade point, and 3rd- and
2nd-place cross-country medals to show for it. I don't know that I can make
myself much faster, but I will put together a formal training and race schedule
for next year that will hopefully allow me to do better. I wish it were as easy
as buying a fancy bike, but choosing my parents more carefully would be a much
better start! (Sorry mom and dad; it's not your fault!) Yet I have had a ton
of fun and wouldn't trade that away. And positive things I've learned from racing
have extended into the rest of my life. To even be in contention at all is pretty
cool for a guy who always lagged when we ran laps in high school. I'll be back!
12 Hours of Humboldt, 7/15/06
My friend Curt and I got about 4 hours of sleep on the side of the highway
the night before the race because we couldn't find a cheap hotel anywhere near
the venue. I woke up and didn't even know if I would be able to finish. At the
start I met another singlespeeder named Matt from Team Nots and found out that
this was his first endurance race. I also met a woman named Linda on a singlespeed
as well. I became good friends with these two through the series, and Matt and
I also became good rivals as well. This course was tough but it suited me well—steep
climbs and smooth descents. I finished much better than I expected, winning
the race overall with Matt behind me by about 20 minutes. In total, 113 miles
and 22,000 feet of climbing.
Cougar Mountain Classic Supercuts Road Circuit
Race, Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, 7/15/06
I attempted to race the cross-country mountain-bike race in this cycling event
in it's inaugural year of 2004, but failed to make it to the start line in time
for my race start. Long story why, having to do with them not posting or announcing
start times in advance, and more. I also didn't care much for the course. Because
of this I had some negative attitudes towards it, and decided not to race there
again, ever. Well, maybe not the cross-country, but perhaps the road races would
be more suitable? I missed the Sea Otter completely this year, and this would
be a nice substitute. I decided to chance it, and my wife and I decided to drive
up on Friday after work, spend the night in Novato, then have me race in the Road
Circuit Race's Masters 45+ 4/5 category the next morning at 9:47. I didn't
decide to go until it was too late to pre-register, but the field limit of 100
riders was only up to 23 when I checked so it seemed like a safe bet I'd be
able to register to race that same morning. Afterwards we'd hang out, then go
wine-tasting and have a nice early dinner in Napa Valley before heading home.
The drive up on Friday was really nice, and we stopped in Sausalito for dinner
at Scoma's and a little shopping. Our motel room turned out to be a smoking
room, but they were overbooked already so we couldn't get it moved. Yuck.
On race morning I ate my own food, as I didn't want to worry about finding
a decent race-day breakfast while travelling. I had raw oatmeal with milk, molasses
and a banana, and orange juice, some energy drink and coffee. I also brought
some recovery food for after the race, and some other munchies.
The nice sunny weather of Friday had changed to marine-layer fog, but it was
pretty mild when we arrived at the raceway. We ended up parking in a dirt area,
but we discovered later that we could have parked in the paved area behind the
grandstands. Oh well. But Margaret was very happy to see that the grandstands
had excellent restrooms instead of Porta-Potties!
I had tried to get others to go to the race with me. Scott Martin did sign
up up for the Expert Men 45–49 cross-country (got 16th),
but nobody else I know went. Scott and we ended up not carpooling—he wanted
to drive up on Saturday morning—or even seeing each other. Oh well. I
did see Larry Hibbard there briefly, though I couldn't find him in the
results so I don't know where he finished.
This event really feels a lot like the kid brother of the Sea Otter Classic,
though how they can call a race only three years old a "Classic" is
puzzling. In any case they have tons of races, and this year it was also the
NORBA National Championships because Mammoth Mountain down south, the original
venue, was still snowed in after our crazy winter. We saw tons of downhillers,
and their course was fully visible as it snaked down the huge hill above us.
An occasional cloud of dust signalled the more aggressive riders, and sometimes
we saw riders catch huge air on a double jump. The huge venue really dwarfed
the crowds though, and it seemed like everybody was an entrant rather than a
course was a treat: We used the famous road-racing
course as used by the Indy Racing League, including the crazy "corkscrew," but
with the extra loop in turn 11 used by NASCAR. A full 2.5 miles per lap, and
we'd be racing on it for 90 minutes. It's very smooth, of course, but also
has some pretty steep climbs, including "The Wall" that starts right
after turn 1, similar to the wall on the Cat's
Hill course. But I estimate the Infineon Raceway's wall to be only about
a 12% average grade (using this course
profile) vs. the Cat's Hill wall's 23%. But it sure felt like more during
the race.. way more! I suspect it was because the climb is much longer than
Cat's Hill's; about 950 feet long vs. only about 300 feet long. It was certainly
tougher than I'd expected, and I would have eaten a bigger breakfast had I
known. No joke.
I didn't warm up much, as I never seem to need it, so I was pretty well rested
when I pulled up to the start line. They had a very nice podium and timing equipment,
and even pace cars like in a road race, so I could see what the high $30 entry
fee (plus $10 for parking, plus the $10 late fee) was paying for! Plus I'm sure
renting the course for a weekend wasn't cheap. The small field was around 30
riders at most, and I only recognized a couple from the Pescadero
Road Race, with a few teams like Morgan Stanley. One guy from Peninsula
Velo asked me if I really was 45 years old... I liked him immediately! But nobody
is more surprised than I am when I say "yes!"
We started a couple of minutes after the 35+ 4/5 race, and set a nice easy
old-man's pace for a couple of laps. Well, except for the wall which took lots
of effort just to keep from falling over. The wall started in turn 1, then went
under a bridge to turn 2. The course then flattened out slightly in turn 3,
then back up steeply through turn 3a for a second mini-wall. I stayed in my
39x23 gear the first few times, but after a while I was very glad to have the
30x23 as an option! The downhill through turns 4 and 5 was pretty fast, but
the screaming turn 6 had us over 43 mph! Then it was a gentle up and down back
to the start/finish area with only the wind being much of an issue. At the start/finish
line Margaret cheered me on and took pictures every lap. I felt pretty darned
The two Alto Velo/Webcor riders in this race had a simple plan: Take turns
soloing off the front. They both broke away a couple of times, but we didn't
panic too much, though I did slowly pull the peloton up once or twice, just
in case. I didn't have to use too much energy because the pace was mostly pretty
A rider I remembered from Pescadero, by his odd breathing style, emulated
the Alto Velo riders and also tried a couple of solo breaks, with the same result.
He was pretty intense about it too. Most of the riders were pretty clean, though
I did ask one guy to have a talk with his team-mate about his sloppiness.
I started to tire a little about 1:07 into the race. That's why I wish I had
eaten a bigger breakfast; perhaps some yogurt and a little extra oatmeal. I
didn't feel too bad, but I lost that extra "snap" that can make all
of the difference. I had energy drink in both of my bottles, but it wasn't quite
enough to keep me fresh.
So, the final lap approached, the speed went up, I had to dig a little deeper...
the usual! But it wasn't until we got past the wall on the final lap that I
realized I was getting really maxed out. I was still with the leaders at the
front, but while they accelerated towards the mini-wall in turn 3a I just tried
to collect myself a little. They really busted loose! I was still close behind
them in turn 3a, but not close enough, and they even kept attacking down through
the corkscrew. Whew!
The gap in front of me was widening, but somehow I was able to catch up to
a Fightin' Bobas rider just before turn 7, and we worked together to try to
catch the lead group. They, meanwhile, had split into a couple of chase groups
who were all gapped by Steven Bobzien of CRC/Hill & Co., who I remembered
from Pescadero as well. We just tried to bridge up to the three guys ahead of
us so we could get top-10 finishes, while Steven was a sure thing for the race
winner, finishing well ahead. The Fightin' Bobas guy and I flew towards the
finish line, but couldn't quite catch the others, and he even managed to benefit
from our timing to use me as a lead-out to out-sprint me with just a few feet
to go. I got 11th
out of the 17 finishers. Darn!
I averaged a 160 heart-rate with a maximum of 189, rode about 33 miles at
an average of 21.5 mph, and burned 1569 calories during the 90 minutes we raced.
I had a lot of fun, and afterwards I was even treated to a complementary massage!
There were also tons of displays in the expo area, including a Tour de France
TV-viewing area with sofas which Margaret visited between my laps. Like I said,
this was a big venue. The fog had burned off during the race, and temperatures
were shooting up, so we took off for greener pastures. We had lunch at the Rutherford
grill (steak and beer!), and a nice drive home with the AC on to fight off the
90+ degree heat.
Coyote Creek Criterium, San Jose, 7/8/06
Thursday evening, riding home from work, I felt so tired that I decided to
drive to work on Friday. I wasn't bonking, but had no energy anyway. Plus, my
trusty M2Racer "Orb" pedals were thrashed. Now I was using my Look-style
pedals as a stopgap measure, and that morning the cleats popped out from the
pedals twice while I was practicing sprints. Not good! I stopped by a bike shop
on the way home to get new cleats, but the Look cleats they had didn't match
my knockoffs exactly. Groan. Thankfully my friend Craig Thomas joined me on
my commute and kept me from losing focus.
I was starting to think I should skip Monta Vista Velo's upcoming Coyote Creek
Criterium. But that Saturday morning, at 4:45, I got up anyway, ate a splendid
race-day breakfast, loaded up the car and drove over the hill. I knew Eric Clarkson,
and Larry Broberg and Scott Martin of Bicycle Trip, would be racing and I wanted
to at least be there to offer moral support.
When I arrived at the race venue, not too far from Hellyer Park and the Velodrome
in south San Jose, I cautiously warmed up a little. Sometimes my legs will tell
me right away whether I'm ready to rock or not and they didn't feel too bad.
The weather was nice and clear, and felt to be in the low 60s. I was even wearing
my brand-new Team Santa Cruz skinsuit, and boy was it comfortable. I love it!
I then signed up, but discovered that I was $5 short... this race cost $30 which
is a little more than most. Fortunately Larry loaned me the difference. That
was actually just the first of several bloopers on my part.
After we warmed up on nearby streets we got a chance to pre-ride the course
a little. It's a fairly basic business-park rectangle, but with curves on the
two longer sides, and one of these sides went up and down a hill. The hill really
wasn't that tough, supposedly 100 feet of climbing and I'd guess at a 5% grade,
but I also knew that even a flat section can be tough if you're trying to stay
with guys who are faster than you are. I was racing in the open 45+ race, so
I was very likely to be in extreme pain!
While we were warming up Eric was getting busy ripping the legs off of his
fellow Cat 5 racers. Way to go Eric!
"The race went well, there were two or three good climbers in the elite
5 race who pushed the pace every time up the climb and wore out most of the
pack, and with a few attacks on the back stretch, the pack was slowing a bit
and coming back together about halfway up the climb to the finish, and so I
attacked there. To my suprise no one came out behind me, and I think that was
just luck, I pushed all the way to the top with no response from the group
and I took 1st! My first win! Looking foward to Watsonville."
At the start line we were told that 37 riders were lined up, including 5 in
the 55+ race who would share the course with us. I spotted Mark Patten, with
several of his Newman's Own teammates, among them, but not Rob Evans because
he has an iliotibial band injury that's healing. There were several Morgan Stanley
riders, one of whom I recognized from Patterson Pass and Pescadero and another
who looked a little like Larry Nolan, National Masters Champion. But I finally
decided it wasn't him, and told Scott so.
The race started out pretty slowly, on the climb, and I kept wondering when
those middle-aged mutants would launch some attacks. I figured they'd start
immediately, but the first couple of laps were pretty mellow. On one climb my
cleat popped out of my pedal, and I cursed myself for not replacing them. I'd
actually been told that the genuine Look cleats would work after all and had
brought some along, but forgot to bring my tools. Duh. I had made a mental note
to be gentle with my pedaling, but clearly that wasn't enough, and sprinting
for a pizza prime or something was not an option. We had several prime sprints
along the way, I think three.
I noticed a woman was also in our open race... that takes guts! But at one
point she swerved to avoid a wheel in front of her and some guy cussed her out.
She ended up dropping out, maybe from nerves. I felt really bad for her as she
was clearly riding well otherwise and obviously had lots of courage.
On subsequent laps there were definitely attacks on the climb, and some half-hearted
ones on the long stretch opposite into a headwind during prime laps, but I felt
remarkably comfortable. I was consistently able to meet these attacks and never
lost the peloton. On several laps I deliberately allowed a gap to form ahead
of me towards the top of the climb, because I could tell that I would never
have any trouble closing it on the descent. This allowed me to conserve energy
for the insane attacks to come... if they came. I feel like nobody ever really
launched an all-out attack like they did at Patterson Pass, but, like at Pescadero,
it may be that I'm simply faster than I was then. My heart rate never went higher
than 187 bpm.
After one prime I somehow found myself off the front on the climb, because
the peloton was taking a breather from the sprint, and ended up pulling for
a good part of a lap. This lap was actually also a prime lap, and I was third
wheel with 200 meters to go. I decided to gingerly try for the prime, but as
soon as I did my cleat popped out again. Argh. Some riders behind me freaked
out, but I was in full control immediately and barely strayed from my line.
Still, that's no fun, and I feel like I could have strongly contested that sprint.
As the race progressed the attacks did become more ferocious, but I was still
able to ride within my limits and never lost out.
I checked my clock at the 36-minute mark, and soon thereafter, or so it seemed,
we had another prime lap. But this time everybody seemed to get really excited
about it... I wondered what the prize was and if it was something worth trying
for. It's embarrasing to admit it, but it turned out this was actually the last
lap and they were sprinting for the finish line... I'm so lame! Even so I ended
up in 11th
place, only because I still worked hard to maintain my spot in the peloton,
Scott took 13th, and Larry won the 55+ race! He wondered why I sat up on the
final sprint, and I explained my stoopidity... he'd apparently thought I was
trying to lead him out. I think he should bring cue cards for me next time!
Or maybe I can set my alarm to go off with 5 minutes remaining in the race.
Oh the shame! But with my pedal problem I don't think I had much room for improvement
After the race we rode around and cheered for Natasha Perry of the Spokesman
team during the Women's 1/2/3 race. Then we cooled down some more, saw a gopher
snake, and I packed up. I'd had the foresight to bring recovery food with me,
but forgot a spoon for my yogurt. Duh. While that kind of summed up my day,
I was totally stoked at the great form I had and was looking forward to unleashing
it at the next race.
Fourth of July Criterium, 7/4/06
Great course with five lefts and one right, flat, 0.8 miles. Shape of L,
It was nice to see a venue with trees and the activity of a downtown scene,
plus it was the Fourth of July. Weather was a little toasty, but tolerable:
mid 80s. My race was at 10:30 am and I was happy about that, because the temperature
was climbing into the high 90s as the day went on.
Start line: I was with 50 or so starters in 35+ Cat 5s. I looked around and
wasn't able to see any familiar faces. Davis Bike Club, U.C. Davis, Sacramento
State Bike Club and Some team from Lake Tahoe had a good showing. We were off
on the whistle and immediately setting a fast pace.
I positioned myself towards the front half of the field. Davis and some team
from Tahoe were responsible for setting a fast pace for the first ten laps. The
fast pace weeded out half the riders and there were twenty or so riders still
With eight laps to go there was an attack that just strung out the group in
single file for three fast laps and settle back-in, for the field to get a rest.
I was definitely hurting from the last attack, but managed to hold-on in a good
Three to go and they started it up again. I was in a good position in the
final lap and thought I might be able to have something for the final sprint.
Going into the last left-hand corner I was in 6th or 7th place and was getting
ready to get out of the saddle and sprint when a group forced us to go right;
they came around and boxed us in the gutter. I was shut down and wasn't able
to sprint. They must have been targeting me, knowing I was going to kick some
ass on those Tahoe Boys, Ha! Ha!
Over all it was a fun race and I'm glad I went. It made the cold beer taste
even colder! I ended up 12th place.
KeefeTeam Realtors 9th Annual Pescadero Coastal
"Are you racing Pescadero?"
Innocent sounding words, yes, but when Mark Edwards, of Bicycle Trip and Team
Santa Cruz fame, asked me that during the drive home from the Panoche
Valley Road Race, I was still cold and bleeding, literally, from that miserably
wet race and my crash during it.
I had, in fact, been considering entering the race, but Mark's question spurred
me on and soon I was visiting the Alto Velo/Webcor web-site to ponder the details.
Oh no! The Masters 35+ 4/5 race's field was already full! I'd waited too long,
just like last year. I did notice, though, that the Masters 45+ open-category
race still had plenty of room. But I had a flashback to the pain I suffered
through at Patterson Pass, racing against those same
ex-pro mutants masquerading as middle-aged men.
There were some factors that led me to consider racing against them again,
in spite of the pain: Then I raced alone; this time I'd at least have company.
Then I hadn't started adding high-intensity workouts to my training rides to
work; now I was doing both sprints and intervals. At least I figured I'd be
able to hold on longer before getting dropped. No shame in that; after all,
they were mutants!
Mark is pretty dedicated and disciplined, and he organized two hill-repeat
sessions for those who wanted to get some high-intensity hill training as preparation
for the race. I showed up for both, as did Larry Broberg and Scott Martin, while
Rob Evans and LGBRC rider Chris Pearson came for the second session. Rob, needing
some more challenges in his life, even signed up for the Burlingame Criterium
for the day after... that's ballsey! He also told me he wanted to lose some
weight before the race, to help on the tough hills, but I really thought that
sounded like a bad idea. Most coaches say to just maintain your wait during
the season, otherwise you risk serious performance degradation from calorie
deficits. But he was determined, and there's really no good time for it after
all... especially since Rob also wants to contest cyclocross races in the fall
so he will have no off-season to use for dieting.
Rob had bigger news though: The Newman's Own team has been challenged by their
very success, with Mark Patten forcibly upgraded to Category 3 now, but with
Martin Wolff and Bernie Silviera still in Cat 4. They wanted to recruit a strong
Cat 4 rider to help flesh the team out in Cat 4. Rob was their man. Larry and
I haven't been able to help Rob much, because he's so frickin' fast, so it made
sense for Rob to move on. Oh well.
On race day I... is it OK if I talk to you about... breakfast? Since I had
done pretty well at Panoche, but felt my energy drop off at the halfway point,
I did some research about eating better for races. The gist of it was that my
race-day breakfast should consist of about 300 grams of quality carbohydrates
eaten about 3–4 hours before the race start. This got me to looking up
high-carb foods with low calories and low rankings on the glycemic
index. Basically, complex carbs that won't fill me up too much or cause
blood-sugar spikes and drops. After careful study I made a huge bowl of cooked
buckwheat cereal with a banana (still one of the ultimate foods), a huge glass
of OJ, yogurt and a glass of Odwalla B-Monster (OK, coffee too!). But this designer-breakfast
had over 1300 calories!!! I love eating, Batman, but that's too much! I ate
so much I felt empathy with pregnant women. But I couldn't force the yogurt
and Odwalla down the hatch, so I popped them in my backpack for later consumption.
I then got out my team uniform, what's left of it after two crashes, packed
up all my gear and rode off to Mark's house in the darkness of a gray overcast
morning. There Mark, Larry B. and I loaded up Mark's crew-cab truck, and sped
off to Pescadero along foggy HWY1.
We all agreed that Alto Velo had organized a great registration system, and
it took just a minute or so. I also managed to say hi to Larry Morin and Rob
who were getting ready too. They introduced me to Terry Kinn as well, who was
racing with my group. Then came the question of "what to wear?" Weather
is variable along that coast, and it was still overcast, but as we warmed up
on the beautiful roads south of town the sun started to peek through and we
all decided to ditch our arm and leg warmers. We even busted out the sunscreen.
I just wore a plain jersey, because my long-sleeve team jersey was too warm.
Since I was still full from breakfast I decided to skip the yogurt and Odwalla...
better than losing it later! Instead I slammed an energy gel.
The staging area for the race start was right by the town's school, and was
followed by a neutral parade into town with a motorcycle pacing us. There were
75 of us in this race, so it was quite a sight to see as we pedalled through
the pretty, but tiny, town. The official start was after the stop sign on the
town's north edge, and soon we were speeding along on tree-lined Stage Road
that reminded me a little of some of the roads you see in the northern stages
of the Tour de France. Both laps had a prime sprint along that section, but
none of us had any interest in contesting them.
Soon we hit the first climb on Stage Road, and we all started huffing and
puffing. I felt pretty good. I do have a pet peeve though: it's annoying when
riders shift from pedalling seated to pedalling standing. They often lurch and
slow briefly, so that the riders behind them are forced to dodge them. This
throws off the rythm of the peloton and invites crashes; fortunately I saw none.
The road had been patched in places during the week, but it was pretty clean
on race day. On the second climb I noticed that a gap formed just ahead of Larry
M., with most of the peloton behind it. I quickly pushed myself harder so I
could be a part of the "selection," or lead group. With all of the
climbing, and the large disparity in abilities, I knew from experience that
the peloton wouldn't stay together the whole race, and it was imperative to
stay near the front to stay in the running. I was working hard, but thankfully
still able to hang with them. Larry M. was really just there to have fun (like
all of us, right?) after a pretty race-packed schedule the whole year, so I
knew he'd be happy pedalling with the main pack.
The whole group strung out on the descent, but the lead pack regrouped on
SR84 (towards La Honda). Several riders from the main pack worked really hard
to bridge up to us, and I didn't blame them... there'd be no catching us once
we got up to speed there. Even so we set a surprisingly easy pace on 84, with
just some minor attacks on the gentle climbs, so keeping up wasn't nearly the
ordeal it had been for me at Patterson Pass. Then a thought formed in my brain:
were we slower, or was was it I that was faster? Certainly I'd been training
harder and smarter, and even tried to peak and taper for this race, so I ought
to be faster. Hard to say. Since the roads weren't closed to cars we did have
to deal with passing cars sometimes.
The course then turned onto Pope Road, with a climb past the neutral feed
zone that forced another selection, but I was still in the running. Then...
a right turn onto Pescadero Road, and the climb up Haskin's Hill. That climb
was tough! Two miles of granny-gear with my heart pounding consistently at over
180 bpm, and my breath sounding like a broken steam locomotive! Larry B. and
Mark had no trouble with this climb, and even managed to gain on me a little.
After Haskin's Hill five of us formed a small chase group and caught up to the
lead pack, after squeezing past the pace motorcycle. So the leaders regrouped,
again, on this descent... why allow that? If it were up to me I would have forced
the pace a bit higher to keep the chasing groups from catching up. But perhaps
they were right in assuming that the bigger gaps were there to stay; certainly
our lead pack didn't get much bigger. We passed Rob on this descent, even though
his Masters 35+ 4/5 race had a five-minute head start... what happened? Maybe
the weight-loss plan caught up to him and he was bonking? Bummer, but not too
Larry B. and I got bored on Pescadero Road, and he moved to the front, with
me following, and we upped the pace a bit. Nothing too tough, but I was hoping
it would soften up the field and force slower riders, like me, off the back
later on the hills of Stage Road! That would help set Mark up for a stronger
finish. I figured I should help my friends if I wasn't really in the running,
and it was fun taking turns leading the race at the front. The wind wasn't too
strong, so it was fairly easy work riding back to Pescadero town. After we got
through town, Larry B. dropped back a tad, apparently to help me sneak away
for the second prime sprint, but I didn't notice that and lost the chance as
about 10 guys flew by me. No big deal though.
At the base of the second climb of Stage Road I moved up to the very front,
then let the group slowly pass me on the uphill before I grabbed onto the tail
end of them... a classic trick for saving energy. It works wonders, and I still
felt pretty good as we regrouped on 84 again.
After we emerged onto 84 again one of the riders made a center-line violation,
and the motorcycle referee made a point of having a long talk with him. Since
the roads weren't closed it was obviously a very real safety concern. Shortly
after that incident a crash was caused when an Alto Velo guy attacked roughly
and a Fightin' Bobas rider crashed into his rear wheel. I think about five riders
went down, and many others had to stop. Car traffic in the other direction had
to stop to avoid running them over! I wasn't involved, but barely managed to
squeak through the downed riders to continue. The crash took out Steve Archer
of Morgan Stanley/AMD, who would have been my pick to win otherwise. The whole
Morgan Stanley team turned back to help him... what a class act!!!
After the crash I had to chase back to the now-smaller lead group, where Larry
B. made up the tail. I barely managed to do so before they really took off.
I mentioned to a different Alto Velo rider that this was a contrast with the
Tour de France where they would have stopped to wait for the race leader! On
Pope Road a guy dropped his chain right in front of Larry B. on the last trip
past the feed zone, followed by a guy from Trumer Pils who dropped out with
a flat. It sucks to race that hard for that long only to be sidelined with a
mechanical DNF! This climb, by the way, marked the end of my voyage with the
lead group. I could no longer sustain the high pace they were setting and I
started to drift back, just behind Larry B.
The second time up Haskin's Hill my legs burned even more, but I only had
to lower my heart-rate down a tiny notch to maintain my climb. I almost forgot
the finish line was at the summit, not back in town, but it wouldn't have mattered...
the climb made its selection. I ended up in 28th
place, just behind Terry, and maybe a minute or two behind Larry B. (2nd
place in the 55+ group!) and Mark (12th place!). Larry M. was 49th. Pretty cool!
I had a much better relative placement than I'd had at Patterson Pass, and I
wasn't nearly as far behind the race winners. My hard training had paid off
with a sense of belonging in this fast group! The winner was Kevin Susco of
Alto Velo/Webcor... I wonder if he was the guy who attacked on 84?
On the cool-down back into town we were passed by a bunch of Jaguar E-types,
Porsche 356s (and a pseudo-CHP Porsche Cayman S!), 1960s Corvettes, vintage
Caddies, a Chrysler Imperial, an Alfa Romeo GTV and many other cool cars. It
was like being in a bike race and a car show at the same time! Some details
fom my HRM (includes the cool-down time): I burned 2696 calories during the
2 hours and 53 minutes of the race, and covered 55.9 miles at an average of
19.4 mph with an average HR of 156 bpm and a maximum HR of 192 bpm.
On the drive back I finally managed to eat the last of my breakfast, plus
the designer recovery meal I'd put together (dates, peanuts and another banana).
I was hungry! I ended my race day with a nice loosening-up ride back from Mark's
house to mine. Very nice. Yeah, I guess I'll be back next year, and I even dared
to pre-register for the Watsonville Criterium, racing with the same mutants
of the open 45+ group. Wish me luck!
MTB Series Race 5, Fort Ord, 6/4/06
This is a fun cross-country
race series, with awesome courses and soil, and I am still bummed that
I missed out on races 1, 2 and 3. I'd even bought new tires just for the occasion,
and now I'd finally get to try them out. I didn't have time to clean up my
bike, or make any repairs to the loose headset, or the rattling front derailleur,
but I knew my trusty old '98 Stumpjumper would be fine.
I love eating, and breakfast is one of my favorite things, so I put lots of
effort into my pre-race meals. I pigged out that morning before kissing my wife
goodbye. The weather was... spectacular! Really perfect at about 70 degrees
with scattered clouds. Unfortunately it was too warm for my very torn long-sleeved
team jersey, so I again wore a plain blue jersey with my team shorts, as I'd
done at Cat's Hill. Can't wait for our latest jersey order to arrive so I can
have a short-sleeved team jersey again!
When I got to the race site in Fort Ord's East Garrison area I managed to
say hi to Karen Kefauver, Norman Field and Grant Stoner. Ron Riley was there
too, but I didn't see him. True blue! Later on I also saw Mark Edwards, Larry
Broberg, Scott Martin and Larry Hibbard who were going to race later on. Mark
finished 3rd in Experts, Larry took 1st in his class. Good work! I had timed
everything perfectly, so I was able to sign up, get my bike ready (even did
an ad-hoc job of cleaning the chain), and warm up for a few minutes before lining
up for the start.
I counted about 17 riders in my Sport 45-54 age group, so I felt pretty good
about my chances. One of them was Martin Wolff of Newman's Own. I've only seen
him at criteriums before, so this would be a nice change for both of us. I vowed
to keep careful track of him because I know he's a strong rider, but another
guy in an Excel jersey had that gaunt look I've learned to respect, so I knew
I had others to worry about too.
When the start whistle was blown we all took off on the paved section, uphill
against the wind. I never take the lead there, and drafted behind a few guys.
Martin soon grew tired of the slow pace and pulled through as we entered the
dirt trail, with me right on his tail and the rest of the group strung out behind
us. I stayed right there for several minutes as we passed through the finish
line and scoring area but he finally signalled that I should move ahead: "Go
for it!" I wasn't sure what his motives were, but it was the right thing
to do anyway. I was feeling great, and soon I had shot ahead and gapped him.
At the 11-minute mark I sighted the last guy from the 35-44 age group that
had started a few minutes before us, and I drafted behind him for a little while.
Unfortunately he got confused by the course marking tape and took a wrong turn...
with me following. This cost us a few seconds and soon three guys roared past
us before I could get back on the trail. Dang! It appeared that it was Martin
and two other guys from our group, including one in a green jersey and one in,
I think, Peninsula Velo attire. Oh well, I had no choice but to try to prevent
them from gapping me.
It took me a while to catch up again, a good part of a lap at least, but soon
I was past Martin and the other guy, and drafting the green-jersey guy. Along
the way we caught and passed more riders from the 35-44 group, including Grant,
but one rider chose to slide out and block me, forcing me to stop. Geez; this
was making it hard for me to keep up with our race leader! But I managed to
keep green-jersey in sight for quite a while, even though I wasn't close enough
to draft him any more. Then it happened again: I was following a few guys who
took another wrong turn. Argh! But wait, there's more: On the next lap I took
the same wrong turn the first guy had lead me down, but this time I was alone.
No excuse! I guess my subconsciousness had memorized the course in that (wrong)
On one lap, the third I think, I was trying to slam some energy drink on the
very short paved section, but was unable to replace the bottle in its cage before
we re-entered the dirt trail. Shoot; that can be dangerous, so I had to slow
down and try very carefully to time my attempt at replacing it. Unfortunately
that section was very fast and sandy and I nearly crashed in the process, only
avoiding that by coming to a full stop. That was not the hot ticket, and soon
Martin and a couple of other guys passed me again! Groan. I decided that my
new tires really needed lower pressures than my old ones, as they tended to
skip and slide a little too readily.
After another lap of chasing I managed to catch Martin again, but I had lost
sight of the green-jersey guy. He wasn't very far ahead, I was sure, and when
the lap cards said "1" lap to go I shot past Martin on the next climb
and started my pursuit of green-jersey. I still felt pretty good, thanks in
part to my upper-body workouts, but Martin was right behind me. Just then we
caught Norman, and I called out to him to let him know I was there. On a short
climb he signalled me to pass, and that I did, with some effort. Then it occurred
to me that Norman might be able to block Martin for long enough to let me gap
him for the finish... cool! I stoked my fires and shot down the paved section
and the fast downhill sandy section one more time. Looking back I saw a sizable
gap to Norman, and then I passed Ron too... even better! I felt confident I
had a solid hold on second place, but kept the gas down as we approached the
There are some climbs near the finish, and perhaps I didn't push hard enough
on them because when I next looked back I saw that Martin had gained a lot of
ground on me and was closing fast... oh no! As we dropped into the last few
turns I was really on the ragged edge, with Martin in hot pursuit. Entering
the very last hairpin turn I could almost feel his hot breath on my neck, but
I yelled and finally got to use my sprinting skills to pull away from him in
the last few meters. Second
place was mine!
The race took me 1:33 at an average speed of 14.2 mph over the 22 miles of
trail. My heart-rate averaged 172 bpm, just like in a time trial, maxing out
at 186 bpm, and I burned 1,592 calories. As we cooled down we shared some of
our stories. It turned out that all three of us had gone down during the race,
or almost in my case. Well, I still had the wrong-turn excuses! And I was introduced
to the green-jersey guy: Brent. Maybe I'll get him next time, which will be
June 18th. See you there!
Dash For Cash, Pleasanton, home of the "Wheels of Thunder" Criterium,
My race wasn't till 2:45 pm; 35+ 4/5s. I arrived a little early and watched
some of the action. This crit is one for the spectator to watch. Every lap is
a prime that results in a very fast pace and some great sprinting action. Cash
is awarded to the first rider to cross the Start/Finish line on every lap.
I lined up at the start line with 50 or more starters. The official announced
that there was going to be a delay in our race, because of a bad crash that
occurred in the 35+ 1/2/3 race. Riders were still down on the pavement and were
waiting for an ambulance to arrive. They said we were only going to race for
20 minutes and would call us back when it was time. Bummer.
We were called back after a good 20 minutes or more delay, and to my surprise,
they said we "were going to have our full race time of 45 minutes." The
whistle blew and we were off. "Oh Shit:" I drank most of my water
during the delay, thinking I didn't need it for a 20-minute race. It was pretty
hot at 80-something degrees and I probably would be craving water soon.
The pace started out fast and stayed fast throughout the entire race. I
positioned myself in the upper pack and watched different riders go for
the cash winnings every lap. By far this was the fastest crit this year for
me. I was doing everything I could to hold my spot, definitely pushing myself
to the max. With 6 or 7 laps to go I was out of water, not good. Every lap was
new blood going for the cash. I had no desire to go for a prime, knowing I would
probably blow-up and be struggling to just hang on. We were heading into the
last lap and everybody was trying to get to the front. I moved up by following
a group of three along the inside and out of the saddle to stay with them. I
ended up getting 16th.
Annual Santa Barbara Bike Fest, 6/3/06
Team Big Bear State XC Series Race #5
This event was held at Elings Park about ten minutes from downtown Santa Barbara.
The day's events included 46 classes of XC mountain bike races, downhill racing,
BMX racing and clinic, little kids races, many vendors, great BBQ and live bands.
The weather was clear and warm to hot.
Ron Riley and Richard Gordon on the podium.
There were three entries in my 65+ Sport XC race: Richard Gordon, (65), me,
and Hans Dieben (67) of Chula Vista, my main competition. On the start, I was
able to get to the single track up the switch-backs first. Going down the switch-backs
on the other side was my biggest challenge, but I made it OK. At the end of
the first lap, Harriet handed up a fresh water bottle as I came through the
start-finish. I had a big gap on Hans and Richard. My second lap was crash free,
but it was really starting to get hot. Another hand-up from Harriet as I started
my third and final lap still in the lead. This time up the switch-backs, I dumped
it on the first one, walked the next two and rode the last. On the down hill
switch-backs, I crashed two more times. I rode off with my forks backwards after
the last crash I was so dingy! My front brake lever had twisted down so it was
hard to reach and later that caused my last crash into some trail-side brush.
It took about all the effort I had to unclip and haul myself and the bike back
onto the trail. A final do or die grind up the pavement section to the soccer
field and the finish. Richard (65) finished second, over an hour later than
me and Hans was DNF.
At the Sport Class awards presentations, the audience chose the "most
bloodied racer"... I won!!
ST Bikes Memorial Day Criterium, Morgan Hill,
I raced in this event last year, and I enjoyed it enough to decide to do it
again this year. Just to make sure, I pre-registered online, in two races, to
avoid the disappointment of encountering a filled field on race day. It's a
very well-attended event, and my field was nearly full already when I first
checked the San Jose Bicycle Club web site.
My former neighbor and triathlete, Craig Thomas, told me he'd try to be there
so he could scope things out with an eye to entering some races himself, and
sure enough, there he was with his wife and two cute kids. Criteriums can be
pretty exciting to watch, especially when you have breakaway groups and crashes
all mixed up. But based on this race I doubt his wife will let him enter any!
This race started at 10:15 a.m., and my next race, the Masters 45+ 4/5 race,
started at 11:10 a.m. So when I prepared for the Elite 4 race I really had to
prepare for both of them because I wouldn't have enough time between them to
get ready for the second race. Whew! I pinned my Masters race number on first,
then my Elite 4 number on top of it so I could quickly remove it and reveal
my Masters number. I also lined up my water for a quick refill and placed my
spare wheels in the pit area.
I thought Rob Evans would be in this race, as he'd just upgraded from Category
5 to Category 4, but he wasn't. So I was a lone wolf among the huge 75-rider
The course was pretty basic and flat, though one turn had been improved since
last year by the replacement of some center-line "teeth" with a regular
island... well, it was a change anyway. And, like last year, there was wind
out of the west, so the usual mass sprint finish seemed likely.
As a lone rider I was in no mood to contest the prime sprints, and I just
stayed out of the wind in the middle of the peloton, lap after lap. The pace
was pretty easy for me, and I was extremely comfortable the whole race. The
race was fairly clean, and I don't recall any crashes... until the last lap.
Unfortunately, there were two crashes in the last lap and one of them took me
On the back stretch of the course, Jarvis Drive, the road was split down the
middle with cones and steel barricades to keep the cyclists on the right side
of the street and allow automobile access to the businesses at the north end
of the street. As we approached that section on the last lap, with the peloton
still packed together and getting nervous and fidgetty, I saw two riders ahead
of me get tangled up and start to go down. Danger! Fortunately I saw that I
could easily avoid them by darting between the barricades to the outside of
the course and keeping them between me and the crash.
Not so fast: Remember that scene in Twister when the storm chasers
drive around a toronado and a gasoline tanker-truck flies out of the funnel
cloud and lands right in front of them? That's how it looked to me as one of
the bikes somehow took an uncanny path through the air and flopped right in
front of me. Bam! Bam! I was down and sliding again, for the second consecutive
weekend! I remember the back of my helmet tapping the pavement and was thankful
for its sacrifice! I jumped right up and took a quick survey: nothing broken,
but my bike was tangled up with his so there was no way I could start riding
in time to finish with the pack. I made sure the other victims were OK, dusted
myself off and slowly rode to the finish line, and noticed my fancy front wheel
was taco'ed. Shoot. The only trick bike gear I own, damaged or ruined! At least
I was mostly unhurt and just added some road rash to the collection I acquired
the weekend before at Panoche Valley. I was even wearing the same torn jersey,
except now it was torn more.
Riding through the last turn I saw that another rider had gone down and scraped
off a huge swath of his shorts... and his right hip. I found out later that
he'd just gotten overexcited and had stood up to sprint while still turning:
That's not a very stable platform for applying force to the pedals and he brought
himself down, much like David Zabriskie did at the Team Time Trial at the 2005
Tour de France.
I had no time to dwell on any of this, so I quickly replaced my wheel (the
first time I've had to use my spare wheels!), refilled my water bottle, removed
my Elite 4 number, and pulled up to the start line.
Masters 45+ 4/5
In this race I was joined by Larry Morin and Rob, and I also spotted Martin
Wolff of Newman's Own who was by himself because his team-mate Mark Patten had
been forced to upgrade to Category 3. This race was unusual in that it was combined
with the 35+ 4/5 group, but scoring would be separate for the two age groups.
But there was no time to chit-chat before they started us off. You'd think the
Masters riders would know how to clip in to their pedals and start pedaling,
but one guy somehow had trouble and ended up coasting through the peloton seated
on his top tube, and eventually toppled over taking another rider down. Doh!
The older riders are better at keeping things in perspective, so there was
far less duelling for position during prime sprint laps. And I seem to remember
hearing that one of them offered a $10 gift certificate as the prize so it was
certainly not worth my bother. But Rob, with his limitless energy, gets bored
and livens things up by jousting in these primes. He picked up another prime
win that day. What a natural!
My LGBRC friends Erik Ostly and George Fuentes were cruising through the pack
too, and I told Larry about the crash in my first race. This was Eric's second
race after a 20-year break... how cool! He's a born sprinter. I also talked
a little with another guy who had been in my first race... I also told him about
my crash as we critiqued the peloton. I guess all this blabbering shows you
that we couldn't have been working all that hard! In fact, my heart-rate monitor
later revealed that my average heart rate was a comfortable 152 bpm average,
with a maximum of 192 bpm (most likely at the finish)... oh, and we averaged
about 25.3 mph over 19 miles for about 45 minutes, and I burned about 680 calories.
On the last lap I again prepared myself for the final sprint by trying to
move forward in the peloton. Eric was also moving up. Everybody else was doing
this too, so of course you get some tight spacing as riders vie for the same
choice spots near the front. In this race I followed Martin as he moved up toward
the front, and jinked to the left as he jinked to the left to avoid the rider
ahead of him who jinked to the left for no apparent reason other than nerves.
Suddenly I heard somebody cussing and yelling at me, by name no less, from behind!
I guess I scared somebody who knows me. Oh well, nothing would fix that, so
I soldiered on and flew through the last turn.
The field ahead of me looked thin as we sprinted, but still way too big for
me to finish on the podium. I stomped on my pedals anyway, hoping for a top-10
finish. Well, it turned out to be worth the effort because I did manage 6th
place out of 32... good for exactly 1 Cat 3 upgrade point! I noticed that
Erik had somehow gotten himself ahead of me, and even though I was gaining on
him he beat me to the line by several places. In the meantime, Rob, in his now-usual
form, had stolen a lead-out that SJBC riders had formed to help their chosen
sprinter and had won the race! That was awesome, and made me feel better about
the race day!
Remember the guy who yelled at me? He turned out to be Phil of Le Matin...
the same guy who crashed off of me at Menlo Park! What rotten luck. I guess
he's probably not as charitable toward me any more. One more strike and I'm
out? Well, we talked about it later, and he said I should have hit my brakes
instead of jinking to the side, and that I was "abrupt." That pained
me because I've always tried hard to be smooth as silk. I asked others, including
Martin and Mark, and none of them had ever seen me do anything to deserve a
bad reputation, so hopefully it was just an isolated mistake, or maybe Phil
was just taken by surprise and overreacted.
What a day. Larry and Rob Jensen later told me I seemed really shaken up from
my crash, but I don't remember feeling that way. What I do remember is feeling
frustrated that I couldn't translate my improved fitness and speed into a podium
finish. In the past I was rarely fresh enough on the last lap to do anything
but try to survive, but I was now feeling way too fresh as I crossed the finish
line which made me believe I wasn't realizing my maximum potential. Rob Evans
was certainly not having that problem (though he is more fit too), and I would
need to learn from his example.
I thought a lot as I drove to Los Gatos and dropped off my bike at my wife's
office in preparation for its usual commuting duties the next morning. So many
things have to come together for success at criteriums, which is what makes
them so fascinating and keeps me coming back for more.
12 Hours of Weaverville,
Team Bigfoot Solo Cup 2006
After the 12 Hours of 5th Avenue last year I decided that I wasn't interested
in bikes too much other than endurance mountain races. I had several very inspiring
moments during that race, most importantly going into and making it out of a
severe fatigue state somewhere around mile 65. I completed my first mountain
century that day, went to the Single Speed World Championships the next weekend,
and set my sights on the Team Bigfoot Solo Cup for 2006.
The Weaverville race course was one of the best I've ever been on. There was
an epic climb up to a beautiful view of the Shasta/Trinity wilderness followed
by an amazing 6-mile singletrack descent. I ended up doing 94 miles and I came
in second out of seven behind a guy named Fuzzy John, a very strong rider who
is apparently well known in the Bigfoot series. I met a few really nice people
at this race, including Dale and Eric from Fox down in Watsonville.
Pacific State Bank GP, Stockton, 5/21/06
Masters 35+ 4/5. Result: 2nd
This race had some of the same faces from the Modesto crit. In fact, one of
my breakaway companions was in the race. We started hatching plans halfway through
the race. I knew he was strong and looking for a win. With about 15 minutes
left we attacked with a third racer that we enrolled in our little plan. The
field would have none of it and we were caught after a couple of laps.
Nothing of any importance happened until the last lap. My break-away partner
and I were at the front keeping the pace high when we entered the S-turn on
the backside. We had a tiny gap when on the first turn I swung wide and hit
the cyclone fencing. Ouch! My feet came flying out the pedals and I barely kept
the bike upright. I got my feet back in the pedals just in time to see two or
three racers blow by me. I started sprinting to catch the group and just got
on the back into the last turn. Luckily, the final sprint was 300+ meters and
I had time to pick my way through the field to take 2nd place.
Can you say lucky?
Panoche Valley Road Race, Hollister, 5/21/06
I signed up for this race just the day before the weather forecasts started
talking about the possibility of rain that weekend. I'm always optimistic, so
I hoped I wouldn't get rained on during the race, and the Panoche Valley area
gets very little rainfall anyway. But the forecasts became more and more dire,
so I decided to just accept that I'd race in the rain. Turned out to be a good
Matt Wocasek likes road races too, so he also signed up, though he'd be in
the 35+ 4/5 race while I had signed up for the 45+ 4/5 race. Mark Edwards had
signed up too, and offered to carpool. So the race was looking like it would
be an adventure, but a shared one at least.
On the morning of the race I was awakened at 4:43 a.m., just minutes before
my alarm, by... the sound of rain. No surprise I guess. Then I cooked some carefully-measured
10-grain cereal with special fixins' (800 calories of yummy high-quality carbs!),
brewed some coffee, enjoyed it all, and finished getting ready. I put the fender
on my bike and rode in my rain clothes with my backpack full of stuff to Mark's
house where I met him and his friends Larry Broberg and Scott Martin who would
all be racing the open 45+ category (the category I'm determined to avoid for
now!). We loaded everything up and headed out into the gray world of California's
coastal regions during this crazy climate shift. At least it had stopped raining.
At the race venue, Blossom Hill Winery, I had to wait in line for the restroom
because they only had four units. Well, soon enough the line was maybe 100 yards
long! This was the first year with this race, so I hope they get the message
and rent more units next time. It was dry there, but it looked like it might
rain, so Larry, Scott and Mark were trying to decide what to wear until the
last second. I definitely don't believe in wearing water-proof clothes in a
long race, and also removed my bike's fender because it didn't look like it
would rain very hard, if at all. Wandering around after they left for their
warmup and 8:35 race start I bumped into Larry Morin... huh? That was a surprise.
Cool, a team-mate in my race! I also chatted with Matt and his girl-friend Rita.
Larry and I warmed up on the road while Matt used his roller trainer. Matt's
start time was 9:10, and ours was 9:14. Then the rain started. Ugh. At least
it was light rain. I got yet another surprise when we assembled at the start
line: David Gill was there, helping run the race! There were 36 riders pre-registered,
but our starting field ended up being less than 30, I think. The rain and wind
had picked up some, and it looked worse on the horizon now.
Our race course was a 20-mile ride out to the east and 20 miles back to the
west on the same route, through the beautiful Panoche Valley, home to several
species of eagles, bobcats, mountain lions and such. Very pretty. We would climb
gradually by 1,780 feet on these twisty, but smooth, roads, which seemed pretty
easy and wouldn't favor the pure climbers. The prevailing wind is out of the
west too, so I didn't think it would be a simple matter of racing to the top
and then coasting back down; the race would continue all the way to the finish
line. I thought we would want to stay in the pack the whole way, and maybe even
see a sprint finish. Unusually though, the wind turned out to be out of the
southeast at the start.
Soon the race whistle sounded for us and we were off... like a rampaging herd
of turtles! I ride faster just cruising to work. But with the rain quickly soaking
us, and the headwind fighting us, and with 40 miles to go, nobody felt much
need to hurry. Later on Matt told me his group also started out slow. As we
cruised along we were sprayed by the rear tires of the guys ahead of us and
my lenses were spattered in no time at all. I started to regret that I removed
my fender as my butt-crack got wetter.
An Alto Velo rider did much of the slow-motion pulling early on, with a couple
of San Jose Bicycle Club riders close behind, then me and the rest. A few minutes
later I noticed that there were three Pegasus riders who had moved to the front,
and they were talking together. I distinctly heard the word "attack," so
I was ready when one of them launched off the front. But he was rather slow,
and couldn't maintain his gap for very long. Even so, because he was so slow
and I was so bored, I started to bridge up to him and soon we'd caught him.
But just as we caught him, the next Pegasus rider attacked. And he created a
bigger gap and also brought the pace up to a more normal range.
After about five minutes of letting the second Pegasus rider dry (or try to)
out in the wind I decided to launch a mini bridge/attack towards him on a climb,
just for fun, but I was not in any hurry and backed off about halfway up to
him. No sense in doing all the work of bridging, and there was no likelihood
he'd be able to maintain that gap riding alone for the next 35 miles! At least
we'd kept his gap to a minimum so we could keep an eye on him.
After a while the rain let up some, but the roads were still wet and remained
so as it sprinkled lightly. I decided to conserve energy towards the back of
the pack with Larry, and for several miles not much happened. But at around
10 miles out we hit the steepest climbing section, as I'd anticipated after
studying a profile of the race course. Nothing too bad, and I truly felt great.
We were going pretty fast, but I felt fine and not maxed out at any point.
After a couple of minutes I looked back and saw that we'd dropped most of
the peloton on this climb... awesome! I was now part of a chase group of about
8–10 riders, which was so cool, except that I noticed Larry wasn't among
us. Oh well. I figured he'd be able to work together with other riders after
the road leveled off and maybe be able to bridge back up to us. But I didn't
want to assume that, so I stayed with the chase group as we maintained that
15-second gap to the Pegasus rider. Nobody seemed concerned about the solo break.
I said to an Alto Velo rider "he's not tired yet?," and he said "let's
leave him out in the wind for a little longer." That made sense to me:
he was clearly very fit, and it even seemed possible he'd be able to contest
the finish later on even if/when we did catch him. By my estimation he'd been
off the front for about 20 minutes then, which was pretty impressive with the
Did I mention the road was still really wet? After the steepest climbing section,
we dropped into a short, fast descent back down towards the valley bottom. A
sharp, fast right turn surprised our chase group a little, and there was a sort
of "crack the whip" effect that swung the rear of the group a little
wide exiting the turn. I was the tip of the whip, and as the guy ahead of me
to my right swung a little wide, I had to swing a little wider... right over
the painted center stripe. Oops. I didn't panic, but straightened out just a
touch so I wouldn't slip on the paint... but totally lost traction on my front
tire anyway and went down! Argh! I slid along the pavement for a while, apparently
still holding on to my bars because my gloves weren't damaged in the least.
Then I sort of rolled over a little and separated from the bike, and the bike
slid into my back as I came to a stop.
I surveyed the damage quickly, decided the twisted levers weren't worth worrying
about, looked down the hill to see how far back I was from my group, and thought
my chances of closing the gap were excellent. The crash notwithstanding, I actually
believe I have good downhill skills and thought I'd be able to catch up on the
descent. As I started off in pursuit I also noticed my team jersey's sleeve
was torn by the right elbow, my shorts by the right hip, and my new shoe cover
too. Darn. Later on I found out that my right shoe had a hole worn through it
too. At least my body wasn't too badly damaged, though blood seeped out slowly
from my elbow, and I was soon time-trialing to the best of my abilities.
The descent didn't last very long, unfortunately, and the road was mostly
level near the creek in the valley's bottom for a while with some more climbs
thrown in. I could see my old chase-group friends ahead of me on some sections,
but soon they started to extend their gap. I looked at my odometer: about 5
miles to go before the turnaround. I really wanted to catch them before then,
because I was still worried a solo rider wouldn't be able to keep up on the
long return trip because the descents would mostly be only moderately steep,
and lots of pedalling would still be required. I was proven correct later, as
my maximum speed for the race ended up being only 38.4 mph and I had to pedal
downhill to accomplish that.
As I neared the turnaround point I passed the neutral feed zone, but declined
their water bottles as I had enough of my own. Then I saw some pelotons from
the race categories that had started before us on their return trip in the opposite
direction. I was optimistic about my position since none of them looked like
my group, and I hadn't even spotted Matt yet, who started 4 minutes before us,
with just a short distance to go before I reached the turnaround at 20 miles.
Then I spotted that crazy Pegasus rider, still off the front, still about 15
seconds ahead of my old chase group, just moments before I spotted the turnaround
cone in the distance. I also noticed Matt was drafting my group... maybe I could
catch him and we could work together! Naw... that's against the rules!
I think I was maybe one minute behind them when I rounded the cone and waved
to the course marshalls there. I was pretty tired, but not completely discouraged
yet; that was a gap I might be able to make up! I didn't know it then, but I
was in for another 20 miles of solo riding, all the way back to the finish line.
I gradually became aware of what lay in store for me as seemingly long periods
of time passed before I saw small groups of riders from my race still climbing
up to the turnaround point. Larry was in one of them and yelled, smiling at
me, as I yelled back "I crashed!" It turned out later that he thought
I was off the front, when the facts were quite different, and didn't hear what
I yelled anyway. Well, at least that was pretty cool for him to think as he
fought his way back to the finish line. I realized I would be better off fighting
ahead on my own, so that's what I did.
As I chased back I swear the wind shifted from east to west! But that's how
it always feels when you go from riding in the pack to riding solo. My legs
started to burn, so I made sure to finish my bottle of energy drink, and also
the energy gel I had brought. That helped for a while, but my legs were never
the same for the rest of the race, and I couldn't get my heart rate much above
170 bpm for very long. I'd had an interesting discussion with both Rob Evans
and Mark Edwards about this phenomenon. It seems that as you gain fitness your
cardiovascular system catches up to, and then surpasses, the ability of your
legs to propel you. Certainly my cardio fitness always lagged behind my legs
in the past, but now the reverse seems true as I've become faster.
Many miles later, after working very hard with no further sightings of my
group, I decided not to push myself too hard any more. No point to it. Though
as I neared the finish I teamed up with a couple of riders from Matt's group
who came up behind me. Not because I thought I'd catch my group with their help,
but because it was more fun than riding alone. About 1/2 mile from the finish
line I pulled out and told them "go for it!" They sprinted for 20th
place or something... hey, it's all for fun, right?! I finished in 8th place
out of 23 finishers with a 1:52 total time, averaging 21.4 mph and 163 bpm,
and Larry finished in 14th place. I'm not sure if the solo breakaway rider won,
but I do know that our race winner was a Pegasus rider named Rick Martyn. Amazing!
Matt finished in 20th out of the 33 finishers in 35+ 4/5.
I found David under the timing/scoring awning, and asked him when our next
team-shorts order will happen... and where first aid was! The nice lady at first
aid clucked and shook her head at "you guys" as she cleaned my wounds
and bandaged me up. I piled up my soaking jersey, gloves, helmet etc., grabbed
a complementary banana and bottle of PowerAde, and wondered where I'd find shelter
from the continuing rain until my carpoolers arrived from their race. Fortunately
Larry showed up then and was more than happy to help even after he found out
I hadn't been off the front after all. We said hi to Matt and Rita, then sat
in Larry's van and reviewed our race as we tried to warm up. My heart-rate monitor
said I burned 1,883 calories during the race, so I got right to work replacing
About 10 minutes later my carpoolers arrived, and I was finally able to get
out of my soaking wet kit and into the fleece clothing I'd brought with me.
Thank goodness! I usually don't bother with changing clothes after races, but
I was very happy I could this time! Turns out I should have brought some coveralls
too, because Larry Broberg's SUV lost its accessory belt on the way home and
I got grease all over my rain jacket helping him to replace it. The rain never
did stop on the drive home, but it was fun sharing stories and hearing how their
race had gone. Their group had also split up, and Mark had tried to bridge up
to a break of five riders while Larry and Scott cheered him on and blocked.
Mark ended up in 6th place out of 14 finishers after a solo ride to the finish
line even longer than mine, while Larry finished 8th and Scott 10th.
At home I faced the messy cleanup, laundry... and scrubbing the dirt out of
my wounds. I use epsom salts and scrub a handful into the rash. I must enjoy
the pain, I swear, but I read about this trick in a bike magazine years ago
so it must be right. Right?
What an adventure!
Modesto Criterium, Modesto, 5/20/06
Elite 4/5. Result: 2nd
My first race of the day was the Elite 4/5 race and all I can say is: Don't
confuse the white lines of the cross walk for the finish line or you'll lose!
Masters 35+ 4/5. Result: 1st
I was really looking forward to the Masters 35+ 4/5 race. At the start line
I noticed that Sprinters Mark Patten and Bernie Silviera from Newman's Own were
lined up as well as this really good sprinter from Galaxy Granola. The Granola
dude knocked me off the podium a few weeks ago at the EMC2/Vellum
Cycles crit, so I was happy to see him at the line.
I took it easy at the beginning of the race and waited for things to settle
down. The pace was good and the course was nice. I watched Patten take a few
of the first primes and this got me thinking. After the 3rd or 4th prime when
Granola Dude and Patten were trying to recover from their effort, I attacked.
It wasn't much of an attack as I really just wanted to lift the pace to tire
them out but I did have the effect of opening up a gap. Newman's Own's Bernie
covered me and I was ready to sit up when we were joined by three more riders.
One of the new arrivals attacked and we had a real gap.
Long story short. We worked together (Imagine that in a 4/5 race) opening
up a 30'+ gap. Granola Dude popped just before the final turn. I was able to
enter the turn first and hold off the field. This time I crossed the finish
line before putting my hands in the air. ;-)
ST Bikes Cat's Hill Classic Criterium, Los Gatos,
After racing Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club's premier Cat's Hill Classic race last
year I was really exhilarated, but also a bit nervous about entering again.
It's a really demanding course and attracts macho riders from all over the
place. Just finishing was a tough enough task, and not crashing was more than
many could handle. But what the heck; it's so conviently close to home, and
a nice change from the business-park courses we usually see, so I pre-registered
to prevent myself from backing out on race day!
Rob Evans sent out an e-mail asking who else was racing, but didn't get a
lot of response. He and I were the only Team Santa Cruz racers, though Robbie
Abundis, now of California Giant Strawberries, also entered. None of us attempted
any race-tactics planning; the race is so fast-paced that it would be each man
for himself. You really can't afford to wait for your team-mates if they get
separated from you.
On race day my wife, Margaret, and I had breakfast at the Wharf House in Capitola.
I had the banana pancakes with a ton of maple syrup and lots of coffee... who
says sugar and caffeine don't help?!! Margaret had to go to the hospital to
help her dad, who had just been admitted a few days earlier with emphysema complicated
by pneumonia, so she wouldn't be present to cheer me on. I told her not to feel
bad; it was I who should feel bad for not going with her instead of playing
Like last year, I parked at Testarossa Vineyards where Margaret works and
where I usually keep my bike for commuting to work in Palo Alto. I had brought
some solvents and rags, so I had a chance to finally clean the chain... what
a relief! I also installed my new Maxxis Re-Fuse tires; they're a bit heavier
but offer better puncture resistance, which I wanted after flatting during our
club's Swanton Road time trial the previous Thursday. I also noticed that they
are better at holding their line in a fast turn without skittering around.
I rode down the hill to the race registration area and quickly got checked
in for the Masters 35+ 4/5 race I'd entered. The course is in the pretty Victorian
neighborhood just off the downtown shopping area on North Santa Cruz Avenue.
Its biggest challenge is "The Wall" formed by the steep 23% climb
up Nicholson Avenue, and the broken concrete surface built during the Ford Model
T era. I rode the course a few days earlier, but it wasn't as daunting as I
remembered it so I only took one lap, and the pleasant feelings it gave me,
with me as preparation. No sense in psyching myself out!
I met up with a few friends, George Fuentes and Erik Ostly, and Erik told
me our friend Rob Jensen, hampered by using gardening to train for the race,
had sneaked out of the Category 3 race after just 4 laps. Hmmm... last year
he finished mid-pack. I hoped a similar fate didn't await me!
I couldn't find Larry Morin, David Gill or Rob Evans anywhere, so I called
and left Rob a message. I needed somewhere to stash my backpack before the race.
I set off to do some easy warmup riding... I don't need much so I took it nice
and slow as I tooled around town. I also watched part of the Masters 35+ 1/2/3
race, with National Champion Larry Nolan. He was having trouble on The Wall,
and once a spectator even pushed him up the hill!
At 2:00 I rode over to the staging area for my race, and was the third rider
there. I downed a Power Gel for an energy boost, but I still had that backpack.
I called Larry, and got through, but he told me he wasn't coming over after
all. I didn't have David's phone number handy, so I called Rob again. No go.
I didn't want to race with my backpack on, so I looked for George. His car was
all locked up since he was racing the same time as I, so that didn't work. I
then rode to the announcing stand at the start/finish line and they let me stash
my backpack there. Whew! As I turned around to leave I saw that the whole peloton
was already assembled just behind me at the start line... reminded me of playing
Marco/Polo! I just barely had time to squeeze in and try to compose myself before
they got ready to start us. Turned out Rob and Robbie were both right near me
in the huge 75-rider field.
As we started the race I had trouble clipping into my pedal and lost quite
a few positions; must have been nerves! I also noticed I'd forgotten to put
my gloves on, and made a mental note to be extra careful not to crash! But soon
I was comfortably situated in the peloton as we got ready for the first of our
twelve climbs up The Wall. It seemed easy to me, maybe because my sister, her
fiancee, my brother, and several friends were cheering me on! I really did feel
good and was cautiously optimistic about my prospects.
I made sure to keep track of the time and the lap cards after being surprised
by the finish in last year's race! One guy got caught in the gutter and almost
took himself, and me, out, but recovered. I told him that was not a good place
to be riding. I ended up having a couple of similar incidents of my own later
on, but also held on. There were some prime sprints, but I didn't make any real
effort to contest them, Like last year, I used the descent down Bachman Avenue
to recover and gain positions. But unlike last year I never really felt maxed
out. I honestly believe my shorter, but more intense, rides, with more days
off the bike, are better for me.
In the last few laps we had a solo rider in a red jersey off the front with
about a 15-second lead. Obviously he was pretty strong! But he was left out
in the wind to dry, and soon one rider, followed by another, then another, joined
him in his break. With two laps to go I was right behind Rob near the front,
and just then Rob also bridged up to make it a five-man break. I could only
watch, as the pace was getting fast and we still had two more climbs up The
Wall before we could rest... and the previous one had finally started to wear
me down a little. I huffed and puffed up The Wall, and managed to hold on and
even advance a little. I didn't dare look back, but I sensed the main peloton
was right behind our small chase group, with a tiny gap they could easily close.
The last lap was getting really tough, and I had cotton mouth from gasping,
and no time to drink. I reminded myself that I would soon be resting and laughing
about all of this in less than a minute as we crested The Wall for the last
time and prepared for the finish. I moved ahead some more down Bachman, but
after the last turn there were still almost twenty riders ahead of me. I sprinted
as best I could, hoping maybe I'd finish in the top ten, but ended up in 15th
out of just 45 finishers. 30 riders had dropped out. Whew!
After the race I retreived my backpack and hooked up with my siblings. We
watched the Women's 1/2/3 race and the Men's Pro/1/2/Espoir race from the shade
of Bachman Park's trees while we munched on blueberries, figs and pecans. Our
local boy, Ben Jacques-Maynes, won after an unusal race restart caused by a
last-lap crash that brought a firetruck out on the course. I eventually found
Rob; he finished in 2nd place! What a stud! Afterwards we went to my sister's
house up in the hills for a sumptuous recovery dinner. How awesome! I guess
I'll have to come back next year so it becomes a tradition.
Coolest Mountain Bike
Race, Cool, 5/6–7/06
See race photos
As 24-hour mountain bike races are growing more popular across the U.S. and
my bicycling friends flock to sign up for relays or solo divisions of these
events, I have been curious about what compels them to race nearly nonstop,
night and day, lap after lap, on a looping, off-road course. I decided to accompany
Norman at his first solo 24-hour mountain bike event, this past weekend, May
6–7, in Cool, CA, east of Sacramento. That way, I could investigate the
appeal of this event without the pain of racing myself.
As it turned out, being a support person in one of these events is also a
challenge in and of itself. Happily, I had superb help: Norman's sister and
brother-in-law, Rachanee and Dan, arrived early Saturday morning and stayed
til the end. They were essential to Norman's success. We also had fantastic
aid from Hank, who arrived Saturday evening for a few hours with crucial resupplies
and good cheer. Plus, our friend Melanie, a veteran 24-hour mountain bike racer,
had provided great tips over dinner before we left and had generously loaned
us camping gear. During the race weekend, she called often to cheer Norman and
boost our energy.
We departed on Friday at noon, the Jeep packed to the gills. We missed Melanie,
who was recovering from recent foot surgery and unable to join us as originally
planned. But we wondered how we could have managed another passenger! After
a four-hour drive northeast, we rolled into Cool, CA, ready to set up camp.
We were grateful to our hometown Santa Cruz County Cycling Club Race Team for
the loan of the pop-up tent which was our central hub where Norman stopped to
refuel each lap. That blue tent became home for the next two days, in addition
to our 2 individual tents.
On Friday evening, we went for a leisurely 2-hour dusk ride and were impressed
by the beauty of the area—lush green hills, red clay paths. We scouted
out the race course—some climbs so steep that they required walking! Ouch!
Some downhills so strewn with rocks that they required my walking (Norman had
the skills to ride them.) The highlight of our ride together was Norman spotting
a lone bear ambling into the woods. He was a safe distance away, but I wondered
if that fellow would visit our camp later for dinner. We turned in by 11 p.m.
(No bears visited).
12 noon—Norman started his first 24 Hour Solo Race with a mad dash,
literally. Known as a "LeMans start," Norman and the other racers
had to run a quarter mile around a field before they got on their bikes and
set out to do their first 9-mile lap. Norman aimed to complete 11 laps, or 99
miles, during his 24 hour time period. The winners of these events are the riders
who complete the most laps in their division. Norman was not out to win, just
to experience the test of endurance. He went strong and steady, stopping after
each lap, back at the tent so we could help him get more food and drink, clean
his bike and give him a pat on the back. He remained upbeat even as the day
wore on. I was in awe and baffled that he did not want to quit and nap, as I
imagine I would.
At 7 p.m. he took a 2-hour break to enjoy a steak dinner and feast prepared
and served in Rach and Dan's camper trailer. Thanks! Our friend Hank joined
us and provided good cheer and supplies for a few hours on Saturday night. Norman
was reenergized and after dinner, kept on riding, even after I went to bed at
1 a.m. He promised he would be safe and be vigilant about charging the two lights
he had affixed to his bike, one on the helmet, the other on the handlebars.
Norman, Karen and friends after he
finished the 24-hour race.
When I awoke at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, to my amazement, I found that Norman
was STILL cycling and had indeed ridden all through the night while I was asleep.
At 7 a.m., he declared he would actually exceed his 99-mile goal and do 12 laps,
for a total of 108-miles! I was floored. I got to work making breakfast and
we all ate and celebrated when Norman rolled in, done racing, at 9 a.m. or so.
Way to go, Norman!
We broke down camp and loaded for several hours. Fueled by coffee and chocolate,
we hit the highway shortly after the noon conclusion of the event and traded
driving duties all the way home. We somehow made it back to Santa Cruz on what
felt like an interminable 4.50-hour drive. We collapsed into bed that night,
both wiped out. I am very proud of Norman's accomplishments. I felt happy that
I had played an important role in helping Norman achieve a goal that was meaningful
to him. I had a hard time imagining myself doing this event, though I was inspired
by the woman who had set up camp next to ours, Mary, of Folsom, CA. She was
the only woman who had signed up to race solo, and on a single speed bike, (only
one gear!) no less. It was her first solo event and she did really well.
Norman's body demanded 13 hours of sleep, plus an hour nap, and frequent feeding
on this first day of recovery. (He was smart to have taken the day off of work).
A massage and sushi dinner were part of the celebration, but mostly, good, solid
rest was the top priority. After all, he is planning to do this 24-hour mountain
bike racing all again this next weekend. But one major difference: he will be
part of a 5-person team at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA.
Cycles Criterium, Pleasanton, 5/7/06
Driving up 880 North to plesanton was a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in
the sky (it was about time). I was planning on hooking up with Dennis Pedersen
and Rob Evans to do the 35+ 4/5s race at 2:30 pm.
I met up with Dennis and Rob in parking lot. Dennis had already raced in
two races and he decided to head home; had enough. I didn't blame him, but was
hoping to have him around to mix it up in the 35+ race.
I did a nice warm up with Rob and we headed to the start line. It was a full
field with 75 starters. I have been pretty consistent in going to races this
year and was getting familiar with faces and jerseys. I positioned myself up
front, we were given instructions, and then we were off in the typical fashion
with the sound of shoes clicking into the pedals.
Larry in the peloton (jamphoto).
It began in somewhat of a blistering pace. The course was a four corner, clockwise,
flat, 0.9-mile course. The only problem I could see was Bott's Dots that we
had to maneuver through in the corners and some squirrelly riders who seem to
be getting themselves in trouble overlapping wheels. The pace seem to be picking
up on every lap and I could see the field getting smaller. I tried to position
myself towards the front and stay tight with the group, it seem to be a safer
position going thru the corners.
There were a few primes that put some of the riders off the back. It was a
short course, but there was a head wind on the back side of the course and if
you weren't able to hang, you were fighting the head wind alone and it would
be impossible to bridge yourself up to the group. Time was ticking away and
I tried to move up in the group on the second to last lap. I was finding it
quite difficult, because the pace was definitely at its fastest. We crossed
the start/finish line and heard the bell. Everybody seem to be out of the saddle
and pushing it to stretch things out.
Rob chatting with Mark Patten
We were going into the second turn and there was a major pile up right in
front of me. I immediately slammed on my brakes and went into a sideways slide
thinking, "Oh Shit!, I'm going down." Somehow the Tarmac Gods were
with me and I avoided the pile and dove right. The sounds were mixed with metal
slamming on the pavement and bikes flying everywhere, too people yelling "you
f__cken idiot, what are you doing." I looked back and was so stoked that
I was not involved in that mess. The group did not let up at all and I was luckily
I was with a couple of riders to catch back on.
We found ourselves at the back of the group going into the final turn and
I did everything I could to pick off a couple of places. I ended up in 34th.
I felt O.K. but was definitely on a top-10 mission for that race. The crash
Congratulation to Rob Evans on his 4th place!
EMC2/Vellum Cycles Criterium, Pleasanton, 5/7/06
Rob Evans and I had exchanged a few e-mails about this race, and after considering
the remote Rancho Cordova race I decided to enter this one instead. Rob and
I carpooled out to Pleasanton on race morning in my wife's Nissan, leaving Santa
Cruz at something like 6:30, and would meet up with Larry Morin later in the
I was considering entering two races, and figured I'd either race the open "Elite" Category
4/5 race at 9:00 with Rob, or maybe the old-man's Masters 45+ Cat. 3/4/5 race
at 10:50 a.m., or maybe both of those, in additon to the Masters 35+ 4/5 race
at 2:40 that I'd pre-registered for. Well, that was mighty ambitious, and I
also had a scheduling issue to consider: Since we were attending a friend's
Cinquo de Mayo party that evening, I decided it made more sense to just race
in the morning and then go home, rather than race in the afternoon and have
to race back home in my car and have to rush to get cleaned up and ready. So,
when Rob checked in at race registration, I checked in for my 35+ 4/5 race,
then promptly had them switch my entry over to the 45+ 4/5 race. After that
I asked about the Cat. 4 race, but was told the field limit was reached, and
they had two guys already on the waiting list. Oh well... I added myself to
the waiting list anyway.
Rob and I got plenty of time to watch the Cat. 3 race at 8:00 a.m., and while
the course was a very simple square shape, the finish line was only about 150m
after turn 4. That's a pretty short sprint, and would undoubtedly determine
race tactics. We decided to practice a sort of abbreviated lead-out where we'd
ride single-file toward the inside of a turn simulating that turn 4, then the
leader would swing fast and wide out of the turn while the follower would take
the slightly tighter, shorter inside line for a sprint to the finish line. The
concept was that the lead-out rider would block attempts to sprint past us on
the outside by swinging wide. And the inside line would still be fast enough
to maintain speed into the sprint because the follower would let a slight gap
form ahead of him and the lead-out rider just before the turn that he could
then use to start accelerating a little earlier. This would hopefully even give
both of us a shot at the podium.
Well, plans are great to have, but as George Patton said: "Plans become obsolete
as soon as the battle starts!" or something along those lines. The huge field
was 75 riders in size, and it was very hard to maintain contact with each other
during the race. We'd discussed having me try for a prime sprint or two during
the race, but Rob and I had a hard time getting close together at the front
in order for our technique to work. We missed a few primes (there were seven
total!), but I found myself in a good spot during one of the prime laps, and
Rob yelled encouragement to me... time to hit the gas! I was on the outside
of turn 4, and was able to maintain good speed exiting the turn as I followed
just a short distance behind another prime contender. I was able to move ahead
of him very slowly, but just as I neared the start/finish line another rider,
who'd been drafting behind us, shot past us and grabbed the win. Darn! Later
on Rob, with his usual habit of making it look easy, won a prime! He was going
to lead me out, but we were blocked again so he took advantage of his better
positioning (no coincidence I'm sure; he's a smarter racer than I) to make the
mad dash work for him instead. Cool!
Later in the race we had the usual speed build-up during the last few laps
as stronger riders and teams upped the ante to drop slower riders from contention.
I still felt quite strong, but in the last lap I couldn't get into striking
position for the usual sprint finish. I tried the inside, then the middle, then
the outside finally. That seemed to be best, but as we rounded the bend there
were already too many riders in my way... move it! Oh well, at least I finished
around 20-something-th. This race was about 38 minutes long, and about 17 miles.
That would be an average of about 26.8 mph.
After the race I went back to registration and found that I was ""on" for
the 45+ 3/4/5 race... awesome! I still felt strong so I was looking forward
to racing with the other geezers. In fact I've been feeling strong ever since
the Menlo Park race.
Masters 45+ 3/4/5
Lining up for the start I could tell it was getting a little warmer, and perhaps
a bit toasty with the long-sleeved, fleece-lined team jersey I was wearing.
But the wind would keep things a little cooler. Mark Patten of Newman's Own
was there, as were quite a few teams. No Rob to help me this time... he's still
The pace of this race seemed faster to me, but when I looked at my heart-rate
monitor later on, it showed my average rate was a touch lower: 166 bpm vs. 169
bpm. What happened was rather funny: every time we had a prime-sprint lap announced
with a bell at the start/finish line (seven primes again!) the pace would shoot
up instantly to a lung-searing, leg-burning dash for the sprint... then die
back down to an easy group-ride pace afterwards! These smart old guys wouldn't
waste energy on just ordinary laps!
I wanted to try another prime, but the crazy pace of those laps made it hard
to get to the front, much less contest. Even so, I managed to get the inside
line Rob and I had practiced during one prime lap, and on exiting turn 4 I found
only three guys ahead of me. I quickly saw that I had a chance, but just as
I started to stomp on the pedals the guy in third veered right across my path,
forcing me to break off. Shoot. Rob was watching and later told me I shouldn't
have given up. The odds weren't in my favor, but you never know what might have
With about 5 or so laps to go we had a strong breakaway group form off the
front, with a Galaxy Granola rider and two from Trumer Pils, and a San Jose
Bicycle Club rider trying to bridge up to them. The peloton seemed to be indifferent,
but when I saw that there were several Trumer Pils riders at the front of it
I suspected collusion; yeah, they were blocking!
It's always tricky deciding whether a break will last long enough to win,
and when you're a solo rider up against teams there's more pressure on you to
join them, just in case. With several team members you can always send one of
them up, then join the blocking and hope the break survives. I decided that
with just five laps remaining it was close enough to make the break a threat,
so I scooted by the blocking riders and tried to bridge myself to the break,
or pull the group up in the attempt. I think it helped because the break was
caught after a few laps of concerted effort by like-minded riders.
This extra work did tire me out though, and, of course, set me up for the
usual mid-pack finish: 22nd
out of 35 finishers. The race was about 50 minutes long, average speed was
24.5 mph, and my max was 32.3 mph. So, a bit slower in spite of the fast prime
Rob and I watched the next races while waiting for Larry to appear so we could
throw Rob's gear into Larry's van. When Larry showed up he tried to guilt me
into racing with them, but I resisted... two races was enough! But I did wish
Walker Classic Mountain Bike Race, 4/30/06
The Firestone Walker Classic weekend of Mountain Bike racing has something
for everyone: downhill race on Saturday, seventy-five mile endurance race, XC
race and free little kids race on Sunday. There's also a pasta feed Saturday
evening and a BBQ Sunday afternoon. I think it's well worth the three and a
half hour drive from Santa Cruz to Buellton.
Ron at the start.
The fourteen plus mile XC course is on private land and a good mix of farm
roads and fast single track except for a killer half mile climb. Sunday's XC
racing started under low clouds, but by my race at 10:30 AM, the sun was coming
out and the temps were in the seventies.
Ron on the top step of the podium!
There were three of us in the one and a half lap 65 plus Sport race. I had
the lead before we reached the top of our first climb. The race went well for
me and I finished in first, nine minutes ahead of Buz (my main State Series
Berry Wicks (Kona) won the twenty-eight mile Pro XC race in 1:47:07.74. Ryan
Trebon (Kona) was .25 of a second back in second place!! Larry Hibbard (Family
Cycling Center won the Expert Men 45-49 race in 1:56:56, Sabine Dukes of Watsonville
(Velo Bella) was fourth Expert Women 30-39 in 2:45:12. Arlo Buijten of Davenport
(Titus Bikes) won the marathon (75 miles) race in 5:31:10.
Wicks (816) and Trebon (807) just after
Valley Dirt Classic, Angwin, April 23, 2006
Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, hosts this event as a fund raiser.
Harriet and I got to the race site about 8:30 AM under cloudy but dry skies.
Registration/sign-in was held inside the gymnasium complex and was well-organized
and quick. Racers were able to suit up in the locker room—how civilized!
I took a little ride out onto the course and it looked pretty dry, and I considered
taking the "splash" guard off my down tube. On my way back to the
start area, I was following the arrows to the finish line when over a little
rise appeared this evil-looking "swamp". I back tracked to dry ground
and left the splash guard in place.
Ron Riley's race start.
The 10:30 AM start had the Open-Pro/Elite men off first. (Mark Weir beat Andy
Jacques-Maynes here last year in 1:23:55). Every two minutes another group started
off on a short paved section that led to a nice level dirt road. I was just
behind two riders in my 50+ Sport Class.
Maybe a mile into the course the road took a sharp left up a hill and it looked
like a cycle-cross event. This huge pack of bike-carrying/pushing riders was
making their way up the slippery mud-covered, rocky slope. A fellow next to
me said "this is the first of many hike-a-bikes today." Gulp!
The next few miles were still fire/jeep road through mixed forest, and I was
still in sight of one of the guys in my class. Then I heard the "crowd" and
I knew things were about to get exciting. As I started down this steep section
that had some pretty good-sized boulders and was lined with spectators looking
for blood, I picked a line that looked like I could survive and let 'er roll.
I got a little out of control at the bottom and wasn't able to shift soon enough
to make it all the way up the other side without dismounting and pushing. By
the third one of these giant whoop-de-doos, I got it figured out and made it
without pushing. By now, the rider in my class ahead of me was gone.
Soon the course became tight single track and headed down toward a creek.
This was great, fairly technical single-track that went up and down across a
creek for what seemed like forever. I was doing ok, but having to let faster
riders by when I could. I'm always amazed at how fit and skilled mountain bike
When the single track sections ended we were on steep rutted jeep trails that
demanded close attention. As we started down one particularly steep danger-marked
section, a course marshal warned us of a ditch at the bottom. I dismounted and
walked my bike while the guy behind me slid down and did an 'easy' crash into
this three-foot-deep mud-filled ditch at the bottom. The course marshal/first
aid guys on the other side of the ditch told me only four riders had ridden
across that ditch all day!
Ron confronts the 'swamp'!
The next few miles were a real challenge for me—lots of steep hike-a-bike
sections. I was glad I'd brought two packets of Gu and two water bottles. I
wasn't racing, I was surviving! Finally, we reached the top and the folks at
the water stop said we were almost finished. They got that right!!! I actually
felt a little 'racy' as we headed toward the finish on some of the same flat
roads we'd been on at the start and was able to pass a few riders. I went through
the 'swamp' with no problem and on to the finish.
The sun came out toward the end of the race, and it was great to be able to
get a hot shower in the college locker room. They had a few food tables set
up by the finish line and held a small raffle. Harriet and I left about 2PM
and we were home in time for dinner.
Aren Timmel won the Pro/Elite class in 1:31:58.
Paul Begbie won my 50+ Sport Class in 2:03:33.
My 2:43:12 wasn't listed in the preliminary results. No mechanicals and no
injuries. I'd rate this course as challenging as anything I've ridden.
Wente Vineyards Road Race and Criterium, Livermore,
I really wanted to try my hand at road races last year, but I never managed
to get to any. This year I had been in three already, and this one was to be
number four. My wife had plans with her girl friends for the whole weekend,
so it was a natural to enter the road race on Saturday and the criterium on
Sunday. Her plans ended up changing to just one day, but I'd already pre-registered.
I'd been having trouble with my shifters, but got them tuned a few days prior.
What a change! And I'd need that for the steep hills in the road race which
were on the west slope of the same hills I'd raced on in the Patterson Pass
Road Race, Category 4
I got up at 4:45 to make the drive over. Yawn. Rob Evans was racing in Elite
5, but their start was over three hours later. I don't blame Rob for not wanting
to carpool! While there was a chance of rain it was really only cloudy, and
a bit chilly.
This race was about 50 miles long on a course using three 15-mile laps along
small roads around HWY 580 toward Altamont Pass through pretty countryside.
This was followed by another five miles up the first climb.
I didn't notice any familiar faces at the start. Except maybe a Roaring Mouse
Cycles rider. I had also seen some riders at registration I recognized from
the Patterson Pass Road Race... presumably entered in the open 45+ race. Not
for me this time!
The first lap was fairly mellow, and even the tough climbs were easily managed.
I stayed with the lead group the whole time and matched every move... though
there weren't any serious attacks. I didn't feel as lively as I did the previous
weekend, but I still felt pretty good. The wind was pretty strong in places,
this is windmill territory after all, so staying with the pack was critical,
in spite of the climbs.
On the second lap we hit the big climb much harder, but I was still feeling
in control. But then somebody just drilled it near the middle of the first big
climb and the lead pack surged ahead in pursuit. I was below my max and thus
still in the running, but suddenly I started wheezing... my asthma chose this
moment to strike! I can push myself harder than that with no problems but every
once in a while my airways spasm and I can't breathe fully. Not good for racing!
The last time that happened was last
year at a CCCX race. The only way to stop it is to slow down for a while.
And I still had the rest of the climbs in that lap to complete. I kept the pack
in sight for a long time, and I hoped I'd be able to catch them on the descent.
I was to be disappointed: even on the descents it was too hard to ride into
the wind alone, and the gap actually grew. I was still wheezing a little, and
my legs started burning uncharacteristically.
That all really surprised me, but as I hit the flat section, finally breathing
easy, I was joined by a dropped Berkeley Bicycle Club rider named Chris. I suggested
that we work together, and this we did. When the pack splits up, like this type
of hilly course seems to promote, you tend to have riders of similar fitness
group together. Soon another Berkeley Bicycle Club rider, Mike, a Fremont Freewheelers
rider, Jorge, and a Roaring Mouse Cycles rider, Salvatore, joined us and we
all pace-lined the rest of the race. My legs were toasted, maybe because of
oxygen deprivation, but I still managed to pull from time to time.
My first lap took me about 41 minutes; my last two laps took about 45 each,
and they were harder... there's the benefit of riding in the peloton! I ended
up in 69th
place out of 78 finishers.
After the race my legs were shot, but I managed to hook up with Rob Evans
and wished him luck in his race... I don't want to take credit but maybe that's
why he ended up in first place!
By the way, my heart-rate monitor said I burned 2363 calories during this
Criterium, Masters 35+ 4/5
Larry Morin and Rob had both expressed interest in racing the crit and we
coordinated our plans. Larry offered us a drive over to Livermore in his van,
and with gas at over three dollars per gallon, we were happy to accept. Larry
caught me still eating breakfast when he knocked on my door at 5:10 a.m. Then
we picked up Rob. Trundling along in Larry's van we shared a few ideas on tactics
on the way... beats driving over alone!
We had plenty of time to warm up, and rode around town in the cold, gray dawn.
The first race started at 7:30 so we only got one warmup lap. At the start line
l spotted various friends/competitors like Mark Patten and Martin Wolf of Newman's
Own. The field was huge... about 75 riders. But we had the advantage of a clear
sense of teamwork, and the knowledge that we were as fit as we could be.
Rob had suggested that I experiment with prime sprints. I had to agree that
was a good idea because it's really hard to get real sprint practice the way
I race! It's also a good way to gauge your own abilities against those of other
riders. Larry wanted to keep his options open and see how he felt at the finish.
He'd done very well with a late-race attack at Menlo Park that helped reduce
the final field sprint to help Rob.
The course was flat but had several gently-curving "straights" connecting
the corners. These caused some riders to get squeezed against the curb, but
I don't think we had any crashes. We would race for 45 minutes.
The start was uneventful, and we set a quick, but manageable pace. Most riders
were doing a good job of steering clear of trouble, and so we avoided the crashes
we had in Menlo Park. Rob was calling out advice and encouragement as we sped
For the first prime sprint (I think) Rob tried to lead me out. But I didn't
know this in time, so I was on the right side of the group and Rob was on the
left, with several riders between us. So he went for it and won the darn thing!
The next lap in which we had a prime Rob told me to "grab Mark's wheel!" as
we all prepared for the sprint. What he meant was that Mark Patten was just
in front of us with a nice gap ripe for the taking, and that he wanted me to
draft Mark to use him as an unwitting lead-out man for my own sprint. Clever!
But what I saw was not Mark, but his team-mate Martin Wolff. I was confused
and looked around for Mark, but Rob kept saying I should go, so I decided he'd
confused them and just went for it. OK. Whoever was confused may not matter,
and maybe my memory isn't what it used to be, but I know that as I approached
the 200m mark before the finish line, Mark tried to scootch in front of me to
take Martin's wheel but I blocked him. Perhaps that was some other prime I went
for but I don't think so. Anyway, Martin started pulling, but then backed off
to the right, perhaps because he saw that Mark had shifted over to the right.
But I was fresh and shot right past them. I drafted another rider, but he too
backed off, and I found myself just behind a big guy really going for it. But
I'd spent too much time moving up, so even though I was gaining on him I didn't
win the sprint. But it was close, and great practice!
The next lap I found myself wheezing just a little, as I'd done the day before,
but I recovered soon enough. But some guy behind me took exception to me sitting
up and said "why not just stop?" Whatever.
Not much else happened for a while, but soon we were counting down toward
the final lap. I moved forward and felt pretty good which really surprised me
given how drained I'd felt the day before. Cool! And with a couple of turns
to go I spotted Larry shooting off the front, and Rob maybe eight riders back.
Awesome! I figured we were in a strong position to control the race. So I called
out to Rob as I passed him on my way up to Larry. I envisioned instinctively
that we could either do a three-man lead-out, or that maybe Larry could block
for Rob and I. Perhaps we'd manage to catch the peloton by surprise. Whatever
the case, I rode by Larry and yelled out, "let's break this thing up!"
I shot into the final hard turn, and started really pulling at the head of
the pack. Exiting the turn I still had about 400m to go, and a slight headwind,
so I started pooping out, and could only pull to about the 300m mark. Darn!
I thought Rob could have won from 200m against anybody in our race, so l was
a little bummed but still hopeful as I pulled off to the right and let the pack
rush by. Mark Patten, with George Fuentes shamelessly sucking his wheel, squeezed
by me on the right, but way too late. Rob was way up front, though he chose
to draft one more guy before the sprint, and that guy ended up being able to
out-drag him for the win.
Still, it was a good feeling to know we'd worked together as well as we did.
My biggest mistake was in not realizing how long Larry had been in the lead.
He was too tired to be able to work in a three-man lead-out, or to block, so
we were not able to make a gap that would have held off the chasers.
Rob ended up in 2nd, while Larry and I, spent from our last-lap attacks, cruised
in at 51st
and 61st place out of 66 finishers. Rob showed his appreciation for our
work by giving Larry some gas money and offering me his prime-win prize of a
bottle of Wente wine.
The next race was the Elite 3 race, and my friend Chris Tanner was entered.
After watching him for a while I noticed that something had happened out there.
It turned out there'd been a crash on the back stretch. Soon a police car appeared,
followed by a fire truck. Then an ambulance. Ouch. I'd lost track of Chris,
but after the final sprint I was sure he was MIA. I looked around for a while
and finally found him at first aid. He'd crashed, but thankfully not in the
wreck requiring the EMTs. He'd been fifth wheel into the last turn, ready to
lead out a friend, when the rider right in front of him wiped out. He was a
little scraped up. But not too bad.
After Rob got his trophy I got a sport massage... after waiting for the masseuse
to finish with some guy named Larry Nolan (FYI: Masters National Champion!).
Then we all got back in Larry's van and headed home, discussing how things had
gone. Oh, and stopped at Jack in the Box... I passed!
Copperopolis Road Race, Milton, 4/15/06
The Master 35 plus field was actually smaller than last year hence it was
not broken up into two races. After getting dropped on the big climb I started
reeling in other stragglers. We formed a chase group of about five riders. But
it wasn't a group for long. I and one other rider dropped the rest. We could
see a large pack of riders in our race a little ways ahead of us so we slowly
pulled them back, only to catch them right before the second big climb on the
first lap. I was back in the group for about a mile or less before I was time
trialing again. I rode through the start line by my self and started the second
Matt pedals on
Going up the rock creek climb on the second lap some riders caught me and
we formed into a pack. We worked together until the last long climb where one
rider pulled away off the front. I dropped the others trying to catch him. On
the way to the finish I passed the scene of an accident. As I bounced by on
the rough decent it looked like there was a rider sitting up the pavement with
people helping him. And then I passed no less than four emergency vehicles going
up the hill with lights and sirens on. I finished all alone 30th out of 50.
Hey at least it didn't rain. I saw in the results that Levi Leiphimer won the
pro race. I was so wrapped up in my own race that I didn't know he was there.
Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix, Menlo Park, 4/15/06
Better late than never...
"We might be able to stay away but it's gonna hurt." Ken was shouting.
We had been away for a couple laps. We didn't plan a break away. It just happened.
It all started when the bell signalled the first preem and Ken moved to the
front. I knew what he was doing and why the pace was getting faster-- Ken was
leading me out for the preem. Neither of us cared about the Gift Certificate.
We wanted to practice our end game; Ken's leadout and my finishing sprint. As
the pace increased and the field got increasingly twitchy, I did my best to
keep a cool head and stay smooth through the final 2 corners of our 4-corner
course. Ken dropped me off ~200 meters from the start/finish and I started my
sprint. ~100 meters from the finish I looked around and there was this guy from
SJBC who, just a few weeks ago, had beat me in the finishing sprint of the Rohnde
Van Brisbeen Crit. I dug deep and a came across the line well ahead of SJBC.
Just as I started to recover from the effort, I hear an approaching Ken yelling, "Come
on! Let's keep going."
So that was how we ended up off the front in a breakaway with 30 minutes left
of racing. We were off the front for the 2nd preem (Ken took that one) and I
think that helped get the field motivated to chase us down. Then again, maybe
not. All I know is that when the field did catch us, I was relieved. No gut
wrenching time trial for us, and since the chase happened reletively quickly,
there was enough time left in the race for Ken and I to recover for the end
I didn't contest the third preem because I wanted to conserve energy; but
when the bell rang for preem number four, I moved in behind Mr. SJBC with the
intention of sitting on his wheel and taking the sprint from him at the last
minute. Well, I lost. Mr. SJBC bettered me even though I did everything right;
I was 2nd wheel, I waited until ~100 meters, I was even well rested. Even though
I jumped as hard as I could, I could not come around him. He just seemed to
keep getting faster. Oh, shite!
Mr. SJBC would go on to beat me in the next preem as well, and that's when
my heart sank. It's painfull to bump up against one's limits--harder still to
find a reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, the limit is a little further
out there. While I was navel gazing, Ken rolls up and tells me that Mr. SJBC
has a faster acceleration than I do and that I'll need a fast pace coming into
the final sprint in order to beat him. Ken's a smart racer; Me, I'm a big dummy,
so this takes a while to register.
Rob Evans on the top step of the podium
Sufficiently motivated, I settled in for the finish and did my best to stay
out of trouble. Like many crits, the pace picked up in the last three laps.
Just as the bell was rung for the final lap, Larry charged to the front and
put in a fierce attack that stirred up the field. Ken and I sat back and let
others expend thier engery chasing Larry down. Just as they caught Larry, Ken
appeared at the front and pushed the pace even more. As we dove into the final
corner I started my sprint. With about 100 meters to go I could hear Ken shouting, "Go,
Rob!" and I dug a little deeper. The next thing I knew I was speeding past
the finish line, the winner.
Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix, Menlo Park,
It's been hard to even train with all the rain we've been having. So when
we had an apparent break in the weather I decided at the last moment to go up
to Menlo Park and hope there were still openings in the races. Larry Morin,
Rob Evans and Ken Sato would be there, all racing in Cat 5. And my LGBRC friends
Rob Jensen and Chris Tanner, and their long-time friend George Fuentes. My wife
Margaret had a facial appointment scheduled, so she'd be luxuriating while I
On the drive up the weather was OK, but still a bit cloudy for comfort. After
I signed up with the nice Velo Girls at registration and started to warm up
on course it did start to rain lightly, and the wind picked up from the West.
Oh well. But it turned out to just be a passing shower.
The course was perfectly flat with four turns. A few Bott's Dots, two cars
parked on the back straight and a nasty sewer grate in one turn were the only
obstacles. A perfect sprinter's course with a 200-meter straight from the last
Masters 35+ Cat 4
The field assembled at the start line wasn't too big... I guess a 9:00 a.m.
start on a wet day kept riders away. But at least the course was dry by then.
Very soon after the start I heard the sound of the bell... a prime sprint!
And we had no less than five prime sprints in this race! Now-familiar Mark Patten
won three sprints; he was on fire! But a SJBC rider took the first one after
another Newman's Own rider, Bernard Silviera, missed it because he had a slight
cramp, then got confused and thought it wasn't a prime lap after all. I can
relate! It was pretty funny because we could all see him plainly way off the
front, but he then sat up and let us catch him just before the finish line!
We all chuckled. He was really bummed later when he found out it was a $50 prime!
The race really didn't have a lot of drama otherwise, at first. The frequent
primes seemed to dictate the conduct of the peloton too much. Eventually we
did settle into a good pace, and the final laps were quick but pretty manageable.
I felt great and ready to contest the final sprint.
As we exited turn 4 and nervously approached the line with one lap to go,
two riders started to squeeze me from each side. I was about one foot behind
them, so I thought maybe they hadn't noticed me. I called out "in the middle," but
they kept coming. I suddenly realized that a routine positioning in the peloton
was about to become a potential danger... when they both struck me nearly simultaneously!
I kept my cool though, and tried my best not to overreact but to just hold
my line, and my grip on the handlebars. But they weren't so prepared and the
shock of suddenly finding some guy pressing against their flesh was too great...
they both crashed yelling down onto the pavement! I miraculously managed to
hold on, and scooted off from in between them... whew! But I soon discovered
that the impact had caused my rear wheel's quick-release to, well, release,
and I had to stop to get that fixed. The wheel-speed sensor arm of my cycle
computer had been torn off too. I could only watch the field continue on without
I immediately went back to registration to sign up for the Category 4 race.
But there I spotted the two riders who crashed, as they received their first
aid. Scrapes eveywhere, and completely shredded jerseys and shorts, with the
smell of friction-burned flesh permeating the air... yuck. I almost, but didn't
quite, change my mind. "Get right back up on that horse," I always
It surprised me that these two guys were both big, as in over six feet tall,
and one weighed at least 200 pounds! Yet only I, the small guy, stayed off the
pavement. I was nervous about telling them that it was I who took them out,
in a sense, but decided to do so anyway. I'm glad I did because they were both
very understanding and completely absolved me of any guilt. "These things
happen." They even shook my hand and we all introduced ourselves. The big
guy was Phil, of Le Matin, and the other was from Village Pedallers. I also
got to know Larry Knott from the Olympic Club team.
As we waited for the start of the Cat 4 race I spotted several strong teams,
including Roaring Mouse Cycles, San Jose Bicycle Club and Alto Velo. I was alone
again, naturally. I predicted to George that it would rain before the race was
over... I was proven right after just two laps! I don't think it coincided,
but there was a guy who crashed in turn 1 right around that time. Turned out
he crossed wheels with Martin Wolf, Newman's Own. This apparently set a precedent,
because we seemed to have a fresh crash every several laps. After the light
rain had soaked the pavement for a while the surface became slick. One rider
wiped out in turn 3... I noticed later how slick it was when my rear tire scooted
sideways just a hair!
I ended up chasing down several attacks, in part because a solo rider can't
risk letting them get away, and in part because I still felt really stong and
thought it would be fun.
One break I caught was by two Alto Velo riders. One of them had gone off the
front and the other thought he should follow. This provoked much hilarity by
some riders as it's not usually considered a smart move... you should try to
get riders from other teams in the break so they will let the break get away.
It was kind of funny, especially since it happened twice! But in one way I suppose
it made some sense because there was no doubt they'd work together to make their
break stick. But they also guaranteed that the rest of us would not let it last!
Another break I caught was a solo attempt by a Roaring Mouse Cycles rider.
That lasted longer than it should have because I didn't want to do all the work,
and couldn't convince many others to take over.
With seven laps to go a six-man break formed off the front. I thought this
had the potential to stick, so I bridged up to join them, or pull the peloton
back together if it didn't. In turn 4 an Alto Velo rider at the front clipped
his pedal on the curb when he cut the turn too tight and wiped out spectacularly.
That also contributed to the break getting caught, and soon we were forming
up for the final sprint.
As we neared the final lap I heard my friend Chris roaring "move further
up!" I thought to myself "but I am further up!" I kept telling
myself not to hold anything back, but also not to pull anybody up either. In
retrospect I should have been a few spots further up, because when we exited
the last turn I was already too far back to be able to force myself through
the leaders. Maybe my near crash from the first race had left me a little skittish.
I don't think my fitness was an obstacle to victory in the least. He told me "I'm
going to get some black electrical tape and cover your heart rate monitor with
it so you can't read it!" Chris was right on the money, like usual.
You guessed it; I got another mid-pack finish. I ended up in 19th
out of 36 finishers. But I felt so strong, and so exhilarated over surviving
that crash, that I was in a great mood. I'm ready for Wente Vineyards next
I had to leave so I could attend a pre-Easter family get-together, so I missed
the the Cat 5 race. But I later learned that Rob Evans had taken the victory!
Way to go!
Otter Classic, 40+ Opoen Clydesdale XC, Laguna Seca, 4/9/06
Troy Boone (9th of 25 on a single speed 29er!)
At this year's Sea Otter Classic, Cross Country Mountain Bike race, I raced
the +40 Open (beg/sport/pro) Clydesdale (+200lbs. for you civilians) race. There
were a few familiar faces in the crowd from cycle-cross and other mtb events.
I have to say, this being my first year racing in the...sniff, sniff...+40,
Clydesdale group. I have to admit I was expecting to see a bunch of tired, beer
gut sporting dudes but, no way. Just lining up at the start and doing a surface
survey made me realize, most of these guys came to throw down. Lots of fit and
trim type A linebackers in team jerseys straddling finely tuned racing machines.
But spirits were high and the banter was focused on fun. Before I knew it, count
down had begun. Time to hear the pounding of my heart beat, sense the nervous
silence of the crowd as we all look forward and down, "Okay, ride your
own race, ride your own race", the click of cleats sliding into pedals
and then...(BANG!), GO!
Being the only single speed in the group, as expected, I launched ahead and
into second place. My solo gear (32:20) would soon betray me on this flat stretch
as I hit my RPM max. Within a couple of minutes, the pelaton stretched across
the race track. Soon I found myself trailing at the back of the pack. Attempting
to draft of off faster cyclist was futile. Cyclist after cyclist passed me on
my left and right, that is, until the hill climb. Hills are where the BIG BOI
factor seemed to usually kick in as a handicap. One by one, I began to make
up ground. This group was definitely slower than my lighter practice buddies.
Ahhh, my people! Being 230lbs I'm definitely a Clyde, I just probably spend
more time climbing hills than most to make up for it.
Troy powers up the climbs
Once at the top of the track, and off to the ridgeline speed run, I kept pace
with a fellow acquaintance from an mtbr.com group ride. He and I had pre-ridden
on a group ride and I knew that I'd be seeing him in the beginning. Sure enough,
he and I went back and forth for the first few miles. I'd climb a hill and pass
him. On the first couple of steep and fast descents, he'd sweep down the hill,
catch air on a water bar, and begin to disappear. It was a friendly exchange
and we even encouraged one another. Finally on one twisty hill climb, I maneuvered
past him and didn't see him again.
At least a couple of slower groups got released in front of us. I attempted
to be polite. Typically I'd yell the standard "On your left!" wait
for a line to pass and go for it. I seemed to really hit my stride on the windy,
uphill, single track sections that required the grit and finesse that come with
piloting a single speed. I began to patiently pass other racers and gradually
make up ground. It seemed that a lot of people went out fast and slowly blew
up. My mantra was "Ride your own race, and avoid mistakes." Also,
with several groups of racers out at once, making my way up from the back, there
was no way of knowing how I was placing.
A couple of times I scared the shite out of some of the female sport riders
by getting, (in their minds) too close. However, I never hit or touched anyone.
Maybe it was my Psycho-Cross background that gave me a bit of a different sense
of space. My way of politely pushing people out of the way was to get behind
them and encourage them. Breathe down their back with kindness if you will,
and typically they would let me pass.
Along one of the first twisty, uphill single track portions I started keeping
pace with what appeared to be a speedy female junior rider, (or maybe she was
racing up a class or two). Instead of passing her, I just trailed behind since
she was kicking ass and passing a lot of folks. When we'd typically come up
to a group of slower guys, I'd announce "On your left, lady coming through!" They
would make way and we'd buzz on by. I noticed she seemed to be breathing rather
rapidly but was still maintaining pace. So onward and upward we made our way
for about five minutes through twisty, sandy, single track as the sun slowly
began to emerge and heat up the course.
Once we got up to the top of the summit the course extended on to a fire road.
As I began to pass her she seemed to begin to have an emotional breakdown. I
gave her a pat on the shoulder, told her she was doing great, and to just stay
Afterwards, I kind of felt like the big bad monster nipping at the heels
of an innocent. At the time all I thought I was doing was giving her some encouragement
and a chance to lead. Or maybe she was a first time racer, and was just feeling
overwhelmed? Only she knows for sure.
Anyway, once we hit the mud bog area (right before the 2nd sand hill descent),
this other racer in my class on a white Santa Cruz bike shows up. He passes
me giving me props for riding a single speed, and passes me as if he wasn't
going to see me again. So, I tagged along behind him. We kept again going back
and forth. I'd clear the puddles in the bog area straight on, cyclo-cross style
by dismounting and running straight through them. Curiously, a lot of other
racers seemed to just stop, ponder their options, and slowly proceed. I found
that kind of ironic, seeing that this was a mountain bike race. Well, back to
my new friend.
He'd catch me on the downhill areas or the flats with his gears and full suspension.
I'd then put the hammer down, and pass him on the hill climbs, look back and
grin. He'd look down, focused, and fiercely pedal away. Finally I got out and
ahead of him on Skyline Rd, on our way to the 44. For some reason I began to
forget about him while passing other racers, dodging more tire and cleat sucking
puddles, and attempting to summon up what ever gusto I still had in reserves.
On the way up the hill, I caught up with appeared to be the lead group for a
class of women's sport racers. Again more encouragement from them for climbing
the hill on a single, I sent lots of encouragement back their way as well. And
when ever someone did pass me, I throw them a "Go get 'em." Then an
older gent decided to strike up a conversation. Here I am out of the saddle,
huffing and puffing, grunting...and dude wants to chat? "Hey, didn't we
battle it out last year?" he says. I muster a, (inhale)...no, sorry. And
don't look back.
I made several passes by dismounting and running around folks on the short
hills where a lot of people were granny gearing. By the time I hit the very
steep and long Jack's Road, my slight scoliosis was kicking in along with my
sciatic nerve...PAIN! Every bump and jarring of the rear of the bike began to
echo up my hips and back once I sped down the single track at the top. Then
I got the "Only 4km to go!" voice from an official. Okay, focus..Charge!
And about then who would you know shows up, Mr. Santa Cruz bike dude! Yikes,
where did he come from? Oh well, we had some encouraging exchanges. At this
point, I was feeling spent and sloppy. Off to the side was a fellow curled up
on the ground in the fetal position, puking away in the lush green grass. I
thought, "Oh well take it, I don't care anymore". Then I again caught
up with him on a hill climb. He noticed our exchange as well. He said, "Same
thing all f*ckin race, back and forth with us, (smile and head shake)"!
Finally on the last hill, with less than 3km to go, undetected I trailed
him and soon began to taunt him. "Don't let me catch you now big boy"!
With that he took off like a bullet. I just smiled and let him go figuring he
was gone for good this time. I got to the twisty section of single track right
before entry to the track. Lots of blind turns as you sketchily descend and
accelerate with compromised motor skills and judgment across mud, deep puddles,
ruts, and sand just tasting the exhilaration of the finish line. Just a little
bit more, just a little further. Hitting an almost final straight...there he
was...within my sights again. With a hidden reserve of adrenaline, my pain disappeared
and with some one else's legs running me along, I dismounted my bike cyclo-cross
style and dashed past the tight, uphill right turn leaving three more racers
in my wake. Got on his rear wheel and whispered..."I'm baaaack". He
looked back and with an expletive shifted into his higher gears and started
cranking out of the saddle. With that we hit the track together in a full sprint
passing surprised racers left and right. My 29er wheels helped get me down the
hill pretty fast, but in the end, his gears won out.
He beat me by 4 whole seconds! After the finish line, we both exchanged hand
shakes and had a good laugh about the whole thing. Oh well, great race and even
better racers. My hats off too everyone who had the courage and the game to
enter and finish!
Otter Classic, Men's 60+ Sport/Expert XC, Laguna Seca, 4/9/06
Harriet and I left Aptos about 6:30AM for Laguna Seca. High clouds but no
rain. We were up early enough to be able to park in the infield rather than
up on Wolf Hill. As I rode around to warm up, I said hello to Grant Stoner and
my racing friends from the Team Big Bear Series.
Ron mixes it up with the other crazies
My 8:35 start included the Sport men 50-54, 55-59 and the combined 60+ Sport/Experts.
By the time we left the track and headed out onto the dirt, we were pretty much
single file. I was in my usual "toward the back" position and determined
to be patient and pace myself. Soon we were on a sweet new downhill single track.
Going downhill early in a race means only one thing ?| uphill next! Trail 50,
another new trail, took us up to the next ridge. This mostly middle ring single
track climb wasn't bad.
Along the next ridge, the trail opened up and I was able to pass and be passed.
Soon we took a sharp right turn down trail 60 ?| also referred to as 'the beach'.
When I first pre-rode the course back when it was fairly dry in February, I'd
dumped it here going down hill in the deep sand. But today, with damp sand,
different tires, less air pressure and staying completely off the brakes, I
was actually able to pass a few riders. Yahoo! Remember, though, going down
hill early in the race means...! At the bottom of trail 60 we crossed Crescent
Bluff Rd and then up a very nice but steep single track, trail 82. I'd rate
this as the toughest climb of the race. I was feeling OK and letting the occasional
single speeder squeeze by. Then comes a tandem, and then another! I have to
let them by ?| these guys are amazing ?| and in costume! As I came up to a switchback,
the two riders ahead are slowing and I see a chance to put my newbie cyclocross
skills to use. I dismount and run around them ?| oops, now I have to remount
going uphill. Luckily it leveled off just enough for me to hop on the saddle
and get going without doing an "Artie Johnson" (Laugh-in tricycle
Some downhill single/double track followed by - you guessed it, a tough middle
chain-ring grind. Up Pilarcitos and Skyline roads to some familiar, nice rolling
single track although going in the opposite direction from the "old" course.
Having pre-ridden the course, I knew as we got to Jack's Road what lay ahead
- the dreaded "Three Bitches" but in reverse. Love that granny gear!
I'd passed both of my Team Big Bear friends earlier but Gordon Gracia, 62, of
Nipomo, had a little more momentum starting up the first "Bitch" and
passed me. Seventy-five percent of the mud on the course was in the next ridge
top single track section with big bog-like wheel/shoe-sucking mud. A hapless
rider in front of me fell in one of these traps and cramped at the same time.
Are we having fun yet??? After a short zoom down another sandy "beach" section,
it was back up our last single track climb. Descending to Jack's Road next for
a little pavement time, I had a chance to grab some nourishment. A little more
single track and we were headed up Skyline Road for the two-plus mile middle
chain ring grind back to the track. I locked out my front suspension, said a
quick prayer to the "Cramp gods", and settled into my best "Hazel
Dell" like effort.
There's a short single track section just before the racetrack and, about
half way through, I realized I'd forgotten to 'unlock' my front suspension.
I was doing ok, though, so just left it locked. There were lots of spectators
yelling encouragement and I actually passed a few riders just before we got
to the racetrack ?| single speeders who were feeling lots of pain. The quarter
mile or so dash to the finish on the racetrack was all a downhill, big ring,
big smile blast. I was 9th (10th last year) of 19 riders in my class. My 2:02:44
for a little over 20 miles was twenty-one minutes behind the winner, Stan Ford
of Temecula, but three minutes ahead of 11th place finisher, Buz Brockway (66
of Granada Hills) my main Team Big Bear Series competition.
Neat course, no crashes, no mechanicals and no rain!
Cruz Classic Criterium, Men Masters 35+ 4/5, Santa Cruz, 4/9/06
Sunday morning I rode over to the Crit knowing I had no legs to do this race
(35+ 4/5). I was going to do the best I could. Well, to make a short story short.
The race started out fast and right then I new I was going to suffer just to
hang on. I found myself at the back and realized that I am in the worst position,
getting the Yo! Yo! effect. Too many laps of this and I am done. There was no
way I could move up and hold a position. I lasted 6 or 7 laps and found myself
in "No Mans Land" O.T.B. I finished the race and sucked it up.
Thanks for reading!
Santa Cruz Classic Criterium,
Men Masters 35+ 4/5, Santa Cruz, 4/9/06
On the Start Line we have Philip Sims, Mike Martin, Steve Hess, LarryMorin,
Matt Wocasek, Dennis Pedersen, Ken Sato, Rob Evans (not Hooptie), and Gary Gogol
on a town bike, complete with huge basket. Gary jokiingly lined up and wanted
to know if his number was correctly placed.
33 Riders are under Starter orders... And they're off for the first of 14
The pack is strung out single file already and one Cycle Sport rider is off
At the end of lap 2, Steve and Philip are in the middle of a strung outpack,
with the remaining Team SC riders entrenched at the back.
Mike Martin chases down an attack
Cycle Sport riders are driving hard, but Mike Martin is hot on his heels,
pulling the entire pack. Team SC is farther up the pack. More riders are off
the back, as the race is taking its toll on the slower riders.
Geoff Gunderson from Cycle Sport attacks with 10 to go and his teammate blocks
in second position.
Gunderson has been swallowed by the pack and Andrew Murray from SJBC has a
slight gap as the bell rings for a next lap prime (sponsored by The Bike Trip!).
Murray just takes the $10 from Keith Defiebre, who tried to catch in a futile
effort. Uh oh, Larry Morin has cracked and is off the back. There are other
riders still behind him, hopefully they can work together?
With 7 to go, Cycle Sports are again on the front with two riders, followed
by the sjbc rider and the pack, which is now whittled down to 20 or so. Larry
Murray has a slight gap with 6 to go, Rob Evans is in the top 6. Larry now
has a couple of riders to work with.
Steve Hess in fifth and it's all together with 5 to go. Other team riders
doing well in the pack, Dennis and Matt looking comfortable on the back.
Larry and co will be lapped soon, as the pack comes through with 4 togo. Mike
Martin looking... retro. No suprise there.
Larry swings wide to allow the pack through, as Ken takes up the pace-making
with three to go. The pack is bunched up.
Two to go, Cycle Sport has three riders on the front and Steve Hess carefully
watches them in fourth.
One to go, Ken in front, followed by a Cycle Sport rider, Steve Hess,and the
rest of a single file pack. Steve's tongue is very pink.
The lead moto crests the last rise, there is one rider in sight, then the
pack swamps him and is all over the road! It's mayhem! Riders are swinging their
bikes all over the place and it looks like a Clif Bar rider Jordi Cortes takes
the sprint, followed closely by a bunch all across the road. All remaining Team
riders "died at the finish" (per Philip) but finished in the main
bunch (sorry Larry).
Waiting for the judges to review the video... Will post full results as soon
as they're available.
Santa Cruz Classic Criterium, Santa Cruz, 4/9/06
This race is the club's only sponsored road race, so there was no way I wouldn't
show up, rain or shine! Fortunately the weather gods smiled on us and while
the weather didn't equal the absolutely perfect conditions we had on Saturday,
it was still pretty nice.
I ate my cooked 10-grain cereal breakfast with coffee, packed my backpack
with gear, and rode my race/commute bike the two miles or so over to Beach Hill.
David Gill, of course, was already there, as were Simone Montez, Mike Evans,
and others I'm sure. My thanks go out to our hard-working crew!
I felt pretty good, and I thought I should take advantage of the proximity
of the race to my house, so I decided to register for the "Category 4" race
as well as the "Masters 35+ 4/5" race for older Cat 4 and 5 guys like
me. I got two race numbers and carefully labelled the back of each with the
Men's Category 4 Race
Mark Patten is easy to spot
At the start area I was told I'd pinned on the wrong race number. Hmmmm...
I could have sworn... oh well. Around me I could see a small field of only 20
riders. Mark Patten was the only guy I recognized. But my brother-in-law Steve
was there to cheer me on; I believe this was the first bike race he ever watched,
and he really seemed to enjoy it!
We set a pretty fast pace right from the start, though I couldn't tell if
it was a specific team pushing the pace, or just some fast individuals. This
was a 50-minute race, so we had our work cut out for us. It was great hearing
the scattered cheers of "go Santa Cruz," or "go Dennis!"
Lap cards were displayed prominently, and I could hear the announcer very
clearly, so I knew exactly where we stood in the race at all times. There weren't
a lot of attacks, but there were a few minor attempts at softening up the field.
I made no effort to counter any of them, except to close one minor gap that
formed on Laurel Street. We had one prime sprint that I didn't have any intention
of contesting, though others did and forced the pace up as a result.
As I did last year, I used the downhill after the hairpin turn to rest almost
every lap, and found I could recover in time for the climbs up 3rd Avenue. I
think I'm always worried, though, that I'll blow up at the wrong moment and
get dropped, so I always try to keep a good reserve. Maybe this worry is a vestige
of races like Patterson Pass where maxing out pretty much meant that the next
attack would kill me!
Speaking of the hairpin: In one lap I was approaching it on the right edge
of the group when a rider from Central Valley Cycling rode up on my right and
called out "inside." No big deal, usually. But shortly after that
it was clear he had under-estimated the extra braking required by the tighter
line, shouted something to the effect that he'd lost it, and started to press
into me. I pressed back just a little, so as not to over-compensate, but still
ended up putting my right foot down and popping my front wheel off the ground.
He shot through the pack and onto the sidewalk but mostly managed to stay upright.
Fortunately the field was small so there weren't too many riders behind us who
would slam into us. He apologized later, but I told him not to worry about it;
these things happen. Mark later told me it was "fun to watch." I guess
racing in RAAM forces your mind to look for entertainment where it can find
Matt is already in trouble...
maybe for looking too fast!
In the last couple of laps the fast pace kept me from being fresh for the
final sprint but I tried anyway. Since the group was small and the course very
wide at the finish there weren't too many wheels to follow and the wind became
a big issue. I really huffed and puffed up the hill on 3rd Avenue, but couldn't
produce much added power, even though I still had some room left according to
my heart-rate monitor. Odd. Still, I wasn't too far behind and got 13th place.
I was pretty happy with that!
I had a little time to get ready for my next race, and chat with Larry Morin,
Matt Wocasek, Philip Sims and surprise-entrant Mike Martin as they arrived in
turn. Doug Smith and Gary Gogol were also on hand to get us psyched. This race
had an awesome club turnout just like last year's! Philip pointed out that Matt
had been the fastest at the latest Swanton Road Time Trial, so he felt we should
try to work for Matt. Cool, I like to hear that kind of thinking!
Men's Masters 35+ 4/5 Race
This race had a bigger field, with 32 riders, including Mark Patten again,
plus Rob Evans and Robbie Abundis who I never did spot. Long-time club friend
Steve Hess, with a Bicycle Trip jersey and Team Santa Cruz shorts, also lined
up. Apparently David has been working on him, and this symbolized him being
in both camps. My wife Margaret watched me race this one, just like last year,
so I now had two family members cheering for me!
The start was just as fast as before. This race had more attacks than my first
one, and we had to chase down one pretty serious break for at least a full lap.
Mark Patten did almost all of the leading in our chase group. I thanked him
for his hard work later! But so did Mike.
We team members mostly kept quiet in the pack and tried to save energy. Apparently
Larry dropped back, and later told me he hadn't recovered fully from the tough
Sea Otter Circuit Race held on the previous Friday. I again ignored the prime
sprint they announced, but did shoot to the very front a couple of times on
the downhill, even just while coasting. Clearly the other riders were saving
their energy here too. One guy in a solid yellow jersey lost his chain on Laurel
Street and had to drop back, but rejoined us later. Keep him in mind for later...
Philip and Dennis, with Mark
We soon had another prime sprint announced, or so I thought. The Velo Promo
web site didn't list the total race durations, only the start times. I'd mistakenly
assumed this race was also 50 minutes, but it was actually only about 30 minutes.
I hadn't heard the announcer call out laps like he did in the first race, and
I hadn't bothered to look for the lap cards because I thought we still had 20
minutes of racing to go... I was in for a rude surprise!
On Pacific Avenue Philip said something to Matt that I didn't quite hear.
Apparently it didn't involve me, but I asked Matt what was up. He said they
were going to try to get him up to the front. That seemed like a neat plan;
sometimes prime sprints result in a slow-down just after the start/finish line
and that can make it a great place to launch a coordinated attack. Cool! But
they weren't asking for my help which was a little puzzling. Perhaps Philip
thought we should sacrifice Matt? Hmmmm... I didn't have enough oxygen in my
brain to make sense of it.
Larry stylin' (Doug Smith)
After the last turn on that lap I finally figured out it was our last lap!
The announcer's frenzied voice made that pretty clear. Oops! It was a little
late to jump, but I really wasn't in any better of a position than in the last
race anyway, so I suppose I lost little and I kept the leaders in sight at least.
Remember that guy in the yellow jersey? He was just behind me and to my right
when he again lost his chain while trying to sprint with us. This time, though,
he slammed down so hard on his pedals that he flipped over onto the pavement
flat on his back and with his bike on top of him. Ugh! It turned out Mike Martin
was right behind him and barely missed him.
Philip, Larry and Steve cool down
While I was straining at the bottom of the hill I noticed a guy on a Cervelo
ride by me; only later did I realize it was Rob on his way to an awesome 4th
place! As for Philip and Matt, Philip was too worn out to offer any help to
Matt and so Matt just forged ahead on his own to a nice 17th place. Steve and
I ended up in 20th or 21st (it seems scoring couldn't make sense of our numbers),
Philip in 22nd, Mike in 24th, Robbie in 26th, and Larry in 28th.
After the race we chatted a little, but nobody had much to say about our results.
Plus, I had to hurry off to get ready to work as a course marshall. Still, it
had been pretty cool to be out there on our home field, with friends and family
rootin' for us.
Rob Evans suited up for the first time in a team jersey for the Cat 5 race
and finished with another great spot: 2nd place this time! Eric Clarkson also
raced in Cat 5 and did very well with a 6th place. We have some amazing new
talent in the club; I only hope we can do right by them.
Larry Hibbard brought a mountain-
bike to a road race... and did fine!
I worked the end of the Master's 35+ 1/2/3 race, and it was pretty exciting.
Some of them were guys I raced against at Patterson Pass. Larry Hibbard raced
his mountain-bike with worn-down mud tires, finishing mid-pack! I love the final
image I took with me from that race: a guy way back from the finishers up ahead,
spent, but loudly cheering the victory of the team-mate he had worked so hard
The Women's 1/2/3 race was very different from the men's races, as usual.
I've noticed they always seem to split up more than the men. Sometimes the women
cheer each other on, but not this time for some reason.
I didn't enjoy the Men's Pro/1/2 race as much as last year's, except for a
few incidents. One being when local Cal Giant guy Chaba got a little too excited
and started chasing down a four-man break his team-mate had joined. At the hairpin
turn another Giant rider had to yell at him, and I quote: "Chaba! Stop
pedalling!" It started sprinkling lightly during this race, and a crash
in that turn by one of the riders in the break later killed the break, except
for Karl Menzies, Health Net, who, amazingly, turned it into a successful solo
break with about 13 miles to go. OK, maybe it was pretty cool after all!
Meanwhile, on the dirt of Laguna Seca, other team members were competing at
the Sea Otter Classic. Last year these races didn't conflict, but we all had
to choose between them this time. Grant Stoner finished 61st out of no less
than 105 riders. There may have been others, but they'll have to let us know
how they did!
Sea Otter Classic Circuit Road Race, Laguna Seca, 4/7/06
I left my house a little before 9:00 a.m. Weather seems to be holding out
as I drove down highway one south to Monterey. I entered the 40+ Cat 5 race,
with a field of a hundred registered racers. Arrived and was directed to a parking
area out in the back forty, boondocks. Was forced to park my van on a grassy
hillside. There was no way I was going to warm up using my trainer on this hilly
grass. I suited up and decided to find registration and then find some roads
to warm up on.
While warming up, I ran into Ben Shank (Family Cycling) and Eric Clarkson
(SCCC), both were entering the Elite 5 race at noon. We decided to head towards
the track and do a couple of warm up laps. I felt good going into this race,
was well rested. This course was a eye opener to say the least, 320 feet of
elevation gain, with 2.25 miles per lap. The climb began with a long sweeping
left turn to a long straight upward climb, only to be fooled be a false summit
leading to an additional wall, (I thought to myself this is going to be
a bitch). We immediately descended into the famous swooping "Cork screw." Man
Oh! Man Oh! This was worth the climb! You went from 5 mph to 50 mph within seconds.
Cool! I should be able to catch on the descent if I get dropped. The rest of
the course was a fast, rolling and very turny to the start/finish line.
I headed to the start line to get a good position close to the front. The
fields were huge! All the Cat 5s were lined up to start, Elite 5, 30+ Cat 5,
40+ Cat 5, 50+ and the 60+. We were going to go off in 4-minute increments.
I looked around to see if I knew anybody. Everybody looked like they were pros,
am I in the Cat 5 race? Dan Palmer from the Spokesman Team lined up right behind
me, along with Mark Fuss to my right. I was way up front and glad, because the
climb was going to be a struggle.
We were given instruction and we were off... cool. The race started out brisk
to the base of the climb. I was up front and hiding behind about ten riders,
watching Dan Palmer pushing the pace. I felt good sitting where I was in case
the pace increased before the descent, knowing I could jump on some 90 riders
behind me. We crested the top of the climb dropping off into the Roller Coaster "Cork
Screw," I was glued to the riders in front of me. We were screaming down
this section much faster than in my warm ups and I was thinking, "Holy
shit, that was Freaken fast" (thank god it wasn't raining), this is where
the race was going to be won. The pack was spilt in two on the first lap and
I was surprised. I sat in comfortably behind mid pack and wasn't going to put
my nose in the wind at all. I held my spot every lap and was confident I could
hang onto the climb, as long as I didn't do anything stupid. Every lap was getting
tougher/faster on the climb. It was getting difficult to hold my position on
every lap and finding myself fading, close to the back of the pack (feeling
the pressure). We were going into the 6th lap when there was an attack at the
base of the climb. Shit! I could feel my legs seizing up and riders passing
me, hoping I wouldn't get left behind, OTB. I was digging deep to hang on over
the top. Cresting the top, I was with one other rider and I knew I was in trouble.
I grabbed his wheel and was praying we would catch on the descent. We were joined
by ten other riders and managed to catch the main pack just before the start/finish.
I was done/shot when we closed the gap and thought there is no way I can hang
on for one more lap. Going into the final lap I could see several riders feeling
the same way I was, fading. Approaching the base of the final climb there was
an attack that just tore the field in pieces. I could see Dan Palmer (Spokesman)
riding away from the pack with a few riders trying to hang on. I crawled up
the climb with 6 other riders and was just surviving the ordeal. I rode in and
crossed the finish with one other rider. I was reflecting on the last climb/attack.
There was nothing I could do different, maybe steroids? Dan Palmer won the race
with his heroic move, congratulation Dan, "Good job." I placed 42nd
out of 100 starters.
On the drive home I was thinking about the race and was stoked that I raced
and at the same time disappointed that I wasn't able to hang on. I'll keep on
entering and get that experience.
I woke up the next morning and went out on the Saturday ride to stretch out
my tired legs. I turned around at Manresa Beach, because I knew I had the Santa
Cruz Crit on Sunday.
Ronde Van Brisbeen, Brisbane, 4/2/06
This is a two-day "Omnium," as the race organizers call it, which
is really just a two-stage stage race:
A two day, two stage Omnium format. Race one day or both days, and the combined
results will be used to declare an Omnium Winner.
I decided to only enter Stage 1, but Larry Morin and Rob Evans entered both
The Stage 1 course is described in detail on the Pilarcitos
web site. But to summarize, it's 1.7 miles of pretty decent pavement that
loops around a mostly green area, with condos and light industry on the periphery.
They converted the street to one-way traffic so the inside lane could be used
for the race, but regular traffic could still use the outside lane. The course
is on a gently sloping hillside, so it goes downhill, then back uphill, with
each lap. There are some fast turns, and one tight turn that they lined with
haybales... a good thing it turned out!
The weather was actually pretty decent that morning. I'd worried I'd be racing
in soaking wet conditions, and I did drive through a few very local showers
on the drive up, but it stayed dry at the race course the whole day. I arrived
at about 11:00, which gave me plenty of time to warm up.
Larry and Rob had already raced, in Cat 5, and Rob told me he'd crashed into
those haybales on the first lap after somebody over-corrected in the middle
of the fast turn, and forced him to swing wide. Larry later told me he'd seen "some
guy" crash there, but didn't realize it was Rob until I told him! Cyclists
all start to look the same after a while, so I can understand that. Besides,
Rob doesn't wear a Team Santa Cruz jersey. Rob managed to catch up after one-and-a-half
laps of hard work, but then got blocked for the final sprint. Larry flatted
and had to abandon after five laps.
The Masters 35+ 4/5 field was pretty big (we had 52 finishers anyway), and
as we lined up I did my usual scan to see what teams were present. Peninsula
Velo had maybe ten riders (!), San Jose Bicycle Club had a large presence too,
and there were many other teams. Mark Patton of Newman's Own was there again...
we seem to go for the same races. But I was a lone wolf-in-team-clothing.
As soon as our race started my wheel magnet started banging against the sensor...
it had been fine just seconds ago. Thwap, thwap, until I managed to reach down
and twist it out of the way, but it occasionally shifted anough to start banging
again during the race. It had never been a problem until that moment. What rotten
The drop down from the start line was fast, with an S-turn, but nothing too
tricky, and I could usually keep up with the peloton just by getting into my
aerodynamic tuck; no pedalling necessary! The pack spread out every time we
went through that turn with the hay bales, but it wasn't too hard to close the
gaps on the section after it. We usually had a pretty tight group heading up
the long, gentle climb back up to the finish line.
The wind seemed to be swirling through the valley, and I swear we had a headwind
the entire time, so keeping tight was the way to go... no chance of breaks having
much luck. But after one-and-a-half laps we did have a three-man break form
off the front. They managed to maintain a slight gap, maybe 50-100 feet, for
about a lap before we easily swallowed them up. This was immediately followed
by a big Los Gatos rider trying his hand at a solo break, which was clearly
suicidal, though he did manage to stay off the front for a good part of a lap.
The pace was pretty fast those first few laps, but nothing too bad, and then
we settled in for the long haul. I did see a close call when a rider crossed
wheels with some guy on an old steel bike, but he somehow managed to stay upright...
many jokes about soiled shorts ensued!
I ended up covering several minor attacks later on, which you kind of have
to when you're alone. At one point the peloton split the long way, and through
this gap I spotted a rider in Thomas Weisel Painting shorts taking a long hard
look back at us. He promptly drilled it up the hill—he must not have been
too impressed with what he saw! But I shot through the gap and grabbed his wheel,
as another rider tried to join us on what he must have hoped would be a break
I guess. But this lasted all of maybe 15 seconds, and I had no intention of
trying to pace-line with these two guys for the rest of the race! We settled
back in, and I practiced my energy-saving techniques.
On the last two laps the pace shot up pretty hard. I noticed that Peninsula
Velo had a huge presence at the front. It's amazingly hard to pull that off!
I said to an Alto Velo rider "watch out for Peninsula Velo!" On the
last lap I had to work hard even on the downhill to maintain contact with the
leaders... some of them, perhaps Peninsula Velo, must have been attacking hard.
Rounding the last sharp turn at the base of the final climb, I was really straining,
and a quick check showed that my heart rate was at 190 bpm. Ugh! I felt maxed
out, and that confirmed it! Unfortunately, many of the other guys still had
just enough oomph to be able to gap me, and I was soon fighting a headwind uphill.
There were plenty of other stragglers to join me though, and I ended up in 35th
out of 52 finishers. That surprised me as the group ahead of me looked about
half that size to me. Wishful thinking maybe.
I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise when I tell you that a Peninsula Velo
rider won my race... certainly they had enough team members to eliminate any
excuses! This also highlights, for me, the value of working as a team. But at
this level of racing it's very hard to get a team that can work together that
well. It's too common to have different ability levels, different commitment
levels, and different opinions about the value of teamwork get in the way. As
a counter-point, my friend Rob Jensen, of Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club, started
the Cat 3 race with a large team dedicated to helping their two designated sprinters
win. But on the final lap the two sprinters were alone at the front because
the other Los Gatos riders had all been dropped. Different teams, different
Hopefully Larry or Rob can provide a report on Stage 2, as it was an interesting
course I'm told. Rob finished 2nd on Stage 2, for 6th overall. Good job!
MTB Series Race 4, Fort Ord, 3/26/06
My first bike race ever was the Sea Otter Cross Country, about 10 years ago,
and I still enjoy hitting the dirt. I had intended to race the entire CCCX series
this year, but I missed the first three for various reasons. I was determined
not to miss the remaining ones.
The weather has been so wet this month, old rainfall records have been broken.
Fortunately, the weather was really nice on race day. That morning I had time
to go out for a pancake breakfast with my wife before driving off and making
her a racing widow. I had everything loaded into the car so I'd be all ready
Grant, Dennis and Ron at the start line (Harriet Riley)
When I arrived at Fort Ord, I quickly signed up in Sport Men, 45-54 (first
time for me; geez, I am getting old!), and discovered David had somehow managed
to arrange a $5 discount for the first three team members who registered! Grant
Stoner and Ron Riley got the other two discounts (they entered Sport 35-44 and
Sport 55+ respectively). New member Eric Thunstrom must have arrived later,
and entered Sport Singlespeed. I still haven't met Eric; must try. Mark Edwards
also entered, in Expert 45-54, but I didn't even know this until the day after.
Maybe we should bring the team awning for us to assemble under... we just need
a volunteer with room to transport it! It was a bummer that Philip, Mike, Mike,
Matt, Norman and Larry didn't race again as they did last year, but injuries
and other priorities got in the way.
Grant, Ron and Harriet, and I all chatted a little, but soon it was time to
get ready for the 11:00 Sport/Clydesdale start. I ditched my leg warmers and
windbreaker since the weather was so perfect. Unusually for me, I brought two
water bottles, one with an energy drink because I think that I may sometimes
run out of steam with only straight water. I hadn't even ridden my mountain-bike
in months, but everything seemed to be in good repair, mostly. The headset is
a little loose (the bearings are shot), and the front derailleur is worn so
it rattles a bit. We lined up by age groups, like usual, and were told that
the race scheduled for May 6th was cancelled, but two more had been added for
the summer. Then we were sent off a few minutes after the younger, 35-44 age
Dennis dicing it up (Harriet Riley)
My group stayed fairly tight as we rode up the paved start section into a
headwind. I drafted behind the leader as we neared the start of the dirt, but
a few guys shot ahead. I then followed them and was near the front as we hit
the trail. One guy, who ended up winning the race, shot off the front and slowly
pulled away from the rest of us. I resisted the temptation to try to hang with
him, as my heart rate was well into zone 4, and instead drafted some other hapless
guy. Though the wind wasn't strong it was enough to make drafting an advantage,
and for the whole race I would always draft a little before passing guys. I
tried to keep track of guys in my group, but we soon started to overtake slower
riders from the previous group, and the jerseys started to blur together a little.
After the first lap I caught Grant on the pavement. On the loop-back section
after that I saw Ron pedalling along.
Ron's turn; note that he's just
passed a younger rider from
my group! (Harriet Riley)
The course was similar to last year's, and even the recent rain hadn't had
much effect on it, due to the sandy soil. There were a few big mud puddles,
but the trails were mostly in perfect shape. The poison oak seemed to like the
conditions too. I'd forgotten what a beating a mountain-bike race can inflict
on my body, and I started to hurt in places like my hands, shoulders, and lower
back. My long-sleeved jersey was a little too warm, so I unzipped it. In one
turn that I kept trying to late-apex, I nearly lost control when I went slightly
wide at the entry and caught some soft turf. I also started wheezing a little
at one point. Dang; I was getting tired! But I managed to keep my heart rate
over an impressive, for me, 180 bpm most of the race! I think my sprint training
is starting to pay off with a higher lactate threshold and VO2max.
New member Eric Thunstrom
on his single-speed cyclocross
bike (Harriet Riley)
At one point I was drafting the guy I was fairly sure was in 3rd in my group,
and I passed him before the finish area. Race organizer Keith called out that
we were 3rd and 4th. Cool! On lap 2, I think, a rider came up behind me on the
paved section, and started powering past me. I, of course, drafted him, and
near the crest of the hill just before the dirt started I shot past him. Take
that! On lap 3 the same thing happened, except I didn't let him catch me. Then,
on the dirt section, I looked back and saw that his number started with a 2.
Oh, that meant he wasn't in my group! I asked him if he was in the 35-44 group,
but he replied that he was a clydesdale: ugh, I don't like getting caught by
clydesdales; it's embarrasing! He said "if it makes you feel any better
I'm 42 years old." Uh, yeah, ya' punk: I happily volunteered that I was
45! He asked me to name each member of the Beatles, which was easy, even in
the middle of a race! I let him get by me as I couldn't even see anybody in
front of me. Later another guy came up behind me, on the last lap, and called
out something I couldn't quite make out. This made me lose focus, and I nearly
lost control again and ended up with rug-burn in my crotch from working to stay
upright. As we neared the finish line I decided to sprint by him, just in case
he was in my group. Turned out he was another clydesdale who was telling me
he was trying to catch the other clydesdale who passed me earlier.
Grant on the downhill
section near the finish
line (Harriet Riley)
My race ended up being about 1-1/2 hour long. The official
results show me a bit over four minutes back, in 3rd place out of 17, so
I got another medal to add to my very small collection! Grant finished in 21st
out of 30, Ron was 2nd out of three, Mark was 4th out of 10 in spite of flatting
near the end, and Eric was 4th out of 14. What an awesome race.
Orosi Road Race, 3/25/06
Well I would say that the race conditions were, less than optimal. The rain
started out 15 minutes prior to the race start, there ended up being only 6
people with me in the cat 5 race. The course was a beautiful 28 mile loop through
the Sierra Nevada foot hills, but with the poor condition of the roads, stray
cows, cattle guard, and some national level time trialer in my group, it ended
up being a somewhat tough 4 hour-60 mile-4,000 feet of climbing. I ended up
getting third, and getting a little exposure in my fingers and toes, and had
to throw away my socks and I might need to get new shoes, but it was a great
experience! If they repave the road (so the rattling won't loosen my crank arm
again!) it would be a great race!
8th Annual 2006 Kovarus Monterey Circuit Race, Fort Ord, 3/12/06
I really don't like the way people spit out the word "excuses" as
if it leaves a bad taste in their mouths... I prefer to use the much more polite
word "reasons!" OK, I'm just joking; feel free to call them whatever
you want... just be warned that I will be discussing "reasons" here!
I pre-registered for this race weeks in advance to avoid the disappointment
of missing out due to full fields, as happened at the Snelling Road Race. This
was long before several issues arose; issues like my knee hurting after riding
home from work two weeks previously. I decided to take some time off the bike,
just to be safe. You can't be too safe when you're 45 years old! Ususally I'd
just take a week off while popping ibuprofen, but that week was followed by
a week in New York to watch my niece perform in a Broadway play. Ergo, two weeks
off before this race with no riding. That's not ideal! All I had time for was
a short ride after work on Friday to adjust my derailleur and check my knee's
condition: all was well.
Larry Morin had also pre-registered. I thought it would be fun to join him
in the 45+ Category 4/5 race, hoping it would be more relaxed than my humbling
experience at the Patterson Pass Road Race with the
open 45+ maniacs. It turned out that new member Eric Clarkson and hopefully-soon-to-join
Rob Evans were also entering the race; in the open 4/5 and 35+ 4/5 races respectively.
Mark Edwards from Bicycle Trip was in our race. Awesome turnout from the locals!
On race day I woke up at 3:41 and couldn't get back to sleep. This isn't that
unusual for me, alas. And this was after only four hours of sleep following
a fancy in-home catered dinner at a friend's house that involved some incredible
vintage wines that had even been cellared properly. If you know your wines you'll
understand why I couldn't pass up the wine when I drop names like Williams Selyem,
Rocchioli and Nuits Saint Georges! Usually I would just have abstained, but
now you know more about my priorities in life. The alarm woke me up at 5:00,
so apparently I did get in a few more winks. Hey, my new secret weapon (which
I'm now rethinking in view of my performance later... just kidding!) is a breakfast
of cooked 10-grain cereal with blackstrap molasses, flax oil and a sliced banana,
plus OJ, and lots of coffee. I think the 10-grain cereal works so well because
it has a huge variety of grains that all rank differently on the glycemic index
for an energy time-release.
Driving down to Fort Ord's East Garrison, same race course as at the CCCX
race we entered in January, I had some misgivings. Piles of hail left over
from Friday night's massive storm were still evident along the freeway, in
spite of the cold rain drenching the dark landscape. Not too inviting! When
I arrived at the race site I noted that the temperature was only 37 degrees...
with rain! That's pretty unusual around here; we usually just get one without
the other. The registration awnings were spewing rain runoff, but Sunnyvale-Cupertino
Cycling Club had provided an incredible spread of delicious-looking goodies
from Noah's Bagels and Hobee's. Really awesome, but I had already eaten.
Waiting for the race to start I got to meet Rob and Eric, and Larry joined
us later. There was no discussion of team tactics; three riders had been insufficient
last time, and two would definitely not work, especially since I was certain
I'd lost some speed with my time off the bike. Some guys brought trainers and
warmed up in the abandoned army buildings, out of the rain. I'd brought an assortment
of clothes since I didn't know quite what to expect. Fortunately the rain stopped
a few minutes before our race, and I decided what to wear: my warmest gloves,
shorts with leg warmers covered in turn by fleece-lined tights, thick shoe covers,
and a long-sleeved fleece-lined jersey covered by my thickest jacket and my
Our field was surprisingly large: about 30 riders, including several teams.
The race start was nice and slow as riders felt out the course, and remained
so for perhaps three laps. The course was soaked, and we got sprayed by each
other's tires, but not by any real rain. It was pretty windy out of the south-east,
and when the sun made a brief appearance we could see snow on nearby hills.
I wasn't feeling strong, but I was doing OK.
At about 20 minutes the pace picked up, and I started gasping a little on
some of the climbs. A few riders got dropped. I started really concentrating
on using some of the energy-saving tricks discussed in Thomas Prehn's racing
tactics book. Things like starting climbs near the front of the pack and letting
myself lose some places, then using the descents to catch back up. Trying to
carry more speed down the descent leading up to the big climb, without pedaling,
to get a running start. Maintaining momentum through turns instead of tapping
the brakes and having to jump to catch back up on the exits. That sort of thing.
Seemed to be working fine.
Then, at about 45 minutes into the race, while we were climbing up the back
straight, the group started to surge a bit. Nothing dramatic, just enough to
put my heart rate near maximum. A gap started to form ahead of me, and even
though there was a short descent ahead I knew that I had to maintain a reserve
for the tough climb right after that. The result was that I was suddenly at
the front of a chase group, or maybe we were even a gruppeto... I'm not sure
how many of us got dropped. Oh, did I just say "dropped?" Yeah, I
guess I did! The front group of about 10 or 15 riders just powered off into
the distance, snapping that invisible aerodynamic cord that had allowed us to
maintain contact with them. And I was the breaking point!
Fortunately Larry was also in the gruppetto and we were able to work together
to at least finish the race and avoid getting lapped. Larry ending up doing
most of the pulling since every time I pulled I got blown out pretty quickly.
Thanks Larry! Still, I tried to do my part. When I think of working as a team
I don't usually think of it in terms of avoiding total defeat, but I guess that
happens sometimes. I had plenty of time to consider the "reasons" I
was in that situation. Reasons like drinking too much good wine the night before
instead of carbo-loading. Or flying off to the big apple instead of staying
home and training. Mind you, I have no regrets... I just like to be aware of
how one decision affects other aspects of my life.
We finished with a total time of about 1:30. Average speed was 18.1 mph over
almost 29 miles. Mark Edwards ended up in second after getting snaked just before
the finish. Way to go Mark! Here's Mark's race in his own words:
I think you can relate, before each race I always have a strategy going in.
Up until yesterday, I've always had these well thought out and detailed plans
on the start line. Then when the whistle would blow, my plans would go out
the window and it would be purely survival. Yesterday, for the first time,
I was actually able to execute my plan. Basically I was planning to push the
long hill, then sit in the rest of the lap (with the occasional pull to keep
my heart rate up). I had hoped to slowly, each lap, cause a little damage on
the hill. It worked perfect, the last time I hit the hill I took it up a notch
and the lead group of 7 became 2. In hindsight, I easily had another gear,
but I hadn't anticipated dropping the group. If I could do it over I would
have cranked it up on the last climb and attempted to solo in. As it was I
waited for one other guy at the hairpin turn, feeling we'd have to work together
to hold off the chase group. Turns out he sat on my wheel, unwilling (or possibly
unable) to take a pull, and then came around me 50 yards from the finish -
live and learn!
I'm glad Mark's plan worked so well, I'm just not so glad that Larry and I
were among the resulting casualties! Larry and I hung out to watch the next
race, but when the cold rain started again we both took off for the warmth of
our homes... and a long nap for me. As I drove away from the race site I noted
that the temperature had climbed... way up to 38 degrees! And the dark clouds
started pouring rain down on the racers. Poor bastards.
By the way, Eric's race went really well... not bad for a first-timer!
The race actually went really well, one of my friends who raced in womens
35+ caught a ride home early and left me her car, so that worked out well.
I got fifteenth overall (not bad for my first bike race) a good friend of mine
told me to sit up if I was sprinting for anyhting less than 8th to avoid crashes,
so I guess I would have been in the top 10 if I had pushed it, but I am happy
with how I did. I actually won the first prime so I got $20 afterwards, which
was nice, and I almost got the second one. It was good to meet you guys, hopefully
we will all be in the same race some time.
Rob had some bad luck though:
Crashed during the first lap in the hairpin turn. Chased back on and stayed
at the front until cracking on the last hill of the penultimate lap after which
I could not continue the race.
I've never regretted entering a race, and this is no exception. We had a lot
of fun, believe it or not, got to practice pacelining, and I started rebuilding
my speed. Soon I'll be back, and hopefully faster than ever! By the way, my
wife and I had planned on having dinner at the Crow's Nest with my family that
evening, but they were all trapped over the hill by yet another snow storm on
the summit. Crazy weather!
County Line Jamboree #8, February 25, 2006
The single speed classic dubbed by Stella Carey as the "World's Stupidest
Bike Race," is a race, on one speed bikes only, from the northern boundary
of Santa Cruz County and Highway 1 to the southern at the Pajaro River (on the
beach). The course starts on the highway for about ten miles, goes onto the
railroad tracks at Davenport all the way through Santa Cruz, Live Oak and Capitola
and then features about ten miles of beach (an eternity), from New Brighton
to the river--40 or so miles.
Down to Bizness
This year there were a few less riders than last—about 55 or so. Less
hoopties and drag; although there were some sweet getups: David Gill had me
fooled for time in his high-fashion sweat suit, aviator glasses, headband, mustache
and special haircut—just legit enough to completely throw everyone off,
well, me at least. The big boys came to play, professional rider and new emigrant,
Barry Wicks and his buddy, Carl Decker, I think it was, but I'm not completely
sure. In any case, the pros had folks exclaiming that this had gotten "too
serious"—although Barry Wicks and Co. certainly didn't take things
at all seriously. The usual local all stars were there too, mostly: two-time
defending National Cyclocross Champion, Justin Robinson, two-time World Single
Speed Champ, Stella Carey, Hilary Daniels, local frame builder and course mastermind,
Tall Rick Hunter, Aaron Kereluk, 24-hour single-speed specialist, Sean Sullivan,
SF's own DFL club, The Bike Church guys, and even other Oregonians who are not
professional cyclists but friendly enough folk. No directions this year, just
peeing and smoking blunts at the county line in the bushes and a gradual roll
out around 12:30 p.m. to coincide with low tide.
Now last year we took off like gangbusters with a raging tailwind and DFL
chick bare-breasted salute. This year was downright civil: no flashing, no breaks,
no crashes, just a headwind-inspired trip to the tracks. Of course when he hit
the tracks everything went crazy: Kereluk is a strong man and thinking cyclist,
he led the way and the rest of us tried to follow. I suppose it's noteworthy
to mention at this point that in honor of the World's Stupidest Bike Race I
performed the World's Stupidest Crash the evening before. You think you've had
a totally lame pile in? I'll see you and raise you one. All jazzed to go for
my second ride on Phillip Sims' secret-single-speed weapon (a beautiful Hunter
with super-trick parts, seriously the best-riding mtb I've ever been on) I had
it leaned against a stump in my yard. Time to go, I went for my combo le mans/cross
mount and ran up behind it, planted a foot on the stump and jumped on the bike.
No problem, I do this stupid stuff all the time. This time my hands missed the
bars and my butt missed the seat. If you ride cross you know one has a lot of
momentum on bike mounts and coming off the height of the stump really increased
the force of me flying over the bike and driving straight down into the ground
while my shin scraped the bars, the stem went into my ribs, and the end of the
bars went into my thigh. Of course I immediately jumped up and tried to play
it off—even though nobody was there to witness the hilarity. Needless
to say by the end of my ride my shin had a bump about three-quarters the size
of my knee and the bruised ribs were starting to make themselves known. Too
lame for words.
So I was in a bit of pain from the night before and realizing I had picked
the wrong gear. Memories of last year's spinning out on the highway in a 2:1
had overclouded how nice that ratio was for the tracks and beach. Totally over-geared
(in a 36x16), and a little beaten up, I had trouble staying with the first group
on the tracks any time we lost momentum. After some of the usual hilarity with
people getting stuck on the "wrong side of the tracks," or on not-so-fast
shortcuts through the stinkiest farm access roads ever, a front group took shape
with los Pros, Aaron, Justin, a nice guy named Josh, Patrick from DFL, and another
local badass whose name I should know, but don't (and who would've won according
to the ever-humble Justin, had he not flatted just before the beach—for
the second time in three years no less). Rod of Central Coast Cyclocross promoter
fame and I managed to bridge up on a smooth section of side road dropping Sully
in the process. (Sully had an impressive 5th place at the Old Pueblo 24 hours
race last weekend in Tucson and was probably feeling the effects.) Thank god
we got on and they let up a little. It was great to follow Wicks and his bro
and reassuring when they had trouble too. But alas, dropped again. I'd get back
on where I could turn the big meat and hosed anytime it was too soft. This dropping
and getting back on became a real pattern with carnage starting to set in—Patrick
lost his chain trying to scurry across Bay St. and not get hit (a nice Fred
Flintsone save!), Aaron flatted coming out of Santa Cruz—just as I had
caught him on the Boardwalk trestle—as did said local badass, and the
pros, well they decided to turn back, and in a total Oregonian move (draw your
own conclusions) to take a picture with some graffiti writers. Tourists.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping
So Justin was off by himself deserted, meanwhile I took up the chase. The
tracks through the eastside and Capitola inspired good feelings and words of
encouragement to Josh and Rod. Rod and I hit the beach and he didn't want to
play so it was the mind-fuck section with only Justin's track and a completely
insurmountable lead. I knew what I was in for this year and settled in for one
long hour of sand riding fun. Still it's a haul and I was glad to see Justin
lying on the banks of the Pajaro River after making it through the runoff sections
(nice to rinse the farm sludge off with clearer contaminated water), a few soft
parts, and the occasional dog or kid fun. Justin had been there "three
or four minutes" (probably more like five or six). Rick Hunter came in
a bit later having fixed a flat and taken a shortcut(?) riding the rocks/beach
starting in Capitola. Los Pros were next popping wheelies and exclaiming, "That's
a lot of beach." Then in small groups folks finished and made their way
back to the Sunset State Beach parking lot.
Good luck for the Idiot
While I hate to take second at the expense of flats and disinterest, so it
Next year, biotches.
Pie Criterium, Santa Rosa, 2/4/06
So, I should've known better than to ride in the Santa Rosa crit. At first
they said the Cat 4 and 5's would be seperate, but in the end they combined
us into a giant 75 rider mass... the course was very short with 5 corners that
lots of the newbs were having a hard time navigating without veering every which
way... so I tried to stick to the first quarter of the pack up front, which
I did for most of the race. This was the first race I got bumped multipile times
because people couldn't stay in line on the corner, it was surprisingly not
very scary and I didn't worry too much... then in the final lap, coming up on
the last corner (but still on a straight away), some guy gets bumped by his
teamate and falls down like a sack of bricks, and in a split second he takes
me down, not sure exactly what happened I think I went over the handle bars
and took the impact on my back + ass + back of head, and then I proceeded to
get bike after bike of the massive pack into the back of my head and neck, OUCH,
it felt like an eternity that people were hitting me... finally it was over
and all I could feel was pain and and shock, a rider came back around who happened
to be a fire fighter and he wouldn't let me move my head until the ambulance
came over... so, I got a trip to the hospital for pelvic xrays and checked out
fine... after a bunch of ibuprofen i'm feeling pretty good, and surprised I'm
in such good condition, I think I got a spinal readjustment and a sore brain,
my helmet got fractured. I'm glad I had my helmet on tight, I remember landing
on it with the full weight of my noggin, first time I've ever taken one to the
head in a bike accident. My front wheel got mangled, but for the most part that
appears to be the extent of the damage. I should be riding in no time...
Road Circuit Race, Fort Ord, 2/4/06
The weather was unappetizing that morning, but while my wife and I were having
an appetizing breakfast at the Capitola Wharf House on the end of the wharf,
it looked like the drizzle we were getting didn't reach as far south as Fort
Ord. I'd already decided to go regardless, it wasn't all that cold (maybe mid-50s),
and I was really looking forward to it because it looked like we might have
five Team Santa Cruz riders for this race! But Brij Lunine ended up having a
meeting that day, and Matt Wocasek called me just as I was about to leave and
told me he raced the 35+ 4/5 race in the morning instead. So, we ended up with
three riders: Evan Cushing, Larry Morin and me.
The race course wound through old abandoned military buildings from past wars.
Kind of spooky. The three of us warmed up on the course, and I decided that
Matt had downplayed the course's technical challenges. It wasn't a demanding
course for riders like him who are used to mountain-biking and cyclocross, but
it had enough climbs, headwinds, turns and narrow sections that it would affect
team tactics greatly. It looked to me like a course that might favor breakaway
groups, or maybe even solo breaks. That made me think of Evan's excellent time-trial
power, making him the natural choice to win.
At the start area, we were greeted with the sight of at least six Joselyn's
riders and seven Giant Strawberries riders. I'd raced against these teams before,
but I had never seen them work together very well, so I was not super worried.
But the potential for them to dominate was there; since the field was only 31
riders they had the numbers to block us if some of their riders were off the
front in a break. There were also three veteran Newman's Own riders, including
Martin Wolf, who apparently used to be in our club in the 70s and 80s, and Mark
Patten, who has raced RAAM six
times! The latter also loaned me his extra helmet as I'd forgotten mine (for
the first time ever!).
Evan in the first breakaway group
The first attack came pretty soon; maybe 300 feet into the race! I was rather
surprised, and even more surprised when Evan flew by me and hooked up with two
other riders (an unattached rider and a Joselyn's rider) to form a three-man
break even before the first turn! I had mentioned to Evan that he'd likely have
to be the one to try to grab on to these breaks, and his move did make perfect
sense as you'll see later. I guess in my own mind I had no confidence such an
early break would last, so Larry and I just stayed comfortably in the pack,
out of the wind. But the gap widened.
Larry and Dennis blocking in the narrow climb
section. Look at all those Giant jerseys!
After the break managed a full lap off the front I decided maybe I should
help them out by blocking the peloton, just in case they could maintain their
gap. After all, the big Joselyn's team had a rider in the break and might even
join me in blocking, unless they envisioned a 1-2-3 Joselyn's finish! I decided
the best place to block was just before the first steep climb. The climb was
just after a tight left turn by an old military chapel, and was followed by
a couple more turns and climbs into a headwind past the finish line and then
a downhill followed by a longer, steeper climb that almost rivalled Cat's Hill's "wall" for
steepness, but was longer and curved. Basically, a time-trial section that I
thought would favor the break.
I'd never blocked before, but it seemed easy; just pretend to pull, while
actually holding back, weave a little, that sort of thing. I did this for a
couple of laps or so. Surprisingly, I didn't see Joselyn's block with me, though
I think Giant did do the major work of pulling the break in as you'd expect.
And at about 19 minutes the break was caught just after the steep climb. Was
I bummed! Not surprised, but bummed. It was pretty cool seeing that break up
ahead, knowing we had a rider in it, and knowing the pressure was off of me.
All I had to do was ride like a Fred; that comes naturally to me! If we'd had
more riders, who knows; maybe we could have blocked enough to keep the break
alive and land Evan on the podium!
Dennis catching the Giant/Joselyn's
The next few laps were somewhat less dramatic, but there were still more attacks
(and mooning from some women who apparently knew a couple of the riders!). One
of them had the potential to be a major threat: a Giant rider and a Joselyn's
rider broke away on the big climb, and I was worried that their team mates would
be able to block the rest of us with sheer numbers... and the numbers were definitely
in their favor! The Giant team was blocking at the front (excellent team work!),
but I was able to sneak by them on the right side of the wide section of road
on the fast, long descent. This has led me to believe my own ideas of where
to launch a break were better. I rode at near 100% and managed to catch the
break at the first turn. That was pretty cool and kept us in the running! It
also created a gap to the rear that spat riders off the back. Including Larry.
I had suggested to Evan that he try for a final break with 1-1/2 laps remaining.
Why so early? I hoped we could use Evan's power to avoid a big field sprint.
When that time came I told him to follow me, and I attacked down that descent.
I checked to make sure he was behind me, and proceded to blow myself up. My
hope was that Evan's strong time-trialing would enable him to escape. At worst
he'd maybe have to accept that a few riders grabbed his wheel, though I would
try to block most of them. I think I timed my attack perfectly, and l blew up
right before that short, steep climb... awesome! I shouted to Evan to "go," and
I started to slow and weave incoveniently for the following peloton. But it
turned out that even that spot was too wide for a single rider to be able to
block them for long enough. Soon the main peloton group of about 15 riders had
passed me. And they caught Evan just before the finish line with a lap to go,
and the finish ended up with the usual mad field sprint. Just then we got a
light drizzle that cooled us all down, but that was it for precipitation.
Larry working in the peloton (Assured
While it didn't work completely as intended, and I doubt Evan finished any
better than he would have without our "help," I still think my plan
was a pretty good one. A plan should play to your strengths, and maybe it would
have made sense for Giant and Joselyn's to send a rider each after Evan, while
the rest blocked like me. Instead they pulled the entire peloton with them,
opening the door to many more riders. But l'd sure welcome any feedback.
So, in the end, the Joselyn's rider who had attacked several times won, followed
by a Kovarus/Squadra Ovest rider and a Giant rider. So no 1-2-3 for Joselyn's!
Evan finished a lucky 13th, I finished a few minutes off the main pack, and
Larry was a little further back. My total time was about 1:08, at an average
of 19.4 MPH over the 25-mile course. The official
results don't tally exactly, as they have me down a lap, behind Larry, which
was not the case.
Evan had a few choice words about his race:
I googled that Micah guy who was kicking ass at Ft. Ord... I guess he's some
kind of expert mountain bike racer and single speed cyclocross champ? Learning
this helped my bruised ego... he was practically carrying the entire break
for 20 minutes and I was the one about to pass out, lol. simply amazing.
I'm still such a newbie when it comes to racing... I feel like as soon as
Micah broke off the front, right at the start of the race, I lost all of my
intelligence and pre-race planning we did together. I definitely have to learn
to control myself, and spend my energy wisely, and keep thinking of economy
(wind, etc). I can't help but ponder how the race would've gone if I had stayed
in the pack for most of the race... I'd like to think I would've at least had
the remaining power to sprint in the bunch to fight a few riders for a better
placing. But I had tons of fun, and I am keeping track of the numerous mistakes
I make, lol.
Here's what Larry had to say:
My race pretty much went good until I came-off with 4/5 laps to go, was gapped
behind 5/6 rider's. We formed a group and it came down to the two of us at
the end, a "Joselyn" rider and myself. He was definitely the stronger
rider. I did all I could to just sit on his wheel the last lap. I came around
him in the sprint and it felt like I took a cheap shot, but hey, "that's
Awesome! Larry found a lead-out man! :-)
I had a blast racing with my team buddies, and I look forward to our next
team race! Maybe Snelling Road Race on February 25th?
Pass Early Bird Road Race, 1/28/06
Four firsts for me... my first road race, my first race in the open 45+ category,
the first race I've ever done that was over 2 hours... and the first race in
which I ever got dropped! And yet, it was also one of the coolest races I've
This race is held west of Patterson off of Highway 5, so I had to leave my
house at about 5:30 a.m.! Even so I was nervous I'd be late as l cruised through
the cold pre-dawn. All registration was race-day only, so it was possible I'd
drive all that way for nothing. I decided to enter the open Men 45+ race, as
it left later than the others and I'd get more time to warm up. Enough people
had warned me that 45+ was populated by crusty old veterans that I didn't expect
it to be easy... and it wasn't! Instead, I got myself into a major suffer fest.
I'd hoped I could convince some other Team Santa Cruz members to go with me,
and while Evan Cushing did go, he was still Cat 5 so we couldn't team up, though
we did talk a little while we waited for the start. The first clue I had for
what awaited me was when I looked around the starting area, and slowly it dawned
on me that I was almost alone in being alone. I spotted five riders in Morgan
Stanley uniforms, some Team Spine uniforms, and a few from various other teams.
Teams! Arghhh! And many of them had that "smile fold" that is typical
of super-fit, gaunt Pro riders. Shudder. When the starter woman asked us if
any of us were new to the race, I was almost the only one to raise his hand!
She said "you're very brave!" I said to the guy next to me, "I
think I'm in the wrong class."
The course started with a short neutral zone, followed by a right turn onto
Del Puerto Canyon Road from where it climbed fairly gently for about 23 miles
to a U-turn for the return trip. That right turn was apparently also a marker
for the start of the attack zone, because we had barely had time to group together
before I heard somebody yell "way to go Steve," and a guy sprinted
past us! I was incredulous... didn't these guys know there were more than 22
miles to the summit, followed by a fast ride back? My fear, well-founded as
it turned out, was that they knew exactly what was going on and I was in for
some humble pie!
For the next 20 minutes or so, we had an attack, followed by a counter-attack,
every two or three minutes! These old guys sure had their mind games going;
each attacker would sprint hard for a short while, then stop pedalling, look
each one of us in the eyes to see who was hurting, and take a break. I tried
to look comfortable and confident through the pain, and was, in fact, quietly
confident I could maintain this for the entire race.
After 20 minutes of this we passed the Women 3/4 class that had started 7-1/2
minutes ahead of us. Geez! Let's see: that's about 4 MPH faster! We used this
as an opportunity to attack even harder, and soon my heart rate was in zone
5! After five minutes of 190+ beats per minute, my rib cage was aching, my lungs
and legs burning, and my vision became blurry. I was afraid I'd crash from disorientation,
and l knew I couldn't sustain that rate, but they kept going! And I do mean "they," because
I got dropped. My first slice of humble pie.
As the small peloton rode off into the distance, I worked on recovering. After
a few minutes, the women passed me. Where I'd been part of a powerful machine
flying by them, now I was just another obstacle in their path. My second slice
of humble pie. I no longer had any pride... I didn't hesitate to latch onto
the tail-end of their pack, rules notwithstanding. This upped the pace of my
recovery as well as my speed.
After a few minutes I felt stronger and spotted two dropped Delta Velo riders
spinning along further ahead. I 'attacked' the women and caught up to the two
riders. We quickly organized ourselves and pace-lined back up to our peloton.
Woo-hoo! A succesful bridge! That was so awesome! This was at about the 40-minute
It was too early for me to put away my fork and plate though; I was due for
a third helping of humble pie in a few minutes. Yup, the peloton started a second
serious surge and my heart-rate shot back into zone 5. I'm not certain, but
I think this may have been caused by the eventual race winner going off the
front by himself. Yes. A solo break... in this group! Can you believe it? I
was racing against the 45+ mutant ninja turtles! I got the aching rib-cage thing,
burning legs and blurry vision again, and quietly allowed them to drop me for
the second time. I wasn't too ashamed though. I'd done my best, and it just
wasn't quite enough to keep up with these tough old birds.
From then on I tried to recover without letting the gap grow too big, but
they were out of sight within a minute or two. No way. I kept in zone 3/4 and
tried to minimize the damage. Soon the women caught up to me again and handed
me a fourth slice of humble pie. I dragged behind them a little (maybe from
the weight of all that humble pie in my belly!), but we soon hit the steep climb
of the course. Just what I needed. It was perhaps a 15-20% grade, and maybe
a mile long. Kind of like Jamison Creek, but not as long, thankfully. I held
my own with the women, while grinding away in my granny gear, but one of the
Delta Velo riders caught up to me; apparently he'd been dropped even before
I was. We got to watch our race leaders as they flew down the hill after the
turnaround. To add insult to injury the turnaround point was about 1/2 mile
past the summit, so we had to climb back up before we could start the final
20-mile-long return to the finish line. I said to the Delta Velo guy "I
think it's time to admit we've been dropped!" He laughed through his tears.
The descent was pretty fun, and as I plummeted past slower riders (recorded
44.4 MPH max on my computer!) I got a chance to enjoy all of the scenery I had
missed on the oxygen-starved ride up. Very pretty countryside! I teamed up with
a few other riders from time-to-time, but mostly the gaps were so big at this
point that I just cruised along in the wind.
When I crossed the finish line, after about 2:20 total time in 21st
place out of 26 finishers, I had averaged 18 MPH over the 45-mile course.
I was really enjoying what had become a pleasant training ride, and tooled
off to my car to clean up. One of the Morgan Stanley riders was parked nearby,
and I chatted with him for a while. He turned out to be the "Steve" who
launched the first attack, and ended up in 3rd place. I told him how tough
the race was for me, and he said to just be happy that one of his team-mates,
who happens to be a former National Champion, couldn't make it! And guess what
the first thing he asked me was? Well, whether I had any team mates with me.
I had to admit I raced alone, and you could tell he felt sorry for me. At least
I'd been able to team up with those two Delta Velo guys to bridge, but that
was plainly not enough. And I don't think any amount of team effort could have
kept me in the running after that second surge, though the gap would have been
smaller. He mentioned that he wished he'd installed a 27-tooth granny sprocket
instead of his 25, and I mentioned that I only had a 23... conveniently forgetting
to tell him that I had a triple-ring front vs. his double!
These guys may have been awesome riders, but just think how fast guys like
Lance Armstrong would be in comparison... the mind boggles!. All-in-all, it
was very exciting, but humbling!
Evan did much better than I did, finishing 9th out of 32 finishers:
I had a lot of fun. I was pretty confused when it ended at 44.5mi, I wasn't
expecting the finish to come up so suddenly! The climb was really brutal, it
felt like an eternity... I was trying to chase down the 3rd place guy in my
category but he took the descent faster than everyone, and was being kind of
dangerous about it so I backed off and joined a 6 person chase pack that wasn't
exactly trying very hard to chase :P lol.
78 riders, Sunny & Muddy
The first Peak Season Cyclocross race of the year was held this past Sunday
at the historic Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville. Classic Cross
Conditions ruled the day and, as several riders found out, there were plenty
of shoe-sucking mud bogs in which to wallow.
The course was bereft of the traditional runup, favoring this time a different
more muddy zig-zag runup on the Southeast side of the venue. Depending on
the rider, this was either a Very Good or Very Bad Thing.
The first race of the day was comprised of the Category C Men,
the Juniors 14-18, and the Juniors 13 & Under.
The race start was a half lap away from the finish line, and Cat. C rider Gregory
Klingsporn, out of San Francisco, led through the finish line after
the half lap. Junior 14-18 rider Michael Landry from Santa
Cruz was close on his wheel even though all Juniors started with a 30 second
deficit to their older competitors. Junior 13 & Under rider Kendall
Barr (Cal Giant) was heard to exclaim "oh...my" after just
half a lap. Landry quickly made up the gap and rode to a clear victory, not
only over all Juniors, but also all Category C Men. Scotts Valley CycleSport's
dynamic duo of Jack Fogelquist and Taylor Shamshoian continued
their season-long battle in the Juniors 14-18 but since they seem to be tied
at the waist, neither of them can put any distance on the other. They finished
with a one-second margin between them, possibly their largest gap all season.
Scotts Valley CycleSport fielded a plethora of riders all
day, beginning with the Category C trio of Scott Canatelli, Andrew
Mince, and Eric Highlander. Collectively, however,
they could not overcome Klingsporn, who rode to a 30 second victory over Canatelli. Jeremy
Milburn (Team Santa Cruz-SCCCC) was the top rider from Santa Cruz County
in Men's Category C.
In the Juniors 13 & Under Category, Darik Thunstrom and Raymond
Mendoza, both riding for Team Bicycle Trip, had a
race-long battle, ending with Thunstrom's first race win ever. The Boulder
Creek rider rode around the venue the rest of the day with an ear-to-ear grin
and excitedly recounted his win to anyone and everyone. Thomas
Mendoza (Bicycle Trip) seemed to enjoy the mud more than anyone this day
and wound up in fourth place.
The next race of the day was the 10am Category B Men, Master
35+ B Men, and Master 45+ B Men. Before anyone could
start, however, Livermore Cyclery's Shane Huntoon decided
he was in the wrong category. Though he asked for and received an Open Category
B Men racing bib, the Master 35+ B rider quickly corrected himself and lined
up in his correct category. This pre-race excitement caused a quick start,
and out in front shot the Open Category B trio of Geoff Luttrell (SF
Guitarworks), Josh Lerner (Fusion Sport), and Erick
Brady (Lapierre/Ritchey). Luttrell then came through the finish line
in first for each of the first four laps. Waiting for Luttrell to come around
on his fifth and final lap, the race judges were looking to award him the win,
when, much to their suprise, Brady and Lerner had already come through. This
confusion was quickly
sorted out and the win was awarded to the Alamo-based Brady, with second
place going to San Francisco's Lerner and third place to Luttrell, all within
four seconds of each other.
Shane Huntoon overcame his pre-race registration error and wound up taking
first place in the Master 35+ B Race by just over a minute from Soquel's Chris
Baker, with Scotts Valley's Mitch Bramlett taking
third at 2'30" behind the category leader. Taking the Team Santa Cruz-SCCCC bragging
rights from Jeff VanDamme was DJ
Grant Stoner, who is just getting over his cold. After the race, VanDamme was
urged to use the hoses provided for bike washing,
but he begged off, saying "I just want to show my kids how much mud can accumulate
on a bike." This proved unfortunate for the Milpitas resident, as the sun soon
took its toll and solidified his bike into a 30- pound hunk of aluminum, caked-on
mud and horse manure. Scotts Valley CycleSport's team owner, Mike
Colombani, suffered a first lap pedal mishap and struggled to finish
the race, just getting lapped before the finish. LGBRC's Steven
Woo defended their Team honor and wound up the only teammate from LGBRC,
as Scott DeLaurentis did not show for the day. Rumor has it
he was busy filling bags with sand anyway.
The Master 45+ B race was an exciting affair, as Kyle
Samuel (Cal Giant) from Watsonville and Alex Anderson (Team Santa
Cruz-SCCCC) from Santa Cruz locked into a race-long duel. Samuel led
each of the first four laps, but Anderson chipped away at his lead and by one
to go, Anderson was just four seconds in arrears. On the last lap, Samuel had
some trouble with the slippery mud, which allowed Anderson to sneak by and
take a lead he would not relinquish. Anderson was elated to end up with a slim
win by just 15 seconds, but Samuel good-naturedly promised he would not be
denied a rematch. Look for this battle to continue for seasons to come. The SCCC/Le
Village Imports team showed they are always ready to throw down in
the mud: teammates Tom Monica, Bob Malheiro,
and Wayne Smith placed much higher than LGBRC's no-show Dino "Mittens" DeLaurentis.
At 11am, the Master Men 35+ A and Master Men 45+
A squared off for a 45- minute romp in the mud, but by this time the
moisture content from the previous day's rain was already starting to dry,
causing the sloppy mud to turn into something more resembling peanut butter.
Undeterred, "Mountain" Larry Hibbard (Family Cycling Center) used
this to his advantage and wound up with a field-crushing winning margin
of over four minutes. The only unknown variable about his win was trying to
guess how many riders he would end up lapping. In contrast, however, was the
battle for second in the Master 35+ A race; this definitely
was exciting racing! Three
Santa Cruz area riders engaged in heated carnage: Matt Watson (Bicycle
Trip), Pat Schott (Black Market Racing), and Charles
Steve Hess (Bicycle Trip) each took turns thrashing
each other over the course of the six-lap race. First it was Watson and
Schott distancing themselves from the rest of the field, with Hess barely in
contention on lap two. It was a different story, however, on lap three: Hess
had made up the gap and was now sitting on. Each time up the runup, Hess would
use his running abilities to put some time into his competitors, but each time Schott and
Watson would come back. Riding a single speed, Schott paid a dear price on
the flats, but that just played to his strength; the harder the racing, the
better Schott performed. Coming back from a season-long exile, Watson seemed
content just to be in the group while Hess and Schott traded salvos. On the
last lap, Hess put
in an attack that would prove decisive and ended up increasing his lead
to 45 seconds by the time the mud settled. Watson pushed Schott to the line,
but it was clear that Schott was the stronger of the two on the day, as he
mockingly threw his bike forward at the line to take third place by one second
over Watson. The suprise finish of the day was Philip Sims (Team Santa
Cruz-SCCCC), who broke
his seat early in the race and was stopped in his tracks looking for a
replacement bike while the rest of the field stormed away. He managed to find
a spare bike but had to install a borrowed road wheel in back, as no others
were available. He slowly started to pick
riders off and wound up taking 6th on the day. Matt
Wocasek (Team Santa Cruz-SCCCC) seemed to enjoy getting lapped, meaning
he could end his suffering that much sooner.
Lambert (Scotts Valley CycleSport) won the Master 45+ A Category by
a margin of 1'30" over 2nd place Tom Sullivan (Amsterdam Bicycles),
3'12" over 3rd place Joe Fabris (Fightin' Bobas) and lapped
rider Kem Akol (Bicycle Trip) in 4th. Lambert trains with
Scotts Valley's Brent Carkeet and promised to bring the youngster
out for a dose of the muddy confines that the Fairgrounds have to offer. Sullivan
has now been wearing the same race jersey for a record 117 straight races,
earning him the dubious title of Most Cheap Bastard. Taking
it in stride, he found solace in the fact that a free race entry goes along
with the title. Akol,
however, wanted it known that he suffered a flat and that his wheel change
was the only reason why he was lapped. Other than that (and apart from the
not-going-very-fast-in-the- mud part), Akol would have been right there.
Lauren Costantini (SyCip Racing) ended up with the largest
winning margin of the day; almost seven minutes over her nearest competitor
in the 12noon Women's race. Although there were only five women
lined up for the race, there was still plenty of racing action to witness. Due
to a nasty cold virus going around, both Stella Carey (Kelly Bike Co.) and Hillary
Daniels (Norcal Velo) chose not to enter the competition, which left
Costantini the lone Elite Women entrant. Watching the action
from the sidelines, Carey, also a coach for Harbor High School's Mountain Bike
Team, was thrilled just to be out of bed. Melanie
Dominguez (Bicycle Trip) was Costantini's nearest competitor, but since
she was in the Master Women 35+ category, she didn't pose a
threat to Costantini's certain victory. Dominguez won her Master Women 35+ category
by a margin of 3'28" over new Team Santa Cruz-SCCCC member Julianna
Perry. Perry combined with Alyse
Weyman (Velo Bella) and Jana Roberts (Lapierre/Ritchey) to
provide the Queen's share of the racing action in this contest of She-Who-Is-Most-Fit.
True, Costantini took the crown, but it was Perry, Weyman, and Roberts who engaged
in hand-to-hand combat over the course of the five-lap campaign. After the first
lap, Weyman had a very small gap over Roberts, who had an even smaller gap over
Perry. Each lap, Weyman came across the line just ahead of the other two, but
Perry eventually caught Roberts and set her sights on the ever-pink-and-shiny
Weyman. Was that sweat on Weyman? No, just sequins.
Perry seemed determined to bring Weyman back, but eventually finished a minute
behind, with Roberts a further minute back. By the time the categories were
settled, it was Weyman taking first and Roberts taking second place in the Category
B Women. Roberts was later heard to profess her love for the muddy quagmire
and assured everyone within earshot that women just love playing in the mud.
Costantini delighted in her race winnings, a new pair of Voler racing shorts,
and vowed she would return with more SyCip teammates, including the expertly-skilled Heath
Maddox and dubiously-talented Scott Lynch.
Finally, the 1pm Elite Men and Single Speed race
started exactly on time, with 17-year-old Chance Noble (Scary Fast) taking
lead over his father Mark Noble (Amgen Cycling), Ben
Jacques-Maynes (Kodak/Sierra Nevada), and Aaron Kereluk (Rock
Lobster/Traugott Guitars). After Kereluk came
off the group, this quickly turned into a knock-down drag-out affair with
Noble The Younger trading the lead with Jacques-Maynes lap after lap. Not to
be deterred, Noble The Senior kept the other two honest and demonstrated
the strength that led to his 2004 Master 40-44 National Championship in
Portland. Jacques-Maynes allowed the young rider out of Camarillo to take a
large lead during the third lap and slowed to a crawl just to take his knee
warmers off. "No problem," Jacques-Maynes quipped, "I'll catch him on the next
runup." This allowed Noble The Senior to catch and the two set off in pursuit
of the rabid Noble The Younger. True
to his word, Jacques-Maynes came around the next lap with a sizeable gap
on the family duo, but this would prove to be fleeting. Chance Noble, who will
represent the United States at the Cyclocross World Championships later this
month in Zeddam, The Netherlands, caught
up to an annoyed Jacques-Maynes and pressed him for the lead. This was enough
for the Kodak/Sierra Nevada rider, now based in San Jose, and he set upon showing
the youngster a few things about how it's done in the mud. Jacques-Maynes took
and held the lead for the last two laps, increasing it to 1'16" by the end and
nearly lapping Lapierre/Ritchey rider Jesse Mayberry.
Mayberry appeared to wait for Jacques-Maynes before the finish line, but was
too far "ahead" to get lapped and ended up having to ride a whole lap by himself
in what is always The Loneliest Lap. Chance Noble, now acutely aware of the
price one must pay when trying to hold such
a hard pace for so long, had just enough left to hold his father off by
a mere seven seconds. Kereluk,
riding in No Man's Land for the duration of the race, ended up a further minute
behind Noble The Senior, but the next three places were decided by just 18 seconds.
Monterey's Pat Rocchi was just barely able to hold off Phil
Roberts (Lapierre/Ritchey), who in turn was just barely able to hold off Brian
Vernor (Rollin' Thunder).
The Single Speed race, with only two entrants, provided
scant action and most of it was trying to figure out if Melanie Dominguez
(Bicycle Trip), now riding in her second race of the day, would be
able to keep
her steed upright and still see straight. First-placed single speeder Damian
Handisides from San Carlos kept up with the Elite Men for most of the
hour-long race and ended up lapping the ever-tiring Dominguez.
This, however, is far better than any rider from the dfL
team could do, even if they were riding in their first race of the day.
After reneging on a promise by Team Fluff Girl Cameron
Falconer that they would show up en masse, it is beyond this writer
how the entire dfL team can even hold their heads
high. Suffice it to say they would have been lapped anyway. Pansies.
Our attention now turns to Race 2 in the Peak Season Cyclocross Series, to
be held this coming Sunday January 22nd at the same Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds
venue in beautiful Watsonville, CA. Yesterday's rains should keep the ground
soft and will provide the much-desired Classic Cross Conditions. Sure, these
races are small, but it's the only time of year we get to take advantage of
that which all cyclocrossers desire: mud, mud, and more mud. Except those
wearing dfL jerseys anyway.
It's not the end of the cross season, it's Peak Season!
Wallowing in it,
David Gill Peak Season Cyclocross Race Director http://www.cyclocross.cx
Early Bird Criterium
I raced a couple of these Early
Bird Criteriums, held in Fremont and sponsored by Velo
Promo, last year. They are practice only, no points or trophies, except
for the road race on January 28th and the last criterium, #5, on February 5th.
They're a great way to learn techniques and etiquette, practice tactics, and
measure your fitness level. Read my race
reports from 2005 for details on the course and such.
I wasn't totally sure I'd go, since I could just stay home and go on the Sunday
ride for free, but I hoped to meet some friends up there, and new member Evan
Cushing. But since my race was at 9:00 a.m., and theirs were all later in the
day, I never saw anybody I know. The weather was clear but in the chilly mid-40s;
I ended up wearing my long-sleeved jersey with windbreaker. Still, I was glad
I went, because the race ended up being at the perfect pace for me. I wore my
heart-rate monitor, and I was comfortably in my zone 3 almost the entire race,
with a few spikes into zone 4, finished by a brief foray into zone 5 for the
final sprint. Exactly what I wanted as it's hard to get those high-speed training
sessions going when you're riding solo... or to keep them from going on too
long if you're in a group ride that ends up being dominated by hammer heads!
The race was pretty clean, with only one crash that brought down a couple of
riders in turn 3. Perhaps moving into Category 4 is the reason my race was so
much safer than last year's Cat 5 crash-fest!
I managed to keep myself out of trouble, with just a couple of bumps or nudges
with other riders, and was able to draft comfortably for the full 45 minutes.
There were a few heroically silly and doomed efforts at breakaways, but all
of them were too early in the race to make a gap bigger than about 10 feet.
Except one from a guy who tried with three laps to go... but the peloton had
no trouble keeping him controlled and no gap formed. I didn't bother with any
With one lap to go I yelled out "there are no trophies," just to
make sure people kept things in perspective! In the final field sprint I managed
to be in a good position with about 200m to go in spite of having to unblock
myself from some other riders, but just as I started moving up towards the front
another rider shot right into my path and I had to slow and veer to the left
to avoid him (another advantage of having a team; we could ensure we had riders
blocking them instead!). This put me on top of the Bott's Dots,
and the effort of fighting them and getting back on course prevented me from
contesting for anything better than about 15th, and perhaps two or three seconds
back. Still, that was pretty good out of the 50-60 rider field, so bring it
Evan Cushing had this to say about his race:
It was tons of fun and a great learning experience... I'm starting to realise
how very important certain things are besides fitness. Riding in such a large
pack on such long straights allowed me to see how much the real enemy is the
wind, and your ability to place your self in the best position of the pack
more often than the other guy will give you the greatest chance of a good finish...
I didn't race intelligently, but I had fun. I spent a lot of time in the front
1/4 of the pack, doing a fair share of pulling... something comical happened,
on the 2nd to last lap coming around the final corner of the lap, a few people
from behind past the front of the pack in a sprint towards the line, and for
some reason that fooled me into thinking I lost track of the lap count, and
it fooled many others so I sprinted to try and catch onto their wheels, and
upon approaching the line I realised to my dismay there was another lap left,
and after having given the sprint my 110% effort, I struggled like a ragged
zombie to cling to the remaining pack, it was pretty funny :D I think after
just one crit this year I'm already addicted.