Team Santa Cruz 2007 Race Reports
- BASPS Finale, 12/9/2007, Erik Thunstrom
- Ft Ord CCCX#6 , 12/17/2007, Brij Lunine
- Manzantia, Golden Gate Park. Ft. Ord, Coyote Pt. , 12/9/2007, Brij Lunine
- CCCX #5 Fort Ord, 12/2/2007, Erik Thunstrom
- BASPS, 11/21/2007, Erik Thunstrom
- C and A Points Race Hellyer 11-23-07, 11/23/2007, Ken Sato
- Low Key Hill Climb Sierra Rd., 11/17/2007, Gary Griffin
- Ashton Court Scramble/Western League Round 8, 11/18/2007, Winona Hubbard
- CCCX # 4 Manzanita Park, 11/11/2007, Peter Jones
- Pilarcitos cyclocross races 1 & 2, 10/7/2007, David Gill
- CCCX #4, 11/11/2007, Mike Evans
- CCCX#4 Manzanita Park, 11/11/2007, erik thunstrom
- Pilarcitos #2 & 3, , 10/28/2007, Brij Lunine
- pillercitos #3, 11/4/2007, rita leon
- Pilarcitos BASP #3, 11/4/2007, Mike Evans
- Spirt of Surf City Psychocross, 10/28/2007, Mike Evans
- La Grange Fall Classic, 10/20/2007, Ron Riley
- Pilarcitos # 2, Candle Stick Point, 10/21/2007, Mike Evans
- CCCX #3, 10/13/2007, Mike Evans
- CCCX #3 FT ORD and SACTO CX NOR CAL CUP, 10/14/2007, Brij Lunine
- CCCX #3, 10/13/2007, rita celeste leon
- CCCX #3, 10/13/2007, Peter Jones
- pilercitos #1, 10/7/2007, rita leon
- Bay Area Super Prestige Series #1, 10/7/2007, Mike Evans
- Bay Area Super Prestige #1, 10/7/2007, Brij Lunine
- Lion of Fairx & CCCX #2 Toro Park, 9/29/2007, Brij Lunine
- CCCX #2, 9/30/2007, rita celeste leon
- Velodrome Hellyer Group B Points, 9/27/2007, Ken Sato
- Henleyville Road Race, 9/22/2007, Steve Rosen
- Hellyer Track Friday September 21st Category 3-4 Omnium, 9/21/2007, Ken Sato
- cccx cross #1, 9/23/2007, rita celeste leon
- Single Speed World Championships, 9/1/2007, Winona Hubbard
- CCCX #1, 9/23/2007, Brij Lunine
- Livermore#3, 9/15/2007, Erik Thunstrom
- Bs Points Race Hellyer, 9/13/2007, KEN SATO
- Benicia Town Race, 9/9/2007, Steve Rosen
- Metromint Giro di San Francisco, 9/3/2007, Steve
- DFL #1, 9/5/2010, Mike Evans
- Metromint Giro di San Francisco, 9/3/2007,
- Livermore CX #1, 9/1/2007, Brij Lunine
- San Ardo Road Race, 8/25/2007, Bryan King
- San Ardo Road Race, 8/25/2007, Steve Rosen
- Timpani Criterium, 8/5/2007, Steve Rosen
- Watsonville Criterium, 7/21/2007, Steve Rosen
- Timpani Criterium, 8/5/2007, Dennis Pedersen
- Big Foot Classic, 7/7/2007, rita leon
- National Championship Mountain Bike Race, 7/21/2007,
- Watsonville Criterium, 7/21/2007, Dennis
- Coyote Creek Circuit Race, 7/7/2007, Dennis
- CCCX Cross-Country #9, Expert 45-54, 6/30/2007,
- CCCX Mountain Bike Series #9, 6/30/2007, Mike
- Alley Cat, 6/23/2007, Mike Evans
- 24 HOA, 6/9/2007, rita leon
- 24 Hours of Adrenalin, 6/10/2007, Karen
- CCCX MTB #7, Single Speet Sport, 6/3/2007,
- 24 Hours of Adrenalin at Laguna Seca Raceway
, 6/9/2007, Jason Cruz
- 24 Hours of Adrenalin at Laguna Seca Raceway,
6/9/2007, Norman Field
- American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure,
6/10/2007, Dennis Pedersen
- Single Speed UK Championships, Ashton Court,
6/10/2009, Alex Anderson
- Ross' Epic Hill Climb, 6/2/2007, Gary Griffin
- ICC Dash For Cash, 6/2/2007, Dennis Pedersen
- Trek Bicycle Store Memorial Day Criterium,
5/28/2007, Dennis Pedersen
- CCCX MTB #6, Sport Single Speed, 5/19/2007,
- Panoche Valley Road Race, 5/20/2007, Dennis
- Berkeley Hills Road Race, 5/12/2007, Dennis
- Coolest 24 Hour Race, 5/6/2007, Norman Field
- SugarCRM Cat's Hill Classic Criterium, 5/5/2007,
- Napa Valley Dirt Classic, Single Speed Sport,
4/22/2007, Dan Henderson
- sea otter, 4/15/2007, rita leon
- Napa Valley Dirt Classic, 4/22/2007, KAREN
- Sea Otter Classic Cross Country Expert 60+, 4/15/2007,
- Sea Otter Classic - Super D, 4/12/2007,
- 39th Annual Santa Cruz Classic Criterium,
4/15/2007, Dennis Pedersen
- CCCX MTB #5, Single Speed Sport, 3/31/2007,
- CCCX Cross-Country #5, Toro Park, 3/31/2007,
- NOVA National MTB XC Race, 3/1/2007, Ron Riley
- Gorrick XC Race #4, Porridgepot Hill, 4/1/2007,
- West Drayton XC MTB, 3/27/2007, Winona Hubbard
- West Drayton Mountain Bike Club XC Race,
3/25/2007, Alex Anderson
- Land Park Criterium, 3/17/2007, Dennis
- CCCX #4, 3/10/2007, rita leon
- Menlo Park Grand Prix, 3/10/2007, Dennis
- CCCX MTB #4, Sport Single Speed, 3/10/2007,
- CCCX MTB#3, Single Speed Sport, 3/3/2007,
- CCCX Cross-Country #3, 3/3/2007, Dennis
- CCCX MTB#2, Single Speed Sport, 2/18/2007,
- CCCX Cross-Country #2, 2/18/2007, Dennis
- CCCX MTB #1, Sport Single Speed, 2/11/2007,
- CCCX Cross-Country #1, 2/11/2007, Dennis
- Peak Season 2 & 3, 1/28/2007, Brij Lunine
- Peak Season Cyclocross 3, 1/28/2007, Mike Evans
- Peak Season # 2, 1/14/2010, Mike Evans
- CCCX#5, 1/7/2007, Brij Lunine
- CCCX #5, 1/7/2007, Mike Evans
BASPS Finale, Coyote Pt, Ca USA, 12/9/2007
Another weekend another race. Actually it could have been two this weekend, but I had to get new tires on the car Sat..
Darik and I hit the road early with the intent on being able to drive right up to our Team pit area at Coyote Pt.. Poncho wouldn't make it with us today because they won't allow dogs in the park.
The drive along skyline was beautiful as ever. There was a lot of frost on the ground so we knew it was going to be cold. After paying $5 to get in and moving some barricades we were able to drive right up to the team pit area. Mike and Dave showed up a little later and located us right at the beach run section…perfect! After setting up camp we began to prepare for racing.
It took Darik awhile to muster up the courage to get out of his warm clothes and into his team kit, but do it he did. After borrowing my long fingered gloves and overly priced helmet, he had about 10 min. left before his start, so off he went to do a recon ride. He made it back to the start and lined up with the rest of his Jr 14 under group. Darik got a good start onto the uphill starting section and led his group through the dusty climb. At the top of the climb he was passed by a few riders. Coming through the hairpins Darik hits the dirt and twists his front shifter around, but he's back up and at them. Darik takes no feeds as he reels in the rider ahead of him, and with a short sprint to the finish holds on for a 5th place finish in his highly competitive group…well raced Darik!
I try to warm up on Mike's trainer but to no avail…Darik has a podium appearance that I don't want to miss. Before the awards are meted out, the 35 & 45's are massing. I line up in the back somewhere not really worrying about my starting position. As we take off up the starting hill I'm sitting comfortably in the middle of the group. Going up the steep dusty climb we bottleneck and luckily I'm on a good line and manage to peddle through. I hear mayhem behind me and as I get to the short paved section up top and look behind all I see is a BIG gap, so I push on determined to stay with the group in front of me. We hit the beach run-up and I'm noticing everyone working pretty hard to ride the first hairpin and sand section so I just run the first half and mount on the concrete pad half way through, figuring it will pay dividends towards the end of the race. I'm riding with Logan K. and Shane H bridges up to us. We're working together well and stay together for a couple of laps. Logan is climbing really well, I'm descending well, and Shane is fighting hard to stay with us. About halfway through the race, on the long paved straightaway, Shane pops. Logan and I keep working together and I take some hard pulls just to make sure Shane doesn't make it back to us…you don't want this guy anywhere near you towards the end of a race. As we come in for our final lap Logan is on my wheel. We are overtaking one of the 35+ riders and as we enter the final left hand turn before the finish straightaway the guy tries to pull through to the inside of me. Logan is on his wheel so I figure I'll let him pull through and come off Logan's wheel for the sprint. Instead, the guy can't get it done and stalls right abreast of me…the decisive turn coming up fast, all I can do is start my sprint now and beat them to the turn. It works, Logan is blocked behind and I make it to the line ahead of him…close!
Single speeders already lining up, I have just enough time to get a drink of water and change numbers. I start this one in dead last knowing it's going to be a death march. The lead group selection is over quick and I find myself looking at about 12 guys strung out in front of me. Most of them geared to tall for the dusty climb to the top. I get stuck behind them and have to dismount . After that I just start picking them off one by one. It seems like I've done 10 laps without a feed, and I can see no singlespeeds in front of me. I've been asking for a feed but none are coming. As I come through the beach run I see my teammates! At last a feed…something silver is handed to me. It's my whiskey flask!!! Figuring that at this point drinking something is better than drinking nothing, I take a swig…not bad!
We finish the day off sitting by the beach BBQing and enjoying the good company of our merciless teammates and friends. Oh yeah, and watching John Kammeyer go jumping into the bay with just his bibs on!
Ft Ord CCCX#6 , Ft. Ord, CA USA, 12/17/2007
What to say about this one? First of all it was really cool to read about all our competitors from Nor Cal absolutely schooling at Nats. Andy J-M, his wife Josie, Justin, Norm, Frank, etc. All over the podium! Specifically, the competitors from our category James Coats winning the 40-44’s in high style with Gannon Myall a close second and Todd Hoefer fourth. I’m really happy for those folks and, yes, I have to admit it’s sort of validating to see that the guys who throttle you every weekend are the best in the country.
Our little world: CCCX#6 was at one of the two old Ft. Ord sites. Not my favorite venue for some reason, I suppose it’s the bumps and my history of poor results here. I was feeling pretty good and psyched to defend my second place overall. Pre-riding I could tell it wasn’t going to be easy. The course featured its usual log (which I like), telephone poles (which I don’t) and several barriers which were just too oriented to the bunnyhoppers. One or two obstacles favoring those who can hop their bikes is great but four looked pretty insurmountable. I was cranky about it, but whatever, we all have to race on the same course. After pedal problems at the start I got in gear and started feeling good after the first lap. Keith had a little gap with Howie leading a big string of us in tow. Second lap I started moving up and feeling a lot better. Third lap I think it was I tried to improve my position again and attacked on the little rise up top where it was wide for a few meters and came into the steep downhill too hot and at too sharp an angle. I lost the front and balled up for a high speed digger. I had just passed Tim Watson who inquired how I was as Mitch Bramlett got around me too. No matter I was right back on amazed that neither I nor the bike was more than a little touched up. At this point groups had formed and Howie and Keith had a good gap with Caesar (dominating on a single speed for his first race of the day), Brock and John Kammeyer just ahead of Tim Thompson, Mitch, Tim Watson, and me. Over the course of the ensuing laps Mitch and Timmy T’s handling won out. It was great to watch Mitch absolutely float over the barriers. There were only so many times Tim Watson and I could chase back on, attack on occasion and do our best. I was a bit bummed with what was probably ninth (I’m pretty sure we finished in the order named above). Time for a break and to make a go at the last chapter of the season—a couple of Peak Season races and the CCCX finals where I hope to redeem myself if I don’t get too fat over the next few weeks.
Manzantia, Golden Gate Park. Ft. Ord, Coyote Pt. , Prunedale, SF, Ft. Ord, Brisbane, CA USA, 12/9/2007
Manzanita Park, Prunedale CCCX#4/Nor Cal Cup #4
Golden Gate Park/Nor Cal Cup Finals
Ft Ord CCCX #5
Coyote Pt Bay Area Super Prestige Finals
I haven’t had a moment to write a report in awhile it looks like, but Erik’s inspired me.
Manzanita was ripping! Perfect conditions, a lot more racers thanks to the Cup deal and a really nice new bike to boot. Too bad I can’t remember much. I do remember getting a decent start and falling in with a big group. I think I put in an effort somewhere and it sorted out a bit. I know I was with Tim Watson, the returned to form Eric Bustos and Jordi Cortes after we dropped Brock, Devin Avery, Mitch, Steve Hess and a few others. Jordi put the hurt on good and every time we’d chase him back—even making contact by the top of the course—he’d drop us again. Coupled with bunnyhopping the barriers he wrapped up 6th place in our battle of the “best of the rest” by five seconds. Eric couldn’t shake me despite some attacks and I ended up botching the final, unable to clip in sandwiched between Tim and Bustos for 8th.
Had to skip our club’s race due to work so it was nice to be back out, well rested and psyched for this race with family and friends there. Not a great start and the expected mayhem through turn one, thought I’d escaped when Tim Thompson comes supermaning into me. No matter, I’m up and chasing like daemon. After a lap all out I’m exactly where I want to be—with Murray and McNally. (I love all the room to pass on this course!) We settled in with former National Champion Kevin Merrigan, Jordi Cortes, Eric Bustos and a few others hanging on. Someone dabs and Murray and I get super tangled. Once freed I attack all out, again. We were so knotted up I recovered and soon I’m back and surprised I’d made it. Murray took the opposite approach and worked his way back to us slowly but surely. The rest of the race? Well I seem to remember Jordi giving me a hard time, think I attacked him, successfully for once. McNally for some unfathomable reason went for the shoulder mount over the barriers just before the start/finish. He trips and lands like the over-six-foot tree he is. Pobrecito. …Bustos is riding strong as is Murray. We catch D’Alusio after he flatted and only Murray is really able to keep in contact with him. Bustos busts me and I hang on for tenth, which I’m pretty happy with. I miss the awards but I’m fifth for the cup overall, I’ll take it.
I’m not a huge fan of this area for cross. Don’t get me wrong, it’s super fun to ride but it’s hard to race. Like Erik I didn’t know about the combined categories of old dudes. I’m wondering what Norm is doing racing with us and then I figure it out. Highlights: Coats must of started in the back and then, on the slight ascent leading up to the sand descent he torques through something fierce. You really had to see it to appreciate the horsepower and acceleration. Anyhow he, Howie and Keith were gone. The second group was huge! All sorts of fast 45+’s and our second tier pals. I had an advantage on the run between the double and single barriers, put in an attack—after Philip’s nice pull on the long road section—and got a gap. Tried to make it stick but wasn’t really willing to commit. I sat up on the road and we regrouped. A couple laps later I was barely sitting on as Johnny K., Norm, Mark Abele, and especially Stacy Sell and Tim Watson led the group. I sat on Brock at the back and suffered. Last lap I rallied and tried to move myself into position to place well. Good luck: Watson, who did the most work by far, dabs in the sand and curses himself, Abele bobbles the nasty left-hand corner just past the sand onto the singletrack. Norm and I have a little gap. He’s in front and we ride sensibly. I think about attacking on one of the few wide sections but stay pat—not enough room. We make it over both sets of barriers (I was no fan of having them so close together) and start to sprint. Crucial mistake: I’m thinking what luck, just ride it in, no reason to jump around Norm and BOOM, even after the look back, John Kammeyer had the momentum from bunnyhopping the barriers and pips me at the line. Good for him, shame on me. Fifth in the race, second in the series with two to go.
I always get wound up for this one. Unfortunately Hnery Kramer, with whom I was tied for fifth, broke his leg. Check out his blog, he’s one tough dude. So I’m in fifth and ready to roll. I get a good start and I’m right where I want to be, on Mark Christian’s wheel. He goes a little high towards the top of the hill, hits a big pile of duff and I hit him pretty hard and go down. I’m pissed but I’m thinking no big deal, time to go to work. Get up amongst all the yelling and swearing and my bars are way bent. I stop at the top, pull over on the other side of the curb and straighten them out. I am dead last. Time to really go to work. I’m bummed but take my time, heed Robert Kurosawa’s words of advice before the race, “Ride smart and have fun.” I start working my way through folks, settling in to good groups and then bridging up when the opportunity presents itself. Todd Hoefer’s secret training regime primed me for these short efforts. Soon I’m with Stacy Sell and Tim Thompson for a while. We ride pretty well together but Stacy bobbles a turn on the descent, Tim seems a little gassed so I use the last of my attacks to bridge up to Tim Watson. I’m really thankful to be with him—smooth, smart and sensible. After a it we’re caught by the leader of the 45+’s, John McKone, and I try to stay with him but get dropped in or after the sand. Tim gets right back up to me and really helps me out even conceding the finish for twelfth. I’m disappointed but relieved and surprised to see that I hung on to fifth overall. Good luck for sure. Big thanks to Tim Watson too.
Philip did the same in the 45+’s--6th in the race, 5th overall. Not too shabby for our SCCCC/ABS contingent.
Many, many thanks to David Gill and Mike Evans. Coming out when you’re injured to support the team is really above and beyond.
Five or six more races left for me, trying to stay motivated…
CCCX #5 Fort Ord, Marina, Ca USA, 12/2/2007
It was shaping up to be another great day for cx… a little rain the day before, weather clear and cool, and light winds. Enroute we came across the Mendozas and convoyed in together.Shortly after arriving in the parking lot Mike and Troy showed up with all the Team SC gear, and like a well oiled machine began setting up the team compound.
Darik , all suited up, went to pre-ride the course. Upon returning he reported that his fingers were hurting from the cold and that the sand trap was "easy" to ride. For his fingers Troy lent him some gloves that fit pretty well. As for the sand trap I kept watching a lot of the C and B riders having difficulties. As our compound was set up right at the base of the hill we were afforded a great view of the "easy" descent.
Darik's Race starts, and as he comes through the sandtrap on his first lap, I notice he has that look of determination on his face which means no water feeds, he's locked in on winning! True to his words he rides through the sand easily enough, as does Thomas Mendoza just behind him. A lot of the C men are having trouble with this section so I say hats off to the kids who are really shining through some of the more technical parts of these courses. Darik holds on to his lead throughout his race and at the end gets his first win of the cyclocross season.
As my race nears, I make a last ditch effort to warm up and take off down one of the many trails crisscrossing Fort Ord. Upon my return to the start area I see Rod beginning to start what I think is just the M35 group. Much to my surprise however, It is a mass start and I am immediately off the back with a strong headwind and a tightly bunched group speeding off in front of me. I can't join the group and as we finally hit the dirt and get some relief from the wind I'm a good 200yds back. The rest of my race is a futile effort to try and reel in the riders ahead of me. I get maybe four of them and then nothing. I'm working with Bob of Family but we're not seeing anyone, they must be going real well out there somewhere. The highlight of this race is the course, which has some really fun super fast single track that makes you hold a line for a big arc. If you can't hold your line you immediately hit soft stuff which sucks you off to the side. After the single track and two sections of boards you hit the long, paved start /finish section which starts with a short hill then flat to single track and another board. Just before the sandtrap is a small singletrack hill which makes you grunt a little more every lap.
As I line up for my Singlespeed race I am determined to not make the same mistake twice. As we start I bury myself to stay with the geared group in front of us. I'm still with them as we hit the flat and pull over to get some help, but no one is pulling through! As we hit the singletrack I'm shelled, and now the other SSers start to pull through. I latch on to Ron C and Ruben V's wheels and whoa! What a ride…Ron is attacking like crazy and me and Ruben are working hard just trying to stay on him. At lap three I'm totally crosseyed and suddenly find myself on a bad line going straight into a bush. After extracating myself I'm on my own till lap 6 when I am joined by my buddy and new teammate Mike Mann spinning a much smaller gear then me. We finish the race riding together and Mike lets me finish ahead so as to not lose points. Class act.
BASPS, Golden Gate Park, Ca USA, 11/21/2007
Darik, Poncho, and I made it to the park early and were able to drive right up to where I wanted to set up our SCCCC/Team SC compound. After helping me with the team tent Darik took off to check out the course and see how his arm felt.
He just got the cast off last Wednesday. The doctor said it was 80% healed and that with wrist guards he could race. Darik returned and reported that his arm felt fine and that he wanted to race. This would be his first race in about a month.
Meanwhile, I took Poncho on a dog lap race reconnaissance mission. The course was mostly the same as last years. One notable exception however was a board placed right in front of a crucial rooty bump. In years past riders who could ride it without bobbling would have a serious advantage here…advantage gone! All in all though a real fun fast course with a sandtrap or two and a nice uphill start/finish.
As Darik's Jr. race started I noticed right in the first lap that he was locked in a battle with some older kid on a HUMONGUS triple top tubed single speed. Darik was taking no feeds and had his eyes locked on his adversary up ahead. Darik seemed to be riding exceptionally well for sitting on his duff for a month and by the end of the third lap had put an unbeatable gap on the hapless singlespeeder. Then he vanished…I waited and waited for him at the finish, but no Darik. It seems that at the end of his third lap he thought he was done for the day and promptly pulled over expecting a visit to the podium. Alas! There was still one lap to go and by the time he realized his mistake, all he could salvage was a 6th place finish.
I lined up for my first race with the 45 A's. I didn't get a call-up but got a good spot in the second row right next to Mtn. Larry. The uphill start was fast and I decided to back off and ease into this one and just have fun. Into the first turn/sandtrap ( if you took the wrong lines) everyone was bunching up hitting the sandtrap to the inside of the turn. I stayed outside and even though starting slow probably gained 5-6 places by just taking the right line through. I quickly found myself in a fourway battle with Jim G, Sam G, and Jon S. We all took pulls up front right up to the last lap. Sam G. popped and couldn't stay with the group, so it was down to three. I felt strong and thought Jim and Jon were tiring so I attacked half way through the last lap hoping to hold them off to the end. I was wrong! By the time I got through the back fireroad straightaway they were on me. Jim counterattacked and opened up a gap which he held to the line.Jon was still on my wheel and as we sprinted into the finish he managed to come around and pip me at the line…that was fun! Great battle.
I barely had time to get back to the singlespeed start. Looked like a fairly large group. Tim K. was racing with broken ribs. Mike Martin lined up with us for the first time this year! The start was again very fast, and again I let them go. It was just me and Tim in the back. Once we hit the dirt I reeled in a few riders. Tim suddenly lit it up and vanished up ahead (I think he finished 4th). After reeling in a couple more riders I found myself in the company of Joe F. and some other guy. As I led them into some of the tighter turns they would continually try to cut in underneath me and beat me to the inside. I have been running into this poor tactic too many times this year. When you come in shallow and get to the inside of a turn too early your exit speed suffers dramatically and a gapwill open up in front of you with all the guys behind you bunched up and stuck on your slow ass! I tried to tell these guys about all this without any apparent effect. So coming in to the next tight turn I let them have a little gap in front of me allowing me to properly box the turn. With my exit speed significantly faster then theirs, I attacked, and never saw them again the rest of the race, Yeah! The rest of the race I ran solo…got to pass Gary Fisher, then reeled in another singlespeeder who appeared to be bonking.
After finishing, Darik and I BBQ'ed up some hamburgers,watched the last races, packed up the team pavillion and drove home feeling quite satisfied.
See you at CCCX!
C and A Points Race Hellyer 11-23-07, San Jose, CA USA, 11/23/2007
Friday November 23rd Group C and A Points Races.
The track season was supposed to be over in September but there was a special track race 11/23/07. The purpose of this race was to raise funds and get some winter race training for the local PROMAN UCI Track Team. The goal is to send their riders to the UCI World Cup races in Australia, China, LA and Denmark (see http://web.mac.com/robevans1/ODHBikes/Blog/Entries/2007/11/8_World_Cups!!!!!.html for more info).
I had just heard about the race the week before but figured that most others were in the same boat. The attendance was very good but unfortunately when I singed up there were 10-15 names listed for the C and A groups and none for the B group. I singed up for the B group anyway but new that there were probably not going to be enough B racers for them to hold a separate event. I know I am not fast enough to score points with the A group it is a struggle for me to stay on the same lap as the main field. During my warm up I was following behind some Health Net pro and I couldn’t hold his wheel at about 35 mph so I knew that I wasn’t really “A” material. Sure enough during the pre-race meeting the promoter/announcer Matt Martinez asked if I would race A’s and said he knew I had before- I should have taken it a complement but instead I just stared back at him and he said he wasn’t going to force me. It seemed that the four other guys signed up for the B’s gave into the suggestion to race A’s.
With a 51X15 gear I lined up with about 15 C’s for a 50 lap points race with sprints every 10 laps (5, 3, 2, 1 for 1st thought 4th place). This was my first night racing in my shinny new Team Santa Cruz skin suit but I now felt like a has a big “S” for Sandbagger written all over me. I new that some of the other Cs were sure to be talented. There was a BPG rider that I was talking to warming up who said he had never ridden on the track, I got the distinct feeling that he was a talented Pro/1/2 on the road but didn’t want to say so. I will skip the blow by blow of the race basically this guy on an old yellow GT and a Stanford guy lapped the field 3 times and came in 1st and second for every sprint. I quickly marked their wheels and let them tow me around as they gained laps, finishing 3rd in every sprint. I took a few half lap pulls but still felt like a bit of a wheel sucker in addition to a sandbagger.
With no rest and no water, I then rolled up for the start of the A race, 100 laps with sprints every 10 laps. It looked like about 30 riders, quite a lot for a track race. I figured I would just sit at the back and see what happened. Didn’t take long for the race to hit warp speed as I saw David McCook shoot over the top of the entire pack from next to me, at the back, to off the front. From then on my nose was on my stem until I was soon dropped along with a few others originally signed up for the B race. There were also many riders who had signed themselves up for the A race from the start who couldn’t match the tempo. We circled high on the track and watched for the pack to come back around. When they came back they were moving so quickly I couldn’t get back on so I waited for another lap and decided I was completely out of contention and would ride 50 of the 100 laps as a cool down. This being “black” Friday the start of the Christmas marketing season I started thinking about Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I am forever the Grinch before his heart “Grew three sizes that day!”- using this analogy I could almost see that my tiny heart could never pump enough blood.
There will be two more special fund raising races on Friday Jan 11th @ 5pm (racing @ 7pm) and Friday Feb 1st @ 5pm (racing @ 7pm). This race had great attendance, food, beer and DJ music so I anticipate that these races will also be great for spectators and participants. If you have never watched a track race this is your big chance.
Low Key Hill Climb Sierra Rd., Milpitas, CA USA, 11/17/2007
I was going to hold off on submitting a report for the Low Key Hill Climbing (LKHC) series I have been riding in until the series was over with the final climb this week, but then I checked out the overall team rankings and found that Team Santa Cruz is doing pretty well at 28th out of 74 teams so I thought that I might be able incite other team members to come out and boost the team score on the last event of the year. For those who have not heard of LKHC, it is an informal group which meets every weekend from the end of the Road Race season until Thanksgiving Day for a timed hill climb. It is informal, of course, but scores are recorded for individuals as well as for teams and a composite score, consisting of the five best scores for the year, is used to determine rankings at the end of the series. The score each week is determined by giving the median time a score of 100 and all other scores are the ratio of the median time to the rider’s time; so faster riders have a score greater than 100. Right now our friends at Bike Trip hold a very narrow lead for first place over Webcor/Alto Velo (and yes, Dennis Pedersen has been to a couple of the events to help out Bike Trip). The last event of the year will be a climb up Mt. Hamilton on Thanksgiving morning at 9:30 AM. So anyone who has nothing better to do this Thursday and would like to bolster the team status, here is a link to the web site, http://lowkey.djconnel.com/2007/. Registration is at the corner of Alum Rock Ave. and Mt. Hamilton Rd. starting at 8:30; there is a $10 fee, but that helps buy the food that will be at the top.
These races are in the same spirit as the Swanton TT with the added bonus that the location is different each week. I have been introduced to some great rides which I didn’t know about, such as Welch Creek Rd. which I must have passed, but never noticed, at least 50 times on rides along Calaveras Rd. and which turned out to be one hellishly challenging climb. And then there was the race up Bohlman and On Orbit in Saratoga which not only introduced me to the only climb in the Santa Cruz Coastal Range reputed to be tougher than Alba Rd. but led to the discovery of a great loop ride since one can ride from Saratoga, up Bohlman, along a short, road-bike traversable, dirt road to Montavina Rd. and then down to Lexington reservoir. That, of course, can be combined with Hwy 9 and either Black Rd. or Old Santa Cruz Hwy. to make a killer loop. I never would have known that if I hadn’t gone to the race.
Each year there is one time trial, but the rest of the races are mass starts. Since I am old and slow and have no chance of finishing anywhere near the front, my goal has been to score over 100 each week, a feat I have only managed once this year. Once the race gets under way, it quickly strings out, since there is a wide range of abilities, and I always find myself with familiar riders of comparable ability who become my competitors. Last Saturday, racing up Sierra Rd. in Milpitas, I looked over to see that I was being passed by Janet Martinez, the current leader in the women’s division, and whom I met on a ride up Mt. Diablo a few months back. Her times are always within half a minute of mine so I had an added incentive to go all out, never mind that over half the field was in front of me, beating her became my race. My heart rate quickly rose to 165, 95% of max for this old guy, and stayed their all the way to the top. Janet would pull ahead when the slope slackened but I seemed to have the upper hand when the gradient rose over 10%. Luckily the last leg to the top was of the latter category and I was able to sprint to a win – well, not exactly a win, but a score of 98.03 instead of the 97-something I would have had without the added incentive.
So, the LKHC Mt. Hamilton climb this coming Thursday, a race of 19 miles with 4200 feet of climbing, will not only be masochistically fun, excellent training, and justification for packing away a little more stuffing later in the day, but could mean heightened notoriety for the team. According to my figures, if one other team member besides me shows up, Team Santa Cruz could be propelled into the glorious position of 20th place.
Ashton Court Scramble/Western League Round 8, Bristol, CA UK, 11/18/2007
Racers: about 25. Women: 1 Temp: 43 degrees F Weather: rain and gusts. Categories: only on paper. We all start at once: down a gravel road, across a grass field and into the woods.
No barriers. No run ups. One bomb hole. Yes, really. That's not a funny name for a hole in the ground but the real thing. Reminders of the nightmare of war. They're scattered around local forests and are paradoxically fun to ride through. Trails - twisty with slick mud and rocks and roots galore.
By the second lap, I ignore my freezing hands and feet (not too hard since I can't feel them anymore) and ...got flow. I'm not racing since I have no one to race. Instead of strategy, I think of staying smooth and anticipating each turn. I slip and fall once. I'm beyond thirst and cold. It could snow and I wouldn't care. I'm alone.
At the end there's no finish line. No one waiting. Just a bunch of shivering, muddy guys quickly changing clothes. Alex and I are thickly covered in mud, but we have a couple miles to cycle home before we can clean and warm up. I have experienced a CYCLO CROSS RACE. What are you pansies doing?
CCCX # 4 Manzanita Park, Prunedale, CA USA, 11/11/2007
View from the Back
After two weeks of trying to shake a nasty flu, it felt great to be
outside, breathing fairly normal again, and getting back on my bike. I
rode two practice laps on this not too challenging, fun course with a
little bit of mud. As I lined up for the race Ray Mendoza doused my
chain, pedals and shoes in oil to prevent mud clinging. As a new member
and new rider, the camaraderie and club member’s support is very much
appreciated. I was pleased to see that the Juniors were lined up ahead
of C-Class this time. I was relieved that I would not have to contend
with hoards of teenagers mowing me down on the first lap. There would
not be a repeat of my battle with Ray’s son, Raymond, that we’d had at
my first race. I hung near the back at the start and quickly realized
that’s where I would stay. I know that I am not very fast anyway, but
the flu and lack of practice had really taken it’s toll. Lungs and legs
were not there - reserve and recovery neither. The great thing about
racing though is that as long as someone is in front of you and behind
you, you are racing, so I figured I’d just do the best I could. For most
of the race I found myself swapping positions with a fellow rider who
was also riding a mountain bike (as I do). It was my race goal to finish
ahead of him. On the final climb on the grass section, I let him make
his move to pass me, tucked in behind him on the parallel down hill, and
then struck back on the final climb on the paved section. When he
realized I was passing, he shifted gears and his chain jammed and it was
all over. That was unrewarding! I’d had it all planned out and would
have rather earned the position based on merit rather than default. Oh
well, it was still a victory.
Now the perspective changes during the week when scanning the results on
line. It is humbling to scan past the names and times of legions of
riders who are much faster, to finally find your name at the bottom of
all of the lists where it appears you may have been faster than about 3
people out of 300. Am I really that slow? And then the next surprise. My
first race I battled with 14 year old Raymond. Looking at the results, I
realize that by a mere 30 seconds, I stayed ahead of his 12 year old
brother, Thomas. I thought I was over my fixation with the Mendoza’s.
Clearly Raymond’s younger sibling had stepped up to finish what his
brother had started. I have wondered why their two sisters (age 6 and 3)
are not at the races watching but have heard that Ray has them at home
on a regimen of riding trainers Sunday mornings. Ray will stop at
nothing to see his racing dynasty succeed. Come to think of it, was that
lube that he was applying to my chain at the beginning of the race or
some type of bonding compound. I will have to keep my guard up.
Pilarcitos cyclocross races 1 & 2, San Francisco, CA USA, 10/7/2007
(better late than never!)
Pilarcitos cyclocross race #1, Sierra Point, Brisbane, 10/7/07
entry fee $30
After somewhat recovering from a debilitating back injury, I was finally able to turn a pedal in anger. I entered the Single Speed category at the Pilarcitos cross race #1 not expecting much but was pleasantly suprised: I got the holeshot and proceeded to let everyone know who's boss... at least for the first 250 yards anyway. I was passed by the super fast guys right away but then something weird happened; I latched on! I had a great warmup and it paid great dividends in allowing me to hold my own throughout the race.
I settled into a group of riders who were battling for third place it turns out. As the race progressed, I dropped to seventh place but could still see most of the guys in my field just ahead. I kept wondering where I was and as the race wound down, I figured it out: "Oh, I'm about to lap Mike Evans!" He was none too pleased when I passed him with three to go.
Just when I started to feel pleased with myself in my first race back, disaster struck: my chain fell off. As any single speeder without a quick release will tell you, this is not a quick fix. But I held out hope: I put the chain back on without making any adjustments, hoping the problem was not with the rear wheel and it was just a thrown chain. But of course there was a problem with the wheel and off the chain came again. Since I had the foresight to carry a multitool, I stopped and loosened the rear wheel, repositioned it with better chain tension, then tightened it and hopped back on.
Now with two to go, I wondered how many places I lost... but most of all was just charging ahead to try and catch Mike again. I never passed any more single speeders and finally finished without seeing Mike. I made my way over to the team tent and asked him what was up; turns out he also dropped his chain and never unlapped himself!
I finished 10th out of 17 and figured I only lost three places due to my mishap.
It was after this race that the infamous "banner incident" took place on Hwy 101. But you all know the details by now...
Pilarcitos cyclocross race #2, Candlestick Point, San Francisco, 10/21/07
entry fee $30
Due to not being able to warm up on the course, Mike Evans and I were reduced to using trainers on the side of the course near our team compound. This actually turned out to be the best part of my day: all the Master 35+ A men were racing by, giving us plenty of heckling opportunities. I guess the noise of our tires on the trainers was a little loud, so we had to yell even louder to hear ourselves. Hope we didn't offend too many onlookers!
I scored the last callup position on the starting grid thanks to my 10th place in the previous race and I did not waste it: another holeshot! Of course, this was to be the end of anything good to say about the rest of my race day. I quickly dropped my chain (again), went straight to the back of the field, fixed my chain, and started the painful process of clawing my way back.
Finally I caught teammates Erik Thunstrom and Mike Evans. Or so I thought. Turns out they were "waiting" for me. Nice guys. "Waiting." Yeah right, I caught them! In any case, it was now a three-man team time trial for the next lap until the next disaster: I broke a spoke on the drive side of the rear wheel. It didn't present too much of a problem, but that too changed and the spoke was now flopping and clanging around, threatening to ruin my race. I stopped at the team tent, wrapped the broken spoke around its neighbor to prevent further damage, then went back to work to finish my race.
I was deader than dead last and had no legs so I just had fun with the rest of the race. I was quickly lapped by the Elite Men and would try and catch anybody's wheel for as long as I could last. One lap I latched onto Brian Rogers of Sycip for the entire pavement section. As we went through the Start/Finish and approached the technical bumpy section, he bobbled and I flew by him for a short while- he *was* lapping me after all... it just took him a really long time to do so! I laughed and pulled over with a "sorry!" We both shared a chuckle over that one a couple weeks later.
I ended up 16th out of 16 riders but the worst part was my back did not enjoy the bumpy Candlestick course one bit... and back on the DL I went. Best quote overheard about the Pilarcitos courses: "it doesn't matter how much you polish a turd."
CCCX #4, Prunedale, CA USA, 11/11/2007
After arriving late and driving around in circles as Rod Hernandez did his best Tom Simpson impersonation, David Gill and I found a place to park and set up our team compound. I have raced at Manzanita Park many times and simple love the place. I‘ve always enjoyed the courses here and today’s was no exception. With the rain we had the night before, the course was very soft and complete with a couple of small bogs. While I was out doing reconnaissance, I managed to flat my rear tubular clincher on my singlespeed. I dumped some sealant into the tire, but it would not seal. I wasn’t very upset about this as this tire was 2 seasons old and had certainly served me well. After swapping tires out I got on my geared bike and went back onto the course to warm up. While the upper section was drying out pretty quick, the lower portion particularly the grass was being chewed up pretty bad by the earlier classes. It was time for the Master 45+ A so I went to the grid.
After the first four pedal strokes I knew I was in big trouble! After running 2 laps at last week’s race, I kind of had an itch to go for a run so while I was at the gym on Thursday with Nancy, I hopped on the tread mill and ran 2 miles and then did a series of dead lifts, squats and clean and jerks. I’m an old gym rat and I’m quite familiar with these exercise, but I failed to take into account that I hadn’t practice them in a year and half and when I woke up on Friday, I could barely walk! I wasn’t much better on Saturday either. Sunday rolled around and I was still sore, but not nearly as bad. I warmed up and didn’t feel that bad, but as soon as the race started my legs screamed in pain and felt like to lifeless bags of cement!
During the race I did my best to bridge to Darrel Brokeshoulder and succeeded on the second lap, but almost immediately lost his wheel. The gap remained the same for the next couple laps, but Darrel and I were both catching Joe Miller. I knew I would have to re-bridge back to Darrel before he caught Joe because I knew as soon as they hooked up they would start working together. I just couldn’t get there as my legs refused to cooperate. As anticipated Joe and Darrel started working together and rode away from me. For the last half of the race, my back became progressively tighter to the point I could barely pick up the bike to go over the barriers. I was very glad when this race was over! My back and legs felt so bad afterwards I abandoned any thought of racing in the singlespeed race later and instead I enjoyed the last couple of races and what had become a beautiful day.
CCCX#4 Manzanita Park, prunedale, ca USA, 11/11/2007
The rain had just stopped up in Boulder Creek. It was starting to get light out and looked like it was promising to be a great CX day. Darik wouldn't wake up so Poncho and I headed out to the race alone.
Mike and Dave showed up a little after Poncho and I, and after a little bit of driving around in circles we began setting up at the base of the paved hill climb. It was indeed a beautiful day for racing. Even though the sun was out the air was still a little cool, and the rain had actually left a couple of shallow mud patches! The course was pretty close to the same as the last race we did here except with no hairpins on the paved section, a nice little bump with a sharp left at the top of the climb section, and no log to negotiate at the end of the first descent.
Our team kit orders finally in I was able to wear my first skinsuit in a race. Lining up it was the usual cast of characters coming out to play. The only noted exceptions some guys apparently from Sac town (this was a Norcal Cup race). I started up the hill in the 2nd row and held position through the paved section. I was marking Shane Huntoon and Jim Gentes. I couldn't stay with Shane for more than two laps (he is getting faster and faster as the season keeps going), but I was able to stay within striking distance of Jim even though he had a great start. A little ahead still I could see Phil battling with Norm Kriess (Phil is also having a great season and is going faster every race it seems). With three laps to go, one of those Sac guys (with an Art by Opsal jersey) attacked from behind and opened a big gap. I couldn't close it by myself, but as I came around Jim I thought we could work together to reel him in. As I came around Jim I asked him to get on my wheel but he was shelled and couldn't follow. I tried the best I could to bridge up to Sac man but he was too strong and held on to finish ahead of me. I still don't know how everyone ended up except that Mtn Larry won and that I finished ahead of Gentes and Baker. I will be battling these guys all season!
Feeling so sleek and fast in my new skinsuit, and having recovered from the bacon incident, I went and lined up for the Single speed race as is my duty. Much to my pleasure, my good friend and SS Mtb racing nemesis Mike Mann came out to ride with me and feel things out after injuring his finger and wrist.
Cesar and Tim and all the other bad ass SSers were all lined up. At the start I got out quicker than I should have so I just went with it and took a hard pull up the hill leading out Cesar and the boys to the top of the paved section where I promptly pulled over and let them loose on the heels of the Elite group. Feeling like I'd done my job for the day,and the selection already being made, I settled in with Mike and prepared for a long race. Our laughing group quickly wittled down to Jeff from Altezza, Mike and Myself. Jeff kept attacking trying to shake us but we kept hanging on. Jeff was having a great ride. We stayed together till we came upon his teammate from the Elite group Lander. As we approached the slimy right hand hairpin at the bottom of the course Jeff got around Lander who then bobbled the turn and dismounting inadvertently delivered a perfectly executed side kick to my midsection stopping my pass in it's tracks. With Mike behind me we were effectively blocked and Jeff sprang free! It turns out Lander had a flat and as soon as he switched bikes he was right back in it with Mike and me and pulled off another effective block as we were trying to reel Jeff in. To Jeff's credit he rode strong and for the second time I was unable to reel in the man ahead of me. Mike pulled over and let me finish ahead of him so as to not loose points…I told you he was my friend!
Another great day of racing at CCCX. I have so much more fun at these races than the ones up north. I also think I'm a little faster with the skinsuit?
Pilarcitos #2 & 3, , SF, Soquel, CA USA, 10/28/2007
Fall down go boom
I don’t like writing about bad news or disappointment but here goes. In the past three races I’ve somehow lost my ability to stay upright. As much as I’d like to blame on it on the bent frame I’ve been riding, warn clinchers, air pressure, vertigo á la Gianni Bugno’s wheat allergy of the early-1990s, or Dennis Pederson, the fact is I’ve been trying just a little too hard. It’s indicative of how tight the racing has been. While the top five or six spots are pretty much out of the question Tim Thompson, Daniel McNally, Murray Swanson, Jordi Cortes, Mark Christian, Brock Dickie, Tim Watson, John Kammeyer, a few others and I have been duking it out something fierce. The race for sixth is always incredibly tight, which is great, but pushing myself to limit more and more each race has led to mistakes and last lap fades. Of this group McNally has definitely come on the strongest. It’s great to be so competitive yet cool with each other at the same time.
Pilarcitos #2 Candlestick Point
There are two ways to look at this race: 1) I was a total spaz, got over-caffeinated, tried to push things too hard and ended up flailing around like rookie wasting good form costing myself valuable places; 2) Despite a couple of misfortunate falls and a nasty first lap crash I bridged up a bunch times, road at my absolute (sustainable) max quite a bit of the race and limited the damage of four trips to the ground to hang on for 12th. The truth is a bit of both. It was the worst placing of the year and worst road rash in some time. Honestly, I couldn’t be too pissed. I was racing for 7th but just left too much out there and completely screwed up the last lap. Other things of note: Michael Matthews crushed us on a single speed; humbling to say the least. I had fun on last year’s course but with a shorter pavement section and trip through the landfall mounds before (if memory serves) I’d be happy never to race out there again.
Surf City Halloween Fiesta
After a bit of a long week (I’m too old for road rash—but anything with comfrey in it really helps!) including a tetanus shot it was great to be close to home and finally back on a really fun course. The condensed version: Crazy/bad start complete with yelling, pushing and drama. We got a good group together; all the aforementioned players and a few more. It was really fun riding hard with Brock and Jordi. Then for some idiotic reason I tried a different line around that scary looking metal posthole as we went from the dirt trail at the top of the run-up on to the sidewalk. Stood up too soon to get a jump and slid out my front end—on my other side thankfully. I popped right up but couldn’t close the gap to Brock. Murray chased me down and worked me over at the very end and I was a little bummed with 10th. The kiddie cross immediately after was way too fun as always and a bit of a workout too. My daughter, Neva, had a great time as did Oscar—check his form in some of the pics. This is the best scene of the year, hands down. Some day I’ll get together a costume—I have many top-secret plans in mind.
Pilarcitos #3 Mclaren
I’m with Rita, I love racing in grassy city parks. Too bad the city is redoing the soccer fields it really took away from the course. Things change—After just dodging getting taken out by Murray who lost his front end in the first corner, but pulled it, and bouncing off of Tim, I got a really good start, about sixth behind Mark Christian who took the hole shot. The run-up—which I loved—allowed all kinds of room and I was in good position just ahead of James Coats by the top. It’s fun to actually climb and descend in a cross race and by the descent I was just behind (about 10 seconds) the top riders after watching Coates effortlessly make up all kinds of ground. I couldn’t stick on his wheel but trying to follow him helped me a lot. I made the mistake of trying to ride around the 180º+ turn and fell down on last week’s papery skin. No matter, I didn’t lose but a couple of seconds. Soon enough we had a good group with me, Brock and Murray; I think Mark Christian was either with us, or a couple seconds behind. I put in a big effort and we reeled in McNally after a few laps later after his excellent start. I had an advantage on the pavement, run-up and the steep dirt climb. Murray in particular could get right back on my wheel by the bottom of the descent. Odd thing is I could stick right on him when he went first. Anyhow McNally flatted at the top and was able to ride the flat and catch back on to Murray and I with just a few laps to go (Brock and Mark had been gapped off). Amazing. Then he manages to ride the log on the last lap, gap me and hold on. Not only that but Murray got around me too, I’m not sure where, but I couldn’t close the gap on the pavement. This said, I felt really good about this race and was really happy with 8th. When I had seen four laps to go I couldn’t believe it—hanging on with racers just behind was good for the mental toughness. Now it’s on to working on finishing stronger something I’ve been able to do in the past.
Note on sponsorship: Philip Sims worked out an arrangement with Another Bike Shop. We’re racing for them and getting a little help on equipment but still SCCCC club members. Thanks to Chris Wagner-Jauregg.
pillercitos #3, SF, CA USA, 11/4/2007
This was a HARD course..... In the lovely setting of a City park, concrete bathrooms, ping pong tables, non native Eucalyptus trees and limited parking. It was bumpy, had huge a run up, hairpin turns, broken window glass, off the bike time and mega DUST. Racing at 2pm is not my idea of a fun either. There is definately a stronger pool of women that come out for these races too. All this put together equals another form urbanite racing...
After being entertained all morning by the bacon eaters, to my disadvantage did not engage myself in the pork feast, was hungry and ready for a nap. I guess I should take advantage of the 2pm start and sleep in like Melanie D. who shared her sport legs with me.... not sure it did much for me coming in at 14 out of 16 women... 3 cheers to Lindsey she kicked butt!
To say the least for race preperation, I did get in a few practice laps through out the morning (in between races/ as this is the only time one can warm up, however there was a nice little merry-go-round on the baseball diamond that also served its purpose for warming up)in addition to running back and forth "saving" our pork bellied teammates.
The best part of the day was seeing the effect the City has on coastal mountain folk and the City interacting with those nature bumpkins. Oh and a DFL guy, also know as the " breather" dropping his drawers in front of me saying "we're all adults here" while slipping into something more comfortable.
I am glad that some people enjoyed the pie.. next time rice pudding... Come join the fun!
Pilarcitos BASP #3, San Francisco, CA USA, 11/4/2007
I purposely boycotted this race last year and I wish I would have this year! David Gill and I once again found ourselves driving to the city at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, but at least we got an extra hour of sleep! Although the promoters of the Pilarcitos series refer to the venue as McLaren Park, it is actually Crocker Amazon Playground where to race takes place. Since I have raced at Crocker Amazon several times for the DFL Urban Outlaw Cross Dress series, I knew that there was massive elevation change if so wanted and that the parking would be tight. We arrived early enough to get a good parking spot and hauled all of the equipment to the course and set up shop.
I rode a lap to see what the course was like. There was one large run up followed by a moderate climb which was followed by a real nasty climb by cyclocross standards with one more little climb that featured a log to negotiate in the beginning. This combined with super loose, rutted and bumpy downhills, one corner that was un-rideable and a couple of low speed corners made for a course with little to no rest except for the pavement leading to and through the start finish straightaway. This course has the sharpest elevation change of any course around and this would explain why everybody in the earlier races looked so gassed riding by on the flat pavement in front of the team pits!
I change my gear ratio to the easiest one I brought and warmed up for 40 minutes. We were called to the line and teammate Erik T. was called to the front of singlespeed class for being in the top ten for the series, except Erik was no where to be seen? The whistle sounded and we were off. For the first couple laps I felt good, but on the third, my moral was being crushed with each successive climb and I really began to wonder what the hell I was doing on a stupid singlespeed! Even with my lowest gearing this course was just cracking me! Half way through the race I seriously contemplated dropping out, but I kept moving forth. I had just made it to the top of the run up and hopped onto to my bike only to discover my rear tire was going flat. Being that I was beyond the run up and pass the neutral bike pit, I would have to run and ride my flat when possible for almost a whole lap. My plan was to do the lap and then get one of my teammates to get Erik's singlespeed to the neutral pits for a bike swap and I would do the last lap on his bike. I finally made it to the flat paved section and I rode my flat. As I rode pass our pits I asked/yelled for Erik's bike and pointed at my flat rear tire. All of my teammates stood there like deer in the headlights and as I rode past them. I prayed somebody would figure it out and meet me at the neutral pits. When I rode pass the neutral pit, I noticed teammate Rita Leon running across the grass field towards me, but it was too late. I made a metal note not to fine her as I hit the run up.
I couldn't believe this was happening to me again! Two year's ago at the start of a DFL Race I flatted on the line and when they yelled go to start us, I shouldered my bike and ran the entire race. I drove 90 miles from my office in Gilroy for a work out and by God I was going to get one! So here I was again running laps around the Crocker Amazon Playground with a bike on my shoulder wishing that I was anywhere else. Well, at least it wasn't foggy and blowing 30 knots! I eventually finished the last lap and then walked back to our team pit and told my teammates how much I hated them, but then somebody handed me a beer and all was forgiven.
After unloading the van when we got home I pumped up my rear tire and discovered several holes no doubt made by the abundant glass that was lying on the ground. If I ever go to Crocker Amazon again it certainly will not be with nice race tires! Maybe I’m getting old, but I thought that the promoters could have been a little more benevolent in their course design given what they had to work with.
Spirt of Surf City Psychocross, Soquel, CA USA, 10/28/2007
I arrived at the venue just before 07:00 and immediately tried to get the spot we had last year for our pit, but was promptly denied. This meant I had to park my van and hoof all of the equipment to the designated area. Luckily, Erik and Darik Thunstrom, Jason Cruz and David Gill arrived to give me a hand. I pre-road the course and discovered it to be the clock wise version which we have ran in previous years, but with a few minor teaks. Jason was racing in the C class, which was the first race of the day so I hung out to give him bottle feeds. When the C class hit the grass to go through the swirl on their way to the finish/pit area on the first lap, I watched in amazement as several riders slipped and fell on the damp grass. One rider took the 90 degree left turn that led to the finish/ pits straightaway to fast and just before he was about to t-bone the A frame holding the warm up sign, he corrected real hard and missed the sign, but ended up in a heap on the ground just passed it. He was then t-boned by another rider! As the C race progressed there was less crashing and sliding out, but I heard later that a bunch of the C riders complained the course was too technical. Jeez boys, Grunt up! What are you going to do if rains and or if it gets muddy?
After a nice long warm up I hit the grid. The first lap was a real blur, but there was a big crash in front of me and one behind me. Unfortunately Erik was collect in one of these. After the first lap things settled down. I had former teammate and old friend Tom Sullivan breathing down my neck so I soft pedal for a couple of second and let Tom in front of me while I sucked his wheel and recovered a bit. A lap later after Tom and I had swapped places several times I got a gap on him and extended it. I was feeling very good at this point and thought I was rid of Tom for good. I was on the long downhill single track on the backside of the course when I noticed a rider approaching me from behind at a very rapid pace. The guy looked younger than me, but I knew it wasn't the leaders of the 35 A's race coming to lap me as it was too early for that. I pointed to my right and moved to the left to let him buy. He took a wide line into the little right hand turn and forced me into one of the sticks holding the tape which caused me to flip over the bars! I suffered no damage nor did my bike, but I did let this rider know what I thought of his move and from a distant he apologized.
Now I was back to where I started, Tom was breathing down my neck again! For the next couple laps we would open small gaps on each other only to have them closed back down. The bell ran for the last lap and about half the way through I got a tiny gap on Tom, maybe 2 or 3 seconds. I knew I had to beat Tom to the entry of the grass section at the beginning of the swirl because it would be impossible to pass there or through the 90 degree turn onto the very short straightaway the led to the finish line. At the bottom of the big run up Tom was right on my butt and suddenly there was a rider right on Tom's butt. Where this guy came from or who he was I didn't have a clue. I gave it everything I had and beat the both of them to the swirl. The unknown rider had passed Tom and was breathing down my neck. I hit the 90 degree turn at full pace and then sprinted with everything that I had left to the finish line and barely beat the unknown rider who as it turns out was in our class. What an incredible finish for 21 st spot!
Melanie brought a Tigger tiger suit for me to wear for the costume race. After taking one look at the suit I wanted nothing to do with it! Being that it was a warm day boarding lining on hot, the suit looked like a sure ticket to heat stroke! Melanie had a plan though; she bribed me into the suit with a promise of a six pack. I suited up and immediately started to sweat. I did a couple of practice mounts and discovered that the crotch of the suit was very low and I would have to jump very high to clear the crotch on my saddle. I also discovered that I needed to have my tail pinned up so it didn't get sucked into the rear wheel.
I went to the start line and grabbed a spot near the front. This race is the coolest because you are allowed to cheat!! The whistle sounded and I was holeshoted by a cheerleader (Stella), some guy wearing full body armor on a downhill bike and David Gill on a pink girl's stingray. David was amazingly quick on the little bike! As David and Stella took the left turn into gap between the classrooms, the downhiller and I took a right and cut underneath the tape and cut a substantial portion of the course out. This was a brilliant move! I was ahead of the downhiller as we approached the big log that would force me to dismount, but not the downhiller with 8 plus inches of travel, I hooked him and started to drive him off line to the left. He suddenly realized what I was doing and verbally expressed his displeasure, so let him off the hook. Just as I anticipated he hopped the log no sweat, but I was able to repass him on the run up afterwards as pushing a 40 pound bike up hill is not fast nor fun!
When I reached the steep decent to the lower section instead of turning left and dropping in, I hurled the tape with bike, remounted and rode next to the football field and then ducked back under the tape at the top of the run up chopping a big section of the course off. I was feeling very cheeky when I heard an all too familiar voice. "I'm right behind you Mike" It was Stella! I don't know where she came from, but suddenly my mission was clear, I had to beat her to the finish line! We both lit the burners and were off. I just managed to beat to the line and for the next lap we diced, cut the course and cheated and had a good old time! As I came towards the finish line for the beginning of the third lap I was done and completely over heated. I couldn't get the Tigger suit off fast enough. For the next 15 minutes while cooling off I watched the rest of the lunatics file by and laughed myself silly!
Tigger costume was a big hit with everybody, but especially the kids. I even won $20 and a six pack in the costume race. That including the six pack that Melanie bribed me with was a pretty good haul for a little case of heat stroke!
I'll make this short. Ride very hard for 3 laps and then on the forth, blow sky high or bonk or both and then stagger around the course trying to stay out of other racers way while not harming myself as even the easiest maneuvers became impossible. I haven't DNF in a long time, but judging by the way I felt after the race and the next day I made the correct decision. I had about as much fun as you could have at a cross race! It was low key, the organizer didn’t freak about warming up on the course and the course itself was fun and very challenging. This was like a breath of fresh air as compared to the pomp and circumstance of the series to our north.
La Grange Fall Classic, WEAVERVILLE, CA USA, 10/20/2007
2007 Mountain Bike XC Wrap-Up
By Ron Riley
The first CCCX MTB XC race last February 11th was soooo long ago. With last Saturday’s Nor Cal/CA State Championship race at Weaverville, CA, my 15 race 2007 MTB XC race season is finally over. As a first year Expert, I had the opportunity to test myself (read ‘get spanked’) against some of the best, not only in California but in the U.S. as well. How many 65+ MTB XC Experts are there you ask?? In the USA Cycling 60-99 year old rankings, there are twelve 65+ racers nationally (4 of us are 70 plus), and there are four in California.
The Nor Cal XC series consisted of seven races (best five to count). I was unopposed and won my class at the Napa Valley Dirt Classic, the CCCX finals, the Whiskeytown Classic and the Humbolt Hoedown. Saturday’s La Grange Fall Classic in Weaverville was both the Nor Cal Series Final and the California State Championship race. I expected at least two of the three Southern California 65+ Expert riders to be a Weaverville to vie for the State title.
On our six hour drive up to Weaverville Friday, we ran into heavy rain from Red Bluff on – oh, joy! The weather actually cleared up a little Friday afternoon, but I left the bike in the car. Later that night, it started raining again, but stopped at daybreak. The tops of the mountains near the course were now snow-covered.
Registration for the race was at the high school Saturday morning, and there I ran into Terry and Brian, my competition from Southern Cal. I had raced against both at the MTB National Championships in Vermont back in July and was able to best Brian but was beaten by Terry by almost forty minutes. My race plan for this race then was pretty simple – stay ahead of Brian and if Terry had a bad day, I might get lucky. (I wasn’t going to beat him with my blazing speed.)
At our ten o’clock start, the weather was scattered clouds and maybe 40°. I had my knickers over my tights, long sleeve jersey over my long sleeve undershirt, two pair of socks and my plastic rain jacket. Also, had my full-finger heavy gloves and a heavy skull cap under my helmet. I had my ‘old’ bike shoes on because I’d learned there were three creek crossings that weren’t rideable and – oh, yeah, there was plenty of mud.
The first half of the dirt road got us sorted out. I was ahead of Brian, but Terry was gone. The course then turned off on a sweet uphill single track made extra challenging by the mud. My plastic rain jacket was proving to be too hot, so I stopped and took it off. While I was trying to stuff it in my jersey, Brian got by me. I was able to re-pass him though as he bobbled going up a slick section. As teammate Shelly Monroe went by me, we wished each other good luck. That lady can ride!!
Onward up the mountain (Musser Hill) on fire roads and single track that included (for me) a few hike–a–bike sections. The climb up to the top had been without any real technical challenges – that was about to change!!
The course turned down an old flume trail called the La Grange Ditch Trail. Up to this point, the flume trails I’d ridden had been in the bottom of the flume – nice and safe. This flume trail, however, was on the outside (down hill) bank of the flume. Oh, and it was maybe twelve inches wide, with wet slippery rocks! Pucker time!! This called for my special technique called, “Walk-a-bike”! Next came a steep downhill section with many sharp muddy switch-backs again calling for my special technique. Finally, at the bottom, was a rocky section that crossed a creek three times. Each crossing had to be done carrying the bike while stepping from one slippery rock to the next. The last crossing was the deepest and the slippery rocks were well under water. I paid to do this???
Finally, the trail became more open, dryer, and, because I knew I was almost done, a whole lot more fun. About 4 hours and fifteen minutes and 24 miles after starting this adventure, I rode across the finish back at the high school. Terry Dahl had finished an hour ahead of me, but Brian Kinery had DQ’d for going off course. So, I’m happy to say that Team Santa Cruz has a 65+ Expert State XC runner-up, and a Nor Cal champion. SCCCC’s Shelly Monroe won the 19-29 Ladies Sport XC State and Nor Cal championships and SCCCC’s Deborah Vitale was set to compete in Sunday’s downhill championships as we left town.
On the way home on Sunday, I took a page from Dennis Pedersen’s book, “How to Keep Your Wife Happy and Race Bikes” by taking her to lunch at Scoma’s in San Francisco. We enjoyed a delicious swordfish with white entrée and a wonderful tiramisu for dessert.
Pilarcitos # 2, Candle Stick Point, South San Francisco, CA USA, 10/21/2007
I must say I have never cared for the course at Candle Stick Point and I’ve even boycotted it in the past. It’s another featureless land fill that is extremely bumpy with only one racing line while on the grass and with tiny little mounds that they call run ups and there’s also more glass on the ground than you would fine at your local recycling center!
Fearless Team Leader and future Vice President David Gill and I arrived around 7:45 and sniffed around a bit looking for a location to set up camp. We found a location very near where the riders exited the dirt onto the long paved straight away because we figured the speed of the riders coming off of the dirt onto the pavement would be slow enough for a bottle feed. It was kind of remote, but it worked. Due to the new rules at the Pilarcitos Series we were not allowed to recon or warm up on the course during a race. This was done to help the scorers speed up the process by not counting people warming up by accident. Judging by the length of time it took to post some of the results yesterday, this had little to no effect. When I finally got to recon the course I found more glass than ever and it was even bumper than I remembered. I immediately knew that this course would be a compromise on tire pressures. You would want to run pretty low pressure to help with traction and take the bite out of the bumps, but in the same instance if you went to run a little higher pressure to prevent pinch flats. As for the glass, it just blind luck. I ended up loaning my spare wheels out to a bunch of riders I didn’t know. It’s hard to watch somebody pay $30.00 to race only to go out on the first lap with a flat!
Due to the new rules I sat on my trainer for 40 minutes and watch the master’s race. When their race ended I got one quick lap in before we lined up on the grid. It was fun hearing David being called up to the front because of his top ten finish in the race at Sierra Point. The elite men went first followed by us singlespeeder 30 seconds later. As we hit the first corner I could see David in second position! About two minutes into the race I came around a corner to discover David on the side of the course. He had dropped his chain! I briefly stopped to offer assistance, but there was nothing I could do. I also discovered to my shock that at the time I wasn’t last place, but I was close having let a bunch of riders by while I stopped. About a lap latter I noticed Erik Thunstrom behind me and I could also see off in the distant that David was back riding again and suddenly a plan came into my head. I slowed my pace and allowed Erik to catch me. I told him that we needed to slow down and allow David to catch on and then have the three of us work together and drag David back up the field as far as we could. David was higher in points than Eric or me. We slowed our pace considerable until David was with us.
We told David of our plan and got down to business. Erik and I were taking long pulls and for the first time all season I was feeling pretty damm good. I actually felt like had some form back. Our team work lasted about a lap and was really a lot of fun! We hit the pavement just past our pits and suddenly there was no more David Gill. It appeared that he simply vanished! With that, Erik said we couldn’t wait anymore and we were off. What we didn’t know is that David had broken a spoke. For the next lap Erik and I worked together, but by the sixth lap my back started to get really tight from all of the jack hammering it was receiving in the bumps. I told Erik this and when I made a bobble going over one of the mounds he was gone. I spent the rest of the race staying out of the way while being lapped and finished
I was pretty happy about this race as I showed big signs of improvement since the beginning of the season. After long drive we made it back to my house without my Vanagon bursting into flames and as I jump out my right hamstring immediately locked up for about 4 minutes and I was in agony! Apparently my hamstring doesn’t like applying pressure to the accelerator after a cross race for an hour and a half straight and let me know it, but at least both legs didn’t lock and turn me into the human C clamp!
CCCX #3, Marina, CA USA, 10/13/2007
I think we may have set a personal record for Blanca, my white VW vanagon this Saturday. Team leader David Gill and new teammate Patrick Lewis aka “Stinky” and I had six bikes, 4 sets of spare wheels, 3 tables, tool boxes and repair stands, coolers, water bottles, three tables, lots of chairs and three big sections of astro turf and two pop up tents. The van was so full that we had to place Patrick in the back van in his own little cocoon and pray that none of the contents inside of the van shifted and crushed him!
Just before we arrived at the new course, we passed the site of some of the first CCCX races held in and around the abandoned barracks of Fort Ord in 1997. The army had just pulled out and it was very eerie racing around what was essentially a ghost town. The old fort is going under a transformation judging by the new mall and all of the new housing development their building. We pulled up to the new venue and scored a nice spot next course and stepped out of the van into what was rapidly becoming a very nice day! The first thing I noticed while setting up the team compound was the small very sandy hill directly after finish line/scoring area and wondered to myself how long the sand would be rideable after it was trampled and rode to death. After assembling the team compound, David and Patrick and I took a lap to check out the course and discovered that this was about as much fun as you could have on a cross course! There were plenty of swooping corners and I particularly enjoyed the high speed singletrack through the oak tress. I wondered if I would have come to the same conclusion if it hadn’t rained for a couple days before the race and all of the firm sand was loose?
Master 45+ A
At this point I have little expectations due to my lack of fitness and have been trying to race myself into shape which by its nature is quite painful. I had a bit of a panic before the start of the race as my front brake cable let go and my lever went to the handlebar. The start line was about as far as you could get from the pits/finishing area and nobody at the starting line had any tool, but luckily Maryann Hunter rode back to the pits and grabbed an allen set for me and I was able to fix my problem or so I thought! The race started and was barely clinging to the back of the pack. We entered the twisting singletrack under the oak trees I grabbed the brakes for the first time since the start of the race and once again my lever went to the handlebar. This in turn made me over shoot the corner and I ended up in the forest where I was lucky not to come into contact with anything. Back on course I made my way to the pits for a bike change. I arrived and shouted to my teammates under the tent “Bike change! Please fix my front brake!” With that I ghost rode my geared bike into the sand and ran a few steps to my singlespeed and grabbed it and threw it over my shoulder and started running up the hill past the pits.
I had traveled about twenty feet when I heard “Stop, Stop! There are no pedals on that bike!” It suddenly became clear to me. Patrick had forgotten his shoes this morning so he borrowed my pedals and Darik Thunstrom shoes so he could race, but hadn’t had the time to reinstall my pedals on my bike. Considering what had just happened I was amazingly calm. If I was in contention for a series I might have laid an egg, but instead I stood there and watched Patrick and some other guy I didn’t know run around like chicken with there heads cut off as they searched for my pedals and tools to install them! After watching Patrick display his amazing mechanical abilities, my singlespeed was ready and I was off. I came through the pits on the next lap and asked for a bike change as the gear on my singlespeed was too small and was told that my geared bike wasn’t fixed yet. Upon hearing that I punched it in order to get some speed up for the hill and hit the little bump in front of it to fast and caught a little air which sent me on a collision course with a big pile of sand to the right of the preferred line which caused me to crash. Luckily the landing was very soft and I did this in place were everybody could see and Harriet Riley was able to capture the moment with her camera! I rode around again and got my geared bike back and did my absolute best to stay out of the way when I got lapped.
I started the race and immediately blew sky high and then for the next hour and eighteen minutes I experienced pain, pain and more pain. On the last couple of laps I fought off cramping and the overwhelming desire to go somewhere to find some pie to eat all the while doing your best to keep your slow as molasses, bonking self out of the way. I thought seriously of dropping out of this one, but at least I rode the hill after finish line every time except for the last lap when both of my legs seized. On an entirely different note, it was amazing to see the speeds that the 5 leaders of the Men’s A race were going. It was truly impressive! Hopefully something resembling a little form will come my way soon!
CCCX #3 FT ORD and SACTO CX NOR CAL CUP, Ft Ord and Rancho Cordova, CA USA, 10/14/2007
CCCX #3 Ft. Ord and Sacto Cross Nor Cal Cup
All cross races are painful by definition but these two were special. I haven’t been as wrecked as I was after Saturday’s CCCX race since who knows when. I’m not sure what made it so hard—part of it was that I was feeling good, riding aggressively and foolishly wasting all sorts of energy. Part of it was the course itself, it didn’t seem like it’d be that taxing but it was. Anyhow, the race started on a long paved hill, which I love—it’s safe, gets things somewhat sorted out and keeps things fairly controlled (cf. Pilarcitos last weekend). Anyhow, apparently it was a little too “gentlemanly” in Rick Hunter’s words (a very welcomed addition to the Master’s). We were all pretty much together if memory serves. At some point the inevitable gap on the ür-top riders opened up (Myall, Kramer, Howie, Hoefer and DeFiebre); I’m pretty sure it was over the first barriers. Our second group was big—Mtn. Larry, Kammeyer, Big Rick, DFL riders Brad Koester & Dan McNally, Erik Zimmer and maybe a few others. I led at the end of the hill second time up. Over the first set of regular double barriers I missed my saddle on the fast remount. I think the bike bounced and the next thing I knew my leg was a break on the rear tire and I slid nicely on my left knee taking out at least one or two other remounting riders. Up and at ’em, I don’t think I lost more than a position or two. Kammeyer was very cool about this (I took him out) but Brad and possibly Dan as well couldn’t let it go and started in on me. Now I’ve always appreciated Brad’s heckling but never been on the receiving end. After a bit it started to cross the line. Nobody likes being called a bitch and once you’re over thirty-five years old smack talking is unexpected and not appreciated. So I pulled over and pushed him ahead of me. I guess they thought I should’ve somehow gotten out of the way once down. Whatever. Then for some equally idiotic reason right after slingshotting Brad ahead I attacked him just before the finishing turns. At this point it went a bit ballistic and our shenanigans ended up splitting this group with Larry, Brad Erik and Keith (who must’ve dropped back from the first group) making the cut. This is all a bit compressed but you see the result: get pissed get worked over. Kammeyer and I were dropped but only at a few seconds behind. We went to work. I won’t bore you with the rest, John was way stronger on the sandy ride/run, I could descend a little faster—he and I ride pretty well together. Eventually we caught and dropped Erik. We were oh so close to making contact with Keith but it was just too hard. Tim Watson eventually bridged up (no surprise here—this guy knows how to ride and is another class act) and I tried everything I could to bring back Bradstard. In the process I almost dropped myself and couldn’t get position the final time up the road—all-important for the super-tight finish. Justice and agony—we caught Brad in the final turn and he and I were elbow-to-elbow with Kammeyer’s perfect attack shooting him by and Tim hosing him as well; I couldn’t get it done without being a total dick. Afterwards I went over and sort of apologized for crashing in front of him. He expressed his pleasure in such animated racing. I was pretty bummed about getting phased by him. Oh well. Tenth is the worst placing thus far and a lesson learned—the metaphorical skin will be tougher next time. …Wonderful to see Howie with a great victory.
The next morning Birthday Boy Steve Hess, Philip and I headed up for Nor Cal Cup Race numero dos--as advertised one hundred percent grass. Not as advertised—slow, energy sapping grass. This was, without a doubt, one of the most relentless courses I have ever raced. It was super fun though. I got the unexpected Nor Cal call up and after the start went straight into conservation mode. There were some heavy hitters in addition to most of the regulars—principally Rich Maille, James Coates, and Alan Team rider Troy Barry. I made the mistake of sitting on Steve Ouzounian as we got passed left and right. I bounced around something terrible and literally wanted to drop out immediately. Once the front group of Rich (who dropped out due to promoting duties), Coates, Gannon, Henry, John Kammeyer and then Barry (who came around me in a big turn as we road should-to-shoulder) formed I eventually became part of a second group with Jordi Cortes, Dan McNally (who either didn’t know who I was or was just cool about yesterday) and a few other riders. We soon collected Mark Christian who had made the first group but was then dropped and crashed. Mark definitely led the charge. He tried to get us to pull through but I pretty much slowed things down every time I tried. It was so hard I was giving little pushes to McNally (after he fell) and Jordi who returned the favor. We dropped a strong Lobster rider (Matt Jordan?) who was in the mix for a while. We had the excellent riding Kammeyer, who road most of the race solo, holding us off and powering, just ahead. With about two or three laps to go a local badass, Ben Bourne I assume, totally jumped us after sitting on pretty much the whole time. I marked him but he shook me through the bumpy tree ridge section. This dude made an impressive bridge up to Johnny K. At this point poor Mark Christian really put his mind to catching John K. and Bourne. Jordi, McNally and I lent as much of a hand as we could but like I said, there was absolutely no respite. On the last lap McNally and Christian got a little gap and that was all she wrote. I limped home for a better than expected ninth with Jordi close behind. Master’s 45+ winner Tom Feix said it was really really fun with fresh legs and Steve, Philip and I agreed it was a really fun course, you could dig right in, but the suffer factor was “ten.” A little more sidewalk and it’d be still super hard but less of death march. Still hoping for a better ride in these Cup races but I imagine Howie and Hoefer will be at all the next ones and I should be happy with my back of the top ten. Good to see Kammeyer in second overall. In the Cup standings Philip Sims and I are fifth in the 45’s and 35’s respectively—not too shabby but I know I can ride a little better (and smarter).
CCCX #3, FT.ORD, CA USA, 10/13/2007
rita celeste leon
Can we say Yes to this locals race! What a beautiful day and a good crowd of people.
Before the race: Feeling good, took the bus from downtown Monterey to Seaside and rode onto Planet Ord to be happiliy greeted with hugs buy teammates. and Yep there were ladies besides me present and racing! Thanks Mel, Maryanne, Harriet, Simone and Julianne! Female presence is always good amongst our mouthy male cohorts...
The course: SWEET! thank you rain gods for your gift. with out the previous 2 evening rains it would have been dusty and way more sandy. The sand pit run up was great just rolling over the non-native ice palnt makes any eco freak a happy racer, fast switchbacks under oak trees and the mix of road pavement stretches made it easy to power through and find rest to recover those legs. The best part is that 2 years ago I burried my cat of 14 years, my man man Scooter under an oak tree off the first road stretch! Scooter mojo got me through the race with NO mechanicals no flats or bruises. 100% on the bike unless jumping or running to the next barrier.
Lots of Vella Bella presence. I held out for 3 laps ahead of Soni but she caught me at the end guess I should ride peoples wheels more often, even if I think its not fair. I came from Tri sport and in Tri its a penalty to draft? So starting out strong is a plus for me but I got to keep that energy through the rest of the race. maybe one Goo is not enough. I think I eat my oatmeal and cliff nectar bar too soon. See ya at the next race. Feeling like sweet potato pie would be good after a race.............. SMOOCH!
P.S. Grants Guitar Rocking was FUN! Team Santa Cruz ANYTHING GOES! I love it.
CCCX #3, Fort Ord, CA USA, 10/13/2007
Newbie's First Cross Race, Fort Ord, CCCX #3, 10/13/2007
After the fact, I realize there really was no reason to be apprehensive about this race, but it is difficult to know what to expect when you do anything for the first time. And it certainly did not help that it poured with rain on Friday and that I stumbled across a few video's of hectic cross race highlights on the internet during the week (and there's a reason they make the highlights). Despite my fear of wet surfaces, my limited racing experience (a couple of cross country races earlier this year), and my mediocre technical abilities, I overcame my last minute urges to bag the adventure and decided to go for it (I had told too many people during the week that I was going to try it). I'm not really very competitive so I put myself in the mind frame that I go for rides every Saturday anyway, so this would just be my Saturday ride, albeit with a little more intensity and in the company of other like minded bike enthusisasts.
Pre-rode course twice before race - all moisture had absorbed into the sand (both making the sand easier to ride and there was neither mud nor wet slick surfaces)- the course was really a cross country course with six to eight barriers. My confidence was building. As starting line was assembling, two clearly more experienced riders checking out the course bunny hopped the two barriers along side us. Note to other club members - there really is no need to do this for us "C' riders. I may have been the greenest rider of the bunch, but I think the other riders shared my sentiment that it does not help any of us believe that we belong in the sport. As I line up at the back of my group, I learn that the Juniors are lined up behind us and will start 30 seconds later. Great - that should continue to bolster my confidence when teenagers one by one throughout the race blow by me. Remember though, I am just going for my Saturday ride.
Race strategy two parts - Part one - hang back at the beginning so I can save my energy and develop a rhythm - Part two - as the laps continue, pick up the pace and reel them back in. Proudly, I executed part one famously - hanging back at the beginning is not that hard - I don't need to master everything in my first race - there is always next race to work on part two. As predicted the first few kids passed me before the end of the first lap, and somewhere during the second lap when the fifth or sixth went to pass, I had developed a bit of a rhythm and I was able to hang on to him. When we passed the start/finish, Ray Mendoza called out "Ray, good job - keep it up!" - Yes I was keeping up with Ray Jr. - It appeared that I had picked my adversary well - he having come from the bloodline of a thoroughbred and having been trained by a master. Halfway through lap three while on Ray's wheel, there were still two or three Juniors that, although behind us, were within shouting distance. Along side Ray on the road section, I told him that my goal in the race was to beat him - my motive was to encourage him to pick up the pace and pull away from the kids that could sniff us from behind (simply to help him as I am not really that competitive). I did find it funny that I am in a race with kids. I view all things related to off-road bicycling to be a manifestation of our desire to be kids again - I had it made.
These couple of laps leading up to the finish went pretty well. I had started to dismount and mount while the bike was in at least a little bit of motion and had remembered to unclip both shoes before getting off each time (I'm still pretty new to clip ins). As we were getting closer to the finish on the last lap, I saw my chance - a straight-away where the path was a bit wider - made my move, passed cleanly and took off at a blistering pace (young Ray needed to be tested - does he step up and close well or does he buckle under pressure). Racing through a few turns, I then looked over my shoulder only to see Ray sticking to my rear wheel. The next straight-away had a clearly defined line of solid ground with soft sand off to the left. I figured I was safe as I took the preferred line, but Ray bolted through the soft stuff and made it work. A few tight turns on the ice plant, finish line in site - I started to get my front wheel alongside his rear wheel but the final straight-away was too short and it settled in - what was I thinking - I really had no chance against the Mendoza prodigy. His father should be proud.
I am looking forward to my next race. I like this format where my fellow young competitors spot me 30 seconds at the start. Eventually, if I get better, I aspire to dye my hair, hide the grey, and enter their category and start with them.
pilercitos #1, an urban landfill, ca USA, 10/7/2007
LandFill!!! Low tire pressure! BAHHHHH HUM BUG, Mike and Brije!!! I got 3 flat tires on low air pressure...?!@*#@
My first race in a setting like this and it was quite the HUPLA... Yeah I'll admit the tack was fun, technical, and fast with a nice view. BUT
I finish 4 laps in 45 minutes 1/2 of the time I was running to get wheel replacements from the Ritchey tent (thanks Ryan Bontrager)... Since the women raced last the guys were packing up the tent and supplies (which I don't blame em) did not notice me when I came runnning with my third flat yelling I need a wheel! so I had to rely on the Rock Lobster boyfriend to take care of me... and Thanks to Derek's wheel I finished my last lap at #22 out of 25. still beating my Vela Bella Rival who flated on her last lap and did not get a wheel replacement...
So much for urban racing. I think the Native spirits were upset with me for riding on their old Shell Mound and I knew it...
Michko (a babe) from our 12 hrs 2 Babes and a Bitch got 3rd. My heroine...... SMOOCH!!!!
Bay Area Super Prestige Series #1, Brisbane, CA USA, 10/7/2007
In the week leading up the first race of Bay Area Super Prestige Series (Pilarcitos) I became more and more apprehensive. Due to my move and the fact that I was gone every weekend in September, I rode a total of 4 times for the entire month! I got to ride few rides in the before the race and truly I realized just how out of shape I was and how painful this race was going to be. I decided to myself I had to start somewhere and this was race was going to be it. I would race to train.
It was the usual deal on Sunday morning: load the van, wait and load our fearless leader David Gill into the van and then search out a coffee shop that is open at 0:Dark:30 on Sunday morning and then drive my tired old van over the hill and up to Brisbane. Upon our arrival, the course didn’t seem like much, just your normal south of the city land fill. It was flat as a pancake except were somebody had dropped some piles of dirt on it. We disgorged the contains of the van and set up camp, but were immediately told by promoter Tom Simpson that yes, this was a great place for all of the teams to set up but no, we could park the van behind it. Every Pilarcitos race I have attended this always happens and like normal, by the end of the day, the parking lot that we were told we couldn’t park in was full of cars belonging to racers.
David and I immediately went on a recon lap before the C class start and I came to the realization that I was seriously lacking power and my tire pressure was way too high. The course was very bumpy with hidden rocks and crushed pavement lurking under the weeds and I knew there would be lots of flats today. Back in our pits I changed gear ratios to the easiest singlespeed gear that I have and lowered my tire pressure 30psi each. The lower tire pressure really worked quite well for bumps and traction and the easier gearing would help me survive for the whole hour. I had three hours to kill and spent it loaning tools to other races, watched teammates race and fixed a front wheel for some hapless racer who in his first ever cross race had completely taco’ed it. I enjoyed this as I got to beat the wheel repeatedly on the ground trying to straighten rim to the point that I could put it into the truing stand and get it close enough for the guy to ride 10 miles to his house. I was rewarded a beer for my effort and he rode off! I went on a warm up to the south of the venue along a paved path that followed the bay. I rode past one particular dead end channel and looked at the really old pilings and rusted iron fittings and pipes and wonder to myself what had gone on here in the past. As I backed tracked along the path to get to the start of my race I was rewarded with a plaque that stated that this was the former site of a Kaiser liberty ship shipyard and that at its peak in WWII there were 10,000 people working there and they produced 10 Liberty ships (freighters) a month, but since the channel was so narrow they had to launch the ships stern first instead of the normal side to launch that was preferred. Being that I’m a history buff I stood there pondering what it must have looked like 65 years ago?
The Men’s A and Singlespeed class was called to the line and I did my best to hide in the back of the grid. The cannon sounded and we were off and for the next 1:02 I was completely at my limit and any extra exertion would send me dangerously close to completely blowing. My lack of power was painfully obvious as the singlespeed herd rode over the horizon from me. I’m surprised that my heart did blow out of my chest as I recorded my highest avg. heart rate for a cross rate ever (176avg/184 high) I guess my heart was well rested! The only positive I can report is it seemed that I was really going well in the corners by the fact I was actually making up ground on people. I was also thoroughly enjoying the big jump on the back of the course as I tried to get more and more air on every lap. By screwing around with the jump on the second to last lap, I dropped my chain on a particularly hard landing and lost my place to the only guy I was in front while I struggled to get my chain back onto my singlespeed which was no easy task! All in all this course was better than my initial expectations. The super loose corners allowed for two wheel drifts and slides which were heaps of fun! If you were a good bike handler this course would reward you. It was good to see everybody and now I’m looking forward to the next race!
Bay Area Super Prestige #1, Brisbane, CA USA, 10/7/2007
Pilarcitos #1 Brisbane
Say what you will about Tom and crew but the “Bay Area Super Prestige” races definitely have the numbers, hype, best riders and energy. It was great to see the newly relocated Director Sportif Mike Evans and the whole tent team posse set up, President-for-Life Mijnheer Gill and our stalwart teammates. I never race well after my son’s birthday parties and after having to take a rest week due to work and then catching my daughter’s cold Friday I barely motivated out the door. But I always figure you never know what can happen and it’s easy to fake it for 45 minutes.
My head was swimming and I was having trouble getting it together but after three warm up laps with Brock Dickie I was as ready as I was going to be. It was cool to see Dave Hopkins get the hole shot and lead the beginning of his race looking calm, cool and collected. The course was pretty nondescript but Tom gets a lot of bang for the buck and it was actually pretty fun to rip around.
Thank God for the call up. The staging and start were really tight, agro mayhem. Thanks to last year’s seventh overall placing I got a call up. I still got a little geeked at the start and had trouble with the first turn and section. There were a bunch of questionable maneuvers, resulting tangles, flats and all sorts of dust, cursing and what not. I totally lucked out and emerged around tenth. Didn’t have much gas but started to go to work as the unfathomably fast Maille, Hoeffer, Gannon, Howie, Dan Harting, Oz, D’Aluisio and few others already had a gap (Kramer had flatted). I was chasing familiar figures: Murray Swanson the Scotsman and Mark Christian. Eventually I was able to get around Murray and Mark with Coats finding his rightful spot blazing by me. I chased up to Harting and was grateful for the steady fast wheel. We caught and passed Oz and were eventually passed by Gannon, who must’ve had a flat, and then Kramer. Dan Harting is a better rider than me so I was super stoked to hang on, give him reports from behind and count down the laps. He’s not in his best shape so I could sit on pretty well. Last couple laps things got more interesting with Oz and Tim Thompson making a final effort, some fast cornering and a few two-wheel drifts. But Harting was too strong. Even after a bobble on one of the steep ride ups which I thought would open the door we stayed away with Harting beating me handily for 6th while I came in a lucky 7th. Without Dan I probably would’ve been caught and worked over.
The big boys: Maille had a huge lead but flatted giving D’Aluisio the win, hard-charging Coats second for the Morgan Stanley double, Hoeffer was third, then I think it was Howie and Gannon. Not sure where Kramer was—another flat? For me good times and good luck. Here’s to hoping this illness clears up for next weekend’s CCCX/Sacto Nor Cal Cup double. In any case it’s time man up and train through it.
PS. Since Philip Sims doesn't indulge in these it's worth noting he fought his way back from a tangle to 7th in the 45+ A's. Nice work.
Lion of Fairx & CCCX #2 Toro Park, Fairfax/Salinas, CA USA, 9/29/2007
Race Reports Weekend of 9/29-30/07
The word for the day was rough. A really tight, technical course with very little room to open things up. Lots of curbs, lips, gravel, and tight turns through the school resulting in a ton of crashes, flats and even some DNS’s. I was a little late to the start line—should’ve realized there were a lot of folks who’d make this one of their few races. Lined up in the fourth row and it was a cha cha line behind the leaders—Rich Maille, Smiling George, John Kammeyer and a few others. Gannon Myall dropped his chain at the start but miraculously chased all the way back to where he might have been otherwise—second. Hard to say, he’s flying but Maille is so fast he flatted and still won. Anyhow, I was happy with passing riders all day long until Myall came by me like I was standing still. Had quite a battle with the ever-aggressive Steve “Oz”, former teammate from Bianchi/Missing Link. Not how I like things to go down but I ain’t no punk. Not sure where I ended up but was disappointed to be somewhere between sixth and ninth instead of a little better. Oh well, there’s more Nor Cal Cup madness to ensue.
CCCX #2 Toro Park.
Ouch. I was wrecked after all the dust and hard riding in Fairfax. The start killed me. Even more than I thought it would. The Berries (Kramer and Hoeffer with fresh legs and Gannon un-phased by the day before’s effort) put the hurt on from the get go. Only Howie, Keith Defiebre and the one-and-only Brock Dickie could respond. The rest of us were left flailing. With those six gone I got around a few folks and tried to settle in on the pretty simple, fun course. Not sure how fast Howie and Keith were dropped but I think Brock was in there until he flatted. I caught Keith after dropping John Kammeyer and Mitch Bramlett. This week Keith road within himself and I was content to mostly just try and keep up with his fast descending, barrier-hopping self. The legendary Mtn. Larry reeled us in—after flatting (he was in the process of dropping me when this happened). Keith had waved me to the front and then the two of them attacked on the hill. Don’t think I ever stuck with that. I do remember descending behind both guys individually, both were really strong descenders with Larry being more controlled. Anyhow, all I could do was to chase at about twenty seconds with Kammeyer breathing down my back and Brock right behind him. Then I started really suffering. I was going backwards and really hating it. Thank God for the feeds and great cheers from folks (yea Juliana). Then along came Caesar Chavez pushing a big gear on the single speed. Slowly but surely after a lap or so together he road off after we exchanged encouragements. That guy is an absolute power and a class act. (Caesar’s weekend: won the SS race in Fairfax and then did the double finishing 7th in Master’s 35+ A and winning the SS after. Damn.) I put in a big effort on the final descent figuring John and Brock would have to work to catch me. It paid off for a weary 8th. Harsh weekend but hopefully it hardened me up a little. Thanks again for all the feeds, Darik Thundstrom has saved my life several times this year and that’s no exaggeration.
CCCX #2, toro park, ca USA, 9/30/2007
rita celeste leon
Before the race: a hard to start day I wasn’t feeling well but with some encouragement from Harriet and other teammates I decided to go out. I was also inspired by all the women who came out this time.. Plus my rival Soni (Vella Bella) was there. I then got in a couple practice laps before the race.
The Race Track: The course is a new venue never done before. Actually pretty fun. A steeper paved uphill, to single track trails primarily down, with a tricky uphill off-camber embankment, a dry sandy creek bed with down and up bumps, lots of hairpin turns on gravel more single track through oaks, with various barriers along the way. Everyone was coughing like crazy after the race with sore dry throats. (A Vella Bella girl, Amy had dropped out with a bad asthma attack-- her inhaler rides with her, but was not effective, at the finish, they said she was with the EMTs getting oxygen.)
The race: Luckily CCCX decided on only 4 laps rather than 5 for us Bs/45+ group-- as it was hot! Cs did 3 laps while the hardcore A's and fast 35+ gals did 6 laps! Similar to last week, a group of Bs, including the young hotties, sprinted up the hill and are gone at the start. I managed good clean dismounts, barrier jumps, and mounts. But one thing I’ll do differently next time because I always start at the back of the back realizing my plan to conserve energy only puts me behind women that are slower than me on the single track. Next time I’ll push hard to start then hold back as I ride with the “fast” chicks.. And just maybe I’ll push harder during the whole race? I did eventually pass 4 gals by the last lap and most importantly I passed my rival and finished clean at 4th place. However I was posted as a DNF? I will check that one out.
I am healing well from last week's fall but still have big yellow bruises and small scabs.
Great to see all the SCCCer’s as always, some are still not recognizing me in my sort du.
Hope to see ya’ll soon! Hugs and Kisses as Mike would say…
Velodrome Hellyer Group B Points, San Jose, CA USA, 9/27/2007
This was the last very last night of track racing for the season. I was a little hesitant to race since the attendance was poor at the last Friday night of racing and I didn’t do well but was pleasantly surprised by a good turnout and my performance.
I decided in advance to put a bigger chain ring with one extra tooth on for this race 51X50.
The Bs race was 60 laps with sprints every 5 laps. Points are awarded 5,3,2,1 for 1st through 4th place, getting 5th is worth nothing. The were 13 B racers plus 8 A racers who were told to stay at the back of the group not contest the sprints or go off the front, they were also told that if the pack split they could go up to the leaders only if that group was the largest on the track.
I knew that I was far from the strongest stayer (someone who can hold a high pace) or sprinter so I had a strict plan to conserve energy and go for every other sprint. My plan consisted of "resting" every other sprint starting with the second sprint and not trying bridge large gaps. As for the sprints my plan was to lead the sprints from about 300 meters. My hope was that this would avoid being out jumped and that only the strongest guys would be able to come over me. The second part of my plan was to avoid closing large gaps myself, this was aided by having the As behind our group because I knew that if I got gapped they were given permission to go up to lead group- hopefully towing me back up. (The A group included the pro Ben Jacques-Maynes and other super fast guys.)
The race started at good pace lead by Maurice Monge of the San Jose Bike Club. I just met Maurice the week before and knew that although he has just started racing he is much more talented than me. Going into the first sprint I kept to my plan, lead the sprint out at 300 meter and two guys came over me for 3rd place. I sat out the next sprint in the middle of the pack. Soon after the second sprint 2 guys attacked off the front and were able to get a 50 to 100 meter gap. As the gap hovered at about 75 meters a rider was able to bridge up to them. At this point the attack looked dangerous and I thought about trying to get across but remembered that I was going to conserve energy. The 3 guys got a maximum of about 150 meters but it appeared that going for the sprints was weakening there alliance and 3 other riders were able to bridge up. When I saw that the group had swelled to 6, decided I was definitely not going to bridge by myself and let the others in my group pull me up. I knew that with 6 guys only 4 could get points further weakening their motivation plus the As were still behind me. The downside of this plan was that I wasn’t able to go for the sprints but when we eventually regained contact I was well rested. With 16 laps to go I was able to go again and this time only one guy came over me for 2nd place. Then with 6 laps to go I punched it as hard as I could and this time I was able to hold everyone off. That left just the final sprint and I was tired from my last effort but didn’t have anything to loose so went again from 300 meters this time 4 guys came over me, 0 points.
From my count I had 2+3+5=10 points but the results show 13 points either way that puts me in 5th place and as I said before these races can be confusing for the spectators, officials and riders. I believe I have come in 5th a couple times before this season but overall I believe this was my best race because I felt good, raced smart, stuck to my plan and did better as the race progressed. And it truly is not if you win or lose but if you enjoy the experience.
Larry Nolan who is the promotor and official for the Thursday night points racing series did and outstanding job all year long. He even provided free beer for everyone including the spectators for this race.
I would also like to thank Paul at Rock Lobster (www.rocklobstercycles.com). He did an exceptional job building my new frame. While I haven’t noticed that I am faster than my old bike, it is an exceptionally nice machine. He also offers a substantial discount on his frames for Team Santa Cruz members. Even at his regular prices his frames are very reasonable especially considering all the precision work that he puts into every frame.
Another reason to consider track racing is that compared to road, mountain or cross racing the bikes are less expensive and last longer.
Hope to see you at the track next year.
Henleyville Road Race, Corning, CA USA, 9/22/2007
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....
Oh wait, I think there's a novel that starts out like that... :)
Well, this isn't a Tale of Two Cities, but it *is* a Story of Two Possible Endings - the one that could have been - and the one that was. Sigh.
First, the facts: 47 starters. 32 finishers. My place: 31st. Not quite dead last - but real close. Doesn't sound like I did all that great, does it? Ah, but sometimes, facts and numbers don't tell the whole story. And, of course, there *is* a story - or you wouldn't be reading this right now...
So even though I didn't make the top 5 - or top 10 - not even the top 30 out of 32 finishers - why did I have so much fun in this race? And why was I smiling after all was said and done, despite the dismal ending?
Now, I didn't really come in almost last, either - I mean, out of the 47 starters for our race, only 32 finished. This means we burned off about 1/3 of the field. But I didn't get to participate in the final bunch sprint at the end - I got to view it from a very short distance behind. With about a minute to go, I had a great position in the field - about 7th or 8th position - and I had properly marked the 3 or 4 guys that I thought were capable of winning this race. And no, I did not crash (yeah!) - in fact, I wasn't aware of anyone that crashed in any of the races today - and we even had some rain (well, drizzle, anyway) fall our way early on in the race. But that's one thing I really like about road races - they don't tend to have as many crashes as criteriums - it's not like you're doing a high-speed 90-degree turn every 30 seconds or so, as is the case in a typical criterium. So the opportunities to screw up are so much fewer in a regular road race.
And the Henleyville Road Race was everything I imagined it might be - the perfect kind of course for me. You see, I'm not a natural-born climber - I'm not built like an anorexic bird, as most the great climbers are built. I have a more typical time-trialist kind of body - a little bigger and broader, which is why I can actually time-trial fairly well, even without specifically training for it. But if a course has little rollers or short climbs (under 2 km), I can hang in there just fine - you just make sure you hit the climb in the front of the pack, then climb at a hard, but sustainable, pace - and allow yourself to gently drift back through the pack, making sure to punch it hard as you get towards the top, since there is almost always a strong surge over the top - this is where a lot of non-climbers or semi-climbers (like me) get dropped from the main pack - there's a tendency for newbies to relax as they get to the top of a climb - and this is almost always fatal - if you don't stay attached to the main pack as they crest the hill, you'll have a really hard time trying to latch back on as the pack races down the backside of the hill. So I try to make a point of getting to the front before the climb (or better yet - just stay near the front for the whole race - always a good idea, if you can pull it off) - and when the super-climbers sprint past everyone and crest the top first (as they always do), you'll still be somewhere in the middle or back of the main pack as they get over the top, and then you can surge over the top with everyone else and get your wind back on the flat or downhill section after the top. Then you just have to fight your way back towards the front again, which you can do during the next lull in the pace (which almost invariably happens at some point after a climb is done).
So when I saw the description of the Henleyville course (flat to rolling country roads), it sounded like the San Ardo course to me - and I really loved that San Ardo race - it was totally fun. The Henleyville course turned out to be quite similar, except the finish was *not* on an uphill - it was on a dead flat straight stretch of road - after the final turn onto that finishing straight, you had about 2 long miles before the finish line. And I had done my surveillance homework again - I had a nice list of my main competitors - about 8 guys that I wanted to mark: one from Tuesday Velo (Dana Farmer), one from Adventure's Edge (James Robbins), a couple from Chico Corsa (James Greenlee and Pat Beckley), a Webcor guy (Allen Brumm), and a few Davis Bike Club guys (Alan Rowland, Jason Eiserich, and Fred Shnaars).
In particular, I was quite wary of the DBC (Davis) guys - they had the largest team - about 8 guys that I counted at the line. The next most dangerous team looked to be the Chico Corsa team - they had about 5 or 6 guys - and they were a local team, which meant they would know the roads quite well. As it turned out, knowing the course was not really a big issue - I got there early enough to drive once around the 18-mile course ( we were doing 3 laps - 54 miles ) and saw there was only one small hill about 1 km long on the backside of the course - the rest was essentially flat, or very slightly downhill. All in all, a very non-technical course with very few places to make a selection. For those of you that aren't familiar with the term "selection", it refers to that part of a bike race where a separation occurs - basically, the strongest guys shed the weaker guys. It typically happens on a climb, although it's possible to do it other ways, too. But the big hill on our course was not exactly le Alpe d’Huez or Mt Diablo - it was this little 1 km bump in the road. Good for allowing a possible breakaway to get started, but not long enough to create a huge time gap from the main pack. It was pretty clear this race was probably going to come down to a bunch sprint at the end. And I knew who the best sprinters were, based on their placings in other similar kinds of races (which would be flatter road races and criteriums).
I felt pretty good as we lined up for the race - it was overcast and cool - in fact, a light drizzle would begin falling soon after we got started, but it only lasted for about 20 minutes or so - the rest of the race was fairly dry and cool - perfect conditions for a race on country roads. As expected, we started out pretty mellow, with most people probably curious about the course - the Henleyville road race had last been used back in the late 90s, from what I heard. I got myself positioned quite nicely near the front early on - I was determined to stay in that front 5 to 10 guys, no matter what happened during the race - I was expecting to get a good workout and work a lot harder than I did at San Ardo (at San Ardo, I just sat in the back of the pack for a good part of the race - bad idea!). I wanted to be right up there where all the action was happening, to chase down breaks, maybe initiate a break, and at the very least, have a good position for the final bunch sprint, which was my prediction before we even started the race - it just seemed like that kind of course - and the group I was in did not seem to have too many aggressive riders in it, as I found out during the race.
There was this Third Pillar guy that decided during the first lap to go for a solo break as we stomped up the hill for the first time - he just took off at the base of the climb and didn't look back - we all watched as he flew away from us - but nobody seemed too concerned about him - he wasn't part of the 2 main teams, so they just decided to let him dangle out in front for about a 1/2 lap or so - I guess the pack decided they'd let him burn up a bunch of his matches, and then reel him in for the kill at some point.
I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to get things moving along ( after watching him dangle out there for a few miles ) by jumping to the front of the pack and pulling them around the course for the next several miles - I was basically reeling in the Third Pillar guy, slowly - but my heartrate was not unusually high - it was just a solid tempo pace. Then, one of the DBC guys rolled up and took over duties - Jason Eiserich - we chit-chatted for a bit, then got down to business and kept pushing the pace along. For almost one lap, it was mostly Jason and myself trading off duties - we caught the Third Pillar guy by the time we got to the top of the hill on the second climb. At that point, a couple of guys tried to breakaway, but we quickly shut them down and pulled the pack together again. I figured the real action would get started on that third, and final lap.
Sure enough, just as we turned through a corner after we started our final lap of the 18-mile course, Jason moved to the front and looked over to me and said, "Let's go!" - and we blasted through the corner - we got a nice gap on the field - and a third guy bridged up to us - this looked like it might be a possible winning break - me, Jason, and this other guy ( I forgot who it was now ) - but after Jason did a nice pull, the other guy in our breakaway wouldn't take over and do his fair share of the work - it was clear that Jason needed someone to take over, so I jumped up near him and got in front - not exactly a smooth paceline, by any means - and after doing a short, but strong pull, Jason would take over - but whenever he moved over to let the other guy through, the guy would just drift over and sit on Jason's wheel - he wasn't trying to help us at all! I remember thinking that guy didn't have much of a team with him ( kind of like me - all alone! ) - but still, we had a good opportunity to see if we could form a nice little team time-trial and try to pace ourselves to the end - and even if we got caught, it would still be fun!
But, due to the very inefficient paceline we had going, the pack quickly caught up to us and we were all one giant mass again. At that point, the pack relaxed before we got to the hill for the final time - and then there were a series of quick attacks just before the hill and then again on the hill, not too surprisingly. I covered all the attacks, dragging the pack along to reach the breakaways - and at one point, I almost thought about trying to get a few of the guys that had blasted ahead on the hill to try and work together to create a nice breakaway group (about 5 or 6 of us) - but nobody seemed interested in my idea, and everything collapsed back into a big swarm again. It seems that everyone just wanted to reserve their big efforts for the very end of the race. Sigh.
So, I decided, okay - this is just going to be a big bunch sprint - and the pace really slowed down on the backside, as everyone was clearly resting in preparation for the final sprint to the finish line. There were a couple of false alarms, as various guys launched minor attacks here and there, but we quickly neutralized any of them and the entire pack just settled in for those last few miles, ready to pounce at the end. I was maintaining a nice position the whole time, never drifting back to more than about 7th or 8th place. At one point, this one guy rolled up to me when I was near the front again, and complimented me on the fact that he had seen me up at the front a lot the whole day, working my butt off - what a nice thing to say! It really made my day - and I realized there was a lot of value in getting to the front and either pulling the pack along - or chasing down breakaways - or even trying to initiate your own breakaways - the value you get is total respect from the guys you are racing with - what a concept! I decided right there that I would make a point of trying to be more aggressive in all my future races, even if it ends up resulting in a poorer placement at the end of a race. After all, you get a better workout, you get stronger - and the guys you race against will know they can depend on you in the future, to help them out - and maybe one day you'll get a nice payback, too - as one or more of them decide to help you when you need it one day...well, I can dream, right?
So now we're about to make our final 90-degree right turn, followed by a final 90-degree left turn onto the final straightaway to the finish (about 2 miles of dead straight road). And I'm guarding my position like a hawk - not letting anyone get around me or in front of me - I wanted to be in that top 7 or 8 guys as we wound up for the sprint - and I knew who to watch, too - the DBC guys had at least 3 guys up in the front, obviously working to get one of them launched into the final sprint - and I suspected I knew who it might be - the one guy that had not been doing *any* work whatsoever all day - a DBC guy named Fred Schnaars - he looked like one of their strongest riders, but was not expending any extra energy whatsoever during the race. So I figured (correctly) that he was their main man - the one that they had designated as the leader of the day - the one who would win it all at the end (and, he did!).
So as we approach the 1 km to go sign (yes, Velo Promo had put out a little temporary sign to let us know we're down to our last kilometer - and they also had another temporary sign with just 200 meters to go, so you know all the pain will be ending real soon), I'm all psyched up 'cause I just *know* I'm going to get a decent placing in this road race - just my second road race in about 30 years (San Ardo was my first a couple of months ago).
Suddenly, I feel this really uncomfortable twitch at the back of my upper right leg - it's my hamstring area - and it's starting to cramp up - real bad...talk about timing! Of course, the pack doesn't seem to care too much - everyone's focused on jockeying for position and the speed increases dramatically now. I can't believe it! I immediately raise up my right hand, to indicate I have a problem - since I'm right up there where all the action is happening, I want to let everyone know they need to avoid me, as I'm about to slow down - dramatically - and drift to the very back of the pack - and then off the back of the pack, in quick succession.
What a helpless feeling - watching everyone winding up for their final sprints - and I'm just soft-pedaling at about 10 mph, mostly using my left leg, as my right leg is now in a full-on cramp. Ugh! Arrrgghh!! And I realize that I'm about to come in DFL - well, not quite - it turns out there was some other guy that came in just after me - but at the time, I just assumed I was last. How depressing - all that hard work, all that reconnaissance work - getting and keeping the perfect position in the pack - especially with under a mile to go - and I'm limping across the line about a minute after everyone else. My only consolation - one of the officials at the table where they have the video cameras to record the finish yells out, "Good job!" ... Huh? Good job? What - crossing the line dead last? Oh, I get it - yeah, at least I finished, which is more than 15 others in our original peleton can say. Big deal. I didn't want to just finish - I wanted to finish in the top 6 and get some of those coveted upgrade points, so I can move into Category 3 and join my friend, Dennis Pedersen, in some of his races next year. Rats!
But then, I eventually catch up to the DBC guys I had been racing with all morning (they were now riding slower than me, just cooling down) - they were, of course, talking excitedly about the final rush to the line, and how they had been able to successfully launch their guy to the win. I started feeling pretty good - mostly 'cause I knew that *they* knew that I had been right up there with them all day long, pulling the pack around the course, chasing down breaks, even trying to initiate a break myself at one point - with Jason from their DBC team. The DBC guys were delirious because they had placed 3 in the top 10, including Fred Schnaars as Numero Uno - the winner of the race. And Jason thought he got 6th (it turned out to be 7th). And another guy I had marked, Alan Rowland, got 6th. And that Webcor guy, Allen Brumm, got 4th. And James Greenlee, from the Chico Corsa team, got 13th. I never did see Dana Farmer, the Tuesday Velo guy. Or Pat Beckley, another Chico Corsa guy. They must have been blown off the back at some point - I did see someone pull off with a flat tire on the backside of the course during the first lap - maybe that was one of those guys. The only one that didn't place well from my scouting list was James Robbins, of Adventure's Edge - he got 27th. But he was one of the guys that tried to breakaway at one point - and he was also at the front a lot, like a few us - so he may have over-extended himself before we got to the final sprint.
In retrospect, I realize why I probably cramped up at the end - I had filled both my water bottles with just plain water - normally, one of them would have cytomax in it, which has replacement salts in it (you lose a lot of water and salts through sweating during a race). When you lose enough salts, your muscles are much more prone to cramping. I had never cramped before on a bike ride - or a race - probably because I've always brought along my cytomax! Duh. Now, I also happened to have a couple of Shot Blocks packets with me - and they also have salts in them. But - I forgot to eat some of them during that last hour of the race - and this was another big mistake! If I had downed a few Shot Blocks, I might have saved myself from cramping at the end. I'll never know, for sure. Also, I was working pretty hard during various points in the race - if I had simply sat quietly in the pack (like Fred, the winner), I might have not dripped away quite as much salt, and might never have cramped up at the end.
So, more hard lessons were learned in this race. It seems I've learned a lot of hard lessons in my few races this year (4 crits and 2 road races). Hopefully, I'll put all those lessons to good use next year, and actually place in the top 5 on a more regular basis. That would be sweet, indeed.
Like I said, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
Hellyer Track Friday September 21st Category 3-4 Omnium, San Jose, CA USA, 9/21/2007
This was the last Friday night track racing of the season. Friday night is designed to be the “main event” of the Wednesday-Thursday-Friday racing schedule so I decided to attend the last one of the year. Wednesdays have a similar omnium format but are supposed to be “lower key”, “practice races” and open to Category 5s that have attended 3 Saturday sessions. It has been my experience that if you put a group of men (or women) together on the bike everyone goes as hard as they can so saying it’s “practice” makes little difference.
An omnium on the track usually consists of 3 or 4 separate races on the same day. Riders score points for their places in the separate events and the point are added to determine the placing in the omnium. This evening there were only 6 riders in the Cat 3-4s. I consider about 15 riders to be the optimal number for most track events. Have noticed that when the group is small that only the strongest riders show up. Don’t know if the chicken comes before the egg- do the fast riders get fast by riding/racing more or do the fast riders show up because they get more satisfaction from being fast.
I made the mistake of using a 50 X 15 gear this evening. The first event was a 7 lap “Win and Out”. The first person to cross the line after 7 laps would be the winner and everyone else would race one more lap to sprint for the other places- so coming in second on lap 7 is worth nothing but coming in first on lap 8 (the rear winner has already left the track) is worth second place. This would turn out to be my “best” race of the night. On lap 5 .there was strong attack off the front. I had the feeling that I was one of the weakest riders so I decided to let the others bring it back. When after one lap little progress had been made on the closing the gap I made my own attack but only was able to get half way across the gap so with about 200 meters to go to the end of lap 7 I sat up and got on the wheels of the two guys behind me. The guy off the front easily won the race. In the conciliation sprint on lap 8 I gave it everything I had but was easily beaten by the two guys who caught me.
The second race was a 12 lap (4 kilometer) scratch race. A scratch race is the type of race most non trackies are familiar with- simply the first rider across the line wins. One of the 6 riders from the first race decided to not start this race (also called scratching- to make the terms confusing). I ended up forth in this race. The three guys in front of me easily beat me and were all grouped together at the finish with me several meters off back. After the race the guy who scratched the scratch race commented that I appeared to be in too small a gear and was spun out in the sprint. I immediately realized he was correct and planned to change gears for the next two races but realized I had left my spare cogs and chain rings in the car that was now being driven around San Jose by my wife.
The third race was the Miss and Out (also called “Devil take the hindmost”). This is a staple of all American track race omniums. For this race there were only four racers. This was so few racers that the rules were changed. Usually the person whose back wheel crosses the finish line last every lap is pulled from the race until there are only three riders left, and then there is a lap with no one pulled and the last three riders sprint for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. I won’t explain the modified rules for this race. Basically I was the first rider pulled after I was badly gapped in the first sprint.
The last race of the night was a Keirin. I knew I was in trouble with my small gear but wasn’t going to leave early, especially since my ride hadn’t returned. The name Keirin come from Japan- were a similar type of race is used for betting. American Keirins are of the UCI style, this is a link to the UCI world championship in 1990 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp1kh5pDXjM Again there were only 4 riders for this race- in my opinion this is good number for this event but unfortunately I knew the three other guys were much better sprinters and was seriously under geared. The race is 6 laps with the first 4 ½ paced by a motorcycle. The UCI rules changed a few years ago- it used to be that the motorcycle pulled off at a much higher speed about 35 mph but now only about 30 mph so it’s not nearly as much of an advantage to be at front for the first few laps. My holder gave me a good push and I easily got behind the motorcycle and it was very easy to sit on the big draft for the 4 ½ laps. I knew I couldn’t sprint for 1 1/2/ laps (500 meters) so I just kept the pace at about 30 mph when the motor cycle pulled off. Then with 200 meters to go I gave it everything I had and spun out my little gear at about 34 mph. The three other guys easily came over me and the result for me was the same as the other races.
When I got home I looked at my data and found that my top speed and cadence were about the same as my last few Thursday night races. Definitely needed a bigger gear for the shorter, faster races. I am guessing that I would still have finished 4th in all the races but would have been able to stay on the other wheels if I had been in a larger gear.
The last track race on the Hellyer schedule is Thursday, September 26. Next year I want to encourage everyone to give track riding a try. Track bikes are available to rent for $5, bring you pedals. Anyone can ride on most Saturday mornings- go to www.ridethetrack.com to check the schedule, more information. After riding 3 Saturdays you can race during the week. If you are thinking of racing please send me an e-mail at email@example.com. I have been going on Thursday's but would go on Wednesday or Friday if other SCCCC members were going and would be interested in car pooling. I have an old 56 cm track bike with good wheels that I would be happy to share.
cccx cross #1, prunedale, ca USA, 9/23/2007
rita celeste leon
Sunday was CCCX cyclocross #1 at Manzanita Park in Prunedale.
Check out the web site lots of cool photos!
Nice compacted sand due to rain-- a gorgeous day! Fun course with a longer pavement uphill, continuing on with dirt uphill witha few whoopty sections, then downhill, then a steep down embankment into a sand pit which immediately becomes an uphill run-up embankment, meandering through a baseball field, then up this tricky off-camber section, with various jumps scattered here and there
I got 3 out of 7 Women's B's
The start: about 5 gals had jetted off in front in the first lap, including the eventually winners, who are 2 youngsters in their twenties, and pretty fast. I caught three other gals by lap 2 or 3 and left them in the dust by lap 3 or 4. We all did 5 laps total. Henrietta Sten (Hot Flash Chick's and my race buddy, if she would have raced B's and not the Old Lady category she would have gotten 3rd, what would I do with our her? ) We changed places a few times, and called out support to each other. We both had mechanicals of some sort. On the last lap I took a hard fall and spent my last hour at the race icing some nasty looking bruises on my knee and elbow. and the funny thing is that I crashed no ruts no turns just flat fast sand?
My skin is still sore... its the after burn and oozzey puss that makes it look bad.. but really its just abraisons and impact bumps!
FYI! I had one of our teammates pin my number on JEFF who also crashed earlier. rule #1 don't let a crashed person pin you!
Nice To see You all that showed up!!!!
Come on gals, come out if you're around! next weekend is the Toro Park race hill climbs!
Single Speed World Championships, Aviemore, Scotland UK, 9/1/2007
Howdy Team Santa Cruz! Just back from a week in Aviemore, in the Scottish highlands. Went to Single Speed World Championships and then
on lots of beautiful rides in the area. Highlight: Spent 3 hours one night in a blind: saw owls, bats, mice, a bunch of badgers but no pine martens. On the way home, spent the weekend in mid Wales riding.
Basically the event was a bacchanalia of tattooed men with mutton chop sideburns. The actual race was made up of a wide variety of participants: some that really raced (a total of 5 laps) to some who did only one (or no) lap and hung out mid course drinking beer from a hidden cache. Fun! It was a VERY technical course. I was riding my ss for only the second time so I got a great upper body workout pushing it up steep forest paths and sometimes carrying it cross style down super steep descents. Alex and our friends Emily and James did an amazing 4 laps. My buddy Ralucca did a leisurely 1. I did 2.
The mayhem: drinking in the streets, late night demolition derby, mosh dancing. Weirdo celebrity: Jackie Phelan.
Next year's location is determined by a variety of contests. This year it was a combo of Rollapaluza (racers compete on bikes set on trainers hooked up to speedometers). The racers staggered off the bikes after racing, shot a dram of whiskey and then did a highly interpretive version of the highland fling. All this to a couple hundred people heckling them!
Next year: Napa!!!! We don't know if we'll be able to make it since we're coming back in May already. It'll be great: there'll be so many of our friends there! Hope that includes YOU! I GUARANTEE it will be sunny and warm. The opposite of this year's location.
We leave Saturday for a week of riding in the French Alps - tough life! Happy trails, Winona
Photos by Alex and Winona.
CCCX #1, Prunedale, CA USA, 9/23/2007
Central Coast Cyclocross #1 Manzanita Park Masters 35+ A’s
Here’s too long a race report—don’t want to get to work:
Could not believe it actually dumped rain the day before, and in September! According to my morning paper we got quite a bit more than anywhere else in the Bay Area. Anyhow, I wasn’t feeling too psyched or motivated after not much time to train this past week. Tried bury it the week before in anticipation of this work schedule and did a bit too good of a job—I was really beat all week long. Keith Defiebre put together an extra fast, relatively smooth course without some of the usual tough parts. Mazanita Park is such a great venue you can’t help but get stoked. I snagged a front row start and slotted in behind Henry Kramer, Ganon Myall, Howie, and Keith. By the time we hit the singletrack I let Todd Hoefer assume his rightful spot. I wasn’t feeling it at all and quickly a gap had opened on the top five. I think I had forgotten to breath or something. I had quite a train off my wheel and after awhile Mitch Bramlett from Scotts Valley Cycle Sports and John Kammeyer took some turns at the front. I felt better leading and did so for a number of laps. We caught and passed Keith who had over-cooked it. The indomitable Caesar Chavez passed me so smoothly and it was then that I made an embarrassing mental error: I saw he was on a singlespeed and assumed we were in different categories. Lamebrain. This is not to say I could’ve stayed on his wheel, he was riding really strong and I was suffering big time, so I let him slip up the road a bit and was happy to see him cruise it. In retrospect had I known I would’ve dug deep to try and hang on to him. Oh well. Also I had John K, Jordi Cortes—back from a terrible leg break, who also took a pull at one point—Eric Bustos, and Tim Thompson breathing down my neck. I debated having folks pull through but decided to ride within myself and see what happened. First Tim flew by with an exciting pass with four laps to go I think. He was a master on the descent, but I got around him on the run up. Then Eric came by with a wicked attack on the start/finish hill. I hesitated but then decided to get on his wheel. Tim and John couldn’t respond so we worked a tiny gap for three laps. Last lap I attacked on the first downhill section, got a gap and was able to hold him off for sixth with Tim charging right behind Eric. All said, a really fun time. At the front: Poor Howie got worked over by the Strawberry Mob. He covered stuff right and left but I think he settled for fourth with Todd up a little ways and then the Gannon/Henry juggernaut, although I don’t know who came up on top. Wish we could get a rain like that every week from here on out. Next weekend the Fairfax/Salinas double. Jump right it.
Livermore#3, Livermore, Ca USA, 9/15/2007
It was a good day to race…so I got up at 0430 and started to get the gear together. Darik gets to sleep in until 0600, then we eat and we’re out the door. It takes us about 1hr 10m to get to the Livermore event at Robertson Park. Traffic is light and the drive uneventful.
Darik suits up and starts his pre-ride while Poncho and I head off to the registration desk. Weather is great, clear skies and a light NW breeze with temp. in the high 60’s. Darik comes back and informs me he’s found the line through the only technical section of the course , a sand trap curving right hander through the cattle pens. “You have to go outside then inside” he says.
Race time for Darik. There are only three JR’s in the Field of about 30 riders. One is Isaiah , already one of the faster Jr’s out there and only 11! The other is on a single sp. Bmx style bike with skinnies and the seat too low.
The whistle blows and they’re off! Darik starts moderately hard and hangs in with the back third of the group. Isaiah is gone, up towards the front, and the Bmx’er is off the back. Poncho and I head over towards the sand section with chair and water and immediately start up heckling. Most of the C’s are having difficulty riding through the section and are forced to run through with a couple of nice crashes. Darik comes by on his first lap and almost makes it through but has a slight bobble which forces a dismount. I know he’ll make it next lap! There’s a very fit guy in a Specialized team skinsuit on a single sp. Just destroying the field. He ran through the sand on the first lap even though he had a big big! gap, so I gave him a really hard time. He comes through the second time and rides it, then asks”Was that faster?” I tell him “It doesn’t matter ! just ride it!”. Darik comes through and smoothly rides the whole section and goes on to take 2nd place beating a few of the adults in the process…if that kid ever starts riding his bike more, watch out!
Now it’s time for my race prep. The course keeps improving every race…Shane has been putting a lot of work into it. It still has a lot of flat 180 and 90 degree turns that make you lose concentration after the first five or six, but Shane has put some more flow into them and marked them better to keep you from getting lost. He added sand to the sand section making it deeper making it harder to ride through…Darik was right the line was now outside then inside. Exiting the sand there’s now an off camber section in grass which makes for a much nicer transition heading into the stair run-up. Temp. was still nice low 70’s. I ride around for awhile chatting with whoever.
Race Time. I line up in the third row and mark Mark Abele’s wheel. Josh ,Howie, Gannon, Jason, and a bunch of other bad asses are up front. There’s about 25 of us and it’s going to be another bunch start. We’re off! The start is not real hard so it’s fairly easy for me to stay with the lead group. Abele’s uncharacteristically slow off the start so I come around him. Coming over the first set of boards I’m sitting well leading the 45+ group Paule , Jeff, and some other guys well behind. Over the first set of boards my foot slips off the pedal, the crank comes around and traps my skinny ass ankle in between the chainstay and crank…I’ve never experienced this before. It feels like I could snap the bone like a twig! I manage to backpedal the crank away, whew, that was close! Through this whole process I’ve drifted back a bit so it’s time to do some short sprints and get back to where I need to be. Abele comes with me and actually takes a longer dig coming around me and creating a gap. I decide to let him go and tuck in with Lander and some of his team mates. We hold steady with Abele and another Sycip rider through the lap narrowly missing a big pileup. By the second lap the group has split up pretty well. The group I’m riding with is just behind the lead group and we’re settling in to a great pace. With the exception of Abele, the rest of the 45’s are way back there. I’m feeling great and as we come over the first set of double boards I try an aggressive run and mount . I hit the saddle sideways and a little hard, all of a sudden my rear wheel’s. skidding. My tire has rolled off the rim! I knew my race was over…it was a long way back to my spare wheelset. I started running and finally a light came on in my head, put the tire back on stupid! I promptly did so and soft pedaled to my spare wheelset. My race over, I decided to wait for my group to come around and finish with them, which I did.
It was a good day for a race.
Bs Points Race Hellyer, San Jose, CA USA, 9/13/2007
I have been racing at the Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose for most of the season but this is my first race report. I want to encourage everyone to give track riding a try. Track bikes are available to rent for $5, bring you pedals. Anyone can ride on most Saturday mornings- go to www.ridethetrack.com to check the schedule, more information. After riding 3 Saturdays you can race during the week. Please let me know if you are thinking of racing send me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I have been going on Thursday's but would go on Wednesday or Friday if other SCCCC members were going and would be interested in car pooling. I have an old 56 cm track bike with good wheels that I would be happy to share.
I have been very impressed with the quality of Steve Rosen’s reports. My very brief report is going to suck by any comparison.
Thursday September 13th B points race, 60 laps sprints every 5 laps.
On Wednesday and Thursday riders can self select group A, B or C. I believe that group C corresponds to category 4 and 5, group B category 3 and group A category 1, 2 and pro.
A “points race” is a specific type of a track race were points are awarded 5,3,2,1 for 1st through 4th place at multiple intervals during the race (20 points for lapping field or 20 points subtracted for losing a lap). The winner of race is the person with the most points. It can get confusing for the riders, officials and spectators.
I arrived at the track at about 0630 pm. it’s about a 50 min drive from the Westside of Santa Cruz. After a good warm up my race started at about 0745 pm. I have a 50 X 15 gear and moved seat forward from last race 2 weeks ago about 1 cm – seemed to help in the sprints but lost a little sustained power. Started by going for every other sprint starting with the second sprint at lap 10. By my count I had 2nd places and one 4th (7 points) was working until I got greedy and tried for two sprints in a row at lap 35, came 5th, no points and didn’t get any points for the rest of the race after that mistake. By the official results I counted 2 more points for my self than the official- by his count I had 5 points and came in 8th. Not my best result but I enjoyed myself.
When I go home I downloaded my power meter results. Have found that I consistency put out very little maximum power during sprints compared to other racers (always less than 1000 watts). I am still able to place and sometimes even win sprints against racers who can generate almost twice as much maximum power. My point is that I don’t think anyone should avoid track riding/racing because they don’t see themselves as a sprinter.
Benicia Town Race, Benicia, CA USA, 9/9/2007
Yeah, you got that right - "Did Finish" - wooohooo!! Redemption! Well, sort
of...but more on that later...
After the total meltdown I had at the Giro di San Francisco last week - and
right in front of my family, no less (who were all there to see their first
bike race, up close and personal) - I really felt that I needed to somehow redeem
myself - if not for them, then at least for myself! I knew I could have done
much better than I did at the Giro - I could have at least *finished* the race,
even though it happened to have all these really fast *older* mutants (like
Don Langley and Kevin Metcalfe).
So I decided to go for another crit - and the Benicia Town Race was just around
the corner - only one week later, in fact. And my son, Mitchell, who was the
videographer for my Disaster in San Francisco, had agreed he'd come videotape
me at the Benicia race - I think he was secretly hoping I would Just-Hang-In-There-Until-The-End-And-Not-Blow-Up-Again...
A small aside: I had magically been upgraded to a Category 4 racer just a
couple of days after the Giro..."How could that be?", you might ask...Well,
Dennis Pedersen had made the excellent suggestion that I might be able to use
the experience from my early days of racing (about 30 years ago) to help qualify
myself for at least 10 mass start races, which is all you need to advance from
Crash, er, Cat 5 to Cat 4. After you get to Cat 4, however, you have to *earn*
your advances up through the ranks by actually placing in races. But just to
get to Cat 4, you only need to *enter* 10 mass start races - you don't even
need to finish any of them! Well, I had done 4 races this year, 2 crits that
I finished, a road race that I finished, and, uh, oh yeah - that horrible disaster
last week at the Giro crit. So I only needed 6 more mass start races. Well,
30 years ago, I must have done several dozen races each year for more than 2
years, including a stage race up here in Santa Cruz County (La Contienda de
las Colinas, for all you oldie racers). So I applied for an upgrade license
to Cat 4, citing at least half a dozen races I could vaguely recall from my
glorious past (including a 3rd place in the Manhattan Grand Prix!) - and just
like that - Boom! - I got the e-mail from Casey Kerrigan saying that he had
approved my upgrade request to Cat 4 - wooohooo!!
To help me in the redemption process, I looked at the current list of entrants
for the various races and saw that I had a lot of options for this race. Since
I was now a bona-fide Cat 4, I could enter the Elite 4 or the Master 35+ 4/5
or the Master 45+/55+. Well, I quickly ruled out the Master 45+/55+, as that
group included the honorable Kevin Metcalfe - I wasn't stupid enough to subject
myself to another Speed-A-Thon around Benicia, so that left either the Elite
4 or the Master 35+ 4/5 race - or both, for that matter. The Elite 4 would start
at 9:20 am and the Master 35+ 4/5 would start at 11:00 am - and since Mitchell
and I would be driving about 90 minutes to get there from Scotts Valley, we
agreed it would be much more humane to leave Scotts Valley at 8:00 am, get there
a little earlier, get registered and - most importantly - *warmed up* this time!
We could also watch part of the Elite 3 race, so I could preview my competition
for next year... :)
So Mitchell and I setup camp near the start/finish area on E. H St. - all
the streets in Benicia have these really imaginative names, like E. 2nd St,
E. J St., E. 4th St., E. H St. - oh, yeah - now I've just described our course
to you - I'm glad I don't live in Benicia - trying to negotiate around the town
or give directions to lost strangers would give me constant headaches, for sure...
Actually, describing this course is probably a good idea, so you understand
that it's not your typical "flat" crit with 4 right turns. The start/finish
area is on E.H St. (about halfway between E 3rd St. and E. 2nd St.) - you roll
along a fairly flat, really nicely paved road on E. H St., then turn right onto
E. 2nd St, where the pavement quickly degenerates from excellent to horrific
- well maybe not quite that bad, but you get the idea - it's not newly paved,
let's put it that way. On E. 2nd St. (which is a short block), there is essentially
flat up to turn 2, which is a right onto E. J St. - and as soon as you turn
right, you hit "The Hill" - it's not a particularly steep hill, nor is it particularly
long - but when you're climbing it at 21 to 24 mph, it can take it's toll on
you! After you hit the top of "The Hill", you hit a couple of little rollers
before you plunge into turn 3, which is a right onto E. 4th St. - and this little
gem of a leg has another little roller, where the bottom of the roller (as it
crosses over E. I St.) has a rotten drainage ditch across the whole road, chock
full of potholes, gnarled bumps of old tar, and who-knows-what-else? Needless
to say, it's probably the worst spot on the course, for sure. Then you make
a quick right back onto E. H St., where you get two heavenly sights and one
nasty reminder - the heavenly sights are a fast little downhill (the opposite
of "The Hill") and smooth-as-silk pavement again ("Aaahhhh!") - and the one
nasty reminder is the incessant headwind that is blowing into your face - ugh!
So, the end of the race is a downhill sprint on beautfiul pavement - into a
headwind. Yep, they devised a very interesting course, indeed...
As usual, since I had the list of entrants ahead of time (thank you, BikeReg.com!
- and why can't Velo Promo use BikeReg.com or SportsBaseOnline.com, anyway?),
I was able to scope out my competition (thank you, usacycling.org!), checking
out how each one has done in their various races. From my surveillance work,
I was able to identify 7 likely guys to finish in the top 10: Ernest Gallardo
(Mako/DeMarco), Stephen Langone (Kaiser Permanente), Joseph Pritchard (Benicia
Bicycle Club), Matthew Smith (East Bay Velo Club), Craig Stewart (Synergy Racing),
Ian Swinson (another Kaiser Permanente), and Steven Woo (LGBRC). Additionally,
I saw a few other Kaiser Permanente and Synergy Racing candidates that could
be good lead-out guys. I thought Joseph Pritchard had a lot of possible motivation,
since he rides for Benicia Bicycle Club and would likely have a lot of friends/family
out there, cheering him on. And that Kaiser Permanente group looked intimidating,
so I mentally marked them, too - I had my work cut out for me - I didn't have
a Dennis Pedersen to lead me around the course this time! In fact, I was all
by my lonely self - the only SCCCC guy to enter any of the races that day...
As we lined up for the start, I bumped into one of my "targets" - Steven Woo
of LGBRC - he's a really nice guy - I had talked to him at length when I did
my first race this year, at the Watsonville crit - he had done the Cat 4 race
at Watsonville and placed 10th (Dennis placed 2nd in that same race, which gave
him enough points to catapult himself into Cat 3). I told Steven about my recent
upgrade to Cat 4 and he congratulated me on escaping from the Crash 5 category.
I had noticed at the registration that morning that our race, though technically
Cat 4 and Cat 5, had predominantly Cat 4 racers (all over 35, of course) - there
had been a Cat 5 and a Cat 4 race earlier in the morning. In fact, Steven had
started the Cat 4 race, but pulled himself out after a particularly nasty crash
that happened near the start/finish area on one of the earlier laps. So you
see, Cat 4 is no guarantee that there won't be any crashes - but the guys that
do Cat 4 are certainly a lot less squirrelly than the typical Cat 5 guys.
We get the usual spiel at the start line and this time I'm ready when they
let us go - it was a very large field - about 50 riders - the biggest pack I
had ridden with, ever! Well, the biggest this year - when I did the Manhattan
Grand Prix 30 years ago, we had a much larger pack - but that's an ancient story
(and I got 3rd - oh, did I mention that already?)...
So we're off and I was positioned in about the middle of the pack - not where
I wanted to be, but it was fine for the start - oh, I forgot to mention that
the organizers of this race were forcing every race to do an initial promenade
lap, at a mellow pace, just to let everyone get familiar with the course - what
a nice thing to do! I wish all races (crits) were done that way - it wouldn't
necessarily reduce the number of crashes, but might make everyone feel a little
less jittery in the early laps of a crit.
I was feeling pretty good and tested myself on "The Hill" - the first couple
of laps after the promenade lap were fairly fast, as I expected - but I didn't
seem to have any problem staying with the main pack on the uphill sections on
the backside of the course. So I thought I would just hang out in the middle
of the pack for a few laps, and then move my way towards the front. I noticed
that Steven Woo seemed to have the same strategy - we played an interesting
game of cat-and-mouse - sometimes, I'd be following his wheel, other times,
he'd be following mine. I figured I'd keep him on my radar screen, since he
seemed to have placed quite well in recent criteriums this year.
Then - disaster struck! No, it's not what you might think - I didn't crash
- but I might have! We had just gone through turn 3 of the course, where there
was a little roller (over that awful drainage ditch between the downhill and
the uphill section of the roller), when suddenly I felt this odd "Bump!" and
my chain fell off the big chain ring! I suddenly heard panicked shouts behind
me, "Chain off! Chain off!" - but it didn't seem that big a deal to me - I just
calmly pedaled easy and flipped my chain right back onto the big chain ring
- then I yelled back to the guys, "It's okay - Chain On! Chain On!" - I think
I heard one guy next to me start to giggle - I have to admit, it was a scary
moment - but pretty funny, too! So, total disaster was averted, and we hit turn
4 and continued on our merry way.
But...when we got to "The Hill" a few moments later (actually, it was probably
less than a minute later!), I noticed that climbing up the hill felt really
odd and strange - and I was confused about why everything felt so weird - and
we were only on the 3rd or 4th lap of the race (out of about 21). Then I realized
the problem - and I also understood why my chain had popped off earlier - my
seatpost had slipped down - and my seat itself was also angled down! The reason
why the hill felt so odd, in particular, was that I was trying to spin my way
up the hill (as opposed to standing and grinding it out in a slightly larger
gear) - but my legs were all squished up - I wasn't getting any power from my
stroke - oh, brother! I think the seatpost (and seat) and slipped at the same
time my chain popped off - in fact, it was the slipping that *caused* the chain
to pop off, when my feet/legs suddenly applied an abnormal kind of pressure
down near the crank - at least, that was my instantaneous analysis - but that
really didn't matter at the moment, because I realized I had a very serious
problem - going up that hill was going to be a real problem - and my usual pedal
stroke was now all messed up - not at all fluid and even, but choppy and strained!
As I contemplated what to do, the race continued rolling on - and I heard
a prime announced at one point - by that time, I had gone around a couple of
laps with my "new" riding style, and I wasn't a very happy camper - in fact,
I thought I should probably just pull out of the race, since riding around at
an average speed of 24 to 25 mph in that weird position was getting old quickly.
More importantly, I noticed that the only way to get up "The Hill" was to drop
down a gear and stand the whole way, which was not what I wanted to do. Why?
Because this manner of climbing a hill builds up the lactic acid in your legs
a lot faster - and that means you are burning more matches out of your race
matchbook. At the rate I was burning matches, my fire was going to go out quickly!
But the thought of doing *another* DNF just one week after the Giro - and
with Mitchell videotaping the race - well, let's put it this way: I just said, "No
way!" - my bike was functioning, my heartrate was okay - only my legs were getting
tired - and that meant I was going to find it hard to move up towards the front
- and even harder to try and compete for the bunch sprint at the end of the
race. I realized that if I just gritted it out, I could stay in the race, but
there was just no way I was going to be able to follow my game plan, which was
to let Steven Woo lead me out for some kind of good placement at the end (of
course, he didn't *know* this was my game plan!).
So I decided to just grit it out and grind my way to the finish - the laps
became fairly predictable: bunch up on the downhill straight towards the start/finish
due to the headwind (except for prime laps), then relax briefly on the flat
section before "The Hill", make turn 2 onto the climb, stand up and grind it
out on the backside climb, whip through turn 3 and prepare for "Bump!" as we
bounced around over the drainage ditch, then make turn 4 and prepare to bunch
up again. This was repeated over and over - with one exception - in about the
middle of the race, on a prime lap - some guys decided that the prime was more
important than staying healthy and sane - as they took turn 3, one of them lost
control and went down - I didn't hear exactly what happened, but it happened
near the front of the pack - as I approached turn 3, I heard all these guys
yelling, "Crash! Crash! Crash!" - okay, I get it - there was a crash and you
need to put out some extra radar to look for escape hatches, etc. - I saw about
3 or 4 guys that had were all tangled up near the gutter - and later on (towards
the end of the race), we saw some ambulance roll up to take away at least one
of them. Sigh. Even though most of our group was Cat 4, and everyone was at
least 35 years old, it's still possible to experience crashes, obviously. But
I can say that overall, the bike handling in the group seemed a lot more stable
and secure - despite that one nasty crash, the pack felt pretty comfortable
to me. Guys held their lines through the turns, nobody did stupid stuff like
hit their brakes in the middle of a turn, and people talked to each other, so
help avoid surprises, etc.
So we're down to the final lap - the bell goes off and the usual pack surge
happens in a most Pavlovian manner - and I'm holding tight to Steven Woo's wheel
- that is, until we got to "The Hill". I knew that he was going to make a move
on the climb - and he did - but I just couldn't follow him - my legs were toast
from having climbed the hill the wrong way for the last 15 laps - I was doing
everything I could to just hang onto my position in the pack, which had slipped
from the middle to the last third of the pack or so - but at least this race
was not going into the books as a DNF for me - I was going to finish the race
for sure, but somewhere deep in the pack - nowhere in the top 10, not today.
When I finished, Mitchell told me that a bunch of guys had been pulled from
the race after getting dropped from the pack - so of the 50 that started, he
thinks only 40 or so finished - I don't know my exact placing, but I think it
was somewhere between 25th and 30th...once you know it's not top 10, it doesn't
really matter too much!
It's too bad, though - my game plan would have been almost perfect! I saw
Steven Woo surging up towards the front on "The Hill", then he tucked in somewhere
near the third or fourth position going into the last turn - and he was sprinting
fairly well, but he said that he got passed by 5 or 6 guys in the last 50 feet
and thinks he ended up getting 10th or so. If I had executed my original game
plan, I might have been one of those guys blasting past him! Oh, well...
After the race, I did a cool down lap with Steven Woo and he complimented
me on how well he thought I had done for my first Cat 4 race - he said he found
himself chasing my wheel on several of the laps, and could see I was obviously
feeling strong and confident, but was clearly having trouble due to my seatpost
problem. He wasn't sure he would have stayed in the race if he had developed
the same problem...
For those that are into stats, here are a few to munch on: average speed was
24.0 mph, max speed was 32.7 mph, distance was 16.0 miles (0.76 miles per lap,
21 laps), elevation gain was 1100 feet (see? not flat!), fastest lap was 26.0
mph (the last lap, of course), average heartrate was 157 bpm (max heartrate
is 175 bpm).
In retrospect, I'm really glad I didn't quit after developing that mechanical
problem with my bike early in the race - it would have been easy to just pack
it in and give up, but I realized that sometimes, even when things go wrong,
you can still turn things around and get back on track. In this particular case,
I wasn't able to pedal properly for most of the race, which affected just about
everything for me - but I did push through the problem and figured out a way
to adjust to the circumstances. And, in the end, this was a valuable lesson
It seems I've been learning a lot of hard lessons in these first few races,
after a 30-year absence. Hopefully, next year I'll get a chance to teach a few
lessons, for a change... :)
Metromint Giro di San Francisco, San Francisco,
CA USA, 9/3/2007
Giro di San Francisco Race Report
There - now *that* has to be the shortest race report you've ever read - the
abridged version. For those of you that understand what DNF means, we're all
done and you can move on to the next report - or just get back to work...
For the rest of you - want to hear the gory details? Yeah, I thought so. Okay,
so now we can get into the unabridged version of my race story. Part of me wanted
to write this report - and part of me just wanted to slink away and pretend
I never heard about something called the Giro di San Francisco...
For those that aren't that familiar with racing vernacular and terminology,
DNF means Did Not Finish - or as my kids probably thought to themselves - Dad's
Not Fast (enough) - but more on that later...
When I first signed up for this race, I was debating between one of 3 possible
events: Masters 35+ 4/5 or Cat 4/5 or the open 45+/55+ event. In retrospect,
I probably should have instead signed up for one of the special Kids Races and
borrowed some kid's tricycle - I might have had a fighting chance to actually
*finish* one of those races...
The Cat 4/5 race was out, for sure - after witnessing the carnage of our Cat
5 race at the Timpani crit (see my race report below), I was determined to follow
my New Rule About Entering Criteriums: "Never enter a regular Cat 5 or Cat 4/5
crit again" - too much inexperience! Meaning crashes, of course. And it turns
out my New Rule About Entering Criteriums stood up for this Giro race, as the
Cat 4/5 race I *might* have entered had one of those horrible crashes - and
it didn't even happen at "Crash Corner" (named by my middle son, Mitchell -
but more on that later). Instead, it happened on the straightaway section *before*
you try to sweep through "Crash Corner" (turn 2 on the Giro course) - apparently,
the guy touched someone's rear wheel (now, why on earth would you do that?)
and went down real hard - the ambulance eventually came and hauled him away
- they actually had to stop the Cat 4/5 race and then re-start it, delaying
all the subsequent races - which meant they ended up shortening most of the
So, I now I had to decide between the Masters 35+ 4/5 or the open 45+/55+
events - and this is where fate stepped in. Or, more accurately, this is where
Dennis Pedersen stepped in - he had sent out an e-mail entitled "Giro di San
Francisco, anyone?" and mentioned several events he qualified for, including
a couple that I could also qualify for - and I ended up responding to him by
saying I wasn't sure about doing the Giro, but if I decided to do the race,
I said I would most likely suffer my way through the Masters 45+/55+ event that
has all the old, really fast goons that used to race alongside Greg Lemond and
Well, needless to say, I thought it would be really cool to do a race with
Dennis - he was in the process of upgrading to Cat 3 and I was just starting
all over again in Cat 5. So the odds of ever racing in the same race were small,
unless we both did an open 45+ event or I eventually worked my way up to Cat
3, which could take me a few years...so, I signed up for the hardest possible
event I could sign up for - after all, how hard could it be? The course had
a small hill, sure - but it was full of these really *old* guys that had lost
their legs, right? Uh, wrong...dead wrong! Now, to be fair, Dennis had *tried*
to warn me that the goons in the open 45+/55+ were actually mutants in disguise
and would tear our legs off - but I had a Simple Game Plan - follow Dennis'
wheel, at all costs - and never deviate from the plan. Dennis said he didn't
need any more upgrade points, as he already qualified for Cat 3 - and he said
he'd be happy to work for me during the race. I suggested I would be lucky to
hold his wheel - and my words were more prophetic than I realized at the time.
Before we talk about the actual race, a side note: This was the first race
that my whole family was going to watch, up close and personal - my wife, Becky,
and my 3 sons - Jake, Mitchell, and Grant. Mitchell quickly signed up to be
the videographer for the event - he really enjoys being the Official Recorder
of Family Events whenever possible - and he does a very credible job, too -
he manages to avoid the boring commentary that I usually provide when the responsibility
of videotaping an event passes over to me...
Now, you'd think that for the first race your family is going to witness,
you'd pick something that you had a warm and fuzzy feeling you were going to
be able to compete in - but sometimes, sheer lunacy prevails and you instead
pick the one race where your odds of making that one fatal mistake are astronomically
high. But I'm an optimist at heart, and figured I'd just stick to the Simple
Game Plan. There's only one problem with following any game plan - you *must*
execute - the game plan! If you deviate, you are now improvising and who knows
what will happen? More on that later, but I forewarned my family that this race
had some really fast guys in it - like Don Langley (who won the race) and Kevin
Metcalfe (who came in a very close second).
As another aside, it should be noted that Kevin Metcalfe is incredibly strong
- he got 6th place this year in the World Time Trial Championships (in Austria
a couple of weeks ago) in the 45+ category, doing the 12.4 mile course with
1400 feet of elevation gain in just 25:40, an average speed of 29 mph!! He was
just 32 seconds away from first place, too! He also entered the World Road Race
Championships 45-49 Category (also in Austria) and finished in the bunch sprint
at the end (no breakaways succeeded). Imagine that - Kevin actually flew halfway
around the world to get in a few intense training sessions just so he could
blow us away at the Giro - what a nice guy! Oh yeah, Kevin can also climb Mt
Diablo in 47 minutes and Old La Honda in 16 minutes - amazing! I'm still struggling
to break an hour on Mt Diablo and 20 minutes on Old La Honda, just so you understand
there's a slight difference between my legs and the mutant legs that belong
to the likes of Kevin Metcalfe (and Don Langley, who's just a hair slower than
Kevin on the climbs).
Don Langley and Kevin Metcalfe were just two of the mutants that had entered
our race - there were others - and with our race shortened up a bit and that
one hill (similar to the hill at the Watsonville crit), I told the family this
was going to be a brutal race - most likely, the pack would be strung out in
a long, long line all day (correct prediction on my part). I told them I'd try
my best to hang in with the main pack, but if I got dropped, I'd probably just
stop racing and call it a day and chalk it up to "experience"...
When we surveyed the course earlier in the morning, it looked like the railroad
tracks just before turn 2 could be problematic - I told the kids that if any
crashes happened during any of the races, those tracks were a likely culprit
- and that's when Mitchell dubbed the corner just after those tracks as "Crash
Corner" - and he said he'd setup shop at "Crash Corner", then move over to the
start/finish area when there were just a few laps left, to catch the action
at the end of the race.
So, now onto the race itself...as mentioned earlier, our race was delayed
due to the big crash in the previous Cat 4/5 race - so instead of starting at
11:10 am, our race got started at 11:47:38 (according to my Garmin data) - almost
40 minutes late! I had told my family our race would be *over* about that time,
not just starting! Little did I know that *my* race would be over not too long
after it started!
So at the start area, I finally found Dennis, who had been out warming up
with a couple of his friends that race for LGBRC (Rob and Chris). That was a
smart thing to do. I wish I had been that smart! Instead, I was hanging out
with my family, explaining the intricacies of bike racing, specifically crits
- and we were having fun analyzing the Cat 4/5 that was unfolding before us
as we hung out near "Crash Corner". In retrospect, I *should* have been out
warming up, which I knew was the right thing to do - but it was also a lot of
fun talking about bike racing with my kids - I'm kind of hoping one of them
gets the fever and joins me one day...well, we can dream, right?
Dennis tried to warn me, one more time, to stay on my toes - which meant,
stay on *his* wheel - and I nodded, yes, yes, I'll stick to the Simple Game
Plan, no problem! And, I stuck to the Simple Game Plan - for the first, oh,
100 yards or so...and then I threw the Simple Game Plan out the window and went
with my Backup Game Plan - hang on for dear life and don't let go of the main
The race announcer gave us the usual spiel at the starting line and also told
us not to worry about the railroad tracks near turn 2 - he said just ignore
them and roll right over them at full speed - no need to use your brakes, etc.
- and I was grateful that most of the experienced racers in our group would
have no problem following that advice. As it turns out, he was right - the railroad
tracks were a complete no-op for our race (or most of the other races, as far
as I know).
Now, I have no idea how fast we started, but it must have been some kind of
World Record, no doubt - I sort of figured out I was in deep doo-doo when we
hit the hill for the first time and my heartrate shot up like a rocketship - "Bang,
zoom, straight to the moon!" - I mean, hey guys! How about a nice warmup lap
or two? Nope - the powers that be (most likely Don Langley and Kevin Metcalfe)
had decided they were going to do an all-out sprint from start to finish, or
so it seemed to me. As we hit the hill for the second lap, I had this feeling
this was not going to be a 'fun' race - it was going to be a 'hard' race!
In my earlier racing career (eons ago - about 30 years or so), I would have
been one of those guys shooting off the front on the first lap, to test the
mettle of the pack - but fast-forward to 2007 and it's a whole different story.
I've trained hard and gotten myself into fairly decent shape, but here I was,
a Cat 5 sitting in the middle of a Cat 1/2/3 speed-fest on a short course with
a hill and a headwind on the slight downhill stretch on the back-side of the
course, after the crest of the hill. There were also 6 turns (1 lefty and 5
rights) and 2 very short legs, so this meant a lot of hard sprinting out of
corners - basically, it was a recipe for lots and lots of intervals, which meant
you needed to make sure you never lost the benefit of a good draft - or you'd
be toast in no time short.
I had seen that Dennis had very cleverly moved up towards the front of the
pack on the second lap, but I had not been quite so smart and was sitting towards
the very back - and I knew this was a bad place to be, but for some reason,
I didn't move aggressively on the hill to move myself up in position. In retrospect,
I should have just followed Dennis' wheel, as the Simple Game Plan called for,
but once I fell off into the caboose area of the train, I simply stayed there,
hoping to just hang on for dear life! Given that I had resigned myself to sitting
near the back, I was then subjected to Yo-Yo City, which is not a pleasant place
to be in a very fast and hard crit. Basically, the guys in the back of the pack
do not corner quite as well as the guys near the front, so they lose valuable
speed going into the turns and then have to sprint very hard to catch back onto
the back of the main pack. Also, this same bunch will often not climb up a hill
quite as efficiently, which is why they are sitting in the back area - they
simply had no choice!
This is where I really made a bad mistake - I noticed on the hill that I had
the ability to climb better than the guys that were with me in the back, but
I didn't use that to my advantage and move myself up past all of them. This
might have been because I was getting a little panicked about my high heartrate
- it just wasn't coming back down to something manageable. But then, much to
my relief, the pack actually slowed down on one of the laps and I thought, "Okay!
Now I'll get a little breather to let my heartrate drift back down!" - but just
as I was thinking about how lucky I was, they announced a prime lap as we went
by the start/finish area and suddenly the pack sped right back up to Warp 9
- ugh! So I'm thinking, "Okay - after we do this insane prime lap, everyone
will come back to their senses and relax for a lap or two, right?" Uh, nope!
Not right - in fact, after the prime was taken, the pack continued its relentless
attempt to break into Warp 10 territory - this was definitely not very fun,
And then I made a critical, and most fatal, mistake - we went through turn
3 and started up the hill - and I was looking intently at the wheel in front
of me, instead of gazing up the road to see how things were unfolding on the
hill. When I (finally) looked up ahead, I suddenly noticed that a couple of
guys up in front of me had allowed a decent-sized gap to grow - oh, no! I realized
in that second that I had to take some desperate action and move past these
guys, or I was going to be cooked! So I sprinted around two or three guys like
a maniac to try and close down the gap and desperately tried to grab onto the
back of the pack as they approached the top of the hill - and I knew I had to
get back on before the last guy in the main pack turned the corner, or I'd *never*
catch them on the backside - it was a slight downhill with a decent headwind,
making any bridge attempts difficult at best. So I get oh-so-close to the end
of the main bunch as I crest the hill, but I'm still 30 feet off the back -
and now I'm continuing to sprint as hard as I can on that backside downhill
into the headwind - and I'm not losing any more distance from the back of the
pack, but I'm not gaining anything, either - if only they'd all situp for 10
seconds, I'd latch back on! But no - instead, I see the main bunch all stretched
out in a very long line, which means Don and Kevin and company are pushing a
real mean pace at the front of the pack - they just had no mercy on me, not
that they even knew what was happening way back where I was!
So after trying in vain to latch back onto the bullet train, I started to
realize I had blown it big time - and my race was basically over. And once I
came to accept my fate, I lost all desire to stay in the race, just to finish
it out. I could have stayed in and watched the Cat 1/2/3 oldies eat me alive
several times over, but that didn't seem like a nice way to end the day, so
I just pulled myself out and decided to cheer on Dennis and hope he could stay
in until the end and maybe even place in the top 10.
Well, Dennis did finish the race and even chased down a number of breaks that
formed, including a decisive one by Don Langley and Kevin Metcalfe, who easily
beat the rest of the field for 1st and 2nd place. Dennis managed to place well
in the front half of the remains of the pack, and could have probably done better
if he hadn't expended so much energy chasing down breaks - I don't think he
realized I had dropped out until after the race was finished - he probably thought
he was doing all this great work for me, which he was - but I wasn't exactly
there to reap the benefits.
It was disappointing to saunter up to my kids and admit that I had been thoroughly
beaten down, but at least I had tried and I explained to them where I had made
all of my tactical mistakes. We talked about how it was a good experience, racing
with some of the strongest and fastest cyclists in the Bay Area - it's an experience
I won't soon forget - and maybe, just maybe, it will provide a little extra
motivation for me in my training next year, to make sure it doesn't happen again
- and I will definitely be back next year - now I have a score to settle with
the Giro di San Francisco, for sure!
What's that expression? "Biting off more than you can chew" .... yeah, I did
that at the Giro this year. Next year, the story will have a very different
ending...and you can put that one in the bank!
DFL #1, San Francisco, CA USA, 9/5/2010
Last Wednesday was the beginning of the 07/08 cyclocross season for me with
the first Team DFL race of the year. Team Santa Cruz had a strong presence with
team leader David Gill, Troy Boone, Erik and Darik Thunstrom, Philip Sims and
Grant Stoner all making the trip up to Golden Gate Park for the race. Since
the DFL is an underground series with none of the usual waivers and permits,
it seems more like a guerilla operation. The entry fee is $5.00 or if you wear
a dress the entry fee is free. The usual park goers (and in particular the homeless
people living there), can’t really comprehend this invasion of bike racers,
let alone when over half of the field is dressed in drag! By the way, Team DFL
laid out a course which was even better than last year’s, which in my opinion
was one of the funniest courses of the season. Tons of loose, tight sandy corners,
high speed gravel corners, some pavement, two legitimate run ups and four natural
barriers that forced you to dismount and two more that were rideable: this course
I use this series as a wake call for my body because the shock of cyclocross
racing can take a few races for the body to get used to. I was more apprehensive
this year than normal as the month of August had been particularly unkind to
me in cycling terms. The month of July had been good to me and I was building
up to the cross season well. August rolled around and I went on a small vacation
(not a bad thing!) and on my first ride back I crashed three blocks from house.
I gave myself a small concussion and a righteous five day headache. On my first
ride back after a week of recuperation, I promptly slammed myself to the ground.
This, combined with the 12 hours of 5Th Ave and another small vacation, meant
August was a wash in terms of training. Enough with the excuses!
I managed to get a good spot three rows back on the starting grid. I don’t
know the exact numbers, but there appeared to be well over 100 riders. At the
very last second I noticed David Gill popping out of the bushes and slotting
himself on the front row! With little warning we were off! I was immediately
hooked by teammate Troy Boone and in order to avoid crashing into the guy to
my right I had to back off hard. I then had about 20 rider surge around me.
I had little concern for this as I had told myself that I would go out easy
and roll with the punches.
The usual first lap chaos ensued with big bottle necks. There were obstacles
and singletrack and the usual mix of very strong riders who couldn’t for the
life of them ride on the dirt. People were flailing everywhere! The second lap
began, things settled down and I was feeling pretty good. I was slowly picking
off people in front of me. There were a couple sections on the course that double
backed upon itself and this was a great gauge to see if you were advancing or
not. I was certainly gaining on David and in fact he said I had a little smirk
on my face every time we passed each other.
The third lap began and I had just re-passed Mary-Anne Hunter. I was feeling
very good. About half way through this lap I absolutely blew sky high!!! I never
felt this coming. Mary-Anne re-passed me and yelled to me “come on Mike,” but
had nothing left. The remainder of the race just got worse and worse for me
as I was struggling like never before. I actually stopped at one point and checked
my rear tire which I was convinced was going flat, but wasn’t. For the last
couple of laps I just concentrated on keeping out of the way. The race finally
ended and I was put out of my misery! It was only then did I discover that my
rear spring on my brake caliper had popped off of its perch allowing the brake
pad to jam against the rim and in fact it was actually hard to push the bike
on the ground after the race! Yeah, I have found another excuse! Even though
this race put me into the hurt locker, I still had a blast! With the awesome
cast of characters and superbly laid out course by DFL, who could not have fun?
Metromint Giro di San Francisco, San Francisco,
CA USA, 9/3/2007
I slept like crap the night before this race. Not because I was nervous, as
that rarely happens to me, but because of the beautiful summer weather on this
Labor Day weekend: The heat made us open our windows to keep cool at night,
and brought out rowdy elements that kept waking me up well into the night with
their yelling and car stereos. I had very limited goals anyway: Help teammate
Steve Rosen since I already have my Category 3 upgrade and don't need more points,
scope out the race for my 2008 season... and burn off the surplus calories l
consumed on our Maui vacation the week before!
Steve wanted to race with the old 45+ guys, in spite of my dire warnings...
at least he's got spunk! I had to add a sort of compressed fourth training period
to be in reasonable form (they recommend two or three periods per year at most,
and I'd finished my third at Timpani). Partying in Maui didn't help... though
I did rent a bike and got some hard rides in.
Margaret decided to go with me (yay!), but we were both pretty groggy on
race morning... maybe jet lag? So we ended up getting a slightly late start,
making scrambles for breakfast, and still had to pick up my bike in Los Gatos.
OK, enough with the excuses, my legs actually felt pretty good! And we made
it in time for my 11:10am start though I really had to hustle to do so, changing
clothes in the car en route and such. It was beautiful weather in the city as
I pedalled off to sign in, but a scary, surreal moment intervened. Hysterical
spectators surrounded a guy who had fallen onto the sidewalk, bleeding from
his head. I rode up just as a course marshall ran off to get the EMT while his
friends called 911. I followed and made sure the woman at registration knew
what was going on, but she was on it and very soon we heard the howling sirens
My friend Glenn Kubaki happened to be there and quickly pinned my race number
on. I rushed over to the staging area and waited with other 45+ and 55+ oldsters,
when I noticed everybody else was lining up at the start line. Huh? But it turned
out it was the previous race waiting for a restart forced by the ambulance picking
up the collapsed spectator. I read later that he'd fainted at the sight of blood
from a crash in the race. On the plus side this gave me time to warm up with
my LGBRC friends Rob Jensen and Chris Tanner, while Steve ended up being the
one who didn't get a warmup.
After all that drama you'd think the race itself would be anti-climactic,
but it turned out to be pretty exciting. The Discovery team (minus champion
Larry Nolan who was injured at the National Championships), Morgan Stanley,
Alto Velo/Webcor, Team Spine and others were there, so I knew we had a huge
challenge ahead of us. We were warned about some abandoned railroad tracks between
turns 1 and 2 that I hadn't noticed, and were sent on our merry way. The race
was 21 laps on a neat L-shaped downtown course for only 16 miles total, with
some potholes and a hill similar to the one on the Watsonville course thrown
in. The pace was almost a sprint right from the start. No surprise for me, given
the short distance and exalted competition, but Steve got stuck in the back
right away, while I slowly clawed my way forward in the first few laps. With
these crusty vets I was on Red Alert for breakaway attempts. Even so I didn't
notice the first one, but Rob and Chris, who were ahead of me, did and it was
quickly shut down.
My main tactic was simply to keep the peloton together so my friends could
sit in and draft the pack, and maybe have a chance at a field sprint at the
end. That meant being up front, watching for the inevitable attacks, and responding
to them by bridging up to them or grabbing their wheels as they rode by. At
the Menlo Park GP I learned that these vets wouldn't be content to ride in circles
until the last lap, but would throw down challenges just for fun. And I was
determined not to be stuck behind a winning breakaway again. At worst I'd burn
off my calorie surplus in the attempt (well, there's worse than that, but let's
not dwell on it), at best I'd succeed and Steve, Rob and Chris could contest
the final sprint. And in the back of my mind, as an outside chance, if my guardian
angel was watching over me, maybe I'd be able to hitch a ride with a successful
break and coast over the finish line for a superb result! Yeah, it's nice to
It was pretty windy, and the hill on Vallejo Street was more substantial
than I'd thought it would be, so breaks seemed very likely to get away. I was
soon up front keeping an eye on things while trying to conserve energy too.
Little did I know that Steve got caught behind a gap at the back around this
time and dropped out, so my main "raison d'être" ceased to be. I would
have changed my goals at that point, had I known, but I still had reason to
pursue my original goals because Rob and Chris were still there and rarin' to
go and this would be a fun way to return all the favors they've done me. Ergo,
I kept at it by closing gaps whenever I saw them, and bridging up to a few breaks.
At one point Don Langley, of Morgan Stanley, was sitting at the front while
a few guys shot off. He literally said "Go for it; we're giving it to you!" so
I obliged and bridged up to them. Funny, but I think it might have been a prime
lap, so bridging wasn't what he meant, and I was ignoring the primes anyway.
The most serious breaks formed with about 6 or 7 laps to go. At first two
guys, I think it was Mark Caldwell of Team Spine and a guy from Morgan Stanley
(Steve Archer?), had split while I wasn't looking and were quickly making tracks.
Just before turn 1 the front of the main pack slowed, perhaps Morgan Stanley
was blocking, so I jumped ahead and took the fastest line I could through turns
1, 2 and 3, catching the break at the base of the hill. Whew! The smart money
was to follow me and then attack... and that's exactly what happened: Several
guys, headed by Kevin Metcalfe of Discovery, charged up the hill on Vallejo
at full-tilt-boogie, and soon gapped the rest of us who mostly sat in, except
Langley who managed to bridge. Man, those guys are fast!
I could only hold on near the front, not bridge, until I got my breath back.
But was I impressed when I saw Rob and Chris move up ahead of me! Awesome!!!
I had been worrying that the hill had pooped out these self-described hill-haters,
but they were still in it after floating near the back for a while.
With 2 laps remaining the break was 14 seconds ahead and I was still wheezing
from my last bridge and the furious pace that continued unabated, but it seems
most guys felt the same, so when Metcalfe attacked out of the break up the hill
on the last lap only Langley could follow. I noticed that we'd caught the rest
of the break, and was thus encouraged to move up as best I could. My goals almost
accomplished, I hoped I could secure a nice finish. On Sansome Street I used
the draft and slight descent to gain back some valuable positions, but I still
had a ways to go... and Langley and Metcalfe were way ahead. At least Rob and
Chris looked fresh as they inched forward.
We all flew through those last two turns, and, true to form, I managed to
dig deep and even sprint past a guy or two for about 16th
place out of 35 finishers. Chris and Rob, in the meantime, had followed
Morgan Stanley's leadout (to contest for 3rd), with Chris throwing his bike
for 4th and Rob in 11th! Whew, our suffering was over! It turned out our
35 minute race averaged almost 26 MPH, so it was pretty fast. (Photos
After the cooldown lap I hooked up with my sweetheart and we loaded up my
gear into the car and I changed into my clean street clothes (note to "Chamois" Steve...
just teasing!). Now was the real highlight of the day: Lunch! Margaret and I
ended up having a very nice lunch on the waterfront with Rob, his daughter Claire
and Glenn. Did I mention I love Anchor Steam on tap? More than life itself.
The 2007 season has been unbelievable to me; I never thought I'd get this
far. The lessons I learned and the progress I made have inspired me to work
smarter and harder for 2008. My season is over, just as the cyclocrossers are
starting their season. Good luck to you all!
Livermore CX #1, Livermore, CA USA, 9/1/2007
Philip Sims and I headed up to Livermore of all places for some way-too-early
season cyclocross action. Not racing since January had me itchy. Now Livermore
is a bit of a hellhole especially this time of year but it was still really
fun to race. Apparently quite a few others felt the same way, it was nice to
see a lot of folks for the first time in about nine months--the A field was
pretty stacked given the time of year, venue and weather. It was a similar course
to districts (if you remember three years back) minus the green green grass
far-side section (I kept looking longingly over there at the sprinklers and
wishing). One of hour of power: Dry, 95+º heat, endless turns on hard-baked
dirt and gravel, rocks and about eight times up the rodeo bleachers and down
the little hill, with some good sand in the corral to boot. A great venue in
mid-December once it has rained and the goatheads are mostly gone. All said
I felt pretty good despite flatting in the second turn. I was relaxed and hadn't
even tried to start up front. So I got my spare bike (thanks to Philip convincing
me to bring it) and started passing folks after chasing for a lap. Young Derek
Thunstrom (3rd in the Jr. B's I believe) saved my life with feeds every lap.
Sorry that Erik the Elder Thunstrom had two flats. Ended up a respectable 5th
place in the Master's A's (behind Gannon Myall, Howie, Tom Feix and Mark Abele)
after getting pipped at the line by the Junior State Champ (albeit in a different
category). True to form Henry Krammer took the Elite A's ahead of Josh Sneed.
Philip took a solid third in the single speed race with the mighty Caesar Chavez
winning that one. On the balance, my form was better than expected especially
in heat which claimed a lot of victims. Paid the price the next day though
even after drinking eight bottles or so of water and Gatorade all told. I won't
be back up there until districts most likely, but it's on. End of September