Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010: A Spacecase Odyssey

The days are only getting longer now, I've managed a couple of 100+ mile weeks on the bike and I think I'm close to getting a thumbs up from the doctor on full-on riding. The wrists are still stiff and sore but coming along nicely. There is some bone ache that concerns me but it's probably normal. So that familiar dull ache in the legs and the need to at least have some structure to my bike racing has me thinking...

Thinkin'...

2010 will look sumthin' like...

Jan to May: Fartin' around with no major goals. Definitely want to race Madera, maybe Mt. Hamilton, Early Bird RR in Patterson, would like to do Copperopolis... Definitely squeeze in some mountain bike races. Probably skip any and all criteriums except for the crit stage of Madera. Will probably hit the track several times for training and some racing. The main focus is just to have some fun and build up base for the rest of the year. I'd also like to lose the final five to ten pounds to get me back in the ballpark of my mid-90's racing weight (wow!).

May to July: Get on a regimented training schedule and try to peak for masters district track championships. Most-if not all racing in this period will be on the track. Use rest of July fitness for fun racing.

August to Sept: Can't ignore San Ardo but take some time off in there. And by time off I mean something like ten solid days of not touching a bike. This would be a good time to do an endurance mountain bike race, too. Start a light running program.

Sept to Dec: CYCLOCROSS! FUN! Yay! Focus on Super Prestige series and Livermore Parks Series probably racing as a 35+ B. Take a serious look into where when how and IF of racing at Cyclocross nationals...

Should be fun. I'm really looking forward to next year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Armchair bike racing...

I'm pretty damn frustrated right now with my hands and am forcing myself to take about a week off from the trainer, rollers and the road. If I go by the no pain - no pain healing then that's what's called for. Meanwhile, I've managed to gain not a single pound through this injury but that's really just a testament to some neurotic-level monitoring of my diet. I actually lost about 5 pounds after the accident, then put the 5 pounds back on and am now back to losing the 5 pounds. Christmas, get thee and thine evil food behind me!

So I found myself this morning perusing videos from cyclocross nationals which, by the way, look cold and brutal and remind me of some of the worst days in Maryland slugging through the sometimes-snowie cross races out in Bowie... good times. Anyway, I noticed one major thing. Damn near everybody is riding on the hoods! WTF? Has cyclocross become so serious-roadie infested that guys don't know to ride with higher bars so you can ride in the hooks and get your CG lower? Interesting. I know sometimes you get in an awkward transition from climb to descent and get stuck in the hoods but I don't think riding around on the hoods on an icy course is doing yourself any favors.

I probably should STFU though, since I'm no nationals-caliber racer. What the hell do I know? I'm just a guy who rode his bike off the road and broke his wrists! So I certainly shouldn't be second guessing via my chair.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And here I am trying to banish negative thinking...

As every decent sprinter knows, it's the hesitation that kills you. Give up that perfectly timed jump -for whatever heat-of-the-moment-in-combat reason - and you're done.

And so here I sit in early December worrying. Though the wrists are far down the path of healed I am nowhere near able to properly train on the bike. It kind of hurts and makes my wrists stiff and sore just easy plodding along and the Doctor forbade me to pull on the handlebars so that rules out real climbing and sprint training (not that it feels like I could be doing that anyway).

On top of that I've gotten used to the rhythms of life without wedging in training rides for almost four months now and just finding the mindset to make-time-to-ride is kind of off the RADAR right now.

But I know you're out there training. I know you're getting a jump on me. I know you're going to be making me pay next season. I know that I'll be looking at your asses from 20 meters back and know there's nothing I can do, beg, borrow, steal or extort to close that gap. I know you're riding 150 mile weeks despite its being only December.

I liked it better in the old days when it was me making guys think like that.

So that's how the competitive asshole bikeracer in me feels. The rest of me just wants to enjoy a nice mountain bike ride or a nice day full of long climbs and extended views. Hell, I'd even be glad to spend a day with the chainsaw and splitter making firewood.

But I must be patient. I found a Tolstoy quote, "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." And every successful sprinter knows the ability to sit and wait. Let the early movers wear themselves out. Let them work early and fade too soon. It's still early. Next season will be long enough. I'll be ready when my sprint comes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm #1!

As you can see from my screen shot from the official USACycling website, I am ranked #1 in my zip code in Criterium, Time Trial and Road Racing! So if there was a 94550 Cat. 5 stage race I would be the Lance Armstrong of 94550 Category 5 racers. Wow! Where's my trophy? (tongue is firmly planted in cheek in case you need to be told...).

I believe that what that ranking means is that either A)I am the ONLY cat 5 in my zip code (that actually bothered to show up to a few races in 2009) or that B)USACycling always puts you as #1 in your zip code to make you feel good about yourself and renew your license...

Doctor wagged his finger at me last week and said to not destroy his good work and to lay off for another three weeks and then do three weeks after that of physical therapy so it looks like I may be able to ride again around Christmas time.

So I find myself living vicariously through pictures, video and race reports of what uninjured bike racers are doing these days and I realized the following: Successful cyclocross racers seem to be pretty far on the skinny side - almost like runners. D'Oh! No wonder I've always been frustrated by sucking at something that I find so much dang fun. Come to think of it the skinny guys pretty much kick butt in most competitive cycling situations... Oh well, just like the world of Tuesday nite rock and roll bands needs "rhythm" guitar players, the nation's weekend bike warriors need us "all-rounders." And just like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" needs no hot licks to rock your way through, the occasional wind lets a pear shaped dough-boy like me serve a little payback to the chickenlegged dudes.

So anyway here's my over-thought application for a Cat 4 upgrade which I'm including here because I can't think why but it sort of slightly amuses me which is pretty much the reason I ever put anything here...

2009 Road Race Resume for Roy Johnson (submitted for Road Cat 4 upgrade)

In 2009 I reactivated my USACycling racing license and downgraded from a Cat 3 on the road to a Cat 5. A late season injury kept me from participating in a tenth qualifying race but I am hoping my former Cat 3 license and added experience on the track will be taken into consideration. To upgrade to a Cat 4 for 2010, I submit the following:

2009 Criterium Experience
-Early Bird Road Race in Patterson (35+ 4/5) 40th
-Madera Stage Race (Cat 5) 30th/45
-Lodi Cycle Fest (Cat 5) 5th of 18
-Lodi Cycle Fest (35+ 4/5) DNF

2009 Road Race Experience
-Madera Stage Race (Cat 5) 20th/45
-Sonora Road Race (Cat 5) 9th/20
-Tour De Ames "Kermesse" (Unsanctioned Race) 2nd
-Leesville Gap RR (35+ Cat 5) 7th/16
-San Ardo Road Race (35+ Cat 5) 10th/23

2009 ITT Experience
-Madera Stage Race (Cat 5) 26th/45 - Overall 20th of 45
-Mount Diablo Hill Climb TT (Cat 5) 19th/30

2009 Other
-Track Experience including 6 beginner sessions, and races on 9 separate dates.
-2 Mountain Bike Races (T.B.F. MTB Challenge #1 and #2)
-2 Cyclocross races in late 2008 that inspired all of the above for 2009!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Frustrations of Bike Racing on a Budget...

I've been spending too much time on eBay this week trying to buy other people's castoff junk for (probably) too much money. Even with twenty year's worth of bike parts lingering in my parts bin I still don't have enough stuff to get my track bike road-training worthy. And I need to fix my road racing bike since my crash left me with bent forks. Besides that, I fell into a pedal crisis last year when two sets of pedals finally crapped out on me in the span of a few days.

Bicycle and bicycle equipment have become outrageously expensive. When I started racing in the early 90's I rode a modest Shimano 105 equipped carbon fiber frame that I bought for $750 on a starving college student budget of warehouse summer jobs and restaurant work during the school year. Nowadays a similar bike will go for about $1700. Go ahead and adjust for inflation and that's ridiculous! And that's an entry level race bike. Step up to a race worthy component group and wheels and it is very easy to spend $3500 to $6000 on a race bike. Race-worthy forks go for $300 to $800 dollars! Need shoes? Prepare to drop another $300.

I guess that's all fine and good for the folks who can either afford it or put themselves (and their families) into guilt-free debt but for me it's a problem. I'm already racing on ten year old equipment. In some ways it's okay since the rider is 90 percent of the equation but the rest of it is very frustrating when you toe the line on inferior equipment.

Back in my glory days of racing in the DC area, we often rode and raced with the couriers from downtown. Whenever I feel bad that the guys in the pack are all riding wheels worth more than my entire bike I remember those guys riding me into the ground on bikes that were barely fit to be ridden.

But still, I feel like I'm missing out by going on the cheap...

Bike Frames: This is the only place I feel I'm actually in a little club of guys-who-know-better. My old steel frame may not weigh less than a paperback novel but it's comfortable and will last forever. Even with the modern carbon fiber wunderframes available today, I'd still ride a steel frame.

Wheels: Wheels have become stupidly expensive but they are also the one place where you can actually lose and lose big time if you're heavy and inefficient. Not dumping big money into wheels is probably my biggest frustration.

Components: It's all great stuff available nowadays. Buy my ten year old Dura-Ace still works pretty good too. The only difference is weight. That said, I'd really like to upgrade my cranks and bottom bracket to something much more lightweight and modern.

Pedals and Shoes: This one is killing me! I don't know how much longer I can keep limping along. The problem is that I'm sort of married to old Look pedals. Back in the day you could buy new pedals every two seasons or so and eventually you had enough pedals for all your bikes and didn't have to worry about different cleats and could use just one pair of shoes. But Look switched from the old delta platform to their new keo (kea - whatever) and I'm stuck. I'll either have to buy three pairs of pedals all at once (ouch! on the wallet) or go crazy switching pedals from bike to bike to bike to bike.

Or just buy other people's castoffs on eBay for (probably) too much money...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tears on my toptube...

I was able to sit normally on my bike for 30 minutes on the trainer yesterday. Hallelujah! I sinched up my splints as tight as I could, rested with the aluminum plate resting on the bar tops and cried through my bike as SRV cried through his guitar over the stereophonic music machine. Beautimous! There is light at the end of this tunnel and next season begins yesterday. Now I can hopefully keep my head in the game and put up with a month of trainer riding...

Jasper got his second yellow belt in taekwondo. I'm so proud of him! This is alot of work for a not-quite-six-year-old. He has to memorize forms, safety tips, life lessons and definitions as well as just exhibit some level of profficiency at different kinds of kicks, jabs and punches. Sometimes he balks at some of the work but he's decided he wants to stick with it. When I was his age my biggest skill was picking my nose...







They don't do halloween costumes at Jasper's school. Instead they dress up in traditional clothes. It's pretty cool seeing alot of the other families bringing their kids in their traditional costumes. But we're boring americans with no families coming over in at least four generations so we go with the American pioneer thing. Jasper, however, decided he was an Australian mountain man. Okay!

I've been working alot harder lately on trying to be more patient and pay attention to what Kris has been telling me for at least a year now. The idea is to parent with positiveness. It goes beyond encouragement, showing pride and taking time to spend a kind word as reward. The idea is to give positive reinforcement for doing the right things. For the longest time I thought this was just ridiculous. "Should I follow him around saying, 'Thanks for not kicking the dogs, Jasper. Thanks for not putting holes in the walls. And thanks for not throwing rocks through the windows.'" It doesn't work that way and I don't seem to possess the verbal skills this morning to explain it but basically I now work harder on noticing when he's doing things right and being good and saying something about it rather than just expecting that to happen and then only yelling when he does something wrong. Lo and behold, it seems to kind of work. If anything, the positive attention puts him in a better mood and encourages to do the things that got that positive attention. Sometimes when you're the only kid around you probably need attention so it's good when he does good things to get attention instead of breaking a window or something.

Anyway, speaking of the lad, he's setting up a game right now so this will remain unedited, hurried, and probably make no sense! Priorities!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

33 Days Later...

I've been running four or five miles three or four times a week for the last three weeks and that's about all my knees can take. And that's all dirt road and trail miles. Sidewalks and roads are just not do-able. I still not supposed to put the amount of weight that leaning on my handlebars would require on the trainer so I've only been on it a couple of times sitting bolt upright and very unsatisfied. Around the house I watch Kris doing EVERYTHING and I feel like crap. She's been super about this but I still feel badly.

On the bright side the forced computer time at work has really made my software come together with alot more focus and dedication than it normally would. Sometimes I forget that my job is really pretty cool. Tap some code here, figure out a problem there, then (literally) set things in motion and grin.

Nothin' earth moving today. Just a moment in front of the computer...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rule with an iron example

I love being a Dad. It doesn't mean I'm necessarily good at it but I try. I examine, I analyze and I try to fix things that I think aren't working in my role.

The other day I was walking my son into school after having had what we call in our house, "a hard morning." I often fall into the trap of fighting too hard for the individual battles when it is the complete war that I need to focus on. Sometimes we parents need to let go a little bit and back off and concentrate on the whole picture. I don't remember the particulars of this particular morning but I know that I was probably grumpier, louder and more stubborn than I would like to admit. When this happens, my and my son's personalities are like oil and water. It gets loud. It gets emotional. It gets embarassing to me when I finally get over myself and calm down.

So we had one of those mornings. By the time we got to school I was still maybe a little grumpier and a little torqued with my son for making it such a hard morning (conveniently overlooking my own part in the situational mood). We walked into school and as we went down the hallway to the classroom door I looked down at the center of my universe holding onto my hand. He had flipped his sunglasses up onto the top of his head like a raised visor and his hair was pushed up and splayed straight up in random directions by the glasses. Without thinking about it I reached up onto the top of my own head where I had done the same thing with my own glasses.

I kissed him goodbye for the day and proceded on to the adult part of my day. But it suddenly occured to me that even when I'm being a bit of an obstinant asshole of a father, my son is still watching. He's still sponging up how to act. He's learning to sometimes raise his voice and to argue a petty detail instead of rising above and staying calm. And this reminder brings me to a calmer place as a parent. Because he's learning alot more from me than just where to put his sunglasses when he goes indoors.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Patience...

Had surgery last Wednesday to repair both scaphoids with neat titanium screws.

After the surgery I was violently ill throwing up all day as is normal for me and pain killers. Kris says, "I don't know how you do these things without taking anything." Pain is easier than pain plus puking. It's that simple.

Got the giant splints off this morning after five horrible days of not being able to do SQUAT. Stiches removed and more x-rays. All looks good so far. Now I'm in wrist braces but at least they are removable and I can at least resume taking normal showers - albeit gingerly.
Recovery will be eight to twelve weeks of limiting my handwork to 5 pounds and then moving up to ten to fifteen pounds in order to avoid stripping the threads and rebreaking the bones. That means no real work beyond typing and some light electronics work. It also means NO BIKE quite possibly for the rest of the year... OUCH! As you may know (if you know me or don't look too far back through this blog) I was mondo-PSYCHED and fit for cyclocross season. Now there won't even BE a cyclocross season. This has been a very very hard pill to swallow but I'm trying to not let it get me too down...

Doctor said I can run, though. I'm not much of a runner and I kind of generally loath it as a form of excercise but I'll want to keep in shape so I can bite that bullet for the next two or three months.

In other news. My son is a complete goofball..... I wonder where he gets that from?

Monday, August 31, 2009

"What Happened To You???"

I imagine I'm going to be hearing that question alot for awhile so here's the short story (since typing is a pain in the wrists...)

Got up early Sunday morning with the intention of knocking out 40 miles before it got hot and to try to do some riding while the family was still sleeping. I felt good and it was a wonderful morning so I decided to tack on another ten miles that sent me a little ways up mount Hamilton. As I rode up to my turn around spot, the temperatures were starting to come up. I turned around and started struggling with the zipper on my Louis Garneau vest. Louis G. sucks ass and so do his zippers. While distracted by my fucking stupid stuck-ass piece of shit Louis Garneau zipper, I overcooked a corner. Before you can say, "That boy's going down," I was off in the gravel. This wasn't so bad but I could see a large cutout for a culvert dead ahead and knew I was toast. "No no no no No nO NO NO NO/" (I distinctly remember crying out to no good result) --- WHAM!!!

Tumble.
Ouch.
Deflect my torpedoed bike off my arm and back.
Tumble.
"I'm okay. I'm okay."

Stand up slowly.
Whoa. Maybe not okay. My left wrist was sore. Hmmm. So was the right one.

Front wheel tweeked but still rolling.

Both legs bleeding down into my socks from many places. Blood on hip coming through shorts. Both elbows bleeding. Yep, that was a good one.

I got back on the bike and, uh oh, the old boy isn't straight anymore. I must have bent the forks.

Over the next few miles the legs felt good. Back felt good. Head was clear. But both hands were not working right. It was difficult to hold the brakes and the only position tolerable was to rest the heals of my hands on the tops.

The 25 miles home were made much easier by a nice guy who caught up to me as I gingerly descended one of the hills and he rode with me and distracted me from my pain over most of the way home.

That said, let the record show that Roy is a tough SOB who rode 25 miles on two broken hand/wrists.

Later that day Urgent Care X-Ray showed a very well defined break in my left scaphoid and a "suspicious" crack in my right one. Now I am in two splints. The ortho doctor today has sent me on to a hand specialist tomorrow. Likely outcome right now is surgery on the left hand to get over this the quickest. Right hand? Don't know. Maybe just a cast. Maybe it's not broken but the Doctor today said it has all indications of a less severe break in the same damn bone.

More later, must put the young prince to bed with some reading time now. Typing this has been surprising easy with my thumbs immobilized by the splints/casts. Kind of hurts, though.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hellyer Wed. Night Omnium. August 26, 2009

Last Wed. night race of the year! I really wanted to make a mark but simply didn't have the legs all night. I only manged one point on the first points race. The miss and out was horrible. I knew there was a guy behind me but he basically dropped off and so they pulled me instead of him. D'OH! The last points race was FAST. Easily one of the two or three fastest races of the year. I was happy to have a brief moment off the front and then survive and not get dropped.

NOT TRACK: San Ardo Follow Up...
Met a guy who recognized me from San Ardo. I asked, "I didn't push you did I?" Luckily he was not someone I managed to piss off. In fact he gave the best complement you can give a bike racer telling me I was one of the ones he had his eye on and that I was dropping three or five guys on some of those hills but that they were able to claw back on every time. Too bad no one else was willing to help me keep that hot pace going. Oh well. So San Ardo was a 10th place. Truthfully, given my barely functioning legs at the finish I was surprised to learn I placed that well (keep in mind it was a very small field). NEXT YEAR!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Other stuff in my life...

I actually saw this video on another cycling blog but see what they're doing at 25 seconds to 40 seconds? Yeah, that's what I do to pay the bills only I attach alot of junk to it and fly it on airplanes. I wish I could make it track that fast, however!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

San Ardo Road "Race": August 22, 2009

Of the five road races over 50 miles this year this was the one that didn't kick my butt the most. But that's not saying much.

We rode out of San Ardo P-I-A-N-O. I kept waiting for someone -anyone- to go up and make things fast. After 30 minutes of excruciatingly slow 18 mph "racing" in two very neat lines with no one taking paces or doing anything at all I went to the front and eased the pace up to a wopping 20 mph. I looked back and found one guy on my wheel and the pack 200 meters behind. A few minutes later and there were three of us and the pack a little farther behind. I say "pack" but it was all of maybe 17 guys. We got a moderately well running three man paceline going but not really pushing hard. That only lasted about five minutes and it was gruppo intacto again. One of the three of us was a Taleo guy and he pretty much spent the rest of the race riding at the front with EVERYONE more than content to just sit on his wheel and stop pedalling anytime there was the slightest threat of putting their noses into the wind. This frustrated the HELL out of me and I wasted all my energy for 60 miles trying to do my share to hurt some of the barnacles or riding slowly off the front then hoping someone would come with me. But everytime it was the same damn thing. I'd see shadows or hear riders behind me, look over my shoulder and there was Taleo-Man pulling the pack back up to me. What a load of crap! I really don't understand that dynamic at all.

As we began the last 20 mile loop the pace went up and some fresh faces finally showed at the front. Of course this was about the time my legs decided they were tired. Staying in the pack and being the ONLY guy (other than Taleo, "no no let me chase that down for you"-man) to make pace on the little hills was still easy but the tell tale signs of legs-about-to-crap-out-on-you were there. Sure enough I got the first signs of quad-cramps with about ten miles to go. I tried to suck wheel and give them a break but they were simply not hearing it. I had a couple of near lockups but was able to keep my legs spinning.

Going into town we mixed in with another pack and the cat-5 shennanigans of death-gripping stiff scary-bike-handling guys riding up on top of each other began. We made the turn up to the finish and I just tried to keep my legs spinning as best as I could with no hope for sprinting.

And I was pissed. Pissed, dissappointed and wishing I hadn't ridden so stupidly.

In hindsight, I should have just sat in and waited three hours for the sprint. I'm perfectly happy to do that in a 45 minute crit but that's simply a waste of time to race a road race like that. Despite the shorter distance of the regular E5 race I really wish I had done that instead. I think the younger guys would have actually been racing instead of merely riding along and only raising the pace when someone managed to make a small gap. Typical California negative racing bullshit. Now I remember why it was so annoying way back when...

I guess I should stick to the track, mtb, cyclocross, criteriums, and road races that create real attrition.

I probably wouldn't be so bitter if I hadn't been targetting this race so much. I'd probably be less bitter if I'd done this race with more of a sprinter mentality than a fighter mentality.

crap

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1997 San Ardo Road Race - Ancient History


The motel is booked, the plans for sending the boy off for the weekend are made, the training has sort of led me up to this weekend and I'm just watching the clock waiting for the San Ardo Road Race to begin...

There's certainly nothing special, epic or unique about the San Ardo road race but it's a race I put on my calendar back in January as a "must do." But why? Well, pull up a chair and be prepared for a boring ancient history lesson.

1997 - Roy
In January of 1997 I pushed the boulder off the ledge that began the rockslide that moved me (back) to California to be with Kris and that history is known (and if it isn't then it goes like married-eleven-years-with-kid-and-mortgage). When I finally located to Cali in April, I hit the ground running looking for as much racing as I could. The Madera Stage Race went well as a first California race but everything kind of went downhill from there. In Crits, no one would work in breakaways. The only crit strategy was to chase down ANYTHING that went off the front and then sit up and wait to sprint. Well that didn't work for a flyer specialist like me. Then in all the road races, it was the same lame chase-any-break mentality. The pace in the flats was pathetically slow while everyone waited to do their racing on the climbs. It was really lame for a diesel motor flat land rider like me and by the end of summer I was very discouraged with the California racing scene. Every race I was either pack fodder after getting chased down on breakaway attempts or was miserably far off the back after getting destroyed on a climb (hmm, sounds kind of familiar to how it still is...).

But then there was San Ardo. For some reason, I pretty clearly remember the drive to the race and what I ate and drank that morning. When the race started, I rode the pack for about ten miles and realized it was one of those lucky days when my legs were really good. So I did what I wasted most races of my youth doing, I attacked! Flying out of the pack I found myself on an easy climb with another fellow. We rode well together and enjoyed a very long flyer. We lasted something like 30 miles off the front together before we finally saw the pack catching up. We agreed to back off and when the pack caught us I remember feeling surprisingly fresh. Mostly, I think I was just happy to find myself on a road course that didn't have a miserable climb on it to kick my ass in.

On the last lap, I saw too many big legs again and took another flyer with ten miles to go. It was a good move but no one went with me and so it was totally suicidal. I was caught on the turn up to the finish and was able to stay in the pack and finish 28th (amazingly the results are still online!). 28th is not exactly a great result but it was not DFL, like many of my races that year so it stuck in my memory. Mainly the wasted tactic and the idea that if I had been more patient and dug in on the field sprint stayed with me all these years.

By the time the race rolled around in 1998 I was shoulders deep in helping organize our wedding and couldn't even think about racing. As it turned out, Madera SR 1998 was the last race I did until late last year and I never got a chance to do San Ardo "right."

So that's it. It's simply one of the races that I remember being able to not only survive but thrive. Maybe it won't be the same at 40 as it was at 28 but I can't wait to find out. Been waiting 12 years, in fact.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hellyer Tuesday Night Points Racing August 18, 2009

Wow. Three weeks since a visit to the track. Boo! Actually. Take that boo back. It was a nice break with the family medium-sized San Diego vacation thrown in there which was muy relajado.

Format tonight was 40 laps, sprints every ten. Times two!

Race one: Initial goal was to see if I had any legs or head or lungs or heart left in me after a MISERABLE heat bonk last Sunday that left me creeping the final 10 miles to home up two climbs that took an hour! The warmup let me know I had recovered okay. The initial pace was pretty easy with one spurt that strung out the pack briefly. About five laps in the bottom of the track was wide open and I thought, "why not" and did one of those seated attacks that don't look like an attack. One guy went with me and within a lap we had a nice gap. One lap later and four dudes joined us. "Sweet!" thinks me. I finally get to see what a paceline breakaway is like. I didn't have enough gas for the first sprint so I just held on and did my part to reorganize. A few laps later and we were looking at the tail end of the pack going into turn one when we were coming off turn four! There followed a semi-heated discussion between three of us whether or not to lap the field. I was outvoted and the the rest just kept sucking wheel so we didn't lap the field (BOO!!!!!). The logic escaped me but I guess they wanted to stay off the front and get points despite the 20 point bonus of lapping the field available. Huh? I'm new to this track stuff so maybe I missed something there. Someone please 'splain me it.

So after the next sprint I got gapped and chased for three laps then realized I wasn't going to make it. I waited for the pack then held on in there for awhile and sucked wheel with little motivation for the rest of the race feeling a little dejected.

Race two: Not much happened. Tried to race a solid aggressive one but couldn't get any points.

Lots of fun on and off the track. We had three of us VSRTeammates tonight so that was nice to reprezent. With all the lone wolf racing this year though, I had to remind myself to block instead of chase at one point but I did it right and helped Ted get a gap on a flyer. We didn't have any planned tactics, however. Maybe next year!

The legs feel pretty good for San Ardo, a big objective for the year (why?).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

cyclocrosscyclocrosscyclocrosscyclocross

In the last week I've done two of my favorite types of ride that are half road and half off-road on my "new" (new to me) cyclocross bike and I've got the poison oak on my right butt cheek and the road rash on my left butt cheek to show for it.

Cyclocross begins in only one month. I'm so excited that I just can't hide it and I think I'm about to lose control and I just might like it (or something like that). I probably won't be winning any medals but you can bet I'll have a big ol' smile on my face when I hear them cowbells.

I wonder if this could finally be the year I exorcize the damn stutter in my remount step??? Probably not. There's just too much damn momentum (and self preservation for my crotch) behind that old old bad habit.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hellyer Wednesday Night Omnium, July 29, 2009

I was feeling a little fuzzy in the brain and really slow to warm up last night at the track. After about 20 minutes of warmup I stupidly (and I mean Dr. STOOPID LEE Senior, not Junior) brainfarted and tried to freewheel. Up went my ass into the air along with my rear wheel and my heart rate. It was no big deal and I wasn't close to crashing or anything-I do have thousand so of hours of fixed gear under my belt afterall- but it was a reality check to clear the cobwebs and pay attention or just go home. The rest of the night went better and, I have to say, I really really enjoy my track nights. The people are great, the workout is excellent and it's just one of those things that clicks for me.

O yeah, I was racing with the B's. And to cut to the chase, I was tenth in the omnium out of 18 riders which is pretty cool since I wasn't one of the seven guys with zero points for the night. All apologies to those guys...

Race 1: 3x5 Points race. I decided about five laps in to just go for broke on the penultimate sprint. So with the lap counter showing 4 I jumped hard coming off turn four and with the bell ringing in my left ear I cooked it into turns one and two, drove the back stretch then added a little bit more for a final 100 meter kick to win that sprint and earn 5 points. I had nothing left for the final sprint but the 5 points was enough for fourth (tied for third, actually but there is some complex math for determining the tie breaker that bounced me to fourth) place and thus, I earned my single omnium point and was able to feel good about not getting zeroed. Wee.

Race 2: 12 lap scratch race. I ended this one with WAY too much gas left in the tank and frustrated that I didn't work a little harder. I felt way too fresh at the end. But the tentative are pack fodder on the track so it goes. I was about tenth but not really sprinting.

Race 3: Miss and out. Blech! Another race finished while feeling way too fresh. The pack spread across the track and I got boxed in up at the rail and that was that. I counted ten guys left when I got pulled so that kind of sucked.

Race 4: 40 lap points race with the A/B combine! That's right, I said A/B combine not B/C combine. With my placing in the early points race, I qualified for the A race and that went quite well. Surfing the back of the pack was going very well so I put my nose on the front a few times. I was way off pace for contesting the sprints but it was great being able to hang in there and I even tried to take a couple of fliers. On the 15-to go sprint I went off the back and took a lap but when I got back on I survived the next sprint and then even made an attack with three to go, pulled the field at full steam for a lap then pulled off, went off the back and stayed on the same lap for the final. That was a great confidence builder!

And fun too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lodi Cycle Fest Criterium race, July 12, 2009

I have to say this was a very fun race. The course was a figure 8 through downtown Lodi with all 90 degree turns that were, for the most part, wide open. The front stretch was on cobblestones! Turn one was wide open transitioning onto pavement with some white paint cross walk to mind. Turn two was wide open. Turn three had a pothole but it was out of any line I took all day. Turn 4 was a bugaboo transitioning back to cobblestones and some uneven surface that made my back wheel skip out pretty frequently. It constricted too - just to make it scarier. Turns 5 and 6 were wide open with only a little oil in the road and crosswalk paint that didn't seem slippery at all. Turn 7 was a constrictor and back onto cobblestones but at least it was smooth. Turn 8 was pretty much wide open but on cobblestones and narrow to narrow roads.

The great Michael Hernandez was on the microphone all day to amuse and entertain and, as the day grew, more and more people showed up on the course and there was actual cheering and clapping and that ALWAYS makes the legs a bit snappier and the heart a little stronger.

I signed up for both the regular Cat 5 race and the 35+ Cat 4/5 races with a nice three hour break between the two. When I was a young guy I used to be jealous of the masters racers who would double dip like that and this was my first time to see if I, indeed, had something to envy.

E5 race: Only 17 racers :-( We had a mentor take us through the course on the first lap and everyone was supposed to follow him single file. Maybe this helped some people but all I noticed was guys ignoring it. In my opinion, any mentor should tell the following before a crit (and he didn't).
1-DO NOT overlap wheels
2-DO NOT rubberneck, the only thing you have to worry about is in front of you.
3-NO FUCKING SWERVING - this isn't the champs d'elysee and you aren't leading out Tyler Farrar
4-Commit to your line in a corner. No brakes -if possible- and absolutely don't change lines unless it's an emergency.

Anyway, digress. The mentor was around during the race and I did see him correct a few things. He yelled at me for "unecessarily risking it" taking an extreme inside line into the gutter a few times but the real danger there was the guy who kept coming in too tight and not using the whole road that made that dangerous.

I tried to keep 5 to 7 guys ahead of me the whole race to try to stay up front while also staying out of the wind. This worked pretty well. One of the times I did drift back, however, I got to witness the only crash of the race. Of course it happened on the longest straight section right in front of the start finish. The guy on the front went clear across the road and everyone followed him like a snake! Of course someone was overlapping wheels and got his front wheel swept. His rear wheel shot up in the air and he was launched taking three or four guys out with him. After that the adreneline speed spike lasted about two laps.

With three laps to go I was thinking I should probably move up into the top three or four. A couple of corners later, there was a separation that I failed to see how it happened and there were four guys with a suddenly large gap off the front. They increased their lead pretty quickly but lost one guy so with two laps to go it was pretty apparent we were racing for fourth place since no one (me included!) was working well to catch them. So what was left of the pack safely came through the last two turns. I was fourth wheel on the last turn and came out sprinting. I was still coming on when the finish line came up but couldn't win the field sprint. Still, I was happy for a second there and a fifth overall. It would have been more gratifying if the race had been bigger but that's better than my usual dead-middle of the field result and I won a bottle of wine to bring home. I really wish I'd been more attentive when the podium places rode off the front. I think I may have had the gas to stick with them.

35+ 4/5 race: The only crash of this race came on the very first corner with one guy going down in the middle of the pack all by himself (nice of him to not take anyone out!). This race was much faster but I was having a real blast even though I couldn't seem to stop riding in the last five or six guys. I kept passing guys who were fading and getting gapped but couldn't seem to move up more than that. I did notice, though, that there were fewer and fewer guys ahead of me. Halfway through a guy went WAY off the front and the pack accelerated. As usual, the back was gapping and recovering and within a lap the accordian claimed my fitness. As a dangerously large gap opened in front of me I looked back and saw what you never want to see in a crit - a wide open course behind me with no other racers in sight. I sprinted as hard as I could, caught the back but soon enough that deadly two bike length gap reformed and that was that. I chased three others who got dropped for another lap and a half but then they pulled us all.

I was actually pretty satisfied with that. I lasted 25 minutes of the 40 minutes and was one of the last four guys to get pulled. Of the 32 starters, only 17 survived to the final so that would make me 21st-ish if you could get a placing after getting pulled.

In conclusion: A very fun day of racing. A satisfying result. A very fun atmosphere. The track riding is really paying off both in handling and confidence and fitness.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday Night Omnium at Hellyer, July 8, 2009

Oof to the head! I gotta headache tonight. Last night was fun. There were so many women and juniors that they got their own race and that left 7 of us for the C men's race. I had a nice 30 minute warmup but I could tell my legs were really dead. I couldn't spin up and sprinting was a real chore.

Chariot Race: Only six of us competed. I had a poor start and just couldn't get up a head of steam to go anywhere. 5th of 6. After the race I kind of felt light headed and vaguely nauseous. I considered calling it a night but I hung around.

Scratch Race: Something snapped about four laps in and suddenly I kind of felt better. I jumped in turn three, got a gap and soloed the bell lap. The group behind was sprinting up beside me coming up to the line but I held them off for the win! Whattaya know??? Cool. Woohoo. Steve Woo called me up to the officials stand to give me a jersey for that! You'd think the prize would be for the omnium but they were only for the scratch races so I am the owner of a new jersey. woohoo!

Win and Out: Oh I blew this one with a all or nothing lap and a half effort that got me nipped at the line. That hurt! I had no gas left and took my DFL with pride knowing that at least I tried. Besides, I already won the scratch race tonight. Woohoo.

Where'd everybody go not a miss and out but a 5 lap scratch race instead: Of the four of us left, three had won events so I found the fourth guy and told him to just glue his front wheel to my back and I'd try to deliver him to the line. We almost did it but he waited too late to sprint and I probably confused him by slapping my right hip when I actually meant for him to sprint off down track. Oh well. He appreciated the effort.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hellyer Tuesday Night Points Race: July 7, 2009

Remember the old batman and robin show? They'd get in fights and the sound effects would get cartooned onto the screen? Blam! Thwap!!! Crunch!!! Well my favorite one was always "OOF!!!!" Tonight was a bit of an oof night at the track.

With my new Cat 4 track license I entered the B race with the goal of hanging on for dear life. As soon as I got to the track, I switched my 14 rear for a smaller (more teeth) gear for the warmup. In the warmup session I was hanging just fine but then started to have difficulty hanging in when the pace got up to about 28mph. I just chalked it up to whatever I could think of and went on my merry way shooting the shit with my teammate Jonathan until the races started.

I expected the first 40 lap B race to be fast but I was spun out and hanging on my a pinky finger nail for aoubt 22 laps when I finally just couldn't hang on anymore. I rode a few laps trying to catch up then went up to the rail to recover and latch back on the next time around. I missed timing the tag-on and ended up off the back again pretty quickly. So I tried again and this time just barely held on to the finish. As I rode the warmup (warm down?) track I was starting to think I was doomed. It was just way too hard to hang in - and FORGET about being anywhere near the front and challenging for any of the sprints!

With as much optimism as I could muster I decided I needed a bigger gear so I wouldn't be spun out so badly. I removed the rear cog and much to my horror/shock/amusement, found that I had been using a 16 instead of the 15. Well hell!!! I'll take being stupid over being out of shape any day! My mood immediately got better as soon as I realized my egregious blunder and happily installed the 14.

The second race was also 40 laps (with points every five laps). The larger gear felt so dang good that I found myself on the pole lane in the front and just sort of rode off the front. One lap around and I saw I had a flyer in the works so I tried to not blow my wad yet be fast. This lasted for all of two more laps before I was reeled in and smacked down like a kindergartner on the playground with the sixth graders.

I pretty much went off the back pretty soon after that. I struggled with another fellow to get back on but once there's about a third of a lap, there's no point dying out there alone so I went up to the rail and when the pack came around I latched on. It was really hard to stay in touch with the pack but I managed it until the end of the race.

So... post race. On the one hand I have very clear steps ahead of me (like "don't get dropped!") and that always makes a task easier. On the other hand, this is pretty much what I was afraid would happen after catting up. What if my meager training time budget simply isn't enough to get better or faster? This could get pretty discouraging being pack fodder race after race. Sure it's a great -strike that- excellent workout so it's not like there's no benefit.

But here I am again complaining about success instead of enjoying the fact that I DID and COULD cat up. I should be really quite happy that I managed 38 and 39 laps. I should be happy that I was able to take a three lap flyer. Arg! But sometimes that's just hard to do when this silly sport sucker punches you in the gut and you go "OOF!!!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Leesville Gap Road Race, July 3, 2 009

This race is famous for it's bad pavement and, in stretches, complete lack of pavement. It is also known for being, hot, exposed, and for having long straight stretches at the final that tax the weary brain. I can now confirm all the above is true! What a great race. Nothing comes right up my alley like putting miles of dirt/gravel roads into a road race.

After deliberating all week, I asked around and read race reports and decided to go ahead and ride my regular race bike with 25 mm tires. That was my setup at Madera and, though I got the snot hammered out of me by the road, it worked out well as I didn't flat when so many others did. But I ran out of time in my week to swap out my tires so I ran with the 23's.

Heading out, the pace was fast but not too taxing. Riding at the front was pretty easy and there wasn't alot of pushing around up there. Then we crossed hwy 20 and the potholes began! I dodged, bunny-hopped and bounced for a few minutes when I saw the opposite shoulder was smooth gravel. "Why not?" I abandoned the pavement and was rewarded with a nice smooth gravel shoulder. It was much faster than the potholes and I found myself shooting past the nose of the pack. Unfortunately, that only lasted about a mile then it was back to pothole management with the rest of the pack. I found it much safer and easier going in the front five guys and so there I stayed.

One thing you read alot about on this race is the plethora of water bottles all over the road bounced out of people's cages. I was laughing to myself about the time I passed the fiftieth bottle in five miles. We caught the 45+ cat 4's just before the climbing began and all hell broke loose as guys realized they could get lost as the fields combined. But I had my own worries as my body went into the red zone immediately as the road tilted up. Slowly and with all too much familiarity, the pack spit out it's unworthy climbers and I was soon enough among them left to toil in the heat all by myself cursing my inability to go upward as fast as I want to.

The climb dragged on and I had a real problem with it. If a climb isn't steady or has anything to break my rhythm, I'm toast. It was plenty steady enough but the potholes just destroyed my ability to sit down, zone out and suffer.

Over the top and down the other side banging over potholes and placing my bunnyhops strategically I passed a number of stragglers.

This is getting pretty boring so I'll just say the rest of the race was a haze of heat and cramps and grouping and dropping and sitting in and surviving. I drank a ton but was still having trouble with calf cramps. Just before the feedzone, I caught a guy and he gave me an "electrolyte pill." I put it in my mouth to be polite but as soon as he took a pull I dug it out and flicked it into the weeds. Last thing I want is to be vomitting on the road out in the middle of nowhere in that heat. All the other climbs were on smooth pavement or on smooth gravel and I really did alot better there catching folks and passing. There was one 45+mph descent and I passed three guys there. I don't know why I'm descending so much faster and more confidently now as an old guy than I did when I was young. Oh well.

The last fifteen miles was a real drag. Luckily, I grouped up with four to seven other guys (the number changed as guys got picked up and dropped) and it made the flat ride into the headwinds more bearable.

In the end I was just happy to finish this race and happy to not get a flat and happier to be able to hold onto wheels and dig DEEP to not get dropped over the final windy sections. I can motor right along in the flats right now, it's just the climbs that are kicking me in the butt. But then again, that's not really a new story for me...

I think I was 7th but I might have been 4th if I read the results wrong and the 45+ guys were mixed in there. Pretty sure it was 7th, though. Boy, divide a field size by two, add or subtract one and there's Roy. I'm not complaining, though.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hellyer Omnium Night Wednesday, June 24, 2009

After the race tonight I cornered Rick and asked him if I should upgrade since I've done five races and four beginner sessions. His answer: "Absolutely! Do not put it off." The only thing is that I really would like to experience a win or two before catting up. I'm always up there but other than the repeat heat of the Kieren at my first race, I am without the W. And once I cat up it's going to be major pack fodder time and soon enough I'll wish I'd enjoyed a win when I could've scored one.

And after tonight and a little feedback I've gotten regarding my "poor me" of the Diable Hill Climb I stepped out of myselfish tonight and appreciated that I am really fortunate to have the health, legspeed and tiny amount of talent and discipline to be in the races. Too often I concentrate on why I'm not better and the truth is that I'm as good as I am and that's all we can expect.

Cough. Same format as -cough- two weeks ago. cough.

Points race: 9 laps with sprints -cough- e'ry 3 laps. El sprinto uno. I dunno. Came up fast but maybe not fast enough to catch people fading at the line. Maybe scored points. cough. El sprinto dos: Probably did better. Lungs started to BURN. I was afraid of my low-grade head cold -cough- making me hurt tonight. cough. Sprinto final: Nowhere near sprinting for me. Watched the pack sprint and tried breathing through my on fire lungs. boo! Immediately took two puffs on the inhaler after the race. Drank alot but an evening of cronic coughing began here (and continues now).

Scratch race: Nice and fast for a C race tonight! Great, it felt much safer at the quicker pace with less balling up and bunching. I sucked wheel then sucked wheel some more then sucked more wheel until el sprinto. Long windup and couldn't come around in three and four. Managed a third somehow. Cough cough cough cough HACK cough.

Miss and Out: Have I got this down to a formula or what? The secret to success is to count heads then keep a running count of laps during the race. After four or five people get out, I go to the front and own the pole lane and simply don't let anyone come by me. Some laps it's dead simple and some laps the sprint works its way up to me. The onliest problem is that after towing the pack for eight laps or so, I don't have enough -cough- left in the legs to win. Still, I was very happy to get a second place.

Points race with the B non-pointers: I popped the 14 on the rear for this race and ran that gear for the first time. It was easy to push, surprisingly. But I had no gas for the sprints so I just sucked wheel the entire race. Well, that's not completely true. I took one mini-flyer and took a pull or two at the front but it was always between sprints. My lungs were so messed up by this time I just was happy to cruise and watch the sprints from a ways back. I went for the final sprint and was maybe in top 5.

I'm definitely learning a few things. NEVER stop sprinting until the line. Several times tonight I passed two or more people in the last five meters. My endurance is just fine. I'd like to work on acceleration. It's good for now but when I went to the ~90 in. gear, I lost alot of explosiveness. And that's what I'll need for the Cat. 4 and up racing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mount Diablo Hill Climb TT June 19, 2009

Wow. All I can say is that I proved that shit can roll uphill as well as downhill. Really not a best effort. The wind was horrible but everyone had the same wind and that's no excuse. I just really couldn't push hard. My heart rate numbers say I was working hard but the legs and lungs weren't along for the ride. Average heart rate over the race was 181, max was 188.

The starts were at 30 second intervals. Due to no-shows, there was only one guy withing reasonable time ahead of me to chase and I thought was doing good when I caught him in the first five minutes. But then, three minutes later, my 30 second and 60 second guys both came by me. That's it. If there's one thing I've learned about myself and time trials it's that I NEVER do well in a time trial once I'm caught. It's mentally just too hard without knowing you're shitty enough to get caught and will never make that time up again. I was eventually passed by my 90 second, 120 second guys. Then, to make it all that much more demoralizing I was caught by my FIVE minute guy. Then eventually my 150 second guy.

End result was a horrible time of 36:09 and 19th out of 30.

This sport can be a cruel bitch sometimes. Especially when today I can go out and set a new personal best time on my mountainous 50 mile bench mark ride. WTF???

----------------

Despite the tone, today is a good Father's Day. My family got me a cow bell! The sweetest sound will be my son's voice yelling Allez! Allez! and ringing that cowbell during the cyclocross races this Fall.

-----------------

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Creating Traditions

When I was a kid we really had no family traditions that I can recall. I think we moved too often so maybe moving was a tradition! Of course we celebrated the ones on the calendar but there were no yearly rhythms or functions. I don't know why I expect that to happen for family-ness but I'm happy to establish new ones for my little home. So Jasper and I enjoyed our third annual Dad and Jasper getaway mini-vacation after the last day of school.

Unfortunately funding* and lack of imagination dictated that we do the same thing we did the last two years and go up to Kris' family cabin in Cazadero. I shouldn't say unfortunately since we both love it there and never fail to have a great time. And a great time it was. We took little hikes, spent HOURS down in the creek swimming hole (despite the less than warm conditions), played horseshoes, swinged, did artwork, watched videos and ate like a couple of bachelors. It was great.

I talked to Kris and Saturday night to inform her we were having too much fun and were going to stay an extra day. She guiltily told me she was actually enjoying having the place to herself -if only to be able to clean a little and not have it immediately messed up by us boys. But that's the point! The trip is half for us to get away and have fun and half to give Kris a brief moment in her hectic life to have some time to herself.

I'm a big believer in leaving space inbetween. Space to breath. Space to enjoy a little peace. In music it's an important concept. Not every single quarter beat has to be filled with something. Sometimes taking a beat and putting NOTHING there makes the sweetest accent on what IS there. Get that? It's a beautiful concept.

Unfortunately the realities of both of us having to work, commute, cook, clean, launder, fix cars, build stuff, maintain the ranch, bike race (wait, how did that get in there?) just don't provide alot of that necessary space between the notes. So we have to really enjoy the ones we have.


*Spotty got bit by a rattlesnake weekend before last and let me tell you that you don't want to take your dog to the emergency vet hospital on a Saturday night if you don't want to spend an OBSCENE amount of money on an animal. I can't believe how expensive that was. The good news is that Spotalot survived and is pretty much back to her normal self already. Her face is still a little swollen but that's it. Next time we will have our ranch vet make an emergency call and then take our chances. But this time, I'm pretty sure Spot would have been a gonner (she's such a petite little thing and was definitely going into system shut down when Kris drove her in) so the money is well spent. I just worry she's gonna do it again. You really don't want to gold plate your dog just to lose her...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/10/09 Hellyer Wednesday Night Omnium Racing

Since last Wednesday night, my legs have been a bit iffy and I haven't been feeling too good on top of that with a migraine day yesterday. Today I took a quick lunchtime ride and decided my legs were good enough to race tonight. So...

12 Lap Points Race: Points every three laps. I tried to take a flier on the first lap but - FAIL! I held on for third on that sprint. Then there was alot of sitting in and not getting position for other sprints (mostly due to the wad I blew in the first three laps). Sprinted on the last lap and was 4th? 5th? I'm not sure and it prolly don't matter.

Scratch Race: 8 laps. It started off sane. With three laps to go it started getting a little sketchy back in the pack so I moved to the front and ended up providing a perfect lead out. I held on for 4th? 5th? (do you see a theme here?)

Miss and Out: Despite this being a race I don't enjoy, I seem to have it figured out (at the C level anyway). Made the final three again tonight but had no zip in the legs. none. Zipless. So took 3rd.

15 Lap Points Race: They made all the B racers with no omnium points race with the C's so it was a LARGE pack. But I sucked up my fear and rode an aggressive race. I don't think I came out with a single point but I did due diligence trying to get the best placing possible on each sprint. It was fun and the lights didn't screw me up like the last time.

I probably wasn't as good as last week as far as omnium placing goes but it was more competitive tonight and I survived despite my post migraine haze and somewhat dead legs. I'll take it!

Now off for four days with Jasper to Cazadero for hiking, swimming in the creek, and whatever else the hell we want to do.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A (Fri)Day in the Life of a Roybob...

5:15AM(ish): Wake up. See Kris is gone. Hear tires on gravel below on the driveway. Smile to myself at the thought of my wife out on her bike in the morning with the doggies and maybe a few goats trailing behind her.

5:16 to 6:30AM: Is it sleep? Dozing? Lucid dreaming? I dunno but it ends with my watch beeping at me.

6:35 to 7:55 AM: The usual blur of getting breakfast and lunches put together for me and my boy while also managing the bathing and getting dressed and all that other morning goodness of a Dad at the helm for his one shiny point of the day.

7:56 to 8:17 AM: Split time between watching my son draw a hilarious picture of himself and his TaeKwanDo instructor and spinning my wheels trying to put stuff together so I can sneak in a mt. bike ride during lunch today.

8:18 AM: Look at my watch and realize that we are going to be horribly late for school. Again.

8:19 AM: Realign my thinking to go for a quick mt. bike ride before work thus saving myself from having to shower this morning. Toss a ratty t-shirt on with some equally ratty jeans and a hat while shoving work clothes in a pack.

8:19 to 9:20 AM: Attempt to drive quickly -yet safely- to school. Apologize to son since today it's "all on me" that we're late.

9:21 AM: Walk smack dab into the end of the year class celebration full on with all the kids' parents and everyone looking nice (remember I'm in ratty clothes I picked off the closet floor).

9:22 to 10:15 AM: Apologize to my son for screwing up the thing this morning while hanging out with him in the class room and then explain to various other parents what a dolt I am for not knowing this was going on today. All the while trying to remember if I bothered to slab some deoderant on under my probably smelly ratty clothes.

10:16 AM: I get a little tear in my eye when my boy runs to the playground fence to pass a little more time with me as I walk out to my truck.

10:17 AM: Sit in the truck, look at my watch and suddenly realize that I simply am not going to go into work today. Before you cast me off as the worst slacker of all times, this is my swing day and no one is expecting me at work anyway.

10:45 to 1:45 PM: Mountain biking! But really its just two and a half hours of flogging myself and realizing that I am way way way too beat up already and shouldn't be riding up and down all those damn hills out at Lake Del Valle. End ride dead beat red tired and remember that dead legs and brains were the reason I was going to take a short ride today - oops. Eat my chicken and cheese sandwich that has been stewing in its own juices in the car for the entire morning and wonder if this is the last thing people who die of salmonella usually do.

2 to 2:30PM: Head over to the garden supply place and get a yard of "garden soil" plopped into the back of my Ford Ranger. Oh dear God did I just hear the frame crack? I hope not cuz I'm motoring.

2:30 to 3:30PM: Truck that load up the hill over dale and through the woods (in other words, drive home with it).

3:45 to 4:30 PM: Try to ignore the stabbing pain in my lower back while digging all that dirt out and wheelbarrowing it over to the new raised bed. Feed Kris' horses and the dogs.

4:35 to 5PM: Shit shower and skip the shave (having a beard is so cool).

5PM: Call Kris and coordinate and realize I have a few moments.

5:02 to 5:16PM: Take the sweetest little cat nap a man can have on a play hookie mt. bike and dig a yard of dirt Friday afternoon.

5:18 to midnight: Drive back into town, meet Kris and Jasper, drop Jasper off at a Summer Special party at TaeKwanDo, go get some eats with my babe, shop and then buy a new mattress, chuck back to livermore, grocery shop, back to pick up Jasper, back up the hill to home, get Jasper in bed, play with transformers (how the hell is the kid still awake!??!?!??!!!??) kiss the almost already asleep wife good night, eat too many cookies while interwebbin' then write a ridiculously complicated blog that no one will read.

I got a pretty good life. Dead tired achy back and knees and shoulder and head and everything. the Heart is ache-free.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 3 Omnium Wednesday Night At Hellyer

Back to the track again! (Maybe there's a reason track rhymes with crack???). I had no teammates to ask questions or chat with and no beginner session mates to hang with tonight so it was a little lonesome.

Chariot Race: I drew Heat 1 so had no races to watch in preperation. The race is simple, though. You get held, they count down and six of you race 1.1 laps from a dead start. Into turn one I was still uptrack. A quick look down and I followed a young kid into the pole and that's the way it stayed. Sweet! I'm in the final! In the final I figured it wasn't going to be so easy. I honestly can't remember if I was 3rd or 2nd. In my memory there is someone coming second who I don't recall seeing again the rest of the evening. This stuff makes you hazy.

Win-n-out: Simple rules again. You win a lap and you're done. But first there were 4 laps of jockying for position. Stupidly, I found myself at the back (a recurring theme...) when a guy took a flyer and won the first lap and the race. I moved up and started my sprint in turn one. Passed the pack on the back stretch, went over the top in 3 and 4 and won the lap for 2nd in the race. That may have been the hilight of the evening flying past the pack on the backstretch and holding it to the line. I'm not sure why everyone was so tentative.

Scratch: Same dude took a flyer again and most of the race was unorganized chasing. We caught him with two to go and the field sprint was on. Sprinted from the pole lane and passed folks but was 4th.

Miss-n-Out: This time I knew to stay up track uptrack uptrack. Then when the first five folks got weeded out I had a few close calls with almost getting last wheel so I went to the front and pulled the pack for the next four laps. That worked pretty well so I stayed there. I actually didn't realize I'd made the final cut until the guy behind me said, "You guys know this is a neutral lap, right?" Way to pay attention Roybob! Anyway, they made me lead on the front stretch and then came off me in turn two. I stayed in the pole and held off the third guy to take 2nd.

What a blast! My legs are definitely toast now. But that's good. As I left last night, I called up a "Thanks" to Rick in the "office" and he gave me a "Hey. Good riding out there." back that made my night of seeming anonimity a little sweeter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2, 2009: Hellyer Tuesday Night Points Race.

Back to the track again! That's three times in four days if you're counting. Format tonight was 30 laps with a sprint every five laps. Only I couldn't sprint since so many ladies showed up they earned their own race. So I surfed the back of that pack. The 48-15 gear was feeling way too big and my knees were kind of feeling tweeked by the end of the race.

During the B and A races, I hanged out, chatted with my teammate Jonathan and thought about changing my gear. In the end I stayed with it and added arm warmers and - more importantly- knee warmers. During the second race I surfed the back and my knees felt better. On the sprint laps, I let the pack gap me about a quarter lap then tried to sprint up into the back of the pack in 200 meters. That was giving a pretty good workout and sort of simulating the sprint pace. Halfway through the race I dropped back to paceline with three others and that was that.

I then jumped back to the rail to do ten laps with the B race. The pace was faster but I was able to hang on just fine. But it was getting dark and the shadows from the lights were playing havoc with my periferal vision so I dropped out. The main thing to note was that the faster pace put me more into my powerband and my knees didn't feel a thang.

I might go back tomorrow night. We'll see.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hellyer Track Racing: Get Ready for Summer (May 31, 2009)

What an awesome day and what a blast racing on the track was today. I don't have anything to show for it since I managed to make a few tactical blunders but I'm very happy with my first day on the track and -more importantly- had a great time racing and hanging out with folks and making new friends. So let the boring gory detail begin!

First Race: Kieren Race one. In a nutshell, you ride behind a motorcycle getting paced for a number of races, the motor pulls off and you go like mad for about 500 meters. The ticket is to be second or third wheel so the poor sap on the front acts like the motorcycle after the motorcycle is gone. In my heat I ended up being that poor sap and when the motor pulled off I just turned it up to eleven and owned the pole lane. One fast youngster smoked me with 200 meters to go and then a little pocket rocket girl easily went around me for the finish (she won the women's cat 4 race at the Wente Criterium).

Kieren Heat Two (repeat heat?): So if you aren't first or second you get a chance to earn your way back into the final heat by getting second or first in this one. Think best of the rest. I was last wheel of seven and started moving up when the motor pulled off. At 200 meters I was on the stayer's line and just jumped as hard as I could. My jump is not really all that strong but I was able to wind it up enough to come around everyone in turns three and four and win the heat and get into the final.

Kieren Final: I'd already tasted my eggs and begal breakfast once today and this was the second time. I could only manage fifth place (of six). But that was okay. I was just happy to get three heats worth of racing under my belt.

Scratch Race: This is just a basic race of fifteen laps and the first guy across the finish wins. No tricks, no counting points in your head, just race and try to sprint at the end. I mainly just surfed around in the pack trying to get comfortable with a pack at race speed. Mostly I found myself at the back -my predestined place in any pack race for some reason. Hesitated when I saw what I should do, started my sprint too late and not sure where I finished. Maybe sixth?

Miss and Out: Simple rules. Last guy across the line on a lap is out. First lap I took the very high outside and just accelerated to the mid pack level. Easy! Second lap, same thing. Third lap, did it again. Hey this is easy, lemme try to do it going low. D'OH! Shouldn't have broken a good recipe for success. I (predictably) got boxed in and that was that.

Snowball: The first person across the line on each lap gets points. The points increase as the race goes along. I sat in for four laps then decided to try and get some points. I sprinted but failed to catch the person on the line. But I did notice that I had closed a three bike length gap up to the sprint so I just dove down the track in turn one and put the pedal to the metal. I came around and scored points on the next lap solo off the front. I looked back and had about a quarter track gap so I kept rolling. I think I managed to score four laps (or was it five?) before getting caught and I was toast. I went as fast as I could for a few laps but then I went up the track and took a couple easy laps. Then I heard someone say, "keep going or you'll lose your points". BIG OOPS. I didn't know it worked like that! So I lost my points a lap and a half later when I got lapped. Crap! That cost me a top five in the omnium for sure. Oh well. This is all about learning right now and I'm a veritable sponge.

FOLLOWUP::: So I ended up tied for 7th (of 10) with my only point coming from the fifth in the Kieren. I thought I had points in the scratch but it was REALLY close at the line so that's okay. I'd rather come away from the day with a bucket of learnin' than points (not really but I'll say that to feel good...). Off to the track again tonight!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

As it says on my top tube, No Brakes!

I'm almost done with the beginner sessions to start racing on the track. There I am all tiny taking my lap at the front bundled up at the beginning of the warmup laps yesterday morning before the marine layer burned off and things warmed up.

The track is alot of fun and fear. So far I've felt very relaxed and am very much looking forward to being done with the beginner sessions and on to the racing. Don't get me wrong. I'm learning as much as possible in the beginners but I think it's like college where all that learnin' is just a foundation for the real knowledge that comes from the proverbial rubber hitting the road - or cement, as the case would be at Hellyer.

Yesterday was the first day on my own bike instead of a rental. Last week I spent a wonderful two and a half hours at Shaw's learning from the Oracle, Terry Shaw and being entertained by Jerry Shaw and his endless ablity to crack wise. I came out with a Bianchi Pista that I could have bought for much less online but the extra money was WELL worth it to have Terry fit me up and give me the confidence that I am setup much better than if I had winged it myself.

Oh yeah, photo stolen with no permission from Steve Woo's flickr page. He has a great blog, as well. http://worldwidewoo.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4, Sonora Road Race squish squish squish

Well I'm just chalking up all kinds of "inaugural" races here lately. This race seems to have been put together in fairly quick order but was very well done. If only the weather had cooperated. The course was HILLY. Let me say that again. It was a course full of hills. Everytime I went up a hill, I went down a hill then went up another hill. It was like 55 miles of unrelenting hill intervals. In the rain. Yay.

There was no masters cat 5 so I raced with the children again (and for the 108th time wondered why did I cat down all the way to a 5 again???). We had four laps to do. Sadly, only 17 of us toed the line. This was a well run race on good roads and probably the hardest course I've ever done in California. When I say the course was just one hill after another, I'm not kidding. Most of the climbs were the stay-in-the-big-ring-grunt-it-out variety. But there were also a couple of slightly longer hills where the small ring was called into action. Not a sprinter's course, not a climbers course, more of a short stocky strong guy kind of a course.

Anyhoo. We rode out into the rain, all 17 of us. After two climbs I did a quick head count and we were down to 12 guys already. A couple of more climbs and I was really starting to worry about my survivability. Between the humid rainy air and my lack of power, I was going asthmatic and seriously draggin on the hills and not necessarily recovering well on the descents. A couple of hills later, I did another head count and we were down to nine of us. Then it was my turn to get dropped. Luckily, getting dropped made me just angry enough to catch back on. We hit the longest descent of the course (hit 45 mph there in the rain!) with a bridge and a 90 degree right hander at the bottom. MAJOR brake fade had me panicking but friction and heat yielded sticktion and gription so I managed to bind things up enough to corner safely - unlike the first guy through the turn who ended up on his lid all tied up in a knot with his bike. After that guy crashed and even more hills came, the pace seemed to relent and I stopped worrying about surviving. Oops. At the end of the first lap, we hit the finishing stairstep climb and the pace went back up again. Poop, out the back I went.

As I watched the "pack" disappear I did an inventory that I've unfortunately had to do in probably hundreds of races (okay, dozens, I haven't spent THAT much time shat out the back in my racing life)...
-will continuing kill me? - no
-is someone who can affect my paygrade telling me to quit? - no
-is my bike unreparable? - no
-am I a little girl? - no

Damn, gotta keep going. So I continued on into the rain going up and down hills at something less than the pace of the first lap but not exactly touring either. Halfway through the second lap, another cat 5 caught me and passed me. For the next FIFTEEN MILES, we did a silly rubberband maneuver. He would slow on the climbs, I would catch up then he would sprint over the top of the hills. I'd then hold the gap on the descent and he would hit the bottom of the next climb fast, slow way down, I'd start to catch up and we'd do it all over again. Everytime I'd catch up to him I'd try to reason with him that we should maybe help each other out. He'd suck my wheel until the next hill summit and then launch himself and build up that infernal 20 second gap again. Cat 5's. What are you going to do?

Finally on the fourth lap I caught up to him and for about 15 minutes, just glued myself to his wheel. Then I gave him a taste of what it feels like to drag someone up a hill and then have them launch away from you (rather than gently coming and taking their pull). That did it. He must have blown up like a can of coke left in your car on an August afternoon. The only problem was that three hours of going up and down hills had finally began to take its toll on me, too. I started to get quad cramps. I sat on the nose of the saddle for awhile and stretched on the downhills and that seemed to help me recover. When I finally reached the finish climb, I was so happy I could have wet myself. Only I didn't need to wet myself since I was already carrying an extra five pounds of water in my chamois.

So that was one hard-ass course. To make matters worse, I rode past the finish line and down another hill and had to do an extra six miles of hills since I lost track of how to get back to the staging area in Jamestown (ouch!). I drove home sitting funny and worrying that I threw my back out but, happily, my back feels great today and my legs aren't too trashed either. Bonus. I can recover. I certainly can't complain about my endurance right now. I just need to get some speed and power going.

Oh. And my balls started hurting about 30 miles in. Damn you vasectomy scar tissue!

Results haven't appeared on the net, yet so nothing to report. I think I was maybe 7th or 8th or 9th?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

April 22, Tour De Ames "Kermesse"

For Earth Day they had a bike race and fun ride at work. Up until the morning of the "race" I was torn on whether or not to go. Getting taken out by a person pretending to race in something may not turn out to be an actual race would be a serious bummer. But at the last moment, I decided, "What the heck, it's free and when will I get another chance to bomb around Moffett Field ignoring all the stop signs?"

I showed up and found a ton of people there already. Some looked serious and some, well, they were set for having fun - good for them. The format was that the "racers" could go first and after the first five mile lap, the fun riders could begin. The race was only two five-mile laps (ten miles?! that's a warmup not a race!). Anyhoo, Pete Worden the Ames center director sent us off with a starting pistol (In years of doing hundreds of races I think that was the first time!) and away we went. It took a few minutes to sort out the slow pokes but there was -luckily- a guy with full on tri-geek setup hammering away at the front losing anyone who wasn't fast enough. After one lap, there were maybe twelve to fifteen folks left, still lined up behind tri-guy. There was only one double chicane corner that demanded any kind of bike handling skills so I attacked before that and went through on my own. I looked back and had a pretty big gap but didn't feel like I could solo away with the 15 mile per hour winds on that day so I sat up.

Going into the finish, two guys attacked and I waited for all the other wheel suckers to sprint. But they all just stayed behind the tri-dude. Eventually I got anxious and just went with a full 400 meters to go. I quickly caught one of the guys off the front and dug deep for my sprint but couldn't catch the other guy. So I took second.

Prize: braggin rites and no one cares!
Lesson Learned: Go for it! He who hesitates, loses. I'd probably rather have some guys come around me at the finish than just barely miss out on the win.
Other Lesson Learned: Don't judge the field by appearance. Despite expensive bikes and a few pretty fit looking guys, I could have easily won that race if I'd been a little more confident and a little less fearful of the appearances of guys who really had nothing when the hammer time came.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back to familiar rhythms

Finally back on the bike! Of course now I have a lingering cough/cold/sinus infection to deal with but that's fine. Jasper's on Spring Break so I'm off work today and tomorrow and he and I are going to go stay down in Monterey for a few days. We're both looking forward to it and I think Kris is looking forward to a Saturday to herself. Win win win. And Sunday will be epic bicycle madness. Or a three hour ride on familiar roads at a base-building pace.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ow My Ballz

I got a vasectomy last Friday.

After two days, my right nut was hurting like getting kicked in the ballz when I moved. That wasn't right.

By yesterday morning it was hurting bad enough that I called the doctor and went back in to see him.

Without buying me dinner or even offering me a coffee, he made me drop trow and fondled my aching nuts. He dismissed me with a "That's just a small infection" and a cycle of Cipro to clear me up.

I said thanks and left but what I really wanted to do was haul off and kick him right in the crotch. That would have been nice.

Oh well. It's starting to feel better but still hurts. Mostly I'm having cycling withdrawal. I'd much rather have a bike between my legs than a swollen nut.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Madera Followup


Final results were: Crit, 30th (same time as winner). TT, 26th (27:33). Road Race, 20th. Overall: 20th of 45. Not bad, not good, not horrible, not excellent. Just there. But that's fine. Check out them hairy gams!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Madera Stage Race, March 14 and 15, 2009

<--- Going through turn 1 third wheel. Just like old times!

The Madera Stage race is cool to me because A)I love stage races, B)It was the first race I did when I moved to California, C)It was the last race I did in 1998 and D)It's mostly flat and I don't have high intensity climbing legs... yet.

Criterium: The crit went pretty well. I have to admit I was pretty nervous as I warmed up on the trainer and tried to remember all the basic crit strategies. Move up, move up move up. Stay near the front. Don't allow a gap to form when it's strung out. Figure out the wind. If a guy is getting gapped ahead of you, get around him and don't get behind him again. Finally, the watch told me it was time to get off the trainer and get to the start. I lined up with 49 other guys. I sucked up my fears and chose a start place that would put me on the inside in turn one. We were off and there wasn't a mad dash for the hole shot so it was pretty easy to cruise the first five laps or so in the top three to ten riders. The wind was tricky but I soon figured the best places to hide and that made it easy to see where I could give a little and where I could move up. Unfortunately, the pace jacked up pretty high after the first prime and that was about the last time I saw the front of the pack. There was one really bad crash going down the front straight that I managed to avoid. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful. I have to say the work I've been doing with cornering and bike handling at speed is really paying off. I had no problem moving up through turns and it wasn't such a bad deal to get swarmed and have to go through corners with guys on both sides. That's always been a panic moment for me. I guess I just don't trust other people to ride smoothly and not take me out. I experienced a combination of not having the legs and lungs and not having the desire enough to move up in the final laps and was content to roll in with the pack and ended up 30th of 50 with no one escaping off the front (meaning no real impact on the general class).

TT: In 1998 I did very well on this stage. Unfortunately it was a points race back then so I didn't get any team support for my effort and didn't build on it for the overall classification. This year, however, it was just 27 minutes of pain. About three miles in my 60 second guy caught me. That was okay but I was a little discouraged. Then at about 7 miles my 90 second guy caught me. Again, not a show stopper but not super for the morale. Then at 9 miles my 30 second guy finally reeled me in. At this point I was going slightly cross-eyed and searching for the 1KM sign. Finally, it showed up and after riding the last 200M for what seemed like an hour, it was over. I heard another number called out as I crossed the line and that was my 120 second tail guy. Needless to say I was not too optimistic about my placing given all that. If I'd at least been able to reel in my 30 second guy I would have been happy but. He didn't get away from me but I never caught him either.

After the TT I spent about 30 minutes farting around with a stupidly simple tire change (my training wheel tire blew while sitting in the sun) and then went out for a 15 mile cool down ride to find my happy place and remind myself that it's just cool to even be racing right now, nevermind results. When I got back, I checked my result and found I was 26th of 50. Not bad, not good, not horrible, not excellent. Just middle of the pack.

Road Race: The road race was 51 miles of wind, bumpy roads and only one or two steep little rollers around the finish line. During the first lap, guys were being really ridiculous about fighting for position at the front of the pack given the length of the race. The pace was actually pretty high and at one point we had closed the five minute starting gap behind the Cat 3's to a coupld of minutes. On the first time through the rollers I was really feeling the previous day's efforts but I managed to stay in the pack. After that first lap, things really calmed down. I could tell everyone suddenly realized it was a much longer day and that they had to ride those hills two more times. On the second time over the rollers, I was zoning out and got stuck in a second group. I put my head down and closed the gap down and got back into the front group but then they slowed way down through the feed zone and the pack all came back together anyway. But that gave me confidence since I could tell I would be able to better at least half of the pack for the finish. The attrition was high on the last lap. A few guys never got back on after the rollers, several guys flatted out and I saw one guy's chain fly right off his bike (never seen that before!). The pace went up for the last three miles and I managed to hang onto the pack by a thread as a few more guys filtered off the back. First roller, about twenty guys stuck together while the rest of us sort of dropped off one by one. I just rode in as hard as I could and was only a couple of seconds off the back of the final sprinting pack. After the sprint, I did the usual "count how many guys you see" thing and only saw 17. So I possibly came in 18th but history has shown that counting method pretty innaccurate so I was probably 20-somethingthingth.

So overall it was a middle-of-the-pack experience. The road race was actually quite fun and I was happy to be that close in the finish. I'd really like to be doing better than this in a Cat. 5 race, however. The real dissappoinment was the time trial. I really thought I'd be faster. But I did ride it as well as I possibly could. It wasn't one of those tt's where you find yourself wondering where you could have squeezed out a few seconds better here or there.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

MTB Challenge #2


This race was two weeks ago but I'm only feeling like any kind of recap now. The race was a disappointment. I went in not caring that it was raining and very wet and muddy because I had managed to convince myself it was an easy win. NOT. Instead it was a race marred by way too much clumsiness on my part that lead to two crashes and a third get-off. Ended race with both shins bloodied and dented. Oh well. It was still kind of fun. Nothing compares to bombing around the singletrack racing in the mud and rain. Ended up 5th of about 15 and the race series is over for me now. I'm not going to do the third race.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hello Sanity. Meet Insanity.

With 90% chance of rain for Sunday you'd think I'd think, "Oh well, no race for me this weekend." But NOOOOOO. That would be the normal and sane way of thinking. Welcome to the mind of a bike racer. All I can think is that this is a series, I need to collect points and that I stand a damn good chance of scoring a victory for my little ego (now that I know how to find the f!@@@#ing finish line). And the rain just means less competition! And never mind that I'm sitting here checking the weather for the fifth time and registering for the race at nigh-midnight instead of snuggled in next to my wife in a cozy warm bed.

Side note. Searching for a clever cartoon about bike racing addiction netted me about ten thousand pictures from something called nude bike riding protest or something or other. Hmmm... Not nearly as titillating as it sounds......

Monday, February 9, 2009

BIG time DAMMIT!!! MTB Challenge Race #1

I woke up nice and early yesterday morning. Got my coffee and took off in my wife's car for the first of a three race series up at Folsom Lake, North of Sacramento. As I drove I remembered that one of my favorite things of bike racing is early morning road trips and the opportunity to watch the sun rise over parts of California that I normally don't get to see. Wonderful.

Got to the race, picked up my number, got changed and did a warmup on the course. I didn't think I had the right stuff today since the warmup wasn't so great. I felt a little sluggish and thought maybe the lingering bits of my cold were still in effect.

The course was wide open for at least a mile before the first single track so there were no worries about position for the hole shot. We went off and my first thought was, "I really need to move up or one of these guys is going to take me out." There was some serious lack of riding in a straight line going on back there. I moved up easily and pretty soon was weaving in and out of the draft of the front runners. When we hit the first singletrack there were three of us alone up front and I was second into the woods.

The first lap went well and I passed a ton of folks since all the groups started since close together. I got passed too with a guy with a helmet cam coming by me when I screwed up a big rock on a climb.

Having looked at previous race lap times, I knew I was doing pretty good when I started the second lap with about a 30 minute first lap (good for novice category anyway). I was passed again and stayed with another guy as long a I could on the second lap but couldn't stick with him. Coming into the last half of the last lap, I passed a guy who turned out to be in my category that I somehow hadn't kept track of. He stuck on my wheel and then passed me again. I sucked his wheel for a few minutes and then decided I wasn't going to suck wheel and then sprint so I gassed it up to full throttle on a wide part of the track and went into time trial mode. A few quick looks back revealed I was well clear. In fact I also reeled in the guy with the helmet cam and ripped right by him.

As I came to the end I was passing two people from the Sport category who had another lap to go. Being unfamiliar with the course, I was saying "FINISHING, FINISHING!" as I went through the most crowded area. All I heard was "...Right.....RIGHT" so that's the way I went. A few minutes on I knew something was wrong. A few minutes more and there was a sort of feed zone. I yelled, "Where's the finish????" and the guys just looked at me. I kept going but knew something was wrong. I rode backwards to the feed zone guys and they finally figured out how to communicate (with attitude "It's your responsibility to count your laps" -no shit, I can count to two!) that the finish was way back behind me. At least they accurately pointed me back to the course where I very angrily got back to the junction point and went LEFT to the finish.

An angry -but completely pointless and frustrating- exchange with the promoter followed where he used a healthy dose of condescention and stubborness to get rid of me.

I didn't stick around for any of the awards ceremony or anything and drove home in a VERY dark mood.

Imagine my added DAMMIT reaction this morning when I looked at the first page of the preliminary results below. They show me finishing 13th overall (out of ~60). But I know the numbers of the two guys I passed right at the "end" and I would have finished THIRD OVERALL AND NOTCHED A WIN for my age category without the wrong way disaster.

Oh man I'm frustrated this morning.....