Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 review Part 1 of 2 (part 1 = verbosity. part 2= numerology)

Note: This post is just here for me to assess my 2010. It is not intended as entertainment value. If you find it entertaining, shut down your computer and go outside for awhile.

2010 The Bad:
Failed Goals:
-Mt. Hamilton Road Race: On the day of this race I simply didn't have enough gas. I was low on endurance, power, and the only time I could manage a good feeling of racing was on the descents. Where I failed was in simply training poorly. I pretty much concentrated on doing as many 3 to 4 hour climbfest rides and, as a result, did too many of them starting too early and by the time Mt. Ham came along, I was in need of rest and a mid-season break. What I should have done was more specific climbing intervals and a better schedule instead of a sloppy plan that resulted in my peaking two or three weeks too early.
-Track Masters Districts: This weekend found me completely low on energy and having no top end speed and I had a hard time dealing with it mentally since it cost me on the homefront to be gone racing that weekend at a bad time to be gone racing. It's painfully easy to see that very poor planning once again screwed me up. Like Mt. Hamilton I simply got way too fit way too early. Yes, I enjoyed some really fantastic days on the track in July but they left me with nothing left in the tank when the peak was supposed to come. Again, better planning and more specified training (as opposed to just racing on the track every chance I got) would have gotten me to the date properly.
-Upgrade to a Cat 3 on the track: I had good results and definitely had the volume of races but in the end I'm not sure I did the right races and had good enough results. It kind of depends on who you talk to what races really count and I'm generally frustrated with the whole mysterious upgrade process but maybe next year I'll just submit an upgrade request and see what happens - IF I can string some good results together.
-Cyclocross Nationals: This was an easy goal to let slide away. Work ate me up in late Summer and I simply went into cyclocross season too far out of shape and not really motivated for anything larger than enjoying some local races. No big deal. This goal was more of a wish anyway.
-Madera Stage race: No biggie again. If you're sick, you're sick. I was better off to scratch this race weekend than to attempt it on the tail end of being sick.
-San Ardo: Again, it simply did not fit in the schedule and I'm not too burned up about it.

2010 The Good:
-Copperopolis: A combination of tenacity and bike handling experience combined for a second place in a well known local race. I'll take it! To duplicate a result like this in 2011 would be sweet.
-Track wins and places: Winning a couple of races on the track and having one pretty solid Friday night race were definitely good memories to take away from the year. Though my current motivation for track racing is low, I'd like to try and build on that in 2011.
-General fitness: January through the beginning of June I enjoyed alot of really great long days on the bike. The hilight would probably be doing the Mt. Hamilton loop but a ride from my house over mt. Diablo and into Danville was also pretty memorable. All Spring I kept marvelling at my own endurance and ability to tackle long climbs and recover so well. But then Summer came and that all went away. Where??? There is a mild correlation with when I finally lost the discipline to keep a diet diary and gained a modest 5 to 7 pounds back again. Can 5 pounds really make that much difference? Hard to believe.
-Taking third in the only mountain bike race of the year was another surprise bonus. I'd definitely like to do more of those in 2011.

In general I'm pretty satisfied with 2010. Coming off of four or five months off at the end of 2009 I actually had alot more fitness, endurance and climbing potential than I expected. And there were days on the track when I felt I could stay with the hardest pace. I really enjoyed the long points races most of all and maybe finally found my niche on the track. I'm holding back on saying anything about 2011. But I will say this. I intend to be a little smarter about races that are goals. If I expect to do well I have to be a little more serious about my schedule, training methods and planning.

MonkeyCross #4 @ Dan Galvin Park, Santa Rosa, Dec 18, 2010 howzthatforalongtitlewithallthedetails?

MUD! This was a very fun race. The course wound around the soccer and softball fields and so was mostly on turf. Well it was turf before all the earlier racers churned it into a sloppy, ankle-deep quagmire. Bring it! The course started on second base (there was literally a second base bag right in the middle of the course at the start/finish). There was a mud/grass section that led to a guttercreek crossing that they rigged with some sort of a bridge with some rubber mats but there was a small muddy hill after that that forced a dismount and runup. Pop back onto the saddle and there was a fun little section that wound through some trees and then had a tricky slippery downhill into another gutter/creek crossing (I saw a surprisingly high number of crashes here). A very brief pavement section sent us back into a grass field for more mud and a long slog around the outside of a grassy field. Then there was a deep puddle crossing that led into a fast double track section with some nice watery puddles to hit at "high" speed to try to clean off some of the mud. Then more mud and a tight turn and a strange section of cement that was beside some sort of shallow lap pool or wading pool or something. By the last lap it was VERY tempting to just ride into the pool but that would have made a big mess (I saw pics from the race where someone DID bunny hop right into the pool, haha!). Anyway there was more mud and a big puddle funneling through a break in the fence back into the softball fields. But first there was a double barrier and a long muddy section before the finish line that was best off taken at a run. This all added up to about seven minute laps with about one to two minutes of running per lap. Oh, and in case you were wondering my average pace for the race was a hair under 7 mph! As fun as these races are this ain't track or criterium racing!

Here's some pics so you get an idea...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32538636@N06/sets/72157625501831851/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrismatthews/sets/72157625642665684/

With all the mud the tactic of the day seemed to pace things instead of the usual sprint start-recover-survive rhythm of a cyclocross race. I had a slow start and was pretty far back but at the first gutter crossing/runup I dismounted, shouldered my bike and passed at least six guys who were either bogged down trying to ride the little hill or were pushing their bikes instead of carrying. I made another couple of passes and by the time we were out into the open field I counted myself as being in thirteenth. That was the way it stayed until the doubletrack section where a few guys passed and we had a brief paceline going (which is just a whole heckuvalotof fun when you're eating rooster tail...). But back into the thick-slow mud those guys dissappeared again. By the time we crossed the pool, the barriers and ran the loong section to the start/finish I had made a few more passes and was feeling really good since I hadn't really dug in to the max effort reserves yet.

The rest of the race had some good racing and I felt I passed and lost more than I got beat. I was trailing one fellow on the last lap by a few seconds and I was determined to beat him. I kept him in my sights. I was riding alot of the mud that he was running and he was pushing his bike not carrying it so I was feeling very confident that I would be able to out run him on the final section since I'm a carrier and you can run a long section faster carrying your bike than pushing it through the mud. My tactic was to get through the barriers, close the gap, shadow him and then sprint past at the finish.

Usually you "suitcase" your bike over barriers. That's just what it sounds like, you grab the top tube and carry your bike like a suitcase. But if there's a running section after the barriers you have to figure an efficient way to shoulder your bike while hopping the barriers. The best way is to just shoulder your bike right at the start but that dismount-shoulder-barrier hop maneuver is a little clumsy. There is a clever trick where you dismount and as you run hit the front brake hard sending the rear of the bike hopping up into the air where you catch it and send it straight to your shoulder. But you have to be already running a step or two and typically the hop over the barrier comes on your second step after dismounting. So if you're going to hop the bike you have to dismount a little earlier and that's where I screwed up I dismounted and ended up trying to hop the bike, grab it and jump the barrier all at the same time. Well two out of three ain't good and I ended up flying over the barriers and very comically left my bike behind on the first barrier! I've seen funny pictures of cyclocrossers leaping the barriers with their bike ten feet behind them before but that's the first time I managed to do it myself. This was so funny I didn't even care that my plan of attack was all screwed up as I reversed direction grabbed my bike and got going again.

But to my surprise, the guy I was chasing down seemed to have had problems of his own! Maybe he fell down after the second barrier or something because he ended up right in front of me on the run. The long minute of running ended with my digging in an sprinting around him at the finish line. I don't think he was too happy about that since I got a pretty half hearted return on the traditional post finish line handshake from him. But that's racin'.

After the race I hosed off my bike and jumped right into the creek to wash all the mud off my clothes, shoes and socks. That's the funny thing about a wet muddy race. Normally you would look at a running creek on a 50 degree day and think, "no way am I getting in that cold water." But if you're covered head to toe with mud and wet and cold anyway it's no big deal to wade right in and stay there just to get clean.

Man racing is SO much more fun when your feeling a bit more fit and fresh and up to the challenge! Coupled with some fun courses it's been great to have this cyclocross season turned into more fun and less frustration! I'll probably only do one more cross race in January then the traditional Early Bird road race out of Patterson before I turn to a more traditional winter base mileage routine for February and March.

So that's the last race of 2010! I'm going to be doing some boring posts coming up evaluating 2010 - what went wrong what went right- and such here as the year turns and then maybe do the usual post of loose goals for 2011.

Thanks for reading. Even if it's just me reading this a year from now! Ha!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MonkeyCross CX at Franklin Park, Santa Rosa: Dec 4, 2010 (B 35+)

Overnight and day-of rain made for a fun race that was somehow muddy without being too sloppy. The mud was exactly the kind I like. It wasn't sloppy and deep and splattering all over but it wasn't thick like peanut butter either. It was slippery and on many corners there was a very fine line between control and sliding out.

The rain stopped as I warmed up on my trainer and by the time I had my wheels ready and was all spiffied up in my fancy bike racer togs there was no rain. I took more than a few laps around the grass of the neighboring soccer field and was feeling good enough so I watched the last two laps of the C race and the men's 55. My buddy Ray was having a great duel for first place. Just before the third turn from the finish he made a decisive pass and got a decent gap through the second to last turn. I was prepared to shout up a huge congratulatory whoop when horror of cycling horrors the poor bloke slid out in the final turn going down on his hip and having difficulty freeing his right cleat from the pedal as he was passed. He righted his ship and rolled in for second but damn, that was hard to watch. I can't think of anything worse than having a race end like that. Here's the closest I've ever come:

In the Summer of 1992 I had just gotten back to Maryland for my Summer Co-op education term at Goddard. I entered a three-stage race out in Southern Maryland (Patuxent County Stage Race or something or other). On the initial time trial I rode well enough for a fifth and went into the road race stage fairly confident. There was a stiff wind that day and my Arizona mountain legs were more than up for that and the short climbs that peppered the course. With about eight miles to go I attacked into a headwind and took two guys with me. After about ten minutes I started to get frustrated with my breakaway buddies. I yelled at one of them to put in the effort or we were going to get caught. He just turned to me and had sweat and snot and spit running down his face and I knew he was cooked. So I attacked those meatheads and was solo with no pack in sight behind. I clearly remember repeating "out of sight, out of mind" over and over and over as I drove for all I had toward the finish. As I hit the final 500 meter climb before the finish I could taste my first road victory. I'd been close before but this was IT. I buried myself into the red zone but was fading hard just digging as deeply as possible to get to that damn line. TWENTY feet from the line, two guys sprinted out of nowhere and passed me leaving me slack-jawed, cross-eyed and in complete disbelief that I had come so - damn - close. Believe me, patient reader, it is not easy to live in your own head for awhile after something like that happens. The third and final stage was a silly criterium with no technical challenges to it whatsoever and I must have attacked the field every other lap in order to punish myself and exorcise the demons in my head but I was reeled in time after time. I ended up fifth overall in that race but I would gladly have traded in my winnings for having won that road race stage.

But back to the present (wherein I am sadly just a mere shadow of the guy who once could do things like attack a field and stay away for a significant amount of time in a significant part of a race ...).

The Franklin Park course was the most fun CX race I've done this year. After the start was a steady climb that was deceptively hard for those who were either overgeared or picked a slippery line. A surprisingly high number of people actually dismounted and ran this hill. I seemed to have its number and was able to ride it every lap. After this there was a flat section and a steep short climb that was quite rideable. A short descent following that had
a tricky right-hander at the bottom. As soon as surviving that there was another two-stage hill. The first part was rideable but the second was not. For me the best tactic seemed to be to just go ahead and dismount on the fast flat part at the bottom and used that running momentum to just go ahead and run the entire thing. (Maybe "run" is overstating the waddling I do while using my bike as a walker: seen over there --> photo by john schmier).

Then there was some more winding around on the same little hill. I found I could ride most of the uphills if there was no traffic and that, ultimately, turned out to be good for me.

On the final time down out of the little hill there was a swooping turn around a swing set (I love cyclocross) with some sand followed by some barriers. Then there was some flat-ish winding through some muddy off-camber turns and then back onto the straight. This ended up being about six minute laps. That's more in my comfort zone. I really think sometimes the race organizers go a little overboard with the courses and ultimately the race suffers with a course that just repeats itself without offering any additional challenges. Maybe that's putting too much thought into it but the fact is that I just enjoy the short technical courses MUCH more than the long flat slogs across the grass that most of the Sacto Series races have turned into.

I had an okay start and headed up the first hill maybe eighth wheel. With the traffic, some of the riding sections ended up being dismounts but when I'm fresh I can handle that pretty well. It isn't until later in the race when I start getting clumsy that my dismounts and remounts get slower and slower. There were some good races for position between three or four of us for the first three laps when things finally sorted out. I was happy to catch one rider before the finish but the last three laps were just status quo. Once the traffic was cleared out and I was able to have clear track to ride the climbs I noticed a very large gap behind me and that's how it stayed to the end of the race. My lap time show that I started to fade with my last lap being very slower. But that was more a function of having no one breathing down my back than anything else. I was very happy to stay on the lead lap and despite a not great placing (11th of 16) felt I rode a good race and didn't feel quite so stuffed and frustrated. Maybe things are coming around? Who knows but it was fun and that is the best thing to report. Ray took some video during my race and it's about as entertaining as watching a garbage truck (with a large ass) work its way down and alley but I appreciate it and the link is ...
http://sharing.theflip.com/session/2d0f3fb94a807b6af3ba1f6481069446/video/35638421

Two more last things that are probably more entertaining than the previous blahblahblah. The announcer was heckling me for being too clean, which is kind of funny since I kept thinking that I was probably trashing my VSRT whites. As you may hear in the the video, they were playing Weezer's Blue Album during our race. Out of nowhere my brain began to sing

oo wee oo I look just like Muddy Holly
uh oh and you're Muddy Tyler Moore

Despite that ending up on an endless loop in my brain I thought that was pretty funny.



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sacramento CX #4 at Lange Twins Winery: Nov. 21, 2010

With rain Friday and Saturday and threatening skies on Sunday this looked like it would be a muckfest of a race but Sunday turned dry and, while muddy (more on that later) the race was generally clean - all things considered. Here's a map of the course.



The start was at the bottom of a flyover that, I assume, is part of the winery where they must dump grapes into a big two story crusher contraption sort of thing. As a race obstacle it was a steepish, but short climb, with a flat section followed by an equally steepish, yet short, descent. After that was a sweeping left hander onto a short sidewalk and a 180 onto a dirt path. After that was a left hander down into the turf section of the course. With the rains the grass and turf was plenty soaked. But instead of standing mud puddles, the turf soaked up the water and turned into a soul-sucking peanutbutter like consistency that grabbed everyone's wheels and had us grabbing for ridiculously small gears just to slog along. A few barriers and up and down a big berm finally turned into the "spiral of DOOM." It's that cinnamon roll looking part on the map there. In warmup, I could tell this was going to be the most hellish part of the course and it certainly was. Each time through was an interminable spiral in through the lecherous muck searching in vain for good lines that maybe were just slightly packed enough to get through slightly faster. Right when the legs were screaming for a break, a 180 degree turn came and the slog to spiral back out began. Then came more wheel grabbing sections of muddy turf going up and down and around and finally the short merciful section of pavement came to the start/finish and all too soon it was back into the grind.

For once I grabbed a good spot for the start. I launched and clipped in well and had a really great position at around 12th going into the technical stuff. I even moved up a few spots as riders bobbled the first turns. Going into the first barriers there was a slight bottleneck and I got swarmed a bit (got bashed into pretty good too but that's just part of the fun). Coming out I had trouble clipping in and lost a few spots.

That was about as good as my race got. By the first time into and out of the spiral of doom I was falling back back back and getting passed. All I could do was just keep grinding away and shake my head that I simply am not on the same level as the rest of the field. What a frustrating experience to be that overmatched. It's just become a regular occurance this year for my giveadamn to simply quit at that point. I spent the rest of the race just slogging along in no man's land getting passed by most of the 45+ field and the 55+ field to add insult to misery.

My final result was 34th of 40! Ouch ouch ouch ouch. I think that's the worst result I've suffered in the two years since I've been back racing. I really don't know what the heck is going on. I just don't have any horsepower all of the sudden. This wouldn't be a big deal if I wasn't training my ass off lately. But I am! Hell, maybe I'm working too hard and not letting my body recuperate but it doesn't feel like it. When I'm doing intervals I'm getting tired but I seem to be recovering okay. I can tell I'm sluggish in climbing lately too which further adds to the "where the crap did my power go?" equation.

Ah bike racing. It can be a cruel wench when it's not going well. But that's usually the fun of cyclocross where you don't get dropped and spend the day riding by yourself. Or do you?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sacto CX #3 B 35+ @ Lembi Park: Nov. 6, 2010

Hard to believe it's November! The weather today was very uncyclocrosslike. Instead of wet, cold and miserable, it was sunny, pleasant and almost too nice to think about racing. But racing was in the plans anyway.

After getting registered and getting wheels in the pit and a brief warmup ride out on the road I did as many laps as I could sneak in between the A racers. The course looked pretty straight forward. The main obstacles were:
- some off camber turns in the grass with tree roots to make it interesting,
- a sand pit with a turn in it,
- barriers at the bottom of a short hill
- and another set of barriers before the last turns towards the finish line.

Most of the course was on grass but there were healthy doses of sidewalk and parking lot pavement mixed in. Heck, here's a picture.






































My tires were already overinflated from a warmup/checkup ride on the road yesterday and I made the grave mistake of leaving them like that. I ended up racing with about 75-80 psi front and rear! They felt okay on the warmup laps and I figured the small sacrifice over the off camber and tree roots would pay off on the paved portions. I realized that over-thinking ended up being a big mistake under race conditions when I was bouncing all over the place and having to slow down too much in a few critical corners. It also caused me to crash a couple of times that wouldn't have happened if I'd been running nice and soft... Woops.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. After the A race the course was wide open for practice. I took a look at the barriers before the small hill and determined they were rideable. I was right, they were rideable but on my second time through I endoed and drove my left quad into something and gave myself a heck of a charlie horse (as I right this, it's quite stiff and swollen, o joy). This seemed to shoot my confidence. Where I had been feeling really good up to that point, I ended up performing quite clumsily after that. And my giveadamn seemed to be broken from that point on.

This is one of the worst race reports I've ever written. Disjointed, out of order. Kind of fits how the actual race went. I don't want to get into any other details other than to say that some folks just take their racing way too seriously. Many guys seem to intentionally cut guys off when passing and I got into a verbal altercation with a guy after he swept my front wheel three times in the space of about two minutes. It was stupid but he went roadie-nuts, overreacting and flying off the handle cursing and talking shit and that kind of ruined the day for me (delicate readers will know that I'm not adverse to letting some profanity fly but there's a big difference between "You fucking asshole" and "I was fucked today.").

I ended up something like 25th given my lack of motivation and racing on half of one leg and generally just being a tad overweight and out of shape. Blech. Here's some pics stolen from Shane Huntoon (http://www.flickr.com/photos/liveplayride/). I'm seriously thinking I may need to swallow my pride and enter a race as a C pretty soon. I don't think I cracked the top half of the field today.

Here's the barriers I was jumping before reality kicked in and a standard dismount made 1000% more sense.


















Lower lip sucked in, strained neck tendons, yep, I'm having a bad day... Left quad is looking swollen already in the pic, I think.

















Normally I would have a shit-eating grin or at least a contration/strained look doing this but I just look pissed off. Not cool.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sacramento CX #1, Oct 6, 2010

On the warmup I flatted my front tire. I fixed it then started getting paranoid about my rear tire going soft. I checked it and it hadn't lost any pressure so I lined up to race the 35+B's (with teammates Jim, Rocco, and Scott in the 45+B's behind).

The course was pretty easy. I don't necessarily need a cyclocross course to be full of swamps, alligators, blizzards and bees but I do like a course that challenges my skills at least a little bit. Not this one.

I pretty quickly realized I didn't have "it" on the first lap. I was staying with the pack pretty easily but there wasn't any zip in the legs. I got myself yelled at when there was a bottle neck at the only challenging obstacle on the entire course - a barrier before a stream crossing. All I did was pass the line on the left coasting cowboy style. After dismounting, I cut across the line -without slamming or hitting anyone- at the barrier and passed some more people on the right through the stream. I really don't understand what the complaints were about. This is supposed to be a race, right? These guys would get their asses handed to them in the East (or Europe from what I've heard) where grabbing jerseys, pushing and shoving are all part of the fun. Hell, I had a guy grab my rear wheel and literally pull me back onto my butt on a run-up one time in Maryland.

Anyway, that was about as exciting as the race got. On the fourth lap my rear tire went flat and that was that since I didn't have time at home to put together a spare wheelset before coming to the race. I spent the rest of the race yelling at my teammates and giving up the rest of my bottle.

Not so much fun given the lack of fitness and the flat but still fun. Cyclocross rules!

Klamath Falls Cyclocross (Sep 26, 2010) Race Report

Okay, I'm probably breaking a record for late reporting of a race no one really cares about anyway but I've been enjoying everyone's race reports so...

September found me driving back from Richland, Washington in a US Government van full of my work. The joy and beauty of traveling for work in this fashion is that I managed to find space to cram in my cyclocross bike. On my trip back I hit some trails in Bend, Oregon and followed up that evening with a quick internet search to see what racing was going on in the area. Lo and behold there was a race in Klamath Falls, my stayover town! Woohoo! My first cross race in two years (I lost the 2009 X season due to two broken wrists...) was going to come earlier than planned this year!

Given the lack of plans to be racing at all, I only had my 40-spoke wheels with MA-40's (and 14 straight-gauge spokes!!!) with fatty 38mm wire bead tires on hand. In other words, I lined up to race with about 10 pounds of wheel and tire! At least I knew my wheels weren't going to collapse...

Racing out of the district is alot of fun. A few sideways glances and shrugs met me as we placed our bikes 50 yards down the field and lined up for a Lemans start. I was the king of the 50-yard dash in grade school so maybe I was a little over cocky when I placed my bike on the absolute outside farthest from the first turn (or maybe it was just lack of confidence and not wanting to ruin a local's day???).

The start went off cleanly and I found myself mid-pack on the first lap. The course was in a local park so was almost all on grass. The first section was a series of 90 and 180 degree turns which some people couldn't seem to get around without slowing down ALOT or skidding out. Maybe my fatty tires helped here. After a section past a playground (where some pretty funny kids were doing some heckling) there was an un-ridable sand section, more grass and a ~1/2 mile uphill on pavement followed by a fast narrow bikepath descent that ended abruptly at a wall with a narrow stone staircase going up about 8 feet. Luckily it was dry conditions or I could imagine easily plowing right into the wall or endo-ing into the staircase. Next there was grass and two more stone staircase sections before a grass false-flat section (easily the most painful part of the course given the running section that preceded it). All that in about 5 minute laps!

After a few good battles won and lost here and there (experienced cx racers will know what I mean here) I found myself unable to shake "Andrew." Every time we went through the sections of cowbells and people yelling in our ears it was "Come on ANDREW!" or "Pass that guy ANDREW!" (me being "that guy"). This encouragement obviously was working for Andrew since I could easily drop him everytime we got out into the less populated portions of the course only to find him panting back up on my wheel just before the cheering sections came up again. I wasn't sure what Andrew looked like since he never failed to just glue himself to my wheel without giving me a breather. I heckled him a little bit and he gave back so it was all in good fun but I really wasn't looking forward to the inevitable final sprint wherein I would probably finally get to see Andrew.

As we went through the start/finish on the bell lap I thought I heard a "Go DAD!" mixed in with all the other "(positive encouraging statement for Andrew at the expense of 'that guy' comments here)" I bobbled the sand section on purpose to line myself up behind Andrew before the paved climb and finally got a chance to stare at HIS ass (that really doesn't sound right at all...). On the climb he kind of blew up and started pedaling squares. Well call me an old softy with no competitive spirit but I put a hand on his butt and shoved him hard up the hill as I said, "Dude, I'm not gonna do this to you in front of YOUR people." This gave him a second wind and he ripped us around the rest of the course and I was happy to ride in on his wheel without offering up a sprint.

Having set myself up as some kind of nice guy let me now say that I did that thinking we were way out of the running for places. Had I known we were racing for fourth place, I probably wouldn't have been as kind. Oh well, it was still alot of fun and I enjoyed chatting with folks after the race wondering either where I was from or why was I in a big Government Van at a cyclocross race...

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. On about the third lap I was passing a guy who gave me the inside line on a squared-off horseshoe turn. Turns out he wasn't really giving me the line so much as avoiding the low hanging branch that I managed to hit with my head at full steam. THAT took a few minutes to recover from while racing!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back on (the) track - literulz: Hellyer Tuesday Nite Racing Sep 7, 2010

Despite being three weeks into "cyclocross training" in a base building phase I simply cannot deny the full blown pleasure of getting my hurt on at the track. I especially am partial to the long scratch and points races and that is what Larry Nolan has brought us for the last run of races of the year. So... game on!

40 lap scratch: With a very limited warmup I just hung in and took my pulls. I got gapped with about seven to go and somehow managed to get back on (helped in part by a certain local famous bikeracer with a very familiar tenor ring to his voice) with two to go. I came through and just kept my momentum and just led the thing out for grins. And when the sprint came by I was smacked pretty hard in the face by the reality of just how quickly I've lost all the pop in my legs! But that's okay. I can't expect to be jumping with the track sprints when I've been mostly on a steady diet of running, core strength excercising and doing short-ish endurance pace rides for the last couplaweeks.

5x7 points race: Not really sure how this one turned out but I think I snagged a few points. I kept ending up leading out and shaking my head at how fast the sprints were. But, again, that's not where my focus is right now. What I did get is some great long high-intensity riding in and that's alot more fun to do on the track with a bunch of great people than on the trainer, rollers or some road that's never quite right for the interval I want to do.

Big grinz tonight. I kind of forgot to enjoy the racing toward the end of July. But it's back now. And when I think to a year ago when I had nothing but recovery and running to look forward to, I'm good ol' fashion thankful.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Know When to Fold 'Em: Hellyer Wed. night Track racing 8/11/2010

I think that my Summer track flurry of racing and digging and scrapping is DONE. Last night I felt pretty wiped in the warmup. With a lack of racers there were only two fields again this week. The 1-2-3-4 points race started off okay and I even went on a flyer on the first lap and held off enough people to score a single point but it was all asthmatic and backwards from there. I came off the track after not being able to get back on the field (even after taking a lap) and told Rick I wanted to jump into the 4/5 race since I was just not up to it tonight. So that meant back to back races but hanging in the 4/5 scratch race was easy enough even though I was just plodding along.

The miss-in-out was forgettable as I pretty much just pulled myself on the first lap after getting taken uptrack by a squirrel looking for a nut...

In the last points race I just kept the pace hot and took all my frustration out on my legs with no regard to the points. As a result there were only four of us left for the last two sprints. The final sprint is the only one I went for and it was too close on the line to tell who got it. No matter anyway.

I was pretty frustrated and finally just realized it's time to call it good. I thought maybe I could keep racing through August and get my final couple of upgrade points but between work cutting off my training and just generally being done with this fitness cycle I'll call it good. I'll likely get back on the track in September for Larry Nolan's scratch/points races and maybe do Friday night racing too if it's going well but after a little break from hard riding I'll probably be working mostly on...



Monday, August 9, 2010

Lost (Last) Weekend: Masters Track District Championship, Aug 7 + 8, 2010

Of the six events possible I was planning on participating in four. The sprints were not on my agenda, the 3K pursuit was a biggie, the 1K time trial was big, I failed to cat up to a 3 so I couldn't do the points race, there were loose plans to do the team sprint, and we had a solid-ish foursome for the team pursuit. But that's not exactly how it panned out.

3K pursuit: I'll take pity on the two people who might read this and explain that a pursuit is where two riders start on opposite ends of the track and race a set distance (3 km for my event). It's kind of cool cuz the two riders either match each other or you can see one surge and then fade as they race. Look it up on youtube. What sucks in the pursuit is when one rider is so much stronger than the opponent that they actually catch up to them and pass them. Yeah, that's what happened to me... I knew I didn't exactly jump up to speed well (stupidly messed with my handlebar/aero bars that morning without trying out the launch) yet was way too far into lactate burn after the second lap, despite intentionally holding back. After that it was just seven more laps of thinking too much and hurting too much and generally riding a piss poor time trial. In the end I rode something like a 4:18 which was dead fucking last and not even close to the rest of my age group (TEN seconds to the next place and TWENTY THREE seconds off the winner's time - sheesh how humiliating).

I left the track in a pretty dark mood.

Next day...

1K TT: The good thing about this event is that it doesn't really give a mental-case like me enough time to get into their own head and mess themselves up. It's basically: launch, sit down, get aero, then max out your leg speed until either your head explodes off your shoulders or you cross the finish line. I felt like I had a strong first lap getting up over 32 mph by the end. On the second lap I held about a 31 mph pace but then on the last lap I was really struggling and my speed fell under 30 mph when I hit the windy backstretch. And then it was over. I drifted up the bank, then back down and off the track completely spent. At least I knew I threw absolutely everything I had into the effort. But in the end, it was a repeat of the 3K. In my age group there were only about 2 seconds separating the leaders and then there was me another six seconds back (with a 1:22 I think?). I know I shouldn't hold myself up to guys like Michael Hernandez, John Licatesi and John Cheetham but, damn, I wanted to at least be competitive. Too bad, thanks for coming, the exit is thataway...

Between Steve Jones having left to the hospital (to accompany a teammate of his who managed to have a pretty nasty fall during the warmups) and my having lost ALL ambition to compete, I found John L. and Dave Muminski to let them know I was out of the team events. It turned out they didn't seem to be up for it either but I haven't seen results yet so maybe they found someone and rode anyway.

After putting my bike in the truck and changing back to regular-folk clothes I watched all the points races and especially enjoyed heckling my age group during their race. But, dammit, it really sucked watching the points race. Since June I have been working toward getting my Cat. 3 just so I could do that race and to come close but fail and then have such a let down in the time trials, it would have been fun to dive into the points race even if I would have been barely hanging on.

Oh well. The real bummer is that between working and racing all weekend I really didn't have any time at home. Kris understood that it was a big goal for the year and that the work stuff is out of my control but I'd definitely like to have thelost weekend back...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wednesday Night Track Hellyer Aug 5, 2010

Freshly discouraged from my July assault on catting up to a track 3 I hit the banks on Wednesday night with the only goal being to fire up the engine and prime the fire for the weekend's masters districts. Part of the problem was the lack of B races toward the end of the month leaving me out of the points on the omniums. But no excuses! Just gotta get faster/smarter/more gooderer.

Points 3x6: Went for the second sprint by leading out the bell lap, got swarmed on the backstretch, then got pushed off the sprinters lane onto the apron and spent the rest of the race angry and following wheels and not recovering well as a deep lung burn set in. Wow. Major lung fire! Not good. Track hack for the rest of the night big time. Guy who pushed me off the track came over after the race to apologize. I was still pissed so I bit my lip but we made up later on.

Scratch 15 laps(?): Follow follow hack hack follow. Finish. Hack hack hack.

Miss-n-out: Dear goodness as if I didn't suck at this enough I got confused about the start. First rider pulled... again. And hack hack hack.

Points 6x7 (42 laps): Followed wheels easily enough. Pace was high but not enough that regroups didn't happen after the sprint. Only scored third on one sprint. Really just played the role of firing up the pace after each sprint (which always makes the guys sprinting oh so happy with you especially when you aren't in the hunt yourself. Hehe <--asshole points for me!).

So, blech. Track hack continued way into the evening and on Thursday morning there was plenty of lung butter to expel. Then I've been kind of headachy and sinusy for the rest of the week. We'll see how that disturbs my districts. Saturday will be the 3Km pursuit. Sunday is the 1K TT and team sprint and team pursuit. I'm on the schedule to do the pursuit against a rider in a lower age bracket so I'm not sure how that works. I guess they just take your time and compare it against the other times in your age bracket. Whatever. It's been kind of tough trying to not feel guilty about racing this weekend with all that Kris has had on her plate with my working extra hours lately. She's been awesome about it, though, understanding that I really only had three races with big red circles around them this year. Now if only I felt like I was up to a good ride this weekend. dammit.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tuesday and Wednesday Hellyer: July 27 + 28, 2010

Tuesday night I was a bit sluggish and the legs weren't quite there. I snagged points in the points race and figured I was on the bubble for omnium points but the results were botched and no one wants to fix them so I'm not sure where I finished. It's not important anyway.

Wednesday was tough too with lots of problems breathing all night. I scored some points in both points races but not enough apparently. The scratch race was what it was and the miss-n-out was my typical failure to get out of the sprinting the devil from behind stuff and I was off with six guys still in the race. During the last points race there was a crash when the lead guy in the sprinter's lane decided to go up track at the 200 meter line. I was just coming off his wheel for the sprint and had to go up track too. As did the guy behind me. The fourth guy in line got his wheel swept and went down. He was okay, luckily. But it sucks when someone crashes cuz someone does a bonehead move like that.

I went to the track yesterday to work on team pursuit transitions and starts with one of my partners for the district championship next weekend. After that I did a 1K and two 3K efforts. Ouch! It's hard to time trial for such short distances when I have sooo many road time trials under my belt. The mentality is roughly the same but the effort is WAY higher and painful. I tried to time myself so I have some benchmark times. But they are pretty far off from being competitive. Oh well. Better to be there in the fight than wishing I was there.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday Night Track racing at Hellyer: July 23, 2010

Friday night racing was a blast! A good crowd to heckle and cheer seems to add a few watts to the legs and a higher level of competition added with some out of town racers makes for faster racing too. Then the pits between races are fun too with great camaraderie that pretty much always transcends whatever goes on during the races.

20 lap scratch: It quickly became obvious that the four visitors up from the ADT track were working well as a team chasing stuff down, blocking and generally setting the race up for a sprint finish. I BLEW IT with two to go when the bottom of the track seemed open, I was the first guy coming through and then backed off when it seemed like the two riders up track were coming down into my line. What I should have done was blasted through. Even if they did come down, I could have easily dropped down to the blue line of the apron and let the officials sort it out. What I did do cost me the pole for the final lap (which would have been SWEET) and also screwed up quite a few riders behind me on my wheel. OK. Hopefully next time I'm in that position I'll remember to be in more aggressive and less cautious. ESPECIALLY with only two laps to go.

5x5 points (25 laps): I wasn't able to get up into the sprints one and two so decided my only way to have some fun was going to come if I tried to stay near the front for a sprint and then counterattack. At best I was going to stay away and score and at worst I would be putting a double hurt on the sprinters. After the third sprint I snuck up under the track and when all the spent sprinters were uptrack I attacked and quickly got a good sized lead. I held it until the next sprint to take a solo win for the points. I stayed off the front for another lap hoping the pack would stall again after that sprint but that was obviously not happening as things were stretched out and broken behind. Instead of killing myself I backed off and tried to recover a little since I didn't want to get dropped when I got caught. I rolled in on the back of the pack on the final sprint. So it wasn't exactly a suicide flyer and notching 5 points solos off the front was fun but I'd trade if for having been able to factor into three of the sprints and scoring a little higher...

Miss-n-out: Wow this is my worst event! I was the first one eliminated when I simply had no where to go. The 23 mph neutral lap with no racing laps before the first sprint kind of got the best of my slow-to-start mentality as well.

So, despite the miserable win-n-out and the mental fart on the scratch race, it was a great time. Now if only I hadn't ridden to a 55 mile team ride and notched up 100 miles in 17 hour period I'd probably feel a little more perky today... But it's all worth it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday night Racing: Hellyer July 20, 2010

Lighter than usual traffic (more like, less heavy than usual...) got me to the track with time for a solid warmup this week which I kind of felt like I needed to get the old body going. Combined B and C fields tonight and that's where I ended up.

25 lap scratch race: My only motivation for the scratch race was to try and keep it fast. That doesn't seem fair to the C racers but crashing sucks and slow races induce that sort of behavior so fast it was. There was a cookie prime which I screwed the knobs up to eleven to win (haha, how stupid is that?). That combined with doing most of the work to keep things rolling made me tired for the sprint. I missed the move but almost stole second on the line but third was my satisfaction.

5x8 (40 lap) points race: Not much to say here, no one wanted to help with the pace. Everytime someone pulled off the front and went uptrack, two or three people would stay on their wheel and go up and the pace would slow down again. It got pretty dang annoying to tell the truth. But it was good inspiration to lead out my own sprints and fight anyone off who tried to come around. I don't know what the points totals were but I got the W.

So the third and the W also gave me a win for the omnium! Kris says I shouldn't poopoo my own results and Steve Jones assured me the race counts for upgrade points but it doesn't feel like a valid win when I know how hard and fast some of the B races were earlier this year. But good results are often the result of who bothers to show up and race as much as they are luck and -dare i say it?- getting faster smarter and better at the racing in general...

So Friday night is on the agenda! That will be a good reality check. And fun too!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Power Within

On my way to work this morning, I stopped at the grocery store for a few things (my fellow cyclists who cram lunch rides in during the week will understand that you absolutely must have a working stick of deodorant stashed away at work). Typical to an early-ish Sunday morning there was only one checkout stand open and I queued up like a good little boy. An old man's turn came up and the check out lady looked at his "Veteran" hat and asked him, "Army? Marines? Navy?"

The old man replied "Navy." This touched off a conversation about his time in Korea back when that was a pretty crappy place to be which related to the check out lady since her son is a Marine who was stationed in Korea before being sent to Iraq. After a brief and guilty moment of thinking, "Alright, let's go." I realized that I would just have to suck up my impatience and let this one ride. It was important to both the Veteran and the checkout lady to have, what appeared to be, a somewhat mundane conversation about how cold Korea is in the Winter and how hot it is in the Summer.

Meanwhile the lady directly behind me started fidgeting and even emitted an ,"Oh come on." The checkout lady did her best to end things and get back to business as she noticed the line grow and people bouncing in their places. When I came up I had one of those rare moments where I suck up my shyness and just say what I'm thinking. I told her I thought it was cool she took the time to recognize a veteran and give him the time. As she handed me my receipt she said, "Thanks for the compliment, you made my day."

Wow. Really? So she makes the old man's day by opening her mouth and recognizing him and I make her day by opening my mouth and recognizing her small act. Then she kind of makes my day by recognizing my recognizing her recognizing the old veteran. Crazy.

So we all have this amazing power within us to just add a little positivity to the World. This isn't a new concept to me but lately I've been feeling a little pessimistic about our culture and the lost art of politeness and common courtesy. As a person who has had to fight very hard with myself to not be angry and judgemental and has to constantly struggle to not be grumpy and spread my negativity, I get the rare perspective of seeing both sides of the coin. I certainly don't understand why there is such an inclination to be an SOB staining things around me a passive aggressive vibe when the obvious benefits (both to myself but certainly to those within a "pay it forward" relation to me) are right in my face. So odd.

That's it. Nothing Earth shattering. Just the simple message to be nice and spread it around. You don't have to go handing out flowers and hugging strangers but maybe ease off the gas and let that other guy go ahead of you in traffic or hold the door for someone or just go out of your comfort zone and talk to stranger. And to everyone who took the time to drop a "Happy Birthday" on me this week, thank you thank you thank you for taking that time and making my day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SLLOOOWWW warmup = odd(+) results... Hellyer Wednesday Night Racing, July 14, 2010

Picture outright stolen from the great Steve Woo, track official, promoter, racer, photographer and blogger and all around nice guy extraordinaire.

Well, back to back track nights are always good for a little pain and suffering all in the name of tryin' to get faster and score a nut here and there. In general I felt better during the day so wasn't too worried that tonight would be a repeat of the dead legs from Tuesday night. Format was four races, Scratch, Tempo, Win-n-out and Points. Like tuesday, there weren't large fields but these are USAC races so they divided by actual categories, and all the 4/5's were together. Which made me feel kind of bad for the cat 5's...

15 lap scratch race: I purposefully left a small gear (well, a 48x15 is small for me...) thinking I should just spin my ass off tonight. BOOM the race went off super fast and I thought, "Oh shit, not again." With 6 to go I couldn't close a gap and went off the back. I stayed on the lead lap but was very unhappy.

14 lap tempo: I geared back up to the usual 48x14 for the tempo and BOOM! The damn thing went off too fast for me again. I went off the back even quicker and did get lapped right at the end. I exited the track very pissed off and discouraged wondering where the hell my legs had gone. Wasn't I winning this shit just a week ago???

8 laps to win and out each lap after: Still stinging and pissed off I attacked in turn one after the neutral lap too catcalls and boos from my dear fellow brethren racers (hehehehe). Four laps down and I was maintaining almost a half lap flyer when the pack finally decided I'd had enough and reeled me in with two to go. RATS! I felt better about at least being an instigator and as I took cooldown circles in the warmup circle I realized I suddenly could barely breath. After a two minute search into the depths of my bike bag I finally found my inhaler and took two puffs. I wouldn't say it was instant relief but the burning subsided by the time the last race went.

36 lap points race, (6x6): The start was weird on this one as there was NO WARMUP AND PRIMES ON THE FIRST TWO LAPS (WTF^2). This threw several people for a loop and the first three laps were chaotic with people all over the track in ones and twos. Somehow, however, it all came together about three laps in. When the first sprint came, I found myself in a good spot and rolled easy across the line for 3rd place points. The rest of the race I found it easy to snag points on almost every sprint and even won one of them in there. As a result I was 2nd for the race after sucking all night long!

And even weirder is that 2nd in the points race was good enough for a 5th place in the omnium. I didn't expect that. I guess the lesson in there is... I dunno. Don't give up? Praise abuterol? Take what you can get? Play to your strengths (points racing has definitely become my favorite track racing and the longer the race, the better). I dunno but add one point for upgrading!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hardware: Hellyer Tuesday Night Racing, July 13, 2010

With all the "Somedays your the hammer, somedays your the nail." Tour De France talk I hesitate to use that suddenly overused expression but dayum if I wadn't feeling like a number 16 galvinized gettin' laid into by some waffled 32 ounce true tempered carpentry hardware tonight at the track. Wow, that sentence must be as hard to read as it was to try and write (note I said "try to write").

I was on the fence about whether to do the A race or B race and decided that given my past weekend I would be better off in the B's. What about the weekend you ask? Well Sunday morning I had to move my new washing machine into the laundry room which happens to be up in the attic. I couldn't ring up any help so I lugged that fucker up the stairs all by myself and - as you'd expect from a man of my declining years, messed up my back. No biggie, just a real solid tweak to remind me of my growing-by-the-day inability to get away with shit like that.

So what did I follow that up with? Oh, how about 4'000 feet of climbing over 50+ miles? Oh and did I mention that I didn't get out on the road until 1:30 in the afternoon and it was HOT as Hades in August. Okay it wasn't that hot but I was measuring over 100 degrees on the Garmin.

So flash forward to tonight's warmup and my realization that my weekend kicked me squarely en las nargas and I haven't really recovered. So B race was a good decision only WAIT! Wait for it... Attention: There will be no B race tonight due to low turnout in the C race. So B's can go up or down, choose. After someone had already flattered the hell out of me coming up out of nowhere to tell me they noticed my win last week, I just couldn't go sandbag the C race.

The rest is a hazy blur of pain, humiliation, speed and misery. I went off the back once in the Scratch race and lost count of how many laps down I was in the 60 lap points race. The only thing I can feel good about (other than at least sticking my neck out with the A race) is that I stuck out the points race and was one of the last six people still on the track at the end!

So ouch! But not too demoralizing. I might go back out again tomorrow night but given the low hours of sleep I'm gonna tab up tonight I dunno.

If you're reading this and you aren't me, thank you. Really, thank you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tuesday Night Racing: Hellyer July 6, 2010

Steve Jones stepped up and is promoting a short series of Tuesday night races to fill the gap between Larry's early and late season Tues. night races. The format is similar with a concentration on longer races but only two events per night (yay!). So we had a 25 lap scratch race and a 40 lap points race.

25 lap scratch...
I decided I wanted to race this tonight instead of using it as a high intensity warmup. Start position was good right at the front. I took a hard one lap pull right off the bat trying to get things heated up and it kind of worked as we had a good pace. I think there were was a flyer that got pulled back pretty quickly. With 15 to go I went off the front with one other guy. I though it was a suicide move and we weren't working too well together at first. After about four laps I finally convinced my breakaway partner to take full lap pulls and that worked much better. The pack never got organized and we stayed away. We got caught by two guys with two laps to go but they must have burned themselves up bridging since they were nowhere in the sprint. I led out from turn two at about 85% gas and then notched it up to full blast with about 150 meters to go and held off (barely) second place for the win! Wow! Even a three legged pig gets a little somethin' somethin' now and then.

Points 8x5 (40 laps):
A good stretch and -thankfully- the legs were up for more racing. I was feeling the earlier long break and sprint but was able to consistently snag points and even won one sprint which was good enough for fourth place.

That gave me 6 omnium points total and the guy who was second in the scratch race also came in second in the points race also giving him 6 points. But tie breaker goes to me (I think?) since I had the better placing between us. W00t squared! So I have a valid omnium win to claim upgrade points since there were 13 competitors.

So it's only a weeknight race but it counts!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hellyer Friday Night Fights (finally): June 25, 2006

Finally made it out for Friday night racing! It's definitely a notch above the regular weekday races and fun to race for a bigger crowd too. After three hours of driving over to pick Jasper up and then getting down to the track I was a little weary already and only had a few minutes of track time so there was essentially no warmup for me when I took the rail for the 20 lap scratch race. I tried to take a few big pulls and force myself into waking up but the body said, no way Johnny Ray. So off the back I went (for the first time this year!). I hit the rollers and got my body good to go for the 30 lap points race. I sat in and watched the first two sprints then went for the third one, scoring third. Recovery was good and I managed to do the same thing on the next to last lap. So four points scored probably wasn't enough to make omnium points but it was educational to sprint in a different style from what I usually do. Usually I go from WAAAY out - like a 400 meter sprint. Last night I kept them shorter, more like true 200 to 300 meters.

Next was the REAL fun. Jasper raced the kiddie kilo!
Thanks to Garrett Lau for the photo.














The horrible videos are from me (and Jasper in a wierd handoff at the end of the last one which comes off kind of funny to me since it accidentally catches us natural-like).







It got garbled by my crossing my wheel on the rollers but the first rule is "Have Fun." And we did it right!

Shortly after that last video it was clearly time to go so we packed up and didn't look back. I suck at the Miss and Out anyway!

It was a great time and I can't wait for the next opportunity to enjoy a Friday Night at the track. Probably won't be doing the huge traffic headache of going to the track via Livermore, however...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Easiest Race Report Ever: CCCX #6 Father's Day Classic(?)

With Kris' encouragement to go mountain bike race as a last minute-ish decision I headed down to the always lovely Monterey Peninsula last Sunday for some good clean fun in the dirt. Thanks to the inestimable Steve Anderson, I will let the pictures do the thousands of words they are so famous for...

First there was a start down 1/4 mile of pavement and I made a bored looking face... But actually I was contemplating whether I wanted to be the roadie dork who won the hole shot only to fall all over himself at the first sign of dirt. I opted to enter the dirt ninth wheel.















Next there was passing and riding hard and racing...




















Followed by more riding hard and getting passed... Dude on the single speed was waaay too strong.



















And yet more riding hard. Check them bar-ends! Probably the only pair in use that day... What can I say? I'm a dinosaur. And they work for me. I really don't fully understand why they've become so looked down upon.














Then my quads cramped up on the last lap and I almost lost a place but held it on at the finish - barely as evidenced by the below thousand words.














Then I washed in two cycles of technu, switched to baggy pants like everyone else and stood and grinned on the steps. W00t.















Pretty satisfied with 3rd of 34 overall and 3rd of 13 in the 35-44 year olds. Now I never allow myself a moment of pride without trying to crush myself in the same breath so I will mention here that I WAS SANDBAGGING IN THE NOVICE/BEGINNER category. But, hey, that's what it says on my license! Definitely want to do more mountain bike racing and upgrade.

And in case I was too subtle with the photo credit they were all by Steve Anderson (http://www.flickr.com/photos/youngsloat/), whom I hope to crush on the track Friday night! hehe...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday Night Racing at Hellyer, June 9, 2010

I don't know why I feel so compelled to write about every little race. It's almost like it didn't happen if I don't. Silly. But it's a healthy neurosis. I think?

Tonight was a first! Because of the real race coming this weekend there were no races for the big boys and girls tonight leaving room for us lower categories to race. As a result it was the first time racing against only Cat 4's. I also think this is the first time this year the field size was under 20 guys. Almost felt a little like last year. Unfortunately this is an off period for me so I really didn't enjoy some of the good legs I've had earlier in the year. Scratch, Tempo, Win-n-out and Points races were on tap tonight. I think I've only ever done one other Win-n-out before and this was the first tempo race for me.

Scratch (12? laps): I can't remember too much but there were one or two guys off the front? I lead out the pack on the bell lap but got swarmed for about 6th or 7th.

Tempo (15 laps): I rarely go to the rail as first rider but I did for this race. I stayed there and when we got the bell I drilled it all the way around to win the first sprint. But that was as far as that went. I simply couldn't recover from the effort. I couldn't breath and my stomach went into rebellion mode. After five or six laps I had that familiar sensation of the pack slipping away (what was left of it anyway). I rode with two other backmarkers and on the last lap gunned it and just held off getting lapped at the line. BUT instead of going around for one more lap and going across the finish I went off the track with everyone else and -just like that- lost my points. OOPS! Maybe Steve Woo gave them back to me out of kindness but it was he who pointed out my mistake. It's not like it matters but, hey, I threw up in my mouth to get those points.

Win-n-out (10 laps plus). Just sat in and tried to recover. And that's what happened. Didn't get myself into any of the sprints.

Points (40 laps - YES!): Long points races have become my absolute favorite events on the track. They start civilized but at some point everything goes to crap and you either survive and regroup with the other survivors or you find yourself up at the rail waiting for the pack to lap you. Though I only scored two points the entire race (points were every 10 laps) it was a real fun survival of the fittest knock down drag 'em out. Fun!

So no omnium placing but that's ok. I was really off my game for most of the night until the points race and even then couldn't quite put together a series of good sprints to get many points. Oh well. Still a great way to spend an evening. Except for the weather! It was getting downright chilly toward the end of the evening. Isn't it June for cripe's sake?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mid-Season

I guess the middle of the year is a good time to take a deep breath and think a little bit about the season so far - in alphabetical order...

Criteriums: Only did one and didn't take it remotely seriously. But crits just aren't in my field of view these days. Usually it's a long drive for a short race and really I just don't have the pushy riding style to do well in the typical negative racing cat 4 crit. I guess my aggro east-coast influences have worn off.

Cyclocross: There hasn't been any racing (duh) and my bike is kind of torn apart right now anyway so I haven't even done any of that riding.

mtb: FAIL! Haven't done a single mountain bike race or ride even! Geesh. Reality is that I'm scared of poison oak and the stupid month-long energy-draining reaction I always have to it. But I kind of feel like a mountain biker trapped in a roadie lifestyle.

Road Racing: I guess this was supposed to be the focus of my efforts but I've only done three races! Early Bird was good since I was still coming back from the broken wrists and managed to finish in the top third. Copperopolis was a mixed-blessing of a 2nd place finish but in a very small field of competitors. Mt. Hamilton was a HUGE disappointment and I am still not really over it. I really wish I was road racing more since my endurance and climbing are way above where they were last year but it's so dang hard to get away sometimes and not feel like a complete schmuck to the family.

Track: The track has been good this year but I'm wanting more. Hanging in has been easy this year. I haven't been dropped once and that is a small success all by itself since last year I was getting dropped. Not only am I not getting dropped, I was consistently scoring points on the Tuesday night races. But these are only results in weekday races and I haven't really tested myself much outside of that and even in the weekday races I need to be bagging top 5 finishes if I'm going to get up into the A races where I will be pack fodder but feel safer and probably have more fun.

blah blah blah. So I guess the short assessment is that there have been glimmers of improvement in races that do not reflect the big improvements I've noticed in training. Part of the problem with bike racing is that if you don't race very often, you're more likely to have an off day in a race (ahem, like mt. hamilton). I'm frustrated by this result-wise. The strange thing is that while I raced more last year, I felt like I was balancing family and race/training time better. This year it feels like I've been riding more and shooting giant holes in Saturdays and Sundays more than I was last year which is a bad Dad but then I'm not using that fitness for racing. That's not completely true since the track has been going easier this year. I guess I shouldn't do mid-season appraisals when I'm on day 9 of a post-race funk from the race that was supposed to be the day when everything clicked.

So what's in store for the second half of 2010?
-I'm going to try to squeeze in a mtb race on an open weekend in a couple of weeks.
-Return to Leesville Gap Road Race on July 3. That was definitely one of the more fun races from last year and I've got a bug up my butt about Mt. Hamilton that can only be exterminated with another long hard road race. I don't race well in the heat and this is a tough race so I don't have fantasies of a high finish but at least I'm not going to stay home.
-Track: Get at least one Friday night race in (something always seems to come up!). I'm going to try to at least attend District Masters Championship but work is getting heavy and I'm not sure I'll be able to race that weekend or train well leading up to it.
-August will be an off month. I'm not even looking at the schedule. Work will be heavy with some traveling anyway. Maybe I'll do a mtb race if I can find one that fits into the work schedule.
-September is up in the air. We have to get a family vacation in there sometime this year and after August work busy-ness we'll need one. Would be nice to fit a mtb race in. Running schedule will begin along with regular rides on the cyclocross bike.
-September to January. Cyclocross season! Do what I can! Definitely going to do as much of the Bay Area Super Prestige series as I can. IF LARPD series is on this year I'll do all of them I can. By late September, early October decide if I'll try to do nationals.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hellyer Wednesday Night, June 3, 2010

The track is like driving in jammed pack traffic except instead of poking along you're all putting the gas pedal to the floor and moving at 80 miles per hour and, by the way, you don't have brakes. Yet somehow it works. You'd expect all kinds of 30 mph carnage but it rarely happens. But that doesn't mean there aren't those "oh shit!" moments. Tonight had more of those than I'm comfortable with. On top of that the Wednesday night races cram four races in and the actual track time suffers.

Kieren: Blah. Fifth in my heat. Realization that the legs are NOT recovered from the race weekend. Congrats, welcome to the next 45 minutes of doing nothing but holding starters.

Scratch race: 12 laps. It was a wierd pace. Semi fast but balled up. With 4 laps to go I finally found my way up to the front. I was second wheel with 2.5 to go and actually feeling good. But the guy ahead faded HARD at the beginning of the last lap and with all the passing over the top I got boxed in. Boy that was frustrating but what was worse was hearing a big crash behind me on the last lap. Not cool. No one was hurt badly, just a bunch of road rash and some sore butts and shoulders tomorrow. Saw more than a few trashed wheels.

Miss-n-out: First guy pulled and it was intentional. I just wasn't comfortable with four or five of the guys in the pack especially with the nerves of the crash still fresh.

Points: 15 laps, sprint every 5. Lots of really sketchy riding again. My legs didn't have any oomph until 4 laps to go when they suddenly woke up. In a totally dejavu moment, I moved up into a sweet position for the sprint and the guy ahead (flippin' Fergus, the one time of the night he doesn't rise to the challenge of a sprint, I'm on him like glue, geesh!) faded and I got boxed in.

So, the usual fun of camaraderie and racing induced adreneline was all there but the length of the races on the Tuesday Nights is better. Too bad those are done for the year until September.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mt Hamilton Road Race, May 30, 2010

Jasper's perfectly capturing my post-race feelings about Sunday's Mt. Hamilton Road Race. Therefore I will skip the typical overburdened post full of boring details and sidebars all carefully constructed to leave any reader that actually happens to come here to to think I'm greater than I really am.

Instead just accept the following list of bullets (in modern day powerpointy kind of speak) to represent. The time breaks are very rough.

-Nice ride to San Jose with Carl's wife doing us (being teammates Carl, Glenn and I) a solid and doing the early morning driving.
-Collected numbers, kitted up, warmed up, lined up and rode out.
-o:oo to 0:50; Pack intact going up lower slopes of Mt. Hamilton. Some surprisingly squirrelly riding given the lowish climbing speeds but a pack of ~80 is gonna have that. But, Taleo, really you guys should teach some pack riding etiquette including not passing over the centerline... Anyway, my heart rate just would not come down. My legs felt great by my heart rate was just out of control over 188 for almost the entire first hour.
0:51 to 1:40; Pack breaks up. Survival climbing to the summit of Mt. Hamilton. I pass a few but get passed by more. About ten minutes from the top I burp and end up throwing up a little on my top tube (too much information?).
1:41 to 1:48; Screaming, bombing, adreneline spiked kick ass descent passing about ten guys from my field in the second half.
1:49 to 3:20; Basically one giant, long, depressing time trial where I pretty much catch no one but get caught and passed by many while drinking both of my original bottles plus two more I grabbed from neutral support and, that's it, no more available.

3:21 to 3:21:03; Ride past the mailboxes. Kris is juggling a camera and trying to understand why I'm desperately waving my water bottle up and down and yelling something like, "Wada bodda!? Don't you has a botta?!?!!??" while Jasper lays into a cowbell. Kris does not has a botta and I remain very thirsty but still managed a backwards wave and a "Thenks!" Cowbells in one's honor should never go unrewarded.



3:22:04 to 3:48: Ignore cramping legs, heat, aching body and nagging feeling that I'm being chased to finish off this crappy day. The finish line finally comes and someone in the officials tent calls out "nice job" which is very nice but I don't feel like it was such a nice job.

Result was 47th of ~80 which is pretty much a sub-par performance and I am moderately crushed. This was supposed to be MY race. This was supposed to be the race where I actually peaked, tapered, prepared and all of that good training garbage. But instead it ends up being a below average day at best. I'm always bummed when my body doesn't do what I want it to do but that's usually a result of not really being prepared. Here, I was prepared. I've been thinking about his race for a LOONG time. Just ask Kris. Ever since we moved up here I'd always dust off a bike and get my fat out of shape ass out on the road to see the race go by. Last year I didn't register in time and missed it. And now finally I get to do the race and I show up missing on two cylinders. I'm really trying to remind myself this shit is for fun and to not take it seriously but, dammit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hellyer Tuesday again! May 11, 2010

After a hard week of riding last week that culminated in a 50 mile climb-fest on Friday afternoon, I took the entire weekend off and did stuff around the house and such instead. So I hit the track last night thinking I'd either have sleepy legs or rested legs. Luckily they seemed to be more on the side of rested.

As usual, I used the 25 lap scratch race as a high intensity warmup and worked on pack position and conserving energy. With two to go I was in a really good position but got swarmed a little then lost my nerve, got my nerve back but then couldn't move back up and rolled in around 10th. Hesitiation kills! I know it but I constantly have it get reminded to me.

This year I am really loving the long points races. Last night was 50 laps, sprints every 5. I sat in for the first nine laps conserving conserving conserving. So when the bell went for the second sprint I gunned it and flat out won that sprint. Woohoo! 5 points. Then three guys went off the front with one in no man's land. I sat in for the next sprint and went for the next one (w/ guys still off front). I think this is where I screwed up. There was a break of three off the front and a resulting chase of two guys between. I got confused that the two ahead were the original break so while I spent the next three laps sniping points I was just being an idiot since all the points were up the road. D'OH! Oh well. Somewhere in there I'm pretty sure I scored more points than the original 5 but I don't know. Must put brain and eyes on next time!

I'm noticing some real improvement! Last year was all about surviving and sniping the occasional point toward the end of the summer. This year hanging in is NO problem and now I'm actually mixing it up in multiple sprints and have scored regularly (though I'm always coming in out of the upgrade points -grr). Maybe a track upgrade is in my future afterall??? I sure hope so. I'd really like to get up into the A races where they ride alot smoother and there isn't weird pack behavior.

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to Lose a Race you Should Win by and EXPERT in the field

Birth of a suicide attack: Wente Criterium, 2010 ->>>>
Photo by BMX and LARPD cyclocross promoter extraordinaire Shane Huntoon.


On Wednesday we had the second annual bike race at work. Last year I sort of messed it up and missed the win by hesitating. This year I'm definitely faster, fitter and more confident.

Now pull up a chair for some old timey Uncle Roy past glamorization... Back in the day, I was a young buck full of piss and vinegar, with loads of free time and more strength in my legs than I knew what to do with. I loved to race my bike and did so as much as possible, logging up to 70 races a year in my peak. But I was dumb as a donkey when it came to tactics. In my head I was Jacky Durand, Massimo Ghirroto all rolled into one attacking, off the front, fighting machine. Dumb dumb dumb. My specialty was attacking, getting caught and then counterattacking my own capture! As a result I would spend most of a race off the front by myself or with one or two companions in suicide fliers that would always get caught.

My second specialty was doing that Ekimov move where you try to attack with 2 km to go and hold it to the line only to be swamped with 200m to go. The drama was high in these maneuvers but the results were nonexistent. Guys who had been around awhile were constantly coming up to me in large training rides, parties or after races and saying things like, "man you were STRONG in XXXsuchandsuchraceXXX, I thought sure you were going to stay away." The intimation was that I was a rider on the up and was headed for bigger things. But I never got smart. I continued to race dumb. Then I stopped racing and I always wondered what could have been if I'd only been smarter.

When I started pinning numbers on last year I promised myself I would race smarter. Nowadays, I make up for that lack of pure horsepower by sitting in, waiting and being smarter. With the exception of the Wente Crit -where I purposefully blew my wad off the front in three separate suicide attacks- I've done a good job of it. Until Wednesday...

I had every expectation of winning the race on Wednesday. I mean, I had already savored visions of obtaining and actual trophy and where I was going to put it and everything. Jasper would think it was so cool that Dad actually won a race and had a trophy and everything. I blew off the little voice in my head saying, "don't count them chickens..." like a sister ignoring the pleas of a younger brother to come play catch in the backyard. This race was MINE.

So about the time I found myself THRICE counterattacking myself into the wind the doubt started to creep in. "Hey stupid, we don't race like this anymore, right? Do you really think you have that much energy to waste? You raced your balls off last night with legs that were already pretty tired... Are you sure you shouldn't just be sitting in and waiting for the finish? You're only dropping half the pack, not all of it..." But there I was, 95% heart rate, a tiny two second gap and caught again and again. Then with the last 2 km into a very stiff headwind I was fading and fading hard. The splintered pack was divided, the top folks were sprinting for the line and I was solo in no man's land watching the three trophy spots sprint for it. Fourth place was my reward for stupidity. No trophy, no win, no nothing. Just a big headache for the rest of the day and one very pissed off me, at me. Ah, what a familiar sensation...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hellyer Tuesday Night Racing, May 4, 2010

During warmup my legs were D-E-A-D from Sunday's 4 hour time trial up and over mountains and wind.

During the 25 lap scratch race, hanging in was pretty easy but I could tell I had NO pop whatsoever. Whenever the pack bunched up I tried to get to the front and string things out. A fast race is a safe race and all that. Had no position or ambition for the sprint so rolled in and got taken up track again by someone pulling the plug and not staying on their course. Let the guy know it was bad riding and he took it well. Hopefully I did it in a, "by the way, be safe" kind of way rather than a "BLAH RAH BLAH GRUMBLE POO!" kind of way. (hey, it's late, that's what comes out of my brain through my fingertips).

The points race was off the hook! Right from the go, there was a big split in the pack. Luckily, my legs finally came around and woke up around this time. Unfortunately I got stuck all by myself in no man's land. I almost bridged up to the break and they were oh so close but when I got to within about 20 meters, they gunned it. After about seven more laps of losing ground I eased off and went back into the remains of the pack behind. The break must have been faster and furiouser from then on since guys were getting peeled off and coming back to the pack. Eventually they lapped the field and it was pretty chaotic (in a good way!) with guys up a lap, lots of people down multiple laps and then a few of us one lap down from the break. Somewhere in there I scored points once or twice (or thrice?) but mostly it was really hard fast riding strung out more than bunched up. It was probably the most fun I've had in a points race chasing stuff, sprinting, getting caught out alone, and generally just survival of the fittest badassery. Great stuff!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wente Criterium, 35+/4: April 25, 2010

Between work dominating my training time the previous week then working for the Wente Road Race on Saturday and then the Criterium on Sunday I really had ZERO expectations to survive even a single lap.

But I had a good warmup on the trainer (thanks Jim and Zaf!) and took the line with a large group. Not sure what the numbers were but it was 50+ (turns out it was 75, no wonder it was so crowded) I think. Then we were off. Lap one seemed easy. Move up move up move up move up. By that gigantic wide open last turn that leads to the "finish straight" I was at the front. I'm not sure what was going on but the front two guys (teammates - not mine) were really dragging anchor going into the turn. Without trying to be crazy or accelerate, I carried my momentum underneath and into the gutter. I gave a "Comin' up inside. Gutter!" and the two guys started both screaming at me.

Done many crit races guys?

If you are at the front of a large field in a criterium and it's a wide open turn you ARE going to get swarmed like mad if you're going to slow down that much. And if YOU overreact and go wide and get yourself yelled at? Yeah, that's your fault too. With the adrenaline of that idiocy I went off the front briefly but it was very short lived (flier 1!).

Back in the pack I got tired of the hargy bargy in the middle and ended up tailgunning for about ten more minutes before getting bored and going off the front for half a lap through the back sections (flier 2!). But that one didn't work either and the pack was just happy to roll along without any of the teams sending anyone off the front. I'm going to call out Taleo here. You guys have, like, TEN GUYS in the pack and you don't send anyone off the front???

After that I resumed tailgunning. I was really happy to find good legs and it was really easy just sitting in like that.

But it was boring and there was NO way I was going to get involved in that field sprint. So I decided I was just going to do one more full on attack across the start/finish area and try to get my named screamed out by Michael Hernandez on the PA. Flier #3 came after the "last turn". I scooted over to the extreme left side of the road and just accelerated away. Unfortunately, everyone saw the move yet no one was willing to join. WTF!!!! Why the heck won't people go off the front? So between being on the extreme opposite side of the road and wanting to get a good gap, I came up to the start finish off the front and heard, "muffle muffle, ATTACK OFF THE FRONT, muffle, muffle, IS IT?, muffle ROY JOHNSON, muffle muffle" So I don't know what was said but, mission accomplished, my name broadcast. I know that's stupid but it was worth it. The gap held for another 3/4 of a lap and it was fun hearing a few "Go Roy!"'s shouted out while I felt my heart pounding to the absolute max and knew I wasn't going to last long. "She ain't revved til the rods are thrown" When the pack finally came I didn't even try to jump back on. My day was done.

So yes, a good result would have absolutely rocked but I'm no field sprinter and nothing was going off the front at all so it was what it was and I'm happy with going out in a big ball of flames rather than rolling in with the pack. In hindsight, however, I should have burned that last match with two laps to go instead of four. That would have made it more realistic and less suicidal.

So that was the race... Funny thing is that it was only a small part of a very busy week and weekend. But there it is. I just like to brag about the action hero parts of my life, I guess. Trust me, there are some major things I screwed up last week (like being so flippin' busy I forgot my Mom's birthday...) so I'm no action hero.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Also Ran... Hellyer Get Ready For Summer April 17, 2010

Coming off the last two Tuesday nights I had some hope for a good race day but Saturday morning found me with some tired legs and a fuzzy brain. Getting ready to go I was standing in my "garage" gathering and looking for crap when I looked up to see my jeep rolling backwards toward me. I just sort of stood there with no idea how to escape as it filled the doorway and sort of slow motion crashed into my bench and the side of the door. Damage: one tail light (that was already pretty much toasted from wheeling anyway) , a tire mark on the garage door trim and my brain. Not an auspicious beginning coupled with trying to get a moody 6-year old out the door for his TaeKwanDo green-belt testing.

Four races on tap: Kieren, Scratch, Miss-n-out and Points.

Kieren: After a brief warmup, I was happy to feel the legs come around. I took the start too casual and after a lap finally retreated to the absolute last wheel. But I was hopeful since I was behind two potentially fast riders. They both pulled up track before the moto took off and I went with them. As the moto pulled off there was a little bit of a hesitation as I was accelerating and I ended up with my front wheel just slightly behind and down track and got stuck behind slowing riders since I couldn't cross over. By the time I got through that the train had left the station and I briefly had a hope of surging up to nip fourth but that was a fantasy. Dammit! I felt like I had the legs to have maybe sprinted for third or fourth but just didn't play it right and had a little bad luck. Next time: -more aggressive for better wheel -if following riders, get my front wheel uptrack so I don't get boxed in.

Scratch: So having screwed up the Kieren, alot of sitting around and stewing followed. By the time we took the rail for the scratch, I had pretty much deflated my own sails and was kind of unenthusiastic about any chances of being anything but pack fodder for the day (BAD BAD BAD mental game, little Roy. Bad.). Anyway. It looked like MetroMint had the numbers so I went with their first move. We did get a slight gap but it was brought back after a lap or so. After that it was just follow follow follow. I was on a good wheel with three to go but I lost it. Then I moved up for the final but moving up took too much gas and got swarmed and came in with the pack. Blah.

Warming down I heard, "Hi DAD!" and looked up to see Jasper and Kris had shown up (fresh from picking up a new rooster!). Of course about 5 minutes later there was only the second crash I've ever seen at the track and it was a bad one as the C race Miss-n-out had a nasty one that left two people laying on the track for long time and another sitting and very dazed. "Really Kris, that NEVER happens!" In my inexperienced opinion, the accident might have been caused by too large of a C field for that particular race. A very long (and unfortunate-since it was a wait for ambulances) delay followed while the injured were attended to. Jasper and I took a number of laps on the warmup loop and hanged out until Kris and Jasper had to get going (rooster sitting in the back of the car and all that) so they didn't even get to see a race...

Miss-n-Out: With the crash and all the sit-around time, I took the rail with even less enthusiasm than before. I think I lasted about ten laps and it was all playing the devil from the back so I was kind of pooped and basically just let go instead of trying to do yet another sprint up at the rail.

Points: Fast race and it was shortened to only 20 laps with four sprints. No way I was going to get anything in those conditions with the level of competition in the field. The 5-to-go sprint looked doable but I got boxed in and couldn't burn that match. Finished comfortably in the pack. The final was a little nerve wracking since I got pushed up track as a guy came out of the sprinters lane for no apparent reason between turn four and the finish line. If I'd been a few inches further up I would have stuck an elbow in his hip. Just cuz you're not in the front sprint doesn't mean the rules don't apply to you too. This is why I so often don't bother sprinting for tenth. It always seems to be the most dangerous place. Up at the front is safe. The back of the pack is safe. But right in the middle where there is no hope of a good place yet it's fast while riders are falling back and alot of people just stop trying and shut down short of the line while others are (in a fantasy land) trying to sprint up into the places that are already won makes a nasty combination.

I'm not sure how I managed to write so much about such an uninspiring day but there ya are. This week is the beginning of Wednesday night racing but work is the theme of the week so no track this week. Wente is next weekend and then it's back to concentrating on climbing and miles getting ready for Mt. Hamilton road race at the end of May. That said, I hit the climbs really hard yesterday for the first time in quite a few weeks and the concentration on flat speed and track time hasn't seemed to killed my climbing like it did last year. So I'll probably come out for the first couple of weeks of May.