Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CCCX at Toro Park: Dec 4, 2011

I may as well finish getting caught up here...

Although I was only racing the 35+ B's and not eligible for a district championship I was still psyched for this race since it represented the peak of my 13 week late season block of training.  One thing I decided to work hard on halfway through this season is being less emotional in my racing.  From what I've read there's the concept of being a "tilt" player in poker.  Emotions get the best of a person -who knows better- leading to lapses in strategy and smart tactics.  Result?  Loserville.

When I found out about this concept it made me realize I end up racing on tilt all too often.  It can be a comment from a competitor, a perception that the race is not fair (external locus of control anyone???) or that your competitors "must be sandbagging" or are riding unsafely.  The result is stupid racing, lack of concentration, ridiculous behavior.

So I studied a little and it really helped to re-learn the definition of mental toughness.  But mostly I just resolved to be more of a rock during races and not let the emotions tilt me.  How have I done?  I can say I've improved but I still could be a little more calculating and race smarter.  San Ardo is a good example of needing to continue improving (though I still say riding for 60 miles just to sprint is LAME).  But the last two cyclocross races were really good examples of how I've developed some ability to brush off either bad luck (two bad crashes in the space of about 40 seconds) or loudmouthed competitors.  I think I still have to concentrate and remind myself but I like this taste of an improved mental game.

I didn't expect to have to apply it 100% at CCCX, however.

Sometimes CX means racing against guys who had to borrow their sister's skinsuit for the day...
On three warmup laps I really enjoyed the course.  There were many whoops in and around a dry creek bed, some light single track, a "barrier" that I easily hopped 100% of the time and another "barrier" that was very fast (it helps that I'm a dork who thinks it's funny to dismount and leap over 3 foot diameter trees regularly).  And there was a rather long runup.  My running legs are really good this year so that made me happy.

After an okay (not great, still need to be more aggressive) start I was running somewhere between 7th and 10th wheel.  I was following another rider who was faster than me in the open but slower in the technical stuff so we had a good race going and passed a few guys together.  On the long section before the runup he got away a bit and I was behind another rider when we hit the sand at the bottom of the hill on the second lap.  The guy ahead went down!  (note to that guy, shift your weight BACK)  I mostly avoided him but the sand grabbed my wheels.  I stepped over the handlebars just fine but my bike augured into the sand.

Top of the runup.
In a moment of polite raceriness we inquired about each others health, post crash all while getting up and getting moving.  I ran the hill, popped onto the bike (I haven't mentioned this yet but my remounts have been outstanding -for me- this year with very few stutter steps glitching things up) and hit the downhill.  "Hmm, I can't shift."  Kick, hop, tug on der. cable.  "Hmm, I can't shift."  I spun out the 42-29 I was stuck in but was quickly passed but 4 or 5 riders.  I hopped off and tried to see what was binding but couldn't find it.  So I hopped on again and continued the kicking and hopping and the tugging with no result other than managing to get a shift to a 42-27.

By the time I stopped for a third time with no real result I was passed by pretty much the entire field and was really cursing my bad luck.  I finished the lap and dug into the third.  I decided to just spin whatever random gear I had and just get the best race workout possible.  After half a lap or so I started passing guys from my race.  So then I decided to keep racing and just do the best I could and, lo and behold, I caught a few more guys.  By the last lap my chain had slipped into a 42-25 gear and that was good enough to feel kind of up to speed.  I kept digging in and enjoyed the same legs and focus as the Folsom race.  I caught three more guys from my race on that lap and, in a moment of poetic justice that I couldn't invent, caught the guy that crashed me out on the last turn before the straightaway.  I spun my cranks and held him off.

I felt a little lame sprinting for a backmarker place but I was in competitor mode (a victory by itself given the rotten luck).

I ended up 11th of 20.  It's rare to feel that satisfied finishing in the bottom half of a field but I did.  Yes, I was super-bummed to have great legs and have the bike be the deciding factor for my placing but on the other hand, I was able to stay off tilt and just find my focus and keep racing.  Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks afterall.

PS  The sand destroyed my brifter.  Now I don't have a working cyclocross bike.  I may call it good and end the CX season there.  But I seem to still have decent fitness so I may do one more race and just use my mountain bike (boo! hiss! uncool!).

All these pictures come courtesy of the great Stephen Woo
The end.  Hehe.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Folsom Cyclocross: Nov 13, 2011

Almost caught up!

Note:  This was already posted in the VSRT forum but I have a compulsive need to be thorough and put everything in the right place. 

With only two races so far this 'cross season under my belt (one mediocre mid-field result plus one dnf due to a flat) I headed up to Folsom early Sunday morning looking forward to the rare opportunity to get away for a Sunday race. I was also looking forward to letting the excellent training legs I've been enjoying lately rev out in a race. I even got that pre-race adreneline feeling that only really comes when I anticipate a good race. I also knew I was sandbagging a little bit. This was an actual USAC race so they had racing by categories. Though I've been racing at the "B" level (think Cat 3/4) this was a Cat 4 35+ race and we raced with the E4's all starting together.

I arrived plenty early enough to get five practice laps in. First off the course was a pure joy to ride. My nemesis in 'cross races are those annoying 180 degree turns that promoters use to stretch out small spaces. This course only had one! The course began on a flat-out rolling section with a cute little bridge in there that needed only the shortest bunny hop to get over without ruining a wheel. This led into a mix of sidewalk, lawn and gravel that had a u-turn in it. After that was a fun double-track section with a steep but fast climb then a descent into a sharp curve before another longer short but steep climb. Then there was another very fast rolling section leading into one barrier at the bottom of a hill that seemed to seperate the field between gettin'-it and not-gettin'-it. Luckily I found myself able to run fast enough to remount smoothly and ride the hill, placing me in the former category. Another very fast descent with a brake-free (slight pucker factor here) corner at the bottom lead into a medium length climb that really stung the legs. An annoyingly off camber but wide 180 degree turn was followed by the only set of double barriers. Then a bridge, another double track descent, a short climb into a climbing 180 degree turn then a short section and then a narrow sidewalk next to a fence came before the third and final dismount of the lap to get up a steep-but-short run up. I found this runup to really suit me and I cleared it in only about ten steps each lap and my cheap-o shoes dug in and worked great each lap. After that it was hop-back-on and wide open across the start/finish for another lap.

I was chatting with a guy setting up the course (turns out I was skipping an entire section of the course on my warmups!) and ended up showing up to the start a little late so I didn't have time to ditch my snazzy new Voler leg warmers that I won last Summer. That wasn't a big deal since the temps were still in the lower 60's. Off we went! I started pretty far back in the field but with the wide open section was able to dig in a bit and move up move up move up. I was a little concerned how hard I was pushing but I've vowed to stop these lazy starts that have become habitual. By the time we hit the first technical section I was seventh wheel and we had a nice train going. But, oops! A couple guys stacked it and there was some rearranging. When the smoke cleared, two guys were riding away, two more were behind them and I was with two guys chasing. During that rest of that first lap I really felt I was feeling good and when my partners took their turns at the front, I was cruising too easy.

So at the start of the second lap I decided to bridge across or die trying. I was doing really well until that first technical section. I hopped off the curb then over another curb turned across a sidewalk and entered a gravel section as soon as I cleared the apex I put the pedal to the floor and next thing I knew I was getting up off the ground and remounting as the two guys from earlier were passing. I latched back onto them but realized that, "Snap! That hurt!" We rolled up to the bottom of the turn before the steep climb and suddenly the side of my face was plowing through the dirt and I felt that sick feeling of the momentum of my body pushing against my neck trying to use my head as a tipping point. I bounced then grabbed the bike and was a bit slower remounting and getting going both due to the ringing in my ears and for being at the bottom of a hill. By the time I got my butt up the hill, fixed by brake lever and was rolling again I had lost three of four more positions. I used the next section to try to calm down, figure out if I was concussed and just find my rhythm again.

After remounting on the uphill after the barrier I knew I was going to be okay and just got back to business. Luckily that was the end of mishaps for the day. The course continued to agree with me and the good sensations in the legs ( ) continued so I was able to reel in, work with and pass riders over the next several laps.

Going into the last lap I saw one of the guys from the original triplet of chasers off in the distance. On the fast charging section I thought, "Hey, I've got matches to burn! This is awesome!" It seemed far-fetched to close the distance but I turned it up to eleven and, when he bobbled the uphill remount I suddenly was three inches off his rear wheel. I waited until the longest climb of the race and jumped as hard as I could. I never looked back and just rode the rest of the lap as hard as I could. In the final 30 seconds I started to feel like I was going to throw up and no finish line was ever so sweet to cross!

I finally assessed the damage during a cooldown lap and a BS session with Ray and Jenni Fortner where I found my left hip with a pancake-sized rash (shorts torn), my left elbow already swelling up, both knees bloodied (my brand new race-won Voler leg warmers were both torn!!! ) and my left ankle and right knee both not bending pain-free and feeling tweeked.

But you know what? I don't care! It was worth it!

I simply can't emphasize enough just how much damn fun cyclocross can be when you've got good fitness and the course agrees with you.

PS  Was 3rd of 20 and took home a nice pair of socks and some food.

Sacramento Cyclocross Series @ Lembi Park Nov. 5, 2011

I did this race last year and didn't have a very good time between my own lack of fitness, poor setup (overinflated tires) and a run in with an asshole roadie.  This year I toed the line with a large sense of confidence with really good fitness, tires at about 35 frnt and 45 rear and a good attitude to not let anyone else's mouth get into my head.

I had a mediocre start and immediately got caught behind a starting line crash (again!).  I really have to work harder on being more aggressive on both the starting grid and the actual start.

A couple minutes into it I was trying to move up through the 180 turns and half a wheel in front of a guy and, as is standard protocol for the guy ahead, took the optimal line without cutting him off.  He immediately whined something like, "you're just not gonna give me room are you?"  I just replied, "I'm just racing, buddy." and continued on.  He quickly burned out and disappeared and I mentally patted myself on the back for ignoring it and moving on with my race instead of getting wrapped up in stupidity.

I felt pretty good and had an okay first lap catching a couple guys and keeping tabs on the front runners and making room on the wide open sections and limiting my losses on the 180's and making room on some of the curb hops and the short runup.  But this course doesn't really have very technical challenges so you just gotta GO.

The second lap was going well and I was picking up steam when I felt the rear end squish out in a tight corner.  I did a quick rear wheel bounce and confirmed that I was flatting out the rear.  A few minutes later I was done since I had nothing in the pits.  As I rolled to the start/finish and let them know I was out I thought back and was pretty sure a hard hit on a tree root had caused a pinch flat.  So much for the proper tire pressure...

It was nice to have an actual spectator for a change!  Teammate Zaf was in town and had dropped in to see what the whole cyclocross thing looked like.  After dropping out and getting changed we hung out, watched cheered on our teammate Jim Lund to a 3rd place finish (on a headcold)  and spectated at the sandpit where the guys who know how to relax and shift their weight get separated from the guys who, um, go over their handlebars.

I was frustrated with the DNF but that's racing.  I kind of wish I'd brought my mountain bike and put it in the pits but it just seems so overly self-important to put a pit bike in for a B race...  I guess I should get over getting over myself...

Monday, December 5, 2011

CCCX: Manzanita Park Oct. 16, 2011

Catching up...  I did my fourth cx race of this season yesterday so I'm going to try to catch up here a bit in the coming days...

This was a pretty fun course except for the many many tight 180 degree hairpins.  I crashed on one in practice and then followed that up with pretty much having no rhythm on them for the rest of the race. 

There was a crash right at the start and I got backed up behind it and, as a result, was either the very last rider through the first corner or the guy in front of the last.  Besides tight 180 degree hairpins my biggest problem in cross races is being aggressive and pushy enough to get a good position on the starting grid. 

Attempting to give the English archer's salute to Steve Woo.  At least it made him laugh.

Half of the course was pretty wide open and I was happy to find myself pretty strong and able to pass and gap riders on these sections.  Then I pretty much just held my own on the turns and put the pedal to the metal whenever the course opened up again.  As a result I was happy to go from dead last at the start to 16th by the end.  I was using this race as a tune up so that was okay but I couldn't help thinking that a good start and my improved fitness over last year would have put me farther up than mid-pack.  The main take away from this race was that, though I had definitely revved my motor decently I generally need to dig harder and make myself hurt a bit more in cyclocross racing to get better results.  I was really just kind of cruising.

I think I can legitimately "steal" this photo since it was hilighted on the CCCX page...

 But I had a good time and saw alot of racing buddies that I've seen recently or not so recently and some people I hadn't seen in about nine years.  The bike racing community is such a good one and it's fun like family when you can catchup or just touch base. 

Oh and I didn't pop my stitches so that was a bonus.

They did this.

What did they do?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Only five?

So I was asked if I was going to blog about how I had a rather undramatic fall during a four and a half hour mountain bike ride and sliced my knee open and had to go get five stitches later that day to close it up.  So, there, I just did.  Never fun to see the little white bits inside of yourself...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Post for Me That I Won't Keep for Me: It ain't always all about bikes...

Before I chicken out and send this to the saved-but-never-posted pile, I'm going to hit "post" and dedicate this one to all the posts I've kept to myself that maybe didn't deserve it.

It kind of bums me out that I don't write as much as I'd like to.  I clearly remember when I fell in love with writing.  In grade school (I think it must have been 4th grade) we had a creative writing assignment where we had to take a number of classmates and put them into a story that had a particular beginning scenario (I vaguely remember its having something to do with getting lost in a cave).  I became completely engrossed in my story and enjoyed the first experience (of many) of having my brain surge ahead of the words making it onto the page.  By the time my cramping little fingers made the pencil catch up with my racing mind I was light-headed and hyperventilating.  True story.

From that time on I didn't really need school assignments to make me put words on paper.  As I grew older it included WAY too much sappy poetry (although I eventually did get a kind of clever little allegory about a girl who trusted her parachute more than me published in the college "black book." *)

When I met Kris I was doing some writing.  It was actually a pretty creative period of my life fueled by an abundance of free time (remember free time? no?).  I would work hard, ride my bike hard and spend my lonely evenings working out guitar parts or tapping away on my computer.  I kept starting stories but not finishing them.  I even outlined a novel and wrote a few character-defining sections of it.  And I kept wanting to take some writing courses but didn't have the enterprise to get  it done.  Like my writing at the time, I was dangerously close to stalling out in my life and not getting to where I wanted to be.  Luckily Kris and I were flung toward each other like two lumps of clay at high speed squished into each other so thoroughly no one will ever know ever again where one part begins and the other ends.

Then, like most people who collide with the soul they were destined to meld with, life got really busy and writing became a forgotten pleasure.  And along with all the wonderful pleasures all that busyness brings, I came off the rails a little and things got a little dark.  I started writing as a way to vent and I really didn't like where it was going and what I was reading from myself.  But those never-to-see-the-light-of-day bitter ramblings kind of helped me to work out many things that put me back on the beautiful charmed joyous path I'm on now.  Thank fate for putting me with Kris and her being so supportive of the second most important thing that came out of that time, falling back in love with being a cyclist -and returning to the world of a racing cyclist at that.  But with all that bike riding, writing has taken a back seat again only to surface with race reports and the occasional guilty, "I really should write something" blather.

So here it is almost midnight on a Thursday night and I just felt the need to write an essay about, well, anything.  Hell I'm writing an essay about writing for cripe's sake!  I guess it's just a part of who I am that I can no more shut off than this damn love of murdering myself over my handlebars or thinking about my son and Kris and having a warm rush of love fill me up.  And that, you dark mother fucker, is the hole you were so desperate to fill up.

* It went...
*Parachute You*
If I were a parachute,
then I think you'd jump.
And I'd set you down to earth,
In a gentle lump.

But... and I can't remember the rest of it but the gist was "If you pack me wrong then I'm just some pathetic sap you won't fall for..."  Get it?  Fall for.  Fucking clever shit right there.  And it wasn't even remotely subtle since my muse was very heavily into sky diving...  I think I caught her doing about-faces and walking swiftly in the opposite direction from me for quite awhile after that.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

San Ardo Road Race: 8/20/11: YdoIdothistome?

Well this is my third time with this race and I seem to get worse every time I try it! In '97 I had a fun looong breakaway and then had enough legs to survive the field sprint. Two years ago I rode too hard and ended up cramping but still was able to spin in the field sprint.

Since this is a race that tends to get a little boring with everyone plodding along for 63.5 miles and then racing the last kilometer, I wanted to try to get a break going from way out. So I gave myself a 20 minute window to try that at the end of the first lap/ beginning of the second lap. I was hoping to get something going on the flat going into San Ardo and then stretch it and get out of sight on the climb and following rollers going out of town. Unfortunately NOBODY wanted to see that happen. I just can't get a grip on negative racing. Do people really enjoy a boring three hour ride followed by a field sprint? (I know I know it's more about racing and results and if you want fun go for a mtb ride...) That's just not fun racing to me. I attacked and counter attacked and counter counter attacked until I was crosseyed but I simply couldn't stretch the elastic. The biggest gap I was ever able to create was only about 20 seconds and I couldn't get anyone else to go. There were a couple people riding hard at the front but no one was attacking.

Sidebar: Attacking: Riding hard at the front is not attacking. Pulling hard and slowly ramping up to speed is not attacking. Generally any kind of riding hard at the front that does not create gaps is not attacking. If there is a rider with two or three bike lengths ahead and you want to make a breakaway you have to JUMP across that gap. If you ride hard across that gap you are only going to pull the pack with you. Now if only the only two or three other animated riders in yesterday's race would read that... Oh and another thing. If you are trying to get a flyer going with two or three other riders you have to share major efforts with those guys for a few pulls. If you let ANY other rider into that rotation you screwed up.

But. whaddiknow?

Anyway. Despite riding myself crosseyed I just couldn't get away. So I settled back into the pack for a 38 mile snooze. Pathetic (both that I couldn't get away and the negative racing in the pack). Oh, and while I'm whining can I just say how flipping frustrating it is to see CAT FOUR racers on deep dish carbon wheels, and $4,000 + bikes? Oh, and the pinnacle of this absurdity is that I finally saw a CAT FOUR racer on Di2. Let me repeat that. I saw a CAT FOUR racer with a $3800 Dura Ace electronic groupo on a $2000 frameset using $1800 wheels. My car isn't worth that much money.

So then we finally sniffed San Ardo in the distance and the pace went up. Surprisingly, I found myself near the front and in good position. I got swarmed a little coming into town but then worked my way back up the side and into decent position on the climb. I was off to the side maybe five wheels back when the rider in front of me (who I had earlier determined to be a strong finisher) jumped hard. I went too but then going under the freeway just before the turn my legs simply quit on me. I sat down and pushed as hard as I could through the turn and to the finish but pretty much the entire pack went by before the finish line came. I don't think I've ever faded that hard in a sprint in my life. It was quite shocking, really. I'm no stranger to going too early but usually I can hold it and scratch something out of it. But this was more like I put the brakes on. I mean EVERYONE had a sprint left in his legs.

Finishes like that really just make you want to hang up the bike. I did everything right in the sprint. Good position. Fought onto a good wheel. But I went too early and didn't have NEAR the legs to get away with it.

Well at least I had a near-four hour drive home by myself to replay it over and over... Luckily it was all vanquished by the time I got home and forgotten after a solid, yet wobbily, afternoon of swimming, hiking and playing with my boy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sky Tavern Mountain Bike Race: Aug. 14, 2011

This was fun race with a nice mix of everything. I raced as a Cat 2 (old days we called it "sport") for the first time since, um, 1996? Of course back then I wasn't racing in old man age bracket but, hey.

My alarm went off at 2:30 AM and somehow I dragged my butt out of bed, showered and was in the car by 3. Fast forward many hours and I was ready to race. I met up with (soon to be teammate) Ray and he talked me through the course as we warmed up on the opening climb.

After a racer talk-to from the promoter we all headed to the start and were sent off in waves. Our wave was the Cat. 2 50+ and 40+. And a wopping six of us took the start. One guy was asking everyone what their age was and I found it slightly annoying but didn't think to ask him his age and figure out what age group he was racing. The promoter did ask a show of hands for the age groups but I wasn't really paying attention so I assumed Ray was the only 50 plusser.

Off we go!

We somewhat slowly took off across the paved parking lot, up a short road and then turned onto a two-track dirt climb that was fairly steep and went for about a mile and a half. About halfway up I was liking what my legs and heart rate were telling me and moved up to the front and set the pace. At the top there was a steep section with some loose dirt/gravel that made traction difficult and could force a hike-a-bike. I was happy to clear it and hadn't looked back yet.

After the climb the dual track continued for another three quarters of a mile with some more altitude gain before heading into the single track. I did look on one curve and was very happy to see only two guys maybe half a minute back.

But then I got clumsy! Unfortunately, the lack of mtb racing and a steady diet of relatively untechnical riding at Del Valle caught up with me and I was struggling to clear easy stuff in the woods. Simple ditch crossings, one or two log hops and very minor rock challenges seemed to cause me to stumble left and right (literally!) and overshoot turns. Pretty shortly a guy in a blue and yellow jersey asked for trail and I gave it to him. I paused to let Ray by but he wasn't there so I jumped and vainly tried to keep up with blue/yellow-dude.

On a rocky dropoff I finally turned from clumsy to crashing and went down pretty gently (though it was enough to pop the bottom of my jersey zipper giving me a distracting wardrobe malfunction that I couldn't correct in the heat of battle). Ray very quickly appeared and I was glad to have him by me so I didn't have to worry about holding him up. The rest of the lap went about the same with lots of clumsy dismounting as I stalled out in mud and sandy sections. I was pretty frustrated and only started to feel like I wasn't a roadie pretender on a very steep decline section over some rocks. "That's more like it" I thought as I cleared it.

The descent back to the finish was a mix of single track and rough fire road and I was doing better.

Past the finish line onto the paved parking lot with a tailwind and a nice smooth time trial back to the start of the climb for laps two and three! Lap two I was feeling more comfortable but never saw a single rider to catch or to have catch me. And lap three was pretty much the same. That last lap was when I finally rode most of the stuff that had been tripping me up earlier. That said, with about five minutes to go I passed a lapped rider just before going from a dirt road to single track section and stacked it pretty good coming down heavily onto a rock and a bush that gave me a couple nice puncture wounds in the leg. On the third lap I was starting to fade and lose motivation. In my head it was just alot of work for second place.

As I finally crossed the finish line, muddy and bloody, shorts torn, and jersey zipper failing Ray (looking altogether too fresh) said, "Hey! I think you won!" Turns out blue/yellow, the guy asking the annoying age questions, was a 50 plus rider. So, yeah, I guess I won since everyone who beat me was in a different age group. I shouldn't qualify a win that way but if that's how it feels, that's how it feels.

The important thing is it was a very fun race, an absolutely GORGEOUS day in the Sierras, a great hangout with friends and mountain bikers and I got to bring home a cute little medal and some shwag. Nice.

Not exactly displaying "look like you've been here before" presence on the podium

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Catching up 3/3: Hellyer 7/19/2011

Started to feel the load of training and probably should have stayed out of this night since it was a rest week but...

Omnium: 4th of 22

Points: DNP: Just couldn't get the legs going and there was some scary riding going on that held me back from getting in the mix. NOT liking racing with new 5's and juniors. That's what's driving me to upgrade.

Scratch: 2nd! I had my rider picked out and was sitting in nice but he went down track behind ten or so riders with two to go and I was losing confidence in him when Super Ted came uptrack and said "let's go." He drilled us around the pack and up to the bell lap and I took over with very fresh legs from that great leadout. I sprinted and thought I had the win but got pipped at the line by the guy I had been marking earlier!

Points: 8th. Not good enough for omnium points and I really had to dig HARD for the crumbs I did get. Definitely stuffed.

Well thanks solely to Ted's great leadout the night wasn't completely lost and I scratched out a couple more upgrade points. I left the track feeling very empty and fatigued, however. Racing four weeks in a row is probably not a good idea.

Then the following Thursday night I went out and played softball and ended up pulling the sartorius muscles (self diagnosed via the interweb...) in both legs and have been hobbling around and unable to push hard ever since. REALLY frustrated by this right now since I've had to skip one big race I was planning for since many months back and am looking at having my fitness peak completely screwed up by this silly injury.

Catching up 2/3: Hellyer 7/12/2011

Omnium: 5th of 12
Scratch: 6th. Wasted too much energy riding off the front trying to get the pace hot enough to drop the scary riders. Was right behind the sprint for omnium points but couldn't dig enough to move up.

Miss-n-out: 3rd! My best miss-n-out since becoming a four on the track! I had only one goal and that was to get to the front and die trying. Well I went a little too hard to the front and ended up soloing off the front for the first three or four outs. When the pack came I worked the front with Marino and counted laps. With 6 to go I was starting to feel like it could happen and dug in to stay alive for the next two laps. With four of us left I got lucky and was able to box the fourth guy in and eliminate him. But that was it and I was too cooked to sprint with the other two guys for the win. But I was dang happy to not be one of the first three or four out in this, my LEAST favorite, event.

Points: 2nd. I remember winning one sprint and doing well in another and that was good enough for 2nd. Take it.

Another fun night of racing and had a record of TWO teammates on the track with Pres Ted coming out and Jonathan coming out again. Bummer to mess up the scratch race and fall down the omnium but I'll take the single upgrade point and run with it.

Catching up 1/3: Hellyer July 5, 2011

Ug. I gotta write stuff down more quickly after the races or I forget it. So why bother? I dunno. Compulsion.

Scratch: 2nd of 12
Tempo: 3rd
Points: 4th
Omnium: 3rd?

I remember surprising myself by passing four riders in the last 200 meters of the scratch to take 2nd.

The Tempo was nowheresville for me in the first three quarters then my legs woke up and I scored on the last laps.

I don't remember a dang thing about the points race. But I do remember having good sprint legs all night and being quite satisfied with finally rising above pack fodder and notching some upgrade points.

Good to see Jonathan Quist back out on the track!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Central Coast Circuit Race (#6 ?): July 2, 2011

Not much to say about this one. I raced in the 35+ Cat 3/4 making this my first "Cat 3" race since 1998. It was a good confidence builder to be able to hang in without ever really getting into any distress. There were a few moments of "asses and legs" but it wasn't the kind where guys are coming around you and you're thinking, "uh oh." The course is fun and looks hilly on the profile but I found the climbs to not be much of a factor. That said, team tactics (and another team's complete LACK of tactics) allowed four or five guys to use the bigger hill to slip off the front leaving the pack sprinting for crumbs.

Jeff Miller's report told me exactly what to do. He sprinted for the last corner, held on and managed second. I saw the way clear to do that but the small pack was spread across the road and I hadn't been bold enough to move up on the descent. One guy did sprint forward to take the last turn (and won the field sprint) but then there was a compression through the corner and I didn't risk it. I cruised up the left side of the road and had PLENTY of spurt in the legs but was boxed in and had to be content with watching four or five guys duke it out while I tried to bulldoze the fading rider in front of me out of the way (mentally, of course). I ended up 10th overall and was the 2nd Cat 4. So a good time, a fast-ish race and a great confidence builder. And, as it turns out, that's my second best result in a Cat 3 race in California.

One big take away from this race is that I've become used to riders on the track riding straight. I must have had to brake to keep from getting my front wheel swept 100 times. I suppose that's my own fault for being such a gutter rider and for not being a little more aggressive, perhaps.

Somehow I always end up showing up to races when Steve Anderson is snapping away. I found him afterwards and said "hey" He hadn't seen me in the race and wondered if he'd caught me. I guess he did!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hellyer Get Ready for Summer #5: June 11, 2011

In a fit of ambition to upgrade I decided to enter the cat 4/5 field instead of the cat 3/4 field. At GRFS #4 there were 19 4/5's but on MY race day there ended up being only seven of us. Since that field is less than ten, no upgrade points were up for grabs. But once racing had started and I knew the numbers, it was too late. Fizzle.

Kieren: Racers line up beside each other based on a random number draw, the motorcycle goes by and everyone sprints to get on the motor. After three laps of pacing the motor pulls off and it's a two lap free for all. Or something like that. Maybe it's a 1K free for all? Each heat only has six or seven riders (I know Ted is going to read this and pound himself on the head that I could have such a vague handle on the technicalities of this race but, whatever, go with the flow dude.). Since there were only seven of us there was a heat of 4 and a heat of 3. I ended up in the second heat of 3. The first two riders advance to the final. I gave a 87% effort on my sprint and got pipped for the heat win on the line but securing second was all I wanted. I turned lap cards for other races for awhile until my Kieren final. I was second wheel until the motor pulled off then a couple passed uptrack. In the sprint I could see my way over the top and past to take the sprint and, yay, my legs followed my eyes. Win!

Snowball: The winner on each lap gets points. On the first lap, 1 point, second lap, 2 points, etc. so the last lap 15 is worth 15 points. I took laps 3 and 4 but then Dexter snuck off the front. No one wanted to reel him in and, in all honesty, I think some beginners (I refuse to call them n00bs) got a little confused about the part where there was a race going on. We finally got him back with four or five to go. I took at least three of the last four sprints but it wasn't enough and I was 2nd.

Miss-n-out. I'd like to have this race back. The last place person on each lap gets pulled then the last three sprint it out for 1,2 and 3rd. With four to go I TWICE had my front wheel swept WHILE I WAS IN THE SPRINTER'S LANE. I went into bitchy whiny mode and started yelling at the two rule breakers. The officials pulled me and I proceded to let them know exactly how I felt that they weren't enforcing any delegations for dangerous riders (all calmly and sweetly of course). I'm pretty mellow except when it comes to dangerous riding and then I get a little stupid and self important (I like to think of it as self preservation). I calmed down a bit and had a good talk with the official. I completely disagree with him but he said if I wasn't getting physically pushed into the apron it's my fault for "being intimidated." (Again, he says intimidated, I say safe).

Points (15 lap points every 5 laps): Knowing that my miss and out failure probably lost me the omnium I took out my frustration on the first two sprints, winning them both. I sealed the win with a 3rd on the last sprint. Maybe the officials were mad at me since they somehow scored a three way tie on the first sprint. No matter, it didn't really change the overall results.

So a mixture of emotions to take home from this one. Losing the omnium by one point (out of 22) kind of sucked. And turning into a whining baby in the miss and out wasn't anything to be proud of (though I did make it up to the two guys I yelled at: that's the nice thing about the track is that the shit that happens in the race usually doesn't make it into the pits; at the cat 3/4 level anyway...). I was happy to be able to win track events in each year I've been on the track now. And bringing home a red ribbon always makes the homefront take notice. But in hindsight, I really wish I'd done the 3/4 race. I think I had good enough legs to have been competitive and forth place in that race would have netted more upgrade points than the zero I got in my race. Oh well. More positives than negatives overall.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hellyer: Funk removal machine. (aka Tues. nite omnium 6/7/2011))

Let's get it going.

15 lap points (x5): After the first neutral lap the promoters, official and wise bystanders pulled everyone off the track and decided to run two 4/5 fields. Hernando, always the shy one, called everyone to the rail who felt they were faster and more experienced. That ended up being about 2/3 of the original 4/5 field. I was happy they did this. Then there was a race. There was a ridiculous balling up on the backstretch on about the second or third lap. This didn't really relent for another lap so -and I guess you know this is coming if you know me and my track mentality even a little bit- I attacked full tilt (picture found here by Tim Westmore). Unfortunately my full tilt was pretty weak and then I didn't have enough umph to get back into the action after the first sprint. I wasted time and energy chasing for awhile but when the pace didn't slow down after the second sprint I threw in the towel and went uptrack to lick my wounds.

15 (i think?) lap scratch: Not much to say here. I kept my nose clean, stayed about six or seven riders back and then uncorked my best sprint @ the 200 meter line. 5th place.

20 lap points (@5): This was the most fun of the evening since it was fast from the first lap and never let up. That's my favorite kind of track race. It was pretty satisfying to survive the shredding and be one of the last six or seven riders still on the lead lap at the end. Unfortunately survive is all I was able to do and there was no good opportunities to score points. There still aren't results but it sure seemed like the same four guys were scoring on every sprint.

And so, once again, Hellyer turned my attitude around. I was having a pretty grumpy week on the bike but a night of racing and hanging with good folk in the pits lifted the fog.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Middle Age Mediocrity

The finish line daze of a mediocre 26 year old Cat. 3-->>>>>

<-- The chimp-like starting line gaze of a mediocre Cat. 4 Master.

I have a really good deal at work. My watch goes off at 11:30. I duck into my lab in the basement, lock the door and -like a slow motion Clark Kent coming out of the phone booth as Superman- I come back out 5 minutes later in my bike gear carrying my bike. I swing a leg over and finish putting on gloves and glasses and maybe a jacket as I spin away from my building. About 8 minutes later I'm on my interval course, a 2.25 mile loop that is dead flat and borders the military golf course next to work with no stops and, except for the occasional errant golf cart, is traffic free.

For what it's worth, I began my Build 2 phase today (which is kind of fucking ridiculous since vacation and then work are going to completely destroy all this hard work... ) and so was doing a "threshold" workout where I rode upper zone 4, lower zone 5 for 30 minutes without interruption. If that means nothing to you then let's just say I went out and made myself hurt for 30 minutes. That's "hurt" not "HURT".

So basically it's 30 minutes at a notch just slightly down from a time trial pace. I timed each lap and, on the last lap of five I didn't hold back. I felt good, though the knees were complaining slightly and I had a slightly hard time getting on top of the right gear going into the wind. But it felt good to just crank out the last 20% at a higher level. On that dead flat course making a loop, I averaged an extremely mediocre speed of 23.1 mph. Okay, granted I was on a 15 year old bike with seven speed down tube shifters and heavy wheels and no aerobar but, still...

I clearly remember the first time I broke an hour for a 40 km time trial. It was a fantastic feeling to enter that club. Sure I had teammates who were knocking on the door of 53 minutes but I was in the 59" club and I belonged to the guys who weren't just slapping on aero bars and going through the motions. I could push my body to endure the pain and suffering to propel myself at over 25 mph for over a little under an hour. And it wasn't a fluke. I broke an hour for 40 km time trials at least three times total that I can remember.

I'm certainly not unique in that I raced as a young man, gave it up, then came back. But I don't seem to have picked things up where I left off like many of the other middle-age-crisis racers I know. I'm really scratching my head over it too. The main difference between now and then is that I now train with some amount of regiment. Back then I just rode my balls off every time I swung a leg over. Bike commuting was recovery and everything else was time trialling my regular routes or trying to prove my worth on group rides or pouring every ounce of myself into training races during the week and racing races on the weekends. I never could predict when I'd have a good ride or when I'd be unable to turn over my own feet to make a wheel turn.

I'm not sure what the lesson or message is here. And don't get me wrong, I feel like I'm cheating fate or destiny or something just to find myself at my old racing weight and being able to, once again but in a much more limited way, call myself a bike racer. But the mediocrity gets a little old. Maybe I'm just like Al Bundy sitting on the sofa telling the dog about his former glory. The truth is I was a spectacularly mediocre bike racer as a young man, too. But I always figured some age and wisdom and patience would make me a better racer than that young dumb and full of plumb kid I used to be. Ah well. Youth is wasted on the young, I guess. I have a much better life than he did anyway. I wouldn't really trade. I just want to borrow his legs a few weekends a year...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mount Hamilton Classic Road Race 2011

The race was a week ago and not that spectacular anyway so I'm kind of squeezing myself for any kind of a race report here tonight.

There was a 45+ group this year so, with those guys off in their own race, the pack was smaller than last year. But smaller meant faster. I started off smart and got myself up into the top 12 riders or so but it was quickly obvious that it was going to be a repeat of last year. By about ten minutes in I had a very high heart rate and just couldn't find a rhythm and get comfortable. Not too much later I realized some of the pack was slipping by and I was falling back. By minute 18 no one came by me and I looked back and... that was that. No more pack. PATHETIC!

From then on it was just survival. At the top of Mount Hamilton (the top after the observatory not the top at the observatory) I checked my time and saw 1:38, EXACTLY, the same time as last year.

I didn't have the same descending mojo as last year so I just got it done and, for the first time in about 20 times down that mountain, I got passed by someone going down. Ride ride ride. I was caught and dropped by several groups of 4 or 5 riders. I felt I could hang in with them but it seemed like I'd be risking a cramptastic day if I tried so I just let them ride away over and over again.

With about 18 miles to go I was caught up by a group of four riders, two of whom were in my race. We all rode it out together. I asked the two guys from my group if they were racing or just getting it done. One guy laughed and agreed it was survival mode while the other guy just kept quiet. Whatever. I tried to take my share of pulls and lead the mile before the last descent as well as the descent. At the bottom there was an ambulance in the road. I stopped since it was starting to pull out but the other two squeaked in front of it and rode off to the finish. With the ambulance gone, I rolled in and busted their balls a little bit for using an ambulance to shake me (all in good fun).

That was that. Oh, as I crossed the line I checked my computer and saw 3:49. EXACTLY the same time as last year!? WTF!!!??? I guess the difference is that this year I was just riding it. Last year it was a major goal for the year. I had better endurance this year too with no cramping and not the death march feel that last year had. That said, I was pretty disappointed with such a mediocre ride. I resolved to bottle that frustration and unleash it on my goal the next weekend, the TopSport Stage Race. So imagine my added frustration on Tuesday morning when I found out that race was cancelled (with only five days to go??? LAME!).

And so I decided to lead a team ride today and drove my stupid ass all the way to town and did the team ride all by myself and then drove my stupid ass back home (a 90 minute round trip). Grrr. I'm just generally frustrated and riding angry this week. I don't like that.

But on the bright side I had a nice family bike ride in the afternoon. I bought Jasper his first mountain bike yesterday (an 11" frame with 24" wheels) and got him dialed in today so he's not falling over all the time and is comfortable on it. He has no clue about shifting and I have to just bite my tongue since I just manage to piss him off evertime I try to "help" him but it's a beeyootiful thing to see him climb up a hill, turn around and come screaming down with a big old grin on that gorgeous little face. See? That's what bikes are supposed to do.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Modesto Road Race (35+ cat 4): May 15, 2011

The Modesto road race (which to me seems more like a circuit race) is notoriously FLAT. I recorded a total of 292 feet of climb over 54 miles of racing! I -literally- get more climbing than that over the first mile out my front door. As a result it's a race that's suited mostly to a pure sprinter though a good mix in a breakaway can steal the show if the pack is too lethargic. Team tactics can pretty much guarantee a podium finish if you show up with enough numbers and those dudes are fit enough to control the race and make a leadout train. With just Ted and I, that wasn't going to be our game so our strategy was for Ted to play it like a pure sprinter staying out of the wind and out of danger all day and I would do what I could to reel in breaks. Since I'm not much of a field sprinter type, the plan wasn't so much for me to lead him out as it was to try to be a stinker in the final kilometer or two to try to keep the final pace strung out and fast. It kind of worked out that way.

Most of the race was uneventful. After two laps of gofastslowdowngofastnowaitslowdown two guys finally established a break that, eventually, turned into one guy dangling off the front for quite an impressive amount of time. He was finally brought back (by a flat front tire?) on the sixth lap. There was a counterattack that was nothing but weak sauce but that did string out the pack pretty good. Ted had found the guy he was going to mark in the sprint so, with the pack strung out with 4 miles to go, Ted got on my wheel as if we'd done this sort of thing all the time, and I brought him back up to his mark. I had a head of steam going so I decided to move to the front and do my part to keep the hot pace hot. Really my only intention was to hit the front hard and just keep the elastic stretched but I suddenly had that sinking feeling that no one was on my wheel.

A quick look back revealed a surprisingly large gap back to the pack. "Ah crap," I thought, "Get ready for some hurt..." To add to the benefit of my timing another field passed ours and then me. Oh it was tempting to jump in a cheat a little but I stayed away and they stayed away and I remain guilt-free. Nine minutes of pain, panic and pursuit of glory (haha, as if I didn't know it was suicidal...) found me still solo off the front through the final corner. Past the 1K to go and I was still chugging. But very shortly after that the familiar sound of a ramped up pack with no mercy for the idiot off the front solo ruined my fun. Ted looked good sitting 4th or 5th wheel but, as is typical in a dead flat, dead straight, dead challenge-free sprint like that, luck of the draw spit him to the front too early and he had to settle for 9th. But hey! Top ten is good! I'd take one of those right about now.

Here's the link to Ted's perspective (just substitute "teammate" for "That idiot Roy")

Somehow my legs didn't actually explode and I kept them moving to get a 17th (of ~35). So once again, if you split the field size in half, you get my result. But this was a team day so I'm okay with that. In fact it was a good confidence builder to be able to get away and stay away at a crucial part of the race like that. My recovery after the race was very good and I was doing difficult 12x3 intervals on Tuesday and rode 60 miles with 5900 feet of climbing on Wednesday. It's fun to be fit!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shaking the cobwebs out at Hellyer: May 10, 2011 Edit Blog Entry

I managed to get my track bike converted from fixed gear road rider to track racer in time Tuesday morning so, with no excuses, headed to the track for some Tuesday evening fun after work. My track "season" ended in a heap of dissappointment and failed goals last year so I spent the winter pondering if I was even going to bother with the track this year. But the Hellyer community is tight and after only being inside the gates for a few minutes I was catching up with racing buddies and sharing "where you been's" with guys who, in a normal crit or road racing environment wouldn't even look down their carbon fiber stem at a muffin racer like me. Dang, to think I was just gonna skip that this year? FOOL!

My goals for the night were to get comfy in the pack, get a good heart rate up and get at least a couple of good sprints in here and there. With a different format this year, I may be able to achieve last year's goal of getting a Cat. 3 on the track but only if I can get my sprint in gear and only if I feel satisfied with having notched either a couple event wins or an omnium win. I really hope I'm not in fantasy land but I was doing it last July and started my track campaign around this same time last year and this year I have a very solid base under me, and a much better training approach. Anyway, I raced three events in the Cat. 4/5 field of 16 racers.

Race 1: Win-n-out (15 laps, winner on lap 15 wins, winner on lap 16 is 2nd, lap 17 1st and 2nd are 3rd and 4th). My strategy was to race for third or fourth. If you go for the win and miss it you end up too pooped to try for 2nd, 3rd or 4th. The 15 laps were kind of hot and I was undergeared so I was only able to surf the back and not move up. On the final sprint for 3rd and 4th I dug in but missed the top two spots. Results had me in 5th, one place out of points - D'OH!

Race 2: 12 lap Tempo (2 points for leader on every lap, 1 point for second on every lap, 5-3-2-1 points for last lap): With a better gear and a slightly slower pace surfing the pack was pretty easy but I didn't seem to have the horsepower to move up without burning too many matches so I just bided my time until the final when I did my only sprint of the race. A pen. velo rider was off the front but I won the field sprint. The results somehow missed this fact, but with only 3 points won there, I was still out of the omnium points so we'll just let that one go.

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Race 3: 20 laps points race (4x5): In a points race this short my only hope is to either put all my eggs in one sprint basket or get a good breakaway going and steal points from off the front. I decided to let the first sprint play out and counterattack the sprint if the field bunched up. Sure enough everyone bunched up into the wind on the back stretch so I broadcast my attack by going underneath and rolling off the front. Around the banks across the front stretch and into turn one and I decided to see what happened. Nuts! The pack was off turn 4 and I was solo. I was really hoping to bring one or two guys with me but it wasn't to be. I dug in for two more laps but then was swarmed on the next bell lap. I got gapped in the sprint and almost got back on by the back stretch but just didn't have the umf. I chased for a few laps and then decided I was better off getting back in the pack and working on skills instead of the futility of a solo chase. Back in the pack, round and round and call it a night.

So. Get comfy on the track with the pack etc? check. Get a couple of good sprints in? check. Regain some of my love for the track? checkitycheckcheck. I'm hooked again.
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Photos by my buddy and all around great human, Steve Anderson (

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mental Toughness (is perhaps what you'll need to work through this blog today...)

My rest week last week was kind of weird. I backed off too much. I ate too much. I stressed too much. I slept too little. By the end of the week I really felt like I had come off the rails a little bit. So ending the rest week two rides and two hours short of my training schedule just kind of set me up for this week all wrong.

Monday was an off day so that was cool -except I actually felt like riding. Then Jasper got sick and I took my turn at home with him on Tuesday and
couldn't get on my bike. I tried to tell myself, "no biggie, you get two off days this week, you'll just have to get on top of things the rest of the week." But the off-the-rails feelings of frustration were creeping in around the edges stronger.

Wednesday I rode. But I felt horrible. I couldn't get on top of my gear and I ended the ride feeling kind of exasperated. Fortunately, this feeling eased off a bit later on when I realized that the fixed gear I was riding had been a 42-14 that I had set up for roller riding instead of the usual 42-16 I spin on the road. Still...

Today I simply couldn't wedge a bike ride into my work day and the need to get home since Kris is sick now too. Not going to make this week's training goals. Off. The. Rails.

Saturday was going to be my big ride of the week. I may not get much of a ride in at all. Off. The. Rails.

But is this a big deal in the grand scheme of things? No. Is it a big deal for my bike racing plans (hahahaha)? No, not really. As long as I exercise some mental toughness.

I used to think mental toughness was the ability to ignore pain, endure suffering, and tune out my brain to push past my physical limits. I suppose that is one definition but I'm learning now that mental toughness is the ability to realize your limits, whether they be emotional, stress, physical, dietary or viral/bacterial and make the proper adjustments to get yourself back on track.

In literature, the "back on track" is called your Ideal Performance State. So, right now, I need to be mentally tough enough to just not let the missed training days get to me and move forward with my eyes on the prize. And in this case the prize is not alienating my family, doing a solid job at work and not driving myself into the ground. The fitness and performance will still come and I'll be right back on track with training as soon as things mellow out a bit.

Work gets busy. Loved ones get sick. Hey, that's life. And if you let it get to you then you aren't in control. And if there's one glorious lesson I've managed to soak up in the last three years or so it's that this is my ship and I get to steer it.

Damn, I mixed up my metaphors there. I started off like a pothead engineer on a train going off the rails and ended up on a ship sailing it with steely determination (or at least grasping for a mask of steeliness).

"Steady as she goes!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Working, Training, Sleeping, Building

I'm in one of those typical four-weeks-before-deployment last minute do everything meltdown panic phases at work. You'd think I'd be sick of this and find something else to do by now but I kind of like it. I don't like the stress so much but nothing stirs the juices like delivering on time and having a successful field campaign. I probably just jinxed the shit out of myself so I'll just leave it at that. The downside is the distraction from the real things that matter at home. This time around it's not too bad but being gone at work for a few weekends and then going away for ten days isn't such a nice way to treat one's spouse. This one really sucks since Jasper's spring break falls on the week before I go and the last week is usually particularly hard to get away. I'm trying to do the front end work so it won't be too bad (yeah right).

Ug. I think this will be the first week that I simply can't notch my training goals since I decided to embrace an actual factual training plan. The above work foo combined with rainy weather and the deterioration of my rollers have conspired against me along with an unnecessarily long hard day last weekend that was off the program and a good lesson on why you stay on the program. I found myself walking up from my garage yesterday morning in the rain at 6:15 after having spent 90 minutes on my decrepit rollers wondering, "WTF am I doing?!!??" But I couldn't sleep anyway so it made sense to get up early and hit the garage.

Sleeping has been weird lately. I've gone through some real lapses in regular sleep in my life but, in general, being fit and regular exercise brings some balance. But that has kind of not been working lately. I either find myself too wired to get to sleep and stay up too late or I am bone weary exhausted, fall asleep too early but then end up waking up at 2:30 to 4:00 in the morning and then laying awake. (Of course I always end up falling asleep 5 minutes before my alarm goes off...).

One of the things I lay awake thinking about is how to improve my fleet of jalopy bikes. The bitch of racing four disciplines is that I have four times the race bikes to maintain and wish I could improve. If I spring for a set fast track wheels, I have to continue living with 12 year old components on my road racer. If I buy new brakes for the cyclocross bike, I have to keep clunking along with a low shelf level fork that is falling apart on my mountain bike. It never fucking ends! So I decided I'm just going to go ahead and concentrate on one bike at a time. And after careful consideration, I decided my mountain bike is the bike most likely to fall apart. I ebayed, I bike shop talked, I online shopped, and in the end I decided I actually like my Tomac frame so I'm keeping it and tossing everything else. It's going to cost about the price of a new bike but when I'm done I'll have a better component group and wheels than a similarly priced new bike. And I'm thinking it won't be too unrealistic to see the old Johnny T come in under 21 pounds. W00t!

So that is that. Why? Why not?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zzzzzz: Shh, don't wake the blog. It's sleeping.

So this is what it's come to? If I'm not race reporting or thinking about racing I don't post diddly-doo? It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time I used this as an attempt to keep the writing gears lubed and there was more substance to it.
It's true! Just look! There's also plenty of pictures of me rocking an extra 50 pounds! Wowzers.


See kids! Just keep riding your bikes and you too can lead a healthful lifestyle driven by guilt, self flogging, pain, suffering, starvation, binge eating, guilt, and heaping doses of self importance.

Where was I. Oh yeah, the blog. When I started out I had the goal of forcing myself to continue a lifetime of neglectfully practicing writing by committing to two posts per week. At some point I grew quite tired of this and when I started riding again, I went through a strange period of posting blogs as if this were a training log. That was even boring to me and that, my fair reader (yeah right, as if that were anyone else but me and I'm not very fair. In fact I can be a pretty biased mother fucker when I really let my hair down. Not that I have much hair to let down. In fact I think cycling has rapidly increased the deforested real estate above my increasingly busy eyebrows. I blame it on helmet usage and clogged pores from too many lunch time rides followed by hasty spit baths in the sink. Did you know I have a sink in my laboratory? It's damn handy. I'm not really sure why they call it a laboratory. I grew up thinking of a laboratory as a room filled with boiling beakers and steaming vials and a monster being built over in the corner. My lab is really just a big room where I spend the day doing shit. Mostly that shit involves wondering how the heck am I supposed to know how to do any of this stuff they think I know how to do? It's astounding really. If they knew how truly incompetent I am they'd probably change the locks and throw away the key.), was quickly followed by a rapid decrease in content and a rapid increase in self congratulatory bragging about my mediocre racing adventures.

You know what? It's almost 10 PM and I have a really annoying date with the rollers for 5:15AM tomorrow morning. See? Bike racing is really healthy. Unhealthy people lay around in bed getting fat and "resting" for their "work" day while us healthy goody goods spend 90 minutes on the rollers chasing an elusive M1 tempo workout staring at a heart rate monitor and making sweat puddles on the garage floor.

I probably should just let the blog sleep. I think I've risked over-sharing enough for now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sacto Cyclocross #7 @ Laguna Del Sol: January 8, 2011

Despite this being the first race of the year it felt more like the last race of last year since it concludes my cyclocross season. I feel good and Kris gave me green light to race the upcoming weekend but mentally I'm done and ready to move onto the last Winter event, the Early Bird Road Race out of Patterson. But I'm getting ahead of myself! Have I mentioned yet that this race was held at a Nude Resort?! I shit you not! Check it out:

Now I know this opens the door to so many jokes you probably can't decide wether to open with "where do you pin your numbers" and "well that gives a new meaning to 'skinsuit'" but with the race time temperature at about 40 degrees, there was not a saggy naked butt in sight (or pert ones or any other kind for that matter).

Here's my GPS trace from the race (I finally got the nerve to use my Garmin 500 in a 'cross race).

The course wasn't necessarily technical. There were a couple of muddy sections that sent the front and rear wheels in different directions but they were manageable. There were several little climbs. To the right there you can see they incorporated one of their patented "spirals of doom." This spiral was just as endless as the other one but it was broken up by being located over a hill so there was a mix of descending and climbing to break things up. Other than the spiral there was one tight turn into an uphill that was good for creating gaps.

Right at the go I felt pretty good. I didn't start superfast but did alot of passing on the first lap. On the second lap we had a nice little group of five or six of us sort of working together. They seemed to be faster on the long flat sections but I was able to follow wheels and wait for the hills where I was able to climb strong and even accelerate across the tops to force them to close the gap back up to me. Believe it or not, sportsfans, I was the strongest climber in our little group. It's kind of like when Captain Kirk met his evil twin with a goatee or something. On the penultimate lap (No matter how hard I try, that is a term that is really hard to keep out of bike racing reports. I always picture some academic cartoony character with a pencil up his butt declaring, "penultimate" rolling each syllable with perfect annunciation.) Where was I. Oh yeah, on the penultimate lap two guys from our group suddenly grew third lungs and quickly rode away. I tried but couldn't keep their gap small enough and they just rode away. I knew I had two or three guys on my wheel and just ignored them and kept a steady pace on the flats and attacking as well as I could on any little bump of a climb that there was. It worked and I rode the last half lap solo with no one to sprint with.

Most importantly, this was a fun race since there was a good race going with swapping positions and some tactics. Nothing is more fun than having the fitness in a cyclocross or mountain bike race to randomly stick little ten to fifteen kick accelerations in here and there and throw off the momentum of anyone on your wheel.

And yet I walked away from the results a little disappointed! As good as I felt, as much as I felt I couldn't have had a better race and as much as I feel this is close to as fit as I can be this time of year I ended up 12 of 24. I really thought it was a top ten effort but, instead, it just barely put me in the top half of the field. What's a guy gotta do? Oh well. Despite that it was still a fun race and so I was happy to finally leave the Sacto area for once this 'cross season feeling good about a race instead of grumpy.

And just like that, my cyclocross season is over. I'm kind of sad about that but I'm going to resist the temptation to squeeze in one or two more unplanned races. Though I started off way out of racing shape I was happy to finally ride myself into some semblance of form and enjoy some good races there at the end.

Bikewise, my white bar tape has turned brown and my bike is in need of a thorough cleaning, coat of wax and a new set of cables and brake pads. And since I didn't actually get to use this bike in '09 I was very happy with it this year. It's been a really great and reliable race bike. The frame has that aluminum responsiveness and the 1x9 setup running a very wide range with a 42 tooth chainring was absolutely bulletproof. The only thing I was consistently wishing to improve were the brakes but really the good old Onzas did the trick with a little love here and there to keep them lined up. Oh, and typical of a good cross season, my saddle has not survived! The rails are bent, the right side is lower than the left side and the pleather is cracked and coming apart.

Fianlly, I didn't get to fulfill my fantasy of getting a podium finish for the year on the road, track, mountain bike AND cyclocross but I can't complain. I'm really just happy to be out there riding and racing at all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 review part 2 of 2: Numbers... boring!

Like any good neurotic racing cyclist I kept track of many things this year and the following is what it is. Since the family has all crashed early for new year's and I'm getting nostalgic with old training diaries (the ones I could find anyway) I'll put a few tidbits in parenthesis for comparison/fun.

2010 Hours on the bike = 312:13 "outdoor" + 13:01 trainer + 28:47 rollers = 354:01 (up from 312:29 in 2009 but keep in mind I lost three months of that year to broken wrists so this year is actually less time per month.)

2010 Miles = 5156.0 (yielding a surprising 15.1 mph for the year. Avg of total miles for 1992 to '95 = 7,980 miles. I really wish I could find my '96 and '97 logs. '96 was probably my heaviest racing year and '97 was a high mileage year. I don't even think I kept a '98 log and in '91 I started one up at some point but can't find it.)

2010 days with bicycling of some sort = 206 (up from 175 in 2009 but again, that was a nine month year essentially).

2010 races = 3 road + 1 crit + 20 track + 1 mtb + 6 cyclocross = 31 ('93 = 23, '94 = 60, '95 = 55, 2009 = 18: The bulk of the 2010 races were really weeknight track races and those mid 90's races were about 1/3 mid-week races)

2010 Hilight Results:
1st: July 6 Tuesday Night Track (scratch plus omnium win)
1st: July 27 Tuesday Night Track (points plus omnium win)
2nd: Copperopolis Road Race
3rd: Central Coast Mountain Bike Series Race #6
5th: Klamath Falls Cyclocross
6th: July 23 Friday Night Track Omnium (first place Cat. 4 in omnium)