Friday, April 28, 2006

Napa Valley Dirt Classic

Date: 4/23/06
Course: 22-mile loop- once. A course that had a bit of everything including, the kitchen sink.
Category: Open SS
Field: 30
Teammate: Josh and Geoff.
Place: 5th / 11+mph avg speed / Time 1:48:56

I was excited for this event. My last mtb race was over 3 years ago doing a Billy Cross race at Lake Sonoma. Fitting I would make my way back, with a Bianchi SS once again (I had a D.I.S.S.) Although this time it would be ‘’29er style’’. If you don’t know already, I’ve been working at Bianchi in Hayward and they stoked me with a proto-type 29er to ride. Needless to say, I rode it…. and the Fisher Rig stayed at home.

I had heard a lot about this race, from more than a few people. Single-track with trees, water crossings, mud holes, technical and fast descents, run/ dismounts, rollers, wide open windy spots and of course the MONSTER climb before the finish. Yes, it was that huge.

I got to Napa with plenty of time to walk around and look for reg. Say hi to Josh, Geoff and other friendly faces. I decided to warm-up on the little running track that was part of the finish (cool). I got in about 25 min. of spinning around. There was no pre-riding allowed so I would be going into this one blind so to speak.

I lined up at 10:38 for my start and managed to get a front row start. The whistle blew and I nailed it. Foot clipped right in and 3rd onto the single track. Sweet… I look ahead and can see the run/ dismount everyone was talking about at the start. It was harder than anything I have ever done, slippery mud and off-camber too, toe spikes next time! I finally made it to the top and in good position. I turned it up as soon as I had recovered from the slip and slide.

I was running a 32X16 gear, so on the flats, rollers, single-track and descents it was fine. I had a blast. I caught what would be 3rd place in one of the first single-track section with trees and battled with him for a while. I felt good and was having fun racing in the ‘’woods’’ again; it felt as if I was riding a dirt bike (motorcycle) in Tahoe. There were some big water crossings for a mtb race, the bigger wheels really worked good for that and in the deep mud. But after a few hills too steep, I lost touch with him and it was a slugfest from there on out. It all gets a little fuzzy. I was in the ‘’zone” and tuned out the suffering and kept slogging up, and up and up. Phew! “When is this thing gong to end?” I though to myself. “I’m paying the price for the 16t cog now” Ouch. I looked at my time and was dismayed that it was around 1:30 and my goal going into this race was to finish around 1:40 and break the top 10. This was my first “Open” (pros to whom-ever are lumped together) race, I though it was a realistic goal.

I huffed over Anguish Hill. The support people were yelling “almost there!” and I picked the pace up whenever I could take advantage of my taller gearing. The run in to the finish was cool. Very technical downhill switch backs into some fast double track, through one last mud “lake” and onto the running track for the finish. My friend David was at the mud hole and was yelling at me but with all the mud and water flying around I was paying to much attention to where I was going and where the finish was and I got passed for 4th place! By the time I realized what happened it was too late and I chased to get 5th place. The course was about 4km short of what it was supposed to be which at the time was good but I thought we had a bit to go and got taken buy surprise. Whatever, a great race non-the-less.

The Bianchi SS rules. I will be O.T.C. at future races, I’m working getting a few gear selections here quick (18t-20t). Big up to Josh and Geoff who both rode great times and finished well.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rita.... She's HOT!

This bike is a dreamboat. Race Report to follow.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fusion Sport rallies for the weekend

Scott on the podium!

Awsome team results this weekend topping it off with Scott's fine 2nd place in the Wente Crit this last Sunday. It goes something like this:

Sat: Josh 8th and Said-Jon 10th in the Elite 4 Wente RR
Tony 5th in the Masters 35+ Wente RR

Sun: Scott 2nd in the Elite 4, Wente crit.
Josh 3rd Expert XC, Geoff 7th Expert XC, and Myself 5th Open SS

7 top 10's out of 9 guys racing this weekend. Way too go!

MTB race report shortly, hopfully with some pics!


Monday, April 24, 2006

Wente Road Race

Race Report: Wente Road Race

Date: 4/22/06
Course: 15-mile loop- (3.6) laps with the finish on the main climb of 3, lots of in the wind straights and rollers thrown in.
Category: Elite 4
Field: 100
Teammates: Said-Jon and Josh. Tony and Eric rode the Masters.
Place: somewhere around 40 something / 21+mph avg speed
Results: (should be posted later in the week)

This was my first ever road race way back in 2003 as a cat 5. I was looking forward to this race, the course suits me and it’s a blast. With Josh, Said-Jon and myself riding well, It looked like we would have a strong trio.

First time up the hill and I’m thinking huh…. The hill doesn’t seem as steep as I remember. I figured that would change on the 3rd time up, and I was right. Sort of…..

On the backside of the course are a long section of rollers and you are generally out in the wind. The pace was pretty slow and Josh and Said Jon were on the front riding along and talking. It seemed that none of the other guys were in any hurry and content to just ride along and no one else wanted to go to the front. While I was sitting 4th wheel, I jumped on the short but very steep hill that I knew after a brief respite and shallow kick up, then went down hill quite fast. I opened up a gap big enough to loose sight of the group. I had hoped that by being “out of sight” it would put a bit of panic into the group and the boys could just sit in and get a free ride, while wearing down some of the pretenders.

When I got to the bottom I could see the group coming back and I was already recovered and re-integrated back into the group. The group hadn’t split like I had hoped but I got to open up the legs a bit and it felt good.

Up to the 3rd and last full lap. It was a pretty boring race. The great thing though was all 3 of us were patrolling the front. The last time up the climb, in with the lead group I started to feel the twingy-ness of cramps coming on. “Not now I thought” I was having a solid race and could feel I was still strong. My legs were to have the last laugh though.

On the backside, halfway to where I took off earlier in the race, while in the lead group of now around 20+ riders my left hamstring “locked” up and I had to stop. While shaking my legs out the main chase group went by and I had to stand their wincing and watch them speed by.

I was bummed to have missed out on a chance to help my teammates when it could have really made a difference. Oh well, there’s always next time.

On the plus side, I managed to regain my composure and do a solid 25mph solo TT to the base of the climb (6~miles) and managed to catch and pass a group of 4 that was just ahead on the final climb.

A very hard day in the saddle indeed. I still posted some great numbers (training wise). Comparing with 2004, my HR avg (164), was 7 beats lower. I spent a noticeable amount of time under threshold and less above. All this is a decent increase in fitness numbers but what is exciting is the avg speed was over 3 mph faster with a extra lap! Good stuff.

Josh and Said-Jon were riding strong all day and Fusion had a strong presence in yet another race. Tony and Eric rocked the Masters 35+. 3 top 10’s… Well-done guys!

With the MTB race tomorrow, it was all about getting home and recovering.

Next up: Napa Valley Dirt Classic

Monday, April 10, 2006

I've got podium fever.....

.......and the only prescription is more cowbell !
The Podium shot from the Ronde, for the overall Elite 4.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ronde Van Brisbeen Day 2

DAY 2: Serria Point Criterium
Date: 4/2/06
Course: .8-mile? Technical course, with a “hot dog” corner (hairpin)
and very tight chicane that led into the last 300 meters including
the 150 meter sprint off the final corner to the finish.
Category: Elite 4
Field: 40+
Teammate: Scott, Josh, James and Tony (Juan in the Masters)
Place: 2nd/ 25mph avg speed 1st Overall Ominum Elite 4

After yesterdays race I was looking forward to the crit. We went in to this race with Scott as the #1 guy. He had the best shot at winning the overall and if I could finish with him on the podium we would likely both be in the overall.

Scott was the only guy who had ridden this course before and told me the chicane was tight. After warming up in the morning I went over to take a look and he was right. This was going to be a very technical course that would favor a small/ solo break. I am very good on the technical crit courses and the hairpin and chicane made me feel like it was a small road race course (motorcycle).

I managed to get in 2 sighting laps and lined up on the front line. Off we go and I went to the front and pushed the pace with Josh, Tony, Scott and James on my heels. The Squdera boys were they’re also lending a hand to keep the pace high. After some laps of going through rotations on the front I needed a break, so I dropped back into around 10-12th~ and recovered. At this time a 2-person break went off the front. With the brutal headwind on the straight I didn’t think they would last and kept tabs on the time gap, which was around 20-25 sec…

As I start moving back to the front, a rider next to me points at Scott’s rear wheel and states that his skewer is loose. I look down and to my dismay it was full open! My heart sank, knowing that Scott was to this point riding strong and with us working together we had a great chance to podium. I almost dropped back to help but with me in 3rd overall I new if I covered a few guys ahead of me in the sprint I might be able to take the overall. When the other guys saw Scott had a problem the pace went up right away. Of course they did not want him back in the group, can’t blame em’ that’s racing. I could only sit in and hope someone else saw the situation and dropped back to help Scott back into the group. James made a solid effort but just the 2 of them with the pace picking up chasing the solo break off the front, it wasn’t looking good for Scott to return to the fray. I was checking the time gap on him to us in the hairpin and it looked close for a bit but I had to put my head down and focus on the front end of the race.

With the solo break off the front now extended to 40+ sec it was looking like we might not catch him. There just wasn’t enough organization from the other teams/ riders to chase him down. I new the guy off the front was not in contention for the overall so I started thinking about covering the Webcor and Cyclesport guys in the sprint. At 7 laps to go it was time to sit up a bit and take stock off the situation and plan the last laps. Scott wasn’t coming back and it was up to me to come through with the goods. I was feeling strong and confident for it to come down to a field sprint.

With 2 laps to go, Josh came around me and I jumped on his wheel and let him know I was there. I think he used up a lot of matches to get there and could only sit in. I needed to move up a few positions across the finish line at the bell lap.

Bell lap…. I move up and got into around 7th place, we headed into the hairpin and I protected the inside and it put me on the out side of the entrance of the chicane, which worked out good. Guys were fighting for the inside and I rolled around them and got into perfect position into the last 300 meters. Nice…. 2nd wheel down to the final corner, I adjusted my gearing and as soon as we came off the corner, I moved to the inside and put the hammer down. I came across first in the field sprint but 2nd in the race due to the solo break which stayed away. This was a very short sprint only 150 meters, I hit a top speed of 54 kph….

Well, I did enough to win the Ominum Overall and got on the podium both days. A pretty good weekend for Fusion Sport. It’s unfortunate for Scott and I feel for him because he was looking really strong. Tony, Josh and James all gave it there all and we had a fantastic showing in both events. You guys all rock! Thanks to our Director Sportiff for capturing the moment in video and cheering, last but not least, Mother Nature who gave us dry conditions for both days!

Ronde Van Brisbeen Ominum Day 1

DAY 1: Ronde Van Brisbeen
Date: 4/1/06
Course: 1.7 mile - total elevation gain per lap - 100' - wide roads with smooth pavement, a challenging 90 degree fast right turn that leads onto the start of the “climb”.
Category: Elite 4
Field: 50+
Teammates: Scott, Josh and Tony- Place: 3rd/ 25mph avg speed


Ahh… the Ronde. I have not had the best results at this event. 2 years ago it was my first “Cat 4” race and I finished 34th off the back chasing the main field after a crash split the group. Last year I had some pulled muscle issues in my leg and got yanked 3-4 laps into it. This year my form seems to be right on and I was looking forward to some redemption. Despite my poor showings in the past, I really liked the course. Any event Tom puts on, I always have a good time, so we gathered the troops and concocted a plan. Simple in theory, harder to exicute in the event…

It was, stay together at the front, keep the pace high, chase down breaks if possible and keep Scott and myself protected if possible as we seem to both be in good form at the moment.

I was having a good ol’ time talking to Raymond and almost missed my start! I had to roll around to the back of the field. I looked up and could see Josh on the front line and Tony not far behind him. Scott and I were together on the back and we’re off!

The start leads onto the fast down hill section and I could see Josh up ahead stringing it out from the gun. Once we were on the long downhill drag I popped out on the left and motored down into 5th wheel and caught up with Josh once we started the climb.

From there it seemed that the race was going smooth and not too many close calls. Josh was doing a lot of work on the front and keeping the pace high. 2-3 laps into it Scott was pulling through on the front and Tony was floating around the sharp end as well. Things were looking good. We had all the boys were they were supposed to be and I felt actually o.k. Our communication was good and Scott looked like he was hardly working even after doing a bit of work on the front! My first thought was maybe we were going a bit slow on the hill but everytime I looked down it was reading 33+/- kph and that’s not to slow!

Around 5 laps into it, I was feeling like testing my legs and found myself on the front, leading onto the climb, so I set a good tempo and pulled the group up the hill to the top. Peeling off, I was very encouraged from the sensations I was getting from the legs. No pain, my breathing was hard but steady and when I jumped back in around 6th wheel, on the descent, my HR was dropping fast and it seemed my recovery was better than I have ever had!

This gave me the confidence that I would be able to do the hard work necessary to chase down breaks (which I did) and still have enough to give it a go at the finish.

Well there was a lot going on up until the bell lap, but the Fusion boys managed to keep the pressure on at the front with a bit of help from some other team guys.

On the bell lap I was in the top 15 or so and it quickly got strung out on the descent. I was fighting for position leading down to the bottleneck right-hand turn and could not move and lost some positions. I had to sit in and protect what I had (25th~ wheel) I took a drink and a few deep breaths and planned to rail up the hill and try to catch the small group taking off, that contained Scott. Great plan if you can get through the wall of guys huffing and puffing and blocking the whole lane.

I had to wait until the false flat before I could pop through and start moving up. Well… I was running out of room to the finish and I started sprinting, guys were coming back to me right and left. I turned the corner towards the top and saw 1st and Scott in 2nd right in front. I managed to finish right behind Scott in 3rd.

A great day for the Fusion boys…. You all rode great, Big up! Channing was there to cheer and get some great video footage!
More to come…….