Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paying Dues

This was one of those weekends.

I signed up for the Memorial Day Crits down in Morgan Hill. My Kaiser health insurance was back in full effect so green light for the Road stuff. In the meantime I've been getting some quality training in, as well as, MTB racing (single speed) while focusing on school, so the timing acually worked out pretty good to have a small break.
More pic's

Masters 1/2/3

Race Report: ST Bikes Memorial Day Criterium. 5/28/07
5 right-hand turn office park setup.

Catagory: Elite 3
Place: DNF (Crash).
Teammates: Channing

Using only one word to describe this race it would be: LUCKY. I felt really prepared going into this race. After the start, I spent a lot of time in the bubble, even pushing the wind a bit and closing gaps. I hooked up with Channing and from halfway on we rode together (as much as you can in a crit). Things were going great. I felt good, as did Channing.

With 4 to go, we head down the backside section of the course that is only 1 lane. It had steel barriers to keep guys out of the oncoming traffic. Lap after lap things were more or less fine going through that part of the road. Until 4 to go….

Things happen so fast it’s hard to tell for sure what happened but here it is:

I’m on the outside 2 guys behind Channing and I am thinking about where I will move up into position and all of a sudden there a ripple effect of over corrections that I know aren’t going to be good. Short story is a guy gets tangled up in the barrier and crashes right in front of me and I can’t move. I’m on the brakes and trying to slow down, as quickly as possible and then whoosh, front wheel gets taken out and I’m sliding on the ground before I know it. Hoping no one will run me over I make myself small as can be and hope for the best.

Lucky me:

I didn’t get run over.
My bike was hardly damaged at all (except for my new bar tape of course)
To not have broken my collarbone, like the guy who went down in front of me.
Minor amounts of road rash
Pulled it together to race the Masters 1/2/3

Despite the obvious disappointment of crashing, I have to say I am extremely happy with my fitness and strength. I felt capable of doing something special, if making it to the finale. Instead of heading home, I wanted to “get back on the horse” and not leave with a sour taste in my mouth for this venue. So, I cleaned myself up, saw Channing off, and then got ready to roll again.

Category: Masters 1/2/3
Teammates: none
Place: Mid-pack somewhere?

I rolled up to the line and got a front row starting spot on the outside. Nice. The field was over 80, so pretty big for a M 1/2/3 race. My plan was to work hard and just stay near the front and alert for any good moves. I was willing to take my chances in a break and watched -- Morgan Stanley, VOS, and Safeway, as they seemed to have the most teammates.

Talking to Mike Hernandez (Safeway rider, bad ass mofo) earlier in the morning, I was joking around that he was going to win and he just laughed and gave me his cute smile and said” whatever, naw..” I may be new to bike racing but I wasn't born yesterday! (he won). Needless to say, I watched the goings on and managed to get away with Mike for a lap. Ouch, after only 3+ opening laps, I was not quite ready to go that hard. I had to sit up and get back in the pack to recover.

I spent the rest of the race up near the front and did some work here and there. The pace was fast and when we had no brakes “in effect” it was pure speed. I wish it were always like that. With 2 laps to go, I got stuck on the inside (trying to stay away from the barriers) and had a hell of a time trying to move anywhere. Of course by now it’s to late, the speed (avg 28 mph) is picking up, and time is running out. I try, but just can’t seem to be in the right place at the right time. I would be in a surge of riders, then it would slow up and all the holes would close. At this point, I was more concerned with just finishing the dam thing. I moved up where I could and finished on the back of the main group after weaving in and out of guys blowing up, on the way to the line. Not my best performance but it was really about not letting the 3’s race get to me and knowing I raced well. I felt solid and rode well.

Lucky me…..

Special Thanks to: Russell the EMT stud, the Masters 1/2/3 riders for racing like it should be, wing-man Channing in the E3 race, and my Dad for hanging out and cheering.

If things go smooth I’ll be at the EMC crit, probably for the Masters 1/2/3…

Power Tap data from the M 1/2/3

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Skyline Park

3 laps of 8 miles @ T 2:31 4th Place in Open SS / Geoff raced Expert

I'm tired......

What a race. It's not always the case, but today, I left it all out on the course. I have been training specifically for this race in the last 2 weeks~. There were highs and lows but in the end, as always: a good time.

OK, after a meager 27 minute warm-up I lined up and got an excellent starting position on the 2nd row next to Cam. The Pro/ Expert and SS men were all in the same start wave. Looking back over my shoulder, to my surprise, was a very large group (containing Geoff).

Today was the first time doing this race and I had heard it was tough; the climb, technical sections, single track, and the fun bomber downhills. The biggest hurdle for me today was the rock garden sections and there were more than a few. I have ridden much more difficult trails but I haven't been doing any lately and so, I felt a bit low in the confidence department to just "let go the brakes" and float it.

Soon..... but not today.....

Lap 1

We're off and my plan was to que off Cam for as long as possible, as he was my pick for the win today. Ha! that didn't last to long. After the start you go directly up the climb and it was quickly breaking into groups and I held my ground in the 3rd? group up the climb. The main climb goes on for about 2 km then really gets tough (portion I didn't pre-ride). Well it's to steep for me and I'm walk-running, bike on shoulder, CX style. As I'm looking up the trail it gets worse before it's get better but at the top leads onto single-track and a whole new game.

Whoo hoo.. Great single track. The terrain reminded me of China Camp or Tam and it had pretty good flow. The course ran down into a valley then back up again along another rocky ridge before dropping back down (more single-track and rock gardens) and heading for the finish-line. Nearing the end of the first lap I knew I was in 2nd place. I hit the last rocky section and a Soul Craft rider (Keith?) came flying by. I had been trying to stay under threshold but I couldn't let him get away. Besides he was picking the pace up and on a SS. I figured he knows where he's going and I'd follow. The run in to the S/F line was fast and also had a number of water bar "logs" so, lot's of air and a bit sideways later we get on a nice little climb that stair-stepped once and went down a long gravel road. On the second part of the climb I passed Keith and focused on staying tucked (it was windy) and keeping the rpm's up. I cross the finish line and I'm still in 2nd (for now) and starting to feel pretty good.

Lap 2

Once on the climb, I looked up and could see Pat plus another guy I had been yo-yo-ing with and tried to settle into a rhythm. I managed to catch up and at the same time put time into Keith who was chasing. I focused on keeping the pace high and was feeling stellar on the second lap. The single-track was much more enjoyable knowing whats coming up. Crossing the finish line still in 2nd, I looked back and could not see anyone. I felt strong and put my head down for the final lap.

Final/ Lap 3

The last time up the main climb took a lot out of me. Loose gravel and the baking sun were taking it's toll. I managed to get up and over and recover a little. The single-track was mostly in the trees so it was a nice respite from the UV's. First rock garden and I get through OK. Second and final rock section not so good. While the first one had lots of large "square" rocks the latter had sharp jutted rocks and I flatted in this section. I was tired and hit the rear wheel.

I quickly pulled over and got to changing the tube. All is not going to smoothly. I'm foggy headed from all the lactic acid and totally fumbling around like a rookie. I finally get the dam tube replaced and pop on the CO2 canister and......


What? no air? :( = oh shit.

I run up to a guy spectating about where I flatted and some guy stopped and lent me his pump.

pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, pusch, ....

It took for what seemed like forever to fill the tire 60% of the way (dam 2.1 tires). OK good enough, I gotta go. I go back to my bike and here comes the freight train. at least 5-7 guys went by. One being Keith! oh shit there goes 2nd. I get finally get the wheel back on and take off. I had to run down (gasp) some of the downhill rocky spots and be extra careful not to flat on the remaining rocks. I rolled in to the finish not sure if I stayed on the podium. To many riders went by while playing service guy to eyeball all of em'. I hung around and talked to Keith (really nice guy) and waited for the results to post and hope for the best.

Sure enough a guy squeaked in between Keith and I, which relegated me to 4th....

Bummer.........................That's racing!

I had a fantastic race today, I rode to my ability. I feel stronger. End result a 4th (with the flat), maybe 2nd had it all gone to plan. I can't lie and not say I wasn't a tad disappointed at first, but hey.... It's a good marker for where I am and what I need to do to get 100% prepared for the coming Road events and CX come Oct.

A very tough race. I'm stoked to have finished the dam thing! Man I was hungery aftewards, we had a serious festa at Tres Hermano's in Napa. Carnitias all the way. Muey buyno...

Big thanks to Geoff for driving up to Napa.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Coastal Trail

Crystal and Kerri enjoy the Bobcat Trail.

The Big One....
80 km/ 50 miles T4:50
I have been wanting to do a bigger Headlands loop with the possibility of going to Tam all off-road. I am ashamed to admit it, that even with growing up here, I had never ridden the Coastal Trail beyond Tennessee Valley. I bought a map and did some planning. A quick look at the map and I was happy to see that a mtb ride almost entirely off road was indeed possible.
I was happy that Rich made it out. The weather, while sunny, was cool at times and I was constantly pulling or pushing on arm warmers or zip/ un-zip the vest etc.... We ran into Crystal, Mike and Kerri before jumping onto Bobcat and in no time had them convinced to ride along. Sweet....
......... now there were 5 of us of off to romp around the GGNRA for our playground!

Tennessee Valley Beach

Coastal from Tennessee Valley was the business. I should have taken a picture of the actual trail , it was impressive. Steep stair-step climbs and switch backs, up to a vista, that was pretty breath taking. I surprised myself making it on the SS... After a quick snack we headed down towards Muir Beach. We accidentally poached an incredible trail along the coast that was amazing. While on it, we managed to get whacked by Thistle plants and left a little blood on the trail. After Muir Beach and once onto Hwy 1, the traffic was busy and we rode North to where Coastal continues onward to Pantoll Ranger station. Crystal and Mike decided to head back and so Kerri, Rich and I took off up the trail.....

On the Coastal Trail looking East at Mt Tam.
Final destination......

Half-way to Pantoll, on one of the ridges, we encountered a grove of trees . After being in the sun all day, the shade was a welcome change. I had such a great ride. I felt inspired. Working hard but at the same time hardly working. You gotta love the SS like that. If you ride one you know what I'm talking about. If not, I would encourage you to "get on board". ok, nuff the kool aid....

Rich in the trees.

Rich and Kerri tearing it up.

Out of Water, we stopped for a short break at Pantoll Ranger Station. From there all we had to do was cut across Hwy 1, jump on Old Stage, and ride up Railroad Grade to Tam. So much fun. We Hit the snack bar at the top and I devoured a Coke and Banana Nut muffin, yum! For the route home, it would be down Eldredge Grade to Ross and home on the Pave'. Eldredge was rocky as usual and fast. Big fun. The long slog home on the road wasn't to bad. I'm loving the SS right now. Good thing too, as I have a race this Sunday...
Skyline Park is a race I've never done, so it will be interesting for sure. Geoff is signed up for it as well. This venue has hosted the World's MTB and is supposed to be a great course.

Chilling at Pantoll

What a great ride.

Live it up!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bay Area living at it's best...

Highway 1 overlooking Stinson Beach

Oh man what a ride! This Sunday was beautiful.... No arm\ knee warmers needed, leaving @ 8:30 in the morning. I met up with the boys and we headed out for a big one. I underestimated just how hot it was going to be.....

We did a 5hr 144 km ride. On out way out to Pt. Reyes we ran into the whole Squadra team and we mixed it up into Nicasico. After a brief rest stop for water/ snack and a glass of water on the head to cool off, the 5 of us headed on out and we parted ways with the Squadra boys (they were on there way to their team photo shoot). We went through the Pt. Reyes Seashore and Jeff had us take a little detour that was a crazy climb and felt like we were in Tahoe. Really pretty and stiff climbs. It turned out to be an out and back so with our water running out and 90+ degree weather we bolted for Olema to get lunch (see photo).

The Motley Crue has lunch and some shade. L-R / Andy/ Jeff/ James/ Marc/ Nick

We finished up our food and rolled out up Hwy 1. Wooden legs all around except Marc who then started to motor. I had a hard time holding on to the groupo without going into the red zone so I backed off and let them go. I needed a little more time riding easy to let my food digest and get going. I finally caught back at the Boleinas Lagoon and we rode into Stinson together. What a scene. Everyone and their brother was out.

Hwy 1 leaving Olema on a full belly...

Instead of going up Panoram we rode Hwy 1. I actually have never ridden my bike on this part of the coast. I have however done it plenty of times on a motorcycle but only in the northbound direction. My legs were starting to cramp all over and I had to take it real easy. Dispite the imposed slow pace and cramping Hwy 1 going south was fun. Roller coaster fun.... I soft peddled when I could and managed to get over to Muir Woods and up the final climb out, I suffered but made it. Marc was moving like on a motorcycle with James and Andy chasing him. Jeff kept me company as I meandered my way up to the top. Thanks Jeff!

We stopped for one last time at the 7-11 at the bottom at Tam Valley and I grabbed a bunch of salt from the "deli" counter and put it in my drinks. I should have done that back in Olema ( dumbass), I felt way... way better after a few miles and popped a 1300 watt sprint right before the bridge! (new max). I like riding in that kind of heat but we don't get it often and I sometimes forget things like extra salt, make the difference between being "money" or "overdrawn". All in all a fantastic ride. Everyone was riding strong, aside from me off the back a bit after Olema. I slept for about an hour or so after getting home.

I woke up this morning knowing I wanted to get in a rec. ride and the temps at 8:00am were already at 75! I decided to ride out to Ocean Beach hoping it would be a bit cooler with the wind off the water and it was. Another super day in the city, if it was like this on a regular basis rents would be sky high.

It looked like everybody with a surfboard called in sick or was playing hookey from school there were so many surfers out in the water. I managed a 2.5 hour ride super easy and felt pretty good. Days like today remind me that no matter how bad things can be (or you think they are) there is beauty wherever you want to find it, all you have to do is look....

I'm off to my first day back in school....

Peace out~

Power Tap data from Sunday