Thursday, December 28, 2006

My 2006 Racing Review

As 2006 draws to a close, it's time to get a bit self-obsessed and reflective about my racing season, such as it was. Doubtful this long post will be interesting to anyone but me ...and that's probably even pushing it. But since I've become too lazy to keep a journal, and I recently started this blog, it seems like the perfect place to record my memories of the year before they fade away.

What a mixed bag it was--some really weak performances with bad attitudes, followed by some personally-inspiring results in hard p/1/2 road races. (Plus, it was nice to help some great team efforts in support of Lindsay, who had a great year.) I did a few new things in training, and went back to some of my old-school favorites. I incorporated big-gear seated climbing intervals (thanks Jake!) and did some dedicated tt-bike training (thanks Lindsay and Steve B.!) and started doing more pure-climbing rides like the old days. Breaking 15:00 up OSM was a personal highlight of the year.

But when all is said and done, it's the races that matter. Here's the review of the ones I did...

2/4 Boulevard RR: I really anticipated this race because it was the beginning of the season and would be my first ever 45+ race. Lindsay, Kim, and I were planning for a battle with Sonance, and depending on whether or not Thurlow rode, we would try to hit them hard. Turned out Kim and I both flatted on the first lap. Lindsay then single handedly beat Sonance and won the race.

2/5 Mothballs Crit: A day for three races! 40+: rode agressively and was in all the moves, but it was together at the end and I got 4th in the sprint. 30+: worked hard with CW to bring back a long move, but got caught in traffic at the end. P/1/2: was fatigued but stayed up front and ended up 15th. This pic from U-in-Action is Mark Scott and me getting one of the breaks started.

3/10-12 Central Valley Classic: What a disaster; was a bit sick going up there, and then ran into the worst winter storm we've had in years. Snow level was so low, they canceled the hill-climb tt I was so looking forward to and replaced it with a flat tt. When warming up for it, I got blasted by hail that filled up the vents in my helmet. I wussed out and sat in the car. The next day I did the 45+ rr and got so cold I couldn't move my hands at all and was a hazard to myself and anyone nearby. So I quit. When we saw rain for the crit on Sunday, we all bailed and went home.

3/4 Island View Classic Crit: 45+: got in a break with Barney, beat him in the sprint and won. P/1/2: rode aggressively but it was together at the end and finished ~20th. Steve Weixel took some nice pics.

3/5 LA Circuit Race: Another day for two races, totaling >90 miles of crit-like pace. 45+: made a 7-man break but got 3rd in the sprint (Strickler won, Roger was 2nd). p/1/2: I basically sat in the whole time and finished in the back of the pack.

3/17-19 San Dimas Stage Race: What a battle! We fielded a good team for the 45+ with Druber, Ron, Boelter, me, and Lindsay. Stage 1 TT: Not much to say other than Lindsay ripped it up with a sub-15:00 to win, Roger Worthington 2nd at 15:17; and me 3rd at 15:24. We planned to defend the jersey in the Stage 2 RR by being aggressive. We outnumbered Labor Power and wanted to wear down Roger who had to respond to both Lindsay and me, as well as worry about Sonance. We threw everything we had at Roger, but we couldn't crack him. He also pipped me a couple times for time bonuses. In the end, we let Wayne Stetina go alone and he won. Roger got 2nd and Lindsay got 3rd, so Roger inched closer with the time bonuses but Lindsay still led on gc...barely! The Stage 3 crit would decide the race as Roger was within a single time bonus of overtaking Lindsay. Our goal was to get me or Lindsay in a break with a couple of Sonance guys but without Roger. We couldn't pull it off even though we had our chances a couple of times. Roger made some key alliances and other teams pulled us back. The mid-way bonus was scooped up by Matt Hahn. Now all we had to do was shut out Roger and we had the race. The last lap was hectic and I managed to stay close to Matt and Strickler, both excellent wheels. Roger was beside me on Larry's wheel. The last corner was very fast and we flew through it at nearly 40 mph. Matt jumped clean and blew us away to win. Then, in a drag race that seemed to take forever, Strickler, Roger, and I went side-by-side the whole way and man was it close. I thought Stricky took it, and was praying that I nipped Rog. Unfortunately, it went Roger-2nd, Strickler-3rd, and me-4th. With the bonus, Roger won the gc. What a warrior that guy is!

Here's a photo sequence of the sprint, with Matt winning cleanly followed by our drag race:

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

And finally, a podium shot with a dejected looking Lindsay...

4/1 Ventura County Classic: A nice new race with an open and fast course. 45+: Thurlow rode away from the gun in an awesome display of dominance. I made it across to the chase of CW and KK, but got dropped right away!! Arghh. Ended up 8th. 35+: This was dominated by the Labor Power dream team (JB, Steve Larson, Teske, Wike, etc.). JB won, I got 13th.

4/2 Garret LeMire Grand Prix: Great downtown course with a crowd and nice atmosphere. 45+: Just Druber and me against Labor (C. Walker, Roger, and Larry) and Sonance (Thurlow, KK, Strickler, Malcolm, Mueller). Early break w/ Druber, KK, and Larry. When they got absorbed, Thurlow unleashed a wicked volley of attacks. At one point, I had to bridge with both CW and Rog on my wheel and as soon as we got there, they threw down another and I cracked. Thurlow won; Druber and I rolled in for 7th and 8th. I was too depressed to do the next race.

4/7 Sea Otter Circuit Race:

I love racing on Laguna Seca! 40+: Druber, Boelter, and I lined up with a smallish field, but it still had some good guys (e.g., a handful of Safeways plus Chris D'Alusio). Druber was active and aggressive and pretty soon was away with Janne Hamalainen who I knew was strong. Boelter and I did what we could to discourage the chase, but I was itching to get into a smaller group and I didn't want to drag anyone up to Druber. About half way into the race, I bolted up the hill and shed everyone but Chris
D'A, Bob Pasco, Ron Reade, and a couple others.

Another couple surges and it was just Chris and me. Now I really respect Chris and it was killing me not to work 100% with him, but I couldn't until about two laps to go. From that point on we traded pulls and went into the sprint side-by-side. I jumped and he basically sat up. Unfortunately, Janne dropped Druber, so it ended up: Janne-1st; Druber-2nd; me-3rd.

4/8-9 Vuelta a Valencia: I bailed on the Sea Otter RR and came back for the 45+ Valencia race which started Saturday AM with a Stage 1 TT. I sucked and was buried on gc. The Stage 2 crit was in the afternoon, and Kim got into a good move with Tim Black so I just sat. The Stage 3 RR was on the old-time Acton course which I have done as a junior (1978) and also won it years ago in the p/1/2. I love this course. The Sonance guys had the gc locked up so there was nothing left to do but go for the stage win. Fortunately, I was having one of those George Hincapie "No Chain" days, and was able to win the stage.

4/22-23 Conquer the Canyons Stage Race: p/1/2: I thought the Stage 1 TT was more of a hill-climb than it turned out to be. The first few miles were flat to downhill; only the last two miles were up. I finished 25th in 12:52. Jake Erker blew away everyone with an 11:40. Now he had to defend solo against a full Successful Living squad plus assorted LaGrange and Monex guys. The Stage 2 crit was fast and aggressive but nothing got away. Adam Livingston won and Jake was 2nd; I finished in the field around 30th. The Stage 3 RR was on a cool course in the coastal range between Westlake and Malibu. Christian Valenzuela (Monex) got away early and everyone looked to Jake to bring him back. He threw down some brutal attacks up the hill, which put people in a world of hurt, but nobody would follow through to help him. Soon Daniel Ramsey (Successful Living) and Jorge Alvarado escaped and caught Valenzuela. They motored away. Walker then got away with Ruben Meza. With two laps to go, I rolled off and Dan Vinson came up to me so we started drilling it. We caught Meza who had been dropped by CW. Now I started feeling really good, and was able almost pull us up to Chris on the last time up the hill. But not quite. Daniel won the stage. CW tt'ed in for 4th. Vinson jumped away from me for 5th and Meza out-sprinted me for 6th after I pulled hard to get as much time as possible for gc. So I ended up 7th on the stage. The field sprinted in a minute later. Valenzuela won gc. I was pleased with my race (11th on gc) because it had been a few years since I felt strong in a p/1/2 race.

4/29 Devil's Punchbowl RR: p/1/2: Another wicked road race out in the desert with all the SoCal studs. On the second lap I made my way into what turned out to be the winning break with Thurlow and Rigo Meza, but they dropped me on the 3rd lap. It turned out to be fortunate timing because as I slowly drifted back to the group, Walker just nailed it up the climb and shredded the field. A small group caught me right at the top, so I settled into a nice rotation with CW and Adam Livingston. Again, like the week before, I felt pretty damn good, and was even able to bring back CW after he attacked on the hill on the 4th lap. Then, with only a lap to go, I hit something and got a blow-out. Sh!t...I was pissed because I think a top-5 was in reach. The wheel truck was way back behind the remnants of the field and by the time I got going again, 5 minutes had passed. Game over. Rigo won; Thurlow 2nd; CW 3rd.

5/8 San Luis Rey RR: p/1/2: Another quality field to battle on a hot and windy day. Rigo Meza and a few others went early, but I looked around and saw CW, Kyle Gritters (HealthNet), Thurlow, plus assorted Successful Living pros, so I figured it was a good idea to sit and watch. The field shrunk each time up the hill past the s/f and eventually we caught the early break with about 30 miles to go. The next hour saw a lot of attacks and regroups and we were all together for the final five-mile stair-steps to the finish. Rigo Meza started the fighting up the hill and soon our nice group of 15 was spread all over the road. I buried myself to stay behind Walker and we rolled in for 7th and 8th respectively. There was a separate prize list for 2's and I got 3rd in that.

Mt. Hamilton RR: p/1/2: Another race I love and have done as a Junior (1978) and Master (I won in1997) but had never done in the p/1/2 until this year. My goal was to make it to the observatory in the first group and I almost made it. The pace reduced the field substantially but I was still in the front when I could see the observatory about 2 km below the top. That's when I breathed a sigh of relief. Big mistake! The CalGiant guys started really drilling it and I got popped. Ten guys went over first, followed a minute later by my group with Kevin Klein, Ted Huang and a few other Webcor guys and a Lombardy's kid. We dropped a few on the descent, and picked up another Webcor in the valley. Despite being out of the money, the Webcor guys rode for a finish, and Ted was able to jump away from us at the end. I ended up 15th. I had mixed emotions after this race--I was disappointed not to hold on to the top, but I felt great in the valley and probably could have dumped those guys on those smaller hills (but what would be the point!?!)

Here are a few pics from HippStar and from Steep Hill...

5/31-6/4 Mt. Hood Stage Race: 40+: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. My season ended abruptly up in Oregon. We went up with a strong team: Wracher, Druber, me, and Lindsay. The Stage 1 Circuit Race was a wet and nasty affair that saw the winning break escape because they were more brave on the slippery descent than the rest of the field. Pasco won, despite having to chase back on following a mechanical. The Stage 2 TT was not as windy as it could have been, thankfully, but I still got buried. Not as bad as the prior year, but still a major weakness. The Stage 3 crit in the evening was fun...until I crashed. With zero warning, my rear tire blew out on the sharp downhill corner and I slid into the curb. Ouch. I got a wheel, and went back in and got to the front--the adrenalin theory at work. I thought I had the perfect wheel going into the last lap because the guy was wearing stars-and-bars, but he died with 2/3 a lap to go leaving me on the very front. I looked back and saw Chris D'Alusio with a big "pretty-please" grin on his face, so I said what the hell and drilled it for him. Turns out Chris D'A's teammate Dan Smith was on his wheel and they easily went 1st and 2nd. I got pipped for 3rd, and ended up 4th on the stage. The final Stage 4 RR is a bitch, but is tailor-made for Lindsay who was well within striking distance of the guys in front of him. The day was cold and rainy and I sucked from the beginning. Being covered in bandages and tape didn't help either. I came off the front group on the first major climb of the day but decided it would be a good idea to bomb the descent (on mossy, wet, and muddy Oregon forest roads) to catch back on. Stupid. I was never in the zone and was blowing it on lots of corners. Finally my number was up and I went off the road, flipped over, and shattered my clavicle. Lindsay won the stage and the gc; I went to the Hood River emergency room.

Season over!

No comments: