Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Backyard Harvest ...in January!

I wish I was a farmer. Not a big industrial farmer with thousands of acres, but a small-scale farmer with a few acres and a wide variety of crops.

For now though, my backyard will have to do. The pictures below are from yesterday's pickings. I can get enough greens for us to have spinach, chard, and/or lettuce every day. Same with the oranges. The broccoli is a more rare treat. Not that there isn't a lot of it, but rather, I rarely get it before the aphids move in. The strawberries were a nice surprise.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hello....My Name is Mark....and I Am a Packrat

Best I can recall, it began when I was 9 or 10 and I started collecting baseball cards. Every week or so, I'd ride my bike to the 7-Eleven and buy a couple of packs. For a dime each, I got ten cards and that hard flat delicious stick of bubble gum.

My favorite team was the Oakland A's and one of my first memories of sports on TV is of the A's in the playoffs and world series. Sal Bando was my favorite player. He was their 3rd baseman, and I thought he was very cool.

[momentary pause while looking through saved baseball cards, finding Sal Bando, scanning into jpeg, and lo and behold, uploding to blogger]

I have a shoebox stuffed full of baseball cards from the 70's. I once gave them to my little brother, but then took them back a year later. Since leaving home, they've come with me to each place I've lived, which must be near ten different places. I really don't feel too bad about that because they don't take much space, the box stacks nicely, and who knows, they might actually be worth something someday.

That reasoning doesn't work as well for another collection of things that has followed me around through the years. Levi's jeans. 501s, 550s, 505s...straight leg, boot cut, relaxed fit...blue, gray, tan, black. You name it, I still got it. Seriously, there's a stack of 50 pairs of Levi's in my closet. Some date back to my late teenage years, perhaps even to the 70's. Gina begs me to get rid of them, but I can't do it. Maybe someday I'll try to sell them on Ebay.

Where am I going with this...?

It rained all weekend long so I didn't ride outside. I would have hopped on the rollers on Saturday, but my bike room in the garage was a disaster. No room for roller riding. Here's what it looked like:

There are piles of stuff that I dumped out of the car after getting back from Mt. Hood seven months ago, and haven't touched since. But honestly, those items are like archeological yesterday compared to some of the other stuff in the garage. In other words, once I started digging down below the surface of the piles, I started finding older and older stuff, eventually reaching strata with some relics from... you guessed it... the 70's.

Take a look at some of what I found. Some of these things have never been used. Why would I save glasses won in primes for 10 or 15 years? They were probably out of style then, which is why some bike shop(s) donated them to a race! There are various items I was given by teams but never used. It seemed tacky to turn around and sell them. If you look closely, you'll see a pair of Adidas Eddy Merckx shoes with hard leather soles on which you would nail cleats. Someday I may become a retro grouch, so I cannot get rid of those shoes.

I uncovered a collection of parts that show a nice continuous history of the progression from 5-speed clusters through today's 10-speed cassettes. Below you will also see 10 Time pedals and 9 speedplay pedals. BTW, an hour after I took this picture, I found another box of parts with a few more pairs of pedals, brake calipers, and cranks.

Even I am puzzled at times as to why I save so many inner-tubes and tires. I do occasionally patch tubes, but usually I just throw them onto the pile. And most of these tires have plenty of tread left. I'm proud to say that there is nothing from last century in the picture below. That's because a couple of years ago, I tossed a massive quantity of tires I had saved for decades, including some Clement Criterium Seta Extras (green label) that I used as a junior in the, errr, 70's.

But to my mind, the collection of wheels takes the cake for pack-rattieness. And this *does* include some vintage relics, such as my Campy Record hi-flange 36-hole tubular wheels from the 70's. But you know what? Some semi-chrome polish would spiff those things right up and no doubt some collector would be interested in them. I can't throw them away.

Training - Week 17

A good week up until the rain came Saturday.

Number of rides: 6
Riding time: 14 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 4 hrs
Best ride of the week: Wed, Refugio climb + OSM + Hope Ranch
Other: none
- Thursday rode 4.5 hours in the morning and then climbed OSM in 15:19 at lunch.
- Rode rollers for 45 minutes on the weekend.

Friday, January 26, 2007


So I'm 45 now and after much procrastination and excuse-making, I finally picked a doctor and today had my first physical.

Upon realizing that there were no hottie 25-year-old female physicians without fingernails, or at least none that would take me on as a patient, I chose a doc who I know socially. He's a good guy who's in a similar position in life as me--same age, young'ish family, does some bike racing.

I gave him every opportunity to decline, not knowing whether it would be awkward for him, but I really hoped he would take me on. I've had some funky heart behavior recently and I wanted a doctor who understands the reality of hard training and such. We've got some blood work and treadmill tests scheduled for next week to see what's up.

But back to the physical...

Doc apologized profusely, although I think I'm the one who was most sorry (for him, that is). In an amazing coincidence, Lindsay forwarded the video below just this morning!

And So It Begins...

Some teammates are heading down to Dominguez Hills for the CBR crit this weekend, but not I. As per tradition, I'll begin my year at Boulevard.

I recently stumbled across the picture below which was from the final sprint of an early-season crit last year (Ontario?)

A couple of my new teammates can be seen near the front of the group but, and this is very important, they are NOT at the VERY front of the group. The person who is at the very front is the person who wins the race, and in this case that person was Mark-Paul Gosselaar. He is an actor. He's been in shows like The West Wing and Saved By the Bell. He is pretty; I don't know if he is Gritty. Right behind him, in the blue and orange, are Brewer and Flood. They are most definitely NOT pretty. As you can tell by the expressions on their faces, they are trying to look gritty. Those guys sprawled out on the pavement behind also get some gritty points. (Don't you just love crash pictures where the bike is up in the air?!? ...assuming nobody got serious hurt of course.)

Mark-Paul is looking back at them which is a bit insulting in a sprint, but also very understandable... I mean, nobody wants Brewer and especially Flood sneaking up behind them!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some Updates

Coupla follow ups to some older topics...

The previous post described a few "issues" with our Goleta Tuesday lunch-time ride. Specifically, some folks were none too happy with the aggressive style of riding by a couple of the participants. Whether or not it's a problem is debatable. Personally, I thought yesterday was really fun (That is, as fun as riding full-gas balls-out can be, which is kind of enjoyable in a sick and twisted way!) In my not-so-humble opinion, the accelerations by those that wanted to pull hard (read: Matt, Ben, and Jason) were within reason.

Yeah, some guys got dropped. My comment? They over extended themselves when they pulled. If you are ever going to succeed in a break, you absolutely need to know how hard you can pull and still get back on, even if the pace elevates a bit. Yesterday some guys found out the hard way that they pulled too fast or too long.

Reminds me of a story--probably a stupid story, but hey, it's my blog... I was pretty fit and confident ten years ago (my first 35+ year) when the Masters Nationals were up by Santa Rosa. The RR course had one hill of ~1 km but was otherwise pretty flat. Thurlow Rogers was in the race and I followed him around the pack for the first 25-mile lap. Then, unable to contain himself any longer, he bolted full throttle up the the hill the second lap. I was the only guy who stayed on his wheel. By the top, his effort had separated us cleanly from the group, with probably a 15-20 second gap. Awesome. We caught a guy who had been hanging otf, and the three of us settled into a smooth rotation. It doesn't get any better than this folks. My pulls were pretty tentative, and within ten minutes I was instructed by Thurlow that I would "have to pull a tad bit harder". I immediately obliged and thus unknowingly signed my own death warrant. It took awhile--each pull put me a bit further in debt--but eventually I cracked, unable to get back on. There was no attack, not even an acceleration or a hill, I simply had reached the end of the rope and couldn't hold on after my pull. Naturally, he went on to win the race solo by a margin of several minutes. BTW, our own Tony Vincente (Vinny the Hack) won the 100-man field sprint for 2nd.

Sorry for that digression... where were we? Oh yeah, Tuesday rides... Figure out how hard you can pull and still get back on. That's what the ride is good for.


I posted recently about the cost of bike racing and how it was bumming me out. Well, given that this silly hobby can't go on too many more years, I've decided to go ahead with some more purchases (e.g., wheels, bike, etc.) ...and I'm fine with that. More importantly, Gina seems ok with it too!

I hope you don't think this is too tacky, but I'll share with you some detailed records of my bike-racing expenses from a few years ago. I spent 2002-2004 tracking all expenses we incurred as a family--every coffee, every donation, every tank of gas, ...every single thing. It was an incredibly enlightening exercise, and I would encourage anyone to give it a try. Once you get a system set up, and assuming you're on the computer every day, it really isn't a burden.
Anyway, the table below shows the data for bike racing (sorry for the ugly format; I'm in HTML kindergarten):
Bike Racing Expenses:
Year:Equipment:Clothing:Entry Fees:Travel:Dues:Misc.:Total:

Obviously some big purchases in 2004, like a bike, some gucci wheels, and a boat-load of tires. Also, very relevant to these expenses is that I did around 20-25 races each of these years, and none were out of state. This year should blow the doors off of 2004 since I'm hoping to do nearly twice that many races, with potentially a few out-of-state trips. One last hurrah so to speak.


Got a comment from Gene on my Blood-Doping in Reverse post from a few months back. That topic was about the interesting observations I had after donating blood, which removes around 10%-15% of the body's red blood cells. There was a very obvious drop in threshold power as evidenced by climbing speed on OSM.

Anyway, Gene pointed out this thread on cyclingforums.com where a guy admits doping when he was trying to make a career out of bike racing. If you don't want to spend an hour reading it all (I did), I'll give you the Cliff Notes version... Not only does he (anonymously) detail his own usage of testosterone, epo, and blood doping, he also claims that all good cat 1 and domestic pro riders do it too. Of course, he has no proof. He said he doped for a year when he was an Arizona cat 1 trying to land a pro contract. When he didn't get picked up, he quit the sport (and quit doping). There were lots of responses--some appreciative, others derisive.

Personally, I found the guy a bit less than credible. For one thing, he claimed his doping brought his sustainable power up to 6.7 W/kg. Jeezus H, that's TdF contender power!!

Further, and maybe I'm totally naive, I really don't think he is right about the rest of the elite-amateur and domestic-pro racers. Being in Santa Barbara, we are fortunate to see a lot of very good regional and national talent. We see how hard they train. We see a steady progression that comes from putting in 20-30 hours a week, year after year. I trust that these guys are not doping.

On the other hand, some do. Take the Adam Bergman case for example. Just the other day I was told by a former pro who raced with him that his performance escalated so dramatically that many people in the domestic peloton knew something was up.

So yeah, there are some bad apples. But all of them? Or even most of the domestic guys? No way!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Can't We All Just Get Along??

Every Tuesday 'round about noontime, you can see 10-15 lycra-clad dudes pedaling hard on the North side of Goleta. Hard, as in 15 miles in ~35 minutes hard. And that's with stop signs, turn-arounds, and other such obstacles to speed.

We're a diverse group. We've got guys in their 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's. If we survive a few more years, eventually we'll have some in their 60's. We've got professional engineers, ex-professional bike racers, professional Professors, and professional slackers. Blue collar, white collar, no collar, and dirty collar ...we got 'em all.

And everyone wants to work hard.

Which brings me to the issue at hand, namely, how can we conduct this ride so that everyone gets some good, efficient training? Or is it even possible? The fitness and experience spectrum is huge: at one end is a guy who spent 100 miles Off the Front of a Tour of Georgia stage, and at the other are guys who have never done a real bike race.

And all is not harmonious in Goleta on Tuesdays around noon. Some choice words have been tossed about recently.

You see, a couple of the lads in their 20's are playful, and they like to jump hard, accelerate up the side, and basically try to bury each other. (Sometimes literally...but more on that later.) Their attacking antics pretty much mess up any semblance of a smooth paceline. But the reason they ride that way is because it takes too long--and is generally too slow--for them when they are in the line. If they can pull at 28 mph, what good is it to sit in at 23 mph? Alternatively, for those who are not quite as fit, what good is it to get dropped because everyone else is jumping repeatedly after these attacks?

So I have some suggestions.

First, let's treat the ride as "break-away training", where we try to cover the first 12 miles or so as quickly as possible. That means no abrupt jumps attempting to shed people--ideally we maintain as hard of a steady collective effort as we can. Now this doesn't mean the strong guys don't ride hard, in fact, they certainly will do the bulk of the fast pulling. It also means that the less-fit riders need to know their limits and either take very short pulls, or stay in the back and don't pull at all. For argument sake, suppose we try to maintain 28 mph average, which I believe is quite doable with our group. If you can't pull through that fast, then stay out of the rotation and let the others get in front of you after their pulls. I hope that doesn't sound too harsh, and it isn't meant to be. A ride like I'm describing is a great way to determine what you're capable of. I think that anyone out there can sit on at 28 mph average, and most can pull through too, albeit just a couple pedal strokes for some.

So that's the first 12 miles. The final 3 miles? Anything goes. Ride for the sprint if you want. Try to jump away if you want. Lead out somebody. Whatever. Make it fun.

And since I have the stage, and I guess I always have the stage since it's my blog... Please pull off into the wind. Please. There are more reasons for this than I can possibly list here. Just do it. And moreover, if the wind is from the right, stay near the edge of the pavement so people echeloned off to your left aren't way out in the traffic lane. Alternatively, if the wind is from your left, try to stay out toward the left side of the bike lane so everyone else isn't groveling in the gutter behind you. It's the right thing to do.

Now, about those 20-something guys playing around. If you've ever spent much time with good young riders (like full-time bike racers) you've certainly seen a lot of on-the-bike goofing. Stuff like bumping and pushing each other, hip slinging, hooking, etc. It's all in fun, and these guys know what they are doing. I remember doing a ride with Hilton Clarke and Keith around Casitas where they were bumping each other going downhill at 40 mph! On purpose of course.

You know what a good analogy is? Lion cubs wrestling and fighting. It's all play when they are cubs, but it's life or death when they're grown up. OK, that's a bit of an exaggerated analogy, but you get the point. If you're comfortable slicing and dicing when playing around on training rides, you can handle it in a real field sprint when guys don't have smiles on any more.

Training - Week 16

A decent week with some hard efforts of 10-20 minutes, but it's difficult to imagine racing 90 miles in just two weeks time.

Number of rides: 6
Riding time: 14 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 4 hrs
Best ride of the week: Wednesday early-morning Gibraltar climb w/ Ben and Dubberley; not from a training standpoint, but because we got to ride through snow.
Other: Nope, getting pretty one-dimensional now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Some Got In and Some Didn't

I'm sure you've seen that the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) announced the final team selections the other day. Sadly for local heroes Cody O'Reilly and Daniel Ramsey, neither Kodak-SierraNevada nor SuccessfulLiving.com were selected. I'm quite curious about the selection process, and I wonder how much back-room negotiating goes on for this. Getting into this race must be a huge deal for the smaller North American teams, and I wonder to what extent the promoter exploits that fact.

And then there are some strange selections... Remember that last year the ATOC chose the Mexican National Team to ride, and excluded Symmetrics. That seemed like a bizarre choice, and no offense the the Mexican team, but they were otb in nearly every stage and all but three of them DNF'ed. Let's see if this year's no-hope selection--the US Development Team--does better, or at least gets into some of the action.

Anyway, talking to Cody today, he expressed mixed feelings about not getting in. On the one hand, what an incredible experience to race such a high-profile event, particularly since it comes through home-town Santa Barbara again this year. On the other hand, it would be freakin hard, and the kid is just 18 years old. Could he really recover in time for the NRC races starting just a week later? Or more significantly, what would a race like ATOC do to his track speed?

BTW, Cody and his USA National Team partner Austin Carroll raced to a very successful 3rd place in the recent Burnaby six-day race in Canada. The picture below shows Cody throwing his partner into the action in the madison.


One team that did get into the ATOC is Northern California based BMC Racing. We may not have heard much about this relatively new US domestic pro team, but given the quality of their roster, I'm sure soon we will. Top riders include Swiss Alexandre Moos, US veterans Mike Sayers and Scott Moninger, and rising star Jackson Stewart.

Gavin Chilcott started the team last year as a young-rider development program. This year marks a huge escalation with backing from Andy Rihs, the former owner of the Phonak Pro Tour team. On paper, they look like the team to beat in the domestic stage races.

Of local interest, the BMC Tour of California squad will be training in the Santa Ynez Valley for the next ten days. Gavin emailed me yesterday soliciting suggestions for ride routes. I've known Gavin since we raced together as juniors a long time ago, and he knows that I know the area. Naturally, I told him about all the great rides--the canyons loop, Fig loop, Jalama, and down to SB for Gib and OSM/Painted Cave. Of course, since they are looking for six-hour epic adventures, they'll need to hook together two or three of those options!


More Chilcott... You may not have heard of him, but Gavin was once a very successful bike racer and was one of the early American professionals in Europe. In the mid 1980's, he raced a bunch of the spring classics (Paris-Roubaix, etc.) and I think he also represented the US at the Pro worlds once or twice. When back in the US, he could hold his own against the top domestic teams. Interestingly, some time in the 80's, there was a very high-level crit held downtown on State St. in SB and all the top US riders came to race. This included 7-Eleven, Levi's-Raleigh, etc., and old Gavin showed up solo. He got into a four-man break that included Andy Hampsten among others, and they lapped the field. Gavin then beat his break partners in the sprint and won the race. Pretty remarkable considering he was racing solo against complete teams of the best American crit riders. The picture below is from that race. Gavin is closest to the camera and that is Andy Hampsten to his left.

Anyway, by the late 80's he decided it was time to move on, so he quit bike racing and returned to school and eventually completed a PhD in some science field. Then, around 2002 or so, I ran across my old friend Ben Standish at a race in Reno and he mentioned that he and Gavin were neighbors and starting to ride again. Lo and behold the next year, Gavin started doing some Masters races. Within a year he was easily crushing the field and even winning some p/1/2 races. But I guess he's been there and done that, so he made the jump to running a team.

And that's your history lesson for today.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Little Mrs. Consistency

3:20:44 .......... Top of Utah (Logan)
3:21:24 .......... San Diego
3:21:30 .......... Portland
3:21:44 .......... Long Beach
3:21:03 .......... Rock-and-Roll Arizona (Phoenix)

These are five of the marathons Mrs. Fanelli has run since 2001.

All times within a one-minute range...

for 26.2 miles...


Monday, January 15, 2007

Training - Week 15

I guess I'll call this a rest week. Not much riding because of sick and travel.

Number of rides: 5
Riding time: 7 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 1 hr
Best ride of week: Can't think of any.
Other: 15 minutes on cardio machines

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Cost of Being Fred

Here we go again.

Every year about this time I get paralyzed by spending decisions. Buy a new bike; don't buy a new bike... Are my wheels too old, or can they go another year? And what about the ultimate toy of all, an SRM power meter???

Even with "pro-deal" pricing, we're talking thousands of dollars.

How can I justify dropping that kind of coin when there are people working six months a year in strawberry fields for the same amount just to feed their family? Or more selfishly, what about my kids' college fund? All the bike-racing expenses could equal the difference between Stanford and, say, Cal State Bakersfield!

Off to Phoenix now, but when I get back I'll have decided about this year's purchases.

In the meantime, here's what I posted on RBR a year ago when going through the same struggles:


As I contemplate purchasing a TT bike, the high cost (literally) of this silly sport is getting me down. Let's consider Fred, who is basically anyone that doesn't race for a living. Now if USCF demographics are correct, Fred is a 30-something high-tech professional living in Northern California and races at the Cat 3.5 level. And he's hooked, which means he trains 15 hours a week and he races at least 25 weekends a year.

Let's do the financial math for Fred...

Equipment: Got to keep up with the other Freds so Fred buys a new bike every two years at a annualized cost of $2,000. Plus new $1,500 race wheels every two years because, well, he's Fred and so he crashes sometimes. Add in regular replacements of training and racing tires, chains, and cassettes for another $750 a year. (Note: Fred wins bar tape, tubes, and patch kits in primes, so we don't need to include those costs.)

Annual equipment cost: $3,500

Team Kit: Let's figure on 3 bibs, 2 jerseys, skinsuit, arm & leg warmers, socks, undershirts, gloves, helmet, and glasses. Plus new shoes every two years, carbon-soled of course. Now Fred's sweat is pretty caustic (and he crashes) so let's add an extra 3 bibs and another skinsuit.

Annual kit cost: $1,000

Food: Training as much as he does, Fred has to eat more at home and on the bike. Now, Fred doesn't just eat bananas and drink water, he needs individually packaged gu's and powerbars, and bottles filled with cytomax. Plus pre- and post-ride high-tech drink concoctions.

Annual cycling-food cost: $500

Racing: Big-time Fred races 50 days a year (2 per weekend average) at a typical race-day entry fee of $30 accounting for individual and stage races. On average, race weekends require 200 miles of driving and let's say half also require an over-night stay. Fred drives an SUV and stays in nice hotels, but he's sensible so he shares these costs with his teammate named Fred. Because he's cool, Fred also wants to race once a year in a different part of the country, requiring an airplane trip.

Annual race cost: $2,500

Miscellaneous: Naturally Fred needs to buy a racing license (international of course, just in case) and pay club dues. He also has to subscribe to a variety of cycling publications for reading material when evacuating his gu and cytomax. Plus satellite TV to get Euro race coverage. Plus stuff I can't think of right now...

Annual misc. cost: $500

So far we have Fred spending $8,000 per annum to race his bike. But it can get worse...

Fred gets his ass kicked in TTs, so he NEEDS a TT bike with dimpled aero wheels and airplane-wing front end, which ought to last at least four years or so before he has to buy something better.

Annual TT-arms-race cost: $1,000

Also, since Fred lives in Northern California and thinks the Velo Bella ladies are hot, he needs to buy a cyclocross bike and do some CX races in the winter.

Annual CX cost: $1,000

Alright, Fred is now into bike racing at $10,000 per year just accounting for the easy-to-calculate costs. It would be much worse if we added in opportunity costs, such as being productive with the 15 hrs per week training time, and not being so tired at work. Fred's not married (obviously) so we don't need to consider the relationship and family costs.

Now I'm depressed so I'm going for a ride...

(not exactly Fred, but probably within 50%)


Here's the original thread on RBR.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Communication Breakdown out of the Corridor -- I'm still ruminating about last Saturday's ride in the Santa Ynez Valley. Why? Maybe because I was on the receiving end of an F-bomb filled voice mail, a couple of disparaging emails, and a few not-too-subtle glares. Just because I sent out the original email initiating the ride, does that make me the de facto ride leader? OK, so we accidentally left when a guy was still in the porta-potty and another was in his car. I admit that was a mistake, even though it was already past our agreed-upon start time. Once we realized it, we went slow for a good half hour to let them catch up ...except they were going the opposite direction! Then some guys turned back to find them, others got antsy and started motoring, some got dropped by being too cautious on a descent... and from there on out I'm not sure we were ever all together again. I think the lesson is that when you've got 25 or more people on a new and different ride, you need to be on the same page at the start.

Saturday's problems aside, the Foxen-Cat-Drum-Ballard Canyon loop is great for a group ride. It's ~60 miles so everyone should be able to do it on two bottles and the food you carry. We regroup twice--at the top of the only two significant hills--and everywhere else the stronger riders can pull and those that are concerned about surviving can sit in.

Here's a picture of some of the group at the top of Drum Canyon.

Coupla other things from the ride...

It took reformed tri-guy Cookie to point out that we were riding with an old-time celebrity, Chuck Veylupek, or Chuckie V as he's better known. In the late 80's and early 90's, Chuck was a damn good bike racer--if I remember correctly, he was on the National Team for a while. My brother did some training with him when he was in the San Joaquin valley and told stories of epic 8-hour rides in the foothills. But Chuckie V really hit the big time when he started doing triathlons. In a dry sport without a lot of wild characters, Chuckie V stood out with his big Mohawk hair and nomadic lifestyle. Plus he was a really good triathlete. He seems like a really cool guy, and he's obviously quite modest...no wonder he didn't make it as a bike racer!

At the end of the Canyon Loop, we rode the reverse direction on the Amgen Tour of California time trial course. The tt route goes up Alamo Pintado from Solvang to Los Olivos and then returns down Ballard Canyon. Rumor is that they will repave Ballard in time for the race but there is no sign of any work yet. Either way, that return stretch is going to be really fast. It has some bends in it that might be tricky at 35 mph in the tt bars. I know those guys are not spazzes, but I predict there will be at least one crash by someone trying to eek out every last second. Hopefully I'm wrong.

One last tidbit about the valley ride... when you finish up in Los Olivos, or take a break before climbing Fig, you can refuel at the little grocery store on Main St. and most Saturdays you'll see a guy out front bbq'ing some awesome looking tri-tips. That guy owns the place and his name is Steve Dennell. Why am I telling you this? Well, for one thing because he's a really nice guy and he deserves your business, but also because he used to be a very good bike racer. He was a Cat 1 when he was 19 or 20 years old and had a wickedly fast sprint. He and I were teammates for a year on the old Diamondback/GNC team. Here's a picture of him back then.


It seems like I've seen this guy in the RHVilla clothes on nearly every ride I've done over the last month or so. He's out riding solo on the bike path, and sometimes he hooks up with the group rides but never gets caught up in the competitive nonsense. I've even seen him doing some solo Casitas loops. He's a quiet guy and not many people know who he is, so I'm telling you now. His name is Uthman Ray and he's from Goleta but now lives most of the year in NorCal. Doug Knox touts him as a good rider and he certainly looks like he's got the discipline to train hard. He went to Dos Pueblos High School where he played varsity basketball and also got into downhilling and mountain cross racing before turning to the road. I think he's gone back up north, but perhaps we'll see him at some races up there.


Out on the bike path on Tuesday I ran into Robert Neary of the Amgen team as he was doing a big ride from Ventura around Goleta and back, so we rode together for 30-40 minutes. Robert's a nice guy, a Dad, a firefighter, and most importantly, a great draft because he's like 6' 6" or something! Anyway, he updated me about their racing team which is going to be focused on Masters for 2007, and is now led by Keith Ketterer (or KK as he's known to just about everyone). I had known that KK was thinking about leaving Sonance partly because he's a bigwig Giant bike rep and Sonance is sponsored by Specialized bikes. Even though he's just a hack amateur like the rest of us, his bosses weren't particularly pleased about that bike brand mismatch. So he quit Sonance and joined Amgen, bringing along Giant as a co-sponsor. Anyway, I guess his leadership style is a bit more intense and active compared to Jerry Jayne (who is the president of the entire Amgen cycling club). They've got a good group of guys, and with KK's experience and knowledge, look for them to be in the results a lot this year.

More... even though the Amgen Thousand Oaks crit is not currently on the SoCal calendar, Jerry Jayne says they are working hard on putting it on again. Let's hope they succeed.


I've seen some internet debate about the recent USCF rule change that again imposes gear limits on junior racers. The reasons are varied but it seems the primary issues are (1) using big gears can harm a growing kid's knees, and (2) international racing enforces gear limits, and so our Jrs should race with lower gears if they want to be competitive. I guess those are valid concerns. To be honest, I was only vaguely aware that juniors hadn't been under gear-restriction rules in recent times. We had gear limits back when I was a junior, with a 93" rollout which was a 53X15. The new rule allows for a 52X14. I can see that might be a handicap in certain elite races (I still can't get used to calling it "elites"--to me it will always be: juniors, seniors, and masters) but anyone who has been waxed by Cody O'Reilly will know that it is possible to turn that gear over pretty fast!

On the NorCal email list, Les Ernest provides his views and metions the "Greg LeMond rule" that he pushed through the USCF. That rule allowed Juniors to use unrestricted gearing in Senior (uhh, I mean "Elite") races. It came about because of a very exciting race in Pacific Grove in 1978 that 16-year-old Greg won against an all-star field, only to be DQ'ed because he wasn't using Junior gears. I was there, having done the Junior race earlier in the day. We were all outraged at the DQ. Who was the beneficiary of the DQ? Santa Barbara's own Larry Shields was given the win!


Motivation for Blingerman, or just coincidental graffiti? I'm not sure what to think about this. Our beloved teammate--let's call him Blingerman--had an unfortunate crash a couple of months ago and some people in town found it very humorous. You see, he rode through some horse poop and slid out and hit the deck pretty hard and suffered a big bump on his noggin. Being the caring teammates that we all are, we only threw up a few mild jokes about it. So check out the picture on the right. That is a sign along the bike path in the exact neighborhool where Blinger dumped it in the horse dump. Look at the graffiti... it says "Kona" ...what team did Blinger ride for? That's right, Kona. Hmmm.


More seriously, and just a block away from the above, I noticed that there is now a plaque memorializing Doug McFadden in the bridge next to Vieja Valley School. Doug was a great guy who succumbed to brain cancer in the fall of 2005. Doug was a cyclist, but it seemed I'd see him more often at the soccer fields by UCSB where he coached his daughters. Next time you ride by there, take a minute to see the plaque and remember Doug.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pics from 2006

My hard drive is filling up, so before these pictures disappear, let's see if I can dump some into the blog. I'm certainly no Graham Watson or Mark Shimahara, but sometimes I bring my camera to races for fun. And sometimes even just on rides. Occasionally the pictures are ok. Blogger needs them squished down under 100KB so this is what you get... (click on them to see a bigger version, and if you want a full-resolution file, email me and I'll send it to you)

Mothballs Crit -- Local SB showdown between Kona and Fastrack.

Dano drilling it!

Pat Flood and Jim Brewer

What are TnA and Blinger discussing?!?

Pops tries to get away one last time.

San Dimas Stage Race

"Hey guys...let me in!! You know, Toyota-United, Healthnet, Navigators, and... LaGrange!?!"

Amgen Thousand Oaks Classic
For all you guys that get beat by Laura Van Gilder in the Polo Fields sprint... Don't feel bad, that woman can really move. Here she wins the Women's race at the Amgen Classic.

Tony Cruz

Rigo Meza

Garrett Lemire Classic in Ojai
All the 35+ studs showing themselves on the front... Rich Meeker, Roger (Max Kash Agro) Worthington, Greg Liebert, Brian Cook, Larry Shannon, Chris Walker, Dave Hawk Worthington, Chris Choo-Choo Brown, Gus Corona

...and don't EVER forget about Corey!

Chris Walker, Kim Bleth, Cookie, Steve Larson, Craig Nunes

Mike (Chicken) Anderson, Gus Corona, and Roger try to escape

...but it doesn't work and Mark Noble wins the sprint ahead of Meeker and a disinterested Larson.

Good work boys!

Conquer the Canyons Crit:
"Coach Doyle" pulling past the S/F

Now here are some pictures from training rides and such...

The original bike-racer blogger, Erik Saunders, rode with us to Ojai one Saturday. It looks like he needed the miles pretty badly.

Jason has his own follow vehicle when climbing up Figueroa Mountain.

Tuesday fun and games (Mark Be-Lukie, TnA, Mike, Mountain Man Ed).

When Lance rides with us, Takeda hogs his wheel the whole time.

Cookie gives Corey and Ledig "The Look" before smoking them in the Bates Rd. sprint. I guess you could say: Cookieis theMasterof Bates, or something like that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Training - Week 14

The hardest (best?) training week in a long time, with nearly 20,000 ft of climbing. Too much too soon? Time will tell.

Number of rides: 7
Riding time: 18 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 6 hrs
Best ride of the week: From a training perspective, the ad hoc Saturday group ride in Santa Ynez Valley: canyon loop (Foxen-Cat-Drum-Ballard) plus Figueroa Mtn. ~90 miles in 5.5 hrs.
Worst ride of the week: Saturday, group ride in Santa Ynez Valley: I'll have to get my thoughts together for a subsequent post about this ride, but it left me feeling uneasy because there were some unhappy campers.
Other: Played some baseball with Brian McFlurry.
- Did six OSM repeats on Wed, averaging ~19:00 each. That's about the amount of climbing advertised for the road stage of the Las Vegas Stage Race in three weeks. It was tough to do that many, but thanks to some company from Mountain Man Ed in the middle, I was able to finish them all. Sometimes I think intervals are as much of a mental test as physical one!
- OSM on Thursday 15:35 at 90%

Friday, January 05, 2007

My Daughter's Dad is Such a Nerd

No Myspace or Facebook or instant messaging. I don't have an iPod, but I do have a portable cd-player. I don't know how to text on my phone, but I did receive a text message once about a year ago. I drive a minivan...slowly. I thought The 88 was a highway. Oh, and don't ask about my pants... the waist is way too high and the legs are far too straight.

Yes, Weird Al's White and Nerdy is my theme song.

But when you've got a physics project, who ya gonna call??

Yeah, who's your daddy now?! Uh-huh, uh-huh!! That's right, I'm tight!!!

My daughter's Freshman Physics class has a project to build a little car powered by the spring of a mouse-trap. The rules are simple: use only basic supplies from around the house, and no power provided by anything other than the mouse-trap spring. She asked me for help. Cool!! For those of you that are not blessed with any teenagers in your house, you don't really know how significant this is. Asking for help?? Actually acknowledging that a parent might know something useful?? Wow! So I dropped everything and got to work. Immediate trip to OSH for dowel, wood, screws, and of course, a bunch of mouse-traps. Many hours working late in the garage ...engineering drawings, weights and balances, protoypes ...I doubt even the Space Shuttle was as meticulously conceived.

The anticipation was high for the roll-out of Version 1.0 on the kitchen floor. This thing was a beast of a vehicle, a veritable Hummer in scale and mass, ready to crush the competition (literally) if they got in our way. Except for one problem... it wouldn't move. Hmmm, forgot about that darned inertia stuff. The spring would decapitate a little mouse, but it couldn't budge our Version 1.0 car. Damn, now I was both nerdy AND a failure in my daughter's eyes. But I'm not a quitter, so back out into the garage I went, and soon we had version 2.0 ready to rock. Now this one is a sleek vehicle, with CDs for wheels and minimal structure weight. And this one could roll across the garage floor and back. Uh-huh, I'm cool again, uh-huh!!

Here's my top-secret engineering drawing of our Version 2.0 car:

So yesterday the car went through its first test at the school: it had to roll across the floor, straight enough to hit a little ramp at the end, and then go up until its rear wheels were on the hill. It made it easily across the floor to the ramp, and started up the hill, but then ran out of power before getting far enough up. It seems we built it for plenty of endurance, but not enough power. Your basic long-distance road racer with no jump or sprint. Back into the shop it goes. Shortening up the lever arm should do the trick. Only trouble is, now my daughter has taken over and is keeping it at school so she can do all the work. I was just used and then pushed aside. Layed off like an expendable contract worker. Oh well, I guess that's a parent's job, right?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Recovery and a New Year

When your legs ache and your brain is foggy, there's no better cure than some easy pedaling about town. Yes, physical recovery is important--blood flow, flushing toxins, stretching and all that--but it's the mental rejuvenation I love most about these days.

I know some people like to think on their recovery rides...review the week's events, make plans, solve problems. I'd rather just turn off higher-brain activity and focus only on sensory stimulation. The air is so much sweeter when you're going slow, not so much when you're ramming it down your lungs on a real training ride. And there are many sounds that normally get masked by the wind and your pounding heart. You feel the chill of the shadows and greater warmth in the sun. These things at 14 mph are missing at 28.

And sometimes you just have to stop for a while to take it all in. Normally on my recovery ride I just cruise on by the beach and glance toward the islands, but today I rode right out onto the Goleta Pier for a little break. Now I'm no poet, and not particularly articulate, so I can only hope the panoramic picture above will convey how spectacular it was (click on it for a larger view). Every sense was on overload--warm sun, salty ocean spray, an aromatic mix of fish and seaweed, brilliant blue sky and shimmering water meeting at the horizon, children gleefully screaming as a crashing wave chases them up to the sand. These were the ingredients of a perfect recovery ride, and the perfect beginning of a new year.