Monday, April 02, 2007

Ojai - part 1

This race is becoming one of my favorites on the SoCal calendar. The atmosphere is perfect--it almost always has beautiful weather; plenty of happy and enthusiastic spectators; nice coffee and pastry shops; great organization and volunteers; and yowza, an incredible course! Come to think of it, this race is becoming the Nevada City of SoCal.

For you locals, next time you see Bob Coble on one of our rides, please say "thanks" for his hard work promoting this race. Bob owns and runs Bicycles of Ojai and he was a mentor for Garret Lemire who is memorialized with this event. Putting on a race of that magnitude is a huge effort and a really special tribute by Bob and many others. Let Bob know you appreciate it.

Anyway, I've got a lot of pictures to sort through (many from Gina, Croy-key, and MarkZen) so I will do (at least) two posts. First, quick recaps of a few races, and other notes...

We started with a small'ish field (25-30?) but some of the usual SoCal motors were present. (No Thurlow however, and he was also a no-show for the pro race!?!) Matt Hahn, fresh off a victory at Indio the day before, Steve Strickler, and KK were all potential winners here. Teammate David "pops" Larsen also made his 45+ debut. A few of us applied some pressure up the hill in the early laps which managed to split the field into two groups, and from there Malcolm Hill (50+ national rr champ) rolled up the road and started collecting primes like the Tax-Man. He wasn't really a threat to stay away solo, but it was nice to tire him out so he couldn't be as much help to Strickler. Pops almost bridged to him, which would have been a potential race-winning move, but the pace elevated and both were brought back. I then tried a couple of times to escape before the end, but couldn't get away. On the last lap, I was surprised that Matt Hahn--the world's only 100% fast-twitch human--try to take the race with a full-lap solo move. Not sure why he did that as he is unquestionably the fastest sprinter in the group. Robert Neary and KK (both Amgen/Giant) brought him back and when we caught him, I shot up the right and went first through the last corner. Now with the finish line like, what, 10 feet past the corner, anybody else would have converted my spot into a sure Vee, but yours truly seemed to be (take your pick: over-geared, pedaling squares, riding in wet cement, or too weak) and Steve Strickler blew by me.

Thus, I got the second step and a beer glass (and $85)...

If you read back a few posts, you'll notice that I said something like "how much you want to bet there will be a break in this race?" with respect to Mike Hernandez' presence. On top of that, you have three-time winner Mark Noble, strong-man Pat Caro, and TT-specialist Jerry Jayne all in our field. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what was going to happen.

Yet your humble reporter, the one who predicted the outcome in advance, the one who supposedly is built to go up hills like at Ojai, the one who knows all the players... was unable to capitalize on the inevitable. Hernando made a couple of good digs before they escaped--one of which came off my wheel dang it--and he finally stuck it with the previously-mentioned motors. Once their gap was around 10-15 seconds, the front of the field was flooded with Central Coast Masters (Noble's team) and Amgen/Giant guys (Jerry's team). They did a great job of marking any attempts to get across and they effectively shut down any coordinated chase efforts. In Amgen's case, it shows class that they buried themselves for Jerry given that he had minimal chance to win. I appreciate teams who let a guy battle even if the odds are against him. There are other teams--who shall go un-named--who would never support one of their own in that situation. Look, at the Masters level, it's not all about winning's about the journey.

So up front (as per Mark Noble's post-race account) Hernando was fighting like a caged animal to escape, and Mark had to keep bringing him back with no help from Pat. He felt confident he could outsprint Hernando, but was worried about Pat who should have been much fresher. Alas, in the end, Noble nabbed his third win at Ojai. Hernando got 2nd, Caro 3rd, and predictabley, Jerry got a well-earned 4th. The field sprint was unremarkable except for an unfortunate crash by Dennis King with a few corners to go. Yours truly snagged the last money spot at 10th.

Cat 2s
I had to scramble back to the line right after the finish of the 35+ where I found lovely Gina waiting with a fresh jersey and water bottle (thanks sweetie). My heart rate was still elevated when we started and I never really recovered for the entire race. Thus, I rode very boringly at the very back. My only contribution to the team was to give Cookie a little push one time, but he says I really just wanted to feel his buns-of-steel. You got me.

Well, both Cookie and MarkZen were active and tried hard to make a race out of it, each getting in some moves, but the finish was impressively owned by Jon Eropkin who made one of those classic end-of-race solo moves that fail 99% of the time, only this time it didn't. He's a class guy and a deserving winner. MarkZen snagged the last money spot at 12th, and Cookie and I rolled in between 20th and 30th. Uhhh, let me clarify that... Cookie went for the win by attacking the hill from the front on the last lap and blowing sky-high, whereas I moved up from around 40th to top-30.

Other notes and comments...

* Other than the Pro race, I didn't see a lot of the action, but some SB folks did well. Carissa got a nice 3rd in the Women 3/4 race. She doesn't race a lot, but she should because she is obviously talented and strong. Jason got a hard-earned 6th in the 4s. The Chicken Ranchers had a big presence in the 3s, but only managed to get Dave Lettieri into the top ten.

* Gina and I talked to Jake Erker a bit. He's doing well and is sporting a Portland tan, that is to say, he's pasty white. His knee is much better, and he made the break in the crit at Redlands after trainig for a week and a half. Must be nice. Laura is doing well also, except for some weird foot injury sustained while trail running.

* Ron Takeda's son won the kids' race and got a brand new mountain bike for a prize! Hey Ron, have you ever won a bike???

* Speaking of Father/Son racing... I counted three sets yesterday: Matt Van Horn (35+ and 45+) and son Grant (2's), Rory O'Reilly (45+) and son Cody (Pro/1), and Mark Noble (35+) and son Chance (3's) (see the picture). That's pretty darn cool in my book!

* Each race went off very quickly after the prior one finished, causing a bunch of people to miss their starts. Locals caught by this include Dano and Doyle, Steve Smith (who I think I even warned about this possibility since he was planning on back-to-back races) and Ron. Also, Vince Owens and Grant Van Horn missed the start of the 2s.

* Former Santa Barbarans Ben Edwards and Marty Church were wandering around Ojai. Ben, a former junior national champion on the track, lives there and still rides with us occasionally. Marty was the founder of the NetZero team and was a pretty decent bike racer himself a few years ago. He's been living in LA since the early 2000's and has a couple kids now. Marty and Ben run The Broadband Racer which is a cool site with video diaries and frequent news about domestic and world pro racing. Check it out. Also, good news, Marty may be moving back to SB soon!

That's all for now...


Olaf Vanderhoot said...

3 races for the Fanelli?

hard man.
- - -

and you're pretty damn butter on a bike ... show off.

Anonymous said...

great job!

who's the weasel in the hi tech jersey?

Kimberly Turner said...

hi--do you know if any of those people you mention above have photos from the women's 3/4 race? It was *almost* light enough for photographs at that point... You can read my blog about the 3/4 womens race at Not quite as interesting, though!

Marco Fanelli said...

OV-I was tired, thus rode at the back. You were an animal. Please confess to being tired after all that. Butter?? Like all fat and greasy? Yeah, that's about right...

Anonymo-That's no weasel! That's a Rat-Fink (per MKA nicky) No, really, that's Larry Shannon who is a good guy and good bike racer. He owns/runs the SoCal cyling reg service; previously part owner of Excel Sports in Boulder; previous Micro$oft bigwig; previous Cat-1 racer from the Northwest...

Kimberly-I don't know of anyone with pictures from the early races (either W3/4 or M45+) but I bet they're out there somewhere on the web...