Thursday, May 31, 2007

We Lost a Good One

Haven't felt like blogging lately... all my typical scribbling is trivial compared to the very sad news we received upon returning from the weekend.

Steve Dennell passed away from a heart attack on Saturday night.

Steve was my teammate and friend many years ago. He was a cat 1 racer at 19 years old and a fearless field sprinter who loved banging bars at 40 mph. Yet he was the nicest and mellowest guy off the bike.

I lost touch with him when we both stopped riding in the early '90s, but then a few years back we reconnected because he owned the market in Los Olivos where I stopped during SY Valley rides. He always had a good word and a smile.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Rest in Peace big Steve. You brightened the lives of all who knew you.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Guilty Your Honor (or, Karma's a Bitch) and Other Mt. Hamilton Stuff

Yummy Mt. Hamilton! I love that road and that mountain. It's fascinating to me how easy it is to get so rural just outside of the humanity-dense SF Bay Area. And it don't get much more rural than the road up to Mt. Hamilton and down the other side!

Thus, I cannot pass up this race ...particularly as it is also a great opportunity to visit Gina's family in Fremont.

The course climbs nearly 20 miles up from San Jose to the top of Mt. Hamilton (over 4,000 ft) in three distinct sections, followed by a wickedly technical descent, and then another 40+ miles of ups, downs, lefts, and rights, through a beautiful oak-studded valley to Livermore.

Last year I made it within spitting distance of the observatory with the front group, but then lost about a minute over the top and rode in with the second group (and got 15th place). This year's goal was to improve on that, but when I saw the guys in the race I wasn't so sure. 60'ish starters, including Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics Cycling), BJM, three BMCs (Jackson Stewart, Ken Hanson, and ?), and a full squad of Cal-Giant Strawberries studs.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Ben Jacques-Maynes was obvious as the field let him set the pace up 90% of the climb. This was perfect for me because, although it was a high tempo, I held on while 40-50 other guys systematically got dropped. Finally, at about 500 meters from the KOM summit, the brutal accelerations started and I popped. I followed pro MTB downhiller Dave Yakaitis (RHVilla) and Eric Riggs (VMG) half way down the descent, but after overshooting a turn I decided to cool it a bit.

Once down in the valley I saw the front group of about 12 guys just 20 seconds up the road. I was trying really hard to get across without blowing up but the gap was holding steady. Now--and this part proved significant--one of the front group's follow vehicles apparently thought I could use a draft, so the driver got in front of me. A nice girl yelled supportively out the window. I suppose I could have waved them off... Or maybe just slowed down a tad... what would you have done? Well, I kept pedaling hard and, yes, got some draft from the car. But within 30 seconds the car accelerated away leaving me alone in the wind again, and a second later I saw the reason, as a motor official came up beside me and waved his finger "no-no". I acknowledged him politely and continued to plug away, still holding the gap.

Finally a group came up from behind with strong-men Jon Eropkin and Vince Owens, big Sal Borrego-Crum, Ken Hanson, and a couple others. I jumped in the rotation and soon we rejoined the front group, which had now swelled to 20 guys.

Wohlberg didn't like the group so big so he made some really hard surges, and by the second feed zone he had pulled away a group of four or five (a Strawberry, K-Klein, a BMC, and Switters?) but surprisingly BJM didn't go with him too. Maybe he gets frustrated at being the guy everyone expects to do the hard work?!? But a few miles later he lit it up and departed our group with a couple more in tow (one BMC and one Strawberry).

So now there were eight guys up the road, and we were down to seven--three strawberries, Ken Hanson, Jonathan, Dave Yakaitis, and moi. As expected, Hanson didn't need to do anything, nor did the Strawberries initially, so us solo guys did the work. Then with ~10 miles to go the Strawberries started working, since they must have gotten word over the radio that their men up front were no longer up front, because Wohlberg and Jackson Stewart were OTF and flying. Didn't matter... 'twas too late anyway, so we sprinted for 9th.

Wohlberg won, Jackson Stewart 2nd, BJM 3rd. Your reported got 13th.

13th... at least that's what the first draft of the results showed. But then my buddy the motor official had to report my badness, so they crossed me off and made a note that I was DQ'ed for motorpacing. Yep, I did it. No point to argue. The rules are the rules. It's not like I got a prize place or anything. The only (minor) frustration is that my infraction didn't gain me anything! Maybe it was just Karma because at Devil's Punchbowl I did most definitely get some draft from a follow vehicle and was warned but not DQ'ed.

Got some fun data from the race, thanks to my new toy (the Garmin 305). Having not used a heart-rate monitor for many years, I didn't really have an idea of where my zones are. This data shows that when at max effort (e.g., trying to hold on at the top of Mt. Hamilton) that my 46-year-old ticker can go to 165-168 bpm. I don't know whether that is good, bad, or doesn't mean beans. TnA will say that without power, it doesn't mean squat. Maybe some day there will be a device that has all the Garmin's functions, plus power, body temperature (sensor plugged into ***), lactic-acidity, and muscle-glycogen level. I'll buy that one.

Other SB'ers went to Hamilton too...

I thought Lindsay was a lock to win the 45+, and true to form, he took off solo on the climb. But it's a long ways to Livermore, and yesterday there was a headwind, so Lindsay was caught and ended up 2nd. Still pretty darned good, and a positive sign for Mt. Hood where he'll be riding with Amgen-Giant and taking on the Safeway and AMD boys. That's be another epic battle. I wonder if those Oregon folks are getting tired of Californians coming up and winning their Masters stage races!

Gary, Jason, and Steve Smith raced the 3's and Gary hung in the front group over the mountain. Coming into the finale, a guy snuck away in the last km but Gary won the group sprint for 2nd. He's got a nice combo of climbing finesse, sprinting power, and tt toughness. Look for good results to continue now that he'll be upgrading! Jason rode strong and finished somewhere between 10th and 15th. Remarkably, Steve finished the race despite being only a few weeks out from broken ribs and other nastiness caused by a car on Figueroa Mtn.

Gary on the podium.

Dano and Pops Larsen raced the 4's. Dano finished strong in the second group but poor Dave suffered debilitating cramps and had to abandon. Lindsay and I let him in on the salt secret, which is guaranteed to solve the cramping problem! Add 1/3 to 1/2 tsp of salt to your bottles of cytomax and you'll be replacing the sodium you lose in your sweat. Once you get used to the taste, you'll think that straight cytomax is too sweet!

Training Week -- 5/21 - 5/27

A good week with a bump up in riding time and climbing.

Number of rides: 7
Riding time: 16 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 8 hrs
Best ride of the week: Solvang loop on Thursday (except for the crash!)
Other: baseball
- went up Mt. Hamilton in ~1:08 in the road race. Was with front group until they sprinted for the KOM with a few hundred meters to go. Rejoined on the other side.
- OSM in ~15:30 at less-than-full effort.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Thumping

Consider for a moment the image of five experienced and accomplished cyclists rolling along in a smooth paceline beside the majestic Pacific ocean. Short pulls, 25-30 mph, pedaling perfect circles at 90 rpm, tight separation... only a few centimeters of daylight between one guy and the next.

Grace and beauty on wheels.

Now picture what might happen if said cyclists are riding on a freshly oiled surface. And the front guy slips and falls...

Yep, five of us (Cookie, Dubberley, Ben, Adrian, and me) all piled on top of one another along the 101 this morning as we returned to SB from a Solvang loop. It's a miracle we didn't spill out into traffic and get squished by a truck. Or in Ben's case, that he didn't get run over by a train because he also tumbled down the embankment toward the tracks!


And there wasn't a CalTrans sign anywhere around. Now obviously we were aware of the recent road work, and that the surface was not its usual consistancy, but we had no idea how slick it was until it was too late.

I'm debating about claiming some damages. We all burned some clothing and some skin. Here's mine on the right. (I'll spare you the full cheek shot!) I tweaked my hip-flexer pretty good, and it may put a Mt. Hamilton ride in doubt, but at least bikes and bones appear to be okay. And my titanium clavicle held up despite landing on that side!

You know, if it weren't for the damage, it would be hilarious ...five guys sliding and piling on top of each other!

But it was a nice ride to use my new toy. Gina got me the Garmin Edge 305 with heart-rate and cadence sensor. Even 46-year-olds get presents sometimes!

I haven't been using data for riding for years--I barely use the functions of a basic bike computer--but this thing is cool. You can display up to eight pieces of data as you ride. I've got speed, distance, heart-rate, cadence, elevation, total ascent, ride time, and time-of-day. And it records all that stuff, plus route with GPS, so you can plot it out later.

Great. More things to waste time with instead of working!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kenny B Pics of West LA Grand Prix

Kenny Brant has a huge set of pictures from the West LA Grand Prix. I linked to a few from my race below. Click on his name above and you can browse through all of his galleries.

Karl Bordine sets a fast pace early...

...which leads to much pain and suffering

The break is established

We chase

Cody corners

Cookie and MarkZen

Daniel Ramsey leads Ben Brooks

Daniel wins!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Schooled by the Pros at West LA College

Another weekend, another bike race ...same result for yours truly. Only this time, school was taught by some dang good pros.

West LA College Grand Prix p/1/2; 1.3 mile triangle course--200 ft down, then flat, then 200 ft up at ~10%; 90 minutes of pain for a 20-deep $3,500 plus $1,200 KOM. Natch, that prize list brought out a few pros... Hilton Clarke and Ben Brooks from Navigators; Daniel Ramsey, Christian Valenzuela, etc. for; Neil Shirley from JitteryJoes; Kayle Leogrande, etc. from Rock-&-Republic, and Cody from SierraNevada. And of course all the top SoCal ubers were there too (fortunately some were a bit whacked from the TT championship the day before) for a complete field of 60-70 guys.

Thanks to a first-lap three-deep prime, the pace was ballistic from the gun. Too fast apparently for some guys because there was pile-up in the first high-speed turn. Cookie locked up both wheels to avoid the carnage but burned off so much tread that he flatted both tires! MarkZen and I squeaked on by and had to go full gas to keep contact and thus started the hill already maxed out. Can you say "ouch"?? Cookie got both my wheels from the pit, but the magnet was hitting his fork so he had to stop again. He chased from then on.

Meanwhile, the pace never slowed on the first few laps while Hilton, Neil Shirley, Daniel, etc. were brawling at the front trying to escape. Their efforts were shattering the field and by 30 minutes into the race, seven of them were up the road--Daniel, Shirley, Hilton, Brooks, Rigo, Cantwell, and a flying Uthman (!). The field, down to about 20 guys by now, kept the break within 30-45 seconds despite excellent marking by a bunch of LaGrangians (working for Cantwell) and a couple SuccessfulLiving guys (for Daniel).

It turned into one of those situations where if, miraculously, we could have all worked together steadily, we'd have been able to get back up there. As it was, there was lots of attacking and surging, followed by regrouping and lulls. The gap stayed small because of strong efforts from C-Walk, Luis Zamudio, Thurlow, Leogrande, Brandon Gritters, and Matt Johnson. (And then, after we lapped him, Karl Bordine put in some great pulls.) I made a few efforts, including once the entire distance up the hill, but my contributions were not much.

Up front, Daniel knew he had to separate the two Navigators so he took off with Ben Brooks in tow. Uthman came off and rejoined our group. With a couple laps to go, we'd closed the gap to less than 20 seconds and it looked like we might be back in the hunt for some top places, but since our field was mostly all single guys (team-wise, not marital status) nobody would bury themselves for the rest.

Despite doing most of the work, Daniel won the race with a leg-busting up-hill sprint against Brooks. Then, not sure of the 3rd-6th order... some permutation of Rigo, Cantwell, Hilton, and Neil Shirley. Let me tell you, them's some freakin' strong bike racers up there!

So the "field" was fighting for 7th. Kayle, Uthman, and a Helen's guy got a good jump at the base of the hill 500 meters out. I left it in the big ring and was bogged down initially, but started passing people as I got on top of the gear and ended up getting 10th. Same place as last week, and in the same scenario, only this time the field was much stronger so I'm reasonably satisfied. Plus, it was one of a very few times that I beat my fellow geezer contemporaries C-Walk and Thurlow. (Of course, those guys don't get too motivated by the lower places, but hey, I take what I can get!)

Click for Results.

Some stats from the race: 36.2 miles in exactly 1 hr 30 minutes. That's over 24 mph average, and doing a bit of math shows that it includes over 5,000 ft of climbing!! Sheesh... no wonder my legs hurt this morning!


Some more babbling...

Being the rumor monger that I am, I asked Uthman for his side of the controversy with Mike Sayers at the criterium in Santa Rosa a couple weeks ago. The background: Uthman is a Goleta kid who graduated DP highschool, went to UC Berkeley and still lives up there. He is moving up fast (Cat 1 as of a month ago) and rides for RHVilla. At the Santa Rosa race, he got in a break with long-time pro Mike Sayers (BMC professional team) and ended up winning the race. Afterward, Sayers blew up at him in front of the crowd calling him every name in the book and generally making a spectacle of himself. Sayers' claim: Uthman said he wouldn't sprint if Sayers would agree to not attack him. When Uthman did sprint (and win), Sayers came unglued. The days that followed saw a ton of internet bitching on both sides, including an explanation by Sayers on Hernando's blog. Conspicuosly missing was any comment by Uthman himself. So I had to ask him for his side. His response was simple... "no way did I agree to give him the win" and despite being pretty torqued at all the bitching going on, he decided to stay above the fray and JUST RIDE HIS BIKE! Right on Uthman ...let your legs do the talking!!


Got some pictures of the Masters races at West LA...


The front group in the 45+ race was dominated by Sonance/Specialized, although by the look on their faces, they are not having much fun! I was surprised to see that Larry Shannon lost contact (that's him on the far right with his face blocked by the pole). By the end, there were four Sonance (Tim Black, Malcolm Hill, Mike Mueller, and Jay Wolkoff) against a lone Dave "Hawk" Worthington.

Those guys are very good at teamwork and Malcolm attacked Dave on the last lap, forcing Dave to chase, which brought Jay to the sprint nice and fresh and so he launched and won the race.

Dave held on for 2nd, which is a pretty good result against those odds.

Malcolm and Tim wobbling in for 3rd and 4th (I think).


Some really strong guys in this race... left to right on the front: Mark Fluss (I think), Pat Caro, Pete Sullivan, and Greg Liebert. These are all guys who could be going toe-to-toe in the p/1/2 fields in SoCal but choose to battle each other in the Masters races instead. There's nice parity now too, unlike the days when Labor Power dominated the 35+ every weekend.

Strong man Jerry Jayne once again got into a great break and no doubt was driving it hard. Pretty sure he had a teammate in there too, along with Greg Liebert and Pat Caro. They finished as we were staging so I couldn't get a picture, but Pat blew them away in the sprint. Now, if you read last weekend's report, you'll remember that Pat had some choice words for me about my racing, so naturally I mentioned it here. Good thing for him, because the ol' mention-in-Fanelli-blog-means-you-win-a-race worked like a charm! He must be like the 50th guy for whom that worked this year! I think he owes me some prize split, don't you??


I watched a bit of the women's races and think I saw fellow blogger Cynthia in there with a strong team from Helen's. I wanted to say "Hi" but couldn't swing it with all the pre-race chaos and stuff.


I did get to chat with a couple former SB folks now living down in LA. Orlando Hutchinson came out to support the Major Motion juniors (early in the AM) and kindly stuck around to cheer for this old dork in the afternoon. I can't believe Orlando is over 50 ...he doesn't look a day over 35! Also saw Marty Church, who conicidentally enough also doesn't look his age. Marty just took on a key marketing job for Accelerade, and is responsible for a lot of the SoCal area. Before you get too excited, he said you can forget about cash sponsorship unless you're winning big-time races! No, the cat 4 Ontario crit does not count as big-time...

Training Week -- 5/14 - 5/20

Lots of steady-state climbing. Looking forward to Mt. Hamilton!

Number of rides: 6
Riding time: 13 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 6 hrs
Best ride of the week: Tuesday climbing out of the fog--OSM-Painted Cave-Stage Coach-Painted Cave w/ Eric plus lunchtime group-ride on TT bike.
Other: some baseball w/ Brian
-Nothing quantitative, but I feel like I can go all day at 90-95% but am having trouble with anaerobic surges.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Miley Marathon

Huge props to Steve and Megan Miley for once again (fourth year in a row) organizing and promoting the Miley Marathon, the most popular marathon in Santa Barbara county. Ok, ok... it's also the only marathon in SB county! 20-30 folks started this morning, and judging by their perky dispositions, you'd never know it was 6:30 AM under a thick and cool fog layer.

Not everyone had plans to run the full 26.2--some were running it as a relay, others as a ride-and-tie, some rode bikes the whole way, and many (most?) intended to pull out at the 17-mile point (Goleta Beach) which was also the finish, after a 9-mile out-and-back final leg. Putting that temptation in there is pretty cruel, eh!?

Lots of smiles for 6:30 AM!!

Rusty Snow ran a 2:43 for the full marathon. Andrew Maxwell and teammate Chris did the ride-and-tie in 2:15. Those are both some bookin' times! I'm sure Steve will list all the rest on his site soon.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Growing Garlic... really easy and satisfying.

You might think, "Hey, why should I grow it's only 39 cents a bulb at the store!" Of course you'd be right that it's not exactly a money-maker, but that's not the point of gardening (except when it comes to tomatoes... no excuse for buying those over-priced flavorless blobs at the store when they'll grow like weeds in your yard or in a container).

But back to garlic... Have you ever been cooking, reached for a bulb of garlic, and found that you were out? Not a problem if you thought ahead, but who always does that?

So, next time you've got a bulb, take out a few cloves and go bury them in some dirt somewhere around your yard. A few inches apart and about an inch or two deep. Then soak the area and forget about them. The ideal time would be in the fall or winter, but I think any time will do. In a few months a bunch of onion-like leaves will have grown and just under the soil that original clove will have swelled and multiplied into an entire bulb (lots of cloves). But the best thing is that you can just ignore it--even let most of the leaves wilt and dry out--and it'll keep just fine. Then when you're cooking and find you forgot the garlic, just go out and pull up a bulb! If you're really on the ball, you'll keep a continual cycle of garlic growing and you can dig up a few ever couple of weeks, let them dry a bit, and you'll always be stocked.

You'll have to determine for yourself whether or not they successfully keep vampires away!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Teammates Are Rock Stars!!

Sorry ladies... these lycra-clad macho hunks are already taken.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Race Reportage--Vuelta Valencia

Not a whole lot to say about this race ...but that won't stop me from spewing forth some verbage anyway!

First of all, this was originally on the calendar as a stage race. Ben Cardenes (Carrerra Promotions) has been trying to put this stage race on each year since around 2000 and has succeeded about half the time. Got to give him credit for trying, seeing as he's the only promoter who's been bold enough to attempt the Acton RR and all the logistical hassles that involves. This year he couldn't swing it and ended up with another industrial-park, single-day crit-like race.

But give him credit again, because he turned the boring industrial park roads into a pretty darn nice course, as shown here. The whole place is on a slight incline, which combined with the steady 15 mph wind blowing, turned this two-hour race into a good hard day.

We had around 50 starters in the p/1/2 race with the only major team being Kahala/LaGrange with all their good guys back from Tour of Virginia. Plus, as usual, the Mezas, Thurlow, C-Walk, Zamudio, etc. Cookie, MarkZen, and I knew we had to try to mark any move with those key guys, and we did it pretty effectively for the first half of the race.

Unfortunately, I'm starting to think that I should just paste the same dang race report in here each week, because it's always the same players, and more often than not, the same thing happens. Yep, about an hour into this thing, a strong group of seven got away from us. Your reporter tried hard but couldn't get on. Right over the top of the incline, C-Walk, Thurlow, Rigo, Cantwell, Zamudio, etc. pulled away. Of course I wasn't alone--the rest of the field wasn't helping either.

They proceded to put a minute into the ever shrinking field, and as the end neared, we were sniping and attacking each other for those prestigious 8th-12th places remaining. One lap MarkZen got out a few seconds from the group, and I was near the front and didn't pull through which apparently really annoyed Pat Caro (Schroeder Iron) 'cause he lit into me like I had just stolen his lunch money. Dude, I'm not blocking ...I just don't want to be seen pulling my teammate back... ok?!? If it bothers you, come on by and get up there yourself. Actually, I have a long memory of little this-'n-thats in bike races and Pat has been kind to me on more than one occasion (i.e., little pushes here and there, open up a gap to let me in, etc.), plus he is a good bike racer, so I completely forgive his transgression today. After the race he admitted it was just frustration for missing the break. I hear ya, bro.

...but I did have a bit of extra motivation now to try to beat him at the end, which I did thanks to a monster sacrificial pull from Adrian Gerritts that closed the gap to Pat and Ryan Yee. I couldn't get by Ryan by the line, but I did go by Pat for 10th. Who cares...

Up front, Cantwell won another race. Coupla weeks ago, he got a stage or two in the Tour of Virginia. This Aussie kid is a motor and, bet on it, he will make a name for himself. Kinda like a younger Hilton Clarke, without all the sketchy slicey-dicey stuff.


Gotta say that MarkZen and Cookie were warriors today--getting in lots of moves--but in the end Mark was hampered by his lingering respiratory problems, and Cookie decided to jam his chain into his bottom bracket. Bummer!

In the 40+, Rob Neary and Fred Hoblit got a nice big gap and then Fred flatted. Rob kept rolling for a good win. At his size, I bet he didn't even notice that the wind was blowing! Teammate Blinger got a good solid 4th. Way to go Bling!

Training Week -- 5/7 - 5/13

Lots of really hard efforts (as in, intensity that I can only maintain for 30 seconds to a couple minutes before exploding) plus one long ride that I really needed to get that fat-burning metabolism going again.

Number of rides: 7
Riding time: 13 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 7 hrs
Best ride of the week: Saturday group ride around Lake Casitas; >90 miles at ~20 mph avg.; didn't plan to go that far and did it on 2 bottles plus one bar so was kind of bonkish at the end. Then raced a 2-hour crit the next day (today).
Other: some baseball
- OSM in 15:19, not 100%
- Discovered a fun new game when riding with Matt and Ben! When one of them is pulling, and the other is 2nd wheel, I sit in 3rd and let them stay one and two. (i.e., open up a gap to let the guy back in who just finished his pull.) Then tell the guy sitting 2nd, that his pull was 0.2 mph slower than the guy on the front. I repeated this each rotation, which had the interesting and enjoyable effect of slowly ramping up our speed from ~22'ish mph to ~27'ish mph!! Meanwhile I get to sit in the draft, and get home quicker!! Ahhh... kids.

Training Week -- 4/30 - 5/6

Forgot to post this last week. Can't really remember much about the week ...Alzheimer's and all (not to make light of that very serious disease)

Number of rides: 7
Riding time: 12 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 5 hrs?
Best ride of the week: San Luis Rey RR... building that tolerance to heat while going full gas!
Other: some baseball

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Connections with the Past

The 50th annual Berkeley Hills Road Race is this Saturday and sadly I won't be making the trek up north to participate. Berkeley Hills has a special place in my heart for a number of reasons. It's one of a handful of races that I've done as a Junior, Senior (or now it's called "Elite"), and as a Masters racer. That realization really hammers home how long I've been in this silly sport, and how old I am!

I first did it in 1978 when it was a crucial qualifier race for any juniors who wanted to try out for the World Championship team. Many of the top kids from all over the west were there and I snagged a 4th place, which combined with my earlier results, qualified me for the try-outs. I recall that Marc Brandt won that year, and Sterling McBride got 2nd. I also remember being called a "F'ing Wheelsucker" by Alexi Grewal after we finished. Pretty cool in retrospect, seeing as he went on to win a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics! (The issue was that Brandt and Sterling were OTF and I was none too willing to help chase... for me it wasn't about winning the race, but rather getting the points I needed.)

But perhaps the coolest thing of all about the race that year is that it was covered by the SF Chronicle, and I made the cover picture of the sports section. OMG that was great for a highschool junior who participated in a fringe sport!! I took everyone I knew into the school library to show them the paper that day. Obviously it meant something to me since I still have a copy today!

I would race Berkeley Hills only a handful more times, but spread out over three decades.

Here are my Berkeley Hills results:
1978: 4th, juniors
1979: 8th, juniors (Gavin Chilcott won)
1981: DNF, p/1/2 (broken chain)
1989: 9th, p/1/2
1997: 3rd, 35+

Other races I have done as junior, senior, and masters are:

Acton RR:
1978: 14th, juniors (LeMond won)
1991: 1st, p/1/2
2004: 3rd, 35+
2006: 1st, 45+

Mt. Hamilton:
1978: 6th, juniors
1997: 1st, 35+
2005: 3rd, 40+ (D'Alusio won)
2006: 15th, p/1/2 (BJM won)

Nevada City:
1977: DNF, junior
1978: 5th, junior
1979: DNF, junior
1981: 30th-40th? lapped twice by LeMond, p/1/2
1996: 2nd, 35+ (Winkel won)
1997: 3rd, 35+ (Matt Sarna won)
2002: 7th, 35+ (C-Walk won)

Wow... writing all that down has brought on a flood of nostalgic memories...

...I'm getting old!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

San Luis Rey Suffering

Perhaps suffering in a bike race is akin to the pain of giving birth ...I wouldn't really know... but there seem to be some similarities. For instance, I'm sure plenty of women have had a change of heart during labor, and wished they could un-do what had been done nine months prior. Same with the bike racer. When all looks hopeless with many miles still to go, we sometimes ask "why did I enter this race?" But generally, in bike racing as in child-birth, the sufferer pushes on through and is rewarded at the end.

Not buying the analogy yet? How about the cramping and general messiness...

But the thing that prompted this perhaps-lame comparison is that, in both cases, time tends to dull the memories of the suffering. Sitting here comfortably on Wednesday morning, three days after the hot and windy San Luis Rey RR, my recollections of the ordeal have definitely dimmed. Consequently, the following race report will not do justice to the agony--substantial I'm sure--but rather will just be an accounting of a few facts, key players, and anecdotes as I recall them. Kind of like the new-baby reports you get... height, weight, length-of-labor, time-of-birth, etc.

But first I have to tell of the interesting science experiment my son Brian showed me within minutes of our high-noon arrival at the race. He discovered that if he put an ice cube on the pavement, remarkably it completely melted within a minute, and shortly after that all trace of its existence was gone! Symbolic??

The facts: 11.5 mile triangular lap, one leg straight and fast downhill, next leg flat with headwind, finishing leg gradual uphill with tailwind. Start half way along the uphill leg. Repeat seven times for 80 miles. 50'ish rider field with full teams from 5-Star Fish All-Stars (fresh off the Vuelta a Bisbee) and Kahala-LaGrange (just back from a successful Tour of Virginia), along with most of the other usual SoCal pain inflictors like Neil Shirley, Thurlow Rogers, the Mezas, etc.

Lap 1: From the whistle, a handful of guys blasted up the hill at full gas trying to initiate the early break. The field did not let go easily and soon we were all in a long anaerobic line with gaps every few riders. Around the corner and five guys were clearly separated, including two 5-Star Fish and at least one LaGrangian (I think). I was the loser at the front of the long line who couldn't close the gap by the top. They flew down the descent and we all bunched up going probably 5-10 mph slower. For the remainder of the lap, 5-Star and LaGrange spread wide across the road and chit-chatted.

Lap 2: More of the same. The early break got out to four minutes, and the wide bodies of Karl Bordine and Matt Johnson continued to clog the front and intimidate any chase efforts. But that all changed when we hit the hill for the second time, as Rigo, Neil, Chris McDonald, and Thurlow blasted off with a couple of LaGrangians in tow. I dug as deep as I could but they slowly pulled away.

Lap 3: At this point, I was in the third group on the road, and was getting a bit concerned that all the places were gone. My only consolation (and hope) was that our group still had some major motors like Bordine, Matt Johnson, Joe Wiley Coyote (CVC cat 2 winner), and Eric Barlavav (San Dimas cat 2 winner). With the new composition of the guys up the road, the 5-Star All-Stars didn't have such good odds, so they started to work pretty hard. I took over on the uphill and rode a tempo that seemed ok to everyone, seeing as nobody ever came by. We held the gap to the Rigo group at about a minute.

Lap 4: More 5-Star pulling, along with some huge efforts by Joe Wiley. This time we hit the hill much harder thanks to Bordine's last surviving teammate making a giant sacrificial effort that Karl then launched from. I tried to go with him, but ended up about 10 seconds back, and the rest of our group exploded behind me. Up front, I saw the Rigo bunch had joined the early break, and they were only a few agonizing seconds in front of Karl, who was still about 10 seconds in front of me.

Lap 5: With the top of the hill looming, and knowing that I had to connect by there, I dug deeper than at any point so far this year. Thrashing legs, hot air scorching lung tissue, acidic sweat stinging eyes... I made contact at the right turn. No way does giving birth hurt more than that! Women do it all the time... this, on the other hand, was epic suffering! Ahem, at least I think it was. Unfortunately I was so proud of this accomplishment that I failed to go with the inevitable counter-attack containing all the real contenders so my visit with the first group was short-lived. Now there were six guys up the road. Down on the flats, I came to my senses and joined a good attack with Celo Pacific's Brent Prenzlow and SDBC's Matt Schechtman. We were quickly joined by a strong aussie LaGrangian (Cantwell) who put in the biggest pulls.

Lap 6: The motor official kept the four of us apprised the gap which was holding at a minute behind the front group and a minute in front of the chasing group. We climbed hard and dropped LaGrange. It sure seemed like the wind picked up down on the flats, and I was having trouble even getting up to do my turns, but we persevered and each of us contributed.

Lap 7: Oh what a welcome sound that last-lap bell... We were all resigned to not catching the front group, and knew that we needed each other in order to survive as the second group, so nobody was attacking yet. Personally, I was amazed that Bordine hadn't come blasting by us, and was still expecting it to happen any time. We pushed on, still in survival mode. Shortly after starting the final climb, we saw Carlos Mayoral up ahead, a casualty from the front group, and that triggered the inevitable attacks. I tried to get up to him cleanly, but Brent clawed back. San Luis Rey is his team's race, and he had supportive cheers from all around the course. He was digging very deep. He dropped me and made it up to Carlos. Matt blew and was out of sight behind. He had soldiered hard and honorably for the last two laps, and left it all on the road.

A couple pics from Celo Pacific...

The lead group coming into the sprint. L-to-R: Dan Vinson, Neil Shirley, Rigo Meza, Marco Rios, Thurlow Rogers. Rigo won for the second week in a row.

My chase group, L-to-R: Brent Prenzlow, Matt Schechtman, and me.

And then we finished.


Statistics: 80 miles in 3:28, ~5,000 ft climbing, 8th place, 5 bottles

Half the field quit, and there's no trace of them. Just like the ice cubes on the hot pavement.

[add/edit: upon further consideration, and especially since Mother's Day is this weekend, I'll rescind my conjecture that child-birth is comparable to suffering in a bike race. Please sweetie, will you let me back in the house now?]

Monday, May 07, 2007

Quickie San Diego Weekend

San Diego would be a really nice place to live if only it weren't so... so... Republican.

We end up visiting there a couple of times a year, and usually have a really fun time. We toured the Midway aircraft carrier on Saturday afternoon. Pretty impressive boat!

The Navy is big in San Diego, and so are the sailors!!

Barrio Logan Crit, 45+, usual O.C. and San Diego suspects. I raced with two video cameras, one mounted on my bars pointed forward; the other on my helmet pointing rearward. I hid in the back at the start because I was worried that the officials wouldn't like the cameras, and as a result I missed the Strickler break that went from the gun (with an initial boost from Thurlow). No biggie, as I didn't really care about this race. Besides, the video from a four-man break would be much less interesting than from the field! I have a lot of film of Thurlow's butt... maybe we can analyze his pedaling in slow-motion and uncover how he puts out so dang much power!

The rear-facing camera worked ok, but it turns out as the race progressed I put my head down more often so I have a lot of film of the San Diego skyline beyond the barrio.

Oh yeah, race results... 45+ national-crit-champ Strickie won; 50+ rr champ Malcolm got 2nd; Thurlow got 5th; Stetina got 6th; your humble videographer got 15th.

When I get some time, I'll edit the movies along with the clips Gina and Brian took from the sideline, and publish a little movie on YouTube. BTW, I was right about the officials... they hunted me down after the race and said the cameras are a no-no. They had a big pow-wow during the race and found a rule against modifying helmets and equipment. At least they were kind enough not to pull me!

The main bike race focus of the weekend was the San Luis Rey RR p/1/2 featuring most of the SoCal all-stars (minus a few at the Gila). This race deserves a report for posterity, but I'm too tired/busy/scattered to do it now so I'll just leave you with a picture of the front group's sprint and a snap-shot of the results page...

Rigo "amazing" Meza wins!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thursday This-'n-That

The highly anticipated show-down in Silver City may prove a disappointment. There had been much local smack talk about the Chris-Walker-vs.-Lindsay-Blount battle in this year's 40+ Tour of the Gila in New Mexico. I fanned those flames as much as possible ...keepin' it interesting and all... but, apparently former 7-Eleven Pro Michael Carter didn't get the memo, and has wrecked it all by destroying everyone in yesterday's TT by 2 1/2 minutes and more!!

I got a bit of an update from Lindsay yesterday. He had the unfortunate starting position just a minute ahead of Carter, and got passed before the turn-around. That shows how freakin fast Carter must have been going. The wind was howling and Lindsay lost some morale, finishing three minutes down, but still came in top-10. J-Boyer (C-Walk's teammate) snuck out a couple of seconds from Lindsay, but I have confidence Lindsay will get those back and more. The biggest surprise (and disappointment) of the day was C-Walk's TT which was very, very sub-par. He lost six minutes to Carter. He has been saying recently that he feels tired, but there must have been something else going on. The TT was in the afternoon and I'll betcha he didn't eat or drink all day. For a dang smart bike racer, he sure does a bad job of fueling and staying properly hydrated. I've got a call into Doug Knox who's playing the DS role for Chris and the Time crew.

Anyway, now we should see some combines and aggressive riding from our SB boys. Stay tuned...

[add/edit: just got an update from the Simply Fit boys after stage 2. Sho 'nuf they went on the attack... first big Kim went out with John Verhuel for a couple hours, eating up the time bonuses. Then when they got caught, Mike Carter's teammate shot out of the group and Mike "Rocks" Wracher went with him, and they had a substantial lead upon hitting the final climb to the finish. Lindsay attacked on the final climb but Carter countered HARD and dropped him and passed Mike too. Stage placings: Carter's teammate 1st; Carter 2nd; Wracher 3rd; Lindsay 4th. Lindsay moves up into 3rd on gc, and Mike moves to 10th! Unfortunately, C-Walk is feeling really bad and was dropped from the main group and really suffered. He's been racing non-stop hard all year and it seems to have wrecked him temporarily. In my opinion, he should bail out and come home and recharge for the second half of the season ...but who asked me!]


Check out the new links over on the right side of the page. Mostly new blogs, and now grouped a bit better. Hey, some more local blogs too!! Follow the exploits of teammate Gary, Echelon's new racers Steve Weixel and Kimberly Turner, and SB's favorite son Cody.

I added Luis Zamudio to the SoCal bike blogs. He's a good racer with an attacking style (on the bike, that is) and he updates his blog a lot.

I added Dr. Nick (Nitro) Theobald's blog in the NorCal section. He raced at a high level in the early 90's and provides yet another example of the addictive nature of this silly sport. It was dormant in him for 15 years but now he's back at it, fighting week in and week out in the Masters races up North. Give him a year or two's worth of training and racing, and he'll be crushing it. Bank on it.

Also added wine-dealer-bike-superstar Mike Hutchinson. He updates a lot too, so take a look.

Finally, one of the most level headed and talented juniors you'll ever meet, Grant Van Horn, is off to Europe with the USA National Team, so he started a blog to keep in touch. Follow his adventures.

I'd love to add more blog links, especially local and SoCal, so if anyone knows of some, please drop me a note. (In a comment to this post would be fine.)


We stopped paying for the Santa Barbara News Press in January because the paper is just so bad now that it hurts to read it. Why has it gotten so bad? It was bought by Wendy McCaw who is a kooky Libertarian billionaire (divorced from cellular pioneer Craig McCaw) and she has been using it as a mouthpiece ever since. When the writers on staff complained about interference from ownership and the editorial side, they were summarily fired. Subsequently, the quality and trustworthiness of the paper has spiraled down into the toilet. The latest example was a deliberately misleading article full of innuendo and half-truths about former executive editor Jerry Roberts and porn that was found on a computer he used. The fact that the computer was purchased used by the SBNP, or that three other people had used it at the paper, didn't stop the paper from implying that it was Roberts who was responsible. Nor was there any mention of the paper's pending lawsuit against Roberts.

I couldn't do justice to all the terrible happenings at the paper, but for those interested, the depressing saga is covered well by Craig Smith and other local bloggers.

Gina and I are sad about all this because reading the local paper together in the morning, with our breakfast and coffee, had been an enjoyable ritual for twenty years. But we will not support the News Press until it regains some integrity and quality.


It seems oddly appropriate that I segue from talking about the SB News Press into a discussion of compost. But there is a key difference...

I love compost!!

I'll admit to being a little weird, but it warms my heart to have a nice pile of compost "cooking" in the backyard. We put all of our plant-based kitchen scraps in there, along with much of the yard waste, and when the mix is right it's simply magical how quickly it turns into the richest, dark and sweet dirt. There are times when I can dig into the pile and the warmth from the middle is intense--like well over a hundred degrees. Other times you can find a massive orgy of earthworms wriggling all around within the moist decay.

I used to think how cool it was to recycle some energy and nutrients back into the yard for the plants to use, rather than sending it off to the landfill. Ideally, I'd never need to buy bags of Super Soil type stuff, because they often contain additives that I don't really want. But of course I draw the line at putting our own bodies' waste back into the yard, so I figured that there is still a net loss in the energy cycle. That is, until I really thought about photosynthesis. If I am diligent in making use of all the kitchen and yard waste, then I am actually adding to the energy and nutrient content of my soil. The plants are converting the sun's light energy--along with carbon-dioxide and water--into chemical energy, some of which we consume as fruits and vegetables, but most of it going back into the soil to feed a entire ecosystem of bugs, worms, birds, and plants. Keeping that ecosystem healthy and thriving is the key to successful, sustainable gardening. That's my goal.