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!

15 comments:

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

sounds like mt. ham was fun. I need to do that race next year! I wanted to go this year, but because I was still a 4 (i finally got enough points for upgrade if I want now...after last weekends good rides at Kern) the race didn't quite have the same 'magnitude....' (i.e. not that much climbing) Maybe next year....

Sounds like you raced well especially considering that road rash episode earlier in the week on the freeway (very scary BTW...you're so lucky everyone was ok!)

Congrats to you, and Gary, too! And I'll have to try out your salt trick...as I was feeling the legs get close to cramping last weekend, but thankfully it didn't happen.
-k.

Gary said...

Thanks Marco for the unjustified kind words. The climbing finesse comment had me laughing out loud. Upgrading doesn't sound like fun. Getting dropped by the likes of you week in and week out would be discouraging as all hell. Who do I need to convince that having a separate Cat 2 group makes sense?

...and Congrats for climbing so well (and fast, 1:08 WOW!) with that elite bunch.

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

and bummer about your drafting violation...but you know how you did :-). That was going to be my consolation if I had gotten DQ'd last weekend for my CL violation, but thankfully I didn't because of the circumstances....and I consider myself warned :-)

--i heard that Ben Jacques-Maynes' brother, Andy, got in a bad crash today at the san jose crit--hope he's ok. Too much crashing this week!

Aram Dellalian said...

Ahhh...I was lucky enough to do Mt. Hamilton once. It's a weird profile...I always wondered why they didn't finish up that climb. Anyhow...that definitely is the MOST wicked descent i've ever seen a USCF official allow. TOO fun!

Marco Fanelli said...

Kim- you're right... no point to racing Mt. Hamilton if you don't actually get to ride over Mt. Hamilton! The Isabel Creek start is silly in my opinion. I don't know anything about the AJM crash as we left monday before the crits. Hopefully all is ok...

Gary- not unjustified at all.

Aram- yep that's a good descent! And just to keep you on your toes, there's a cattle guard in the middle of one particularly sharp left-hander. Even though we were the first group down the hill, there was still a helicopter and emergency vehicles tending to somebody! Perhaps a non-racer cooked a turn a bit too hard?! Lucky for him/her that there were EMTs right there for the race.

TnA said...

HR is a "red herring"....ya friggin' cheater!

dr-nitro said...

Careful about getting too obsessed with numbers. Power is relative too, since it power to weight on hills. Plus strategy. Plus aligment of the stars...

I pulled off my number spitter first thing when i stopped renewing my license years ago. How far did I ride? Far enough. How fast? I heard the wind past my ears. I got me a Garmin for the cool mapping stuff, but am finding myself obsessing the numbers again, and even contemplating strapping one of them things around my chest. But again, I'm pretty sure that my heart is beating everytime I mount the bike. That said, I'll probabl do it, since I'm really feeling the need to train so I can get me that v that should be coming my way after you mentioned me in your blog.

Good job at Ham, cheater.

dr-nitro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marco Fanelli said...

Yeah Nick, same here... vulnerable to obsessing about the numbers. So far, it's ok because this is the time of year I start to burn out, and if the numbers help me get out and ride, then it's all good.

So, you said at Mt. Ham that when school is out you'll be able to train more? As in, full-time over the summer?? If so, that'll mean some good Cal Cup results come August and Sept!

Cynthia said...

That is fascinating data from your Garmin! You are a great recover-er. I have one of those too, except my newbie-at-physical-activities heart likes to take it's time to recover and my HR graph is more like a flat line that stays in Z5. But alas, that is why I am a Cat-4. Definitely interesting to see the HR of a seasoned rider!

- Cynthia

dr-nitro said...

That's right, the big time training schedule coming soon. Other than trying ot find someone to pay me to crunch some numbers (I have no problem feeding other people's number obsessions), I should be able to log in some serious miles. And yes, Cal Cup is the target.

Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

I'm yet another number-obsessed cycling fool. I vowed I would not let the data get to me, and yet I find that very thing happening! However...I don't look at the HR monitor during races anymore...becuase it psyches me out...and then I just look at the data afterwards and have fun with it then. I enjoyed having the data from Kern...I should put the power data up soon and then we can all analyze away!

And dr-nitro: you do know that victory thing after being mentioned on this website does work...it seems to be failsafe! It even worked for me...and i barely got a mention at all!

Rocks said...

Good job Marco, making us old guys proud! That race has an especially bad mark in my memory - rolled a front tire chasing on the descent one year. Not a good place to be chasing hard. Bummer on the DQ but hey... I woulda done the same.

Velo Bella said...

You got Dq's because it made it easier to add in rider #2 that they missed first time. Cuz otherwise, a DQ seems kinda harsh. But when its convenient, why not?

Marco Fanelli said...

Yeah VB, #2 was Sal I think, and he seems like a good guy. So ok... if that's what it takes to get him properly placed in the results, well that's ok by me. Especially since I really did draft the car. Of course, if the official had used a bit of discretion then he'd have seen that the misdeed was very brief and didn't help me any.