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...


Kimberly (aka. DrKim) said...

--i guess your "mention someone in a blog and they win" thing happened again...for my very next race after you added my blog to yours (and mentioned it in a post), I, too, won my first race! :-) yeah!

Gary said...

nice job with the top 10. I wish I knew about this race, I would have come down to do it...Gary

Marco Fanelli said...

Kimberly, Good job on the win. Sounds like Kern was a really fun time!

Gary, You should check regularly at both and where the race schedules are kept. You would have enjoyed yesterday's race and would have done really well.

Aram Dellalian said...

Mike Sayers is what, 4 times Uthman's age? What a jerk. What a "professional". Well done Mark: for the 10th place, and also for showing the other side of the sayers-drama. Rock out, Uthman, if you read this.

Marco Fanelli said...

Yeah Aram, I think the real issue is how Sayers (over)reacted and the impressions it left with people watching the race. Probably nobody will ever *really* know what was or wasn't said between him and Uthman. My guess is the truth is somewhere in between, as in, Sayers misinterpretted and/or Uthman was ambiguous. I don't know Uthman well enough to fully take his side, but he has always come across to me as a solid and sincere guy. Not honoring a "commitment" doesn't fit what I would have expected. I don't know Sayers at all, but I do know and respect some of the guys who support his side. But also some guys who don't have the highest opinion for him. He's obviously a tough competitor and as such, has probably pissed off some guys over the years. At the end of the day, it's just silly bike racin' and not a fight to cure cancer or end world hunger...

Anonymous said...

Hi! I see you kicked some a** at WLA! That is, if you are fellow blog buddy I am thinking of :-)! Top 10 in that field and you kicked one of the "free lappers" arse! WOO HOO! That's a super congratulations!


dr-nitro said...

Wait, what is this thing about being linked on your blog and winning the next race. Where's my V?

This Sayer's thing sounds so damn familiar. In fact, I remember a similar situation in Santa Rosa between Roberto Gagioli, Chris Huber and Eddie Gragus (sp?) way back win. Gragus hopped on their train and told them that he would not sprint them if they just let him join them. So Gag and Hubes were working it out between the two (basically it was Gag telling Chris how to let him win) and Gregus attacked. The Silver Bullets reacted in time and got 1 and 2, but the little Italian came unglued (apparently he is pretty skilled with a 2x4 lately). So, it must be something about Santa Rosa.

That said, even if this guy said he would not go for the win, there is no excuse for a public explosion. Have your words in private, and let your friends and teammates know that he cannot be trusted (if that is in fact what happened) and the next time he says this (again if in fact he would) then those who hear it will immediately attack. In fact, I found myself in a race with Gragus a couple of months after his Santa Rosa affair, hearing him yell at somebody in a small group we were in about how this person could not sprint cuz he was not working. I laughed, and beat Gragus in the sprint.

But again, where is my win for being linked to your blog?

Marco Fanelli said...

G, yep 'twas me. I wish I'd known you were there 'cause I'd like to say "Hi". Also wanted to say "Hi" to Confusciously. Anyway, the "free-lapper" I was mentioning almost always beats me, but he was having a bad day Sunday so I just thought his little stunt was funny! (But still glad to beat him...)

Nick, it's even better than just linking... all it takes is a mention of the name! Only caveat is that we never know *when* the victory will happen!! If you keep racing, I guarantee you'll get lots of them.

dr-nitro said...

Okay, that kind of reasoning is why I have such a difficult time teaching students about causality and probability and the notion of a falsifiable hypothesis.

I want my V, and I want it now!

Anonymous said...

my bet is on on Sayers side of the story being right. I don't think he would get mad without a good reason.

sounds like this kid got a good ass chewing that was rightly deserved and taught a lesson about some cycling etiquette. something that has been lost over the years by the newbies that think they are the shizz.

you gotta pay your dues and earn respect.

Marco Fanelli said...

Anonymo- We'll never know for sure what happened. I offered Uthman the opportunity to respond on my blog but he said he'd rather just let it go and let his legs do the talking. I think that's cool. In my opinion, Sayers could have made a stronger impression by taking Uthman aside and calmly telling him exactly what he thought. Uthman says he tried to talk to Sayers but that he wasn't being rational. I'd say it's over now.

Eddy's Blog said...

Regarding the comments on May 22, 2007 I would like to defend myself a bit. It appears as though not everyone knows the complete story of myself, Gaggiolli and Huber that day in Santa Rosa. The real story was that Gaggiolli and myself jumped away on the first lap of the race and I had told him that I would not sprint, because I knew this guy could beat me anyway. So he and I stayed clear on the wet and technical course for half of the race and I put in my share of work. Half way into tht race Huber brdged up to us and I told him that I would not sprint for the win. He scolded me and said that, "you won't sprint for second either." I called BS on this and as we approached the finish line I stayed true to my word. I didn't sprint for the win. As they let Huber or Gag, I don't remember which, go ahead by about one meter I threw my bike to get second, which I felt I deserved because I did my fare share of work the first half of the race. They freaked out! How could anyone disrespect the Coors Light Team. I was a slolo rider in those days and was just trying to get from one race to the next, and I would do what it took to do that, but I kept my word when I gave it, and this was no exception. That day pretty much made me a mortal enemy of their team for the season and they did not give me an inch. Still, I managed to beat them, without a team, in Casper Classic and several other races before turning professional. That is my two sense and if I have anything to recomend to younger riders reading this it would be: Don't give people sh** but don't take it either, never.