Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hey Folks, Let's Cool It a Bit

Is it just me, or has there been a recent surge in aggression in the local and regional bike-racing scene??

Not just slice-'n-dice riding; I'm talking about real fighting, or close to it.

Must be the summer heat.

Let's see... last week a couple of on-again-off-again hot-heads almost came to blows before the start of the Thursday 8:00 roco ride. WTF? It's a beautiful morning in Santa Barbara... you're about to go ride a bicycle while the rest of society marches off to work... and you want to fight? I don't get it.

Then I get word of a skirmish during local Sunday Worlds a few weeks back. Punches were thrown, bikes got tossed, and F-bombs were dropped all over Goob canyon. What gives? Was the issue really that important? Did people (or person) crack when heart-rates went over 200 or they got dropped? BFD!

Tempers flared even yesterday on our weekly Tuesday lunchtime love-fest. Seems some folks don't like the sorta unstructured nature of the thing. Something about accelerations and pulling through ...or not pulling through. I dunno, it seems to me everyone can get what they want out of the ride without imposing rules. I like riding it as if we were a break-away, which means if the speed drops and I feel good, I'm gonna pull through faster. Not attacking, just a reasonable acceleration. Maybe it's time to try something else on Tuesdays anyway...

This phenomena isn't just local either. Nor is it limited to the male side of the sport. Check out this thread on the SoCalCycling forum:

San Pedro Skirmish

Woaah! I had the apparently-false impression that women racers were a lot less confrontational and generally more supportive of each other (at least face-to-face). Actually, I still think that's true. Perhaps last weekend was the result of some long simmering problem between just a few ladies. Seems like an anomaly, not the norm.

Maybe not so rare on the men's side however--another thread from that forum, which started off with a video from former-SB-boy Coulter Cederloff:

Ontario video

Dang! What's a light-weight like me to do if your typical LA crit involves a lot of body slamming?? Make's me glad I never see the front anyway! (Hmmmm... my heart-rate just elevated a few beats thinking about racing for that final turn at Manhattan Beach this upcoming weekend... anyone want to try to get away with me?)

And then a few weeks back I ran across this thread on Rahsaan Bahati's blog. Again, I won't even pretend to understand what goes on at the front when these guys are racing for the win. But I have been head-butted out of line at the end of Masters races a few times, and it sucks. Move in on me if you need to--maybe I'll lean back on you, maybe I won't--but no hitting, k? Back to Bahati... it appears from the comments to his post that all has been forgiven and folks are back to respecting one another. Good outcome. In any case, I really like the All-Star Fishes and how they race together.

And don't go thinking this is just a SoCal thingie either. Up north is not all hugs and kisses, at least according to some of the blog smack. In the highly competitive geezer races, it seems Safeway and AMD/Disco have had some altercations this year. Maybe there's a long history going back to when these guys were battling in the p/1/2 races, and some of it bubbles up from time-to-time. I don't know, so I really shouldn't talk/write about it. Ooops, too late. Fortunately, it seems like most of those folks have a pretty strong mutual respect for one another, even if tempers flare occasionally.

Oh yeah, if you haven't seen it already, check out the awesome video of the big-money p/1/2 race in Stockton last weekend. Pertinent here is the crash in the closing laps as emotions and heart-rates rise. Does it look to you like a blatant push started that carnage? BTW, I'm from Stockton, I can assure you that pavement was HOT!

So what are we to do? Well, for one thing, please remember that we all have a hell of a lot more in common with each other than with the population at large. As cyclists, we generally respect our bodies and our environment. We understand competition and hard physical effort. We shave our legs for crissakes! Let's reserve our anger for the morons in over-sized SUVs that get their kicks by buzzing us as we ride. Scorn the idiots who throw their trash by the side of the road, break bottles in the streets, and flick cigarettes out their car windows. That's the kind of anti-cycling behavior that should incite your anger, not some fellow cyclist who doesn't ride his/her bike exactly the way you want.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Looking for Green Grass on This Side

The alarm went off at 6:00 on Saturday morning, but laying there in bed I just couldn't rally up the enthusiasm to drive down into LA for yet another bike race. I'm sure the San Pedro Grand Prix was a nice event, with a water-front course and a bit of undulating topography, but a quick mental check-list of pros and cons came out heavily on the side of not going. Thing is, the items on that check-list have been the same all year, only this time my conclusion was different. Hmmm.

Summer's here and the time is right for...

...well, lots of stuff. In fact, stuff that's been sounding more and more appealing than training and racing.

Playing with kids more now that school's out. Brian and I have been talking about doing some ocean kayaking. Sheesh... we live two miles from the ocean and we hardly ever go play in it any more! Paddling up and down the coast sounds awesome!

Guitar Hero. Looks addicting. 70's and 80's music... yeah, that's a video game I could see playing with them.

Yard's a mess, and garden area sits 50% fallow.

Dates with wife.

Long discussed remodel. Gotta take the first steps.

Read!!! My piles of books and magazines are becoming a fire hazard! (Not to mention, my brain's turning to mush.)

Write User's Manual for really exciting computer simulation.

OK, scratch that last one... nobody from work ever reads my blog, so no sense in fibbing and suggesting that work sounds more appealing than riding!

The point is, the grass is starting to look a lot greener on the other side of the fence. I know, you're asking "what is this metaphorical other side of which you speak?" Well I'll tell ya. It's the side where the normal people live. You know, the normal middle-aged men who mow their tidy lawns on Sundays, and go boating on the lake, and watch baseball on TV in the afternoons. Guys who go to In-and-Out Burger and who eat dessert every night. The ones who stay up late and sleep in on the weekends. Men who have careers and are climbing the ladder.

Am I the only mid-40's obsessed cyclist who gets hit with an overwhelming this-is-not-normal feeling?

I knew it would hit sometime this year. It always does. Usually about now in fact. Knowing this, and wanting to conquer that deamon, my primary objective for the season was, well, to actually make it through the entire season. By that I mean staying fit and continuing to race 3-to-4 weekends a month.

It's now gut-check time.

So instead of racing Saturday, I set out to do an epic ride with the goal of reaching 15,000 feet of climbing, and stay within easy and tempting bail-out proximity of home. If I could reach the 15 kft, then I might be able to convince myself to continue on with the training and racing. On the other hand, if during the ride I rationalized that, say, 6,000 ft was enough, then I'd know I've cracked and maybe should give in.

Fortunately, I ran into Lindsay part way into the ride, and then later Cookie kept me company. They probably each wanted to climb harder, but I knew my only hope of making it would be to keep my pace moderate. Discipline--one of my many weaknesses--was also being tested along with commitment.

It took 7 hours, but I did reach the 15 kft goal and it rejuvenated me to an extent. The flood of endorphins probably helped too!

So I'll look forward. The race calendar is not terribly exciting for the rest of the year. Manhattan Beach and La Mirada are nice SoCal races. I'll miss Sisquoc since we'll be up north for Gina's 1/2 Ironman. Maybe we'll take more trips up there for some NorCal races. Perhaps find an out-of-state stage race or something new. Cascade would be fun, but that's during our narrow vacation window and the kids are wanking at the prospect of driving to Oregon. One possibility is Everest Challenge. I swore I'd never do that freak-show race, but that's really just because I knew it would crack me. It certainly fits the criteria of being something new. Plus, I am a freak... maybe I should just accept it!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Training Week -- 6/18 - 6/24

Did some really long, moderate-paced rides... burnt dat fat!

Number of rides: 6
Riding time: 20 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 6 hrs
Best ride of the week: Saturday, 7 hrs and 15kft of climbing
Other: nothing
- Saturday's ride: OSM-PC-Stage Coach-SM Pass-West Camino Cielo-SM Pass-Stage Coach-PC-Goleta-OSM-PC-Repeater-PC-Goleta-PC-Repeater assorted hills through Goleta neighborhoods to make 15,035 ft of climbing (according to Garmin).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pics from the Pro Race at Nevada City

Rather than do even more max-heart-rate hill intervals, I decided to take some pictures during the pro race. I think I suck at photography even more than I do at bike racing, but what the heck... at least it's free.

(As always, click on the pictures to see full-size versions.)

I caught MarkZen trying to channel some of that old USPS Lance Armstrong magic.

...and he would need it against this stacked field on this very challenging course.

The crowd eagerly anticipates the start. At its peak popularity in the 1970's and 1980's, the spectators numbered in the tens of thousands. There was a deafening wall of sound when you climbed the hill. It's not like that any more, but it sure beats an industrial-park crit.


Into the first corner they go. That's Ned Overend in the red Specialized jersey. Anytime any of us start whining about being too old, think of Ned. In his 50's and battling for a top-10 at Nevada City!

And again on lap two!

Dave Towle and Eddy Van Guisse, two of the best announcers in the country, working with a great crew of officials.

Within a few laps, an elite front group is formed. They fly down the hill at 45 mph.

The downhill gives you a brief respite before going max-effort back up the hill again. Over and over again.

Pat Caro between a Rock and a Strawberry.

Vince Owens leads a group down the hill.

Jon Eropkin between groups.

MarkZen leads a group down the hill.

This is what they see. They reach speeds between 40 and 50 mph through the start-finish, and then they hit an off-camber sharp left turn immediately followed by another one.

The lead group.

When going into this bang-bang turn, you really have to trust the guys beside you and infront of you. And vice-versa!

30+ mph and no margin for error.

MarkZen takes his own line through the turn.

Meanwhile, away from the chaos on Broad St., many of the residents on the upper part of the course use the race as an excuse for an afternoon party! What a concept... residents and businesses actually like this race!

Cresting the hill in front of the party.

Sayers was active early.

LaGrange's Marco Rios putting the hurt on a BMC pro.

Vince calls it a day. He got a bad start in the back, otherwise I think he would have been a survivor and a top-25 finisher.

How many crits do you see with a neutral water feed?

Gavin and helper keeping the BMC boys fed and informed.

But they couldn't keep up with this guy, Darren Lill of Navigators rode away to a comfortable solo win.

He looked really smooth.

Marco Rios had a great day, riding the last third of the race with Scott Moninger and Tony Cruz. In the end, I think it was Moninger 2nd, Cruz 3rd, and Rios 4th.

Not This Year

Oh that was hard! Nevada City masters race. 35+ and 45+ combined. From the very beginning I felt maxed out every lap up the hill and could not respond at the critical times. I've got a bucket load of excuses but the only one worth a damn is that I didn't train hard enough and I didn't train properly (for this race anyway).

Take a look at my Garmin data from the race; heart rate and speed shown in the graph. For reference, my max heart rate is ~175. Ya think maybe some intervals might have been a good idea sometime before this one???

Anyway, the race was great like always. As has been the case all year in NorCal, the masters was a battle between Safeway and AMD/Disco with some skirmishes from CVC too. From the gun there were little moves with representation from all the above, and at about 20 minutes, we were just bringing back one such dangerous escape when billy-goat Chris Phipps decided to eat some hay in "The Corner" and unfortunately took down Bob Pasco too. That bit of chaos provided just enough diversion for Hernando, Dan Martin, and Jeff Angermann to scoot on up the hill. Later, Angermann would take himself out of that move on the same corner, only he ate pavement and not hay. (I think everyone is ok btw.)

Half way through, the Safeway duo had 30-40 seconds on our rapidly decreasing group. I kept my eye on 45+'er Kevin Metcalfe since he was twitching to get up the road, which he finally did. I had nothing to respond with. In the closing laps, the only 45+ guy left in the group was big Bubba Melcher who I have about 0% chance of beating in a sprint, so my only option was to attack. Just one problem... I was already maxed on the up-hill (i.e., I *was* attacking ...just to keep contact!) and the downhill is so fast that a light-weight like me goes backwards unless on a wheel.

So Hernando won--good job Mike!--and Dan Martin got 2nd. Nice that they share the wins. Metcalfe barely held on to get 3rd overall and 1st 45+. Bosch from CVC won our sprint (3rd 35+) with Angermann next, and maybe another 35+'er in there. I tried to come around Bubba, but he just laughed and beat me by a bike length.

Click the pictures below if you care to see the score board...

Training Week -- 6/11 - 6/17

Was pretty whacked most of the week (from last Sunday's cramp-fest) but got in a few hard efforts. Then of course, there was Nevada City...

Number of rides: 6
Riding time: 9 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 2 hrs
Best ride of the week: 1/2 of Saturday Echelon ride
Other: nope
- OSM in 14:54

Friday, June 15, 2007

Any Gold Left in Nevada City for Me?

Imagine some old miner who's been toiling away in the Gold Country for years and never found anything. He dragged his family out west in 1849 with great hope and promise, but the reality never even came close. His back aches, his wife nags him, and his kids are hungry. Life sucks.

But just think how his heart rate would skyrocket if one day he saw a big shiny nugget in his pan!

Autobiographical? Well not exactly. I've toiled away at the Nevada City Classic in each of the last four decades, and never come away with any gold. So that part is similar. And I have to admit that my heart rate rises even just thinking about racing there! But my back doesn't ache, my wife don't nag, and the kids are most definitely not hungry. Life is good.

So this weekend I'll try again, panning for gold in the 45+ and then the p/1/2.

I'm guessing my odds of getting a nugget are better in the 45+. Less than 20 guys are entered so far, but a couple will be tough for sure. Somebody needs to explain to Larry Nolan that it violates several laws of physics for him to power his mass over that Nevada City hill every lap. And I'm hoping Kevin Metcalfe is confused and shows up with a tt bike. My best chance will be to hitch my wagon onto one of the 35+ horses (35+ and 45+ race together, picked separately) and hope no other old geezers can hang on. How's that for a strategy??

The p/1/2 is a whole different beast, and I reserve the right to not even start depending on a million factors, most of which I will dream up later.

Anyway, let me continue on with this vowel movement and dump a little personal Nevada City history on you...

I first did this race back in 1977 as a junior who was a fish totally out of water. Correction... I was a fish on another planet. I got dropped almost immediately and surely was lapped before the half-way point.

I came back in 1978 after spending a week at the Olympic Training Center in CO Springs, and I was a confident and cocky junior fish back on earth. On my new white bar tape, I wrote "Win Nevada City!" and other motivational messages. Note: yes, I was a dork even back then. Well, my junior friends Mike Bunds and Steve Pera just couldn't stand it, so they graffiti'ed my new white bar tape. Thus, I spent the race reading "I am a gronk" and "I won't Win Nevada City"... Ahhh, I loved those guys! But they were right, I wouldn't win. I got 5th.

By 1979 I was in my last year as a junior and it was time to try again. Trouble was, I'd just graduated high school, and accordingly, I had about seventy-five other priorities higher than training. Note to self: Nevada City is not a race to do if you have not been training. Sho 'nuff, I was dropped like rock and DNF'ed. 'twas a bummer because that year I was on a junior all-star team of sorts (Palo Alto Bicycles), and we were all getting a nice stipend to help with expenses. (I should be so lucky now!) And after the humiliation of getting dropped, I told the team boss to stop sending my stipend.

After a year off, I returned in 1981 to race with arguably the strongest field ever at Nevada City. I was once again a fish out of water, but perhaps just on earth this time. You see, that year Greg LeMond came back to Nevada City from Europe with a couple of mysterious Euro teammates. And of course, that meant all the best-of-the-rest in the US showed up too. (BTW, for some more nostalgia from the race that year, suffer through this post a bit longer...)

It wasn't much of a race. LeMond lapped everyone ...twice! Actually, if I remember correctly, a couple guys were only one lap down. Fortunately at Nevada City, they often don't pull lapped riders, and in my case it was clear why. Zero chance of confusing me at my speed with anybody actually in contention. Place? who knows... maybe 40th?

Fifteen years later (1996) I returned for the 35+ race and was the last one to hold on to a flying Glen Winkel. No gold, but silver wasn't bad.

Next year (1997) was bronze for moi in the 35+ because I rode like an idiot. Matt Sarna and I were away, and I was too apprehensive to attack him even though he wouldn't pull. Then Brian McGuire caught us in our sprint! Natch, I got 3rd. BTW, I miss Brian ...where is he?

Last time I did Nevada City was 2002. C-Walk'ed away from us to win 35+ solo. I got 7th in a surprisingly large bunch sprint for 2nd. My lasting memory from that year was a bit of wisdom imparted to me from good 'ol Roger "Max-Kash-Agro" Worthington. Rog said after the race, "Fennell, if I had your sprint, I'd attack more." Only later did I realize he was insulting me...

So this Sunday, 30 years after my first mining trip to Nevada City, I will try again. Let's see if my legs can put Roger's advice to work!

OK, now about that nostalgia I promised a few paragraphs back... I already confessed to being a major pack-rat so it should come as no surprise that I still have the program from the 1981 Nevada City race. Admittedly that's a little embarrassing, but on the outside chance that anybody might find it entertaining, I've imaged the pages listing the pre-reg'ed riders from that year. Most have a bit of biographical info. Some were already superstars. Others would become super-stars. Some are still racing today. Some are known to SB folks. I circled a few names.

Click on the image if you want to view it full size and read it.

The cover. They charged a dollar!

Page 1. All about LeMond and Eric Heiden. BTW, I had done a night-time crit in SLO that Heiden attended, and he was absolutely mobbed by Cal Poly coeds. I'd say he was the first Rock-Star bike racer.

Page 2. Wayne Stetina is still racing!

Page 3. Gavin Hein had been a hot-shot SoCal junior who was on the powerful North Hollywood Wheelman junior team in the late 70's.

Page 4. I think you might still find Alex Osborne, Shin Umeda, and/or Jim Rogers in an occasional NorCal masters race. Mike Bunds was one of my best friends. He's now teaching Geology in Utah, and racing motorcycles, riding MTB, and skiing.

Page 5. Now, when they ask you for biographical info for a race program, and you know that guys like LeMond will be in there, what are you gonna to say? Uhh, yeah... I got 14th in the Berkeley crit and 9th at the Crockett-Martinez RR. Wrong! So, instead I thought I'd give a little anecdote, only they messed it up. It wasn't Nevada City, it was Land Park crit. Oh well.

Page 6. A few Santa Barbarians and others of potential interest.

OK, so if you've read this far, I hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane. That many of the folks listed in these pages are still active in cycling shows what a great sport this is. Either that, or we're all losers who can't do anything else...

'til after Nevada City...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shake-'n-Bake Jake; Cody On the Front

Former SB resident Jake Erker has been getting some nice press time recently. Despite taking a couple of multi-week breaks this year to rehab a sore knee, he's still snagging some good results. E.g., 3rd in the first stage of the Tour de Beauce, Canada's biggest stage race. Check out the video of stage 1 below (if the embedded video doesn't play, go directly to YouTube to view it).

The week before Jake got a couple top-20s in the prestigious Commerce Bank races in Pennsylvania, including at Philly where he had this fun time going into the final sprint. Check out the panicked look on his face! Yet somehow he made it through to get 17th.

photo © Charles M. Herskowitz

Current SB'er Cody O'Reilly (4th in line here) is also back east and probably riding on the front of the field at Beauce RIGHT NOW as I type this because his Kodak/SierraNevada teammate Mark Walters has the gc lead. Hopefully all those long Lake Casitas loops are paying off for Cody now!

BTW, if you missed it, Cody got a nice 4th at the Tour of Sommerville in New Jersey a few weeks back. That's one of the classic US races, and even dad Rory did it in the 70's!

Now, if only Cody would update his blog then we could get all the details of this and his other adventures back east!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Visiting Purgatory, Then Wisdom from a Zen Master

I raced in Bakersfield yesterday. It was hot. It was windy. There were approximately a billion goat-head thorns on the road. Based on how my lungs felt, I'd say hydrocarbon molecules were more prevalent than oxygen in the Bakersfield air. And the scenery was... well, click on the adjacent picture to experience its full glory.

Yet it was a terrific day that I wouldn't trade for anything. You see, it's all in your perspective. I'll get to that in a minute.

SoCal District Road Race Championships; Oildale, CA; p/1/2; 8 laps 80 miles.

I arrived a bit early to watch the 35+ and 45+ races and maybe take a photo or two. Two things immediately grabbed my attention. First, Thurlow was racing the 45+ event. Hmmmm, does he know something I don't? (Well, undoubtedly he does, but the question was with respect to yesterday's races.) Second, I was sweating buckets just standing and watching. Not good.

12:30 rolls around and it's time to race. 50 or so guys toe the line, including most of the usual SoCal protagonists plus a few who typically race up north, like Dirk Copeland and Ozzie Olmos, both CalGiant Strawberries.

For me the race had four distinct parts, acts of a play if you will.

Act 1, (laps 1-2) Flirting: Field rolled out and the typical attacks began to fly, mostly from 5-Star Fishes and youngsters like Benjamin Bradshaw (VMG/USA U-23 team) and Skyler Bishop (Kodak/SierraNevada) and we (MarkZen, Cookie, and I) were able to be in most all of them. Soon however, big Karl Bordine was OTF solo and rolling good. Now the remaining All-Star Fish went into full defensive mode and chased down any bridge attempts. C-Walk mentioned to me that Karl will cramp, and to not worry about him. Sure enough, he started coming back to us and when we got close, Rigo Meza and Matt Johnson (5-Star) bolted out of the group with purpose. I knew this was probably the race-winning move and scrambled my way into it.

Act 2, (laps 3-5) Dirty Dancing: Initially 12 riders in the break. Rigo, Matt Johnson, Ozzie Olmos, C-Walk, Freaky Fridays Aker and Githens (AKA Hair Bear), Jorge Alvarado and Marco Rios LaGrange Mexican National Team, Ben Bradshaw, Evan Lawrence (RHVilla), Cookie, and me. As per usual when trying to establish a move, this mutha hurt for the first 10 minutes. Unfortunately we lost some horsepower too early. Matt flatted, Cookie and Ozzie popped due to unnecessarily brisk uphill pulls by the Freaky Friday lads, which apparently even cost Aker his spot in the dance. Or maybe he hit a goat-head too--I don't know, he just disappeared. Anyway, we were down to eight and getting time checks that we were two minutes clear. Mostly we were working well together. Hair Bear was a horse, and yours truly was meekly pulling through so as to not draw unwanted attention, VMG Bradshaw was an energetic puppy. But rather than rejoice in our collective good fortune, C-Walk started getting a bit peeved about the lack of full commitment by a certain pair of LaGrangians. Like a pavlov dog with rabies, such negative racing in a break will bring on the Vampire attacks. Every freakin time. And when the first seven don't get the message across, he'll follow it up with another seven in a row. No mercy. On the 5th lap, C-Walk cracked the break in two. The irony is that the three that stayed with him are the three that he felt weren't committed, but when you think about it, of course that is what happened! Rigo is so talented that he could win under almost any circumstances; the LaGrangians had numbers, so why should they bury themselves. In any case, it was now Chris against the Mexican Mafia.

Act 3, (laps 6-7) Humped-and-Dumped: So while the front four motored away toward a gold medal and championship jersey, our quartet moped and whined about being used and abused. Well, that's not totally true. Hair Bear Githens was still upbeat and encouraging, and apparently full of gastric gasses as he ripped some wicked burps. I was envious since my belly was sloshing with disgusting half-digested cytomax which would periodically make the return trip to my mouth. And then the cramps hit. Initially just little annoyances, but soon expanding to full leg seizures requiring immediate 100% attention. Remarkably, with a bit of muscle punching, each cramp subsided enough to keep the bike moving forward. One new experience I had was pedaling, then feeling like the pedal was broken, only to look down and see that my foot was pointed like a ballerina's and locked in that position. It would only release after I grabbed my leg and forced it down. Weird. Anyway, the remnants of the field (about 20 guys left) were on our heels and VMG and RHVilla gave up the ghost. Githens and I labored on for another lap before getting absorbed, and that extra lap was due only to him as I sat on 80% of the way. The guy is a bonafide motor.

Act 4, (lap 8) Purgatory: I got caught and summarily spit out the back with some fellow rejects. Now if only I could have ended the misery right there. But no, those bastards slowed down enough that we had, had, to try to rejoin. Damn it, we did. By now my cramps were continuous. Once one subsided, another one hit. Do you watch Seinfeld? You know how Elaine dances? Horrifying isn't it?! Well, Elaine's dancing would be the epitome of grace compared to my pedaling style on that last lap. At the front of the race, the Mex Mafia dropped C-Walk and Rigo handled the one-two LaGrange punch to win the race. Our rag-tag bunch was sprinting for 5th. Nick Brandt-Sorenson tried to go early, but got 50 meters and melted. Then Dan Vinson and Aker took off. They didn't melt, and got 5th and 6th. I came in 10th.

Results for the curious.

After the race I slumped over my bike and moped about my physical ailments, and the absurdity of getting popped from the winning break by my supposed friend. The absolute definition of self pity. Then teammate MarkZen rolled up and was bubbling with optimism and good talk. When he sensed it was not catching, he gently scolded me for being too negative. He made the analogy to his tennis-playing days, and hitting the ball with the sweet-spot of the racket, and how good it felt and how he could feed off that sensation, bringing his game to a higher level. The analogy in a bike race is being in the right place at the right time to win the race. A real Zen Master could have fueled off of the mere fact of being in the winning break, and probably ridden a higher level because of it. Good talk MarkZen.

So as time wore on yesterday, I turned toward the positives. I mean think about it, we got to race bikes with and against good like-minded people on a safe and challenging course ...with full road closure no less! Those of us racing from SB had a great group of folks supporting us in the feed zone. Team bosses Jimbo and Druber along with young Charlie Blingerman were awesome, and the highlight of every lap by far was reaching the orange tent containing those friendly faces and cold bottles! Dinner afterward was a blast too.

I love bike racing.

Yo, other races happened yesterday also...

SB's strong contingent of 3's made a nice showing, with Matt Benko getting Silver (barely missing gold!) and all the TGI/Hazard's boys finishing strong in the front group.

45+ was the Thurlow and Sonance show, as per normal. He yo-yo'ed off the front trying to bring along some teammates in order to stack the podium, but in the end he had to go solo. Notable: David Pops Larsen rode the 45+ after already racing 50 miles in the 4's, and he finished well in each. Kim Bleth rode strong, making it into a break at one point. And the careful observer will notice that Karl Kaiser Weber raced yesterday. Right on Karl!

35+ was taken by John Rondash, after hanging just out of reach for much of the race. Surprising to me that Cynergy, Central Coast Masters, and/or Amgen couldn't or wouldn't pull it back. That's bike racin' for ya! Good to see Larry Niday out there looking strong.

Some pics of the 45+ and 35+ (as usual, click on the picture for a full-size version)...

Turbo pulling Stricky away from the field.

Steve holding on.

Dave Worthington scooting up the hill.


More carnage!

35+'ers suffering.

Liebert pulling.