Monday, July 02, 2007

Manhattan Beach Bum

It's hard to get motivated to write reports for races in which you sucked. I could just pretend Manhattan Beach GP never happened--or that I didn't participate--rather than admit to my weaknesses, failures, and general lameness.

But then this blog would be no better than the Santa Barbara News Press, our local paper that never publishes any story that might cast itself in a negative light. In fact, this blog would have no content at all if I did that!

So yeah, I raced Manhattan Beach. And I was a bum.

The course is basically an extended criterium, about 1.3 miles per lap, traveling back and forth along opposite sides of a narrow park. A couple little bumps make you shift, but never out of the big ring, and they're short enough that a good draft pulls you up and over with out any extra effort. The highlight of the course is the Chevron Spin Cycle, a cute phrase from Ralph Elliot to denote the fast sweeping final turn before the sprint. It's taken out hundreds of racers over the years.

45+ for 45 minutes; Big field, maybe 100 riders, lots of motors and sprinter types. And Thurlow. Half way through, I was on his wheel as he ramped up and took a prime ...and then kept going. He pulled away me and Jim Edwards (Simple Green) and we quickly got a pretty good gap. After a lap or two, I saw a group of three coming up fast and about to catch us. They were maybe five or ten bike lengths off. I was pretty red-lined and figured I'd sneak in a bit of a rest by dropping back to them, and then rejoin the rotation all refreshed in our new, bigger, happier group.

Yeah, I know... that was a really stupid idea. We never rejoined. Turns out they were pretty red-lined too. A couple laps later we were absorbed by the field. Thurlow and Edwards were only about 20-30 seconds out there, but that's a hard gap to cross when they're going 27-28 mph. I tried a few times but the wind slapped me around and said "No Way". Kim Bleth gave it a go with a couple laps left but he was denied also. Sonance and Simple Green had things under control. Thurlow won. Edwards 2nd. And a mob sprinted for 3rd with your reporter sitting in the back taking notes.

Note to self: Never, ever, ever give up contact with the break until you're bleeding out your eyeballs and about to puke. Skip some turns; absorb the heckling; don't be a moron!

There would be another chance...

Cat 2; 60 minutes; Huge field. No single team had more than a few guys. The race would be chaos. MarkZen, Cookie, and I all had the same primary goal--get in a move and work to make it stick. We tried, we really did. We each got in a move or two but nothing ever got more than about 10-15 seconds. 100 galloping guys behind saw to that. I felt bad for the SC Velo guy I went otf with one time. His pulls were 150% of mine but he never complained a bit. Sorry dude. With 6-7 laps to go, Jonathan Eropkin (CVC) took off and got a pretty nice gap. He had a guy with him at first but then dumped him and continued on solo. He stayed out there until a couple laps remained. Wanna know what Jon's pre-race-day ride was? The Climb-to-Kaiser, a 155 mile slog from baking-hot Fresno up into the mountains! We're not worthy!!

So on bell lap the inevitable chaos unfolded. No single team to take charge, not even a couple of teams. I tried to bring Cookie up toward the front, but after getting part way there, he realized he had a soft tire and couldn't go through the turn. So I sat up and resumed my note-taking duties. I observed a turbulent mad dash down the back stretch to the last corner. Ventura's Mike Easter (Time Factory team) went into it third wheel which is pretty much the perfect spot. Once he straightened his bike out, he bolted for the line and won in a photo finish. Nice job Mike!


Other races I saw bits of...

SB's Kieren Cox got a nice 3rd in the 4's race. He gave credit to our Tuesday lunch-time rides for getting him fit enough to stay up front. Sure that helps, but all his racing at the velodrome probably did more for his ability to keep that position than anything else. 14-year-old Brandon survived a harrowing crash all around him to finish in one piece also.

The pro women's race was a clinic put on by the Cheerwine team with occasional-SB-resident Laura Van Gilder taking the win. Once again, any SB folks she's beaten in the polo-fields sprint... don't feel bad. That woman is FAST!

35+ was a field sprint. blah, blah, blah.

The pro race...

This was an exciting one. I missed the early going as I cooled down and changed but when I got back, Daniel was off the front solo. What a horse. Hopefully his knee trouble is behind him and he can continue to put in these really exciting performances. BTW, his gap was starting to fade when they rung the bell for a $500 cash prime. He gutted it out one more lap and won it!

The field had a strong SoCal flavor with SuccessfulLiving, LaGrange, and the All-Star Fishes being very active, snagging primes and sending guys up the road. But the buzz from the crowd was all about Ivan Dominguez, who was tail-gunning every lap. When would Toyota-United bring him up and start trying to control the race?

SB's Adrian looked good and was often near the front. Sure would be nice if he were riding for our team instead of LaGrange...

Look at Neil Shirley leaning in the Spin Cycle!

Well, with a few laps remaining both Toyota United and Rock Racing started massing at the front. Tony Cruz, being VIP status, was allowed to hang up there too. Every one else... take a back seat. This would be a showdown between Bahati and Dominguez.

...and Bahati would take it!

For those who are really bored--and you must be if you've read this far--check out the full-length video coverage of the MBGP races at IBN Sports.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I feel ya about the "bum race reports"...but it can't always be "our day" eh? Keep on keepin on! I saw your name on the pre-reg list and was hoping I would finally get to meet my fellow blog buddy! Next time...

Marco Fanelli said...

I'll be lookin' out for blogsters at La Mirada!

Cynthia said...

I'm inspired to leave my own bum race reports. I have been hiding out since I can't seem to break out of the bottom half of the results, but I can see it's just more real to see the whole journey. And, as my brother says, You can't have a rags to riches story without the rags first.

I too was hoping to actually finally meet you this race, my fellow blogger! I even watched the Cat-2 race but couldn't tell which team was from Santa Barbara, the team that that Marco guy is from...

Next time! No races for me this weekend, will you be in San Marcos?

- Cynthia

Marco Fanelli said...

Hi Cynthia-

I saw you briefly in the W3/4 race but had to get ready so couldn't cheer or say Hi. One of these weekends... Not sure about San Marcos yet.

Good talk about the whole journey! We wouldn't want to be those people to whom success comes so easily!!