Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fired Up for the Rest of the Season

This is the view I had down my street upon completing my ride Tuesday afternoon. It looks like a nuclear bomb exploded in the back country, but in fact it's just the plume of the Zaca Fire that has been burning for over a month now. On this particular day, the fire had no impact on my ride, which consisted of a 30-mile jaunt up 101 at 22 mph average, then the 15-mile Tuesday lunch-time hammer fest at ~26 mph, plus another 5 miles to make an even 50 in under 2 hr 15 min.

But not everyday has been so good lately. Many of the roads up in the mountains are still closed and there's a lot of fire equipment on the others. Plus, some days the air is so full of smoke and ash that you really wonder if training does more harm than good.

Here's a good map of the fire area, showing how large it is in relation to the South Coast communities. Amazingly, in all that area, only a single structure has burned and that was just some out-building (whatever that is...)

I did sneak up Painted Cave Rd. last week and I witnessed a major brush-clearing effort by the firefighters and the forest service along the ridge. E. Camino Cielo Rd. would be the last line of defense should the fire start heading in our direction. That seems very unlikely now that they have containment on most of the southern border.

But this post isn't supposed to be about the Zaca Fire... rather, it's about my realization that this 2007 bike racing season is rapidly coming to an end.

And I'm not ready for that.

My legs are starting to feel good again, and I'm fired up for a few more races.

C-Walk and I had talked about possibly going to the Tour de Gap in Utah this weekend. It's a two-day, four-stage race with some of everything and it looked intriguing. I use past tense because now that it's only a couple of days away, neither of us is interested anymore. The thought of racing up to 10,000 ft elevation wasn't too appealing either.

So, instead maybe I'll head to the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix down in the OC. Or perhaps not, since no teammates seem too excited about it. We'll see.

But we're going for sure to the San Ardo RR and the University RR the following weekend. San Ardo is a flat-to-rolling, big-loop course straddling the 101 north of Paso Robles. Most times it ends in a field sprint. University is just a bunch of hill intervals on a small loop. Most times it doesn't end in a field sprint. One thing about both these races that may prove interesting is that they're part of the season-ending Cal Cup competition for NorCal. That means they're certain to get bigger and higher-quality fields than the Velo Promo early-season races. BTW, winning the Cal Cup is a BIG DEAL up there. Just ask Bam-Bam ...he won it a couple years ago in the p/1/2 class!

The following weekend (Labor Day) has three more Cal Cup races up North. The very challenging Challenge RR, the hilly and technical Crockett Crit, and the long-running Giro di San Francisco. Hmmmm...

But then the calendar is a bit sparse until...

The Everest Challenge on September 22-23. Only time will tell whether, for this reporter, that becomes a race or is just a pleasant tour of the Eastern Sierra. In perusing the results over the years, I see a lot of strong riders who DNF the second day. That's pretty ominous.

And then that's it. The road season is done.


Emily said...

I have actually found that the women's fields start to shrink at this time of the year. Not sure why that is -- burnt out after a long season, taking time off for summer vacation, preparing for kids to go back to school?

Marco Fanelli said...

All the above!

Every year I marvel at the few guys/gals who race every singe weekend from Feb through Sept. That's a huge commitment, and a demanding lifestyle that most people can't handle. I know I can't. The only reason I'm fired up about this final month is because I had a nice long break during this summer already.

Gary said...

Fired up! You had ants in your pants on Tuesday's lunch ride putting the hurt on all of us. Let me know when you want to go do some big hill days.