Monday, August 20, 2007

Ladera Ranch GP, Fooled by my Own Curiosity...

I love Google Earth, and could spend hours wandering around its virtual world. Something very cool about looking down on the terrain and seeing so much land all at once. Even back when I was flying across the country a couple times a month, and could have any seat I wanted on the airplane, I would still choose the windows and stare down for hours. Google Earth is kind of like that, except without the disgusting bathrooms and horrible airplane food.

But now my infatuation with Google Earth is being tested. Here's why...

Since I missed out on the fun fast p/1/2 crit in SLO last weekend, and despite my skinny-ass climber nature, I was thinking about trying the Ladera Ranch GP down in OC. The flyer said "WE HAVE A FAST, FOUR CORNER COURSE!" with all caps for emphasis I suppose. I was thinking, why not, it's good to work on your weaknesses, right?! And it's always fun to go fast. But then I ran into C-Walk out on a ride and he said Dave Worthington said the course has a 60 ft bump in it. Hmmm, that could be a bit more interesting. Since Chris was driving down and offered me a ride, I decided to go. (I could write a whole bunch of blog posts about riding in the car with C-Walk...)

When I got home I fired up Google Earth to check out the "60 ft bump" and lo and behold I saw this picture. The course circled the park in the middle. What the heck?!? That's no 60 ft bump; more like 160 ft! That's a West LA GP kind of course, maybe worse! Could the promoter be so sneaky as to advertise a fast course to get bigger fields? It would be fast alright... on the screaming downhill!!! I started salivating....

Alas, we show up and find the course is as flat as a pancake. Woah! How did Google Earth deceive me so badly? I figured it out on my warm-up ride. This place is a brand new, massive housing tract. I saw how rugged the terrain was just outside of the developed area and realized that they must have flattened the hills to build the houses. It would have been a huge amount of earth to move, but I guess OC developers don't let a little terrain stand in the way of "progress". So, the problem is that Google Earth uses terrain topography data from the USGS and like most government agencies, their data is a bit out-of-date. It doesn't reflect the recent man-made changes. Google Earth drapes high-res aerial photographs over a surface of terrain data, and that's what you see. Dang, totally fooled!

Enough of the geography lesson, on to the race report...

Ladera Ranch GP, P/1/2, 90 minutes, $1,500 for 15 places. Terrain: none. We had ~50 starters but were without the fastest SoCal guys because of the US Crit Championships in Downer's Grove. Of course, there's no shortage of good crit riders here, so it was sure to be fast. A few OC and San Diego teams had 4-5 guys, so it seemed likely that no break would succeed without representation from each. I got in a nice move early on that had good guys but we only lasted 4-5 laps. I went after a few more, but had multi-lap breaks in between. In retrospect, that was too conservative. As per normal, C-Walk was aggressive and spent a lot of time otf solo or with others, but kept getting brought back. Josh Webster (SC Velo) was also active, and spent a few laps alone out there despite a fast chase by the group. These are good clues about who is feeling good and frisky. I should have paid very close attention to them. With ~20-25 minutes to go, a solid group of C-Walk, Josh, and former star Jason Bausch got a nice gap. I didn't want to contribute to chasing down Chris, and I understand he didn't help chase me down, but of course I was hoping somebody would do the deed. SDBC and CyclingScience made some efforts but it wasn't enough and soon the trio had 25 seconds. C-Walk said later his pulls were 2 mph faster, but that he appreciated Josh's contribution. He also knew JB was conserving for a sprint. So they stayed away. Josh pulled the last lap, JB won the sprint, C-Walk got 2nd, and Josh got 3rd. The field ramped up with 2-to-go and I spent some energy moving up to about 6th wheel but when things got dicey in the tight turns, I backed out. I passed just enough people in the sprint to snag 15th place, the last money spot. C-Walk got $275 (plus another $75 from Michelin) which will keep him fed for a month. I covered my entry.

No more crits til Mothballs.

5 comments:

Steve Weixel said...

That google earth picture looks like it was printed on a shrinky-dink!

Aram Dellalian said...

Ahhhhh, C-Walk. January-October, haulin ass, giving rides, taking names, otf. The Michelin contract! I almost joined that club, but it didn't happen.

Hey...during the off-season when there isn't anything to write about...I prey that you dig into the c-walk vault and share some of the stories. If not publicly, I'll head north to do some rides up there, perhaps then??

I really liked this entry.

Marco Fanelli said...

Thanks Aram. Yeah, I've got a soft spot in my heart for CW. How many people do you know who've been so dedicated and singularly focused for 20 years?!? I've certainly accumulated a few C-Walk stories over the years...

Sweixel- a shrinky-dink?? I'm not sure I want to know what that is...

Anonymous said...

I've taken two car rides with Chris. One 16 hour trip to Casper, Wyoming and the return home. Coming home we drove straight through. He also did Redlands with our team one year. I could tell you some stories too, Chris is one cool cat. I knew he was pulling faster, I didn't realize it was 2 mph! I really thought he was going to ride me and JB off his wheel with about two to go.

Josh

Marco Fanelli said...

Thanks for commenting Josh, and I hope you continue to visit!

Like I said in the post, your multi-lap solo was very impressive. As we were ripping along at 28-30 mph and you were a full straight-away ahead, I remember thinking "man, how is he holding that?!?" BTW, that was me who gave you a little push after you came back (I think it was you). Not that you needed it!