Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chop, aka Bike Sumo

This reminds me of a game I played with my friends when we were juniors. We called it "Chop" and the rules were simple: Use a reasonably small area, like a parking lot or a basketball court; keep your feet on the pedals and your hands on the bars; ...anything else goes. Head butts, T-bones, hooks, whatever. If you crash or put a foot down, you're out.

It was a blast, and it probably helps bike-handling skills too. Maybe I should play some more...

Training Week -- 2/18 - 2/24

Rain and rib...

M: 0
T: 0.5 hrs; part of lunch ride
W: 1.0 hrs; trainer while watching ToC
Th: 1 hrs; OSM, moderate effort
F: 0
Sa: 5.5 hrs; Ojai
Su: 0

Total riding time: 8.0 hrs

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stealing (?) Bandwidth

Our cable modem died a few days ago so I've been sporadically connecting to some random unsecured wireless network(s) around the neighborhood.

It feels weird. Not exactly illegal I suppose, but somehow it seems a bit wrong. Can't quite think of the right analogy... it's not like tapping into their utilities like water or electricity, because my usage isn't adding any expense. Maybe it's kinda like hiding in the bushes and peering through a window to watch a pay-per-view movie. That's creepy, and I don't think it's a good analogy either. I guess the only real impact on the owner of the network is that my use could slow down their access. For that reason, I won't upload any of my Tour of California pics and video until I fix my own modem situation. I guess I also won't watch today's live coverage either. Sigh...

Why do people leave their wireless router open anyway??

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wasting a Wednesday

Not much to do other than laugh... the absurdity, but not too hard 'cause it hurts. But laughing is nothing compared to a sneeze or a cough, which are both absolutely excruciating. Even trying to snot while riding is a pain. So I went to the doctor and got an x-ray which revealed a broken rib sorta like this illustration. Broken 9th rib on the back left side.

The bad news is that it'll take 6-8 weeks to heal. The good news is that I can still ride at 80%-90% intensity, and the only limitations seem to be maximal efforts (really hard breathing hurts) and pulling on the bars, like standing climbing. Of course, a crash would be bad too.

High-five for the 805!

The 805 dominated the p/1/2 road races up north last weekend. At Cantua Creek, Cookie went off early with a couple other guys, but when they couldn't pull he just said "see ya" and continued on solo. For 65 more miles!! It's an out-and-back course so his pursuers could see him after each turn-around and yet they still couldn't pull him back. It helps to have teammates and friends in the group to discourage the chase, and Gary and MarkZen played those roles perfectly.
Result: Cookie 1st, Gary 2nd, MarkZen 3rd. The 805 sweeps the p/1/2 podium.

Kudos also go to Jason Hannon who rode aggressively (of course) and pulled down the Silver in the Cat 3 race.

The next day at Pine Flat saw a bit larger p/1/2 field, including some additional strong 805 riders. Earlier this year I predicted that Ken Hanson would win 5-10 races, but I would have laughed if you said one would be a hill-top-finish RR. Yet that's what he did. Ken Hanson came from behind to out-sprint climbing stud Vinny Owens to win Pine Flat p/1/2. And that's after he did a Saturday Casitas Loop slug-fest with Bam-Bam, Cody, and Daniel!

MarkZen sprinting for 4th with Uthman, Unknown, and Jonathan(?) just behind.
So the 805 takes 1st, 4th, and 5th. Nice.

Prof Smitty continued a string of hard-fought top-10 finishes in the Cat 3 races.
...and Chesta snagged a top-10 in the 4's.

All the above pics were lifted from Bo Hebenstreit, Alto Velo rider and photog extraordinaire.

While a lot of the Platinum boys were up north, a gaggle of Chicken Ranchers headed to Arizona for the Valley of the Sun Stage Race. It sounds like they had a blast and did the 805 proud. Read Matt's entertaining report for all the sordid details!

Other SB'ers out in AZ included Adrian and Anna, doing the Pro Mens and Women's races, and Jill Gass in the 35+ Women's race.

Like I said before, bike racing in 805 is hot right now.

Training Week -- 2/11 - 2/17

Changing up the format of this weekly boring post...

M: 2 hrs; OSM twice + Tabata Intervals
T: 1.5 hrs; warm-up + Cat Oaks lunch ride
W: 3.5 hrs; Solvang loop w/ da boyz
Th: 1 hr; OSM on MTB (19:00)
F: 1 hr; around Goleta on MTB
Sa: 2 hr; Hecky MTB race
Su: 3.5 hr; Worlds

Total riding time: 14.5 hrs

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Immersion Approach to MTB'ing

I'm a bit lubed up on fermented grapes and hops, along with 800 mg Ibuprofin, so excuse me if this post is not perfectly coherent. Or should I say, even less coherent than usual. More on the lube later...

So here's the story in a nutshell. I last dabbled in MTB in 1989 when my friend Hans got me a pro deal on a bike. I'd go out with him and his pro'ish buddies and provide entertainment for them by crashing on every technical descent we'd encounter. Then one time I endo'ed into a huge patch of Poison Oak, and got the worst full-body case ever documented. Even in places that were tightly enclosed within protective chamois, if you know what I mean. That was my last ride in the dirt.

Until today.

Fast forward 19 years to this past Wednesday when I finally assembled my new bike. Thursday I rode it up OSM (19:00) and Friday around the roads of Goleta. Still no dirt ...I saved that for today, my first ever mountain bike race.

Now I don't know how to write a race report for a MTB race so I won't even try. I like how Dave Lettieri described what to expect: "a hectic sprint off the line followed by a long time trial". OK, but what about the crashing and being scared sh**less parts?! Dave's comments were well intentioned I'm sure, but he's too much of an old pro to give the real advice so I'll do that below.

But first, for all the SB locals, have you lately bowed down and expressed your appreciation to Mr. MTB in Santa Barbara? Mike Hecker is amazing and deserves huge kudos for all he has done and continues to do for this community. It's a small group of folks who labor long and hard to bring us events like this, and we owe them a huge collective thank-you.

THANK YOU MIKE!! (...and Trish, Charlotte, and Evan too)

And man-oh-man what a beautiful venue the Chamberlin Ranch is! I imagine that's what California looked like 200 years ago. Somehow Mike contorted an 11+ mile course onto that land as shown here:

So yeah, I "raced" two laps on that course. I crashed four times on lap #1 and none on lap two. I must have unclipped 10 times on #1 and maybe only two or three on lap #2. As a consequence, my second lap was about 4 minutes faster than #1. That made me happy, since it meant I was capable of learning. Like a lab rat.

Now I'll share with you some of the lessons I learned today. It may be that these nuggets of info are only applicable to other rookies who take the immersion approach to MTB racing and do their first dirt ride in an actual race ...I don't know.

1. It's a good clue that you're a bit too anxious for your race if your dream the night prior is of you riding along a single-track trail with live Land Mines along the edge.

2. Do not watch videos like this or this before your first race.

3. That number that they give you when you register? Don't pin it on your jersey goes on the front of your bike! (Thanks Dave)

4. Just because the sidewall of your tires says you can inflate them up to 65 psi, don't do it. (Thanks Roger)

5. Just because you can clip into your new pedals in your driveway while holding onto the car, does not mean you can clip into them during a race after stepping in a cow-poo pie.

6. Speaking of cow poo, when racing through a cow pasture, you might want to back off that rider in front of you. I discovered today that cow poo has an oddly sweet taste.

7. That little teeny chainring really does have a purpose! And it's good to remember to shift into it before you've bogged down to 1.3 mph.

8. Say thanks to your friends who don't call you a wussy just because you got scared at a downhill and decided to walk your bike in front of them even though everyone else rode down it no problem. (Thanks Mondo)

9. Don't pass people on the uphill just because you can, if you're so slow on the descent that you'll be obstructing them on the other side.

10. If you get yourself a fancy-smancy bike with cool suspension, don't get so nervous that you forget to unlock your forks so you ride the whole race with no shock absorption in the front. What kind of dumba$$ would do that?!? (me)

11. Quit looking down at your rear tire's not flat, that's just the rear suspension working!

12. Don't look off the trail. I crashed four times on the first lap because my front wheel followed where I looked.

13. Don't hold the bars in a death grip the entire race unless you want a hand-cramp that lasts the rest of the day.

14. No point in carrying two full bottles if you don't heed lesson #13 above.

15. It turns out that you can flip over completely backwards if you try to ride up a steep enough hill. Should you try to determine this yourself with a little real-world experimentation, let me suggest that you NOT do it on a rocky slope while wearing no helmet. Nobody gave me this valuable yet obscure advice before today, so naturally I tried it. The result seems to be a cracked rib and bruised hip. Thus the lube job.

I have some pictures to post but my battery is about to die, so later...

[Sunday morning] After re-reading what I wrote last night, I realized I neglected to mention the dominant thought running through my feeble brain, which is that the race was an absolute and total blast and so incredibly fun that I can barely go 30 seconds without revisiting some aspect of the day.

OK, pics... mostly of teammates from the second wave of races (expert classes) but a few other notables too...

Team Platinum Performance dominating the expert field.

Steve Silva and Ron side-by-side, and Specialized rep Bob Meeker (in black Bearpaw kit) in back of them. I remember Bob racing for UCSB and SBBC in the early 1980's, so yeah, he's put in some time in the bike biz.

Bobby Langin Sr. getting some air. I haven't gotten to know Bobby yet but I bet he's got some stories. I googled him (not to be creepy or anything...) and discovered he was quite a BMX star back in the day. And more recently completely dominated the SoCal 45+ cross scene (didn't he win every single race?) but the funniest thing google coughed up was the picture down below. That's Bobby Sr. getting sideways in front of Mark Noble.

Ya think Bobby is having some fun yet?

Ron and Joe White coming over the hill. If Joe ever trained, he'd be one of the best guys in town, but on this day he was eating Ron's dust. (Of course, so did almost everyone else too.)

Roger intensely focused on the drop. He broke his hip in a crash last year and certainly doesn't want to repeat that. Takes some guts to get back out there!

Our semi-pro teammate Jamie looking, well, quite pro.

Bob Nisbet won his age group on Saturday and looked really smooth.

As did Nick...

Looked to me like Steve Silva was smiling the entire race ...or was that a grimace?

Mark B-Lukie looking sharp. Mark acquired that nicky because a couple years ago on Painted Cave he suffered a crash just like Joseba Beloki's horrible fall in the TdF.

Steve Bertrand grabbing a bite to eat while descending. Is this the accepted manner for MTB racers to fuel?

A gutsy race from Platinum gal Stacy.

Frazer rode a single-speed bike. That boggles my mind. I probably used every single gear of the 30 available combinations at some point or another, yet he did the entire race with just one. How?? ...and why??

Bellas are everywhere! It's really cool that no matter where you to race in California, and no matter what flavor of race (MTB, CX, Road, or track), you're likely to see some Velo Bellas competing and having fun.

I must have done half a dozen hard road races last year with Ozzie (pictured here) and I don't think he knows me but I know him because he is not afraid to pull hard and work--which I usually view from behind with great respect and humility. I had no idea he was also an accomplished rider in the dirt. He and his fellow Cal Giant Strawberry just rode away in the Pro/Semi-Pro race.

And last but definitely not least, this is Michael "Olaf Vanderhoot" Hernandez, a true Renaissance Man of cycling. He does it all and is good at most everything... fast crits, hard road races, track, CX, and apparently MTB too. (Yes, I left out TT'ing, but hey, I calls 'em likes I sees 'em) He rode the marathon event at the MTB race, five laps for 55 miles. Amazing. Very cool that he and his lovely significant other Sabine made the trip down from the SCruz for Hecky's MTB day. If there were such a thing as a King and Queen of cycling in NorCal, these two would be it.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Lesson learned today: Just because you know how to build and maintain a road bike does NOT mean you can assemble a mountain bike.

When did these bikes get so complicated? Hydraulic disc brakes!?! Oh man...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Training Week -- 2//4 - 2/10

Working on all fronts, but don't really have a plan yet...

Number of rides: 6
Riding time: 16 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 6 hrs
Best ride of the week: Sat roco ride around Casitas, despite 4 flats in the group (maybe we should go to Ojai or Santa Paula instead?)
Other: Ran w/ Gina in the 2-x-2-mile Valentine's Day relay (we got 3rd)
- Did some Tabata intervals
- Did two 4+ hour rides.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Saturday Night Randoms

Gotta make this quick 'cause it's bedtime...

If you didn't go last night, you missed a really fun and entertaining evening at Amgen with Bob Roll MC'ing a talk with Jens Voight and Stuart O'Grady. Big-time super-star bike racers, those two.

All three of the guys are a crack-up. Gina was so desperate for a date that she agreed to go with me to this thing, and I think she actually enjoyed herself. In fact, after I went to get some food, I returned to see Jens with his arm around her... Dang, younger, taller, and faster than me! Naturally I snapped a pic for evidence...

Later we learned that Jens has five (5!!) kids at home!

A fun night with great organization by Jerry and the Amgen crew. Hopefully a lot of money was raised for the Breakaway From Cancer program.


TrueSport used to be a daily stop on my web surfing rounds, but when Max Kash Agro, esq. hung up his wheels and his pen, I stopped visiting so often. MKA is hands down the most entertaining writer I've ever read in the cycling world. No contest. In my opinion.

So imagine my delight when a few weeks ago I happened on over there to discover a new MKA story. A series really, about another big-shot lawyer infected by the cycling bug. Here, if you have 10-20 minutes to spare, get yourself caught up:
First installment
Second installment
Third installment

...and then stay tuned for future MKA episodes.

Now another talented writer over there at Truesport is Druber's brother, who also goes by the name Druber, and I forget whether he's older or younger, but he's definitely larger, so we'll refer to him as Druber the Larger. Anyway, it seems as though Druber the Larger came out to California recently (he hails from that hotbed of bike racing, Illinois/Indiana) and partook in the early-season classic Boulevard RR in the 45+. Read his entertaining race report. Good stuff... whether or not it's accurate is irrelevant.


A few days ago at dinner, Gina dropped a paper on me about Tabata Intervals. Ever heard of these? I hadn't either, but the paper claimed a significant improvement in VO2Max and Anaerobic Capacity by a set of riders who did these workouts five days a week, as compared to a control group who did two hours daily of steady sweet-spot riding. Or something like that. Best as I can tell, the protocol is to do 20 seconds ON and then 10 seconds OFF, for a total of eight intervals. So what's "ON"? Really freakin' hard; "all out" was the phrase used. Or for power users, "ON" should be 170% of your VO2Max power according to some reference I found.

Being curious, I tried this workout a few days ago, and it was very intense. I completed eight intervals, but after the 4th one, I couldn't reach the effort level of the prior ones. Not even close. I'd be amazed if anyone can do all eight as hard as prescribed.

It's probably a crock of doo-doo, but I think I'll try a few more sessions of this.


Lot's of people will do more than one crit in a day, perhaps doubling up with a Masters race and a category race. Some women riders will do an extra race with the men. Why not, often the crits are only 40-50 minutes and you've invested a lot of time to get there, so you might as well do some riding.

But I was shocked when I perused the results of the Southern Nevada Stage Race a few days ago. Check out the 35+ and the 45+ results. Louie Amelburu did both! Both stage races!! Two TT's back to back, two crits, and most amazingly, two road races. And according to the SB guys who went, it was brutally tough just doing a single road race. Could this be real? Sheesh, is Louie gonna be killing it this year or what?


More useless perusing of the internet... I've had the impression that Junior racing is on the rise after many years of low participation. Poking around at some pre-entry lists for NorCal races suggests the trend is real. Nearly 100 juniors are entered for the Cherry Pie race in Napa. That's huge! And a very promising sign for the future.

But lest you get too excited, the sport is still heavily skewed toward the old-geezer end. I checked the SoCal USCF database and found that in 2007 there were a tad fewer than 200 licensed juniors (18 and under, boys and girls). Guess how many riders between age 40 and 49...



Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Another First

It's fun to remember your "Firsts"...

First bike, first kiss, first race, first grade,...

...First time you ever voted for a Presidential candidate younger than yourself!

Barely younger, but still...

I wonder if he also liked The Police, Tom Petty, and The Clash when he was in high school?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mothballs and Footballs

As fun as it would have been to go yet again to San Diego for the Boulevard RR, I couldn't justify passing up a race two miles from home. Mothballs Crit 2008 was another excellent production by Mondo and the Echelon crew. Everything ran precisely on time and there were no bad crashes or controversies. For a SoCal crit, I'd call that pretty darn successful. Even the announcing from Frazer and Aaron was awesome!

Here's a few pics and stories... as always, click on the pictures to see full size, and please leave a comment or email me to correct any mistakes in the story telling. (BTW, no disrespect intended for those races I don't mention, rather it's just that I got no material.)

Cat 4: My team had the defending champ and he gave it a go for another win but, as is often the case, cat 4 field sprints are a crap shoot and the dice didn't roll his way this time. It's interesting to me that breaks so rarely succeed in these fields because the disparity in strength is so big (I think). One guy not willing to sit and wait was John Orach, who's returning to racing after a 10-year break. Here he is trying to make something happen...

...but nobody would bridge across to him so he spent four laps out front solo. If one strong guy had gone across, they would've had a fighting chance. Oh well. Check Steve Weixel's blog for more pics from this race.

[add/edit] Oh wow... I just saw the results, and it says Johnny O won!! What a humble guy, he didn't even mention it!

45+: Four of us from Platinum (C-Brown, Mark Be-Lukie, TnA, and moi) toed the line along with 30-40 other Masters including a strong squad of VOS riders who just finished up a week-long training camp in the SY Valley. I didn't know any of them but had a strong sense they would be good riders. They just had the look. Also racing were wiley vets Keith Ketterer and Steve Strickler from Amgen/Giant, bruisers C-Black-Ride and Steve Gregorios from Morgan Spinely, and lots of other elderly speedsters. Our goal was simple... make a break stick. So we were active and about half way through the 40-minute race, I countered a move by TnA and quickly we had a gap and some motivated guys (me, Strickie, Gregorios, Mike Gourley, Fred Hobblit, Paul Thorsen, two VOS riders, and I think I'm forgetting somebody). The gap grew and then we sprinted. I felt good but started too late from the back and couldn't get past the three Steves (L-to-R: Steve Gregorios--Morgan Spinely, Steve Gile--VOS, Steve Strickler--Amgen/Giant). The sprint...

Cat 3's: A strong presence from the Chicken Ranchers in this race with some really fast sprinters (Blinger, Matt, Luis, and Olympian Dave Lettieri) and general strongmen in former Jr national champ Ben Edwards, Aaron Long, Barney, and Pops Larsen. Aaron was off the front but got caught very near the end. Not sure how the last lap unfolded but our heroes were all over the front and would have won except for one quick Helen's rider (Chris Thompson) who beat them to the line...

Women 1/2/3: A small but tough field including 2007 winner Betsy Galenti and teammate Lea Adams (Helen's), Jill Gass (Karyla Wines), Anna Drakulich (Bicyle John's), Kim Turner (C-Ranch), and Lil' Ninja Ryan Hostetter from Velo Bella.

About half way through a break of three went clear, gained time, and then Betsy won the sprint for a repeat victory.

Anna easily won the bunch sprint for 4th. Sadly for her, any joy from this result was crushed the next day when her beloved New England Patriots lost the Superbowl and a chance to make history as the NFL's first 19-0 undefeated team. C'est la vie...

35+: This was an incredibly cool race and the VOS team put on a nearly flawless clinic.

From the gun, Dan Martin took off solo and steadily ground out the laps and kept the field at bay. That is really hard to do and the crowd, such as it was, showed their appreciation by cheering him on.

Good ol' Johnny O, break-away rider extraordinair in the 90's, bridged on up and went pull for pull for a couple laps but his legs weren't up to the task and soon he dropped off.

Next year, he crushes the 35+!

The field was trying. Here is Coach Doyle ripping through the S/F straight with the full field in chase.

Blinger taking a turn trying to bring back Martin. Don't feel bad that it was so hard to bring him back... he's a bonafide motor who won the prestigious Cat's Hill Classic last year the Pro/1/2!!

Nick taking a turn being closely marked by Hernando.

Kim Anderson rode with the 35+ men after already doing the Cat 3 race. Note the bandaged elbow... a result of being taken down in the earlier Cat 3 race. If I were her manager or coach, I'd say "No Way" to doing the Cat 3 race. But who asked me...

Eventually Dan was brought back, and immediately another group of 12 went this time with both Martin and Hernando and some other very strong riders. Perhaps the break was too big however, because they never got a big gap and with just a couple laps remaining, the field closed in. Hernando launched and quickly gained 20 seconds. A race winning move? It looked good at 1-to-go 'cause Mike had a 15-second cushion and only 1,000 meters of smooth pavement between him and the second VOS victory of the day. But if there's one thing you can count on, it's that SoCal crit riders go fast on bell lap. I mean F'n fast, and as strong as Mike is, he couldn't hold them off, and got swarmed just before the line. His expression is priceless... how many of you kids can dig that deep?!

P/1/2: Yeah OK, the real world beaters like Toyota-United, Rock Racing, Kelly Benefits, et. al., were down at Boulevard ripping each others legs off. But we had some horsepower too in our 60-man field. Amongst the Pros and other Ubers taking the line at the 2008 Mothballs Classic were Kodak/SierraNevada alumni Pete Lopinto, Jesse Anthony, and Cody O'Reilly. Also a coupla USA U-23 studs (e.g., Chris Barton), and rising stars like Uthman Ray and big bad Adrian Gerrits, and assorted studs from Time Factory, SoCalCycling, Rock Solid Cycling, and Bearpaw. Charles Dionne was rumored to be about, but I don't know what he looks like so who knows. We Platinum warriors were only at half strength with Cookie and Ben on injured reserve, and C-Brown still coming back from serious sickness. Nonetheless, Gary and I decided to ride agressively and see what might fall out of the tree.

I'll save you having to read much more, and just say that there were lots of attacks and most everything was covered or closed down very quickly. Let's now enjoy some more nice pictures from Goodman Graphic.

Going through the first corner with Cody. At this point, it would have been wise to attach a bungy cord to his bike. A really strong bungy cord.

Gary followed by MarkZen, who's always onboard with the ride-agressive plan.

Gary and C-Walk had words last week about the strategy of trying to mark Chris. CW has been a marked man for 15 years and it still pisses him off. So what does Gary do? Ha-ha-ha. I think deep down inside, C-Walk realizes it's a strong show of respect. But he still hates it.

So I figured I'd try it too.

With about 20 minutes remaining, I rolled off solo for a lap, and next thing I knew Uthman, Mike Easter, and Pete Lopinto came charging up with space and quickly we were joined by Adrian, Nick, Eric Bennet, and a SCVelo and a Bearclaw. We got down to bidness and soon we had a good gap. I pulled a bit too hard once or twice and had to take a brief timeout, but otherwise felt good.

Nick was a horse and took some strong pulls. We got the 5-to-go card and had, oh, maybe 30 seconds.

I thought we had a chance.

But the motivation back in the field was still strong, and Cody is very fit. Had I looked over my shoulder right here, I would have cried.

So we got caught with just under 2-to-go. Daddy-O'Reilly spun it up for Cody and he womped on everybody and won easily. I mean it was like a man against little boys.

But the sprint for 2nd was tight, as shown by this shot from the finish-line camera...

Gary managed to stay in the scrum and got 16th and I was back between 20th and 30th. Although we didn't score any goodies, we rode hard and took chances. Like Jens says, "if ya don't try anyTing, ya beaten ... right at da staut, beaten ... why even sho up?" Right on Jens!


So that was Mothballs ... what about Footballs??

Today was Superbowl Sunday and we (Gina, McFlurry, and I) did the Superbowl Sunday 4-mile running race that conveniently started just down the block from home. Not exactly the prescribed recovery activity after a two-crit day, but what the hell...

A few pics from DJ.

Starting in the rain and cold. Those three guys in the red jerseys are really fast, and they were gone in the first quarter mile. Running ain't like bike racing... no drafting to help you fool yourself into thinking you have a chance!

Three hotties!

A dork.

McFlurry running with the ladies ...sly little dog!

He snooped in on their conversations. The girl in front is making Hawaiian Bubble bread for a superbowl party.

In the end, I was happy to finish on the same day as the winners, losing only slightly more than a minute per mile, and ending the pain in 25:04. Gina wasn't too happy with her time but still got 2nd in her age group anyway and took home a timely prize (below), and Brian set a new PR for the 4-mile distance. A fun day.