Sunday, April 27, 2008

On Being a Fan

As a kid I was way into the Big Three: football, basketball, and baseball. Not that I was any good as a player--I wasn't--but... I .. WAS .. A .. FAN!! A fanatic. Collecting cards, studying stats and records, watching games on TV. I was into it. My mood for a day could be established by the outcome of a pro sports game. I felt a connection to the players and my teams (Oakland A's, Oakland Warriors, Pittsburgh Steelers). Note the odd team out... Steelers instead of the Raiders. I hated the bad-boy Raiders.

To this day, I remember sitting in our blue vinyl beanbag chair (hey, it was the 70's) watching my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers about to lose a playoff game to the Raiders. 4th down and time running out. Bleak, but I couldn't give up hope. I knew if I wished just a little bit harder, crossed all my fingers, begged out loud for a miracle, then maybe just maybe they could pull it out.

If you are a fan of football, young or old, then you know what happened... The Immaculate Reception. Steelers win; Raiders lose. Let's enjoy it for a moment...

Ahhhhh. I jumped up from that blue vinyl beanbag chair and ran around the house screaming like a lunatic. Your basic NFL fan in other words. I'm quite sure I had something to do with that miracle play: I wanted it so bad that the intensity of my feelings flowed through the karmic universe right into that stadium, affected the physics of that bounce, and coaxed the ball right into Franco Harris' outstretched arms.

I was high for a week.

Unfortunately, it seems I exhausted my karmic budget on that one play. Pittsburgh lost the following weekend--to the Dolphins I think--and the next 99 times I wished for last-second miracles, well, you know.

Fast forward a bunch of years and I'm not such a fan of the big three anymore. Maybe it's today's players, or the obscene commercialization, or just a realization that there really is no connection between me and my favorite players. Never was as it turns out. For all intents and purposes, these guys could be robots or computer animated characters.

Oh, the lost innocence of youth...

But I'm still a fan, only now the sport is bike racing. I never did play catch with Terry Bradshaw (Steelers), or throw grounders to Sal Bando (A's), or shoot free-throws with Rick Barry (Warriors)... but now I can ride with Pro cyclists! A real connection.

And so it was that I found myself today, fully engaged by a professional sports event, and trying once again to influence the outcome via the karmic universe. Not through the TV this time, but through the computer, where I was glued to WCSN video coverage of the Tour de Georgia, along with Laura Weislo's live text updates from cyclingnews.


...and lookie lookie who's in the break. SB's Aaron Olson and former SB'ers Jake Erker and Hilton Clarke. They weren't given much leash from the High Road controlled field, with the gap fluctuating around 60 seconds. Maybe they're cool with a break taking the win today? Why not, they've got gc and points locked up along with two stage wins ...isn't that good enough? I was begging for them to let the gap grow. Out loud, ...to the computer screen. Working out scenarios in my head, doing gap math, distance divided by speed. Maybe Cam Evans could attack to set up Jake. Aaron's been sitting on; maybe he's got a wicked ten-minute effort left to unleash. Hey, don't bring Hilton to the line ...I'm still mad about when he put me into the bushes on Bates... Come on... PULL!!

Bell lap... six miles to go... gap at 40 seconds... 6 miles divided by 30 mph... cross fingers and toes... Come on... PULL HARDER!!!

Oh no!!! The Oakland Raiders are on the front, err.., I mean Rock Racing is on the front of the field. Aaarrgghh!! Puh-lease... give it up you criminal bad-fashion boys, Freddie's not gonna do it. Come on!!!

4 km to go... break splintering... Guys jumping across. GET ON THAT!!! DIG!!!!


...sigh...

As per normal, it all came back together in the final kms. Damn pro sports... four-corner stall, intentional walks, running the clock out. And now the big heartless peloton catches our heroes right before the finish. Seems that Immaculate Reception really did exhaust my supply of karmic influence. But that won't stop me from being a fan of bike racing and trying to wish the break along anyway.

Training Week -- 4/21 - 4/27

Sick all week. Rode easy. I guess this was mid-season break time...

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; around Goleta
Wed: 1 hr; around Goleta
Thu: 1 hr; OSM
Fri: 0
Sat: 1 hr; OSM
Sun: 1.5 hr; OSM + SB

Total: 5.5 hrs

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm Not One to Criticize, but...

...blimey, those British Plowman Craven (PCA) pro riders looked awkward going around corners in a tight group. Sure, they're strong as horses, but after three races of up-close observation--IV, Ojai, and (half of) Sea Otter--it was clear they weren't too comfortable with US-style racing. Don't they have crits in the UK? Or kermesses, or whatever they're called over there?

I just recently read a blog report about the big crash in the final stage of Redlands, and it mentioned that five PCA riders went down. Then it occurred to me, even I had witnessed some less-than-stellar bike handling by these blokes.

Several times in the Island View crit, I saw a PCA rider unnecessarily chop somebody going into that second right-hand turn. Always the same thing: the pink-n-blue guy's in the gutter on the left side of the road; ...somebody overlapping to his right; ...up ahead, the field arcs smoothly through the turn, 2-to-3 riders wide; ...but not the PCA guy, he deviates and abruptly cuts to the most inside line he can, nearly scraping the curb on the apex with his spokes. Naturally, the overlapping guy brakes sharply, disrupting the flow behind. Believe me, I know, I was in back a lot!

The point is, even if the PCA guy has the right to take the corner that way, why do it? It's not like these moves came on bell lap or with anything significant at stake. Even if you don't care about the smooth flow of the field, why risk having spokes ripped out by someone's skewer? Or causing a crash that might involve you or your teammate(s)? My guess is that they didn't have a clue they were causing problems.

...although maybe they got a hint the next day in Ojai where two of them hit the deck in unison on that fast final corner. Had I not been hypoxic, I would have laughed out loud at the sight of one PCA guy standing in the road facing the oncoming riders with legs spread wide and both arms outstretched as if to plead, "Stop, don't hit us!!!" Don't worry, they weren't hurt, so we can enjoy the humor now.

But then any doubt about these guys' bike handling was erased at Sea Otter, where lap after lap, a few of them seemed unable to take the wide sweeping corners below the corkscrew. I'm not exaggerating this: the entire field would be single file at 40 mph in that fast left-hand sweeper, save for one or two PCA guys wobbling out of line and drifting to the right side of the road. I seriously worried they wouldn't make the turn. It was truly bizarre.

So back to that Redlands crash... Was it just bad luck that five of their riders went down? Or, did they have something to do with it?

----------
PS. Just as an aside, and as proof that it's not endemic to all Plowman Craven (or British) riders, one of the best crit racers ever to pin on a number in the US, Malcolm Elliot, rode a year for Plowman Craven.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Farming in the Suburbs

This is the wave of the future...

The way we Americans eat is not sustainable. Our food travels over 1,000 miles on average between the field and the table. In the current industrial-farming paradigm, it takes about 1.5 acres of agricultural land to support each man, woman, and child in the US. The problem is, we are losing agricultural land at too rapid a rate due to urban sprawl and soil erosion and depletion. We are near the cross-over point. [A prediction: in a few hundred years, historians will be astounded at this generation's stupidity in destroying the land that sustains life ...just you wait and see!]

So yeah, dig up your water-wasting, chemical-hungry lawn and plant some food. That's what I'm doing...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ch... Ch... Ch... Changes

A couple things. Definitely in a funk here, but changes are on the horizon. Check that... not on the horizon... changes are right here, right now, staring me in the face.

Today I start working again. I call it work anyway. 20 hrs a week on a two-year software task. From home. On my schedule. Minimal travel and meetings. Sounds pretty good, yes? Well I don't know where I'm going to find 20 hours. It's been nine months since I did any paying work, and I've gotten pretty accustomed to constraint-free days. And it's amazing how easily those days can get filled up. Puttering around my tract-house backyard farm; riding; bike work; emailing; blogging; lunch dates; reading; ...

I don't expect any sympathy.

Further, due to the above, as well as disappointing fitness and results, I need to make some changes on the racing front. Figure out how to train more efficiently, and reduce the off-the-bike time-expansion factor. I don't know about you, but it seems for every hour I train, I spend at least another hour or more of miscellaneous bike-related tasks. Maintenance and cleaning; stretching and massage; extra sleeping and eating; planning; ...

15-20 hours a week of pedaling expands into damn near a full-time job.

Obviously it can be done on much less time. Plenty of good racers successfully balance their cycling with a career, family time, and social lives. I need to figure that out. The problem is, as I see it, if you train in a rushed and frantic manner, forsaking the sleep, nutrition, and recovery your body wants, then much of the training is wasted. I've had my best fitness and racing performances when the rest of my life was really relaxed and stress-free, and not necessarily when my training load was greatest. It's my opinion that many racers neglect the off-the-bike aspect of training. But maybe it's time I scrimped a bit there too...

It's also probably time to reevaluate my motivation for doing p/1/2 races. Is it more satisfying to be a mid-packer with the best riders in the region, or to be a contender with riders my own age? I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I do know that the physiology window is closing and if I give up now on the faster, longer races, then I'll probably never do them again. That realization hits me pretty hard.

Lots to think about...

---------
ps. I just discovered last week that this stupid blog looks horrible in Firefox and probably on the Mac too. (Maybe you think it looks horrible in every browser!) The pics don't align with the text the way I intend, causing some difficult reading and awkward confusion. E.g., a few posts back the text said something like, "This is Jake Erker..." but it bordered a picture of Kayle Leogrande. So, that'll be another change on the horizon, cleaning up this blog and maybe switching to another format, or, GASP, actually learning some HTML so I'm not slave to the blogger UI.

Training Week -- 4/14 - 4/20

An accidental rest week.

Mon: 1 hr; recovery ride around Goleta
Tue: 1 hr; OSM
Wed: 2 hr; Hope Ranch + OSM
Thu: 3.5 hr; 8:00 roco ride
Fri: 1 hr; around Goleta
Sat: 2.5 hr; half of Sea Otter NRC circuit race + around Monterey
Sun: 0 (sick again)

Total: 11 hrs

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sea Slaughtered


The wind was horrible, as was the sand blasting. I did fine going up the hill, but I struggled to hold a wheel in the cross winds when the gas was on up front. I came off in the gutter and couldn't close it, then rode a couple laps solo before abandoning at about the halfway point.

I can't even claim to be the oldest rider... Steve Tilford gets that "honor" today and he survived a couple more laps than me anyway.

You can go to cyclingnews or somewhere to read about the race if you care. 116 started, less than half finished, and every last one earned it. BTW, let me make a prediction: SB's Adrian Gerritts will be a pro next year, if not sooner.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How to Deal with a Giant?

Seriously, I'm asking.

In particular, how to deal with that juggernaut, the Amgen/Giant Masters team.


Certainly superior fitness can trump a larger team in many situations, although not always. But that's not relevant here... the real question is, what do you do when the fittest guys in the race are all on the same team?

That's the case with Amgen/Giant. The roster includes more current and former National Champions than any other team in the country. Top-shelf talent there.

This isn't a new phenomenon. When I first started Masters racing in the mid 90's, the top dogs were the mighty US Postal Masters, which was a team started by Thom Weisel, a sizable sponsor of the USPS pro team and Subaru/Montgomery before that. Weisel, as you may or may not know, was a big-shot finance guy with money to burn. Like most successful people, he wanted to be surrounded by the best of the best, so he and his team hired the fastest Masters racers around. Let me tell you, they could dominate a race with only a handful of riders in a field of 100. On the bike, they were efficient assassins; off the bike, they were cool and respected. This year, they morphed into the Team Specialized Masters and seem to be continuing their winning ways. One sage observer of NorCal cycling has gone on record saying that they're the best Masters team in the nation. Hmmmm....

The mid 90's also saw the rise of the notorious Labor Power team of Roger Worthington, aka Max Kash Agro. Roger and brother Dave were the original core of that group but within a few years they had recruited most of the best riders in SoCal. It wasn't unusual to race in a field of 50 masters and have ten or more of them in Labor colors. Roger had a generous bonusing scheme for races that mattered to him, and often those guys would score hundreds of dollars extra beyond their prize split. Some were even paid a stipend that would make young US pros envious. I'm not passing judgement here, just sayin'

Labor was gritty and edgy, and basically the anti $12K-dreamer team. The intimidation factor was high, and there were plenty of heated ego-fueled exchanges on the SoCal crit circuit. If there was some yelling going on, you could bet Labor was involved some how. But they were good. Gnarly speedsters like Vinny the Hack, Evan Teske, and Mark Scott won a lot of rough-and-tumble field sprints. Louie, Genghis, Roger, and Dave crushed many a road race. Following the weekends, SoCal masters would anxiously await Roger's hack-pack reports (many are archived here on Truesport) to see who got labeled an idiot, pretender, nimrod, or worse. Many people disliked the Labor persona, but I found the whole thing pretty entertaining. SoCal bike racing can take itself too seriously sometimes, and Roger and his crew never did.

And then along came the Specialized/Sonance team, formed by Mark Hoffenberg.
They were a bunch of nice guys who raced hard and fair. Most significantly, they proved every bit as strong as Labor. I don't know if they really neutralized each other, but the domination from either team was not so great anymore. Racing was wide open.

But here we are today. Labor and Sonance are gone. Some of the riders migrated to the Cynergy team and they are definitely a force, as is Schroeder Iron, but when Amgen/Giant shows up in mass, they are going to dictate the action.

That's what happened in Ojai last weekend.

They swept the 45+ podium.

Easily.


I started the race, and then essentially took myself out by unsuccessfully attacking early and being too lazy to dig deep enough to respond quickly to the counter. A break of six went clear, including three Amgen/Giants. I tried to go a few times, but always felt the presence of that Big Blue Meanie Peter Sullivan. Quitting seemed like a good option, but I couldn't do it after seeing Choo-Choo and Pops Larsen put in hard chase efforts. I figured, what the hell, might as well get in a sprint. Result: 8th.

I was advised that, to be a real bike racer, I must make an excuse for my disappointing performance. How about this: I was saving myself for the afternoon race. Yeah, that's it.

For a more thorough report of the 45+ race, read the blog of a guy who flew half way across the country to do a single Masters crit, and finished 5th. Pissing on my compost pile indeed... hmmph!

The Amgen/Giant domination continued in the 35+ race and it was a text-book lesson on how to race as a team. They were in the early breaks, including a threatening one with Gus Corona, which forced a hard chase from the other teams. Eventually, a group of six escaped with Amgen/Giants Rich Meeker and Rich Cimadoro, along with Craig Nunes, Pat Caro, Tom Farley, and Tony Brady. Their gap grew steadily while, back in the field, Thurlow completely neutralized Mark Noble who was probably the fittest guy in the race. Meeker won, Cimadoro was 4th, Thurlow smoked Noble to take the field sprint (7th) and Gus rounded out the top ten. The victory and four of the top ten is definitely domination.

Which brings me back to the question: how do you deal with this? Go on the offensive and try to reduce the numbers, or stay alert and be defensive? It helps to have a team of course, but if you're outnumbered and out-fitness'ed, then what are you gonna do? Mark one or two guys? They have too many options for that.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that we Masters get to race against such a strong and talented team. It's a real challenge, and will raise the level of everyone. We just need to figure out how to make it challenging for them!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Quick Notes from Ojai

Tired from a long day, taxes still aren't done, and I'm a single Dad this week. Consequently, this will just be a quickie to hit the highlights. Probably some deeper reflection later, along with a few pics and vids. Unfortunately it was so dang hot today (in the 90's) that I had minimal enthusiasm for photography and videography.

But first something kind of serious. We got word today that our bud and all-around great guy Michael Krauchi crashed hard on the group ride yesterday. 10 broken ribs, punctured and deflated lung, separated shoulder, and road rash. He was taken to the Ojai hospital where he'll be kept in the ICU for a few more days. A scary reminder that what we do is dangerous. Send your positive thoughts his direction.

But before visiting Michael in the hospital, there were some bike races. Let's not forget that the race in Ojai is a tribute to racer Garrett Lemire who died tragically in the Tour de Tucson a few years back. Like I said, dangerous.

Let me summarize the races for you. The Amgen/Giant team put on a clinic in both the 35+ and the 45+, and Rich Meeker served notice that he is back! Both races were won in solid breaks that gained a lot of time.

45+
1st: Rich Meeker, Amgen/Giant
2nd: Thurlow Rogers, Amgen/Giant
3rd: Keith Ketterer, Amgen/Giant

35+
1st: Rich Meeker, Amgen/Giant
2nd: Pat Caro, Schroeder Iron
3rd: Craig Nunes, Bishops Peak


Another strong showing by SB's women cat 3 & 4 riders despite the early 7:00 AM start. Actually, they had the best conditions of the day as it turns out!


Some good local results in the cat 3 and cat 4 races. HeyRon won the field sprint for 4th in cat 3's and (I think) Johnny O won the field sprint for 2nd in the 4's. Shouldn't you be upgrading soon John???

The Pro womens race was dominated by a couple Colavita ladies as you can see here...


The 2's race was a sufferfest and the attrition was high. Gary continued his string of great finishes with a 3rd. I'm pretty sure that puts him over the top for his upgrade.

And then there was the NRC Pro/1 event which I decided to do, along with teammate Cookie. 45 laps (~50 miles) in 90 degree heat with a 120-man field including many of the top domestic Pros. It's been over 15 years since I raced with such a strong field and I was certainly curious to see how I could hang. The first hour was extremely fast with lots of breaks forming, and then getting reabsorbed. I stayed in the first third of the field and felt pretty good but the hill was starting to take a toll.

Too bad I didn't lock on to this guy on my left here (Kyle Gritters)...


...because at about the half way point the right mix pinched off in a big move of 20 guys, including Gritters. The good news is that it meant things settled down back in the field. Or what was left of the field ...at least half of it was gone. Cramps took hold in my legs with about 5-to-go so I conceded any thought of trying to finish high in our group. I rolled in at 48th place and Cookie was in the group too. We were a minute and a half behind the winner...

...who turned out to be Gritters


BTW, you can browse the complete set of great Ojai photos from John Goodman here.

...as well as some great shots from Kim & Steve here.

The podium...


...and some more placings from the first page of results:

And here are all the results.

I'm now looking forward to the 71-mile Sea Otter circuit race, because I am not intimidated so much by these guys any more. Ha-Ha

Training Week -- 4/7 - 4/13

All intensity, all the time. At least that's what it felt like.

Mon: 1 hr; recovery around Goleta
Tue: 2 hr; lunchtime hammerfest + OSM
Wed: 2 hr; Hope Ranchervals + OSM
Thu: 1.5 hr; warm-up + OSM at 100% (14:45)
Fri: 1.5 hr; Winchester sprints + Farren Rd.
Sat: 2.5 hr; warm-up + IV crit (36 miles @ 29 mph avg.)
Sun: 3.5 hr; warm-up + two crits in Ojai (45+ & p/1)

Total: 14 hrs

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Well That Made Me Feel Old!

Who invited HealthNet, Time Pro Cycling, SuccessfulLiving, and the rest of those pesky pro racers? I thought the Island View Crit would be a little local bash, but NOooo...

I'll get to the race in a minute.

It's always weird for me to go back into IV. Too many memories--some great, some not-so-great. I lived there (mostly) from 1979 to 1985 and it was certainly a defining time in my life. Did anybody live in more different places on Del Playa than me? 6668, 6662, 6680, 6681, and 6767. Those are addresses btw. At UCSB. Party central. On the ocean. Except for a brief foray one year (1981) I did no bike racing. Not even any riding, other than cruiser bikes. Let's just say the full-on IV lifestyle was incompatible with bike racing, and we'll leave it at that.

Here's the view down Pardall Rd. from about 1980...God I loved IV.

But then I grew up, graduated, got a real job, ...and a life.

Now about all I think of IV is to hope my kids stay the hell away!

But today the UCSB cycling team put on a race in downtown IV, so of course I had to go. How often is there a bike race two miles from home? So I run into Anna, of Adrian-and-Anna, at registration and Adrian is off in the hinterlands for some family event so Anna is solo. She asks me to pin her number on. She must have decided I was the only safe option. Had she asked one of the 50 or so hunky 20-year-old UCSB guys hanging around, well, maybe they would have taken some liberties with number placement. Me though, being old, was a safe bet.

And then she made a crack about her number, which was 420. Natch I didn't have a clue as to the the meaning of 4-20, so she snickered and politely explained it to me. Sigh... And in IV of all places.

But what really makes me feel old was the race. Freakin fast. Basically, a $30 motor-pacing session, with 2-X-68 accelerations (two corners, 68 laps), and we averaged 29.5 mph according to Garmin. Holy #&@!

I would tell you all about it, but since I never saw the front, I'd need to make it up. Actually, I did see the front, but it was a long ways up the road and, being old, my vision's not so good. I tried to move up a few times and got maybe half way, but it took a lot of energy and then I didn't feel like fighting the rest of the way. Gotta hand it to Gary and Cookie though, because they stayed up there a lot.

Coming into the last five laps, a full SuccessfulLiving team got on the front and kept it pegged over 30 mph. On the last lap, big Karl Bordine of the All-Star-Fish-and-Vegetables appeared to have a good seat on the train until a little SuccessfulLiving dude blatantly chopped him. Karl was screaming at him when I passed, and by all reports, he's about the most mellow giant you'll run across so that says something bad happened. But not to Cody. He closed the deal like the pro he is and won the race. I don't know any other places.

You want some great pictures? Check out John R. Goodman's gallery.

Here are a few of us Platinum guys in the P/1/2 race (all credit to John Goodman):

Choo-choo jumped right in after finishing the 35+ race. Ouch.


Cookie stayed up near all the fast guys. I guess that's because he IS a fast guy!


Same with Gary. This was only the second race I've done with him--the first being Mothballs--and he rides great in the field. One has to step back and marvel at Gary's progress. This is only his second year on the road, yet he has great instincts on the bike and is not afraid to throw down. Like Dave Towle says, you have to risk losing in order to win. He's on the verge of upgrading to Cat 1 and will continue on a steep upward trajectory.


Me on the other hand...


Cody is fast. 'nuf said.











Hmmm, what else???

I got a couple pics of locals during the Cat-3 race (they suck compared to JRG's pics, but hey, I'm still learning...)

Mondo was active and went off the front a couple times. Looks like a lot of air ramming down into that carburetor of his!


But unfortunately for Mondo, HeyRon was pulling him back into the fold.


Aaron Long did a lot of work on the front, presumably to keep the field intact so Matt could unleash his sprint.


I had to go home before the end, so I don't know how it finished. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Surely some locals up in the top spots, right?


Missed all of the women's race and returned in time to see the last half of the 35+. A good-size break with Thurlow and Demarchi was rolling but then they dropped everyone else and so Schroeder Iron pulled them back. A couple laps rest and Thurlow was OTF again, this time with Brett Clare (of Schroeder) in tow. The Iron boys patrolled the front and nobody could organize a decent chase. On bell lap, they were out over 20 seconds but still Chris Demarchi blew out of the field with a last-lap effort to close the gap. He got half way across and finished 3rd. Turbo won and Brett 2nd. Methinks the 35+ would have been a better race for me!

But, oh man, tomorrow...

The Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix in Ojai, which in this author's view is the best crit in SoCal.

It's so good that it's invading my sleep. The other night I dreamt I was in the 45+ race and, just like last year, was first through the final corner, but in my dream I was HUGELY over-geared, like maybe a 93-x-8 gear or something. Everyone passed me and I could barely reach the finish line with a cadence of about 2 RPM. Note to self: don't equip bike with 93-tooth chainring.

So after the 45+ race, I'll be taking pics and video of (at least) the 35+ where I was hoping to document an epic rematch between multi-year-Ojai-winner Mark Noble and scrappy warrior Michael Hernandez but I have it on good authority that Mike is staying up north this weekend. Well, it'll still be a war I'm sure.

And then at 2:00, oh help me lordy, this senior citizen will start the Pro/1 NRC race. (That, by the way, is why all those pesky pros were in IV today.) I have no idea how that will go. Cookie and I will be together, so we should be able to help each other. It will be brutal.

Island View Crit -- cat 4/5

I pedaled on over to watch the boys in the early morning race in IV and yowza it looked fast. Within fifteen minutes the field was cut in half by the speed. I'm sure there'll be stories to tell and re-tell on group rides for the next few months, but for now I'll leave you with a picture of the finish, which tells the only story that really matters, and this time it was my team's rivals (the Chicken Ranchers) who dominated the day. Ken Doyle won and his brethren swept the podium. Congrats. A couple Platinums (Seth and Tom) can be seen in the top-10. Good job to all.

Now I need to get back on over there for my race. Any thoughts of an easy locals-only crit were dashed when I saw Karl Menzies signed up. It also appears LVG will be doing the mens' race, which always adds a level of ego to the sprint...

More later.

Oh yeah, ps. Sorry for the lack of updates this week. I couldn't justify blogging while my taxes were not finished, but every time I worked on the taxes I got so aggravated that I had to step away from the computer or I might have put my foot through the screen. Oh well, they're still not done but it's the weekend now.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Big Steaming Pile of...

Compost.
video

Rich, dark, and alive. You could say it's where everything begins and also where it all ends, but you'd be wrong 'cause there is no beginning or end.

Carbon and Nitrogen.

...moving from one living thing to the next...

Forever.

----
ps. Some people tell me they can't see videos on my blog. Can you view the video above? I hope to film some of the races at Ojai this weekend, but if nobody can see it here, what's the point??? Let me know.

Training Week -- 3/31 - 4/6

Went pretty easy M-F whilst fending off a cold, then did a few hard efforts Sat & Sun. Damn I'm getting soft. Need to HTFU and do something epic.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; around Goleta
Wed: 1 hr; sprints on Winchester & Glen Annie
Thu: 2 hrs; 3X OSM strength work (over-geared)
Fri: 1.5 hrs; around Goleta + a couple JB intervals
Sat: 4 hrs; 8:00 roco ride, climbed hard
Sun; 3.5 hrs; worlds, hard up bates

Total: 13 hrs

Saturday, April 05, 2008

From Eddy Gragus...

Just got the following comment regarding a post from last year. Actually, it's a response to Nick Nitro's comment from that post and is in reference to deals riders make about not sprinting. Since the post and the comment are buried in the archives, I'm bringing it to the front here. Besides, it's from Eddy Gragus who was a very accomplished rider in the US back in the day. Usually the pros and ex-pros just lurk on this blog ...I just know it... but maybe they're all too intimidated to comment...

Anyway, here's the comment:
"Regarding the comments on May 22, 2007 I would like to defend myself a bit. It appears as though not everyone knows the complete story of myself, Gaggiolli and Huber that day in Santa Rosa. The real story was that Gaggiolli and myself jumped away on the first lap of the race and I had told him that I would not sprint, because I knew this guy could beat me anyway. So he and I stayed clear on the wet and technical course for half of the race and I put in my share of work. Half way into tht race Huber brdged up to us and I told him that I would not sprint for the win. He scolded me and said that, "you won't sprint for second either." I called BS on this and as we approached the finish line I stayed true to my word. I didn't sprint for the win. As they let Huber or Gag, I don't remember which, go ahead by about one meter I threw my bike to get second, which I felt I deserved because I did my fare share of work the first half of the race. They freaked out! How could anyone disrespect the Coors Light Team. I was a slolo rider in those days and was just trying to get from one race to the next, and I would do what it took to do that, but I kept my word when I gave it, and this was no exception. That day pretty much made me a mortal enemy of their team for the season and they did not give me an inch. Still, I managed to beat them, without a team, in Casper Classic and several other races before turning professional. That is my two sense and if I have anything to recomend to younger riders reading this it would be: Don't give people sh** but don't take it either, never.

Eddy"

Thanks for commenting and setting the record straight!

BTW, this is a cool pic I lifted from his blog...
Beating Lance Armstrong at the night-time crit in Austin of all places!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

And Speaking of Bugs

What to do about riding when you're starting to get sick? It's a rhetorical question, but certainly feel free to offer an opinion if you have one. I'll go first...

I don't support the old adage of "Ride if it's above the neck, otherwise rest". If like me, you're vulnerable to sinus infections, then I don't think it's smart to ride at all if you have a full-blown cold, even if it's just in your head. Cold viruses last 2-4 days and that amount of time off the bike is not going to hurt too much. Be flexible, and call it a rest period. Hey, if you're a bike racer, no doubt you've procrastinated a lot of other stuff... use the time off to catch up!

Anyway, Adam Hodges Myerson makes sense in this article and he's a real coach and everything.

The trickier question is what to do when you first detect symptoms of a cold. You should know your body well enough to notice the warning signs--slight throat swelling, minor runny nose, a bit achy--before it hits with full force. Is it possible to head it off, or at least minimize it's impact? I think so. Add a couple hours of sleep, drink a lot more fluids, ...the usual advice. But what about riding? I think it's okay to spin easy and probably also okay to do sprints, but definitely avoid hard anaerobic work and don't spend any time in your higher aerobic zone either.

That's what I'm doing... I'll tell you later if it works.

Battle of the Bugs

Aaargghh!! Recently I discovered an invading armada of aphids during my daily recon trip into the garden. I hate aphids!! But I'm committed to the no-chemical approach to gardening, even if it means ripping out all the infected plants on occasion. I'm not ready to do that yet in this case, because, so far, the infestation is only concentrated on a particular artichoke plant. A few scouts turned up elsewhere but nothing to worry about yet.

I've been doing the recommended blast-with-water approach but it hasn't solved the problem, so I recruited some specialists. 1,500 of them in fact. I'm the General and they're the soldiers, and I've been sending sorties of 100-200 of them on night-time attacks. Most of them go AWOL by morning but a few loyal fighters stay in the battle.
It's a tough fight because the aphids have a force of mercenary ants protecting them. Seriously. The ants like to eat the sticky mess left behind by the aphids so they protect them from predators. Maybe I should get an Anteater too...

If a containment policy works, and the enemy stays put, then I'll be happy because neighboring the artichoke is one of my precious beds of lettuce...
...and I'll be really mad if these babies get attacked.