Monday, May 05, 2008

San Luis Re.....

Before spewing forth a race report or two, let me apologize for the blog draught here last week. That damn 20 hrs of work is killing me :) and it seems the place I borrowed some of the hours is from recreational computer time, including reading/writing blogs. I don't want this thing to die, so I'll make a stronger effort from now on, beginning with the long, boring, self-centered race report that follows.

I wasn't sure of a theme for this report, so I'll try a few on for size.

San Luis Re...gistered in two road races, 45+ and pro/1/2. No, I didn't mistakenly think it was a crit. The schedule supported this crazy notion: 46-mile 45+ at 7:30 AM and 81-mile pro/1/2 at 1:00 PM. I had two years in a row of top-10 p/1/2 finishes here, and this year was not likely to be a third, so might as well try something epic instead. Besides, when I saw one particular name entered in the 45+, I couldn't resist giving it a go.

San Luis Re...spect is how I feel about pretty much everyone in the 45+ group here in SoCal. That ultra-aggro mentality of the 35+ scene doesn't exist so much here. I guess we grow up by age 45. Not saying 35+'ers aren't cool too--they are--it's just that the 45+'ers are my peeps. Good folks across the board, and strong riders too. None more so than these dudes:

L-R, David and Roger Worthington. Over the last ten years, they probably have 100+ wins in California. They race tough and smart, and it's a rare day that you can shed either of these boys.

Strickie: 7'0" of knees and elbows. He may chop you in a sprint, but in a nice way with a smile on his face.

Louie Amelburu owns the 45+ road races in SoCal this year, and has earned enough in prize money to purchase a luxury motor home for traveling in style.

And lots more dudes too who I didn't take pictures of. Point is, it's a privilege to race with this group and I hope to do it for years to come.

But still...

San Luis Re...venge is sweet, if not a tad immature. OK, I admit it, when I saw Roger Worthington signed up in the 45+ I knew that race would be my focus.

Some background: I first met Roger in 1996 at the La Mirada Grand Prix. I had just bridged up to a break containing him and another guy, and we motored away from the 35+ field. Now Roger is not an attractive rider. Legs splayed outward, feet pointing at awkward angles, pelvis radically askew, his back contorting with each pedal mash. Your basic troll humping a bicycle. But bike racing isn't about style points; it's about where you cross the finish line relative to your competitors. And this Roger did better than almost everyone. Road races, crits, and TTs. He ripped them all up. And just for kicks every now and again, he'd win a big time cat-2 race like Sea Otter or Valley of the Sun, cackling all the while at the 20-something pro-wannabes eating his elderly dust.

...but I didn't know all that at La Mirada, and I figured he was just some dufus who'd finish behind me in my glorious victory. 'twas not to be... Rog won and I was 2nd, ...thus began a string of many, many races where Roger would finish in place "N" and I'd finish in "N+1", and it didn't matter if "N" was 1st or 61st. One year at Mt. Hood, he and I were both bonked out of our skulls in that old final-day road race with a few kft still to climb. We took the better part of an hour to complete it, and the entire time he was ahead of me by only 10 seconds. I turned myself inside out trying to reach him. Alas, after nearly four hours in the saddle...

17 535 Roger Worthington Labor Power 3:47:24
18 507 Mark Fennell Simply Fit / Action Sports 3:47:30

But the time I remember the most was the 2002 San Luis Rey RR where just he and I were together at the end behind a three-man break. We had a long two-up sprint, and with ~100 m to go I was moving up along side him on the left. If you know the SLR finish, then you know that's where the cones are, and Rog introduced me to them up close. Not blatantly of course, but that was the sheltered side and I tried to squeeze by and he shut the door, just like I would have done if the situation was reversed. So he got 4th and I got 5th. But here's the thing, afterwards he told me, and I quote, "I had to beat you in that sprint, otherwise my teammates would never let me live it down..." Translation: you're such a sucky sprinter that there was no way I'd let you beat me.


OK, enough background. Rog took a couple years off and had hip surgery, but when he hinted about making a comeback in 2008, I set a goal for myself of ending the "N" to "N+1" trend. So yeah, when I saw him signed up for the SLR 45+ race, I got a tad motivated ...even if his new moniker is Hobbly Man, and no longer Max Kash Agro.

The SLR 45+ race: big field, 60-70 guys, with strong teams from Cynergy, Simple Green, Edge, UC Cylcery, and Amgen/Giant. Plus a solo Louie. I put pressure on the climbs, along with Louie, KK, and Dave Worthington. The point was not to get away; the hill is too short and a lot of 45+ dudes are rather large and would probably catch us on the screaming descent. Rather, the point was to take some punch out of the sprinters legs. By the last lap, the front group was down to ~20, and included all the contenders. Plus Roger lurking in the back. Final few miles up the gradual stair steps, and Louie got away clean. I could probably have bridged up, likely towing 5-10 guys along, and then neither Louie nor I would win. But I figured it was up to the teams to do that job. Normally I wouldn't race for 2nd, but we solo guys have to combine now and then. Besides, you-know-who was moving up getting ready for a sprint like the old days. I locked onto his wheel and fought off a couple like-minded cling-ons before Strickie knocked me off clean. That's cool, I knew he'd be in the action too. KK started the sprint long and fast, and there was the usual chaos as guys sliced and diced. The surge was on both sides of me when Roger bolted to the right. Inexplicably, like a gift, Stricky moved left and opened a gap that I squeezed through (perhaps chopping him in the process) and so I found myself side-by-side with Roger and 150 meters of open road to the line. This is exactly what I was hoping for, and I made the most of it, accelerating past and staring at him all the while. Aaahhhh!! Revenge. I love and respect the guy, but this was sweet...

San Luis Re...covery was key seeing as I had another longer, harder road race in three hours. Kicked back in the van, ate a couple pounds of gruel, and gulped a half gallon of V-8 and Cytomax, in anticipation of the afternoon's heat. That turned out to be a mistake as I...

San Luis Re...gurgitated a bunch of the V-8 and Cytomax during the first couple laps of the pro/1/2 race. And the rest of it apparently went straight to my bladder which led to...

San Luis Re...lief was HUGE when I stopped at the porta-potty on Lap 4 for a much-needed pee break. When I was younger, I could pee off the bike with minimal mess. As a 46-year-old... let's just say the starter is not as quick, and the stream is not as strong.

San Luis Re...peats as I was solo off-the-back (dropped from weakness, not from the aforementioned pee break) I couldn't help but think how ridiculous it would be to ride four more laps alone in the wind. Interestingly, the absurdity of the situation actually motivated me to press on. I was hoping for the Lantern Rouge!

San Luis Re...jected by the officials when I begged them to let me finish on the leaders' lap. I got caught by, and subsequently sat on, the winning three-man break of Clinger, Ben Brooks, and Adam Livingston. It was cool to see them all taking their turns despite obvious suffering. For context, these dudes did 80 hilly and windy miles in about 3:10. So I was lapped and tried to apply the crit rule of finishing on the leaders' lap. No dice.

San Luis Re...sult after struggling on my 11th lap of the day, and 126 miles, I finished 30th, and didn't even earn the Lantern Rouge.

San Luis Rey Road Race. One of the best in Southern California.


Some more randoms from SLR

Congrats to new teammate Seth who solidly stomped on the cat-4 field at SLR. He rode the final lap solo and held on for a 10-second victory. Steve Weixel also rode strong and was looking for a good finish before dropping his chain at about the worst possible time (just before the descent).

Prof Smitty hung tough in the 3's and finished top-20 in the first group.

Cookie rode aggressively in the P/1/2 and made his way into a three-man chase group with DeMarchi and a LaGrangian but all that work took its toll and he's not stupid enough to ride any more laps solo in the wind.

Huge thanks to Kim, Steve, Seth, and his GF for hanging in the feed zone to help out Brian, Smitty, and me in the afternoon. Gotta repay you some day.


There were two big crits in CA on Saturday. Cat's Hill up north, and Barrio Logan in San Diego. Specialized Racing Masters Team swept the 35+ podium up there, and Amgen/Giant swept the 45+ down here. When is the show-down?


Finally, lest you think that all M-Dubb ever does on a bike is rip people's legs off on SB group rides, here's photographic evidence that he actually did a bike race this weekend (that blurry rider in the corner is him racing the p/1/2 event at Cat's Hill on Saturday)...


Greg Knowles said...

Congrats Mark, looks like the monkey is off your back.

Anonymous said...

Great job Mark, - Congratulations!


Chester said...


Anonymous said...

revenge is lame

Anonymous said...

I surely hope you don't let this thing die. You're one of the best reads going. I even check you out before BikesnobNYC clyda

Marco Fanelli said...

You are correct... revenge is lame. That's not the right word, and had I thought about it for more than 2 seconds, I probably would have used redemption instead. Revenge is an act put upon somebody else; redemption is more inwardly focused. How's that?

My sarcasm meter was pegged on that comment re BikesnobNYC! hahahaha

anony-miss said...

that's said...

The first time I did SLR in '99, I got dropped and rode around for training. It had quickly become obvious to me that I needed it. Eventually coming up on one lap to go, the commissaire yelled out, "You don't have to do the last lap". I replied, "Get comfortable". It sucked but I rode it out. Good for you riding it out Marco. Once a person starts to pull the pin in races, it just gets easier. For most folks, if they weren't racing that day, they'd probably ride longer anyway. In the end, they're actually de-training to some degree.
In 2004 I did it in 120 degrees. Most of my team pulled out, which aggravated me somewhat. Local pro team shows up but can't hack it?! I cramped severely but rode it out and ended up 4th to let the guys know that a little dedication and perseverance goes a long way. I had that day in '99 in my head and was determined to ride it out again.

anony-miss said...

120 degrees does not sound safe to ride in if you're not used to it. It's smart to cut your losses to live to ride another day.

anony-miss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marco Fanelli said...

Miss Anony-
Jake is exaggerating. I was there that day in 2004 (4th in 35+) and I can tell you it was not 120 degrees... it was only 110.