Monday, August 18, 2008

Western North Carolina Farmers Market

We like to check out Farmers' Markets in places we visit. Yesterday we went to the biggest one I've ever seen, the Western North Carolina Farmers Market in Asheville, NC. It's open for business 7 days a week, and it's probably where most families and restaurants around here get their produce. These farmers (and consumers) don't focus so much on organic methods, but at least they're selling and eating local. 'natch, I took some pics...

Yeah, He's Fast

Last week, in a side story on my Nationals RR report, I said this about SB's Ken Hanson and the Polo Fields sprint on our Sunday group ride:

I suppose Ken hasn't stamped his authority on that sprint yet, but trust me, if he were to light it up, nobody in town could even come out of his draft, if you could even stay on his wheel.

Maybe he hasn't yet added the prestigious Polo Fields sprint to his palmar├Ęs but, as of yesterday, he can add National Elite Crit Champion!

Congrats to Ken and his CalGiant Strawberries team for bagging their 2nd National Championship in one week!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nantahala Falls

Training Week -- 8/4 - 8/10

Mostly rest with a bit of intensity.

Mon: 1 hrs; recovery w/ Brian around Goleta
Tue: 1 hrs; lunchtime hammer, hard
Wed: 1 hrs; recovery pace w/ Brian
Thu: 1 hrs; OSM, moderate
Fri: 3 hrs; up the coast and around Goleta
Sat: 3 hrs; roco ride to polo fields, tempo
Sun: 5 hrs; Nationals RR (120 miles), 40th

Total: 15 hrs

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hasty Natz Report

Pretty tired, so this will be brief, and probably a bit random.

Bottom line: CalGiant pretty much dominated the Elite Nationals RR today. You can count for yourself the number of their riders on the podium:

Mattis wins, AJM 2nd, Thurlow!! 3rd

Oh what the heck, you can read for yourself if you click on this pic:
...or, results from cyclingnews.

Hmmm, what to say...

The stats: 120 mile road race on big, wide OC boulevards. Two hills per 20-mile lap, each gaining, perhaps, 250 feet. Big-ring'able every time. A bit of wind, but not too bad. Probably about 80 degrees warm.

131 starters, and naturally a lot of Californians. CalGiant was the biggest team--like 15 riders--and had I written a pre-race post, I would have predicted a CalGiant win. But I would have thought they would have had some battles with the 5-Star Green Giants and the LaGrangian Nation. In fact, my podium prediction would have been: AJM 1st, Adrian Gerrits 2nd, and Adam Livingston 3rd.

I will not complain about anything having to do with this race, because I know it's a ton of work to promote, and no matter what, having it in SoCal is a treat.

But... Two weeks ago, they changed the course. Originally it was to be three 35-miles laps and would have included a really nasty half-mile wall called Modjeska Canyon. I rode that a couple weeks ago (actually, the day before they announced the course change) and man-oh-man, what a beast. Out of the saddle grunting a 39x25, followed by a wickedly technical descent. The field would've detonated on Modjeska. Yes, it would coagulate back into larger groups, but the winning move would have gone away there. My opinion.

'twas not to be. The promoter couldn't get the permits, so today's course was the fall-back. A road race championship with only big-ring climbs. But you know what? It was still hard, proving once again that the riders make the race and not the course.

Oh yeah, another thing I won't complain about ...but will point out... when we were lined up to start, the officials told us that any riders falling more than three minutes behind the lead rider would be pulled. So think about what that means: if an early break went, and quickly got a nice gap, everyone else would be pulled and the break would fight it out among themselves. Weird. It meant that the first couple laps were 30 mph, as all the attacks were chased rabidly. Or, you could say... rapidly. (Red wine is making me punchy...)

On the second lap, a large group (15?) did get a gap, which floated between 45 seconds and a minute for the next hour. Adrian made the split, as did a couple Green Giants (Karl & Diebler?), 45+'er Louie Amelburu from Las Vegas, and gritty ol' C-Walk. On the 3rd or 4th lap, not really sure, some real motors scooted across. Mattis, Thurlow, Paul Martin (last-year's winner), and NorCal's Vinny Owens and Paul Mach. The group up there had swelled to 20 or more. The final two laps saw some serious meltdowns from the front group. Sorry to say, our hero Adrian went backwards and DNF'ed. The Green Giants also cracked. Meanwhile, Thurlow went away with Mattis and AJM ...and that was that. 4th through 15th were also survivors from that front break. The remaining field, about 45 of us, sprinted for 16th. SB's Ken Hanson "won" that. He's freakin' fast. Side story: Ken said some knucklehead on the SB group ride was hassling him going into the Polo Fields sprint. Basically saying, "either lead it out or get out of the way!" I suppose Ken hasn't stamped his authority on that sprint yet, but trust me, if he were to light it up, nobody in town could even come out of his draft, if you could even stay on his wheel. Anyway, I thought I'd do better in the sprint, but I was cramping and went out into the wind to avoid the chaos. I finished 40th. I'm satisfied with that (my previous two Elite Nationals were DNFs) but it's a bit lame to ride just to finish rather than trying to race and compete. Maybe next time, if there is a next time.

More randoms...

My Sweetie Gina worked the feed zone like a pro, handing bottles and musette bags flawlessly to three riders. Thank you sooo much.

Let me tell you that Vince Owens is a bonafide stud. Why? Well, yesterday Vince raced the 92-mile Patterson Pass RR in NorCal where he got 2nd from a break with some Team Type 1 pro. (pic by Steven Woo.) And today he made the key move and finished 13th. He was a cat-3 just two years ago. And his cool and super-nice GF, Jen, spent the whole race with Gina in our feed tent.

Did you note that in there were three SoCal 45+'ers in the top-ten? Thurlow 3rd, C-Walk 8th, and Louie 9th. I don't know whether to cheer my fellow geezers ...or cry, because I have to race against them for the rest of my life!

Aram looked really good today, but unfortunately didn't make the front split. He was 2nd in the big field sprint behind Ken which is a nice result (17th) nonetheless. He was one of just a few guys back in the group who raced from start-to-finish, as opposed to many of us who were just trying to survive. Aram got pretty feisty a couple times, ripping into this poor dude in a Livestrong-sponsored jersey. And then going into the field sprint, he and Kevin Klein were getting into it as they fought for Ken's wheel in back of the Strawberry line.

And speaking of Kevin, apparently in the post-feed-zone frenzy, he launched an empty water bottle that hit race announcer Todd Gogulski (himself a former top US rider in the 80s). I don't know if KK was fined, DQ'ed, or facing suspension, but he was desperately pleading his case to officials. I doubt it was intentional, and the feed-zone chaos at this race was extreme, but of all the places to launch your bottles, the officials' platform is not the best.

Finally, on the subject of NorCal-vs-SoCal, and now that we've completed both Elite and Masters road Nationals, what do you think of this... SoCal has the better Masters roadies (who's gonna beat Thurlow, C-Walk, and Louie?) but NorCal tops the non-Pro Elites. And that goes beyond the Strawberries too. PaulMachDotCom, Vinnie, etc.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tardy Race Reports (Sisquoc, SLO, San Marcos)

July 19th; Sisquoc RR; Pro/1/2; 7 Laps for 75 Miles

At the start I noted a surprisingly large and talented field, including four SuccessfulLiving riders, plus solo pros Neil Shirley, Tony Cruz, and David Clinger. Lots o' strong amateurs too, including a bunch of Chris Daggs' Swamis, jandy Badonkadonk's NorCal Elites, three Strawberry Boyz, two 5-starz (Livingston and James G-W), Time's Mike Easter and C-Walk,...

...and of course, lined up in the very back, Papa Cookie, Bam-Bam The Hammer Haldeman, and moi.

Right on cue, the early break was established by the first corner with representation from most of the above teams, except, Fortunately, lots of wattage and solo pros still in the bunch, so the gap never got too big and we could see them off in the distance. We took our turns (pic at right, from Kim Weixel) as did lots of other guys, and the escapees were caught within a few laps. As per normal, that's both good news and bad news. The good news being, well, the break is caught. Which leads to the bad news, the inevitable counter attacks and surges. I suppose that's only bad news if you are tired, fatigued, weak, lazy, and/or out of position to respond. So we missed the next move too. But this one was smaller and never got very far because it had both Neil and Tony, and they don't get much leash. So with a lap-and-a-half to go, the bunch was compacto until SuccessfulLiving's Ricardo Escuela squirted off the front and nobody paid much attention. After all, he's just a sprinter, right?!

Wrong!! He was never seen again (until after the finish, that is).

Half a lap to go and Bam-Bam jumped clear on the left. As he dangled out there, I marked a couple responses until Vinny Owens jumped, so I let him go along with a SuccessfulLiving passenger (Bazzana?). The Hammer trio started pulling away. I followed a couple more guys attempting to cross the gap, including an extremely painful surge by Tony Cruz, but then I retreated to the back of the much-reduced pack. Well, in the final few miles, a bunch of small groups scooted across to Ben, and his group swelled to 18 riders. I tried one last time to get across solo on the hill, and made it pretty close before detonating. cest la vie.

Cody won the sprint for 2nd. Ben got 13th. I crossed the line in 22nd.

We'd like a "do-over" on this race!



July 20th; SLO Crit; Masters 45+

30'ish 45+ guys showed up for this excellent crit. What's up with that? I guess it's just too far from LA/OC/SD to attract a larger field. I was hoping that sharing the weekend with Sisquoc would help, but apparently not. Oh well.

But I was excited to have a teammate in a Masters race--big, bad, choo-choo C-Brown!

So yeah, a small field, but indeed a tough one. A couple Schroeder Iron sprinters (inc. Frank hisself), some Simple Green warriors, and some motivated local Rock Solids (e.g., David Leece), so I knew this would be a hard race to win. My only chance would be a break ...unfortunately, my legs weren't up to the task. I tried a few times (including with Jim Edwards and Carlos Soto, pic at right) but just didn't have the uumphh to roll fast for multiple laps. Highlight of my race was winning a prime for a case of CalGiant Strawberries (earlier blog post).

The race was interrupted near the end so EMT's could attend to Bob Guglielmelli who had crashed on the back stretch. Let's hope he's ok.

We restarted with 10-minutes-to-go, which quickly transformed into 5-laps-to-go. I sought out the wheel of speedy Tino Riveron, who seems to have a knack for finding the front. Unfortunately for me, he also has a knack for weaving through the pack and darting through gaps that look too small. I admit it... I'm a chicken in the end-game slice-'n-dice shenanigans that are the bread-and-butter for SoCal crit scum (and just so you know, I used that term endearingly). So I lost Tino. Bell lap and I rode by C-Brown, hoping he'd hop on my wheel. Seems he thought the Schroeder Iron express was a better ticket ...who can blame him... until one of them reached out and pushed him off the train. Two corners to go and I squeezed through the inside of somebody (sorry, whoever it was...) and tried to attach to the big Schroeder bodies, but they were too fast so I was into the wind alone out of the last corner. Not much position changing down the long home stretch. Schroeder gets 1st and 5th, Simple Green 2nd and 4th, Bob Neary 3rd, which left 6th and 7th for Choo-choo and me.

We'd like a "do-over" on this race.



July 27th; San Marcos Crit; Masters 45+

Sheesh!! I don't know if I'm dumb, weak, stubborn, ...or all the above.

What would you do if your race included the current 45+ RR and TT National champion ...and the current 45+ National Crit champion ...who, coincidentally, lapped the field together in that National Championship race ...and who both ride for the same team.

And further, suppose you've personally witnessed their tandem'ish exploits for many, many years... let's say, going back to the 1992 Masters 30+ National crit championships in Spokane, WA, where the two of them were off the front and you (solo) almost bridged the gap, getting to within a couple agonizing seconds, only to fade back into obscurity and anonymity, while they motored on to finish 1-2.

And even further further, suppose your fitness is good and you feel up to the challenge of competing against them.

Now a smart person would race this situation with total focus and attention on the two aforementioned protagonists. You'd never lose sight of them, and you'd conserve energy in anticipation of the inevitable attack. A strong rider would latch onto the back of that attack, perhaps even going pull-for-pull to establish the gap. Then as the finish neared, you'd withstand the one-two counter punching, and sprint past both of them for the glorious win.

Yes, that would be the smart and strong thing to do.

But I'm too stubborn to try that, because, well, it seems like negative racing ...not to mention that I'm too weak and dumb to execute it anyway. Instead I'll just make a few Lame-O attacks and counter attacks, pulling the bunch around, until eventually I need to take a rest break in the back of the pack. At which point, Batman and Robin bolt off the front and bank a 20-second gap within a single lap.

You can decide for yourself which one is Batman and which one is Robin.

Duuhhh... which way did they go, which way did they go...

Please go here to see more excellent photos-by-Lenny of the San Marcos races, along with other SoCal events.

So anyway, the Dynamic Duo easily won the race. Honestly, once they got the 20-second lead, I doubt that a full-pack TTT could have brought them back. Bell lap was a bit chaotic in the bronze-medal-hunting group. I surfed various and sundry wheels until with 200 meters to go I pushed on through to the front, thinking at least I'd salvage some pride and win the field sprint. Yeah, right!! I'm not sure if I backed off a tad or what, but Tino came by me at the end to cap off my flailing failure.

Not sure where the official results are, so you'll have to look at this pic if you care...

Yeah... I'd like a "do-over" on this one too.

Training Week -- 7/28 - 8/3

Some long hard rides, with a 3-day break.

Mon: 3 hrs; Goleta-HopeRanch-PoloFields-Ladera-Mtn-Goleta
Tue: 5 hrs; roco ride + OSM + lunchtime hammerfest
Wed: 0; vacation in SD
Thu: 0; ""
Fri: 0; ""
Sat: 6 hrs; Casitas loop + OSM & Painted Cave
Sun: 3 hrs; Worlds

Total: 17 hrs

- One week 'til 120-mile Nationals RR. Endurance and heat tolerance is good, so won't be a problem as long as I fuel and hydrate correctly. Not so confident about repeated surges up those damn hills though...