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.

8 comments:

Manley Man said...

Interesting analysis on the Norcal-Socal discussion. Maybe we'll eventually see some races where all the big boys come out to play together.

Marco Fanelli said...

Oh, I wouldn't call it analysis... more like, just trying to stir the pot. Yeah, it would be cool to have a real California State Championship!

Aram Dellalian said...

mark,

you give me too much credit. It was exactly because I was putting around (sag climbing the first couple, for example) and not "racing" that I missed the boat.

gah.

but thanks. As for the aggression. Well, that's me + the frustration of not making the break. The livestrong guy I wanted to apologize to, but wasn't sure who he was. Kevin gave me the wheel back eventually.

Nice riding, by the way.

Marco Fanelli said...

Aram-

I call 'em as I see 'em, and what I saw every time I looked up was you either attacking or attempting to bridge to somebody else attacking.

Good luck with the rest of your season and see ya next year. I think I'm ready switch focus to running for a bit. Bad timing in a way... here in the Appalachian Mtns of Western North Carolina, where I'm hanging for a week, there are incredible roads for riding but I've got no bike, nor any cycling stuff. And strangely, I don't see anybody riding here anyway...

Anonymous said...

Mark,

Had fun racing with you this weekend. Gina is Jen's new inspiration cause she is so fit! Good luck in your next race.

Vinny

Chester said...

El Capi-tan,

This is good news... If Thurlow can do it, so can you man.

Good job representing out there. It sounded like you held your own against an extremly competitive field.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

I just stumbled across your Nationals write-up, and certainly enjoyed reading it.

Seemed to me that the course was deceptively hard, and the speed very high so it really did make for a very tough day for you guys.

Just to be clear with the whole Kevin Klein waterbottle incident-I spoke with him and the chief official after the race and it's very clear to me that he unintentionally lobbed that (full!) waterbottle inside of the musette b/c his team was in short supply. Needless to say it was a real shocker to me and I was glad it didn't hit me in the face/head. Kevin was very sorry and I don't know what happened with the officials and Kevin in the end.

I, too, was very sorry to hear about the three-minute window on the road, and I really hope that Jet Tanner (promoter) will figure out a way to get a little more leeway from the police for next year's national championship-and it sounds like it would be really cool if he was able to get the circuit to include that Modjeska hill!


Todd Gogulski

Marco Fanelli said...

Todd-

Thanks for commenting and clearing up that water-bottle thing. Yes, the RR was well done (inc. your announcing), and I hope my comments about the course and the three-minute rule didn't sound too negative. I didn't mean them to be, because in truth, I really enjoyed the race.

Do you have any thoughts about returning to racing? Seeing guys like Thurlow out there must make you consider it.