Monday, December 22, 2008

Blog on Vacation...

...for a little while. Have a happy holiday.

Training Week -- 12/15 - 12/21

Weak week due to rain and work.

Mon: 0
Tue: 0
Wed: 0
Thu: 2 hr; OSM easy, then to SB and back.
Fri: 0
Sat: 4 hr; 8:00 roco, rode hard to 2nd climb
Sun: 3 hr; Sunday worlds, hard around Goob and Bates

Total: 9 hrs

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How About You?

Nothing like an approaching storm to sort out the hardcore riders from the fluff. If you look at this picture and think, "What the hell, my bike needs cleaning anyway ...might as well ride", then you are hardcore and I respect your dedication. You deserve to win bike races. This sport, more than any other, rewards those who stay motivated and train consistently no matter how much discomfort it entails. People who win bike races are people who know how to suffer.

I type this while enjoying a steaming hot mocha, and my bike sits clean and dry in the garage. Fluff.

Disaster Averted

Do you regularly back up your computer? Neither do I. But when my laptop started acting flaky recently, I was uncharacteristically on-the-ball and copied everything over to an external hard drive. 'twas my first back up in the two-year life of that computer. Good thing too, because it finally died on the weekend. A premature death if you ask me. I've bought five Hewlett-Packard machines (3 PCs & 2 printers) in the last few years and this laptop was the third one to die young. Yet still, as a long-term stockholder and fan of the HP story, I gave the company a final chance and got another one yesterday.

Back up your stuff!

ps. I'm going to try to give this blog a face lift sometime in the next few days. If it disappears or otherwise gets ruined, you'll know I screwed it up.

Training Week -- 12/8 - 12/14

Nothing but group rides. That's too lazy and needs to stop! Less than 50 days 'til Santa Barbara World Crit Championships, i.e., Mothballs

Mon: 0
Tue: 1.5 hr, lunchtime hammerfest
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; lunchtime OSM, comfortable tempo - 18:00
Fri: 0
Sat: 4 hr; 8:00 roco ride to 2nd pass, 3X big-gear seated climb
Sun: 3.5 hr; Sunday worlds, some effort around Goob and Bates

Total: 10 hrs

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Danger ...From Us and From Them

I try not to dwell on the dangerous aspects of riding and racing, but really, they're never very far from my mind. Over my lifetime I've descended roads like Gibraltar, Painted Cave, OSM, Figueroa Mountain, and Mt. Hamilton, surely a thousand times or more. Often I find myself really railing the corners and enjoying the thrill of speed, only to think later about the catastrophic consequences of an ill-timed tire blowout or unseen patch of gravel. Or an oily road! Mostly though, I feel in control and tend not to obsess over those low-probability situations.

Of course it helps to keep your equipment in good shape. Don't ride worn tires, and fercrissakes, tighten your skewers properly. Years ago I was in a three-man rotation coming down the 101 at 25 mph when the guy in front decided to bunny-hop a little lip in the pavement at the Refugio bridge. His front wheel came off. Can you imagine the terror in that split second between seeing the wheel come out and planting your fork into the pavement?! His face and teeth got the worst of it. I also remember a local rider losing his front wheel when trying to hop a cattle guard coming down Figueroa Mtn. He got beat up pretty badly. Personally, I don't file off the nubs on my fork-tips because of those incidents.

Racing is a bit different. We all rely on each other in the pack, and whether it be benevolence or self-preservation, 99% of the time things run smoothly. Pretty remarkable when you think about the physics of it. All those bikes, with their sharp metal parts, moving fast in such close proximity ...each piloted by an independent-thinking rider whose primary objective is to force his front wheel ahead of all the other independent-thinking riders trying to do the same thing. All this with near non-existent communication.

But 99% is not 100%, and when things go wrong it can be disastrous. Earlier this year, a rider from Schroeder Iron crashed in a mid-week training crit and a finger was severed off of his hand. Just a random and unfortunate placement of a body part in all that metal and mass. Sometimes the results are more tragic, as was the case with a young rider from Santa Barbara named Barrett Holmen.

Bicycle racing is risky and I think in some twisted way, that's part of the appeal to many riders. We knowingly take those risks and experience some level of exhilaration when we survive.

It's an altogether different risk we take when training out on open roads with vehicle traffic. Indeed the vast majority of drivers are courteous to cyclists and they exercise appropriate caution when encountering us. But make no mistake, drivers do not share the "we're-all-in-this-together" mentality that fellow racers have in a pack. Drivers do not risk injury or death if something goes wrong or if they use poor judgment in the presence of a cyclist. There have been a couple tragic incidents recently that show how one-sided the danger is, with cyclists being run over and killed by inattentive drivers.

Worse yet are the sociopath drivers whose behavior is egregiously irresponsible and dangerous. Long time SB riders remember the horrific tragedy when six of our fellow cyclists were mowed down by an intoxicated driver up by Gaviota. One was killed, and another literally had his leg ripped off his body. I'm still haunted by what I saw a few days later at the scene. Police markings along the highway showing where bikes and bodies and been thrown, including a chalked outline of a detached leg. Every visit to the Albertson's on Calle Real is a grim reminder because the widow of the rider killed manages the produce department.

So I have no tolerance of idiot drivers who like to harass cyclists with their vehicles. Anybody who's been riding long enough knows the split-second terror you experience when a fast moving vehicle passes by deliberately close, literally threatening your life. Sometimes it's a bunch of high school kids who think it's funny; other times it's an old codger with deep-seeded prejudice of people in colorful lycra clothing. It doesn't really matter who they are, if they misjudge the distance between you, their 6,000 pounds of glass and steel means you're dead.

I'm sorry to write such a downer blog post. My lunch ride yesterday had some bad-mojo vehicle incidents, leaving me too depressed to ride today. First a huge black truck drove unnecessarily close by me, and then felt the need to gun its absurdly loud, gas-guzzling engine. Next I get the finger from some middle-aged loser for absolutely no reason. Hey, I'll admit if I do something stupid on the bike and interfere with traffic, but in this case all I was doing was innocently using the same road, well to the right of the white line. Then while riding with the group, a car full of high school kids must have thought we were poor because they threw a handful of coins at us. What other reason could there be?!

Please ride safely out there.

Training Week -- 12/1 - 12/7

Time was a bit limited by work, but still feeling some gains in high aerobic zone.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1.5 hrs; lunchtime hammer ride +
Wed: 0
Thu: 1.5 hrs; 2X OSM, near max on 2nd one (15:38)
Fri: 0
Sat: 3.5 hrs; Ca BikeFest, good tempo ride
Sun: 3.5 hrs; Sunday worlds

Total: 10 hrs

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ca BikeFest Ride

100+ riders rolled out for the long loop of the Ca BikeFest ride. Beautiful clear morning with just enough crisp to remind us that it's Winter in Southern California. The Amgen/Giant Masters set a spirited pace along PCH up to Rincon, and then they picked it up a notch on the Casitas climbs. By the top we had a ~15 rider front group, ten of whom were Amgen/Giant, including a few of their recent recruits (KB, Chris DeMarchi, and Antony Galvan). They are unquestionably the team to beat in 2009. Also in the bunch was Fast Freddie Rodriquez, who I think was Sherpa'ing for Mike Gourley (as if he needed a Sherpa!) Garmin/Chipotle rider Peter Stetina also joined us, and didn't appear the least bit homesick for his Boulder, CO weather. Other than a blistering sprint into Santa Paula, the group rode a nice tempo all the way back to Ventura. A perfect winter group ride!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Really Random

Missed it by That Much!

I had it all worked out. I'm riding the California BikeFest 100km route on Saturday, and I had a plan to win! Money in the bank, baby. Sure it's just a charity ride and all, but since I began 2008 with a glorious victory in the Solvang Century, I figured why not end 2008 on the same note? Bookends to an otherwise mediocre season. Just to be sure though, I needed a domestique. A super domestique. I needed a top roadie with big-time international experience.

So I placed my bid on Kim Anderson. I've ridden with her enough times to know she is a motor. We would TTT those 60 miles in like 2:20, leaving everyone else in our dust. Nearing the end, our DS would choreograph the finish such that I crossed the line first. Yes, that's how it was going to unfold.

Until somebody snuck in at the last minute and out-bid me!!! Grrrr....

Now all I can do is hope the 8:00 roco ride crosses our path and I can hop on that train along hwy 150. We leave Ventura at 8:00 also, and the hwy 150 / hwy 192 intersection is almost precisely in the middle!


All I Can do is Laugh!

Guess what! The City of Goleta raised the remodel permit fee from $380 to $1,490. They say the new fee better reflects the amount of work required to review the architectural drawings and inspect the construction. The change took effect on December 1st. I learned all this yesterday, December 3rd, when I turned in my permit application and wrote a $1,490 check. Sigh...


Recession? What Recession?

That's what my 13-year-old son says. He signed up with Google to show ads on a few of his videos on his Youtube page and now every month he gets a check. And look, the amounts are going up. His October check arrived yesterday and it's $266! The amazing thing is that he hasn't made any new videos in months. He barely even looks at his page any more. But obviously a lot of other people do!

Disclosure: the account is actually in Gina's name, since my son is below the minimum age. I guess that means we'll do his taxes for him next April.


Got Data?

TnA's dashboard. At one point he had a fourth device.


The Hammer Is Back!!!

So now we know how to motivate Ben "The Hammer" Haldeman. Bet him a burrito that he can't do something. Actually, the bet can't be with just anybody... no, I think it only works if the bet is with Matt "needs a nickname" Dubberley.

Take today for example. Normal lunchtime ride up Old San Marcos. Only this time, a burrito was on the line between those two hairy-legged former professional bike racers. For Ben to win, he needed to: (1) beat Matt to the top; and (2) break 15:00. Now, no offense to Matt, but I was pretty sure Ben would beat him. Matt's got a huge anaerobic tank, which is why he's so fast for 2-5 minutes, but OSM is about aerobic W/kg and Ben's got that in abundance. But sub-15:00?? In December???

We start fast. Ben's got three teammates for support. Matt's got none--we should change that, btw--but he's locked on like a Sidewinder missile, not letting more than a centimeter of air between his front and Ben's rear tire. I'm on the point and shoot my wad to reach the first mile at 4:20. I peel off and Ben bolts. Only Matt can match the acceleration, so now they're mano-y-mano. We watch from behind as Ben eats up the road. His form is not pretty--head bobbing up and down, torso skewed left--but the power is undeniable. Ben doesn't ask Matt to pull through because, of course, he wouldn't. Matt's best tactic would be a slow cruise to the top and then a furious sprint which he'd undoubtedly win. But really, I don't think he could have pulled through even if he wanted to.

At the big left bend, it appears that Matt's on the ropes. He's off Ben's wheel by a couple feet. You've heard of the Seinfeld "close talkers"? Well, Matt's a "close wheelsucker", frequently buzzing the tire in front of him, getting maximum draft. If he's off by just a couple feet, it pretty much means he's cracked.

We lose sight of the combatants as they round the big left-hand bend. A minute later and we're around the turn also, but see no sign of them ahead. A few tense moments. Then, up beyond, through a clearing in the trees, we see a lone figure emerge. White jersey, unmistakably unique form, flying fast uphill... a solo Ben. A quick check of my watch shows he's on pace to smash the 15:00 barrier. As he enters the switchbacks, we won't see him again until it's over.

Our attention turns to Matt. Oh how sweet it would be if we three could catch and drop him, teach him a lesson for diss'ing our teammate. He's a wounded animal up there and we smell blood. Trouble is, he smelled us too. He would not be our prey today.

I finish off the climb in 15:38, my best time since the summer. As I roll up to the hairy-legged former pros, I see a look of content in Ben's eyes. The look of a person who knows he'll be enjoying a big fat burrito for lunch.



And Speaking of Food...

Gina and I saw the movie Our Daily Bread last night at UCSB. Oh man, was it ever powerful. The viewer is immersed in the sights and sounds of industrial food production, and there is literally no dialogue at all. It doesn't need any. A DVD release is scheduled for January and anybody in the developed world who eats food should see it.