Friday, December 10, 2010

Back in the Day

This is what bike racing was like back in the day... 1977... way, way back! First five minutes is the RR national championship. The rest is the track championships.

1977 USCF Natz Seattle Washington from CinelliDog on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways...

I think I'm in love with Trail Running. Or maybe it's just a jumbo-size crush ...time will tell I guess. A younger man would just let loose and follow his heart, be a romantic. I'm more rational than that; I like to analyze and make lists. Pros and cons, that sort of thing.

Here are the pros:

1. Unlike my last affair, trail running doesn't hurt! Not sure why, but maybe it's all the different positions and geometries. Up, down, bumpy, smooth,... Lots of variety so that nothing ever gets worn out or broken. Which also means you get more of a full-body workout! The sense of blissful fatigue after 90 minutes on trails is much more satisfying than 90 minutes on the road (well, I think it is... can't say I've ever successfully run 90 minutes on pavement without blowing up prematurely).

2. And what a heart-pumping experience it is to run all out up a 30% slope. Few things scream, "I'M ALIVE!!!" like that organ pounding against your rib cage at 170 beats a minute. Such a fine line between pleasure and pain. But for whatever reason, I cannot go that hard on the road--other systems fail way before my heart maxes out.

3. I'm also smitten with the mental side of trail running. Your brain goes on hyperdrive as you hurtle downhill on a twisty single-track covered in rocks and roots. Every footstep is subconsciously calculated to keep you upright and moving forward quickly. So many factors... will your shoe grip that boulder, or will it slide off? can your knee handle the drop? is your ankle strong enough? what's under those leaves? etcetera, etcetera. Of course you're not really aware of all that thinking--it just happens instinctively--and it's a rush, a powerful mix of stress and exhilaration. Much different than plodding through the motions when running on pavement or even pedaling a bike.

4. Trail running is oh so Au Natural. Our ancient relatives did it, though not so much for fun as for survival. Eat or be eaten! What else can you do in the modern world that has such a basic primal connection? Does the forest look or feel any different for us today than it did for a young Chumash boy or girl 5,000 years ago?

5. Once a week I do it with a group. They're smart, fit, genuine people. Men and women, mostly all younger than me. No one person dominates, and we all take turns being in front or behind. It's been five weeks in a row now, and we always rendezvous in a new place or run a different trail. Loving the variety!

So, are there any cons of trail running? What about breaking an ankle, getting bitten by a snake, or eaten by a mountain lion? Those are the obvious things, but the risks actually add to the thrill. The bigger issue, however, is what this fling will do to my 30-year relationship with bike racing! Is there room for another activity? Is there enough passion to share, or will performance suffer? Could the two relationships possibly be complementary?

I'd like to find out. I'm going to do some of these in 2011.

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Office

Two weeks ago, I was invited onto a "Red Team" to review and critique an important proposal my company is writing. While flattered, I was also a bit hesitant because I wasn't looking for additional work. Ten years ago I successfully extracted myself from all company business other than fun technical subjects. Yet, from some sense of duty, I agreed to participate on the Red Team.

That afternoon they plopped the document on me --all 70 pages of it-- and I settled in to read. I struggled right out of the gate, and eventually DNF'ed despite giving it a good three-hour effort. I know the authors knew their stuff, in fact, they are brilliant people, but it just wasn't coming out crisply in the text. Worse still, in the parts I could understand, they were substantially underselling their capabilities.

Turns out all the other Red Team members felt the same way, so we met with the proposal writers and told them bluntly what we thought. A bit of an awkward situation but handled deftly by the Red Team leader, my company's prez. By the end of the meeting I was feeling good about the prospects; the writers got the messages and seemed to genuinely appreciate our input. OK, back to my hole and my interesting technical work... or so I thought.

My curiosity piqued when I saw the prez go over and whisper into the VP's ear as we were wrapping up. "Mark, can you stick around a little longer?" Not so much a question as an order really. Turns out he unceremoniously threw me over the fence onto the proposal-writing team. Ookaaay... what horrible tasks are the proposal writers going to dump on me now, getting revenge for the comments I had made from the safety of the Red Team just a few moments earlier?

Well, of course they're bigger people than that, and they took me in warmly and gave me some plumb writing assignments. So I tap-tapped away on the keyboard over the next couple of days, writing and rewriting, and rewriting again. Eventually I had some pages I was proud of. Now it was their turn to critique! So yeah, they tweaked a few things and deleted some of my ramblings ...I do tend to ramble... but most of my contributions will be in the final version. That made me happy.

But the thing that really surprised me was this: I truly enjoyed the writing assignment. I mean really writing, with all the complexity and nuance of language. Trying to balance the often conflicting goals of being entertaining --or at least not boring-- while at the same time being informative. I am a cat-5 writer to be sure, but even a cat 5 can appreciate the process.

What occurred to me next was that before this little assignment, I hadn't strung together more than three or four paragraphs in a long time. Probably since abandoning this blog! The only writing I've been doing is the usual smattering of emails, phone texts, and Facebook comments. Hardly a way to stay in writing shape!

And so my final realization was, hey, I don't want my writing brain to get flabby, so maybe I'll start blogging again! Lots of fodder out there to consider. No promises that it will be any good, and no doubt you won't share the same excitement level that I do about some subjects. For example, do you get giddy like me when thinking about rain harvesting, and the two 650-gallon tanks I just bought? I thought not. So it's up to you... if you want to stick around, you can be on the Red Team.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Training Week -- 4/5 - 4/11

I skipped last week's version of this post because I didn't do much training (one run and one easy-paced ride). So, essentially, my 12-hour 209-mile ride two weeks ago was followed by a week of great rest. Consequently, this week felt really good, particularly in the high-aerobic-zone, steady-state efforts (like OSM & Casitas).

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; Lunchtime hammerfun
Wed: 2 hr; warm-up ride & practice crit
Thu: 1.5 hr; OSM (15:12) & Painted Cave
Fri: 0
Sat: 3.5 hr; to/from 2nd Casitas hill w/ 8:00 ride
Sun: 0

Total: 8 hours

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wait, Slow Down!

We spent most of last week up in Northern California visiting some of the colleges my daughter is considering. On the list are UC Santa Cruz, University of San Francisco, and UC Davis. They're all really nice, but the whole thing feels surreal and leaves me a bit dazed. I mean, why are we looking at colleges already? Wasn't it just last week that I snapped this picture of her enjoying her favorite food group? Isn't she still the sweet and innocent little girl who holds our hands tightly when we walk in a crowd, and buries her face into our legs when introduced to a stranger? Please tell me that she's still afraid of clowns and balloons, and that she needs me to guide her safely through such dangers.



I suppose the reality is that my daughter is a self-confident, smart, funny, good-hearted young woman who is ready for launch into a complicated yet exciting world. She has excelled in high school and is eager for more challenges ahead. She wants to change the world, and it pleases Gina and me greatly that she's pursuing Environmental Science. Proud doesn't even begin to describe our feelings about her.

But, if she's nearly an adult about to go off to college, that means that...... I'm getting old???

Admittedly there have been a few signs and symptoms. Somewhere along the way the hair from the top of my head migrated to all sorts of regions previously devoid. Nostrils, ears, shoulders. Other places I'll spare you. Nor has the sun been particularly kind. I notice that the skin on my quads resembles that of a mostly-deflated balloon resting on the floor the morning after a party. Symbolic of life? Long gone are the days of stealing a quick glance when walking by a mirror wearing shorts. (If you're a bike racer reading this blog, don't even try to tell me you haven't checked out your legs in a reflection!)

Is this the normally scheduled time for a mid-life crisis, when you start realizing you're getting old? Lots of guys do it, right? They buy a Corvette or a Harley, and maybe a young blond hottie to take along for the ride. Desperately trying to recapture lost youth or relive glory years, real or imagined? The thing is, I've never been that into motors, and my sweetie is everything I need or want.

But some would say I've been mired in a mid-life crisis for quite some time. Nine years ago I recklessly stepped off the conventional career path, burned out by way too much traveling, stress, and missing my family. Now when I work, it's from home and more-or-less on my schedule. For a few years I was Mr. Mom, spending time in my kids' classrooms, going on field trips, helping with after-school sports, and generally just being there. I loved every minute of it. Of course those things diminished as the kids became teenagers, and my role became more of a bus-driver and chauffeur. And all too soon they drive themselves...

So now I spend a lot of time riding a fancy bicycle while wearing shiny colorful Lycra a clown. Hardly normal by standards of society-at-large. Doing it as obsessively as I sometimes do, I can see that it might look like a mid-life crisis.

But in reality, cycling provides my higher consciousness with plausible deniability about aging. I feel better physically and mentally than I did twenty years ago. I'm more at peace and way less stressed. No doubt all due to cycling (and eating right). On the other hand, the normal people I know --i.e., the non-bike-racers-- they're clearly all getting older. Many seem under great stress. They ingest all sorts of potent chemicals, medicines for blood pressure and cholesterol, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, on and on. Standing in the shower, many of them couldn't see their... feet. I wish they'd exercise more.

To an extent the company you keep influences your age. I have friends through cycling who are twenty years younger than me. It's a strong common bond we share. And bless their hearts... they teach me things. For example, when I was young, we'd say "Sure, I'm up for doing that ride!" whereas nowadays you're supposed to say, "Sure, I'm down for doing that ride!" Very confusing. Another example: I showed up for a mountain bike ride with a fanny pack, which I was politely told was a huge fashion faux pas. Who knew?

I'm starting to ramble and have forgotten where I was going with this post --another symptom of aging apparently, along with drooling-- so let me just leave you with a picture of a car we passed on the way home last weekend. Just some random UCLA kid driving back to school in his bimmer with a license plate that reads "NVR B OLD"...

Hey kid, I'm trying.

You don't stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Training Week -- 3/22 - 3/28

A bit unconventional...

Mon: 0
Tue: 4 hrs; Hills! Gib-ECC-Stagecoach-WCC-OSM, tempo
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, 16:11, windy
Fri: 0
Sat: 12 hrs; Ben's BDay ride, 209 miles, 12+ kft climbing
Sun: 3 hrs; hike w/ a bit of running

Total: 20 hours


- I'm going to account for all exercise hours from now on, not just riding time. When you're young and improving in cycling, you can justify focusing all your physical activity toward the bike. That's not me. I want more variety now, including on the bike. Last weekend was awesome, with an extreme ride and a strenuous hike. Were those optimal training sessions for a bike race? Certainly not. Was it the most fun physically-active weekend I've had in a long time? Definitely. Will bike racing suffer? Perhaps, but there are inspirational examples out there: Chris DeMarchi competing in ironman triathlons and being a successful bike racer still, and Todd Booth being a fast runner and competitive MTB'er.

- Wexie took some pictures of Ben's Bday ride and also wrote a ride report.

- I'd hoped to race Clobberopolis next Saturday when in NorCal for our whirlwind college tours, but it conflicts with a scholarship interview in the Bay Area. Too bad... if there was ever a race that last weekend's training was appropriate for, it's Copperopolis!

Friday, March 26, 2010

From Carissa re Rick

Info about memorial and remembrances:
On Sunday there will be a paddle out type of ceremony at santa clause beach @10 am for Rick Gill. As we all know, if he was out riding on a Sunday, he would have ridden with the Sunday group. Therefore, please join us at the Bath House at the normal Sunday World's time (9:05) and ride out with us to Santa Clause Lane ...for Rick's memorial service. I was thinking it would be cool to show up as a group in our bright colored cycling clothing to honor him, and in support of his family. He was involved in so many different sports and groups, but he always made our rides fun when he came out. So lets show him how grateful we were for all his love and laughter.

Noon is a bbq/potluck at Lions Park Carpinteria. Please bring a side dish. outside alcohol is not permitted in the Lions park, instead they sell drinks! There will be a time after lunch when we all can share fond, funny and touching stories of Rick!

**For those who want to stay for the barbeque afterwards, or if your family is driving out, just give them your clothes and have them meet you out there. It would really great to have as many people as possible show up and join us for for the ride.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rick Gill 1954 - 2010

I cannot think of anybody I've ever ridden with who had a more upbeat demeanor than Rick Gill. For sure he looked an intimidating presence with that big body and tough-guy mustache, but he instantly put people at ease with his smile and constant jokes.

Of the many Rick Gill legends, one will stick with me forever because it pretty much characterizes him perfectly. I wasn't on this particular ride, so forgive me if the details are slightly off. Seems Rick was riding along Cabrillo Blvd when he waved enthusiastically at another cyclist riding the other direction. The other rider ignored him. Rick quickly made a u-turn and chased the rider down to inform him that here in Santa Barbara, "we wave at each other, brutha time you wave back, ok!?" Probably gave him a big bear hug too.

Wave to each other. It's what Rick would have wanted.

Training Week -- 3/15 - 3/21


Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; lunchtime hammer
Wed: 1 hr; part of Hope Ranch suffervals
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, tempo
Fri: 2 hr; SDSR tt & post ride
Sat: 2 hr; SDSR road race
Sun: 1 hr; SDSR crit

Total: 8 hours

- Pretty depressed about my performance at SDSR this year. TT was my slowest ever on that course, and it was hard to hold wheels at times in the rr and crit. After taking most of last year off and being a little burnt, I thought it might be more enjoyable this year to simplify, i.e., no indoor riding, no structured intervals, and not even a bike computer. Maybe that wasn't such a good plan.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ronde de Solvang Century Race/Ride Report

I am quickly becoming a true Fred, and honestly, I'm OK with that. I fully expect that someday in the not-so-distant future I'll be sporting a neon-green wind breaker and a helmet mirror while riding along the bike path at 13 mph. Actually, I'm pretty accomplished at that last part already.

That brief preamble is just setting the stage for tonight's confession:
(1) I rode the Solvang Century on Saturday.
(2) I rested all week for it.
(3) I used my race wheels.
(4) The rest of this blog post is a ride report.

Saturday dawned clear and crisp, but a fast-moving storm the night before left behind some extremely strong and gusty winds. All thoughts of breaking the four-hour mark blew out the window. Too bad, because our group certainly had the horsepower to pull it off in better conditions. I wish I'd been able to take some pictures, but this ride is way too hectic and fast to be fumbling around with a camera. Instead, I'll adopt the _gavia_ methodology of photojournalism....

As per tradition, a very large group (60-70?) of SB and SYV riders rolled out from the Bulldog Cafe at precisely 8:00, and we immediately rev'ed up to 25 mph and began the chaos of riding through hordes of century riders on all manner of bike and bent. Some of them try to jump in with us, which is usually pretty awkward. Most recreational riders don't understand the subtleties of riding fast in a group. I cringed when I saw one of them nearly take down Kim Anderson. Fortunately, 25 mph ensures nobody ever stays too long. We made it to Lompoc intact and we'd only used up an hour of clock. The early effort and the wind took its toll though, and our group was cut roughly in half.

Between Lompoc and Vandenburg AFB, the wind got really nasty, blowing in off the ocean to our left. Surely this was a good proxy for the wind-swept spring races in Belgium and Holland. Normally in the Ronde de Solvang, a good strategy is to hide 20 riders back in the group and save energy for the 3rd and 4th hours. However, facing a wicked side-wind like Saturday, that strategy is a sure way to get dropped. With the lead rider out along the centerline, there's enough room for only six or seven riders in an echelon across the road. Everyone else behind is in the gutter and facing a good bit more wind. That phenomena cracked quite a few riders on the way to Santa Maria.

We rode into the third hour with a group of 15 or so, mostly Platinum, along with Randy T. and Karl W., and of course our major engines Aaron Olson and Kim Anderson. The civilian century riders were now few and far between, and our group rotated crisply and efficiently on the open farm roads. Sadly we found ourselves caught in a strange SB-county vortex, meaning that somehow we were STILL facing headwinds despite having ridden more than half-way around the 100 mile loop. Clearly we were not going to recoup the earlier time losses.

The wind was finally at our backs when we made the turn toward Solvang along Foxen Canyon. That was both a blessing and a curse. It sure felt good to go fast again, but a tailwind also means you get less benefit from drafting and it really hurts when the front rider pushes hard. After the first few rises, we were down to The Solvang Seven: Aaron and Kim, Ben the Hammer, Gary "Guns" D'Velo, M-Dubb, Me, and the defending Solvang chump Chesterini.

Very little talking in our intimate little group, and at first everyone was loathe to skip a pull. We were a band of brothers ...and a sister... and Foxen Canyon was our battlefield. Chester was the first casualty, which meant that 2010 would crown a new chump champ. After a few more miles Matt began sitting on. Naturally that energized Ben, whose pulls became a bit more spirited. Then at about mile 80, Kim finally skipped a pull and began sitting on. As an aside... for any readers out there who doubt the toughness of top-shelf women bike racers like Kim Anderson, I suggest you ride 100 miles in 20 mph wind with one of them. Kim outlasted some very good Cat 1 and 2 male bike racers!

The tension was high as we approached the big hill on Foxen. We all knew that's where the first salvos would be fired. Sure enough Ben attacked immediately at the base, finally breaking the uneasy truce we'd maintained for the previous 3.5 hours. He got a good gap as we all reeled from the shock wave. Gary, Matt, and I deferred to Aaron (wouldn't you?) and half way up he loaded up his big ring and powered up to Ben with the three of us groveling on his wheel. Kim was the only casualty of this first skirmish. We flew down the descent and I spun out my 12. A fast left turn for the second big hill, and right on cue Ben attacked again. Once more, Aaron took off after him in the big meat, but this time we didn't hold on. Aaron dispatched Ben and went over the top solo, with only 10 miles between himself and a glorious victory in Solvang. Meanwhile, us four Platinum grunts regrouped and began a frantic and furious pursuit to close down the 30 second gap. We got waved across hwy 154 by the nice CHP officers, and of course Ben attacked again on the final hill out of Los Olivos. Dissension in the ranks!?! Or maybe his goal was simply to dispense with Matt, and that's precisely what he did.

So for the final 8-mile stretch along Ballard Canyon, three of us chased Aaron who we could see up in the distance. I swear we averaged 35 mph the entire way but we barely made a dent in his gap. Surely he was having flashbacks of flying along that stretch of road in the Tour of California Solvang TT. Gary and I punched it on the final hill outside of town, in a desperate final bid for victory but it was too little, too late.

After pulling by far more than anybody else, and riding the final ten miles solo at 30+ mph, Aaron left no doubt who the 2010 Ronde de Solvang champion should be! I'm quite sure that his prestigious victory Saturday ranks right up there with his successful completion of the Giro d' Italia when riding for T-Mobile.

Final times:
AO -- 4:18
Gary & Me -- 4:18:30
The Hammer -- 4:20'ish
Matt -- 4:23'ish
Kim -- 4:25'ish

[add/edit next day]...and just to be clear, I don't mean to disparage people named Fred, helmet mirrors, and/or civilian century riders. I often think recreation cycling is healthier both physically and mentally than what most of us wannabe-pretender-pro-bikers do. As an old boss of mine was fond of saying to his sons and his younger cohorts, "What you see is what you'll be." If that means I'll be an older person who still gets out and rides a bike on centuries or whatever, well, I think that will be just great.

Training Week -- 3/8 - 3/14

Pretty tired going into the week so decided M-F would be relatively easy. The weekend more than made up for it though. Legs are thrashed. Recover by next Friday for Glendora Mtn TT? Extremely good Masters fields in both 35+ and 45+. First real test of 2010.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; lunchtime hammerhell do people do it w/o warm-up?!
Wed: 1 hr; OSM & 1/2 154, rain started so went home
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, 15:25
Fri: 0
Sat: 4.5 hrs; Ronde de Solvang, 100 miles in 4:18 (non-stop)
Sun: 3.5 hrs; Worlds, rode hard through goob & bates

Total: 11 hours

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Island View Crit P/1/2/3

I'm pretty sure you cannot view the islands from Research Park, and I doubt you can even see the ocean... But you could definitely see a sea of Platinum jerseys in the P/1/2/3 race on Saturday afternoon. Now usually we're spread over many different age groups and categories, but this was a rare opportunity for a bunch of us to race together since there weren't any Masters or separate cat-3 races.

This wasn't exactly anybody's "A" race and nobody felt any real pressure, so we didn't make any complicated plans in our pre-race meeting. Instead we decided to just keep throwing people off the front with the rest keeping control of the main group behind. All the big hitters were up at MERCO so that plan should be pretty straight forward. Our field was only 50 riders, mostly all solo guys other than multiple LaGrangians and StumpGrinders.

...and basically things went according to plan. There was almost always a move off the front and it always had at least one Platinum rider represented.

Adrian was very active as usual.

Zach and I tried our hand. (I don't think he gets much draft from me!)

Cookie worked with CWalk in a number of moves.

Meanwhile, multiple Platinum riders always had control of the group.

Eventually Gary got clear with another rider, and soon Adrian bridged up with four more. Their lead built up to 20-25 seconds thanks to big pulls from Adrian and CWalk. In the end, the LaGrange rider uncorked a speedy sprint for the win and Gary took 2nd. Adrian dropped off and rolled in 7th after a hard day's work, and Cookie and I rounded out the top-10.

Results. Click to see larger version.

Chilly temps and spitting rain didn't stop a few hardcore Platinum fans from showing up to heckle... err, cheer us on. Thanks guys!

And finally, thanks again to the UCSB team for promoting a nice race. Those are some damn fine Gauchos... makes me proud to be an alum.

Training Week -- 3/1 - 3/7

Working up to multiple hard days in a row... now I'm up to two. Thinking ahead to April: Sea Otter (Th, F, Sa) followed by hard bako RR on Sunday. Maybe a stage race in late spring/early summer??

Mon: 2 hrs; recovery around Goleta & UCSB
Tue: 4 hrs; 8:00 group ride + hammerfun, a few hard efforts
Wed: 3.5 hrs; Solvang loop, cracked at ~3 hrs
Thu: 1 hrs; OSM, easy
Fri: 1.5 hrs; easy with a few low-gear surges
Sat: 2 hrs; warm-up in AM & Island View crit, 9th in p123
Sun: 4 hrs; Worlds + Gibraltar

Total: 18 hours

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Citrus Celebration

It's that time of year when most of the citrus needs to be picked and enjoyed. From my yard... Grapefruit, Tangerines, Valencia Oranges, Washington Navel Oranges, Limes, and Lemons. So many permutations for making juice ...and margaritas!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Don't Try This at Home

Could it really be possible to descend the Stelvio with no hands and no brakes?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Training Week -- 2/22 - 2/28

Still doing lots of high-aerobic-zone climbing. Not seeing much improvement lately. The kids (Ben, Matt, Adrian) all dropped me like a rock this week.

Mon: 0.5 hr; run
Tue: 1 hr; lunchtime hammerfest ...ouch
Wed: 0; rain
Thu: 3.5 hr; OSM 16:16 + Gibraltar loop (2nd ride)
Fri: 0
Sat: 0.5 hr; 40-minute barefoot run on the beach
Sun: 5 hr; Canyons loop in SYV w/ Gina & co. + stagecoach-home, climbed hard

Total: 10.5 hrs, including two runs


- Barefoot running ...just a dumb fad, or the wave of the future? It makes some sense to me. The logic goes like this: we evolved running barefoot and all the complex musculature and skeletal structure of our feet is good at absorbing the forces of striking the ground over and over. But this requires using a forefoot-strike style of running, and not the more common heel-strike style that most running shoes promote. I'm experimenting with it, and I will say that the barefoot run on the beach felt fantastic. No pain at all. Not sure how to transition this approach to the roads, but I know there are appropriate shoes, and some are pretty funny. Some interesting videos about running are here.

- Schedule: lots of training and not much racing so far, but that will start changing now that the fun races are coming around. Focus on bike racing through June'ish, then focus on running. As of now, planning on:
-- IV crit (at research park)
-- Ronde de Solvang
-- San Dimas, 45+
-- Copperopolis or UCLA weekend?
-- Sea Otter crit, rr, & circuit
-- Devil's Punchbowl & Chuck Pontius
-- Barrio Logan & San Luis Rey (maybe)
-- SoCal crit & tt championships (maybe)
-- Mt Hamilton RR
-- SoCal RR championship, masters and elite
-- Sisquoc RR
...and then it becomes murky, particularly since I'll need to be running a lot more getting ready for the marathon that Gina says I'm only 40% likely to do... (Of course, history is her guide, which means it's more like 20%-30% likely...)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Uh Oh... OSM Closed Soon

Forwarded from MM:
RE Construction Project
Attached please see the notice to send to bicycle clubs in Santa Barbara and Goleta areas. We advise bicycles not to use the road during the project. Please post the details of this 2 month project on the website and distribute to known riders. There will not be any work during the weekends and both lanes will be open. One land will be closed during weekdays.

...and here's the attachment:

...and if you're not sure where that is, it's here:

Thursdays at lunch-time won't be the same for awhile.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Training Week -- 2/15 - 2/21

Continuing steady high-aerobic-zone work.

Mon: 1.5 hr; Elings Park & back; 0.5 hr run also
Tue: 2 hr; around Goleta & lunchtime hammerfest
Wed: 3 hr; OSM-PC-ECC-Stagecoach-PC, tempo
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, tempo
Fri: 0
Sat: 1.5 hr; Figueroa Hill Climb
Sun: 3.5 hr; Worlds + a bit extra

Total: 12.5 hours


- In last year's Gibraltar Hillclimb, I was beaten by a kid named Menso De Jong who I'd never heard of. I remember thinking it would have been nice to start together to see if I could have hung on to him. Well, this year at Figueroa I had that chance... theoretically anyway. He started a few seconds ahead of me and within the first mile he'd already opened up a minute lead. I was hoping to do a time in the low 50-minute range and Menso was way ahead of that pace. I figured it was unsustainable since top pros go up the mountain in the mid-40s. Sure enough, he slowed down in the middle and I got pretty close about a mile from the finish. Unfortunately he rallied and pulled out a minute in that final stretch. With better pacing, he would have been well under 50 minutes. That kid is a talent. Oh, and he weighs 190 lbs! And speaking of talent, keep your eyes open for Derek Iverson. He's brand new to riding and has a huge aerobic engine.

- I'd planned to ride the Cal Poly crit on Sunday but the forecast called for rain and the field sizes looked tiny so I bailed. Turns out it didn't rain and the course was really fun (but the fields were small, like 10 riders in 35+ and p123). Hopefully it will be on the calendar next year for another chance.

- Lots of deserved grumbling about the group's behavior on Sunday Worlds lately. The usual stuff... running stop signs, blocking cars, riding in the oncoming-traffic lane, etc. Tim Johnson made a nice speech to the group this week about being more responsible and considerate. I hope people take it to heart because I'm worried somebody will get seriously hurt if things don't change. Yes, I'm a worry wort.

- And on a lighter note... Could it be that David "Pops" Larsen has come over to the dark side??? I hear he enjoys riding with us on the Ventura bike path...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Mumbles

I really did start this post on Monday, but I soon lost my focus ...sorta like my training lately.

So, waddup??

Super Teams

Entertaining discussions going on about a few of the Elite and Masters teams around California. Some folks have strong opinions... read here for example, where the subject is the Amgen/UBS masters team. It's true that their roster is a who's who of top SoCal geriatric talent, including many ex-pros, etc., but it's not like they're the New York Yankees playing against Little Leaguers. A quick check of results posted on scnca as of this writing reveals they've won half of the 35+ and 45+ races thus far in 2010 (including a podium sweep in the Red Trolley 35+). Not bad, but not totally dominant either. Other people will win plenty; races will still be fast and enjoyable; the sky is not falling...

...except in NorCal p/1/2 racing. Four "real" races so far this year, four victories by the new Yahoo! Cycling Team. Complete podium sweeps each day in the Cantua/Pine Flat/Dinuba weekend! Of course that kind of dominance is less likely when the bigger races roll around, but certainly Yahoo! along with Cal Giant will be major forces in NorCal racing. Maybe some opportunist up there will remember Clint Eastwood in "Fist Full of Dollars" sitting pretty between the Rojos and the Baxters "...the heart Ramon, shoot for the heart!"


Running ...huh?!?

I am 100% committed to running the Santa Barbara International Marathon on November 7th. That's 100% farther than I've ever run in my life, and about 99999% farther than I've ever run comfortably since childhood! I ran a tad over 2 miles on Monday, and I still feel it 5 days later. Gina says she thinks it's only 40% likely that I'll follow through, which oddly enough makes it more likely. I don't really know what I'm doing, but continuing with the numbers theme and a bit of math...

I hear the rule-of-thumb is to increase your running mileage no more than 10% per week. OK, if I can run 2 miles now, and need to run 26 miles eventually, then we have:

2 * (1.1)^N = 26 ; . . . where N = # weeks of mileage increases

(1.1)^N = 26/2 ; . . . simplifying

N * ln(1.1) = ln(26/2) ; . . . take log of both sides

N = ln(26/2) / ln(1.1) ; . . . simplifying

and so we have: N = 27 weeks!

Add onto that 2-3 weeks for a taper, plus a few weeks of rest and/or flakiness, and it means training starts ..... NOW!


Born to Run

No, not Bruce Springsteen, I'm talking about the Tarahumara in Mexico from the book Born to Run -- A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Half way done and loving it.

I strongly resonate with the book's key theme, that the human animal needs to run. (And by run, I extend the meaning to include any sort of substantial aerobic exercise.) Not only do we need it, but we should love it. We're wired to love it. A bunch of millennia ago, running was essential to our success as a species --eat or be eaten-- and nature has a way of making the important species-survival activities pleasurable. We're still good on one of them, procreating, but somehow the other one got lost along the way.

Or should I say, our society squashed it. Every kid loves to run. If you're a parent, you know this. First mobility is a few months of crawling, then eventually standing, followed by about a millisecond of walking, followed immediately by full-speed-ahead running. That lasts until about the middle of elementary school for almost all kids. But then something happens; running is no longer fun. Why? I don't know, but I speculate it has to do with how our society turns it into a competition. That innocent fund-raiser jog-a-thon at school? Clearly your child sees it as a competition -- how does it feel to not win? Or get last? Why would a kid like to run if it instills a sense of mediocrity or worse? Then there's Junior High PE class many kids emerge from that experience with joyous feelings about exercise? (Not to dis any PE teachers out there, but that's how it is for most kids.)

To be sure, plenty of adults get back in touch with their inner animal and take up running (or cycling, swimming, etc). Many will compete again, and almost all of them will not be winners, but age brings the wisdom and awareness to not equate self-worth with a placing in the local 10K fun run. I think the majority of adults who take up aerobic exercise generally stick with it for the long haul. They reestablish that connection between exercise and mental/physical well being. Unfortunately, they (we) represent a very small minority of the entire population.

I'm wandering here so let me wrap-up with one thought: If all people exercised and ate right, our world would be so incredibly better than it is today on all fronts. It's so obvious.


More Randoms...

Ever wonder what it costs to put on a bike race? Check this out.


I crack myself up... When I saw the picture below (Sunday Worlds ride getting lectured at by Officer Rodriguez) all I could think about is how funny it would be if all the cyclists had on kits that resembled the CHP uniform, complete with shiny badge, helmet, and glasses.


Next up: Figueroa Hillcimb TT (last of the SB Triple Crown) and Cal Poly SLO crit on a supposedly technical and topographically-challenging course. Both in the rain apparently.

Training Week -- 2/8 - 2/14

Some good threshold climbing, which is starting to feel really comfortable.

Mon: 1.5 hrs; OSM-PC-ECC; 40:41 to the intersection
Tue: 0; rain
Wed: 1 hr; OSM, tempo
Thu: 1.5 hr; OSM, 14:94
Fri: 0
Sat: 4 hr; to 2nd Casitas & back w/ Gina & co., climbed hard
Sun: 3 hr; Worlds, couple hard efforts

Total: 11 hours

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Clean the Pan, Dammit!

One day last week went like this: Gina got up at 4:40 AM, made lunches for herself and the kids, went to the gym to teach spinning, showered, and moved on to her real job helping important people with software problems. I got up at 7:00 AM, saw the kids off to school, then rode my bike for five hours, with a brief coffee stop in the middle. Next I ate lunch, read the paper, read email, and puttered around the garden until Gina got home in the afternoon. Pretty sure she made dinner that night and also did the dishes.

What's wrong with this picture?

Even a dense clod like me knows this isn't an acceptable scenario, even if Gina is too sweet to protest. I've been underemployed the last few weeks, and by "under", I mean I haven't worked a single billable hour of time. Not sure how long that will last, but as long as it does, I need to be more productive in other ways. Every homeowner has an infinite To-Do list of repairs, maintenance, and improvement tasks ...and ours is twice that long.

Gina reads my blog ...willingly in fact... so this is as good a place as any to make a promise: Every day I don't work, I will make substantive progress on some household-related task. As long as Gina's gonna bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, well, at least I can help clean the pan.

What are the Odds?

Three flats in short succession last week. I finally got around to looking at the (second) one from Mothballs:

...and plucked out this chunk of wood:

What I'm wondering is, how exactly does one get a flat like this when riding on the pristine pavement at Research Park? And what are the odds I should get it? Figure around 20,000 laps had been completed in earlier races that day ...8.5 hours of racing, 1:20 per lap, 50 rider field size average. And somehow after all that, a little dagger-shaped piece of wood pops up straight and I ride over it. I can only laugh at the improbability!

Training Week - 2/1 - 2/7

Quite fatigued after last weekend, so I couldn't hit the intensity I was hoping for early in the week, but recovered enough to enjoy a nice climb on Saturday at threshold. Thinking I need to do more riding like that right now, improving aerobic power and such. But really, it just feels so good to get in that comfortably rhythmic climbing zone where the higher you go, the more world you see.

Mon: 1 hr; Recovery around Goleta and Hope Ranch
Tue: 5 hr; Past Carp, return through hills + lunchtime sufferfest
Wed: 2.5 hr; OSM-PC-La Cumbre peak; tempo climb
Thu: 1 hr; OSM easy
Fri: 0; Rain
Sat: 2 hr; Hill Climb TT, PC-La Cumbre peak (50:08)
Sun: 3 hr; Worlds, sat in the back, tired

Total: 14.5 hours

Saturday, February 06, 2010

OSM from Another Perspective

Wow! View full-screen to fully appreciate. Thanks Jane for finding this.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Jim Rogers 1957-2010

It's with sadness that I learned today of the passing of Jim Rogers. He was struck from behind by a car and killed while out on a ride Sunday near Auburn, CA.

Jim was one of the best bike racers in Northern California when I was just entering the sport as a young teenager. Despite his lofty status (in my eyes) he was very humble and kind, always ready to offer a helping hand or bit of friendly advice to a dorky newbie (me). I've had no contact with him since those days, but from what I read here, it seems he continued to be a wonderful person and a pillar in his local cycling community.

I took the above picture of Jim as he rode in the Senior (Elite) Road Race National Championships. I have no idea of his result that day, but I do remember one funny story. The junior race had just finished, and Greg LeMond had been beaten in a sprint by Jeff Bradley. Jim and a few others were standing near Greg when he ripped off his numbers and threw them in a garbage can with disgust at getting 2nd place. (Greg had worn the #1 indicating he was the reigning champ entering the race.) Jim cracked a little smile and went over and dug those numbers out of the garbage. I wonder if he kept them all these years.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Poor College Kids RR & Mothballs Crit 2010

Normally, I'd twiddle away a few hours on a Monday writing a blog post about the weekend races and sneaking in a recovery ride before my weekly business meeting. (Not sure which should be higher priority among those three things...)

But, with much rain on the way later this week, I cannot sacrifice the time for carefully crafted scribbling, so you're gonna get a blast of brief bullets and a few random pictures.

Poor College Kids RR

* First off, congratulations to a great group of "kids" from UCSB for putting on such a nice race. I hope they realize how much their effort is appreciated, and what a good job they did.

* P/1/2: Platinum had the largest team and so we immediately went on the offensive with Ben "The Hammer" Haldeman taking off from the gun in this two-lap 67-mile race. We adequately annoyed the rest of the chasing field (about 40 riders) allowing Ben to reach a couple minute lead. After 20 miles or so, ex-Platinum C-Walk got clear with Chesta-san along in tow and they bridged up to Ben. A little oopsy in the turn around took out Chester, so a fatigued Ben spent most of the second lap alone with the fresher Vampy, who eventually got clear on the hills heading back to the finish. Congrats to a strong Chris for the win. Meanwhile Matt had gotten clear and made it up to Ben with several other riders, including an inspired Craig Nunes from SLO and always-aggressive Mark Shimahara. A km out from the finish, Craig surged and only Mark could match him and they finished 2nd and 3rd, with Matt and Ben close behind for 4th and 5th. Gary D'Velo came in 9th surround by pros and such, and the rest of us Cookie, Adrian, HeyRon, and me rolled in clustered around 20th.

* Masters races: KK won the 55+, solo, and Platinum had Kim Bleth and Jon Miller in the field. Dave Worthington won the 45+, solo, from a strong field. The 35+ looked like a real war, with the first 3-4 riders coming in solo after hand-to-hand combat (Rudy Napolitano won, DeMarchi 2nd; Mark Noble 3rd). Jamie Paolinetti won the field sprint, and that was the only decent picture I took:

* Women 3/4 -- Awesome race by Chicken Ranchers Susie Willett and Jane Faulkner for going 1st and 2nd!! This, even after Jane had to bridge back up to the front after the hill. So cool.

Mothballs crit

* Masters 45+: So fun to have a large group of teammates to race with. We were active early and often, and worked well together. I had hoped to be fresh near the end and help keep our sprinters up front, but when a nice move by Chris Black and Tom Anhalt got caught, I had to counter. (You've got to attack after a teammate gets caught!) So I shot my wad for a few laps and was no help in the finale. It turned out that HeyRon and Choo-choo stayed up front just fine and sprinted to 5th and 8th among some very fast and accomplished company (Glenon 1st; John Walsh 2nd; Dave Lettieri 3rd; Peter Sullivan 4th).

* Masters 35+: More powerful riding by Platinum with Cookie in almost every move of the race, and still he and Gary drove the final couple laps to keep Keith in nice position to sprint for 3rd. DeMarchi won a close one.

Brian leading a split in 35+:

Final sprint in 35+:
As always, click on the pics for a larger view.

* Junior 16-17: Are we seeing a juniors revival in bike racing? The fields are getting bigger and they are racing fast and smart. Local boy Taylor Clements got himself out there and looked great getting 2nd: front of a quality field:

...Echelon junior Ben Barthel rode strong:

* Also notable, Taylor's brother Tosh got 3rd at Mothballs and 6th at PCKRR in the cat 5s in his first-ever weekend of racing. Nice start!!

* Mothballs p/1/2/3: For this one, I'm going to steal Adrian Gerrits race report to the team list. Hopefully his copyright lawyers won't come after me!
Team Platinum lined up for the 75 minute crit along side notable pros Rashaan Bahati, Hilton Clarke and Cody O'reilly. Our plan was to try to cover moves with two guys and make aggressive attacks to get a break going so we didn't end up trying to outsprint the aforementioned riders. The plan went very well. We had a couple of riders at the front at all times covering attacks and blocking for teammates. At one point or another I think most of the team was in a some sort of break. Dubberley covered some good moves and started a couple of breaks, Chester, Ben, Mark and Gary were always up there covering moves as well. The rest of the guys were doing a superb job of keeping the pack in control. With about 20 minutes left, I made an attack after the first corner and before I knew it, 4 other guys including Clarke were hammering away. I was pretty shot but managed to hang on and do my share in the break. We managed to get 30 seconds on the field and I got 5th out of 5...I'll work on not getting last next time. Good race guys. Thanks for the write-up, Adrian.

I was disappointed to flat with 5 or 6 laps left because I felt good and would have liked to help one of our sprinters get in good position. My second flat of the day on brand new tires! But until then, the race was a blast. I even had Hilton Clarke on my wheel once or twice ...obviously he feared my speed. Haha.

Dang, even that took too long. Now it's time to ride. Later I will add more pictures perhaps, or maybe they'll go on Facebook ...I'm a spaz at this 21st-century computer stuff.

Oh, I forgot... some links for other peoples race pictures (much better than mine):

From John Goodman

From Michael Krauchi


OK, I'm sure soon enough that results will be on scnca and SoCalCycling, but since they're not posted yet, I'll put put these up temporarily. Click to enlarge for reading. Sorry I didn't get them all, but I had a camera fail (or brain fail more likely...)

PCK RR results (partial):

Mothballs results (partial):

Training Week -- 1/25 - 1/31

Yay, racing has started! That's what it's all about.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; OSM, 16:50
Wed: 3.5 hr; Solvang loop, good tempo ride with Ben
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, 15:51 ...finally!
Fri: 0
Sat: 3 hr; Poor College Kids RR, p12
Sun: 2.5 hr; Mothballs, 45+ & p123 & warm-up/cool-down

Total: 11 hours

Friday, January 29, 2010

Intro to Platinum's 2010 Super Heroes

The 2010 season begins tomorrow, and I am excited. Very excited. My fitness is finally coming around, riding hard is fun again, and I'm ready to pin on a number every weekend I can. But most of all, I'm excited because the 2010 Platinum Performance Cycling Team has assembled the best Cat 1 & 2 team from Santa Barbara in at least 25 years. I would say that this group has great chemistry, but unfortunately that phrase has a double meaning when referring to bike racers. So let's just say these guys get along great and love to ride together. And they're all very fast!

So let me be the first to introduce you to this team. There are no new names, but some of these guys have been off the radar for awhile, so they might be new to you. Some of what I'm about to tell you is classified, and some of it might even stretch the definition of truth. I will also tell you here for the first time, that each of these riders possesses a unique Super Power making him capable of incredible feats of bike-racing awesomeness. Pay attention in 2010 and you will see.

Adrian Gerrits:Who is Adrian? A smart kid who graduated from an Ivy League university? Or is he a gritty coal-mine worker from a hardscrabble Wyoming town? He's both. What kind of bike racer is he? A big goofball who's likely to throw a banana peel in your spokes while wearing Mickey Mouse ears, or a deadly assassin who will drive a break so hard you'll beg for mercy while whimpering on his wheel? That's right, both. In 2008, Adrian raced some big events around the US, including SuperWeek where he got 4th overall. That's huge. He also got top-10 gc in the Tour of Pennsylvania which showcased the best U-25 riders in North America. So here's a warning to the SoCal Cat 1/2 crowd, underestimate Adrian at your own peril!

Ben Haldeman:"The Hammer" as he's affectionately known to his teammates and competitors --his girlfriends and boyfriends too-- and when you ride with him you will know why. He will pound you relentlessly, which is what he did to the domestic Pro peloton when riding point for Chris Horner on Webcor. But what you really need to be aware of, is his ability to advance himself up the road by taking a shortcut through the space-time continuum. If you notice his upper body cocked to one side, that's your clue that he's digging a worm hole and bending the dimensions in his favor ...and against yours. Ben's results? All you need to know is that this cowboy won the NorCal Cal Cup series a couple years ago. Did you?

Brian Cook:Cookie is a former elite level triathlete who saw the light and made the jump to bike racing, and he hasn't looked back since. Literally... he doesn't look back, because if he did, he'd see the burning faces of those behind him getting doused with his prolific sweat. Ergo, his uncanny ability to make other riders pull him around. He puts competitors in a conundrum... sit behind him and burn, or pull him around to the end and then get burned by his blazing sprint. Either way, you lose and we win.

Gary Douville:Gary "Guns" D'Velo is a renaissance man of cycling. Pavement or dirt, uphill or down, crit, road, or TT... he's mastered them all. And before all that pedaling, his craft was motocross! You have no idea the skills and brute strength he possesses. If you're lucky, you'll never know. He returns to the road in 2010 after a very successful cyclocross season which he capped off with a victory in the elite class at the SoCal district championships.

Matt Dubberley:M-Dubb's super power is magnetism. No, I'm not referring to his personality, rather I mean literal magnetism. He can manipulate the magnetic field around all the other riders in the race, twisting it to his advantage as the situation dictates. You're off the front? He'll pull you back like Magneto. He's off the front? He'll rotate that magnetic field to repel you. Matt rode four years as a US professional and has many stellar results I'm sure, but two "incidents" will tell you all you need to know. Tour of Georgia a few years back, and Matt is his team's designated sprinter. Does Matt sit back and rest? Of course not, he goes on the attack and spends 100 km off the front of the field. Don't pigeon-hole this rider! He can do it all. Unfortunately, magnetic fields are hard to control, even for super heroes. Sometimes those magnets flip.

Chester Gillmore:Aahhh, Chesta... no longer the world's fastest cat 3 because now he's a cat 2. Surrounded by this team of Cat 1 veterans, he will upgrade again soon enough. Chester's super power is on display to anyone and everyone who rides with him or against him. Unbridled enthusiasm! Where does it come from? Chester is part puppy dog.

Keith Horowitz:"You lookin' at me?!" Every team needs a closer, and we've got one of the best in the business. Keith "Special-K" Horowitz returns to racing after several years away, but mark my words, he's still a fearsome sprinter ready to lay waste to SoCal fields like he did in days gone by. I pity the fool who finds himself between Keith and the finish line.

Zach Walker:"Zach Attack" is a software whiz who somehow reprogrammed the matrix such that he only faces half the gravity as the rest of us. I mean, it's the only explanation as to how a guy as big and powerful as him can ride away on both the hills and the flats! Zach is a former pro with Ofoto and McGuire and despite being an incredibly nice guy, you will curse him if he puts a gap between you. Or you'll just give up.

Seth Zaleski:With only two years of bike racing in his legs, Seth is but a few points away from being a Cat 1. His secret? He has two sets of legs! Most people know about his climbing legs ...those pedaled him to multiple top-10 results in some very competitive road races in 2009. But what most people don't know, is that he can swap out those legs for a pair of snappy, fast-twichy sprinters legs. Don't let his buck thirty fool you into thinking he'll be satisfied just finishing in the break. On second thought, go ahead and think that.

So that's the core of the 2010 Cat 1 & 2 team going into 2010. For sure we'll have other young riders upgrading, and you can count on some of us Masters riders doing P/1/2 races with this group. In fact, as long as my fitness supports it, I will race with these guys any day.

Stay tuned for future blog posts featuring our Masters riders and our women's team.