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.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Training Week -- 1/18 - 1/24

A lot of rain last week, thus not a lot of riding. This biking stuff is just a hobby ...a serious hobby... and not so important as to justify being miserable (or in danger) in the cold rain and wind. Your mileage may vary.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; intervals on the bike path
Wed: 0
Thu: 0
Fri: 0
Sat: 3.5 hrs; SB - Casitas - SB, mostly steady tempo
Sun: 3.5 hrs; Worlds, full gas on the way out

Total: 8 hours

- The difference between how I'm going on the flats versus the hills is out-of-whack right now, based on years past. That tells me one thing, I need to lose a few lbs. No more cookies and ice cream for awhile... like I said, it's a serious hobby.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Sea Was Angry This Morning My Friends

Forty minutes of bike-path intervals this morning, and I would have beaten the rain had I not stopped at the beach to shoot this dumb video.

Training Week -- 1/11 - 1/17

More of the same, especially trying to do hard efforts after 3+ hrs of riding. Endurance is good; short-term recovery is improving noticeably; climbing is still too weak; day-to-day recovery is terrible.

Mon: 0
Tue: 5 hrs; 8:00 roco + lunchtime hammerfest, hard pulls
Wed: 1 hr; recovery
Thu: 1.5 hr; OSM (10000:11111) + 75% Painted Caves
Fri: 1 hr; easy
Sat: 5 hr; around Casitas, some hard pulls
Sun: 3.5 hr; 1/2 of Worlds + a little extra, really fatigued

Total: 17 hours

Friday, January 15, 2010

Do Something

Help the people in Haiti.

Here's one way: click on Direct Relief International and then follow your conscience.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's for Lunch?

I spent some 15+ years as a desk jockey. Most days were packed full of code and report writing, meeting and managing, pointless PowerPointing, and plenty of office politicking. Some people thrive on that stuff, finding it meaningful and thrilling; to me, it was an energy drain.

So with this jaded outlook, you'd think that lunchtime would be the best part of my workday, right? Well, yes and no. Yes for the days I got to ride my bike. Oh glorious lunch rides! But definitely "No" for the days when I joined ranks with the other thousand automatons making the daily drive to restaurant row. Don't get me wrong, I liked my coworkers and their company. It was the food that was the problem. Chili's, Chevy's, Wendy's, Jack in the Box.... there's really no difference. And more and more, what you get at those establishments can hardly be called food. GMO corn with bacteria genes inserted into its DNA? Freaky!

Some people microwaved frozen lunches instead. Have you seen the ingredient lists on those things?? Should you really need a PhD in Chemistry to understand what you're eating? Some days I'd bring a brown-bag lunch my sweetie made me that morning. PB&J ...again. I'd eagerly anticipate... would it be strawberry or marmalade today? Sigh.

Fast-forward to 2010. I don't work in an office anymore, and I don't eat at those kinds of "restaurants" either. But lunch is still a dilemma sometimes. Strawberry or marmalade? Now it's up to me to decide.

So today I finally tried Organic Living Santa Barbara. I've been hearing the buzz for months... wonderful variety of lunch entrees, made fresh daily from locally-sourced organic ingredients, delivered right to your home or office. They'll even accommodate your vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eater preferences.

Here's what I got today (click the picture to read the label, and you don't need a PhD in Chemistry):

It was delicious! I actually ordered two meals, which was enough for dinner also. Such a tasty and sensible way to solve the lunchtime dilemma. And way more healthful and environmentally responsible than eating at those chain restaurants.

As an aside, today I rode my fastest time up Old San Marcos in at least nine months. Coincidence?? I don't think so.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bad Timing to Ask for a Handout?

Today in sunny Southern California, I rode my bicycle in shorts and then later picked fresh, ripe strawberries from my garden. Meanwhile, it seems the rest of the US is in the grips of a brutally cold arctic blast. That's a shame. So I was wondering... how is the rest of the country going to respond to California's request for a 6.9 billion dollar handout from the Federal Government to help us with our budget crisis?

Training Week -- 1/4 - 1/10

Finally got sick. It was inevitable, and better to get it over with now than in Feb or March.

Mon: 0; sick
Tue: 0; sick
Wed: 0; sick
Thu: 1 hr; Easy up OSM to watch the Burrito Duel, Vol. 2
Fri: 1 hr; OSM moderate
Sat: 4.5 hrs; Gibraltar Hillclimb + ECC/154 + Montecito and back
Sun: 3.5 hrs; Sunday worlds, 2-3 hard efforts, recovery improving

Total: 10 hours

- Saturday's Gibraltar Hillclimb was good and bad. I can't complain about my time (46:22) considering where I was two months ago, but it's always a little frustrating to get beat. My pacing was terrible... from past experience, I know where to hit certain milestones in order to do ~43 minutes, and I was a minute ahead of that pace up through 25 minutes, then cracked and lost ~4 minutes the rest of the way. Oh well, room for improvement. BTW, all that detail was just for Cookie since I know how much he likes to read about other peoples training!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Top Talent from SB

I've heard it asked many times, "Who's the most talented bike racer from Santa Barbara?"

That's a hard question.

First of all, "from Santa Barbara" means to me that they were living here and discovered bike racing when young, say, under 18 years old. That has significant implications, because it excludes from consideration a whole bunch of really good riders who came from out-of-town to attend UCSB, including:
  • Dylan Casey
  • Eric Cech
  • Dave Fiengold
  • Matt Dubberley
  • Adam Laurent
  • Kieth Horowitz
  • Lynn Brontzman/Gaggioli

...along with a bunch of really good riders there right now.

That definition also excludes some really good bike racers who have come to live in Santa Barbara AFTER already establishing themselves in the sport. Examples of those would include:
  • Aaron Olson
  • Kim Anderson
  • Jacob Erker
  • Erik Saunders
  • Ben Haldeman
  • Zach Walker
  • Dave Lettieri
  • Ken Hanson

So you might think that those exclusions wouldn't leave many riders to choose from. You'd be wrong. Santa Barbara has produced a remarkable number of home-grown talented riders over the years. Below is my list of the top-10, presented in no particular order. Of course this is all subjective, and your opinions may vary.

Adam Duvendeck -- A two-time Olympian on the velodrome, and multi national champion. Started bike racing as a junior with Echelon in the mid 1990s along with Aaron Musicant and Matt Abrams, the first crop of many great juniors coached by the next rider on the list.

Rory O'Reilly -- 1984 Olympian, former world-record holder in the flying kilometer, one of the fastest road sprinters in the US in the late 1970s and early 1980s before turning focus to the velodrome. Rode for the famous 7-Eleven team. In the picture here, Rory keeps a close eye on a young Greg LeMond.

Cody O'Reilly -- Rory's son and a favorite of the entire SB cycling community. Seems like only yesterday that Cody was a little tyke on the back of Rory's tandem, his tiny legs turning circles on a 150 mm crank installed just below the seat. Fast forward to today, and Cody is one of the fastest road sprinters in the US, and arguably the best all-around track rider in the country, having just won the Elite Omnium National Championship. Cody has improved every year for the last decade good will he ultimately get?

Uthman Ray IV -- A Dos Pueblos High graduate who began his cycling career flying down hills in the dirt before turning attention to the road. Uthman quickly rose to Cat 1 and was a solid all-around rider for the couple of years he raced seriously. He's a smart guy who completed graduate school at UC Berkeley and has apparently put cycling on the back burner ...for now.

Larry Shields -- When I was a kid in NorCal just getting into bike racing, I only knew of two racers from Santa Barbara. One was Rory, and the other was Larry Shields. His reputation as a smart and savvy rider was well known, but clearly he had an abundance of strength too. A multi-time National Champion on the road as a junior and a podium finisher in the Elite ranks. The picture here shows Larry winning a National Championship after dispensing of a quicker Chris Springer with a crafty move in the final corner.

Kurt and Derin Stockton -- Brothers, both among a select group of the best road sprinters in the US during the late 80's and early 90's. Both rode as professionals for a number of teams and participated in all the big Pro races back east, with Kurt winning the USPro Road Championship in Philly in 1990. Both went on to successful careers on the booming downhill MTB circuit.

Chris Walker -- Most people don't realize C-Walk started bike racing as a junior back in the mid 1970s. He was a mediocre rider back then and soon hung up the bike for other interests. He returned to the sport ten years later (1987-88), and since then has put in, oh, at least a quarter million miles of training. I'm completely serious. Do the math... 20 years X 52 weeks/year X 250 miles/week. Probably a low estimate actually. He's been a podium finisher in some of the hardest, highest-level races in the country, including Tour of the Gila and the Killington Stage Race. He's won National RR Championships as a Master and Elite competitor, along with many Districts victories. Still, at 48 years old, he's one of the top roadies in California.

Daniel Ramsey -- When I first met Daniel he was an affable, slightly-gawky, enthusiastic puppy dog of a bike rider. Fast forward fifteen years or so, and he's now one of the most exciting bike racers you'll ever see. Nobody rides with more heart and grit than Daniel. If you think of US Domestic Pro bike racing as entertainment, then Daniel is a star. If you've never seen him roll one of his improbable solo break-aways with 100+ hungry riders nipping at his heels, well then you are missing one of the most heart-pumping scenes in bike racing. Sometimes he gets caught (e.g., annually at Manhattan Beach) and sometimes he pulls it off (Sea Otter; Tulsa Tough). Either way, it's always a great show.

Nieko Biskner -- A mercurial career if there ever was one. Nieko also started as an Echelon junior after doing some running at San Marcos High (5K in the 16's!) and when he began to really train on the bike, his talent was immediately evident. A big-boned kid at 6'5" he was still as good a climber as anyone in town, and when he got on top of a gear on the flats, well, following him was essentially motor-pacing. He finished top-10 in a Tour of Georgia sprint and recorded 1900+ watts on his SRM. That's a Mario Cipollini-like number. In the NRC San Dimas Stage Race one year, he powered a small break in the road race and was barely nipped at the finish by Chris Horner, who was the most dominant rider in the US at that time. Nieko's pro career only lasted a couple of years because he was pulled in lots of conflicting directions, including school and partying. Who can blame him... would you rather ride your bike a quarter of a million miles earning minimum wage, or hang out at night with good friends and pretty ladies, and learn about cool technology during the day?

So that's my top-10 list.

At this point, it's fair to revisit the original question, "Who's the most talented bike racer from Santa Barbara?" But this naturally leads to a more enigmatic question, namely, "What is talent with respect to bike racing?"

Every rider mentioned above has talent. For example, Adam was able to master all the technical and physiological details necessary to get maximum explosive power out of his body. Both Rory and Cody were and are able to live extremely disciplined lifestyles that ensure maximum productivity from their training efforts. Kurt and Derin had the bravery to fight at the front of thundering field sprints. C-Walk has the ability to religiously churn out thousands of miles in training. Daniel seems capable of tapping into raw emotion as a fuel source, digging deeper than most people realize is possible.

All those traits above are important, and clearly they led to success for all these Santa Barbara bike racers. To me, however, "talent" in the context of bike racing is defined as an innate potential for great success, and it's mostly a physiological aptitude. In my opinion, for raw physical talent, Nieko tops the list and I think he could have been a world-class bike racer.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Training Week -- 12/28 - 1/3

Getting some more intensity.

Mon: 1 hr; Easy around Goleta, Hope Ranch, & UCSB
Tue: 5 hrs; SB to Rose Valley up hwy 33
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; lunchtime OSM, 16:59
Fri: 3 hr; MTB up Little Pine Mtn
Sat: 4 hr; 8:00 roco to 2nd Casitas + Emma Wood w/ Gina & friends
Sun: 3 hr; Sunday Worlds

Total: 17 hours

Training Week -- 12/21 - 12/27

Not much training due to holiday craziness.

Mon: 1 hr; recovery ride around Goleta
Tue: 0
Wed: 1.5 hr; Mt. Hamilton
Thu: 0
Fri: 0
Sat: 0.5 hr; running
Sun: 0

Total: 3 hours