Sunday, June 28, 2009

Salem Fairview Circuit Race Report 6/28. 'I love it when a plan comes together'

I gotta admit, I was pretty nervous about racing this morning. There are some days I wake up and I have this feeling that today is the day I am going to die, or go down hard in flames and guitar riffs or something....This morning was one of those mornings. Sometimes, I heed the warning signs; the shut down highway, deep nervous energy, the crash the previous day..etc, etc. and pull up, pull out, or otherwise find some reason why I can't/won't race. But today, despite all the signs I suited up and lined up. Turned out to be a good thing.

I pushed my way to the front this morning- lined up second row. There were already a bunch of guys there, but, having looked at the course, I new it was going to be hard to get up to the front at the beginning and that with the hill, it was going to be trouble getting stuck behind some of the more portly in our midst. The Capa Pinapple white-kit sucka's showed up in force today- probably because we were racing in their neighborhood. The Capitol Velo dudes were there, it was their race, after all. Plus a bunch of windpower guys. Hammer lined up three: Jamie (aka Southy), Chris and myself. Despite all the presence, none of the Capital guys or the Pinapple guys rode as a team. No organized attacks, no blocking, no chasing. This race was a race of attrition. Just go- who ever has the gas to hold on, gets the glory...Surprising, since it seemed tailor made for an organized team who could tear it up and make us all pay.

The course is 1.9 miles. From the roll out you false flat it till the first right turn, at which point it point upward a bit. I think the total altitude gain is something like 60ft. It then dips and turns, finally committing to a downhill through a neighborhood and some trees. hard right, single file. Headwind straight less than two hundred meters, right again and a long tear in a cross wind for over five hundred meters. The word on the day was 'its easy to under estimate' how long the final straight is. Huh. Wish I'd gotten that nugget before the race.

At a glance, it didn't seem like the hill would be hard enough to make the selection, but looks are deceiving I guess. By about the third lap we were shedding riders and passing them as we lapped them. Turns out the hill decimated the field. Out of the thirty or forty riders, the finishing group was only fifteen strong.

With about five to go, the pack really splintered. What would be the final group collected at the front and pushed on. I was probably twentieth or so when that happened. As the door opened, I jumped across to make the cut. At this point, I was feeling really, really good. So good its a new sensation to feel this good. I'm not sure exactly what's going on, whether its the CERA or the booze, but I'm feeling like I've got a fitness that is just a bit better than the rest...and that means I have a big kick to give at the end. I've always had the super kick, either on the field or on the bike, but not really so much the fitness to unleash it at the end.

At two to go, they rang the prime bell! In an effort to shake up the last two laps. Ironically, this had the effect of slowing the group down as everyone starts marking and waiting for the jump. As we came around the last turn two guys jumped and went for the prime. The rest of us kept them close, but didn't really try to reign them in. When the bell rang again, I moved up to the front on the inside. The big cross wind made the right side great for moving up quickly and easily. By the first turn I was in third. We hit the hill and an unattached rider went hard of the front like Alberto Contador- dark, skinny and fast. A Capitol velo rider did the majority of the pace to bring him back. By the down hill it was pretty evident he was toast. By the last turn he was reeled in. There we were, Capitol velo, unattached and me at the front, in a cross wind with over five hundred meters to go. Capitol freewheeled a bit and nobody swamped us. There was this moment when everything seemed to stand still...This is usually followed by the big organization, the guys with the long legs going to the front and me trying to pick the guy who is going to get second place behind me...I wasn't having it.

Before the race I had this thought that it might go from a long way out. The strong wind would neutralize the packs ability to really control things and that favors the strong single rider. At a long distance nobody is prepared to chase. They all think it wont possibly go from that far out. I thought that maybe if they didn't think about the wind, paused for moment and let me go, I might be able to ring it.

The building at the finish wasn't even in view yet (somewhere beyond the curvature of the earth). While everyone else was looking at each other, I jumped from the front of the pack. Five hundred meters (at least...was it three miles???) to go. I was in the one spot but I just went. 'Screw it'. I kicked as hard as I ever have. Big gap right away. quick glances back and I could see a wind power rider and another shadow pretty close, closing the gap. I snaked across the lane to the right, trying to shake him. I looked under the arm, half a length, closing. I snaked back to the left, trying to shake him from my draft. At five thousand miles I was weakening. Shift up, keep the spin on, keep cranking. Out of the saddle, change the pain from the back of my legs to the front. Back down, drill it, drill it. By three thousand miles out the building is in view and I'm so close I can taste it. Clear road in front of me and if only I can hold this windpower guy off, I'm in the clear. One last wobbly kick and I'm over the line, left arm I've always dreamed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm just going to throw this out there....

I'm not looking forward to this Tour de France like I have others. I am not looking forward to the battle between Pharmstrong, Contador, Menchov, and Cadel Evans at the Tour....reason? I hate all four of them as protagonists in this great race..There, I said it.

I don't trust Pharmstrong for obvious reasons, past and/or present. Additionally, I don't have much respect for him as a person, in so much as I can surmise from his books, his quotes, his actions etc....he's a prick from Texas.

Contador...don't really care for him. I'm not sure if I believe his story about Manolo Siaz and all. While he hasn't struck me as someone I 'hate' per se. He's a bit like a pro tennis player- won Wimbledon again? yawn.

Evans...really? He can take his little yap dog and high strung-bordering on pathologically tense personality and go home. Panache? fuhgetaboudit...

Menchov- besides his sort of also rode style, this is another rider who I have questions about regarding their cleanliness. The fact that he rode stronger than Di Luca, who, I am positive is a doper, doesn't help his case.

Sastre? It will become evident that he won because more talented (albeit less likable) riders weren't present. Not to mention what ever role the doper Kohl played in shifting the battle field for podium placings.

So whose left? VDV? Kirchen? Pozzato? The Schlecks? Maybe...But even Frank Schleck has stuff to answer for.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Am I the only one who thinks Troy Lee sucks balls?

Come on', really????? This guy's crap is all over the industry and I don't get it. Go back to NASCAR or motocross or whatever cow sh*t infested dirt play area you came from and leave road cycling alone. Maybe its just the Torpedo talkin', but I think Lee sucks.

Slovenian Hydro station is a fixed gear playground...

Pretty amazing photos- at first you can't really tell what the scale is...then it becomes more clear. wow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Olympia- its the water...

Four motivated, and hearty souls trekked it up to Olympia, Wa. for the Capitol Criterium yesterday. Even though it rained off and on all the way up, we persisted, undaunted, and were rewarded with near perfect racing weather.

I sat in the back seat of the car on the way up, studying previous race results for Washington riders on my iPhone. Having never really done a race up there (The Vancouver Courthouse crit doesn't count as a race in Washington), nor really encountering too many racers from anywhere other than say, Vancouver, which lets face it, is the trailer trash cousin of Portland, and doesn't really represent something all together different than the Portland racing scene. In Portland, I can pretty much guess who is going to win or at least place in my races. Besides some strong teams I saw at Cherry Blossom, I have no idea whose good in Washington. One name stood out among the top ten finishers for crits and circuit races- and sure enough he would be the guy who won my race. Sometimes, even with studying, strategy, and good legs, someone else wins. What can you do?

The Capitol Crit circled the greens right next to the Washington state Capitol bldg. Pretty cool. A five hundred meter gradual uphill straight followed by a right turn, a half a roundabout, followed by a downhill chicane, then a back straight to make the difference of the five hundred meters, a super fast off camber back turn, straight and a finishing corner, pretty close to the finish line. It was pretty evident that you had to be in the top three or so to have any chance to contest the win.

I rode the race from the front. Never getting involved with anything toward the second half of the race. Looking at the group at the start, it was pretty evident that as a masters c/d field there was a wide range of fitness levels. Knowing that usually means a corresponding gap in handling skill and racing intelligence, being at the front was self preservation as much as anything- fewer open doors to close, fewer bad braking choices to over come (other than my own).

From the gun, there were riders pushing the pace. It was like a juniors race. One guy in a yellow and black jersey (team?) and ponytail jumped on the front and drilled it for one full lap, before pulling off. That burned off all the weaker riders pretty quickly. Someone else took up the charge, and kept the pace pretty high until about twenty minutes in when it finally got down to a more reasonable pace. I wasn't feeling particularly powerful during the race. I was still feeling it from the previous weekend of indoor soccer- which, as fun as it was, was a big mistake for the cycling legs. Left me with no chance at competing all week long.

It was a pretty straight forward race, really. I found the wheel of a Starbucks rider, who by my estimation was a giant, to hold on to. He was strong, consistent and totally unwilling to chase down any breaks or otherwise do any work besides pedaling at the number two or three spot. Which for me, makes for some pretty comfortable racing: steady pace, steady wheel, and like sitting in behind a moving truck. Awesome. Based on his racing, I was sure he was going to lead me to the finish, and I followed him till the last corner- but just like the rest of his racing, he was unable to open it up and go full gas for the line...Big and diesely- No kick. Big mistake. He fought pretty hard to hold the front of the race and I was obliged to follow him. Up until the back side, when on the down hill chicane, he (and I) gave up five or six spots. By the end of the chicane and down the hill we had picked up all but two of those spots- good. Final straight, two more riders had pushed forward in an effort to gain the corner position. Once we hit the corner, we splayed out across the finishing straight. The Starbucks rider had no jump and I went around him. One of the riders who had just gained the corner ahead of me had nothing for the final jump and was in my way. I kicked hard around him and found the daylight of the finish line obscured by four riders. Digging hard, trying to make up for my obvious tactical mistake, I passed another rider easily. I was running out of real estate quick. I saw the third place rider just ahead of me. I had built up so much speed I though I could catch him. The line was about three feet too close. I threw my bike and missed the podium by six inches. Painful. Less than two bike lengths ahead, the winner had his arms up... So close. The speed I had carried me past the winner so fast I had to break to slow down to talk to him. I felt like I had the strongest legs out there- but I didn't race like I did. Its starting to feel like I need to change my tactics a more aggressive, think more about imposing my self on the race, rather than waiting to capitalize on someone else's mistake. It takes confidence, I think. It takes a strong will, and a knowledge of your opponents, and most of all, I think it takes nerve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dems fightin' werds

Normally, I like people from the my team mate, some of my best friends. But this guy from Minny-appless is trash talking. I'm just sayin'...
(from BRAIN blog)

"Portland is just street in Minneapolis"

—Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak when comparing Portland to Minneapolis as a bike friendly city.

Rybak, a champion for cycling, happened to stop in Freewheel Bike Shop while the BRAIN dealer tour was passing through.

Rybak was an advocate of bringing in the Freewheel Bike Shop, coffee shop and commuter station as part of a massive revitalization project that transformed an old railroad corridor into the Midtown Greenway, 5.5-mile bike and pedestrian path in South Minneapolis.

Rybak spoke to the group briefly before he grabbed his Specialized Allez from Freewheel's bike locker and headed out on his commute.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Flying 'V' suing Flying 'Checkmark'

Crusty rockstar turned shoe mogul Eddie Van Halen, (apparently) challenging Keith Richards for best 'scary crypt keeper look alike award', is the latest to take on the monolythic Swoosh in a battle of who owns arbitrary stripes, artwork, and color. Can't the cultural icons just get along? Apparently, he believes that Nike is doing irreparable damage to his 'design'. What that really means is 'wtf, how am I going to get the Hardrock Hotel chain to push my shit if there is Nike shit out there that looks just like my guitar??'

As far as I'm concerned, maybe the only thing worse than aging rockstars trying to cash in on their former 'relevance' is aging rockstars litigating in an attempt to cash in on their former relevance.

From SportsOneSource Media....

Eddie Van Halen Sues Nike Over Shoe Design
SportsOneSource Media Posted: 6/12/2009

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen filed a lawsuit against Nike in Los Angeles, alleging the company is using his trademarked red, white and black striped guitar design for one of their shoes. Nike's "Dunk Lows" shoes feature red, white and black streaks along the midsole. The lawsuit comes as Van Halen has come out with his own line of sneakers under a similar color-scheme. The suit, according to a report by KTLA TV in Los Angeles, states that Van Halen received a 2001 copyright for the design on the body of his "Frankenstein" electric guitar. Van Halen claims Nike is doing "irreparable harm and damage" to his signature design. He is seeking general and punitive damages, all profits arising from the sales of "Dunk Lows" and a permanent injunction halting production of the Nike shoes. In mid-April, Van Halen formed a partnership with New Jersey-based FEA Merchandising, a company specializing in recording-artist merchandise, to release both high- and low-top canvas sneakers with red, white and black stripes. The shoes were set to be sold at, as well as select department and specialty stores. The men’s shoes are also available in black and white as well as black and yellow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This might have nothing to do with bikes...but if you were thinking about getting a tatoo...think again.

I know someone out there is thinking about getting some ink happens. You're looking for something that really says your serious about how your feeling, right now, at this moment, about your self, your life, or, well, whatever. Its like putting something deep on your headstone. Eternity will tell how fucking cool you were...look, you can see it right there on the headstone. Anodyne for existential angst...I get it.

But be careful with your metaphors...
and for GAWD's sake, be careful with your imagery

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Race Report PIR - 6/8/09

its been a long time coming...

Its been a tough year- filled with hope, plans, ideas, goals, objectives, despair, ruined plans, failure to meet goals and get the point. the leg cramps were like a broken collar bone on my season. For the first time since I was a junior, I had a plan for the season that was yet to begin. I produced a rough plan, some targeted races and was lucky enough to hook up with a great group of people to ride my bike with when the weather absolutely sucked. Most importantly, I had the blessing of my wife to spend the hours on the bike; after work, in the basement, on the weekends, out in the snow and rain for hours. I showed up to the Bananas with high hopes. After a 14th place and a 2nd I thought I was on the path to meeting my goals. After all, a 14th and a 2nd last year would be considered unqualified successes. But, for better or for worse, they seem more like 'almost success' after all the training and planning. I guess that's the dilemma. When you double down and actually train in the off season with the intent of doing well you consciously or unconsciously draw a line that says 'below #1, you fail'. I don't like that. To me, its unhealthy, and it takes away from the sublimity of our sport. But you must be an antihero to ride this way. Its all around you- the vernacular, the news, are steeped in the ooze.

Monday night was amazing. I showed up, and my legs showed up and maybe best of all, my teammate showed up to race in the same race as me. Cool. The racing was fantastic- the pace was high and consistent, the riding was clean and safe, and there were multiple attacks by strong riders. I followed a two man break on the third lap- a PV rider and a RCB rider. Both strong, and if I'm not mistaken, both have sailed off and won in the same fashion. So this time, I didn't let them get too far before I chased them down. I joined them on the back straight and we pushed hard through the first three turns hoping to establish a gap- but it never grew larger than a hundred meters or so. We were caught by the front straight. I felt so good that I tried to contest the first hot spot lap and was left out of position when we got to within a few hundred meters. So I pulled up and didn't push through to the end. Instead, I made sure that I didn't loose too much ground on the front of the pack. Just as we passed the Start/Finish the bell rang again- another hotspot- back to back. The pace was up again almost immediately. Those who had been left out on the first sprint were thinking about the second. After just trying a break away and pushing for the line, I was pretty gassed. Now, in seasons passed, I would have been in danger of getting gapped and eventually dropped in this kind of scenario. But I was able to suck it up and recover while I was still putting out a pretty high effort. It was miraculous, really. 'so this is what its like...' I thought to myself to be 'strong enough to repeat.' I'd read about that for years and never thought about what it actually meant (I credit my two interval classes w/ Jeff Tedder for felt exactly the same in class as in the race..only the race was easier!). Strange, I know. By the end of the back straight I had caught my breath and was thinking about the next sprint. I had great position right near the front. Within a couple hundred meters of the finish I was picking my way through the wheels for the win. Sometimes it's easy. That was easy. Weird. Its like playing on an eight foot hoop. Does that make me a sandbagger?

Dave tried a couple of times to get off the front with a break. We were positioned together and when he went I blocked...trying to pedal softly while not pedaling too softly is an art. You have to go strong enough that its not clear that you aren't chasing. I figure, try and keep the chasers on your wheel, content to have you 'tow' them up, but in actuality, let the break sneak off. Unfortunately for Dave, nothing stuck and he found himself back in the pack.

The third hotspot didn't go quite as well as the second, but 2nd place is good for points, if not the cash. I think it was a rider from Team Oakland who jumped early and away to the left for the win- I followed, but far too late, and he wasn't slowing. I closed a lot of the gap, but at some point I sat up and began thinking about getting back on the front for the final sprint set up.

On the backside, Dave offered up the lead out, so we coordinated. I didn't know it until later, but Dave's old teammate, Steve (?) helped on the train too. He got up on the front on the last turns and held a high pace, followed by Dave, then me. By the final straight we were basically one, two, three, with another rider out there with us. At five or six hundred, Steve started slowing, Dave paused for a second and the pace slowed a bit. I could see the shadows of Ironclad, and the pack over my right shoulder- the setting sun casting long shadows in front of them. They were gathering there, waiting for their moment. I shouted at Dave to keep going 'Go! Go!..Don't slow down!'. We were a long way out. Too far for Dave to deliver me with less than two hundred to go. 'Go, Dave!', I shouted. Dave put his head down and hammered. I could see him working, dragging out everything he had. At two hundred, the Ironclad posse was on us. I swung hard to the left- hell bent. I kicked as hard as I could- pushing my hips into it, nearly pulling my front wheel off the ground. I looked back to gauge my effort, and saw that I had gapped the group by a bunch- maybe ten lengths or more. A couple of riders had jumped off the front to the right and were closer, but still pretty far back. I dropped down a gear and drilled it home. Open road in front of me. First road win of the year.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Le Tour on the Horizon

So I saw this on, and thought I would pass it along to all those who have that unnameable attraction to the will do nothing to cure you. Here

Monday, June 01, 2009

Welcome to the Velodrome

Where I grew up, down in California, there is the Hellyer Park Velodrome. A placid affair by comparison, with gentle banks and open turns. It’s a bigger track, so the angles aren’t as tight, and the banking isn’t as steep. Its concrete like the Alpenrose, but it bumps along, like a roiling sidewalk under old trees. At times you feel like you are on the track, but, as I recall from my junior experience there, it is a pretty tame experience. Fun, but tame.

I’d spent just a couple of minutes on the Alpenrose track all told, before showing up to race Friday night. I was pretty uncertain about how I’d do. Would I be too scared to compete? Too nervous to hold a straight line? The essence of it seemed to be just like the sharp end of the leaders climbing rope. Each move, each combination of moves performed close to the ground are effortless, and without fear. Far above the ground the strongest force pulling you to the ground is your own mind, your own fear. Manage that fear and you can become great. Let it rule you and you will fall. As Yoda said: ‘ anger, fear, aggression. Ways of the dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.’

First race was the unknown distance- where you ride around the track until the bell sounds, at which point the first person over the line wins. There is no way of knowing if the race will be five laps or twenty. The strategy, as near as I can figure, is to stay within striking distance until the bell sounds and then hope to outsprint everyone in the last 200m- or as LK does things, simply ride away from your competitors and roll over the line alone, with ‘clean wheels’.

We all lined up along the railing, hands in the drops to signal our readiness to race. Rolling out, the pace immediately picked up. if you weren’t aggressive you would find yourself out of the race before it started. I worked my way up to the front group after having to bridge a couple of gaps myself on the first lap. I settled in under the sprinters line, in a group that was three deep. About four riders back, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to contest the sprint, whenever it was. But one by one, riders began pulling off the front, pace line style, until, at the moment we passed the start finish line I found myself on the front as the bell rang. One lap, I was on the front, and struck with absolutely no idea of what to do to win. I thought that I couldn’t ride off front. I’m not that strong. So, in error, I held back, biding my time, hoping someone would come around and I could grab their wheel in the hopes of coming around them in the finale. That person came around, charging, and I couldn’t close the gap to come around, and by turn four, I was out of contention for first. I pushed hard to hold second place. I realize now that the best chance was simply to bury myself for the last lap. I might have been able to hold first. At least it would have been much harder for the next rider to pull through.

(Credit: Jose Brujo Sandoval)

Race two was the points race. Nine laps, a point per lap. The pace was crazy from the get go, riders where off the pace immediately. If you weren’t careful you got bunched up behind riders too slow to keep up and you would be out of the race. I had to bridge several small gaps, essentially attacking hard to cover each open door. After three laps I had nothing to show for my effort. Points had gone to other riders. I had spent so much time trying to get toward the front that I had no idea who had actually gotten the points. In turn three I found the wheel of a U of O rider who was strong enough to pull us away from the front of the group after the early point getters flared out. I held his wheel until turn four and came around him for my first point. I eased up and let him pass. Remarkably, he pulled through, still at a high pace. By turn two I was behind him again. And as in the last lap, I let him pull me through turn four, at which point I pulled past him to take my second point. Once again, I pulled up the banks and opened the door for him. Remarkably, he pulled through again, at the same high pace. I dropped in behind and he took me through turn four AGAIN! I ate his lunch one more time for my third point. And then the bell rang- one to go. Just then an Ironclad rider, who must had bridged, pulled past on the right for the lead. With three points I was pretty sure I had it in the bag. I fought for the final point, but ultimately let him ride away with it. It didn’t matter, I’d won the points race.

Race three was the Alpenrose mile. Again, we rolled out and even though it was technically a neutral lap, riders were jockeying for position. I snuck in under a couple of riders for third wheel, right behind a VERY squirrelly Cyclisme rider, who made the whole race terrifying. Thankfully, he pulled off the front and let the faster riders through once he was tired. After three laps a rider jumped off the front. Attacking hard, building a gap that no one had an answer for. I was bunched with a Grunderbruiser’s rider and a couple others. After it became clear that no one was going to bridge, I attacked on my own with a little over one to go. It was going to be close. I pushed hard, driving the sprinters lane, the added force of the tight turn pulling my head down. By turn three I could see that I was closing. I’d taken much of his advantage. But as I pulled through turn four, I had run out of real estate. I pulled up alongside him at the beginning of turn one, just meters behind, congratulated him on his panache for that attack. I was gassed, but satisfied. I’d won the omnium. It was good to be back at the track.