Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Need Route Advice for Solvang/Santa Barbara

I'm putting together some routes for myself and want to learn more from local riders in the Solvang/Santa Barbara area.

The first loop takes us out of Solvang and out to Jamala. The return back I've got us going through Lompoc, then Los Alamos:

The second loop goes up the dirt side of Refugio Road out of Solvang (not sure how good of a road this is, but I'm not afraid of taking the road bike on some dirt), then on to Santa Barbara and returning via the Gibralter climb:

Any feedback would be great.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blogging Low Point

Wow, November was a dismal month for postings on this blog. I guess that coincides with a few things happening with other priorities in life. Work has picked up significantly with a little known acquisition that's been proving to be more worth than initially scoped, and the onset of the holidays has its usual bevy of activities between Thanksgiving and Christmas (...or Festivus if that's your holiday of choice).

In the midst of all of this, I'm proud to say that November broke some new ground for things bike-related. I explored a lot of unexplored routes that I previously had dismissed. Many of them were dead end roads, but several gems were found (Weaver Road) among the duds (Aldercroft Heights Road). I found out how versatile a road bike can be on local fire roads where most traffic tends to be mountain bikes and hikers. I even explored the possibility of buying an old bike from one well-known CX racer who just happens to be very tall and a national champ (BTW, thanks to those that helped me get in touch with the individual).

To top it off, I did accomplish something of interest on the bike. For you Trainingpeaks WKO+ geeks like me, I had a five day block of serious volume right around Thanksgiving. Hit a new high for my ATL while driving my TSB down to -51! But what about the CTL? It came close to a high, but not near what I had back in July. That's fine, because I'm not really looking to put a peak together this off-season for our local weekend club races.

And speaking of those (
SJBC Winter Series), I had a blast testing out my new Edge tubulars at the last crit. First time out on this wheelset and an absolute joy. I'd forgotten how much trust one can develop with a set of tubulars while your railing through a corner and laying down some power.

Thinking more about this, it's the first time in probably 2+ years that I haven't raced with a power meter. All my previous iterations of race wheelsets had been built around PowerTap hubs. With my intent to use
Metrigear's future product (yes, I did order a Garmin Edge 500 on Cyber Monday...sweet discount too), I've decided to move away from the PT hubs. It was interesting in the crit on Sunday that I never found myself feeling the need to have the power numbers in front of me. Sure, when I hit the gas and cause the split and subsequent break to form, it might have been nice to see the data after the fact, but in retrospect I found it somewhat of a relief to just not have the power number in front of me being a distraction. I felt myself focusing more on the race, which was the object, and placing less focus on whether or not I'd blow up since these power numbers on the head unit were showing that I was going ballistic. This somewhat supports the idea I've thrown around in my head about riding/racing with the power readout display covered up with some electrical tape.

When time permits I hope to throw together a post highlighting some fun stuff from my own past year and give some 2010 predictions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Exploring in the Back Yard - Soda Springs Road

Our local area is very blessed with the vast amount of terrain for on- and off-road biking. Over the past couple of months with the intensity low on my training radar I've done a few rides that normally I wouldn't have tried previously. Not sure as to the specific reason why I wouldn't have done these rides as part of my normal training, but it's probably because I've felt less in a rut around riding and more carefree about where my bike ends up taking me. That's a good thing and something I need to do more to counterbalance the demands of training and the impending slew of interval work I see on the horizon.

I recently decided to explore Soda Springs Road. The low-key'ers did this climb a few weeks ago and though I missed it, I felt I should at least make the effort to give the climb a go. What really prompted me to get my rear up to this climb was the announcement that the Los Gatos Creek Trail had reopened the upper part of the trail across the front of the dam. No more nasty climbing on the gravel road (I actually never did it, but it was a deterrence). I came down it plenty, but never found a reason to be joyous about climbing it. With the change in the trail in place, I figured it was worth heading up to Soda Springs.

The sign at the bottom is h
armless and gives no real indication of what was in store. As the climb began I was surprised at how this road meandered up through the canyon. For some reason I thought I'd end up with a nice few of the back side of Mt. Umunhum as I climbed but that wasn't the case. I did keep getting views of the trails in the Sierra Azul area where folks typically mountain bike.

I'm not going to go into too much detail, but I captured some interesting things along the climb that caught my interest. The autumn colors in the leaves on the vines aren't done justice by the iPhone camera, but they were ablaze in vibrant fall hues.

As you climb higher the road narrows and leaves just enough room for a cyclist and a single vehicle. This is probably one of my favorite pictures on the climb because it gives you a real sense of what the climb entails. Pretty steady 8% grade the whole way up. You just have to find that happy gear and mash out your feel-good cadence. Mine happened to be at at nice tempo pace on the day I took these pictures. I came back a week later and went a bit faster (sub-threshold) and shaved off three plus minutes from my previous time up the climb.

Higher up on the hill you come across less pe
ople and more outstanding views. There was some local valley haze in the area and it wasn't completely clear; the following week at the top it was much cooler and clear. I could see all the way to Mt. Tam, SF, Oakland and the foothills up near Sonoma and Napa Valleys.

I'm still surprised at myself for not making the effort to get up to this excellent climb sooner. From my house it's roughly a 1.5 hour ride to the top. Not bad considering that I'm only having to really deal with cars for the first twenty minutes of this ride from the house over to the LG trail head. Once you get up around Lexington and the climb the volume of cars is very low.

On the way home I decided to hop over and give Montevina a climb. I've cut across the dirt trail numerous times to descend Bohlman, but given my adventurous bent, I decided to stick to the dirt trail (on the road bike...25mm tires mind you) and descend into Los Gatos. Of course I took it easy on the descent because coming home in several pieces is not an option. Overall it was fun to explore some new parts of the hills and open myself to new adventures in the dirt descent.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hello off season & low-tensity

The last month and a half since my last race has been nice. Mellow rides, great scenery (thanks Granfondo!) and plenty of time to not ride hard. In fact, it's been nice to ride the same roads I hammer on during intervals and have time to view the surroundings. Amazing the amount of things you take for granted when all the blood goes to your legs and lungs and not your eyes and brain.

So if I come across you on a ride this fall/winter I'm not likely to try and follow. I'm liking this pace and so is my waistline (down 9 pounds...watch out climbers).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Interbike, Part III - Pictures

Been busy lately and totally forgot to get these posted. So here are some highlights of mine from Interbike:

I don't know who the Garmin rider is on the left, but Christian Vande Velde is pretty recognizable. These guys, plus Dave Zabriskie, just happened to be signing autographs at the Vittoria/3T booth.

Dave didn't want to emphasize the height difference so he decided to stand on his chair for the picture. You can't tell from this picture but DZ's shoulders are probably narrower than
his waist; no wonder he's fast on his TT bike.

Lunch courtesy of Clif Bar...espresso from this guy.

The Ouch guys were hanging out at the Kuota booth. John Murphy (US Crit Champ), Rory Sutherland and Floyd Landis were all interested in the
Metrigear product.

Hung out with Bob Parlee for a few minutes. He actually remembered when the order for my frame came through his shop almost two years ago. Bob was kind enough to spend time listening to my feedback on his frame and what I'd do differently with my next Parlee frame.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Levi's Granfondo Carbon Clincher Failure on Meyers Grade

This past weekend I participated in Levi's Granfondo and had a wonderful time. Amazing roads, people, support and weather for a terrific ride that took me through parts of California that I would otherwise not have ever seen.

One of the sights I thought I'd never see was my beloved Edge Composite 68 carbon clinchers fail under me while riding. These have been a bomb-proof wheel set since day one. 20/24 spokes, WI hub up front, Powertap in the rear with CX-Ray spokes. An absolute dream. My 88kg's have had nothing but great times on these wheels.

I've learned with these wheels that under heaving braking on steep descents you must exhibit caution. You can't ride the brakes and just think you'll be fine when you get to the bottom. I learned this on a very short and steep 20% descent last fall when I had a latex tube blow out. Yes, I was on the brakes the whole way down and should have known better, but thankfully no harm was done to the wheel or myself. Lesson learned, at least I thought...

Some of the descents of the Granfondo were pretty steep and around blind corners. With being unfamiliar with the roads, I made sure I was cautious. Cautious, but also considerate of the fact that I didn't want to overheat the brakes. I didn't experience any problems over the first 60 miles. The rims weren't squealing nor were the rims overheating.

This all changed as I descended down Meyers Grade Road (photo from http://www.steephill.tv's route preview). The day of the 'fondo was just as perfect as this picture.

The descent was made a bit more technical from the 20+mph wind blowing from off the ocean to the right. The signs at the top warn riders that you're about to descend an 18% grade and caution is required. As had been the norm for the descents up until this point, I made sure I descended safely and with the goal of keeping all equipment in tact. To put this is relation to other riders, I was descending just as fast as others with the exception of a former MTB pro who kept bombing past me on descents (I would then pass him on climbs).

Toward the bottom third of this descent I felt a very bad pulsation in the front brake lever. I looked down at the front wheel to see if there was something wrong but there wasn't anything visibly bad. But it was scary to see the fork flexing back and forth under braking; it probably was oscillating at least an inch when I had the front brake applied heavily.

I got to the bottom of the descent and my teammate pulled over a few seconds later to see how I was doing. I spun the front wheel and it got stuck. It wasn't clear to me what happened. I opened the brakes up to let the wheel spin more freely. At this point I saw the issue. Initially it looked like the sidewall of my Rubino Pro had bulged out and was rubbing the break pads (yellow Swiss Stop). But to my surprise it actually was a deformity of the braking area of the rim! I had somehow managed to melt the carbon.

I was able to limp back through the rest of the ride, but took it very slow on corners and was only able to use about 10% of the braking power from the front. When I got home I took the tire off the wheel and noticed the damage was much worse. I thought only one side of the rim had melted. Come to find out it was on both sides. In the picture you'll see how each side of the clincher flares out.

Thankfully I kept the rubber down, but I'll be on the phone with Edge to discuss the details around the failure and what we can do going forward.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Interbike, Part II

Now fully armed with Metrigear stuff, I had to figure out how to tackle the convention floor layout. Pretty simple to just walk the aisles so that's what I just did. First up was the Euro area of the show. Strained conversations were the norm here. I got the sense that a few of the interested people at some of the booths were having a hard time trying to get through the language barrier of the foreigners.

For me this happened at the Acros booth. This is a German company that has some pretty light weight gear. Yup, a homegrown competitor to the other weight-weenie company Tune. They displayed a sub-700g wheelset made from their hubs and some new prototype AX Lightness rims. I asked about the hub weight, but this was lost in translation. I never got the answer. Most of the other Euro stuff were things I had already seen from the interweb postings from Eurobike.

Continuing my assault on the aisles, I soon found myself approaching the Vittoria/3T/Selle San Marco booth. And to my surprise there were some Garmin riders signing autographs. I'm typically not an autograph/rider groupie, but I couldn't pass up see these guys in person. First up was Christian Vande Velde, then some other random Garmin guy who I couldn't identify, and then Dave Z. All of them were cool, but I was most interested in DZ partly from my own twisted fascination with TT's and his complete domestic dominance of this discipline. I had a photo taken with him, but he didn't want to look short, so he stood up on his chair to even things out a little bit.

And here's DZ's secret weapon to being fast. His shoulders are so narrow that he probably could have been birthed from his mother at his current side and she probably wouldn't have needed an epidural at all. This dude is narrow, plain and simple.

Along the way I'd get folks asking me what Metrigear was all about, so I'd hand them the literature, show them my Speedplay pedal and direct them to the booth. I started to hit the wall and came across the Fizik booth. Some neat stuff there, but best of all was the espresso vendor. I downed a double and kept on working.

I eventually came across some other regionally focused vendors. First up where the Asian companies. These all felt cheap and inexpensive. I felt like I was walking through rows and rows of copy-cat designs and rip offs. I was happy to move on and find I was soon halfway across the world and surrounded by the Italians. All the Italian vendors had a certain air about them...like they were the holders of cycling's holy grail (not sure what that may be, but the Italians probably have it...maybe it's called the World Champion rainbow jersey). Besides the class of the Italians, I really appreciated their attention to detail; very refreshing and a nice change from some of the in-your-face displays from other parts of the floor. I was surprised by the number of clothing vendors from Italy. A ton of vendors showing fabrics and clothing components. Neat stuff if you're a chamios geek.

On the way out of the Italion stallions, I passed through the Kuota booth. Go figure, more pros! John Murphy (US Crit champ), Rory Sutherland and Floyd Landis were just chilling at a table with nobody around. I saddled up and asked for a poster, and given the lack of action, and probably because there weren't any pretty girls around, they decided to strike up a conversation with me and ask what brought me to Interbike. We probably talked for five minutes and there were all pretty excited about a pedal-based powermeter. Nice guys.

A quick check of the clock revealed it was 1:30pm. The espresso was wearing off and I needed nutrition. I headed back to the Metrigear booth and met up with Alan. We headed over to grab lunch. Since he had been on the floor the day before he gave me the rundown of what transpired the day before and some booths I had missed that I needed to head back to and look at in more detail.

On the way back I wanted to hit up Pearl Izumi and find out what was new with some of the aero shoe covers. We had to cut through Shimano. Yes, I know. A Campy guy like me walking through the Shimano booth. It was damn tough. To make it worse, George Hincapie was signing autographs. I pushed aside the Campy voices in my head and had George sign a poster for me. However, the picture Alan took with my iPhone didn't turn out at all. Oh well. And if George is "big", then I'd hate to see the rest of the peloton. He's not that big, just normal size.

Wow, so who else did I bump into? Well, Lennard Zinn (VeloNews technical editor and tall guy frame builder) asked me where the Metrigear booth was located. And yes, he's not as tall as he claims too. It's like high school again when you hear about athletes from opposing teams (or frame-building editors) seeming to be larger than life, and then when you see them in person there's a different perspective you walk away with. Trust me, I played against a lot of 6'7" guys in high school who were barely pushing 6'4".

By this time the day was winding down. I hit up the espresso guy again and swung by the Bell/Easton booth. An old Stanford teammate of mine is the business manager for their helmet business. He was in the middle of a conversation with some former US mountain bike pro champ, but when he saw me he quickly excused himself. We caught up and later I told this story to the rep at the Prologo saddles booth. He said that my buddy was probably all too eager to get out of the conversation with the bike rider because the rider was most likely only talking about themself.

With sore legs I went back to the booth and meandered through Rotor and Selle San Marco. Rotor is coming out with their Q-rings for the Zipp cranks (which will suit my road bike just nicely thank you). Selle San Marco just came out and updated the Regal saddle at Eurobike. They've shaved 150 grams off the saddle and have retained the shape. Finally, a nice big saddle without a significant weight penalty. I asked the rep if I could buy one, but he had to keep it around until the show ended.

This led to a moment of enlightenment. Some of these vendors are willing to wheel and deal with their goods on Friday. As the show closes down, they're looking for ways to reduce the amount of product they need to ship out. So with that in mind I took Mandi over from the Metrigear booth, made introductions between her and the San Marco guy, and gave them both instructions on the saddle make/model/color I wanted. Mandi, I owe you!

Wow, is reading this exhausting? Yeah, probably. Just like being on your feet all day at the show. More reads to come in Part III and pictures.

Interbike, Part I

Over the past year I've been covertly planning to make it down to the 2010 Interbike show. For years I've scoured the web to see photos of what was coming out from different vendors. So now with some careful planning and deft product development of some friends I executed my plans. So what's so covert about going to Interbike? Nothing really except I was going in support of a friend who's bringing out the equivalent of sliced bread to the power meter crowd. More on that later...

Day trips to Vegas aren't a regular occurrence for me. Heck, prior to heading to Vegas for my ten year wedding anniversary back in April, I hadn't been back to Sin City since spring break 1994. Lots can change in a fifteen year absence, but now I'm heading back only a few months and it actually will seem more "normal" of a city than when I was overwhelmed during the spring.

No major hiccups on the flight, except I learned a valuable lesson at the Vegas airport. I tried to be sly and pick up a taxi on the wrong side of the airport. The airport officials quickly guided me to the right "line" on the other side of the building. After getting into my cab, I asked why none of the taxi's weren't even giving me the time of day on the other side of the airport. Apparently it's a $100 fine for them to pick up people on that side of the terminal. Ok, my bad...I forgot that I needed to queue up with two hundred other people and wait in line (I think some Brit might be running the airport since their love of queue's is high).

Upon arrival to the Sands Convention Center I found the reg desk and promptly was greeted by Velopromo people. Not really, but when I think "reg", I think Velopromo. However, the man helping me could have fit in just perfectly with the Velopromo folks.

I'm going to turn the clock back here about eight years and tell you a little side story that will help you understand what I was about to face. Before Lisa and I decided to have kids, we made sure to take a nice trip to Europe. Since I had spent some time around London and knew the town well enough, I wanted to expose her to Harrod's. We spent about five hours there (including lunch) and at one point Lisa had one of the paralysis moments of shopping. Just too much overload of what to buy. We fondly refer to this as our "Harrod's" moment.

So back to Interbike. I see the open door to the convention floor and briskly walk through. WHAM! I'm being hit from all sides with "Harrod's" moments! I am so utterly completely overwhelmed by everything that I found myself standing still for about a minute. Soaking in all the biking goodness was such a nice feeling. With that over I quickly got oriented and found my way over to the Metrigear booth.

A quick change of shirts soon found me in the black Metrigear t-shirt. Armed with a handful of marketing literature, I decided to walk up and down the aisle to get the word out for Metrigear. Of course along the way I saw some pretty cool things...but we'll get to those in the next blog posting.

More to come...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chico Crit Race Report

Place High-teens
Category: 35+ Masters 3/4
Race: Chico Downtown Criterium
Team Mates: Steven, Jonathan, Bruce
Field Size: 40+
Conditions: Hot and windy

After racing in the Henleyville RR the day before, it was nice to hang out in Chico the rest of Saturday and enjoy the town. After a fun dinner with Steven and Jonathan at a local Thai restaurant and a good night of sleep, I was ready for a hot day of racing. My racing didn't start until 2pm. Nothing like a lazy morning in Chico to get things started (and a plug for Cafe Coda...best breakfast spot in town).

I set the family up under the shade in the plaza near the start/finish line. Lots of other racers were doing the same thing and it was a great atmosphere for racing. After some brief time on the trainer, I did a few laps on the course. One corner had the nastiest rain drain I had ever seen. It must have sunk a good two feet! If you cut that corner you\'d be launched off your bike into the exit of the corner from the apex. Definitely a line that nobody tried to take willingly in the race.

The race started off fast and stayed that way. A couple of laps into the race the first prime was called (two deep). I was in the top 5 coming into the next to last corner and so I put in a hard dig to get to the last corner first. With that successfully accomplished I was able to nab the prime. A quick glance back and I had a gap, so we all know what that means ;)

I kept the gas on and probably did about 3 laps out by my lonesome self. I know was hurting and I was hoping my teammates were helping me back with the pack (Steven must have been hurting because in his oxygen-depleted race report he completely forgot I had rolled off the front solo). As I started to eventually slow, a Chico Corsa rider bridged across. He was pushing a big gear and I was having trouble sticking on his wheel.

A few laps later another guy made it across. I was cross-eyed at this point due to the heat of the afternoon, the solo effort and the dead legs from the road race the day before. I held on for a few more laps, but I ended up popping off the back. In retrospect I should have sat out a few pulls, but logic is defied when the door of the pain cave is closed and everything around you turns dark.

I slowly drifted back to the pack and saw that the rest of the SJBC crew had been shelled. There were some Chico guys on the front keeping the pace reasonable. Every now and then guys would try to push the pace, but there wasn't any great amount of teamwork between teams to pull the break back.

With about three laps to go I put in another hard dig to bridge up to three guys off the front of the pack. However, they pretty much gave up their effort as I rolled past them. So once again here I am in no-man's land. This lasted only another lap and a half before I was tracked back down. I surfed the back of the pack as the final two laps were ridden at a fast pace. I was happy to cross the line and be done.

In retrospect I probably could have, and should have ridden a bit differently in the break. As noted by Steven in our post-race chat, it's sometimes not until you\'re in the pressure of the moment that these opportunities of learning present themselves on the bike. This is not something you learn on a training ride or at our Tuesday night rides. It's what you do the next time this happens that defines whether or not you've learned from your past experiences.

As my final race of 2009 I can say I've learned a ton this season and can't wait to see how 2010 plays out.

Henleyville Race Report

Place 7th
Category: 35+ Masters 123
Race: Henleyville Road Race
Team Mates: None
Field Size: 10
Conditions: Sunny with wind picking up throughout the day

I had targeted this weekend not so much for the racing, but to take the family up to Chico to visit a niece of ours starting her first year of college at CSU-Chico. Just my luck, OK I planned it out just a bit, that there would be two races over the weekend.

This was the first time I actually was able to wake up past 6am and make it to a Velopromo race on time. Nice to be staying close in Chico for the weekend. Our field was real small! Two Morgan Stanley's, three Zenn's, two Sierra Nevada/Bike Plus and then myself, Winder from Lombardi and a random Davis guy.

At the start the Davis rider decides to go up to the front and set the pace. Nothing too hard, but he kept pulling off and then rotating back into the front three. I stuck my nose out in the front a bit on the first lap, but not much. The Davis guy was just too ready and willing to pull us around. The feed zone was on a small pimple of a hill (maybe only a 3% grade at most).

Coming into the last few miles of the first lap the attacks started. This caused the Davis rider and one of the Zenn's to fall off the pace. Winder and I looked at each other and figured we'd sit in and watch the teams just punch/counter-punch each other. A first for me happened rather soon too...a pee break on the side of the road. Such gentlemen us junior geezers can be when the need arises.

Soon after we got back on the road and there was way too much talking between the represented teams. I had a feeling something was up. The attacks started again and finally there was one that stuck; it had one guy from each team. The remaining teammates looked at Winder and I with that pitiful look of "Hey, go chase them down...we're not!".

The break got up the road by about a minute, but Winder and I thought perhaps we could gutter the other teammates and bridge across in the crosswind section. We hit the corner and Winder launched me from the back of the pack. I put in a pretty hard dig, but the 3 chasers didn't want to let me go and reeled me back in within the next two minutes. Then Winder attacked. Rinse and repeat, it was the same thing for the next eight miles as we tried to make something happen/stick. We didn't have the numbers and the remaining teammates were more than willing to chase us down.

I resigned to the fact that we now were racing for 4th place. But my moral victory was that I had beat the Davis rider, so I was doing my part to help close the BAR gap. The winds picked up more on the final lap and we all eventually played nice and rotated through the pace line. Coming into the final kilometer the Morgan Stanley guy launches and I slowly bring him back. Just as we're about to catch him the remaining three guys launch their sprint. I rolled through 7th and learned what it feels like to miss the winning break and ride without teammates.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lady Gaga, Your Dad's Proud of You!

Watched the VMA's tonight on MTV. Just a short word to Lady Gaga...your dad called and said he likes what you did with your hair (the Eskimos like it too). If you saw her last outfit during Jay-Z's performance you'll see know what I'm talking about.

Friday, September 11, 2009

La Palabra de Vuelta del Día

Universal Sports is doing a great job with their live coverage of the Vuelta on their website, but let's not overlook the other great contribution they're making.

I don't have a large vocabulary of smart-guy words I like to throw around to impress people, but I can usually ascertain a word or two that's out of my league when I at least know the context. The announcers on Universal Sports today threw a new word into the mix:


Ponder that for a minute...Ok, now there are a few things that make sense about this word and why you might have never used it in your normal day to day communications.

First, are there any bonifications on the line if you finish your coffee first? Probably not. People on this side of the pond don't throw this word around (at least in the company of my friends). Second, do you notice where that above link takes you? Yup, to a UK dictionary website. Maybe this is a more common word in the Queen's commonwealth. I'm sure the UK version of Beavis & Butthead would go nuts using the word "bonification" in a skit or two.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

District TTT Race Report

The District TTT was a late addition to the Norcal racing calendar. This was going to be run on the same course as the Altamont TTT back in April with some additional kilometers thrown on to make it a full 40km. The newer section of road wasn't a surprise to me as in-laws live out near the course and I've ridden these roads quite a bit.

There's a reason there are windmills dotting all these hills. It's typically windy and this morning was no different. In fact, it was probably one of the strongest winds this early in the morning that I've ever felt in this area. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As with the District TT in Sattley, I had the same early morning problem. You'd think I'd learn to set my alarm when I'm not tired, but I neglected to pay attention to the AM/PM distinction. Thankfully for me I woke up at 6am otherwise I probably would have missed the race. I quickly checked my iPhone alarm and realized I made the same mistake I did for Sattley. Gotta work this out eventually...

So with my adrenaline was pumping and after slamming a yogurt and banana down for breakfast, I was on the road. Thankfully for me I was staying at my in-laws, the car was pre-packed and it was only 20 minutes to team's meeting spot. I texted Clark to let him know I was going to be a few minutes late.

Upon arriving at our meeting spot, Mike and Dave were waiting for me and it was pretty cool out. Definitely a long-sleeve skinsuit morning. However, no Clark to be seen. Ten minutes pass and still no Clark. I gave Clark's cell phone a ring and no response. Not good, but this race only requires you to have three riders crossing the line. Yeah, I'm already thinking worse case scenario and we haven't even hit the registration table.

We finally make the call to drive over to registration after we waited for twenty minutes. I left a message for Clark and we rolled. We parked and rode up to the registration table to pick up our numbers. Come to find out Clark had picked up his number and was already warming up. I found Clark on the way back to the car and I was very relieved. With almost an hour to warm up I felt much better knowing the entire team was ready.

I brought my tiny arsenal of wheels, but in reality I knew it definitely wasn't necessary. Running a 1080 would have been fun for maybe the first quarter of the course, but with the strong winds it would be too much to handle this deep of a front wheel. In fact, having the disc on the rear was even something I was questioning.

Our team rolled up to the start and just in the nick of time. I quickly heard the starter tell us we only had thirty seconds before starting. Just around the same time the Rocknasium team in front of us had a logistics snafu and missed their start time. Needless to say they were pretty steamed about it, but the rolled on and out of site.

At the start we all clicked in but Dave had a problem. We had to wait and he eventually caught back on. Once all together we ramped it up and were flying. The tailwind had to have been 20+mph and I've never gone up this gradual hill so fast (~36mph). We hit the peak of the climb and then descended at terminal velocity. How fast is terminal velocity on a TT bike? About 54mph! It was probably the scariest moment I've ever had on a bike. That fast, and being whipped from side to side by the wind (every rider after the race I spoke with was just as scared too).

As we hit the crosswind section on Mountain House Road, we quickened up our rotations and echeloned. It was hard to find any calm wind behind the wheel in front of you since the winds were so strong and we were all getting blown all over the place. At the turnaround we lost a bit of time with Dave not being in the right gear.

It was fast on the way out, but it was a death march on the return. The crosswind was now coming a bit more from the front of us and it was really slowing us down. It hurt just to do ~21mph! Poor Clark was starting to feel the effects of the wind the most. Not surprising given he was the lightest guy in our group. We were able to rotate smoothly and let him sit out a couple of pulls to recover.

Turning onto Altamont Road I was thankful I was running my 11-25t cassette. I dropped into my small front chainring and explored all my rear gears to find a suitable cadence. With the straight-on headwind, the 39-23t combo proved to be where I spent a ton of time riding. And it wasn't any better sitting up to climb. The wind would just slam into me and cause me to lose momentum. I spent all my climbing in the aerobars.

Halfway up the rollers to the peak of Altamont Road we lost Clark. I don't like losing teammates in TTT's, but it's part of the strategy to know when to push on and when to wait. With how Clark was feeling it was time to plug on. We pushed through the last rollers and up to the summit.

With just two miles to go it was time to empty the tank! Dave was starting to get gassed so it turned out to be the Todd and Mike show taking longer pulls as we gradually descended down to the line. The last two minutes of the TT seemed to take forever. I think lactic acid probably makes your brain loopy, since I was producing it in spades!

The three of us stayed together and we passed the Rio Strada team (they started 4 minutes ahead of us) right before the finish line. With my vision crossed and my face covered in a mix of sweat'n'snot, I looked over at Mike and we both had the same thought. This was the hardest conditions, and perhaps, the hardest TT we've ever done. Period.

Finishing this race in one piece with all your teammates safe was reward enough. Taking third and being on the podium was just icing on the cake after dealing with these conditions.

So what are some key takeaways with these conditions? First, it might have made sense to use a road bike with aerobars. The handling of the TT bike was pretty scary. Second, running a wheelset like a 404 and not having a disc might have been just as fast. This morning I went out on a ride from my in-laws with my low profile training wheels and the wind was just as strong. It was amazing how much more stable I was on this wheelset compared to the Edge 68 front/disc rear.

Hopefully they'll keep this event on the calendar as it's one of the few TTT's out there and a blast to ride with a strong coordinated team.

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Endurance Giveaway

I'm a big fan of First Endurance products, so I decided to enter their most recent product giveaway. Thankfully all that was necessary was a blog posting that happened back at the Madera Stage Race.



Sunday, August 30, 2009

Winters Road Race

It hit me the night before this race that I hadn't done a road race since Panoche back in May. Wow, how time flies! I was pretty excited about riding this loop as we had a pretty strong team put together for this field.

I was really concerned about the heat, so I packed two additional water bottles in my back pocket. I even went as far as freezing them the night before and kept them frozen up until we started. Between what I had on me and the water at the feed zone I made sure hydration wasn't going to be a concern.

We rolled out and our pace was pretty tame, tame enough that a few guys rolled off the front, but this didn't cause any chases. We came around the loop and hit the gradual slopes on Cantelow Road. Things were pretty steady and hard enough to make me happy to hang out at the back of the main pack.

The descent was a blast and those off the back were able to catch on relatively easy. On the second lap we got a time split and the break, which at this point had grown by a few riders, was 1:20 up the road. Once we heard this Ramon, Dave and Jim rolled to the front and sped up the pace. Ramon spent a considerable amount of time staying near the front.

We hit the climb again and for some reason I found myself near the back leading into the feed zone (on the first steep pitch of the climb). Not the place I needed to be! Next thing I know a Touchstone rider is putting on his brakes and stopping in front of me. He caused myself and Matt to both ease up and lose contact with the pack. I grabbed a water, looked back and Matt. He said we probably could catch them after the descent, so I put down a hard tempo (at least for me) to pace both of us up the climb.

After bombing down the hill, we caught up with Jim who had slipped off the back and we did a three man TT over the course of the next three minutes to catch the pack. At this point I wasn't sure whether I had it in me to stay with the leaders if they decided to climb hard. I figured I could at least get to the front on the flats and put the hurt on a few people and hopefully a stronger/better teammate who could climb would make the selection at the front.

Nice idea, but my rear wheel had another plan...like going flat. I had a slow leak and it eventually put me on the side of the road. Andrew Lanier Sr. was driving our follow car. He jumped out and asked, "Hey, you want to use Junior's wheel?". Sure, why not. We swapped the wheel and I decided to try and TT back to the group.

I could see the group about 3 minutes up the road and thought, "If I make it around the next corner where I can see them, and they look closer, I'll keep truckin'...". Well, it just happened that I wasn't able to see the group due to some of the turns along Putah Creek Road.

Finally, I turned south on Winters Road and saw the pack. One nice thing about having my eyesight over-corrected by Lasik nine years aog is that I have 10/20 eyesight (my eye doctor thinks I could be a sniper). The bad thing was somebody was hitting the gas in the pack and they were stretched out and pulling away. I told myself to keep going until the next turn a few miles down, but I knew it was a lost hope.

Ten minutes later I reached the next turn and shut it down. Sad to say I was bummed, but some days lady luck just isn't on your side. Needless to say this race is a definite on the racing calendar next year.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Death by Salad - Part II

Back in April I was taken back by the cost of eating a salad at lunch. Since then things have changed by 25%. How so? The cost per ounce was lowered from $0.40 to $0.30. Doesn't sound significant, but when your salad weighs over a pound, it does make a difference. Making this change and being more strategic in my selection of lighter veggies (I'm taken my weight weenie mindset from the bike to the salad bar) I can now walk out of the cafeteria with a salad that costs less than $6. Much better than giving away my firstborn for a piece of green nutrition.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fire Season

This is a week or so behind the times, but it was just a bit ironic given what has transpired over the past week around the Bay Area with local forest fires. Growing up in Oregon I find forest fires troubling to me on several levels. At the core I truly cherish the forest and all it encompasses. Many days of my youth were spent in the back acres of our property playing among the trees and streams of the forest. Seeing land like this go up in smoke just bothers me to no end.

I took this first photo as I was meandering through the east foothills of San Jose on an easy spin. I hadn't heard about the fire north of Davenport yet, but Smokey sure knew something was ominous. I don't know if this sign's fire danger level ever gets changed; the sign is located on a closed road section of Alum Rock park.

As I rode back to work I saw in the distance the smoke from over the Santa Cruz mountains.
My gut just sank as I knew this was a pretty big fire just given the size of the plume. This photo was taken near the south end of the bay near Milpitas. Only for a brief moment did I think this might have been the fog bank rolling in, but upon looking further north where Highway 92 crosses over to Half Moon Bay my initial suspicions were confirmed. No fog up north certainly meant this was a fire in the hills.

Last year soon after the Pine Martin fire near Bonny Doon I rode through that area as part of the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge ride. That was eerie! Not something I particularly liked doing. Hopefully we're through with serious fires in the local area and things are kept safe around the state. However, that will be tough; a few weeks ago our family went up to Oregon for a week and on the flight I spotted several fires east of Mt. Shasta. Fires look different from the sky, but it still makes my heart sink.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Performance - It's the Name of the Game

You may have already seen this, but I like it for so many reasons. One of the not so obvious reasons...the shots within the video from the Mt. Tabor park area. I grew up playing as a small kid in that area.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Backstage with Cervelo Test Team

I've been transfixed lately by a series of videos following the Cervelo Test Team. Head over to Bartape.net and make up a pot of coffee (or break open a bottle of wine). Each video is roughly ten minutes in length and give you a very good idea of what happens behind the scenes with the riders.

Contrary to the postings Lance and company have put up from the first two Grand Tours, these videos have a realism that to me portrays the day in/day out grind of being a professional rider. Watching the transformation of Heinrich Haussler over the first couple of episodes had me transfixed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The "Look" - Part Duex

Lance and the "looks". Sounds like a bad name for a wanna-be cover band. First there was this:

New and improved '09 style:

Oh, please, please, please stay healthy the both of you. I want to see a clean fight, no thumbs to the eyes, and all the Texan piss and Spanish vinegar you can hurl at each other come next July!

Boy, and what's going to happen with the supporting casts of Team RadioShack and the future home of Al-pistolero Contedor? An all out smackdown of American toughies (Levi, Horner, George...maybe a Garmin defect or two) against who the heck knows. And just for kicks let's get the new terminator faceplate of Jens Voigt added to that team. I can't wait!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Best new Bay Area climb - Mt. Umunhum

One of the best stories I've read lately in the San Jose Mercury News. Mount Umunhum clean-up gets congressional approval! The article notes that the road will also need to be repaved. This will turn out to be one of the best climbs in the Bay Area.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Watsonville E3 Race Report

After doing the M35+/45+ race, the legs were pretty toasted. I quickly put on the number for this race and lined up. I was just hoping to hang and see what would transpire.

With the longer distance compared to the 35+/45+ race it seemed like we didn't really start to ramp things up until a few laps into the race. The legs were feeling pretty tired, but at least siting in the pack felt pretty good. And there were some tall/big guys in the pack that could at least provide some relief.

About ten minutes into the race I was thinking, "Heck, I got the upgrade points I was seeking...why not just shut it down and find a nice burrito to eat?" Just then Matt rolls up to me and says, "You can win this." Matt, apparently you can't read my mind because it's not what you were thinking. Talk about a little peer pressure from a teammate.

Around this time a break goes up the road and dangles out there for the next 35 minutes. Thankfully I didn't have to do too much work to reel them in, but I will say there were some low horsepower'd riders that were having a hard time contributing to the paceline. At least I knew they wouldn't be a problem if things came down to a sprint.

With three laps to go the break was caught and I knew it would come down to a sprint finish. We had about 10 guys in our pack and coming into the last lap everybody was looking around to see what was going to happen. I found myself on the front with two corners remaining and a slight headwind. Not ideal, but better than being at the back.

Coming out of the last corner I sprinted as hard as I could. I wasn't able to get any separation from those behind and pretty much just gave a few other riders an awesome leadout. Three guys came around me, but getting back to back fourth places was very gratifying.

Watsonville 35+/45+ Race Report

Clark threw out the idea to me that a team TT effort off the front might be fun to try, but alas, Clark wasn't able to make it to Watsonville. The general strategy was to use our numbers to our advantage. Attack where possible, cover when necessary and disrupt any chase attempts to teammates up the road.

The race started off fast and furious. It took a couple of laps of intensity to get used to the turns and the best lines through them. Imagine trying to figure that out while redlining?!? Not much fun. I stayed mid-pack and could see most of the action at the front.

Soon I found myself coming up the hill to the start/finish with a lot of momentum. I carried this momentum and attacked down the right as people caught their breath from the hill. Nobody went with me, so I shut it down after a minute or so. Back to the pack for a bit of recovery.

With about 7 laps to go (can't fully remember), the same situation happened, so I attacked again. This time Tracey Colwell (Webcor) decided to bridge across. It took him a bit to latch on, but once on my wheel we worked well together. Then Eric Easterling (Sierra Pacific) crossed the gap. On his heels was our own Chris Wire.

We were a pretty cohesive break as we continued to hammer. I think we all understood that if we didn't work well together, we'd be doomed and our break would fail. We grew the gap to probably around 15-20 seconds, but it felt much closer; I didn't look back at all, just kept my focus on going forward.

Coming into the last lap I knew Chris had the best opportunity to get the team a win. Our break slowed a little coming out of turn #2 and I got to the front and drove us hard through the next three turns. Chris rolled the dice and jumped hard right before the last corner. I was completely gassed and couldn't do anything but watch Chris and the others go at it for the line.

I crossed the line fourth and pretty elated with my finish. This result confirmed a few things and definitely is a building block in the large scheme of things.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Big & Bigger: The demise of tall clothing

On the recommendation of my wife who was walking through Macy's a few days ago on the way to her car, she pointed me in this direction. Apparently Macy's has a new Big & Tall section. Obviously, this narrows the clientele browsing the isles to pretty much nobody. Well at least there was nobody when I stopped by to check in and see what they had.

And oh did they have some stuff. Big picnic table clothes that apparently were supposed to be Ralph Lauren Polo shirts (6XB as in eXtra Big), sailing spinnakers masquerading as dress shirts and enough denim to outfit a small Eskimo village and their sled dogs. My point, it was all a bunch of clothes made for big (let's be honest) fat people.

Obesity isn't something to laugh at given how it's soon to be an American pandemic, but man'o'man, when I can't find anything that actually fits me at a big and tall section of a store I know I've gone outside the norms of society's bell shaped fit curve and I'm a statistical outlier. Even BMI (body mass index) graphs aren't produced to show where I stand from that standpoint. I'm off the charts in a healthy way (those charts in my opinion are skewed toward the obese).

I take a lot of pride in staying in shape. I take even greater pride when my father who battles with his own weight tells me how proud he is of my active lifestyle (Macy's department is suited to guys like him...6'5", 270 lbs). I'm not sure where I'm going with all these words except to say it's hard to find anything that fits at Macy's own department that supposedly is catered to my demographic...

...and that people need to take obesity seriously and change their diet & exercise, which in my opinion are the root causes for many ills.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Musings from the Livestrong Ride

This past weekend San Jose hosted the Livestrong Challenge ride. I'm not typically a fundraiser type of guy, but for some reason I felt motivated to join in and do my part. Here are some interesting things I took note of during the 100 mile ride.

Kudos to those raising money for Susan over at
Fat Cyclist. They did a great job at raising a ton of money for the cause and they were duly rewarded with being up front for the neutralized rollout from downtown. Thankfully for them the day didn't get too hot since those black kits looked like they could have been pretty warm.

Now here's where things get interesting. While I support and respect everybody who was fundraising, I do have to question whether or not everybody was on board with Fat Cyclist. In my heart I hope they are on board for the right reasons. But here's where I deviate and let the skeptic in me take over.

I saw quite a few overweight cyclists sporting the Fat Cyclist jersey. I really should have approached some of these people at the rest stops, but didn't. I should have asked if they were supporting Susan's cause, and if they weren't, then I'd educate them and let them know the wonderful story behind the Fat Cyclist work. However, part of me thinks these riders realized that they were overweight, and found a jersey that mockingly made fun of their physical condition, so they decided to buy the jersey. Heck, I could be wrong, and I hope that I am, but it would be like me buying a jersey that said Tall Cyclist when I didn't know that the proceeds of the sale of the jersey went to help research for people who had lost their legs from amputations.

Hmm, what else caught my eye. Oh yeah, these rides are more dangerous than a Cat 5 crit at the early birds when everybody thinks they can corner like a pro. About three miles into the ride we're making a nice mellow right hand turn and I'm holding my line through the corner. Out of nowhere a guy on a hybrid bike comes sweeping across my front wheel and almost takes me out. I pedaled up next to him, looked over to see if he would at least acknowledge the fact that he nearly took me out, but his face was as stoic as an executioner. No reaction. None. He was completely oblivious to what he had done. From then on I made sure to be more aware of these kind of riders.

Soon after this incident we crossed the Hamilton Avenue/Leigh Avenue intersection. Somebody about 10 meters in front of me had a Powertap. Or at least they used to have a Powertap. The head unit on their stem came flying off and was ping-pong'ing between riders. The owner probably didn't know what happened because I didn't see anybody slowing down and turning around. Poor cyclist, they probably didn't realize they lost it until they were halfway through their ride.

Incidentally, having a full road closure and escort through San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos is nice, but it's a bit of a new experience for us who routinely ride these roads on our bikes. I for one know where all the potholes and hazards are on these roads...when I'm in the bike lane! Being out in the middle of the road was a bit nerve racking because I wasn't familiar with when and where I'd encounter a hole large enough to send me flying. I made it through safely, but I did hear some people hit some of these hazards head on.

Safety needs to be a given when riding in events like these, but please, and this goes out to the other riders, don't put yourself in a position of being unsafe when you think you're being "safe". What do I mean? I mean if we're coming up on a section of road that's bad, you don't need to call it to half the world by taking your hand off the handlebars and making obvious pointing gestures. On more than one occasion I saw a few riders to this, and then with only one hand on the bars they'd hit some road hazard and about lose it. I made sure not to follow these people as they were more of a harm to themselves.

When I showed my wife the route, her first reaction was how were all these people going to handle Metcalf. Well, it was ugly, just ugly. I don't know if the casual weekend rider is prepared for Metcalf, but somebody could have made a killing if they had a van and a bike rack. Probably 75% of the riders I saw on the hill were doing the following:
  1. Walking their bikes up the hill
  2. Searching for the lung they just coughed up on the side of the road
  3. Realizing that the pain cave is really does hurt
  4. Zig-zagging back and forth across the road
  5. Wishing they were like the smart lady who had a triple crank and a MTB cassette
The highlight of the hill was the guy in the devil suit. He first made his presence know on the climb up Shannon, and then motored over to Metcalf. He was gracious enough to cheer people on and pour cold water on our heads as we passed by. Now on the my favorite Metcalf story...

We're pacelining up Santa Teresa into the headwind. We probably snagged up 5-7 riders and I was on the front putting down a nice hard tempo. I wasn't expecting people to pull through and I didn't care. I wanted to get in some solid training. We turn onto Bailey and start to make our way towards Metcalf. At this point the crosswinds caused people to get gapped. As we came over the Hwy 101/Bailey intersection, one of the guys behind me comes ups next to me. He notices the climb immediately in front of us and asks, "Hey, is that Metcalf?". Oh, young Jedi, you have much to learn. I told him he'd know Metcalf well in about 2 miles and he'd know it when he saw it.

I let him get a gap going up the hill and decide to suck his wheel for a while as we approach Metcalf. At the base of the climb as I unzip my jersey getting ready for the hard effort (average watts was 370), I let him go up the road. About 3 minutes into the climb I come by him. He glances over with pain written all over his face, and I say, "This is Metcalf. Pretty fun, huh?!?". He was having no fun. Sorry bud.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Help me raise donations for the San Jose Livestrong ride

I'm not typically the fundraising type, but this year I decided to give it a shot. I'm doing the 100 mile loop of the San Jose Livestrong Challenge fundraising ride. Ok, I'll admit to the fact that riding a 100 mile loop with supported food stops is a pretty cush way of getting in a nice hard training ride, but at least the funds raised will go toward furthering cancer research.

If you're interested in donating $5 or $50 (friendship won't be based on how much you give), go here to donate:


Monday, June 15, 2009

District TT Race Report

As many of you know, my season has been geared toward TT's and specifically this past weekend of the District race. It's only been since October that I've had a dedicated TT bike and though I've come a long way, you'll find that I've still got a ways to go. Sattley proved to be an enormous learning experience on several fronts.

It's the little things that make race reports interesting to me. That being said, I took the advice of many as I prepped for the race. I spoke earlier in the week with Dave Stockwell and drew upon his 17 previous years of knowledge around District TT events to get a feel for how this race would go down. Dave's knowledge of the route was spot on!

I also worked with my coach and discussed how my body didn't react well to the taper we had been doing. Leading up to Dunlap last week I felt good, but the power numbers were way down. My belief was that it was due to be "too fresh"; I need a bit more fatigue in the legs to perform well. Being too fresh killed me a few years ago when I was a cat 5 and took a few days off leading up to the Mt. Hamilton RR. That was a bad day. But the decision was to stick with the taper plan and to see how my body responded. At worse my coach and I would walk away with a much better understanding of how I react to tapering.

One point of advice that Dave mentioned was how necessary it was to tighten every bolt on your bike before the race. The expansion cracks in the road will take a toll on equipment. More on this later...

I drove up Saturday to my brother-in-law's place in Granite Bay (near Roseville). Upon arriving I realized I forgot my water bottle. I thought about snagging a bottle cage from one of the bikes in the garage, but after a bit more thinking I realized that having the bottle probably didn't matter too much. Plus, with all the potential jarring on the bike, the bottle might fly off like it did to me on one of the Winter Series TT's.

I checked, and re-checked everything on the bike. Tightened down bolts, re-taped some loose bar tape and made sure there was no brake rub. Everything was good to go. The plan was to wake up at 4:45am, grab a bite to eat and hit the road with plenty of time to spare. I checked my alarm on the iPhone to make sure it was working properly, then set it for the early wake up. Ah, sleep...

Rolling over in the morning I realized it was getting light out. Sometimes my internal alarm clock wakes me up a few minutes before I need to get up. Today, I was very lucky. The night before after testing the alarm I had forgot to switch the alarm setting from "PM" to "AM". I woke up at 5:05AM!

Yikes, late already! Well, my HR was spiked and I probably could have ridden a pretty good 40k TT right then and there given how amped I was. Luckily the night before I had pre-packed everything and it only took me 15 minutes to get out the door and on the road.

While driving I saw that Clark had texted me 2:53AM letting me know he had just left Los Gatos. I figured he had to be in the area so I gave him a ring as I was coming up toward Auburn. Come to find out he was just about to hit the road after getting his coffee IV hit at Starbucks. No coffee necessary for me...I was doing 80+mph and already in TT mode. Clark made mention that I'd probably catch him on the road a few minutes past Auburn. Chase on!

There have been two times in my life where I've absolutely flown up Hwy 80 toward Tahoe. The first was about 8 years ago when I cut out of work early and jetted up there for a bachelor party. I had the radar detector on and was amazed how much fun the BMW V-8 could boggie up the hill. This morning was the second time.

I was flying by cars left and right. Not much traffic on the road except for a few random vehicles. Even a small red Prius that decided to flash it's lights at me while I smoked it. I was on the hunt for Clark and his Land Rover. About twenty minutes up the road I thought to myself that Clark must really be pushing that Land Rover hard. But then again, Clark wouldn't do that as he's got a different car in the garage for just that purpose. Then I remembered that Prius that flashed me. It was Clark! Later in the day we got a good laugh out of the situation...

Making it to Sattley in record time, I realized I had almost two hours before my start time. Just what I like. In prepping for the race I had changed my PT CPU to read out KM's instead of miles. I wanted to easily break out the race into quarters. The strategy was to go out in the first 5k and just get up to speed, then ramp it up from there.

The sun had come out and there was only a slight hint of wind. Perfect conditions! As I warmed up on the trainer I could feel the effects of the altitude. My HR didn't want to get above 170 without a huge anaerobic effort and my power was down about 30 watts. I knew this was going to be the case going into the race so it wasn't a surprise.

The last bike adjustment I made was to take off the water bottle holder and tape down the PT wires. With the lack of wind the 1080 front wheel was the perfect choice. I ran about 120psi in both wheels to lessen the effects of the poor pavement (rumor has it that the course will be repaved soon...that will make it even faster). With Clark's help to get my number on I was ready to go.

Jonathan Sinclair was my 30 second rabbit. I told him my strategy for not starting too hard; he was going to give me a thorough yelling if I passed him too soon on the course. With my watts being impacted from the altitude, I figured I'd start out at 300 watts for the first 5k, then ramp it up to 315 there after and try for more in the last 10k.

I start out and the cracks in the road weren't that bad. Sure, they were annoying, but I had mentally prepared myself for much worse. Things were going to plan until about 7k into the race I realize that my CPU on the aerobars seemed a little too far away from my face. Then I noticed that the aerobars had slowly dropped down toward the front tire as I had been jarred over all the cracks in the road. Not the position you want to be in, so I did the only thing I could think of in that situation. I gave a nice hard yank on the aerobars to bring them back up into position. That worked, but over the course of the race I'd have to do this about every 5k due to the slippage.

I passed Jonathan around the 9k mark and felt good. As I entered the short little forested area and hit the slight rise in the road my power went up and I thought it might be sustainable as the road hit the false flat. However, this wasn't to be the case. For some reason my body didn't want to do any more than 315 watts. I kept on the gas. During this time my legs would alternate between feeling good and bad. Weird, but it was like somebody was turning them on and off like a light bulb.

At the 19k mark Michael Buckley of Morgan Stanley passed me. He's a super strong TT and I was able to up the power a bit and stick 30 yards behind him for a while. I made the turn and Michael put down some serious power and slowly pulled away.

Nothing spectacular happened between the 20k and 30k mark. The wind didn't seem to be of any specific assistance or hindrance, so I just tucked my head down as low as I could and tried to find speed.

With 10k to go I ramped things up to around 325 watts and my world really began to hurt. This was uncommon territory for me as Dunlap was 10k shorter and this was a new area of the pain cave for me. And to make it more painful, the cracks in the road were back (they're most prominent in the first 10k and last 10k of this course). At this point it felt like I was a WWII pilot trying to land a battered P-51 Mustang onto an aircraft carrier (imagine flying at high speed and parts of the plane coming off or getting loose...). The aerobars were acting up and now it felt like my saddle was starting to get loose (post-race inspection showed that it wasn't loose, it was just that my hamstrings and glutes had gone to gel).

Over the last 5k I put down around 335 watts and crossed the line completely gassed. I finished at 54:36.7! I felt much better about my pacing compared to Dunlap. I viewed that as a small personal victory. I kept riding and spent the next 25 minutes cooling down and actually taking in the spectacular scenery.

After reviewing the results I came in 6th. 1.8 seconds out of 5th place which was my goal. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get a top five placing, but I came away from the race with a ton of personal knowledge on what I need to improve going forward. Innes won with a time of 51:32.3; pretty impressive as he won by over thirty seconds.

On the way home I treated myself to In'n'Out burgers and a milkshake. Gotta love that!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wife vs. Coach

Yesterday was supposed to be a rest day according to the training plan, but then the wife spoke up and said, "Wouldn't your legs feel better if you just went out for an easy spin?".

Wife - 1
Coach - 0

And yes, my legs felt much better after the ride.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Falling Apart at Dunlap

This was my first time doing this TT and I was looking forward to it, but perhaps not too much since it was 30k and I haven't done any TT effort that long since our last Winter Series race. Arrived with plenty of time to scope out a good parking spot with shade, chat with friends and generally be able to take my time and not feel rushed.

While on the trainer I felt great. I've been tapering for this and Districts next week, and while tapering is something new for me (it makes me feel like a caged beast), I felt like I could conquer the course when I was warming up. My back had been bothering me for the past day after I pulled a small muscle on Saturday from bending down to pump up my tires, but with the heat of the day everything felt fine. The wind was up, but I decided to run the 1080 front anyways (more on that later).

My goal was to hit between 350-360 watts for the entire ride. I started out into the headwind and found myself having to throttle back my effort just a bit as it was easy to go too hard. Through the first left hand turn and now a long crosswind slog. I was finding that holding 350 was really starting to hurt.

After that stretch and the subsequent right turn, I knew it wasn't going to be my day. I glanced down at the powermeter and saw 290. Pretty disappointing! There was nothing I could do about it. I guess that's why they call it the race of truth.

At this point the 1-minute man behind me (Craig Roemer) passes me and we've got the tailwind section left. My power was able to come up into the 320 range for the last 10k, but my day was over by that time.

Overall it was a tough day. The wind was stronger than I thought and I should have gone with a less deep front wheel. I was fine with my pacing strategy, but in retrospect the middle 10k was were I fell apart and cracked. The first and last 10k were ok, but the power just wasn't there.

I have some theories about how my body is reacting during the taper period, and we'll see how they play out again next week at Districts. I have a hunch that I don't perform well when I'm so "fresh" and that I need more fatigue in my legs (perhaps a bit more volume and intensity than what I'm currently going through). I'm sticking with the current plan leading into Districts this year. Learning more about how I react to a taper is hopefully going to help me out more next year which is my real goal (2010 Districts TT).

Friday, June 5, 2009

Crazy Dream

I don't have all the details, but here's a summary:
  • Clint Eastwood is a bad man. Being his sidekick was awesome.
  • Living large in a penthouse high in a San Francisco skyscraper is pretty cool, especially on the 120th floor where you can see the fog roll into the city beneath your feet.
  • Tyra Banks in my dream looks the same as she does on America's Next Top Model
  • I have no idea why Prince decided to be there too. He's still pretty damn short
I wonder what tonight will hold?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guardian Angel on the Bike

I've been meaning to write about this for some time, but it's been one of those topics that has escaped when I've sat down to type. Not this time...

My upbringing was Christian, and I consider myself to be a Christian (ok, I'm not going to be an advocate and try to force anything religious down your throat, so bear with me and keep reading). As I've aged, my view of organized religion has changed. I view it more as a "system" of beliefs, and depending on where you were born or who your parents were, your system might be different. And to me, different is good and what makes us unique.

The concept of a guardian angel is unique to Christianity (I think...haven't really researched if this concept applies to Islam or Hindu's). You grow up being taught that there's an angel looking after you, making sure not too much harm comes your way. Some harm will come, but enough to help shape your live. I mean, come on, as a kid, your guardian angel isn't going to stop you from touching the hot stove, let's be real about it.

How does this apply to biking? It's a stretch, but this has happened to me on several occasions. Typically it occurs at least once every two to three months. It always happens under nearly the same circumstances, albeit on different roads. I'll be riding solo out in the country with no one around. No cars, no distractions. Just me and my bike and my thoughts. Sounds like a lot of us who routinely put in the long training miles.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I get a very brief glimpse of a cyclist going the other way in my peripheral vision. I look back over my shoulder and realize that there wasn't any cyclist there at all. But I swear my mind saw a cyclist going the other way. As this has happened more and more, the idea has formed in my mind that perhaps this is my guardian angel.

Apparently my guardian angel like to cycle too! He usually is wearing a darker color kit, probably to soak in the rays of light to keep him warm during the ride because he's so fast. And he's always in the drops. And he's hammering hard. Funny to think that I know so much by just catching glimpses of him (or it could be a her...don't know yet) out of the corner of my eye. The bike has low profile wheels and the frame as a classic flat top tube. No sloping stuff for this angel.

I don't know when I'll see my guardian angel next, but I'll try to see if he trains with a power meter. I'm sure he's got some insane capabilities!

Photo credit goes to Ken Conley at kwc.org. His pics are top quality and amazing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Panoche RR Race Report - M35+ 1/2/3

Race Report: A year ago I rode this course on the Monday after Cat\'s Hill and re-aggravated my old L4/L5 disc injury. That put me out for a month and left a sour taste in my mouth. Today I was excited to get back on the course and actually race. At the start it was already scorching hot and about to get hotter. After a few quick instructions from Chris and Nick we headed to the start.

The pace was pretty relaxed as everybody was getting used to the heat and trying to get a sweat going. Actually, it was too hot to sweat; any fluid on your body would evaporate immediately. On the rollers it was myself, Greg and Nick setting pace near the front. At one point I think Ramon rolled up to Greg and instructed him to get his butt back in the pack and stay protected for the upcoming climbs.

As we descended one of the rollers I found myself about 50 meters off the front of the pack. I wasn't planning to do this, but gravity has a positive effect when I descend. Looking back I saw a Specialized rider coming up; it was Kevin Metcalfe. He pulled through and then asked, "Is this a stupid thing for us to do?!?". I said that it probably wasn't the smartest, but that we should just keep our tempo and see what would happen. Looking down at my powermeter I saw that I was going about 85% of max; a pace I felt I could keep for quite some time.

At this point the heat started to kick in and really affect my heart rate. My HR kicked up to over 175bpm and I wasn't even pushing the pedals that hard. It seemed like Kevin and I were off the front for about twenty minutes, and my HR kept creeping higher. We hit the first hill and were caught about halfway up. A few minutes later Chris rode up to me to see how I was feeling. I wasn't able to get my HR back down and I knew it was going to be a long day. For the record, it took me over thirty minutes of just sitting in before my HR got down below 150bpm. Absolutely nuts!

The wind wasn't really a factor at this point and we soon descended and made our way to the notorious left hand turn onto Little Panoche Road. Usually the crosswind hits you on this section, but today it wasn't a factor. Halfway across Metcalfe attacks and Nick follows. Then a few other random riders bridge. Just as the gap is getting bigger, Chris zooms up the left and Billy Innes latches on. The acceleration from Chris was fast and quick enough to catch most off guard, so our chase group didn't put in much effort. I was happy to see two teammates get up the road, which was far more than I could have done at that moment.

Our group started our next significant climb and halfway up Tracy Colwell drops his hammer and the group splinters. At this point I had been racing for over an hour and a half, and my HR was averaging 167bpm. To put this into perspective from my VO2max test, my body\'s functional HR threshold is 163. Anything over this and I'm dumping more lactic acid into the muscles quicker than I can clear it out.

This acceleration, combined with the heat and my racing HR, broke me. I crested the climb and descended to the turnaround point. I stopped to top off all three of my bottles and poured a few more over my body. Jonathan Sinclair was out there manning the water station and I\'m sure he saw a lot of ugliness from riders being impacted by the heat. Another rider teamed up with me and we started our long haul back to the start.

As I was climbing I saw Ramon coming down the hill. I didn't know when he was dropped, but he was very optimistic when he yelled, "I'll catch up to you...". Well, Ramon caught us back on the flat crosswind section of road. He and a few other guys he was dragging caught up to myself and we worked together for a few miles. I didn't feel strong enough to stick with Ramon and he slowly rode off.

The bottom of the final climb wasn't bad, but the wind was starting to pick up. No, please don't bring the headwind! Into the last water station I roll, get off the bike, fill up the bottles and drench myself all over again. I was looking forward to the mostly downhill ride into the finish, but the winds were picking up.

With about fifteen miles to go I get caught by a Webcor, Specialized and CVC rider. We worked together until one of the rollers broke us apart with seven miles to go. I didn't realize it until I crested, but I rode the other guys off my wheel. I put my head down and counted the miles until I crossed the finish.

Hands down this was the toughest race I've done. My body did things from the exposure to heat that I've never experienced. Elevated HR, really low power output, and a pair of hot feet that were pretty much in pain over the last ten miles. Hopefully this is just a heat acclimation thing that will subside as we enter our hotter summer racing. Thankfully I didn't get sunburned or experience any nasty post-race headaches from being dehydrated.