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: