Monday, August 23, 2010

San Ardo RR

I hadn't raced since Sattley, and to think of it, hadn't raced in a RR since that fateful day at Petaluma where I cam in second, secured the cat 2 upgrade, and left the race shivering from the cold and eventually getting a sinus infection. Obvious to say, I hadn't done a RR in quite some time.

Due to life, my fitness was only around 60% of where my peaks had been earlier in the season, but I had the itch to get out and race. Ramon and I were in the same boat, so we figured we'd do all we could to help Dennis be in the right spot coming into the final lap. To sum it up, hold on as long as possible, then help until you blow.

The first two laps weren't too difficult, but due to a lack of fitness my HR averaged 156. There was plenty of attrition due to the goatheads (Dennis can speak to what happened at the start line); 13 guys were DNP in the race, including some of the favorites. Somewhere during the second lap a break of 7 got up the road, with no SJBC presence. Guess it would be time to help do some chasing.

As the third lap started I found myself in a position I hadn't experienced before. I was cramping in both quads, but it was "interesting". If I went hard, the legs felt better, but when I eased up I would cramp. But by going hard it exposed my lack of fitness, thus, I couldn't go hard for too long. To help Dennis out I got to the front on the rollers heading north on the course. I popped and thankfully was able to hide in the back to recover (...and cramp).

After recovering better than I would have thought (my quads, and now my hip flexors, were both cramping), I made one last attempt to help at the front. With about 8 miles to go I put in a good hard 5 minutes of time at or near the front (HR avg 178bpm). I popped and fell off the back. I rolled up the final climb and through the finish line. Man, it's hard to race when you don't have the fitness, but it was rewarding to help my teammate with his top 10 result.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where did May go?

Wow, just noticed that the entire month of May went by and no posts from yours truly. Since I don't get paid by the number of words on this blog, it goes without saying that it was neglected due to some crushing waves of work from the job that does pay the bills. Thankfully I'm having a blast at work so it's all good.

District TT Race Report

Place: 9th, 54:11
Category: 35+ Masters Open

Field Size: 14

Conditions: Perfect

After a fabulous spring of racing and getting my cat 2 upgrade, it was time to focus on the TT events. However, life decided to intervene and throw a few hurdles. Between being sick in late-April and a motivational letdown after the upgrade, I had a sneaking suspicion that I might not hit this event at my peak. To make matters worse, things at worked ramped up mid-May and had me doing 12-14 hour days.

So with all this going on I decided to just shed any preconceived notions of success and just focus on enjoying the experience. One point of feedback I took away from last year was the fact I felt unprepared for the longer TT efforts. So to get ready I did several 40+ minute threshold intervals leading up to Dunlap/Sattley. This definitely helped in getting my mind wrapped around how it felt to go hard for so long.

Come race day I decided to stay at home the night before and make the drive in the morning. Out the door at 3:45am and zooming on the highway. It only took 3 hours and 50 minutes to get up to Sattley. Plenty of time for a nice warm-up and confirmation of the newly paved section of road.

With a slight tailwind on the way out I found a comfortable pace knowing the return leg was really going to hurt. About 10k into the race I was passed by my 30 second man behind me. At 18k I was passed by the guy a minute behind me. I didn't panic and just kept to my game plan.

After the turnaround I was passed by one last rider with around 12k to go. The only redeeming thing at this point was the new pavement, which was a welcome change from last year's event. With a kilometer to go I thought I was going to break 54 minutes, but it didn't happen.

Overall the field was stacked this year, but I'm pretty happy to know I was 25 seconds faster this year than last. Sure it would have been nice to be higher up on the final standings, but hey, I can't argue with the blessed season I've had so far. The best part of the day was the drive home via Hwy 49. Some amazing scenery...way better than the 54+ minutes I spent in the pain cave.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Bad Apple

For all the whiz-bang stuff that comes out of the Cupertino workshop, the folks at Apple need to get a better grasp on a few things. Oh where shall I begin...

How about the nifty little hand warmer they've had on the market. Oh yeah, it's an iPhone. Over the past nine months this device, which I have a love/hate relationship with, twice has decided that it doesn't play well with the apps. I'm no product engineer, but something in me says that there are a few apps that don't play nice when you shut them down, and they leave open processes running on the chip. These unresolved process spin out of control and cause the battery to heat up and drain over the course of an hour. This might be a nice feature if I'm an eskimo, but I'm not. I just want my phone's battery to last more than a day without having to recharge.

As long as I'm bitching about Apple, let's continue. Stand behind your product people. I'm not a fan of shelling out my hard-earned money for you to tell me that the device is out of warranty. Geez, there's enough cell phone service providers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, MetroPCS)
that will throw you a free device and not think twice. I'm so tired of the warranty dance from Apple that I'm tempted to start a campaign to relabel their "Genius" bar, or whatever they think that is where they provide customer service, and just call it what it is. Oh I don't know, how about "I've drank too much Apple kool-aid...we can do no wrong" bar.

In the end I'm left with a kool-aid drinking shaggy beard twenty-something telling me to restore my phone and start from scratch. How 'bout you go back to your employer and suggest they do a better job testing apps and alerting users to potential conflicts that render iPhone's into hand warmers. Really!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Hill RR - 35+ 3/4 Race Report

The last couple of days has been a siesta off the bike. Nothing like a little tickle in the throat that turns itself into a head cold. It was bad enough that I was fighting off crud developing in my lungs. So after a few days off, I woke up and thought, "Hey, it's a really stupid idea since I'm not healthy, but let's go race in the wind, cold and rain." Watching Paris-Roubaix at 5am will do that to a fool (i.e. me).

Let's get to the action. A good size 35+ 3/4 field ready for 2 laps around the hills and rollers west of Petaluma. The spectators were brave, but there were more cows taking in the action than people. With no warm-up the opening climb right from the start line hurt myself and probably a few others. By the time we hit the second climb a few miles later I made sure to get to the front for the descent into a tight right-hand turn. Made it down the hill with a local on my wheel passing up instructions to me on the safest route to take down the bumpy road. It felt good to get the HR up since it was absolutely raining hard and cold. By this point I was already soaked. One a side note I did learn some neat tricks by watching what a few other competitors did to stave off the rain.

Not much happened on the rollers but a single Wells Fargo (WF) rider got off the front. With the largest team in the field (at least from pre-reg), I was content to let somebody else bring him back. Nothing was happening so Ramon took a flyer to bridge up but nobody wanted to join him. Eventually Ramon was brought back into the fold.

The gap up to the solo WF rider was shrinking but not very fast. After passing through the start line (the finish is midway up the hill past the start line) and getting over the first hill I found myself with a dropped chain on one of the rollers leading up to the second climb. Calmly I dismounted and fixed the issue, and caught back up with the pack at the base of the climb. However, there were some guys hammering at the front so I had to pick my way through the pack to make it to the leading group.

I hit the top and saw the lead pack was about ten meters in front of me and a lot of guys were falling off behind me. I buried my head and got back up to the pack and found Ramon's wheel. Down the descent again and on to the rollers. On the slowest roller two guys near the front probably crossed wheels and went down. The WF rider was still off the front and not much was being done to bring him back.

The first time around the loop I took note of how many times I had to hit the brakes while descending these rollers. On the second lap I used my momentum to push the pace as we came flying down on the water-covered roads. With fifteen miles to go we hit another roller with a fair bit of head/crosswind. I hit the gas and quickly found myself with two WF riders and a lone Victory Velo guy. Not the mix I was hoping for, but I was committed. I dropped the Victory and one WF rider. The remaining WF guy sat on my wheel and did the smart thing and stayed put. I knew he wouldn't pull through to help me bridge and I wasn't expecting it to happen. But as we got closer I could sense we'd eventually be working together to keep the three of us away.

With the bridge effort complete and now in a break of myself and two WF guys, it was game on! Just like Warnerville RR, but the numbers were reversed. We rode hard to get out of site and then began passing groups and dropped riders from previous groups. It felt good to go hard and stay warm because I know that if I was just sitting in the pack I'd probably shiver myself off the bike.

We made our way around the loop to the final climb. The WF guy who I bridged up to led us up the hill and then I came around. With about two hundred meters to go I pushed the pace and then tried to find an opportunity to shift into the big ring. Due to my shifting issues (I had dropped the chain to the outside a few times on lap one), I had to back off just a tad to make sure I had a good shift. I was completely cooked and with about forty meters to go the WF guy I dragged across came around and sprinted for the win.

As soon as I crossed the line I went straight back to the car and took off all the wet gear and got dry. I think I shivered for the next thirty minutes. Though only forty-four miles of racing, the combination of wind/rain/cold made it one of the hardest days on the bike. No way could I have done another lap.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another 15 Minutes of Fame: TrainingPeaks Profiled Athlete

A while back I was asked to help provide some content about myself to the TrainingPeaks blog. I totally forgot to get around to the questions, but finally did so this week. So without further adieu head over to the TrainingPeaks blog to learn a bit more about myself.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Warnerville RR - E3 Race Report

Leading up to this race there were indications from teammates and friends around how this race could easily turn into one long death march if the conditions were "normal". You know, that typical central valley breeze that likes to blow hard and steady and push people over into the gutter. Today wasn't normal...nor should I forget to mention the gravel.

The start was delayed due to some tragic happenings out on the course ( Sad to hear the news and hopefully they'll be something to memorialize the memory of the young man.

With the delayed start it allowed all of us to warm up just a bit. No wind and the sun soon warmed us up and cause the embrocation on my legs to fire up real quick. At the start the refs informed us we'd be racing with the P/1/2 field; this was going to change the dynamics just a bit (or so we thought...). Having the largest team in the pack was a nice as it's not too often to have this luxury.

Off we rolled and about 3 miles into the race Odi takes off with one of the Webcor P/1/2 guys and gets a good gap. They were off the front for next 10 miles or so and were swallowed up right before the gravel section (1.4 miles long).

I coasted into the gravel near the rear of the pack and soon realized the gravel wasn't too hard and there were some pretty soft spots. After catching a rock on the bridge of my nose and finding the bottom of some potholes, I found a line and got through the trauma. Whew, survived without losing any bottles or busted cranks.

After a quick regroup by the pack another attack of around 5 guys went up the road. We had Ramon in this break and it allowed us to sit in and let some of the other teams manage the distance between the hunted and the hunter. Ramon's break was caught on lap 2 immediately after going through the gravel section a second time.

Like clockwork another break went up the road. This time Kenny managed to get into the mix. Meanwhile, Johannes, Ryan and I sat in again while others shut down the break. About a mile from the gravel the break was about to be caught and I turned to Johannes and said we should lead the chasers through this rough stretch of road and keep the pace real high. The last of the break was caught just before we finished the gravel section.

With fifty miles in and just over a lap to go guys were starting to feel the fatigue. Funny how you pick up on the little things while racing: the pounding of fists on their quad to shake them loose from the eventual cramp, the need to get more water when they're already carrying two full bottles in your back pocket. Little stuff like that...

Heading into the final lap we had myself, Kenny and Johannes keeping things high on the front. We came through the mini-hill of a feed zone and a few folks picked up bottles. After cresting and passing through the zone there's a gradual descent. Combined with an ever increasing breeze from behind I decided to roll the dice. Our tactic was to keep Johannes and I around for some last lap antics.

I hit the gas on the descent and soon found Johannes on my wheel and us catching a bunch of water-drinking racers at a decision point. Do we chase again and let SJBC do nothing but pack surf? That's probably not what people were thinking, at least the one brave soul that decided to bridge across. I gotta hand it to the Wells Fargo rider who came across; Johannes and I were pulling nearly 30mph.

A bridge effort like that puts years on a rider. Our WF friend had to sit in quite a few rotations before he was able to help, and even then it wasn't much. But given his stature he was able to give me a pretty good draft. With about seven miles to go he threw in the towel and relegated himself coming in third. We passed a few fields yelling "On your left..." with much vigor.

Meanwhile, we decided to take it pretty easy heading into our final pass over the gravel. Apparently that message didn't reach from my brain to my body. Coming into the first 90* right turn I had too much speed and found my front wheel angled at 45* and my bike going straight without turning I was able to unclip and stay up until my foot slipped. I fell doing about 3~4mph and quickly remounted. In the commotion of all of this I found that my chain wouldn't get back onto the big ring.

While looking down I lost attention and realized I was going into the ditch. Uh-oh, I didn't want to pull a "Zamora" where a few 35+ 4's went flying over their bars while ditch riding to miss a nasty crash. I put my weight back and just coasted to a stop. Amazing how weeds and natural grasses work as a brake. I scrambled back up to the road, remounted and looked back. In hot pursuit was a strung out pack of riders. In my adrenalized state I thought it was our field, but only after looking back a few minutes later after getting away from them I realized it was the 45+ field we had recently passed.

Soon back on the pavement we kept the pace high with the WF in tow. With all the effort my legs were starting to feel the pain. On a punchy big-ring climb about 1.5 miles from the finish I stood to get over the top and found both quads on the verge of cramping. It didn't help that when I fell the right pedal caught the back of my calf and brought on a cramp there too.

With 500 meters to go the WF rider slipped off our break. Johannes and I took in the pleasure of executing our tactics to perfection and getting to the line together. I cross the line in first with Johannes producing a big grin in second. I can't say enough about the team effort that was put forth by everybody. Minutes later Ryan came across and cleaned up by taking the field sprint with a nice leadout from Kenny.

All in all it was a pretty great day and one that ranks up there with some other epic racing experiences.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Post race thoughts from Madera SR

Readers familiar with my love/hate relationship with the Madera Stage Race know why it was marked as a priority race for this spring (if you don't know, go search my blog posting archives from 12 months ago). I'm happy to say this year I survived Madera and finished without the cranks falling off the bike. So on to the recap...


Typically this is a tame race given that the TT is later in the afternoon. Guys usually will sandbag a bit to save the legs, but then again, with the field we had this year you just didn't know. Specialized had split up their 35+ team and had some of them (Lyman, Roemer) riding with their juniors in the P12 field. However, Safeway looked strong with Dan Martin.

And speaking of Dan, he attacked pretty much on queue after the first lap. He stayed away long enough to take the first prime, but he was caught soon thereafter. After a short break, Dan attacked again. This time he got some help and stayed away to almost snag a second prime. We caught him with probably 10 minutes to go before the finish.

The wind was pretty strong coming across the course and it made the west and north legs of the course pretty hard. In retrospect it could have been harder if a team was motivated to gutter everybody, but thankfully that didn't happen.

By the way, did I mention Dan attacked again?!? Off he goes, and as I roll up to Ramon I said, "We need our guys on the front". Calmly Ramon looks at me and says, "GO!". I hit the gas from about 20 places back and caught a ton of people by surprise. I bridged up to Dan and a few other guys were on my wheel. We had about a 10 second gap with 4 laps to go, but it was caught with around 2 laps to go.

Coming into the last lap I worked to get near the front when we hit the crosswind section. I had to work hard to get up there and was rewarded with being around the 5th wheel coming through the final corner. The Rocknasium train came flying through the apex just behind me and had a pretty good jump on the field. I looked around and realized it was going to be a pack finish so no need to sprint this one the legs for the TT. I rolled across feeling pretty good about not burning too many matches for the TT a few hours later.


The wind was so strong that everybody knew to throw out any potential time target you'd shoot for. Last year I did the TT in 22:36, good enough for 9th place on the GC. This year I came into this TT with better fitness and stronger legs. My target was sub-22. But with the wind I knew that was unrealistic.

After a good warmup I proceeded to go out pretty hard and hold almost 31+mph on the downwind section. What proved to be beneficial was the pacing I forced on myself to leave just a bit in the tank for the returning headwind section. I was able to average 24+mph into the wind. I didn't pass many guys so I wasn't able to gauge how well I did by that criteria, but I had completely emptied the tank and knew there wasn't any left to give when I crossed the line. I was happy with my time of 22:43

Later that night when the results were published I was in 4th. However, there was a missing rider (Innes from Specialized); come to find out he showed up on the results the next day after the stage race was over. He had clocked in at 22:39 so I was actually sitting in 5th coming into the RR. Vitamin/Bike Plus had 3 guys in the top 7 so it was going to be an interesting RR.


After a bit of strategy/tactics discussion at the start, we rolled out with a neutral start up in ~40* weather! Clear as a bell and cold. On the first lap somebody attack. Oh yeah, Dan Martin attacked. From what I could see it looked like Dave had found his way into the break, so for us it was an opportunity to relax just a bit.

The demons from last year loomed large as we hit the bumpy ~4 mile stretch of road. I got through there without breaking the crank, so that was a minor victory. And I didn't have any of my water bottles eject, so another small win. As we came up through the rollers and past the finish line I saw Dave sliding back through the pack. Come to find out he just flatted, so we had lost a teammate.

Ramon was doing an excellent job of being our road captain. He was making sure we had people up front when it was necessary and he made sure I stayed out of the fray to protect my GC position. If I remember correctly the pack stayed together for the second lap and then Dan Martin attacked again, this time drawing out Dan Bryant. This duo hooked up and stayed away all the way through halfway of the final lap.

By this point there were some tired legs all around. Chad had fallen off the back with a double snake bite flat. Ramon had done the work of 3 men up front and popped off (immediately after Ramon popped Ron Anderson from Specialized popped, so you know it was pretty brutal up front).

We hit the bumpy section and the Vitamin/Bike Plus guys find there way to the front and slow ramp up the pace. I was in death mode and found myself getting caught behind riders who were getting gapped by the high pace. I continually had to hop around folks and close down the gap to the next wheel. At this point there were no teammates to help, I was on my own. Coming out of the bumpy section I was in the lead pack of ~25 guys with the rollers coming next.

Somewhere another gear was found by the pack and not by me. There was a hard acceleration and I could not keep contact. I looked around and the only person near me was Dan Martin. We hit the first roller as hard as both of us could; we probably were only 10-12 seconds behind the lead pack when we crested. We held that gap but the lead group accelerated again as they wound up their sprint. I had no relief from the wind and found myself riding as hard as I could with my head down watching the yellow line as my guide.

I crossed the line not aware of who might have been in the lead pack and whether or not I could have lost any GC places. Come to find out Innes had flatted so that moved me up a spot, but 3 other riders behind me on GC were in the pack that finish ~25 seconds ahead of me. That bumped me down to 7th on GC.

Overall I'm really pleased with the effort the team put in during the weekend to support my "A" race goal. I learned a ton during the RR and hope to put this to use during the Chico SR. Many thanks to my teammates who worked so hard, I'll be more than happy to pay you back during your "A" races.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend - Sponsorship Opportunities

In this economy it's tough to secure money for events. I've seen it with other clubs in the local area and across other sporting activities where I'm engaged as a parent. However, it won't stop me from using this communication medium as a way to make a plug for a cause that's near and dear to lot of local cyclists.

It's less than two months away and
SJBC has a great opportunity for potential sponsors. The Mt. Hamilton Road Race is the only point-to-point race in the area and tackles the infamous climb up the slopes to the observatory on the peak of Mt. Hamilton. The Memorial Day Crit competes around a fast and safe circuit in Morgan Hill and with plenty of racing categories for all participants.

The cherry on top of this opportunity is fantastic. For racers, this race weekend is the final opportunity for qualification into the
Nature Valley Grand Prix. Details can be found here about the specifics for qualification. For sponsors, Nature Valley is providing a huge conduit for communications of these qualification races. Sponsors will be able to leverage the targeted marketing communication efforts provided by Nature Valley to the greater cycling community through TV and press.

If you're interested, read through the
sponsorship documentation and contact us.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Berkeley 2TT Race Report

There's nothing I like about Berkeley, but that's probably because I'm a Stanford guy and I have a fond dislike for those Cal Bears. However, I'll chalk up this event as one redeeming quality for Berkeley...

Last year Clark and I rode in the 70+ Masters category with our TT bikes, but this year we wanted to try something different. We signed up for the Merckx category. For those not familiar with this category you cannot use any aero equipment (wheels, bars, frame, etc.), not even a skinsuit! We found out prior to the event that our arch-nemesis from Morgan Stanley (Chris Phipps, Paul Dyrwal) were going to ride in the same category. Last year they took 4th place from us by 1.5 seconds.

Luckily we arrived with plenty of time because the registration lines were moving very slow. I think we wasted 30+ minutes at the reg desk because they were so disorganized. On the plus side both Clark and I learned that we can get a very effective warm-up in less than 25 minutes.

At the start line there were quite a few teams around us that were late. Thankfully we were on time (yes, it's the experience you bring to the table as a Master's racer) and ready to rock the course. Our plan was simple: ramp up the intensity and leave the tanks empty.

Off we went and Clark got us up to speed. The first couple miles along San Pablo Road had a not-too-friendly headwind. We probably passed at least four teams along this part of the road which was a nice confidence boost, but no luck in seeing the Morgan Stanley guys up ahead of us (they started three minutes ahead). In my effort to maximize my recovery behind Clark's draft I was riding dangerously close to his rear wheel. At one point I came about an inch from rubbing wheels, but I kept my mouth shut because I didn't want to distract my teammate.

As we rolled through the backside of the course and navigated the gradual climbing/rollers we kept the pace high. I forgot to ask Clark about this afterwards, but I got the sense that we tempered our efforts back just a little bit on this stretch of road so we'd be a tad more fresh for the upcoming hills.

The wind was enough of a factor that I actually could get a some protection behind Clark as we hit the first big climb. I was feeling pretty good so I yelled up to him to ramp it up just a bit. Around mid-hill I could sense Clark fading so I came around to hammer up the last half of the climb.

Up and over a few smaller climbs and we were still picking off teams left and right. Coming into the final hill we found a good tempo and got comfortable in the pain closet. Like the previous major climb I came around and led us over the last 3+ minutes. I didn't ride with my power meter, but I can probably estimate that I was pulling 450+ watts (5+ w/kg) on the final portion of that climb.

We flew down the small descent to the uphill finish line and emptied our tanks. We crossed the line at 43:15 and were pleased with the effort. Chris and Paul were waiting past the finish line and we swapped stories; come to find out Chris pulled Paul all the way from the start to the base of the first climb (12+ miles)! They won, but at least this year it wasn't by 1.5 seconds. Next year we'll probably go back to the TT bikes to see what happens.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Historical Trends - Cantua

Playing around with Google Analytics is a fun way to see what's happening with this blog and site traffic. To my surprise I was caught off guard to see that my old race report from Cantua nearly two years ago was the second most hit posting on the blog. I guess folks are searching the interwebs to find any additional info they can around this upcoming road race before they make the drive past the cows at Harris Ranch and pin on the race number.

Funny to also note who reads my random musings. I was riding on Sand Hill Road yesterday and saw a guy with a
Metrigear Vector water bottle. The conversation went like this:

Me: Nice bottle.

Rider: Huh?
Me: Nice bottle.
Rider: Oh, thanks. Got it at the low-key event.

Me: Cool

[some random chatter happens, then this...]

Rider: Hey, you look familiar...

Me: I'm Todd, nice to meet you

Rider: I think I read your Cantua race report last night. You're that manley man guy...

One joke here is that the only product released by Metrigear so far has been their water bottles. Second, I find it pretty cool that a cat 5 beginner who has a passion for racing is searching out race reports to get an edge...that's inspiring.

Continuing the Crank Saga

The bottom bracket fix seemed to do the trick on the Zipp cranks, but check out this latest problem:

If you look closely you'll see the threaded sleeve moves back and forth as I try to tighten/loosen the pedal. It only takes about 0.5Nm of force to make this happen. I'll be having an interesting conversation with Zipp on this problem.

I've since gone back to the old aluminum SRAM Rival cranks. Today will be the first ride with the old crankset and I'm hoping it will be enlightening particularly around the stiffness and lack of chainring flex. I did notice a bunch of flex with the Zipps and recently confirmed that their new chainring design due out in March would fix this problem. Too bad I won't be running your cranks Zipp to let you know if the problem was fixed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cranky BB Bearings

After last season's mishap at the Madera Stage Race I decided to play around with a set of Zipp cranks. Shaving off nearly a pound from the SRAM Rival cranks was a nice bonus, but other interesting surprises have popped up.

In the past seven months I've burned through two sets of ceramic bottom brackets. I'm not sure if I'm getting sloppy seconds from Zipp, but this hasn't been much fun. Each time the BB decides to bite the dust it makes the loudest click-click sound you could imagine. I'm sure a few guys riding near me at Cherry Pie yesterday were wondering what was happening to my bike. Trust me, as annoying as it is to you my fellow competitor, it's ten times worse for me. I get a bit OCD when it comes to having a quiet bike.

I'll let Zipp know about this failure and see if their steel bearings might be a better fit for me. Each breakdown of the ceramic bearings has had the same result. It feels like grit and sand has worked its way into the ball bearings; definitely not rotating smooth, but very rough. Thankfully I've got a spare set of BB's on the shelf that will keep me on the bike. If these break down again I might just have to find another crank alternative.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SJBC Training Camp

This past weekend marked the second year SJBC has done a winter training camp. Last year was our initial trek down to the ultra-secret central coast location. Ok, it's no secret, but Solvang is still a nice quaint small town. Again we were treated to perfect weather and plenty of sun.

Friday's mid-trip stop in Paso Robles was an excellent way to break up the drive and get a quality ride into our legs. Peachy Canyon, Vineyard and some other back roads were excellent. Caution had to be given in most corners due to the debris in the road from the recent rains, but for the most part people were safe and had a blast. I can probably throw this blanket statement out there for most everybody when I say that our pace was probably a little too brisk for the first day of camp. We must have been itching to throw down because my power file showed some pretty high numbers for extended amounts of time for a January ride. Ok, I was one of the instigators...

The next morning brought on Figueroa. Riders had the option of doing a shorter ~50 mile loop or toughing up and doing the ~95 mile route. For some reason climbing up the backside of Figueroa this year didn't seem as hard as last year. It was a few degrees cooler this past weekend, but I think what made it easier was knowing the climb. I was expecting much worse for myself because I had my own personal challenge that I set for myself; I wanted to stay with the lead group all the way up the climb. I accomplished that which was nice. Also, the elevation profile wasn't completely truthful. After completing the 95 miles we had put in nearly 8,000 feet of climbing.

After our team meeting Saturday night, some excellent food and a good night of sleep, my dead legs were put to the test on Sunday. Thankfully there wasn't any significant cramping all weekend, but it was still hard to roll out of bed and know I had another 75+ miles waiting. The plan was to ride out to Jalama and back. I did map out a longer route, but there weren't any takers and I needed to be back to Solvang by 3pm. To make up for the shorter distance, I made sure I put in some pretty serious digs to get out of the ride what I wanted. For those that had to peel off early and head back to Solvang before reaching the coast, I advise you make the effort to stay later and ride Jalama Road all the way to the beach. One of the best rides I've had!

It goes without saying that all of this couldn't have been possible without the tremendous support of our SAG folks. They did a great job keeping everybody hydrated and well-fed, safe and took some pictures too (I'm trying to track all of them down...). And I'm glad the wives who came along had a great time too. I know my wallet is a little lighter from wine club memberships and shopping, but that's an insignificant expense when you consider the compromises our families make to allow us to ride and race.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Few Noteworthing Things

2009 came and went so fast I didn't have time over the holidays to publish any thoughts about the passing year. I might get to that, but don't count on it. Looking forward there are a lot of balls being juggled. New SJBC president role, expanded club race team, busy-ness with family stuff and general chaos.

On a tangent, it's been fun over the past month to watch my kids take up the sport of basketball. I'm not one of those parents that dictates what their child's sporting interests will be. I see lots of parents getting their kids involved in things based on the past history of success (or lack thereof) of the parent. I'm not expecting my kids to be Division I Pac-10 athletes (like their dad), but just seeing the joy in them taking up the game of basketball has brought back a lot of heartfelt memories of my own.

Last night a fellow parent asked if I would ever get into coaching basketball. Hmm, something to ponder, but at the moment I'm having too much fun watching. Besides, I can't give away all my secrets on how to play the game.