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.