Mikes Bikes 40th Cat's Hill Classic morgan raines
It was a hot day in Los Gatos, the family came over with me and were to make a day of it, since my start time wasn't till 3:10. We hit the park that has a steam train and carousel it's pretty nice if you have kids. Trying to re park near the race took a long time, so not too much warm up time before on the line. The race start's and it's a strong pace, this course is a route I really like and it work's well for me. Half way around the course is a tight left turn that leads into a wall of a hill dubbed "cat's hill", it's a long block at 23%. I try to pretend it's not really there and just ride hard and smooth. I start the hill in my big ring then around half way carefully shift to my small ring, one miss shift and that could cost you the race. At the top of the hill you always want to "carry it over" your momentum that is over the false flat to the down hill and that starts to wear people down. This is a race you want to ride in the front at, for safety and to have clean fast lines into the corners. Some people were surging a little but no big moves, a strong head wind had arrived on the lower straight section and helped keep most of us together. On the hill I would hit it good then again on the top section and was stringing things out and controlling the pace. After 12 to 13 laps I still felt pretty good besides my back feeling a bit tight, but people were hurting no one except me and one SJBC rider wanted to pull. There was still a half of dozen guys holding pace but when I would make little jumps there wasn't that much reaction, I couldn't tell if people were just waiting or plain tired. Coming into the last down hill I let the SJBC guy in front of me for a little recovery, at the bottom of the hill you have a step right hand turn then about a 100 yard sprint to the finish. Approaching the last turn there's this guy who had been lapped taking the inside line going half our speed, so I surge before the turn to get a little in front of the SJBC guy and take the turn fast and tight so he's forced behind me. The last 100 yards are bumpy and fast pretty hard to pass on. I'm in the drops and start my sprint, i'm in a fast spinning gear to accelerate then shift and kept my speed up, just staring at the line. I don't look back I don't put my hands up just a clean win. One for the team.
Friday, April 26, 2013
By Dennis Pedersen
The last few years most racing at our closest velodrome, the banked concrete oval in San Jose, has been on Tuesday nights. This year they have shifted it to Wednesdays, while other events, like team pursuit and training sessions, occupy the other days. Nils, Vlada, Ken and I have already been getting in some good track racing this season. Last Wednesday night we had Larry Nolan promoting, and we had enough entrants that I could race in the combined Category 3 and 4 "B" race.
He started us with a 10-lap "scratch" race; a regular mass-start race like any criterium. I like short races like this, about 5 minutes of fury! Our field of about 15 riders set the pace really high, something I've noticed that has improved this year; we don't have any riders just sitting in and resting. Well, I got caught out by the speed and while I was able to move up from the back with about 2 laps to go, I was too tired to fend off the guys who came around me in the last lap and I took 5th.
Next we had a "win-and-out" race, a rather calculating race like so many at the track. It's like a scratch race, but only for 1st place, the winner then pulling off the track while the others keep racing. Then the winner of the next lap takes 2nd and pulls off, then it's another lap to determine the remaining places. It's tricky, because if you try for 1st and don't take it, you may be so tired you finish last. I installed my new 50-tooth chain ring, but didn't have time to swap to a 15-tooth sprocket, so my gearing was quite tall. I was able to draft near the front for a while, then marked Stefan Eberle, who I know is fast, 'allowing' him to lead me out for the final sprint. I'm happy to say I didn't have to race any extra laps at all (meaning I took 1st)!
Between races I got to swap to my 15-tooth gear. Then we had a "miss-and-out" race, which is also known as "Devil take the hindmost" because the last person on each lap has to pull out in ignominy. I think I have finally figured out the best tactic for this one, at least for who I am: I ride slightly up-track, near the back of the pack. I am in the wind a bit, and ride a longer line than those down-track (in the sprinter's lane) get a slight draft at times, but I'm able to always ensure there's somebody behind me, usually down-track, who I can block at start/finish so they get pulled. But once we were down to three riders and they started the final sprint, I had nothing left. I was still really happy with 3rd!
For those still standing we had a 15-lap "points" race, in which 5, 3, 2 or 1 point is awarded to 1st through 4th place every 5 laps, and I took a 2nd and a 3rd... but only after totally getting caught out by the speed set in the first few laps and getting zero in the first sprint.
For the night I finished 3rd in the overall "omnium," which tallies our points from all our races.
If you're interested in track racing, including very low-key beginner sessions with rental bikes for just $5, visit ridethetrack.com. Ciao!
Monday, April 15, 2013
By Dennis Pedersen
I never feel too optimistic about this technical race in my home town, but I do enjoy it anyway! Now in its 45th year, and my 9th try, I know the 9-turn course on Santa Cruz's historic Beach Hill like no other; it is not a sprinter's course at all with its hairpin, many turns, hills and wind.
I always try to get my wife, family and friends to come out to spectate and this year I succeeded again. It is truly cool to have people yell your name from the side of the course as you suffer through yet another attack from those crazies up ahead!
It sure felt fast, as always; our average speed was over 26 MPH (assuming 20 laps, each 9/10ths of a mile, in 40 minutes). Several times I was close to giving up but then I'd get a few short breaths to recover and feel like I could eke out another lap. A few laps I had to let the leaders pull away so I could recover, but every time I managed to find the strength, and openings in the pack, to move back to the front.
Unbeknownst to me Larry Nolan and a guy from PrimeTime somehow managed to pull away from everybody for several laps. Mind-boggling. Anyway, their teammates blocked for a while (one of them aggressively, I'm told) but Larry dropped him later on and was holding a nice lead over us, barely.
Well, I was getting a bit weak, and on the last lap I tried unsuccessfully to move ahead... it's hard to steer safely when you're cross-eyed from effort. Max Mack nearly came to an unpleasant end in the gutter just before the hairpin, but I don't think anybody ever crashed in our race. One side of me kept trying to advance while the other side of me kept advising to keep 1% in reserve for the sprint. It never seems to work here and I was still a ways back, maybe 20th as we rounded the final turn.
But I did see Larry win up ahead, just ahead of Patrick Briggs and Steve Heaton, just as I finished, feeling surprisingly strong, in 16th place, so for me it was a personal success! Even better was cheering on Nils and others in the Pro/1/2 race, and getting together with friends afterward and celebrating another gorgeous day of racing.
A journalist wrote a nice race article in the Sentinel too (I'm in photo #2). And Margaret took a bunch of photos that I have saved to a Snapfish album.
I guess I'll be back next year!
By Dennis Pedersen
I knew I was running a tight schedule, but I was still shocked when I checked my watch, just seconds after jumping on my stationary trainer to warm up for this race in the rolling hills of Fort Ord; only two minutes before the 9:40 AM start time! Instead, my warmup consisted of me sprinting into the headwind to the start line!
Fortunately the previous race was running a bit late and I had time to settle in for the start. This was on the new "Seaside" course, a single section of road with a U-turn at either end on gently rolling hills (3 miles per lap). The weather was a bit gray and mid-50s, with a fairly strong wind out of the Monterey Bay just to the southwest. The field was only 15 riders, which I like.
The race unfolded somewhat like CCCX #2 did for me, with the riders being strong enough to catch guys, like me, who tried to break away from the pack, but unwilling to try it themselves with just a few exceptions. And with the strong wind it was impossible to break away on the southwest-bound half of the course.
I tried to form a plan with a rider from Peninsula Velo, but he didn't understand that I wanted to attack with him with the tailwind on a climb because of the advantage that would give us... actually it's more that there's no draft for others to latch onto with a tailwind on a climb, thus we'd be making it harder for them to follow us. Anyway, it didn't work, though several of us did keep trying to bring the pace up at times. The guys from Cushman & Wakefield (formerly Taleo) made some nice attempts too. At other times I was at the front riding into the headwind as slowly as I could, with nobody willing to go around... a lot like a match sprint at the velodrome!
For the finish I tried to learn from CCCX #2, where Keith outsprinted me. This time I just stayed about fifth place through the last U-turn (barely avoiding a guy who slid out just behind me), held back a bit up the last climb while others jumped, and then launched my own attack on the 'step' just before the climb steepens up to the finish line... it worked beautifully and I was even able to look back a couple of times and raise up my hands in victory!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Another weekend, another collegiate road race, this time hosted by UC Berkeley. This race spanned the towns of Crockett & Martinez, the latter being my hometown. I raced in the collegiate Men's C (4/5) category, along with 4 other UCSC teammates: Bob (Babendeep), Emerson, Auric, and Brent. With Bob & Emerson being renowned climbers, and a course consisting of 3 laps (http://app.strava.com/segments/1235961) containing a climb up the vaunted Mc Ewen Rd, I knew my work would be cut out for me. Mc Ewen Rd (http://app.strava.com/segments/610457) is a 1.2 mile climb at 8%, and while not enough of a climb to kill a man, it was obvious the attack was going to come on the first climb, so we had to be ready.
|Teammate Reggie with a rather curious solution to|
a problem with his seat post. Not sure how it helped,
but he's a craftier man than I. If anything, it's
incentive for him to climb out of the saddle!
At this point, another UC Davis rider caught us, and we caught a Stanford rider who fell off the back of the leaders. It became obvious that the two UCD guys weren't interested in working together with the rest of us, since now they had each other. They got away briefly on the last lap, but I managed to keep them in sight, with the SFSU and Stanford guy behind me. Unfortunately, I passed Bob who had flatted out before the final Mc Ewen climb. Bummer, I figured he could get a podium spot with a strong effort, but I knew we at least had Emerson & Auric still in it.
During the last Mc Ewen climb, I was hurting, but I knew still had something to give. I sensed weakness amongst the other riders, and desperately wanted to hurt them. The five of us (2 UCD, SFSU, and Stanford) had regrouped at the bottom of the climb, at which point I attacked hard. I sensed no reaction from them, so I hammered hard up that damn hill. I refused to look back, so as not to show weakness. Victory be damned, I was racing for pride. I knew I had to pry as much time as possible on the climb, because there were 2 more miles to the line and not being the greatest time-trialist, I knew there was a chance I could get caught, which would be embarrassing. When I reached the top, I calculated I had at least a minute on them, so I put my head down and went into the pain cave.
|Providing incentive to teammates off the back in Sunday's crit to |
get back in the race! One of our guys grabbed the pictured dollar,
but was pulled the next lap. At least he got something for his efforts!
The final stretch was a mile long segment on a slight incline with crappy pavement, and a headwind to boot. About a quarter mile from behind, I saw the Stanford guy closing in, but realized he wasn't going to catch me. I rolled past the finish line feeling somewhat content that I had pulled off my first successful attack in my short-lived racing career. In the end, our team did okay, though we missed the podium: Emerson finished 6th, Auric 10th, myself 16th, Brent 21st, and Bob with a heart-breaking DNF after such a promising start. Next week is CSU Fresno with a 34 mile/2500' loop around Kearney Lake. I'll be sure to keep you guys posted!
Friday, March 15, 2013
Teammates, here are a few quick snapshots from last night's Swanton time trial at which a good time was had by a bunch of us. If anyone else got any more pics, please post them. This is all we managed to get before the rush to take off and it was too freezing cold afterward to try to take any more! Team Bike Trip included me (Jim), Bob, Chris, Ken, Scott, Dan, Stefano, Eddie, Vittoria (honorary new member) and maybe more that I'm forgetting.
|L-R: Ken Sato, Bob Montague, Chris Baker|
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Madera Stage Race is one of my favorite races on the calendar. This is true even though it includes a crit that was responsible for a pretty ugly crash, complete with a reconstructed ear, in my Cat 5 season of 2008. I still find this race to be great fun. It covers 2 – 3 days depending on the racing category so everyone stays in Madera and eats out in town. There is much post race conversation and it is a great time to form relationships with riders from other teams and areas. Plus, I feel that there is a special aura to stage racing, one that really defines our sport. Anyway, this year there was a 55+ 3/4 race, rather than the 55 open race that I have done in past years. I was hoping to be able to podium in this year’s event since I would not have to race against those former pros, world champs and Jim Langley types. It was also my greatest disappointment not to have the opportunity to ride in support of Jim. The opportunity to help him in the road race at Madera has been the highlight of my racing career to date. Both teammate John Schaupp and I missed having Jim there with us this year. The crit was our first race, and both John and I expected that there would be few fireworks until the premes and the final sprint. Boy, were we wrong. The organizers created this 3/4 race probably because a lot of 45+ riders are aging out of the 45 category this year and in the future. The thing about those guys is that they are not only younger, but many of them have also been racing in the 45+ 1/2/3 category. That of course is the toughest category in our district currently, excepting the pros. They have become used to ongoing and constant attacks in their races, and they brought the same to our 55+ race. It is way more challenging because you know that some attack is eventually going to stick, but you can’t cover every move. That ended up happening in our crit. Three guys got away after the last preme and though they never had a huge gap, the group never could close it down. They took 1st, second and third with the time bonuses, and the rest of us crossed over together with a nine second gap. Oh well, on to the Time Trial. The TT course is the same every year, and it suits a power rider pretty well. The course is almost completely flat. You start with a crossing tailwind on an outbound leg of about 4 ½ miles. A right turn takes you onto a stretch of approximately 2 ½ miles with a full tailwind. You turn right again and face your only semblance of an uphill gradient, but it can’t be more than 2% or 3% and it flattens out after 200 or 300 meters. Still, from this point you are riding into a crossing headwind that gets more direct for the last mile of the course. Having done this race several times, I have developed a pretty good idea of how I want to pace myself. I go out the first 5 minutes making every effort to keep myself in check. I am looking to find that sweet spot where I am putting out the maximum power that I can sustain. Starting with a crossing tailwind can lead me to go out too hard, but I think I kept things under control this time. By the time I made the turn for the second leg, I felt I had a good rythym going and I had gained ground on my 30 second man as well as having 2 others in my sights. I had decided in practicing around Santa Cruz that it was possible that I might want an 11 cog on my full disc wheel for this race. On the downwind leg of this TT, I was glad I did, as I hammered along over 30 mph for the entire leg. I wasn’t able to take the next turn in aero position because I was going too fast, but still I kept good momentum going for the little grade. By the top of it, I had passed two other riders and had only my 30 second man still in my sights. I worked hard all the way to the finish and though I never caught him, I did get some of that 30 seconds out of him. My time was 24:05,:31 faster than last year, but :58 slower than our leader at 23:07. I was happy to find myself in 4th place for the TT and 4th overall! John and I had dinner that night at the Vineyard restaurant. We talked over our strategy and had a good meal. At the next table were Steve Heaton, Cale Reeder and Dirk Himley. Those are the three guys who regularly destroy the 45+ 1/2/3 category, and while Heaton was in the 35+ race at Madera, the other two were wreaking their usual havoc on the 45+ group. I mention this because I saw Cale sitting in a chair at dinner with his left foot under his right leg. It was somewhat revealing for me because I consider myself to be a quick recovery type, and yet if I had been trying to sit at all like that after a crit and TT, I would have been cramping and badly. He just looked liked he was doing it because it was comfortable. Go figure. I was concerned about my strategy for the road race. The Sierra Nevada team had 3 guys in the race, one was Kevin Willits in 3rd, and another was Dave Montgomery (my 30 second man from the TT) in 5th. I was sandwiched between the two of them with John Schaupp to help me, while they had the two of them plus another strong rider in Doug Gonda. John did a fantiastic job of chasing down every attack that Montgomery made for the first part of the race. He attacked multiple times, but John always reeled him back in. I went after the moves Willits made, and between us we kept them under control. Still, I had visions of improving my position, and I attacked the group on the second lap during a section of road that is best suited to my strength. They let me get a substantial gap, but I was on my own and not confident of my ability to stay away for the 1 ½ laps that were left. I let myself drift back into the group. John told me he did not see any way that Mongomery could continue to attack, but sure enough, he did just that and got away with another rider. The group let them go. This began to have the same feel as the crit, and I was determined that it would end differently. John had the same idea as me, and we began the chase. It took substantial work on both of our parts, and Willits made several blocking efforts, but we finally pulled the two back in to the group. Still, this effort along with my own attack had taken a lot out of me. When the finish came up, not long after, I found I did not have the energy to surge with the leaders. Rather, I was giving everything I had just to stay in contact with the lead group. When we crossed the line, it looked to me like Sierra Nevada had gone 1,2,3, and I was not certain whether the officials would be judging any further time gaps in our group. I found out later that Scott Calley from VOS had crossed in first, Willits got second, and Montgomery got the 10 second time bonus for crossing third. I have to tip my hat to him for riding a great race. That third in the road race allowed him to move into 4th, pushing me back to 5th by less than ½ second. That’s racing. All in all, I felt like I had given my all in the Time Trial. I think I could have raced smarter in both the crit and the road race, but I had a blast, and I am thrilled to finish 5th. I am particularly thankful to John Schaupp for riding in support of me in this race. While he did not have his best outcome in the Time Trial, his efforts in the road race were more than remarkable.