Monday, December 3, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
This uphill-only race series is usually held on paved roads. But this time the course was to be held on a dirt fire road in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in the hills above Portola Valley. Their website originally said the course was just 1.6 miles long, and ended at the summit on Skyline Blvd. That's so short it is almost a sprint; yay!
Teammates Jim Langley and Melanie Dominguez expressed interest in going, but Melanie didn't show, and Jim couldn't get to the race because his van broke down while he was returning from a table tennis tournament in Sacramento. (My car only holds one bike at the moment.)
There was some online debate about whether to use a mountain bike, a road bike or a cyclocross bike. The best balance between low weight, low gearing, and the bike's handling on rough terrain would determine which was best. I was unwilling to use either of my road bikes because of the steep 8.3% grade and loose dirt trails, which would make traction difficult and the gearing too high. So I spent some time getting my mountain bike ready, including removing unnecessary weight like the water bottle cages because I would not need water for such a short race. I even cleaned off months of accumulated gunk. This brought it down to 23.1 pounds, which isn't too bad. Unfortunately I gained 2 pounds of body weight through water retention the 2 days before the race by eating out too much. Duh!
I enjoy doing things with my wife, and she wanted to visit her dad in Cupertino anyway. So I suggested she go with me and then we'd visit him on the way home. We could even have breakfast on the way.
The organizers had changed the course just before race day, so I was a bit unsure where I would emerge at the summit. And the length was now posted as 3.6 miles on a 7.3% grade. (After the race I noticed they'd changed it again, to 2.5 miles at 7.2%.) Yeah, there was some uncertainty, but I figured it would all work out OK. I'm so stoopid.
On race day we went to El Palomar Cafe for breakfast. I had the healthy ostrich sausage scramble with fruit and coffee. After a nice drive up, we got to Portola Valley and I got signed up and suited up. I didn't even wear socks, gloves or eyewear, or bring tools, food, tubes or my cellphone in order to save weight. While Margaret could have just waited at the bottom for me to return, I worried that she'd get bored and that it would take too long. I thought she could instead meet me at the top of the climb on Skyline, with my water and recovery food in my car, thus getting a head start on our return trip instead of her waiting for me to ride all the way back down. I had printed out maps and such to make it easy, so I gave Margaret the maps and showed her roughly where I thought I'd emerge onto Skyline, and we agreed she would drive up La Honda to Skyline and cruise back and forth on Skyline until we spotted each other. Brilliant! Yeah, right. If I could turn back time...
Anyway, the organizers gathered us all together at 10:10am for a neutral ride up to the start line, which turned out to be 4 miles up Alpine Road, on a fire road named, I think, Ruolf Trail that follows what may have been the original stagecoach route that Apline Road started out as. This was a mass start, not an individually-timed time trial, and they asked us to place ourselves in the pack relative to where we thought we'd finish. We waited around for stragglers, Steven Woo, Frances Cebedo and I cracking jokes, until they finally decided that we were ready to go. I suspect we started around 10:40 or so.
Very soon after the start we hit a bunch of very loose gravel patches where trail crews had prepared the trail for the upcoming winter rains. This put a lot of the road-bike riders in bad shape, their narrow, slick tires slewing them around. I was OK even with my relatively narrow 1.8" mountain-bike tires, and happy I hadn't ridden my road bike as I passed many of them. Soon the pack spread out with the fast guys climbing ahead out of sight, and riders of like ability clumping together. I left Steven and Frances behind, but had another guy drafting me for a long time.
After the gravel patches ended, the smoother trail allowed a couple of guys, one on a road bike and the other on a cyclocross bike, to pass us. I was almost blown out, so I was unwilling and unable to follow them without risking a complete meltdown. Instead I concentrated on setting a consistent, but very hard, pace I knew I could sustain to the top. About 3/4 of the way up my caboose parted company with me and he pedalled ahead. Again, I was not about to push myself harder, and let him go too.
After 18 minutes and 3 seconds I passed the finish line at the top of the fire road, in 11th place overall out of 28 men, and emerged onto... Page Mill Road, much to my surprise! I didn't even stop but kept time-trialing up to Skyline, knowing that Margaret was up there looking for me.
Once I got to Skyline I turned north, towards La Honda, since Margaret was more likely to be looking for me around the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve parking lot on Skyline. Well, after several miles of hard riding I came to the parking lots, with no Margaret in sight. I thought I might have spotted her by then, but figured she was further north per our plan so I continued north.
As the miles faded behind me, I started to worry that perhaps she was lost somewhere, and when I got to Old La Honda I stopped to ask a group of roadies if they had seen my disctinctive car. Yes, they had, and they thought it looked like the driver was searching for somebody and was last seen driving north. "That was my wife," I told them with relief, and sped off in hot pursuit. I was getting a good workout, and thought she was probably in the La Honda area and I would soon be reunited with her.
OK, by the time I got to La Honda and still hadn't seen her, I started to worry all over again. I didn't think she would have gone further north, or west down La Honda towards the ocean, and I wouldn't follow her even if she did, so I decided my only option was to ride down La Honda to my starting point in the hope that she'd gone back there to wait for me. At least it was all downhill from there, in more ways than one it turned out.
After speeding down La Honda, with sprinkles warning me of the impending rainstorm moving in, I spotted Margaret just before I reached Portola Road. Whew, was I happy and relieved! But my joy sooned turned to pain when I saw the look on her face; she was not happy at all, and had been driving around for what seemed to her an eternity, looking for me. She thought I would have finished long before then, and couldn't understand why I hadn't appeared. After talking to a few people on Skyline, getting bad advice, she'd returned to Portola Road to see if I'd returned, before trying to go up La Honda again.
Well, during the long drive back, I could only express my regrets and hope she'd forgive me for the whole ordeal; I think she has, and hope that I will learn from this; I think I have.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
competition in the 5th of the Low Key hill climbs
http://lowkey.djconnel.com/2007/. We held onto our 1st place overall, but
Web Core put up a good fight moving into 2nd.
This weekend we'll be doing Welch Creek, just south of Sunol, it appears to
be somewhat similar to Alba Rd.
Please let Mark firstname.lastname@example.org know by noon Thursday if you'd like to carpool.
He'll get an email out Thursday evening with the specifics.
Thanks and ride safe!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
At week 5 of the Low-Key Hill Climb Series competition, our new, revitalized team shook up the established clubs and racers, and set the bar high. Team Bicycle Trip is still leading the series's team competition, ahead of such huge clubs as Alto Velo/Webcor. They have twenty times as many members as we do, but not twenty times the quality!
Notice that I said "team," but since I'm still officially racing for Team Santa Cruz through the end of the season, not Team Bicycle Trip, I am exempted from having to measure up to those lofty standards! Good thing too, because I was mostly using this "race" for my own devious purpose: pump the team's coach, Mark Edwards, for some much-needed tips on how to structure my training for the 2008 racing season... I succeded in gaining his confidence, then extracted highly sensitive training theories from him, and memorized them with my highly-trained steel-trap memory!
Dennis's 2008 Training Schedule
- Mondays: Very easy bike-commute, or day off.
- Tuesdays: "L5" workout with 4-minute hill repeats or intervals. (In Santa Cruz somewhere.)
- Wednesdays: "L4" workout with 2x20 or 1x40 FTP ride. (Likely on Page Mill. Plus bike-commute some of the time, but really slow.)
- Thursdays: Very easy bike-commute, or day off.
- Fridays: Very easy bike-commute, or day off. (Will add a second "L5" workout during the regular race season, unless there's a race the day after.)
- Saturdays: "L4" workout with 2-3x20 or 1x40 FTP ride with Team BT. (Might occasionally join Low-Key or Crow's Nest ride for kicks, but make sure to ride Hazel Dell.)
- Sundays: Day off. (Most of the time, unless it's going to rain on Monday or something. Might do that second "L5" workout during race season, on race weeks.)
I had a secondary objective: secure Margie Biddick's secret "Party Apple Cake" recipe. I managed to trick her into e-mailing me the recipe, by first partaking of her yummy breakfast muffins and complimenting her on her undeniable baking skills... flattery was my secret weapon! This recipe's very existence was only a rumor, but now it has been loosed upon the world:
Margie's Party Apple Cake
Combine and mix well:
4 cups apple, diced (I use 3-4 different types-organic)
2 cups sugar (turbinado)
Add and Blend:
1/2 cup oil
1 cup chopped nuts
3 eggs, well beaten
2 t vanilla
Sift together; add and blend:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
The batter is pretty lumpy - just keep mixing all ingredients with a large
spoon. Pour into creased, floured baking dish or muffin pans. Bake cake for 1
hour; muffins for approx. 30 minutes (325 for pan; 325 for pyrex).
Promise you won't divulge this recipe to our competition!
We carpooled from Santa Cruz in Mark's monster truck and Jim Langley's venerable Vanagon; We also had Geoff Drake, Scott Martin, Joe Platin and Matt Werner so things were pretty crammed! Kem Akol showed up a little later by himself. After parking in Pescadero we warmed up by riding Stage Road to San Gregorio, part of the Pescadero Road Race's route. The race course was simply HWY84 starting at the San Gregorio Market, a very old and cool general store from a bygone era. I don't recall ever entering it until that day; I had to use the restroom. And, after removing my cleats to spare the ancient wood floors, marvelled at the old building, the fun merchandise, sandwich cooler... and the savory coffee operation they had in place. Very nice!
After we paid our ten dollars we were given a yellow ID sticker and a start time, because this was an individual time-trial, not a mass start race. We would be sent off individually with 20-second gaps and I was nearly last with 10:29am. I chatted with my teammates, who all had earlier start times except Kem, and Steve Woo of LGBRC. Several guys had intimidating time-trial bikes, and one of them had this scary looking helmet with an insect's-eye visor, while most of us just rode what we brung. The weather was a tad chilly, but fairly nice otherwise and conditions would be great for a hill climb.
At 10:29 the nice starter-guy sent me off on my way and I concentrated on setting a nice, comfortable pace that caused just a very slight burning sensation in my legs; Mark had spilled this tip to me, and confided that it's the best way to increase our "FTP" (Functional Threshhold Power). This FTP thing will stand us in good stead during races where the average pace is high, and especially for hilly road races. But even my favorite races, criteriums, can be decided by racers dedicated enough to undertake this arduous training.
Highway 84 is very pretty, and had very little traffic. As I burned my way along the gentle slopes of the first half of the race course, I had time to enjoy the scenery and even spotted a huge red-tail hawk... how awesome! I nodded at the local residents as they tended their yards, and they nodded back.
A couple of guys timed us at the junction with Pescadero Road, and my "split time" was 22:53, which placed me in 26th out of 51 men. Pretty fun! It's amazing how well you can place with a less-than-blazing pace!
I also got to watch a VW club taking photos of that cool red barn. I've got some photos of my own of that barn.
Soon after, a nice woman pointed us toward the West Old La Honda Road turnoff... all except Kem who (we found out much later) rode on up 84, happily unaware of the error. I have a non-compact 20-speed bike now, and the gearing is a little tall for this steeper road, so I was forced to either up my pace or grind out a really low, lactic-acid-inducing cadence. I felt fine, so I rode a little harder. And I started to pass more people. I had only passed a few riders on 84, including Margie and the guy with the insectile TT bike helmet, but soon I had spun around maybe 10 riders, and one of the Alto Velo/Webcor guys. Fun, and the view was spectacular!
The last part of West Old La Honda is more gentle, and sheltered by redwood trees. I passed another guy or two, and soon heard the cheers of the welcoming committee standing along Skyline Boulvard a short distance ahead. Being a sprinter and all, I jumped forward and quickly made mincemeat of the last few hundred meters with a nice sprint finish... wheee! I ended up improving my placement on the second part of the course, for an overall 18th place. Mark was 2nd overall, Geoff 5th, Jim 12th, Scott 15th, Matt 17th, and Margie 2nd. (Joe didn't compete because he thought the $10 fee was too high... kidding! Come to think of it, he suffered just as much as us, but it cost him nothing... hmmm, maybe he gets the last laugh!)
The rest of the team was mostly there waiting for the last of us to finish, and munching on the bananas and other snacks the race organizers had lugged up the hill for us. After Margie arrived we waited in vain for Kem, then decided to go ahead and drop down Old La Honda Road, toward Portola Valley Road. That's pretty nuts, because then we decided to ride back up it right afterwards! Ugh, that's a tough climb, but Jim, Matt and I chatted our way up to ease the pain.
Afterwards we formed a rather ragged pace-line and set a quick pace back down 84, up Pescadero Road's nasty Haskins Hill for some more race-course scouting, and back to Pescadero town for some recovery food. Kem arrived just as we were leaving him to his unknown fate. Whew!
Margie celebrated her anniversary in style at a Santa Cruz Bar & Grill, and Margaret and I were treated to a tasty dinner at Michael's on Main with our friends Rob and Diana Jensen... I am not worthy!
Friday, October 26, 2007
Now, if YOU'RE not on the list, please send your contact info to me at email@example.com ASAP and I'll remedy that situation pronto.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
The bottle hit the barrier and bounced right back beneath the racer's wheel knocking him down and the 5 guys with him, which included The Lion King. Mario managed to land lightly though and didn't get hurt. Michael Zellman from SRAM protected himself, too, but his bike got catapulted right over the crowd about 25 feet through the air. Overall, it was one of the best shows in year. Click here for an overview of some of the cool stuff I saw.