Friday, August 29, 2008

Winters Road Race

Dear Teammates,

I made the journey to Winters with our newest team member, Michelle Heaton. I've ridden with Michelle for about five years on the Sunday and Wednesday rides and she's really strong - period. Not just for a female rider or a rider over the age of 45, just a strong rider of any sex or age. In addition, she's a great person and a friend who really cares about those around her. She owns her own successful Montessori pre-school.

I read before the race they had taken out the English Hills section of the course so I thought the race would be dead flat, but I was wrong. Indeed, the big hill in the middle of the course was still there and having ridden Winters several years ago, I knew it would be a tough day in the 45+ open category race.

A group of four riders went away before the big hill in the middle of the course and they stayed away for the whole rest of the race. I saw Joe Platin breakaway from the group as the race hit the bottom of the big hill section and I knew my chances of helping Joe (which were slim at best) in the sprint were gone.

The race then became a flashback of my prior Winters experience in the 45+ open. I lost contact with the main group on the last steep section of the hill, tried to bridge on the descent to no avail, formed a chase group with 12-15 other riders, caught the main group (five of us) after an 18-mile chase, got dropped again near the top of the big climb, formed another chase group with 7-9 riders and finished 2nd in the second group, five places behind Joe in 30th.

I was very satisfied with my race and put in a good effort on the two long chases, taking almost every pull to help our group make up time on the main pack. I know the main group was not riding very hard because four riders were up the road and most of the big teams were represented in it but our group rode as one, working together in unison for a common goal and we did it after a 45 minute chase.

Ed Price

Monday, August 25, 2008

San Ardo (55+) - Aug 23, 2008

San Ardo time trial Report
By Jim Langley

Okay, okay - I know - and YOU know, that San Ardo is a ROAD RACE, not a time trial, but you're going to have to cut me some slack on this one. Somehow, and, I'm still not entirely clear how it happened, I turned it into a time trial, much to my humiliation, disgust and downright misery.

So, there I am about 15 minutes before the start and I find teammates Gary and Larry and we're spinning around warming up and things are hunky dory. I feel the need and head for the porta-potties and commence taking care of business. Mind you that the starting line is less than 10 feet away from the crappers. Also note, that as I entered the plastic-fantastic relief station I double-checked and there wasn't a single 55+ racer anywhere near the starting line or even any master riders like me grouping behind the packs soon starting.

Now, I don't know about you, but I like a potty that has a handle on the backside of the door so you can settle onto the throne without blowing a knee out using your legs. Alas, no handle on this unit. No worries, I grab the latch, which sorta works as long as you hold tight. First, I have to remove my jersey so I can get the damn bibs off.

That's a little tricky, though. If I'm not careful, the pockets will dump and my GU will land in the pile of poo. Then, there's the issue of what to do with my only full-zip team jersey. Naturally, there's no hook on the back of the door to hang it. And, I certainly can't put it on the tinkle-treated floor. But, I'm an old hand at this game and I gingerly balance the jersey on top of the TP holder and get down to some serious pre-race weight-loss.

Deposit delivered, I suit back up, exit stage left for some fresh air and take another long look at the staging area. Sill no 55+ racers in sight. But, that's not surprising as I still haven't heard the starter call the race. It looks like the women are starting and some juniors after them. I decide to try to find Larry and Gary and ride up the street a bit. Nope. I check my watch. Still a few minutes before our start. But, where are all the guys?

Still clueless, I finally decide to ask the starter who is now getting into his car, which is when I get the wonderful news that he started my group "a long time ago," apparently exactly when I disappeared into the dumper. Unbelievable. This is the first time in all the VeloPromo races I've ever done, going back to 1982, that they actually started one early - and nobody thought to send me the memo. (In my defense, another guy in our group missed the start, too, but he saw the group heading out of town and was able to chase and catch.)

What to do, what to do? I decide anything's better than hanging out at the start, so I slam my Cervelo onto the 53, get down on the drops and hit it as hard as I can. Maybe I can catch them. Only a couple miles out I see the first juniors. They're so small and rail thin, and not working together, but individually they're all going at a pretty good clip. I move way left and holler encouragement as I pound by trying to eek every bit of speed out my bike and body. Next, I overtake a more organized group of juniors and urge them on, too. It's awesome to see kids out racing.

I'm remembering the San Ardo course now from years ago when I last raced it. Wide open roads, no traffic at all, fairly gentle rollers, wind, wind and more wind, and some seriously thrashed pavement, that keeps kicking me hard every 50 feet or so due to the unavoidable raised cracks. Already, my legs are burning from the all-out effort, but my back is screaming from the nasty bumps. I can't keep this up if I can't relieve the pain. I decide to ride an even bigger gear and jam even the flat sections standing up to stretch out my back and take the bumps with my knees. This works, and I'm able to keep hammering at over 24mph.

Soon, I see a large pack, which gives me hope. I start picking up stragglers from other races first. They're too blasted to even respond when I tell them 'good job - keep it going,' as I motor past. Maybe, just maybe, that group up ahead is my group. I know better - the women started after us - but I try to trick myself into believing. As I catch the back of the pack, I see that it is the women. I'm about 15 miles in and about now, it would be so nice to sit at the back for a bit, but the motorcycle official won't let me. He sees me coming, lets me pass, gets on my wheel and starts telling the ladies to move over and let me through. It takes a significant effort to get around them, but I manage and then worry that I'm going to die any minute and suffer having them blow by me. They're so tightly packed and so smooth, surely I can't stay ahead of them fighting the wind alone.

Somehow, though, I start feeling a little better. I keep shifting gears, standing and sitting to change muscle groups and pushing it as hard as my legs and lungs will let me. I take a look back and see that I've put major distance on the girls, which makes me feel a little better - being able to stay ahead of a big organized group is a good sign. A few more miles and I cruise through San Ardo, where there are actually some local kids standing in the road cheering in Spanish obviously delighted to have a fun distraction on this overcast Saturday morning. Pretty cool. Later I see some collecting ejected bottles, too.

Glancing at my computer as I pass the scene of the "crime" (the starting line) I see that I've ridden the lap, 21 miles on terrible pavement with a headwind most of the way around, in well under an hour. I tell myself, maybe there's still a chance I'll catch someone from my group, and I attack the easy climb that starts lap 2. The feed zone folks give me some love, which helps steel me for the work to come. It feels like my left quad is blown, a very sharp pain just above the knee. My back is on fire. I have two mini cramps on both sides of my stomach just below the ribs. But, surprisingly, I'm feeling pretty strong, like I can absolutely kill this course one more time - and I feel like killing someone, namely one VeloPromo starter too numb to make sure everyone was lined up BEFORE starting the freakin' race early.

Up the road I spot some more stragglers. I can't use them as it's illegal, but none are in any shape to join my time trial anyway. They're in survival mode. Some have turned back even. I use the same technique I used on lap one and ride the bump sections standing and pushing a huge gear to avoid the impact on every crack. I also big gear all the climbs. On one, the race photographer jumps up and helps motivate me to finish the effort over the top to give him something worth shooting.

I'm tiring, though, and I'm starting to lose faith that there's any chance of catching my group. I get negative and start doing the math. Four or 5 groups between mine and when I started means that I took my first pedal stroke at least 20 minutes in arrears. Even Cancellara who rides the same Cervelo I do couldn't make up that distance. Still, I'm not about to quit now. I think of my high school cross country coach who told us that if he ever heard one of his "boys" quit - even on a weekend training run - he'd put us on the practice squad. I push more, trying extra hard to relax my upper body, breathe rhythmically and get more oomph into my legs. I keep my back way flat and ride a perfectly straight line. I see that up the road there are now stragglers every hundred yards or so, targets for me to focus on and pick off - exactly what I need about now.

I catch everyone and keep seeing more and try to take it up another notch. I'm gasping instead of inhaling now and I can no longer ride a straight line. My legs are so ruined I can't push the big gears sitting so I stand and sprint, sit and spin, and repeat. There's San Ardo! The finish is just up the road! I pass a few more guys and then 2 more, and I see a wonderful sight, their numbers are 700s, meaning that I have caught 2 guys in my group - who started at least 20 minutes before me. Not bad. I absolutely destroy them passing about 10mph faster then they're going as if they're guilty for the early start.

Unfortunately, I don't see any more of the 700 club until I finish. But, at least they're still congregated around the finish, which opens the possibility that my 42 mile individual time trial might have been almost as fast as their group race. That possibility isn't as satisfying as actually racing with them, but it's the only thought that eases the guilt of missing the start in the first place and letting the team and Coach Mark down.

Rolling over, I ask how the race went for them and Larry tells me I should be happy I missed the start as most of the group took a wrong turn at the end and lost their chance at winning. Bad luck for Larry and me, but luckily for Team Bike Trip, Gary WAS paying attention when the pack veered off course and he didn't turn but instead sprinting down the home straight for second place, his best finish of the year! Great job Gary!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fort Ord Road Race by Ed Price

Dear Teammates, Friends and Family,

Last Saturday I competed in the Fort Ord Road Race along with teammates Dennis Pederson and Larry Broberg. Dennis raced in the 45+ event and Larry raced in the 55+ category. I know Larry finished a very close 2nd while Dennis showed tremendous courage in the 45+ open cateogry race, competing with some of the best climbers in the district.

Fort Ord is not my "cup of tea" but I couldn't pass it up, because next to the Sea Otter, it is the closest race to my home (30 minute drive). The course was a clockwise ten mile loop of endless rolling hills with two "out and back" sections and one "big" climb near the end of each lap. The "big" climb was only about six to eight minutes long but it required a 39 x 23 right from the start.

My race started at 11:45 am. The weather was warm to hot, the wind was pretty mild for Fort Ord and the pavement was poor to bad (with many large and deep potholes). My goal was to stay with the main group as long as possible and hopefully make it up the main climb at least once so that I could get through most of the 2nd lap before the second time up the big hill.

Our race had approximately 50 to 60 riders but was not full by any means (75 rider limit). I guess you either love or hate the Fort Ord course depending on how well you are climbing at the moment. I was hoping that the interval training I have been doing on the rollers (one good 45-60 minute session, three shorter sessions of about 30 minutes and one to two very short workouts of about 20 minutes would pay off, and they did.

I felt good even during the 45 minute warmup session on the rollers before the race started. The race consisted of "moderate tempo" on the many ups and downs leading to the course's big climb where the strong riders "punched it" every lap. I was spinning the smallest gear I possibly could the whole race, many times in the 39 x 19 where other riders rode the big chainring. I stayed with the group up the first climb and felt better about my chances. I lost contact near the very top of the big climb on the second lap but quickly caught the lead group on the descent. The third time up the big climb I knew it would be very difficult and I lost contact near the top again but was not able to catch on the descent. There were about 12 miles of racing to go and I was really spent but I "slogged" through it and finished 22nd. We were averaging 30 minutes per lap but on the last lap, it took 38 minutes and I finished in two hours and eight minutes. A group of four riders, including my friend and travel companion, Russ Cadwallader broke away from the field on the last climb and Russ finished 3rd. I am trying to get Russ to join our team for next year since Family Cycling Center will not be sponsoring anyone next year. Russ has placed in the top ten of every race except Pescadero (15th). He is one strong rider and would fit the team perfectly.

Ed Price

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Northern CA/NV Elite Road Race Championships, 45+, 8/2/2008

By Dennis Pedersen

Margaret was out of town this weekend, partying with her girlfriends in Chicago, so I did what any crazed cycling-nerd with a bachelor's weekend would do: I looked around for races to enter! And this one at Fort Ord, so close to home, made sense. Except Team Bicycle Trip's coach, Mark Edwards, warned me that the hills were just slightly longer than ideal for me and there'd be tons of tough competitors. Heck, I deal with that sort of thing all the time, and what's the worst thing they would be likely to do... drop me. I'm used to that, so bring it on!

My 45+ open-category race started at 11:46AM, so I got to sleep in a bit and had my usual breakfast at a leisurely pace. Larry Broberg was also racing, in 55+ starting at 11:50AM, and that morning he called and very kindly offered to drive me down. David Gill had dropped off a generator for me to deliver to Bob Leibold, but Larry was happy to help. What a guy!

It had been really foggy around our neighborhood near the beach, but it cleared up soon and by the time we got to Fort Ord the weather was gorgeous, around 60 degrees, and calm. As we got ready the wind did pick up, though, and eventually got up to about 12 MPH which did affect our race a lot. We warmed up on a section of the course and I was ready. Ed Price was also racing, but in 35+ 4/5 at 11:42AM with Russ Cadwallader (Family Cycling Center). We were all scheduled to race 4 laps, for 42.5 miles total.

Our race field was only about 15 guys, with Morgan Stanley and VOS well represented, a few from Alto Velo/Webcor and others. As we waited for the start everybody was keeping an eye out for Rob Anderson (Team Specialized Racing), who had won the NCNCA Masters Championships, in 50+, the weekend before by soloing off the front for several laps!!! Jon Ornstil (VOS) jokingly suggested that we start the race right away! Anderson showed up just as we got our last-minute lecture and a neutral start behind Bob Leibold's van, and the mood became much more somber.

Our pace was very pleasant at first, even after the van left, and I was really enjoying the scenery as guys joked in the peloton. Unbelievably, Anderson flatted in the first mile and was out! The news spread like wildfire... it was a new race!

We cruised through the convoluted course made up of various access roads left from the Army's long presence there. Then there were a few minor attacks, just part of our warmup I guess, but nothing that hurt. Even the biggest hill, shortly after the feed zone and a very hard left onto Hennekens Ranch Road, which seemed about 4 or 5 minutes at most (shorter than the hill repeats Mark has us do every Wednesday), wasn't too bad, though I was definitely working hard.

After the big climb somebody from Morgan Stanley soloed off the front; maybe Max Thompson? I was reluctant to do anything about it since I was alone, and VOS and Alto Velo had better reason to chase him. He stayed off the front for about a half lap, and I eventually got spat out the front and pulled half-heartedly with a few others. Ornstil joked (again!) that we should chase on the flats and then he would chase on the hills. I just chuckled. There weren't any real flats anyway, everything was either slightly uphill or slightly downhill. I really liked the course except for that one big hill... and there it was again.

I actually locked up my rear tire briefly as we entered that left turn again, because Ornstil slowed a bit abruptly, but soon we were all mashing our pedals peacefully up that hill. Well, briefly, because soon it was war! Halfway up, which just happens to be about my favorite climb distance, they either threw white gas on the fire or my body was going up in flames, because I was at my absolute limit by all of my measures: My heart rate was nearing 190, my legs were dying and I was wheezing asthmatically. With all of those danger signs I knew I had no choice but to ride at my own speed even as they dropped me. Sigh. I knew this might happen, but that didn't make it any more fun.

Creasting the hill I saw that they were about 200 meters ahead of me, but I gamely soldiered on as best I could. Larry had said it is possible to catch back on with the rolling hills, and perhaps they would slow as they so often do. After all, they knew that we'd be climbing that hill two more times and guys like me would be too fried after that to contest the finish. So why hurry?

After a couple of miles two Action Sports riders and one from Don Chapin caught up to me and we were soon doing a respectable job of pacelining ourselves closer to the pack. In fact we were only about 20 seconds back at the first of the two turnarounds on that lap, and even less at the next turnaround. I knew we'd be hosed even so, because I doubted we'd close the gap before the big climb... and we'd then face further attacks when we got there... oh joy!

Going through the feed zone again I was really tiring from the 10 miles of hard effort in the wind, and up the rolling hills, and I bade my chase-group friends adieu. I just couldn't ride hard any more, and my left hamstring was hurting. As I rode up the hill again, just behind them still, I actually had to favor my left leg as I pedalled uphill in my 39x25 gears (I had replaced my 42t ring with my 39t that morning, on Larry's advice). Eventually I did something I'd never done; I got off my bike and walked up the hill!!! I wasn't in contention anyway, so I was not about to risk injury to my leg out of foolish pride!

Thus ended my hopes. I took a break at the top, then rode slowly down the hill and back to the finish line where I waited with Martin Wolff (VOS) to watch the finish. It was very anti-climactic because my competitors had caught up to the 35+ 4/5 leaders, with Russ among them, and the two fields crossed the line in a confusing mess of sprints and leadouts that was hard to make sense of. But I think Mark Caldwell (Morgan Stanley) got the 45+, and Russ got 2nd in 35+ 4/5 with Ed a bit back. I waited for Larry to finish... he got 2nd in 55+! Woo-hoo!

I got a great 1 hour and 44 minutes workout, burned about 1700 calories, covered 30.3 miles, my heart rate averaging 156 BPM (even with the easy parts!), maxing out at 190 BPM, and spent just over 1 hour in my L3 zone and higher. Just what I wanted to do on my bachelor's weekend!

Now for a massage...