Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wente 45-plus 1,2,3 Road Race

By Geoff Drake

When I finished the race yesterday, I was a little blue. It was the first time I’d been out of the top 10 in a while. As a team, we missed the winning break. After chasing, I got a colossal knot in my hamstring. Sigh.

But now, a day later, I think we should be proud of the work we did—even though, ultimately, it didn’t pay off. We made the classy decision not to sit around and wait for a sprint for fifth place. We went to the front and worked. Being at the front, even on a doomed mission, was the most fun I had the whole day! And it was a gas to watch Russ get low and aero and string the field out single file. Nice riding!

I think Mark’s account of the race was spot on. A few things we might have done:

-Be more attentive to danger men going up the road. We shoulda been on that one.

-Work together—the three of us—to pull the break back. Mark is so superhuman right now that, even if he had expended energy chasing, he still would have done well. Goal number one was to put someone in contention by catching the breakaway. You can’t win if you’re not in the front group!

-Trade off more efficiently at the front, using the skills we have practiced so often on Highway 1. I know I wasn’t riding as smooth a paceline as I could have. Too many surges!

-Get more teammates! With four of us up there, we would have brought things together for sure.

Anyway, we did the classy thing. In fact, I’d do it again!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wente Road Race 45+ 1,2,3

By Mark Edwards

We got squashed today. The bigger teams, with well coordinated blocking, kept the chase group on a short leash. While an early break of 5 kept their noses down and pedals spinning, those of us not desiring to race for 6th place got slowly frustrated by the very effective blocking from Morgan Stanley (MS) and VOS. On this date, bringing the break back wasn’t in the cards.

The race opened with a hard pace, shelling many of our 100 starting field on the first climb. But, hard as the pace was, guys are coming into race shape and it showed in how many were able to hang on. For the first couple of laps each hill provided the motivation for someone to take a dig, and dig they did. But still, after the initial thinning of the herd, it wasn’t easy to get rid of those fit enough to survive that first toasty hot lap.

It’s often said that, if you pay attention, you can learn something from every race you do. Today’s lesson for Team Bicycle Trip was pretty much impossible to miss. While we’ve all made strides as individuals, racing as a Team involves a whole other set of skills we’re just beginning to learn.

With one and a half laps to go Geoff pulled up next to me and said “if we don’t make something happen, no one else is going to”. And he was right, our group was mostly VOS and MS blocking, or guys unwilling or unable to work, so Team Bike Trip went to the front. Russ, Geoff, and I knew we were pulling the whole group, but none of us felt we came to race for 6th. We started with a nice smooth rotation, but after a few minutes Russ pulled up and waved me off “Sit on! Let Geoff and I do the work. Save yourself for the finish”. Huh? I tried to come around again and got the same response. Wow! Russ was serious, how cool is that? Two super strong guys willing to kill themselves so that I might have a better chance at the finish.

In hindsight, probably not a good plan. But it sure elevated my already high opinion of these guys.

Russ and Geoff continued to trade off, no help from the group. Watching these guys slave got me ever more frustrated as I watched 30 guys sit on. Now, I understand VOS and MS. I also understand a few may have been riding at the edge of their ability… but not all 30 of them.

Russ seemed to get a rush of adrenalin; he planted himself on the front, got low on his bars, and got those aero Zipps singing. We were on the level section and he was flying. We made the turn starting the gradual climb to the main climb and still he was hammering away. The effort had taken its toll though, I could feel the pace dip, but still no one had any interest in helping. Clearly Russ intended to bury himself to position Geoff and I as well as possible. Russ pulled off at the base of the main climb and wished us luck, we thanked him as we went by (as did the entire group – but apparently they weren’t grateful enough to help).

Immediately Geoff heated things up on the climb. A few guys came up with apparent thoughts of doing a little damage on the climb, but Geoff shrugged them off without hesitation. Each one that tried got the same response, an acceleration that quickly had them ducking back into the shelter of the group, tail between their legs (did I mention the wind, strong as it was, Geoff and Russ seemed immune).

Near the half way point Geoff’s account was drained, it was time to pay the piper. One of the attackers came around and Geoff was done. I jumped and got the attackers wheel, who quickly popped also. So now it was my turn. My Teammates had given their best, but the group was still unwilling to work, could I make headway by myself?

I crested the climb first and dropped down on my bars, attempting to keep the pace high without blowing myself up. With a couple of short exceptions, I stayed on the front for the next half a lap. Checking over my shoulder regularly my view was a smiling group of VOS and MS riders, only too happy for a free pull.

Finally back down near the starting line, I’d had enough. I’d been able to see the breakaway group for the past several minutes and knew that Bike Trip’s efforts had brought them into range. But, was anyone willing to put out a little effort to make the catch?

Apparently not. I sat up and took a good long look at the group behind me. Yea, there were a bunch of MS and VOS guys, but there were even more other guys that had no reason not to chase. What the hell? Did you guys all really pay your money, get up early, and suffer in the wind and hills for 3 hours just to give the breakaway an unchallenged win? I guess so.

So I tucked back in the last couple of miles and tried to recover. But VOS wasn’t done with us yet. James Allen had spent the day resting and had in mind winning the field sprint. James VOS teammate Jan Elsbach (whose skillful blocking not only was effective today, was equally impressive at Copperopolis two weeks ago) now went to the front and laid down a suicide pace, making sure those of us that were tired would get no reprieve today.

Jan pulled off at the base of the climb and now the fire works started. James went to the front and attacked with another rider on his wheel. Seemed too early to me, but tired eyes do that. I surged with the group from about 7th position. Passing guys as I went, I kept hoping James and his shadow would crack. James didn’t, his shadow did, but close enough to cross the line ahead of me.

So, what was the lesson? First, cover breaks! But, given the numerical disadvantage we were at, that’s easier said than done. The main thing I would have liked to have done different was that, generous as Russ’ offer to work for me was, we had no idea how far the breakaway was in front of us. We essentially fried each of us one at a time. I think we would have been better served to share the work between the three of us until we had the break in sight, then decide if protecting one of us made sense.

The other lesson was that; our confidence lags our fitness. With each lesson we grow stronger. Look for a more dangerous, more aggressive Team Bicycle Trip to emerge from these ashes of experience.

2009 Wente RR (Elite 3): Reading is good!

By Nils Tikkanen

I'll make this one short. For some reason, I thought we were racing five laps (instead of four) on this course. I think I misheard something the official said at the beginning, and thought I'd see '4' twice before seeing 3, 2, and 1. It didn't help that at the beginning of the final climb, the dynamics weren't obvious enough to reveal that it would indeed be the final climb. You know, maybe—just maybe—I should take note of those handy lap cards next time.

Let's just say that my expression was confusion, followed by "oh shit" when I saw people sitting up as they crossed the line. Hopefully there will be photos.

  • Some guy managed to hit a cone during the neutral start. He pushed it for nearly five whole feet before going down. Thankfully, he was fine and made it back... but it was damned funny.
  • Mid-race, there was a break up the road that we were slowly closing down. I helped to initiate a blazing fast paceline on the flat section towards the final climb, and felt pretty good about that (especially since the group was later caught).
  • Did I mention I thought I'd be racing another lap? Clearly, I need to upgrade so I can get those extra miles in.
  • I dropped my &*#!ing chain again, but caught back on faster this time. I really need to get this checked out. Coincidentally, another guy with a SRAM Red setup also dropped his chain in my race.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hey ya'll, I just rolled in from a long weekend of my first sea otter experience, and overall, it was a pretty good one. First things first though: Nils I'm really glad to hear you're OK. I had to apply the brakes rather hard to avoid a couple squirrelly riders myself this weekend-stressful indeed. I also met a couple teammates this weekend as well. It was nice to see people from Santa Cruz on my team show up to throw down at an event such as this that attracts riders from all over the west coast. Miles especially, congratulations on a stellar performance. OK, on with the "race report".Since the outdoor school that I work at is on spring break this week I found myself with a few days off, a girlfriend who wanted an adventurous vacation that included bicycle riding and camping, and, of course, my own selfish desire to race my bike. So after a bit of scheming on my part I came up with the perfect solution. On Wednesday April 15th my girlfriend and I decided to ride a tandem bicycle down to Monterey and pull my race bike and camping gear in a cargo trailer behind us. This first leg of the adventure found us battling some pretty crazy winds (pushing our rig through sand dunes that had spilled over the bike path in various places) as we pedaled down the coast and arrived at race registration at the laguna seca race park late in the afternoon. Registration for the rr and circuit went fine but I was informed that even though I had pre-registered online for the crit, there was, in fact, no crit for the open cat 5's but that I would be able to race the men's 35+ crit instead. I wasn't too excited about this, but since it would count as another cat 5 start for me I intended to just do it anyway. Thursday morning I woke up early to get a good, long warm-up in before for my 9:55 start time. At exactly 9:54 an official pulled me from the start line and told me I couldn't do the race because I was too young. I said, yes, I was aware I was too young but the people at registration told me I could do it anyway since there was no open cat 5 crit. He said the people at registration didn't know what they were talking about and never should have told me that. I begged and pleaded to be able to race. He pointed to registration and told me to go get a refund. So I did. And so began the waiting game for my next day's road race which started at 3:30. By the time my road race started on Friday I was feeling pretty antsy to say the least so, 22 miles into my 47 mile race, when I found myself accidentally dropping the peloton without effort on a hilly section during the second lap I paused for a moment knowing full well I should sit up and wait, but I didn't, I was curious to see what I could get away with so I just got down into the drops and unleashed the hounds. The next 25 miles was a blissfully painful exercise in deep breathing and holding proper posture under duress. It was fun to have the referee on the motorcycle come by me the next 4 laps and tell me my lead gaps were 0:45, 1:35, 1:55, and 2:15 respectfully. The last half mile going up Barlow Canyon I totally cracked. One rider launched off the chase group and passed me 300 meters from the finish and I hung on for second. It would have been nice to get the win, of course, but I didn't care, I had a blast. I'd let it all hang out and rode like there was no tommorrow. Only there was a tommorrow, or more specifically, my circuit race which started at 9:30 the next morning. So my girlfriend and I went out that night and I had a beer and stuffed myself to the brim with as much pizza and pasta as I possibly could. I took the leftovers back to our campsite and I'm glad I did because at 1AM or so I woke up starving and scarfed 4 more pieces of pizza and pounded a liter of cytomax. The next morning my legs felt tired so I just spent most of the race sitting in about 5 or 6 back from the front. On the last lap around the race track I threw down a weak-legged attack at the base of the climb and 4 other riders came with me. I gave it everything I had on that climb leading the breakaway over the crest and then I let a couple riders pass me on the descent and I sat in and tried to breath deeply and recover before the finish. The last couple hundred meters I was pleasantly surprised to find myself coming around the 2 riders in front of me for the sprint win. Sweet. Sunday morning Jessica and I packed up our camping gear and my race bike onto the cargo trailer, hopped onto the tandem and pedaled home to Santa Cruz.

Monday, April 20, 2009

2009 Sea Otter Classic (Elite 3): A weekend of bad luck

Circuit Race (4/17/09)

I wanted this win pretty badly. I was feeling great, and the circuit race course suits my strengths well. The field was small (~50 racers), and the course is far less technical than it appears. You can easily fly down the backside without ever touching your brakes.

I make an early decision to try and keep the pace high enough in an attempt to shell some of the field. I spend quite a bit of time pulling on the stretch towards the finish (people were otherwise more than happy to sit up after the climb, but I wasn't). I controlled the pace for two consecutive laps; the effort was enough for another rider towards the front to call me a "small Mike Sayers". I felt pretty good about that. :)

Five laps to go. I was still feeling good but worked by doing the climb 11 times already. People were clearly suffering more and more, but the real move came with three laps to go. A rider, Andrew Hammond, attacked and rode off the front. Our group was too disorganized to catch him, and since I'm not Mark Edwards, I couldn't even consider a solo bridge effort. ;) Whatever. Happy to race for second.

Final lap. Now we're talking! The pace was very fast on the downhill and flats... this is racing!

1km to go. I'm towards the front and ready to throw down a sprint. I'm on the wheel of some random Chico, CA racer. He overlaps wheels (I suspect?) and starts that whole "oh shit I'm crashing" thing. The only thing going through my mind is "are you f**king kidding me?". I'm boxed in, but manage to scrub enough speed such that the landing is pretty soft. But my race is over, and I'm absolutely livid.

It turns out said rider was being a squirrel the whole race -- I just wasn't far back enough to notice. I did some post-race research... 22-year old with a very new licesnse (starts with 26xxxx). Naturally strong (he would take 6th in the RR the day after) but inexperienced. I'll be avoiding his wheel like the plague.

3T is Awesome

Aside from being taken out of contention, the biggest casualty were my handlebars. Carbon handlebars are nice but delicate, and I knew to test for failure when I noticed the scuffed bar tape on my right drop. Yep -- the whole drop came off with that trademark carbon-splintering-wrenching noise. Not the best way to shave grams:

What to do? I have backup bars at home, but I had to race the next day and also am a bit OCD about my bike fit. But wait! What's that oasis in the desert of mountain bike parts? The 3T / Vittoria tent, complete with a display of handlebars! One of which happens to be my size. I spoke with the rep, and he said that he wasn't technically authorized to sell them as a retailer but would do what he could. He called his boss, and they ended up selling me the display bars at cost! I was up and running again! A huge thanks go out to Rick and Ryan from the 3T tent at Sea Otter -- you guys are great.

Road Race (4/18/09)

On Saturday, I would learn my spell of bad luck was not over. On the second lap, after turning onto the nasty short climb, I dropped my chain and did not have the momentum to get the blasted thing back on. Normally, a dropped chain is trivial to fix... but when you're pumped on adrenaline and watching the field ride away from you, it's damn near impossible. A neutral support guy gave me an awesome push, and I spent the next 6 miles in ITT mode.

I managed (somewhat to my surprise) to make it back on! Unfortunately, I was feeling very fatigued after spending so much time in the wind... after four laps or so, I popped on the hill after the feed zone and ended up finishing the race solo, and about 20 minutes off the back of the group. I could have DNF'd, but I needed a long training ride. And heck, it was a great traffic-free ride!

Highlights from the race:
  • Can you believe it? Our field successfully had a full-on "natural break" after the feed zone on the third lap. Best. Thing. Ever.
  • The post-race lunch at In'n'Out: two double doubles, fries, and a milk shake.
  • It was a well-supported race. Nothing like timing chips, two motor refs, and three neutral support cars for a Cat 3 field!

Sea Otter Circuit Race M45+ Cat 5

I was signed up for the Cat 5 Circuit race as well as the Cat 5 Road race, but I knew my fitness was not going to let me do both…still too much recovery going on from my crash. I decided to skip the road race and see if I could make a good effort in the circuit.
Saturday morning dawned with perfect weather and almost no wind. Our group ran late but we finally got up to the starting line around 9:45, and we were off. The course was 50 minutes over a 2.2 mile loop and starts with the climb. I felt that everyone started out pretty easy to get the feel of things, but by the second and third time up the climb, the pressure was building. The speed coming down off the corkscrew was phenomenal. The 4th time up the climb, I noticed that we had dropped a number of riders and I could tell that my fitness wasn’t going to let me ride near the front. I was pretty sure that I could hang on, but there were two or three other guys towards the back that were riding a little squirrelly. Memories of my crash flashed through my mind, along with thoughts of Jim Langley telling me to trust my instincts and steer clear of squirrels. I gave this situation a moment to roll around in my head, and then I dropped out. I felt a little bit like a chicken for a few moments, but then I got over it and went home to submit my request for an upgrade out of the 5’s. It was approved Monday morning, the same day I was able to complete my L4 trainer intervals for the first time since my crash. Recovery takes more time and has more facets than I would have thought. See you out there.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sea Otter XC 50-plus Cat 1

By Geoff Drake

I’ve been able to do pretty well in local mountain bike races, so I figured it was time to do more of a national- level race: the Sea Otter. As of this year, mountain bike categories were changed to better parallel those on the road. So I’d be racing Category 1—how cool is that? I figured it was worth a try.

I work in Monterey, so I was able to pre-ride the course on Friday. This would be important, since we’d only be doing one lap and hence no opportunity to learn the course during the race itself. It was clear from my pre-ride, and my discussions with Jim, that it would be important to be in a good position once we hit the singletrack. Turns out, this was no problem—I was second through the first section, and then moved into first on the next section.

For the next half hour, another rider and I kept swapping the lead—with no one behind us, it was mano a mano. On a long fire road climb, I managed to get a good gap, then pass a few riders from the group ahead of us to try and get out of sight, out of mind. All was going to plan!

There were a number of very steep, technical, sandy descents. I made it through most of them by just letting the bike do the boogaloo beneath me and staying loose. But then, with an air of inevitability, I fixated on a big rut, the front end dropped in, and I did one of Geoff’s patented “flying W” excursions over the handlebars, arms and legs flailing.

It’s actually quite fun to go airborne over the handlebars in a mountain bike race. There is a sense of joy and freedom there. The landing almost always sucks, though. In this case, after I dusted myself off, I discovered my handlebar was twisted about 30 degrees.

No time to straighten them out, though, as my second-place friend was now in first and going up the road. So I just decided to use the handlebars as they were. It’s actually quite remarkable how you can reprogram your brain to pilot your bike toward Monterey while your handlebars point roughly toward Salinas.

We rode closely for a while, but eventually he pulled away on the technical stuff. It's possible I was a little rattled from my little off-trail excursion. I killed myself on the final climb to make up ground, but I never could catch him. Sooo…second place for me.

After the race I conducted an inventory of my body. It never ceases to amaze me how you can feel entirely whole after a mountain bike race, but then discover you have lost a quart of blood and one of your limbs is bent at an unnatural angle. I changed clothes, stemmed the bleeding as best I could and headed for the podium.

The guy who beat me was from Whistler, BC, where he runs a gym. His son won a medal, too. Awfully nice guy. We talked for a while. But in a just and righteous universe, I woulda wupped him.

There were redeeming factors. The guy from Los Angeles that received this huge build-up from the announcer at the starting line (“wins every race he enters, blah blah”)—well, we dropped him like a rock. I also came away with $100 worth of mountain bike tires.

And oh yes—trophy girls! I got kissed on both cheeks by a buxom blonde with lots of cleavage.

God, I love bike racing.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sea Otter Classic 55+ Circuit Race April 17, 2009 & the Road Race April 19, 2009

Sunday 4/19, Salinas, California - 55+ Road Race: Unlucky 313
By Jim Langley

Someone please post a better Sea Otter report soon. I don't have much to offer except that it was a tough day out there. Maybe it was fatique from the circuit race on Friday (report below), maybe it was the stellar field including Mark Caldwell who won again (he won on Friday too) or maybe it was the 98-degree temperature that did in such champions as Jim Fox and Jack Kelso.

Whatever, I fared about as well as a scoop of Ben & Jerry's on the sidewalk in July. I drank more than ever and still lost 6 pounds in the race, and that's over only 4 laps since I got dropped on the 3rd and the official wouldn't let anyone off the back of the main field ride the 5th lap. We got credit for finishing on the same lap as the leaders anyway, but there wasn't any satisfaction in it.

I'm not any more superstitious than the next guy, but I had a bad feeling when I picked up my road race number at registration. It was 313. And, it sure seems to have jinxed me. What's funny is that I was delighted with my circuit race number, 714, and I had a great race. Go figure.

Friday 4/17 Circuit Race:
On The Podium Again
By Jim Langley

Well, barely on the podium - but any time you can get on the Otter steps, it should make you happy because this season kickoff event attracts many of the top riders in the country. And, I'm pleased to have finished 4th - and excited about my result, because the way I got 4th was something new for me.

Up & Down, Repeat 10 Times
In case you haven't tried it, the circuit race is held on the Laguna Seca track. It's a simple course with a pretty good climb on the front side of the track and a thrilling descent down the corkscrew (top speed for me 45mph), before riding around the track and under the finish line and back up the hill again. It takes about 6 minutes a lap and our race was for 60 minutes or 10 laps.

Still Making Mistakes
Little by little we whittled the field of 30 down to about 10 guys with 5 to go. With 3 to go a guy attacked on the climb and opened a gap, and no one chased so I made the brilliant decision to singlehandedly chase him down. Don't ask me why. I just went brain dead or something. I'm sure it pleased the guys behind no end.

Mark Caldwell Shows His Stuff
So, after making that dumb mistake, I was wasted and had to do my best to sit in and recover, and naturally, when Mark Caldwell attacked with 2 to go, I couldn't chase. No one else could either. I should have at least been watching Mark, but I didn't even get that part right. And, when he went, it was pretty impressive. Also, it seemed to me that the group I was with would be strong enough to work together and chase him down - if we would just work together.

But, that was a mistake too. We never got organized at all and by the time we hit the climb for the last time, it was every man for himself. My legs were still fried and when Jim Fox attacked near the top only Mac Carey could go with him. I was only 20 feet off over the top but they bombed the corkscrew and opened a big gap. Worse, 3 guys we dropped caught me on the descent. So now I was facing the possibility of coming in in 7th place. Not what I was hoping for.

4-Up To The Line
You have to ride about 2/3rds of the way around the track to get to the finish line. I was discouraged and pissed that I'd gotten dropped on the last climb. And, really annoyed that 3 guys had caught me. But, something pretty cool happened. As the 3 guys came storming past me on the last little roller, one of them patted me on the back and encouraged me. Nice. It helped me focus a little and I fought to grab the last guy's wheel and sat in for a short distance before they slowed a bit. Because of the draft, without even trying, I found myself on the front again.

Bad Position, But I Have A Plan
Not wanting to lead out the field sprint, I tried to get them to come around but it was clear the only reason I was in front was because they wanted me there. Here, I need to take a quick detour and remind you of how I hit the wall 20 feet from the line last week at Copperopolis. I had all week to think about that and a light bulb finally went off over my head, and I had a new plan for Sea Otter if a sprint was involved. Read on if you're interested/go to the next paragraph if not: I realized I've always sprinted like a climber, just standing and kind of bouncing on the pedals with my body weight and legs doing all the work trying to get my legs going as fast as possible - and going nowhere. It finally dawned on me how inefficient that was. In order to sprint, I figured I needed to use my arms as much as my legs, pulling hard on the right drop as I push hard with my left foot and the same on the other side.

So, with 3 guys sitting on me and no way to get off the front, I somewhat amazingly had this positive thought pop into my cooked brain that I was stronger than these guys (after all, I dropped them on the climb), and I would just have to prove it one more time. But, I sure as shi* wasn't going to sprint the way I had at Copperopolis. I was REALLY going to sprint, using my upper and lower body.

Unbelievable: A Field Sprint Win
And, that's what I did. The 3 guys sat on until the last second and fanned out to my left trying to take me on the line. It was very close, but with the new sprint technique (I worked on it all week), I brought much more power into and across the line, and actually won the field sprint, a big first for me.

It was only good for 4th, and I'm disappointed about coming off on the last climb - but it's exciting to discover that my sprinting woes in recent races have been all about technique not lack of power or speed. And it was really nice to get on the podium.

1. Mark Caldwell
2. Mac Carey
3. Jim Fox
4. moi

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Copperopolis M45+, 4/5 (B & C race)

by Matt Werner
photos Andrea Silva

I'll keep my post short since placing 20th is nothing to crow about. I did enjoy the race though, and learned a few things along the way. The weather was perfect, cool and sunny. Wind was a factor up on the plateau. Beautiful country, what I saw of it.

I avoided this race last year because of all the talk about how epic and rough it is. I don't like to think about crashing, and images of dodging gaping potholes and bouncing water bottles while flying down technical descents put the scare into me. But this year I had to see what its about.

The truth is, the road surface is ridiculous, but the holes have mostly been patched. Its a patchwork quilt with none of the qualities associated with quilts. The descent was so rough it made my feet and hands numb, and my eyes jiggled in their sockets so badly I couldn't focus on the rider in front of me... but it wasn't really technical. I just gave the bike its head and held on for dear life, hoping the pounding would end soon. I don't know how the pros can handle 5 times around on this course!

I started near the back in a field of almost 50. I moved my way up through dropped riders, and did a quick head count as the front group crested the first climb...15, maybe 20, and me the last one over the top. An accomplishment, to stay with the lead group. I spent a moment catching breath, looking at the butt-logos of the riders in front of me, only to look up and see that the 3 in front of me had let up and allowed the group to ride away. I jumped into the gap, trying to bridge to the lead group, 100m away. I couldn't do it. I dangled off the back, could practically smell sweat and chain lube of the group in front of me, but couldn't do anything to close the gap. Eventually I fell in with a chasing group of 6 or 7 and spent the race in that group.

Lesson learned: push through at the top of the climb, don't let up as the road gets easier, and make sure to stay in the shelter of that lead group.

I also watched a rider from our small group attack on the last short climb, thinking it was too soon, but he made it all the way to the line. I'll remember that next time I race Copperopolis.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Copperopolis Road Race Report 55+

Copperopolis 2009 Race Report 55+
By Jim Langley

This year's 55+ race was so much like last year's that I have a short report. So let me first congratulate the teammates who had fantastic results Saturday and deserve a lot of praise for excelling in one of the toughest races you can enter. Way to go, Mark Edwards. No one deserves this awesome win more than you. You won with off-the-chart fitness, intelligence and class against the most dangerous 45+ 1/2/3 field ever. You are becoming the racer that sets the standard in NorCal/Nev Masters racing and that's a crown to be very proud of.

And, my helmet's off to you, too, Geoff Drake, for your outstanding finish, and for helping Mark win, both by pushing him in all those workouts we do together, and also for helping support him in the race. You and Mark form a 1-2 punch that's surely a daunting prospect that will have teams throughout the Bay Area and beyond wondering what they can do to defeat Team Bike Trip.

I don't want to steal his thunder, but a loud bravo to Matt Wocacek who established the winning breakaway in his race and then finished second. Wonderful work, Matt! I believe Miles Wadsworth took a fantastic 2nd too! And, Joe Platin had a super race finishing 8th. Russ Cadwallader raced strong in support of Mark and Geoff. And, another sweet story was Bob Montague's return to racing after his serious crash at Madera. Eddy Price and Matt Werner raced like champs too. We should see all their race reports sometime soon.

I Learn A New Stupid Bike Trick
In my race, it was a smaller yet tougher field than last year, with Mark Caldwell, Richard Lorson, Rick Humphries and some other new faces. Last year's winner and second place guys, John Elgart and Scott Hennessy were there, too.

As I mentioned, it was like last year in that we rode a decent pace the first lap and then worked the second lap hard trying to drop the weak. In 08 we whittled it down to 4 racers by the final climb. This year there were still a dozen riders together there. I know I'm fitter than last year - and about 5 pounds lighter - so I'm sure there were even fitter guys out there this year than last.

As we were flattening that last hill, something "funny" happened that I won't forget. The climb is important because if you can get enough of a gap there's a chance that you could stay away to the finish. But, in our group we were all too evenly matched for that to happen. Still, I did not want to give up an inch when the attacks started, and no one else did either.

I'll Call It "The Butt Plant"
I was on the wheel of Richard Lorson, a top climber in our age group. As he accelerated I matched his speed and stuck close to his rear wheel. Everyone was on someone's wheel and struggling to not let any gaps open.

I was right on the edge of the road, only gravel to my right. To my left was another rider who made it clear that he wanted me to give him Richard's wheel. He did this by riding up very close next to me and moving even closer. I knew what he wanted but I wasn't about to slow down and I couldn't really move to the left or right. He inched even closer and moved forward a little to get his bars ahead of mind. I still didn't yield a millimeter. I was thinking, 'I know he wants Richard's wheel but there's no way I'm going to give it to him.'

Wrong. This rider (who I won't name because anyone who's been racing with him for years and years and knows how many championships he's won will know who he is), had other ideas and a very clever trick for getting his way. Without making it look too intentional, he moved closer and put his right butt cheek/hip on my left handlebar/brake lever!

And, It Works Great!
To me, it seemed like he bumped into me, but with a subtle and important difference: A bump would have just startled me, no biggie. But, what he did essentially locked my steering and I had to react to gain control of my bike. I couldn't move to the left or I would have crashed into his rear wheel. The only solution was to yank my bars to the right to free them from his butt and that, of course, caused me to swerve to the right and almost into the gravel.

This was all the time he needed to slide onto Richard's wheel. When it happened I thought it was an accident, but I asked San Jose Bike Club's David Stockwell about it after the race and he told me that this rider had done the same thing to another guy, but in that instance it caused a crash and a broken collarbone. Then to research this "trick" more I asked my coworker who raced in Europe for a year and he confirmed that it's a known trick in the pro ranks.

Now I know and will be ready the next time, if this new 55+er tries it again. In fact there's a little rugby payback pinch I learned that should immediately get just the right reaction.

Mad Dash To The Line
Back to the race: We all crested the last hill together, bombed the descent and hit the 1k mark together. My plan was to get on the wheel of the guy who won last year, John Elgart. I did that and stuck there nicely even though Mr. Butt Plant was trying to scare me off John's wheel. But, my tenacity was all for naught, as when the sprint reached top speed my legs completely locked up and I could only creep the last few feet across the line.

I did watch one of the new guys, a Peter Taylor, beat John Elgart, though, which was something to see. That's the first time I've seen anyone beat John in a sprint. I also noted that John was the only one of last year's top 3 to place again. Peter took the win, John was second, Mark BP Caldwell was third. I was a distant 9th. (Last year I was 4th.)

I'm not happy with the result but I am pleased I made it to the sprint again, and while facing what I think was one of the finest 55+ fields yet. It's going to be fascinating to see what other hot shots show up this week for Sea Otter and if I can be more competitive.

**Rumor has it that Levi Leipheimer was DQ'd for crossing the center line so Ben Jacques-Maynes won the Pro/1/2 race.
**Copperopolis is famous for rough roads but after racing the Madera Stage Race and Orosi, I don't think it's so bad any more.
**Overheard in the peloton: "If I had $100 for every time I've won this race I could retire." -Mark Caldwell

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Copperopolis 45-plus 1-2-3

April 11, 2009

By Geoff Drake

I really like this race—the jackhammer roads, the climbing, and the scenery give it an epic quality. People seem to almost gasp when they say it: Copperopolis.

Last year I had a mixed result: I hung on to the first group but suffered greatly on the final climb; I recovered enough to help block for Mark; then I unshipped my chain, had to stop on the side of the road, and finished 14th.

This year I knew I was fitter, after a year on Mark’s program. I felt pretty sure I could stay with the leaders over the climbs, and maybe even animate things a bit. A good feeling to have when you’re on the starting line!

At the top of the first big climb, I was close enough to the front to see the three escape artists get away. I could have killed myself to go with them, but it just seemed too early for a breakaway. It took another lap, but we reeled them in. Gruppo compatto. All together.

With those three back in the fold, we had to figure out what to do next. Mark has become a master strategist, and I kept sidling up to him to ask: “What’s the plan, boss?” But it’s gotten to the point that Mark is so marked (pun intended) that he can’t even speak freely in the peloton. As soon as he would try to answer me, a hush would fall over the group and everyone would lean in to garner a few tidbits from the master. Bottom line: we couldn’t share many secrets.

On the third climb, I ended up leading over the top. I wasn’t sure how it even happened—I just went at my normal rhythm and pretty soon, there I was. It was fun. I felt really good and even stood up a bit and put it in the big ring over the top.

Out on the flat windy bits, Marked asked how I was feeling. “Good!” I said. He encouraged me to try an attack as soon as we went out of the wind, which I did. But a few moments later, I crested a small rise and was hit by what felt like a hurricane-force headwind. Humbled, I rolled back into the pack.

I put the pressure on a bit at the bottom of the final climb. Toward the top, Mark went after the lone rider who had escaped. Mark was on a mission and I knew he would catch him—it felt just like what had happened last year!

Approaching the finish, I started my effort a little too late and two riders got up the road ahead of me. But I held off everyone behind to take fifth.

If I learned anything this race, it’s that I need to be more confident and assertive. I think the legs are there. I just need the brain to follow!

It was a fun race, with so many good results for everyone on the team. Jim had us all busting a gut laughing with his stories on the way home. A fine day.

Copperopolis 45+ 1,2,3

By Mark Edwards
Photo Matt Werner, PhotoShop Lorin Gross

Last year’s Copperopolis road race marked my first entry in a 45+ 1,2,3 field. It also meant I’d be doing three laps (63 miles) vs. 2 laps (42 miles) on the bone rattling roads around Milton Ca. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. As it turned out, it worked out very well. Of the 40 starters, I was able to bridge from the first chase group to the leaders in the final 20 minutes to finish 3rd. Geoff, racing with me, provided blocking support that may very well have made the difference between the podium or not for me. Having a teammate’s support really makes the entire racing experience better.

This year my fitness and confidence were far ahead of last year’s. It’s still an intimidating race. The pounding your body and bike take punish your equipment and will to no end, broken bodies and bikes litter the course. But last year’s upgrade to Cat 2, a couple of recent wins, and improved power numbers all helped me feel prepared for this year’s “Paris- Roubaix of Northern California”.

But then, the doubts creep in… Last year’s podium spot was the result of an unplanned bridge, the group wasn’t motivated to chase, Geoff was able to block…

… then there was this year’s field. 60 guys vs. 40 last year, an increase of 50%. The list of starters was also impressive, if not down right intimidating. 3 World Champions, a National Champion, the current District Champion, and a whole host of really strong and accomplished Cat. 1,2, and 3 racers.

What if I made a poor decision? Had a mechanical? Got boxed in? Crashed? Popped on the climb? Well, at least if I crashed most people would forget about the lack of results.

Russ, Geoff, and I went into the first climb imbedded in the full field. 60 guys on a twisty super bumpy narrow single lane is tight. Lots of bumping and pushing as bikes bounce left and right a foot at a time. It was hard to move up, make that impossible – for me.

Near the top of the first climb Jon Ornstil, Clark Foy, and James Allen (three super strong contenders in any road race) opened a gap on the field. I was locked in behind 25 guys and could only watch as they rode off. But I was also relieved. Riding, head down all out with 3 guys for the next 3 hours… the seemingly never ending jackhammer your seat becomes wasn’t especially appealing.

On the second lap, on the first big climb, Rob Anderson went to the front and showed us how a World Champion climbs. He did some serious damage in the group; we crested with half the guys we started with. Then, about 90 minutes after the break had gone clear, we reeled those brave soles back in. They were clearly worse for the wear.

The start of the third lap, marked by one final tooth jarring accent was once again fast. This time Geoff headed to the front near the top of the climb and showed the group how we climb in Santa Cruz. I don’t know that any of the final group (about 12 at this point) got dropped, but most were completely spent by the effort. Way to go Geoff!

The final run in after cresting the climb was filled with attacks and counter attacks. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one praying not to cramp. About 20 minutes from the finish a rider unknown to me, in unfamiliar red and white kit, attacked. It was a bold move, and one that might potentially pay off big time. No one responded, soon he was a half mile up the road. Then the cat and mouse started… attack… sit up… attack… sit up…attack. This was followed by the bickering, “you chase”, “no you chase, you’ve got a teammate”. Then, the comment that got me, “I hope that guy wins, he deserves it”.

About this time we were approaching the base of the final climb. It’s short, but it had a headwind, and everyone’s tired at this point. Once again, Geoff assumed his smooth spinning, rip your legs off – slowly – position on the front. He ramped the pace up putting the group in distress. About half way up Anderson, as expected, went to the front and elevated the pace with a rider on his wheel and me just behind.

The solo guy off the front was out of sight, we were racing for 2nd. But I was still annoyed by some of the petty comments earlier. Anderson was breathing really hard, so 2/3rds of the way up the final climb I attacked. Checking over my shoulder every couple of seconds I could see I was opening a gap. About a mile of rollers follow the final climb, then a wicked fast bumpy technical decent into the final rolling mile and uphill finish.

At the summit I figured I had about 20-30 seconds. If I could make it to the decent I could hold my advantage. Then, I’d likely need the entire gap to hold off the chasing group in the final mile.

I dropped into TT mode and pushed as hard as I could. “what’s that ahead?” It was the solo guy. He was still way far ahead, but maybe… I knew I could descend better than most, maybe I could pull back some time?

Popping out at the bottom of the descent the leader still had ¼ of a mile on me. Again, down low on my bars, I started pushing. I didn’t want to blow up, I kept repeating “ride your own race, ride your own race…” I set a pace I felt I could hold for 2-3 minutes. As the finishing hill appeared on the horizon the leader saw me chasing. It still seemed like he was way too far ahead to catch, but I was hoping that seeing me would panic him into over exerting himself and blowing up.

If it happened as I hoped, he’d blow just as the grade kicked up, dropping him to a crawl. At 200 meters I was now on the steeper section. He had 100 feet on me, but he was slowing. I came out of the saddle and started my sprint. At about 150 feet from the line I was 15 feet behind him when he let out a string of expletives, sat down, and hung his head. He was so close, for a moment I felt a little bad. But heck! We’ve talking about a win in one of the NCNCA’s most prestigious races! Still accelerating, I flew by. Then, sitting down, I zipped up my jersey and smiled for the camera.

A very gratifying win, made even sweeter by Geoff’s excellent 5th place, and Russ’ super race – despite a mechanical in the final miles.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Copperopolis Road Race

Masters 45+1,2,3 - finish line pics

warm-up pics from Andrea Silva

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Santa Cruz Classic Criterium XXXVI, Elite 3, 4/5/09

By Dennis Pedersen

I really like more technical courses like this one we have right in our hometown. Lots of turns and short hills to string out the pack. This is more interesting, and also safer than the usual 4-corner crits raced on wide-open city streets. Doesn't seem like that should be the case, but in my experience it is. And since my teammates Nils Tikkanen and Jay Brodie were also going to race I thought it would be fun to join them in the open Elite 3 race.

We'd be racing for 23 laps (vs. 20 last year) on this 9/10ths-of-a-mile course with its 9 turns, on Santa Cruz's "Beach Hill," right near the Boardwalk, downtown and the wharf. Last year I flatted at the beginning of this race (darned Michelins). And because I rode my bike to the race I had no spare wheels. I ended up racing for dear life in 35+ 1/2/3 instead. This year l drove down (parking is free until 10:00), loaded with gear!

The weather was gorgeous, about 50 degrees warming up to the 60s. My elaborate warmup consisted of... absolutely nothing at all. But we did get a parade lap. The first few laps were painfully fast for me, but soon it calmed down a bit and I was able to persevere well enough. And quite a few friends cheered us locals on! But the exit out of the hairpin, and the climb up 3rd Street (in my 53x25t gears), definitely started burning our muscle glycogen and got me to wheezing at times.

As a sprinter, this course is hard for me. I was probably riding in my difficult "L5" zone, trying hard to conserve precious energy, while the leaders were towing us comfortably in their "L4" zone. That is very significant because they have enough in reserve to attack, or be ready for the finish. Coach Mark and I discussed this later as we watched others get shelled in subsequent races.

My hope has always been that this course would drop the bigger sprinters who can power past me on the flats, but so far it seems that the guys with really high FTP (1-hour power) dominate all of us instead. And those with good 1-minute power to boot are the ones you see on the podium after the race... if Velo Promo had one. Yeah. Not really a sprinter's ideal course profile.

But what was cool was that the course really suited Nils... who was feeling really good that whole week too! We'd talked abut Jay and I blocking for Nils if he broke away. As it was he sped off and snagged two prime sprints! Woo-hoo!

Another nice thing was that we only had two solo crashes. One in the hairpin (turn 2) and one in turn 9. No doubt due to rider error. Again, these technical courses are pretty safe. Though we can still make mistakes they don't bring down half of the pack because we're spread out more.

As the laps counted down I was pretty winded from the race, breathing hard every time we crossed the start/finish line. But I was there, and even able to move forward a bit as in years past, by pushing a bit on the downhill after the hairpin... that area is key. Soon I was right on Nils's wheel! Nice, but my legs weren't fresh at all. I just had to hope everybody else was tired too. Well, many of them were, but too many were still holding an ace in the hole.

Ugh. I just held on in the last climb as my tortured legs whined up the 350-meter-long finishing straight (yes, it is that long!), the pack strung out along its full length... putting me into about 20th place. Nils got 14th. The Specialized Juniors humbled us all. Yeah, juniors... who race in Belgium, but still.

We raced for about 48 minutes and averaged about 23 MPH. Last year we tore around the course even faster: 23.5 MPH! So, yes, Elite 3 was easier. Just not by much.

I'm not too smart: I'm also signed up for Cat's Hill, in Elite 3 again (11:10 AM start); another race I flatted out of last year. I love the course, in Los Gatos's Victorian neighborhoods, but it doesn't love me back!

Ronde Van Brisbane Circuit Race & Santa Cruz Criterium Women's 4

First I need to post a little shout out to the wonderful riding of our Michele Heaton who won 2nd place in the Women's 4 category at the Ronde Van Brisbane Circuit Race last Sunday. Michele and I had a very loose strategy where I would tow her on the down hill portion of the course and she would lead the way back on the uphill. Our plan worked brilliantly for the most part: I enjoy leading the pack on downhills since the extra 5 inches in height I have on most of the girls in the pack equals a very fast downhill time with minimal effort and Michele is a monster on the hills and towed me up with ease. The race seemed shorter than the 50 minutes we rode, and during the last lap a Los Gatos girl attacked midway up the hill. The pack reacted and Michele was outsprinted by only a small margin by a lady from the Left Coast Racing team. I ended up getting 5th and so Team Bike Trip was represented on two spots on the podium!

The Santa Cruz Criterium was another great race, and I found many Bike Trippers cheering me on throughout the race, not to mention my whole family was out to watch what their crazy girl likes to do in her spare time! The field was the smallest I've raced in all year, 18 girls total, and I was a little nervous that I wouldn't have anywhere to hide in the pack if I wanted to rest. I had a fantasy in my head that I would be able to break away during the 2nd to last lap and sprint triumphantly to the end, but sadly that wasn't the case. My internal dialogue made me doubt my ability to attack and make something stick so I ended up playing it safe (again! Gah!) throughout the whole race and didn't even go for any of the primes. On the last lap on Laurel Extension I was in a fantastic position within the top 5. Sadly, due to the nature of the course once we turned onto 3rd street the road widened, the pack spread out and I found myself side by side with the other 17 riders. I tried my hardest to spin up the hill, but my choice to stay in my big ring the whole race began to tax my legs and I found myself inching forward and only passing a handful of girls. A 9th place finish isn't really that bad, I'm just regretting that I didn't take any chances and didn't take advantage of all the wonderful training I've been doing with my dad on our lunch breaks during the past few weeks. Next time, competitors beware - Kimi will have her game face on!

2009 Santa Cruz Classic race report (Elite 3)

The Santa Cruz Classic is an awesome race, and if you're a local, you can't beat a travel time of 5 minutes. The hill on 3rd Street offers an easy way to move up if you've got the legs, and the notably technical course forces riders to keep their wits about them.

Dennis and I had worked out a loose strategy if things transpired as planned (but really, how often is that?). I came into the race with a few personal goals:
  • Establish a presence in the pack. Simply put, I did not want to sit in until the final lap.
  • Represent Team Bicycle Trip especially well at a local race.
  • Try and win the damn thing (seriously). I felt good and knew I could do well.
The race starts with 70 or so riders. I begin towards the back but move up on the hill each lap until I'm among the top 15 riders. We get all get comfortable with the course. Things feel pretty safe overall.

First prime bell goes off. I'm feeling good, and things seem to be slowing up on Front Street... so I go. Hard. I look back and wonder where everyone is. Exhilarated, I cross the line for $20 and decide to keep the pace high instead of the expected post-prime soft pedaling.

A lap later, I'm back in the pack and still feeling good. Just sitting in towards the front... another prime bell rings, and I decide that another $20 wouldn't hurt. This time, I sit in until the hill and let loose on the right side. Again, nobody latches onto my wheel, and I take my second prime. Yay $40, and the announcer mispronouncing my name (but getting "Team Bicycle Trip" right). :)

On the last lap, I was in great position and ready to compete for the win. Unfortunately, things slowed up a lot on Front St and suddenly my position was lost. In retrospect, I should've just gone around the slowness. I held on and managed 14th (almost taking 13th with a bike push) :P.

Though I didn't finish as well as hoped, I had a blast racing. Bryan can verify this, as I had a huge grin on my face after the second prime.

Photos courtesy of Bryan King.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Red Robin Swoops Past Highwheel Guy at Swanton

Wind, Newfangled Bike and Giant Bird Brain Conspire to Topple Highwheel Guy
By The Highwheel Guy (aka Jim Langley)

It pains me no end to have to report that that dastardly Red Robin handily stomped me into the ground last night at the Swanton Time Trial. Me, in my dazzling period-correct racing attire, and atop my spectacular 1886 Victor Light Roadster highwheel, and that lowly worm-eater on some odd-looking contraption with a peculiar horizontal backbone, spindly midget wheels and squatting down low, hugging the ground.

I must say that I enjoyed Red Robin's getup immensely, however, I couldn't see how anyone in a chicken suit with a gaping beak, and on such a ridiculous and silly steed would have any chance against the noted NorCal 1-mile champion, The Highwheel Guy!

David Gill, the official starter was all business and insisted that due to my many titles and obvious superiority, I start first. My winged adversary would follow. We ignored the cat calls coming from the inferior riders waiting their turns behind us, some astride machines even more convoluted than the Robin's.

It took a mighty effort to conquer Mother Nature's fierce blasts but my massive thighs, as if powered by a steam engine, quickly took control of the situation and I was soon setting a blistering 9 mph pace on my way toward the turnaround. I noted with pride that even the real birds, quite visible from my lofty perch, couldn't fly into that wicked wind, yet The Highwheel Guy would not be stopped!

No sign of Red Robin - or anyone else as I poured it on passing the Swanton Farm - I must be approaching 15 mph!!! Ha! I didn't think those stupid-looking velocipedes could keep pace with my magnicificent mount.

Oops! Spoke too soon. What's this?! Can't be... the Red Robin! A triumphant fist in the air, an insulting shake of the tail feathers and he's past.

Not so fast bird brain! I redouble my effort and am hot on his tail though definitely not drafting, as that would be cheating, not to mention impossible behind such a short, squat, ugly 2-wheeler, though I must say the Robin's gigantic (and completely empty) bird head would surely block some wind.

With tremendous power and impressive courage I flattened the Fire Station hill and kept the Red Robin in sight, though in truth I must confess that that crimson-red giant chicken suit can be seen from a long ways off. No matter. Bit firmly in my teeth, I galloped toward the turnaround spinning my 56-inch fixed gear with even more resolve, discipline, remarkable fluidity and ballet-like grace. I wish I could watch myself it must be so stunning to see.

Gadzooks! Swanton Hill is far steeper than even The Highwheel Guy's gargantuan - and quite lovely - gams can handle and I'm forced to dismount and - ugh - walk the hill! Shamed by the goofy mini machines now catching and passing, I decide to remount and make a run at this last obstacle before the turnaround. It can't be that steep. Nothing can be too steep for The Highwheel Guy!

Alas, I try twice to remount and crash both times, and quite painfully - "curses, that hurts!" Worse, one of my fellow competitors, wearing something garish that looks painted to his body, and scaling the climb surprisingly speedily, spots me going ass over teakettle and besmirches me with the completely useless "are you okay?" I assure him that all's well yet soon realize that all is decidedly NOT well.

The Highwheel Guy's luck seems about run out. My bruises and aches will heal but now the pedal is hitting the frame on each revolution. I have damaged my pride and joy, my priceless Victor! All chances of running down the Red Robin and glory seem dashed. But wait! It's only a few hundred yards to the turnaround. Surely someone there will have the necessary implements of bicycle mechanics for me to restore the crankarm and get my flyer ship-shape for the tailwind-blessed sail homeward.

The Gods are with me! The turnaround steward has a tool pouch in his unusual four-wheeled box-like metal thing next to the road, and I'm able to remove the pedal, insert a lever into the crankarm, use my massive power to muscle it back into shape, reinstall the pedal and charge off down the hill. "Watch out Red Robin!" The Highwheel Guy now has Mother Nature at his back and a renewed resolve to finish strong.

But I'm soon undone again by my very own steed - gravity and my Victor's 65-pound weight now trying to cause my certain doom barreling down Swanton Hill. Holding back on the pedals with all that The Highwheel Guy's redwood-like trunks can muster is not enough to keep the eager penny farthing under control as it picks up steam and I approach a terrifying 20 mph and certain death should I hurtle off the macadam and into the puckerbrush.

Terrified, I reach for my old reliable spoon brake to apply a little friction to the front tire and scuff off some speed to regain control. Double damn! I appear to have injured my wrist in one of the crashes and I can barely squeeze the brake. I try another grip, fight more to slow my accelerating locomotive via the pedals, and finally manage to reign old Victor in. Whew. Disaster averted.

I safely reach the bottom of the hill and can finally really ride the tailwind home. Will I catch that sneaky feathered fiend? Will I crash a couple of more times? Will I finish before dark?!

I barrel along making good time and all's dandy until I reach Swanton Farm hill. Still stunned from my previous ignominious defeats trying to scale climbs I decide not to risk dumping it again and I dismount and make good time striding up the hill, my patent-leather shoes making a nice tapping sound with each rapid step as I note the marvelous sunset. I remount and blast down into the valley, then dismount to run up the final hill before I can climb back on and unleash my sprint known wordwide for having as much power and speed as a cannon shot.

I positively fly across the line to show my beaked challenger that The Highwheel Guy has wings too. He, and a group of rabble rousers, apparently friends of the Red Robin's kindly give me a cheer and even have an icy cold one waiting for me. I notice with just a little despair and disgust, that the only other people left are David Gill and the turnaround guy.

Of course, even though I've been shamed by the Red Robin, The Highwheel Guy is the best of sports and I heartily congratulate him on his impressive ride, taking a final look at his strange steed, and thanking him for the tasty recovery drink.

Naturally, Mr. Gill, still all business, pays the Red Robin no mind but takes the time to give The Splendiferous And Quite Handsome But Now Not-So-Sweet-Smelling Highwheel Guy the wonderful news that he has set a new course record, which delights me. I expected no less.

"Yes," he says, "You have the distinct honor of now holding the record for the only rider in the history of the Swanton TT to have started first and finished last." Drat! Foiled again!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Swanton TT, 2 April 2009

Jim Langley rides Swanton TT old school, while Bryan King goes as a chicken.

More photos on Picasa here.

Ronde Van Brisbane Circuit Race - Women's 4

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Warnerville Road Race, 35+ 4/5

By Matt Wocasek

The inaugural Warnerville race turned out to be a fun race. I finished 4th in a field sprint.

The course didn’t have a lot of climbing, but it was difficult enough to break the race up. We had to complete 3-16 mile laps over rolling terrain in stiff winds. There was also a mile of dirt road with some sharp turns in it. Cyclocross! Lots of fun!

I noticed that the Davis bike club had 7 riders in the race so I decided it would be a good idea to get into a break with one of them hoping that the rest of the team would disrupt any organized chase. This actually worked out pretty good. On the second lap one of their riders attacked, with a rider from another team, and the others started blocking. I waited to see if the break looked like it would stick then jumped across a 20 second gap. We hammered through the dirt section increasing the gap, and just about he time we got a pace line going, the 3rd guy flatted. So instead of continuing with only two riders the Davis guy and I decided to call it quits and wait for the pack.

The lead group was a lot smaller when they caught us. The field must have split during the chase.

Once I was back in the pack I just tried to stay protected from the wind until the finish, not an easy thing to do on such a windy day.

In the run up to the finish, because of a strong crosswind, the front of the group was in a single file line right on the right on the edge of the road. I was 4th in line and got a perfect lead out. When the sprint up the final hill to the line started it seemed to happen in slow motion, probably because the wind was slowing us down so much. The guy at the front of the line jumped…I followed...everyone else followed me…I died…two riders got around me on the line. I guess I’ll have to win one on another day.

What a great course, I hope they have the race next year.