Tuesday, August 25, 2009

San Ardo + University RR report (Elite 3)

I'm one of those crazies who deludes himself into thinking that two road races (one being the notoriously painful University RR) in one weekend is a grand idea. I have a soft / masochistic place in my heart for the UCSC Cycling hometown race course, so I can never pass it up. And how often do you get to ride your bike to a race?

San Ardo: 9th place. Started the race with a teammate, but Thad unfortunately was crashed out when another rider hooked bars with him. I came into the finishing slight climb with perfect position but too little in my legs. I'd helped bring back a few breaks, which is a pretty silly thing to do when you're the only Bike Trip rider and SJBC's got five guys, Webcor three, and Swift three. Heck, it's telling when a few guys told me to not work so much—how often does that happen?

University RR: in the results! This is the race that made me realize that I need to be 5-10 pounds lighter. I managed to last 9 laps before I started "going backwards." An improvement over last year, nonetheless! It was especially fun to sprint on the lap after seeing "1" on the lap card...only to see "1" again. AUGH.

12 Hours of Humbolt Race Report

Elk, Bear, Run-in With a Ranger, and a 3-rd Place Finish
By Kem Akol

Hi Tripsters,
So, since I broke my elbow earlier this year I have been "jonzing" to do an Ironman or something of that nature ( as Arnold would say). So I decided last week to do a Bigfoot event called the 12 hours of Humbolt.

I left Friday afternoon and the traffic was pretty bad so I went to Redding and west on 299 to Arcata. I have fond memories of traveling with my college water polo team to Humbolt State to whup up on the Lumberjacks... And as I remember, the trip was full of beautiful sites.

As I drove a conservative 55 mph I soon encountered a very large deer or elk with the typical stupid come-hit-me look in his eyes. I slowed and honked and sure enough he scampered away. And I was on my way. Until, while I was rounding a corner something darted across the roadway and I could barely swerve to avoid it! And it was... a giant brown bear! And I missed it by inches. I slowed pretty much to a pedestrian 45 mph the rest of the way...

When I got there I wanted to locate the park so I found a map and went to the park. Now there was a gate and a big space on the right side of the gate so I drove around it and parked under a giant redwood tree. And I pitched my tent and went to sleep... until 5:15 when the spotlight of the local police shined in on me like God's torch.

After writing me a ticket and making me de-camp he told me to leave and I did... In the morning I spoke with a nice cop at the race and he took my ticket and said he would "take care of it."

When the gun went off I found myself in the little green room but soon everything was taken care of and I was off! It started with a huge granny gear uphill followed by some more uphill, and then some more uphill, and some more uphill. There was lots of singletrack and it reminded me of Wilder/Nicene Marks. The course ended up being 1,350 ft of elevation per lap and 7.6 miles in distance.

I was turning about one hour per lap, and I was in good spirits and had good eats. I had put together a menu to stay the course with turkey sandwiches (with and without cheese), Brown Cow yogurt, cherries, various Laura Bars, sweet and salty bars, Fritos corn chips, Gatorade, water, tea, and Anchor Steam beer. Every other lap I would consiously stretch, and flop down in my chair and eat while sitting there. I rested about 3-6 minutes per stop.

I had noticed a considerable group of young homeless people and was concerned that I had set up camp in the middle of their camp. I was scared for my turkey sandwchiches. I asked one of the teams if they could move me and they did while I was racing and I felt the security of being amongst my own kind again. I was comfortable and warm, and encountered someone from one of the teams who remembered me from high school (Acalanes High 1974)...Wow! He told me I had the same determined look as then!!

Lap 5 started about the same but then I heard a pop and the next time I clicked into my right pedal I noticed it didn't. After turning the spindle 90 degrees I was able to engage the cleet and it was lucky I had brought an extra set of pedals so the next stop I changed out the pedal and was still in good spirits and was making all the obsticles and was doing fine until lap 8 when I noticed a certain spongy feel and soon my back tire was flat. After changing it I was off and when I returned to the base I repumped up to the proper level.

Up to that time I thought I could pull off 12 laps because I was turning about one hour (including my stops). After the flat I felt kinda flat. I had to to small chainring instead of middle. I had to stand to relieve my back. Although my decending was getting faster through the familiar trails I was getting a little delirious because I would lose track of just where on the the course I was... sort of a time-space continueum...

I realized on lap 10 I would not make the 12 so I slowed to a more pleasant pace (my heart rate had dropped about 20 beats) and I cruzed in. I finished with 11 laps in 11:30

As it turns out, two other gents were faster... I kinda wished I'd known where they were.... next time (less rest, more pain)... I had a fun time. I didn't crash. I'm not too sore...(just my lower back), and I think I got this endurance thing out of my system for this year...

Notes From The Team Tent at the University Road Race

Team Tent Goings On at the 09 UCSC Road Race
By Jim Langley

Some quick notes - since the tent was almost as much fun as racing this year:
  • we setup 2 tents this year, and later a third tent appeared - from the Bike Trip Jr. Team
  • once again Joe Platin donated about a million dollars worth of Buttery goodies
  • the scones were to die for, the lemon torte was world-class and soon, all over my face
  • we had a fantastic turnout of teammates show up and cheer - it was awesome
  • the highlight of the morning was a visit by Ned ("The Lung") Overend, lured into the tent by Joe's goodies, and fresh off his stunning second-place finish in the Pro race (at 54-years-old!). It was quite a treat having the most famous racer in the race hang with us. He pointed out some of the fine details of his one-off 13-pound S-Works carbon roadster with custom Roval carbon wheels and even a trick under-stem-cap-mounted computer.
  • huge thanks to everyone who made this race the biggest and best event of the year and congrats to all the fine finishes!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

University Road Race 45+ 1,2,3

By Mark Edwards

This was my 6th year, and 7th time racing the University road race. I gotta tell you, it doesn’t get any easier. It seems no matter how fit you get, there’s always someone fitter. And, on this course, there’s no where to hide.

During pre-race discussions with several of my competitors, we all agreed, the 45+ 1,2,3 winner would come from whoever could hang with the 35+ 1,2,3 leaders. I’d already arrived at the same conclusion days ago, but had hoped there’d be a sane voice claiming otherwise. There wasn’t.

Much as I dreaded the 90 minutes of pure suffering in store, I couldn’t help but smile over the fact that, somehow, Jim and Joe had topped last year’s efforts to make this a hugely successful Bike Trip celebration. Jim, with Chris’ help, showed up at 6:00 AM to set up the Bike Trip tents, chairs, and table we’d all spend the day around. Joe arrived early too, car stocked with an impressive array of goodies. Try as he might, he couldn’t tempt me pre-race. Afterwards… well that was a different story. Monday morning I awoke 4.5 lbs heavier than Sunday morning… enough said.

The combined 35+ 1,2,3 and 45+ 1,2,3 groups rolled off the start line on time, roughly 60 of us anxious to get things going. Geoff and I were there with all the typical climbing suspects, plus a host of 35+ guys we knew nothing about. Notable was the guy in the National Champion’s jersey, as was the Specialized guy, and several others obviously enjoying peak season fitness.

As usual, the pace was brisk from the get go. After the first couple of laps I was surprised to see I’d never shifted out of my big ring. More surprising… I finished the race having never shifted into my 39. I wouldn’t have thought it possible if I hadn’t done it.

I stayed near the front pretty much the whole race, so I’m not sure when the group broke up. I was told that around lap 6 there was a big selection. Normally the main selection comes around lap 4, making it to lap 6 is a good indication of just how fit the group was this year.

Amazingly, there were six 45+ guys still with the lead 35’s up to about lap 11 or 12. Four of them had been dropped the previous couple of laps on the climb, but would claw their way back on the descent – just to suffer the climb again.

Rounding the corner from Coolidge to Hagar, just before the bell lap, Cale Reeder jumped off the front. Two 35’s had escaped earlier, but weren’t a concern to me, Cale was. I came through the corner a little too far back, but felt I could reel him in. I jumped after him. He was maintaining his gap, but I wasn’t worried yet. I felt my best chances to catch him was on the flat after the main climb, or on the descent after that.

What I’d forgotten to consider… Cale caught one of the 35’s on the flat and they immediately started to work together. This wasn’t promising. I hammered the final steep pitch and went into time trial mode on the descent. I wanted to save something for the climb to the finish, but knew that if I didn’t catch him it wouldn’t matter anyway. Then, there was also the angry group of 35’s chasing me to consider, with several 45’s in tow.

By the time we hit the right hand turn to start the final climb to the finish I hadn’t closed the gap at all, but neither had the guys chasing me. Coming up the climb I finally started to pull Cale and his accomplice back. Glancing behind me, the leaders of the chase group were now close enough for me to see their expressions.

Cale got across the finish well ahead of me, probably 15 seconds, but I still had the chasers to contend with. It wouldn’t really matter if the 35’s caught me, but I had no idea who they had in tow. So, out of the saddle, one final painful push, it would all be over soon anyway.

Whew… just made it. 35+’er Greg McQuaid of SJBC charged across the line with the shattered remnants of the lead group desperately trying to hold his wheel.

The National Champion won the 35+, followed by another 35+’er, Cale was next for first in the 45+, then me 2nd 45+, 4th overall.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

San Ardo Road Race, 45+

By Dennis Pedersen

San Ardo is not a wealthy town. It's only 575 people, many living in beat-up mobile homes with dusty dirt yards, eeking out a living in south Salinas Valley's fields. Last year I double-flatted just a couple of miles into this 63-mile road race. But I did ride the entire course anyway to see if it would suit me, which it mostly does.

The race course starts in town, goes over the Salinas River, then up on Cattleman Road past HWY101 to the west, climbing the gently-rolling "big-ring" hills northward on Paris Valley before re-crossing the river on San Lucas and HWY198, then returning south on Cattleman which is a nearly-flat, wide-open road back into town. The finish, after three 21-mile laps, is a gentle climb (about 1 minute and 20 seconds long, right past the feedzone) back up Cattleman, just past HWY101 and on a side-road to the left.

I feel the final climb is a bit much for me. However, all those "L5" team workouts convinced me that Russ could do really well at San Ardo, and I decided it would be cool to lead him out for the finish. Another advantage to training with your teammates is this knowledge of our relative strengths and weaknesses.

I surprised Russ by taking Nils along for our carpool, so he ended up having to install his bike rack at 5:30AM under our flashlights! Sorry Russ; you were a good sport. At least the drive was only 1:45 long. We had lots of teammates racing but only Russ and I were in the 45+ race.

Our race went off nearly at the scheduled 8:50 which shows Velo Promo is working hard to improve the organization of their races. It was cool and a bit cloudy; nicer than the heat typical there. The pace was fairly easy on the rolling hills and even easier on the return south on Cattleman. I was intent solely on keeping the pack together so Russ could unleash his powerful long sprint at the end. Every time anybody went off the front while I was there I smoothly closed the gap. It actually became boring after a while; everybody just gave up trying. The only excitement was that I lost one of my bottles of sports drink in the bumpy section, but I had a gel for backup. Whew!

On the second lap I grabbed two bottles in the feedzone. All set! And Morgan Stanley started using their large team to force a harder tempo by pulling at the front. It still wasn't nearly as hard as the attacks VOS laid down at Dunnigan Hills. One of them complained that I wasn't pulling; I had been reconsidering my extreme defense anyway and decided the pace was too slow to favor us. There were several powerful sprinters who would be happy with an easy ride to the finish, including a current National Champion! I started taking some pulls.

Lap 3 got more lively, with Cale Reeder, Darryl Smith (both ICCC), Jeff Poulsen (Safeway) and others attacking on Paris Valley's rollers; two guys broke free. They were helped by an 18-wheeler that pulled onto the road between us for about a mile. Weird. Then the Pro/1/2 field passed us, just past the bridge on HWY198, so we were neutralized behind them on Cattleman. Argh. But Russ noticed that our break was drafting the Pros and had their motorcycle referee move them back; after a few minutes we caught them. But then an old truck with what is best described as a gypsy wagon passed us before getting stuck behind the Pros too. Funny.

The wind-up down Cattleman picked up when we passed the Pros (who just sat up "en bloc"), the gypsy wagon and also some women who had been dropped from their race. It got fun again! But a bit confusing.

The obstacles were not gone; as we flew through San Ardo we got stuck behind a van following the lead women's group. But just before we hit the base of the final climb the van pulled off and we had to swarm past the small group of women (excuse us!) and sprint under HWY101 and turn left for the finish. Not ideal!

I had worked really hard to stay up front the whole race and I wasn't going to give up my spot at the very end! I moved forward and was in a perfect position to spot a group that had decided to use the right shoulder, next to the feedzone, to pass the women. Crazy!

I jumped up to the leaders and we flew up the hill. I was third just behind Eric Saltzman (Morgan Stanley) as we approached the last turn. Shin Umeda (Alto Velo), our unintentional lead-out, faded, both of us hit the turn... and Eric just inched ahead of me as my legs started dying from the long sprint. Then I sensed somebody on my right; Russ! Awesome! I didn't even mind that he pipped me; that was my original plan! But 2nd and 3rd place was way more than I expected, especially after I spent so much time up front. Woo-hoo Team Bicycle Trip!

What a race. These last two races have really made my season. And all those workouts will be easier to suffer through!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dunnigan what-Hills Road Race Elite 3 2nd Place

A big "thank you" goes out to Vladan who cruised down from Scotts Valley to pick up Nils and myself at 4:30am. Neglecting to pre-register for this race, I had the displeasure of racing in an overflow cat 3 field that was combined with the 30+ open field; sae la vi. By the time my 86 mile race finally got under way the sun was beating down, the winds were picking up, and the temperature was well into the 80's (by the time we rolled out of the parking lot Vladan's car temperature gauge read 99). We began with a 1.8 mile neutral rollout, and then the racing was on with attacks happening right from the gun. After hopping into a few short-lived breaks, at 11 miles into the race the right combination was struck and I found myself rolling away from the peleton with 4 others in tow. The 5 of us quickly settled into a groove and worked well together, everyone rotating through and taking their pulls. After 40 miles or so being off the front the windy, hot race conditions began taking their toll and our little group began to struggle as we hit the section along the back stretch of the course going into some very strong headwinds. A couple guys began sitting in more frequently instead of pulling through. I began urging people to keep working together; I was not about about let us get caught and have all our hard work be for naught. I began taking longer pulls at the front, aware of staying under the "red zone". Soon, one racer popped off the back, followed by another about 15 miles later. With 20 miles to go I ran out of water, since velo promo was limiting us to 1 bottle per feed zone. With 4 miles to go another racer fell off the back, so now there were 2 of us. By this point I had been out of water for awhile and I was really hurting, my mouth feeling like it had paste in it. As we hit the small hill at the overpass before the finish I made a feeble attack and I was able to get a little gap but in hindsight I guess I put a little too much into it and my body forced me to let up as I began to gag attempting to get air into my lungs and choking on my dry mouth and tongue. As I rolled across the finish line in 2nd I vomited on my top tube and broke out in goose-bumps. After the race I felt completely shattered, but the upshot is I forced a break that stayed away 74 miles to the finish and I was able to take my capacity for suffering on the bike to a whole new level. I love bicycle racing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dunnigan Hills Road Race, 45+

By Dennis Pedersen

I'd never entered this road race in Yolo (about 20 miles northwest of Sacramento), but after several teammates talked about it last year I decided to go this time.

Many joked that this race should be called "Dunnigan Winds" because it has no hills but does have strong winds; but that is not accurate. The 42-mile course has about 950 feet of climbing... plus the strong winds. Though none of the rolling hills take much more than a minute or so to climb they have a definite affect on the outcome of the race by tiring out the bigger power riders who might dominate if it truly were pancake-flat. It doesn't have to be l'Alpe d'Huez to make a difference! And the crosswinds make it impossible for the pure sprinters to shelter in wait for a sprint finish.

But a small sprinter like me; now that might be a different story... or so I hoped. My worry was that I would get stuck behind one of the gaps I was certain would form in the pack of riders in the crosswind. Fortunately I'm getting much better at staying near the front of the peloton, thanks to Russ's example and Mark's workout rides.

Russ drove Miles and I (thanks!) from Santa Cruz at 4:30 in the morning (ugh). I didn't sleep well in the 5 hours I got, nor did Russ who had screaming neighbors to contend with. Even so I felt pretty good on our 2.5-hour drive as I ate my race-day breakfast from a tupperware bowl.

We signed in, suited up and had plenty of time to ride over to the finish area; thanks to Jim, John and others we knew it was critical to understand it in detail. I am really, really glad I saw it before racing! After several miles of flat, straight road next to I5 the course turns right onto County Road 96 at about 70 degrees, then the last 400 meters over the freeway overpass and to the finish line. I noted the distinctive low, conical silos there so I could look for them as we approached in the race. So, this was not what I had visualized from the descriptions, but very confidence-inspiring for me.

There were about 50 of us at the start and I was looking forward to racing, but our race was delayed until about 9:40. It was probably about 80 degrees and rose to 95 later. The start was 2 miles of neutral riding behind a motorcycle referee and already the NW crosswind from our right was strong. Then we turned south and enjoyed the tailwind as the race started.

Turning west on Road 19 we started fighting for shelter, crowding the center line; some guys got warnings for crossing it or even sent to the back. Morgan Stanley had 10 riders and they used them to launch repeated viscious attacks; we were "on the rivet" as they say! I was determined to stay forward but still missed it when one of their guys succeeded and also took James Allen (VOS) with him. I did notice that the pace slowed down though as we turned north on Road 90A into the headwind.

Turning west again (over HWY505 on Road 14) we had more crosswind which probably contributed to a crash which happened there. Miles and I barely slipped by the guys sliding on the pavement! Our pace picked up as some guys tried to use that to open a gap; no waiting here unlike the big ProTour races.

Like usual I was worried that the break would survive. When we started heading north again the pace went down which wasn't helping. Then our pace picked up as guys tried to bridge up; Davis riders mostly. There were several shifts in wind direction, and small hills, so we had to remain careful about gaps forming. I was happy to see we were closing in on the break. I was less happy when Miles and I failed to grab a water bottle in the neutral feed zone on Road 85. It was hot and dry. Russ offered me his but my own bottles turned out to be enough.

We caught the break just before the course turned east. That was the sign for VOS to start some impressive attacks in the crosswind and rolling hills on Road 6; mostly by Jon Ornstil and Rick Martyn, even though both had crashed earlier. Keeping up with them really hurt, but every time they let up before my legs did!

I was still up front and getting more optimistic by the minute as the road leveled off and the finish approached. We turned south onto the long, flat stretch back on Road 99W with a strong tailwind. Much to my surprise VOS kept attacking hard. Very hard; we were hitting well over 30MPH. I was on Jan Elsbach's wheel when it was his turn. He smoothly rode off on his own; nobody followed. Now I wonder what would have happened had I tried to go with him.

As others became aware that Jan was increasing his lead they started to try to bridge up. But I don't think anybody thought he could hold on and VOS did a great job of blocking. Then Morgan Stanley tried to chase, Wells Fargo tried some too. Even I took a short pull. Martyn joked that "Darryl Smith thanks you" (implying they would just be helping the big sprinters if Jan was caught). That made me laugh; I had other plans!

Then the pace slowed so much that I literally rolled off the front about a mile out. I could see the conical silos ahead. I sighed and decided to sprint for 2nd place. Then our last turn appeared; I couldn't believe nobody jumped! But then a Wells Fargo guy tried to go and I was able to jump up to him... a leadout! We went into the turn and I instantly jumped past him at 100%; I was treating the top of the overpass as the psuedo finish line and had a big lead. But I had to hold it another 200 meters... but with my lead and the downhill advantage it was enough for 2nd place. Woo-hoo! Russ got 6th while Miles got caught behind a gap.

After collecting my prize T-shirt we stopped for burgers on our long drive home. I felt pretty good! I love winning field sprints! But next time...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Howell Mtn Challenge expert 35-44 2009

OK- I'm on the line, had a good warm up and I'm feeling it..........30sec yells the man! Whooaahh I feel an adrenaline rush and taking note that it feels good. 15sec yells the man.......ahhh whoooo I'm super pumped and ready to unleash to the point of shaking. 100m pave to the dirt I get a OK start but not the lead like last time I raced it. I'm sucking dust and loosing visual on the trail its so dusty. about a 1/4mi climb to a hike a bike 30' to a flat section of fire road to some sweet single track in the trees. Oh did I mention is about 80 at the line and 90+ by the time we are done. I had my water carrier half frozen the night before and had cold fluid most the race. 3 lap race (30miles) the first 2 laps was all about loosening up and catching and dropping riders. I shose a semi slick rear tire and found myself having to not use the rear brake cause everytime I would barely touch the brake the rear end would slide out and cause me to loose control over and over again on the first lap. I was constantly on the gas pedals charging and never feeling like I was slowing. Until I entered this tight loose rutty switchback steep descent section. I was trying to hold some guy off and over shot a turn and flew over the bars onto my feet? was able to get back to bike and not loose my position. The last 30 mins a rider from another age group (younger I might add!) passed me on the hardest climb of the race I was walking he was riding. I rode it on the first lap and half way on the second and third but the energy it would take wasn't worth it(I'd say it was 25% for 50m loose dirt) anyway, I keep him in check to use as a motivator to keep the pressure on to the finish. I end up passing him once over the top on a flatter section as he was recovering and drinking out of a bottle. on the last climb 15% for 1/4mi he passes me half way up but I keep him in striking distance and passed him going over the top into a super fun triple down up section that's super technical and fun fun fun. Never saw that guy after that!
continued to catch and drop people from other age groups I assume all the way to the line.
3rd place finish time of 2:29:36 My age group was the fastest expert race with the most competitors that day. This was super motivating for me since I have been struggling every since my crash right before the beginning of the season. What Ivrealized is since I never got to push into and through my peak I find myself missing the last 10% of high end effort it takes to win. I have a few more races coming San Ardo in 2 weeks and Mammoth XC Mtn race in 4 weeks. I'm hoping to race myself into a top 3 placing at Mammoth.

I'm feeling good again and I know my limitations.

Steve Heaton

Downieville Classic Expert 35-44 2009

I entered this race before I pile drived my shoulder into the ground (dislocating it) a few months back and thought my racing season especially Mtn biking was over for the year. I knew I was going to be attending this race since Jamis bicycles was a sponsor of the event (I work fo Jamis). I had a nice place to stay within walking distance to everything paid for by Jamis along with all other travel costs! 3 days before I decided I would go for a Mtn bike ride to see if I had any handling skills and if my shoulder would be OK (It seems fine? and the Doc said it was stable a few days ago) a few days later I'm racing one of the best and challenging races around. The race starts at 4000' on a uphill from the start never letting up for 8miles (AKA "The trail of tears") to 7000'. For those of you who dont race Mtn you start in as big a gear as you can handle as hard as you can pedal until the race is over. I got a poor start as I couldn't let it all out off the line and put myself in a crapy position. Its a double track that you can only ride one side and using the other lane was a risk as you would loose traction and loose placing and tons of energy when attempting to move up. I was looking at a line of 100 or so riders up a HUGE Granite wall. Once at the top you think the climb is over but NO another 1/4mi grinder (OUCH) then the next section is best described as rally car racing, you know those small cars flying down fire roads at insane speeds......Well I did that on a Mtn bike~~~~Dude imagine in your biggest gear pedaling as fast as you can possibly turn the cranks power drifting through blind corners like its a death mission (with other riders). come around a corner into a 100m sprint over a roller back into rally car mode for 15 mins. Now for some serious DH technical single track to offer up some for arm pump. back into more rally car action for a few. OK - Now the "baby head" section a fire road littered with round rocks the size of babies heads. No actual line to follow but you have to go fast on everything or you will put yourself in danger not only from other riders looking to pass but the trail will swallow you up and pitch you to the ground if going slow to med pace. You have to hall ass and float cross everything. After what seems like a endless super technical and fun DH trail in the woods ( I mean 40mins of turns, left-right, down down little up into a jump, water crossing, slippery rocky trail, drop offs on tight blind turns and on and on). They throw a few 200m climbs toward the end just enough to help you go into cramping mode if your feeling weak. I made it through with one minor cramp and finish 8th place. a respectable time 2:21:53.

Steve Heaton

Patterson Pass Road Race, 35+ 4/5

By Matt Wocasek

After racing the district races on rolling terrain the last two weekends I was really looking forward to doing a mountain race. Patterson Pass has over a thousand feet of climbing in the first five miles, a much better environment for a climber like myself. I ended up second in a two man drag race to the line.

The race is held on the Altamont Pass west of Tracy, where it's always windy and hot in the summer. People were already sweating as we staged for the start.

There was a lead pack of around twenty riders that stayed together for most of the first lap. I tried to break things up with an attack on a short hill after the main climb. I pulled out a pretty good gap, but when no one wanted to join me I came to my senses and sat up. It was fun but wasted some resources.

The climbs on the second lap blew the pack apart. There were just six of us still in contact at the top of the main climb. By the time we ascended the second smaller climb, there were just four. When we started the long flat section on Old Altamont Highway there was no one in sight behind us.

There were two Wells Fargo riders in the group. They executed perfectly the classic one guy rests while the other guy attacks tactic. When we hit the short climb a few miles before the finish on the last lap, the chosen Wells Fargo guy and I started attacking. As we went over the top we realized that we had dropped the other two riders in the break so we decided to keep the power on and fight it out at the line. Coming into the finish he got a jump on me and held it to the line. I really have to work on my end of the race kick. The same thing happened to me at Copperopolis this year.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Patterson Pass Road Race Elite 3 2nd Place

This race was another scorcher that felt reminiscent of Panoche Valley; there's nothing quite like racing 69 miles of hilly terrain in 90+ degree heat with no shade to test one's love of the bicycle. This was to be my first race contesting exclusively with the 3's after knocking heads with the 1,2's last weekend at Fort Ord, so after finishing a respectable 12th overall in that race, I arrived to the start feeling relaxed and confident that I had the legs to handle whatever craziness I was about encounter.
This race was slated for 3- 23 mile laps with one climb that proved to be the show-stopper for many racers. The first time up the hill was conducted at a brisk pace shelling a few racers while I hung out about 5 or 6 back. On the second lap another selection was made on the hill and approximately 40 racers were still together. Going into the 3rd trip up the hill I took a look and noticed many were struggling so I went to the front and set the tempo since I was feeling good. Halfway up the hill I took another look and there were 3 with me so I continued with the tempo to the top of the climb and the 4 of us continued to roll away, working together fairly well for the next 20 miles. On the last little hill approximately 2k from the finish I put the hammer down dropping 2 of my break away mates. Going into the last 2 tight turns near the finish the guy who had been siiting on my wheel for the last 2k jumped around me and I rolled in for 2nd.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fort Ord Road Race Elite 1,2,3 12th Place

This was my first road race as a Cat 3 after doing my first criterium as a 3 in San Rafael a couple weeks previous. To say I was feeling nervous and intimidated going into this race would be a huge understatement but at the same time I found the opportunity to go toe to toe with some of Norcal's best amateur roadies to be just a little too irresistable. I told myself that if I really aspire to be the best racer I can be then I should take advantage of the opportunity to toe the line with the likes of Paul Mach(Bissell), and Steve Reaney(Cal Strawberry) and if it meant swallowing my pride after getting dropped then so be it, I just wanted to see how I stacked up against these guys. At the start of this 105 mile, 10 lap race my goal was to finish with the main group, hence not get dropped. The first few laps were completed with a rather furious pace and by the 6th lap or so I was surprised to see how many racers had been chewed up and spit out the back of the peloton. After the 5th or 6th lap up the one short steep climb that seemed to shed a few competitors each time around I actually started feeling like I was having fun and I knew I was going to finish the race without getting dropped. On the last lap I actually came around half a dozen guys or so to finish in 12th place. Not great, but a solid start to competing in the upper echelons of Norcal road racing after surviving this 105 mile, 4 hour and 16 minute war of attrition. Next time I won't be quite so intimidated.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fort Ord Road Race, 45+, 8/3/2009

By Dennis Pedersen

Last year I got dropped 1.5 laps into this 4-lap, 41-mile race held on the rolling access roads of this former Army base and didn't bother to finish. So I wasn't too excited about revisiting! But Coach Mark convinced me it could be a fun way to practice some tactics with the team: True enough, Mark, Russ, Miles and Joe would also be racing.

Goofing off at the start.
And you know what? I did have fun! Yes, I did get dropped again, but not as early, and not before I was able to contribute to the team and finish fairly close. So my race was a personal success.

After a neutral roll-out the pace was easy for a while. The plan was for me to make the first attack; on the long hill by the feed zone, which could also give me a head-start up Hennekens Ranch Road, the biggest climb at about 3 or 4 minutes in my lowest 39×25 gears.

When I jumped it was surprisingly easy to get a big gap up the hill and over the crest, though nobody bothered to go with me. And still I was able to rest enough on the descent that I could climb at my own pace up Hennekens, even though I got caught by the pack halfway up where there is a slight step. Very cool!

Then l noticed that Joe was having trouble with the furious pace of the peloton...he was in danger of getting dropped. So I led him over the top, where the headwind gets pretty strong and Vlada cheered us on, and downhill and back to the leaders after a hard chase. Trust me, that was really fun!

Doing what I do best; suffering at the back!
The pace at the start of lap 2 wasn't too fast, thankfully! But the second time up Hennekens hurt, and Joe got dropped. I was able to hook up with a few guys and we caught back on after a few miles of hard pace-lining.

On the third lap Jon Ornstil (VOS) and a Safeway rider effected a breakaway and so the pace was slow as VOS blocked... and other teams looked to us to chase as our team started the race with the most riders entered. But I was tired from chasing and more concerned with recovering for the climb up Hennekens, so I rested.

On the third lap even Russ and Miles were demoralized up Hennekens, and I was really hurting too, but at the top I got Russ and Miles to go with me and a few others (many of them were also in my second-lap chase group!). Once more I was in chase mode! But once more we managed to get back in the main pack. Still, it took its toll on the team because in the meantime we had left Mark alone to try his best to catch the two guys off the front. He didn't get much help.

And Hennekens wasn't done with us yet: This fourth time up I was way too tired, and I wished for 39×27 gears. We all got dropped again; though Russ and Miles were able to stay with a chase group I was alone behind them.

So I soloed across the line with a practice sprint for about 20th place. Mark took 4th, Russ and Miles roughly 15th, and Joe behind me. Still, I got lots of enjoyment from helping with the team effort. And maybe next year I'll be able to finish with the lead pack; the slightly climbing finish would be perfect for me!

Thanks go to Russ, for driving. He even got me home in time for my 4:00 massage appointment!