Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fremont Peak Hill Climb 9/20/09

Fremont Peak Hill Climb 9/20/09
Steve Heaton 35+ 123

Feeling good just off a win in Mammoth I made it to the race in time for a good warm-up. Since the race is only 45mins or less I would need at least 1hr to warm-up so off I went up San Juan rd like many others. 20mins out I flatted my new tubular @$#!&*)(^@!/?. Now I’m stuck on the side of the road. Finally a rancher with a truck rolls up and I get a ride back. I didn’t bring my spare wheels (running behind and wanted to get a good warm-up) I was standing by my car when a buddy of mine stopped and gave me his wheel. He told me he had a wheel in his car only to find out later it had a flat and he didn’t have time to fix and missed his race. I rolled to the line with literally 20sec to start time. Bamm we go………..pace is tolerable but not smooth. I was 20 back so I decided it would be best to position toward the front about 5 back (less yo yo effect). This was better until 15mins into it with some punchy climbs I got dropped and had a Pescadero flashback. I stayed calm and realized I’m only 35mins into warm-up and have to stay within my limit. Next thing I know Niles rolls up to me and says “how you doing” or something? I’m thinking “I can’t get my motor to go” nothing I can do accept hang on until I warm-up. Once we hit the serious section of climbing I started to feel good to go. I had two San Jose guys in front of me so I used them as carrots. I reeled them in and out the back then moved on to another group up the road. I kept thinking the top of the climb was just around the next corner to the flat section and wanted to be sure and catch or drop them by that point. I kept on attacking until I had just one guy with me over the top and since I was feeling good, warm and ready to go I knew all I had to do was keep increasing the speed all the way to the line with last 100m sprint. The road was fast, twisty and a bit narrow making it hard to pass when the speed keeps increasing. 3rd place. Overall I’m satisfied with the result. I stayed focused on the goal to race the Mtn and did the best I could under the circumstances.
This was the last race of the season for me and have to say it ended as good as it started. I took my challenges (shoulder dislocation, diet issues, lack of climbing ability) head on and worked through them. Next season is going to be good if all goes well this winter. It’s my last year in the 35+ category and would like to end it strong with a few podiums.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mammoth Mtn XC Race Expert 43-50

California Golden State Championships Expert 43-50
Steve Heaton

This is the first time for me to be the youngest guy in my category. I went to this race thinking I was going to have tough competition and was prepared for a battle royal. 9000ft starting elevation, climbing approx 2400ft over 18 miles. A short race of around 1hr 30mins? I usually race 2hr 30mins. I knew it was going to be a ball buster of a start, 8am, windy high sierra cold, 50 deg. I pre-rode to the course a couple a days before and knew what to expect on course and did a simulation warm up as well. Anyway, I got up, took a hot shower then lathered my body with tiger balm (stay away from the crotch! and the crack). By the time I got on my bike I was cozy and warm with legs warmers, base layer and arm warmers. Rode a 35min climb to start with some rolling around. I felt great and ready to goooooo. The race starts on a climb to a descent (a series of 6 double jumps), then a 10 min climb to a lake with a couple of fairly short power fire road climbs into some sweet single track (O/A 80% single track 20% fire roads) and a bunch more of the same to the finish line for 3 laps in all. I crested the beginning climb in the lead. I pushed my thumb shifter for the big ring and the whole pod was gone??? My shifter was dangling by my front wheel headed into a bunch of double jumps.......I stopped and wrapped it around my handlebar while a couple of guys passed. I was on a 29er with only the small front chainring 27T (I put my spinning technique to the test). I ended up passing them within 10 mins and held the lead all the way to the finish. The course was soooo fun I think they designed it for my pleasure. I finished 1:25 for the victory! Got a Championship Jersey(although I don't think it means anything) that looks and fits nice. What I learned? Even when racing gets frustrating and all the chips seem down (a challenging year for me with my shoulder injury) it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

ride picks are from day afters ride in Rock Creek

San Ardo Road Race 35+ 123

Steve Heaton

Michele and I drove down together.....what a treat it is to go racing with my wife :) seeing her out on course pushing herself mentally and physically. I think she is great and I feel lucky.

My race went hard off the line but I was prepared. I was hovering around 5-10 back most of the first lap going with every break that had the right mix of teams represented. Being solo guy with no teammates this is what you have to do in order to have a chance at the win. everything was being pulled back. Second lap I was around 20 back (recovering) when a serious break formed half way into the race while I had my thumb up my ass. All I could do is watch and squirm pinned in "bye bye". worked my way to the front looking to go with those interested in chase but nothing worked. third lap I decided I would go for the pack meat victory so I sat in attentive. going through town Nat champ Dude who I never saw the whole race came to the front and pulled hard so I positioned myself 5 back for the left turn. 100m before the turn he all but sits up and causes me and another guy to line up in front 3 wide (I had to slow up not to take the lead) 50m I decided to jump since I was in the front and need to make a split second decision before someone else does. I have the power to jump, create a gap and hold on for grim death. I went into the final left to fast sweeping wide and the only guy who could match me got the inside and held me off I looked back and had a huge gap so I coasted in for 11th place. I feel confident I can win this race in the future.

Giro di San Francisco, 45+

By Dennis Pedersen

Last year I not only missed the start of my 45+ race, but also flatted near the end of the Category 3 race I did instead. This year things went more smoothly. Margaret and I drove up and I had plenty of time to get ready (she is getting good at pinning numbers even on my snug team skinsuit) and warm up a little.

I really like this race, partly because of the technical 6-turn course with a 10-second climb, about the same size as Watsonville's, to tire out the big guys a bit. And also because it's on San Francisco's waterfront with September's perfect weather. Even Margaret enjoys going to this race!

Our field of about 50 Masters included some big names, but I am used to that. I was a bit tense, but in a good way and my legs felt good even though the race started fast. We hit the small hill hard every lap, always in the big ring, but I was doing OK since the back straight allows me enough time to recover. There are a number of small potholes though, so we always had to stay very focused.

Margaret walked all over the course and cheered me on from a different spot every lap; that made me smile through my pain. What a great girl!

Our pace increased even more on the prime sprint laps... and went sky-high when Kevin Metcalfe (Specialized) and Rich Juarez (VOS) snapped the cord as they worked their way off the front. Dang!

Morgan Stanley and VOS had the numbers to mount a chase, but VOS wasn't about to chase their own guy down. So Morgan Stanley, a few other guys and even I had to take a pull. But I could tell I'd be too tired if I stayed in the wind so I drifted back to rest. Morgan Stanley wasn't able to catch the escapees either, even with Eric Saltzman pulling, though we did get close a few times. With just a couple of laps to go I was forced to accept that my race was now a fight for 3rd.

On the last lap I actually led the pack a while when guys started holding back. Then I pulled off to the right, before the hill, to see who would go first. Two guys attacked past us and I powered up the small hill after them. I managed to catch them and now held 3rd wheel (not counting the two breakaways); I think it was Jeff Poulsen and his lead-out, but my memory may be faulty from lack of oxygen.

We flew down the long back straight. But the lead-out guy faded at turn 5, they hesitated, and that allowed several guys to swarm us. I got blocked in the turns, but I did get the chance to sprint up the wide-open final straight... only to get passed by a couple more. Man, my legs were done!

Still, 7th overall (5th in the field sprint) wasn't too bad in this group and a nice finish to my 2009 regular season. I think only one guy crashed in our race; not too badly. More proof these technical courses are safer.

And it turned out my LGBRC friend Erik Ostly had been out there without me noticing; I guess I was really focused. But he flatted out like I did last year. Afterward we had lunch at Waterfront Bar and Grill, just across the Embarcadero, in their covered outdoor seating. An Anchor Steam from the tap, nice seafood, a gorgeous view of the Bay Bridge and my wife for company; a nearly-perfect close to my regular 2009 season!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Swanton ITT 9/3/09

by Nils "Bullet" Tikkanen (thank you for the kind words, Mark!)

I love this time trial so much that I'm almost more interested in a 27:xx time than Cat 2 upgrade points. This was the last event of 2009, so I really wanted to make it count. My 3x6' on Alpine Rd. on the TT bike on Wednesday felt miserable; I took that to mean that Thursday would be a good day (funny how that works sometimes).

As usual, I ride out to the start, working in a few short solid-state efforts and continually working on positioning subtleties for the conditions. Should I sit farther forward with my hands farther up the bars? What's the best angle for my head? It's nice to have an hour to recall a fairly optimal TT position.

Again as usual, I show up late and am stuck in line for 15+ minutes. It's always a little frustrating to lose a fraction of your warm-up's benefit, but such is life. I chatted with Ana, whom I recognized from the Aptos Station rides, while we waited for our turn.

My goals: stay mostly seated, keep a good cadence, and finish in under 28 minutes (hey, I can dream!). Swanton Road is a tough course, always hilly, never easy to find a good rhythm. The first leg always hurts the most, especially for a non-climber on a TT bike like myself. The 1-mile climb at the end is probably my weakest link on the course. But then you hit the turnaround, and it all gets better. :)

Being intimately familiar with the descent has its advantages. A max speed of 41mph surely is worth a few seconds. That said, I'm always conservative at the final tricky 15mph-advised left-hander. After that, it's all about speeding back with the help of a tailwind. A few short but painful climbs at the end, and then a final stretch. Digging deep, I accelerate over the top of the last climb and drop it into the 13T. My body is screaming for me to stop. Then 12T. I can barely see straight as I fly across the finish line. And then it's over.

How did I do? No way did I break 28:00 -- I knew that after seeing my time split before I started the climb, and confirmed it at the turnaround: ~16:30 was not fast enough on the first leg. However, I did manage to break my old personal record by a whopping 4 seconds! 28:18.

27:59 will have to wait for next year! Thanks to the great SCCCC guys who put this event on.

Swanton Time Trial September 4th

By Mark Edwards


I'm starting to think the Universe doesn't want me to be a TT'er ;-)

Apparently when I got back from Nationals I just screwed my pedals on hand tight. The bike sits in my bedroom and I probably just put them on to get them out of the way, planning to tighten them later. Anyway, about a mile from the start (5 minutes before first rider off) my pedals fell off! I could only get one back on, the threads were messed up on the other. I did a panic one leg pedaling drill back to the start and started asking around for an allen wrench.

Eric came to the rescue and I was able to gently thread the pedal back in. Turning around, the line was now backed up halfway to Hwy 1. Dang! That's a half hour wait.

Benoit had been helping me along with Eric. They were lined up together with a big gap between them, Benoit offered to let me slot in ahead off him.

I wasn't sure how the group would react to my cutting in, but I was wearing my Champion kit and there was this strange sense of reverence. Guys pointing and whispering, stealing glances to try and read what my jersey said. No one complained when I stepped into slot number 12, the jersey seemed to draw attention away from the fact that I was just a local shmutz taking cuts.

So far, my three attempts at Swanton on a TT bike have been plagued. First... a broken front derailleur, second... a flat. Third... the pedals fall off.

I haven't been feeling great, and have the numbers to back it up. Wednesday night's workout sucked, one of my worst for the year. Monday's was my worst. My hip hurts, I'm fatigued, and I've been eating non-stop since University road race - peaking at 10 lbs over race weight. I was riding Thursday for fun only - and mostly so I wouldn't have to do an insanely hard 3 x 20 on Branciforte.

Eric wasn't thrilled to have me starting after him, concerned I'd repeat UCSC and catch him. I tried to assure him he had nothing to worry about on this particular evening. I was worried Benoit would catch me. As strong and competitive as he is, and me not feeling 100%, I worried the whole ride that he was just about to over take me. Both Benoit and Eric were also on aero set ups.

Off we went! I tried to go out easy, but still my legs ached. This is a course where a power meter would really help. I'm sure I went out too hard. At the top of the hill I was maybe 30 seconds behind Eric, and Benoit hadn't caught me yet. We had passed several other riders though. I was very tentative on the descent. After my near death experience last time, I wasn't going to take any chances. I hated giving up time, but not enough to overcome my fear.

Once off the hill, I tried to pick it up. That worked for about two minutes, then the legs started to ache again. I tried to focus on staying aero and smooth. I could see Eric ahead, but the time he'd gained on the descent I didn't have the legs to pull back. At one point, just after Nils sped by (looking like a bullet) in the opposite direction, I caught a young Harbor High rider who immediately caught my wheel and drafted until he popped.

Finally the last climb, one last effort out of the saddle, then crank it up for the finish, It'll all be over soon. Eric maintained his gap logging 30:08, I eeked out a 29:51 PR, Benoit came sprinting across the line running in his socks! Seems he'd flatted 1.5 miles from the finish and wasn't about to give up. He kicked off his shoes and impressed all of us with his "Top 100 Wharf to Wharf" speed. I swear his toes were smoking... he burned through his socks, big holes everywhere.