Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 Pescadero Coastal Classic (Cat 3)

My job at the Pescadero road race was to make sure Abe (a much better climber than me) was fresh for the third and final climb up Haskins. I had him on my wheel for nearly the entire race... it felt really good to have something to do, and not expecting to win really lifted a lot of pressure on me. Notable accomplishments:

* setting tempo up Haskins on lap 1
* doing a big part of turning a 2-minute gap into 30 seconds with some good work on Stage Rd on lap 2
* bringing Abe to the front of Haskins and setting pace for a few minutes for "going backwards" on lap 3
* Abe got 7th place in a 72-person field

This race stuck together, and it basically turned into a 3km mass-start hill climb at the end. Really not my cup of tea.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure, 2010

By Dennis Pedersen

The American Diabetes Association organizes this bicycle ride every year, in 80 cities, as a way to raise funds to fight diabetes. This disease is exploding across the country and many of us have been touched by it: Friends, family, co-workers, so many are fighting the battle. This ride event gives me a way to use my love of cycling to give back to the community by fighting against diabetes.

This year's ride marked my fourth, and my third term as captain of the Hewlett-Packard corporate team. Last year the team declined in spite of my best efforts. Perhaps the recession was to blame but I took it hard. Fortunately our individual fund-raising went well, as did the ride.

But this year restored my optimism as we set new records in both team size and in fund-raising: 27 members raised almost $20,000, putting us in fifth place overall in corporate teams! I am so proud of what we accomplished! My own contribution was $2,101.06... plus Margaret who worked the event as a volunteer! Thanks to you all! (p.s. You can still donate!)

Oh yeah, the ride... First we had to get up at 4:45AM to get to the ride headquarters at HP in Palo Alto. Margaret checked in for her volunteer duties while I checked in for my ride and got my rider number. The weather was perfect, and, after some coffee and cake from event-sponsor Hobee's, I was ready to attack the first leg of our 75-mile ride.

There were five of us who met up at the start line at 6:30AM for the 120k route: Michael Gaballah, Mark Uram, Andy Clipsham, Nate Binkert and l'il ol' me. We used our fancy custom HP cycling jerseys to spot each other! These jerseys, with the HP "Let's do Amazing" campaign design, were a fun way to raise HP's visibility and our team spirit. We rode off at a nice pace up to Alpine Road and through Portola Valley. Volunteers with flags stationed at intersections, plus adhesive arrows on the pavement, made sure we didn't get lost on the confusing country roads.

I was also using this ride for training, so when we reached King's Mountain Road I hammered up to Skyline Blvd. at the top as hard as I could, passing lots of riders... I'm much more used to being passed, trust me! At the top was our first rest station where I continued my breakfast and texted my progress to Margaret. There was no sign of coastal fog: Perfect weather!

Mark and Michael had to stop for bike repairs, so Andy, Nathan and I were soon dropping down Highway 84 at 40 MPH! Then left on Pescadero Road and up Haskins Hill before descending through the gorgeous redwoods and past small farms and into historic Pescadero town... and another rest station.

After snacking some more we rode out of town on Stage Road in the best of weather, just a bit of wind as we rode over the rolling hills lined with huge eucalyptus trees and pastures. Then through San Gregorio before we turned onto Highway 1 on the coast for about 3/4 mile where we turned inland on beautiful Tunitas Creek Road. We stopped briefly at The Bike Hut for snacks in preparation for the last big climb; about 7 miles of steep road. I used Tunitas Creek for my second training interval. It's amazing how easy these hills are when we ride them to help other people; my legs and soul felt truly awesome!

We were then back at King's Mountain rest station (more food, burp). Margaret texted me that she was serving hot dogs back at HP; I doubted I'd have room for them! We rode back downhill and into Woodside where it was getting over 90 degrees. What a contrast to the pleasant coastal weather: We were glad we did our big climbs in the cooler temperatures, unlike many of the riders on the shorter routes. We rode onto Alameda de las Pulgas and back on Junipero Serra to Page Mill Road; we could almost smell the Wahoo's fish tacos awaiting us!

It's always special to ride under that balloon arch at the end of the ride to the cheers of the waiting volunteers, and teammate Erika Wilhelm took my picture! Time to party! I found Margaret busy in the lunch line so I grabbed some food and listened to teammate Tony Prophet (our own HP SVP!) address the crowd. Then some socializing at our HP awning followed by our team photo. (My photos here.)

Riding to help others. What a neat way to spend the day!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Butterfly Criterium, 45+ 1/2/3

By Dennis Pedersen

I heard that this revival of a classic criterium, from the 70s, was on an exciting, technical course with a small hill too. My favorite kind! So Russ, Joe, Eddy, John Schaupp and I took the line on a gorgeous, 66-degree, sunny day in downtown Pacific Grove (after Margaret and I took a quick visit to the nearby aquarium!).

The 7/10ths-mile course (for 40 minutes) was west on Lighthouse Avenue, two fast rights down Caledonia and onto Central Avenue, up the hill on Fountain Avenue and back on Lighhouse. Wind was forecast at 10 to 15 MPH.

The pace was pretty fast right from the start, in part because there were 10 prime sprints! At about 20 minutes in a breakaway group formed, but Russ was probably too tired to cover it, and I was too far back to react quickly enough in any case. Just as we got to the start/finish I saw them dropping down toward turn 1.

I was working hard... and noticed a weird sight: One of the awnings next to the course was tilting over toward us, lifted by the rising wind. I barely got by it! I looked back and saw it lying on the course! I didn't see anybody down, but the next few laps were under a yellow flag which confused us chasers.

Soon we got down to the task of chasing and I took several big pulls at the front, though blockers (from Safeway and VOS I think) disrupted our efforts some. Still, we seemed to be making progress and when our pace slowed I moved to the front to look ahead; maybe we'd caught them? But when Eric Saltzman (of Morgan Stanley) launched around me while I was on the front I inferred that somebody was still up ahead.

We started to wind it up and soon I was nearing my limit. Don Langley (Morgan Stanley) suddenly jumped up Fountain and soon even the downhill was hard with the headwind and gaps in our pack. Guys started squeezing in, jumping ahead, etc. Crazy like usual! But we stayed clean and I was happy to just be up there at all.

The last lap I was on Russ's wheel for a bit, which helped as the pack was strung out pretty well. So the final sprint up the hill cemented our positions pretty much; I maintained my 10th place around the last turn and across the finish line. Russ took 8th. VOS's Rich Juarez won solo for the second time in a week. Ed and John were DNF but John had been cheering us on from turn 4.

But where was Joe? Bad news: The ambulance I saw at start/finish was for him. The awning that had flipped onto the course behind me had hit him, taking him down with a broken collarbone.

After cleaning up, getting ice cream at Lappert's on Lighthouse Drive (an amazing collection of 60s albums and posters cover the walls), we swung by CHOMP to visit Joe. The orthopedic surgeon said he recommended surgery to fix the break, but Joe could probably go home that night. We had dinner with Larry & Priscilla and Nils at Sea Harvest in Moss Landing, then dropped off Joe's Jeep at The Buttery. I hope he's doing well soon.

KSBW photos
Monterey Herald story.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pacific Grove Butterfly Criterium (Cat 3)

by Nils "drafting? what a novel concept" Tikkanen

The warmup: 50 miles away counts as a local race, right? My mid-day start time combined with my irrational hatred of trainers led me to believe that a good warmup would be the 3-hour ride to the race start. Heck, it was such a gorgeous morning that even if I didn't feel great in the race, I'd at least have gotten in some nice riding! It soon became apparent that my top end wasn't there (and after 3 days back-to-back of intensity, I wasn't surprised), so I'd have to accept that when the time came. It took a solid two hours for my legs to start feeling normal.

The TT (oh wait...): The Butterfly Crit is a great course (read: none of that flat 4-corner mediocrity) with a slight uphill to the finish, a downhill, and some interesting turns thrown in. I knew instantly I'd have a great time.

As soon as the whistle blew, my legs and mind suddenly (and fortunately) went into race mode. And then I started riding like a man possessed (by demons? Sheer stupidity? A desire for an 'uninhibited rider' award? You decide!). I took the first three primes (the third being a hotly-contested $50 cash). I tried a few doomed solo efforts off the front after the primes. I pulled the entire pack around like the masochist I am. I took a fourth prime for a jug of Cytomax. I correct Mike Hernandez when he said my name wrong. I think the L4 workouts are making me enjoy suffering just a little too much.

With five to go, the field slowed up... typical 3s field! Somewhere in my twisted mind, I thought it would be fun to keep the race fast (i.e. safe) and find out just how much I could have left in the tank. I pulled the entire field for five laps, and really felt it when a few guys came surging around with 1/2 lap to go... but it was only a few guys. Nice clean finish. I held on for 8th at the end. Fun times!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Swanton TT 6-4-10

32:03 fixed gear 50 x 17 (79 gear inches)

I wasn’t going to come out again so soon since I achieved my “bogus” cycling goal for 2010 of getting under 30 minutes (on a multiple gear bike) last month as Swanton. Wednesday, it occurred to me I had an extra track bike in the garage. I decided to slap a front brake on one of them and give it a whirl. Since I had no idea how it would go on a fixie it seemed like a new challenge. I looked at the Swanton results over the last several years and a few showed that about 80 gear inches seemed to be about what a few that had used. I figure that 2 minutes for spinning out down the hill and coming back (tailwind) seems about right. Since I don’t regularly ride a fixie on the road I slowed quite a bit on the faster, bumpier and twisty sections. I don't know that I could push a bigger gear up that hill.

Ken Sato

Friday, June 4, 2010

Memorial Day Criterium, 45+ 1/2/3

By Dennis Pedersen

Do my 10×1-minute intervals and get heartburn, or enter a short, hard bike race. Choices, choices. I decided to race instead, in Morgan Hill on this gorgeous holiday, with Vlada and John for company.

The first few laps on this flat criterium course were pretty fast, but we did get... well, no slow laps, but a few that were less fast. Even though we averaged about 26 MPH I stayed pretty well positioned the first 30 minutes.

With about 10 minutes remaining a break of about 10 guys formed. I'm tired of sitting in and watching others make bold moves, so I decided to join them. I eluded some guys blocking (their presence was a good sign the break might stay away) and quickly started bridging up. One guy followed my wheel but then drifted back, so I put my head down and went alone.

I was pretty blown out when I reached the break, maybe half a lap later, but soon managed to take my turns in the paceline rotation, such as it was. Problem was, only three of us (me, a Morgan Stanley and a Whole Foods rider) really pitched in while the rest hung back to stay fresh for the sprint... but first we had to stay away for that to even matter. Come on guys, work!

Our pace slowed with just three pulling, and as you might imagine, we got caught by others bridging up. More joined us, with guys like Larry Nolan moving around me with 1.5 laps to go. We were mostly all together again. Darn. You have to make breaks work, not hope others will do it for you, but at least we strung the pack out a little.

As we wound up for the final sprint I was still blown out from my pulls, so I just held my speed and watched the pack go. Not surprisingly, guys who weren't visible in the break did best. My friend Chris took 9th after sitting in. I was 25th, Vlada took 27th, John 33rd.

Anyway, it was much more fun to go for it than just watch and wait. Good, clean racing!