Sunday, July 25, 2010

Diamond Valley Road Race (Districts Masters Road Championships)

Districts Road Race 55-59 Category 
Saturday, July 24, 2010, Markleeville, California

By Jim Langley

Even though I only finished in the field sprint and didn't get any closer to the podium than the past 2 years, this had to be the most fun I've had at a race in a long time.

Bike Trip Road Trip!
We caravaned up in 2 cars, Scott Martin and I in his Subaru and Bob Montague, Tim Sawyer and Joe Platin in Bob's SUV. The 4-hour drive up to Markleeville wasn't all that bad because we left in the morning this year and avoided the traffic. Plus, we all looked forward to seeing Tim's brother in law Paul's place where we were all staying: only minutes from the racecourse with ample sleeping quarters, to-die-for views and even a ping-pong table! [Huge thanks for setting this up, Tim!]

Even better, amazing Chef Bob turned Paul's place into a mini Cafe Sparrow and cooked us a gourmet meal of pan-seared sesame seed-encrusted ahi tuna with risotto and salad and Joe brought an incredible carrot cake from The Buttery. We sat on Paul's deck enjoying the most awesome pre-race meal ever, until someone realized that we were actually looking at the water tower at the top of the climb on the racecourse!

Readying To Race
Since we had pre-ridden the course when we got up to Markleeville, and experienced how thin the air is at 6,000 feet, and just how steep the first climb is (it was Bob's first time up there) - racing it with a stuffed stomach was a sobering thought. So, at that point we decided to stop eating like pigs and start concentrating on race preparation.

Tim, Scott and Bob's job was to support Coach Mark Edwards in the 50-54 race, while Joe and I were in the 55-59s. We all had instructions from Coach Mark on how to approach the race so we compared notes and went over our plans - a discussion that was still ongoing at breakfast. I can't tell you have nice it was to be able to lounge around at Paul's and not have to rush to get to the race on time and we took full advantage.

And We're Off!
The 50-54s went off first at 8:10, and I'll let someone in that race report on it. From what I heard, and what Scott told me on the way back, everyone rode great and helped Mark to another outstanding Districts result.

In the 55s, what we expected to happen, happened: New 55+ rider, Specialized's Rob Anderson (who goes solo and wins districts every year, it seems) did it again, and pretty much, that was the race. The only difference is that Steve Archer of Morgan Stanley went with him. No one else could go with them though. I didn’t try and Joe didn't, either. But I don’t think I could have stayed with them and was afraid to risk blowing up on that first steep climb. And, I believe Joe was in the same boat.

I felt awful anyway on the first lap. It was hard to breathe at first and I couldn't push it and get myself going. I probably needed a much longer warmup. But, Joe and I rode smart and hung with the pack. It was comprised of about 30 riders after Rob and Steve powered off the front. We couldn’t get the pack organized though there was a lot of talk and a few attempts.

I tried to bridge once on the first lap but when I got around the corner and saw how far ahead they were I knew I couldn't make it without help. But, every time we’d hit the hills, the pace would be too fast for the flatlanders and they absolutely refused to help to chase down the break.

Amateur Hour
It was actually kind of funny. We've got 30 guys and we can't get any kind of reasonable paceline going. And, it's not like anyone is blocking for a teammate. Well, Mark Caldwell would have tried since he's Steve Archer's teammate. But, if even 10 guys worked together there would have been little he could have done, and I'm sure we could have made up the minute gap the 2 leaders had on the pack. But, due to the climbers putting down the hammer on the ups, the other guys would only rest on the flats hoping to be there at the end for the sprint.

We did talk about taking it easy on the climbs so that people wouldn't get gapped or dropped and could help on the flats. But, then on the third lap, Webor’s George Smith attacked on the second climb, and that time up was painful. My heart rate was higher than it's been in a long time and my legs were screaming, but all the training paid off and I was okay with it and went over the top near the front. That's when everybody sat up and most of the guys that got dropped got right back on.

To The Finish
So, it came down to the 4th lap. We tempo’d the climbs on that lap and it was not so hard as lap 3. I didn’t want the group to bunch up and clog the road and block, as had happened last year. So I made a series of attacks down the home stretch – probably 4 or 5 hard jumps in the closing 3-mile gradual uphill to the finish line. This strung out the pack and dropped more guys.

In the end, it was all for nothing, as Mark Caldwell jumped around me for 3rd, and other guys came by too. Maybe I could have waited instead of attacking over and over, and just sprinted, but I expect with his skills, Caldwell would have taken 3rd anyway.

MC Speaks!
One interesting outcome was that right after the sprint, Mark Caldwell turned around, looked for me, did a U-turn, rolled up, put a hand on my shoulder and gave me a few tips - and actually said that I was strong enough to have taken the sprint! That's surprised the heck out of me because I've probably raced against MC 10 times now, and that’s the first time he has said anything to me.

So, I guess I at least impressed him with my attempts to shape the race. I'll take it as a compliment and remember his advice (attack from the back, not the front). Someday I hope to actually out-ride him but it's going to take more fitness and smarts. It's nice he was willing to give me some helpful tips!

Thanks a million Tim, Bob and Joe for the incredible Districts lodging and food - and great racing everyone! Thanks for reading,
Jim Langley

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 Watsonville Crit Race Report, in the form of haikus

The field:

Stars and stripes jersey
Supported strong by seven
Reaney means to win

Bonus field haiku:

Rides from Morgan Hill
Sprint intervals on the climb
Daniel Holloway

My race:

A fatigued body
An overtrained, tired soul
Dropped halfway through

A few non-haiku notes:

I'm so happy to be out of the apathetic "I don't want to pull, you pull" sketch-fest that is the cat 3 field. This race was safe, fast, and we hit the corners so much smoother. I'm looking forward to my next p/1/2 race on fresher legs. I felt OK for the first 25 laps or so, but Holloway decided to start drilling it at the front, which turned into my demise. Eric pulled me with 21 laps to go (out of 58!). I thanked him, then watched the rest of the race with my buddy and co-victim Justin Lucke.

Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Pescadero Road Race 55+

Pescadero RR 55+ Report continued
By Jim Langley

Since I was in the 55+ with Ed, I thought I'd add a few comments on how the race went for me. As Ed mentioned it was a full field and the pace was fast from the get-go. We flattened the opening Stage Rd. climbs, flew down 84, sailed up Haskins Hill and it was pretty obvious the real racing would begin on lap 2.

Typically, the attacks come on the second Stage Rd. climb so I was ready for this. The plan was to not chase any attacks, but follow the top 55+ guys covering them. Unfortunately, when Steve Archer of Morgan Stanley and Jamie Willin of Olympic Club broke away, no one chased and by the time we got to 84 the two escapees had a good gap.

Even though we probably had 40 riders in our group (combined 45+ 4/5s and 55+), no one would work. So, I asked Peter Taylor if he wanted to work together and we started the rotation. Mac Carey and a Webcor guy I don't know took some pulls and one of the 45+ guys.

When we turned onto Haskins, we were only about 50 yards behind the breakaway of Steve and Jamie. But, I was too tired to close the gap. Five guys jumped and caught them, 4 of the 55+ and a 45+ guy. I hung about 25 yards back riding alone hoping to get stronger up the climb and reel them in. I did catch and drop Jamie who was exhausted from doing the lion's share of the pulling in the break.

But, in the end, I couldn't make up any ground, and I finished 6th behind Steve Archer, Mark Caldwell, Peter Taylor, the mystery Webcor guy and Mac Carey who were all in the sprint. It was another tactical and interesting Pescadero RR, always one of the best races on the calendar. 

Thanks for reading!

2010 Pescadero Road Race 55+

Pescadero Road Race 55+ Report
By Ed Price

I felt like quitting the Pescadero Road Race (held June 19th, 2010) after only 15 minutes of racing, right then and there, on the second climb of Stage Road. I felt like quitting again on the second lap of the race on the exact same part of the course, the second climb of Stage Road. 

But, the real low point was when I lost contact with the second group of about 18 riders on the feed hill before our first ascent of Haskins, starting the big climb 20 seconds behind the last rider with the lead riders completely out of sight. 

But that low was nothing compared to losing the timing chain on my Volvo wagon on the drive home, near the San Mateo County line.  Interference engine?  Never heard of it..  Well..., if the timing chain breaks or comes off (like mine did), the valves open when they should close and/or close when they should open, meaning $3000 of engine work to replace the bent valves.  Money I don't have at the moment. 

Getting back to the race, here I was off the back of the second group even before the climb of Haskins even started.  The thought of riding the whole second lap alone inspired me to try and catch at least one rider from my group.  This I accomplished fairly quickly, which inspired me to push even harder.  I caught another rider, then another, and then I caught a small group of three riders, then four riders.  Slowly I worked my way up to the three leaders of my group with 2 K to go, and I went over the top of Haskins first place in the second group and even though I lost contact again on the first descent of Stage Road on the second lap, that effort made the day worthwhile to me. 

My race (55+) was full at 75 riders.  The organizers combined the 55+ riders with the 45+ 4/5 "B" field.  I finished in 20th place out of 25 finishers in the 55+ category, one place behind J.D. Gilford but I am not sure how I finished overall (out of the 75 starters).
I am not a poor descender by any means, in fact, I am a pretty good descender when I want to be, but on that day, I wasn't in the zone, and you know what I mean, when you are in the descending zone, riding downhill is pure fun.   You can see the right lines to take through the corners as if they are painted on the road.   The road seems eight lands wide, even if it is very narrow.  The camber seems to always be helping you even if it's reversed.  Sand and gravel are nothing more than an opportunity to put more time on those behind you.  Your tires seen glued to the road.  No negative thoughts fill your head like; a front tire blow out, a cat or dog running across your path, a car coming towards you in the wrong lane or a car on a blind corner, sand, gravel, rocks, tree limbs. 

But on that day, the zone was not to be found.  A  close call with a pickup truck on a blind corner didn't help matters and along with several sections of  gravel and getting stuck behind a poor descender.  

This year's edition of the Pescadero Road Race was held in cool-overcast weather with very little wind.  The 55+ race filled up, and along with some 45+ Cat 4 riders, our field was full at 75. The only thing more frustrating than being left by the group on a climb is to be drooped on the descent.  This happened to me twice on exactly the same part of the race route, the first descent of Stage Road . 

Last year, the 55+ race went out at a moderate pace on the first climb of Stage Road.  I was able to get to the top of the hill in 3rd or 4th place, leaving me time to drift back a bit in the group.  By the bottom of the descent I was last but not off the back and I easily made it over the second climb of Stage Road. 

This year the pace was pretty fast from the start and on the first climb up Stage Road I was at my limit, hitting the top in around 30th place (about mid-way in the pack).   By the time we reached the bottom, I was 100 yards back from the main group of around 40.  I felt like quitting right then and there.  I regained my composure when 12 to 15 riders caught me from behind on the second climb of Stage Road.

On the feed hill before Haskins I was drooped by the second group but I worked my way up to the leaders by the top.  Most of my group caught on by the bottom of the climb and we headed back to Pescadero High School.  I saw a group up the road, it was the 45+ open race, probably taking it easy before the final showdown on Haskins.  I wasn't paying attention when my group went right through the field and were 200 yards up the road.  The ref was watching me very closely so I tried a solo bridge to my group but couldn't sustain it.  Riding 30 yards off the back, the 45+ group eventually caught my group at the bottom of the first ascent of Stage Road and I was back in business again.

You know the "rest of the story", I lost contact with that second group on the first descent of Stage Road, fought all the way to the finish, catching three riders from that second group and finished in 20th place. 

Ed Price  

Friday, July 2, 2010

7-1-10 Swanton TT

30:50 and some seconds.

Again, I wasn’t going to come out again since I achieved my “bogus” cycling goal for 2010 of getting under 30 minutes two months ago at Swanton.

But I thought I was on good form and had just acquired a Zipp 900 disc for my track bike with an adaptor so I could also use it on the road. I used almost exactly the same set up/position as two months ago except for more aero wheels.

Unfortunately, from my time, my form is not nearly as good as it thought. I had fantasized about cutting a minute off my best time but instead added a minute in when the opposite direction. It was quite windy and I almost crashed in warm up but that is really not why I went slow since I felt fast on the course, kept to my pacing strategy and Nils set a new, super fast, personal best- congratulations Nils.

I was already planning on taking a break from road racing. I am going to use this as an excuse to back off my miles for the next 2 or 3 weeks, focus on core/strength training and very short duration (sprint) efforts.

Ken Sato