Friday, June 15, 2012

ADA Tour de Cure, 6/10/2012

By Dennis Pedersen

What a perfect day for a big ride! I really enjoyed this year's Tour de Cure fund-raising bicycle ride, as I always do. This was my sixth year on the Hewlett-Packard team, and my fifth as the team's Captain. As such, my main goal is to grow the team and help them all raise money to fight diabetes... and did we ever! I was not disappointed, as the 2012 HP team set new records in every area!

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) now hosts a "Champion's Celebration" dinner for riders who have raised $1,000 (by May 12th). I am proud to say that five HP riders qualified. It was quite classy and held at Silver Creek Valley Country Club, San Jose. Check out the HP team’s statistics from the last few years:
  • 2007: 9 riders raised $4,268.
  • 2008: 13 riders raised $8,252.86.
  • 2009: 7 riders raised $4,633.00.
  • 2010: 27 riders raised almost $20,000, 5th place overall in corporate teams.
  • 2011: 34 riders raised $21,508.00, 7th place overall in corporate teams.
  • 2012: 71 riders raised $32,626.74, 4th place overall in corporate teams.
I am so proud of how the HP team has grown, and how much we've increased our fund-raising. The momentum is palpable, thanks mostly to the help and encouragement of other HP employees, most notably:
  • Sue Barsamian, Senior VP, Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networking: I met Sue on a ride last year, and she enthusiastically offered her support for the Tour de Cure. Thanks to her we got HP funding for team jerseys, plus a huge number of new riders.
  • Alexa Lallos, Director, Cupertino Executive Briefing Center: She coordinated with me to design and supply the free HP jerseys to the entire team. Woo-hoo!
  • Anita Reid, HP's US Wellness Program Manager: She was able to get publicity for the ride with her Wellness programs, and also helped us coordinate two "lunch-and-learns" to help publicize the Tour.
  • Lindsey Fish, Cindy Asrir and Bill Kacmarsky: Without them I don't know how I would have managed! They helped me in a bunch of ways, with the two lunch-and-learns, e-mails to employees, general brain-storming and more. Bill also covered for me in the ADA's Tour de Cure Planning Committee.
The custom HP jerseys arrived the week of the ride, so I only had a couple of days to hand them out. I relied on lunch-time handouts at HP's Cupertino and Palo Alto Fitness Centers, and also sent some via Interoffice Mail.

After all that groundwork the ride itself was simply the cherry on my sundae. I just had to get up at 4:20AM and drive through the pre-dawn darkness to the event site in Palo Alto. It was at Lockheed this year, because the usual facilities at HP were being remodeled. I then got some Hobee's coffee cake and coffee, and lined up for the start. Oh, and handed out a few last-minute jerseys and arranged size-swaps. Several of us lined up at the start line for the official 6:30AM opening of the 120k route and were sent off by ADA's Allyson Schloming, Director of Silicon Valley Tour de Cure. It's pretty special doing an early-morning ride like this, knowing it's for a good cause.

I ended up mostly cruising with Glen Elliott (Director, Compensation) and my friend Rob, who donated wine from his winery, Testarossa in Los Gatos, to the "Champion's Celebration" dinner. Rob had crashed on a mountain-bike ride earlier that week and had some huge bruises (and some cracked ribs, it turned out later). But that didn't stop him! And Glen, who I first met on HP's "Bike MS" team last year, turned out to be a super-fast rider, so I was in good company.

So many of my HP teammates worked very hard on their fitness to prepare for this ride. I think there was a record eight of us who rode the 120k route (75 miles, with over 7,000 feet of climbing). And the other routes are by no means all easy either, so people really had to challenge themselves. I like to remind those who are intimidated by the ride that the Tour de Cure isn't a race, and there are routes as short as 25k (15 miles), but that doesn't mean they can't be challenging. It's pretty cool to see people push themselves with such great results and for such a great cause.

I usually hit the first major climb, up Kings Mountain Road, as hard as I can as part of my intervals training. It took me 26:45. We regrouped at the top, at the rest station on Skyline Boulevard. Rob was in pain from his ribs, but insisted he'd do the full ride. The summit was clear and pleasant, so the drop down HWY 84 toward the coast wasn't damp or as cold as it can often be. We turned left onto Pescadero Road and climbed Haskins Hill before resuming the fast descent. We were rewarded with another rest station, in the neat village of Pescadero. I love that area.

We took it pretty easy from there and up Stage Road, drafting the KLA guys a lot. Then up HWY 1 to Tunitas Creek Road for a quick break at the Bike Hut snack shop. The Kiwanis volunteers man these stations, and they are great people. I like to attack Tunitas Creek Road too, for training, so I really worked hard all the way up to Skyline. It took me 33:51. This brought us back to the rest station at the top of Kings Mountain Road. We had some last snacks and flew down Kings Mountain. It's so long and fast that our hands got cramps from braking.

The weather in Woodside was gorgeous, albeit a tad warm, and we started to see a ton of other cyclists from the shorter routes. Definitely a different vibe... they are having lots of fun and decorate their helmets, ride cruisers, etc. We rode down Alameda de las Pulgas to Junipero Serra and... back to the finish at Lockheed. Woo-hoo! I love the cheering volunteers, as if we had just won a huge race! But this is about helping people.

Lunch was quite nice, though for some reason we didn't get an HP team awning this year. Still, a big group of us grabbed a few tables and had an nice, well-deserved lunch. We took some photos but then many of them had to leave for various reasons. Later arrivals also met up there and we took more photos, plus the official team photo by PhotoCrazy (find individual photos here). I have made a Snapfish album of all the photos I took, plus what I could collect from teammates (keep 'em coming; I can add more!). Udi Chatow shared a couple of videos too (here and here).

From left: Bill Romans, Jerry Huck, Debra Walsh, Sue Barsamian, Glen Elliott, Steve Owens, Hobey Landreth, Stefan Merz, Steve Andrews, Josh Jensen, Dennis Pedersen.

The official photo. 
And remember, people can still donate! The fund-raising will continue for another month or so.

The 2013 Tour de Cure will be on June 9th. I hope to see you there. Thanks again to the volunteers, riders and generous donors!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NorCal/Nevada District Time Trail Championships 2012

Second place! L-R: Me, Rob Anderson, David Kelley
NorCal/Nevada District Time Trial Championships 2012 (June 10, 2012)
by Jim Langley

Nils Tikkanen and I took the long drive up to Sattley for the State TT Championships last weekend and we had a fantastic couple of days enjoying the beautiful high country around the Donner Lake area and racing our funny bikes in our even funnier speedsuits and pointy helmets.

I've been working hard since I managed a tenth in the National TT Championship last year and Coach Mark encouraged me to focus more on time trialing - since it seems I have some ability there. I've been riding our UCSC repeats on the TT bike and Mark has scheduled Saturday workouts where we do repeats on Swanton Road, that are perfect for the aero bikes too.

These workouts work wonders. This past Thursday on one of the windiest nights I've experienced out there, I knocked another 10 seconds off my Swanton TT posting a 29:28, so I went into the States feeling ready.

Nils on the left. You can see how flat the road is.
I've also been steadily improving my two-wheeled missile and aero tuck. I have dropped my front end close to three inches and narrowed my arms almost as much. And Mark has tweaked my training to ensure I can deliver the steady power required to hammer non-stop for almost an hour. (If you need any time trial training or equipment advice, just ask, because we've probably been there, done that, and we are learning what works and what doesn't.)

Nils has been setting blistering times on the Swanton TT too, has ridden in the 51s up at Sattley in the past and has his Giant Trinity dialed and flying. He had also picked up a spanking-new Castelli speed suit and Giro Selector aero lid for the race, too (same helmet I'm riding). He could have entered the age-group event but decided to sign up for the stacked Elite Men category.

Jim, just before the turnaround.
I signed up for the Masters Men 55-59, my last time competing in this category because my racing age will be 60 next year. Racers seems to sign up late for Sattley and for the longest time the only other person registered was National and World Champ Rob Anderson who had taken almost two minutes out of me over only a 25K TT course up in Bend, Oregon last year at the Nationals 55-59 TT. But, by the morning of the race, a few other big names had signed up, including Mac Carey who I have never come close to in a time trial.

One of the highlights of the trip was staying at teammate Larry and Priscilla Broberg's lovely home only a half hour away from the race course. They took us out for a gourmet meal at The Lodge restaurant and then fired us up for Sunday's racing by tuning in the final time trial of the Criterium du Dauphine on the TV. Watching Peter Sagan barely beat Cancellara was something else and I'm sure Nils had as much trouble getting to sleep as I did thinking about how we were going to tear the cranks off our bikes all Sagan-like in the morning.

Awesome shot of Nils
Before we headed off for the racing, Larry whipped up a couple of amazing lattes for the road with his cool little coffee-maker and Nils drank two for good measure. Arriving at the race, we parked next to another 55-59er named Craig Larsen who had an easy-up shelter that he offered to share if we'd help him set it up. It was nice warming up on the trainers out of the sun. The air was cool in the morning but the sun was already hot.

Time trials are pretty laid-back scenes. There's no posturing or trash talking because there's no place to hide out there on the race course. You either have it or you don't and the clock doesn't lie. So, usually people are talking and getting their bikes ready and warming up pretty seriously. I even heard a lot of guys joking about how slow they were going to go. There were about 150 racers in all, going off in 30-second intervals.

The course is almost dead-straight and pancake flat (compared to anything we have around Santa Cruz). It does rise ever so gently on the way out and descends the same on the way back. There are mile markers painted on the road - 1 through 12 and then there's the turnaround cone in the road and the numbers go down from 12 to 1 again on the way in on the other side of the road (not 13 to 24 as you might expect). I was only passed by three cars over the entire 25-mile ride.

Nils went before me looking super fast in his new kit in his super-low tuck and set a time around 53 minutes. [Note: maybe Nils will have a chance to add some of his race comments]

I left at 9:26 a.m. with three guys in my group leaving before me, including Mac. The fun thing about Sattley is that the road is so straight you can see your 30-second man and gauge how you're going watching him come back or pull away!

Homeward bound - I need to get even lower
I had a watts target and took off a bit conservatively, but couldn't stop looking at that guy in front of me and gradually took it up to around 250 average watts. Coach Mark had strongly advised me to be careful due to racing at 5,000 feet and the effect of the thin air making it feel easy but coming back to hurt you badly late in the race if you burned your matches too early.

So, I tried to keep steady pressure on the pedals and reel in the guy ahead while letting the watts drop to around 243. I felt good. There was a pretty strong wind from the right pushing me toward the middle of the road thanks to my 90mm front Bontrager Aeolus wheel. But I'm used to much worse wind on the Swanton time trial, and I just kept focused on riding straight. Still, by the turnaround I had a minor shoulder cramp from the countersteering I was doing to ride straight.

About 10 miles in I caught my 30-second man and realized I was close to the two guys ahead of him. I kept the pace steady and caught both of them before the turnaround worrying that I might be pushing it too hard, because one of them was Mac and I have never been close to him before in a time trial (he is coming off a really bad crash so I think he's just getting his form back).

I glanced at the time at the turnaround and saw that I was over 30 minutes already. That was frustrating because my first goal was to break an hour. But, as soon as I was heading home I could feel that the going was easier. On the outboard leg it was difficult to hit 26mph and now I was able to punch it to over 30mph.

The ride in started great but quickly turned painful. I was concerned the entire time that I had gone out too hard because my legs started aching more and more, and I couldn't generate the speed I felt I should have been able to.

I've got a 55/11 highest gear on my Cervelo P2 and I spent the whole return leg on that or the 12 and was over 30mph a lot of the way, sometimes 34. My watts were stuck at around 243 though. I just couldn't add any more. I kept watching the speed and gave it everything trying to keep above 30mph. The mile markers clicked off fast, 9, 8, 7, 6 - then I lost track of them because I had to focus 100% on my form and finishing strong.

I did see the 5K to-go marker and then the mile to-go sign. By that point I was breathing heavily and my legs were thrashing, losing coordination. I was afraid to look at the timer but decided to, just to take my mind off the feeling that I was losing it. I was amazed to see that I was at around 54 minutes! If I could only maintain speed I could finish in the 55s - a quality time! So I tried harder still and even stood up and sprinted for the line - more like wobbled since my legs almost gave out when I rose off the seat.

I was super happy to finish in 55:31 for an average speed of 27mph. It wasn't fast enough to win. Rob had a great ride finishing in 54:26 with an average speed about .5mph faster than mine. So he won and I took the silver medal and David Kelley took third with a fine 56:32.

Second in the Districts is my best finish ever so I want to thank Coach Mark Edwards for all his help getting me there, Keith Bontrager for loaning me the fastest front wheel on the planet, Giro for getting me into one of their sweet Selector helmets way back in October, Lightning Cycle Dynamics for providing their trick carbon crankset with 160mm arms, the Bicycle Trip for all the support this year, Wade Hall at The Spokesman for suggesting the shorter cranks, and all you teammates for getting out there every week and pushing me to get better. Thanks everyone!