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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's been awhile

Well, I have been the king of lurking for the past month and even put in some random comments here and there.
Just thought I would blog up and reflect on a bike racing season that has come and almost gone. This was pre race Tuesday night worlds last race of the season 2011
It was hot and humid and looking to be hella fun once again.
I'm glad I got back out of my box and started racing my bike again. Even though it had been 2 decades after the last run. The enormous equipment changes make things interesting. But what Ive seen over this past 6 months was that you can have the best equipment out there, and if your not putting in the time and efforts, it's not worth the cash you spent on it. 
Personally, I would like to build a steel framed bike and put a decent set of 50mm deep dish wheels on it. And train on that for the races. Then come race day saddle up on the full carbon and let it rip. But that's a whole other story in itself.

I got the itch on March 9th and by March 29th I was going to do my first criterium race in just under 2 decades. Crazy ? I don't know, I knew I could ride pretty fast, I was way heavier now than then, maybe I could just ride myself into shape and form ?

I will be honest in saying I went out pretty confident in my abilities on that first evening and was quickly shown the raw truth of just how far off the mark I was. I got cracked off the back of an hour long race within 20 minutes. The second race it took until about 45 minutes. 
But from that point on I made it a point to put a game plan together and at least finish in the field.
When that started working then I set a new goal to try and get a few sprint points throughout the race and then hang on until the end. 
Where eventually I would start showing up to be a threat of contending.
I had my ups and downs with emotions throughout the season. Having lost Patrick from to 70.3 training.
Trying to form a new team. Which has been more miss than hit, but I still think there is some glimmer there. Trying to help guide a potentially talented 20 year old to see his real potential. 
In the end it all worked out. The Out-Spoke-n road bike, mountain bike, and triathlon racing team could be a well hated threat out there if the store owner takes it a bit more seriously.
Patrick is about ready to embark on his first 70.3, which I know he will rock and then go longer.
Adam the 20 year old, finally heeded some frustrated remarks from me one night, about just staying on my wheel. Low and behold he never dropped out of another race, started consistently contending for sprints and finishing in the top 10 every week. 
I still have one last So Cal Cup race left on September 11th. These are the nationally ranked races and for the last 3 I have entered I raced in 2 classes per race day. One, for more race time and exposure, and two for more race time and exposure. You see it turns out even at 45 or two months short of 46 I'm still pretty fast on a bike.
In the beginning they made me race straight Cat 5 with mostly 19 to 30 year olds, I had no choice, I had been gone too long. My previous Cat 3 status was non existent and I had to start from scratch.
Now I choose to race both Cat 4/5 senior ( which is 30 and under) and Cat 4 masters 30 +. The cool thing about masters is that most of them have held either Pro cards or raced 1,2,3 all there career and just never stopped for any real length of time.
Myself, I hope I continue to stay engaged and have some success and a lot of fun doing it.

So here we are 6 months later. I've raced 23 group start races. One of which had only 9 riders in it, others that exceeded 50+ riders. By the seasons end, I will have lined up 25 times. And although I got way more comfortable and confident, it really never seemed to get any less stressful. I guess I am just a race stresser. That for me seems to be a good thing though, I think If I ever get to lax about it, I will loose that edge. And that edge is what drove me to get better. 
I never really rode into weight or perfect form. I did however drop another 9 lbs through the season. And although I started getting consistent results at races, I never scored a 1st place finish in a final race. 
The good news is that this is all future goals to still chase after, this will continue to give me spark and drive.

Out of the 23 races I lined up at , I had 14 top 10 finishes. With 2 more top 15. FYI - they score to 20 in So Cal Cup races, but not on Tuesday night races. Only to 10 on Tuesday.

2nd place = 1
4th place = 2
5th place = 1
6th place = 4
7thplace = 4
9th place = 2

13thplace = 2

I was able to scoop up several 1st,2nd and 3rd place finishes on mid race primes, but I didn't record them. Maybe I should had since they are victories inside victories.

post race - (NOTE- I did not race in an Out-spoke-n jersey last night for the first time since my commitment, and in all honesty I felt more at home in a true race kit. Sorry, just being honest)
lastly, do you think that vain on the side of my forehead can get any bigger ? WTH ?

Feeling just a tad blown up and overheated, but pretty damned stoked !

So that's the recap less the 9-11 race. I'll be back and thanks for playing. 


Monday, August 8, 2011

All said and done, it's not about me

Which is amazing, because blogs whether we like it or not are that way.
I love to share my experiences. But it seems to me my blog is very redundant and even though I'm trying to put the reader there, it's all about me.
So I'm going to lay low on the long blogs about the same old stuff. I'll keep posting brief race results and training rides but, eh, I think I would rather read yours. 

Saturday's ride was in my head to be 75 miles. I got the opportunity to ride with Patrick for the first time in awhile. He as most of you know is in full tri season swing and getting ready to go long, and it appears even go longer. Good for him. He is fighting his way (but enjoying it) to peak at the right time. 
As OC VELO is a great opportunity to link with other like minded riders on Saturdays it has it's hiccups. This Saturday was no different and shortly after our first stop there would be a mechanical to another rider on the road that one of our club riders had the tool to fix. This is great and this is what should happen. However I iimmediately shifted gears to a shorter ride and went on with the "B" ride. This worked out good anyways because Patrick was doing this ride. He was also set for a post ride brick and felt this pace would be best. I couldn't agree more with him and really from that point in my mind I was kind of set on getting him through the ride at a good pace but try and help him stay fresh. 
I rode tempo of front on the climbs, but this isn't really a good thing. I'm no climber, so either I'm sucked on to a wheel and getting dragged up. Or I'm leading out and riding at the fastest pace I can. If you get dropped off I can't help it. For me climbs are all about staying consistent and steady pedaling. We made are way back down through the canyons and on to PCH for a regroup. It was shortly there after I asked Patrick to just sit in and out of the wind. There was no reason for him to help going home, save his legs for his long run to follow.
I felt that was the best act of assistance I could give him. We had a good pace back and he was able to get a strong run in. I on the other hand continued to put in a few extra miles before hitting the home front. I showed a bit different pace on my Garmin than his but ? He also said we climbed 4000 feet ( LOL !!) I can assure you we didn't. I don't know why the difference in pace though ? I showed 60.03 miles at 18.2  avg. 

Anyways, Took a fast shower and grabbed my son for popcorn and Cowboy's and Aliens, which we both thought was far fetched and very cool.
Later we headed over to some friends for a home cooked meal of wild salmon that was even better. 
Sunday was fun day. Woke up late and headed to Knott's amusement park for 6 hours of fun in the sun and roller coasters.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

I though it would find the perfect storm

But in the end this was the news that was delivered. No takers for the deal, and it is now dead at the close of this season.

Another blow to cycling ? Another blow to American cycling ? Either way this is a strong team that had a huge amount of talent and heart. But in the end, CASH IS KING. 
It's just kind of disheartening. We have made some real strides stateside in professional cycling as far as team organization and real recognition as contenders. 

As for me.
Tuesday night races went exactly as planned and played all the way until 100 meters before the final turn.

Prime 1 - I would stay strong up front and not contend. (check)
Prime 2 - I would stay strong up front and contend for the sprint to see where my legs were at. (check) I got 2nd.

Race finish- Look for a breakaway within the last 2 laps. Don't initiate it, but if it comes hard, get on it.
The true jump at a breakaway never held, 4-5 of us would jump and real them back within 75 yards.
Once again there was shenanigans in the masters race and it equated to a 5 man wreck with firetrucks showing. The wind was freaking brutal and it played the field like an accordian. 
Cat 4/5 final lap found about 12 of the 24 starters still in and on. I felt fantastic and strong. I moved from about 8th-5th in the 2nd to last corner. When we came around at probably 26-27 mph, there was an elderly man on a beach cruiser coming right at us ! He came in the back way and hadn't noticed the 100-150 men and women flying by at motor speeds ? Really ? WTF ? 
The field jerked hard right, lots of braking happened and then let the mayhem begin. The line of riders moved and cracked like a bull whip, sending people hard right and holding on. Of course up front it's not bad, but anything beyond the front few is gonna be dicey.
It was, and as the front surged to get the pace back up and steady again.The back end chased harder. Eventually over compensating and then the tire rubbing started due to overlapping. I heard it, then seen 1 guy shoot from the far right straight to me. I leaned in to him and saved it. Then the guy behind me reacted and caused an overlap nightmare behind me. I felt my rear wheel get clipped, and from there I started heading for the inside curb. The next thing I hear is snapping and cleats dragging, then slamming. It took every bit of bike handling skills I had to keep it up right. 3 of us got pinched out and one went down hard, breaking his helmet and bike frame. 
I actually stopped and turned around I felt so bad, and concerned for the guy. Fortunately his body came away with nothing more than a few healthy patches of road rash. His equipment ? may have saved his life. He was shaken, then pissed. I was pissed, then thankful, then pissed again. I road a smart race. I had road exactly how I had planned it.
In the end it comes down to this, racing is racing and anything can happen at any time. So I got over it pretty quickly and wrote it off to a great training session that could have been worse.

Wednesday I took off.
Today I got out a little extra early this morning. Getting down just shy of 30 miles and yet I was home by 7:05 a.m. My 2nd favorite way to start the day.

Train hard,train smart, be active.            

Monday, August 1, 2011

Keeping it fresh

I am trying to keep the miles fresh on the bike. Although we live in a great place to cycle with many routes and roads to choose from, it can get a little redundant at times.
That is,if you let it. I don't want to be that guy that does the same miles and loops, week after week,month after month. 
Dur to the coastal wind directions it is usually best to head South first which usually ends up heading East before turning back. This usually gives you some type of tailwind for the ride home and hopefully some reprieve to your body.
For the last 4 weeks I have found myself heading more North first venturing on some roads I had not ridden in many years or in some cases not at all. 
I have been hitting up a popular walkers/runners spot in Signal Hill via Long Beach called Hilltop park. It is not a long climb but epic steep. It is more of a dragons back, in a sense that when you think you have made it to the top there is a 15 yard leveling section and then you go up again. It tends to continue veering to the right and or left depending on which side you are coming up. It never really goes into switchbacks but it also never gives much of a rest until you hit the top.
This was a couple of shots I took while pedaling.
You get a pretty good view of the city below.

Ultimately there is a park at the top.
From here you swing right and head back down to street level again. I have no idea of the exact climb %, but if I was to make a good educated guess I would say it peeks at 15+ %. Granted that is not for long, but it is enough to get you out of the saddle and stand. Twice this ride while sitting, I pulled my front wheel off the ground into a momentary wheelie. Will just call it steep.
From here I headed further North to the foothills of Palos Verdes. There is some epic climbs for distance in these hills/mountains as well. I looped at the base and headed back though. PV will be saved for a weekend very soon, more time would be needed.
Making my way back down to the coast to head south again was a challenge due to commuting through a heavily trafficked port of Long Beach/San Pedro. But it was cool to see new scenes and views. I snapped a shot in Long Beach of the old and the new together.
In all it wasn't really a long ride, falling under 46 miles. But with the climbing involved it was super effective. With July over we are winding down the bike racing season pretty much this month. I didn't have a huge volume July with just under 500 miles and only racing 3 times. And although I felt pretty strong for most of the month I only yielded o.k. results with a 4th,6th and my 9th place post vacation race. 
August should see 6 races in total if I can stay healthy and real life doesn't get in the way too much.   

Lastly, I got to watch my son receive his yellow belt in Pa Kau Karate in less than 6 weeks he joined, embraced and trained to the point of them wanting to test him. At only 4'-6" he can front kick to my chin without grimace or hesitation. I know, I know proud father, blah, blah blah ! But I am amazed at his progression. Although I look like a ragged 45 year old beach bum, this was the best picture I had.
Train hard,train smart, be active.