Saturday, May 31, 2008

First real ride with the Pros

So, today was the first "real" race I've done with the P/1/2 crowd.

I say that because the two Modesto races I did, while they were fun, apparently weren't typical of a real race because there weren't enough strong folks there.

Even though today's flat four-corner office park crit (typical) was a P/1/2/3 field, so we had a ton of cat 3 riders in there, there were also some domestic pros (Roman Kilun from HealthNet and Kevin Klein from Rock&Republic Racing) as well as many other strong characters from the local scene including the ever-present wrecking crew of Joel Robertson and Brian Bosch from SPOC as well as lots of stoners and strawberries (BPG and CalGiant). And the field was full, with 120 (!) people ripping around the course.

I'll admit, when it started, I was a little worried - within 5 minutes there was a lot of pressure at the front, and for the next 10 minutes it was on. You can see in the chart how spiky the power demand was fighting for position in such a big field, and how far over my threshold heart rate it took me, but I was unwilling to get too far from the front as I thought a big break might go or a pack split might happened, and I didn't want to miss it like I did at Modesto.

All for naught though - the wind was pretty vicious, and the pack wasn't willing to let anything go, so I concentrated on saving the rest of my bullets for the sprint.

And oh, what a sprint. I learned something today (which I've already told several people, but it is still a revelation to me). In the P/1/2 races it's not "a" sprint. There are multiple sprints. Now, in the cat 3 races, there's sort of a last lap surge where you need to be in the top 5 or so, then everyone sprints. But there aren't that many people that can legitimately sprint or even last in that surge, so it isn't that big a deal.

In the P/1/2 though, there's a big surge around the last lap just to get anywhere near the front, then you have to deal with people literally pushing you hard to get you out of their way and bumping you, and then - if you're lucky and you've made it that far with good position - you have earned the right to have a big sprint way too early, something like 600 meters to go, where the sprinters are merely separating themselves from the rest of the pack as the last of the lead-out men are doing their job. Now! Now, is where the action happens - if you are still in the draft bubble up with the lead group, you've got the chance for one last burst of speed, and if you can accelerate enough you'll hit the line with a good placing, or maybe a win.

Not sure why, but I didn't think it through before, and didn't realize the last part of the lead-out was so strong that it was basically a full sprint. So when some (not all) of the sprinters stood up and jumped with 600 meters to go I thought they were crazy, and I did not go. My mistake. I came in 15th out of 120, but next time, I'm going to give that first sprint most of what I've got and even if I don't have a great burst after that I bet I do better. We'll see.

So there you go, P12 sprint tactics in a nutshell.

I'll take a moment to give Joel Robertson some credit here. I've been razzing him here and in person about how I've beat him twice, but he crushed me today *after* doing a leadout for Bosch (who got second by a whisker). And the times I've beat him he was working for teammates too. At any rate, he followed that performance up with a race-long break in the 35+ 123, and I gotta say, I can fight for position with the front of the group, and I can sprint, but I certainly don't have that power. All I've got is heckling, man, I can't help it ;-)

Other random thoughts. Does anyone else feel like a big ol' fred when they're riding next to either a domestic pro or someone they know is super-fast? It can't just be me. I see the Rock&Republic kit rolling around next to me and I think "better not squirrel out now Mr Wizard, don't want to crash out a guy that's actually good at this". I even skeezed a bit with Bosch next to me. Joel'd do it but I ride with him too much. Yeah, I should probably get over that. But I thought I'd own up to it.

Anyway, here's the chart. Geek away. And the result sheet, because, well because I took the picture and what else am I going to do with it? Almost beat Roman! Could've bagged me a pro if I had known about that multi-sprint deal. Next time!

Oh, final thought - MechaAlice (Alice-or?) was on her trainer "glowing" away, while cheering for Brian in the crit. She gets the "Mecha" tag because she had an articulated full arm brace and her elbow was still all swole up and green from surgery after her crit crash a few weeks back. That's core. Keep getting better, and we'll see you at the port, Alice.

Alright, enough blah blah. It was great seeing everyone out there today. Rubber side down...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

OMG ponies

could also be titled "why I didn't race last weekend" since my friend Stu, who got me in to this silly sport in 1997 was in town and I hung out with him, his wife, his new daughter Claire (starring in the pictures) and others all weekend instead of hitting the start line.

I'm in the strange position of being a little overtrained and tired while also jonesing for a race

so this week I've been resting, taking care of business, and looking forward to the ICCCCCC dash for cash on saturday

hope to see a big crew out there for that one now that the TO 3s team is so deep. Seriously - Mike Fee, Brian, Kieran, Toby, Stephen, Maury, Sean. That's crazy! if we got Ian, Scott and Chris Kovash out there we'd have 11. Why not :-)?

See everyone Saturday

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

recovery day randoms

Here's the art shot of the day - Statue of what I take to be a mother
and daughter. It looks to me like the mother is protecting the daughter
and they are both happy, which I like. The daughter has four eyes
though, which I can't interpret all though.

And then I saw this old Chinese guy puffing up the hill with two
amazingly fluffy pomeranians chasing after him, and with the euphoria of
the clear bright sunshine of the morning, I couldn't resist snapping a
pic of him too.

People sometimes wonder what we cyclists do on those really long rides.
Well, ask no more, this is the answer. Just replace "France" with "the
Central Valley" ;-)

Finally, I'll mention that last night's port ride was the hardest thing
I've done on a bike since the Everest Challenge last year. Immediately
after the ride I thought it was the hardest thing ever, but then I
remembered Everest and let's be honest, Everest was harder, just not by
much. So if you were hurting, I was right there with ya

I was shooting for 5-5.5 hours of riding yesterday. The tough part was
just that somewhere around hour 5 on the bike was when the port ride
started to really shatter, and I can't even describe how awful it felt
to have the draft stripped away, see the pack up ahead with a lot of
straightaway and headwind to go, and know that if I didn't get up there
it was all over.

Not that it would have really mattered but quitters never win, right? So
suffer I did. Unbearable agony. Such a brutal sport, gotta love it.

In the final chunk of randoms I'll mention that the things that went
through my head this morning on the ride into work were:

- how on earth do people ride 400 miles a week and still get their work
done and keep their families happy??
- Maury said I haven't been Mr.Chipper per usual lately. overtrained?
Just tired?
- Damn it's a beautiful morning
- Hey, the Polo Fields are open again after the Bay to Breakers, but the
Bay to Breakers runners trashed the hell out of it, just like they did
the rest of the park. Pigs.
- Huh, I can see my fingers through my gloves. Guess I should buy gloves
more than once every two years. Nah.
- If the POO was that hard after 85 miles, what's the finale at
Pescadero going to be like after 100? shit
- Look at those roses! Teresa loves roses

There were a few more, but if anything they were less interesting. If
you read this far, I should probably by you beer.



Sunday, May 18, 2008

Modesto RR - more fun in the heat

Back in lovely Modesto for the second day in a row this Sunday. Yesterday was a crit, and today is actually in Salida, CA, but it's near Modesto so they call it the Modesto crit. Did you know Modesto is only 1.5 hours from Oakland? Salida is only 1.25 hours from Oakland. They're not that far away, but they are a world apart, for sure.

It was 60 degrees in Oakland when I woke up but after Sean, Jeff Sobul, Brian Johnston, Ed Lai and I got to Modesto at 7am, I was feeling pretty stupid in my hoodie since it was already 80 degrees. Only got up to 100 though, not so bad, right? Neutral water feeds helped a lot - it really wasn't that bad. We were all wondering in the car how the VeloPromo B team (Cicarreli Enterprises) can set up a great neutral water station, but (for instance) the Berkeley Hills RR can't. Makes no sense.

Anyway, the ride up was good - the truck was packed in tight with 5 guys but everything fit

The race itself was not what I was expecting. Breakaways simply didn't work today because Daniel Holloway had a different workout in his I'm-a-national-champion schedule than we did, and he needed to ride really hard for a long time apparently, because he just sat on the front and towed everything back. Damned impressive really but it meant that my attempts to be more aggressive today (4 different breakaways!) were all for naught.

At least I learned the lesson from yesterday, go with the breaks! It was a lot more fun, and one of them could have made it - if it had I would have been there...

Coming into the sprint, we just caught the cat 4 field, and boy was that a mess. We somehow kept everything together, and though I had been on uber-sprinter John Wilk's wheel I lost it into the last corner. Then while I also mostly learned the sprinting lesson from yesterday and I sprinted much more aggressively I didn't quite unleash the best sprint at the right time, rolling across in 7th place out of the 28 folks that started. But you know what 7th place is? My first cat 1 upgrade point, in my first weekend! Score.

Not sure what I can take away from this race (besides the upgrade point) except that in the sprint I need to really push harder and earlier. The numbers weren't as big as I can go - 700W instead of 1000W (big difference!) and the duration was a bit shorter than I can do when I'm mentally on my game too. If I really get all that right, I think I can crack top 5.

At the risk of alienating one of my 4 readers, I'll pick on Joel again and mention he was not in the top 7 ;-). John W (his teammate) was 3rd though (great showing!) and Joel worked for him, so it's only good for laughs. Honestly it was a great weekend - I really enjoyed racing with the stronger field, and I was off in a couple breaks with Joel (who was both supportive and ribbing me at the same time) which was honestly a lot of fun. Then sprinting with John was great too. I ride with these guys every week but never get to see them turn the pedals in anger - now I do and it's great to watch.

Also, it was fun to do 71 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes, and finally, frankly, it felt great to race in a new field and just not do anything stupid or dangerous despite the higher speeds. Safe and smooth is good, and being safe and smooth while being aggressive and mixing it up in the sprint is a bonus. Good stuff.

Not sure what's up with the Memorial Day weekend, I've got a great friend coming in to town so I may be MIA. But I'll be out at the port. See everyone there.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

One goal met, but some missed opportunities

Went to the Modesto crit and played with the big dogs in my first P12 race today.

Carpooled up with Tim Granshaw, TOSean and Joel. Fun chatter up and back, with a free anatomy lesson. Good times.

Modesto itself was only 95 degrees or something for the warm up and race. Don't get me wrong, that's hot (hot enough to melt my cat, as you can see), but it's not apocalyptic.

Mixed up a bit at the start, jumping across gaps, rotating a bit, but it was a bit too early and by the time the heavy hitters went for it I was taking a breather. We'd been doing 6 minutes at 28-29mph by that point and 10 over 27.5. Similar to the heat - not lightning fast but moving along. So I'm resting up 15th wheel or so and there go the stars-n-stripes of Hollaway up the road with a bunch of folks.

That meant I watched the break that stuck roll away - a little disappointing since I was in position and honestly had the gas but thought "it's a long race, that's a messy number of people, I'll fire it up in a couple more minutes". Lesson learned there. If you can get in a move, just do it already.

In the final sprint I had an opportunity to help Chris Turner (a nice guy, you'd help him too) for the win after he lapped but I had a cranio-rectal inversion and didn't realize he had a lap. Would have been nice to exercise some power (which I had - legs felt great) in the finale with Bosch there too. Another lesson learned. Pay attention to who is off the front, and chat more with folks you know instead of playing the hermit. Even though I don't have teammates, that'll make the racing more fun. At least I let Chris in the slipstream with no fuss when he asked.

At the same time, next time ask for a hand though, Chris! I had about 600-800m of warp speed in the tank, and with me and Bosch, you might have beaten the super-strong Rapinski and scored one for us underdogs...instead there was a lull and he attacked solo on the last lap, then got pipped.

Finally, in the real sprint I hesitated at my pre-determined sprint jump point (Suisun Crit repeat here...), stood up with the rest of the group, and didn't do as well in the pack sprint as I should have. Was still accelerating at the line which is always the sign of a bad sprint for me. Had a clear line and everything but something along the lines of a starstruck "wow I'm in a P12 sprint" was going through my mind instead of "go go go". Dang! Final lesson learned - they're just bike racers, and so am I. Jump already fer cryin' out loud ;-).

I'm not mad at myself though. My clearly stated goal at the start of the race was to finish with the pack or better. I got a 18th (out of 40ish?), I don't think I rode sketchy or lacked class, and hopefully folks in the group will start to get used to a hairy legged guy with carrot choppers (tri-spokes) in the group. Which would be good, because I'm going to remember these lessons, and I intend to be mixing it up in here for the rest of the season...

Oh, I should mention (to steal a Paul Mach line) that you can see here that I beat both Joel R and Brian Bosch, conclusively proving that I am better at all things bike-related than them. Guess they're just handing out cat 1 licenses to anybody nowadays, sheesh ;-)

You can see in the chart what the numbers look like. I put gridlines in at my LT power (270W currently), 30mph and 100rpm. And I smoothed it a bit so you're missing the peaks but you can see better. The heat made my heart rate skew pretty high - probably 5-10 beats. Otherwise that's normal for me.

Now I'll take a quick moment to say thanks to everyone that I chat with or ride with or that reads these bloggin's and encourages me in general and specifically when I moved up to the 2s. I love pushing myself but it isn't always easy - your support helps a lot.

Next up, the Modesto RR tomorrow. 72 miles of flat hot fun, weee...


Friday, May 16, 2008

The verdict is in

case closed

today was definitely the most beautiful commute ever

70 degrees, light breeze, early sun-up, and a recovery day so the pedaling was easy.

Even having the polo fields locked down and blocked off for the ING bay to ING breakers brought to you by ING didn't bug me since I didn't need to ride much.

Should be the perfect calm before the storm of my first P12 race

happy Friday all

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's a bike party!

Went for the long ride this morning

GG Park to the Great Highway and the Lake Merced loop (thanks Beth!) then up Foerster/Teresita, across Twin Peaks, then bombing down 7th back at the park

Then .... skidding to a stop at 7th and something because hey! It's Bike to Work day! Woohoo - there's maybe 20 people clustered around a table with free bagels, coffee, water, bags, and scones.

Cyclists are whizzing around everywhere on their way to work, dropping in like hummingbirds for vittles. I'm a scone-a-holic so I grabbed one of those.

Then I pedaled off through the park, headed out Arguello and out to the Presidio, bombed down towards Crissy Field and .... stopped short at a *huge* bike to work party in the Presidio.

Maybe 50 folks and people are laying around taking it easier here - there's supposed to be a BBQ later, apparently but some of us do actually have to get to work at some point :-). So I grabbed an apple and waded out of the crowd back to the commute

Saw about double the bike traffic, all told - honestly I see quite a few bikes normally, so this meant that at any given point there were about 5-10 people on bikes cycling to work. That's a lot of people! A good showing

And all that hippie treehugger crap aside (because it's all about me, really) how cool is it when you're normal commute to work all the sudden has *feed zones*?? Very cool.

Apparently I get a free ride on the ferry tonight, and maybe another canvas tote bag. I have been warned that it is mayhem trying to get all the bikes *on* the ferry though with all the extra riders. We'll see :-)

At my office we had Gil, Dennis, Jon Belew (plus his daughter to school!), Nick and me. Go Tacit Knowledge

Hope everyone else riding around today has a good ride

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lion-based recovery day art

The early cat catches the...snake, I think

But what if the cat foolishly chose to eat nothing but a lot of heavily-frosted chocolate cake for breakfast?

outlook not so good

Perhaps a healthy choice of oatmeal or similar would have resulted in the strength of an Assyrian emperor instead

And then there's this

I'm really not sure what's going on here. I'm getting mixed signals.

On the data junkie side, I'll say that the port ride was fast last night, but not as fast as it first appeared. Rumors of 30mph averages were exaggerated. The fastest lap I could pull out of the data was 28.8mph. Now, that's quick, but we'll just have to all collectively do some intervals and work harder to hit a 30mph lap. Get to it, folks!

In other news, this post is brought to you by the number 285, which would be significantly larger than 255, and represents the 20-minute power I kicked out in my most recent test (Friday). The legs are coming around, just in time for some racing

Which makes me think...maybe this weekend it's time to give the P/1/2 field a shot, in beautiful Modesto. We'll see...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Teresa's b-day strikes back

so, we went to Chez Gilbert last night to watch the Istanbul F1 race for our usual formulagrub group, and we're unloading our cinco de mayo leftovers on everyone.

Turns out the cake we brought over still had candles and you can't *not* sing feliz cumpleanos when that happens, can you?

I do think 7 days of birthday celebration is either pushing it or something to shoot for though - can't decide which ;-)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why I didn't ride my bike on Sunday

This was just how the party *started*

(Karen, you're a beautiful Frida)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Isn't this a cycling blog? Where's the damned cycling?

Where's all the cycling babble? Good question!

The missus and I had a blowout 40th birthday party / Cinco de Mayo festival at our house last night (complete with bartendress and a banquet of made-to-order food, sweet!), so that's a large part of the story.

I also up and went to Texas a couple weekends ago which knocked a few days out of the schedule and took out a race weekend.

Believe it or not I do things other than ride (like, you know, running a small consulting business with my wife, and helping run a medium-sized one with a bunch of other friends) so missing a few days meant the following weekend after that was almost completely spent on catching up

Then last week, during the week, we took off for the North Bay to spend a couple days with Teresa's dad (pictured above) who is dealing with some serious health issues and just needs a hand. Lots of driving and gutter cleaning and lawn mowing and stuff later, we dropped back in to town to play catch up furiously for a couple days before afore-mentioned birthday bash

So it's been a few weeks of Real Life Stuff but not much cycling and definitely no racing, and that's okay. I always manage to take the early part of the summer off from racing for some reason or another and I think it makes me better in August. This year looks like it's no different

I do miss the weekly Tuesday World Championships down at the POO, and hanging with everyone at Los Cantaros though - hopefully I get back in the groove and make it out next week.

Until then I hope everyone else is having a good time and tearing the racing circuit up. Speaking of which - I have to give a quick shout to Maury (upgraded!), Mel and Kieran (Cat's Hill podium folks) for their recent success. Also a quick shout to Alice to get better quickly. I'll see everyone out there soon enough.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

International Teresa's Birthday Week

I can't tell what's brighter, the candle, your smile, or that mischievous twinkle in your eye

I've always loved that twinkle though...

Happy birthday

(I'll be back to bike-related babbling soon, I promise but priorities are priorities after all :-) )

Thursday, May 1, 2008

long morning rides / old house

Been "experimenting" with longer rides in the morning. In quotes because I know hat the result will be - going from 15 hours week to 20 will make me a stronger rider, but the question is whether I can actually get up at 5 every day.

No way I could do it if Teresa wasn't also on this crazy dawn patrol with me (she's doing boot camp @ the Oakland Y)

It does pose a challenge though. Where do you go in San Francisco when you have 2 hours to kill? The polo fields are just too monotonous for that duration. Today I went out to the zoo then by our old house in SF (pictured). They still have the Dr.Suess trees looking good but I forgot how steep those Miraloma Park roads were. No wonder I hated riding when I lived there.

Headed up twin peaks for the view, then hooked up the polo fields for the usual route.

I'm definitely going to have to bust the maps out and get some loops going though or I'm going to go nuts with boredom...