Saturday, September 3, 2011

Masters National Championship TT

The podium, the Jersey, and the Medal.

Bend OR, a modern efficient town sitting on the threshold of an arid tumbleweed desert, and the base of the Cascade Mt range. The perfect place to host Masters Nationals, Bend is burgeoning with Ponderosa pine, the Descutes river, and cool looking rocks.   One of them is named the Monkey Face and I hear its a pretty sweet rock climb.  I'm not sure what kind of rocks they are but maybe we can get the famous Phil Mooney to chime in with a little geology lesson when he gets a break from racing as a Pro.  Phil?  At any rate moving away from the rocks, where else can you find the roundabout?  You may not believe it but these simple creations completely eliminate the need to sit at a stop sign or stop light.  They send motorist and bikers alike on a daily journey of smooth flowing traffic ensuring peace, safety, and enjoyment for all.  Marin soccer moms, if there is one thing you deserve, its the roundabout.
OK, I'll get down to it.  The TT course is one that I've done many times only on this occasion its shortened from about 35 km down to 25 km.  From the start it snakes out of the High School and heads up an innocent looking climb.  The innocence is lost pretty quickly as the road soon pitches up and becomes steeper the farther you travel.  After about 8km you turn around and head straight back down the hill reaching speeds of over 50 mph.  Then at the 16km mark, you make a sharp turn right and head up over a rolling bluff with with a few power climbs, roundabouts, medians, winding descents, tumbleweed, and some pine forest.  There is a golf course in there at some point but between the sweat in my eyes and the snotty drool splattered all over myself I couldn't see a thing.  I set the fastest time of the day as I crossed the finish line and then anxiously listened to Dave Towle announce the time of the riders that follow.  In the end I won by about 35 seconds.  Its a great feeling.
Now some people may call me a sand-bagger, and that's pretty much what I'm secretly calling myself.  However I didn't call Lance a sand-bagger  when he showed up at the Tour of the Gila and I was 47th place 1:47 behind the TDF champion.  I felt privileged and stoked that I made it to a level that allowed me to even line up against him.  In respect to my competitors I'm obviously not Lance Armstrong and have no grounds to compare my performance with his, but you hopefully get the picture.
As a 31 year old amateur racer, I fit into many different categories.  I may race as a Masters 30-34, a Category 1, some races pit me against the domestic pro teams, and occasionally I'm lucky enough to line up against a big name UCI Pro rider from the TDF.  I am the in between rider without a true home.
The way my season has gone I'm just happy to be riding my bike. But I'm obviously elated to walk away with a national championships jersey and super fat gold medal.  Even if it was masters category 30-34.  I know some riders that would pay a large some of money for the chance to wear one of these and I won it fare and square.

How do I put this thing on?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vacaville Grand Prix and Pack Fodder

Just saving face

I love this race its fun.  The Vacaville Grand Prix has a bit of everything. A power climb, a kinda fast descent, a straight away to get things established, followed by a narrow pinch your ass cheeks together and hold on tight for your life hairpin, and lots of 90' corners that require you to turn your head in a direction other than to the right.  Thirty laps and super hot.  At the start line it was Justin Rossi,  Nate Freed, and me (Mr. Pack Fodder).  My fitness has been lacking to say the least but, little do the masses know, I broke my Collarbone 7 weeks ago. Currently, my legs are like whip cream on shit, no matter how I dress them up they still stink, but at least I still have a presence about me that makes people uneasy.  As such, I used my rancid reputation  to my advantage and attacked like a ravenous turkey vulture vomiting missiles aimed for destruction.  Lacking my usual voracity and velocity, I was lucky to go half the distance falling short on every occasion.  Its was all I could do to perform a solid attack and avoid the inevitable slaughter house. The meager strength of my legs forced me to latch on to any available wheel with my head hanging low whimpering all the while for a draft.  Ya know I'm Just trying to save face and sell the decoy.
Luckily "Fierce Freed" was doing a more convincing job of being a hoodlum and still holding his position at the front.

Fierce Freed
Fiece Nate

Nate enjoying the action

Rossi giving it an early go
Rossi giving it an early go

Eventually about 15 laps in Veteran Norc-Cal hero James Mattis took a flyer and Rookie Rossi was soon to follow creating a duo that worked well together.

Rookie meets Veteran
Old boy Fierce and yours truly Mr. Pack Fodder promptly set ourselves to the act of patrolling the front and neutralizing anything threatening so as to let the gap grow like a hormone fed pig.

MarcPro-Strava on patrol duty
Fat Bacon!...........The move stuck and I watched it from the sidelines.   My job was done and so were my legs so why not?

Rossi feeding the gap

The conclusion, poor Rossi took second again.

Rookie boy Rossi has so many podiums this year and has been a factor in almost every finish of each race he has entered, yet he just can't seem to win. Trust me its not because of his legs.  I am actually unsure of Rossi's true origins but I think it began somewhere with an ox, a horse, and 30 hours a week in the pool as a collegiate swimmer.   He also lives and trains at altitude then races at sea level.  The coefficient of all this add up to deliver a powerhouse of a cyclist. However, its his determination that always bites him like a double edged sword.  Despite having the best legs and making it into the decisive moves, his opponents  just don't feel as ambitious when it comes to setting the pace.  I'm sure you don't hear them telling Rossi to go faster or take longer pulls.  They're just stoked to sit in his mega draft and conserve.  They don't care if the move gets brought back, they have more teammates ready to counter-attack.  But Rossi, he worked his ass off to get in this move, he worked his ass off to be able to push the watts, and you can bet your ass that he is going to work to make the move stick.  My critique of Rossi is also praise.  In just one season he has emerged as the best all around rider on our team and Nor-Cal.  We all can count on him to be there when we're not.  I think Rossi has amassed 98% of the tools and knowledge in one season that riders struggle to gain in a career.  The seeds therefore have been sown and next years harvest looks to be very promising.  If I've learned just one thing this year it has to be that I'm glad to be on the same team as Rossi and the rest of the MarcPro-Strava athletes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Universally Speaking...................a rant.

meditate on this.

5:30 am Truckee
The morning air presented itself refreshingly brisk yet cool and calm, like a Buddhist meditating with a pine cone in a tranquil forest of wise ponderosa.   Well actually It was Jesse Miller Smiths guest bedroom with a balcony overlooking a quaint mountain town neighborhood. That said, it was peaceful, even if at 5:30 in the morning his dog Ziggy was at my feet beckoning fervently with wildly anticipating eyes, drool oozing from both sides of his young fuzzy mug with only one thought on his mind.  I want to play fetch throw me the ball.  Just like Ziggy, we had one thought on our minds........District TT championships, and of course coffee.

JMS, Frank Spiteri and I left poor Ziggy in front of the TV.  I have never seen a dog watching baseball drooling and following the ball as it moves across the screen, obviously dreaming that he may someday be given the opportunity to chase that dream.  Truly a site to see. Ok, Ok, ok.........Bike racing....yup, we lined up for the TT........pushed as hard as we could.......two of us made the podium....I was third again, just like last year, and then we piled into Franks Car and the two of us began the most epic race of the day.  The drive from Sattley to Benicia to do the Taleo criterium.......It was epic...........We were told by a local, I can't remember his name, to take the hypotenuse.  I always thought the hypotenuse  was a straight line but apparently to the local it meant driving 80 miles at 40 mph on the most meandering roller-coaster of a road on earth. Rafting down the Yuba river may have been faster.  Any rate, after our stressed for time journey we arrived in Benicia and had an epic time finding parking.  Locating registration was like a rat finding cheese in a maze with no sense of smell.  Then on the way to the start line I managed to crash in the grass, land on my back and have my coke explode all over me in front of 50 spectators.  My warm up consisted of 2 hours on the MarcPro while driving and in the end we made it to the start line with 4 min to spare. To boot, I was covered in sweat and sticky, caffeinated, overly GMO fortified corn syrup from my pre-race antics.

The universe was speaking......we weren't listening.

The race started and was going pretty well.  Nate Freed, Frank, and I were taking turns tearing it up, counterattacking and having a blast.  With 9 laps to go.....I was taking some big digs, and after rounding a corner at mach speed, drilling it off the front, my bike mysteriously started skipping every other pedal rotation........suck balls!.......I pulled into the pit.  Dripping with sweat and frustrated I struggled to find the problem.  It ended up being a bent chain link that kept jumping every time it when though the derailleur pulleys and around the cog.  My race was over........and shortly after Frank  joined me on the sidelines.  However from the looks of it, things did not play out as well for him. 
Frank was involved in a crash but he was patiently and calmly walking to the chief referee with another rider who looked to be berating Frank with every word in the book.  This other rider was accusing Frank of acting like a criminal that   premeditated a scheme to run him into the barriers causing him to crash and consequentially break his Specialized frame and Zipp wheel.   
Now Frank has to be one of the nicest guys on our team and he tends to race in what I would call a very ethical, conscientious and graceful manner.  He also has great awareness for other riders in the race and I have never seen him do anything like this other rider was describing.  I feel sorry for the other rider but bike racing is dangerous.  I fully except the fact that shit happens and I have no one to blame but myself for my own predicament.  This is the reality that I have chosen and created.  If I had  placed a high value on my bicycle and my body then I sure as shit would not be racing a criterium in my underwear and blaming other riders for my misfortune.  I race my bike for the experience and accept the risk.  I would suggest that other riders do the same.  If the universe speaks you better listen.  If you want to stay safe, well, I got news for ya.......Just meditate on what the word safe really means and what an illusion the idea of safety really is.  When its your turn its your turn. 

Bicycle racing is fun, its very dangerous, its exciting and its very unpredictable.  In the end its your choice.  Stop whining about it.  Embrace racing for what it is and enjoy the people and experiences that weave its fabric and display its energy. Take a lesson from Ziggy.........just be stoked, and get even more stoked when someone wants to play ball with you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I don't realy want to WRitE anything at the moment..........but

I won my first pro 1/2 race on May 1rst, The Auburn Downtown Criterium............And there was actually one pro athlete present, but he had chicken arms, so I crushed him.
Sorry Max.

In the beginning.

Shortly after

Then I was alone

For a long time.

After 35 min alone I found some friends, or maybe they found me, but at any rate, we had to leave a few of them behind.

The final selection of four.

Still cruising near the end.

Oops, I did it again. Just can't seem to keep friends these days.

I soloed the last two laps and crossed the line alone.

Freaking Introvert!

Gave my first interview!

It was a rough interview. Turns out the reporter, Todd, had a brother named, Trevor, that was a friend of mine back in the high school days in Idaho. Small world, or maybe we are all bacon.

At least the payout was better then the ghetto folding chair for the podium.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Dumbo Helmet at the Calaveras TT

Still looking for pictures........but this is the dumbo helmet.

Not sure why I came up with the name dumbo helmet?

One look at the picture and I'm sure you can take a guess.

Anyrate, when I slip the dumbo helmet over my greasy mop of gnarled hair, I dumb the senses down and just focus on the moment. My universe becomes as narrow as the space between my temples and I meter the pain by holding my effort on the fence of agony and indifference. The effort is brief, as if I'm rushing through a schizophrenic fit and I must fuse the supreme forces of love and anger, frustration and appreciation, and turn the raw explosive violence of my legs into a dance that's as smooth as a babies ass fresh from a Mill Valley spa and treated with the likes of shea butter, rose oil, coconut wax, flax seed oil, Anica and Vitamin D.

How long can I hold the throttle wide open? How long can I endure the pain? How strong am I? What is the freak'n point anyways and why the F#$%^ am I doing this?

get my drift?

I can't even answer my own questions. Maybe that is why Its called the Dumbo Helmet. Maybe its symbolic of our short lives on this planet and what we choose to do with them. What ever the answer...I love time trials and I love my Dumbo helmet.

Today at the Calaveras tt, I was the first looser.....that means I got second. I got second for a couple of reasons.

Roman Kilun is a paid proffesional....and I have a full time Job, therefore he beat me by 33 seconds.

I broke my ribs a month ago and missed out on a bunch of training.

I was a complete sissy in the last 4 miles and said this is good enough.

It hurt and I did'nt want to hurt that bad.

I'm working on it.

Just wait.

One by one I hope to recycle these excuses into pure brilliant speed....and sooner or a god damned race..

until that time.

stay dumb....its better that way.

The dumbo helmet at the half way point.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Criterium

Sticking my nose in it.

We all rode hard.....

It was an L shape course.

It Hurt.

I'm not there yet, but I'm glad my teammates, JMS, FS, the infamous NF and Professor AR.......were having a good ride. They all finished safe and sound, getting in some great crit training with the pros and watching each others backs.

I for the most part felt like a rat in a hamster wheel engaged in a perpetual dash from the start to finish. Each lap was a barbarically obstinate display of wasted energy. My fragile moral was teetering on the void. If I dared to focus on the entire 90 minute task that lay in front of me I might run off into the bushes and cry like a feeble child. My sole purpose it seemed was to complete a lap and do it again as fast as I could without a moment of respite in between. I guess that's the way it should be......surviving the moment and embracing it all at once.

hanging in perpetual motion.

The peloton was alive and I focused on its movements. I visualized it as one giant organism allowing my peripheral senses to guide me into magical lanes that opened at just the right moment. If my senses failed me, I would most likely end up wrapped around the metal dividers, stuck in the gutter, or shredded by the mob of rabid riders behind me and I didn't want to ruing another team kit.

At some point near the end of my obstinate journey I found the path....I saw the light and I went for it...I shot in front of leaders and then rocketed away from them as if they carried the plague. Nirvana, I told myself, lay just around the next corner and my life now finally had meaning. And then, my legs just failed. 150 yards in front of a enraged peloton I cratered like liquid elephant dung with lead sinkers as balast. Then a rider bridged up and passed me..I suffered trying to grab his wheel....and then I suffered even more as I failed to grab his wheel. Two more riders bridged up and past me they went. Then In a full sprint of whatever worthless strength I could summon I threw in a last ditch effort to catch back on to this select group...Head down, standing and stomping on the pedals, I smacked into a glued on raised reflector in the middle of the road and just about ate asphalt in front of the announcer on the finishing straight. I racked my ribs in the process. The ribs that were ailing from when I broke them a few weeks ago......I proceeded to die on my bike suffering for two more laps. Then without hesitation I threw in the towel and resigned myself to the first aid tent.

My lungs were not punctured. So it was just pain. I would live.

I hope to be healthy soon.

The guys all finished......and finished well.

Jesse Miller Smith had an outstanding race. Finishing 36 in the GC not bad considering this is a pro race, and we are a first year amateur team. Good job team.

Frank Spiteri a respectable 47th

Art Rand 72nd

Nate Freed 99th the Lanterne Rouge

Me DNF......I was in it for fitness.

Nate at the wheel.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"No Wood in Madera" a Madera Stage Race Report

This year I am required to write occasional race reports for MarcPro-Strava. In the past I have not been keen on race reports........they tend to be boring and filled with "I did this" and "I did that" and "then I was feeling like ____ _ I"...bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla............bla-ed all over myself.

Here is my account of the Madera Stage Race from last weekend.......try not to puke on yourself.

Warning...I have no Pictures

So if your that type.......just leave.

Madera is Spanish for wood which is funny or maybe its just plain sad, (I'm still debating on the selection). No matter where I set my gaze, I didn't see a stand of timber, a lot of trees, or wood of any sort while racing in Madera, CA. For this simple reason, I believe Cow Shit must be synonymous with LSD and the Madera city founders must have lined up at Cosco in force. Stocking up on the fibrous freeze dried patty variety for later consumption at town council meetings. Either that or the trees have all been chopped, reaped from the ground, and or are currently for sale in the lumber department at Home depot.

At any rate the Mardera County Sage race presented by Velo Promo and all their ambiguous Re-neck-er-y is a bright pink circle on my yearly racing calendar. The race has a hill climb TT with cows, a flat TT with bees, a Crit with railroad tracks, and a road race with organic pavement imported fresh from the obliterated streets of post European WWII. Soft crosswinds were available to caress our freshly shaven legs throughout the rolling country side and neutral feed zones satiated our endless thirst as we quenched out gullets with soapy plastic water from re-used, under rinsed water bottles. Truly, I love this race!

MarcPro- Strava made up for its lack of numbers with the brute force of Justin Rossi's calves, Dustins Hann's unique style, and my cracked ribs. Our bright green and pink Jerseys abducted the fields presence and Dustin's yellow Mavic shoes helped hypnotize riders into the gutter where they belong. Needless to say we were well represented and packing heavy artillery.

Day #1

Ben Hur uphill individual tt, (Ben HURT). 10 miles total with 6 miles rolling and 4 miles uphill...shit pavement was plentiful.

I brought my freshly busted torso, a skin suit, a fancy carbon bike, and to cap it all off a dumbo helmet. Rossi did the same minus the ribs. Rossi is my teammate and obvious nemesis and I plan to crush him throughout the season just as I crushed him by 12 seconds today. Mr Hahn decided to limit his shifter to only one gear by clamping his aero extensions on top of his cables and busted it single speed style for a top 20 seating...just wait till he has all his gears. The wind was especially brutal this year and times were appropriately much slower. Boo Hoo!

  • Lunner 6th 33:12
  • Rossi 10th 33:24
  • Dustin 19th 34:37

Day #2

Sharon TT ,10.4 miles flat and breezy.

I was stung by a bee, Justin got his power meter to work.....and it worked......he crushed it and won. Dustin brought his Wal-mart base layer skin suit complete with see through nipple windows. We all had fun.

  • Justin 1rst 21:22
  • Lunner 8th 21:56
  • Dustin 13th 22:24

Day #2

afternoon criterium, complete with railroad tracks and safety cones.

We had a plan.......wait 30-40 min and then be aggressive as possible. Attack simultaneously and sail off into the sunset for the win. Well we got away together.......tore some legs off and then sat back in for the group finish saving some fight for the next day since the sunset in Madera is not really all that noteworthy. Of note, however, was that I broke off the front with 10 min left, noticed the legendary Eric Wohlberg fighting to grab my wheel........I held up, let him grab it, and proceeded to show my acknowledgment by extending my draft around the corner. Then the fucker just countered me and bridged up to the escape group alone and won. Last time I wait for him..........sneaky little shit, guess he's in it for the money.

Day #3

Daulton RR, 85 miles.

5 laps with a roller-coaster finish, 4 to 5 miles of death pavement per lap, and a heaping garnish of crosswind. Still no Wood. However erratic boulders left over from the last glacial ice-age or maybe unearthed from the loamy hills , (who knows I'm no geologist), peppered the countryside. The cows and almond trees congregating around the boulders combined with the green grass flourishing in the overly bovine fecal fields and glistening in the morning light made for the utmost beautiful course ever. Game on.

We lined up for the start, with Justin in 4th in the General Classifications, myself in 8th, and Dusting dangling but still in the mix. The plan...let Cal Giant do all the work to protect their overall. It worked great, until on the end of the 4th lap Dustin asked me if it would be Ok to "start attacking." I said "yes." Then he attacked immediately. I should have been more clear that its "Ok to attack when we have a good opportunity to do so...not just right now because I said yes." After Dustins attack the field went buzzerk and we just didn't have enough riders to cover attacks......duh! And Little Vinny Owens got himself up the road with race leader Evan Huffman of Cal Giant.

Now we have the race leader and 13th place up the road with a few unknown riders left over from the days break. This spelled Danger for our GC hopes! So, instead of pulling the whole field I did what I do best....pick a good moment and blast myself up the road....solo. I was reeled in after a hard chase by the bunch. Then I literally rejoiced to the gods as Rossi blasted immediately off the front countering my move. He dug hard, but after another strained effort by the field he was pulled I gunned it again and this time I was gone. Two riders bridged up with another in route....We we're sailing away less than 40 seconds from the leaders and then........Psstsss!!!!!........Flat!.... WTF!....this is the smoothest part to the entire course. "Madera!"

After a wheel change and a gallant chase with Dustin crushing it like a super domestique.... I was back to the group...Crisis averted...Opportunity gone.....screw that!....the field was sitting still and the break was gaining time. "We can't have this" I said to myself, so as soon as I caught on I went directly off the front...and we started the process over again no bullshit style. We continued attacking and then halfway through the rough section I gave it all I had. Cal Giant chased me in vein and then gave up. I kept going but then someone else drug the remnants of the group up to me. Gasping for air, I looked back hoping to see Justin and Dustin countering...and to the dismay of my slurred profanity they were no where to be seen...Uh Oh! They flatted as I was attacking, that's just sweet I had no Idea. Now I'm roasted and these guys are all racing to the finish which is only 2-3 miles away. I wanted to puke but I had no choice other than to dig in, latch on to the back, and calm down. I had to regain myself for the finish. I knew Justin's hopes were over. It was up to me to preserve our top 10 in the GC.

I took 5th in the field sprint while Rossi time trialed it in with Dustin. Hearty time bonuses were available at the finish and thus Vince jumped from 13th to 2nd overall with some of the other breakaway riders leap frogging up in the standings as well. I stayed in 8th, Rossi fell to 11th, and Dustin 24th. The end.

We had some bad luck. Surely without the demons of the forgotten madera woodlands, we would have had at least one podium, maybe two but regardless, I left this race in good spirits. As the saying goes "that's bike racing" and I couldn't be happier with the way we rode our bicycles. I had these sensations that we were a super power on the last lap and a force to be reckoned with....I think the highlight for me was Rossi countering my move and riders just scrambling to get on his wheel as if he were that Ben guy from that Bissel team? It was the perfect 1-2-3....with my next attack sticking. Perfect teamwork. When the whole is united and starts riding like this we will have so much fun...wait that was fun.....we'll just have more fun.

Look Out!