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!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My helmet, a cave man, and a broken shifter.

My Helmet

My Face A cave man

My shifter

Oh, my brake.

And my bike.

How did this all happen?
Well, first of all, I decided to race my bike and needless to say, it comes with the territory.
Secondly, I sometimes ride a bit fast, and on this occasion I rode casually past some riders into a corner at 39.7 mph. I was chasing the back end of a break away group. The corner had a radius that decreases as it almost doubled back on itself........Nothing new, but it was right before we tied into another road and there just happened to be a large white truck shining in my face distracting my eyes from the corner. I have to say that I have no mental image of the actual path the road took which means I never had a chance to turn my head and look. Contaminated with some sort of pixie dust, my eyes directed their full attention on the truck. The gaze was powerful. It was as if I had encountered the most beautiful naked woman glistening in all her nakedness. Speeding under the influence, I commenced to launch off the road Jan Ullrich style. Luckily I hit a rock the size of a 40lb dog and face planted digging a trench into the dirt before I hit the gleaming goddess.....uh truck.

That was it....pretty standard stuff.

One of my favorite things about bike racing or just bicycle riding in general is that it allows me to let go of certain perceptions of society that I allow to blind and numb me. The tepid, convenient, and comfortable illusions of society just fade away. Instinct takes over. The senses scream mutiny at the illusions and I'm planted right in the middle of life blooming around me.
Sure there are other ways, but at this point in time, while my body is still a tool, this is mine.

For this reason, I don't mind that my face is smashed up and my ribs are fucked. Or that my left pointer finger looks like a German sausage used as a dart jammed repeatedly into a dartboard with sheer determination that for obvious reasons failed.

I am, however, really pissed that my faithful, lucky, hand made bicycle, a made only for me pretty much ruined for life. I can't just go buy another one.....Its fucked.

I'm also pissed that I'm not racing my bike today, tomorrow, and the next day. Nope, I'm sitting here in pain. Every movement is like somebody is jamming a shredded metal coat hanger into my lungs.....and all I can do for some sick reason is to laugh at it. Then it hurts more...fuck! All the while my teammates are out racing and I can't join in the fun and help them out. So I sit here and say....."you fucking idiot" to myself when I know fair well that I would'nt do anything differently next time. That's just the way I ride my bike and I don't race to practice being conservative. I do that every other day of the week. Maybe this makes me
"not so smart"........maybe next time I'll ride an entire lap before I follow my gut...........Maybe a little balance is what I need. Maybe it just keeps the fire stoked. Have to wait and see.

Better luck next time.