Thursday, June 3, 2010

Long Beach Grand Prix

***All pics of race removed. I used them without the photographer's permission and received an email to not do so.***

Ok...A little late. Got a couple emails
from people who had just found this
pathetic ragged peice of a blog; and actually asked me to continue it. My pleasure actually, since it was originally a way to inform me dear mum and sis of the race happenings hear in Socal. Thanks to a guy named Tony I have anew found enthusiasm to do so. I should be picking up the racing soon so there will be more to write about.

At the start of the race I began warming up around the city. The race was right in the middle of downtown Long Beach, near the aquarium and theatre. I hopped on the steed and gently rolled over the train tracks, breathing in the cool, salty ocean breeze. The air had a small hint of the oil rigs which reminded me of the many hours I spent on the Long Beach shoreline as a child; body surfing and watching sting rays swim while snorkeling. Yet here I was, about elbow it out with a bunch of other nimrods in a 6 corner crit race. **Sigh.**

See the first pic? I'm watching a Cat2 go up the road right from the gun. This being a Fire/Military/Police race, there were varied degrees of talent in the field. A Swami's team rider who happened to be from which service I still don't know, shot up the course and had a 15 second gap within two laps. I proceeded to chase. I then noticed I chasing alone. I repeatedly waived my Firefighter, Soldier, and Officer bretheren through with abosolutely no response.

Everytime I would pull off to let someone take the wind and pull the group, the pack would all sit up behind me. I then noticed that much of the pack was already hurting, which was not good since I had been pulling at MAYBE 25 per. It was about then that a second Cat2 rider attacked and bridged up to the leader. I had ignorantly been pulling into the wind and didn't have the real estate to respond. Now there were two very fast riders ahead and a pack full of fodder that I was still pulling along. I soon tired of this, and peeled off the front. I figured if I was going to do all the work, I was not going to cradle 45 other adults around the course.

I dropped one more cog and said goodbye to the field, now setting my sights on the two mutants up the road spanking themselves.

This sounded like a great idea until I realized what I was trying to do. A Cat3 chasing two very strong Cat2's who were working together flawlessly. The futility of this began to sink in as I slowly realized I was going into oxygen debt. I know my body enough to know my HR was prolly about 185 or so. This meant the fuel tank was slowly going down. I could hang on at this effort for the remainder of the crit, but any faster and it would have been a severe detonation.

About this time tall, lanky creature bridged up to me from the group. It happened to be a nice fellow from Irvine PD, and also happened to be the winner of this very event the previous year.

The gentleman was unable to help too much as he had burned most of his matches while making the bridge to myself, bless his heart.We worked together. Well, somewhat. I pulled into the headwinds everytime, and he the tailwinds. Which means he didn't do all that much work. Thats ok, though, he did his best.

One lap to go and we no longer can see the two leaders. The only positive thing about the situation now is we cannot see the field behind is either. So at least I am gauranteed a fourth place even if all goes wrong. I waive my partner through and he tells me "I'm done, go ahead you're going to win."

Now, translate this any way you want, but to most reasonable people this sounds like he just gave me the third place. His tone was anything but sneaky-like, so I figured him for as good samaritan and thought he was gifting me the podi, seeing as my face was in the wind for him about 90% of the time. As we come around the last turn my compatriot begins sprinting past me. WTF?!?! This guy sucks wheel the entire last lap and thinks he's going to zip on by without a hitch. Daddy don't think so, and I promptly spanked him for trying to do so, taking 3rd.

Normally I would be happy to be on the podium, a third spot in any bike race is good fortune. However, today was different. Had I simply made the move with the two up front I could have possibly taken home the Vee. Above you can see Eddy Van Guyse who played the villian cyclist in "American Flyers." Super nice guy. All I was trying to do was collect my gobs of cash for coming in 3rd, $80 to be exact. Next thing I know I was being interviewed. Scooping a big piece of humble pie in, you can visibly note the "aww shucks" look my face. "Really sir, it was nothing." Inside I was thinking of course how much my legs hurt after drilling across the pavement at 26 mph for 30 min. There's always next year.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Mt Baldy Ski Lift Ride-Epic, or just hard?

Fueled mostly in part by Josh Webster, and not wanting to be dropped in road races next year, the Sprinter heads for the hills. Most riders in the IE tend to head towards Baldy Village via Glendora Ridge Road, which offers a much more gentlemanly grade towards said village. The steeper and more painful option is to traverse directly up the face of Baldy Road; which in fact is the story for today. The more the Sprinter climbs Baldy Road and the ski lift switchbacks, the more he becomes skeptical of the claims of others. Many self-proclaimed “hardcore cyclists” spin tales of climbing to the ski lifts as the Sprinter watches them struggle up grades one-third the difficulty of the mentioned switchbacks. Forcing to the Sprinter to call bullshit where needed, seeing as though hundreds of cyclists claim to ride to the lifts yet on a beautiful Sunday the Sprinter sees but four total humans on bicycles. Seeing as though there is only one way there and back, the chances of missing all of these hardcore studs is unlikely. Back to Josh Webster. This one:

Josh Webster; current 35+ state road race champion, leader of a small group of children of the corn, a grammar Nazi, and a damn fine citizen, (for a developing Homo Erectus of course.) Josh is someone the Sprinter respects and admires from many standpoints. From his dedication on the bike as well as his character out of the saddle. It is mostly Josh which motivates the Sprinter to climb this mountain today. First, because the Sprinter was unable to rendezvous for a ride with Josh, and second, the Sprinter wants Josh to know he suffered like a dog without the calculated hurt that he would surely have put on the fat sprinter. When I mention to an average person that I am too fat to race with Cat 1's and 2's I get the customary look of disgust. Mostly because they are much fatter than I am. Josh however, pulls no punches. Last weekend whilst climbing with Josh the Sprinter begins to plan his racing future.
The Sprinter does NOT want more than he actually wants. For example, the Sprinter WANTS to upgrade to Cat 2 so he may ride in the service of Josh and other SC Velo Tribal Elders/pro studs. The Sprinter does NOT want a free ride. He does not want free wheels, races, kits, or Gu's. The Sprinter will not upgrade to Cat 2 and five minutes later ask Josh how many free bikes he gets. The Sprinter does not want to demand goods and services from club sponsors and/or bike shop owners. The Sprinter does not want to email club presidents and ask for team spots.
The sprinter rides on: Here is the route:

Admittedly, it doesn’t look very hard on a map. The road lacks switchbacks during the beginning making it appear to be flat or easy. It’s a 22.3 miles to the lifts from home. Again, not very impressive by the numbers if you are talking distance; but let’s take a look at the ride a little closer. Straight up Euclid through Ontario and Upland it’s a mild 2-3% until you reach San Antonio Heights. A quick stop at the fire station for water and the climbing starts.

At the top of what is called Shin Loop, is where majority of the people stop their ride and go home. There is a 3000 foot elevation sign which oddly enough is off by several hundred feet. The Garmin registers a scant 2600 feet at this point.

Now the fun begins. A right hand turn onto Baldy road and it’s 11% for small bit and then back down to 7%. Now, Baldy Road has been compared to Alp D’Huez due to its average gradient. But how accurate is average gradient? As a hefty sprinter it seems absolutely retarded. Both Baldy and Alp D’Huez register at around 8% average. Now if you are a cyclist and want to try a new ride and someone tells you the ride averages 8%, you would be thinking 8%; not 6% in some areas and 17% in others. But that’s what Baldy is. It’s easy in some parts and then steeper than shit in the others. The second part of the climb isn't too bad, some up and down areas and the two tunnels, which are about 8-9%. The last mile from the second tunnel to the Baldy Ranch sign are in my opinion one of the hardest parts of the whole ride. It's a good 11-12% the while way, which unless you are a little 140lb mountain goat, makes for a long mile.

No time for church, the sprinter has prayer of his own to do; prayer to the pain cave.

After the sign there is a small 8% uptick to the village which comes down to 5% as you come into town. The post office is the usual watering hole where one can grab a snack and some liquid.

Tired of Gu's and Bars? Then do what Jeremiah Wiscovitch does; go to Costco and get yourself a 79lb box of Uncrustables. Wisco claims he can finish the entire Redlands Stage Race on one Uncrustable, so it's gotta work. By no means gourmet; but on a ride like this it tastes like heaven in plastic wrap. Chef's note: No need to thaw the sammiches simply throw them in your jersey pocket they will be nice and chilly by the time you eat them.

Now that the Sprinter is full of PB & J goodness, time to head to the lifts. There is a short climb of 7-8% out of the village, then the switchbacks finally hit. From above:

And Below:

Halfway up the switchies and the Sprinter is now thinking this was a dumb idea. This area is fairly steep, and the turns are about 15%. It's Sunday, God's ordered day of rest, as per. If this is so then why are there so many men who ride like suffering fools EVERY Sunday? Are they unGodly, or just gluttons for punishment? The Sprinter does not fear the wrath of the God at this moment. In fact, at this particular moment of labored breathing and acid filled legs, the Sprinter's fears are minimal. He does not fear violent switchbacks, sharp descents, and rocky cliffs. He does not fear motorcycles, forestry trucks, or over-medicated housewives in large SUV's. He does not fear bears, goats, coyotes, or timber wolves. He does not fear Mountain Lions knowing that the SC Velo hunters are lying in wait in the bush clad in Ghillie suits with lion-seeking missile launchers. He does not fear killer bees, falling rocks, or angry men in Mini-Coopers. In fact, there are only two things the Sprinter fears at this moment: Circus midgets and Josh Webster. At 5000 feet we're getting somewhere now:

Last switchback, and the Sprinter is on the final stretch. A small respite and a quick downhill before the hardest part. The nice 60 degree weather down in Chino is now 26 degrees and gusty. The Sprinter has forgotten his gloves on mountain rides enough and will not be fooled by that bitch elevation any more.

The Sprinter can suffer if needed. But he has no problem admitting near defeat. Grinding up this 15% section into a headwind was brutal. The 25 cog felt like a 19, and the pedals were not frisky in the least. But there is no way the Sprinter comes this far and stops. Up to the ski lift sign and the climbing is done.

The numbers:
Final Elevation: 6200 feet
Total climbing: 5300 feet
Miles: 44.6
Will the Webster respect me more for riding to the lifts? I don't think so. But the fact I left half a lung and parts of my Aorta on Baldy Road might count for something.

Monday, October 12, 2009

GMR to Baldy Village Ride 10/10/2009

The Girl and I hit GMR to Baldy Village from Chino. 55 miles, 4 hours 23 min on the bike, 4600 feet of climbing, and a damn fine day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Portland Oregon; Back in the Promise Land

Portland, Oregon. Gem of the northwest. Beautiful countryside aplenty. Reusable shopping bags, 55mph freeway limits, tall blond mommies, Obama/Putin 2012 signs, legal pot farms, friendly hellos, hippies, and a damn fine set of bridges; as per.

Upon retiring (at the earliest hour possible) the self will promptly be gathering up his family and U-haling them to the promise land; forgoing the stop in beautiful Bakersfield, Sac-town, or Redding. For to live in Oregon is to enjoy life’s most savory atmosphere. Why sure, the property tax is a mild 87.6% and it rains 364 days a year, but there are other perks. No state tax, $2 car registration, fine cheeses and breads, college lab grown reefer; not to mention skiing, fishing, cycling, and a nifty tram which takes you from the fixie surrounded Borders Books on the river to the university at the top.

Instead of chancing the bike case rental from his local shop, plus the $900 airline fee for transporting a bicycle, son of the OC/IE yours truly decided to rent a bike from the local shop in Lake Oswego. Nice lads down there in Beverly Oswego, they are; renting the self a Cannondale for $30 a day, which was well worth the cost over a three day period when compared to the formerly listed option of self-transport. Mostly, it was worth it simply because the self could not sit inside all day in this beautiful garden of Eden and not hit the pavement.

The rented sled:
2006 Caad 8

Let’s take a look around the components shall we.

Aluminum Frame, Size 54. No 56 was available. Thanks to the boys at the Velonews forum who talked me out of getting a 54 next year as the bike was entirely too small.

The shop had a Fizik Arione test model which I swapped for the no name brand seat on the bike.

Which came complete with 1981 Bianchi seatpost.

FSA Carbon compact cranks, Shimano Ultegra throughout.

Bitchin anodized cages.

And of course, the requisite Fred stem, at a cool 35 degree upswing.

Now the Sprinter is pumped. Who needs carbon fiber, GPS computers, and 7900? Who needs heart rate monitors, $1100 wheels, and hologram cranks? As Max Kash Agro always said, “gritty not pritty.”© The self does not want a speedometer, this way he will have an excuse for the Clackamas County Deputy when he breaks the speed limit on the flats. Time to get back to base, time to enjoy the ride, time to HAMMER. No thinking, no wishing, no wanting, no hoping. There is no HOPE; only a government run free market economy and cash for clunkers. No need for a death panel anyway, the Sprinter will die young and die pritty. That’s the mantra. No Gnosticism, Sadducees, reincarnation, or spontaneous combustion. This is the final act. Enjoy it, it will be over soon. There will be no clapping, no encore, no after party with cocktails and weenies. The Sprinter is a speck on the timeline, but today the timeline gets blown up. 10 seconds to clip in. 10 seconds to launch. 10 seconds to blast off, up and over the forests of Oregon. We are going to make an Instant Rocket in class today kids. Just add Wattage. No need for milk, eggs, flour, or sugar; on account the Self is sweet enough already.

Rant over; enjoy the pics of the beautiful place I was so lucky to ride in.

Hoffman Road, SW Wilsonville:

Huge momma Mantis on the road:

Picked her up and put her in the bushes so she wouldn’t get run over:

Pete’s Mountain Road, 19%:

Top of the valley, Mt Hood not clearly visible due to some fires in the area:

Pumpkin Patch at the bottom of Turner:

Forest area of Turner Rd, 10% grade:

Ride over, legs pumped, soul cleansed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Steep Hills, Red Flags, and Asshole Arsonists

Thursday morning, Inland Empire; the 909 is surrounded by life taking, property consuming brush fires greedily lapping up everything in sight. Percentage of containment, low 20's; cause of fires; no doubt a filthy, disgusting, scabies-infested piece of parasite trash. (Read: HUMAN.)

The self is overwhelmed with the world. The communist leader preparing to address the "children," deficit in full swing, personal finance future unknown. Time to get away, to make it all simple again. Time to bow to the holy trinity of heart, lung and muscle against gravity. The trio which lets us know we are mortal if not human. The self calls the boss, taking the day off. Why? Well, partly because the self doesn't want to drive 30 miles somewhere he dosen't want to be, but mostly because it's hammer time. A glance at the Garmin cockpit confirms this feeling.

The local liberal controlled/paid weatherman proclaims a "RED FLAG" warning. Stay inside! Lock your doors! Don't breathe! People of Southern California duly warned and lovingly protected.

Red Flags!?! I eat red flags for breakfast! Don't think so? Look!

Red Flags=Red Tape. Bust through! If the self was a lemming he would be kicking back watching his bretheren walk off the cliff. If you're not leading you're following. Don't want to think about what's going on in the world, just want to blast off, just want to hammer, just want to feel the acid fill the legs; lactic/lactate, and perhaps even lactaid. It's on, off to Chino Hills I go looking for the steepies. I casually roll westbound down Chino Av up by the theatres and to Chino Hills pkwy. Feeling good...The self goes to the steepist climb in Chino hills, an undisclosed road where masters studs such as Chris Demarchi perform countless intervals to let off steam and prepare to hammer the family men racers.

The road, 13% grade for 1/2 mile. It's a LONG 1/2 mile. Takes 4 minutes on this day. The self's blood organ quickley jumps to 180 bpm. It stays there. At the top the self feels vindicated, even soothed. Until of course, I see this at the top of the hill:

Well....I guess it does..Since, THIS is what it should look like:

A HUGE thank you to humans. Although this rant may seem conservative, the self is VERY liberal when it comes to planet earth, animals, and our environment. A random thought:

I fervently wish I did not live in this era. Make me a caveman if you have to. I am through with the fast life. It's old. I could live on a ranch growing my own food and slaughtering my own cows. If it meant no smog, trash, and most of all; people. Sure I love my internet; sure I love my blackberry, sure I love my 15lb bike; but I would give it up in an instant.

So in the end, the ride clears the head, but muddles it at the same time.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Paramount GP

The sprinter contemplates an honest question: Am I here on this earth soley to pound these peckerheads?

First race back in two months...Pressure if off for upgrading this season. All focus will be on next season to make Cat 2, and will be done...Oh yes my little kupcakes, it WILL be done. Field is decent size, 80 or so riders my guess. Usual hack n' crack crowd. Didn't see much of the race, as the sprinter was off the front in every break that went. This was on purpose, before you ask. I didn't feel like sitting in the field and waiting for the sprint. Just felt like hammering. No sitting, no drafting, no waiting for the dinner bell. I break from the gun, and three small, cherub-like creatures latch on.

First break is off, and my companions blow faster than a 12 year old reading the lingerie section of the Sear's catalogue. The Sprinter glances at the small flock of rabbits and wonders why they even came with him. Two seconds of glory? Your mommy or girlfriend was watching? I could just hear it now later at the Starbucks. "Didjaseeme? I was off the front hammering, then I just cramped up, it was really wierd."

I continue on solo and a group of seven or so bridges up:

Now The Sprinter is thinking we have a little more firepower, and we'll get rolling.


Leave it to a Cat 3 to move to the side when it's his turn in the wind like we're in the final kilo of a Tour De France stage. So, once again, The Sprinter goes to the front to keep the pace up.

The group catches and now the Sprinter sits top ten for little while. The Sprinter soon gets bored. Off the front we go again: Notice the fervent fan on the right pointing; proving the attack must have been so violent and powerful in it's excecution that he became excited and overwhelmed with the Sprinter's furious pedal strokes.

A teenage boy wonder spinning his junior gear with all his might came with the sprinter down the finishing straight. The Sprinter waives him forward, he oblidges. Out of all the breaks the young kid haz the nutz to pull through; kudos to you, young Jedi. Note the size difference, I wonder if I am getting ANY draft at all:

Here's where it goes wrong. As the attack passes the start/finish line a $25 prime is announced for the next lap. So now the poor college kinds are hunting us down with all there might. The Sprinter goes for the prime, and smacks the right knee on the stem bolts. How on earth this happended, seeing as though it's never happened in the last two years is beyond the Sprinter's scope of knowledge. But it did happen, and it hurt. I keep pedaling but realize it still hurts. Not wanting to risk injury for season since it's already winding down, I do something I have NEVER done in a crit; I pull out. I don't feel like a quitter, because the long term is more important than the short right now, but still, it felt strange. The shame of it was I was having fun racing for the first time in a while, and wasn't feeling too bad.

Such is life.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Oregon Trail

Up in Oregon for family business. Not positive business, a family loss in fact. My little brother was found dead off the coast of Fiji where's he's been living. Don't really feel like blogging, and writing that last sentence was difficult; but eventually I have to confront it. At the moment just trying to make light of the situation and the time up here; which has now been extended until mid-May. I drove here from SoCal because I wanted the time on the road to think. I decided to take my bike, which was a great choice. Getting out in the Oregon countryside has cleared my head a bit, and I am able to put 3 hours a day in the saddle.

This is my therapy. Some drink, some take drugs, and some see professionals; I have just been waking up, grabbing my Cannondale and looking for the steepest climbs I can find. I believe physical suffering has benefits; both mentally and physically. Of course as an athlete, you must condition yourself. But there is something spiritual about feeling the acid seep into your legs and watching your heart rate hit 180. It was cold when I first got here, and my mother told me not to ride it was too cold. I didn't say anything but I thought to myself "my little brother never gets to feel the cold again, and I am lucky to be alive to feel it myself." The next day it was 75 degrees, and I went for a nice hilly ride.

I headed out through Wilsonville west to Bell Road. I took Bell Rd up to Ladd Hill, which gave me a view of My. Hood to the east of me.

Normally I have a pretty clear head when I ride. Many times I talk to myself like a crazy person. But today I found myself riding along and zoning out. Every time I would think of my brother I would have to hold back the tears. It's still just too much for me to soak in, and it's going to be a long road ahead dealing with all of it.

I dropped into Sherwood and headed north toward Scholls. As I road I began to feel better.

I passed berry farm after berry farm:

And orchard after orchard:

If any a place was perfect for clearing the head, Oregon is it. The scenery was stunning, and it was nice to be away from cities and people. I hit the 219 and headed south toward a city called Newburg. This is what the start of the climb looked like:

The climb was a nice steady 4-7% grade, and climbed into a forested area where it hit a couple of 9% sections. The view around the climb was unreal:

Top of the climb:

There were tons of Alpaca farms:

And the nice weather brought out the snakes:

Headed back home after dropping into Newburg and back into Wilsonville. Don't have much to write at the moment, but I am sure it will come back. In the meantime, riding and spending time with the family are the priorities.