Sunday, January 25, 2009

After being cooped up from the rain, I was itching to get a ride in. Since I missed a day I wanted to get some good climbing miles in, and decided to go to the GMR-Baldy Village loop. The forecast said it was going to be “cloudy,” which ended up being “rainy.” Just my luck of course, I stay inside and then get pissed on the next day, that’s what I get. As I ride through La Verne/Claremont area, the rain starts. I start thinking maybe I will just go up Shin loop and call it a day. I am sooo not dressed for rain, with a base layer, and just arm and knee warmers.

Then I start thinking, “what would the real studs do? What would Mark Noble, Karl Bordine, Greg Leibert, Mark Fennel, and Chris DeMarchi do?” Mark Fennel would pound, unmercifully, teaching those mountains a lesson. DeMarchi would hammer skinny peckerheads into submission. Imagine if I was on a ride with these 30+ super studs and told them I’m going home because of a little rain? What happens this year when I’m lined up on the start line with a bunch of mutant strongmen with names like Reutiman, Ainsworth, Ford, Zaleski, and Easter? They are going to eat my lunch if I don’t drop the hammer, but hard.
So I kept going. Up through Glendora to the start of the SDSR Time Trial area, which is where I start my time to the village. This is now 20 miles into the ride, about an hour of ride time. The mist had settled into the mountains and I started the climb. I try and stay in Zone 2 the whole climb so I can throw out short intervals toward the peaks. The switchbacks were super foggy and I couldn’t see very far up the road. Now I was glad I was here. Just me, the mist, and the sound of the tires on the road. The first climb is about 7.6 miles, and eases at the top which is where I do the last mile as fast as I can around 175-180 bpm.
Going down the descents is where I lost mucho time. Normally I descend as fast I can but because of the fog and rain I was feathering the brakes. Not to mention the rain had caused several rock slides, and I swerved several times to avoid huge rock piles. About this time I was not having fun anymore as my feet and hands were numb. Normally I try and picture myself in a race dropping everyone, but it was hard to focus. After the short climb over east fork and the last descent, I finally began the last climb. I always watch the trees pictured here…They looked cool in the mist and I know this marks the final climb, which is the steepest of the ride. This is about mile 16 or so, and the grade gets up to about 7-8% I believe, but I suck at guessing grades so don't take my word for it. Not steep by Baldy standards but enough after the ride. The last 4 miles although the steepest went by quickly. Normally I love this ride buy I was flippin’ freezing and all I could think about was a hot bath and a cup of coffee. I finally hit the Ranch sign and drop into Baldy Village, which is now mile 40. I descend down Baldy with my teeth rattling and just hoping to get down to lower altitude. I guess this is what separates the serious bike racer from the club rider. I was hating life almost the whole time but the need to lose weight and get in shape outweighed comfort and/or safety on the backside of a mountain. I suppose we really are a sick breed. Total miles: 57, total climbing: 4700 ft, ride time: 3hrs 34 min.
BTW, lots of people raced today, I wonder how it went. I am not in a hurry this year, maybe another month or so, we’ll see.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Waiting for this rain to stop

Normally, I love the rain. But when the training is going good and the season is nearing it feels horrible to miss training days. Just ride in the rain you might say? Well, here's what many people know about me already, but I am super weird about putting my bike into weather. I don’t mind riding in the cold and wet, in fact racing in the rain is fun. But I am a freak with keeping my bike clean, even though the new one is due any day now. During the season it’s even worse. I train on it all week but I NEVER went to one single race without my bike sparkling clean. It’s a little obsessive, but oh well. Could you imagine? What if a piece of dirt was in my chain and dropped my max wattage down 5 watts, and I lose the race to some dirty-bike riding, scabies infested dirtbag?!? Imagine the gnashing of teeth and pulling of pubics!
Ok, so I had some pics here I took on a couple of rides up to Baldy and GMR before Christmas. The mountains were covered in snow and it was flippin’ freezing. It wasn’t so bad going through La Verne getting to the climb, but once the altitude rose my hands were completely numb. Riding in Oregon in the snow was more pleasant than this one. Later I found out it was 12 degrees up there. Stupid. Well, good thing is I began hitting ice patches and had to head back down. I mean, I’m an adventurous guy but descending over black ice is something I will leave for the 12k dreamers. The last time I went to Baldy a Steller ’s Jay was eating seeds next to the fountain. People think these are Blue Jays but Steller’s is actually the proper name, due to their distinct black Mohawk. Think of them like a blue colored Cardinal.
Of note: This is my sister’s kitty. He is apparently reading the news while she does homework. He is a moody little fooker though.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mount Baldy

Before when I was heavier, I HATED this climb. Now, it's my favorite. As a sprinter I won't be blasting up the climb anytime soon, but there is a certain sort of feeling one get's on an ascent. As I climb I feel like I am accomplishing something, like I am going somwhere...Instead of simply spinning around. Everytime I ask people if they want to climb to Baldy village no one answers the email or makes an excuse not to. The only person that will be game everytime is Chris DeMarchi. But he's Chris DeMarchi. While on that note it was Chris who showed me the beauty of climbing Baldy road. Suffering behind Chris (which inevitably happens on every ride with him) I have grown to love that road. Baldy is unique because of it's steepness, and if you go all the way to the switchbacks and the ski lifts, it's harder than Alp d'huez. I used to ride with music every ride, now I leave the ipod at home if I climb anywhere. I ride from down in the valley from my home to the foot of the climb, which takes about one hour. It's actually a steady climb all the way through Ontario, so it's mainly the small ring the whole ride up. One you get into the climb it is peaceful and quiet. I remember one day it was misty and a little foggy as I ascended, and all I could hear was my breath and my tires on the road. It's almost a spiritual experience. The climb starts to get rough at the second tunnel, but I can still stay in zone 3 comfortably now. By the time I hit hogsback ridge, at the gradient climbs I am more towards the red zone. I remember I couldn't even make it past the second tunnel and I would have to get off and go back down. It's a great feeling when you know you've gotten stronger and lighter. Of course, being 185 lbs it's still a chore. There is a slight reprieve after the sign and a small descent before the last climb into the village. I climbed up on Wednesday this week and no one was there. I usually stop at the post office to water up and head back down unless I am going to the icehouse or ski lifts. The best part about the ride is that once you are done it's downhill all the way home. It's takes me about 1 1/2 hours to get from home to the village, and about 27 minutes to get home. Pretty funny actually, since I am going up the steep part at like 7-8 mph and down at 55 mph. Anyway, this has now become my favorite climb next to GMR-Baldy. GMR-Baldy is also a great ride, and a good test of your fitness since you can ride the whole climb without stops. Lot's of poeple ride to the climb but I take the hour to ride from home, it's a good way to warm up and get extra miles in.

Monday, January 5, 2009

White Christmas

Well, for only the second time in ten years I got up to Oregon to have Christmas with my mom and sister. First off, I lucked out so much that I flew up on the 18th, as people were stranded trying to get into Portland starting the next day. Why? Record snow fall for the area. Somehow I was there for the worst snow in the Willamette Valley in 40 years. It was beautiful though, which Oregon always is. As my mom and I were driving home from the airport it began snowing, and didn’t stop for two days. After the first day there was some rain, which froze over and created a layer of ice on everything. The pics included show the ice layer. You had to be careful walking through it because your leg would slide as the ice broke and your ankles could easily get sliced open. In morning of the ice layer we were pulling sheets of ice of our cars, check the pics out. On the third day of snow I got the bright idea of heading out for a ride. Bad idea. I almost took a header into a 50 foot drop over a creek. I was averaging about 7 mph on flat ground, but it was fun. What’s not so fun? Taking a whiz in the snow on a bike ride and falling into a ditch full of blackberry bushes. Not something I saw coming, and not something I want to do again. Some of the days I rode, mostly I went running which wasn’t too bad on hardpack snow. One of the rides turned very cold and I got hailed and snowed on, riding into a 25mph headwind up Parrett Mountain, which had several 12% plus grades.

I shoveled the driveway a couple of times, and was pleased to have my Perrier chilled as I did so. Coffee drinkers here in CA do not compare to those up north, as this trash can illustrates.

What a difference, the calm after the snow storm.....

Cold weather does that to us I suppose. I spent most every day riding or running, then playing Wii and cooking for my mom and sister. It was nice to treat my mom and make sure she relaxed. She kept asking to help with something but I really wanted her to just sit down and watch TV, she needs the break. We went to a U-cut tree farm and cut down our Christmas tree, which costed $30 for a 6-footer.

Towards the end of the trip it thawed out and the temperature which was mostly in the 20’s rose into the 40’s. Here is the difference in one day, amazing. On one of the snowy nights some raccoons came into the yard looking for food, here’s a blurry pic of one. All in all, it was a great trip. It was nice to get away from LA and be in a more relaxed and friendly culture.

Back Dated Murrieta Race Report

This was from last year in March...But some of family wanted a re-cap.

Day One: Killer Korner Krit
Fer sweet Jesus the first corner of the crit was just waiting to claim a pile of carbon, flesh, and lycra. Almost every category found fault in it (including the pro’s as both a Rock Racing and a Kelly Benefits guy had to bunny hop the curb once.) Luckily, the curb was the kind that rolled up instead of a sharp drop.
Around the first 15 minutes I stayed top five and kept out of the wind. People kept trying to break off but they were reeled back quickly. I made the mistake of trying to bridge up to a break, and by the time I got there they were both burnt. What a waste of energy, but I was there to have fun so I was more relaxed. The field kept swarming during the straightaway into the last turn, and I fought to keep in the middle of the pack every time as people advance around the outside. 5 laps to go and the pace picked up. I was third wheel for laps 5 and 4, but dropped to tenth or so during lap 3. With two to go people were burning up and some fresher legs came to the front. I jumped on Joe Ainsworth’s wheel we headed into the last lap. On the same straightaway coming towards the last turn the line split up and everyone started fanning out. Guys were starting to sprint already and I found myself right in the wind. I saw a guy surge on my left, and two guys surge on my right with about four guys behind them. I saw Ainsworth again and was now ten riders back. I jumped out of the saddle and took about five pedal strokes and sat down for the turn. I knew I had about 10+ riders in front of me as we turned so I hammered the pedals as I rounded, and jumped out the saddle again. I would up my gear and was already in the red zone. I dropped a cog and dug deep. I passed one rider, then two, three, four. I kept digging even though I was about to pass out and passed the fourth guy by half a bike length to take third. I was upset that I had gotten caught out but happy I was still in contention for the overall.
Day Two: Circuit Race/Road Race, Whatever! It’s got hills which means my 195 lbs was going to work overtime.
Great scenery, hills were small, and the roads were TINY. For the bigger fields I felt sorry for them I don’t know how they moved up in the pack. The race started off quickly and at one point we actually were getting close to the Cat 4 field which started five minutes ahead. The pace slowed a little from laps 4-8 and then picked up with 2 laps to go. This one guy in an orange shirt tried going off the front 3 separate times, but never got more than 10 seconds ahead. Another rider from Don’s bicycle shop (Marchiano I think) tried going off and got 30 seconds at one point. Nothing stuck and it looked like a bunch sprint was coming up. I taped the top 8 rider’s numbers on my top tube and watched them. The winner of the Crit was up front the whole time and looking VERY comfortable. Which was not good for me, since I had to beat him by two people to take the overall. Not to mention the second place crit guy (Ainsworth) was also up front and looking good. It was anyone’s race, and the last lap was fast. We headed up the false flat and some riders began dropping off. I fought to get into about 10th and we coasted down the hill an up the first roller. The group bunched just before the last climb and the race leader was yelling at the guys in front to make a hole.
It was pretty funny. They weren’t going fast enough though and more people started telling them to get out of the way. The road opened up at the bottom of the climb and the race leader jumped out of the saddle and charged. I went with him and we lead the group up the climb and began the descent As we descended two guys jumped off the front. I knew from previous surges that there was NO way to move up when the pack stretched through the turns. I knew I would have to be up front to make the sprint, so I jumped on the wheel. . The last four corners were close together and VERY tight, with potholes, manholes, and debris. I was third wheel into the first two turns and the front guys slowed on a straight area allowing three more guys to come up on my outside. I immediately jumped again and was fourth wheel as we turned again. My heart was hammering, and the adrenalin was spiking. I looked behind me as we approached the last turn and saw the pack coming fast about 20 feet behind. As I hit the last turn over a cobbled area I heard people starting to yell, and I swung wide into the outside of the road. I had one guy ahead of me as I jumped out of the saddle and wound it up. I passed him and was in the front with 100 meters to go I was spent but I dropped one more gear to make sure no one came around.

It was just one of those times I knew I had it, and I stopped pedaling for the money shot, (which was dumb because I could have easily gotten DQ’d.). I crossed the line sans matches, oxygen, and parts of my lungs and left ventricle. The race leader placed third tying up our overall score and boosting me to 1st overall with the last day win. Someone got a quick video of it from their camera, hard to see but I come on the left side. Fun race.