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.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Dominguez Hills Crit

Dominguez Hills, which technically is not a city but an unincorporated County area; and rightfully so. The crit should more aptly be called Carson or Compton Crit, which are the closest (and most beautiful) neighboring cities. The DH crit is now a Socal classic, it’s inception making the beginning of CBR, (Chris Bicycle Racing) which is our grassroots local organization. The DH crit was also my very first race, and I remember it well.

30+ 1/2/3

Turning 30 this year meant I could mix it up with the big boys, however at the present moment I getting mixed up rather than being a contender in any way, shape, or form. When a cyclist attempts to explain what a “30+” race is to a non-cyclist, the sedentary person equates “30” with “old.” Now, if you are a slobbering fatass then this may be the case, but at 30 years old these mofo’s are just getting started. In fact, most of them are 40 or nearing 40, and normally stick around for the Pro race to hammer many of the youngsters. I have deep respect for these men who sit in the office and handle the family all week, and then slice and dice with the best of them on the weekend. Chris DeMarchi was there with his motorcycle complete with bike rack. The set-up is sweet and always gathers attention from people when he brings it. Chris is one of a few who has a “sport kilt,” which aids in changing from race bibs to boxers before/after a race. As he was explaining how the Velcro worked, the kilt slipped off and allowing for a gracious salami shot to a group of young ladies walking by. (It was later determined that none of them were offended, but sad to hear he was married.)

Now I was there for the training. Unlike a Pro Dreamer trying to downplay a race for make an excuse for a bad performance, I REALLY was there just for training. I was planning on doing the Cat 3 race right after the 30+, so for me there was no reason to burn up. The pace was fine for about 5 minutes and then heated up as attacks went off the front. The field was huge and I was mid pack the entire time, moving up here and there when I had a chance. Halfway into the race a break had gone with DeMarchi and two others, and they had soon checked out for good. They gained a couple of seconds every lap and at one point were coming close to lapping the field. It was about this time the field decided to have a yard sale on the back stretch. I heard someone yell “crash” and the pack began splitting down the center. The sound of skidding bodies and $7k carbon frames resonating against the pavement always follows, and I saw that I was coming up on the crash. I saw bodies and bikes flying and someone weaved through and made a safe path. On the following lap I saw about 5 Schroeder Iron guys on the sidewalk. Like a good team they were together, which means they all go down together on something like that.

During the crash I hit my knee against my bars as I was trying to get around everything. I didn’t feel the pain until after and decided to not race in the 3’s to make sure I didn’t aggravate it any more. There’s a crit every weekend so next week will be another shot. I may even have my new bike back from Calfee by then which would be terrific.