Monthly Archives: March 2011

Redlands Prologue 5 Km Uphill

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I tried to post some stuff earlier, but my website was unhappy with me. So, now I’m done riding and my earlier thoughts are nearly valueless. It is really hot. Like in the mid 90’s hot. The prologue is a hill I’ve ridden many times. We did a road race up it one year at Redlands. It is most of the same hill as Nationals and Olympic Trials back in 2004. It is hard.

Anyway, I got out pretty early and rode over to the course with Catherine. Her start was 2 hours before mine. Just riding up the hill hurt me. But, it hurt Catherine worse. She might be riding as bad as I’ve ever seen. She did have a crazy day yesterday. Hard meeting, rush to the airport, fly 6 hours, consume 5 or 6 decompression drinks and get hardly any sleep. It can only get better from here.

I don’t know what’s going on with me. Maybe allergies. Maybe just in a slump. How can I be in a slump when I’ve only raced 4 races this year? Anyway, knowing my condition, I just rode steady up the hill. Slower than steady. The course is kind of hard to explain. It is pretty all uphill. It starts gradually, then a couple hundred meter climb, short downhill and the last 3 km is uphill. The real climb is just the last 2 km. It is steep for a few hundred meters. Maybe not 20% grade, but steep. The last 500 meters is gradual again. But, it is super hard to get moving fast again.

I started pretty early. I wasn’t planning on riding hard at all until it got steep. I wasn’t gaining anything on my 30 second guy, but wasn’t loosing anything either. Then after about 2 km, the guy behind me passed me. He was on a TT bike. But, after he passed me, he never got more than a 100 meters ahead. Right before the bottom of the steep section, a Livestrong/Trek kid passed me. He went by pretty fast, but then kind of bogged down. I followed him up most of the climb. We passed the guy that passed me. At the top, I was pretty done and there was still 500 meters to go. The Livestrong kid dropped his chain trying to shift and I rode by him. He probably would have had a good time. Maybe just an okay time.

My micro goal was not to get beat by Amanda Miller, HTC. I talked to her before the start and she said that she rode 12:01. I beat her handily. I’m not exactly sure of my time, which is very unusual for me. I kind of blanked out at the start and am not sure if I started my watch 15 or 30 seconds before I took off. It is going to be mid 11 minutes. That is going to be over 2 minutes back on Ben Day or whoever wins. That is better than I thought. But, I’m sure I didn’t win women’s race. I couldn’t have. But, I don’t care. But, male ego is hard to ignore.

A month ago, sick, I would have ridden a minute faster. That is what is so interesting about the sport. Personal achievement. It is going to be really hard tomorrow. Way too hot. It might not just be a ride around at 120+, windy, hot miles.

It has already started. I looked a my phone when I finished and the first text was “I’m on the steep part of the climb on Wabash and Sunset. You looked way faster than Alexi on the hill.” I not not racing Alexi here. And, it is sort of an insult to me. I didn’t take 18 years off. And Alexi and I are completely different style riders. Let’s give Alexi some time to get back into the groove. A month of NRC stage races isn’t gonna be fair to judge him by. Or me.

Going to dinner tomorrow with Raul though. He is riding for La Grange with Victor, Luis and some of my other buddies from LA. They are fun guys.

Okay. My lungs are torched. Everyone says it is the allergies here, but I think it is the dry hot air and effort. At least I’m be tan when I’m done.

I was taking it more serious than this looks, since the start is in 3 seconds.

LaGrange guys and me after the TT. Luis on the left. Raul next to me. Victor next to Raul.

Looking down the steep pitch of the climb. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Lots of spectators at the finish.

The course crosses I-10. All the mountains have snow. The air isn't too bad today for here.

Another reason to ride tubular tires

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Forget all the reasons that are apparent to race tubular tires, better ride, better cornering, more supple, etc. One of the main reasons to ride them that is hardly ever mentioned is that they stay on your rim when they go flat. I hate riding fast descents on clincher tires. I always have this thought in the back of my mind that there is a chance that I’m going to flat and if that happens, I would probably fall. I never have that thought on sewups.

Everyday here in La Jolla, I descend a road named Via Capri. It is steep and curvey. With lots of cracks and some potholes. I love it. But, that being said, it is pretty dangerous. Lots of slow cars descending to pass and lots of other car coming out of side streets. I try to have a max speed of just over 50 mph at the bottom. It is hard because there is a sharp left turn that you have to really jam the brakes on to negotiate.

This morning I noticed my rear tire was showing threads. I don’t have another tire, so I put it on my front. Anyway, I was not big at all going that fast, cornering, with bare threads showing. I still got over 50 going down, but it wasn’t an easy 50. I was thinking it would not have been a problem on tubulars. In a perfect world, I’d only train on sewups.


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Redlands NRC Starts Tomorrow

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The Redlands Bicycle Classic starts tomorrow with a 5 km uphill prologue. I wasn’t too concerned about the race. Really. Then I got a couple emails and texts from people asking if I’d read Alexi’s blog yet. I wasn’t at a computer, but clicked on it when I got back. Here is a link. Or just click to the right on Alexi’s Blog.

I got a little nervous for the race after reading that. I don’t put that much thought into races like Redlands. I hope I’m not making Alexi nervous. I’m not going to judge him and anything that goes on this weekend. I’ve experienced way too many things with him to judge him on a few days of early season bike racing. Especially since he’s been off the bike for so long.

But, now I’m thinking that people are going to start trying to compare Alexi, to me, to maybe Raul. I’m not going to be doing that. But, I’m sure some people will. I didn’t even know Raul was racing. I had talked to him in Texas and he said he was looking for a ride. I told him to email me, but he never did. Guess he figured something out on his own. If he’s going as good or better than a month ago, he’s going to kill me here. But, I’m not here to race Raul. Or Alexi for that matter.

I had a pretty shitty day riding yesterday. I’d hoped to be feeling much better out here riding than I was in Kansas. And I’ve had a few moments. Especially climbing off my seat. But, yesterday was not a moral booster. I was not good. Even bad. It felt like I had allergy/sickness legs. No energy. Nothing. If I have legs like that any one of the next 4 days, it is going to be a disaster.

Hopefully the ride today is going to be better. I’m going to ride down here in San Diego and then drive the two hours up to Redlands tomorrow evening.

I should probably track Alexi down and try to sooth some of his concerns. Redlands is a much different race than it was the last time he raced it. The overall CG has been decided on the TT virtually every year the past few. More than past few. There is more racing at Redlands than at Joe Martin and Nature Valley, but it is still mostly a defensive race to protect the time trial winner. And, if you win the time trial, you can obviously climb, so you’re not going to be having too much trouble on Sunset Loop.

Anyway, I’m going to enjoy having Alexi and Raul in the race. Out of the three of us, I’m the only one that never took any time off. I know what to expect. Maybe that is the apprehension that Alexi is showing. Raul probably has a little of that going on too. They have nothing to worry about. It’s just another bicycle race. No big deal.

I have this jersey in my closet. Best young rider jersey from the Tour de France. Raul gave it to Trudi.

Paradise?

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You know, if you can work you way around the traffic and crowds in San Diego, it is pretty much as close as you can get to paradise. It really is. Maybe not San Diego proper, but North County. I rode up into Rancho Santa Fe and through Elfin Forest this afternoon. There are a lot of cars. But it doesn’t really matter if you’re riding on your own. I felt pretty great when I left and then fell apart after about 3 hours. I’m not sure what that was all about. Maybe lack of food. I hadn’t eaten in 8 hours. I stopped at a taco stand and had a breakfast burrito and felt better. I had nearly 80 miles, but it took 4 1/2 hours. But, that being said, I felt really sub par. I can’t really worry about it too much.

I followed a bunch of pelicans back south down the coast. I can’t believe how fast they can fly and they hardly ever flap their wings. We did have tailwind, so maybe that was some of it. But, I was riding consistently over 25mph and they pulled away from me. A lot of the pelicans roost at night on the cliffs in La Jolla. I like to go down there at sunset and see them haggle with the other birds for their slot. It is pretty comical.

I met up with Sue on the way home. She commutes 9 miles each way from the top of Soladad to where she works on Torrey Pines. It is a pretty easy way to get 18 miles in each and everyday. 3 days a week, she extends the ride into real rides, so she gets good mileage during the week. We went back the long way, completely around La Jolla. The houses are beautiful. Plus, the scenery/ocean is beautiful too. It was a nice way to end the day.

Not much traffic on the coast hwy. this afternoon between Cardiff and Encinitas.

We ate sushi at Ichiban in Pacific Beach last night.

WindanSea Beach in La Jolla. Sue's favorite beach.

Sporting the commuting get up.

Bunches of seals.

Unorthadox Tactics

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I was racing the Tour of Southland, in New Zealand, a few years back and on the last day it was super windy. Like 40-50 mph windy. That isn’t so unusual down on the southern tip of the South island in New Zealand The last day was two stages. A 50ish mile race point to point. Then an couple hours to eat and finally a short 40ish mile stage back to Invercargill. The first stage was nearly all tailwind. It was virtually flat with one couple mile climb right in middle.

We hit that climb in our 11’s and were climbing at 25 mph. The field still split up. I was riding on a team with Thurlow Rogers, my old Levi’s team mate. Towards the top, Thurlow and I were together and a group of 8 or so got a gap. I made a big effort over the top and made the front group. It was Hayden Roulston, HTC, Greg Henderson, SKY and a few others. The problem was that I suck with tailwind. Especially 50mph tailwind. I was spinning my 11 at 48-50 mph and was hurt. I stayed on for a few miles a eventually got popped. I couldn’t believe it.

Anyway, Thurlow caught up to me a little while later on his own. Thurlow has always pedaled super high cadence. I had to tell him to ease up a few times the last 30 minutes. It is weird how short a race is at that speed. You look down and you have 25 miles to go, but you’re going 45 mph. It had to of been the fastest average speed I’ve ever had in a race.

Thurlow and I moved up on GC some because we were the next guys to finish behind the leaders. We sat around the 2 hours and got ready to race the final stage.

The problem was the wind was still blowing, but the direction of the course was different. We were going to ride about 8 miles into a direct headwind and then turn right and have 50 mph crosswind the whole way to the finish. Every rider in the race was crazy nervous. I told Thurlow that we needed to go to the front immediately and pull with Rouston’s team that was going to be setting tempo. There are only 5 rider teams in this race, so there would only be 4 guys rotating. He asked me why. I told him that if we pulled the first 8 miles rotating, that when we got to the right corner that they would be “used” to us rotating through and we would have “earned” a slot in the rotation when it was side wind/gutter riding. Thurlow didn’t sound very convinced, but when the race started and I got up to the front, there was Thurlow.

Hayden’s team was a little perplexed at first why Thurlow and I were rotating and taking pulls. But, having 6 guys rotating into that crazy of a wind was much, much easier than just 4. We were probably only going 14 mph or so full tilt. We we got close to the corner, Hayden said something about bringing up the speed. It worked like clockwork. There was a mild sprint for the corner, but we turned it was a group and instantly there wasn’t enough room. Within a mile there were probably only 15 of us left. Just enough to do a double echelon across the road. And it was super easy. A big 15 guy echelon with everyone pulling. A lot of good riders missed that move.

I don’t remember exactly how the race played out. One guy from Christian House’s team, I think David Pell got away and won. Both Thurlow and I finished in the top 10 somewhere. There was very little chance that Thurlow or I would have made that split by regular bike racing. The New Zealand guys aren’t that friendly with the Americans on the road and most likely wouldn’t have let us in the rotation..

Afterward, Thurlow came up and said that the tactic was brilliant. Coming from him, I took it as a very nice compliment. It goes to show that sometimes that obscure race tactics/moves really aren’t luck and they do win bike races.

Ricco – An example of how good drugs must be.

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Here is an article on Riccardo Ricco, describing what he’ll be doing this Friday. And here is an excerpt from the article –

“I haven’t seen the police documents but I’ve got my medical records and there’s nothing written on them. It’s all been made up,” he continued. “He [the doctor] says one thing and I say another. But I was almost dead and don’t know what I could have said. Let’s see what the [blood] analysis says. I didn’t say absolutely anything to the doctor.”

This quote proves how good drugs must be to enable a guy as stupid as this to win so many races. Dumb guys don’t win bike races. At least on a constant basis. This guy did. He contradicts himself in just 3 sentences. I “don’t know what I could of said.” Then, “I didn’t say absolutely anything to the doctor.”

I’m not sure why he is even showing up at this hearing if he’s not racing ever again. I thought he wanted to be done with this silly sport and be a barista.

Maybe he was just misquoted and I’m all wrong on this.


“Stay back, I swear I’ll jump.” or “Can I interest you in a nice cappuccino?”