Monday, April 30, 2007

Firestone Classic

This race was both exciting and disappointing in its own way. I have had a questionable two weeks of training with the new job, so I was a little worried as to how much gas I would have. Two make things scarier, the week of the race the changed the length on the website to 30 miles! When I arrived on Saturday to pre ride the course it was a warm 85+ degrees! When I checked in they had lowered us back down to 20 miles.
After riding the course I was super stoked because it was! Even though I like a technical course, this was just plain fast! About the time I finished up, my friends Rory and Jen showed up. We found a good spot to pitch our tents and started to set up camp.

I had received a tent for my birthday back in Feb. and this was the first time I had set it up! Luckily I had two engineers with me! I heard a few jokes for my tent being so huge for little old me!( It's the blue one in the picture ) Once we had camp set up we hit the all you can eat spaghetti feed! It wasn't the greatest but it hit the spot after a really hot ride in the blazing sun! After dinner Rory and Jen went for a hike and I just kicked it in my HUGE tent! By the time they got back we were all ready to get to sleep! It was only about 9! As I layed in my tent I listened to people talking around their campfires. We were next to a group of semi-pro's from Colombia and some semi-pro's from Santa Cruz Ca. It was cool to listen to the two groups share their racing stories to each other. They also shared different things about their cultures and countries. They were really cool groups of people and it was great to listen to their exchange!
I had a pretty good nights sleep being that it was my first time in a tent for a long, long, long time! I awoke to a pretty cool morning that gave me hope that the fog and cool weather had rolled into the valley. That hope quickly vanished as I unzipped my tent and saw the sun rising high into the sky. It was about 6am and with each 10 minutes that passed, the heat level rose. I felt surprisingly great as I warmed up! As we lined up, there seemed still to be lots of confusion as to what our actual race course was. I was lucky enough to run into Westlake Cyclery's managers daughter, who was there supporting her boyfriends family and team! She said that she would hand me bottles in the feed zone which was a huge relief with the temperature at about 90!
Then came the always gut wrenching line-up! This is where you see all those whom you will be racing against. You would think this would get easier with each race, but I seem to get nervous even if I know half of the racers! The start was really sketchy as it was narrow for the large group that we were. It was also really dusty! I had a mouth full of dirt after the first 100 yards! The group stayed together for the first few miles. Rory had passed me about 1 mile into the race but never got to far ahead. About 4 miles in we hit the main climb and Rory slipped a pedal and I was able to pull up to him. When we hit the crest we had caught some slower traffic that caused a little bit of a slow down on the first descent. I kept Rory in sight the whole way and thought that I would try to put the screw to him up the last long climb. When we hit the last climb, I stood up and gave every ounce of energy I had to catch him. Knowing that he was in first, I thought if I catch him up this hill, I could take it to the finish. Well, as I fought my way up the hill I caught up to.....well....I thought it was Rory, but it was some other dude that had on the same color jersey! I was bummed! I had no idea how far ahead he was and I had spent myself climbing that hill! As we went through the finish line to complete the first lap, I started to slow a little and catch my breath. The first few miles was very flat and fast so I used it to recoup. I knew where I would attack on the 1/2 lap that we had left, yet as I rounded the vineyard they had roped off the track to funnel us back towards the finish. As I came through they told me to slow down and funneled me off the track. I kept asking if that was it and they just kept shuffling people off that came thru!
Very disappointing! I felt like I could have done another full lap. Plus, Rory had beat me! Aarggh! I was happy for him but very disappointed that I did not fight harder from the start. I realize that I still have a long way to go in this Sport class that I have moved up to. I hope to find a cycling coach that can give me some direction in my training. I feel like I have hit a wall. With my new job, I definitely need to use my time wisely. I also need to find the right balance in my life. I have not made the most wise decisions as it pertains to my time management! I have definitely let my passion for riding overcame every area of my life! That being said, I need to use my training time as effectively as possible!
My next race will be Castaic Lake on May 20th. It is a very tough short course with tons of short steep climbs every lap. I will do my best to be ready!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Speeding Tickets and Thunderstorms

I was looking so forward to the Sea Otter Classic! This is one of those races you read about in the magazines, see on local news, and hear talked about by riders everywhere! I was so excited that when I woke up at 315 am on Saturday morning, I couldn't go back to sleep! So I just got right up and left for Monterey! I was flying low to the ground and came within 20 miles of Laguna Seca when I rounded a slight curve on the US 101 and saw my day change! Hiding behind a tree and tall weeds was a good ol' CHP! Phooooey! I haven't had a ticket in like 8 years! I definately got lucky though. The cop radared me at 81 and only wrote me for 75 so that I may go to traffic school. He was a downhill racer and said that he would be racing as well. He wanted to talk about bikes more than my infraction. He did remember to hand me my ticket though!
Well I got on my way and arrived at Laguna Seca shortly after. I changed into my cycling clothes and headed out to registration and then on to pre-ride the course. As I was approaching the start of the course I saw Josh from Team Sho-Air and he screamed at me to follow him. We tore down to the finish line just in time to see Bernice come across in fourth place. She had raced the beginner singlespeed class! First time ever racing a singlespeed! I think she said this was only here second time riding one! I congratulated her and then took off on the course.
As I hit the course I was super stoked on how fun it was! As I hit about the 10 mile mark, the heavens parted and dropped a fury onto the mountains! I thought I would wait it out under some trees with others that were on the course but it just kept getting worse. It was pretty good weather when I left so needless to say I wasn't dressed all that warmly! It took me a good 45 minutes to get back to my car, and when I did I was soaking wet and freezing to the bone. I jumped into my car, blasted the heater and proceeded to strip down. I dried off and put some warm clothes on. I spent an hour at the Laundromat and an hour and half washing my bike at the gas station!
After a good nights sleep in a Salinas hotel, I was ready to race. It was very cold when I arrived at the raceway and there were racers everywhere! It was a really cool scene. The start line was fairly intimidating as well! I think I was slightly overwhelmed by the amount of racers in my class. We started on the Laguna Seca Racetrack and my goal was to take off with a full head of steam. I had heard that you wanted to get out in front because the course quickly bottlenecks on any and all singletrack. Well, my full head of steam was not anywhere near what others was! I quickly found myself at the back of the pack! This really shocked me at first as I was rolling at about 24 mph on the beginning flats! When we started to climb the corkscrew towards the dirt, I caught up to half pack. Then as we hit the dirt and started down the first descent, I made up a lot of space. I had the leaders pack within sight when we hit the first bottleneck. After that, I am not to sure how quickly they took off.
As my legs and body warmed up, I felt really good. Because the first 10 miles or so had little steep climbing, I was able to keep a good pace and pick off riders. Most of the climbing came near the end of the race and it was pretty steady for 3-4 miles+. My legs really bonked at about 16 miles which mentally started weighing on me. I was not being passed by any of my class,(that I could tell)but experts were flying by as they were finishing their final lap! I was even passed by some pro single speeders! So the end of the race was a little brutal as the climbing seemed to never end! Finally it did an as we started our descent back to the track, I let it all hang out. I had two guys from my class right ahead of me and as we rounded the paved corner to the finish I locket out my fork and hammered as hard as I could! I thought that I got them both, but when the results were posted I had only passed one and finished 1/100 of a second behind the other!
My goal was to break the top 25 and I placed 23rd! It felt really good and also showed me where I need to improve! I definitely need to get longer! And I could always get stronger. The guy the took 1st killed us all! I finished about 14 minutes behind 2nd-5th place! Even though I ride an average of 16 miles per ride, I need to be able to sustain a race speed for at least 24 miles in this Sport division!
Sea Otter was amazing and I look forward to racing there again next year!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Anniversary Vacation....And The Homewrecker!

Sorry it's been a few! Life has been busy in great ways! My wife Kristen and I celebrated our 11th anniversary this past week! We were able to get away to one of our most favorite places, Catalina Island! It is a very relaxing place to spend a few days! Everything is on the beach, and the weather was great. We took our bikes with us and rode everywhere we went! I also got a good twenty mile ride in one morning! It was a paved road ride, yet with all the hills I climbed for over half of the twenty miles! It was a great workout! That was not the highlight of our trip though. The highlight was relaxing spending quality time with my love! We literally spent hours just laying on the beach enjoying each others humor and attention! We also got to enjoy lots of great food! A lot of food!
When I got back to my wonderful job at Starbucks this week I realized why they call it vacation! Boy oh boy! The last three days have been three of the toughest I have gone thru since I started with Starbucks almost two years ago! To top each day off I put in another 4-6 hours at the Bike Shop. The glorious news is.....I brought home my new bike Friday night! Thats right race fans! I am now the proud papa of a Specialized Epic! When I got it home I showed Kristen and asked for her to help me come up with a name. She quickly thought of El Gringo but suddenly said,"no, no, I think you should name it The Homewrecker!" After a good laugh I warmed to the name! I thought more along the lines of all the poor souls that I will someday smoke, and they will have to go home broken and wrecked! J/K! Thought it sounded funny!

I finally got to spend about 35 minutes in the dirt today! I rode until dark and loved every minute of it! I feel a little sketchy as the frame geomotry is very different! I am trying to dial in a the front and rear shock as well as my seat, bars, shifters and so forth! I really need to get it dialed this week since Sea Otter is this upcoming weekend! I would love to do well in this huge race!
I will try to write more about my bike and training this week! Happy Easter to all! I will have a great Easter as I will be going on a morning ride with Rory and Bill. Then Kristen and I will be hitting the movies followed by a great meal at home! Once again, Happy Easter!