Thursday, November 30, 2006


Photo I forgot to post from our trip to Yosemite a couple weeks ago...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I could get used to 45 min races

I mean, it's not like we're going any slower...really, we weren't.

CCCX Prunedale
M35+ A - 3rd place
Teammates: Mike Morgan

Today Fran wanted me home at a reasonable hour so I thought I'd give a Masters race a try - I've also forgotten what 45 minute races are like so it was a good pre-Natz reminder. Headed down to Prunedale for the CCCX race at 11AM. Prunedale hates me, that hill always seems to whip my butt and the neverending S-turns always seem to slow me down more than the others. Oh, and they made the course go a little further up the hill at the end, which I didn't think was possible. They also removed the log-hop and change the run-up (well, apparently it was a ride-up for Wicks a little later)

Anyhow, basically achieved my goal of getting a good workout AND had a damn fun ride with Henry Kramer, Rich Maile, and Todd Hoefer and we pretty much all stayed together in spite of a few attempts by the Cal-Giant duo to break us up - especially Todd who hit it pretty hard a few times. I think Gannon Myall was also at the start as well and I think he got a mechanical in the first dirt section...bummer. I was way under-warmed-up so I sat on (not by choice) for a couple of laps which pretty much left Rich to suck down all the early attacks. Towards the end I made a couple of lame attempts to lift the pace but we all pretty much stayed together. Going into the last couple of sections I was trying to stay on the front but Henry got around me before the run-up and coming off the final barriers into the home straight I stupidly tried to re-mount a little too close to Henry's rear wheel and just a small twitch to the right from Henry caused our wheels to touch and me to bobble the remount - by the time I re-re-mounted Rich came by and I was racing for 3rd - doh! Oh well, not gonna beat myself up about botching another finish, may not have had the legs to come around Henry anyhow, the stud.


Anyhow, I enjoy riding with these boys and it's so nice to ride with folks who have so much genuine respect for one another that racing is downright enjoyable...hmmm maybe I'll cash in the old age card for good soon...

Rich was solid once again on his SS, and now I'm thinking next time he rides gears (Districts?) we all better look out, especially if he remembers how to use those shifters.

I did notice that 45 minutes seemed to go by much quicker than 60 minutes (funny how that works). It seemed like 4 to go came in no time. Also noticed I didn't start feeling good until about 35 minutes into the race...don't think that's good.

I've been on and off the fence about giving up my plans for Nationals given the fact that I don't feel like I have any top end this year - thanks to craziness at work (deadlines) and home (kids), I haven't been on a training program for the last 1 1/2 months and I'm lucky if I get 2 rides between Monday and Friday and luckier if I get 3 races out of 5 weekends at this point. I'm still gonna go since I already cashed in the miles and it'll be a good visit with the fam in Beantown. I just need to pray for dry-ish conditions - which is probably like praying for snow in Hell.

BTW Thanks to Keith and all the CCCX folks for another nice day of racing. Oh, and Julie I saw you holding that bottle for me...thanks!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Who Was That Guy?

Pilarcitos BASP #4 - Golden Gate Park
2nd Place, Cat. A

(photos stolen from Lauren H's Flickr collection)

Everyone was asking me that after the race. That guy is Brian Astell - Pro XTerra and MTB racer turned newbie-crosser. He's been there at the other races, just off the pace from the winners, so I figured it was a matter of time before this kid got his due. Of course, it had to come on what may have been my last chance to ever win an Elite race in my life. So, in the end, I got beaten at my own game by this fast kid, and barely beat Mr. Rich "tough-as-nails" Maile on his friggin' Single Speed.

the king and I

I've been getting amped up for this race, being in my back yard and knowing the big boys were up in the Northwest getting muddy. I did well here back in '04 (2nd behind AJM) before the back injury, and I love these fast courses.

Saturday I went over to the course and did a few laps. Fast and tacky fun. No run-ups. Practiced hopping the single barrier with no problems, although it was a little terrifying that it was a pretty fast approach - it's always a little unnerving approaching a barrier at speed.

Well, rode the 15 or so blocks down to the race on Sunday - got some funny looks since I was riding TWO bikes. Got to the race and did some warmup laps, and watched some of the Masters race. Steve Reaney and Alan Coates were embroiled in another battle, and Steve seemed to be holding Alan off by 15 seconds for what seemed like an eternity - it was quite a battle of wills.

Finally brought my spare bike to the pit, and decided to do one last practice on the hoppable barrier. Came in with a good head of steam, wheelied up, and...oops my right foot came out of the pedal...and...


Slammed rear wheel into the barrier and head-over-heels on the gravel. Good thing I know how to fall off a bike.

Ugh, ok I'll admit it's been on my to-do list for weeks to replace my cleats and now I've paid dearly for it. The suckers have been ready to go for months - I've been popping out of my right pedal from time-to-time lately, but never at such an inopportune moment (god, it's so hard to find time to fix my equipment these days...). So now a good part of my strategy is shot, because there ain't no way I'm gonna risk doing THAT during the race. Spent the last 20 minutes before the race (a) letting Lauren console my broken ego (she saw the whole thing) (b) letting Cameron true my rear wheel and (c) letting the medic dig gravel out of my hand (thanks a ton Lauren, Cameron, and medic-lady!).

Tried to forget about it and got a decent start and sat on Robert Mau while he did his Kamikaze first-lap thing. By the early part of Lap 2 Rich Maile and Brian Astell had both joined me and the game was on. Heading into the single barrier on lap 2 Brian comes by and cleans the barriers, probably a good 1-2mph faster than I was doing it in warm-up. Damn! Rich and I dismount and dig deep to get back on him. A couple more laps of that and I'm trying not to curse myself for not getting those new cleats, because it was a good advantage and Brian would open up 30M every time on us. Rich and I managed a few times to keep Brian behind us into the barrier, but for the most part we just resigned ourselves to digging to catch him over and over again.

Brian Astell schooling me 'n Rich

Oh, and a word about Maile - superlatives don't do the man justice. I used to enjoy watching him kick M35+ butt in Clif days a few years back. He is so strong, so skilled, and truly a class act. Rich and I have never been able to finish a battle before and the only reason I got him in the end was because of the SS - I attacked with 2 to go in a place where I knew Rich's gear was his weakness, and I was hoping I could get Brian caught up behind him. Well, Brian made it back up to me quickly, so quickly, in fact, that I missed the bus and was already a bit behind when we hit the single barrier - where he opened up the final decisive gap and held it for 1 1/2 laps to the finish. It was impressive to watch this kid race. I tried not to look back because I could feel Rich breathing down my neck.

So, I got 2nd, I guess I should be happy, but it would have been nice to win a race and get this monkey off my back. I think Rich knows this monkey (the Funke Monkey?), because he actually tried to offer his help to me during the race, but I guess I really wanted to win or lose on my own terms.

As consolation I increased my lead in the series. The final race will be very interesting, though, because it is Districts and I don't think there are any major races that day so the big boys should be on-hand to fight for the district title, and I'll be back to fighting for a top 5.

After the race I cheered Lauren on in the Women's race, where Shelly Olds rode off into the sunset, holding Stella and Lauren off at ~0:30 and 1:00, respectively.

Congrats to the Sycippers for great rides. Rich Blanco did a great ride in the SS race. Mattias won the 35B race again AND got 5th in SS. Lauren was solid again for 3rd in the Women. Oh, and Aron just missed the top 10 and moved into 9th overall in the A's - yay team!

Thanks also to the Pilarcitos crew and the Roaring Mouse gang for puttig on a great event. Thanks also to Julie Barrot for the feeds!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Deja Vu All Over Again...

Pilarcitos #3, McClaren Park, SF
Cat: A
Place: 3rd

I had a boat-load of excuses coming into today's race, including, foremost, the fact that I have only done two easy rides since the last Pilarcitos race. In spite of that, the absence of any of the big boys should always present an opportunity to actually win a race, and today I had the opportunity, and, as is usually the case, I completely botched it up.

The course was pretty tough - flat finish stretch (really nice location, actually) and a great run-up followed by a butt-busting climb to the top of the hill. Bumpy descent and a little climb to the big log, then a really gnarly descent to the bottom followed by another tough little climb (which would prove to be my nemesis). Then a little downhill and back to the flatlands where they put like 8 of the tightest S-turns you could imagine (they were actually faster to run if you wanted to).

So...anyone notice how damn exciting the Masters races have been lately? I truly think they're going faster than the A's, especially on days like today when it's just us local hoodlums...I really hope people appreciate how awesome the weekly Masters races turn out with D'Aluisio, Reaney, Myall, Maile, Coates, Kramer, and Howie going at it week after week. BTW Maile rode his Single-Speed to 2nd place in the M35 race which is pretty amazing considering the range of gears the rest of us were using. There is going to be some big-time Nor-Cal firepower at Masters Natz.

Anyhow, our race starts and I slide in behind Pat Rocchi on the first run-up. Pat slides out in a corner and I hit the hill in first and tempo it and hold the lead up to the big log. On the descent I was trying to decide whether to try to hop the log on the first lap, which is generally a bad idea, but I figured even if I messed it up it was all strung out so I wouldn't lose many spots. Did the hop pretty well and got to the top of the hill with a big gap. I wasn't ready to push it yet so I just tried to dial in the sections to the Start-Finish, allowing Brian Astell and a few others to catch me from behind. The hop seemed like such a huge advantage, on the next lap I made the point of riding the front over the top and down the hill, and on the 2nd lap opened another gap and decided I'd be better off alone, and started focusing on riding a clean fast race. Over the next few laps my lead increased and I was probably 30-40 seconds up on Aaron Kereluck and feeling good with about 4 to go. Lots of cheers from friends (like Scott and Gail) and a couple of hand-ups from Julie Barrot and I'm feeling pretty confident.

Photo: Jon Suzuki

...then I botched a shift and the chain goes into the spokes on the tough little climb before the descent to the S/F. ARRGH! I think everyone within a mile heard me... Had a really hard time extracting my chain and lost probably 30-ish seconds and now Aaron and Troy Barry (who bridged up from behind) were just a few seconds back. Then on the next lap I DO IT AGAIN, losing the remainder of my lead and now it's me Aaron, and Troy in front. I still felt in control and we stayed together 'til 1 to go. I lead up the run-up and try to hit it hard on the climb - SNAP! something goes in the rear end, and Troy gets by. Tire is hitting the chainstays and I tell Aaron I'm out and give him room to get by. From then on I just ride as hard as my rubbing wheel will let me, and just prayed nobody else was catching me from behind. Luckily I had a good buffer back to Brian and I was able to hobble in for 3rd.

Aaron was able to outsprint Troy for a great win on a tough course - there's proof that you never give up...congrats to Aaron and also to Troy for a great race.

I ripped the nipple clean out of my rear Helium...trashed. Dammit I just glued those with a fairly permanent tape/glue job. Think I'll try to replace that rim with a Reflex this week...wonder if I can get that Flexus off there...

I noticed there were a bunch of DNF's today so I suppose I'm lucky I got to finish. Not sure what happened to Hernando and Kid Cam, I expected them both to whup my heinie today. Only other noteworthy thing is that Mark Noble didn't show up today so I took over the lead in Series, though Aaron is not far behind now with the taste of sweet victory on his lips...

I really need to spend a little more time on bike maintenance - damn stupid to have such poorly-adjusted derailleurs that I can throw it into the spokes, though I can't say I've ever had that problem in the past. Ugh, and only this morning did I find the time to replace the seatpost that fell apart last Pilarcitos that my head is above water and visiting relatives are gone perhaps I can get the bikes running smoothly again...