je ne sais quoi

Sunday, April 30, 2006

!!!!!!!!

OILERS!!!!!!!!!!!

Just got home from a race and saw the score for the game. Gahhhhhhhhhhhh couldn't be happier. Now they take it back to Edmonton and put the Redwings out of their misery at last. Ah, man. I doubt anyone who reads this knows how deep my love for Oilers hockey is...my eyes are tearing up, it's just such an incredible effort against a team stacked with future hall of famers and hot-shot young guys. The city of Edmonton is erupting, i'm sure, and there's no place I'd rather be. Oh man, still one more game to go, however...As for my race....a proper race report will follow later on tonight...I finished 13th today. Swell times, felt a bit better.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Don't let the photo fool you. The weather is still uncharacteristically confused. But it looks to be getting better...and i'll be racing in 80+ degrees for the first time this weekend.

Oh, yeah. So I took last weekend off from racing. It feels like it's been months since i've raced. Really does. Gotta make up for lost time...sooo...I'll be racing a road race on saturday (Devils Punchbowl), and a nice $2500 crit (Chuck Pontius) on sunday. Then, I'll have monday and tuesday off, and wednesday i'll start the Tour Of The Gila. Yep. The big bad and difficult climbers-only stage race out in Middle-Of-Nowhere, New Mexico. And...i'll be racing the Pro/1. My first *real* Pro/1 stage race. Whoah. Form isn't spectacular, but it isn't too bad either, and one of my main goals is to finish the thing and get classified. Anything more would be real swell. This is the start list. Chris Wherry and friends. Psycheddddddd! Yeah, i'll write more as the race nears, and I actually finalize my registration. So with Gila, that would make 7 races in 9 days. Statistically, i'll have to do well in at least a couple, no???

More randomness, but deserved randomness: I was 1000% shocked to find that Chris Horner won the Tour of Romandie stage today. Yeah he's good, but to beat the best dudes out there? A-MAZ-ing. I'm certain he reads this blog at least hourly, so Chris, on a personal note, Well f-in done, man. Win that GC. Chris Saxton took a picture with Horner once.


And a parting shot: Climbing Big Tujunga Canyon




Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 24: Day of Genocide Remembrance

April 24 is a pretty big deal for Armenians all over the world. In 1915 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated by Turkey, and there hasn't been any sort of retribution in all this time. At the time, the world was lost in the first world war, and Turkey continually dismisses the killings as "war time casualties". So, the April 24 holiday has a dual purpose for Armenians. We commemorate those who died, through vigils, readings, prayer, etc. The second, and more recent aim of this day is to raise awarness of the Genocide, turn the tide and ultimately get worldwide recognition for the 1915 atrocity. Hits home for me, as my late grandmother was a survivor of the Genocide, resulting in her migration to the middle east, and eventually, to my own lebanese-Armenian heritage.

**Note: Those of you living in L.A. surely noticed lots of cars with Armenian flags (red/blue/orange in a horizontal pattern) draped all over them. Not a huge fan of this. April 24 is a day of mourning and of sadness. Not of Armenian pride. Ironically for some, the day has become the later. Ah well, there's surely no bad intent, just some large-scale misunderstanding. Maybe if they had some black "April 24: Genocide Remembrance" flags to put on their cars instead?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Not Racing Is Allright Sometimes...

There's actually a stage race, out in westlake, and I decided against it, to finally give my body a break from burying myself week after week. It's going well. Woke up early (7:30) this morning to join a group to climb the crest. Hauled ass because I was late, as usual, but made it. Ended up being just Dave, James, and me going up. We caught and passed some other riders, and the higher we went, the colder it got. The low temp on the thermo was 5 (celsius), and the extremities were definitely in difficulty -but...the legs felt okay! Finally, they felt half-decent for the first time in weeks. We rode tempo the entire way...tempo usually stops at the first summit, but nope, all go, all the time today. I've been doing a "detox" routine this last week, no vitamins, optygens, coenzyme q10s, etc. Just some recovery drinks here and there thrown in so I wouldn't completely die. And yeah, today the legs felt pretty swell. Finally.

The ride wasn't without difficulty, however. The hardest part of today's ride came at around the sixth hour. I was about 10 miles from home. I was starving. There was a Chipotle nearby, and I had $5 in my pocket....hmm, yeah, turned in and ordered a veggie burrito. The hispanic woman working the "beans and peppers" area must have liked the Amgen kit, 'cause after she put the black beans and fajita peppers, she looked up and asked "more?". Having a pretty substantial caloric deficit, it probably isn't surprising that I said "yeah, please", while trying to contain my excitement. Shortly after, a burrito with a double serving of black beans AND peppers made it's way down the assembly line to the salsa area. "Hi. What salsas would you like?". "All of them. No sour cream". There was no offer of "more?" this time, as the burrito was well past its maximum capacity for proper closure. So she put the salsas and guac in, and I was laughing aloud from giddiness. Paid, sat down. Geezus. No, seriously, this guy was 6" WIDE. Some holes had opened up from the pressure. Gigantic, in every sense. I started eating it, fast, and was about 1/4th through when I looked back, to see if maybe a small crowd had assembled behind me, with hopes of witnessing some super-human feat. To my surprise, however, there was no crowd. So I kept at it, and though I fell way off my early pace, I eventually triumphed over the burrito, and made it home about 30 minutes later. Definitely one of my prouder moments.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Kobe Shouldn't Get The MVP

I've been saying for the last couple weeks: "If Kobe Bryant doesn't get the MVP, riots are gonna go down, and i'm gonna be in the thick of it. He MUST get the mvp." Well my latest theory is this: We don't want Kobe to get the mvp. Why? 'Cause if he doesn't, he'll be so friggin fired up for the playoffs, that we'll sweep through them and he'll turn into molten rock and slay anything and everything in his path. So yeah, uh, give it to Lebron, Elton Brand, Nash, whichever. The Lakes need this.

It's such a jam packed time in sports for me. Forget my own racing. The wiiiiiiiiiiide-open NHL playoffs are around the corner, and the Lakes have been playing really well going into the NBA playoffs. Then there's the Whittier Law School Playoffs (aka: finals). Gonna be a wild stretch. And my mood will generally reflect the success of my respective teams. Oilers, Lakers, Mike.

Oh yeah, bike racing! So sunday sorta salvaged what would have been a shite weekend. I jussssssssst snuck into the money spots, by finishing 14th overall on GC. Saturday was rock bottom, and Sunday I probably felt even worse, but was luckier. Picking up that GC points prime really helped too, as I would have been 18th without it. I left the race area after I finished, figuring there was no way I was top 15, but ah well. Can't wait to pick up the monster $25 check. No, really, I can't.


Nice Shot From The Crit
www.kennybz.com

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hmm

Some guys have power meters that gauge their race efforts. Others, timers or heart rate monitors. I go by this...if my shorts are still dry and fresh after a race -I didn't go hard enough, I missed the break, or something along those lines. Basically, clean fresh shorts=a shite race for me. After today's crit, my shorts were vile. Putrid, at best. I couldn't wait to change out of them.

So, crit today. 90 minutes. Last stage of the CBR Stage Race. I started the race with a track stand, and jokingly got a gap from the gun. 3 guys bridged up, and we stayed away for two laps. Allright. Then some laps later, a break of 3 monex, and 1 other guy went up the road. I was in good position, so made a bridge attempt. A Successfulliving guy joined me, and we made it. 4 became 6. 6 became 8. Then more guys bridged, in pairs, and it eventually swelled to 13 dudes total. 7 of which were monex! Karl Bordine (2nd GC), and the other Labor guys conspicuously missed the move, so Monex was happy to drive the shite out of the break. It was at this point that I was completely on edge, totally getting worked, almost dropped, the whole bit. We were flying, though, and I didn't (couldn't) look back. At some point while in the break, I jusssssst got pipped with a $50 prime on the line. gahh, I was pissed, I foolishly thought I had it. So we eventually (but not surprisingly) lapped the field. Then monex kept motoring to catch all the scattered chasers. It wasn't even fair for those poor chaps up the road. Mowed down, practically. So once everyone was caught, we had about 40 minutes to go. The race became completely dull and lifeless. I tried to move up a couple times, so maybe I can mix it up, but was forced out by Monex "pros" so that they could continue their leisurely sunday stroll at 12mph all day. It was ridiculous, and what's worse is that the entire field complied with and feared these guys. No attacks. Nothing. Just futility. 5 laps to go, and they announced a GC points prime. Bordine wanted this, I knew he did. Marked him, attacked him, and took it with a healthy gap. He probably needed them more than me, but I'm trying to salvage a shite weekend, and maybe sneak into the money spots. So big bad MONEX lines it up into the bell lap, maybe 6 guys in the leadout train. And what happens? A total amateur (Rudy Napolitano) cat 2 guy handily beats them in the sprint. I ended up 5th. With that many guys, and the race all together, why the hell wouldn't Monex send guys up the road? Total stupidity, and a waste. They took GC, however. Allright, that's gonna do it. Photos to come...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

huh?

Once upon a time, back in March 2006, I was winning bike races, green jerseys, getting checks after races, exchanging high-fives, the whole bit. Since then, however, my form's totally J-curved downward. Can't say i'm completely shocked by it all, 'cause you cannot rock peak form all year, but I still expect to be competitive even if i'm at 90%. Cmon, I am Aram Dellalian. I have a blog. I cannot be slow! I cannot get dropped on the second lap of a 5 lap, 80 mile road race.

Yeah. Yesterday was the second stage of the CBR LA County Cycling Classic. I didn't do the first stage. Day two was an 80 mile course (shortest RR of the year), but with a giant steady hill that gets steeper as you near the crest. The race starts midway through that hill, and five minutes into the race, some dude decides to take advantage of other rider's failure to warm up (who warms up for RRs? who??), and sets a ridiculous pace up the climb. The race started blowing up from the gun. I thought I was done as well, but jussst made it over, and thought "okay, i'm warmed up now, i'll be allright." But geez. The next time up (they were 16 mile laps), my bike felt like it weighed 5000lbs, and I was dropped about 200 meters from the top. I kept the group close, but at the start of the 3rd lap didn't have it. I rode the rest of the way solo. Almost 60 miles, alone. And finished an embarrasing 20th place on the day.

Again, excuses are for idiots, and I don't have any. I plan on doing a 2 week base period, with big hours at low intensities to try to get it back. If I still dont' respond (positively) after that, then we'll consult the higher powers. I also will not work 45 hours during the season ever again (if I can help it). I've said it before, i'll say it again, anyone who's competitive at the Pro/1/2 level, and works full-time, is a fookin hero, and would decimate the world if they trained full time. It's so far-fetched to me. I work 20 hours a week, and even that really gets in the way of training. So next week, better weather, less work, and (hopefully) better legs. I've got a 90minute crit this afternoon, we'll see how it goes. I slept for 12 hours last night, so maybe my legs are okay.


Road Race Scenery. SoCal's the best.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hey There.

THE OIL HAVE MADE THE PLAYOFFS. I can rest a bit easier now. And the great thing is, I got to watch it on TV, since they were playing the Ducks. Really fast game, definitely a playoff atmosphere throughout. Someone sliced the shite out of Chris Pronger's face, and he bled all over the ice. Comes back 2 shifts later, and the crowd goes friggin nuts. Then with 30 ticks to go, Ales Hemsky scores, and new decibel highs were reached out in Edmonton Alberta. F yeah. Playoffs start next week. And why isn't there an "NHL2Night" anymore on espn?? Bring back melrose!

I was watching the game while spinning on rollers. Rollers are fun and great, but still don't hold a candle to riding outside. I got off briefly to watch the last 5 minutes without the noise of the rollers. Then got back on after the game. Nope, couldn't do it. It was the warmest night we'd had all year. I hoped off the rollers, and just started riding through the Hollywood hills. I've got these "custom" shorts that I ride on the rollers. They're these shorts I crashed after only wearing them twice. So the chamois is good, but the right leg area is completely cut off. Kinda like a half speedo board short contraption. So It was great. I did 45 minutes this way. Some dog walkers looked at me weird...as if looking for wounds because my clothes were ripped, but there were none. Ah well. An awesome ride, which likely wouldn't have happened if the Oilers lost.

So I was riding last night with the intention of opening up for a TT today, my start time is in 1 hour, but I'm not riding. Lots of factors conspiring to keep me from goin. No car, no TT bike, it's alllll the way in Lancaster, i've worked 45 hours this week, ridden for 5. Would've been a total waste of a trip. And just a heads up...clip on bars don't work with FSA RD200 bars. No arthur damage to report, as there's not much left to destroy. I'll leave you with a shot of me having lunch with a '73 450sl.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

This is what I came home to today:
















That's my helmet. Arthur completely destroyed it. I had to work this morning. Left him outside as usual, closed all doors, and left. Come home at 6pm, and done. I'm so pissed. It was a great helmet, but difficult to find (Selev), and expensive. Fit so well. Real light. Great ventilation. Arghh. I'm actually wayyyyyyy more pissed than "argh" indicates, but hey. It isn't the dog's fault...my negligent younger brother (16 y/o) likely forgot the door open, and left. He isn't home yet, and of course, when I ask him about it he'll say "huh? what are you talking about? I had nothing to do with it." And what can I say to that?

Also destroyed:
-sandals (still useable, but shred all over)
-adidas sambas (the only remaining shoe that arthur hadn't destroyed)
-2 cyto waterbottles (my "race" bottles, i've none left)


Monday, April 10, 2006

Soy Un Perdedor

Yeah, lost again. THREE races this time. In only 2 days! Hah, well, here's the story....

Valencia Stage Race. Short 8 mile time trial and crit on saturday, and a thick 96 mile road race on sunday (today). The TT? Easily my worst time trial ever. Not so much my effort on the bike, but my preparation leading up to it. I'm not one for excuses, ever. Ever ever. So what follows are not excuses, but just me pointing out my own negligence. Super early start time. 8:13am was mine. Some drama at registration, my own fault of course. Then I spent a full 30 seconds dialing in my borrowed 54cm TT bike. "Hey tony, do I look ok?" "Yeah, pretty good" "Allright." And with zero pedal strokes of warmup, I lined up to start the TT. Bad move. Stupid move. And my muscles let me know it. They just felt so thoroughly fooked after the 16 minute effort. I usually feel swell after these things. I sucked, and put in my worst individual time trial performance ever to finish 26th. Thurlow Rogers won. It was a cool course, nice and flat. And I even got to use a set of Zipp 808s courtesy of Brian. Bummer. Tony roccccccccked out for 8th place, ridiculously fast considering he's a small "climber" guy.

The crit was better. I felt surprisingly well throughout. Was in a couple moves, did some work on the front for no reason other than to gauge my own fitness, and played it too conservative in the sprint to finish 16th. Toyota United team time trialed off the front, and finished 1-2-3-5. Yeah. JJ Haedo was in our bunch, but didn't sprint. Woulda been cool as hell if he had.

Sunday's RR...96 miles. Really hilly, but no huge climbs. After 80 miles, however, those little guys seem gigantic. Oh, the negligence doesn't stop at the TT, it keeps goin. Right as we started a short neutral section, I realized that I'd forgotten to fill up my tire pressures before the start. latex tubes. Shite. The start time was at 8am, and my head just wasn't there. Dumb move, at best. But.......smooooothest 96 miles i've ever ridden. And honestly, they didn't feel "flat" at all. I completely forgot about it until after the race. Checked pressure then.......75psi!!! Yeahh! Veloflex carbon=best tire ever. I might drop them down to 110-115 instead of the usual 130 from now on. It just felt so good. The first lap was the hardest. Toyota United went nuts, with no one around to really battle them. These guys define "attack". Great precision, amazing kick, and anyone who so much as tries to "mark" one of their moves has to reallllly bury themselves to get on. Ridiculous. That's how i'm gonna attack from now on. Eventually, toyota-united established a elite group of 10 up the road. Then it was the main field/groupetto, where I hung out throughout the race. I attacked here and there, got brought back, and the bunch just sat around. Negative racing. People chasing things down for no reason other than to chase. So eventually, after one of my attacks got brought back (for the millionth time), I yelled at richard to GO. He hesitated for just a second, then went full gas, and established a small gap. Field got up there, brought 2 others with him, and a group of 4 (2 amgens, 1 helens, 1 starfish guy) stuck. Ahhh, yeah. Teammates. The next two laps were a blast. We'd slow down to .5 mph at some points. It was like a battle of "who can go the slowest". So about halfway through the last lap, I purposely let Stephen Ferreti (socalcycling.com) get a gap. I'd been marking everything prior, but let him get about 20 seconds. Broke out one of those Toyota-United style attacks, and bridged up, taking 2 others with me. We worked well together, and got a healthy gap. I eventually attacked my little group, and soloed in the 10 miles. Field cracked (the guy just upgraded from the 3s, so amazing effort regardless), and I saw Richard haulin about a minute up the road. Richard finished 11th, I got 13th. Tony 17th. Field 24th. The team was fantastic today, again, and we're slowly becoming more cohesive as well.


yeahhh photos:

Aram, Ton, Rich, Field


Post-Race Ahi Tostada @ poquito mas

Friday, April 07, 2006

¬°Dios Mio!

Rose bowl was brrrutal today. Again, I came a lap late, but with glorious daylight savings, we do 10 laps, so it's no big deal. Allright. Chunky large group, like usual. Dozen or so fast dudes, and 43 category 6 riders for each fast guy, typical, but fun. On my second lap with the field (8 to go), some dude drills it, strings the bunch out. No one pulls through, I pull through, gently, as if to say, "hey guy, cmon, take it easy." To my dismay, however, when I pulled off, we had a gap. I really just wanted to chat it up in the group, see who's racing what for the weekend, etc. Not gonna happen. Jaime Paolinetti, Mystery-Monster-Pull-Guy, me, maybe 5 others. It's good to see Jaime up there, you learn alot when up the road with him (for instance, when pulling off a paceline, he goes so damn close to you, and you have to consciously move to the outside to avoid crashing into him...annoying, but the guy knows what he's doing, and it keeps you constantly alert, which is good). The next 5 laps were hell. Pegggggged at threshold the whole time, even while drafting! Easily the fastest I've ever gone at the bowl for a 5 lap period. We're down to 4 dudes. Mystery-guy worked us real good. I didn't look back, but seriously, it wasn't comin back. None of us really knew how many to go, but it was about that time, and Jaime said "allright, one to go." I'm not arguing that. Everyone worked up until 500m from the line, right on. Mystery guy attacked at 300m to go, Jaime marked it, I marked him, and jussst came around them both to take it. Maybe one of the hardest sprints of my life. I'm serious. Not so much the sprinting, but the ridiculous pace leading up to it. I was happy to still be able to jump like that. Talked to the guy afterward, he was all smiles. Spoke only spanish. Mystery guy=Christian Valenzuela, from Mexico. Dios Mio, Christian.


Then I had to come home and battle this guy
(note that his biceps are bigger than mine):

Thursday, April 06, 2006

UPS Woes

#1 In Europe, you can place bets on riders in almost any race, amateur, pro, all of it. Lance bets on himself before the start of every Tour. So why can't we do it here? Riders could bet on themselves. That's great motivation, no?

#2 At all costs, get stuff shipped anything but UPS. F-in brown messed me up again, and for the first time in my life I ordered something "2nd day air" instead of the usual (and free) ground. Paid extra and everything, and it didn't come. Wanks. And I have no idea when it'll come.

#3 The weather's starting to get annoying. It's gonna clear up soon. I'm no longer going to check forecasts before races or rides. Just gonna go with what the sky looks like.

#4 So for the first day of daylight savings, monday, I started a ride late, and still got home almost an hour after it got dark, while thinking the whole time "oh, it's daylight savings, i'll have plenty of time, I can keep goin...."

#5 Read #2 again, i'm really annoyed. I blame them for the brevity of this entry.

Monday, April 03, 2006

An All-Around Swell Weekend

Hey There,

The weekend was just as the title indicates -swell. I LOST both races. Hah, going back to the persistent "So, how'd you do?" question I get from people....I think saying "I lost" might take the cake as the best answer out there. Ah, geez. And on that note, if anyone out there has been to this blog page more than once and is NOT a cyclist...I commend you. This is as bike race-specific as it gets, though I'm trying to dilute it a bit more. In time, friends.

But not today. So, the weekend. Two races, two crits, two badaaaaaasssss courses. The saturday race was our own home race, put on by the Amgen Cycling Team . Awesome crit course with everything. Big hill, big headwind section, crosswind, and a smoking fast slight downhill tailwind sprint. Wide open turns, all that. I finished 23rd there, though I really should have been more aggressive througout. Wasted good fitness, i'd say. Missed the $$$ by 3 spots, ah well. Karl Bordine continues to astound everybody. He won handily. He had just one teammate in the race, and was able to clean the clocks of assorted pros from across the US (Health Net, Toyota United, Sierra Nevada, etc etc etc...all with 4-5 man squads). Attention: the socal scene is for real. Be warned. Then come get your clock cleaned by our amateurs.

Today's race was in the astoundingly picturesque (purposely chose that adjective to add to the irony of not having a camera) little town of Ojai, California. The Garret Lemire GP. The drive there was scenic and sparsely inhabited, then the town just springs up out of nowhere, nestled between two steep mountain ridges to the north and south, and the ocean about 10 miles to the west. Really nice, and definitely somewhere to consider hanging out sometime. The race organization was great great great; every volunteer and person in the crowd seemed genuinely happy to be there, and racers just fed off their energy. I was beaming throughout my race. The atmosphere really reminded me of superweek out in Wisconsin, but with better weather.


Post Race Spin
Photo: Tony


Anyhow, we had an agonizingly short 50 minutes for the Cat II race. I think we raced for 40. Ah well. Awesome course. Something for everyone: Technical turns, sprinter's hill, wiiiide open finishing straight on a slight incline, all on smooth pavement. We [figuratively] drew a name out of a hat, and decided to set things up for Tony (Restuccia). I had no problem with it, and neither did the rest of the team. Ahhh, wait, before I continue...we have a new guy on the squad, fresh off the cat 3 boat. Field (not sure of his last name). So now it's Skye, Tony, Brian, Richard, Perry, Field, and "the world's best armenian-vegetarian cyclist." Field's a good guy, loads of potential. Okay, so we're working for Tony. And we did. Richard did his classic thing near the front the entire race. Marked moves, yelled at silly riders who did dumb things, the whole bit. He's fun to watch for sure. And like I said earlier, I was smiling throughout the race......daylight savings, the crowd, the course, the weather, my fitness, the team.....ahhh, synchronicity. With pressure to get a result removed, I had free reign to mix things up, make people chase, etc. I was flattered when I made a big move on the outside through the start finish about midway through the race, and immediately found that two of the pre-race favorites (Ojai local Chris Barton and Rudy something) were right on my wheel. I let them sit there for about half a lap, they pulled through and we got a nice gap. I picked up a prime (giro helmet) at some point during this break, but we got brought back eventually. I recovered, tried a couple other moves, nothing stuck. Last lap comes, Tony and I are about mid pack. I give the signal. He's on, we went through the bell on the outside, and made tons of spots. A promising break still had about 10 seconds (Barton and a couple others). I took tony to the front of the pack on the next straightaway, 1/2 lap to go. I still felt cheery though, so then I went to the front myself and closed the gap to the leaders, no one else would do it, wanks. I closed it right as that final hill came (which is 400 meters from the line), and I sat up. Tony and Brian flew past. Some dudes crashed in front of me, I was going a 3mph at this point, so I managed to ride around. I coasted in for 506th place, without any idea as to how the boys did after I dropped them off. I told myself that if Tony got a top-10, i'd be happy. If not, he's dead. Tony finished 5th and Brian got 4th!!! The law-dog from the westside rocks this course all the time (he'd finished 6th last year). The team got some sweet results, some cash, lunch, the whole bit. Swell times indeed, a fine way to end my soiree in the Cat IIs...