je ne sais quoi

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


So it looks like the cycling career isn't over, after all. The comeback started yesterday: the first ride back from my bout with (often fatal) soccer recovery syndrome. I stopped trying to treat it, and though I still had a dumb limp going, I rode out to the rosebowl yesterday. It was rough at times, but I was ok as long as I didn't sprint or put out big watts. I took some pulls out front, and marked moves while Dave did his thing out front. A toyota united guy, not sure who, was out there on one of those cervelo p3c TT bikes. Dios Mio...Anyhow, this morning the legs feel much much better. Not quite 100% yet, and oddly, one of the legs is much fresher than the other...I wonder what I did right with that one?

It's 93 degrees here right now, at 11:30am. I'm waiting for it to warm up a bit so that I can go ride. Great day to go work on the tanlines, though I haven't shaved the legs in about 3 weeks. The legs still work, however, shaved or not. One thing that's really been driving me crazy...the bike. So many noises...those of you who have ridden with me recently can attest to this. Mainly, it's coming from the bottom bracket area, and it's totally intermitent. I've taken it apart, greased it good, changed the bearings (months ago, though), and the overhaul basically just buys me about 3 hours of quiet ride time, then it starts all over. So annoying! Oh, and the cleats are so worn and loose, so my right shoe basically has unlimited float (the screws are all F-ed and I cannot tighten them properly). I'm just venting here, pardon me. Moving on...So it's nearly July. Not a whole lot of season left. This is the easiest part of the season, however. Most of the races are crits, and there's little or no need to put in XL 6 hour+ rides in the mountains. I'll throw a couple in there, but the base I did in the winter takes care of the endurance bit. It's pretty wild how it can just carry over like that, but it does. As far as race calendar goes? Track! July 1st. Last one for a long while, I think. Then there's La Mirada on sunday. I've never done this one as a 1/2, so that'll be interesting. It had a nice hill in it from what I remember. It's a short ride off the metro stop -more incentive to race it. The funds are in total struggle-mode at the moment (of course...there's a direct relationship between how little money you have and how fast you it goes...). I'll be sure to do a write up of the weekend, should I race...

Lastly, it's time to bid adieu to one of my long time training partners/mentors, Jeff Schmela. He and the fam are moving out to Chicago in a week or so, and there was a big soiree on saturday night commemorating the SoCal life and times of Jeff. Nice times, good food, all that. Cyclists everywhere. Let me write a bit about Jeff...the first time I met him, I was a cat 5, huffin' and puffin' up the crest. He was the team's (Encino first club) hot-shot cat 3 rider, and i'd heard he climbed real well. He did. Needless to say, he dropped me pretty good that day, but said he was amazed that I hung on for as long as I did (trash-talk disguised as a compliment). This would be the begining of hundreds of similar rides, with me getting dropped a bit later each time. The guy brought his A game every time. There was never a time when he'd say "uh, i'm just gonna ride mellow today, don't feel well". Then came that fateful day when he was unable to drop me. With great difficulty, I rode all the way to the top alongside Jeff -easily among my most memorable days on a bike. Jeff opened me up to the realm of specialized training, nutrition ("bike racers don't get sour cream with their burrits when they order from taco bell"), how to not get dropped while climbing, and we often engaged in pulp discussions regarding a bunch of non-cycling topics. Nice times, all-around. So long, Jeff.

And after so many words...some photos...finally...

Jeff, Me, Jackson (Jeff's son). Check out Jackson's BIPE LEGS!

The Spanish speakers might find this funny...Mota's Mexican Food!
Saw it on the way home from Jeff's party in Altadena

And one last thing...because I know he reads this sometimes...a big hearty congratulations to Serko Soultanian, for pulling off one of the biggest upsets in video game history, by beating me in double overtime of the final at monday's $30 NHL 2k6 tournament. Live it up, dude, and know that it can never happen again. EVER.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

aleve tylenol advil vykaden even

I've taken every pill imaginable for muscle pain...nothing. In short, i'm never playing soccer again. I pray that i'm a little more mobile tomorrow...

"Indoor" Soccer

Dios Mio...

Played a good 90 minutes of soccer at an outdoor roller rink in Irvine yesterday. Wow. It's amazing how specialized cyclists' muscles are. I didn't get injured or anything, but the muscular sorness right now is so bad that I can hardly walk. Really really sore. Good times, though. My first time playing an organized game since some pick up action at LMC.

Wasn't planning on racing this weekend, but now it's just impossible. I'll try a gentle spin tomorrow.

That's it for this one.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Vandenburg AFB Road Race

The Vandenburg RR is our state championship road race. At one point during our race, a heard one racer ask another "hey, did you do the 'old guy' races yesterday?", referring to the previous day's masters races. Then I said "Hey, this is the old guy race. No one under age 44 has won this race in at least 5 years". Thurlow Rogers and Chris Walker have alternated wins here for the last million years. I've been there with them, coming closer each time, but old guys...they've got that endless endurance, and it really works on a course like this.

So. Teammate Field and I left Oak Park at around 6am, got to the airforce base at 8. Made the start okay. Bigger field than previous years, and I was surprised to see some crit-superstars taking the start. Most people won't touch this race because it's usually very hot, you need feeds, it's long, windy, etc etc. But it comes at a time on our race calendar that's loaded with crits, so it's a welcome change in my mind. It's also a good indicator of how the rest of your season's gonna go. You ride well, you'll be allright. So, notes from the start: LaGrange had at least 10 riders, again, uncharacteristic for this race. Teamwork doesn't really factor in usually. Last year I finished 11th, and it was really really hard. I attacked a small chase group with 25 miles to go, and finished solo for 11th place, one spot out of the money. The last lap was difficult..easily one of the 5 hardest races i'd ever done. Just going with attack after attack as the field withered away and Walker/Rogers ran the show in a brutal crosswind with high temps. This year would be different. Bigger field (more room to hide and sag-climb), cooler temps (60-70s), almost no wind, and teams to control the race. Field and I had a simple gameplan: conserve energy, don't go with attacks, let the other guys kill each other, and turn up the aggression late.

So, race starts gingerly enough. Some futile attacks went and came, and eventually a group of 5 went. 2 LaGrange (ahh, man, what'd I do for a team of 10 guys that make breaks), 1 Giant Strawberries, 1 Monex (Christian from the 'bowl...and he's probably the main reason they stayed off for as long as they did), and 1 Coates Cyclery (I think Ruben Meza, another guy from the rosebowl crew). They stayed off for a good bit. LaGrangers in the field coasted and cruised. A Lagrange guy was dropped from the break early, leaving 4. Then the Strawberry guy flatted, leaving 3. No one was overly concerned with chasing, but the SDBC guys set a decent tempo at some points to limit the advantage. The Moto official was mad cool, giving up time gaps AND break composition details often. Good guy. 5'30" was the biggest the gap got. I sag-climbed everything, and was comfortable for all of the first 2 laps. Last lap comes (keep in mind, each lap is 30 something miles for 109 miles total). The break has 2 minutes, and it's falling. Eventually they're caught. Thurlow breaks his chain. He's done. Attacks come and go, I'm in a couple. Nothing sticks, but each successive move takes it's toll on the field. We're down to about 30, from the 70+ who started. Then, there's a small, harmless split in the field. Maybe 10 guys up the road. I thought nothing of it. Field said "hey, that's the break, man". "No dude, too many guys". Sure enough, that stuck, barely. They had about 10 seconds at the finish. I finished 2nd in the field, for 13th on the day. The LAST money spot, oddly enough, they paid 13 deep. Took the envelope to the car, sarcastically told Field "hey, we're eating big tonight". Open up the envelope....[drum roll]....$10!!! A new record! It was a $1350 purse, 13 deep. So how'd I end up with 10? Ah well. We do it for the money, obviously. I was bummed 'cause I finished 2 spots lower than the previous year, but hey! Ex-teammate Tay Tolleson finished 13th last year and got picked up by tiaacreff! Haha. So it bodes well. Random stat: This is the 3rd time this year that i've been 13th in a RR.

And...of course...the Oil.
Game 7. Stanley Cup Finals. Oil v. Canes. 5pm. NBC.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Definitely check out this Jan Ullrich Video!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What heart. What resilience. What skill. Beauty. Grace. Bad-assness.

We're goin back to edmonton. Two wins away from winning the cup. Emotions are flying. And the rest of summer will be MOST enjoyable with two more Oiler's as simple as that. The Oil. If you weren't a hockey fan before, you are now, if you've followed this blog. You have to be. Game 6, saturday. State champs, Sunday.

[In the Clouds]

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Today was allright....

Woke up, did the barry ride to Angeles Crest, up to clear creek, back home. Felt okay. Great weather, myyy god. Especially up there. So I enjoyed that. Huge group, we must have had 30 at the base of verdugo. Put in a [intentionally] wussy attack, and it stuck. Rode to the top with James, then split off to the crest.

The Bowl. Today was good. Snuck into the early move, and we stayed away for 9.5 of the 10 laps. We had about 8 guys to start off, then it was down to four of us. Christian Valenzuela (fresh off a full-round at philly week....why the hell is he riding the 'bowl only two days after???), Rigo Meza, Guy in the same jersey as Rigo, and me. Blistering pace at first. The kind of pace where everyone in the break pulls 'till it hurts, then they hurt some more trying to get back on. Also known as: flying. It wasn't all Christian this time; I did my fair share, for sure. I wanted to lap the field, and at that pace, that early, I thought it possible...but I dunno...maybe the miles on the east coast caught up with him, but Christian stopped motoring, the other guys weren't doing much anyway, and why am I going to tow around 3 dudes for 4 more laps? I actually tried an attack with 2 to go, but they neatly worked to bring me back. Ah well. I'll lap the field, one day. With Haag, maybe. [To those who don't play the RoseBowl game: it's a 3 mile course, only 1 it'd be quite the feat, no?] So despite our huge lapse, the gap held, we had maybe 30 seconds at the end, but i'm sure we were up to several minutes at one point. The sprint was easy. Rigo went late, I went even later, and got it. Redemption for him taking me by a hair on thursday. Vandenburg comin.....i'm certain that this sprint practice will be reallll beneficial for that 109 mile RR on sunday.

Monday, June 12, 2006

San Fernando Grand Prix (Saturday)

Saturday was an odd day. Each year, on this weekend, we have two really local crits. One in San Fernando, and one about a 15 minute bike ride from my house, in Glendale/Burbank. Well, the story starts with the previous night...a friend of mine, SAKO, is heading to Germany for some World Cup I went to Orange County to hang out with him before he leaves for a month. My brother is out of town for the week, so he's let me borrow his car (Mercedes C55 rocketship). Sure enough, on the way to OC, I notice the alignment is suddenly way off, and yeah. A flat tire up front. Bummer. So I pull off, change the tire, laugh at the irony, and carry on. The irony: I rarely ever drive, but bike lots. Maybe 100:1 (riding miles to driving miles). Bike tires go flat with far greater regularity than car tires. I haven't flatted a road bike tire maybe in the last 20,000 miles...and get the flat with Ari's car just 20 miles in. Pictures to prove I was there:

So. Get to a friend's apartment (an hour later than scheduled), nice times. Couple drinks. Plan is to sleep there, and watch the England-Paraguay game at 6 am. Sleep at 3, up at 5:30. Game on at 6. This lame story's about to get a bit complex here. So I watch the game. England dominates, but only wins 1-0, but we're happy. Set off for hollywood at around 8:30am. Stupid traffic on the 5, we lag, and I get home at around 10:00am. The race is at 1:15, so that wouls give me a solid 2 hours of sleep, then change/shave/prep, and sprint to the race start 15 minutes away. And I do that, everything on schedule, except: I get to the Glendale GP, and there isn't a soul out there. Just a bunch of "no parking" signs. So after some panic and intense thought...I figure out that the Glendale GP is the following day, and San Fernando is the race taking place Saturday. Gah. Long story short...I rode the bike all the way to San Fernando (maybe a 1 hr ride). Feeling the previous night's effects, but heartrate was surprisingly high for once (a good thing). Get there with lots of time to spare (race was at 3:30...the irony, again, is that I could've slept for 2 extra hours), pin up, surprised to see 2 teammates there, and we start racing. On the 2nd lap, a break goes, my teammates are at the front, slowly bringing it back. Then a huge group of 15 or so went. None of us made the break (how?!?!), and it was pretty much race over for me, for us. I tried some attacks, got into a nice group with 5 to go, but the race was too far up the road. Didn't feel well, but I'm not pinning it on the sleep...I've raced sleep-deprived before, and it isn't a problem, especially crits. Some old dude came up to me and shook my hand and said "you were amazing". Which is especially odd, because I dont' understand how he could have seen that. There were 15 people up the road and I was basically just pack fodder trying some hapless attacks. Ah well.

Oilers Oiler Oilers. Smittttttty scored a horrendously disgusting goal with 2 minutes to go to win game 3 for us....definitely a swing in 4 is tonight. Gonna be a fact, i'm only writing this blog entry to try to kill time before the start....3 hours.......

World Cup:

USA: choked big time. Got outplayed in every facet of that game this morning. It's going to be a long, long 4 years for them...and I'm not a fan of the US coach's demeanor. Anyone know what I mean?

Italy: Love Italian cycling, but cannot stand their national team. So dramatic, too much flair, and yeah. It works for Cipollini, but I'd be annoyed if I were on the opposite side of a soccer field. The entire team throws their hands up at the slightest trace of a foul anywhere on the field. They won today, but props to Ghana for playing a admirable game for the first-ever world cup appearance.

Vamos Englaterra!!!

And more fotos:

Hot Dog Stand? Thai? Huh?

(L-R) Gonzalo, Leif Erikson, Aram, Griffith Park

Vandenburg State Championships next weekend......
[rolling the dice] Cmmmmon form!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Photo Special

A nice shot of the ADT Velodrome. Air conditioned, indoors, and fast.

New Shoes: DMT Kyoma. Arthur and Malcom (the new guy) destroyed the R7s. The shoes are okay, got some nice new blisters, but I think my feet are almost adjusted. The shoes are shiny as hell, but somehow not gaudy.

The final three photos are from sunday's crit ( . Officially, I ended up 14th. Bummer, yeah, but I felt decent, though nowhere near the level I need to be at to win this kind of thing. Gordon McCauley ( won it, but the man of the race was Rudy Napolitano from helens. The guy has usurped Karl Bordine as "local hot-shot of the month" for sure. I was in a couple decent moves with him, but all were shut down because we didn't have the right guys from the right teams. Hydration was a key factor, and I rationed my 2 bottles out to last me the full 2.5 hours. I could've gone for 4, but I don't have that many bottles anymore, nor do I have anywhere to put them. So Field (my teammate, not THE field), Richard, and myself raced it up. I discovered a nice little tactic...attack when a teammate is at the front of the's easier to get a gap this way...for obvious reasons. Richard brought himself to the front of the field with me with 5 laps to go. A break of about 10 were gone, but Richard shut down any other moves with me on his wheel. I got to the last corner at about 6th wheel, but the guy 2 wheels in front of me took a reallly bad line, and went real wide and slow, so that botched up the field sprint for me a bit, but ah well...I wishhhhhh it ended in a true field sprint, as the kick felt pretty super. Done.

Oilers: On in 30 minutes

Yes. The Oilers start the Stanley Cup finals in half an hour. So this will likely be a short entry. The Oilers. Oh, I should mention that in my Oiler-Elation a few weeks ago, midway through their second round series, I told myself (almost like a prayer)..."if the Oil win the Cup, I'm getting an Oiler tattoo." I'll have absolutely no regret if (and hopefully, when) this materializes. What an amazing season.

Okay. My run lately hasn't been as impressive as the Oil, no. That is impossible, but I had a pretty nice weekend. I won my track omnium on saturday...Three races, I finished 2nd, 1st, and 2nd, for 1st overall. Here's the [brief] breakdown:

Race 1: Unknown Distance

Basically a crit on the track, but you don't know how long the race will be, all you hear is a bell, meaning 1 to go. So we did five laps, I put in a nice little attack, get a gap, stay away for a couple laps, but gah!! no bell! So it comes together, no one attacks after they brought me back, so after recovering, I attacked again, almost cerrrtain that a bell was coming: nope. lap 14 comes, they bring me back again, and one lap later, they ring the bell and some guy comes around me and I could not come around in time. Bummer.

Race 2: Tempo Race

This is the one I DNFed last time. No neutral lap crashes this time, and I did well. Picked up lots of points, including the 3pts at the end, and won handily. Not much else to say.

Race 3: Scratch Race

Attack, Attack, Attack, I even chased one guy down, last lap came, and It was pretty much the same thing as my first race, not enough time to make the pass and win it. But, I sealed up the omnium. Oh! The 3rd place guy had the nerve to protest my riding in this race. "He cut off my sprint!" Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight guy. How 'bout we settle it on road bikes? I'll give you a 100 meter head start to 200 meters, annnd I'll use one leg. Seriously, some people...

But yes, the track was great. Suuuuch a contrast to criterium racing (really not even in the same ballpark as road racing). So I went from doing 5-minute long track races to doing a 190 minute 100k criterium the following day. A bit of a dilemma: didn't have a ride out to Costa Mesa. Checked a map, and the last metro stop was 20 miles away from the race, and that was pretty much my only choice. I left almost 3 hours ahead of time. Get to the race, distraught, figuring I missed the start for sure. I get there, riders are lined up! "Vera! Vera! Got time for one more??" "Wow, yeah. Sign us after" She radioed the start finish guys, pinned me up, and I make the start! Completely unreal and unexpected...the envelope for procrastination really cannot possibly be pushed any further...and yeah. CBR put on a killer race, great great course (though there were some truly gnarly and random crashes), and they still allow me to race despite my tardiness....I'll post photos later, game's on in 15. Adddddio!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Long Time...

Hey Readers,

Been a long time, a week? Apologies. Riding Riding Riding. Yeah, that's what I do. It's been rough lately, however, and I'll only skim the surface here, but support for my riding and racing has basically gone to shite over the last couple weeks, mainly on the family front, and the stupid stress that comes with it has really effected my motivation, and ultimately, my racing. Well. More on this as it develops. I'm still riding and training, and looking for a few more results, to have something to present to a decent team in the coming months.

Anyhow. The weekend? Shite. I rode the bike over to Woodland Hills on sunday, to race the Barry Wolfe GP. I know of Barry. I frequent the rides he's founded multiple-times per week (the barry ride out of griffith park on tuesday/thursday mornings is the one I most frequently do). So I thought it right to head out there and do the race. He was a rad guy from what I hear. So I slip on the skinsuit, no pack. Just me, my bike, and my atm card (for cash). Show up just in time, with approximately 10 minutes to go for my race. Get the waiver, give the cash. They ask for my license. I say "b0188580". This has never ever been a problem for me before. There were two volunteers sitting at registration. A kind woman, who said "wow, you're lucky, we were just about to put this away", and some geechy looking skinny guy who was just sitting there. The woman then said "No license, huh?" and looked to her right, where that guy was sitting...he immediately comes with "No license? you're not racing." I plead: "This has happened countless times before, check the computer, ask ANYONE here. They know me!" "I don't know you", then he turns to some elderly woman on the grass , and [sarcastically] "do you know him?". I am infuriated. With great difficulty, I kept my composure, and said "couldn't you check the computer? or ask an official?". Remember, I've never seen this guy before in my life. He isn't a USCF official or anything. Just a volunteer. He comes with an affirmative "No.". "So I'm not racing?" He nods. I lose composure and say "you know? you're what's wrong with racing." Then he expertly turns that around and says "You're what's wrong with racing." Right. I. 23 year old cat 1 that scrounged the $30 to race. So the rest of this story does not really matter. I did not race. Guy [whose name is Anton Gonzalez] went nuts, said "I've traveled all over the world racing bikes!". Umhmm. And you hassle me for not having a license on hand?! As a former bike racer (allegedly...I cannot confirm this), you'd think he'd be the last one to stiff me like that. Real harsh. Yeah, I was wrong to lose composure, and for that (and for potential obscenities that may have been uttered) I am sorry. Still, no excuse for his actions.

Monday, Memorial Day, Long Beach CBR Crit Day. Got there okay and on time. Didn't bring the license, they didn't hassle me (I have since found my licenses and won't have this issue at future races). The race? For some reason, this course always attracts a gigantic pro/1/2/3/4/5 field. Yes, it feels like they take everyone who'd raced earlier in the day, and throw them in with us. Eh. I rode right up at the front for the first couple laps. Drifted back for an instant, and poof. my race was over. A 20 man break containing Tony Cruz somehow slipped off the front. gah. I still felt good, went to the front, and chased. Not a single wank amongst the 120+ guys in the field helped. And worst thing? We were within 15 seconds of the break. I probably could have bridged solo if I had to, but I felt generous, and went to the front of the field, head down, and made a nice big pull. Not an attack. At all. I look back, and there's a huge gap after a couple riders. You get shot racing like that in my hood...opening up gaps and all that. That's likely how the break (of 20!!) got away to begin with. Eh.

Friends Lisa and Johnny having Thai in Hollywood