je ne sais quoi

Friday, February 29, 2008

Shake The Disease

It was (is) a really cool Depeche Mode song back in the day. I haven't listened to it in a long long while, but I always remember the title anytime I come down with something -which isn't often. My biggest strength in this bike-game is not sprinting or time trialing or looking faster than I am -it's my tip top ability to not ever get sick. Honest, those of you who know me: am i ever? No.

With all the shite weather we've had lately, I've done enough "rest weeks" to last 'till I'm 45. I'm not annoyed at all, actually. It just means the season will stretch longer, and I'll have the good legs at a different time of year than I'm used to. Anyhow, we finally got some sun in this week (actually, the sun came 16 seconds after the finish of the Tour of California), and I got some riding in. Tuesday was a spirited Barry Ride with some crest thrown in. Then wednesday I rode out to ride the crest with a couple guys, and nearly fell off my bike. My ears hurt and it felt like my head was gonna burst (sinus pressure, I think it's called?). Weird...particularly for someone who isn't sick too often.

And so, yesterday was off (work + bike), and I already feel better. Heard some horror stories about other locals with the same symptoms being off the bike for weeks. I'm pretty sure i'll be nearly 100% come next week. My parents tell me I used to drink rainwater out of puddles in the back yard when I was young. Did they stop me? No, they took pictures. THAT'S hard man training right there. Headcold? Cakewalk.

Bourj Hammoud

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

J'ai Oubliee Trop............(Une)

Salut Tous,

Je veux ecrire quelque chose en Francais une fois pour semaine. Mon dieu....maintenant est mon premier temps pour utilise Francais en trop long temps. C'est comme m*rde, non? Apres je decouvre que je ne peux pas retourne a France, ma tete aretter le meme instantanee. C'est une petite peu bizarre, parce que c'est ne pas sur de mon control. C'est triste, non? Maintenant, et toutes le jour France me manques beaucoups. Je pense que ca ne arretter pas pour tout mon vie. Si vous etes Francais (de la France), vous comprends bien que je veux dire bien sur!

Alors, le saison commencer ici. J'ai bonne forme maintenant....mais est tres tot. C'est seulement Fevrier! Je suis desole....toutes les mots ici sont le comprends bien cette mots, et rien que autre! Je pense que je besoin etude une peu pour ecrire autre sujets! Prochaine fois, peut etre? Et je espere que la prochaine est plus interesante.

a +

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Just Want To Emote Till We're Dead

Let's not start this one off with the bike. That album? It's been on non-stop repeat since early summer, and I've been listening to it even more in the last month or so. One really neat property the album has that's unique to me is that whenever it's playing on the ipod (iphone!) on a ride I instantly get these vivid recollections of France. Every little detail and sense is there. Tingly on so many levels. It's a good way (the only way?) to deal with the intermittent nostalgia I can't help but feel. Also, on that note, I'm going to try to commit to writing a weekly ditty in french here just to keep the language somewhat spry. I've stopped studying, and that part of my brain kinda shut itself off once that door closed. Gotta intervene! Allright.......

Another sunday, another crit....but first: I raced the track on saturday night. I skipped Valley of the Sun partly because the purse to entry/gas/lodging ratio wasn't too favorable, and also because there were a couple local options that were both metro/riding distance from my house. I really really love NOT having to drive to a race. One of the perks of the socal scene. So yes, the track. Not much to report. Honest, it's not even worth breaking down. Would like to note though, that track racing suddenly got more expensive, almost prohibitively so: they've found a way to throw in pre-registration and late fees (in addition to track usage fees) to the mix. That said, it was a great workout and the legs got nice and open for the next day's criterium.

The Crit.................

The results sheet will read "7th........Aram Dellalian.......Unattached", but f, that results sheet came together in the strangest fashion. It was your standard flat 100k crit. 75 guys? Christian Valenzuela was at the start, as were other perennial breakaway masters: Thurlow, C-Walk, etc. Again, not a stellar field, but enough to make it interesting. The course is cool because you can see the entire race from a single vantage point. Don't think I've done any others that are like this one. Really cool for spectators, and for racers trying to gauge where they are. Prior to the race I told a bunch of people "i'm riding for a break. be there."

Lo and behold, I miss the first major move. But so did the thurls and c-walks of the peleton, so I wasn't alarmed. Valenzuela was up there, however, driving the break along. Not surprising, because that's what he does, he motors. They quickly had half a lap before the main group started to move. Eventually, Walker, Rigo Meza, me, and a couple other guys worked to bring it back. Wasn't too hard. Once we brought them back, I caught up to Christian, and jokingly said "otra vez, con mio! [one more time, with me]". A couple corners later I attacked through the start finish. Not super hard, but hard enough to get some separation and maybe have one or two tag along. Sure enough: Christian Valenzuela on my wheel. I let him sit (the guy had to be tired off the front for 40k) for a while as we bridged to Randall Coxworth (SDBC). Not sure how/when Randall got up there. In any case, It was a promising move. SDBC had a big team shutting things down, and I was sure Christian had more in his legs after a bit of rest. It worked, we got 30 ticks real quick...though we still had too much race to go.

I think after 7-8 laps out there, they announced "29 laps to go". Gah. SDBC wouldn't work. It's cool, at least this way I could "adopt" his teammates and help stretch the gap a bit. Christian (who had 1 teammate) seemed okay with it, and him and I exchanged equal pulls...'till of course his wheels came off (figuratively). So now two people are sitting on. Really, it was a funny situation...but the legs were up for it. Somehow, we still gained on the field. Got to within 20 seconds of the back...but lapping the field would present its own problems....the problem of current dilemma. I could get Christian in a 3-up sprint...Randall...perhaps...but the guy did lots of resting. If we lap, he wins easily 'cause he's got 500 teammates. Can't attack, because then those 500 guys shut me down. It's a catch-22, and this is why the unattached game is annoying...but also interesting.

Hate to drag this on, but eventually the gap started coming down. 10 to go sounded. Really, I was doing full lap pulls here. I'm not stupid. I had a little chat with the breakaway guys, set some terms, and vowed to keep the gap going. And did. 5 to go, Christian was getting gapped on the corners. We still had 30 ticks. 3 to go, Christian was gone, and Randall pulled through with a bit more regularity. Into the bell we must have had 20 seconds. I pulled the first half lap. Believe me, I looked back plenty. Randall took over with a half lap to go. He was motoring, and I was comfortably in tow. I looked back for the final time here. We well were clear. A good 10 seconds. We rounded turn 4 for the millionth and last time. Randall didn't mess around -no games, and I'm thankful for that. He set it up for me perfectly...

but i screwed it up. I foolishly (delusions of grandeur-ly) pulled wide right into the wind while he stayed his line wide left. We were even with about 25 meters to go, and when I realized that I wasn't gaining ground, my legs conceded...2nd! What? The pack! 5 others passed, and all that's left is this blog entry and


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

While The Rest of the Country Sleeps...

The SoCal scene fields 130 guys in 80 degree February heat. Mon Dieu.

Sunday was the Roger Milikan Criterium. The funnest crit course around. The speeds are ridiculous because there is a slight rise before the finish. The group blasts down the descent, then guys attack the hill even faster and the speed just stays high. Really superweek-like....they were even selling brats near registration! A nice vibe throughout -the good weather makes everything swell and nice. Side note: My chain was dry, so in the pre-race rush I asked the neutral support guy from Jax Bike Shop if he could lube it up...he did...then offered to give me the full bottle. Top move, guy. I didn't take/need it, but it's worth noting a small act of kindness. Anyhow. I rode to the race with a couple guys from pasadena. It was a long and eventful ride over (2 hrs, broken spoke, crash...), but we finally got there. The unique part of this race's algorithm is the neopolitan shake I had from In-n-Out 20 mins before the race. Went down perfect. And with that, we start:

Field limit 120, announced field of 125. Lots, but realize that the number is misleading. I won't get into details, but it should suffice to say that "not all 125 riding had a realistic chance of winning/placing"... It was nice seeing lots of people I hadn't seen in more than a year. Again, good vibe throughout. Toyota United sent a small squad, as did Health Net (1), Jelly Belly, and scores of SoCal scene fluff (me included). The race started and ended at the same speed: fast. But not necessarily difficult. With that many guys racing that quick, it's like riding on the back of a big-rig at just the right speed for however long you want. I kept it conservative and saw the wind only a few times. Hmm. Anyhow, being mid-pack in this 30mph vortex means I don't have much to report. 5 laps to go, a break of 5 was off. R*ck was the only team with a full complement of riders, and they chased. The chase was weak, but the break started to play games and totally fell apart on the last lap. They got caught with 2 corners to go, and Rahsaan won it from Paul Che. I had great legs, but didn't have the motivation to mess with the leadouts going on, and followed wheels to finish 12th -the last $ spot. Rode the 35 miles back home, and here we are.

Also...the "unattached" game might be coming to an end soon. Will give word if anything transpires.

Friday, February 08, 2008

RedBox ReCap

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Vittima, Mario Cipollini!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

BFE California


Every year, there's a road race in middle-of-nowhere, CA. All the SoCal scenesters buzz about this race from the end of the previous season and either (a) swear to never do it again or (b) make it a goal to rip legs off in this way-early season "classic". This is the Boulevard Road Race. In the 1/2 field, it's become an unofficial NRC race of sorts where all the big teams converge and bring their team cars and vans and bikes and riders and staff to middle of nowhere, CA and commence in battle. I always wonder why? Perhaps the timing of it...even's weird.

My race: 11:50 start time. High of the day would be 46 degrees. Ugha. If you detect a tinge (or more) of bitterness in my writing today it's because of the unseasonably freezing temps we've had here lately. The big buzz of the day was that R*CK R*ACING would line up and destroy everyone and anything in their path. I was actually looking forward to maybe racing alongside Tyler Hamilton. I don't know how I would react (i'm not a fan of his...even before the shite went down), but I think the legs would've responded positively (hahh...pun!). Anyhow, he didn't start, but they had a good chunk of riders. Toyota had a couple. Ivan was a good sport and lined up. Kelly Benefits (who surprisingly got a ToC invite), Jelly Belly, etc etc. Conspicuously absent were Health Net and Slipstream. Not quite as deep a field as last year, but still with lots of smashfest potential.

This race intimidates me. Always has. I first did it as a 3. Got dropped. Then twice before as a 1/2, dropped. Sometimes later than other times, but I always ride this thing very conservatively -as if not attacking is going to give me energy to sprint for something. I only now just became cognizant of the uselessness of my approach. This year was no different...

Lap 1: Mellow at worst. I didn't see the front, but saw a small group sneak off. Eh. The climb came...legs were a bit alarmed, but sagged through ok. I missed my feed, and in looking for my feed-person, got dropped right before the end of the climb (if I had a dollar for every time i've done that.....i'd have at least $30!). Eh, burned a match, but got back on with a little group. Lap 2...Toyota was aggressive up front....and in back. Dominguez and a couple of his cronies were basking in the 40 degree ice. Gahh. So lame, this weather. Second time up the climb I made the selection. But. The peleton crawwwwwwwwwwled to a really slow pace on the flat, and a giant group caught from behind. 3rd lap.....I don't remember the third lap. It was cold, and I managed to drop a FULL cliff bar while trying to open it up with numb hands. I got dropped on the final climb, but got back on to what was left of the peleton on the 4th lap. Then dropped again to finish up 43rd on the day. Hmm.

Woke up the next morning to the sound of intense rain rattling the world. I wasn't pre-regged for the crit, so nope. I really don't have the motivation or will to race a p/1/2 crit in the rain IN FEBRUARY. All in all, a decent weekend....except all the driving, the $45 race fee, the lack of a result, the shite weather, and the shite weather.

Also. It pains me to write this, but I got word about my team situation. The situation is simply that there isn't one. I received a long-awaited letter from the UCA crew, and they simply, coldly, stated that I could not return the following year. I can't fault these people or be angry. I got huge amounts of love from them and have nothing but amazing memories of my time there. I'm simply bummed out at the moment, and when you factor in the weather we've had lately, i've been really unmotivated. Perhaps it's time? Riding that first crit with me against 56 lagrangers really made me think of the reality of racing locally for '08 and how fruitless it might be. Being a 25 year old unattached cat 1 in SoCal is rough. There are lots of teams for lower cats, and lots of teams for masters, and what is there in between?

Time to get into my favorite part of this bike game....hustling to find a team! Or....