je ne sais quoi

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Smashed Up

Hey Hey.

The season started already, look at that. Race numbers and wattage are recession proof, at least. Let me fire off a race report then go to the meaningless pulps. The first one of the year was the CBR Long Beach Race. AKA: CBR BAR #1. Happy to see the purse was at $1000. Still a swell time. To give the readers outside of the SoCal scene an idea of what a "hapless local way-early-season crit" is like in socal, here's a quick sample of the 100+ starters....

R Bahatski-Current US Crit Champ
Justin Williams-Current U23 Crit Champ
Brad Huff-Former US Elite/Pro Crit Champ, Nutter
Tony Cruz-Former US Crit Champ

There were others, but hey: 4 super crit riders. Was surprised with Huff showing up (he's from the midwest). Turns out Jelly Belly has a training camp nearby. Nice. I'm really begining to love our scene, though. Everyone knows each other, everyone's gotten into a fight/argument/crack with someone at somepoint, and it's cool. Under the bridge, always. I can trust the wheels i'm around, and have a swell time while I'm out there with that in mind.

On that note...I think the peleton is a bit more civil now in contrast to the pre-internet decades. This occured to me as I scolded an older guy (40+) for for aggressively trying to grab a wheel while caught out of the echelon in the gutter on the back side with 60 minutes of racing still to go. I say "scolded" but was polite in every regard. I got a sarcastic "THANKS COACH" in response, which, given the lack of f-bombs, confirms that I was in fact polite in my approach. Fact is, with 60 minutes left, if a guy wants the wheel in front of me, just ask or signal or at the very least, gently and predictably slide into place. This guy wasn't having it. He swung out, then in a "either i'm crashing everyone or getting that wheel" kind of move swung back into the paceline and got the wheel, setting off a chain reaction of braking and swearing behind. More annoying than dangerous, but i'd rather neither. None of the aforementioned guys do this stuff. If they did, EVERYONE would know. People blog. People facebook. There are photographers, videos, text messages. Point is, as racers and people, we're infinitely more networked now than before, and nothing but good comes out as a result. Reps spread REAL quick. A lot less of the "traditional" elbowing and chopping and diving (and whatever inane stuff that old-schoolers think is part of crit racing) very much still is, but not with 60 minutes to go. Not ever. Not in any race. Save it for the bell lap, dudes. Or I call you out. Let's make crit racing classy.

Hmm...sorry for that paragraph. I guess the pulp made it to the middle instead of the end. The race. Lots of fast dudes, but it's January. Also...I should mention...I've got a new sponsor, at least for the time being. I'm riding for Armin Rahm's team: Sixtumed Cycling. Big thanks to him for helping out. The kit you saw me race in was last year's. New kit coming, I think. Anyhow, we lined up. Everyone's there save for the SoCalCycling team. I think there's some kind of rift between the higher ups, but eh. These things happen. Like i'd mentioned a few entries ago, teams look smaller, more color in the peleton, and really tough to pick a winner from the bunch. Now, this would be my first race of the season, yes? Since the vast majority of the 1/2 peleton is 30+, it was the 2nd or even 3rd race of the season (and of the day) for lots of those guys. So a bit less "special" for them than for me, but eh...these things happen, too.

The race was hard. The cross wind on the backside hurt, closing gaps in the gutter hurt, being caught out of position between turns 2 and 3 hurt. Regretably, I wasn't close enough to the front to write about all the happs in the race. I kept it mellow in the middle. The legs have no snap yet, so I'm limited with what I can go with. Brad Huff had plenty of snap though. He jumped at every lull and countered or bridged up to what seemed like any break that formed. At some point, a break got a steady gap of 15 seconds. I jumped in pursuit. This is what a jump in pursuit looks like...

(3% smoothing)

...when you fail. Power goes up, speed goes up. Gap is established....thennnnn after a few minutes you realize it isn't gonna happen. A guy bridged up to me and was motoring nicely, but we were shut down. Funny though, it took me quite a while to recover from what looks like a pretty meager effort on paper (screen). That effort was at the midpoint. The pace slowed after I got back to the peleton, and the break's gap grew. Then it shrunk. Then 5 to go sounded and it was still clear. 3 to go I was in pretty good company with Cruz, Paul Che, and a couple rock dudes thought we were sprinting for 9th. I'm still not sure what we were sprinting for as I didn't check the results. Bell lap, Che jumped right before the last corner. I responded with what little snap the legs had. He was gone, but while behind him, we passed a blob of riders in the middle of turn 4. No idea who/what. I think bahati was among them? Odd. Rolled in with one of the waves of a real tattered sprint. Tough one. Will update when I find out how I did. Outside the top 20 I think. Tip of the hat to Sergio Hernandez for winning it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


He is! He is!

A little B.I.G tribute up there. The film comes out next week I think. Expectations are high...hopefully the emotional investment pans out. ME. Hi. Base training has wrapped up. Socal folk know how shite the weather was a couple weeks ago, so I didn't get in the full 25/28/30 hour weeks in for the second phase...more like 18/20/26. It'll have to do. Physiologically, it isn't gonna hurt "base" is there from playing the bike game for so many years, but I'll be missing that "pat myself on the back" feeling from doing those massive weeks. Tant pis! Photos...we need some...

Ahh...the koi enjoying the rain from a few weeks back. Remember when I said I was going to make the pond bigger during my time off the bike? Nope. Didn't happen. Crafty combination of laziness and work got in the way. However, a friend of mine said, "hey, I got fish and need to get rid of them," so ironically, the population doubled while the pond (which was too small for my original fish) stayed the same. I've upped the filtration (there are three filters and two pumps), so they'll be fine 'till mid-spring. Gonna have to give away at least half...any blog readers with koi ponds?'s another...

The story? A small group of us were riding down PCH a few weeks back. I ran into even-bigger-than-me bike racer Anthony Galvan. "Hey man, how's it goin?" and then I turned to acknowledge the other two guys he was with, just to be polite. Hot damn. I wasn't shy at all "is that Danilo DiLuca?" Yup. It was. Although it was a base ride in the middle of one of my bigger weeks, all bets were off as we turned right to go up Topanga. He was pretty mellow. He spoke spanish (or understood it), so we chatted a bit. Talked about his Amstel Gold win, talked about the Giro he won. Cunego, Simoni, his '09 season. Good stuff. Good guy. Then we got to Fernwood. Ouch. Suddenly I was on 400W for 5 minutes. Hadn't even hit 300 in months. I was the first to crack (sprinting to the front of the group to take photos like these didn't help the situation:

So I got shelled after about 10 minutes. To my surprise, he waited up top for everyone to catch up. Piss break. More chats. More photos. Class guy that di-luke. Would have loved to descend with him, but they were dropping back down to said goodbye, and that was that. Also, DiLuca does not ride with a spare tube or food in his pockets...only huge doses of style. Of all the people i've met in my life, he speaks the least english. Rural french hillbillies included. It has it's charm...

Hmmm...what else. This entry has been in draft format for weeks. Time to drive it to a close and publish it. I did my first thurlow simi ride yesterday. Brutal, but nice. The wind makes those rolling rides better for me. Wouldn't it be funny if some out-of-town guy did the ride one of these days and didn't know who Thurlow was? It'd be surreal. "Who IS this old guy that keeps rippin?" "or am I going really poorly?". He's crushing. I think the group was down to 15 or so by the time 7-minute came by. Also, a guy in front of me crashed on mullholland. Classy.

The new [old] bike...mannnnnnnnn it fits nice. I don't know if it's because i'm on tubulars or if the 58 'dale fits better than the 57 it replaced, but i've been bombing descents and corners like a riot. So much fun. Finally flatted my rear tubular on a ride a couple weeks ago (Seal Beach Bike Path). Total repair time: 5 minutes! That includes the time to pump with my tiny mini pump. I replaced the $40 Conti Gatorskin Tub (which barely got 1500 miles) with a $12 Vittoria Rally. TWELVE dollars. Are there clinchers for that cheap? The tire looks class:

And so far, after 500k, it's help up pretty nice. It's round and true. Easy to mount (compared to Conti) and holds pressure well. Did simi at 120psi. Rough at some points, but $12. I've got the training tire thing down for life. I used to ride the Michelin Karbon ($30/each), and they'd go forever, but yeah. The wheels have held up well, except, ironically, the hubs. Had to get the rear serviced. The kitty? I was looking after her this week. Alice. She gives me mean stares when I don't leave to train early she's nice to have around. And we leave with this:

One of MANY noodle/pasta dishes incinerated over the last couple months...