je ne sais quoi

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hi O

I've done four races since I last wrote. Four races, two weekends. Took a few races off. One was Ontario. I don't do Ontario, and the other reason I haven't been racing/training much lately is that I've finally undergone the pond construction/expansion. Quite a lot of work, and still plenty of work left ahead.

What compelled me to finally write? A really odd sequence of racing. Two days, two really bizarre and unnecessary last lap crashes in the P/1/2. Saturday we had the classic Barry Woolfe Grand Prix. Never done well at this course, never liked it, but it's local, so I'll always line up for it. Anyhow...nice field of 100 or on the start line. Felt okay. Got into one or two promising breaks, but with Tony Cruz and Bahati still in the field and without representation in the breaks, I knew we'd go never really went full gas. Still picked up a preem, though. Oh, and this race was a P/1/2/3....which I think changes the dynamic quite a bit. LaGrange fielded a billion riders, per usual. Anyhow, fast forward to the last lap. Field is together, I'm about 10th wheel coming through the bell. Bahati is just ahead. We rounded the first (of 4) corner cleanly, and about 20 meters later, I was ducking to avoid a rear wheel 10 feet in the air heading straight for my head. The epicenter of the crash was a good 5 meters to my left, but kept getting closer, faster, domino-style. Crashes happen...but at the front of a race? That's irregular. Can't even remember the last race in which that happened. I kept it upright, and put in a sprint. Saw Bahati was also in the wind just ahead of me. He had a bit of help, and managed to get back up to the unscathed portion of the peleton, about 10 guys. I put my head down, and assumed the race was over. Looked back and saw a second peleton sprinting like mad to this point I put the hammer down, and brought it in for 12th. $ went 15 deep, so a nice consolation, I guess. That's 5 $-placings in a row. Still without a nice result, however.

So with that irregularity out of the way, I lined up for the CBR Long Beach Crit. I actually love the course. Love that you can see the entire course, and gauge gaps just by sight. The pavement is not smooth, but is predictable, and the wind makes it interesting for sure. The 100k races we used to have here were classic, and definitely more up to my abilities. The shorter distance is still fun, however, and less frustrating if/when you miss the break. Same guys as yesterday, but instead of Bahati, we had Freddy Rodriguez. Giro Stage Winner. I'm not a fan of his (is anyone?), but it was a pretty nice field. Big thank you to CBR for comping my entry fee. Totally unexpected, but they were just getting me back for helping a bit at a race earlier this season. Thanks! So we lined up, nothing going. Calm first lap. Attack after relentless attack. I'd put out 600w jumps out for a minute, and see people chasing and getting the peleton back up to me. Sergio Hernandez put out lots more attacks, and eventually (after 80 minutes of attacking) got clear with Tony Cruz, game over. They would go 1-2 with Sergio getting a well deserved win. LaGrange, the classy bunch that they are, didn't put a SINGLE rider on the front to chase the break down. They had ten guys line up. Really fcking annoying. To compound that annoyance, some of my attacks would be brought back by bum racers who don't even have teammates instead of forcing LaGrange to chase. So annoying when people don't know how to race.

Well, thanks to LaGrange's failure, we were racing for 3rd. Last lap comes, and just like the previous day, i'm in decent position. perhaps 8th wheel. Turn 1, solid. Turn 2, okay. The pace was nice and high, and the jostling wasn't too bad. Turn three was a bit slower than I liked. Teammate Armin came to me after turn three and said, "GET ON, outside, GO." Instinctively, I said no. I had a good line on the inside, and a good wheel (Rudy from Liquid) to follow. Right after I turned him down, there was a bit of a swarm. I got out of it on the inside, and got a great entrance into the final turn. $#@%#%#$#. Bikes, bodies, brakes, and cuss words in large doses. I kept it upright, but had plenty of contact. I bunny hopped Rudy Napolitano, and ran over his bike. Thought i'd eat it for sure, but kept it upright. First time out of the top 20 all year. Annoying. An SC Velo rider who was unnecessarily fighting me for Sterling Magnell's wheel (who was wearing a Major Motion kit on the day) earlier, and had words ("it's my teammate", was on the ground and bloodied. I'm a total asshole, but at that instance I felt no pity. Karma comes 'round, I thought. I feel badly now, and hope the guy is doing well. But let's avoid stupidity in the future. I really hope some photog (there were plenty at both races) caught the crash sequence. I'd love to see it.

That's all I got. Will look for photos. Apologies for the tone, but it's really annoying to have races end this way. So much better to finish off the front...gah.

Here's a power file of the CBR Monday race. Flat four corner course. Check out the power (green line) variance!


Friday, May 01, 2009

Mark It, Dude

Hey Hey.

Took a little road trip down to south county this weekend. OC county. On the way down, I said "if there are no catastrophic crashes or mechanical mishaps, I should finish in the top 20." 20, you see, is the magic number for non-pro local scenesters like myself in NRC criteriums. Finishing inside 20th place gets you a piece of that NRC-mandated massive prize list. Finish outside it, and you've wasted a $50 entry for nothing...and on that note, I can't believe the time I broke my frame with 200m to go and still finished 17th at Manhattan Beach '05.

Check me out! Blue links and everything. This blog is going places, looks like. So. Dana Point. I did it last year and had a blast. It was the first race where I found some good legs and got the bike dialed in. This year's been very different. Every time I've pinned a number, the legs have been great. I didn't feel too well in the first race of the year, but squeezed out a top 20 just following wheels. Then the car smashed me up, and I think I actually lost weight during that 3 week vaccance. Got destroyed and demotivated by Lance that one day out, and now the good legs are back. Fun stuff.

Dana Point:

Big Purse, Big Field. And not the typical "2nd race for $10 extra" masters pack fill big field, either. Kelly Benefits came out. Bahati had a couple teammates. Floyd Landis and a couple of his guys (who aren't really crit riders), and the Colavita guys in force as well. The "team from the west side with a bottomless budget" fielded a ton of guys, perhaps 10? I was happy to find out that Waylon from my team is a cat 1. Swelllll. Cat 1 and pro-class mtb downhiller. Quite the combo. I sneaked up to the second line behind the call ups. It was a pretty quick start. No anthems, no sponsor speeches. Nice and concise. "Riders start at the whistle..."


A dull race, really. My only objective was to get in that top 20. No fireworks, no rosebowl-style attacks up the back side, no prime slanging, nothing. Just sit in the vacuum for 90 minutes, and take the good legs to the leadout trains once 5 to go sounds, and then follow the really fast and narrow vacuum to a $ spot. That's what happened. I finished 17th. Woo. Not really that stoked on it, but it obviously could have been much worse. The jockeying started before lap cards were even out! Madness. Lots of people were clipping the barrier, clipping out after going into a turn too hot, skidding, chopping, everything. Crit racing at its finest. I love this course for it. Floyd Landis actually opened up the sketch riding proceedings on about the 3rd lap when he took turn 2 too hot. Fun stuff. Anyhow, 5 to go, I took a long swig of what was left of my bottle, and started to strategize. Found that Paul Che was doing the same thing, and just rode near him 'till we were near Bahati and co. A futile break was off. Got caught with 3 to go. Into the bell lap, a Bissel rider smashed into the barrier with me on his wheel. He didn't go down, but...full brakes, followed by full gas (and a couple matches...[nice pun!]), and I was back in position. Tony Cruz chopped me pretty good into turn 5. "Ok, tony, go." No thanks was given, of course. Then I sprinted hard between 5 and 6 to try to get a nice spot into the final sprint. Got the nice spot, but there was no sprint. I sprinted around only a couple guys with dead legs for the finish. Maybe it's a good thing I don't have an SRM right now? Woulda been some hideous sprint data...but I am $400 closer now.



No photos of the race, but here's one of Wilson from yesterday's ride.