Monday, September 13, 2010

Do Not Look Here Any More

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Moonies on the beer!

We're heading into what looks to be the final weekend of mountain bike racing for the year. Morgan and Carrie are heading to the Tahoe-Sierra 100 while Krishna, Chris, Derrick and maybe some others are hitting Santa Rosa for the inaugural Annadel race.

Although she's in her Clark Kent roadie gear here, Lina was profiled in the Examiner.
“It was a really rainy and terrible race, very cold. I would’ve skipped it, but my parents were here from Sweden,” Martensson said. “I knew that I wasn’t going to win it, but I had to put on a show for my parents.”

My mildly silly fixed gear cyclocross article appeared on Cyclocross Magazine's website.
After the awards I head home, empty handed, dirty and bruised, but satisfied that I achieved something very few other people would be silly enough to try. Which is as good a description of cyclocross as any, isn’t it?

And Velominati has an excellent article about beer.
Your beer should not make your ride casual; rather, it should demonstrate your confidence that you are a fucking badass who is not afraid to put a little bit of depressant in his body while tackling Mont Ventoux in the rain. When you feel the hurt, your beer will help you hurt the hurt back. As a general rule, beer should not accompany rides under an hour unless they are uphill time trials, in which case they should be shotgunned at the starting line, the empties handed nonchalantly to the starter when he begins his countdown.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SoNoMas race report, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the hardtail

Garmin record for the race

This has been the slacker year. I've raced three times this year, not counting the 1st Grasshopper. I guess four times. All have been long, steady distance kinda races; Old Caz Grasshopper, 1st Boggs 8hr, 2nd Boggs 8hr, now SoNoMas. I'm registered for Tahoe-Sierra 100 so it all sort of fits, and it's been a stressful year off the bike (work) so I'm just riding for pleasure. Haven't done an interval since 2009. Cyclocross season will be interesting.

The week before SoNoMas we were at Northstar, and I got a really fun Rose-Armstrong 12hr ride in with my friend Hyland and some other people. It was a relaxing week otherwise, and I think it made me faster somehow.

The morning of the race I set my alarm for 4:30AM. I woke up, panicky at 5. I guess I turned it off in my sleep. Threw my stuff together, food and coffee in me and I was on the road at 6AM. The race is 1:40 from my house, and there was a "mandatory racer's meeting" at 7AM. #%*(! I drove too fast, got a speeding ticket for 80 in a 65 one exit before the 101 -> Dry Creek Rd exit, but I got there at 7:30 and I was on the line at 8 when we were off.

I am not fast, just steady. I lined up at the middle-back, next to Jan Ludwig. Will I ever get that right? I could see my friend and teammate Carrie ahead of me. The funny thing is that Krishna wrote of the front group riding at a "talking pace" up the road climb to the bridge. I was in the 2nd group, not quite on the rivet, but holding myself just below threshold! No talking for me. I caught and passed Carrie, which was surprising. She's fast, but I think she had a hangover. :) Once on the singletrack, it really was a case of position-is-destiny. There was some nervous riding and some iffy bike handling, but luckily most people know that, when walking the trail, to get out of the way if someone calls out "rider" behind them. I was able to make up some spots where people walked steep ups and steep downs. Otherwise I was pretty much fixed in position between people.

The terrain around Lake Sonoma is somewhat reminiscent of Henry Coe; dry chaparral, narrow, side-hill singletrack and steep grades made before the days of IMBA. But that's where the similarities stop, becase Coe also has flow, and the Lake Sonoma trails rarely develop flow. They are either steep, granny-gear climbs or loose, steep, twisty descents. Or maybe it's just me, I've only ever ridden there twice, and both times were races. This time I was on my lightweight hardtail. It's a 22.7lb Niner AIR 9, and I had my tires just a little too hard. They measured 28-29psi on my Park pump, which I think reads low (i.e. they had more psi than that in them), and for the terrain I was on, they were too slidey. FWIW the tires were 29x2.25 Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskin tires set up tubeless on Edge Composites (now Enve Composites) XC rims with Stans tubeless rim strips. I could have let 2-4psi out and had a much better ride, but I didn't want to stop and take the time. Once the first long series of climbs were over and we hit a ridge top, quite a few guys passed me, including some I'd already passed. This is ironic because I'm 215lbs, I think I'm a decent bike handler, and I am usually the one doing the passing when it flattens out or goes downhill! I was braking way too much. Skiddy tires. I am thinking about running this bike & wheels in the Tahoe-Sierra 100, but I am leery of losing a bead. These tires were hard to set up tubeless. Maybe I'll try a test ride with some meatier tires, less air and some rocks and see how it goes, before 9/11/10. Tubes are just not an option at my weight.

I held it very steady for the entire race. I'm a diesel. After the single speeds got in front of me, I didn't let more than 2 or 3 people pass me, and I steadily caught riders. I never had cramps and I did my best to eat and drink. This is a two-hands course, so it was hard to drink and eat enough, and I ran dry for the last 7 or so miles. I should have taken a third bottle at the third, Camelbak station (where Murphy & Arena were) but I didn't think to do it. Next time I think I'll bring a hydration pack, or maybe a third bottle.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SoNoMas 2010

Carrie Edwards on her way to winning the Pro/Expert field. Photo by Nick Gaetano.

Bike Monkey provides us with a steady stream of fun grassroots events, but SoNoMas adds some new ingredients: national-caliber competition, a large prize purse, and a wild, memorable course.

The competition: you probably already know Levi Leipheimer won it, but it is worth pointing out that Levi crushed both the current and previous national XC champions at Leadville a few weeks ago. Also present was Christopher Jones, a national-caliber road and cyclocross pro, and our local boy-wonder Menso de Jong.

The course: riding a single 30-something mile loop around the south arm of the lake was really neat, and the terrain on the back stretch is wild and beautiful. The course is not particularly rocky, but the endless succession of loose corners meant that bike handling was still key. The start/finish was on the immense lawn near the visitor center, and was a great place to hang out and enjoy the free beer post-race. It didn't hurt that the weather was perfect.

I don't know why Carlos didn't publicize the prize money more, but he put up a total of $4,500, with equal amounts for men and women. Levi donated his entire $750 to the Friends of Lake Sonoma. Fast ladies take note: there were significant cash payouts all the way to 10th place, but there weren't even that many women in the Pro/Expert field. You could have gotten paid just to show up!

My race:
For a lot of the summer I've only been riding 2-3 times a week, and rarely for longer than two hours. Because of this my endurance is terrible: in longer races I'll start well, only to disintegrate after the two-hour mark as people swarm past me. So I was approaching this event with a certain amount of dread and a "damage control" mentality.

I lined up a few rows back, and was happy that Levi started at an easy pace up the road. By the time we neared the bridge we were still at a talking pace, but a gap had opened to the main group behind us. Miguel made a signature attack just after the bridge, which of course triggered the heavy hitters to stretch things out and establish position. We hit the dirt in a polite conga line, with me sitting around 11th. From there it was a wild roller-coaster of pain: up and down, up and down. I traded places with Clint a few times before he hammered off to eventually finish 4th. I had quite a few white-knuckle moments during the first third of the race as I picked bad lines on rutted downhills and unexpected technical bits, but came through OK after some ungraceful high-speed dabs. At that point I still had Shane in sight for a while, but he was well away by the time I dropped down to the lake. I rode alone for perhaps the next hour, but finally passed another rider around nine miles from the finish.

A little while later I saw Roger (a.k.a. The Godfather, a.k.a. The 50-Year-Old Who Always Beats Me) just 30 seconds up the trail. I was convinced I would reel him in, but he was feeling chipper and I was carefully coaxing my legs above an abyss of cramps at that point, so he vanished into the distance.

The last stretch of dirt seemed to go on forever, but finally it was onto the pavement, where CHP and a course marshall where stopping traffic so we could blow through the stop sign at the blind left turn. Down the main descent I tried the 'sit on the top-tube' technique, which seems to be pretty aero. It puts your knees close to the front tire though, and I discovered it is easy to loose a little skin if you aren't careful. Thankfully that little tire-kiss was my worst injury of the race.

I finished 9th, which I was happy with given my recent performances. Carrie Edwards put in an awesome ride to win the Pro/Expert women, and Morgan placed second in his age group.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Carrie has Crushed

Third place at TR3.  Amazing.

Carrie Edwards grabbed fourth on stage three to confirm third place in the overall standings, holding off a hard-charging Heidi Volpe

Totally bad ass.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More crushin' by Carrie

After Stage 2 of 3 of the TR3 stage race, Carrie's clawed her way up to 3rd place. Awesome.

Looks like 2nd place is within reach, too. Go Carrie!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A successful Sunday

Yesterday marked the kickoff of the Transrockies Challenge stage race, as well as its little sister, the TR3.  Our own Carrie Edwards is racing the TR3, and turned in a more-than-respectable 5th in the opening day's time trial, garnering her first UCI points!

Congratulations Carrie! 

Yesterday was also the annual Howell Mountain Challenge in Angwin, run by the same folks who put on the Napa Valley Dirt Classic. Perhaps because the latter race was such a tough event this year (pouring rain, biting cold), the turnout for Howell Mountain was somewhat thin. Only two Moonies, Chris K and myself, turned out for the race.

Chris was doing the race for the first time, and turned in a respectable 5th in his division. I took advantage of Carrie being out of town and borrowed her fancy titanium singlespeed, and managed a repeat of last year's 3rd in the Sport Single Speed class.

I realized that I've now raced 6 different bikes this mountain bike season. Perhaps it's not surprising that I've only had one race with truly dialed-in equipment.