Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lina's Coyote Point Race Report

Our newest rider Lina files this report from her very firstest cross race:

hat was AWESOME. my first cx race. my 4th or so time riding on dirt.
(east bayway doesn't count.) i don't even have a bike yet, but Ariel
let me use his! (thanks Ariel!)

i was recruited to the sheila moon team shortly before the race - i
believe the official approval of my joining the team was a text
message reading "crush bitches!". being on the sheila moon team means
being donned up in the hottest attire!

so in a pink skinsuit i lined up at the start line and off we went. up
some hill, ride ride ride, oh this is going fine, i'm hanging onto the
front so far despite riding on dirt, ride ride ride, hop off the bike!
carry it over the barriers, ride... no ride? DAMMIT! the chain fell
off! fiddle fiddle fiddle, oh crap, like half of the field rode past
me... it took me a good half or whole minute to get that back on. i'd
practiced remounts the day before but despite this fine practice i
still didn't do a single proper remount during the race, so that
didn't help - next time i'll practice getting the chain back on
instead! :P

alright, ride ride ride, uh-oh, get off, run up a hill, fail at
remounting again, ride! sand! run run run, ungracefully hop back on,
then some descent with roots and shit but hey! the girl who's scared
of dirt can actually deal with this, as it turns out.


uh-oh, some little boy falls right in front of me, no space left,
CRASH! haha, falling on grass doesn't hurt! ok WOW this is awesome but
is it gonna end soon? ok, passed some more people but still not nearly
as many as passed me while i was fiddling with the chain, ride over
the roots again, hey, this is going alright! whooooa totally losing my
balance, will fall, oh what happened, i'm still upright, figuring out
i have better balance than i think is great!

ok, ride ride ride, hey there's mariska on a mountain bike yelling her
race is all about beating ME! that's what i get for heckling her
during the cx class we took a month back. alright, some more riding,
some more falling, haha, falling doesn't hurt at all! but dammit,
mariska got ahead when i fell, alright, but gnat isn't going to beat
me! ride run ride ride ride RUN ride ride FINISH! 30 minutes later
with an average HR at 91% of my max.

and then beer with my new team followed. sweet! spent the rest of the
day drinking beer, watching the other races, cheering and heckling.
feeding beer to the racers. oh and some water too.

so, everyone should do cyclocross. it's fucking awesome and insane
amounts of fun.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bay Area Superprestige #2, Coyote Point

The Pilarcitos Bay Area SuperPrestige Series came to Coyote Point this week. Traditionally the site of the season finale (as it will be this year), Coyote Point offers plenty of course possibilities beyond the Beach Run of Doom for which it's known.

The organizers are saving the Beach Run and the flat parts of the park for the finale, and so carved out a pretty brutal up-and-down sleigh ride that combined some off-camber loose stretches with lots of soul-sucking grass and a nasty little sandbox run.

As is often the case, I got there late, so I missed the debut of our newest member, Lina, who raced the women's Cs. She jumped right in to her first cross race, rocking last year's skinsuit and a borrowed bike.

Lina's first race (by Veronika Lenzi)

I also missed the Superprestige debut of Sam Fletcher, who battled the bigger kids in the Junior 10-14 field, punching way above his weight for a respectable 6th.
re mount!
Sam's got Skillz (by Lauren Haughey)

Cruisin' (by Lauren Haughey)

The Men's Cs was the biggest field ever at a Bay Area Superprestige race: Over 140 starters! Included in those 140 starters were Moonies Ted Ketai, Lee Slone, Derrick Chao and Mark Wheeler. Derrick and Lee had excellent races, finishing 32nd and 35th, respectively.

Derrick (by Veronika Lenzi)

Lee comes around (by Veronika Lenzi)

Ted started strong, only to run into trouble (more or less literally) with his lack of running training. This was a runner's course, with a set of barriers, one unridable runup, one long marginally ridable section that was often quicker to run, and the sandpit, which was ridable at the extremes, but for most of us mortals was much smarter to run. Still, Ted continued his gradual climb up the results, easily finishing in the top half.

Running is not Ted's strong point (by Veronika Lenzi)

This was, I think, Mark's first race of the year, and he's almost certainly the only one racing with a 6-speed bike*. Plus, he totally trumped my tired striped socks with his diamond tights.

Mark wins the fashion award for the day (by Veronika Lenzi)

(*Mark informs me that his derailleur doesn't quite reach one of the sprockets in back, so technically he's on a 5-speed)

I was the only one around to show the flowers for the Masters B race. Fortunately, they're calling up the top 20 in the masters field, and since I got 20th at the first race, I got the final callup slot. Despite my good start position, my race was pretty undistinguished. I clawed my way up to probably 10th or so in the first couple laps, only to slowly slide back to 16th as my lack of warmup took its toll, where I finished.

Mount or dismount? (by Steven Woo)

Still, last year at this time I would have been ecstatic with a 16th of 60-something placing, so hooray for progress.

Team Sponsor Brian Bruckner also raced the 35+ Bs, but he had the temerity to race in the colors of his bike shop, Big Swingin' Cycles, not the Moon pink, so we don't have any pictures of him putting in a really good result.

Oddly, we also only had one rider in the Master A race, Morgan Fletcher. Morgan moved up a category last year when he was training all the time, and has had trouble finding his legs in the Master A field. He had what I think was his best race of the year, though, staying solidly on the lead lap, and battling for position with several other folks.

Morgan battles (by Steven Woo)

Any concerns about lack of representation were very much put to bed by our showing in the women's race. As has been the case all year, we fielded a huge crowd of moonie women. Representing in the As were Liza Hartlaub and Carrie "Crusher" Edwards. Lauren Haughey flew the flowered flag in the 35+ class, and we brought five women to the Bs, including Caitlin Trahan (fresh off her win last week at Lion of Fairfax), Kathryn Aaker (fresh off the plane from New Zealand), Jenny Oh (fresh off her wedding last week), May Woo (just fresh), and Emily Mclanahan (I seem to have run out of fresh jokes). Somehow I ended up being the only one handing out water at the top of the climb to our riders, and was kept pretty busy.

Moonie women lined up for the start (by Matthew Blain)

Liza flat out crushed it. In her second A race, she made it into the top half of a stacked A field. Sometimes it's hard to believe that Liza's only in her second year of racing cross.
Liza (by Ted Ketai)

Carrie, in contrast, didn't have such a great race, cutting a tire and bowing out with a lap or two to go.
Carrie's race did not end well (by Steven Woo)

We also showed a range of results in the Bs, with Kathryn--who returned from a two-week trip to New Zealand the day before--overcoming a slow start to finish on the podium in fifth place.
B's Women Podium!
Kathryn on the Podium (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

It would be a mistake to believe, though, that she pulled it together through sheer force of will. She had help. And it was tasty!
Mmm... tasty! (by Ted Ketai)

A quick midrace cider break perked her right up, and she overtook two other riders in the last quarter lap to grab her podium position.
Kathryn glides over the barriers (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Caitlin, too, rode a good race, and although she didn't match her success of the week before, she cruised into the top 10, putting on a good show for her dad and sister (who were in attendance) by powering through the sand pit.
Caitlin powers through the sand pit (by Steven Woo)

Jenny is quickly gaining experience and confidence, and supplied the following report:
Today was a truly fun day of racing for me. With each race, I'm becoming more comfortable on dirt and I think this course suited me much more than McLaren and Surf City #1. I think I prefer a soft and loose course rather than a hard, bumpy and dusty one, so after pre-riding the course yesterday I actually felt more confident than I had in the past - which is a huge psychological boost! It's a great feeling to just focus on moving faster and not worrying about whether you're going to crash.

And so no crashes for me and I felt technically comfortable on the course. Lap 1 I felt energized, Lap 2 I was started to wear thin and by Lap 3 I was really feeling the burn. Laps 4 and 5 I started to recover and so this race was definitely a battle of fitness for me rather than the terrain. Hopefully with my training regimen I'll be able to get more oxygen into my system. :) But I'm inching my way up slowly and cracked the top 20!
I Never Thought I'd Be Running With My Bike...
I never thought I'd be running with my bike... (by Shawn Hatfield)

And I appreciate when the leaders / A's women are encouraging and ask us to move out of the way nicely, or cheer us on from behind. One racer said, "Go, go, go, you got it!" when I was negotiating the sketchy gravel section. Super cool. Than there are some women who are wenches and totally mean and practically knock you off the trail. Whatevs.

While I pretty much tune out the world around me and my facial expression looks like I'm giving birth on every lap, Team Beer Jon's comment made me laugh, "My life sucks now too!"

"my facial expression looks like I'm giving birth on every lap" (by Veronika Lenzi)

In addition to taking the lead on organizing the team infrastructure for the day, Emily had a decent race.
Emily (by Jon Suzuki)

May, unfortunately, did not have such a solid race, with a couple crashes and a mechanical. Her bad day didn't show on her face, though, as she fed her reputation as the cheeriest-looking racer around.
Even on a bad day, May's smiling (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Another racer who did not have an ideal race was Lauren, who had a disappointing result in the 35+ women.
Lauren (by Jon Suzuki)

In the Elite men, in what was probably the Moonie performance of the day, Krishna Dole took advantage of a start position better than the last row he had last time, and cranked out a stunning 7th place finish.
Krishna uses his tires' grip (by Jon Suzuki)

As with Liza, it's always surprising to remember that Krishna, too, is only in his second year of racing cross.

Most of the team, at this point, had finished their racing and were deep into their cupsspectating. One crowd posted up at the top of the climb, and handed out encouragement and water when we needed it most. Another big crew took it upon themselves to monitor the action (and the surface) at the sand pit.
It's Not Hard Enough
It's not hard enough! (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Lina, Murphy and crew groom the sand pit (by Veronika Lenzi)

The final race of the day was the Men's Open B/Single Speed B race. As has been the case all year, we fielded quite a few folks in the Open Bs, and two of us in the Single Speed Bs. Before we raced this event, our teammates made a point of getting our hydration handup requests: water or beer? I opted for water, but reserved the right to change my mind should my race go badly.

Uri Friedman--often our B leader--flatted far from the pits, and spent half a lap working on his running fitness.
Uri (by May Woo)

Mike Hartlaub ran his spectacular crash streak to two races, ruining the grooming work Murphy and crew had done. Fortunately, it was caught on video. And even more fortunately, Mike was OK and managed to finish the race.

Jason Ferrier rode a solid race, finishing mid-pack, solidly on the lead lap, even finding time for a beer grab.
Off-Screen Beer Grab
Off-screen beer grab (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Ryan Henbest and Mat Davidson also followed what seems to be becoming a Moonie B Men tradition, by finishing one right after the other, with Mat, particularly, improving on his rough previous Superprestige race.

Ryan over the barriers (by Veronika Lenzi)

Michigan Mat remounts (by Veronika Lenzi)

Run simultaneously with the B men is the Single Speed B race. The scoring snafus of the McLaren Park race blunted the news a little, but we started this race with 2 racers on the front row, Evan Sarna and myself. Evan was coming off a second place at McLaren park, as well as a win at the previous week's CCCX Single Speed B race at Toro Park.

Sasha gets a good start (by Jon Suzuki)

One minute after the open Bs, our whistle blew. I had a good start, ending up in second slot, with Evan grabbing fourth and snaking the inside line to end up third at the first turn. As we hit the grass chicanes at the top of the course, we ran across the tail end of the open B field. I failed to anticipate that the guy ahead of me would not ride one small rise, and didn't dismount in time. Evan took the opportunity to sneak into the lead, and didn't look back.
Evan (by Ted Ketai)

Now that my teammate was in the lead, I resolved to fight for every place. after the first lap or so, I started to feel the effects of my first race. Over the next few laps, three more guys got by me. The final guy to get by me was Denis, from Peninsula Velo. He never managed to get much gap, and by the second-to-last lap, I closed back to his wheel. For an entire half a lap I tried to figure out a way to go by him, but he did an excellent job of closing the door every time I tried to get by. As we hit the bell for the last lap, the effort started to tell on me, and he built a gap of 8 or 10 seconds back up. By the time we hit the sandpit on the last lap, I was pretty cooked. This time, when I passed the peanut gallery and they offered me a beer, I took it.
why yes, i will have some beer
Why Yes, I will have some beer (by May Woo)

Furthermore, I took it in step.

Whether it was the magic of the beer or what, I do not know, but within a minute, I was right on the tail of my nemesis Denis again. This time, I was resolved not to be denied. At the last turn into the finishing stretch I dove underneath him and sprinted to beat him by a wheel.

It turned out, that much to my surprise I had just snatched away the final podium spot. Evan, meanwhile, had gone ahead and won the race.
Evan! (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

So we put two moonies on the podium!
Sasha and Evan on SSB podium!
Sasha and Evan on SSB podium! (by Kathryn Aaker)

Overall, it was another great day for the Moon Machine, highlighted by Liza and Krishna's great showings in the As, Evan's win in the SS Bs and some truly epic heckling.
Liza post race (by Jon Suzuki)

krishna & griffin (future cx krusher)
Krishna & Griffin (future cx krusher) (by May Woo)

Thanks to Friends of the Moon team Veronika Lenzi, Steven Woo, and Jon Suzuki for permission to use their photos.

Video from Sunday's race

I am still working on what's turning into an epic-length race report from this weekend, but in the meantime, here's a video that shows the strength of the Moonie women's posse and the quality of heckling, if not riding, we bring to the sport.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rider Profiles: Joe Taylor

Joe's in his second year with the team. He's unfailingly cheerful, even faced with team mates like me. He is also the possessor of an incredible sense of humor about himself, as his profile shows.

karaoke joe

1. Name:
Joe Taylor

2. What do you do for a living?
I'm a Mechanical Engineer

3. What category or categories do you race in? How long have you been
I used to race junior races in the mid/late 90's, took a sabbatical, and started again last year. You can usually find me in the back of the pack of the mens B field, racing the guys with mechanical problems & hangovers for DFL.

4. What's your best bike accomplishment, or the one you're most proud
Winning the LeMans start of the team relay CX race in Santa Cruz last year, only to endo spectacularly 30 seconds later. Hats off to Jeremy Wright for sharing my defeat with my 15,000 closest friends on YouTube :)

5. What should people yell at you to make you go faster?
Don't yell at me, harass the guy behind me for getting passed by a dude in a pink floral skinsuit.

6. What's your favorite post-race beverage?
Same as my pre-race beverage. PBR + Whisky = victory. Whatever it takes to kill the part of my nervous system that connects my legs to my brain.

7. What else should your fans know about you?
Fans? What fans?

Rider Profiles: May Woo

May's the smallest person on our team, but casts maybe the biggest shadow. After being forced to struggle along with a kids' bike last year, she's on bike that's actually designed for adults! Well, one adult, anyway: May Woo. May's also been chronicling some of the team's (mis)adventures in video, which we'll be featuring on the site.

1. Name:
May Woo

2. What do you do for a living?
user interface & interaction design (my mom doesn't know what this is either)

3. What category or categories do you race in? How long have you been racing?
I started racing cyclocross last year and MTB this summer. I'd never raced before then. I didn't even know what a full-suspension bike was until last year.

I'll be in Women's Bs this year for cyclocross and Sport next year for mountain biking.

4. What's your best bike accomplishment, or the one you're most proud of?
hmmm...still working on that one. I'd like to bunny-hop something bigger than a twig one day in a race! I totally love this video of Danny MacAskill for Inspired Bicycles. I don't ever hope to do what he does, but I figure if he can do backflips off a tree, I can at least aim for something bigger than a twig, right? :-)

5. What should people yell at you to make you go faster?
go go go!!! she's ON YOUR TAIL!!!

6. What's your favorite post-race beverage.
Ice cream! okay that's not a beverage but I always feel like I deserve ice cream after a race. I like ginger beer and root beer too.

7. What else should your fans know about you?
I'm always happy if I do better in a race than before. My actual placement (first, last, or somewhere in between) doesn't matter as long as I'm getting better! Even if I didn't do better (we all have bad days), I'm happy if I pushed myself harder than I normally would because that can only mean I'll *eventually* get better.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Lion of Fairfax

This past Saturday, October 17th saw the running of the 4th annual Lion of Fairfax cyclo-cross race in sunny (and hot - sheesh!) Fairfax and the Sheila Moon team was there along with over 300 other riders to pound some dirt, ring some bells and serve up some burgers.*

A benefit for the White Hill Middle School in Fairfax, the race was organized and run by our very own team sponsor, Brian Bruckner of Big Swingin’ Cycles. Big ups to Brian and his team for putting on a fantastic race!


Although our numbers were cut a little short by Jenny Oh’s wedding (congratulations Jenny and Shawn!) we still managed to field 11 racers and a strong volunteer effort headed up by Murphy and Lauren.


Although the course was flatter and less technical than I would have liked (or relied upon), the organizers made great use of the terrain on hand. After starting off in the sports field and throwing up a couple barriers it led up into the surrounding hills with a short climb and a long steep run-up before crashing back down into a grassy field. After a few twists and turns there was a drop followed by a tight turn with the most delicious berm that led down to a nasty, little, sharp climb that required judicious gearing. After following a gnarly path alongside the road riders got a nice stretch of pavement to speed them back down to the campus. Finally, the course snaked itself thoroughly through and around the school buildings before a gravel road returned you to the start.

So how did we do? Lee Slone started off the day with a solid 18th place finish in Cs. Way to go Lee!

Next up was me in 35+Bs. I was a little late arriving Saturday morning so I barely had time to throw on my kit and grab a number before heading over the end of the mob lining up for the masters’ B race. Mercifully the organizers (and racers) saw fit to separate the 45+s from the 35+s or I would have been forced to claw my way through them too. I didn’t get a chance to pre-ride the course but fortunately I had helped set up the course on Friday afternoon and had some idea of what to expect. Volunteerism isn’t just a way to build your community, learn new skills and meet people - it can totally save your ass!

Although I had a great start and managed to claw my way up to the top half of the field on the first lap, grinding through the long stretches in the blazing heat took its toll and pretty soon people were passing me all over the place. Although a dropped chain and a small spill on the sidewalk knocked me even further down, I managed to save enough gas for the last lap to scoop up a few more places and eventually finish 31st.


After the masters race most of the team gathered at the top of the run-up to watch (and heckle) the As. Unbeknownst to me, we were in the presence of cycling royalty as the 54 years-young and former world MTB champion Ned Overend crushed a field of riders who were mostly half his age. He eventually placed third - they don’t nickname him “the Lung” for nothing. Go Ned!


Moving on to our bitch crushing™ posse, our ladies proved once again that they are more than just pretty in pink. Caitlan Trahan saw her second podium finish this year by snagging first in Bs (and scoring a bottle of vodka to boot) while May Woo finished in 9th. 



Carrie Edwards also staked out some podium territory by placing 5th in the open As edging out the chick in the “Go Vegan“ jersey.  Go vegan - pshaw... go bacon!


Later in the afternoon the men’s B squad, perhaps inspired by synchronized swimming, saw fit to finish in tight formation. Matt Davidson placed 32nd, Ryan Henbest 33rd, Derrick Chao 35th and Joe Taylor rounded it out in 37th. Geez guys - just because we’re all on the same team doesn’t mean you have to finish together.

Mike Hartlaub’s race got short when he was thrown from his bicycle after a rider rolled a tubular right in front of him. Fortunately he was not seriously injured. Where were you planning on placing MIke, 31st?

Finally, Morgan Fletcher finished up the day by placing 12th in the 35+As. After that there was nothing left to do but tear down the course and join Murphy and Jeremy over at Gestalt for a couple (more) post-race refreshments.


All in all, a most excellent day.

* And to surreptitiously enjoy a few refreshing beverages of course.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Miscellaneous notes


We still owe you (our theoretical reader(s)) race reports from the last two weekends, but in the meantime, a couple quickies:

Mighty May Woo is officially awesome.

Local rider Cyclofiend is sort of regretful he missed the Lion of Fairfax,
In cross, there’s nothing like that time-warp of “Holy Eddy! This has been going on a looong time!” and then realizing that you are just finishing your first lap.

Unlike life, cyclocross is only painful for a specific, discreet period of time.

Very funny New England racer Colin Reuter describes exactly how helpful the crowd can be at a cross race,
When you're slogging mud it doesn't really matter what "group" you're with. Any attempt at drafting ends up with mud in your eye, anyway, so the benefit is definitely negated by the fact that YOU CAN'T SEE ANYMORE. But man, that doesn't stop the crowd (effin' crowd!) from yelling stupid stuff like "get that wheel" and "catch that group." Thanks, crowd. You're full of good ideas. Why don't you put that beer down and give me a push, huh?

That'd actually be a pretty good candidate for team slogan: "Put that beer down and give me a push". Although probably "Oh, you need a new wheel? Here, hold my beer" is probably closer to the truth.

Rider Profiles: Mike Hartlaub

Along with his sister Liza, Michael "Dirty Mike" Hartlaub is new to the team. Mike has the honor of having a trail (unofficially) named after him in Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland, and I think that Mike proved he'd come to the right team when he organized his co riders at the Coolest 24 hours race to prepare for their morning laps with dawn keg stands.

1. Name:
Michael Hartlaub

2. What do you do for a living?
Environmental Engineer

3. What category or categories do you race in? How long have you been
I've been racing for ~10 years. I raced Collegiate back at the University Of Illinois, and have been getting into it again since moving to the Bay: Cat 1 Mountain XC and Short Track, B's CX, Cat 2 DH,

4. What's your best bike accomplishment, or the one you're most proud
4th Place Finish Finish in the Long Course at Shasta Lemurian. It was soo damn hard. So much climbing.

5. What should people yell at you to make you go faster?
Shred the Gnar, Work the Bike, Stop sucking, your sister is riding faster than you.

6. What's your favorite post-race beverage?
Spicy Hot V8, then beer

7. What else should your fans know about you?
I've already said too much

Rider Profiles: Krishna Dole

I met Krishna a few years ago on a group mountain bike ride. I fancy myself something of a climber, but I was lucky to stay on the same side of the mountain as Krishna. In addition to being one of the fastest guys around, Krishna is a proud new father. And yes, in his family, it's dad who wears the pink flowered onesie.

(photo by Flickr user dustinj)

1. Name:
Krishna Dole

2. What do you do for a living:
Software developer, working to accelerate the discovery of new drugs

3. What category or categories do you race in? How long have you been racing?
This is my second full season of racing, and I've been talked into racing A's in cyclocross this year, which should be a painful learning experience. In mountain biking I race Cat 1/Expert.

4. What's your best bike accomplishment, or the one you're most proud of?
Winning the last two Lake Sonoma races was nice, especially since Carlos at Bike Monkey is such a great guy.

5. What should people yell at you to make you go faster?
Pretty much anything. If it is nice I will feel loved and go faster. If it's not I will feel pissed and go faster.

6. What's your favorite post-race beverage.
I want to try Ted's Hefeweizenade.

7. What else should your fans know about you?
I make my own energy gel (currently working my way through a 50 lb sack of maltodextrin). You get to choose between hot cocoa mix or Kool-Aid flavor.

Rider Profiles: Sheila Moon

In addition to being the mastermind behind the bright pink skinsuits (and other clothing), Sheila has been known to turn a pretty mean crank. And hey, she has a bike team named after her!

1. Name:
Sheila Moon

2. What do you do for a living:
Design & Manufacture Athletic Apparel in San Francisco/Oakland - Sheila Moon Athletic Apparel, LLC

3. What category or categories do you race in? How long have you been
Elite women, racing since 1994, road, mtb, cx

4. What's your best bike accomplishment, or the one you're most proud
Podium (5th) National CX Championships, Portland OR (second year), Women 40-45

5. What should people yell at you to make you go faster?
Last Lap!

6. What's your favorite post-race beverage.
First - Water
Next - Beer - preferably Belgian - Hoegarden is my favorite

7. What else should your fans know about you?
I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have such a fun and amazing cyclocross team! Thanks especially for Murphy for making every race a holiday!