Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sea Otter circuit race

The sea otter classic is mostly an event for the mountain bike community, with a bunch of races and a huge bike expo all around the Laguna Seca track. For those of you not familiar with Laguna Seca, it is one of the best racetracks in America, if not the world. It winds its way thru the Monterrey hills and I went there last summer to watch the motoGP race with my dad.

In conjunction with the mountain bike events there are a few road racing events as well, with each field being represented by riders near and far, this event was no joke. My field had 64 riders and we were racing for 50 minutes on the Laguna seca track. This might sound easy but the track has over 200 feet of elevation gain per lap (2.2 miles). The first few laps were moderately paced as we were just feeling out the track and getting rid of the riders that weren't able to get over the climb. Each lap the field shrunk and there were about 30 left with 3 laps to go.

YouTube Video

At 3 to go a lone rider attacked on the climb and built up a 15 second lead. With 2 laps to go someone else attacked and bridged to form a 2 person breakaway. They didn't have a huge lead so I wasn't worried about them being to make it 2 more laps. At the beginning of the last lap we reeled in the break before the climb and with the field together it was full gas over the climb as everyone was fighting to be in the best position for the final mile to the finish line. Everyone was strung out as attacks were constant with people trying to get away but inside the last 500 meters everyone slowed just a tad as it was going to come down to a field sprint. I was in good position at the top of the climb (10th) but was shuffled back in the run in to the finish.

Looking back I should have attacked on that lull and taken the best that would come of it. Instead, I hesitated and waited for the sprint. The sprint started and I began trying to find a gap to move up as I still had a little left in the tank. I was eventually pinched and had to sit up and rolled thru in 24th place. I felt strong in the race but needed to be better positioned going into the finish and more decisive as I think a top 10 was there for the taking if I wouldn't have hesitated.
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

A week off

So I wasn't planning on not blogging for this long but I have been busy and just didn't get around to it. This post will be short but I wanted to get back into blogging for the rest of the season. I am just finishing up a few days of rest in the middle of the season and will be back at it soon.

In the last 2 months I have put in over 72 hours on the bike between training and races. I also just completed a pretty hefty block of racing having completed 7 races in a 7 week span. I will get down to the details of the races soon but I have stayed upright and am getting closer to scoring upgrade points.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013


It has been a while since I have posted and just as long since my last race. I have had a very good block of training and I am just about ready for the next 4 weeks when I have races planned for each weekend.

I did race in Berkeley about a month ago but the result was very poor and not worth discussing.

I spent a long weekend in Philly and although it was very cold, I still went on a couple bike rides to keep building the fitness. The consistency has been paying off and I have been getting stronger every week. I set a personal best time up mt diablo a few days ago and have been doing long race simulations on the weekends with the house of pain ride.

My next race is at the sea otter classic at Laguna seca. Yes, we are racing on the famous track near Monterey, my dad and I went there last year for the first time to watch the motogp race but this time I will be on the track (although with a lot less horsepower).

I don't like setting my expectations too high but I really feel that there is no way that I will be dropped in this race and with such a hilly course I am expecting it to be pretty selective. I am not sure how many will be in the field but I think it would be disappointing if I wasn't in the top half of the field at the very least. Only time will tell, for now I am off to an easy training ride.

P.S. due to Kelsey's new bump I bought her this helmet so that she can be more aerodynamic.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crashes and a crit

Let me start by saying that I did not crash this week. Actually, I have crashed in quite a while (knock on wood). But there were a few crashes in the last week of riding that I wanted to share.
I rode the HOP ride yesterday morning and it was a smaller group so the speed was a little bit slower. Because of this, we shared the work a bit more and did some pace line work at times on the ride. On highland road, there was a motorcycle crash that occurred while 2 motorcycles were trying to pass the HOP medium ride. One of my teammates saw the whole thing happen and we ended up riding by the ambulance as it was picking up one of the crashers. On the second half of the HOP ride I took a few pulls at the front of the field up the main grinding climb which I would pay for later on in the ride. After the climb up collier canyon (which I barely hung on to the group) we started up Camino Tassajara and the wind really began to blow. Our small group was echeloned across the road and I was stuck riding in the wind and eventually I was blown off the back. It felt good to have a few hard pulls at the front and then to hang on to the field afterwards. I can tell I am getting stronger just need to keep up the hard riding (and smart recovery) and I will be in a good place for the end of a race.

On Sunday I raced the red kite crit in Livermore with a few teammates. It is a flat, 4 corner, 1 mile crit and our field was 97 deep with a mix of cat. 3 and cat. 4 riders. Our race was scheduled for 40 minutes and these type of races can be very nervous with such a large field and very few ways for people to separate themselves from the rest of the field (like hills or a technical course). The result is that people take risks to move up in the field and this can have an affect on the riders around them (like tapping your brakes in traffic, it has a domino affect on the 10 cars behind you). But first, here is a video of how the race started. This really did happen and it was kind of a microcosm for how our race went (far too excitable and ending in a crash).

YouTube Video

The first few laps were pretty fast and I sat in the field comfortably. I moved up for a few of the middle laps as I started to feel out the spots on the course where the wind wasn't as bad and the field was slowing. With 5 laps to go I was shuffled to the back as I was caught in the middle of the field with no way to move up. On the 3rd to last lap there was a massive crash in front of me that took down at least 6 riders. I narrowly missed getting taken down as the wreckage exploded outwards from the original fallers. I had slowed down pretty significantly and as I was already at the back of the field there was a gap of about 100 meters to the main field. I quickly started the chase back to the field and after 1 lap of hard work, I had finally caught back up to the back of the pack. We passed the wreckage of the crash and 1 rider was still down and being attended to (he was very bloody and had to be taken away in an ambulance eventually). The last lap was very fast and after my effort to catch back on, I was unable to move up and I cruised across the finish line. Officially I finished 77th, not very good but I must admit that I don't think I will be doing a whole lot more flat crits this year. I don't think that they play to my strengths and the chances of crashing are much higher.

I am traveling to Denver, Spokane, and Boise this week so I will be on the stair machine to keep up the cardio. Bariani road race next Sunday.
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Sunday, March 3, 2013


This past week has been an excellent week of training. I have found a group of local teammates who ride on week nights and one of them has put together a generic training program for us to follow. Although I have only been following this for one week I can tell that I am getting stronger already. It also helps to have other people to train with as this makes the efforts more bearable (not easier).

On Sunday I went for a ride up mt. Diablo with my teammate Andy and as we neared the top we saw that some of the snow had remained from a week earlier. It was a rare sight in these areas and made for a good photo opportunity. We kept a good pace up the first half of the climb but I slowed us down on the second half and we reached the top in just over an hour. It was a respectable time to the top especially since we hadn't pushed it too hard and I haven't focused on climbing too much this year.

Monday was an easy group recovery ride of about 2 hours. Wednesday was a set of 5x5 intervals up a slight grade in a neighborhood nearby. We would start at the bottom of the hill and go all out for 5 minutes, turn around and head back down the hill and repeat the process until we finished 5 total intervals. This efforts are quite brutal and it certainly helps to have a few other people to suffer with (even though I admittedly mailed in the last interval, I just couldn't push it a fifth time). Thursday was another tough day in the saddle although I was by myself for this excursion. I tried to keep the pace high for the whole ride and up it just a little bit on the hills.

Friday was a very short spin on the trainer, basically a day off but I wanted to spin the legs just a little so that they would be ready for my hard ride on Saturday. Saturday mornings are the infamous HOP ride, short for House of Pain. Due to the popularity of the ride and to accommodate the different levels of riders, it has expanded to HOP lite, HOP medium, and the HOP. The easier rides start earlier in the morning and eventually the fastest ride begins. The loop is the same each week and consists of 50 miles over rolling hills without any real climbing (about as fast a loop as you can get around here). The best part about the ride is that it gives new racers a chance to ride with those faster than them and in a setting that isn't as aggressive as an actual race. I started the season riding in HOP medium and decided that I needed to start riding with the fast guys if I wanted to get faster.

The HOP ride started out pretty mellow while everyone was warming up but it quickly sped up. I had planned to ride at the back as I didn't want to spend any time in the wind, I needed to conserve all the energy I could. After 5 miles we turned left onto a back road and the pace was full on. We went over a few rollers at full speed and headed towards a predetermined sprint point. We were sprinting out of corners to keep up with the pack and when I looked at our speed after the ride, we had averaged 29.7 mph for over a ten minute period. I stayed with the field until the long drag up collier canyon road at which point I wasn't able to stay with the pace on the fast climb. I backed off and recovered before heading over to mt. Diablo and finishing my training ride with a solid effort halfway up the mountain.

I spent an hour riding the trainer today as seen above. I finished my third book on tape this year and just downloaded a fourth. After reviewing some of my data files from this week and comparing them to last year, I am delighted to report that I am at almost the exact same fitness level as I was last May (when I was at my best last year). I can tell that I am getting stronger and don't think that I will plateau soon. I am looking forward to another hard week of training and the impending daylight savings when I won't have to carry lights on my night rides.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Copper town

This week was a little bit light on the training but I was consistent in getting out to ride, and feeling pretty good for my race on the weekend. Kelsey's parents were in town to help set up our spare bedroom in anticipation of the new member of our family.

But before we get to the race, I have an update about the tour of California bike race. The pros will yet again be visiting NorCal and the queen stage is finishing on mount diablo. A video was posted describing the different stages and one of my teammates who works for the diablo state park was asked to describe part of the route. He is the guy in the ranger outfit towards the end of the video below.

Amgen tour of California route

I also got an email from a teammate regarding the video and one of the other people in the video. See below for a great story about a local cyclist.

"At the beginning description to the Mt Diablo stage, there’s a shaved headed chubby guy in an orange jersey. For those newbies who’ve only been riding for fifteen years or so, that’s George Mount. Local boy from Berkeley, fourth in the Montreal Olympic Road Race. First American to race the Giro. Fourth in The Milk Race, won the Red Zinger (precursor the Coors Classic), etc, etc. He quit racing in ’81 or ’82, moved back to the Bay Area and made a fortune in high tech sales. In ’90 or so, he casually raced locally for a couple years. He’d show up, chubby, on an old steel bike with downtube shifters and a six speed cogset and old wool shorts. Few people knew who he was, but invariably, he’d attack midway through the race, win solo and go home, people asking, who was that guy? He took to putting a bell on his handlebars, which he’d ding preceding each attack – just to give everyone a fair warning. It didn’t help us at all. He was known as Smilin’ George, because when a race would be at its most miserable – think Snelling, in the rain and you’re being guttered trying to get in the echelon – George would casually ride alongside the suffering mortals and smile at each and every one of us. It was completely demoralizing. He was a god and will always be a hero of mine. In ’92 or ’93, when I was younger, skinnier and could climb somewhat, he passed me like a bolt of lightning near the saddle during the Mountain Challenge. He was on a fixed gear. Wearing cut off blue jeans. And an old leather hairnet. He was kind enough to smile when he passed."

On to the race. The copper town circuit race is held in copperopolis and consists of a 5 mile lap on rolling terrain. Our field was 44 deep with one team having about ten riders in the field. From previous experience I knew that it was important to be at the front at the 2 turnaround points as it bunches up and crashes are more likely to happen there. I had one teammate in the race and 2 other friends from a different team. The race started fast and because it was only 60 minutes long, it was expected to stay fast. The one team with many riders started off the attacking early and it would continue this way throughout the race. One of their riders would attack and then someone from a different team would chase and the field would follow. Once the rider was caught, a different rider from their team would attack. It was textbook team tactics if you have a numbers advantage , attack the field until they give up and one of your riders gets away.

Unfortunately for their team, we consistently pulled back the attackers and the race never was too hard to drop anyone from the field. I kept my nose clean for the first 2 laps and stayed near the front at the turnarounds. On the third lap I almost had a crash as a rider came around the outside of me at one of the turnarounds and bumped my arm, pushing my handlebar and steering my away from the turn. I leaned on the rider a little bit, regained my direction, and moved through the corner without further incident. By the last turnaround I was in about 20th position and knew I needed to move up to be in a better position for the sprint finish.

Inside the last 2 miles, the speed picked up significantly and I started to look for a way to move up as everyone was fighting for position. I made a move up the outside of the field but was unable to get far as we were moving over 30 mph. I blew up trying move up and tucked back in for another effort. This time I had a tow to the front as someone else was trying to make the same move. Unfortunately the result was the same as he blew up from the effort and we were both shuffled back. Coming up to the last few hundred meters, I wasn't in a position to contest the sprint and sat up to roll through the finish. 33rd place was my official finishing position.

The good news is that I felt good throughout the race and was able to move up in the field much better than I have before and I was in a good position up until the last 2km. After getting back from the race I had to make a trip to the bike shop to drop off my newest bike. Specialized had ordered a recall on my bike as there was a potential for the front fork to break. I needed to bring the bike in so that they could ship the fork to a testing facility and stress test the fork. It was supposed to take up to 2 weeks but I got a call that my bike was back in less than a week.

YouTube Video

On Monday I got sick again. It seemed like a relapse of my norovirus problems from Christmas and I was worried that this was going to put out of commission for a week like at Christmas. Luckily, it was only bad for 2 days and I was back at work and training within 4 days. I have a few weeks before my next race and plan on doing a heavy training program to build my fitness for the faster/longer races to come.
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cherry Pie

I was in the office all this week so I should have had the opportunity to train all week. I was planning on taking Monday off as my legs were pretty sore from Saturdays race and Sundays hard ride up mt. Diablo. I took Monday off and started to prep my second bike for the upcoming race on Sunday. I started to stretch the tubular tires in order to have them ready to be glued onto the rims later. I spent Tuesday taking the old glue off the rims and then putting the first layer of glue on the tires and rims, during which I managed to stab myself with a screwdriver in the thumb.
Wednesday followed with another layer of glue and then I mounted and centered the tires onto the rims. Afterwards I pumped them up to 140 psi and left them for 24 hours to sit. Although it was late (8pm), I got dressed for the cold weather and went out for an hour ride.

Thursday was spent doing hill repeat intervals, in preparation for the race on Sunday. There is a small housing development a half mile from our apartment with short but very steep hills and I spent the better part of an hour climbing those hills. Friday I took the day off and then on Saturday I had a short but harder ride up mt. Diablo. Saturday was also the day that I discovered a problem with the second bike(the bike I was going to race). With my skills of deduction I realized that the problem was coming from the rear wheel and more specifically the rear hub/cassette. I rode the bike to the local bike shop and they told me not to ride that wheel and that I would have to have the hub serviced to fix the hub which wasn't spinning smoothly.

I scratched the plan of riding the second bike and prepped the first bike for the race. The cherry pie crit is in a business park in napa and the race goes around a 1 mile lap with a short hill up to the start finish line. Our race had 67 riders total, a large field to say the least and it was full gas from the start of our 40 minute race. I stayed in the front of the race for the first five laps to avoid any crashes; it is early in the season and everybody is nervous and crashes are more likely to happen. Each time up the climb was hurting and I wanted to reserve some energy for the end so I took the next few laps pretty easy on the climb and was swarmed and moved to the back of the field. With 3 laps to go I started to move up in the field but I only moved up about 10 places going into the last lap. I moved up a further 10 places going into the final time up the climb and waited to launch my final sprint. I found a good gap and with a final effort I moved up to 26th place by the finish. I was happy with the finish but know I need to work a little bit harder on my positioning in order to be closer to the front when the sprint will matter.
P.S. we found some food trucks near our work and one truck was making tacos with a twist. Fried eggs on tacos and a Mexican Pepsi. Picture below.

P.p.s. a lot of cyclist break there collarbones (clavicle for all of you medically inclined people) due to the way that most cyclist crash on their shoulders and it breaks relatively easy for such puny cyclists. A teammate of mine recently crashed and will need to have his broken collarbone put back together with a titanium rod. Picture of X-ray below.

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Location:Napa, CA