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for all my friends · February 2011

February 2011

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

the content wall.

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more content on the wall.  the top left is a photograph by jason yim, taken right outside the stockton tunnel.  the one below is a photograph by mike martin (mashsf) of massan going down california.

neighborhood reppin’.

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monday already?

2-28_conzelman

the weekend sure felt like it jetted by…waking up early seems to be easier once it becomes a routine.  out of the house by 6am and almost beating the sun to the top of the headlands.  down to the backside, out to rodeo beach, double and back to the top.  a little bit sore and achy this morning from the solid 6 or 7 days of riding, but I’m hoping to take a break soon, just in time for the rain wednesday and/or thursday.

it was actually a few degrees warmer out today, which made the ride much more pleasant.  my hands didn’t completely freeze, that’s always a plus!  now, to settle in for the long week.  I put in for my cat4 upgrade, but it hasn’t been approved yet.  definitely hoping to have it in time for the merco races saturday and sunday.

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do it all, sunday.

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bright and early morning out in marin.  out the door by 6am, because I had to help paint at our old house for the rest of the day.  it was actually refreshing to get out early on a sunday morning, there was no one out, and the weather was perfectly clear.  it was quite cold though, enough for the grass and plants to frost over before the sun came up.  I rode up to the top of conzelman to take in the pre-dawn view, rode the backside out to rodeo beach, pushed out a double, and headed back to the top of conzelman for a final look out.  I’m beginning to really enjoy the ride, and appreciate the headlands for being so convenient right off of the bridge.  especially on a day like today, where I had to be back earlier.

painting trims is tedious work, here are some random shots from around the place.

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my brother’s iphone “speaker-cone”, providing maximum sound amplification in the hallway.

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samoas, quite possibly the tastiest girl scout cookie variation.

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psh, who needs a doorknob?  open and close the door with your mind, obviously.

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2-26_snelling1

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ah, snelling.  my last cat5 race.  I woke up early to get ready for the long drive out to the race.  I mapped, and remapped the route yesterday night, as I was leaving work because I noticed that the race event flyer had stated taking a different road to the race start than what google maps (and my gps) had suggested.  luckily, I didn’t hit any traffic on the way out to the race, and within a short two hours and twenty minutes, I was in the parking lot.  it was a bit cold probably around the same temperature as the pine flat road race last weekend.  the forecast stated a chance of precipitation, but I didn’t see a cloud in sight.  how ideal.

I registered at the booth, pinned my number and started wandering around.  zach and daniel rolled up and soon we were warming up on the road right outside of the parking lot.  once we lined up for the start of the race, I saw a couple familiar faces, namely travis (rio strada), one of his teammates (forgot his name), and a handful of others…I’m pretty horrible with names, but alex was one of the ones I remembered.  there were 2 cat5 groups, overflow participants were placed into the b category.  ours was a full 50 deep.  soon we were off, led by a motorcycle ref who’d taxi us out to the start line.  oh boy, here we go again.

rollers, flats.  more rollers, more flats.  the first lap was kept moderate in pace, everyone was feeling out the course profile, the road conditions, wind, everything.  it was a bit difficult for me to find a rhythm, the landscape hurled around, flattened out, dipped and rose.  it was almost like a really fast, long crit.  on the back stretch of the course, the road was fairly bumpy, almost like cobblestones.  not only were riders scattered all over the road to clear the bumps, they were shifting around laterally.  luckily, on the second lap, everyone came to the conclusion that there were no smooth portions of road section, and they just had to bump through it like everyone else.  I made my way to the front and put in some work.  the speed was much smoother, more predictable.  unfortunately, after a couple miles, riders began to bunch up around me, and I found myself in the middle.  then the back…of course, something random and weird happened.

as we approached one of the turns, a gu pack launched from in front of me, landing on the tip of my saddle.  it fell across my top tube and landed behind me (as far as I know).  I looked down for a brief second…something felt all sticky.  yea, the gu was all over my bibs, gloves, saddle, and top tube.  sh*t, now I’m in the back of the group.  another roller.  out of the saddle to play catch-up.  wait, it feels like I’m glued to my saddle…uh, what?  okay, switch to pedaling in the saddle.  oh god, my bibs are sticking to the lower part of my jersey and vest.  the gu was sappy.  it grew more tacky.  I fell even farther back.  uh oh, the front of the group is 200m ahead, now.  we have to chase them down.  wait, here come the bumps on the backside road.

dropped.  it was just zach and I, now.  we crossed the start line once more, just one lap to go.  our group was far, far ahead.  it’d take a huge effort to bridge the gap on the flat section of road, especially with a headwind.  I was roasted, my legs were jello, and my bibs were lined with gu.  we were pacing each other on the flat section when two guys rolled up, and began pacing with us.  we wouldn’t be catching that main group anymore, we were just racing to finish the race.  after a couple pulls up in the front, I was starting to really feel it.  exhaustion started sinking in, and I fell farther back.  I dropped from the chase group and rode solo on the final miles to the finish.  it was just me and my tacky, gu bibs.

congrats to daniel for breaking away with another rider, then placing 1st on his last cat5 race.  on the opposite end of the spectrum, I was dropped off the last of the chase groups and placed last on my last cat5 race.  I’m a bit peeved that I was dropped, but I have no one to blame but myself.  the seconds I took to look at the gu all over my bike and bibs was key – I should have been pedaling, maintaining the wheel I was on instead of coasting at the start of a roller.  and that’s the other topic I want to touch on.  earlier, I mentioned that this course profile was almost like a fast rolling crit.  it was particularly good for sprinters like travis (who ended up placing 3rd, congrats!).  the kickers were brief, and riders would jet up them, resting after they had broken the crest.  in the mean time, I was just getting out of the saddle, finding a smooth tempo…oh, I guess the hill is over.  and it was like that for every single roller, on every single lap.

I’m not used to the flat land speed, nor am I familiar with how to handle rollers, but those are some of the main reasons I continue to race.  the ability to dig deep, go hard, for certain types of roads and elevation makes or breaks riders.  and the bottom line is that I just need to ride more.  overall, I had a good time.  even when I was dropped off the back for the final lap, I was analyzing what went wrong, and how I’d change it up next time around.  the drive out wasn’t a waste – getting to interact with individuals with the same sort of passion towards cycling is a good thing.  and it’s also humbling to get dropped hard.  it’s a big reminder that there are always riders above you.  it’s also something for me to strive towards.  the riders in cat4 will eat me alive next week at the merco gp and road race.

but I sure hope not.

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happy trails.

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2-25_rodeo-beach

blasting 20-30mph winds, face-numbing rain, saturated asphalt, and the occasional hail.  by time I made it out to crissy fields, my warmers were soaked completely through, as were my socks, and shoe covers.  actually, the shoe covers would’ve kept the water out, but water soaked from my leg warmers through to my socks, so that wasn’t really ideal.  I still wanted to get a ride in though, so I soldiered on.

wind.  so much cross wind that I had to small ring it all the way out to marin.  then the second golden gate bridge pillar came.  a low humming sound surrounded the air as I made it across the empty bridge.  I thought it was a truck coming up from behind me, but it wasn’t.  then strongest gusts I’ve ever seen were carrying rain horizontally across the bridge.  and the sound wasn’t from a truck.  it was from the wind and rain hurling around the towers.  as I approached the turn, tailwind picked up and started pushing me towards the rail.  I made the turn, but had to unclip halfway around.  by time I made it to the other side of the path, the wind had already picked up, and was forcing me back on the bike.  it was practically riding itself.

more rain.  I’d keep the ride short today, I rode towards the bunker tunnel.  then the hail started.  the shell kept my upper body dry, but it didn’t take away the sting of the hail.  the tunnel was so close now, I just wanted to be out of the harsh weather.  more wind, smaller gear, keep pushing towards the tunnel.  I was finally protected from the elements, for a brief minute or so.  I took a second to feel out my gear…my gloves had soaked all the way through because water leaked from the small gap between my jacket and hands, the wool cap was soaked, and was probably wicking heat away from my head, rather than retaining it, and of course, my feet were in an ocean.

rodeo beach felt more sheltered from the mess.  I pushed in a double, and headed back.  tired, but not defeated.  there were no cyclists out.  I saw zero runners the entire ride.  the landscape was lifeless and cold.  I’m glad to be back, safe and sound though.  time to recover here at work.

whew.

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the wet.

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I really should’ve put on my fender this morning.  and my rain shell.  as soon as I stepped outside, there was mist coming down over the city.  cars were lightly covered in water, but I figured that the rain had already passed.  well, that assumption was obviously wrong, because as I made my way down to the embarcadero, the rain started coming down.  not hard, but just enough to soak through my warmers.  the wind started to bite.  I was going to be in for a treat in marin.  as I crossed the bridge, I saw a massive rain cloud just misting over the headlands.  after tossing out the idea of climbing conzelman to start, I headed towards rodeo beach via bunker.

my bibs were soaked through from the fat rooster tail I had.  a numbing cold overcame my shoulders and arms from being exposed to the rain.  I still had my eyes on the top of rodeo beach though, I was hoping the rain would clear.  and what do you know, after several minutes, the rain passed – it actually started heading over san francisco.  you can the rain clouds in the picture above, it was interesting to see them dumping from afar while there were no clouds above my head out in marin.  granted, I was a bit cold and wet, but I could deal.

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I had to stop and take another shot on my way back.  the calm water just looked amazing.  I ended up climbing to the top of conzelman for a final jaunt, taking it really easy on the descent.  it’s always worth the view (and effort on the legs).  then, on the bridge, I saw two guys that looked like sticks coming at me.  oh of course, travis and connor from team metromint.  connor was toughing it with no leg warmers of any kind.  what a G.

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a good morning.

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it was just one of those mornings where everything just felt right.  I woke up a bit sleepy, but was soon wide awake as I began to get ready for my pre-dawn ride.  the ritual had begun.  lights, stashed pockets, various clothing for the cold, proper psi in the tires, bottles, swapping insoles back into the road shoes…everything seemed to flow so nicely today.  I headed out of the house, and was jetting along the embarcadero, all the way to the bridge.  the wind was minimal and I was taking full advantage of the situation.  a quick warm-up to the top of conzelman to loosen up the legs.  down to the backside for a double loop at rodeo beach.  the legs were feeling fully recovered, I was having one of the best rides this season.  I took the back cut around path that connor showed me, and then continued to the top of mccollough and conzelman for a final push.

a truly awesome sunrise, beaming through the high clouds.  I couldn’t have been more satisfied with how the ride went.  it was actually one of the longer rides I’ve done out in the headlands, so glad I headed out this morning to enjoy the quiet air.  hope everyone has a good day!

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beast mode.

SPRINT

andre greipel takes the sprint, and the first win for omega pharma-lotto at stage 4, volta ao algarve (portugal).

pros just go harder.

read more on velonews!

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monday holiday?

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waking up early this morning to ride didn’t seem so hard after the full weekend of racing I just came off of.  oddly enough, all the riding, the exhaustion, and driving made me want to ride my bike more.  unfortunately, I didn’t have the day off from work – not that big of a deal for me, since having other weekdays off are usually better.  this morning, the roads were completely empty.  it almost felt surreal, and I began to think of crazy scenarios on were everyone was, or what they were affected by.  was this the zombie apocalypse that we’ve all been fearing?  then once I reached marin, I realized that today was a holiday for most people.  I also noticed that the bike side of the golden gate bridge was open, which made me do a double-take, initially.  I ended up taking the pedestrian path, but there wasn’t anyone walking on there at the time anyway, so I had the entire lane to myself.

I headed out to rodeo beach to unwind my legs.  it’s always fun heading out to races because the roads are all different from what you’re used to.  you’re riding competitively with other cyclists on roads that are either closed off, or have very limited traffic.  but it felt good to be back in marin, it felt familiar, and my mind was at ease.  and due to the zombie apocalypse that is president’s day, the roads were even more empty than usual.  after rodeo beach, I headed to the top of conzelman to take in the view.  the roads were finally dry after the week’s worth of rain, it felt so good being able to descend without worrying about water.

great way to kick off a monday.

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pine flat rr.

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after sleeping for a brief 4 hours, my alarm went off at 1:30am.  yes, it was time to get ready for the pine flat road race in sierra, california.  4 hours and 220 miles away, it’d be the farthest I’ve ever driven, ever.  and the fact that it was still dark out didn’t help much either.  I pulled my bike off the wall, packed the car with food, various liquids, bars, and all my cycling gear.  I wanted to snag a red bull from the gas station but decided against it.  I’d be doing this trip without caffeine, I figured it’d probably be healthier for me, especially before a long race.  I loaded up the gps navigation on my phone while I filled up my tank for the pre-pre-dawn drive.  hell, it was practically saturday night still.  night clubs around downtown still had lines coming out of their doors, and random drunk folks staggering out from all over the place.  I was a bit tired, but had to hold it together to get to the race.

the minutes ticked by as I made my way through the east bay towards more farmland.  580, 205, 5, 120, 99, 180…the highway signs and changes seemed endless.  after this weekend, I can safely say that having navigation on my phone is thoroughly worth it.  I would have never been able to figure out where this race was if it wasn’t for the mechanical voice telling me to “keep left” at various forks in the road.  I finally arrived at the parking lot/camp grounds that the race registration would be held in.  after parking the car, I looked over to my right to see travis, his friend bobby, and his girlfriend.  they had just showed up as well, traveling from sacramento the night before.  I jumped to registration, but a race official told me that they weren’t setting up shop until ~7am.  but the race flyer said 6am…so I was pretty confused.  I guess I could’ve left a bit later from my house, but it wouldn’t have really benefited me since the parking lot filled up FAST.

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it was pretty cold outside, temperatures hovered around the 38-40* mark.  more and more people rolled into the lot, and pretty soon, my section was completely filled.  the sun came up as I made my way to the registration booth to receive my number.  I jumped back in the car and started prepping for the race.  surprisingly, I was wide awake.  more so than when I first arrived, which was nice.  I wasn’t sure about the distance we were about to race though, 62 miles seemed like such a long distance.  there would also be rollers throughout the ride, and two climbs before the finish – all in all, roughly 2800ft of climbing.  after pinning the my number, I threw on the warmers, and suited up for the line.  the sun was out and shining by time we kicked off from the line, but there were still numerous wet sections of road all over the course.  along with the water, there were several cattle guards that dotted the roads, which were a bit nerve racking, especially with some of the cat5 riders in the bunch that seemed a bit inexperienced with them.  luckily, everyone crossed them perfectly fine, and we had no close calls through any of the wet turns.

the out and back section was about a third of the race – there was a long climb that sweeped around the lake, and then a turn-around point as it flattened out.  the group was riding strong, everyone was looking good.  I wasn’t feeling so great, and started thinking how I’d feel later on…it was too late to turn back now, I was in it, I had to finish for my own sake.  we passed the start line and started heading away from the mountains.  after a long sweeping descent down into the valley, the road flattened out a bit, and one of the riders off the front made a break.  it was the same uc davis rider from yesterday that tried to break near the end.  the group didn’t seem to phased, and he ended up pulling away from us.  no one seemed to have noticed – in fact, I was completely oblivious to his attack until someone asked, “hey, aren’t we missing a guy?”.  our group was smaller now, just about 15 riders, we had lost a handful of riders at the turn-around point, and some on the descent.

the road continued out towards farm land.  a haphazard pace line was eventually formed, but there was still no sign of the single man break.  I figured if we didn’t catch him on the flat land, he had surely gotten away for good.  the group surged and slowed as riders jumped in and out of the lines, it was sloppy.  after a while, a settling feeling overcame my body.  the lack of sleep, lack of food, and overall exhaustion began to take it’s toll.  pair that with the fact that my flat land ability is just plain horrible, I was struggling to tag wheels as I rolled around.  the road suddenly turned right, and we began to make our way back towards the mountains.  I was dreading the climbing.  there were two or three rollers that kicked up HARD, forcing riders to really motor up the asphalt and keep pace.  now I was starting to feel it.  I was off the back with another rider, but I didn’t want to get dropped.  I wanted to finish this race, at least within the pack.

more rollers.  I found myself sprinting out of the saddle to catch wheels near the back of the group.  we were just 10 deep now, riders were slowly falling back as the climbing started.  with no fuel in me besides water and heed, I was feeling it.  I should’ve had more on me besides my 3 bottles (one stashed in my jersey), but I wasn’t feeling 100% today.  I wasn’t hungry…I was just tired, sleepy, and sore.  my body started to ache, I was almost tanked, I could almost tick down the time it would take for the bonk to set in.  we wouldn’t be racing for 1st place (since that guy was obviously LONG gone) or any amount of fantastic podium prizes.  we were all racing to finish.  I was racing finish.

a kicker, everyone out of their saddles.  travis was second in the bunch, I was near the back.  climbing is just one of those things you can’t do slower than your own capacity.  granted, having a bigger cassette might be different, but climbing with people that are going a tad slower than yourself is what would completely drain me.  I decided to pick up the pace for the group with the remaining energy I had.  pulling 10 guys behind me seemed worth it, if I was going to go all in.  a rider near the back asked our motorcycle ref how many miles we had done.  55.

7 miles to the finish.  just 7 more miles, hold it together.  I made my move about halfway up, keeping the pace smooth and steady.  I passed travis and signaled for him to follow me.  I saw him make a pick towards my wheel and I motored up the hill.  it felt different than the other miles we had done on the race.  it felt familiar, and I zoned in for the crest.  I wasn’t looking back anymore, I knew travis and maybe a few others were behind me.  maybe this would be the group that’d place top 5.  my expectations for myself were much lower.  after the effort I was a tad bit tired, but feeling better than those flat sections.  I looked back.  no one was close to me anymore.  the motorcycle ref was right behind me.  my eyes widened.  I was off the front of the group, only by 100m or so, it wasn’t much at all.  but the ref had to stay with the front riders.  I was off the front?  I was off the front.

a short windy descent.  big ring, drops, sprinting down the hill to gain the gap as riders crested.  all I heard behind me was the faint puttering of a motorcycle.  I was flying through the farm land, trying to keep my pace as fast as I possibly could.  I knew they’d catch me soon.  go all in, all in.  everything I’ve got.  4+ riders in a good pace line will catch a single break in no time.  I had to make every effort, every descent count.  various dropped riders from other categories were motoring along side the road as well.  I continued to dig deep, passing them.  can’t snag their draft or ride with them since they’re not part of our category.  I didn’t know how much time had gone by.  I didn’t know how many miles I had left.  all I kept thinking about was the ref saying 55.  just 7 more miles, hold it together.

more rollers.  my body just ached.  exhaustion started to set in as I tapped out my final bottle while I made my way across the windy road.  there’d be another kicker climb to the finish, I just didn’t know when.  I kept thinking about how much energy I had left.  I kept looking back at the motorcycle ref, who just stared right back at me, 100ft back.  we passed more dropped riders as the road wound up and down.  all in, just all in.  then I spotted it – “1km to go” sign.  I looked back at the ref as he came up by my side.  “you’re in the clear.  no one’s back there”.  I was so close, now.  more dropped riders made their way up the last, final kicker to the top.  I spotted bobby up ahead, and called out to him.  he looked back, and we exchanged a couple words briefly.  and then the 200m, 100m to go…the line.  I crossed it, my face draped with exhaustion.  2nd place, several minutes behind the uc davis break.

I was happy.  he definitely deserved first place, he broke so early, and stayed away.  2nd place after racing and driving for the past 2 days, hell yes, I was completely satisfied.  I felt horrible up until that hill, but once I was zoned in, everything seemed to just work out.

travis ended up coming in 9th after getting a crazy leg cramp from being a bit dehydrated.  he caught my wheel for a little while, but had to back off because his legs started tingling.  top 10 isn’t bad though.  and considering his cassette was loose the entire race, I’d say that’s pretty good.  it was also dreadfully annoying hearing it rattle around, but it actually shifted well, so that was a bit of a surprise.  thanks for the ride back down the hill, see you guys at snelling!

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the 4 hour drive back home.  over the last 2 days, I’ve driven 800+ miles, and have raced about 114 miles on the road bike.  I’m just a tad bit tired now, but overall, very happy.  I hope everyone had a safe, fun, and eventful weekend as well.  rest up!  more races coming soon.

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