Saturday, March 20, 2010

Racers and Chasers

This week has been a bit confusing... I got sick and didn't make it out to Bonelli last weekend which is nothing short of a hyper-bummer but I was looking forward to getting to compete in this weekend's Vision Quest race up in the Santa Monica Mtns to make up for it. 56 miles and like 11,000 ft of climbing sounded freakin awesome.

Long story short, I didn't end up getting into the event as I'd hoped and so I decided to head out to the local "Racers and Chasers" XC race just outside of Escondido only a stone's throw away from the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Had a BLAST!! The race brought back all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings which I used to get while competing in the Prairie City series up north in Folsom. Just a bunch of super enthusiastic down to earth people who are out there racing for the right reason... because it's freakin fun!

The course was three ten mile out and backs for a total of 30 miles of racing and I swear to god that we pedaled 28.5 of those miles. It was great, like a 1:45 time trial on the dirt.I made a point of showing up early so that I had enough time to get in a decent warm up before the start because Sage Brush Safari was a brutally rude awakening for these enduro legs of mine.

I warmed up for about 1.5 hours and cruised back over to the expo area to hang out and wait for the start. Ran into a buddy near the registration tent and started chatting with him about his race, which had taken place earlier that morning. The start was up the road a ways from where we stood by the reg tent. Bad news.

I began to make my way over to the start line after being told that my race was about to leave and wouldn't you know that the pack was already coming down the road towards me? Dang it! So, I flipped a U Turn after the pack had passed and sprinted to tack myself on to the last rider out of the parking lot.

The singletrack started immediately and it was just windy and twisty enough that passing was difficult. With the lack of vegetation present around the trail, I was able to see the lead group of riders taking off and establishing a sizeable gap up the trail while I was trying to get around the rest of the field from my superb last place starting position. It was shaping up to be an interesting day on the bike.

My legs felt like hell for the first few miles, but they came around a lot more quickly than at Sage Brush and by the last half of the first lap I had moved up a few places and I was beginning to pull more and more time back on the leaders. Someone told me after the race that I came through like 10th or 12thon the first lap. I came through 4th at the end of the second lap, only seconds behind two of the riders ahead of me, and maybe 1-2 minutes down on the leader.

I kept the gas on and reeled in two of the racers ahead of me in the first mile or two of the last lap. I made sure to try to time my pass so that I didn't need to slow up or lose a lick of momentum because my legs were not pleased with me and I didn't want to have to accelerate back up to speed after coming around these riders. I picked up the pace just a little as I came around because this was the type of course where they could have tacked onto my wheel and let me drag them around for the last few miles. I don't think so.

I was unsure of whether or not I'd be able to catch the lead rider after I made it around the other two chasers, but I kept myself burried deep in the pain cave and came around him a few minutes later at the top of a small climb. From there, I kicked it up one more time and did my damndest to hold it until the finish which was about 7 miles or so distant at that point.

Well, all's well that ends well and the day ended well despite my goof up at the start. I was able to keep the pace up and pull off the win at a super fun and well run event.

The course was good, the entry fees were low, it cost me like $5 in gas to get out there, the guys who put these races on(Robert and Crew) are super cool, and the prizes were way better than what you'll find at most sanctioned events. I got a Centerlock Disc Rotor plated in real 24 karot gold for my efforts, how freakin cool is that?! My only regret is that I didn't come out for the other two Racers and Chasers events which happened earlier in the season.... I know where I'll be racing in the early months of next season for sure!

Check out the website, if you live in socal and you want to have a blast racing your mountain bike in the best sort of racing environment(fun, friendly, and laid back), you should totally check out these races.

I'll see you all at Fontana.

Oh, hey my lower back is absolutely killing me. Like, it hurts so freakin bad by the end of a mtn bike ride/race that I can barely pedal. I switched to a flatter seat(Fizik Antares) recently from one that had a serious cradle shape(old Fizik Gobi) and I'm wondering if the shape of the saddle is to blame for the trouble. Anyone have anything to say about that? I feel a little like I'm always falling off of the new seat, wondering if I'm straining something by trying to hold myself up there whereas on the Gobi the seat is doing the job of holding me in place because of it's profile. Hmmmm

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Latest

In case you don't have time to read about my entire winter experience in "Winter Wonder Land", I wanted to give everyone the latest little tid bits very quickly.

I'm super stoked because I just found out that I'll be racing in this year's Furnace Creek 508 road race in October. It's gonna be epic.

I was planning on racing in the 24 hour National Championships this year as well at the beginning of June over in West Viginia. However, the race has been cancelled and moved to Moab and will be happening the weekend after Furnace Creek... So, that's a no-go this season.

Same thing is true for 24 hour World Champs in Australia. That race takes place the same weekend as our Nationals, so it looks like I'll just have to crush some souls at furnace creek this year instead!

I'm also planning on doing a 24 hour road race in April which is a qualifier for RAAM. So, wish me luck with that one. Um, what else....

Oh, I was supposed to race today, but I'm battling the super sickness from hell right now. I barely even remember what it feels like not to have a cold. But, I raced the Sagebrush Safari a couple of weeks ago and I'm planning to do Vision Quest and Fontana this month also. I'll be up at the Otter too this season since I just love getting destroyed in XC events...

I'll leave you with this, the new yellow Mavic shoes are pretty much my favorite thing in the world to look at right now. I want it to get warm just so that I can take my booties off and look at the awesome-ness that is my feet when they are slipped inside of these new kicks. Oh, and I just got a new-to-me PowerTap computer. I'm still getting the software situation dialed in but I'm pretty pumped on it so far. Ok, I'll keep this thing up to date from now on, promise.

Wanna Have Some Fun?

So, I have been lucky enough to help out over the last couple of months at Cycling Camp San Diego events with a group of super stand up guys who love sharing the beauty of San Diego county with groups of cycling enthusiasts from all over the world.

Basically, we have pretty amazing weather most of the time down here in sunny SoCal and from what I gather, there are quite a few other places that have down right unpleasant winter conditions. As this is the case, Cycling Camp San Diego allows cycling enthusiasts from around the world to travel to San Diego for week long camps which include guided and fully sagged group rides, training tips and talks from pro mechanics, pro riders and certified coaches, and most importantly, a low stress environment which allow campers to log hundreds of worry free winter base miles. Essentially, you get to live like a pro for a week.

It's a pretty cool idea and the camps are a blast. But how could hanging out with a bunch of other cyclists while you ride through epic terrain in absolutely gorgeous weather while you would have been sitting on the rollers in the basement back at home not be a blast? If you live someplace where winter sucks, which is quite a few different places, CCSD is definitely worth checking out.

CCSD is over on my sponsors list, click the name to check out the site. Or, just click this: Peace out

Winter Wonder Land

I know it’s been forever and a day since I last made any sort of update to the site, and for that I apologize. I’ve had some pretty epic adventures and a whole heck of a lot of other exciting stuff going on over the winter months. Here’s a brief update:

After the Knickerbocker 8hr, I was unsure of whether or not I wanted to do another race in November and I took a couple of days off the bike before getting back in the swing of things. I decided that I was going to try to actually take an off season this year and so I cut my training back to about half of the normal volume for the rest of October and through November. I decided that I wanted to head down to the 12 hours of Temecula race in mid November, originally with the intention of racing on a two man team. By the time the race rolled around, I was signed up for another solo event and unsure of my fitness level due to the fact that my training volume was not the same as it normally is during the season.

The race went very well and I had a great day on the bike, completing 13 laps on the course, the only solo rider to do so. I wound up with as many laps as some of the top 3 man teams…. Definitely a good day! Then, it was off to San Diego for a midnight snack(literally) at my favorite taco shop and after that I crashed for the night with a buddy near Balboa park. Another successful trip to SoCal.

I returned home and resumed my off season program of rest and recovery but started logging the miles again during a training camp in Borrego Springs(SoCal, middle of nowhere) in the first week of December. It was freakin nuts. The first day’s ride was mid thirties with torrential rain and wind, oh and a few thousand feet of climbing and descending. On another day we were greeted with snow and ice at the top of Montezuma(13 mile continuous climb with 3500 ft) accompanied by wind gusts of over 40mph. Myself and the rest of the riders at the camp huddled up inside a tiny country store at the top to warm up. The outdoor thermometer read 26 degrees, so the store’s 42 degree powerless interior felt like a sauna. Shuttles from the hotel were called to rescue most of the campers, but a brave few continued on with the planned ride and I simply couldn’t live with myself if I threw in the towel and let them go on without me. So, I saddled up and continued on down the road. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the conditions became much better, nearly enjoyable, a few miles down the road. The climbing and scenery were epic, the riders were some of the best people I’ve ever met and overall it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had on the bike.

I tried to keep the momentum rolling upon my return to Norcal and I rode many many miles in rain and snow through the month of December. I had nearly made my peace with the weather when right around Christmas I was presented with an offer that appeared to be highly beneficial for me both in terms of my racing career and from a financial standpoint. The only issue was that it would require me to relocate to SoCal once again. Since I had not quite made my peace with the crappy weather yet, the idea of moving to a warmer climate wasn’t really too much of an issue as it turned out….

So, I said my good byes, packed my things and on Jan. 2nd, I set out for Socal once again. This time though, I was taking the scenic route. I had made friends with one of the cyclists at camp earlier that month by the name of Summer, who lived in San Diego and when she heard that I was moving down, she came up with a super fun idea for the trip. Summer decided to fly up to Sac with her bike and then she and I would cruise out to the coast and do a series of super fun and epic rides along the coast as we made our way down to San Diego over 3-4 days. Certainly a lot more fun than driving down I-5 as fast as you can for 8hrs!

I took Summer on a cool little ride out of Folsom up through the foot hills and we stopped by Sutter’s Mill for a photo op before cruising up to Placerville and back down the hill. Having grown up in California’s gold country in a small town that was huge in the mining days, part of our everyday school curriculum had to do with the history of our state and of our particular area’s role in that history. It’s sorta cool to be able to take people on a ride and tell them a little about the history of the region you’re riding through.

After our Folsom ride, we hopped in the car and headed for Big Sur, where we spent the night and met up with some friends for a ride down the coast the next day. Amazing views and absolutely incredible weather. We were really taking our chances when planning a cycling trip on the northern California coast in the first part of January, but somehow we lucked out and we were greeted with the best weather that I’d seen in over a month. We got back to Big Sur in time for some chow and loaded the car once again for our journey down to Solvang, where we planned to ride the following day. And ride we did!

We plotted a course through some beautiful country surrounding Solvang and made our way up Figaroa which is a pretty damn tough climb. I loved it. After the day’s ride, it was time to complete our journey down to San Diego and get back to the real world. Summer had to go back to work and I had to figure out where I was going to live. Over the next couple of weeks, more epic miles were logged and I helped out at a Cycling Camp San Diego training camp outside of San Diego in the town of Alpine where I met a group of wonderfully enthusiastic riders and went on a series of great rides.

Meanwhile, I was getting situated at Big Ring Cyclery in my new management role and I was also getting moved into my new living space. I had brought very little with me on my initial trip down south because I didn’t want to carry it all the way down the coast, nor did I want to drive around with everything that I owned in the back of my car while I looked for places to live. So, once I found a good spot, it was time for another trip to Norcal to fetch all of my things. I went something like this: up and at em on a Thursday for a four-five hour ride. Upon completing the ride, hop in the car and head for I-5. Drive for the next 8hrs more or less nonstop and arrive in Nevada City at about 10pm. Get up on Friday, pack all of my things and get back in the car around 2pm for the return trip to San Diego…. I was pretty tired on Saturday.

So, here I am. In San Diego, managing a shop, working with CCSD cycling camps every chance I get, attending a Tuesday/Thursday evening spin class and leading a Tuesday/Thursday morning spin class and even racing bikes now and again. Actually, that last part isn’t happening quite as often as I’d like right now. I was supposed to race today, but I’m sick and I have been for some time now so I didn’t figure that a bike race was the best medicine. It’s alright though, I always plan a lot of races for Feb. and March and very few of them really ever pan out. I’m more of a summer time sort of guy anyway I suppose. I’m still planning on pursuing mostly endurance events, but I’m hoping to throw in a few XC races here and there and I keep on saying that I’m going to start road racing at some point, but the idea gives me a slightly queasy feeling in my tummy, so we’ll see if it ever comes to fruition.

I’m looking to branch out a little this season though and I was just accepted to race at the Furnace Creek 508 road race in October and I’m planning on attending a 24 hour road race in Davis in early April in hopes of qualifying for Race Across America. Beyond that, I suppose you’ll see me at a lot of the same events as in years passed, still riding my Cdale, still wearing pink, and still rocking my Giraffe on the bars. Even with everything that is sure to be different this season, some things will never change….