Welcome to Bumpville

CX Nation

New course and no expectations brought me to Ione for Round 6 of the Sacramento race series.  Ione is actually nowhere near Sacramento.  It’s a small town in the Sierra foothills that just happens to be near where my parents live.  What a great opportunity to have a visit with the elders and get some VO2 max suffering in.  My wrist and thumb are still hurting from my crash two weeks previous, but I have been pushing through it.  I am not sure it will even be healed in 6 months, so why rest it now.  The only thing that would prevent me from riding would be a cast…or would it?

The first thing I heard when I got to the venue was, “Man, this course is bumpy.”  Not good when you can barely grip the handlebars.  But I had devised a plan.  Riding in the drops felt better than on the hoods so I was going to ride it like a crit.  Low turnout for the 35+ A’s.  Only 3 guys in the field!  Possibly the lowest I have ever raced.  But Jeff Mitchell, the series leader, was there and we have had some battles in the past.  I couldn’t wait to get it on.

Off we went and after a half of a lap Jeff and I were on our own.  The course was like being in a pinball machine.  We were getting kicked and punched all around this course.  There were some flat, fast sections and some technical turns through trees and such.  Overall a fun one.  The one thing that I was not really happy about was the “downhill dismount over a log”.  Race promoters, please don’t include downhill dismounts in your courses.  They are unsafe and there is a reason that the UCI forbids them.  Ok, off the soapbox.

Jeff and I just traded off leading laps.  I was trying to figure out where I could take it to him.  Seemed like he was better in the turns and I was faster in the straights.  So we had some cat and mouse attacks to see if we could crack one another.  We couldn’t.  Jeff had a dig on the last lap, but I easily got on his wheel and tried to catch a draft.  It was all going to come down to the bitter end.  There was a long dirt straightaway before the finish.  I caught a little draft coming into it and then came around Jeff at the last second and won with a bike throw.  It was like a crit.  A great hour of racing and like I always say, “Just because there were low numbers at a race doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the win.  You beat all the people that didn’t even show up.”

Saturday Night Lights

Yeah, I know it is supposed to be “Friday Night Lights”, but this was on Saturday night.  The promoters have moved the times around a bit in the last few years.  This year the Master’s A’s started at 7pm and it was dark.  Not very dark, but it was hard to see the best lines in some of the turns.  That made it challenging. Got a call up from the last race.  6th places on the front row…and I was #6.

All smiles before the suffering.
All smiles before the suffering.

Being on the front really helps in these races.  Chaos usually ensues very closely around the first turns.  This race was not an exception to that rule.  A long paved stretch lead to a curb that had sandbags for a ramp.  The pavement is long enough so you can get enough speed to really hurt yourself on the curb jump.  Amazingly no one went down on the first turn…but the second turn caused some grief.  Some guy came flying recklessly around a bunch of us.  I was sitting about 5th or 6th.  On the second turn there has always been a metal plate.  It was there again and this guy slipped on the black ice.  He didn’t take anyone out, except himself, but that was all Coates and Swanson needed to get away.  The chase was on.

I managed to get up to them after bursting both my lungs. But I couldn’t hold on.  I popped and got into a chase group with 5 others.  One being national champ Don Myrah.  We traded pulls for a few laps and tried in vain to bring anyone back.  Don wasn’t riding as smoothly as he has in the past.  He was all over the place.  Not really sure what was going on him.  The other 3 sat in for a while.  Then, this guy named Reno Jude took off and had a dig.  My jaw dropped as he dropped us all.  I couldn’t believe.  I have raced with him in Sac and he has a huge engine.  Not in the greatest shape, but is the Energizer bunny.

Eventually I got dropped by Don and a Pen Velo fella.  I was with Eric Bustos from Giant berries.  On the last lap Don and Velo actually got tangled up in one another and crashed hard.  We came in pretty hot and I was kicking myself because I wasn’t aggressive enough.  But they were having a yard sale all over the course.  I couldn’t get around them.  So then we were all together for a “bunch” sprint for the finish.  I ended up 3rd in the sprint and should have been 8th, but I guess they got me in 9th.  Lesson: always check the results.  Not like it matters, except for placement in the next race.

For a bumpy course with lots of turns I had a pretty good go at it.  Only getting stronger as the year continues.  Problem is the season will be over right when I hit my stride.  Still some fun races to though.

One of the best parts of the night was seeing one of my coaching clients score a 5th place in the B’s race, which had 92 people in it.  My other client finished his first race of the season a couple weeks ago in last.  This last one he got 50th out of 75 people.  Improvement….that’s awesome.

Below are a couple “artsy” photos of me.  One taken a couple weeks ago by Brent the Elder at Candlestick Park.  The other was a mistake when I was putting the iPhone back into my pocket.  Artistic, I know.  Lots of talent here.

stairs

Bike

Hardest Ever???

Hey, look at me. I’m actually going downhill.

I made the pilgrimage down to the land of the Banana Slugs and my old alma mater, UC of the Santa Cruz this weekend.  Ten years in one town is quite a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in da Cruz.  This is truly the land of cyclocross.  The surrounding hills and bluffs contain soft sandy soil that is perfect for your cross bike.  Yeah, mountain bikes work there, but the cross bike is so versatile.  Besides the Godfather of cross bikes sculpts his masterpieces there – Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster.

I had always wanted a Rock Lobster bike.  I remember catching a glimpse of one in the late 80’s.  Custom bike? What is that?  And green too?  Way cool.  So last year I approached Paul about joining one of the most prolific cross teams in the nation.  Paul’s sole focus is on cross and he produces.  So yeah, I was going to Santa Cruz last weekend to race and re-live old memories of college (well not all of those memories), but the real reason was to pay my homage to the Godfather.

I raced an occasional Surf City race before, but never at Aptos High School.  After taking a warm-up lap I determined that this course was the hardest I had ever been on.  Now I haven’t been doing this for 20 years, but I have ridden my fair share of race courses around the country.  I heard someone say there was 200 feet of climbing on each lap.  Not a ton for a roadie, but it is quite a bit for this linebacker.

I started in the back, then made my way further back on the first climb.  There were some great winding turns on the way down the mountain, a few crashes, lots of sand (which I love) and then turn around and go back uphill.  Boooo.  On the way down and up, there was a telephone pole across the road.  My mountain bike skills are Beanie Wells, not Todd Wells.  I couldn’t jump on the way down and when I tried to jump it on the way up….over the handlebars.  What!  I jumped it in warm-ups.  More uphill and I was just cruising to survive.  Then, some more uphill.  Okay I’ve had enough.  Tried to ride this stair section and crashed.  Then, for some strange reason or twist, there was more uphill.  Are you seeing a theme here?  And then it ended, thankfully.  Oh the agony!

Hey, look at me.  I’m actually going downhill.
Hey, look at me. I’m actually going downhill.