Sunday, June 29, 2008
Of course,we didn't get out till 9:00. Embarrassing to me, it was mostly my fault. Not only did I pull disability flop all the way to the ground twice, we had a nearly team wide switch from fixed gears to free wheels. Then when they were done, we had one more decision to switch bikes.
But spirits were high, and folks rallied a little action around the PSU ghettodrome. Before we new it, well 9:10 actually, we went through campus and descended 12th. Fourteenth Avenue through the Pearl and out back by Montgomery Park onto Highway 30.
In two tight easy columns, everyone pedaled with good form through town. One stand-out from the start was Ariel on a free wheel single speed with a couple of brakes. Her gear just a little bigger than all the choked back spinning road bike riders, left her able to lay on top of the gear as she finished up the longest ride of her career at right about ten AM.
Meanwhile the crew that was about to do the twelve miles around the island quick, were getting the perfect warm up now. Everyone spinning in a low heart rate out were hungry to hammer on Sauvies. New guys Paul Fleck and Kevin Stravers settled right in with their Team Captain, Alex Lightman as they all followed the examples of Cyclisme Vets O’Brien and Lanners.
Ariel kindly helped me shop out at the Punkin Patch for perfect peaches that we handed up to the paceline just a little underripe. the result was group that was working in sync at an easy but brisk pace of about 21mph.
Unfortunately, just when everyone was 2/3rds of the way around a big time-trial guy caught our crew. Though invited, he was not much for working with our line. Lanners and O’Brien were pretty restless as this guy dangled just 20 feet in front of our line.
Cagey Eric Lanners rotated the group just on the wheel of the hammering usurper for a while. After a time, Greg O’Brien led the group up and around the guy who welcomed the draft. Everywhere, the Cyclisme style was showing itself clearly.
In the island sprint, Greg and Eric took control. In amongst the Sauvies traffic everyone silently made their exit up the new bridge. The ride home saw more teamwork as all but the events began to crack, but with just 38miles or so, it was over before it was hot hot. Greg O’Brien and Eric Lanners made a great impression on all the newer riders. Their years of riding with Cyclisme were elegantly revealed.
Happy Birthday Danny O'Brien, and Frost and Melanie's "Marlowe."
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Deardorff surrounded by BBC, nipped them at the line for the win. Frost in an easier gear said "goodnight John-boy" to the ever famous Walton from River City.
Our supposedly off-the-charts-beginner Kristan Richardson cagyley pulled every trick in the book to hold on the pack, and did so all the way around the wall pedaling with one foot to become the crowd favorite.
But the news of the night, like a tsunami hitting a small country, was the men of Category 5 Cyclisme. Working for the team like an old school English house Butler, was team Star Alex Lightman. Blocking, and trapping, bridging, and towing, he was everywhere at the service of men who had previously been his domestiques.
Now in that world of wonder as Candi Murray overlooks his upgrade, he, and the coaching staff decided to flip the script on his role. It was genius.
Without super start Domestique (2nd in Cat 5 track BAR) Trevor Spahr, Justin Serna was able to rise up and take his place at the finish line in places like 2nd and 3rd.
Csaba, Paris, and Dave were the insurgent team that got the party started, going off early in search of a two man breakaway formation. In the first race Csaba went to turn and look back and see Dave W coming up. They exchanged and the race was on. Behind, Alex Lightman and Justin Serna were blocking, and marking, the Ironclad guy and the fastest guy out there in a grey t-shirt.
Danny and Dave just waited. Kevin in his first race ever got to have a blocked pack to struggle onto the back of.
Second race saw Paris with a cagey psycological move early up track that held the whole show in check. Rolling slow for the longest time allowed everyone to rest. This forced the opposition to go first where Alex had no choice but to follow them, and win. Dave scored high with Serna and Danny.
Grand was the finally that was the 3rd race, as a Alpenrose 6-lap mile allowed our 7 guys to control it from the start with an Italian Sprint. Every man for a lap, Paris then Kevin, then Csaba, then Danny, then Alex, then Serna then Dave saw Alex and Serna in 1st and 3rd place at the end, and the pack wondering what happened.
If Candi doesn't cat some of them up soon, I fear for the self esteem of our opposition.
Friday, June 20, 2008
In my 2 years with Cyclisme, the Short Track MTB series at PIR has become one of my passions. In part because I love riding and racing mountain bikes, and in part because the short race format suits my strengths. Prior to 2004, I had not raced a bicycle since 1987. 1987 was a crit series we held on the campus of Fresno State University. It was a blast. These were my formative years as a cyclist (beyond the wannabe BMX racer of my youth). I took a frame building course at FSU, taught by a wonderful tall lanky cyclist/jeweler named Ron Blanton. Ron learned from necessity, to build frames to fit his tall yet injured and inflexible body. The frame and fork I completed (Tange Prestige Cromoly) I still ride today, as my winter training fixie.
I watched the Coors Classic stage at the Presidio, and other pro races as they came through California. I bought used Phil Wood hubs, and had Ambrosio tubulars and old Camp Record on my road bike. We would try and climb the steepest stuff in the Sierra Nevada foothills that we could. We sprinted for city signs on every ride. We strived (and did) to hit 50 MPH on the old Avocet computers bombing down from Pine Flat Reservoir.
Then, one of my buddies from the frame building course let us in on a deal with a small bike company called "Specialized", who had a new bike they called the "Stumpjumper". I could not afford one, but we rode every weekend, with me on my entry level Diamondback MTB. These were the years even before the purple anodized stuff came out. The original Stumpjumpers were a very cool muted orange color, like you might see on a sweet handcrafted rig today.
We transitioned into MTB rides 3 times a week at Squaw Leap, hard ups, steep single track downs, crashes, broken parts. I was hooked. I left Fresno for back home in Daly City, got a job in South City and a new RockHopper. We rode a lot; Mt. Tam and the Peninsula mainly. Parts were upgraded, then the bike was upgraded, the trails were plentiful and fast. I met Deirdre in San Francisco, and in 1993 we married. On our honeymoon ( a 2 month cross USA drive) we spent 2 days in Moab with some epic riding.
After moving to Portland in 1994 I landed with a new job, and stopped riding for the most part. I commuted to work in Clackamas at times, and did infrequent MTB rides, but nothing serious. I fell into bad habits, drank a lot, and let my health go to crap. I got revitalized in 2004, and decide to try cyclocross racing. I loved it, and my bike love started anew. I got back into the MTB racing with a few XC races (Reehers, Mudslinger, Skibowl), and was hooked again.
Over these years, I've learned that I do best in the short (<1.5 hour) races. The ShortTrack MTB and cyclocross suit my skills well. 30-60 minutes, starting by just absolutely pinning it to get the holeshot, and then going as hard as humanly possible to hang in and maintain handling skills.
Last year in the ShortTrack at PIR I won my first race, the final one of the series. Cyclisme swept the series podium for the Sport 40+ category. We all got bumped up to Expert by the organizer, and now Chris and Tony are racing with Yakima Bike Vigilantes.
Look at the photos above and below. We have a history at the ShortTrack, and it's a history of winning. Line up in front, and give every ounce to being the first one to enter the first turn.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A 50 mile bike race in Blodgett, Oregon. I drove down on Sat with
Susan who solicited for a carpool through the bike mailing list. It
worked out well. She lives not too far away and she was good company.
We met my friends Sage and Brice at the informal campgrounds and
cooked and ate and slept. Except for me. There was a pomeranian
puppy mill close by and the shrieking and yapping carried on until 11
and started up again at 4:30. I don’t see how people can live
tolerating such noise pollution. And then there was a rooster
greeting the morning at 5 AM and then more neighborhood dogs taking
turns filling the small valley with a domesticated racket.
As we did our rolling start, my sleep issues were gone.
The weather was great. A little cool but I had a shirt which I easily
dropped at the first aid station. The four of us were enjoying the
ride together for the first third, and then Susan and I pulled ahead.
I was feeling good. At aid station #2, a fellow racer noticed that my
rear cog was loose. The lockring had loosened and then become cross
threaded. I tightened it a bit and then broke it completely. I was
now facing not being able to finish the last half of the race. I was
tired and couldn’t think straight. It made me think about pilots and
doctors and others who make many important decisions with little
rest. I’m sure conditioning helps but I’d much rather have a well
rested pilot/doc than a tired one. I made only bad decisions and had
trouble coming up with solutions. Some 20-something guy wrapped
electrical tape on the threads and it held for 14 miles! I couldn’t
get out of my saddle much and I had to be very gentle pedaling, but I
made it to aid station #3. There, there was the perfect spare wheel.
29er, single speed, 20 Tooth, disc brakes. It had a big knobby on it
and plenty of air. Since I was in the back of the pack and most
single speed racers are fast, I made the call that he had already
passed the aid station and was not in need of the wheel. I put my
name and cell # on my broken wheel and took off. His lock ring
loosened up as well but I was able to find a way to tighten it before
it messed up the threads.
I ate and drank at every aid station. Most people had camel-backs but
I just downed a bottle and refilled it at every aid station. I was
hungry once and I downed a big dose of maple syrup which I had
brought. It was great.
There were times which I wondered if my body would cramp up or
otherwise freak out and I would be unable to finish. Some parts were
great riding, but there was this stress of the unchartered territory
of going more than twice my record distance.
Susan and I finished together. I didn’t contest the finish. I was
indebted to her for waiting for me. I probably added at least 30
minutes to our 7 hour ordeal by my mechanical issues. And then it was
done. There was a mix up with me not being on the podium. I did come
in third in my category but there were only three of us. I was
disappointed not to have the picture of me on the podium but I’ll try
to be a big boy and not pout.
Thanks for the segue Csaba. Well, Csaba is correct, my luck did return at just the right moment. The flat I sustained during the race was not me first flat of the evening, in fact I had flatted on the ride out to PIR. At this point I firgured I would be ok because I had a spare tube, so I jumped on the MAX and fixed my untimely flat.
Fortunately I arrived to the track about forty five minutes early so I was still able to get my broken down old body warmed up. As this was just me second road race in many years the butterflys began to flutter. Due to my lack of fitness I told myself that I needed to just be patient today and see what unfolded at the end. Of course as the first little breakaway began to form I found myself latched on the back but after about two minutes I realized that that I was just not ready for this kind of intensity yet, so I sat up and drifted back to the group. At this point I reminded myself to just be patient. To my surprise the field reeled the five man break back in and we resumed business as usual. The race was just how I remembered it, if you can just stay in the top ten and survive the occasional attack it is not that difficult to be there at the end.
We were going through the first corner on approximately the fifth lap when I felt the rear of my bike began to feel a little loose. By the time we hit the new turn four I realized that it was happening again! I raised my hand and let everyone know that I was exiting the race and pulled to the side. I took a moment to scream like a baby that just had his toy taken from him. After pulling myself back together I thought I would go the back way through the track. To my surprise the gate was locked, so I figured I would just jump the fence and be on my way back to the start/finish line. I think jumping the fence with the jagged points of a chain link fence threatening to pierce my junk was the scariest part of the night. As I began to walk back, full of dissatisfaction at what might have been, I noticed that everyone was being flagged down and brought into the staging area, so I picked up my pace and asked the first guy that I could speak with what was going on, and he replied that they were neutralizing the entire field so that they could bring the ambulance on the course and exit safely.
My instincts kicked in, I ran back to my bag and quickly replaced my tube for the second time. I eagerly asked the promoter if it was ok for me to remain in the field as I had only missed a half of a neutralized lap. Jim response was the turn in my luck for the evening, with the injured rider swept up and on his way to places I would rather not talk about the raced resumed and once again I found myself patiently sitting near the front of the pack. At some point they rang the bell for the final prime lap but I did not hear it and unfortunately was not ready when everyone began to sprint for the extra points. At first I thought I may have been losing my mind because I heard three laps to go on two consecutive laps but later I had heard that they lost count, oopss! I stayed calm because I knew that I was a little crazy no matter what I heard. As the final lap bell sounded I made sure to stay out of the wind and in position on both the front and back straights, riding the outside on the front staight and on the inside on the back. As we rounded the final corner I had been eyeing a couple of guys that looked as if they had Hemi's for legs and thought I would mark these guys because most certainly one would be pulling the other to the line. Unfortuantely the Hemi legged men had nothing more than well dressed Yugo's for power trains. My eye caught another set of lycra clad gentleman moving up fast on my left so I jumped and made it on there train. As we passed under the bridge I waited and waited for my time at approx fifty meters to the line I thought it is now or never so I made my final jump and lo and behold I cleared the group of guys in front of me and surged for the line with what I hoped to be a top three finish. I did not finish third but I did finish fourth, accomplishing my own personal victory by just being patient and letteing the race unfold and then seizing my opportunity.
I hope to see more of Team Cyclisme at PIR in the near future.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
parking circle. I asked him if there was anything I could l do. He
had it more planned out than I ever do, so we agreed that we wouldn't
necessarily stick together.
I figured out about halfway through the race that I wasn't going to
get dropped. The situation revealed itself gradually. I figured out
that I liked most of the riders. Sometimes I have the opposite
opinion, for no good reason either way.
There was a bell lap and I saw Dave in full sprint mode, for a
stretch. Soon after that, I noticed he was percolating through the
pack towards me (in the back). He had a fresh glaze of sweat and
mentioned that the sprint took much out of him. He fell off the back
and I forgot to tow him back in for a moment. I think I actually
At the end, the pack was slowing down through the curves and I was all
bottled in. I don't have a strong sprint so I like to start early.
So I did. As I did my little breakaway, I forgot to invite Dave to
sit on my wheel. I'm not sure it would have helped. As expected, the
pack blew by me, but I passed someone. I'm sure track would help with
The clouds were great! Warlike, windy, with handfuls of rain being
thrown at us from time to time.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
did not win the race, but did not come in last, and I kept the rubber
It was wet. There were 16 of us in the pack for 13 laps. I do not
understand how the "hot" laps work. Could someone please explain?
I chased down a number of breakaways, including a sprint to the finish
line that I won that doesn't seem to have mattered. On a couple of
the breakaways, I ended up in a group of 2 to four riders. Before
long, I was stuck at the front. While I appreciated not having a
faceful of tire spray, I spent too much time at the front and didn't
seem to be able to do anything about it other than keep easing off
until the whole pack caught up. Maybe it was a drawback of my
benevolence, being the only rider sporting a rear fender, that made my
wheel so popular.
I decided that the race was really just the interval training that JB
was encouraging me to do, with a bit of traffic thrown in just to make
On the final stretch, I chose poorly in deciding which wheel to
follow. I got stuck behind a guy that wasn't holding his line very
well. I tried to get around him, but he wobbled at an inconvenient
moment, so I backed off rather than risk being taken out. A few
moments later, he nearly clipped the front wheel of the guy riding
next to me. At the final sprint, he was swerving back and forth so
much as he mashed his pedals that I had a long way to go to get around
him. A bit frustrating, but I suck at sprinting and was nowhere near
the front of the pack at that point, so no real harm done.
On a positive note, there was none or very little of the irritating
braking and yo-yoing that dominated the Piece of Cake road race.