• Race Report: Napa Valley Dirt Classic


    Race: Felt awful, then felt a bit better, didn't crash, and salvaged a tiny bit of pride.
    Food: Quinoa w/ Rice Milk, walnuts & brown sugar at home, coconut macroon on the drive, 200 calories of superstarch during the race, burger and shake on drive home.

    I'm not to happy with this race, and am ready to move on, so will give executive bullet point style.
      - Single lap course, 22 miles, rolling, lots of fun. Long horrible climb at the end.
      - Expected to be 10 min faster than my last race in 2012, based on last race, and how I've been feeling
      - Able to move from front to back at start, and go into the dirt about 8th out of the 60ish people in my wave; that was the best that race went for me.
      - Went backwards through the pack as if shot out of a canon
      - Got dropped -- way dropped -- and seriously considered quitting in first mile.
      - Settled into a rhythm, and just went to work passing folks for rest of the race.
      - Finally felt okay at mile 12.
      - Caught a lot of folks on the final climb where they walked and I grinded away in the granny gear.
      - Some caught me on false flat headwind into the finish - I couldn't hold on.
      - Finished 13th in my category.

    On the plus side, my goal was to finish 10 min faster in 2012 in similar muddy conditions, and although I came up short, I was about 5 minutes faster.

    Next dirt race: Boggs 8 hour on a 2 man team.  Need to do better to not let my partner down!

    - Mike Campbell

  • Race Report: Lake Sonoma XC Series, First Race - My First Dirt Race of '14

    TL;DR - first mtn bike race, huge tactical error, much suffering, then beer and burgers

    This was my first ever mountain bike race. I was pretty excited and drove up with Mike in his racing van which is actually quite awesome. I am now considering getting a minivan which is not something I thought would ever happen. I'm sure it will be great vehicle for kids, but it's even better for a bike racer.

    I know you're all thinking, we haven't seen you riding much, are you in shape to race?? The answer is... absolutely not... but, that hasn't really stopped me in the past and I really wanted to try out this mountain bike racing thing that all the kids are talking about. For this race I would be using my hardtail 29er. I'm pretty sure if I had Mike's cheater bike I would have lapped the field a couple times, but you do what you can with what you have...

    I had some granola with whole milk for breakfast and brewed some coffee for the car and away we went. On the way up I asked Mike a bunch of questions about mountain bike racing. He was very helpful and suggested I could probably out sprint most at the start and be in front when we hit the dirt. This would be advantageous as there weren't many places to pass on this course.

    So, when the sport class rolls out, I'm somewhere mid pack, maybe around 20th. I start accelerating up the small paved/gravel path leading up to the dirt. The people in front of me aren't going that hard, so I start passing people up through the middle of the pack. Eventually, I get a boxed in about 2 rows from the front, so I move around up the left side in the grass just off the path and hop back on the path in fifth right before we turn onto the singletrack. At this point, I could have easily moved up into first, but since I didn't know the course (and probably didn't belong that high up) I decided to be near the front, but hang back a few spots and follow the leaders.

    Surprisingly, I was able to hang with the 4 guys in front of me on the first descent and the first creek crossing. At this point, I'm a little winded but feeling good and trying to stay with the leaders who are setting a pace that is fast but manageable. Then, we hit the first set of switchbacks. At this point, I realized that those skinny little bastards in front of me could climb much faster than me. I pushed hard to stay with them not wanting to let them ride away from me this early in the race. I figured, I'll dip a bit into the red and recover on the next descent. Oh no.. the next descent is over a small rock garden, so not really the place to recover or rest. Then we have a couple creek crossings and you really need to focus to not stuff it in the crossing and to keep enough momentum to make it up the other side without getting off your bike. Then more up and down and more creek crossings.

    So now we're 20 minutes into the race, I've been red-lined since that first switchback and I'm pretty sure I'm going to quit the race after one lap when we get back around near the parking area (the sport class race is 3 laps). I feel sick to my stomach and can barely breath (lactic acid pooled in my stomach making me feel sick). I definitely should not have tried to stay with the faster guys. My plan to recover on the easier flatter portions of the course was not working. I came around one corner, had some trouble getting the bike to go where I wanted it to, hit a rock and nearly crashed. Then maybe 20 seconds later I had to put my foot down to avoid falling over. At this point I'm pretty sure I'm going to DNF and I think I should probably slow way down so I don't crash.

    I slow down and let faster riders pass me when they catch me. I start trying to just spin and keep moving while going slow enough to let my body try and recover. As I come around to the start/finish line and the end of lap 1 I decide that I should probably ride one more lap before I quit so I can see the parts of the course that I rode through in a haze (in case I race here in the future). I decide to go one more lap at the current relaxed pace and treat it like a fun ride out in the park. Maybe halfway through the second lap I start to feel more normal. Now that I'm not delirious, I start to up the pace a little, chasing some guys in front of me while keeping an eye on my HR to ensure I don't go into the red again.

    As I come around the finish of lap 2, I start to think if I quit now Mike is going to harass me all the way home and my wife will harass me until the next race. Eff it, I'm going to finish and I'll just keep it steady for the last lap. In the third lap, I start to slowly catch some of the people that passed me on lap 1 while I was dying. I'm feeling ok, so I attempt to pick off a few guys in front of me. I think I passed maybe 4 guys on that lap and finished mid pack completely exhausted.

    I finished 10th out of 18 in the 35+ sport category. I probably could have finished higher if I hadn't completely imploded in the beginning. Next time, I'll be a bit more reserved for the first lap or maybe preride the whole course so I know if there are places to recover or not.

    After the race I grabbed a beer to wait for Mike to finish his race (expert class does 4 laps). I finished my first beer as Mike was pulling in. We changed out of our kits and then grabbed some fresh burgers off the grill and another beer. I have to say, the beer and burgers after the race makes mountain biking pretty amazing. Office park crits could learn something from these mountain bike race organizers...

    So, overall, it was a fun day. I'm definitely going to try some more mountain bike races in the future. And, I'm going to start dieting again as a less fat Ryan is a faster Ryan.


    - Ryan

  • Race Report: Lake Sonoma XC Series - Expert Class

    GEYSERVILLE, CA – Mar 22, 2014

    Two line summary:
    Race: Surprised myself with the hole shot, had a silly crash, worked my way back to 5th.
    Food: Quinoa with walnuts, almond milk, and brown sugar at home, nothing on the bike, and BBQ after.

    The Lake Sonoma Series is one of the longest-running race series in the area. I did my first race on a similar course back in the late 90s when it was called the “wild woolies.”  The course isn’t the best one around (it is pretty loose and has a lot of tricky off-camber corners, with steep, short creek crossings), but it does have a great vibe. It is a true local MTB race, no race license required, and the entry fee gets you fresh BBQ burgers, salad, cookies, and Lagunitas beer on tap at the finish line.  It has become a fund-raising event for the NorCal High School MTB League, so that’s an added plus.  This was going to be my first dirt race of the season, so I didn’t have much ambition, but thought if I had the legs I should be in the top third. My goal was to beat my 2:00h time from 2012.  (Ryan Tool went to the races with me, and it was his first race on dirt. He had a solid ride in the sport class -- I'll let him tell his own story of suffering.)

    The course starts with an uphill gravely paved road for about a quarter mile, that gradually increases the grade as it nears the top, then the course turns 90 degrees left and heads down a bit of a loose descent, with a few sweeping and rutted corners.  It then quickly climbs back up some steep switchbacks before rolling through a high speed rock garden. Then it does the majority of the downhill which has some fun parts, but has the flow interrupted by quick stream crossings that are technical and require plunging into a ravine and pedaling out (having the right gear selected on the entrance is key).  The course pretty much goes up and down, without anything particularly sustained.  Each lap was a little under 5 miles, and my Expert category was slated to do four.

    As a local race, there were no age categories, so the Pro/Expert/Singlespeeders all went off as a big bunch (probably 30 or so in the field).  I lined up in the second row, in the middle of the road.  At the gun everyone takes off, and I manage to stay in the second row easily while seated. My new bike has a remote lockout that allows me to switch from five inches of travel front and rear, to almost rigid (with a middle setting that has a firm suspension with slightly reduced travel) – and it was switched into full lockout for the start.  I quickly found myself in fourth position, and as the road started to increase in pitch, I stood up and kept my speed as others seemed to slow.  So I thought, “fuck it, I’ll go for the hole shot.” I put in ten hard pedal strokes, and took the lead, then clicked into full suspension mode with my left side lever, and with the lever on the other side dropped my seat so I could lean the bike harder in the corners.

    I wish there was a photographer at the start. I bet my face had this “what the heck is happening?” look on it. I had no expectation of running at the front.  But now I was there, riding at my redline, and I figured I’d just hold it as long as I could.  I knew that there were very few passing opportunities for the next mile, but a lot of places to make a mistake. It was great to be in the front so I could pick my line, see stuff coming up, and have zero dust.

    At the switchbacks, I’d look back and see what was happening. I was at my max, but at two minutes into the race it looked like there were six riders close behind, and another pack of ten off a small gap. Into the rock garden and I hear mayhem as some riders clearly weren’t patient and tried inopportune places to pass. I also heard one fellow have a blowout.  Good, one more person to slow up traffic behind me.

    As I was on my limit, I tried to stay focused and not miss a turn in one of the loose off camber sections.  The confidence from my full suspension bike with the dropped seat felt a bit like cheating, especially as on the short risers I could make my bike like a hard-tail.  Before the end of the first main downhill, the trail opened up a bit at one of the technical sections, and I didn’t ride it cleanly.  In a flash two pro riders zipped around me and I watched them smoothly roll away. No sweat, I just kept at my pace.  Besides, that pace was not something I could increase if I’d tried.

    I was about 15 seconds behind the two pros when a few minutes later on a mild and short downhill that was side-cut into the hillside so it was off camber.  Going into I thought “loose here, off camber, take it easy.”  Then, of course, I lost my front wheel and went down hard.  Figures.  I was still hypoxic from my effort, and was a bit out of it when I stood up.  Three riders passed me after I was standing up and dusting myself off (dammit, I was pulling away from them!), and another two passed me while I was pushing my brake levers back into position and straightening my bars. Nothing injured other than a few bruises and a scrape on the knee though, so I kept going. I lost a few more places as I got back into a rhythm, and kept twisting my control levers so that they would be within reach.

    This report, like all race reports, is too long … so I’ll truncate.

    For the rest of the race, I slowly reeled in a few folks, generally picking up places where the trails got steepest, or on prolonged downhill sections where I could relax and let the bike do the work.  On the last lap the leaders were a few minutes up, and by the bottom of the main descent it seemed like there were two riders about 50 seconds ahead.  Every time I’d get a spot where I could see them, I realized that I was reeling them in.  With a mile left, the two ahead were only 15 seconds up, and there is a steep loose section to the finish that I seemed to be able to get up better than most (the lockout didn’t hurt). I put it into the big ring and tried to power up the hill.  The two were battling with each other, and had both settled into their positions. Their body language showed they were spent.  Unfortunately, I caught just as it went into single track, and I decided to not bang bars with anyone, hoping that it would widen out enough before the 30 yards to the finish line for me to jump around.  It didn’t. I don’t know if they counted me as getting in front of one of them at the line or not.

    All in all, a fun race.  A hole-shot I didn’t expect, a pace higher than I thought I could hold, and 5th place. I also finished about 20 min faster than my race in 2012, so that was nice.  Part of the higher speed was the temperature was 20 degrees lower, though. It was perfect for racing, sunny and about 60 degrees.  The races later in the season will be between 80 and 90.

    Next race: Napa Valley Dirt Classic, April 6, in Anguin, California. This is a fun event, a single lap, 30 mile romp through chaparral forests, which a monster climb at the end that is like El Toyonal, but steeper, and on dirt.  The course is better than Sonoma XC, but as it is held on a Seventh Day Adventist college campus, there won’t be a keg at the finish line.

  • Race Report: Bariani Road Race - Elite 3


    Two Sentence Summary:
    Race: PASS – no real problems in the bunch, active in last 20 miles, made the split, botched the sprint.
    Post-Race Meal(s): AWESOME – cold beers & Mexican buffalo meat tacos minus the tortilla from my Tupperware + chocolate soy milk.

    As it happened
    This was probably the most fun and put together Cat 3 road race I’ve ever done.  I often find Cat 3 races to be incredibly negative, with everything chased down for no reason, which leads to pretty low average speeds.  Not this time.  As I rolled up to the start line, I reminded myself this was my first proper road race in who knows how long (Leesville in 2012?) and I was racing Pass/Fail, so no silly stuff!  Sean W. and Mark D. were with me representing the EBVC.

    The Race started in the early morning light for 70 miles (five laps) on the flat to moderately rolling terrain north of woodland by the 505.  I was happy to see that the wind was moderate, and the forecast was for a warm day. Although I started out with my teeth chattering, that stopped as soon as we made the left turn onto the course with a cross tailwind and some riders started to attack.  After the initial flurries, four riders with the right mix got away, and then their teammates started to set false tempo on the front. I think our field was about 30% squadra, and they were pretty effective at neutralizing efforts by others to escape.

    One the second to last lap, the group reeled in the Alto Velo rider from the break, as we entered the cross-tailwind section (and also the finish line drag).  I thought the race might split, so I stayed near the front and jumped on a few attacks that looked like they had a chance, but squadra did a good job of reeling them all back.  I was a little nervous about burning matches, so I went back into back third of the pack to stay out of the wind, only moving up to the top 10 for the three technical corners over rough pavement and gravel so I wouldn’t have to sprint hard to stay with the group.

    At the start of the last lap, we caught another breakaway rider, and I moved up to the front expecting more attacks.  Three riders went off before the turn into the finishing straight, and they seemed to be working pretty well together.  They had a Sacramento Wheelmen rider it, and three Sac Wheelment in the main bunch tried to block on the front.  I rolled off the front a few hundred meters after the turn onto the tailwind section, got a bit of a gap, and then started to put my head down. One other rider bridged up to me, and then we worked in earnest, and caught the group in front of us to make a group of five.  I looked back and we had a decent gap on the field, and worked well together – we put our heads down and hoped to catch the two up the road.  But there was a reaction from the peloton and I could see it was stretching out.  At this point, although I was having fun, technically, this would be a “fail” as I was not where most of the riders were in my race.

    After my next pull when I went to the back I was surprised to see our group had swelled from five to about 18 – and they all were pretty motivated, with a decent rotation.  A few folks were starting to open gaps, but nobody was dropped, and my right calf was starting to cramp.  But with such a decent sized group, at least I was more comfortably in the “pass” category again.

    To wind up this long-winded saga, we turned into the final straight, the two escapees were maybe 100 yards up the road, and the cooperation fell apart.  I pulled through my turn at the beginning of the straight, and when I pulled off, nobody came around. I put myself in the left gutter (the cross-tailwind was from the right) and waited for somebody to come around, but I was still pulling a reasonable tempo and I was starting to get nervous.  There were multiple attacks, swirling across the road, and I was able to keep jump and get on to them, although I was using up my matches quickly. I totally screwed up though, when the group seemed pretty tired from their accelerations and was slowing on the righthand side of the road. I thought we were 500 meters out (turns out we were about 1300), and I attacked hard from the back, all the way on the left hand side of the road.  There was a hesitation and I did get a bit of a gap, but I totally crapped out, and when the group caught me, they kept on going.  I took another dig and tried to stay on, and failed.  Riders started to crack though, and I passed a few in the final few hundred meters … for a “Passing” 18thplace. I think if I wasn’t a dummy I could have pulled out something more, but hey, I had a great day on the bike and managed to stay out of an ambulance.

    Post Ride – a true race highlight, though, was rolling back to the van to find Dean and Andrew sitting in folding chairs under the shade of the tailgate, enjoying frosty brews that Dean had brought.  After sucking down my chocolate milk and having a few bites of avocado, I sank into my folding chair with a good microbrew and enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories.  Sean, Lucas, and Mark enjoyed pizzas made on site by some artisanal truck thing, and they looked pretty damn tasty.

    Next Race: Lake Sonoma XC on Saturday. Time for some laid back local dirt (keg chilled and tapped on the finish line!)

    - Mike Campbell


    Well I think there's only a shortish version...

    Yoghurt and granola and a latte before loading the Moto up for the drive.

    2 - Picky bars while warming up

    3 - Roctane gels during the race and a bottle and a half of Pomegranate Cytomax.

    The photographer in me had to shoot the start of the first race.  Great to see Sean and Michael on the start line!  Lining up next to Sean  I saw the break happening when Vataley and Nick Kregger moved to the front of the field before the start went off.  Uh oh!  No way was I one warmed up enough for that nor do I know my fitness lever for playing in a break...  Good choice to just sit in and enjoy the ride.  Nothing eventful very smooth day no crashes easily moved around wherever I want to be.  Then just before the last lap when it was time to think strategy then BOOM the rear tire was flat in an instant!  Day done…. I was on tubulars so I was able to ride the flat very slowly until thankfully the neutral car from the P1/2's came by and gave me a wheel.  The recover pizza (1/2 mushroom and pesto and 1/2 sausage and green olive) and beer was so needed!  Thanks Dean!!!  Recovery mode on the Moto on the way home wasn't ideal but it sure made the traffic on 80 getting to the bridge a piece of cake!

    Trying to pull of Chico Stage Race this weekend.  Will have to be the E'3's because the one day I have of work this week is Friday 😪   Other than that Turlock in two weeks for the 35+ 1/2/3's!  Depending on how that goes maybe Santa Cruz on Sunday.  Haven't raced there since 89 or 90!

    - Mark Dawson


    My report falls somewhere between Mike's and Mark's.

    The short version: Finished in the remnants of the field, 31st out of 50 starters. No arrhythmias, no bonking, no flats, no crashes. I think that's a pass?

    Some details: Breakfast was a Denny's Grand Slam (scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes) with OJ and decaf. I thought I was going to be able to get to the course in time for a nice long warmup, but as it turned out, I only had about 10 minutes on the trainer (thanks Ken!). This was worrisome not so much in terms of my legs, but my heart - the arrhythmia problems I've been having almost always happen in the first hour, and seem to be related to warmup. One thing in my favor was the lack of wind - I've never seen it so calm in Zamora - and so I knew that there was a chance that the race would not be too hard in the early going.

    I haven't done a road race this long since… I don't know when. Several years. So my other worry was bonking - I stuffed my pockets with about 4 gels, 1 Power Bar, and two packs of Clif Bloks. Plus two bottles of PowerBar Endurance drink. I had one banana just before rolling up to the line. (As it turned out, during the race I ate 3 bloks total, plus 2 gels, and drank both my bottles. That Grand Slam really served me well!) It was nice to line up with a couple of teammates. The race itself you've heard about from Mike and Mark - Mikey was staying near the front at the beginning of the race, while Mark and I hung back and conserved ourselves and got warmed up. Although there were the early attacks, the field was content to let the four breakaways go, so it was pretty easy to sit in in the field, given the lack of any really nasty crosswinds.

    This year's course was different from the last time I raced Bariani / Zamora. There was one road in particular that was both really narrow and really torn up. The race organizers had gone out and spray painted bright green paint around the worst of the potholes and crevices, and that helped a lot, but you had to pay really close attention. There was no center line on this road, and we were taking up the whole thing, which really amounted to only a little more than one real lane anyway… It definitely added some character to the race - this section really had that "spring classic" kind of feeling. One other note - I think it was on our fourth lap, on this particular section of the course, Ron Reade and a fellow breakaway rider from the 45+ 1/2/3 race, which started 5 minutes after us, came through our field yelling at us "Left! Left! Move over!" but unfortunately it was really crowded, and we entered the most chewed up and gravelly corner in the midst of all this. It took quite a while for them to actually get through. Shortly thereafter, on the next road that had a centerline, their entire field came past us like we were standing still, partly because the motos were neutralizing us… Ron told me after the race how pissed he was that neither of the motos would help his break get through our field.

    Anyway, our race only really got hard as we started the second to last lap, when some riders decided it was time to bring back the break. I was still near the back of the field, so did not immediately realize when Mikey got away with one of those groups. But as we went through the start-finish area I was moving up a bit as things were getting fast, and it was apparent that more Squadra guys were going to chase the bridge group which was by then up the road several hundred meters, I thought, "Where's Mike? I'm sure he was in front of me - Oh! He's up there!" Then four more riders from the field attacked to try to get across to Mike's group, gaining about 100 yards on the field. One big guy from Raley's VW jumped to get up to them, and I was on his wheel in a flash. The big guy died after a very half-hearted effort, so after looking back and realizing it was just me that had followed, I went around him and put my head down, and got across to the four without totally exploding. But they didn't seem committed, and I needed to rest. It wasn't long before the field was back up to us. The attacks continued, I was still trying to recover, and a couple of small groups got away, and apparently these are the ones that coalesced with Mikey's group later in the lap.

    At that point, the remainder of the field was content to just ride out the last lap, and after we made the last turn (2km to the finish) we were chatting about the merits of sprinting for 25th place…

    I don't know which part of the aprés race was better, the pizza or the beer. There was as Mike mentioned an artisanal (sorry Dana!) pizza truck firing up wood-oven pizzas to order, with that nice, thin, blistered crust. I had one with prosciutto and pine nuts, and it was excellent with the ice-cold West Coast IPA provided by Dean (thanks Dean - I will make a note to race with you more often!).

    A final food note: I bought a small bottle of Bariani olive oil as a show of support for the race sponsors - they had a little stall set up in the warehouse. Haven't tried it yet, so that report will have to wait.

    - Sean Williams

  • Race Report: Ward's Ferry RR Masters 35+ Cat 4

    Ward’s Ferry RR is a 70km road race consisting of 4 laps on a partially closed circuit out by Sonora. It’s got a total of about 1550m (5000ft) of climbing that comes from a number of small climbs throughout the circuit and one 6km undulating climb that has the gently uphill finish line somewhere in the middle. It’s definitely not a pure climbers race because there is very little steady climbing, some shallow sections that favor the powerful, and some screaming downhills that require good descending skills to stay in the mix.


    Short version:

    breakfast: Cereal medley with berries, yogurt & milk, half a banana, orange juice, hotel room coffee maker coffee.
    pre-race: Half a Bru bar, SIS isotonic sports gel/drink, 2 sportlegs capsules
    race: 5th of 31 in M35+ 4
    post-race: chocolate milk, ½ banana, half a muffin, leftover cereal medley with berries, yogurt & milk, rest of the OJ (basically anything I could get my hands on)
    lunch: Giant veggie burrito, wet style, chips, and a Bohema at Cocina Michoacana in Oakdale

    This is a great race. It’s some varied terrain that tests you in lots of different ways and tends to make for great racing. Last year I made it into the lead group of about 12, but got tailed off and didn't figure in the finish. This year I was determined to do better.

    A good sized group lined up for our 8:25 am start, and while it originally seemed like a bummer that there was no 45+ Cat 4 field (only this 35+ /4 ), having a nice sized field was the upside of having to duke it out with the younger guys. From past experience I knew that in spite of the early morning chill that had a lot of guys in arm warmers and even some vests, we'd be plenty warm pretty soon, so I was just wearing my new Jakroo kit, not even sporting a base layer. That turned out to be the right move as folks were either sweating it out or messing with taking things off soon into the race.

    There were a couple of regulars from other road races that I recognized in the group. Alan Berardo the guy who won Early Bird RR after blowing past me on the descent, Tim Joyrun, John Ensign the guy I chased through the valley of despair at Pine Flat RR, and Angus Murray a CA Technologies guy I'd raced against a number of times.

    The opening laps were uneventful except for the guy who went into high speed wobbles on the very first descent (Alan said he'd had that happen when really cold so maybe shivering plays into the the shimmying), and shouts of 'Peacock!' at the bottom of the second descent as a 6' long peacock (3 ft bird, 3 feet tail) sauntered across the road just in front of the group. Alan, who is a really good descender, started lighting up the downhills, at one point stringing everyone out into a line even as he was nonchalantly stuffing arm warmers in his pocket. I'm sure that between the ups and downs we shed a good third of the group in the first couple laps, but I was up in 5th wheel or so and not paying much attention to what was going on at the back. Tim, Alan, Angus and a couple Raley's guys, one Kovarus guy, one big sprinter and and two small climbers were the general makeup of the front of the bunch.

    After the first descent of the third lap, in a medium climbing section, a move from Alan, Angus and some other guy went hard. A blue guy (Raley's I think) came around to chase and as I jumped on his wheel and shifted up I dropped my chain high side and took a second to get it back engaged. I won't say that if I'd been able to jump with the blue guy that together we could have caught the escapees, but maybe just maybe. As it was we managed to split off a chase group of about 10, including most of the aforementioned riders, and now had to decide what to do. One guy kept saying “let them dangle, they'll tire themselves out" but I knew Alan had taken a move like that all the way to the finish at EBRR and wasn't so sure. To make matters worse, I wasn't really clear if there were two or 3 guys up ahead (D'oh, should have just asked someone).

    We chased medium hard, always keeping a pair of them, Alana and the CA guy, in sight, but only once close enough for me to contemplate a never launched solo bridge. I did my bit to keep the climbing fast and the downhills ripping; only the sprinter guy was able to do the same descending pace which surprised me since amongst our club I'm not exactly a fast descender. The Raley's rider and the Kovarus rider did most of the hard work on the flats and gentle rises. Somewhere in second half of the last lap Alan distanced the guy he was with and things started to get confusing. We were picking off a lot of stragglers from other fields and occasionally in my oxygen deprived confusion I'd think we were coming up on the escapees only to find out it was somebody from another race.

    At 1km to go there is a small but leg breaking rise and our group started to jostle about. I got a bit boxed in so did not come to the top of it in the best position and had had to dig deep at the top to get around some folks. A little pooped, I grabbed a wheel and tried to get a breath before the final 200m uphill sprint to finish. Unfortunately we were coming up on all sorts of guys and they all decided to join in the sprinting fun. Unbeknownst to me we had also caught Angus the CA guy from the 3 person break (the other two finished solo well ahead of us). I went with everything I had from around 150m but could not catch the guy just in front of me, who in turn could not catch the CA guy so positions 3,4,5(me) came across within a bike length.

    With all the confusion and hypoxia I thought I was more like 7th and who knows they may have screwed up the results. We'll probably never know because even though I cooled down on road and rollers, went back to hotel to shower and have a snack out by the pool, packed up and checked out; the results were still not there when I went back to the race. They were giving out prizes to folks on the honor system, but I had no idea if I was in the money (or rather t-shirts) so just gave up on waiting and headed home.

    Now for the good stuff.....

    On the way though Oakdale (scene of the very bad Javi's Mexican and Raley's pseudo-Peet's post Knight's Ferry debacle) I noticed a quite packed Mexican restaurant called Cocina Michoacana and figured that would be my target for the way home. It did not disappoint. Not only do they have a vegetarian burrito that already comes stuffed with guacamole and served wet style, but the beer selection includes my preferred Mexican beer Bohemia:

    Obviously it was an attractive choice because halfway through my meal another post race pair pulls in and it's Chris Williams who was at my hotel along with a junior who won the Cat 5 race. A burrito as big as my head, a Bohemia, and some folks to chat about the race with. Quite a nice way to end a successful day out on the bike.

  • Race Report: Snelling M35+ 1/2/3


    Starbucks grande triple shot latte
      Ham and Cheddar Artisan Breakfast Sandwich
      Core bar warming up

      2 bottles of pomegranate berry Cytomax
      2 Roctane gels


    Short Version:

    Woke up, raced my bike got 30th


    As most of you know I don't write, but what the heck here goes.

    Long Version:

    I did a recon lap Friday evening and felt like crap and I was worried about getting dropped on the first lap and tucking tale and getting out of there with some sort of story about the rear wheel I had just built up with used nipples...  Figured it would be good to get some food in town and a beer or two to build the courage or deaden the reality of getting dropped on small rollers in really my first 35+ fast guy race since coming back to racing after sooooo many years off.  The chile relleno  at the taco shop with black beans and rice along with a bottle of Dogfish Head seemed to do the job.  I figured one more beer at the public house was in order since one is good, two must be better!  Dang that place was cold and so was the stout I had.  Neither was good!  Back to Motel 6 to mount the Contour camera under the seat and lay out some kit for the AM.  Happily this time around I packed two jerseys!!  I was having a bit of flash back mojo moment wondering if Ken's size medium ff jersey was key to a decent race.  The new Jakroo kit would have to do (I love it BTW).  Up at 5:45 to pack the moto and hit Starbucks across the street.  I was a little late so I got a small warm up and promptly dropped my iPhone (in a case) at the start line and cracked the front glass.  Grrr, not a good way to start the day!  It was a little chilly on the neutral roll out as I opted for minimal layers as the day looked to get warm.  Good choice as when we hit the course we were rolling quite well and the temps were coming up.  Made the first lap and the day started looking better.  Made the second lap and started thinking what needed to happen if I was to make the third lap.  Oh crap third lap down, but wait crash in the right turn starting the 4th lap.  I was at the back so everybody was getting up off the ground and moving bikes I found a hole on the left side shoulder of the road in way to big a gear and motored through the soft sandy shoulder.  I Pinned it and got back on rolling up the hill.  Phew!!  Decide it was time to start thinking about finishing this thing so I started making my way towards the pointy end of the group (not all the way mind you) when Lucas comes rolling by and give me a pat on the back and says hi.  Towards the end of the 4th lap I get pushed a bit to the outside in a sandy turn and wind up in the torn up edge of a driveway.  No worries back on towards the back again...  The pace was high on lap 4 not horrible but fast (my upload early I had the KOM for the lap).  So I'm on the back getting through start finish and suffering a bit on the roller on the start of the last lap.  I got gapped by some guys getting dropped and I almost called it a day, but looked down at the HR monitor and I had plenty of room to go.  No way after making it this far was I going to get dropped.  I cracked it hard over the top of the roller and found the last wheel.  After 5 seconds of recovery I decided it's still not a good place to be so I hit it one more time up the right to make it mid field and comfortably in a good draft to recover.  I did all I could do to recover until the end of the climbs and onto the right turn onto Los Cerritos Rd.  Now I had to find some position with 5k to go.  Wound up mid field up to the last small climb and boom carbon deep wheels and crashing on the far left of the road happily on the right, I was able to find some holes and keep moving up.  Up ahead is Chris Phipps, boom that's my wheel.  3k or so to go I'm on him.  A few gaps open and theres one guy between Phipps and myself thinking thats all good!  1k to go not a bad spot to be on the outside, well up the field on with 500M to go.  We tipped into the bumpy outside line and on the exit the guy in front of me droops the chain off the big ring I have nowhere to go and the momentum is going quickly.  Squeak by the left side and as the legs are revolting I hit it hard again at this point to just see how i'd do 'sprunting' at the end of a 65 mile RR.  Got quite a few guys back but really lost quite a few places on the exit of the last turn.  Turns out as I was packing the moto up I yelled to Lucas to say hi and it was he that lost his chain in front of me.  He also make a comment about switching teams to have teammates in a race finally, and they all crashed...  Bummer for both of us, but a great day all in all!

    Post race:

    In-and-Out Double Double with well done fries and a Dr. Pepper.   I inhaled that thing so quickly I almost got another.

    Back in Castro Valley a quick recover beer and Christy comes back from a ride and says I could have gone for another hour.  You know, so could I!  We rolled up Cull Canyon mellow and I was feeling quite good so as we made the turnaround I cracked it again.  She was able to sit on my wheel until the last 500M and I wound up with  a Strava 4th overall on the way back in.  An even better day!!

    Followed by another recovery beer and a big mess of BBQ at Famous Dave's

    ~94 miles for the day and feeling good!

    I can't wait for the next races!!  Grasshopper next week, Spring Classic after that, then Bariani RR, and Turlock Lake RR :-)

    - Mark Dawson

  • Race Report: Pine Flat Road Race M45+ 4/5

    “A small victory, a Large defeat”

    Pine flat RR is a 100km point to point road race with about 1300m (4300ft) of climbing, mostly packed into a big climb in the last 30km and a punishing 110m finishing climb.

    Short version:

    breakfast: Gluten Freda granola with bananas, yogurt & milk, half a pint of orange juice, double strength hotel room coffee maker coffee.
    pre-race: Half a clif bar, SIS isotonic sports gel/drink, 2 sportlegs capsules
    race: 3rd of 11 in M45+ 4/5 (they started some 35+’s and other fields with us as a group and I was 5th out of the 20+ in that larger group)
    post-race: chocolate milk, banana
    lunch: Giant veggie burrito, chips, and a Cerveza Modelo at Chipotle in Fresno

    Long version:

    Pre-reg had been really light for the M45+ 4/5 field. We had 28 in the field in 2013, but this year pre reg was in the single digits by the time online closed. Can’t really figure out why. It’s a beautiful course, one of the few where you don’t have to do a bunch of laps, and the climbing is really no more than we do in an average 100km ride around here. All I can think of is folks were scared by the possibility of rain. At line-up we found that they had decided to combine our M45+ 4/5s with a couple really small 35+ fields so we had at least a decent size group to ride/race with.

    As with last year I decided to ignore the morning chill and rolled out dressed pretty light. Once again it was a good decision because the day turned out to be absolutely beautiful and guys who wore vests and arm warmers were either shedding them quickly or sweating and suffering.

    The first hour of out and back along the rim of the lake was moderate pace with a few surges here and there on the rollers, but nothing threatening to break things up or seriously tire people for that matter. We did have one interesting fellow, a big hulking guy, charge off right after the turnaround. It looked like a classic ‘sprinter trying to get some distance before the base of a climb’ move so we let it go and sure enough, shortly into the only real rise in this section we caught back up with him. Then at the top, off he went again! We weren’t to see him again for quite a while. Otherwise things seemed quite manageable in this section and I was happy to feel like my legs were in good shape and responding well to the rollers and small surges.

    After the out and back along the lake, the course crosses the start point (time to jettison my extra bottle), takes a nice fast but not really technical drop, and then heads out into the agricultural flats for a while. In our field there was one guy, Alan Bernardo, that I knew from Early Bird RR (he was 2nd at the summit turnaround and passed me on the downhill before I flatted), and two guys from Computer Associates in my field who seemed strong. One of the CA guys did a fair bit of work up front so I was keeping my eyes on the other guy.

    A couple guys from the other fields also worked up front and I kept myself around 5th wheel or so. The plan had been for me to take it really easy and stay super hidden for the first 70k, but I just find it hard to ride back in the pack. Alan played it pretty cagey and stuck further to the back of the group. I only saw him when I drifted back to take a pee. Unfortunately there was no moto ref to pace me back up to the group this time and there was a lot more wind, so It was an actual chase to get back to the pack after my rolling nature break. (Dana, have you yet penned a dissertation on the psychology of chasing ? - it seems a fascinating type of sustained mental & physical anguish)

    We had caught the big sprinter guy again at around 50km and he spent some time lobbying folks to join him in another escapade. Said he was a retired stockbroker who rode 400 miles a week and could time trial like hell. He proposed 80/20 split on the work and even accepted someone’s counter of 85/15. In the end nobody went with him when he took off yet again. Some time later I realized I should have gone with him to get a ways ahead so I could have taken a leisurely nature break without all that chasing back on.

    Things seemed pretty under control into the early stages of the main climb and while the little cheat sheet I’d made said it started around 70km:

    and a number of folks literally said goodbye around there, the only guy we lost was a strong younger rider who unfortunately flatted right at the turn that begins the climbing section. Not long after that we caught the big sprinter guy again and I gave him pat on the back for yet another gutsy, though doomed, move.

    As things started to get steeper the group came unglued and Alan, who’d come up from the back as we hit the 70km point, started to make his move, as did the CA guy I’d been marking. Another guy, John Ensign from the Folsom Bike/VW/Raley's team, also came to the fore and along with a couple of the younger guys, we had a posse. I managed a few back and forth’s with John the Raley’s guy but then he, Alan, and and two guys from other fields got some distance on me. That puts me in 3rd in my category, ok, not bad, maybe I can live with it, maybe I can do better. Then the CA guy passes me, now I’m in 4th and that’s not OK, that’s bad, and so the battle is on. I’ve never really tried attacking a rider on a climb, but this was a case where it probably wasn't going to be so much what I had in the tank, but how I used it. I put in a dig and got past him, he countered but might have gone too deep, because I dug again and got enough of a gap that I could hold it to the top.

    Up to that point I’d felt OK. Breathing hard but not absolutely heaving, HR near max (186), though not quite there (189),  but crossing the top of the main climb both my quads went zing and all but seized. What a bizarre time for them to cramp! Now I’ve got 4 guys ahead of me (all strung out), and a few guys behind me possibly in striking distance, and my legs won’t work. Luckily it’s a fast, then more gradual downhill from the top of the climb so there’s a bit of break and a chance to spin the legs out, but it’s still looking like a shitty run through Lucas’s “Valley of despair” and I’m not sure what to do: A) Chase like hell to try to catch Raley’s guy who I can see up ahead, but risk full cramp up? B) Sit up and wait for whomever I can just see behind me (and can't tell how many there are of)? C) punt and just ride as hard as I can without seizing and see what happens?

    Yup, C, punt. It seemed I could just manage to keep John from Raley’s in sight, sometimes closer, sometimes farther, the guy[s] behind me far enough away, and my legs close but not over the edge; at least I could for a while. Maybe 5km from the finish, 3km from the finishing climb, it was clear I wasn’t going to catch John on my own and that the guy or guys behind were going to catch me. It was amazing how quickly after that realization it was that they guys were on my wheel. It was the CA guy from my field and another strong guy from a different field. Now we had a bit of a chess game to work out. First item was to figure out if we were actually chasing John, or just riding our own race to the finish (there was nobody behind out group as far as I could see) .

    A couple quick rotations and desultory accelerations made it clear that we were not catching the now somewhat agglomerated leaders (I think Alan soloed to the win) so now it was between the 3 of us. At 1km to go it really starts to kick up and it was pretty clear that CA guy was not going to be able to hang, but the other guy was a wildcard. I waited until about 200m to go and then gave it everything I had to successfully ride him off my wheel. Unfortunately while 200m is a long but potentially manageable distance to go from on a flat finish, it’s a loooong ways to go from on an uphill finish and I hadn’t made that adjustment. I kept it out of the saddle and at my max all the way to the line and wasn’t looking back in the last 25m or so but I guess the guy was closing because his buddies were shouting him on and I don’t think he was that far behind by the time I hit the line. The CA guy came in after him for 4th in our field, 6th overall.

    There’s a half hour easy roll down from the finish and then back along the lake, and that’s one of the things I like best about this race. It’s a great chance to roll along and chat with the guys you were just duking it out with, and finally have a chance to take in what  beautiful setting it is for a race.

    While it was exciting to sort of get a podium spot, the real victory was simply making it through a race without a mishap. Starting with Wente last year things have not been going that well in races for me with flats, mechanicals, people crashing me out, etc., so just to ride well all the way to the end of the race was in and of itself a small victory. And since I did technically podium in my field, there was that share of the $25 prize pot waiting! Unfortunately we were one of the final fields and hanging around the reg table waiting for them to certify our results I watched the last of the Medium t-shirts go (the Smalls were already long gone) and so ended up Largely defeated in the wearable prize category (shown with one of my normal t-shirts superimposed):

    It’s a pity too because the graphic (though not necc. the t-shirt color) is kinda alright. When will they figure out that the majority of cyclists are skinny folk and adjust their prize shirt orders so they don’t end up with these heaps of Larges after every event (they literally had an 18” stack of Larges left at the end of the day)

    Post-race I was not in the mood to chance another mexican mishap like after Knight’s Ferry so dialed up directions to the nearest Fresno Chipotle and had a quite passable burrito the size of my head and a refreshing Modelo beer (no Bohemia there either).

    - Ken Cluff

  • Race Report: Knights Ferry Road Race M45+ Cat 4

    As in 2013, the M45+/4 race was 2 laps of a 30 mile out and back course totaling about 95km / 59 miles). Rolling hills and a short uphill finish. Our field of 38 rolled out at 12:15 ( Mark’s 35+ Cat 3 race was already on course by this time )

    Short version:
    Breakfast: Cereal medley with apple, yogurt and berries, 1 cup coffee and a glass of orange juice. Egg mcMuffin (no meat) and another OJ en route.
    Pre-race: banana, fig bars, dried apricots, 2 gels, 2 SportLegs capsules
    Race: 17 out of 38. Ate half a Clif bar and 1 package of margarita Shot Bloks and drank a bottle each of sport drink and water.
    Post-race meal: Mediocre mexican platter of 2 burritos, rice, beans. 1 negro Modelo (note to self: forget the mom&pop places, Chipotle is better for vegetarians)

    Longer version:

    Mark Dawson spotted me shortly after I arrived and borrowed my spare jersey. It was one of the FF/Prooff size Smalls which is a tight fit even on me, so Mark was definitely getting some compression/aero benefits from it.

    Our field of 38 45+ Cat 4’s rolled out at 12:15. I have to say that some of these supposed 45+ guys are lookig pretty damn young to me. It might be time to take a year off and come back in 2016 as a 55+ .

    Even though the overall pace turned out to be similar to last year (36kph / 22mph) it was actually pretty lively and often strung right out. There were times of pretty intense wind in second half of race, so my guess is that we were working a fair bit harder than last year.

    A number of teams had a lot of guys, most notably Sierra nevada and Cushman/Wakefield, but it was really just a handful of folks ( one guy we called ‘time trial guy’, John from BBC, and one Sierra nevada guy) who were animating things for the first lap and a half. None of the teams seemed to be doing anything very coherent and in the end only two teams had more than one in the top 10. I’d exchanged a few words with Steve Shores of BBC and we’d agreed to try to help each other to whatever extent we could so I had at least one friend in the pack. I kept up front between 5th to 10th wheel but generally out of the wind for most of the race except on one ill fated chase cum failed breakaway, but by the second lap knew that my legs were not going to be there for the sprint and told Steve not to expect much from me in final km.

    As we hit 5km to go things were looking pretty good. TTguy, a wells Fargo rider Steve had told me to watch out for, and a CA guy were spread across the front pretty much blocking any movement and I was right behind them.

    On a slight rise with about 3.5km to go there was some reshuffling and then an ambulance came by in the opposite direction to pick up a junior who had crashed pretty badly on previous lap. Our group shifted right (no need to, just nerves) and someone forced me off the road into the rocks and gravel. Even though we were going up a slight rise the pace was still pretty high and suddenly I was bouncing along in the rough at a good clip. Where I’d gone off the lip at edge of pavement was only an inch or so, but it immediately rose to 3-4” and so I had to move further right so i’d be able to swing back left with enough angle to jump it back onto the road. This took long enough that most of the pack had passed before I was safely back on pavement.

    Getting shoved off the road when in such a good spot (even though I knew my legs were shit) really pissed me off so I stomped on it pretty hard and got back to the back of pack then threaded the centerline needle to get myself back to 2nd wheel right behind TTguy and to the left of Steve. It was a perfect position since I knew TTguy could not climb and I could just nip onto Steve’s wheel for the sprint which starts at bottom of the hill with about 800m to go.

    Sure enough TTguy slowed, a big hole opened and Steve lit out (he ended up getting 2nd). I tried to follow but it was like someone punched me in the quads and even without the cramps it really felt like I had nothing. Tons of guys surged passed and I was only able to reel in a few of the ones who totally blew before the line and so finished in 17th. Not sure how much different it would have been without my little off road adventure, so maybe in the end it was better to get the kudos for keeping it upright in the rough than gain a few places on the finish.

    Post race meal in Oakdale was a fiasco. I knew would need coffee and so when I saw what I thought was a Peets, pulled into this mall-like place and noticed this Javi’s mexican restaurant & bar so figured what the heck, I’ll eat then get coffee for the ride home. The mexican place turned out to have one of those huge but completely uninspired menus with only two meals containing no meat (both of them cheese bombs). The waitress had absolutely no clue as to what alternatives to offer and so I ended up with some really mediocre bean burritos, rice, and beans. They didn’t even have Bohemia so i had to make do with a Negro Modelo. To make matters worse the ‘Peet’s’ turned out to be a coffee bar in a Rayley’s supermarket with lord knows how old coffee sitting in the warmers.

    Race: B, Meal: F

    - Ken Cluff

  • Race Report: Knights Ferry RR

    I was wavering back and forth about the Knights Ferry RR all week since I was registered for the Bump Circuit on Sunday. Got news early Saturday that Sunday was canceled so I packed (very poor job) up the motorcycle and froze my butt off to get out there. Livermore on a motorcycle at 8AM is COLD!!!!! Arrived with plenty of time and started sorting clothing options out and after the 4th time through my bag there was still no jersey... DOH!! Lucky for me Ken was at registration and saved me from having to ride in a sleeveless vest and looking like a triathlete all day. Instead it was more like riding in Spanx. Luckily the weight loss program is still in full effect. Thanks again Ken!!!

    The race 35+ 3's was quite mellow all day. Since I was solo and there were like 35 of the 38 entrants were from Kovarus I chilled near the back trying to stay out of trouble most of the day. There were a couple exciting moments one full MTB cross up and nose wheelie and a full stiff arm push between teammates I think on the last lap that woke the heart rate up. The winning move happened near the RR tracks heading towards the finish when Eric Lagier Thirsty Bear opened a gap and was able to keep away to the finish. His teammate Piers did a nice job chasing down just about everything until about 2K to go. We put in a few good efforts and started seeing Eric slow but now way we were going to catch him. I made a couple good efforts in the last 2K to close gaps and get on the front, and with 400M's to I hit it quite hard to shake it up on the uphill. There were 4 guys 2 Bell Real Estate and another that came around me at 200M so I jumped on the back and gave it one more kick to the line for 4th.

    Breakfast: Steel cut oats with brown sugar and a latte before leaving, Almond butter and banana sandwich warming up, 2 Roctane's and 2 bottles of cyto during.

    Post-race: Almond butter and jelly sandwich and a run to the border for some caffeine and a bean burrito and a taco. Wish I would have remembered that In-and-Out was just a few more miles up the road but I had a banging headache all race from lack of caffeine. Back in the east bay we grilled up a filet, salted boiled baby potatoes, salad and some coffee heath bar ice cream. Cutting too many calories makes me grumpy...

    - Mark Dawson

    One of the early morning groups.

    The moto all loaded up!

    My buddy Lynden winning the 45+ 4's.

  • Race Report: San Bruno Mtn Hill Climb

    It would be quite easy to spend more time writing a race report than actually spent racing, so I'll be brief.

    Short Version: Cereal Medley, coffee, orange juice; 5th place out of 27 in M45+ 4/5 race at official time of 18:24;  Pere Noel, James Brown  [?] and grilled cheese at the Trappist

    Medium Version: 

    Cereal Medley (with banana instead of blueberries), 1 cup coffee, Odwalla OJ

    Bart, my neighbor and new recruit to EBVC showed up at 8:30 and we threw his bike in the back of the car for the 30 min drive to Brisbane. Saw Dana ride ride into parking lot and gave him a shout  as we were getting kitted up. Warm up laps and a few punches up a hill in the adjacent industrial park where we ran into Richard, another M65+ racer who rides with Bart.

    Temperatures were definitely warmer than in years past and though I'm not sure the concomitant decrease in air density led to faster times, I do think it had a positive effect on lung health.

    Bart's wave went off before mine so I just stayed on the rollers until 5 min before start time then baldly used Dana's position in the starting grid as an excuse to work my way through the crowd to "my team mate up there"

    Dana still got a much better start than I did and was several positions ahead as we started the first climb. Pace seemed surprisingly manageable in the first couple of minutes and I was able to erase my deficit on Dana and get to a comfortable spot a couple riders away from the front.  We got to the saddle top of the first climb reasonably compact at the forn end, but as it flattened out towwards the light, the real power guys started laying it on and things stretched then started to break up.

    The second 1/4 of this race from stoplight to the turn into the park is always the worst for me. It's not steep enough, and it can be windy and really penalize you if you get caught without a wheel to follow. I was in about 10th and pretty bummed about that because I did not realize that we had started in a mixed group with the 1/2/3s and though all those guys up ahead were in my group. In this section 2 more guys passed me before the turn into the park and I could not up the pace to grab their wheel and that just deepened my funk.

    After the turn into the park you loop under Guadalupe canyon Parkway and there's a section that always confounds me as to whether to go hard or save it for the climb. With nobody from my group around to copy, I think I did neither. The rest of the climb was painful, at least as much mentally as physically. I had no targets to chase, no knowledge of who was behind me, and no spark in my legs so just slogged up alternating between in and out of the saddle. My Garmin said 18:14 at the line (though the official results show 18:24); either are a nice improvement on my previous year's time, though it's very tempting to think of the woulda/coulda/shouldas around how much a difference being able to hold a good wheel could have made.

    It's lucky that I didn't fully throw in the towel in the final climb because when they published the results it became clear that Dana was right and we were mixed in with the 1/2/3s and at least 8 of the guys ahead of me were from that group and my actual position was 5th in my group of 27. There was a guy not far behind me time-wise (at least according to their timing) so any letup would have dropped me a place.

    Bart finished 4th out of 8 in the 65+ (where the winner was considerably faster than me) so we have two EBVC top 10's to start the year.

    There was a marked decrease in the level of coughing and hacking at the top of the hill compared to years past. I attribute that to the warmer, possibly moister, air. Normally it sounds like a bunch of 3 pack a day smokers coughing up a lung at the finish.

    Post-race was a little cool down on the rollers then back to Oakland where proper hunger eluded me (remember we're talking barely an hour of riding including warm-up). Eventually we went down to the Trappist where I took my lunch in divine beer and washed it down with a grilled cheese sandwich.

    - Ken

  • Race Report: Mt. San Bruno

    SHORT VERSION: I came, I rode, I sucked. Almost a minute and a half slower than last time. Minimal caloric indulgences. No catastrophic mechanical failures.

    MEDIUM VERSION: Despite wisely eschewing breakfast, I wasn't moved to splurge on a big brunch after the race, and drowned my sorrows with Erin's hastily patched-together hot cocoa (one part Sharffen Berger dry cocoa--the dregs of the can--with some other part Trader Joe's unsweetened dry cocoa, some parts milk, and not-enough parts sugar, the result of which tasted very sophisticated in that fascist killjoy pissing-contest "if only we could make this stuff whole-grain!" mode that afflicts so many modern chocolate companies who would like to be called "chocolatiers" but I refuse to take the bait). When we got home I made my locally famous non-fair-trade linguine alla vongole, using non-organic boxed pasta and clams from a can, okay? Placing: If they'd let me race in the Masters 45+ 1/2/3 like I'd wanted, I'd have a top-ten for Sean to post on our website; instead, I was a mere 12th in the M45 4/5. Such is the plight of one-day licensees in 2014. Self-assessment: PASS in the race (only because I managed not to crash), and B+ on the pasta. Erin gets an A on the cocoa because a) it was too good for me, b) the kids liked it enough to fight over it, and c) she made it to begin with while I was pursuing my own selfish race-preparation centers.

    LONG VERSION: http://www.albertnet.us/2014/01/race-report-mount-san-bruno-2014.html

    PHOTOS AND MOVIES: Click here.

    - Dana

  • Ride Report: Broken Derailleur

    We had been taking it easy out the flats and were just passing Ed’s Bar by the stop light before the Richmond sprint when a stick in the road bounced up and into my wheel/chain/derailleur.  By the time I was able to stop it had ripped the rear derailleur off the frame.  Mark found the pulleys and inside cage plate out in the street and Ken lent me an allen wrench to loosen the cable.  Jamie tied the loose cable end in up out of the way.  Then Mark & Henning pushed me the mile or so to the Pedaler in El Sobrante where they shortened the chain into the 39x16 position.  Half way up the hill to the worlds ugliest left turn ™ the chain decided it wanted to shift into 39x17 and did so with a loud crunch.  Pedaling thereafter felt like 53x11 for the added resistance because it had so much tension on the chain.

    I looked at the damage when I got home and my heart sank when I saw the chunk of the frame still on the derailleur.  Further inspection revealed that the easily detachable and replaceable gear hanger had taken a chunk of the non-detachable and decidedly less replaceable frame with it.  All in all it was a nice 2 or  3 months with that bike…

    - blm

  • Ride Report: Sep. 7 Adventure Ride - Wine Country Edition (Lucas)

    I will simply add that I learned the hard way what happens when I drink less than 1/2 the water my body needs and don't eat properly under the sweltering conditions. At mile 90 in Windsor I found myself writhing on the pavement in front of the convenience store that came about 30 miles too late. When I entered the air conditioned store it was a shock to my system, instead of opting for the 28 ounce bottle of water I bought a gallon of water that I began drinking as I got in line to pay for it. As I paid for it I started collapsing on the counter, the attendant asked are you ok, I said no. I was barely able to walk back outside and then it hit me all of a sudden, I was nauseous and on the verge of blacking out not to mention all the muscles in my legs were simultaneous cramping and seizing up. The effects of this severe dehydration and partial heat stroke are probably the worst I've ever felt. I was not going to be getting back on the bike so the others finished the ride without me and Ian graciously offered to come back and pick me up afterwards. Minutes after they left I tried to pick myself off the pavement of the convenience store parking lot to take refuge under a tree in a small park across the street. In the process of crossing the street I puked 3 times followed by episodes of dry heaves. I spent 3+ hours under this tree and eventually recovered enough to eat a sandwich before Ian picked me up at 7:00. In retrospect I should have joined Ceely in Calistoga for grilled prawns with arugula and fresh basil..

    - Lucas

  • Ride Report: Sep. 7 Adventure Ride - Wine Country Edition (Ian)

    I'm taking a small break in my re-hydration and eating schedule to write this. Still got a bit of a headache from dehydration.

    I'll start my report with my pre ride preparation in the week leading up to yesterday: NONE, didn't ride all week, busy at work, drank too much coffee, very little water, tried to redress the balance by chugging a bottle of water in the parking lot before we rolled out. I think I was dehydrated before we even started!

    I will only add my personal details to the ride description given by the rest. As beautiful as the first climb was my legs started to feel it near the top.

    Heading towards Calistoga I hit a rock and pinch flatted both tires. Unfortunately I only had a 48mm valve spare, and not the 60mm needed. Luckily I had a valve extender, only one mind you, that we could use to pump both tires up but this had to be a serial process with there only being one extender. Of course we all had comedy pumps and CO2 except Ceely who had a sensible pump but it needs to screw onto the valve and of course valve extenders have no threads. I tried my CO2, but nothing was coming out, even though the cylinder was punctured. I had to then point the CO2 away from us all whilst I unscrewed the based to allow the charged CO2 to launch off into the bushes. The 'O' ring had failed inside resulting in it sealing inside the device with no way of venting the pressure. Fail. So I used my Lilliputian comedy pump to get about 60 psi into both tires and then use Katherine's working CO2 to top them off. This took ages and I started to lose it when people repeatedly gave me the same advice as to how I could have voided this predicament if I had had long valves, plumbers tape for the valve extenders etc. All things I knew, and was happy to acknowledge the first couple of times these points were raised, but after the 5th time or so , whilst I was sweating like a pig pumping my tires up, I had to threaten a total meltdown if everyone didn't shut up and stop moaning about how long it was taking. Over the next 5 miles my internal voice coached me not to hate everyone as it would stop me from enjoying an otherwise very pleasurable ride.

    After we rolled out of Calistoga, after fluids and unsuccessfully trying to procure 60mm tubes form the local bike shop, I started to feel bad. My breathing was tight, because of the heat I imagine, so I had to use my inhaler a few times but this didn't seem to have much effect. Also whenever I tried to accelerate where a strong pedal force was required I cramped. As the next 60-70 miles progressed the number of cramping areas increased to about 6 or 7. However I could keep these down to twinges and mini shot duration cramps, , and not full cramps, if I focused on pedaling as smoothly as possible (pedaling in circles really works) , not standing up, and ignoring surges by those stronger than myself.

    As Lucas was dying in Windsor a rather fat man, although very pleasant, got out of his truck and told us it was too hot to ride and it looked like I'd lost 7lbs, as he gave me a friendly poke in the ribs as he walked by. I replied I'd be dead if I'd lost 7lbs. As it happens I was 5lbs under weight still when I got home, after drinking fluids, so he may have been correct. I looked like shit. Not as shitty as Lucas however during his cramping and heat stroke episode. Watching his calves twitch and spasm and then seize was truly gross and made his cries of pain and profanities totally understandable.

    I amazed myself by completing the ride, effectively fighting off cramps for 70 miles. The moral is if you want to improve your pedal stroke, cramp and give yourself two options 1. ride as smoothly as possible for the next 3 hours or 2. lie on the side of the road, with no water in the blazing heat for 4 hours until someone comes to get you.

    Breakfast: 2 Weetabix, with rice milk, a sausage and egg muffin made by my lovely wife, a latte made by me
    Ride: 6 cliff bloc packs and 4 cliff bars, 10 bottles approximate of acclerade, water, gatorade combined. Oh yes and some cheesy snacks Campbell bought in Windsor for the salt.
    Post Ride: Qualifying statement: I left my wallet at home and only had $7 and change left after the ride. 5 McDonalds Cheeseburgers and a Coke.

    - Ian

  • Ride Report: Sep. 7 Adventure Ride - Wine Country Edition (Ceely)

    Inspired by Dana's "Eating Crow" story, I have written a personal
    account of today's Adventure Ride in Petaluma. I say eating crow
    because I was bragging on the e-mail thread that those who got dropped
    on the ride today should make sure to charge their cell phone and
    "bring their Maybelline kit" to hitch a ride home because we were not
    going to wait for them.

    Well, I got dropped. Numerous times. And I bailed out at mile 50. I
    did not put on lipstick however. But if had to in order to get home, I
    would have in a Sonoma County minute. Fortunately, Campbell agreed to
    pick my sorry ass up after the ride. That gave me four hours waiting
    time in Calistoga to partake in food and drink while the others
    suffered. Perhaps Campbell will have a ride report forthcoming with
    gory details, including the rider who threw up.

    I felt fine at the beginning of the ride. I think it was only 85°
    then. But by the time we hit the first major climb, the heat kicked in
    and I went backwards. I wasn't able to enjoy the beautiful climb up
    the one-laned ascent to the 2000 foot peak. The descent, on the hand,
    was loads of fun. After a group of tricked-out Datsun 510s flew by us
    (one with its gas cap off with gasoline leaking all over the road),
    Campbell led us down the series of decreasing radius turns.

    The wooded descent cooled me off a bit, and I had new hope for
    finishing the ride. Things were going well until right before
    Calistoga when the heat of the day really kicked in. Must have been
    over 100°. While cruising along in a nice pace line, we got hit with
    little waves of hot air, akin to opening up an oven door. At this
    point my lips were sticking together, and I felt like taking a nap.
    Not a good sign. When we got into Calistoga, I dumped a bottle of
    water over my head and slammed a Mexican Coke. No effect. This was
    bad, I thought. Normally a Mexican Coke allows me to do almost

    Ascending out of Calistoga, I knew I was in trouble. I felt heat
    stroke coming on, and wisely turned around to head back to town. I
    don't race anymore, but today was about the worst I have felt after an
    effort in a long time.

    The good news is my post ride meal at The Calistoga Inn. Grilled
    prawns over arugula with fresh basil and chunks of watermelon and
    cucumber. Washed down with 2 pints of cold IPA. After that, fresh
    oysters and a mint julep. By this time I wasn't feeling so bad, so I
    sauntered over to the Calistoga Bike Shop and hung out in the
    air-conditioning until Mike Campbell picked me up. If you see me
    leading him out for the walking man sign for the next three years,
    it's because I owe him my life.

    Stay cool everybody. Loquaciously yours,

    - Ceely

  • Ride Report: Sep. 7 Adventure Ride - Wine Country Edition (Campbell)

    Okay, so we had a few hiccups yesterday due to the heat (Lucas, glad to hear you are feeling better!).

    Ride Statistics & Summary:
    Total Miles: 119.3
    Average Temperature: 95
    Highest Temp seen on my Garmin: 105
    Total Chamois Time: 8:35
    Total Moving Time: 6:45
    Ride Starters: 6
    Ride Finishers: 4
    Bottles consumed by MC: 8
    Number of rocks not pointed out: 1
    Number of flats caused by unpointed out rocks: 2
    Total number of flats: 3
    Number of spare tubes with long enough stems to get through deep dish wheels: 0
    Number of long stem tubes needed: 2

    The route, including my boneheaded wrong turn and "bonus 5 miles"

    The Start of an Epic day...
    We rolled out of Petaluma with surgical precision, within 30 seconds of the 9:30 departure time, and it was already plenty warm in Petaluma. We rolled through some pleasant, albeit highly trafficked roads into Sonoma, before we made our turn onto Cavedale road. Once we started uphill, Lucas took off, as Ian noted: "Looks like the Strava implant chip has sent it's signal!" Jamie and Kathryn accelerated a bit and rolled after them. Ceeley and Ian rode a sensible tempo to enjoy the view, and I eventually bridged up to Jamie and Kathryn. The road was amazing. We climbed 2,000 feet on a narrow road with amazing views of San Francisco, the Bay, the Sonoma valley. We regrouped at the top, and rode bumpy downhill to the fire station at the intersection of Trinity where we refilled our bottles and watched a string of vintage rally cars rip past (heading the same direction we would take on Trinity, towards Oakdale). The cars were beautiful, Alpha GTV, Datsun 510s, Mini Coopers (the real ones), Porsche, and a pimped out Fiat 500 came past. One of the Datsuns had something wrong with its gas cap, and on the hard left hand hairpin by the firehouse, it spilled huge amounts of fuel out onto the pavement. The smell of gasoline was overpowering. As we rolled down the fun descent, I could actually smell the hard left hand turns coming up.

    The Rest:
    Hot. Beautiful. Me screwing up and taking the gang the wrong way after leaving Calistoga, and heading us back to Calistoga. Hot. Many questions along the lines of: "Hey Mike, where's the next water stop?" Me not knowing where the next water would be, but that it was "within the next ten miles." Hot. Knowing that when folks were feeling the heat in Calistoga, that we only had another 60 miles to go. Hot. Leaving Lucas in Windsor, looking grey and really shaky, for our final 30 mile roll to Calistoga. Hot. The looks on tourists faces in Sebastopol when Kathryn asked them: "Do you know what town this is?" We looked like salt creatures from another planet. Hot. Feeling like no matter how far we went, we were always only 10 miles from the finish. Hot. The last 10 miles were not very pretty, but had a nice tailwind and was on a slight downhill, so it was easy to maintain 20mph. Hot. Turning a corner and suddenly being back at the cars. Hot. Washing the salt off using superhot water that was left in the car ... ahhhhh. Hot.

    The Next:
    Early October -- Dirty Diablo. Will not be such a death march, but will have a few sections of long fire road climbs. New views from an old favorite. Ride will be under five hours. Probably about 40ish miles, more than half those miles on dirt. MTBs only for this ride only, unless you just want to ride to the top on your CX bike, and find your own way down (which would also be a fun adventure, so if you only have CX, please consider it)

    - Mike Campbell

  • Race Report: Red Kite Criterium #6

    Today I finished the Red Kite Omnium series with the final industrial park criterium on their Pleasanton course. It's been a long series of ten races total including three time trials of which I've skipped two. Going into the race I was committed to at least getting a mid-pack finish to try to maintain my 5th place position in the Omnium. The race started with a hot lap prime to get things moving quickly which it did. A six man break formed and dangled off the front for the first two laps. At the beginning of the 3rd lap, just as the main field bridged, a counter attack formed and I found myself digging in to join this early break with a few others behind also making the bridge. Before we knew it we had an 8 man break with many of the big teams represented including 2 Safeway riders, 2 Squadra riders, Primetime, Morgan Stanley, San Jose BC, and myself. We were working well together initially holding a 30+ second gap for the first half of the race. On the sidelines Sean kept me motivated by yelling at me every so often. The second half of the race continued well for us and the gap opened further. Toward the end of the race, we could actually start to see the back end of the main field. Several attacks from the break attempted to bridge to the field but we were all attentive; it was clear that a few guys in the break didn't want to lap the field while others did. The cat and mouse game began at this point, and our organization broke down with the assumption that our gap was big enough to gamble. At this point, I also just wanted to sit in as much as possible for the final effort. With 3 laps to go, I was thinking to myself that I should be sure to sit on Jeff Poulsen's wheel going into the final sprint as he was likely one of the best sprinters in our group. The bell lap started at a ferocious pace and then after the second corner we slowed for a moment then we all attacked again into the third corner. I found myself sitting third wheel but before I realized what was going on: Jeff Poulsen flew by me on my right and opened a sizable gap on the rest of us. I didn't follow my own advice to myself as I wasn't on his wheel. I responded as hard as I could to try to bridge, going through the final corner into the finishing stretch opening up a slight gap on the others in the process. I was closing down on him but ran out of real estate; he crossed the line about 1/2 a bike length in front of me. I'm still relatively happy with my cheesy silver medal and two bottles of Petite Sirah.

    Pre-race breakfast: Large stack of oat bran pancakes loaded with nectarines, Irish breakfast tea
    Post-race snack: Egg salad sandwich, chocolate milk, blue corn chips with hummus and guacamole

    - Lucas

  • Race Report: Everest Challenge 2013 Clydesdale Division

    Goal: Ride the Everest Challenge at 200+ lbs.

    So, why would anyone want to climb 29,035 feet weighing more than their usual riding weight?

    Glad you asked. You see, Bishop is a freaking furnace, and I was absolutely scared shitless thinking about riding the last climb to the ancient bristle cone forest in August. As anyone who's ridden with me knows, I melt like butter in the heat, so I figured if I rode with the big boys at least I would start as early as possible.

    What about the ice cream?

    Yes, admittedly that was a big part of choosing this goal too. I realized that to reach my goal I would have to purposely avoid shedding my winter fat, and eating ice cream would be ideal for keeping the fat on. I love ice cream...

    Excuses: Many

    After two good months of training, I had the worst month leading into the Everest Challenge imaginable. First, I had a business trip immediately followed by a ten day family vacation where I strained my right knee. After returning, I rode easy for two days and then wreaked that knee on a double Diablo with Dana and Mike. After another easy week trying to rehab my knee, I tried testing it on a steady climb up Mt Rose in Tahoe, and again it hurt. So, the last week was again focused on rest and rehab.

    Really, you were fat, under trained, and gimpy, and you still decided to try the Everest Challenge? Are you an idiot?

    Why, yes, I am an idiot. I am also a working stiff with a mortgage and three kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family (why else would I start all my rides before 6 am?), but the Everest Challenge is the one weekend I have to hang out with the guys. I didn’t want to miss the good times rolling along in Paul’s Endurance van.

    Day 1 Ride: Surprise! I actually finished!

    Breakfast: 2 bowls of yogurt and granola, two bananas
    Ride: 11 bottles of water or Cytomax, 1 banana, 4 Clif bloks
    Post ride: soup, two bananas, 2 cookies
    Dinner: Minestrone soup, Spaghetti with Bolognese, 1 slice of Pizza

    On our warm up ride on Friday, someone on the front decided to “open it up” a little, and my strained knee said, “No thanks.” So, I knew an endurance pace would be the absolute maximum and targeted 275-285 watts. Even going slow, I thought I would probably quit after the first climb. Here’s how I did:

    Total Elapsed time: 7:21:28 (Ride Time: 7:09:19)
    Climb 1: 2:00:23, 280 watts
    Climb 2: 1:00:46, 279 watts
    Climb 3: 2:37:34, 250 watts

    What happened on the 3rd climb?

    HEED, that's what happened. At the top of the first climb I accidentally took a bottle full of HEED, and felt incredibly bloated, so I didn’t drinks as much as I should have during the second climb and started cramping a little on the last one. Luckily, after a concussive blast of flatulence midway up the third climb, I could at least start drinking again, but I still had to stay below 250 watts to keep the cramps at bay. As always, never, ever drink HEED during the Everest Challenge.

    Day 2 Ride: Surprise again! I finished!

    Breakfast: 2 bowls of yogurt and granola, two bananas
    Ride: 12 bottles of water or Cytomax, 1 banana, 4 Clif bloks
    Post ride: soup, two bananas, Pizza
    Lunch: Pastrami Sandwich, Potato Salad
    Dinner: Chicken burrito, strawberry shake.

    As Mike said in his race report about the 3rd climb, “it is beyond comprehension.” So, I lowered my target watts down to 265-275. Unlike the first day, though, I was now confident my knee would hold together if I kept it steady. Here’s how I did:

    Total Elapsed time: 6:54:45 (Ride time 6:35:44)
    Climb 1: 1:22:13, 276 watts
    Climb 2: 1:20:42, 269 watts
    Climb 3: 2:34:40, 261 watts

    OK, now for the best part of the ride. At the finish, MC Genius settled down into a chair, started rifling through his backpack, and pulled out four slices of pizza gloriously wrapped in shiny tinfoil. MC Philanthropist could see the longing in my eyes and offered me a slice. Damn, that was wonderful!

    Did you end up beating the other Pillsbury Doughboys?

    Yes, but sadly I was the only one on the podium, not that there was actually a podium for us. Of the six registered, only two others finished the first day, and no one else finished the last day.


    The whole weekend far exceeded my expectations. The guys were great, the weather was cooler than expected, and miraculously my knee was just fine. I’m still giddy just thinking about how much fun it all was.

    Next year, though, I’m racing the 35+ with Mike, and I’m definitely not doing it above 200 lbs. Slowly chugging up the hills just isn't that much fun. Sadly, I’m afraid I’ll have to cut back on the ice cream. Oh well.

    - Craig

  • Race Report: Everest Challenge 2013 M55+

    Short Version:   My goal was to get a podium, albeit in a small field.  The race unfolded without any disasters.  I couldn't keep up the pace of the leaders on the second climb of the first day.  Got 3rd.  Stayed with leaders longer the 2nd day.  Got 2nd.  3rd overall with a total time of 12:24:15, official time of 12:27:01.

    Long Version:  After caravanning through a smokey Sonora Pass with the EBVC "Endurance" van, we registered and had an enjoyable dinner at Astorga's Mexican restaurant.  I settled on the most pedestrian dish of the party:  a burrito with a salad and a side or rice and beans. I was lucky "rooming" with Craig and Ian.  Even though I felt we were stepping all over each other, I can't imagine the scene upstairs at the Ramada with four.

    Day 1:   I felt well trained and prepped equipment-wise for EC. However, as soon as I got to the line on my computer battery died. It's nice to  have some idea of miles to go near the end of each stage.  But I figured I knew the course well enough after six years. And honestly it was nice not to have the distraction.  I knew one of my competitors, Joel Sothern, from Thousand Oaks, and was anticipating a guy from Park City, Utah, to be a threat.  It turned out a guy from Pennsylvania, Bob Meikle, was the one.  He was light and liked to turn a good cadence.  Five of us, including Paul McKenzie and a guy who Paul knows from Marin Co., set a good pace and quickly dropped the field.  We shed Paul near the top of 168 (the first two thirds of the first climb to South Lake) and on the final 15% gradients before the turn-around we lost the guy Paul knows.  A good fast descent with the three of us trading leads.  This contrasts with previous years, competing against Kevin Keenan from Alto Velo who bombed the descents.  I had to muster the greatest courage to tuck and let gravity do its work, hoping to keep on wheels and limit my time losses.  On the flats, Sothern got on the wheel of a pro 1,2 guy and I was putting in more effort than I wanted to stay on his wheel while shedding arm warmers and eating.  Sothern clipped right ahead on the second climb and I had to let them go, as I would have paid dearly later.  Sothern and Meikle were 2.5 minutes ahead at the turn around.  The rest of the day I was riding alone.  I felt myself precipitously slow down on the steep sections of upper Rock Creek Rd. Otherwise I thought I kept a good pace.  I was 9 minutes+ behind Meikle who was about 5 minutes behind Sothern.  Total time: 6:24:30 by my watch.  6:26:29 official time.  I am always curious as to how the time keepers are off.  Race food 5 x 20 oz. bottles fluid, 36 oz. with Hammer Perpetuem drink mix, Clif Bar, Power Bar, Cheese and Turkey Pita Sandwich and 6-7 gels.  Burger, recovery drink, water, coke, and lots of other stuff at the top. Lovely Fettucini Milano, salad and small pizza at Upper Crust Pizza.  Quite filling.

    Day 2:   More of the same.  The three of us easily dropped the rest starting with us, except the guy Paul knows (the one climb wonder.) At the top Craig Lattimer was ready to descend and offered us his wheel.  Sothern and Meikle dallied a bit and I closed the gap to Craig who had slowed.  Once we built up speed again (only about 40mph) Craig slowed and I had to zip past.  He had a flat.  Around the next bend a car in our lane, well ahead, braked for a group of riders taking the full lane ascending.  I only had 2-3 seconds to slow and pass the car on the left as the group of riders moved to their right.  It didn't feel too crazy.  But there was no way for me to stop and I had to have faith that the guys behind had left a sufficient gap.  The second climb and first part of the last climb where uneventful.  We traded pulls.  But when Sothern was on the front he kept getting out of his saddle and surging.  To test us?  To show me this is what I tend to do?  I had been careful to keep a steady pace.  And since I was at my limit, I didn't feel I should be the one to close the gaps and let Meikle do it.  At the start of the steeps (with about 7K to go, one surge was too much and I let the two go.  As I proceeded up the switch backs I could see Sothern drop behind Meikle and gradually I started to bring Sothern back.  I couldn't see Meikle and overtook Sothern with about 500 meters to go. Total time: 5:59:45 on my Joule.  6:00:32 official.  Race food 5 x 20 oz. bottles fluids, 36 oz. with Hammer Perpetuem, Power Bar, 6-7 gels.  Turkey and Cheese Pita sandwich, burger, coke, recovery drink, water, fruit salad, and trail mix at the top.  Beer and fruit salad at Schatt's.  Pasta veggie rotoulle, huge salad, beer, and vegan cookies at my Scott and Jan Busby's after I bade the guys farewell.

    Just to note my times were not my fastest over the courses which which have varied over the past few years.  Day 1 comparable best: 2011 in 6:19: 13 recorded, 6:21:02 official, Day 2 comparable best: 2012 in 5:44:05 recorded,  5:48:50 official.  The slower time this year on Day 2 can easily be explained by an extremely slow neutral start out to turn-off from 395 and the slower first descent.  And getting older sucks.

    - Jamie