Sunday, March 22, 2009

Orosi 2009

Orosi is a tough, beautiful race. I haven't really put the training time in to do 90 mile races yet. I knew going in that this would hurt, but the scenery and course make up for the pain. We staged with only 8 guys, a result of some big race down south and the challenging terrain.

The first lap was pretty mellow; we set up a good tempo up the main climb and stopped for a nature break on the way down, and didn't get passed by the E4 pack until the smooth highway, which was a lot later than last year. Some attacks went off right after feed zone, and I zoned out and kind of followed, never in much difficulty, but got left in no man's land, which is where I stayed until the turn back onto Boyd when I got caught by some chasers. My brakes a-squealin' I kept up with my two  companions on the fast descent, now chasing the three up the road.

On the last climb, we swept up one of the guys off the front, and dropped one of the guys that had caught me on the highway section, so we were racing for third. My companion asked me to take it easy on him on the climbs, so we could work together on the flatish sections of the course.  I sat up and towed him in most of the way, enjoying a few minutes of draft on the highway. I actually felt pretty good, aside from hunger and a sore back. I rolled away from him ( he said he wouldn't contest a sprint anyway) on the approach to the finish and took third. For my longest ride by 20 miles and first race this year, I'm pretty happy with that result even though it means next to nothing for upgrade points.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I really needed a break from science for a couple of days, so I took a trip to Southern California to visit old friends from college. I awoke on Thursday feeling under the weather from allergies, and having the day off, I decided to just sleep in and do a ride locally before heading to Los Angeles. The drive was uneventful and boring as ever. It actually made a great race drive preview, as I passed towns like Madera and Coalinga. I crashed at Chris and Lydia's place, after dining on some really great pasta. Their cats seem to like playing on me, but eventually I got to sleep.

Chris and I rode up highway 39 with the intention of hooking up to highway 2, taking that back to Pasadena. Overall, I think that would have been a fairly long ride and would have rivalled many of the big climbs in Bishop for elevation gain in one shot. I really wish I had brought a camera on this ride. The road snakes in and out of steep canyons that have been scarred and reborn from fires, and best of all, it's closed to traffic due to poor conditions at the top. We did encounter a few Caltrans trucks bombing down the hill, but they were few and far between. The climb starts in the desert and slowly transitions to pine forest, finally dumping you into high alpine territory. We started passing snow above Crystal lake. At some point, a snow blower had come along to clean up the huge drifts, but the steepness of the hillsides must have made that difficult. Finally, near the top, we were stopped by a huge drift that even Caltrans couldn't handle. We had to scrap our plans and did the Glendora Mountain Road loop instead, making for an equally good ride. I did get to witness some kids getting busted for pot before heading back down the hill.

The next day I rode with Jim and his tri buddies. OK, I think aerobars are dorky, but the company was worth breaking some important rules (actually, some of the TT bikes there made me drool.) We hammered around San Diego for about four hours. Got to hang out with Tony and some of his friends and really experience a M3 on one exit ramp before heading out for a midnight ride in one of San Diego's many canyons. That was eye-opening for me. Here in the Bay Area, it's impossible to go night riding without breaking some kind of law (on trails) and they use radar guns on the trails to ticket speeders. I've never heard of such a thing, and I think it really indicates something's wrong with the type of people that congregate here, which I guess includes me now.

Monday I had an epic drive in front of me, so after fixing my AC, I hit the road. I got in an hour on the bike up Old San Marcos in Santa Barbara before arriving home at 1 am, ready for work the next day. All in all, a very satisfying trip. This weekend is Orosi, the first RR for the year for me, and I hope all this rain riding and long rides pay some dividends.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring Races

I've got to admit, one of the hardest parts about racing is registering, after driving to the race. I think my heartrate goes to LT immediately upon taking a glance at the NCNCA website. I finally pulled the trigger and registered for four whole races. No crits yet, but eventually I'll get that bad taste out of my mouth and go for it (I like sprinting, even if I'm not good at it.) Most of the races I've entered so far are longer road races and many will have small fields, so maybe I'll even get an upgrade point or two. My fitness is looking pretty good. I think I'm at the same level I was last June (at least that's what my whiz-bang hub says) which was definitely my peak for '08. I hope to not get hit by cars, crash on my MTB, and mostly not get sick for the coming weeks. The spring season will all be new for me except for a few races, so I'm looking forward to it.

It's been raining, a lot. I now have neoprene booties and one of those little Euro caps. Much more comfortable out. And on days where work is especially difficult, I find myself looking out into the storm outside wishing I was just hammering away into the wind. Cheesy, I know.

To get out of the rain, I'm going to make a trip to see some old friends down in SoCal in a week and a half. I'm going to load up the wagon with two bikes and all my riding gear and hope to get a bunch of quality visiting and saddle time in. That takes care of difficult work and rain at once!