Mt Hamilton Classic Road Race

Posted: June 6, 2011 in road race

Not a whole lot to say about this race. I got shelled right from the get go. ~2 minutes in, I began thinking that they weren’t going to hold the pace for long, by 5 minutes in, I started to slide back one at a time, by 8 minutes in, I was thinking that they would surely ease up any time now. By 9 minutes in, I was off the back and the field was quickly disappearing. OUCH! I just went into TT mode rode the rest of the race out. I must say, that although the climb hurt like hell, it was very enjoyable, if that makes any sense. The descent was fun too.

Even though I hadn’t trained for the race and was planning on using it to kick start my build towards the Patterson Pass RR, which I did, I never expected to get crushed so bad.  Oh well, live and learn. I did catch and pass two members of my group through the day to come home a disappointing 40th. Also, it was nice driving to the start and racing, albeit for 9 minutes, with two of my teammates.

PG&E Crit and Modesto RR

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

As I’m racing a lot, I’ve gotten a bit behind on my brogging, so I’m going to make it up here with a double.

PG&E Crit

I had a lot of trepidation going into this crit as I was nearly crashed out of Wente a couple of times the week before. Plus the timing of the race was also a factor as I didn’t want to be recovering from a crash on Mother’s Day.

The long and short of it was, nothing much happened during this crit. Sure the wind was a factor, a couple of breaks went and were pulled back, a minor crash happened just behind me, and I fought off all inclinations that I had for prime hunting, and a couple of guys chopped a corner or two, but all of that is totally normal. I worked pretty hard to make sure that I stayed towards the front of the group the whole race. After the second prime, I noticed a couple of pretty fast guys were off the front, so I tried to bridge, but the group was on to me and the break was pulled back. A Tri-Valley Velo guy took a couple of TT like efforts off the front, but he was pulled back each time.

On the last lap, just before entering turn 3, the wheel I was looking for came around me. I took a look to make sure there was room (there was) and I smoothly slid over to take the wheel. We accelerated on the outside of turn 3 moving toward the front. As we cleared the front of the field, my wheelman moved right to pick up a wheel of his own. I had no room to follow so I found myself in the wind for the last 400m. Oof; that one hurt. I got swarmed, of course, and finished 12th. A few more points for VSRT and hopefully better luck next time.

Modesto RR

Last year I spent the majority of the Modesto RR stressed out, regarding the wind, my fitness, the finish, etc… My intention this year was to try and stay calm. I had seen the race before, I knew about the crosswind sections, I understood the finish, I had a teammate who was going to work for me, all I had to do was not forget my shoes, and everything would be fine.

Well, I remembered my shoes, but forgot my bottles. Thank God for teammates as one handed me some Gatorade and the other handed me two bottles. Crisis #1 averted. I took my warmup under the team canopy on my trainer and then made my way to the start line. My teammate and I started analyzing the field as soon as we got assembled, noticing that Third Pillar had 7 guys, Los Gatos, FSB, and Taleo had 3 guys. We made sure to keep an eye on those teams as we wanted to be present in a break, if it was well timed. Also at the start line, I noticed that the finish had been moved to the dairy, ~700 m from the last turn and 400 m from the feedzone and just like that, our one man leadout plan went kaput. We tailgunned for the first couple of laps, a 2 man break got up the road (Taleo+Third Pillar). At the end of the 2nd lap, Taleo decided to attack the feedzone while I was mingling at the back. A small gap opened up and I made someone else (not a teammate) do the work to close the gap.

That was about it for the hard riding, until just before the last lap began. I had been spending my time chit-chatting with the Third Pillar sprinter, and I decided that his was the wheel I wanted for the sprint. With about 10 miles to go, my teammate reminded me that it was time to stop sharing chocolate chip cookie recipes and start racing. Shortly after that, I locked onto the wheel I wanted and stayed there. At about 4 miles to go, we caught the remaining rider left in the break. Immediately, a Taleo rider attacked. The whole field chased. As we were being strung out, I temporarily lost my man’s wheel. My teammate, who was protecting me from the wind, accelerated, I made sure to tell him that I was on his wheel, and he dropped me off at the Third Pillar sprinter’s wheel. He then continued his acceleration and went off the front with his traditional, last lap, suicidal, solo, breakaway.

When I saw that he was getting a good gap, I wanted to go to the front and block for him, but he had absolutely forbade me from doing that. Plus, the gap he created forced others to chase and waste their energy, while I was comfortably sitting in, waiting for the sprint. With ~1km to go, the Third Pillar train wound it up. Around the last corner, I was third wheel, and figuring that I was in real good position, but wishing I had one more guy in front of me. With about 400 m to go, Third Pillar’s leadout man pulled his foot out of his pedal. The sprinter and I checked right, and moved past him safely. With ~200m to go, the sprinter faded and I passed him, but now I was leading out the sprint for the whole field :(. At this point, I just gave it all I had. I started to get passed by people with ~100m to go and was able to hold on for 9th. A good result, but like the week earlier, luck seemed to play a bit more of a role than legs, but that’s bike racin’! And as far as my teammate, we caught him with ~500m to go :(. He was awesome the whole day and I hope I can pay him back sooner rather than later.

Interesting (to me) that two days later, stage 2 of the ATOC finished with a field sprint of ~700m from the last turn to the line. Team Sky delivered Ben Swift to the line perfectly with 3 leadout men. I only had 2…lesson learned.

2011 Wente Crit

Posted: May 4, 2011 in Crit

Being one of the organizers for the Wente Vineyards Classic Road Race and Criterium makes for a unique set of circumstances leading into a race as typical preparation such as rest, recovery, and the like are replaced with sleep deprivation, long stressful hours away from the family, convenient, but generally poor food choices, and little or, in this case no warmup at all. Thirty-eight riders heard the wistle blow precisely at 8:20AM for the 35+ Cat 4 race at the Wente Crit. I had one teammate in the field along who rode for me. His intention was to “stir the shit” (his words) along with a couple of other guys, while I sat in for the inevitable sprit finish.

Turning onto Los Positas from Bennett

The race went in the typical Cat 4 fashion; bat-shit fast for the first few laps,  settling down to an easy tempo pace for the next half hour, with stupidity ensuing for the final lap. A few close calls on the corners as my competitors haven’t learned the hard lesson about dive-bombing a corner in a crit, but all of that sillyness pales in comparison to what happened in the last 1km. Five guys stringing it out in front of me when the racer immediately in front of me, decides to take a left turn, right into my teammate. I moved right to avoid the crash I knew was about to happen when I was amazed to see my teammate save it. Once that happened,  the whole field behind us bunched up and riders starting overtaking us, while we worked to get our speed back up. As my teammate got the punch of adrenalin, he sprinted ahead and took the wheel of three guys who seemingly immediately blew up in front of him and shot back through the middle of the pack causing people to duck and dodge them as they started to ramp up for the sprint. After a few brake checks (grumble, grumble), and a white knuckle corner, I entered the final stretch ~25th in line, nowhere near my leadout man. I knew I wasn’t going to win, so, trying to salvage some points, I ramped up a sprint on the inside and tried to pass as many riders as possible. For my efforts, I placed 13th. Ahh, crit racing.

Then I had to go give the people who just beat me some money. 😦

Presented by the indefatigable Hernando.

Oh Track hack, how I missed you…um sort of.

Track hack: [tr?k h?k] n. to cough harshly, usually in short and repeated spasms, after fiercely exercising on a paved, circular racing course. adj. indicating or characterized by elation you get from racing on the velodrome. Elation is usually accompanied by dry, hacking cough – the gift that keeps on giving.

It was a beautiful day to head to the track for the first race of the year. I LOVE Tuesday Night racing, though I don’t get to make my way down to San Ho during the week as much as I’d like to. My plan was my usual one, don’t get dropped, if things are going well, try for some points in the points races, if things are going really well, attack as much as possible, and if things are going impossibly well, get some omnium points.

I had plenty of time to warmup, for once, and things went fine, but I noticed that people were not holding their lines as well as they usually do. Everyone was a bit rusty which is to be expected in April on the Track. I did have one close call as the person who was leading the last lap of the warmup, not only sat up, but slowed precipitously once he crossed the start/finish, without bothering to move out of the pole lane. I was right on his wheel and didn’t anticipate he would slow that much and I had to cut across the apron to avoid any possibility of a collision. It is definitely bad form to crash in the warmup! Luckily I avoided that.

Race 1 –> 15 Lap Points Race

Sprints every 5 laps. Junior Dylan Drummond attacked from the gun and quickly gained 1/3 of a lap on the field. We organized quickly and chased him down in ~ 3 laps. Once the catch was made and the group bunched up, I moved to the outside, just in time to catch a wheel allowed me to roll to the front (4th wheel) on the bell lap. I outsprinted the 3rd place rider for 2 points, my first ever in a B-race.

After the sprint, I cycled back through the pack and that is where I first noticed how squirrely some riders in the pack were riding. Mostly it was minimally experienced cat 4s who were not up to holding their line while riding above lactate threshold this early in the season (if that doesn’t sound totally pompous, I don’t know what does). For the rest of the race, I tried to stay in the pole lane and move up, but that was not working and I had to take the wind to come over the top a couple of times to stay in contact. The last sprint I finished 6th and out of the money for the first race (Money being omnium points). (Avg. Speed: 27.4 mph)

After regaining control of my Track hack, funny how you can train for half a year, putting your body through all sorts of tortuous intervals, group rides/races and other obscene things, and one little 5k points race makes your body spasm like you were in some John Carpenter movie.

Race 2 –> 20 Lap Scratch Race

Again the Junior took off at the start, but we were ready and he didn’t get too much of a gap before we brought him back. We were bunched up for most of the early part of the race, then about half way through, I went out on the attack with another rider, hoping that a couple of others would bridge so we could have a decent break, but they all just chased and brought us back in after a few laps. I spent the rest of the race recovering on the pole lane. With about 2 to go, the pace picked up and I had a nice seat in the pole and we were moving up coming around the last turn when one of the sketchy guys started oscillating (there’s a geek physicist word for ya!) in the corner. This lead to some bumping and then he went down, right in front of me. Fortunately the oscillation distracted me just enough that a gap opened up in front of me, so I was able to avoid being collected in the carnage. (Avg. Speed 27.0 mph)

Race 3 –> 40 Lap Points Race

Sprints every 10 laps. This race was the best of the night, i.e. safest, as the sketch riders had either left or were fatigued, or figured out how to ride in a straight line. No attack from the Junior as we started the race at a pretty fast pace. Coming out of turn 4 to receive the bell for the last sprint, I was positioned perfectly, above the stayers line, ~mid pack, so I ramped it up to try and take a solo flyer for the points. I was caught just as we entered turn 3, but the bigger problem was we were approaching two slow riders. I assessed my situation. The pack was on my wheel and people were sprinting around me on the outside. As we were catching the slower riders, I started slowing and hooking my way out of the pole lane so I could come around the slow riders, and not kill anyone who was trying to come around me.  I made it through, but wasn’t too happy about it. That’s life in the first track race of the season! (Avg Speed 26.7 mph)

That’s it! I kept my skin, took some sprint points, got some attacks in, reconnected with a bunch of bike buddies, and hopefully got some speed in my legs. All in All a great night, just remember boys and girls, hold your line, don’t ride over your head, if you want to get fast, be like Stan and ride tempo on the front of the A group most of the night, and for god’s sake if you are off the pace on the last lap of a race, stop bullshitting with your teammate, take a peak over your shoulder, and if the pack is haulin’ ass after you, get the hell out of the way!

Ahhh….Snelling.

Posted: March 1, 2011 in road race

Or…I thrashed myself about until my muscles quit and all I got was this super awesome picture.

Takin' it to 'em at the start of lap 2

Better than a t-shirt any day!

All of the fear and loathing over the weather situation was for naught as it was a crisp, sunny, and beautiful day in lovely Snelling California for the 2011 edition of the Snelling Road Race. The course was in fine shape, only 1 patch of water the whole way across the road, which wasn’t a hazard, some sand in the corners and a few easily avoidable sandbars and puddles sprinkled throughout the course, perfect conditions for my first crack at this historic race.

A small break of 3 went away just after the turn off of Keyes on the first lap. The riders were from Third Pillar, Dolce Vita, and Bicycles Plus. After some furious chasing and passing 2 fields in the first half lap, we brought back the rider from Third Pillar. By the end of the first lap, we had limited the damage to ~20 sec back from the remaining 2 in the break. That’s when the blocking began in earnest. Each of the members of the break had ONE teammate in the chase group that whittled to ~20 by the end of the race. Those boys blocked, threw faint attacks, sat on attacks, etc,  and made the rest of us look like total douche bags. As per usual, only ~5 of us were willing to work to bring back the break. Even so, we were making progress, we’d cut the deficit in about half, then we were neutralized. The break then got up to ~40 sec and as we really began to chase in earnest, cutting it in half again, we were neutralized again, in a downwind section. The P/1/2s took forever to pass us as we were not helping our own situation. After that, the break was up to 1 min+ and the onus to chase was off for the majority of the group.

I spent most of the third lap unsuccessfully encouraging the pack to chase and break up the blocking efforts that were going on. One of the things I don’t understand is why these so called bike racers that were in the field were willing to settle for third place. I don’t know about them, but I didn’t give up essentially a whole day of my life to drive out to BFE and race in who knows what kind of weather on a course that has some of the shittiest pavement in California for third place. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions, I will not win many races in my mid-pack, Cat 4, geezer racing career, but when I race, I race to win. Anyway, my efforts were unrewarded as the break stayed away for the rest of the race.

On the last lap, I began to notice that I was starting to get cramps in my left quad. I popped an electrolyte tablet, slammed some sports drink, ate some GU, and went into survival mode. Getting out of the saddle was very painful, but I wasn’t cramping while I was in the saddle, so I just would work my way to the front, and when we got to a climb, I would pack slide, rinse, lather, repeat. By the last section of rough pavement, two things were going on. One, we were 5 wide at the front of the pack, bad juju. Two, I knew that my quad was going to lock up on the sprint. I decided to attack through the rough patch with ~1km to go. This would at the very least string the bunch out, and with any luck, I’d be able to get a gap and salvage a decent finish. When I jumped, they were on me like white on rice, but the bunch did string out and we were safe through the last corner. When I began my sprint, to my surprise, BOTH of my quads locked up! I was swarmed, but I still passed one rider at the line for 14th place (I think).

I was disappointed in this result because I estimated that there were only 4 or 5 racers who may have been stronger than me in the group, but I know that I have a pretty strong sprint, so I figured if everything went perfect, a top 5 was not out of the question. In the race, overall, I was satisfied, as I gave everything I had, I raced to win, I was a leader in the peloton, and I beat the guy who beat me at the Early Bird Crit last month (dropped on the last lap). Tactically, I was disappointed that I didn’t recognize everything the blockers were doing earlier as I think we could have been more affective at disrupting their disruptions. Plus, I think I should have spent more time communicating and making deals at the back of the pack. Beefs: Tri Valley Velo, 4 guys in the pack; you had 1 hard effort as a team after the break went away, and you let your strongest rider on the front until he blew up and then you all went back to picking you noses in the back of pack. WTF? Work!

As far as my cramps were concerned, I was well hydrated as I drank ~2x what I normally drink in the same length training ride, in addition, I had been taking in plenty of calories, both from my sports drink as well as GU. I may have not had enough salt, that’s something I need to analyze, but I think the real kicker was the amount of anaerobic intervals that I did during the race. At this stage of the season, my body was not quite ready to handle the load.

Review of the race, the rough pavement is not that bad, the little rollers are just long enough, steep enough, and require enough effort to make you curse yourself for giving up needle point all those years ago to be ridiculed by every bumpkin in a pickup south of the Mason Dixon Line. I liked the finish, though it was uphill. Too bad I cramped or I could have gotten some real nice power numbers to look at.

2011 Early Bird Crit #4, Cat 4

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Crit

The weather was not great on this the last Sunday in January, low 50s, cloudy with a bit of northerly breeze. But there was only ~5 minutes of sprinkles during my warm-up. It was so refreshing to go through the motions of getting ready to race for the first time of the year. Pack the race bag, cram trainer, front wheel block, floor pump, race bag and Ipod into the Del Sol. Strap the bike onto the back and crank the Slipknot on the way to the race. Find the course, find a place to park. Then, fill out the event waiver, have a conversation with someone I hadn’t seen all winter, register, grab my number, head back to the car.

Pull out my trainer, mount the bike in the trainer, check the air pressure in the tires, pin my number on, kit up, hop on the bike and do the warm-up. I scored an awesome parking spot and was able to watch the Pro 1/2/3 race while I warmed up. I made it to the start/finish line with 2 laps to go in the P/1/2/3 race, so I rode around a bit to stay warm. Larry Nolan and Dave McCook were off the front and clear for the victory w/ 1 to go as I heard Larry say “Hi Ted” as they were heading down the front stretch. Oh what it must be like to have talent! Caught by surprise I gurgled something like “go get ‘em boys.” Er, hello, allow me to introduce myself: My name is Fred and I’ll be here all week. Listening to all of the cat 4s at the finish line was quite funny as they were all predicting that Larry was going to take it easily. But as soon as I saw Larry leading out the sprint, I knew it was all over for him. McCook took it at the line, from Larry with a hard charging “Fast” Freddie Rodriguez almost pipping the both of them.

The Cat 4 race was a whole lot less exciting. With ~20 of us I figured we would keep it safe, but I knew it was going to be a rough race when on lap 2, I took a pull down the back stretch, moved over, motioned for someone to pull through, started to slow down, continued to slow down, slowed some more, and still no one would pull through. I had to slow to ~15 mph before anyone would pull through. Um, the wind wasn’t that bad guys. ~20 min in a Los Gatos rider and one other attacked, after ~1 lap of not chasing the break, it split up and we eventually neutralized it. I really wanted to attack about 6 different times, but I knew that I would be either solo or with only 1 other. Plus my strength is to wait for the sprint and I’m supposed to race my strength, right? So there I was, in zone 3, sitting about fourth wheel for a good part of the race, and waiting for the sprint. Going into turn 1, on the last lap, there was a daring solo attack. A chase was quickly organized and again I was ~4th wheel. We caught the break just before the sweeper. I was all set up when someone jumped early. I knew that if I didn’t jump, I was history, so I jumped for a “looooooooong” sprint. Just as I was really about to let it go, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye, real close and coming up along side of me.  I hesitated, for just a split second, and that is where I lost the race. I fought it out for 2nd, which is a great result, but I think I did 2 things wrong.

First, when I’m out sprinting with my friends/colleagues/teammates, I pin my ears back and let it rip. I know that we are not going to crash each other. I’ve truly never gone that hard in a sprint. In an attack I have, but not in a sprint. So that’s just a comfort level issue that I need to get over. More racin’ will help that. Second, I didn’t truly fight for the win. I fought for second. Fine for an Early Bird Crit, but I need to have more of a killer instinct if I ever expect to win a “real” race.

Oh and the average speed, 22.5 mph! Come on guys, that was weak!

12/11/10 Savage Sprints

Posted: December 14, 2010 in Savage Sprints

Fellow Hellyerites, Dean Alleger and Katie Stonebraker held the first Savage Sprint tournament in Sacramento last Saturday night at Rex Cycles in Sacramento (A super awesome shop!) in conjunction with Sac’s 2nd Saturday festivities. What are Savage Sprints you ask? They are 250m head to head battle royales replete with a festive atmosphere and heckling that would make Rand Miller blush. Sort of like NHRA drag racing, but with lycra. They are also an effort for Dean to raise money for the Sacramento Velodrome Association which intends to build a 250m velodrome in Sac as soon as possible. The setup, as seen below, includes matching sets of Kreitler 4.5” rollers with fork stands, bolted to plywood bases.  Matching track bikes running 54×13 gearing (112.2 inches) completes the mechanical setup. The electronic end of the setup includes sensors attached to the rollers with pickups that send signals to a laptop which handles the data acquisition. There are 3 video outputs, one for the promoter (Dean) one for the spectators, and one for the racers.

Savage Sprint Qualifying Heat #1

Savage Sprint Qualifying Heat #1

OK, now on to the racing. Before the tournament began, there were 2 qualifying rounds. In the first round, I completed the 250m distance in a time of 9.95 sec, which placed me 3rd, a couple tenths off the best time. The coolest qualifying heat was turned in by Bobby Gee whom cranked out a 9.87 all while out of the saddle, very impressive that ranked 2nd! First was taken by Steve (didn’t catch his last name) with a fine 9.71. In the second qualifying round, I intended on practicing my start, and then taking it easy as my initial qualifying position was good. When the countdown reached zero, I got a good jump and was feeling good. Just as I should have turned off the gas, the competitive juices got flowing and I kept cranking. I turned in a 9.81, moving me past Bobby Gee into 2nd position.  Just as the 2nd qualifying heats were finishing up, Whit turns up and cranks out a 9.52 in his Crocs. That’s right boys and girls, Crocs! Whoa, that was 2 tenths faster than anyone had run all night, and dropped me back down into 3rd position.

Meanwhile, the pizza from Hot Italian showed up. Let me tell you something. I’m not too proud to say: I know pizza. I’ve eaten pizza literally all over the world. From Italy, to France, to New York, to Chicago, … I’ve seen it all, tried it all, and I would drive the 1.5 hours to Sac just for a slice of that pie. It was delicious! Good char, perfect amounts of sauce, cheese, and toppings, soft crust. Naples would be proud! Get some! Not only was the pizza awesome, but the gal who delivered it jumped up and cranked out a sub 12s run!

OK, back to the racin’. The first (quarterfinal) round of the tournament, I wanted to make sure that I jumped out to a big lead and then coast in since my times were much better than my opponent. At the whistle, I cranked it up, but never felt comfortable enough with my lead to ease up. I ended up running a 9.55, only 3 100ths off of Whit’s Croc assisted “track” record. The semifinals pitted me against Bobby Gee and his out of the saddle style. At the whistle, I ripped it, but Bobby’s foot came out, so we had to restart. The second sprint, I took off again, but Bobby’s rig dropped data and I cruised home with a 9.91. Dean declared me the victor and I moved on to the finals where I faced Steve who had upset Whit in the semis.

On the women’s side, Carol Irving from Touchstone Climbing and Katie Stonebraker from Velo Bella were the class of the field all night marching toward their inevitable clash in the final, which was taken by Carol in fine style.

When I approached the stage for the final, I was thinking about my start. Steve had put together strong runs all night and I didn’t want to be playing catch-up. I tried to time the “whistle” perfectly and took the start of the final out of the saddle just a bit, concentrating on my upstroke. As I got up to speed, I noticed that I had a bit of a lead. From 100-150m my lead doubled, then from 150-200m, it doubled again, which allowed me to raise my arms in triumph and give a “Hellyer, Hell Yeah!” to the crowd. After I finished, Dean announced a new track record! 9.327. That works out to an average cadence of ~180 rpm. I guess all of that speed work is paying off. The podium shot is below.

Savage Sprints Podium

L-to-R: Katie Stonebraker, Carol Irving, Teddy V, Steve

All in all it was a great night. I met a bunch of new and interesting people, including Streve Rex, a super awesome frame builder/shop owner, raced for a bit less than 1 minute, ate some incredible pizza, helped a friend try to build a velodrome, and upheld Hellyer’s honor. Can’t wait to do it again.