Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sagebrush 2010

In the spirit of the day, and since I've had a couple questions about how it went, here's my belated report from the MTB XC season opener on Feb 28.

I've used a hybrid Fastrack/Ken bullet point style, with the patented Jurist style extended coverage for anyone who actually gives a darn:

Cliff Notes version:

-Super fun, fast, sloppy, clear, beautiful, crazy tough event with 3 Chickens racing: Alfredo finished an impressive 4th in Cat 3, Me a slightly disappointing 12th in Cat 2, and Gabe seemed happy with his 7th in Cat 1 (I think Gabe was mostly just happy to have finished his near epic 2Hrs, 43 Minutes on course, gnarly!!!!!) Let's get a bigger CR turn-out for Bonelli.

Extended Coverage:

- Alfredo wins the last minute planner award for making final decision and arrangements to race while still at work after 10PM night before

- 4-1/2 hour drive down under clear skies on Sunday morning rolling out of SB at 5AM on day of event with Alfredo, myself and Gabe carpooling as the only riders representing Team CR (Cats 3, 2, 1, respectively).

- Dirt entry road and parking lot were relatively firm, but scattered with deep mud puddles and temps were still in low 40's. Reports from overnight campers and locals was that it absolutely dumped rain Saturday evening with freezing temps overnight

- Racers were out in force, seemed like REALLY good numbers in the lot, registering and at the starting line. Lots of great energy and good buzz out there.

- Seems like about 1 in 4 riders is on a 29'er now and half of those are hardtails.

- All ages and classes went off with staggered start times beginning at 11AM, by which time it was warm with absolutely beautiful clear blue skies.

- Cat 2 & 3's both rode the same course ~18 miles, Cat 1 & Pros going a tough 22 miles

- First 1-1/2 miles or so was paved & mild. My Cat 2 group of 22 riders hung together in a tight peloton with quite a bit of joking about who was gonna try to organize a breakaway and/or win the next 'prime'. The pace did get lifted a good bit on the flat to put some pressure on the group leading up to "the hill"

- Course turned steep up hill for a 15 minute paved climb (7-10%?) which blew apart my group right away. I was able to hang with the top ten riders of my group on the climb but things did get a bit messy/confusing while overtaking slower riders from prior heats & simultaneously getting passed by 1 or 2 fast f'ers from the following heat. (no group numbers were written on legs at this race for some reason, so you could only ID someone actually in your age/cat if you recognized them form your starting group)

- At the top of this first big paved climb, less than 1/4 into the race I'd say the finishing positions were about 80% fixed.....

- Leaving pavement & dropping over the backside of the ridge, the course became an absolute never ending roller coaster super fun carve fest. Lots of excellent banked twisty single track and some super fast fire road descents made for one of the most fun course I've ever raced. The dirt withstood the water really well in general, not clumpy SB type clay, but just a little tacky in general. The multitude of puddles and a few granite rock carved single track sections and a couple mild drop offs really kept things interesting.

- For those of you gear hounds - although I did get passed by a very small number of full-boing riders who were absolutely bombing so fast through corners on the twisty fireroad downhills that they must've been locals, (IMHO), in general I really fell in love with my 26" hardtail during its first race. Even on the washboard descents and drop offs I felt like I could open it up and bomb just fine, and obviously it was super nice to be able to climb seated or standing on a lightweight hardtail on the uphills. On the flip-side, I did feel the fatigue factor just a little in my lower back having to stand for the duration on one of the longer downhills late in the race.......

-most puddles could be avoided carving slalom-style on the single tracks & open roads, but when you had to plow through a water hazard, it was a little scary. In order to not risk an endo you wanted to keep your weight back or try to unweight/bunny hop, but obviously that's easier said than done. Ask Gabe about his front wheel stand manuever at race pace sometime when you get a chance......

- one ginormous section of super steep hike a bike uphill at about 2/3 through the race was pretty hard on the psyche. It was a huge quarter mile long uphill slog conga line. I actaully did pass a couple "trudgers" by shouldering my bike lower down on the wall, but then I regained my senses and got into line just in time before I imploded.

- Final mile of the race included about 3 or 4 good water crossings, one maybe 24" deep in the middle and 25 yards wide which some riders rode and some carried their bike ( I rode through and got completely drenched with cold water while rinsing quite a bit of grime off me & my bike)

- Met up with some guys from Linked Cycles after I started chatting things up with them a bit after my race and one of them says, hey you're with Chicken Ranch, do you know Robert Higgins?...... Seems that this guy (Ryan) knew Big Rob via email but had never actually met him in person. So Rob: Ryan from Linked Cycles passes along good wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery.

- We all do miss you out on the rides and at the races Rob, hope your recovery is going well.

- Alfredo scored a super nice lazer engraved stainless steel plaque for his efforts

- After the race, a guy next to us mentioned that he was from San Diego and this was his ONE local San Diego race and he wasn't looking forward to having to make the hube drive for BOTH of the Santa Barbara races. (chalk one more up for living in SB)

- Team Chicken is now sitting in 5th place in the team competition after 1 race, sure would be nice to have a minimum of 8 Team Chicken Ranch riders register, race and score team points at Bonelli and beyond!

See you ALL at Bonelli.

Ride On!


Gabe Says!

The Ventura Chapter of the SB Chicken Ranchers opt’ed for better weather in NorCal. John Vanmanekes and myself made a last minute decision and headed north on Sat evening to enter the Merco Foothills RR in Merced CA. Unlike our brothers who headed south, or stayed local, we endured perfect weather w/ the temps in the mid-60’s w/ patchy clouds.
The race was run on the back roads of Merced with complete road closures. I can’t remember ever being in a road race where we had no center line rule and access to the whole road….pretty cool! The course was basically 72 miles of rollers and flats, with the biggest hill being slightly steeper than our local Bates Rd and about the same length. We had roughly 90+ racers in our group. Considering that John has been going really well lately, it was agreed prior to the race start that I would work for John to either help bring back breaks, or get him into position for the sprint.
The race was difficult at times with attacks and small breaks that didn’t materialize, but going into the final lap it was pretty much certain that it was going to come down to a sprint finish. The last 2 miles included some big ring out of the saddle rollers, with the finish being about 500 meters from the top of the last roller. The original plan was to get to the top in the lead group and lead John out, but going into the final 2 miles, the Specialized Factory team formed an 8 man lead-out for their sprinter, who happened to have also won the previous day's crit. At this point, John got on my wheel and we made our move on the outside. Once on the front, I tried to wedge myself into the Specialized train, but they had it locked down pretty tight, so I just tried to keep the momentum up as high as I could and keep John near the front. Once we got near the top of the last roller, my legs were done and John went around in the top 10. I got swarmed by about 50 guys, but I managed to see John’s head bobbing near the front of the sprinting pack. He pulled off an impressive 7th place finish in a hard fought sprint, and his prize……$20 which covered the Starbucks bill on the way home.

There was also the Sage Brush MTB race last weekend. Paul Donahoe, Alfredo Gallegos, and myself headed down to San Diego early Sunday morning. Alfredo pulled off a 4th place in the Cat 3s, Paul turned in a 12th place in the Cat 2’s, and I finished in 7th in the Cat 1’s.

That’s it!


Island View, Susie Style

Since there are so many fine race/ride reports coming through today, I thought I would give my two-cents for the ladies 3/4 crit on Saturday.

Although I had no official teammates, Avalon (of Kalyra) and Sommers (of Echelon juniors) were at the start with me and we know each other well from the morning rides. We had a pretty small group, 7 total in the race, mostly college racers.

The start and middle were tame with a few attacks, all chased down successfully. Avalon, Sommers and I were at the front for most of the 40 minutes sharing pulls and keeping things under control (haha).

Final two laps put the three of us going a bit harder and in final lap Sommers yells at Mom (Avalon) to "GO GO GO!!" which she does and I just stay on Sommers wheel. Av pulls off in the final turn and Somers took off like a bullet. I felt like I went into reverse, but instead took 2nd with Avi in 3rd. Other finishers were pretty far back, so I guess that meant we had a good final sprint. That's what counts, right?

BTW, Kimberly, a few of the men were asking "where's Kim? Did she move to Arizona? I sure do miss watching her race!" To which I replied, "ME TOO!"

Come on out sometime, would love to see you!


Island View Crit Race Report Cat 5

Not nearly as dramatic as San Diego, but this weekend was also the Island View Crit for anyone that stayed in town and wanted to race. The threat of rain held off for the Cat 5's and Cat 4's...I left during the Pro/1/2/3 race and it started POURING down rain when I was at lunch (at Chicken Ranch, natch) so they probably got deluged. Hecky or anyone, any report?

The Cat-5 race was very predictable - jumpy at the start, lots of sprinting off the corners but then braking into them. No significant strategy involved...my usual one 90-second attempt at a getaway was pulled back by a string of 20-year-old college kids with energy to burn. With about 8 laps to go the predictable big crash happened in the last turn, luckily I was in the inside lane near the front and just saw it out of the corner of my eye and heard the awful sound of wheels pretzeling, carbon shattering, and tires bursting. Everyone was off the road the next lap so I guess they were okay. There was a Chicken outfit in the crash I think but I never heard who it was? Anyone?

Anyway after the crash the race was much more manageable and Masters-like. Faster and more strung out, with a final lap push and sprint. Kent Luu got fifth for the Chickens, very strong showing, and I got my first top-10 in 9th after another little college kid got me at the line for 8th. At least everyone in front of me on the results was 20 years or more younger so that was fine for me. Bill McBride was in the race and got caught up in the back of pack I think for 24th, also Tucker in 30th and Alfredo in 32nd must have got caught behind the crash, but they can chime in with what happened back there if they want.
I hear people complain sometimes about the aggro group rides and "Sunday Worlds" but it is definitely the key quality training for a Cat 5 - the races are EASY compared to that.

In the Cat 4's I saw Ken Doyle doing a ton of work at the front pulling back various breaks but he was toasted by the finish and got something like 8th. Gene was off the front a few times but I think also ended up mid-front-pack. Ken, any bullet points? You were definitely the man in that race.

Great day, really, compared to the forecast, unless you were in the crash or that pro/1/2/3 race...those guys must have got doused.
Best regards,

-- Paul

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ken Is The Champ!

Wow, I didn’t know people cared so much. OK, I will respond to the pressure to improve my race report. I just feared boring people with details. How about bullet points!

  • Missed 2 weeks of decent training leading up to race due to illness. Post-antibiotic funk and jacked up back left me questioning my abilities.
  • Flew over to Vegas with Mitch and Bill McBride in Bill’s jet (45 minute trip). That’s how we roll.
  • Kicked it with houseboatmates Paul Wren, Mitch, Avalon and her daughter Summersby.
  • Waited til 4:30 to race the uphill time trial.
  • Raced well, matched last year’s time, should have pushed harder.
  • Time that was good for 2nd last year was only good enough for 7th this year. Deeper talent pool damn it.
  • 7:00am road race start time under threatening skies. 44 mile course with 3500 ft. of climbing.
  • Top GC guy is on the local Vegas team and has the most teammates – great!
  • Gene, Paul, Bill, Mitch and I make it through the course in the lead group and head towards home.
  • Gene jams up his drivetrain shifting gears and is off the back.
  • Bill moves up towards the front to stay out of trouble.
  • Paul launches and attack about 3 miles out and gets everyone out of the saddle.
  • Race settles in as everyone smells the finish line in a couple of miles.
  • With my crampy legs I move onto the front anticipating the local team driving it in to the finish.
  • I guessed right, and jumped into the 4th position of their train, riding it to the turn 1/4 mile from the finish.
  • Random guy behind me jumps around me and I get on him to get past the leaders.
  • Thanks for the leadout Beotch! I jumped him 100 meters out and got a road race victory.
  • Moved up to 5th in the GC.
  • Bill gets a top ten finish in the hilly road race!
  • Rain comes down within minutes of our finish. Later groups get hailed on out there.
  • Had to explain a dozen times that we are not sponsored by the Nevada version of a Chicken Ranch.
  • 30 minute parking lot crit, no chance of getting away, try for another win.
  • Gene breaks away on 5th lap for a prime win of a Road ID.
  • Mitch drives a fruitless attack with 5 to go. Local team is marking everything closely.
  • Gene rolls up with 3 to go and tells me to get on his wheel – yes!
  • Could not advance in heavy traffic and settle for something around 10th (thanks for trying Gene).
  • Managed to move up to 4th in GC.
Overall a great time. Definitely an event to plan on next year. 45 houseboats full of racers (only 20 boats last year). Super cool having all races start right there in the marina. Stage races are the best team events – good times!


Gran Fondo San Diego

Wow. What a ride, not race, but timed, with a winner just from the timed portion, which is in the middle of the ride and is a climb, but not a triple crown.....Whilst you and your loved ones were basking in a glorious Santa Barbara, sun-filled day, Steve Boelter (aka Platinum Chicken), Dave Lettieri and I ventured south to tackle the 101 mile Colnago San Diego Gran Fondo (Now and forever known as the Gran Flash Flood-o). Rain was the threat from weather.com for the last week with percentages dancing around the 50-70% range, which for our ilk means 50-30% chance of sun! PC and I left early on Saturday in order to retrieve numbers for ourselves and for Lettieri who was leaving late after Luke arm wrestled yet another customer for the chance to purchase a new bike (if I win, you buy a bike. If you win, you buy a bike). Saturday evening showed some signs of rain ranging from nostril blast while riding to genuine, that'll clean the car downpour. Again, optimistic that any rain the day before means less chance the next day. After dinner and a game of "where the hell does a helmet number go", it was all about the ride.

Up early Sunday and out the door with pockets full of rain jacket, zip lock of spare dry gloves and the anticipation of the "wild indian" start that is a Dave legend, we got to the start line with nary a drop falling from the sky. By 6:40, PC and I were standing under a bus shelter several blocks from the start watching water creep up over the curb. Some city workers offered to put sandbags around our location, but we replied that we would be riding our bikes 101 miles in just a few moments. You can imagine the looks. We watched straggling riders dutifully riding to the rear of the start queue in the monsoon and later heard from Lettieri's dad that it took 45 minutes to clear the start area in waves. Sweet. 75 minutes in sky dumping rain waiting to ride in it.

Our little plan to jump the start almost went of course when we realized we weren't on the right street, which meant having to roll down a few blocks and then sprint to catch on with the lead group. So cool! They had three Ferrari's and a motorcycle escort leading the pack through downtown SD, but the weather was so lousy no one saw it. We followed 950,000.00 worth of cars to the on ramp of the Coronado Bridge. Just as they made the turn they stopped and those crazy Italians started yelling that we had missed the turn and we were supposed to take and that everyone needed to turn around in the single lane of the on ramp. Easy! Just like Poor College Kids last year, eveyone chose their own little u-turn in a direction they felt expressed the level of hypothermia they would return with. Back down the street and a left turn put the group onto the exit of the bridge so that we rode up two dedicated lanes on the left side. Great, except for the metal expansion joints with the shark teeth shape that threatened to crash out anyone going over 15 MPH and the still blasting rain.
As we headed down the strand from Coronado, I hooked up with the first of my ride saviors, a guy from the Amgen Giant masters team who was happy to tap out 21 MPH in a head wind whilst I drank the gravel filled water from his back tire and didn't even whimper a complaint. He was also quite effective at organizing our group of twenty or so into a two abreast group ride. One not so fortunate tri athlete type was sent packing after he continually bolted ahead dropped back and then blew a stop light. Doyle, you would have loved this guy. Around that time I noticed that PC was no longer in our group, had flatted and decided the jacuzzi at the hotel was the more prudent activity for a rainy Sunday.

Around mile 40, we stopped at the Olympic Training facility in Chula Vista/Otay Lakes, grabbed sandwiches and then smaller groups headed out the 9 more miles to the start of the timed climb. I was feeling pretty good until I needed to shift and my chain hopped around the cassette like Shaun White in a half-pipe. OK, now I wasn't feellng so good with marginal gear management possibilities. The next sag was 1.5 miles from the top of the climb so I handed my bike off to the Campy support, who said, guess what? "Oh, I see the problem, you're running Shimano." Oh, wow, there's a new one! I grabbed some coffee and sandwich while the comedian worked on my bike. I don't remember who said that clothes make the man, but I can tell you that the right clothes keep the man from shivering like Chick Hearn Jell-O and the groups of team riders under the leaky tent. I was wearing leg warmers, arm warmers, vest, rain jacket, head warmer, long fingered gloves with a shell over the gloves and these knuckle heads looked like they were headed to a summer crit in Ontario. Much to their extreme discomfort, the descent was 15 degrees colder than the climb and it was still pissing rain.

I did the descent on my own, which was gnarly. Lots of water streaming across the road, some mud and all the while raining , foggy and cold and , oh yeah, not much braking power. Around mile 60, I hooked up with a guy from Canada who had caught me at a red light. He was chatty and wanted to ride back together. When the light changed and we started riding he slipped a pedal and crashed in the intersection. I would have really liked to have ridden away from him, but he turned out to be pretty strong and we eventually picked up 8 other riders, including an Eastern European riding a 29'er mountain bike with street tires, cross brakes and drop bars, for our bell miles back to SD. It should be noted that we stopped for every stinking stop light from Otay Lakes to downtown San Diego.

I'm not sure where we finished, but lots of folks came in after us. Subtracting stoppage time, the ride took just about as much time as the King Ridge Fondue. Lettieri's time was similar as well, although he is claiming 7th in the ride that's not a race.

While waiting for PC to pick me up (he had to check out of the hotel at 1:30, so no shower for you!), I decided to get some of the promised free food and wound up getting in to the VIP tent. Super bonus! Hot pasta, prosecco, ham, a Lavazza espresso and all the Italians congratulating me on doing the ride. Extra Super Bonus! Bill Walton was in the VIP tent. Why? Who knows! But the whole deal was a slam dunk!

David Jurist

Yes I know the journalist is a hard act to follow but I can add the following in the Ken style of a ride/race report:

- Woke up at 5:30 to dry roads. Great don't need to carry all that rain stuff.

- 6:15am go outside to get ready: raining, change of plans, put on everything I can

- 6:45 wait to last possible minute to get to the start line and see 3000 crazy people just standing a full downpour waiting for the start

- 7am Got a nice front row position on the start line, nice to be from Pennsylvania now and then. (the guy organizing the start area was an east coaster)

- Small start delay so the Ferraris could get warmed up and Olympic and World Champion Paolo Bettini could get out of his car.

 - Within the first 10 miles we go over Cornado bridge like its a hill top finish and I look back to see only 10 riders in the group, fortunately since the ride marking were minimal, 20-30 riders caught up while the front group decided which way to go.

- The timed hill climb was like a 7 mile Casitas hill ( the fastest guy up was a pro mtn biker). Probably would have been an easier climb if the triathlete did TT it to the base.

- Not stopping at some rest stops is a good way to catch up when you get dropped on the climb

-Like the Santa Rosa Gran Fondo, it seems strange that with 3000 people you could be riding with only one other person for a while. At least she was a former World Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist and good looking.

- In the rain, 50 miles seems like a 100, Temps were 42-49 degrees, You also can't really get food out of the pockets with big gloves.

- For the last 50, we had 5 riders chasing 3 (who we never saw after the climb) , a Triathlete, a cat 5, a 3 former Olympians

- At the 90mile rest area, a guys asks if we need anything, yes for the ride to be over :)

- 92miles, (on the bike path) flat tire, also hard to fix in the pouring rain and with big gloves.

- Finish in about the same 5:30 ish as the Santa Rosa ride with less climbing. Slow average speed with weather, lights, more stopping and small group in the early part of the ride. Charts showed 4500 ft, more like 5500 ft.

- The big city rides are a bit rough with the lights, unlike DJ, we did blow quite a few lights in the last 20 miles.

- Overall an epic hard core ride. I would say 65 miles really good roads, the rest standard big city stuff.

-Good gloves, real rain jacket, tons of Squirt chain lube, the flamingo fender and plastic bags in the shoes are key.

Dave L.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Newspress Task Force Update 3-4-10

Here is a link to the update from the newspress regarding the Trails Task Force Meeting this week.