Posts Tagged ‘Oregon

23
Jun
09

Stage 3 Crit results

Its going to be hard to get the images on here immediately, but it’s now Tuesday, and ya’ll need to know the rest of the story.

The afternoon crit went well. I rode very aggressively, and raced hard for 2 or 3 primes, just missing out on each one. For the last prime, even though I missed the cash, I dashed on and kept going, only just getting caught by the pack on the last lap. Unfortunately, I was gassed, so I struggled to hold on to a Top 10 in the sprint. As you know, I’m no sprinter, so I slipped back to 11th. NUTS.

Still, it was a great 45 minutes, I had a strong showing, I hope they got some good photos – the ones my friends took were awesome, and I’ll post them as soon as I can find the time. No change in GC.

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20
Jun
09

Elkhorn Classic, Stage 2, 11.3 mile TT

Ready to Roll

Ready to Roll

Well, I gave it everything I had. I think I’ve got one of the most aero positions possible, with a back that is as flat as can be, and a helmet that merges with it perfectly. Power was down today, though I know that’s a combination of the position, elevation, and fatigue. I never caught my 30-second man, but I kept him close, and he caught his 30-second man, so I have some hope that I didn’t lose time. I was never passed, and at the turnaround, I know I had a large gap. I hope I kept that. Wattage was in the 250’s. The wheels were perfect, and the 55 chainring worked well. Spencer rode a 23:20, and the other two guys were probably faster. This is just something I need to work on. The saddle largely worked. It’s better out on the road than indoors. I’ll tweak it a little bit, but I’m going to have to go out to the Motor Speedway more often.

Crit is at 5:30 local time. It should be dry, so I’m going to go for a top 6 in this one and see if I can garner some upgrade points.

The DeSalvo Team with Mark from Landshark and myself post TT

The DeSalvo Team with Mark from Landshark and myself post TT

19
Jun
09

Elkhorn Classic Day 1 – 73 miles

Oh man. I am BEAT. Beat, but UP beat!

The view from the first feed zone

The view from the first feed zone

I’m up here in Oregon, in Baker City, attending the Elkhorn Classic, a 4 stage race held on the solstice weekend annually. Spencer, my buddy that lives up here, brought two teammates with him, David and Matt, and we all hit it off immediately. On Thursday afternoon, we actually drove the course for Stage 1, showing the two newbies, Dave and Matt, the nuances of the course.

The first 35 miles are mostly downhill, as you leave Baker City and follow some green farmland and basically parallel the Interstate, though you can’t hear it. Then, you cross under I-84 and head out in to some hills, where the real action begins. There is a wind farm at the head of the valley, so we ride right underneath them, and then get in to a canyon which takes us to another tiny village, and then IT IS ON, with a 14-mile climb, the last of which is at maybe 7 to 10%. After that, though, it doesn’t get any easier, because you end up on the high prairie desert, and there’s this black ribbon of road that just winds its’ way back to Baker City, over hill and down dale, following creeks, climbing up rolling hills, until it finally drops you down in to a flat runout to the finish line, which is near the Baker City airport.

Spencer (left) and Matt (right)

Spencer (left) and Matt (right)

I had prepared for this since November. I had followed a strategic plan to show up stronger than ever, and to compete, rather than just survive. Spencer was also ready, and from the conversations with David and Matt, I was convinced that they were in great shape as well.

We started off at 1:40pm from Baker City High School, and within a mile, a friend I’d made here last year, George Chiou, showed up at the front of the race, and started setting a HIGH pace. Spencer stayed up there with me, and together, we took roughly 2 minute pulls, keeping the pace high, keeping the pack single-file, and basically screaming down the valley. Others took some good pulls, but George and Spencer and I were the instigators. However, both George and Spencer pointed out, after about an hour, that a storm was brewing in the EXACT direction we were headed.

Mountain storms in the summer are nothing to sneeze at. I remember one time in July of 1994, when my friend Jeremy and I were mountain biking in Montana, and we got stuck in a storm that dumped snow, ice, and lightning, in our midst. It scared the absolute bejeebers out of me, and I remember being cold for days afterwards, when we were essentially rescued by a neighbor. Anyway, that’s a digression.

On the first real climb up to the first feed zone, I OWNED IT, and I pulled and guttered as many people as I could. Spencer later told me that I actually SPLIT THE FIELD! 90 people started this event, so I was STOKED that this flatlander was able to climb at least somewhat with the locals. But as SOON as we hit the feed zone, the rain started. Now, this is not typical Oregon weather. Usually, when I come out here, it’s dry and hot. But this year, the weather pattern was different. It had started raining earlier in the day, and had not let up until the start of the race, so we had a nice break from the weather for about an hour, maybe longer. But when this stuff hit, it hit hard, it hit dark, and it came down in a cold, quarter-size drop DELUGE.

Instantly the pack went on the defensive. Gaps betwen wheels were longer, and we single-filed to the center of the road, to try and avoid the deeper wheel wells, which were quickly filling with 4+cm of rain. For a short while, George told me that we had a gap of about 10 seconds, so the two of us, with about 7 others, tore it up through some tight, twisty roads, and tried to get a gap. It lasted maybe a minute. Damn. The rain kept coming down, though, and I was glad I had my leggings on, because for a while there I started quaking. That settled down, however, when we got to Union, and started the climb that would define the race.

The climb is about 14 miles long, and it starts gradually, but then pitches up to the point where the gradient is about 8% or more for short periods of time. But it is relentless, and the rain, accompanied with the short range of vision due to the twists and turns, really sort of hampered our ability to predict what was coming around the next corner. But about 4  miles in, Matt came up to the front, and within a mile, with two riders about 20 seconds off the front, I launched him and he was able to bridge up to those guys, and form a working break. It was AWESOME! I stayed at or near the front, but my pulls were so-so, as Matt pulled away with the other two guys. Several attacks to try and close the gap were nullified by me, and I found that as we near the crest, I was actually holding on to the leaders pretty darned well.

But about 1.5 miles from the top, maybe 1.2, after urging myself on and on and on, I just couldn’t hold on with the leaders, and I fell back. I hate getting gassed, and I  hate getting passed. But this hill, at this gradient (one of the steepest parts), and given my flair for pushing and pulling from the front too early, too much (man, Jason, what was I thinking?), just combined to make my legs and lungs swell up and lock. Well, not really, but it was just enough to fall back. David passed me, but I was too out of breath to tell him about Matt being up the road. It took about 30 seconds for me to get my head back in to the game, but by then, the pack had slid past and I was fighting for scraps.

But this time, I didn’t lose my head. I kept pushing, and I rallied, and I got over the pass less than a minute away from the pack, which was down to less than 30 riders. There was another group in between, and then scattered riders in 2’s and 3’s. I grabbed a bottle, left a bottle, and then raced like a demon down the back side of the pass and on to the plain in between the area where the rolling hills are. George rejoined me (he had also been dropped – still no sign of Spencer, though, which was surprising), and we all grouped up to try and paceline it back to the main field.

We were doing pretty well at this, when, weirdly, my right calf, and my left hamstring, started to give me some weird sensations of pre-cramping. What made it weird was that they never seized outright, and the weather (wet and cold, yet the legs were wrapped in a pair of leg warmers, nevermind the fact that I’d been religiously holding to my schedule to drink my EFS every 15 minutes, finishing a bottle an hour, just so I wouldn’t cramp) should’ve been more to my liking. I did everything I could, but my legs were definitely ‘off’, and I communicated this to the grupetto that I was in, trying to stay with them and contribute, but unable. Everyone was great about it, however, and they let me try to massage my hamstring and calf, and eventually, maybe 2 minutes later, the twitching went away, and I freakin’ climbed the first 1-minute hill from the front!

With 20 miles to go, the agenda now was to do everything possible to mitigate time losses, and try to bridge with the larger pack. Slowly, we reeled other riders in, but our efforts were just always a little off, and try as we might, we never got inside a minute on the front pack. The good news is that we were just a minute or so off, maybe a little more, but the bad news was that we were never good enough at reeling in the bigger fish, nor were we strong enough to keep the pack together. Riders dropped off like flies, leaving us with a core group of 6 + 3. Somewhere on one of the 3-minute hills, George and two others got away, and stayed about 30 seconds ahead until we got within 3 miles of the finish.

When we finally regrouped, I told everyone that we were now riding for nothing but time, and that we could minimize the gap by working together. We actually sort of did, for  a while, but in the end, I think I finished about 4 minutes off the front, together with George. However, the entire pace of the race had been so high over it’s entire duration, that we were FIFTEEN MINUTES faster than last year, and I know I was somewhere in the mid 30’s or 40’s, well above the 86th position that I got in the Stage 1 race last year. Matt finished slightly ahead of me, and David was in that main pack at the front, or just behind it.

But where was Spencer?

Sadly, Spencer, who had been having a banner day at Elkhorn in the first half of the race, fell victim to a flat, on the main climb, just feet from where the gradient went from moderate to steep. He lost a minute in the wheel exchange, then soloed in the rest of the way, finishing 7 minutes down. He’s had a lot of flats this year, and he’s got some of the most puncture proof tires in the business, and whatever Karma he’s ticked off, his debt has been more than paid.  BUT, we were all still in good enough spirits, and we all animatedly talked about the race, our strategy, and what we should do next.

I could go on, but I’m exhausted, and this is detailed enough. Placings haven’t been posted, but I’ll put up what I know when I know it, and I’m going to bust patootie on the TT and crit tomorrow, in the hopes that I’ll move up in the GC. Of course, that’s everyone’s strategy, so you never really know. Still, I’m satisfied with my effort, feel like I came here strong enough to do well, and I did.

Sidebar – unfortunately, I have no wattage information. Apparently the flight up here affected the PM on my road bike, via the compression/decompression of the cargo hold in the aircraft, so I’ll be sending in my unit come Tuesday. That means no wattage info on Stages 1,3, and 4. The TT bike’s unit still works, but I’ll be ‘going commando’ for the duration of the weekend on my road bike. It’s unfortunate, but it hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for the Quarq or for the race.

See ya’ll tomorrow after the TT, and then again after the Crit!! Pray for drier weather!!

09
Jul
08

Month of June training and racing updates

Wow – updating this is never easy, it’s just too easy to sort of replay the themes of cycling and training and racing in your head, and then let them sort themselves out, rather than put the words on e-paper. However, I’ll try to bring everything up to date with a long post.

Lessee, where to begin. Maybe go backwards in time? Oh, that’s right, June. More heat, more efforts on the bike, and more directions to turn to make this whole coaching gig actually work out.

I left everyone at the end of May, where I raced in three crits and had two DNF’s and a mid-pack finish to show for it. But it was definitely hot, and several conversations with promoters lead me to believe that late May and early June revealed some of the highest attrition rates in North Texas competitions. Usually you can assume that about 20-30% of the athletes competing in any one race will not finish the race. In this case, it was more like 50% to 60%, and the fields were effectively decimated. That doesn’t mean that the racing wasn’t still of a high caliber, it just means that we have GOT to prepare for the environment in which we compete. I didn’t, and I paid the price for it.

I had a weekend off from competition, and spent Saturday, May 31st sleeping about 10 hours straight, one of the longest rests I’ve had in quite some time. It felt WONDERFUL. Then, on the first of June, I met up with Darlene Jones out at the Texas Motor Speedway, and we practiced some 20-minute efforts, though she was late, and I did have Cindi Phillippi coming over to the location later in the morning. We set up Cindy’s computer software after doing some intervals, and decided on the best approach to helping her achieve her goals this summer and in to next year. I’m confident that I can help – just this past Wednesday she had her highest overall finish in the “C” race crit in Fort Worth. So things should be coming together for her.

COPPERAS COVE

Copperas Cove, in Central Texas, proved to be one of the most difficult weekends of competition I’ve ever faced on a road bike. The competition on Saturday was for the Age-based State RR championships, and I was looking forward to competing with a bunch of buddies from different categories, and trying to help Chris Kutach, the president of Mirage, as best as I could. The day dawned incredibly hot and windy, however, and once again I was completely unprepared for the elements. I think I hung on for about 90 minutes, maybe longer, before I cracked on a 3-minute hill, one of the longer ones in Texas. I did rally and tried like the dickens to catch back on, but for some reason, one of my teammates was more interested in having me drag his sorry butt up and over the hills than have us work together on anything. We were also dealing with the attrition rate yet again, and I literally soloed a whole bunch of the rest of the race back to the finish line, when I finally got popped with about 8 miles to go, suffered a heat stroke-like symptom (delusions and lost sight temporarily in one eye), and sort of had an out-of-body experience. I limped in, coming in in something like 29th place or so, immediately took a recovery drink, packed myself in my ice vest, and tried to cool down. Others were not so lucky. Cindy became ill out on the course, and came back to the finish line apparently looking like a rag doll. I was already back in the room by the time she came in. No one on the Mirage squad had great results, though several did survive the lead pack and made their mark on the event. However, most of them were disgusted with the event, the conditions, and themselves, and left for home that night. I had paid for two races, however, and I wanted to compete.

Sunday was more of the same, but in this case it was a race run by categories. However, due to the number of departures overnight, the 3’s were mixed with the 1’s and 2’s, and when the race started, there were several  attacks that sent the pack in to a tizzie. I wonder if it was the wind stirring up some bizarre set of passions, because people were really berzerk out there. The course was run in reverse, and when we made the left-hand turn on to what I’ll affectionately call “crap road”, the peloton guttered itself and rode like they had poured gas on a dog’s tail and lit it. I think I survived 12 minutes in the ensuing gutterfest, but it wasn’t more than 30 seconds after I got popped that I looked up and the ENTIRE peloton had completely blown itself up. There were 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s, in groups of 2 and 3, just rolling along at maybe 15 miles per hour, heads down, dripping. I sort of rallied and tried to get a group of 5 or 6 together, but ended up with just one other guy who rode with me for another 15 or 20 miles, before we decided to DNF and basically get the heck out of there. On that one stretch of road, I think I must have passed about 20 other riders, and then picked up and passed another half dozen or more.

This was a strange, strange, strange weekend of racing. Attrition on Sunday was over 70%. There were single digits of 3’s that stayed and finished, much less remained competitive. Cindy got sick out on the course again, another sign that maybe sometimes riding, racing, or even competing in high heat and humidity conditions aren’t the right thing to do for some of us. I got more chills on Sunday, but this time, I DID take my Camelback with me, and it WAS filled to the brim with ice and complex carbs. But even then, it wasn’t enough. The racing was hard, but the conditions conspired to create what could have been a dangerous sittuation.

So that makes what, 5 races in a row where I ended up getting some degree of heatstroke and dehydration? And four DNF’s? I won’t comment too much about my degree of fitness. It definitely could have been better, but man, the conditions were plain conspiratorial.

I spent the next 3 days sort of recovering, and actually flew out to Lubbock for the Jr. Development Camp from Monday through Wednesday. The kids were great, the testing had a few bobbles at first, but we got everything under control, and ended up with a great set of data. I came back home to work and earn some money, and then attended the Saturday version of the Matrix Crit, where once again, conditions were extremely hot and humid. This time, I DID finish on the lead lap, but I just lost it about 3 laps from the end, and fell off the pace a bit. Once again, there were a huge number of DNF’s, and I resolved to not attend the Sunday race, just to save my sanity a bit.

Tuesday night, the 17th, I learned that I am being furloughed from iBike for July and August. Huh. Well, nuts to that. I won’t comment on it any more, but it definitely puts me in a bind for my practice and my overall income. I’m still working on a book for John, but the deadline is July 1. So we’ll see.

ELKHORN CLASSIC

The goal for the entire year was to try and get as prepared as possible so that I could peak for the 4-stage Elkhorn Classic, held in Baker City, Oregon, from the 20th through the 22nd of June. For those who haven’t ridden out there, Oregon has a vibrant cycling and competitive community, and is host to some of the most competitive and most scenic events in the country. Baker City is just 2 hours West of Boise, so I took advantage of the opportunity, flew out with both the road bike and the TT bike, and decided to make the best of it.

The goal for Stage 1 was to HIDE. I had no teammates, just one friend, and had every intention of simply trying like heck to HOLD ON and finish with the pack as much as possible. Well, a break went up the road early, and we did NOTHING. I got a flat, got a wheel change, got back IN to the pack, and again, the pack did NOTHING. There were no attacks, no efforts to bridge, nothing for about 3 hours. FINALLY, on the long climb to the big summit in the woods, there were some serious efforts to break up the pack. And while I lasted longer this year than I did two years ago, I did still get popped about 1 mile from the summit. However, a group of us made it back together, roughly 12 riders, and about 10 of us (some red and white jerseyed guys simply would NOT do any work, I hope they get thorns in their tires) pulled and pulled and pulled until it finally broke apart. About 5 miles from the finish, I was done, and I lost a lot of ground, finishing several minutes down. The 2-4 minute hills, one after the other, were what did it, and I kicked myself, knowing that I should have been better prepared. Still, I did come in a little faster than Spencer, and I completely blew up on the ride home.
NUTS.

Stage 2 was the TT, and though I was using my Ergomo, I do believe I had a better time trial than in the previous years. In 2006, I managed an awful 80th position. This year, I got 35th. The disc and Nimble Tri worked pretty well, but my aero bars DID slip, and there’s no telling whether the Ergomo was accurate or not. I went out at a 235NP, and came back averaging a 238NP, so something went well in terms of power output – I just don’t know how much… ergomo’s perpetually perplex me. The result of the effort? I moved up ONE STINKING PLACE IN THE GC, from 66th to 65th. NUTS NUTS NUTS NUTS NUTS.

Now, after the TT, Spencer, my buddy and ex-client from Medford/Central Point, went out and decided to shoot some images of the Stage 1 course, so that in the future, I could come out and have some better memory pegs and mental markers for the dread that lay ahead. We returned to town in what can only be described as a summer storm in the mountains. Cold, first misty, then heavy horizontal rain, accompanied by a driven wind and sort of a sand storm picked up and changed the whole atmosphere of the valley. Spencer and I got back in to town about 3pm, just in time to get ready for the crit that afternoon. But the rain stayed off and on throughout the afternoon and evening, and while we actually started the crit between storms, there were so many crashes in previous races that had all been either cancelled or shortened or delayed, that we were certain the race itself would either not start or would end prematurely. And we were right. After no more than 15 minutes, the officials called the race when a big storm jumped in and turned the course in to slick blacktop and concrete. We were done for the night. We went back to the hotel, changed up real quick, ate some Mexican food, and called it a night.

Stage 4 – Dooley Mountain.

The final stage of the race was supposed to be the stage where I was going to ‘shine’. My numbers were good, my body was relaxed, I had gotten 8 hours of sleep most every night I’d been up there, and there were no expectations being placed on me. So, we get up, get dressed, eat a good meal, show up at the race start, and we go off at a leisurely pace through town for a 103 mile journey that covered 4 climbs. Oh, and I dorked out by riding with a Camelback full of cold complex carbs, and two bottles. Maybe 3. I can’t remember. I had some bars, but they were pretty soft, and soft bars are realllly hard to eat.

IT. WAS. SO. BORING.

The first 30 minutes went by, and one guy was off the front, maybe a pair of guys in between, and one other that I could see from the pack. Then there were the rest of us. We’re averaging about 15 mph. The road is narrow. The pack still joined tightly. I couldn’t really move up or back. I just pedaled and coasted.

Another 10 minutes go by. I’m bored. Then another 5, and I finally see a small break go up the road. I’m about 30 riders back from the start, and I roll up and say “I’ll take a pull and bring ’em back”, as if to say, “We’re going to lollygag for 4 hours or more, so we might as well do it like a family.”

Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

I bridged to the four, and we ended up pulling up what was the first major climb, up to a reservoir. I looked back, saw NO ONE, and figured, Oh heck, let’s see where this goes….

One or two guys went back, but about four or five of us merged with some of the solo artists and formed a decent-powered breakaway. On the second major climb, one turkey decided he was going to protect his GC man (WHAT???), and wouldn’t work with us at all, but this guy that I’d made friends with on Stage 1, George from Nike in Portland, he and I hit it off, ended up working together, and we basically forged a group of 3 and then 2 that stayed away for over 80 freakin’ miles! One kid, 4th in the GC, pulled away early with another kid, and those two went on to win the entire freakin’ race, stage and GC. But George and No-Pull and I also got up to 10 minutes away from the pack, and continued to ride like we’d stolen the race for the entire stinkin’ day. Finally, finally, finally, no more than a 1/2 mile from the final climb up Dooley Mountain, the pack caught us. We’d been out for 3 and a half hours, and while I fought like heck to stay on, I was cooked.

I limped home in 80th place, completely wasted, but actually really satisfied in the results of my effort. People came up to us later and told us we’d done a great job, and the Nike guy said that if that bozo had actually done some work, we probably would have stayed away. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

This race continues to challenge me, and I want so badly to do well in it. I want to return next year, and try it again, but we’ll have to see how everything goes at home.




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