Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This Whole Season Comes Down to One Hour...

Five weeks away - Masters Crit Nationals at Churchhill Downs.... tic tic tic...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Know who you are before you go.......

This came in from a guy who showed up for a group ride with a race team...

Comments: To the Ranchos cycling team in Escondido
Thanks for waiting up for me!
This Memorial Day weekend I spent the weekend with family in Fallbrook, CA and thought I could get a ride in with some of the locals. I emailed the Ranchos cycling team and they let me know where to meet them for a Saturday ride. They sounded like a great group to ride with and their website encouraged riders and newcomers to ride along…” If you want to ride with a group of riders that are safe yet fast, serious yet willing to wait for you if you flat, who are willing to teach and learn, and just all around fun, come out and ride with the Ranchos.”
I arrived in Escondido only to be snubbed by the person that I was corresponding with. Only one person took the time to chat a little. They didn’t give me any indication that this was going to be a “race to the finish” type of ride. They did inform me of the distance, which was no big deal, but during the ride there were no riders that took me under the wing. I’m not looking for pity, but they could’ve said, “ hey dude, this is gonna’ get pretty tough we got big hills ahead be prepared” or even “ you might want to think about turning up at this next street ‘cause we’re gonna’ be taking this hill full sprint for the next few miles.”
…They’re not a group willing to bring anyone new along. If they were training, as a team, for an event then they should have let me know and I could have rode with someone else. I would never recommend riding with this group of guys who don’t mind leaving riders behind and there is definitely no “willing to teach and learn” aspect.I was lost in the hills and climbed out a gruesome hill called Cole Grade Rd. They need to change their website and I discourage people coming out to ride with them. Pricey outfits and bad sportsmanship is all you’ll get.

So, I relied-

Wow David, that's a bummer. I read your "review" of the ranchos and I have to say I've had a polar opposite experiences with them....
Like you, I live in Norcal and have family in Escondido. Same deal, I looked em up, saw they were a racing club, made contact, and showed up..... same reception as you met with but I have ridden with a bunch of these groups and its ALWAYS the same - some kinda guy thing- once you prove yourself, your in. Now I go out with them and make sure we all hurt-

As it turns out, over the yrs of riding w/ them whenever I'm down there, I've made some friends in the group and am very close with the person heading up the team- Same prick was cold to me till he was in oxygen debit! And then he was great - ;-)

From the Ranchos site: If you want to ride with a group of riders that are safe yet fast, serious yet willing to wait for you if you flat, who are willing to teach and learn, and just all around fun, come out and ride with the Ranchos.

Am I missing something? Where is there any commitment to hand holding?

In looking at their website, its clearly a race group. Which is necessary when your looking for a group to ride with to know this. If I went to a site and saw pics of guys w/ helmet mirrors or riding recumbents I would know this is not what I'm looking for- I find it hard to believe you would not see this on their site - or when you showed up just look around at the guys there and know you are in the wrong place.

Maybe not so fair to slam them but write something to those other riders in your situation on how better to assess a group ride and your current fitness fit to a ride?

This could be a better resource for future rides:
National - League of American Bicyclists
The League of American Bicyclists promotes cycling for fun, fitness, and transportation and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly American

Just my .2 cents, hope it helps- no offense

Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 May 24 Auburn Crit , one lap

This is the best course yet! The video kinda changes it a bit but the DH into the left was 45mph if you were fast!

I soloed for the whole race to win, so I had full access to the speed of the DH which was worth the price of admission!

(the video was from someone in the cat 4 race - note the pre-race injury on the guy riding..... scary)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Steve Larsen

Thursday 21st May 2009 - Cycling Weekly

Former world-class road and mountain bike professional Steve Larsen collapsed and died during a training run on Tuesday, May 19, aged 39.

Larsen was running at a local track in Oregon when he suddenly collapsed. Initially a heart attack was suspected, by the exact cause of death has yet to be confirmed.

Larsen had a varied career in cycling, and was a well-known and much admired figure in US cycling. He was part of the Motorola and US national road squads in the early nineties, but it was in mountain biking that he was probably best known.

Larsen was the US NORBA (national MTB series) champion in 1998 and 2000, and was a regular on the international mountain bike World Cup circuit. He later switched to racing in triathlon events, where he also excelled. From 2003 he ran an estate agency, Steve Larsen Properties, in his hometown of Bend, Oregon. Larsen leaves a wife and five children.

Many current riders knew and were influenced by Larsen, and tributes have been posted by riders via Twitter.

Lance Armstrong, Astana
"So sad hearing about the loss of Steve Larsen. Leaves a wife and five kids. Terrible. He and I were on national team and Motorola together."

Levi Leipheimer, Astana
"Heard this morning the tragic news of Steve Larsen passing away, didn't want to believe it but unfortunately it's true. Very sad news."

Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Slipstream
"Just read about Steve Larsen. Thoughts are with his wife and family. He was one of my idols growing up."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nooooo, not the bulks?

Bodybuilders flee drug testers; event canceled

Associated Press

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Time to act.......

Hi everyone! I got this note from Kristy Gough's mother today. If you have an opinion about the case, I would encourage you to attend the sentencing.

Subject: Kristy

"Hi Lorri - as you may have heard, the man who killed Kristy will be sentenced soon. The DA has reached a deal to give him 4 months of house arrest and 800 hrs of community service. ALL her friends are able to speak in her behalf before the judge sentences him. It may make a difference. I know the biking community realizes what a travesty of justice this is. Please get as many of them to come as possible. Even if they do not speak, just being there will make a difference. It will be on June 25 at 1:30 at the San Jose Court House, Hall of Justice, Dept 30 on the 4th floor. There is a parking structure just across the street. Let me know what you think. They have set aside a little over 3 hours for this hearing so everyone can have a chance to speak. Karen"


Lorri Lee Lown, founder & coach
Velo Girls
USA Cycling Coach
ACE Personal Fitness Trainer
specializing in bike fit, skills instruction, and program design
USA Cycling Club of the Year: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008
City Sports Magazine Best of the Bay: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Movin on up!

California tour moves to May next year

After four years of racing in February, the 2010 Amgen Tour of California will be held May 16-23, during the same time slot as the Giro d’Italia.

America’s biggest stage race will move from its winter dates into the spring, taking dates on the UCI calendar occupied this year by the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya ProTour event.

The race's organizers discussed potential dates in April, May and June with the UCI road commission before deciding on the late-May time slot, a source close to the matter told VeloNews, adding that the Amgen Tour of California will not be a ProTour event in 2010, but will be starting in 2011.

Asked for comment Wednesday, Andrew Messick, president of race owner AEG Sports, said only, “it’s premature to make that announcement.”

Levi Leipheimer, the race's three-time winner, said he was excited about the change.

"I think we can expect some big mountain climbs now that the ToC is in May," Leipheimer said in an email to VeloNews. "I wouldn't be surprised to see even bigger crowds as well, due to the better weather and classic mountain stages we normally see in a Grand Tour. I'm excited about this change, I know Santa Rosa is gearing up for another year."

Leipheimer, who is currently in Italy for the Giro d’Italia, has won the race three years consecutively after American Floyd Landis won the inaugural event in 2006.

After the race’s first two years were held in sunny, warm weather, the last two editions have been marked by harsh winter weather, precipitating the calendar move.

With the date change, the race will have the option to travel into California’s mountains, including the Lake Tahoe area and the High Sierras.

Although the California race will conflict with the world’s second-biggest race, the date change will allow riders preparing for the Tour de France to recover from the spring classics season, race in California, and return to Europe to prepare for June’s Tour de France warm-ups, the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de Suisse.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gila - From the Eyes Of a Texan....... Bickel

Tour of the Gila – 2009

A play in 6 acts. Some shorter than others.

ACT I – Hope

It’s a 12 hour drive from the Dallas/Ft Worth area to Silver City, NM. This presents a conundrum of sorts. You can opt to arrive early, rest from the long drive and scout the course, or arrive just prior to the day of and take advantage of the 24-48 hour grace period you get before your body starts going haywire trying to adjust to sleeping at 5895 feet and racing considerably higher at times.

I went with the former.

Riding Monday and Tuesday I felt great, especially scouting the Sapillo creek climb, the poison fang of the “Gila Monster” final stage.

“I feel good” I told the guys I was riding with.

I did.


ACT II – Desertion at the River’s Edge

Stage One, “Mongollon”, 72 miles. 5600 feet of climbing. 50 or so miles of flat, then a few rollers, until the right turn at mile 66 to start the final 6.7 mile category one climb.

Wednesday morning came with a 5:00 AM alarm and a chill in the air. Eat, catch another hour’s sleep, then put on the kit and sign in.

Before we roll out I have to answer nature’s call. Several times. We have a “natural break” (NB) during the early part of the race, which I use to full advantage. This is a bit unusual for me, I’m not a camel but it’s rare I need to go during the race.

Several brief attacks, then at mile 40 Steve Holland goes off the front followed a few minutes later by Tom Bain. Both begin to get some distance.

I ask Phil Sladek, Tom’s teammate on Geri Atrix and a member of our unofficial Texas consortium (and my roomie), about giving it a shot. We decide if the field responds right away, I shut it down, if not, I make the bridge and try to gain some time before the climb.

No immediate response, so I go to work. In a couple of minutes I catch Tom, and we work together to quickly get to Steve. After we start rotating I can feel my legs just aren’t right. Like having a crimp in a garden hose, you know there should be more force there, but all you get is a weak flow.

The lawn still needs watering, so I keep my head in the break, and hope somehow the faucet gets turned up.

Some dude in a “Ride Clean” kit bridges up and as he begins to take his turns at the front, it’s clear he’s super strong. Both Tom and Steve are having trouble just hanging on, and the rotation begins to come apart. His presence also animates the field, Mike Carter, I was told later, goes to the front and begins to go hard.

A quick word on Carter. Won the Master’s class at Gila the last two years running. Rode professionally for Motorola, mostly in smaller races like the Tour De France, the Giro, the Vuelta, the Worlds…that sort of thing.

I later found out that the guy who Carter was chasing and who was ripping our little break apart was Jamie Carney. Carney also raced smaller stuff like the 2000 Olympics, where he missed a medal by two spots.

This would become a recurring theme. As my teammate Kevin Barton noted “Man, everyone you talk to is some kind of ex-pro, ex mountain bike pro, or PRO”.

We get gobbled up, and calm prevails. We’ve got 20 miles before the climb and are tooling along when my eyeballs begin to float.

I gotta go bad.

I see Carter pull out of the field start the slow one-handed roll along that indicates passing on the right might get you wet, so I pull out myself and take yet another NB. It takes a while.

Bad move.

I finish up and begin to ride back to the field when I notice they have sped up.

A bunch.

The field is strung out single file, and it takes me almost 10 minutes to finally get back on. When I arrive I find out both Carney and John Korioth (40-44 National road race champ) had headed up the road without me. Or “us” for that matter.

They would eventually arrive at the bottom of the climb with a 3 minute advantage.

Our group hits the rollers a few miles before the climb and attacks start in earnest. I still feel like how a baby treats a diaper but make the selections until I’m in a small group just a few seconds behind Carter and Roger Worthington.

A quick word on Worthington: Ahhhhhh, never mind. I think you get the picture.

We come through a throng of cheering spectators (Lance and I can draw a crowd) and brake for the turn to begin the climb. I stop pedaling as we start to corner and my right thigh muscle cramps hard.

Try to pedal.

My calf locks.

Then my right buttock.

Then my back.

I unclip and try to shake my leg loose. No luck.

I’m in agony. Pull out of the group and jam on the brakes. Spend several minutes doubled over in pain watching the race vanish up the mountain. Finally my leg unlocks, and I remount.

“Demoralized” is probably putting my mental state lightly at this point.

Months of prep down the drain. GC gone. As I roll I wonder if I should just soft pedal and deliberately drop time or try to get back what I can. I opt for the middle ground, and ride legs that have gone from bad to worse at tempo past people who are also suffering.

I pass one guy and we exchange a few words. I tell him I cramped at the bottom of the hill. His comeback, in accented English, stuck with me:

Dees race, ees not like others. Dees race ees only against yourself

Carter wins the stage, Carney’s 3 minute head start puts him in second, Korioth comes in a bit less than 3 minutes behind Carter for 3rd.

I’m 24th and 8 minutes down. Kevin rides well for 15th.

ACT III – Escape

Stage 2- Inner Loop Road Race. 77.9 miles, 3 categorized climbs. 4000+ ft of climbing

It’s pretty clear the altitude is hurting me. Fluids are a problem so I cut out the morning coffee, throw my usual caffeinated drink mix back in the suitcase and stop taking nervous sips of water prior to the race start.

The guys have bucked me up the prior evening and I’m going in like Old Lodge Skins in “Little Big Man”:

“Today is a good day to die”

We roll out and as soon as the race gets the green light I attack. A few rollers later I’m joined by Al Senft, last year’s 35+ runner up. We pound into a headwind up the first categorized climb, cresting at 12.5 miles alone. Phil tells me later that he started to bridge, but shut it down when the field jumped on his wheel.

Thanks my friend.

Al disappears backwards as we descend, and at mile 20 Carney and Carter rocket past me. I look back and there’s just eight of us, other than Al it’s all the top GC guys. We start the second categorized climb and it’s clear my volume knob still only goes to 8. Al has disappeared from the group at some point, he tells me later that he pulled over to vomit several times.

We go down the infamous Sapillo Creek descent, which we’ll be going up in the final stage, and I resurrect my old Moto GP skills to hit the bottom ahead of the group.

I’m taking any freebie I can.

The next 38 miles are a blindingly fast rotation, I have to sit out turns and explain to the guys that I’ll give them what I have, but that I spent most of the prior evening removing knots from my leg. Sitting between Carney and Carter at one point, I’m just grinning at how butter smooth a rotation can be.

The time checks are getting into the double figures, at 14 miles to go we hit the final feed zone and Carter rides off. I get detached, fight my way back on, and with 12 miles of rollers and nasty headwind to go, I come off for good. Put my head down and TT my way past what seems like most of the Cat3 field. Cross the line for 7th. Carter wins.

Later that evening I find I’ve gone from 24th to 7th, with 55 seconds on 8th place.

ACT IV – All by myself

Stage 3, Tyrone TT. 16.15 miles, 1050 feet of climbing

When the pros go off in the morning, there’s barely a wisp of wind. By time we’re ready to race it’s blowing so hard I pull off my 100mm front wheel and stick on my 46.

The top ten riders will start at one minute intervals, inverse order. I don’t feel great, but I slowly catch my one minute guy, who has just caught his one minute guy. Blow past several other riders on my way to the finish, using the 56 tooth front ring to hit 49 MPH several times.

It’s an even effort; only a few watts difference between the “out” and “back” legs. It’s 30w down from my better efforts though.

Damn knob is still stuck on “8”

39:05 is good enough for 4th, a scant 3 seconds ahead of Korioth, who is bumped to 4th on GC by David Zimbleman. Kevin drops the hammer on the new Fuji and moves up to 13th on GC. I pull back 50 seconds on Joel Grimmet in 6th, which isn’t nearly enough.

Carter wins.

4th on the stage, still 7th on GC.

ACT V – Can’t Dance That Dance No More

Stage 4, Silver City Downtown Criterium. 22 miles

Hide for most of the race. Get caught out a bit on the last lap move; shoulda known better. Jump across two gaps to the lead group and blow like dyno-mite when they hit the gas. Volume knob slipping to 7, which is where I finish. Kenny Wehn, ex pro mountain biker wins our little chase group sprint.

Carney beats Carter.

Watch the Pro’s crash into the pavement like the best Cat5’s in their race, including my much respected Chris Horner.

7th on the stage, 7th on GC. Did gain a whopping 2 seconds on 6th.

ACT VI – Kill the Lizard

Stage 5, The Gila Monster. 72 miles and too much climbing to even think about

I’m in trouble: the knob is at “6”. Any acceleration hurts like heck. Fortunately only Phil is willing to take a serious flyer, he goes into the headwind 20 miles or so into the stage and is helped out when the field slows to let Korioth get back on after he flats.

It’s a nice bit of sportsmanship before we start slicing each other up with straight razors.

I can’t wish any bad luck on the guys ahead of me, which would be the only way I’d move up. 8th place is Bill Stalhuth, nearly three minutes down but he starts chucking out ill-conceived attacks that we have to answer right before we hit the base of the Sapillo climb. Things shatter here; I watch a large group ride off and pass some people looking pretty dead, including John Korioth, who’s fighting to get back to a podium spot. Stalhuth cracks also.

Kevin’s in the group ahead and I try to keep him in sight figuring we can work together if I can reach him.

I do, because as he said later: “The lights went out”.

Behind me Korioth, Stalhuth and two other riders have regrouped; as the climb flattens out they are reach me and we pick up a couple of stragglers.

Our chase rotation simplifies: John and the bigger guys drill it on the flats and downhills, I do the up stuff and the really technical downhills, then hang on by my teeth the rest of the time. At one point I see Stalhuth is in trouble and I hit it hard during one of the few moments I feel like the volume knob might be coming unstuck.

He pops.

With a couple of miles to go we can see the front chase group, I ease off a bit knowing I’ve locked down my GC.

They’ve barricaded the last 200 uphill meters and people are lined three deep on both sides. I ride through a cacophony of cowbells and cheers across the finish line. The lizard stuck his poison fangs in, but I survived.

Carter won. Surprise surprise.

Kevin gutted it out and while he dropped to 16th on GC, a top 20 in this field is a big ride.

Oh, and remember that guy who went OTF 20 miles in? Captain Barbed Wire? We didn’t catch Phil until the top of the Sapillo, he hung with us all the way to the finishing hill.


I end up 7th on GC. Hardest race I’ve ever done, made harder by my vanishing form. Had my parents “gotten busy” two months earlier I would have taken 2nd in the 50+, so I guess I’ll have to give it a shot next year.

43 of 55 starters in our field finished the race.

Final GC Standings:


Thanks to the Gila crew for putting on a great event, Lance for drawing the crowds, and SRAM for tossing in much needed funding.

Thanks to Phil, Tom, George, Frank, Kevin, and the Bicycle Heaven crew who were there with words of encouragement, logistic support, and vital race info. I got dozens of calls and text messages during the week from friends keeping my spirits up, which really helped to keep me going. And Karen was always on the other end of the phone reminding me that it’s only a bike race.

But what a bike race.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fast Wensday's......


The Truckee Wednesday night bicycle ride now has two different versions. The “A” ride will depart at 6:00pm and the “B” ride will depart at 6:15pm. Both groups require pack riding skills, with the “A” ride requiring racing skills/abilities as well.

The "B" Group will be the original format that the Wed. ride has been since 1994. Meaning is it is a fast, yet controlled ride, where pace line work, group riding techniques, proper pace line rotations, are the main emphasis.

For the fast guys / girls who are going in the “A” group, the idea is to get more of a “race style” training ride. Here again, pack riding; as well road racing experience is a must.

The "B" ride and the "A" ride take the same route. The "B" group will ride down Hwy-89 in a single rotating pace line at a warm up speed of approximately 20mph. On the front pulls last 50-100 pedal rotations, then out right. When the ride turns onto Alpine Meadows Road, its fair game, fast or slow, up to the parking lot sign where there is a re-grouping. The return to the Squaw Valley traffic light is mellow. There stop and regroup. For the ride back, depending on the number of riders, break into two or more groups. (Could even have a women's group, up to the riders there?) The first group is the fastest, generally returning at 30-32 mph. The following group(s) not quite as fast. The return is ridden as a team time trial format back to West River St. It is a single pace line, with fast rotations, up front for only-25 pedal rotations, riding at the average speed each group can maintain, not the pace of the fastest rider. Get up to the pack’s pace, then maintain that speed. No surging, no attacks, not unlike a steady team time trial or a working break away. Keep it steady and safe, no sprint at the end. It is most important to not ramp up the speed. Likewise if you can not pull thru at the established speed, it is equally OK to sit out in the back.

The difference with the "A" Group is it will open up the pace from the dump road on. On turning up Alpine Meadows Road any thing goes to the top, with a re-group at the Alpine parking lot sign, then a re-grouping between Alpine and Squaw so everyone is together for the start back from Squaw to Truckee. The "A" group will discuss the night’s format further when they all meet before the ride or up top at Alpine: i.e. attacking, sprints, multiple small chase groups, etc... Whatever everyone feels is safe and productive. Besides having road racing skills, be prepared to come back fast, 32-36mph.

The choice of which group to place yourself in is up to you. Just remember that what ever group you are in, know the guidelines and follow them. Both groups will obey all the traffic rules, stay out of the car lanes on 89, and stop for ALL red lights and stop signs. Riding safely is of paramount importance.

Both rides leave from the east side of the Safeway/Gateway Center parking lot by Round Table Pizza.

Monday, May 4, 2009