December 07, 2008

BASP Finals - Coyote Point!!

First off a big - tough guy shout out - to Ed M....brother took a chain ring in the calf in his race and let me tell you it looked just about serious when I walked up on him! Oh, ouch..oh my gosh....damn. We got him into the car and off to the hospital for care. I was worried it was one of those 'couple of weeks' kind of injuries....d'oh! Then a couple of hours later I get a text from Mike V saying that Ed is coming back to the venue!! what??? Wow...he's tough. Turns out it wasn't as bad as initially thought. He was even walking.


I had never been to Coyote Point for a race so the venue was a pleasant suprise. ton of technical single-track combined with road race worthy straights and fast sections on the back side. Good fun. Got off to a good start and was ~8th onto the first singletrack. Mike Sayers did a barnstorm on the first hill to come past just before the dirt and was cooking! I actually followed him into the fun singletrack downhill...but i'd been working a little different line and used that to pass him before the tree barrier. The sand ate me up 1st lap...but from there it wasn't that bad - run the first 30yards, mount, ride the rest - and don't eat the bacon! smelled good, tasted good for 3 seconds - then remember the nature of mostly warm bacon grease. Bleeeeach! No water forced me to spit and suffer for the whole of the straightaway trying to clear the taste. I rode the back side barriers the first 4 or so laps...then decided it was a lot more work for not much gain. Was riding pretty consistently with a Scott/Alteeza guy and a Family Cycling Center guy had come up to us going pretty well. We rode the better part of a lap or so together at a pace I was happy with; Somewhere 10-12th with 2 or 3 guys within about 30s. At the start of 3 to go I flatted entering the single track and RAN the entire fun single-track section!! It probably took 5 minutes or so to get to the wheel pit. Bummer...right at that 40min mark again....s'up? Anyway, got a wheel after watching everyone pass me, jumped in and was quickly lapped by Josh and the other top 4 on the last lap....I was ok with not having to do another lap, but was ok not doing another lap too. Overall a pretty good race personally. Quick power details - "Race - 40min" ~325Wnorm/308Wavg...better than last week, but down from the BASP #3 Night Race.

Team wise we had a good day, save Ed's suture safari. The super-juniors..Anthony and Matt V were again on fire with Anthony pulling a 3rd in the race and a 2nd overall in the series - wow, good job Anthony! Matt V also lit up the race finals and the series overall placing 6th today and 9th overall. A really impressive start by these first year 'cross riders....big fun next year!


Anthony D - 3rd Junior U18
Matt V - 6th Junior U13
Mike Sayers - 20th Elite A's -
Bill S - 22nd in 35+B's....and a quick convert to the idea of a Leopard CX rig.
Matt M - 22nd in Elite A's....drat!

Elecrtric Drag Car

Ok...this is pretty cool. I was never a gear head...but knew enough to know that a sub 12sec in the quarter for a street car is pretty darn quick...add to that that it's both a DATSUN! and ELECTRIC...and wahoo....sweet!!

More on todays CX race at Coyote Point in a bit....

November 22, 2008

Putting On The Coaching hat

I've been reading a bunch of stuff lately (see the previous post), but not all if it has been pure candy. I try to read some relevant stuff too. Physiology, biomechanics, stuff that is important to both my day to day job and the performance of my athletes (which is my day to day job - a potential infinite loop of hilarity).

Anyway, there is some good stuff out there from coaches across the spectrum of spots (gotta read it all). I just read some very interesting stuff on the influence of the brain on fatigue and There is also some junk out there as well. A few coaches are pushing ideas and their own theories that are based more on ego than real science. I won't throw them out now, but may later...guess it depends on the quality of my coffee tomorrow. A couple of observations

1. Lots of coaches claim to have the next silver bullet of performance. This year it seems to be Tabata Intervals. Roughly, its a set of 6-8 intervals of 20 seconds ON, 10 seconds OFF performed at about 170% of VO2max (power i presume as the study had them on a cycling ergometer - though they are usually described as 'all out' by those referencing). I've been using them for about a year now intermittently (yep, one of the sheep) and can say that they are both effective and too easy. I haven't done them in the run up to a competition, but my athletes seem to like them. They are hard, but they aren't as hard as some other workouts I do. The argument is that those doing Tabatas had a 14% improvement in VO2 and a 28% improvement in anaerobic capacity over the course of a 6-week study doing these 2 or 3 times a week, while those exercising at 70% of VO2 only showed improvement in their VO2 (53 to 58 ml/kg). It just seems to me that doing a block of these 2 or 3 times a week isn't sufficient to make performance gain - think about it this way...6 sets of 20s is only 2minutes of workload - so although intensity factor is very high, total training stress is very low. Then again, as an interval model they are a valid approach. Then again so is Peak Power. Think of Peak Power as VO2 power. The strategem is to do your peak power for 60% of your T-max (maximum sustained duration at peak power). While a solid approach to High Intensity Training (HIT) I think that the Thibault approach is much more elegant. Dr Thibault has built a model for improving your VO2 power by working across a range of intensities (85-110% of VO2power) and durations (45s - 6:30m). I like it because it offers both a standardized approach and a wide variety of workout options to keep athletes motivated.

2. The next big 'revelation' is the move away from periodization in training. Carl Foster of ACSM asserts that no reliable studies validate the periodized training plan approach. While I haven't read the reference material he drew from, I did look around a bit and found an interesting look at the relative volume of training done at Lactate Threshold at an ACSM Annual conference, chaired by Carl Foster, that could certainly be a backstop to the idea of eliminating periodization if for no other reason than to minimize training time spent at higher intensities. That study, lead by Stephen Seiler, looked at polarizing training (increasing volume of low intensity and essentially decreasing threshold level work) and the positive results that came as a result. My worry is that athletes will simply hear that periodization is out and use it to justify an increase in volume of intensity (defined by me as Level 4/LT and above) that will ultimately lead to stagnation or perhaps overtraining.

Anyway, this idea of ego-centric coaching was all brought home recently on a series of threads authored by a coach with a great list of acronyms and accomplishments behind his name (which is a HUGE pet peeve of mine!!!!) but a complete lack both perspective and couth (sp?). He went on and on about how doctors are, basically, inept and dangerous, how chiropractic will be the wave of the future, and what a jerk another coach is for posting an educational link that happened to also be revenue generating for the other coach. It was distasteful and tacky. That he followed it up by telling this group (that includes many accomplished coaches, PhD's, etc) that the next big thing ("you heard it here first") was having trainers partner with doctors to help both gain credability. What? My first job out of college in 1995 was working as a trainer/exercise therapist in a clinical setting with chronically ill patients - yea...almost 15 years ago!


I guess my point is that each of you should really try and see the big picture with your training. Don't look at the next 'new' thing as the path to greatness. Don't presume that because someone has a lot of letters behind their name that they know what they are talking about. Challenge your sources. Ask questions. Don't settle...

November 20, 2008

Too Much Time....


I am a confirmed bike-holic (b/c bike-a-holic sounds like a problem). Bike-addict? Anyway, I think it may preclude my ability to succeed in other areas. It's like a constant pre-occupation or gnaw. I think I should have taken my riding more seriously. I kinda squadered those foundational years with girls and college...ok, not exactly a waste of time since I can form a sanguine thought, or so I think. Anyway, the point is that I spend a bit of time reading blogs and am constantly amazed at the talent that is writing about cycling, the creativity of their posts ( a quiz where the winner gets to watch the Family Ties when Alex P Keaton gets addicted to speed - come on!), and the seemingly endless amount of free time people have to do this stuff. Nevermind the time spent trying to read it all! I normally read the same one or two but have tried to challenge myself to go beyond of late. I've been pretty far. Glad I did. The myriad of perspectives and opinions that grace the web is daunting, disturbing, and fun.The good ones have made it to the left hand column. I'm gonna try to make my posts have a bit more panache to them from now on.

November 17, 2008

CX Magazine Photo Stream


Find more photos like this on Cyclocross Magazine

BASP #3 - Night 'Cross Comes Calling...



Tom and Alec Simpson throw a pretty good party for the Super Prestige, but Saturday night was a new ceiling! Their crew and the folks at Roaring Mouse put together a fun new twist on 'cross....Night Racing. I've done some night races, they are fun because everything is more surreal, feels so much BIGGER. This was no exception. Rolling out to pre-ride one wondered if there would be enough light thrown on the course. The bumps were there. The short, crisp climbs. Rocks and dust - all the CX mainstays.
Would the darkness mask an errant bump and take me out? Strangely the visibility on the course was akin to a daylight race, I think because the haze of race level intensity is the same so a lack of light isn't really a distraction. I'd certainly say that the crowds helped....a super shout out to Liza and her crew - you were sooooo loud every lap!! It was inspiring to come up that hill and hear the cheers...thanks! Anyway - the race...

I haven't raced an Elite A CX race since 2002 or 2003. With a call up for the top 20 I was a little nervous about the start, the all important start. So I lined up way early, shot the breeze with some other guys and slotted into the 2nd row right behind Josh Snead and his flashing red bar ends (well, at least i'll know how far ahead he is - eg if I can see those lights I'm probably ok!). Off the line and up to speed - not too hard, but enough to take a wide line into the first turn/curb - hot onto single track and i'm in 4th. A couple of hard chargers, including Buckethead, slip past in the corners before the barriers, but I'm feeling pretty good and trying to recover a bit as we head into lap two. Held my own through the lap, but bobbled the barriers and got passed by one other guy, drat. Kept it up the next couple of laps, started to get some recovery and felt pretty good - time to go looking for places. 20 minutes done - wow, 40 to go...pace yourself, but go! A little hot into the slippery transition onto the homestretch pavement and, down! Not super fast...but don't those always hurt more!? I got up quickly but my shoulder and thumb hurt. Back on the bike - out of sorts and in pain. I rode the next lap or so in a daze, lost some positions and kept hearing the internal voice saying - 'you're hurt, probably should stop" - but I didn't want too..i wanted to do this race, wanted to finish in the top 15 darn it. The next few laps were painful. It actually hurt less to grab the bars hard on the bumpy stuff...for awhile anyway. Aaron Kereluk passed me and we played chase for the next 3 or 4 laps. He was faster in the technical stuff, but I had him cold on pure power. Honestly, without the injury I never would have seen Aaron - I was just faster, and Aarons fast! That felt pretty good. Unfortunately the pain kept getting worse and I spent two of our three laps braking almost exclusively with my front brake/left hand. Managed to scare myself a few times, but didn't crash. I dropped out at 36 minutes. 36 hours later I am hopeful that my thumb will be ok for districts and I think I can run with the top 5 in 35A's, we'll see.

Ok - now the fun part....the power data! I'll post the screen shot in a few minutes. I've taken some grief for putting a power tap on my cx bike. Extra weight, unreliable, blah blah blah - I'm just curious what it looks like. About like you'd expect - tons of spikes in the 600-700 range alternating with 0 watts on the barriers, downhills, turns, etc. i averaged 79rpm for the race - which is actually a good cadence for that course - slightly larger gear saves the legs a bit. i didn't have heart rate, but i'm guessing it was high!
Race Time: 36minutes
Watts: 323W
Watts normalized: 346W
Details - the race started with a 1238W punch - that averaged out to ~750W for the first 10s and 550W for the first minute. The first 20 minutes Normalized out to 356W, which if we use the Coggan formula would put my LT Power at ~340 (95% of 20min value) - which is quite a bit higher than I expected. I really wanted to get the full hour of data, but that slippery pavement didn't feel I should. I can't wait to see the next one...

October 30, 2008

What Do You All Think?


I know there are only maybe five people that regularly read this space...well that's slightly disingenous...I can tell you for a fact that we've had 291 unique visitors stopping by 592 times since July 1st. Which works out to almost 3 people a day! Way more impressive.

anyway, back to my point...

Simple question for ya.....should we do a team for 2009? I've been kicking it around for a few months now and i don't have a definitive answer. Inclinations & Leanings, sure. The point is to try and introduce a different dynamic to the classical 'club-team' format; to bring some team level coaching to the members and expect some team level cohesion in events. We'll aim to develop riders in each category, kick down some good deals, have fun, and of course to . But hey, don't all teams try to do that...

I don't have a perfect model spec'd out in my head yet....but it would certainly be a racing team, would probably be pretty small (despite my world domination tendencies), and would look f'ing sweet! We may even land some sponsors...but it's my team so that's probably enough right?

Anyway - we'll probably do it, but I'd love to hear some opinions, suggestions, offers?

October 25, 2008

Slash to Rip Up Surf City Sunday!


In a flash of brilliance Sterling has hired G-n-R guitar hero Slash to fill in for oft-injured team manager Matt Mc at this weekends Surf City Spooktacular! Slash has a particular affinity for the single-speed class and will be working to de-rail Matt's current 4th place overall in the NCNCA Cup Standings. So, bring your friends, yourself, and your best rock & roll attitude out to Soquel high tomorrow!!!

October 22, 2008

BASP #1 Race Report - Bill Strachan

This was the first race of the year in the BASP series, my primary
goal for the year so I was motivated for a good race.  I was hopeful
that there would be less climbing than the last couple of years on
this course since I heard that we would be taking an extra lap on the
football field adjacent to the start finish area but I was
disappointed. There may have been less actual climbing than in years
past but we still made it all the way up to the top of the tree
covered hill and back. The climbing was mostly in one sustained
section that took something like a minute and a half to negotiate.
I was able to get a couple of laps on the course in the time between
the first and second heats for a warm up, I did not warm up on the
trainer as planned since I stopped to say hello to my kids, wife and
sister so instead of warming up on the trainer just rolled around on
the infield. I was nervous about trying to get a good start position
so I ended up standing by the course entrance for 5 minutes or so
getting cold anyway.
I got off the line well, getting my foot in the pedal on the first
stab, and made it into just about 5 place for the first time up the
steep run up. I had a clean bike pick up and a pretty good climb up
the hill. Right after the hill one guy crashed, got up and crashed
again right in front of me right but made it past him and through the
rough sections that followed. I lost a couple of places on the first
long climb but was trying to cool it and not dig too deep on this
first lap. Good plan because I was able to give away only a second or
two but get it all back on the rolling, downhill and flat sections
that followed. Felt good and strong in the flat, loose and sandy
section, and was able to pass a guy or two there on the first couple
of laps.
After the first lap and a half or so it was pretty clear how the race
would sort out. There was one guy who was smoking the field and a
group of four guys close together chasing. I was leading another small
group of guys behind who could not quite close the gap. I would
occasionally lose a place to one of two guys but then gain it back,
usually on the approach to the football field or on the football
field. For the first half of the race, the second group was close,
only 10 seconds or so but we gradually lost sight of them. With just
under one lap to go, one of the guys I was trading place with put in a
hard effort just after the run up and gapped me pretty good. I lost a
little more time on the climb, made up a little on the football field
and held off the guys behind for a good result, 7th place. I managed
to have a clean race, no crashes, no dropped chains and clean over the
barriers every time.
Next one in two weeks for me at Candlestick.
Thanks for reading.

October 14, 2008

Central Coast / NCNCA Cup #1

The best description of the races so far is off the ncnca website - race reports link. Dusty does a great job of painting the picture.
Given that i'll just mention some of the SterlingWins.com p/b Leopard highlights...



We put Matt V, Ed M, Liza R, and Matt M on the line to race. Aaron was there but not racing - injury, lucky! Anyway, the highlight of the race was the stupendously steep uphill grind to the top of the corkscrew. I'm gonna guess the steep part was probably 150m or so...but the fun part was that it kept getting steeper! Then after the steepest barge section you got another climb to the barriers. Nice. Matt V rode a smart and steady race to pull 2nd - medals rule! Matt also scored a huge tray of Strawberries, which Mia was kind enough to eat most of the rest of the afternoon! Thanks for sharing Matt! Ed M looked good on the bike. He's really learning fast. Smooth in transition, he looked composed on the loose stuff too! Liza learned a new level of technical skill riding! That course is a tough debut to the scene...good job Liza! The speed will come and then your fitness will carry the day! Keep practicing those loose sand skills though..they are a nor-cal staple! As to my race, well it went pretty well. It was only about 3 laps too long. I rode kinda easy out of the gate just waiting to see what would happen on the climb. I didn't know any of the real players so I just followed wheels and settled into about 4th the first time up the climb. It went well and my bike choice, single speed MTB with a 42x21 was a great one for the top section - Super Technical! Loose and switchback prone it was easy to loose the front end. I squeaked away at the start of the 2nd lap and took the lead. Charged the next 3 laps and came through to hear 5 to go!! Ouch. The rest of the race was about pacing and energy management. When passed by the eventual winner, it was obvious right away that I couldn't hold his wheel, so I tried to sit back and tempo off him. A couple of laps later here come the two buy-cell guys looking like straight killers!!! Stomp, stomp right by me and now I'm in 4th. Fortunately I could hold their gap to about 15 seconds for the rest of the race. I made a run at 3rd on the 2nd to last climb, but he was able to gas again at the top and move right back to 15-20s. After that I rolled tempo to the finish. I think I was about 19th overall when combined with the A's who started 1 minute in front of us. Wow, that was pretty fast! Update: It was actually 17th in A's and 37th overall by average lap time (old guys are flippin fast!!)

October 10, 2008

Looking Back....


I don't know why, but as I was cruising around the inter-web-net I read Mike Hernandez' post on the BAWC dinner thing coming up....and it mentioned Sarah Bamberger as being in attendance..which got me thinking about old teammates. Specifically it got me thinking about the team we had at Sycip in 2000 - 2003.

Sycip is a frame builder of National repute - making nice stuff out of steel (& Aluminum & Carbon too). Jay & Jeremy not only make sweet bikes, they are genuinely cool, nice, down to earth and just a little bit crazy! They also managed to cobble together one of the best teams I've ever ridden on - but probably didn't realize it at the time. Let's do a quick recap on who was on the team and just how bad-ass they were....

Leading the charge - John Funke...come on if you know nor-cal CX history you know how fast Funke is. Always, I mean ALWAYS in the mix with the big dogs, John would come out of nowhere each August or September to do a few road races (crits mostly) in the run up to the start of 'cross. Then when the season started John would be rippin' at the front in full-charge mode against Justin R, Damon K, Jackson S, Dave W, Andy J-M, Josh S - I mean really, really good riders! Top 3 in the '03 Surf City Series, 3rd in '02.

Next Up - speedster Sarah Bamberger. She was just getting fired up in cycling when she rode for Sycip. I've been pleasantly amazed at her growth in the sport. She is proof positive of what a slice of talent and a ton of dedication will do. She's really become one of the best riders in the country.

Don't Forget - Lauren Costantini. She'd just moved to the Bay area and was only a couple of years into her riding..but what a talent! Lauren progressed so fast and had such visible talent that it was a pleasure to watch her ride. She rode pretty much anything. I know she podiumed at CX Nationals in 2004, and I'm pretty sure she has a National Championship in MTB as well. Oh yea, and she's a PhD....Fast and smart!

Steve Paleaz - He of World Cup track competence. Steven always looks sweet on a bike! That he's developed world class leg speed and talent to match over the past few years is way cool!

Rachel Lloyd - she was really only on the team the first year I was, but she did win some serious races, including National Championships I think. Rachel is a true rennisance woman of the peloton. She raced pro XC and DH in the same season - wow!

Jon Brown - Jon came to the team from Colorado with a developing reputation as an adventure racer. Little did we all know that Jon was seriously good! I only raced with him at Tour of the Gila (well, he was in a different category so it was mostly hagn out time at the hotel...but he proved to be a good racer and a great guy. He's gone on to stardom on the Salomon/Crested Butte Professional Adventure racing team. He can do it all - run, climb, ride, raft, swim - pretty much anything athletic and endurance based. Awesome


There were many other great riders on that team - Hans Kellner, Santiago Bolon, Scott Francis, Kelsey Aldrich...just a very good team all around. As I look through cycling I continue to see how small our community is. The old adage 6 degrees of separation is probably only 1 or 2 in cycling, for everyone. That's kinda cool....

Start of a small flurry....


Here is a bit of inside info on the CX1's from Leopard. Joachim Parabo has been racing in the U.S. for the early season and has this to say about the bike:

The bike draws attention !!!
I left it outside a diner in Queen Anne part of Seattle - during 45 min. 5 guys stopped and stared for 2-4min. Their girlfriends looked like - oh... there goes my new kitchen!
I random biker pointed at the bike and stopped me on a cycling patch - I let him ride it. He was thrilled by the acceleration.
Guys were drooling at the Wednesday practice with a 200 pers. turnout at the Marymoor Velodrome (StarCrossed venue).

Handling and quality
The bike handles well. The accelerations are crisp and not wobbly, like the new BH cross carbon for instance ... For a bike weighing 1180g in 58cm painted - that is QUALITY.

September 22, 2008

Support Mountain Biking and Veto A.B 2923

Tell the Governor to Support Mountain Biking by Vetoing Dangerous Bill

!

The California Legislature has sent Assembly Bill 2923 to Governor
 Schwarzenegger's desk, with potentially disastrous results for popular
 mountain biking destinations. The bill is the first step in possible
 Wilderness designations that would eliminate classic mountain biking
 trails at Henry Coe State Park, Robert Lewis Stevenson State Park and
 Austin Creek State Recreation Area. State Wilderness may be
 appropriate in some areas, but not these parks

. You must act now!

STERLING SPORTS GROUP ANNOUNCES ROSTER

Small Cyclocross Program Fires Off Surprisingly Strong Roster



SUNNYVALE, CA (September 22, 2008) – Sterling Sports Group is pleased to announce their 2008 Cyclocross Team roster. Built around a core group of 14 riders, the team is composed of an exciting combination of talent, experience, youth, enthusiasm, and attitude. The team scored a bit of a coup by landing Mike Sayers as it’s lead rider. Sayers is a long time stalwart of the US Professional road scene, and is eagerly embracing his first foray into the world of cyclocross. “I’m honored to have Mike on the team. His leadership and approachability will be great assets to our young team,” says team manager Matt McNamara. In addition to Mr. Sayers, the team boasts several top tier athletes including multiple State Champion Liza Rachetto, promising juniors Matt Valencia and Anthony Delivannis, several speedy Masters and a quartet of Elite B riders looking to move up.

Mike Sayers puts it all in perspective when he says “It’s going to be really nice to be a part of this program. I’m sure having fun is the name of the game.” That aura of fun is certainly be enhanced by the other members of the team. From Masters to Juniors this is a truly unique program. Chris Carroll is perhaps the most inspiring member of the team. Chris had a heart transplant in 2002 and is super motivated to race to his hearts content, to turn a phrase. Add to the mix experienced riders like Aaron Hunter, Matt Idler, Jason Sage and Bill Strachan, rookies like the junior terrors Matt Valencia and Anthony Delivannis; and masters like Ed Miszkiewicz and Justin Kromelow and you just know we’re in for a fun season!

The team is focused on rider development through an innovative program that provides each rider with a personalized coaching program, weekly training rides, event and equipment support, and camraderie. Events wise the team will focus on the Northern California calendar including the Bay Area Super Prestige Series, Central Coast and Sacramento Series’, with a couple of National level events likely. The team, officially known as SterlingWins.com presented by Leopard Bikes, will ride the brand new, 1100 gram, Carbon Fiber Leopard CX1 bike adorned with Ritchey WCS components, and SRAM drivetrains.

Riders:
Mike Sayers – UCI Pro / Elite A’s – 12 year professional for BMC, Health Net, Mercury
Liza Rachetto – Womens Elite A – 2008 Idaho State Criterium Champion
Matt McNamara – Elite A’s – Team Manager and USAC Level 1 Coach
Matt Valencia – Junior – multiple top 10’s at 2008 Junior Nationals
Anthony Delivannis – Junior
Aaron Hunter – Master 35+A
Bill Strachan – Masters 45+A
Jason Sage – Elite B’s
Matt Idler – Elite B’s, Team Coach
Justin Kromelow – Masters B35+
Chris Carroll – Elite C’s
Ed Miszkiewicz - Master 50+ C

Equipment:
Frames: Leopard CX1 1100g Carbon Fiber
Components: Ritchey WCS
Drivetrain: SRAM


ABOUT STERLING SPORTS GROUP
Sterling Sports Group (www.sterlingwins.com) is the result of over 20 years of passion for the sport of cycling. Launched in late 2003, Sterling Sports is a growing company focused on creating a seamless interface between athlete and coach, technology and personal attention.
###

September 16, 2008

Finally I'm A Category 1*

*Ok, so really I'm still an Expert off-road, but with USAC changing the categories for mountian biking in 2009, I'll be a legit Cat 1! Truth be told I haven't done a MTB race since probably 2000 or 2001, but the license still says EXPERT, err CAT 1 come January 1st!
 
Of course this brings me to another point - Crits. Love 'em! Went up to the city and snookered my way into the SF Twilight race on Saturday so I could ride around with some fast guys, feel cool, and try to look competent. Race started and I was pretty far back...far enough that I couldn't see, much less get to, the front for the first 15minutes or so (I actually almost threw up - which has NEVER happened in a race..gotta be the coffee 30minutes before the start). Anyway, after those first arduous minutes I kinda settled in and started picking off guys on my way to the front. 3 or 4 each lap, maybe 10 on a good one (there were 118 at the start) and slowly but surely I was into the top 20 with about 30minutes left. It was fun! It also pointed out something that seems both odd and strangely euphoric - cornering. You'd think that Pro/1/2 riders would be very adept at handling high speed corners in tight quarters - and they are for the most part. The interesting thing on Saturday was the willingness to simply follow the wheel in front, even if it meant slowing down precipitously, then having to jump hard out of the corner - every time. Now, I'm not very fit so I can't afford to be surging too much - I gotta keep as much momentum into corners as I can! Don't think I 'dive' corners - I'm old and have a family so that sort of reckless riding is in my past. But, and here's where the strange euphoria came in, it seemed that every time I came into a corner a natural lane would open up. Didn't matter if I was outside, inside, or stuck in the middle - a couple of inches (or feet) would suddenly appear between the riders in front of me and I'd have room to maneuver. It was great! Especially the uphill-into-turn-4...I rolled through in an easy gear (53x19 or 21) with lots of momentum and a lane to exploit - that's where and how I picked up those 3-10 spots each lap. For whatever reason it just seemed that everyone else was over-geared and riding slow. As evidence I'll point to Fred Rodriguez - for the last five laps or so I followed him around. Time and again he'd shoot up the outside of the road into turn 4 and it was wide open each time...easy path forward. Which is the point late in fast crits - defending your position and rotating forward!! Anyway, I finished 27th....but was happy with that considering my relative lack of riding, fitness, or muscle endurance. A few numbers for those that care - 1h15min, 26.4mph avg (yea, slow eh?!), but my Normalized Power was 313 for the whole race - pretty high considering the speed. Interestingly the race was more 'surgy' than normal - I was either at 0 watts or over 400....like each lap.

September 09, 2008

Masters Track Nationals

This past week Hellyer Park hosted the 2008 Masters National Track Championships. Run over the better part of the week (tuesday - sunday) it was a veritable cornucopia of speed. Events ranged from 200m to 30Km, and ages ranged from 30 to over 70! There were over 900 event registrations, and something like 450 athletes present...wow. i don't know if that's a record, but it certainly made for some busy lanes on the cement during warm-ups. Nor Cal really made a good show with hometown athletes taking over 25 golds, and better than 50 podiums for the week. As for me...well, let's use my race performance as an affirmation that one should really train for an event of this stature! You can look at my 'performance mgmt chart' below to see that the last couple of months have not been very productive on the training side. Being ever optimistic i still set goals for the events that I thought would put me in the mix for a top 5 result. My goals: 1:10 kilo, 3:40 3k, sub 12s 200m, and 25 points in the points race. My performances...1:14.9 kilo, 3:56 3k, 12.4s 200m, and a DNP in the points race (with 2 points). Overall fairly mediocre (best place 11th in 3k pursuit). On the plus side i really enjoyed the atmosphere, saw a few friends from long ago, and got to play 'bike racer' for the week. It also affirmed that I need to focus my training a bit more and get out of my 'pack fill' slump. So, as i look to cyclocross and 2009's race season, i feel a renewed sense of desire and purpose to train hard, race smart and get some flipping results! ok, enough speech'n

August 26, 2008

Why I Hate Cycling


I Hate Cycling

Yea, weird huh....me being a coach and all....

so, why do I hate cycling....

it's too damn expensive, too hard, too dangerous, too sweaty, too many posers, too many slackers...

Expensive - ok, I COULD just race crits, or track, or 'cross, or mountain bikes, but nooooooo...i gotta try it all - D'oh!

Hard - I was pacing Peter Bohl today at the track. he was dong points race practice with JA Mendonca so I sat about 10m behind them and rode tempo at ~30. It wasn't hard. Taking that pace up about 2 or 3 mph without any draft after firing a ballistic start..then holding it for about 3minutes and 40 seconds - hoping it's enough to get top 5 in MASTERS pursuit.....danngit that's hard! 1:13 kilo's at Hellyer, 3 of them....that's hard

Danger - ok, that's just a place holder. I'm pretty safe, don't take stupid chances, and don't like to fall off my bike.

Sweaty - this is an article in itself...think about how much of your life is spent sweating if you ride. How many showers do you take each day? How many times a week are you sitting in your house with sweat in every crevice - waiting to go to sleep and do it again!

Posers - ok, another place holder...most everyone I know in cycling is ok. Most posers...not all, but most...are just newbies looking for some help or feedback..so get off your 'i'm a real cyclist' kick and say hi to each other out there...I've met more people just riding easily along foothill and saying hi at the lights....it's not all about rushing around everywhere...

Slackers - I go to races and continually see guys that don't do anything in races...I mean they don't ever see the front, the don't attack, they don't chase...they just ride around. Slackers. Same for those guys that go out to 'train' and end up just doing half assed efforts for no real purpose. By the way - i felt like a slacker today at the track...

So, I hate cycling....but it's still pretty fun, so i'll keep doing it...
Here is the link to the Livermore Cyclocross Series Race #2 Course Map. We'll try to add more courses as we get the info...

August 25, 2008

Game On - where in the world is Sterling?

Our first entry in the 'where in the world is Sterling' contest - Steven on top of Mt Wilson!! - Send your entry to me and we'll get it up pronto...do I hear Canada in our future? Italy?

Team Bike Update

We've been working with Leopard to refine and finalize the look of our team bike - so, here it is. Classic black carbon weave, silver logo's mixed with the burnished red of the Sterling Logo. Pro!

'Cross Calendar Coming Along

The clock is ticking - only a month or so til the first CX race in nor-cal...
if you haven't seen the schedule check it out - online!.

There are great events from Pilarcitos, including a NIGHT RACE!! I love those....

The venerable Central Coast Series is back this year with a FULL schedule...I mean events til January '09!!!!

Who can forget the Sacramento CX Series....certainly not our Sacto contingent...

The Velo Bellas are throwing down an event or two - specifically the Surf City Halloween Spectacular (yea, yea spooktacular...whatever)...just check their site/blog to get the details.

There are several other series that are yet to be webinized...but we'll keep looking - Lion of Fairfax, Livermore Series, and more..

so check back for updates and more....

August 10, 2008

The Valley Ride


those of you living in the Palo Alto, peninsula area are certainly aware of the Wednesday night Valley Ride. Wednesday worlds, good training ride, or waste of time - this ride is a staple of many a riders week. Like most group rides you get out what you put in - sorta. This past week I thought I'd try a little experiment on the valley ride and see how LITTLE work I could do on the ride...as measured by average watts, normalized watts, and maximum watts. So to make it somewhat reasonable I had the following criteria - I had to ride the whole time at/near the top 10% of the field, I had to finish in the top 20 up the Huddert Park climb, and I had to at least position well for each of the three sprints on the ride. So off I went...

The ride started easily enough - I averaged 160'ish watts til the turn onto Arastradero, for point of clarity my LT Power is about 315W so this wasn't too tough. I admit being a bit worried about the climb over Arastradero and up Alpine to Portola Valley. It seems, however, that my ability to not work very hard was pretty good! I hit the turn to Portola at approximately 170W (now this is average, not normalized, but we'll get to that), so it wasn't going too badly. True to my 'rules' i'd stayed in the front 10% most of the ride - although to be truthful I was probably a bit farther back on the Arastradero climb. Into the first sprint and I rolled to the front, but let the hard chargers go ahead...still I was not more than maybe 5-10 riders from the winner. Over Mountain Home and I found myself feeling pretty good, riding at the front and even taking a couple of hard pulls. From there I took it easy to the base of Huddert - quite a different feeling to hit the base of the climb feeling somewhat fresh. Knowing peak watts was a criteria of my ride, just like average watts - I started the climb slowly but managed to hit the top in about 7th - averaging just over 300W for the 6 minutes of the climb. On the return to Los Altos I took a couple of pulls, including over the two small bumps that preceed the third sprint. Anyway - the long and short is that I averaged 202 Watts and 267W normalized for the ride. My Max Wattage was just over 1000W (My 5 Peak is about 1300W). I'll post the power file shortly with a few more details...but in the end...the ride was pretty easy for about 90% - and kinda tough for 10%.

August 02, 2008

More 'Cross? Are You Serious?

Yep...I don't know what's wrong with my mind...probably just can't remember how much cyclocross hurts, but it just keeps ramping up in my brain!! Then I come across this from cxmagazine.com's website - kid outta Boulder who put together a CX movie that is pretty darn good. Take a minute to watch it, then drop some coins in his coffer so he can pursue the next project...


Little Belgium - The 2007 New England Cyclocross Season from Andy Frothingham on Vimeo.

July 29, 2008

Not Quite Cycling

Ok, this isn't about cycling, but it is pretty funny none the less...

July 25, 2008

On The Road


This week I'm in Colorado checking out the local scene - ok, ok - it's really my 20yr HS reunion, but the Colorado State Track Championships are ALSO this weekend, so I may get to do some racing as well. I grew up in Colorado and have to say that it's still quite a hot bed for cycling. No, they don't have Hernando, but they do have Garmin-Chipotle, National CX ChampBrandon Dwight, and the fine folks at Velonews to help keep them in the game. Honestly, it's great to be here, so i'll try to get some good dish for everyone over the next few days.

July 20, 2008

Track Day Update - New Date August 11th

We've moved the Intro To Track Day to August 11th - 5:30 - 8:00pm. See post below for more details....

July 18, 2008

The Real Ricco

Here's your chance to meet the REAL revelation of the Tour De France - Riccardo Ricco Suave....as soon as I heard his name a couple of years ago - touted as the protege of Gilberto Simoni, this song came to mind. I especially like the first few lines and thought this was absolutely the PERFECT anthem...




"him, I never liked him...I never trust him" - if you dont' know the quote you ain't 80's!

July 16, 2008

Snap - Squadra Clothing Is Almost Here!

Got the word from the fine folks down at Squadra - our Sterling kits have been shipped!!! They should be here by this weekend and ready to disperse by Monday! We may have some extras for those not-quite enough to pre-order...

Sterling 'Cross Team Deadline Approaching

Hi Everyone -

Just a quick reminder that there are only two weeks left to submit an application to join our 2008 cyclocross program. We have some cool benefits like an AWESOME price on the new Leopard Carbon CX frame, a custom coaching program built just for you, weekly training rides, a team camp in September and more! Full details and application are available at www.sterlingwins.com, or by emailing me - coachmatt at sterlingwins.com. Deadline for applications is August 1st.

All The Best,

July 08, 2008

TRACK ATTACK!

I've been riding a lot of track this season, well alot for having ridden NONE for about 15 years. It's been really fun and a great refresher on my tight quarters handling skills and race tactics. Now, I want to share the fun with you! Sterling will host an introduction to track day on Monday August 11th. The clinic will run from 5:30 - 8:00pm and rental bikes are available for $5. The clinic will include segments on how to ride a fixed gear, group skills on track, and a couple of flying time trials - 200m and standing 2 lap. Come out and join the fun - just drop me a line to let me know you're interested.

June 25, 2008

STERLING SPORTS GROUP FORMS CYCLOCROSS TEAM

New Team To Focus On Athlete Development and Camaraderie

SUNNYVALE, CA (June 25, 2008) – Sterling Sports Group announced it’s intention to join the Northern California race team community with the formation of a 2008 Cyclocross Team. The team will support three to five riders in both Bay Area and Sacramento chapters in each of the following categories: Men’s, Women’s B and C, Masters A and B’s, and juniors. Interested riders should submit a team application between June 25th and August 1st. Preference will be given to those athletes who most ably demonstrate the balance between competition, camaraderie, and fun in their approach and attitude. Applications and program descriptions are available on the company website www.sterlingwins.com. Final rosters and clothing orders will be set by August 15th and racing will commence in early October. If there is sufficient interest and sponsorship the team will also support Men’s and Women’s Elite A teams.

A longstanding supporter of local cycling teams through it’s Team Coaching Programs, Sterling Sports Group President Matt McNamara noted that forming a Sterling branded team was the next logical step in the evolution of the company. “We are a performance coaching company, so we couldn’t think of a better way to showcase our programs and athletes than by racing the ultra-competitive, ultra-fun Northern California ‘cross circuit as a team.” To that end all members receive a personalized coaching program built to their schedule and goals (a $600 value). In addition team members will enjoy great support, regular training rides, and substantive pro-deals including:

- Team Training Camp – All team riders are invited to our 2 day training camp in mid-September. The camp includes baseline performance testing, group rides, position assessment, and training program orientations.
- Weekly Training Rides – starting in September we’ll be hosting weekly training and technique rides for the team in both Sunnyvale and Sacramento. Rides will be primarily held in and around Fremont-Older Park and Stevens Canyon in Cupertino on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. Sacramento rides will be hosted by regional Sterling Sports Group coach Matt Idler.
- Leopard Bikes – Team members will have preferred pricing on the new Leopard Cyclocross Bike, a full carbon race bike that sets a new standard in both performance and weight.
- Ritchey Components – As a Northern California team Ritchey was a natural choice. Team bikes will have Ritchey spec bar, stem, cranks, and seat posts.
- Additional sponsors pending.

Cost for the program is $300, including a team jersey, coaching program, baseline testing & bike fit, training camps/rides, race support, and access to pro deals on team bikes and equipment.

ABOUT STERLING SPORTS GROUP
Sterling Sports Group (www.sterlingwins.com) is the result of over 20 years of passion for the sport of cycling. Launched in late 2003, Sterling Sports is a growing company focused on creating a seamless interface between athlete and coach, technology and personal attention. They can be reached at 408.891.3462 or info@sterlingwins.com
###

June 24, 2008

Track Racing Is Fun

The American Velodrome Challenge fired off this past weekend at Hellyer Park. It was my first 'big time' track race since, probably, 1990! There were Olympicans, future Olympians, Pro Roadies, and a slew of just plain 'ol fast guys & gals. I raced a couple of 'Elite' events - keirin (well 2 rounds of it anyway) and the 60 lap points race (if you call desperately hanging on racing), but I was mostly there to do the masters events. There were five of them - miss-n-out, scratch race, keirin, sprints, and points race. My goal going in was to make the podium in all the events. A lofty goal perhaps given my lack of both track racing in the past 18 years and my lack of racing at all this season, but my goal still the same. Fortunately, on friday, the elite keirin served as a good warm up for the two masters races that night - miss-n-out and scratch race. The elite keirin was a lesson....big, aggressive, fast guys, that do this often are way faster than me! Wow, they really can jump and just plain haul it for the lap and a half...

Luckily redemption lay in the miss-n-out. Thirty one riders were in the field, making for a 28 lap race. The first laps were a bit sketchy - riders pushing and shoving to get into a better position mid-pack. Why all the pushing for a safe mid-pack position I can't say...but you could feel the inevitable was coming - and sure enough about 10 laps in some guys tangled and went down - I heard the noise on my lower left and just turned right, aiming for the top of the track and hoped for safety. I got through ok, others didn't. After a 10minute rolling wait we re-started and the real fun began. I found it pretty easy to duck, dodge and weave to stay out of trouble and before I knew it we were down to 6 riders. I was sitting in the sprinters lane with a rider above and just ahead - I was last wheel. No place to go but backwards and over the top - so I did. Hard punch to the line and over the top and off the front a bit...safe. The next two laps were easy and I was in the final three. Neutral lap and then BOOM - Larry Nolan fires off a solid attack, matched by Dirk Copeland, while I just watched them ride away - a bit too tired from the push to make the top five.

Scratch race - safer and still fast it's a blur til the last lap....following wheels, riding hard, and watching the top 7 start to sprint. Feel pretty good, then I spot a hole..shoot forward between two riders and nab a 5th! Nice - two masters events, two podiums!

Sprints - why do i fancy myself a track sprinter? Turning a 12. 6 isn't fast (11.69 - that's fast, and was the top masters time). I pretty much sucked - didn't win a race at all...but somehow managed to get 6th. Not a podium, but 'dern close! i turned a 12.33 in the elite qualifier for just a small bit of redemption.

Masters Keirin - another chance to learn how to do this race...learned a lot too! My group had fast guys, including Larry Nolan. I got a great start and settled into the 2nd position behind Larry - it was like a free ride to the finals...just stay on his wheel and try to follow when he hit the gas. We were probably 15m clear of the next rider, and I was through to the final. Of course the lessons continued in the final..I didn't get Larry's wheel and took too much air on my way to a somewhat ok 5th. 4 races, 3 podiums.

Points Race - Here is a piece of advice for aspiring trackies - when a National Champion attacks and is followed by a former World Champion - go with them! That group went away and stayed away for the majority of the points...blasted! No points, no podium, no cash. "luckily" the elite points race was immediately after the masters points race...so I got to do 100 laps of points racing in one stop! Unluckily the elites were MUCH faster than the masters...like 3 or 4 mph average (which means something at 31 - 38mph). Just to stay on the lead lap was an accomplishment and I was pretty happy to survive. I rode a 50x14 (94inches) which was too big for masters, but ok for elite. With better prep, more rest between events, and a stronger mental game I know I can run with those guys - great motivation for Masters Nats in September!

keep an eye out for the upcoming Sterling Track Day - we'll take ya'll down and show you the ropes at Hellyer...because
Track racing is fun!

June 18, 2008

Coastal Classic - Day 3

The third day of the "classic" was, perhaps, the easiest 110+ mile days I've done. It's not that it was 'easy' - it's just that it was beautiful and the hardest day was behind us. After a 'meat-fest' at the local chop house in Grover Beach on Saturday night we started off early and rested (sleep was not a problem!). The route was gloriously flat for the first 35-40 miles or so and then we hit this awesome little climb. I felt good, so John and I sped away and just had a good time climbing. From there we rolled into LomPoc (Lom Poke for those that don't know) and had a leisurely recovery stop. Then off to Solvang via a sweet little road that was almost dead to traffic, but full of twists and turns and climbs. Once in Solvang we stopped for a simple, yet delicious, turkey sandwhich and pastry. While eating it was observed that the next part of the ride was 'an oven!' Certainly and understatment as we rode single file on a speed-crazed highway - totally sketchy! Fortunately we pulled off onto our last climb of the day - a very sweet little jaunt that climbed up to a harley-watering hole. From the top of the pass it was a sweet shot down to Santa Barbara and the beach at Goleta! Margaritas, appetizers, and stories filled the afternoon before our sprint drive back home - with requisite stop at In-N-Out Burger, a first for John! Great ride, great group - can't wait to do it again!

HOORAY!

Finally, after nearly four weeks of finger crossing, pleas for help, repeated formal requests with blogger, and a couple of voodoo ceremonies - the BLOG has returned!!! How long we stay up is a real question for debate, but for now I'll try to get back on track with postings and updates. Feel free to drop me a line if you've got a question, suggestion, or comment for Sterling Sports Group

 

Matt


May 21, 2008

Central Coast Classic - Day 2: Lunch on high

This was the view from our lunch roost at about mile 50 on the day. By this point we'd climbed almost 4000' feet and had about 100 miles left to go! Everyone said to eat whatever, and as much as you could, so I powered down a full cheeseburger and macaroni salad, jumped back on the bike and felt just fine. Of course this is in direct contrast to my feelings on Friday evening...during dinner my hamstrings locked up and the 2nd beer caught up with me AT THE SAME TIME! I felt pretty bad for about 15 mintues, but recovered, worried, and spent a large portion of Friday night's sleep time stressing about my hydration level and wether or not my legs were gonna be cramping all day on Saturday. It was not to be however - I rode cautiously for most of the day and focused on a nice pedal stroke and consistent efforts. Of course I threw caution to the wind a few times - like when the slacker 'supported riders' tagged onto the back of our fast moving group (there were 9 of us) and took the easy ride right to the base of the days biggest climb - then promptly sprinted by carrying only their superiority complexes and little else. AAARRRGGHHHH - I hate that...take a pull or at the very least say thanks for the free ride! Alan, Bill and I were so mad we chased them for probably 20 minutes up and down the hills of Hwy 1. We finally caught them, and their slacker sag-wagon at a rest-aurant...they looked 'tired' from the big effort, but we had miles to go and jumped right back onto the road and fired off a solid hour at 22-28mph+. Whatever, fully supported! Lame.

Coastal Classic - day 1

Rolling Into Monterrey
As we rolled through Los Gatos on our way to the Lexington resevoir dam it occured to me that it was hot. Damn hot! In fact it was actually 111-degrees damn hot according to Mike's super-sophisticated watch. Well that was the hottest recording of the day, but for sure it was over 100 most of the way up the dam. Then we cruised around the resevoir, up Old Santa Cruz Highway and over to Highland/Eureka Canyon. Descending Eureka Canyon is pretty fun...but oh so bumpy! For some reason this ride, at only ~80 miles, was the toughest of the weekend.

May 15, 2008

Training Ride Coolness

On the eve of the great Santa Barbara Coastal Classic (a 330 mile, 3 day soujourn south), I thought I'd post this shot of a pair of fully rigged man-o-war replicas doing battle in Half Moon Bay this past Novmber...way cool!

May 12, 2008

If It's May, It Must Be Italy

Though it's only May, and the Giro D'Italia just started it's never the wrong time to watch some art about cycling - specifically the Ghisallo climb in the Giro Di Lombardia, the last Classic of the season. This short film about the 'tour of the fallen leaves" is shot on actual film and is nearly art...

May 06, 2008

First Look - Team 'Cross Bikes

At this past weekends Cats Hill Classic, Dean Peters
from Leopard brought by the prototype of the 2008
Cyclocross Rig. Resplendent in white and black carbon
fiber the bike looks HOT! Looks alone do not define
this ride though...it's got some serious engineering
as well...from the semi-triangular profile of the
chain-stays to the beefy front fork and extra-wide
tire clearence, this bike has "CROSS KILLER" written
all over it! We should have final specs and build info
for the bike soon, so all of you out there considering
a winter of dereliction think about joining the
Sterling/Leopard Cyclocross Team!


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May 02, 2008

Cats Hill Lounge

Less than 15 hours to the start of the 35th Annual
Cats Hill Classic, in lovely Los Gatos! This race is a
staple of the Nor Cal calendar and, with it's 20% +
climb, is one not to be missed by those who like
pain!Tomorrow's event will have the Sterling Sports
Group Race Support Service in full swing - we've got
the 10x10, the water, oranges, chairs, and recovery
beverages all set to go! We've teamed up with Champion
Nutrition to bring lots of goodies to those who stop
by and I'm working on a bumping sound system as well.
If you're going come on by and check out the
Cyclocross Proram we're setting up!


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April 23, 2008

Todays Ride -



As usual I left late for my ride. The difference is
I'd decided to do the Noon ride so I had to haul a**
to the start. The first 25min were at 270W avg, then I
hit the ride, which went up Old La Honda today!
Thinking I should test my legs I lit it up for the
first few minutes averaging 422W for the first
3minutes and 356 for the first 5min (mind you my LT
power is about 315 right now!). The second five
minutes were 'recovery' at only 320W normalized
average. The third five clocked in at 330W normalized
(thats the avg power if I'd pedaled the same tension
throughout, roughly). All in all OLH was 19:54 at
332Wnorm. Not my best by far, in fact I did 19:21 @
334Wnorm just a week or so back. The difference was
trying to stay with the fast guys today. Of course Ted
Huang just dropped me..he may have even laughed as he
went by (lol...just kidding Ted is way to nice to do
that, he probably waited til he was around the
corner!). Anyway, from the top of OLH I went across to
Page Mill and down - I averaged 298Wnorm for that 1:23
from my house to the top of Page Mill. Now I'm a bit
lethargic and stiff, but it was a good ride. I'll try
to add the power file to the site later...

matt


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April 15, 2008

Ahhh Mentos, er Mentors...

"MISSION STATEMENT
The purpose of the Men's CAT 5 Mentor Program is to
encourage men to race in a
safe manner. Mentors will focus on safe riding, pack
skills, racing
techniques, gear usage, bike fit, etc. in order to
support novice racers. Mentors will not impact the
outcome of the race, and will be available after the
race to discuss r ace techniques and offer suggestions
to improve. They
will wear orange vests and neutral clothing from
program sponsors..."

Shawn Mehaffey, sage of safe racing, has started up a
Cat 5 Mentoring program for the Nor Cal racing scene,
and of course I signed up to help. Love it all except
the "will not influence the outcome" part...geeze,
where's the glory in that? Oh well, I'm still on board
- it just sounds fun to corner with Cat 5's (which I
never was because I'm too old. why back in my day we
started as 4's already. And we liked it!). I secretly
hope to get to mentor some cat 5 road races - I need
the training, but am honestly scared I can't climb
that fast!


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April 08, 2008

Sterling Kits

Thought I'd send out a draft version of the Sterling
Race Team Kit. I'm currently working on a clothing vendor - Castelli is the early leader! We'll have jersey, shorts, vests, arm/leg warmers, and socks! If you like the look we should have the online order process set up in a week or so! Can't wait to see these bad
boys out on the road!


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March 24, 2008

The Price of Incredulity


Editorial

Surely all that read it were saddened and moved by the recent death of Kritsy Gough and Matt Petersen in Cupertino California. A simple, beautiful Sunday morning struck down needlessly at the hands of authority. Whether accident or malice will certainly be a question for the courts and the public forum. I can only see it as an accident of tragic proportions. I am so sorry for their families and teammates.

In his most recent article on cycling and the law, Bob Mionske paints a disturbing picture of a seemingly pervasive attitude amongst both law enforcement and the media responsible for it’s oversight, namely a perceptual and institutional bias against cyclists. Mionske lists several condemning examples of an attitude by police and media that seems to lay blame for accidents like the one in Cupertino at the feet of the cyclists, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It happens subtly and without vindication.

It was a great article.

As I rode with the procession along foothill expressway last Saturday remembering the lives and tragic loss of Kristy and Matt I was impressed and humbled by the show of solidarity in the local cycling community. Between 1200 – 2000 people were on that ride, each reinforcing the importance of cycling in their lives and the subtle family to which we all belong. As I considered the tragedy and the varied reactions to it (ranging from heartfelt sorrow for most, to getting flipped the bird by a motorist passing the nearly mile long processional going the other way), I was struck by a simple, undeniable truth. We are responsible for the police, public and media bias against cyclists. All of us have a part to play.

Please, hear me out and reserve condemnation.

I ride quite a bit, maybe 10-12 hours a week. Not as much as some, more than others. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. On any given ride I dare say that I, and probably most reading this, take license with the rules and laws of the road at some point. I soft pedal through the three-way light on Foothill most times it’s red. I’ve passed slow moving cars on a twisty and thrilling descent like Highway 84 because staying behind them takes a little longer and isn’t as much fun as testing my skills in full flight. I’ve certainly rolled a red left turn signal before. I figure I probably bend or break at least a rule or two on each ride, and I consider myself a safe and responsible rider. I’m a coach for goodness sake! With a 3-year old! Now if I’m a middle of the road transgressor and there were 1000 riders at the memorial ride representing each end of the bell curve then it’s safe to say that on any given day there are somewhere between 1000 and 3000 minor and major infractions of the law committed in the name of cycling, or worse yet entitlement. 1000-5000 ‘events’ that are often viewed by at least one vehicle. And that’s just for the ones who were at the ride. Northern California has somewhere around 5000 licensed racers, and who knows how many other riders of recreational to competitive inclinations. On a conservative (very conservative!) estimate that makes over 5000 traffic infractions per day in the greater bay area alone, viewed by at least 5000 people who aren’t cyclists. That’s 1.825M chances for John Q Public to get the wrong idea about cyclists. John Q Public is a police officer, a reporter, a cycling hater, and a cyclist. Is it any wonder that public, media, and police perception seems so ‘extreme’ to those of us who ride? It’s simply a matter of exposure. Do you think a driver who runs a red light is irresponsible, nee crazy, every time you see it? You may only see it a few times a year, but still your perception is set for that event. Now what if each time you saw it the person was driving the same type of car? Is it a stretch to say that you’d feel anyone who drives said vehicle was a scofflaw? That’s what we’re doing to ourselves and each other everyday. Every time you blow a stoplight you’re “just another cyclist” breaking the law. “They all do it”. Just as all “insert generic cultural/racial/social reference here” are bad drivers, or smart, or cheap.

Another thing struck me during the memorial ride. As ubiquitous as our solidarity can be at times, so too is our ambivalence. I knew lots of the people at the ride, saw lots of tangible grief and regret and applaud those who have undertaken to raise awareness and change their relationship with the general community. I applaud the Third Pillar and Roaring Mouse teams for so ably paying tribute to their fallen comrades now and in the future. I’m sure the private remembrances and efforts to raise awareness continue, as they must. My question is when do we, as individuals, take the reigns of public perception and throttle them back? When do we disallow groupthink to pervade on rides as we roll through the stop sign so we don’t lose momentum or miss the break? What will each of us do to try and change the public perception. Who will write their local paper to express outrage at the irresponsible regurgitation of a police report, or wanton idiocy of stereotyping cyclists as bringing it on themselves for their actions? It will stop when we, as the community of cyclists, act together to change public perception by our actions, to demand equal accounting, and to over come the all to convenient “us against them” mentality we have. I’m not naive, I know it’s a battle out there every day to stay safe and avoid accidents, bad drivers or the truly malicious and yet still tragedy comes on a brilliant Sunday morning for no good reason. I’m not on my soap box either – I passed the car on 84 three days AFTER the memorial ride. I’m just wondering what it will take to ignite us individually, to unite a community as diverse and politically un-interested in fostering change as the cycling community seems to be. I’m also wondering how to do it. I think I’ll just start with me.

2000 Masters Nationals - Road Race


Road Race:
Finally on Sunday came the last event – the vaunted road race. As I’d ridden the course the day before I felt confident that I’d be able to stay with the field at the minimum and maybe make the right tactical decision too! The race started off fast and easy…100 guys rolling along flat roads is pretty easy to sit in on. There were a few attacks, but as most riders were strong and motivated nothing stuck. It stayed this way for the first hour or so. I kept a steady rhythm near the front, trying not to do too much work in the wind and saving myself for the coming crux. The course only had one climb to speak of, the feed zone, but it had a nice set of rollers about 6 miles prior that could prove to be a good launch pad for a winning move. Sure enough up the first of four or five rollers a group rolled off hard, I knew it was dangerous and was well placed near the front as it was brought to heel as we turned onto the next small climb. Boom! Another attack, but I’m ready and jump it straight away. Just like everyone else. Then a third attack, this one gets a small gap so we bring it back and I’m starting to feel the accelerations. Just like that three guys roll off the front as I’m sitting there in a lactic acid haze. I just knew, knew that was the move so I dropped the hammer to try to get across, but my hammer was more of a ball peen than a sledge and I was quickly put back in the fold as we rolled towards the inevitable surges and covers on the feed hill. The three riders were working well and had a couple of teammates to block. As they hovered in the 1 minute range it became clear that they weren’t coming back. As frustrating as it was, no one wanted to chase and so we just let ‘em go. Onto the feed hill and a flurry of half hearted attacks never pushed to the limit – a nice stretch of the rubber band, but no snap! After that the field just rolled in everyone arguing about who should do the work, but with probably 60 guys left it was inevitable that we’d have a field sprint. Ok, no problem, I can sprint. So as we charged down the final mile or so of dead straight road to the finish I started looking for “the guy to” follow. Sure enough at about a kilometer to go here comes this HUGE dude rolling hard to the front (I was about 20 riders back). I jump on his wheel just happy as can be. He’ll take me right up there and it’ll be perfect.” Well no one told him so he charges straight through the front and lays down a nice solid lead out from probably 600m, only problem is he dropped me off with probably 300m left! Arrrgh, what are you gonna do – can’t really sit up and start looking for wheels at that point so I punched it as hard as I could. It went great for about 150m, then everyone and their mom started coming by saying “thanks” for the great lead out! Blast – a great race blown by two tactical errors. I was like 38th or something. Whatever, that was some fun racing

2000 Masters Nationals - Criterium


Criterium –
Usually crits are my forte, my thing. Over the years I’ve developed a pretty savvy racing ability that keeps me in contention and out of trouble on most any course. The course in Indiana seemed a natural fit. Narrow and short it would favor the rider who could hold their place at the front of the field and navigate through a field with aplomb. Hey, hey I thought….that’s me! Most crits have distinct corners but this particular course had more of a track and field radius to turns one and two, while turn three was a sharp, narrow mess of a thing and the final turn was a decreasing radius blast onto a short finishing straight of about 150m. The race started fast and I was holding my own near the front. Took a few pulls and managed to stay out of trouble for about the first 15 minutes or so. All along though I knew something wasn’t right. When you’re riding well it’s not a problem to stay at the front, move around and generally feel ok with hard exertions…but not today. It took tremendous effort to get forward in all the traffic and I just didn’t have the snap to stay at the front for more than a lap or two. A classic rule of thumb is to attack when you feel bad so off I went…straight off the front and straight back through the field and out the back, all inside of about 2 laps. Ouch!

Race Notes: A good friend had ponied up the cost of my airfare on the presumption that I could make a decent showing of myself in a National Championship and I felt pretty bad about my performance. So what’s the greatest way to ease your personal pain from a terrible ride? That’s right – Budweiser and karaoke in a small country bar in the middle of Indiana! So off I went to sample the local nightlife. As it was Friday there were plenty of people in the bar already and it was pretty easy to start up a conversation or two. There were lots of people interested in “the bike riders” who were in town (though I was the only one I saw in the bar…weird huh?), especially when I told them that we shave our legs intentionally – boy did that get some looks from the cowboys and cowgirls! Soon enough they fired up the karaoke machine and, with a bit of cajoling, I was up tearing the house down with a Red Hot Chili Peppers tune, followed by a crowd pleasing Bruce Springsteen. It was a blast! I drank too much (but was walking distance to my “hotel”), sang way too badly, and made friends with most everyone in the bar by the time the night was over. Great way to forget about the days horror.

2000 Masters Nationals -

Time Trial –
Wow, it sure is hot here! Well, as they say in this neck of the woods, it’s not the heat it’s the humidity that’ll kill ya! True enough it was in the 90’s with lots of extra water in the air as I rolled out to start my time trial. I could tell straight away that it was going to be a slow day. My legs were heavy straight off the bat and I never got my breathing or pacing to even out. In short it was a 40 minute suffer fest for no real gain. The course itself was very pretty as it rolled along country roads lined with corn and nicely kept farm houses. I don’t recall getting passed, but I don’t recall passing anyone either – a sure sign of a bad day. In the end I had a mediocre race, but I can't find a result or time - probably something around the 1 hour or more mark! Oh well, hopefully it’s a blow out for the other events.

Event notes:
I decided to sleep in the van instead of getting a hotel. This was in part due to financial constraints and also because I like the adventure of it all! The trick to sleeping in your van is to find a nice quite spot that won’t attract any attention, doesn’t have any extraneous lights glaring in at you during the night, and is sufficiently near where you want to be that you don’t have an epic drive the next day. Well it took a day or so to get it all squared away, but let me say that I did find a couple of tasty little spots. Now, it’s best to have at least two places so the local constable isn’t as apt to notice the same car parked in the same place for the thirteenth night (this is particularly true in small town America where the police have lots of free time to investigate such anomolies).

2000 Masters Nationals - Redux


Similar to the last post about my '99 Road Trip, I ran across this set of shorts from 2000 Masters Nationals:

Trip Out – No matter how many times I do it, the process of getting ready to travel to a race is always exciting. As long as there are bags to be packed, bikes to be prepped and a destination I’m a happy camper. I love the anticipation of an upcoming event, the feeling of dedication and commitment that it brings to the fore. As I climb on the plane, water in hand I feel like an athlete. That and I get to skip work and live on “expense” account for a few days! Nothing finer…

The 2000 Masters National Championships were held in Indiana and presented the kind of course that I excel at – FLAT! With only a couple of small hills in the road race, none in the criterium, and some rollers on the time trial course I knew it would be a good event. So as I stepped off the plane I was ready to take on the world. Quick trip to the rental counter to catch the shuttle and pick up the van before the 2 hour drive to Linton. The rental guys were nice enough to pull the back seats so I could drop all my equipment in the van without any trouble. Of course the fact that it would double as my personal hotel room for the better part of a week was also well served by the removal of the seats.

March 22, 2008

'99 Road Trip - Installment #4


Why Colorado Rules! / Location: Durango, CO (yep, still on vacation!)

Personalities: Matt M & Matt M, Steve Wexler, Allison (see above), Lots of Beer!

Steve Wexler used to Own Cambria Bicycle Outfitters. MattMe tells me he was quite an asshole during that time. You’d never know it now though! Steve took us on the single best ride of the vacation, a 21 mile mostly downhill single track epic (and I hesitate to use the word since it’s become cliche) known as ?? Creek. Of course it rained on us so we had to slide and slosh our way down, but even still the trail was great and the traction I got off my WTB NanoRaptor tires was impressive. My brakes and pads even held out for the duration of the ride. Back to SW’s for a shower and a bike wash, then out on the town for a bit of revelry.

The next morning we met up with Allison, whom we’d ridden with in Park City. She and two of her friends took us on a great 4 hour ride that included tons-o-climbing and some great singletrack descending. At the bottom of the decent we had a 5 mile road ride back into town. Geeze, you’d think we had to cross the Sahara to get home judging by the reaction of the crew! Talk about complaining sissies! Allison and I set a good tempo and had fun pacelining back into town while Matt and the other two rode an angry tempo about 200 meters behind us. Fortunately the beer tasted just as good at the car as it did later that night at Steve’s house.

One more day to go in Durango and off again we went on a great ride. Allison took me and one of her friends on a cool little loop that followed a river for awhile then climbed up this steep ridge and dropped in the back side. On the way up the clouds kept getting darker and we knew rain was imminent! At the top of the climb, with tremendous single track beckoning we made the fateful call: “I think the rain is gonna hold off for awhile!” NOT. As soon as we were, literally, 1 minute down the trail the rain poured on us and turned the fun into a slippery effort to stay up and not die. After the initial slippery seciton we hit the mud and all hell stopped, clogged and impeded our progress to no end. If you’ve never carried a mud encrusted full suspension weighing at least 40 pounds up a series of switchback hills, well then you haven’t experienced epic my friends! Many laughs and impromtu bike cleaning later we were again at a descent. This one dropped back to the car and was suprisingly fun given the overall lack of performance of the bikes.

That night MattMe, SW and I headed out for a luxury dinner. Great food, good conversation and a bit of the sour mash was very memorable. The next morning Meier and I headed for California, straight thru,ahhh!

NOTES from the return: OK, matt next trip get the stupid &(*& blasted &(*^ light and dinger fixed BEFORE the trip. We listened to that stupid door adjar tone for at least 3 hours. It would sometimes run in sync with the song on the radio and occasionally you would just eliminate the sound from your mind, but in general it was 3 hours of “ding, ding ding ding ding dign ding ding ding ding ding….Mothertrucker I hate that thing!

'99 Road Trip - Installment #3


Installment #3: Summer In Colorado! / Location: Crested Butte, CO (still on vacation)

Personalities: The Matt & Matt show and an AA Convention!

Report: The drive over Cottonwood pass is spectacular! Topping out over 11,000 feet you get a true feeling of altitude here. The same is true for the climb over Fremont pass from Copper Mountain to Leadville, CO. The majesty of that view is marred by the Climax Molybdenum Mine. Basically in the quest for minerals the miners there have dismantled a 13,000 foot mountain so that only a hollowed out core remains. Sad the travesties we push in the name of power and development.
Ripping along Highway 24 towards Buena Vista you pass the Collegiate Peaks, a series of 14,000 foot mountains that includes Mt. Elbert (highest point in CO), Mt. Princeton, Mt. Massive, Mt Harvard and Mt. Yale. There is a great natural hot springs at the base of Mt Princeton in case your in the neighborhood sometime. In all there are over a dozen Fourteener’s in the region.

Once checked in at the Marriot we took some time to clean up our bikes and clothing which hadn’t been touched since Park City. While looking for the local waterin’ hole we were dismayed to learn that we were sharing the hotel with an Alcoholics Anonymous Convention. Note to self: don’t stay in a hotel with 750 AA’ers, it kills the nightlife!

The next morning we headed out towards the town of Gothic and the legendary 401 trail. The dirt road climb to the top of Schofield Pass (10,707) was pretty easy compared to the climb up Steamboat Mountain. After turning left off the road we encountered a 15 minute hike a bike section that takes you to approximately 11,000 feet. The high alpine fields sported carpets of yellow and red flowers and numerous patches of Columbine, the purple beauty that is the state flower of Colorado. Just as we started the single track traverse to the downhill mother nature offered us her version of a cold shower. Fearless and laughing we rolled on.

As the rain thickened we started the plummet towards town. I’ll never forget the experience of railing down narrow single track high on a mountain in driving rain. The edge of the trail was lined with large yellow sunflowers, each blackened center highlighted by a ring of sunshine and gold. The sunflowers inevitably hung out onto the trail and each time you’d clip one with the edge of your bars or hand a big splash would erupt from the undamaged flora. Snap, snap, snap, explosions erupeted on my right and left. After 10 minutes of clipping flowers my hands were becoming slightly sore, those little buggers are solid! Brake performance was going away fast as we shot through steeply bermed corners, rocketed across small streams and gullies and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely. Of course the really technical parts of the trail were sure to arrive as the brakes completely disappeared. Sliding headlong into a sharp lefty switch back unable to scrub off any speed was hilarious, primarily because the resulting crash was of minimal damage! After a few more off trail excursions and a really big stream crossing we made it down and headed directly to the local bike wash to start the recovery process. Both bikes needed new brake pads and both riders needed baths! After cleaning our bikes and selves we opted to stay in Crested Butte another night. Once again we ate to excess, drank to mild excess and enjoyed the ramblings of a local hippie/mountain biker. He actually knew his stuff pretty well and was fairly entertaining while we stashed Guiness down our throats. If we’d had more time he wanted to show us lots of great local trails but we had fish to fry in Durango

Notes On CB: Rain sucks! Especially at 11,000 feet! The Porn Station at the hotel was exceptionally mediocre given the $8.95 cost! It’s hard to find beer on Mt Crested Butte after 9pm on a Tuesday! Not quite as many cute girls to chat with, but still a great place.

'99 Road Trip - Installment #2


Altitude Burn / Location: Steamboat Springs, CO - Vacation

Personalities: Matt McNamara & Matt Meier

Report: This picturesque town in north central Colorado is one of the finest places on earth for riding. Home to Moots Cycles and the Mercury Tour, as well as a stop on the Colorado Off Road Points Series, Steamboat revels in cycling during the summer. We cruised into the Comfort Inn around 4p on Monday afternoon. After a quick lunch/dinner and some rest we headed out to explore.
Our first ride was at the resort. After climbing up the main trails to the mid mountain chateau we were ready for the downhill push and the cold beer waiting at the bottom. Down magical singletrack that wound through Aspen Groves and across steep ski runs we had a solid 20 minute descent back to the base area. What a great way to blow out the legs after a long 5 hour drive from Utah.
The next morning we got started pretty early (10am – hey it’s vacation!) for the torrid climb to the top of the ski area and the resulting HUGE Downhill! 4,000 feet is a lot of climbing anytime. When your start elevation is 7,000 feet and you’re a seaside dweller from Northern California, it’s even worse! To truly push the envelope Matt Meier lugged his Santa Cruz Super 8 DH bike, all 38 pounds of it, all the way up that hill! He even rode most of it thanks to an added triple chainring and his fierce determination. Way to go Mattie! I was aboard my Ventana Marble Peak FS, which was the perfect bike for the conditions at 26 pounds with 3 inches of travel front and rear. After a bit of a respite and recovery session at the top we headed down Pete’s Wicked Trail. Now I’d been hearing about this trail since a good friend had spent the summer in Steamboat in ’94. Everyone talked about how “epic” it was and what a thrill. Whatever! I didn’t really think it was that good. Granted, I crashed pretty hard about 30 seconds into the descent, but still the trail was unimaginative, not that steep and not really that beautiful (of course this is a relative observation!). Valley View, on the other hand, was everything you’d expect from classic Colorado single track. Easy sweepers followed by unpredictable switch backs made for a truly raucous ride. It keeps you on your toes and rewards that diligence with some great launchers, for those into getting air. All of this occurs in the midst of a thick, tree lined forest that had more shades of green than an envious cyclist looking at Matt’s DH Bike. Once at the bottom we grabbed a quick lunch and headed out for Crested Butte.