Sunday, August 29, 2010

Carnation and Seward: Getting it Wrong, Getting it Right

HB brought a nice big squad to both of the weekend's local races: Carnation Farm CR on Saturday, and the Seward Season Ender on Sunday.

Carnation Farms Circuit Race

Carnation was the third and final installment of the Lake Washington Velo series that HB puts on. Steve Fisher was killing it in the series and had the lead going into the third race. Relevant standings were

Steve -- 22
James Stangeland -- 20
Galen Erickson -- 16
Dave Richter -- 11
Me, Todd Herriott and Dave Flash -- 10

HB soldiers were myself, Steve, Ian Crane, Logan Owen, Lang Reynolds, Joe Holmes, Tiny Alan, Tall Alan, Chris Wingfield, and AJ. With points 10-deep (15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) and a 4,2,1 intermediate sprint, we had our work cut out for us: cover moves with danger men in them, keep the danger men from getting the point sprint, and make sure Steve finished next to or ahead of his competition.

On count one, we did alright. With a virtually dead-flat circuit (10 laps, ~4 mile lap), the racing was extremely aggressive since there were always like 20 guys tucked in and ready to swing dick when the moment arose. With our numbers, we were able to put at least one rider in every dangerous break. With the weird points game going on, the tactics were not like a normal one-day race, and a lot of those moves were destined for non-cooperation. Nothing got more than 10 or 15 seconds.

On count two, we screwed up. We got the prime bell with 6 to go. Coming into corner 2, a downhill right-hander, HB alum Adrian Hegyvary put in a dig, bringing Joe Holmes with him. Those who followed Adrian's killer 2009 season might remember that at this race last year, Adrian attacked through a corner, and that was all she wrote. So with the sultan swinging hard, the bunch got lined out good and quick. Luckily, I found David Fleischhauer's wheel, which gave me a nice draft and a free ride to the front of the race since HSP was doing the bulk of the chasing. Adrian's move came back as we reached the curvy shadowed section of the course, and since I was fresh and everyone else was looking at each other, I jumped and got a pretty quick gap.

(photo by Dennis Crane)

I got into pursuit mode, staying nice and low through the headwind section toward corner 4. I knew my gap was going to come down in the 500-meter finishing straight with everyone gunning for the points, and I also knew that winning the sprint would take a lot of pressure off of Steve (not to mention getting me more points), so I dug real deep. Here's where the team went wrong: we tried to have our cake and eat it, too, putting a couple riders on the front to (ostensibly) keep Steve and Ian from getting swarmed. Unfortunately, the pace they chose wasn't fast enough to line things out for Steve and Ian, but it was fast enough to bring the rest of the field within striking range for the sprint, and as a result, I was caught less than 10 meters from the line--no exaggeration. It was like this (FFWD to 3:00, unless you are enjoying the music):

Dave Richter took the 4, Stangeland took the 2, and I came up empty-handed. This moved DR up to 15 points, and brought Stangeland even with Steve on points. Now Steve had to beat Stangeland to win the series. Not as good as before.

We also botched count 3. Partially because our guys were gassed from working the hell out of the first half of the race (for better or for worse) and partially because we couldn't get our shit together, Steve was pretty much on his own for the sprint, and ended up finishing in the top-10, one position behind Stangeland, losing the series by a point. It stung extra good since he would have won on a tiebreaker had I won the intermediate sprint. Womp womp.

(photo from Rob Whitacre's sweet camera)

As Joe put it, "the winner is usually the person with the clearest vision when everyone is seeing triple." That said, I think we should have been able to piece together a better race than we did.

On to the C-word Season Ender.

Same crew minus Tall Alan and AJ. Weird format, with 4 $20 cash primes, and $5 to the leader of each lap after the first prime. This time, we were smarter about what we chased, what we worked in, and what we sat on. With Steve and Logan looking good in sprints recently, we wanted to set it up for them. Coming into the last 10 laps, Lang was off the front with Stangeland, but got popped when Stangeland attacked him for a prime. At that point, the two were within about 5 seconds of the pack, but after Lang came back, Stangeland found some reserves and pushed his advantage back out to about 15 seconds with 5 to go. Pretty cashed from the first half of the race (theme?), I put my chips into the chase effort, which was pretty unmotivated for a few laps. With about 2 to go, things finally picked up when people realized that Stangeland is real strong. The gap was coming down, but not fast enough. Coming up the hill into the turn on the last lap, Logan was well positioned right behind Richter. Stangeland's advantage had come down to about 5 seconds, but went to about zero seconds when he crashed himself out in the corner, a la Jake MacArthur. Logan came around Richter to win. Booyah!

(booking it through the sweeper)

(James Stangeland during his solo effort; photos from Dustin van Wyk)

This may have been the last weekend of road racing for the year, unless I go to Eugene for the stage race next weekend. We'll see!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Racing Redux

Hey Global Audience,

I don't know whether it's been the hours spent inhaling fiberglass and paint dust from the canoe, or the equal hours spent inhaling exhaust fumes while driving to pick up fiberglass and paint products from the Olde Asbestos Manufatory down on Shilshole, but my lungs have been feeling excellent recently! I'm lucky that carcinogens aren't on the USADA list, otherwise my superb training strategies might be illegal. Really I'm doing this to prepare for racing Elite Track Nationals, which are in Carson, CA. It's similar to altitude training. Soon my body will learn to metabolize particles of gasoline into ATP, meaning that Los Angeles will be a buffet for my lungs come race time.

My particulate-enhanced lungs have taken me to some very impressive results over the last few weeks. Let's start with the Portland Twilight Crit. I'll begin with the only photographic evidence that I even participated in this race:

(photo from

You can see that I had an excellent starting position, courtesy of the 20-or-so call-ups, along with the large team that cut the whole line because they showed up late. Classy. I wound up near the back, which was a bad place to be on such a tight course. So while this was happening at the front...

(photo by Jim Long)

...this is what I got to deal with:

I was out after about 15 minutes.

Next day was much better, up at the HB-sponsored Lake Washington Velo Circuit Race Series in Gig Harbor. I finally fulfilled one of my dreams by getting in a break with Sammy J. Sam has been a huge mentor since I started racing; he was with me when I raced my first road race and he's always given good advice when I've needed it. Check it!

(Me and Sam are very similar shapes)

The circuit race series is a lot of fun. 40-45 mile races 0n 4-6 mile circuits. The three-race series gives points for each race, and with Steve Fisher winning the first race and taking 3rd the intermediate sprint, he was tied for the lead on points with James Stangeland from KR. So we had us a situation. Establish a break that didn't threaten Steve's lead, while Steve played it cool in the field and marked his men. CHECK! The move was established by the end of lap 2 when I jumped in a 5-man group that bridged up to a solo Sam. No one in the break (me, Sam, TH, Galen, Doug Davis from Lenovo, and a UFO [unidentified flying Rider]) had series points, so as long as me and Sam went Pacman on the intermediate sprint, there was no threat to Steve. Here's how it went down. By half way, we had dropped Doug and the UFO and had about 1:30 on the field. Sam and I went 1-2 in the sprint, with Galen taking the remaining point. 2nd to last lap, I got popped on the stair stepper courtesy of a nice move by TH. Luckily, I crested within 10 seconds of the trio, and by continuing to chase as hard as I could, Sam got a free ride. I had to TT the last lap, with the official occasionally chiming in about my ever-decreasing gap to the bunch. It sounds like Sam hesitated in the sprint when Galen jumped, and wound up second. I held on for 4th with the bunch coming in about 30 seconds behind me. And by the bunch I mean a totally h-core Steve Fisher PWNing his competish for 5th place! He put points into all his rivals, and now we have our work cut out for us this weekend at the finale in Carnation. Serious cash monies on this caper--scope it!

(Sam sprint good)

(either Amara ran to the other side of the road to catch this sweet shot of me sprinting, or this is a shot
of me getting dropped from the break. note my long sleeve skinsuit--a must-have on a 90 degree day.)

(BOO yah)

Thanks to Amara at for the pix. After the circuit race, it was a bit more "down" than "up." My headset was completely jacked so I couldn't race the super-cool Ronde Ohop, a 30-mile race on a 2-mile half-gravel circuit, and the next weekend, despite my hill-climb specific bicycle that made even John O'Donnell drool, I climbed like a fat kid, barely avoiding last place. Yesssss!!!

In other news, check out what came in the mail today:

Time to do some reading!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I'm restoring a canoe! Since graduating from Whitman in May, I've been living mostly like a monk--racing, training, and taking long road trips in my beloved Volvo. My parents have been kind enough to help me by letting me live back at home, and in lieu of rent money, I'm working on cool projects that have some tangible or sentimental value to this canoe!

(the canoe after about 25 years spent biding its time)

As you can see, it's hard to fit in one shot. This is a photo of the hull. Brief history of this canoe: 70 years ago, this canoe is born. 35 years ago, it comes into my dad's possession. 34 years ago, it receives a new yellow paint job to cover the aging maroon gel coat. Some time in the 1980s, the canoe is involved in a crash involving my dad and my grandpa, accounting for the various patches of busted and patched fiberglass you see in the photo. Since being patched, the canoe has slowly fallen into disrepair: the patches aren't sturdy, the hull leaks, the fiberglass is coming un-laminated from the cedar planks to which it once adhered, the gunwales are dry-rotted. So, what is one to do about this? Fix it!

I bought some paint thinner, fiberglass fabric, epoxy, an orbital sander, a respirator, and have been going to work. The process (as far as I can see) will involve tearing off the aging fiberglass patches, taking the paint down to the original fiberglass, redoing the patches, injecting epoxy into certain parts of the hull, pulling off and replacing the gunwales with new hardwood strips, and repainting the whole thing.

It's a stereotypical relationship, but my mom and dad are always butting heads over what to keep and what to dispose of. My dad always errs on the side of conservation and reconstitution, while my mom likes to get rid of anything that doesn't have an apparent use. While there's usually a middle path that's more reasonable than either extreme, I've got to go with my dad on the contentious issue of the canoe. Despite the disrepair of the boat, when I look at the old planks, laid over the cedar skeleton, and think about throwing the boat away because it is going to take so many hours of work, I feel like it would be profoundly wrong. Imagine the guy who put the thing together. He'd be rolling over in his grave.

More on that later. Now, here's what the canoe looks like. I've stripped the top layer of paint off and am preparing to sand down to the fiberglass. For areas that are structurally sound, I'll leave just a bit of paint so that I don't damage the FG by sanding it. For areas that need to be repaired, I'll take all the paint off since they're getting patched anyway.

The spots you can see straight through to the wood are the parts that were punctured by knots in a fallen log that my dad and grandpa couldn't avoid while paddling a few decades ago. Time to FIX EM!!

When I'm not working on the canoe or blogging about working on the canoe, I'm usually riding my bike or playing with Lucy, my 9-year-old Golden Retriever. See?

(my track bike trying its hardest to be a road bike)

With Elite Track Nationals coming up at the end of September, I've been putting more and more time into track-specific training. I'm planning on racing the Omnium, Individual Pursuit, Scratch and Points Races, and maybe the Team Pursuit (if I can find a team), and I've been lucky enough to hook up with a local training group of cyclists who are also going to Nats, thanks to Jen Triplett. First session is tomorrow, coached by Jennie Reed, so we'll see how that goes.

Riding the track bike on the road is a lot of fun. I haven't got a lot of gear combinations, so for now, I'm forced to roll a 52x16, which means I ride on mostly flat terrain if possible. That bike, while incredibly heavy, is also very stiff, and can go quite fast in a straight flat line. Since my TT bike is disassembled (mined for track bike parts), as is my road bike (still in hill climb mode), I'm doing most of my riding on this bad boy.

And look at this awesome dog! The golden retriever, not the ugly giant dog that didn't want to do anything except follow her around Lake Washington.

Big stupid gray dog just harangued Lucy the whole time she was trying to get the ball!! What the heck??

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I've been pretty enamored with the pursuit recently. This always tends to happen in the summer months. In 2008, I was transfixed by the state TT. Last year, it was the U23 nats TT, and now I'm getting all fuzzy feeling about the pursuit. Maybe I like to focus on races where there are fewer variables. Maybe I'm always disoriented, form-wise, after collegiate road nationals, which I've always aimed for pretty heavily, and I want to have a finite goal that I can wrap my head around. The last few summers, I get all detail oriented, making my equipment all nice, doing my homework about the course, and generally being pretty single-minded about the event I picked.

This year I think my understanding of training is a lot different, and it's changing the way I approach my event of choice. For instance, in 2008, I did hardly any racing in July because I was "preparing" for the state TT (I really wanted to win the Cat3 race). I rode my TT bike all the time, but when I look back, I was kind of a pussy about training hard. Same goes for last year. I never really got into the rhythm of hard training in the months before the event. I noticed these things at the end of last year, so after collegiate road nats this year, I really wanted to focus on getting back to a feeling of homeostasis in training. It took until the beginning of July, but it came around. And so this year, I've been focusing on getting race miles in the legs, since that's what "fills the right." It also means racing pursuits. Like I said, they remind me of swimming, and like swimming events, you get a little more familiar and comfortable with them each time.

I've got two little training mantras that might seem incompatible, but that I think actually go perfectly well together. The first is "I'm always training." This one's pretty simple; I just mean that preparing for training rides and for races is a constant process that involves rest, nutrition, stress, and a million other variables. So if training is a 24-hour thing, then you're always somewhere on the thread of training you've strung. There's a trajectory associated with your point on the string, and your training 'status' changes gradually and (usually) without discontinuity. Now when you look at the 2 minutes immediately prior to the start of a pursuit, there's very little that you can do in your training to prepare yourself for the event any further. Everything is already "in the bank," so to speak. So before setting off, I clear my head by telling myself that I've got "money in the bank" and that my legs are about to "buy me a drink." I think this is pretty liberating, since all the consideration that goes into training is unnecessary during a pursuit. Instead, I can just focus on accepting more pain.

With that in mind, I went to the Elite Nats qualifier on Saturday, where it started raining 5 minutes before my heat against Dan Harm. It was okay though, because I had been meaning to get in some 40-minute roller rides on a Saturday. Instead, I raced it on Monday. It was a 5:03.8, down from 5:12.3 three weeks ago. I tried some different pacing:

Nats Qualifier:

Lastly, this is the best warm-up song ever.