Saturday, June 30, 2012

Michael Torckler, Hit and Run Victim...

Many of you may remember the New Zealand team, Pure Black Racing, who had an extended stay in Southern California early last year (2011). They competed in some of out bigger races such as the San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic, before moving on to other venues. While they skipped those races this year, the team has returned to North America. They raced the Tour de Beauce in Quebec, and have another six races scheduled in Canada before mid-July.

Well, one of their riders, Michael Torckler, was struck by a car while on a solo training ride in the Santa Rosa area of California this week. It seems to go without saying these days, that the cowardly driver fled the scene, leaving the severely injured Torckler lying in the road. He was transported to hospital in critical condition with severe head injuries. Reports now are that this status has improved, and his life is no longer threatened. Good news indeed - continue sending thoughts for recovery his way.

And may the inconsiderate driver get his just rewards for all the lack of compassion shown to Mr. Torckler.

The Bin O' Death...

and other macabre treasures.

Then again, maybe I am overstating things a bit. It is not all useless stuff. 

I used to have my bins pretty well organized. There was the good-parts bin; all perfectly useable, some even brand new or lightly used. Things like components that had been replaced due to an upgrade, those extra helmet pads you always get and collect, or stuff I bought but never used, would abide in that bin. A step down from that was the Solyent Green bin containing all those parts that had become outdated, past their prime, maybe they never were good enough to be a starter. Stuff in this bin might never find their way back onto a bike of mine, but someone, somewhere would find them useful. How do I know this? I took a bin of these parts to a bike swap once, and it took only a few moments to be cleaned out. Then there was the true bin of death; only the most useless, broken, rusted, maybe even fetid things would be thrown into this bin. An artist who creates with throw-away objects might have been enraptured by this coffin-like container, but rarely would anything reemerge from it with a more functional purpose. 

There are just two bins now, unorganized and near to overflowing. The good mixed with the bad. It's chaotic. It's frustrating. Looking for something yesterday, I just dumped everything onto the garage floor. When the search proved fruitless, everything was just tossed back together. Chaos again. What is your method of storage?

Friday, June 29, 2012


It is what keeps us up at night.
It is the mystery to be revealed; the indeterminate outcome.
It is the calm before the storm.
It is the verge of a long wait.

it the beginning of three weeks of drama
three weeks of suspense
three weeks of strategic battle
three weeks of brute strength, of finesse, of cunning
it is three weeks of chasing what only one athlete per year can attain

is the night before the Tour de France.


No Car GMR...

The time is nearly upon us again.
No, I'm not talking about the start of the Tour de France.

I am talking about the annual closure of Glendora Mountain Road to motor vehicles
for the 4th of July holiday. It was previously noted elsewhere (and officially here) that GMR will close in the morning of 3rd July, will remain closed through the 4th, and reopen around 10:00am on the 5th. Non-motorized traffic only during that time.

Numerous group rides are planned, so get on your bikes and ride.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Skunk in the Morning...

Ah, Pepe. As I crested the little hill at the city boundary on western Baseline this morning an animal control officer was attempting to release a skunk back into the wild. The little critter must have been pretty comfy (or scared) in its cage, and was hesitant to come out. The officer tried lifting the back of the cage and giving it a shake, but the canyon and hillsides perhaps didn't look or smell familiar, so Pepe le Pew was staying put. Not only that, but he was not in the least bit hesitant to let the officer, and everyone else nearby, know just what his opinion on the matter was. The fragrance had wafted all the way down the road to the bottom of the hill, thanks to the mornings breeze, and I got to suck it in all the way up.

It was an AFV moment, but I didn't get to witness the outcome, for as soon as I crested the hill I started down the other side. It didn't really look, nor smell, like a place I wanted to be anyway.

 Later I spotted a group of Forest Service firefighters on a hillside above San Dimas Canyon. No smoke around, so I imagine they were just training. 

Pro Candids: One for the Spidertech Fans...

I have a bunch of photos from stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California which didn't make the original post over at the old blog and which, unless you clicked over to the Photobucket collection, you have not seen. Anyway, I thought I would make a little series out of them and call it pro candids. Here is number three in the series:

Who we have here is David Boily (front) and, I believe, Ryan Anderson, both of Team Spidertech. Boily wore the King of the Mountains Jersey following stage one during which he won first place points at each of the four KOM spots along the day's route. He ended the weeklong race in 78th spot overall, and 2nd in the King of the Mountains competition.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cycling Claremont: Yoga for Cyclists...

at Claremont Yoga.

I noticed this card at a local bike shop the other day, and picked it up. I have never been an especially flexible person (from a physical perspective) and knowing that a strong core is fundamental, I have often though yoga could help me be a better racer, not to mention ease an occasional aching back. Check out their website, you will notice that Claremont Yoga offers a range of classes, for all levels.

From the website: "The key areas that can be overworked or strain[ed] while cycling are: hamstrings, quadriceps, hips and lower back (caused by a constant forward flexion of the spine.) Yoga poses help open what is contracted and focuses on the breath. This can help cultivate a mind, body awareness that can be transported to the bike. Improve flexibility, core, strength, and balance."

The instructor for the class at Claremont Yoga was kind enough to respond to an email of mine in which I asked a few questions. She (Suzanne) originally came to the idea of developing a class for cyclists after working with a cyclist friend, and some first-hand experience with a sore back and aching muscles following some spin classes. 

"The benefits in cycling are: making you a stronger, faster cyclist. It can give you strength, flexibility, alleviate pain, and stamina. Yoga can also reduce stress, make you less prone to injury, lengthens the muscles and can give you a more powerful pedal stroke. Yoga creates flexibility where there is only strength, which balances the action. Yoga can also help bring the spine back into alignment caused by a constant forward bend of the spine."

"The breath we use in yoga helps to calm our mind and bring ourselves to the present. Focusing on the breath and bringing awareness to the mind and body can be brought to the bike to maintain a strong focus and calm mind. The breath delivers oxygen to the muscles that are being over worked and then begin to cramp. Yoga increases that tolerance for torture by releasing toxins like lactic acid and carbon dioxide from your muscles." says Andrea Baldovin, creator of the Yoga for Cyclists DVD. Using this method of breathing on your bike can help break the pain barrier."

From a racing perspective, I think most cyclists recognize the benefits of stretching before and after a race (or training), but I see very few (including myself) doing so. "Another benefit that a cyclist could find useful is recovering without being sore. A fewpost-ride stretches can lubricate the muscles, which can add to a speedy recovery and increase your training." After a 76 mile ride today, this last really hit home. If you see pros at the end of a race, sometimes they can barely more - why do you think team soigneurs always run over and hold them up after crossing the line (at least the team leaders get that treatment). That is how I felt today - my back has never felt so stiff. I may have to go check into this class.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Memorable Tour de France Moments: 1991...

This photo shows one of the few times I can recall in which Big Mig was visibly angry or frustrated. I don't think he was considering overall victory yet and really wanted the stage win. It was the finale of stage 13, a challenging race in every sense of the word. Starting in Jaca, Spain the Tour wound through 232 km, up and over the Portalet, Col d'Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin, and with a final kicker up to Val-Louron.

Fireworks began on that first big bump of the day, the Aubisque when, first Gianni Bugno, and Charly Mottet, then Claudio Chiapucci, and Yellow Jersey wearer, Luc Leblanc bridged up to a break that had gone clear earlier in the day. The move forced the races other main contenders, including Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon into action. Descending the Aubisque brought everyone back together, Lemond, Andy Hampsten, and Miguel Indurain had joined the group. Then, descending the Tourmalet's high pass, Indurain attacked out of the group, would later be joined by Chiapucci, and the two would ride away, ticking off the kilometers free from the chasers for the rest of the day.

Behind the two leaders, Lemond was knocked from his bike by the Gatorade team car, whose leader Bugno had just attacked away from Lemond and group. Heading over the penultimate climb, Indurain and Chiapucci had a 3 minute 34 second advantage over Lemond, Hampsten, and three others, with Bugno, Fignon, and Mottet in between at about 2 minutes 30 seconds. Indurain and Chiapucci worked well together, and Chiapucci was able to come around Indurain before the line. Indurain was consoled with the Yellow Jersey, which he would hold for the rest of the Tour, and in fact for the next four years as well.

Very C&V: Kestrel MXZ...

1989. Full carbon. They don't get much earlier, or rare, than this. It has the Zolatone granite-appearance finish, and it looks like the rims were selected to match as they have a kind of sparkle finish (non-braking surfaces). Out the door, these bikes would have come equipped with Shimano Deore throughout. Most of that is still here - front and rear derailleurs, brakes,  levers and shifters. At some point, the standard cranks on this one were switched out for a much nicer Cook Bros set - yet they are early enough that they say Cooks on them rather than the more recent Cook Bros.

Mountain Bike magazine did a review of this bike in their March/April 1989 issue. In it they note that the MXZ was the "first production composite monocoque mountain bike frame." At the time it was a completely unique, futuristic design which received good reviews on its performance.

This bike is in fantastic shape for a 23 year old - it really doesn't seem like it has seen much off-pavement use, or abuse. Museum quality.

And that little Patent Pending Brent Trimble sticker, so obscure you might overlook it, is icing on the cake.

As usual, you can gaze longingly at it by stopping in at the Velo, Worlds Smallest Bike Shop.

Monday, June 25, 2012

the Ontario Criterium 2012...

It was back to Ontario this morning for the next race in the Ontario Series. Same place as usual, but run clockwise, and on a slightly abbreviated course. With a 9:30 start time for my own race, I missed the first two races of the day - the women cat 4, and masters 55/60+. No photos from either of those. By the time I did get there, the races were behind schedule and I overheard some talk of a heart attack, and an ambulance. Never did find out for sure, hope it wasn't for anyone here, but if it was let it be less serious, and that the person is able to make a full recovery. Just for the record, the Women Cat 4 race was won by Christine Reilly (Helens/Cannondale), ahead of Rachel Cross (Sho-air/Rock 'n Road), with Angel Castillo (UCLA) in third. The 55+ race was won by Kalman Szkalak (UC Cyclery/JW Floors), ahead of Dale Luedtke (Spy-Swami's Cycling Team), and Cyril Hunte (unattached?). For the 60+ men, it was Leo Pettus (Paramount Racing) in first, second went to my Claremont neighbor, Michael Fleming (SouthBay Wheelmen), with Howard Miller (Paramount Racing) taking the third spot.

It was time to warm up after registering, so I left the camera in the capable hands of my son, who took all the photos from the Juniors races, as well as the 50+ race. Why wasn't he out there with the Juniors? You'd have to ask him. Some photos from the Juniors races are below, click here to see the rest. They are all grouped together - men 10-12, women 10-14 and men 15-16 were on the course together, then came the men 13-14, women 15-18 and men 17-18.

The mens 10-12 race was won by Kyle Kirby (ACQUA AL2/SDBC), with Nathan Hickey (PAA/REMAX) in 2nd, and Sean Quinn (CPT) in 3rd. For the women 10-14 it was: 1. Rachel Cross (Sho-air/Rock 'n Road), 2. Roxxanne Peoples (ACQUA AL 2/SDBC), 3. Lauren Stack (GS Adams Avenue Bicycles). The men 15-16: 1. Bailey Eckles (PAA/REMAX), 2. Christian Husband (Sho-air/Rock 'n Road), 3. Quinten Kirby (San Diego Bicycle Club). The Men's 17-18 race was taken by David Munoz (Major Motion) ahead of Scott Cohen (LUX Pro Development, and Aubrey Smentkowski (Sho-air/Rock 'n Road). The Men's 13-14 race saw Lucas Deleon (Encino Velo CC) take the win, with Jeremy Lopez (SC Velo) in second, and Nick Robertson (SC Velo) in third. Finally, the Women 15-18: 1. Rachel Cross (Sho-air/Rock 'n Road), 2. Lucy Peritz (GS Adams Avenue Bicycles), 3. Lauren Stack (GS Adams Avenue Bicycles). Congrats to all.

Next up came the Masters 50+ race for Cat 1-4. The 50+ race started late, and was shortened, possibly due to the reason mentioned above. My experience with shortened races has been that they tend to be faster. Whether due to that, or poor form, I was just no help to the team. During one of the mid-race laps, when we came past the finish line, the rider ahead of me suffered a mechanical - his handlebars busted in two, or that is what I guessed, maybe it was the brake lever. Though there was a severe bobble, he had superior handling skills and did not go down, though it was briefly disconcerting to me right behind him. No harm done though, and the race continued on its way, most people not even aware of the mishap. The 50+ podium: 1. Stephen Gregorios (Pinnaclife Racing), 2. Bradley Jones (BBI-SIC Cycling), 3. Richard Mitchell (UCC/JW Floors). A couple pics, and more.

The women came up next - categories 1-3. The SC Velo/Empower Coaching, Helens/Cannondale, and Velo La Grange Teams were the main protagonists during the day. Other teams made efforts now and again but were pretty well outnumbered by those three. Both Helens and SC Velo looked especially strong and it would have been hard to bet against a rider from one of those teams taking the win. Another racer standing nearby expressed his opinion on how well Helens works as a team, and indeed it was Helens rider, Suzanne Sonye who out kicked everyone else to the line. Jenny Rios (SC Velo) came across 2nd, and Melina Bernecker (Velo Club LaGrange) 3rd. Link click for all photos.

Beatriz Rodriguez (SC Velo/Empower Coaching)

All Helens/Cannondale and SC Velo/Empower Coaching at the front

Suzanne Sonye with a victory salute

Men 30+, Cat 4/5. The rider with the full Grizzly Adams beard was really animating things throughout the race, and I was betting on him for the finish, but whether he used up too much energy earlier, or he was more interested in primes, it was the rider from Predator with a massively ferocious sprint who took the win. Click here for the rest.

Penultimate lap. The next time around, that rider in the middle, foreground (Predator Cycling) would come around the turn with a gap and unleash a massive sprint for the win.

With the family in tow, I knew it would not be a full day of racing, and we left just after the start of the Masters 40+, Cat 1-4. Too bad, judging by who was there, I am sure it was a highly competitive race. There are a few addition random shots on the sidelines here, and that is it for now. Ride hard, or go home.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lanterne Rouge: First Time for Everything...

brought my photo assistant today - he even caught me looking halfway decent

Raced the Ontario Criterium today, Masters 50+ Cat 1-4. Fifty-six starters toed the line in this one, forty-eight finished. Guess who the last to cross the line was? In twenty-three years it has never happened, I have never been the absolute last finisher. DNF sure, on thankfully rare occasions. But never the lanterne rouge until today. Once is enough, thanks.

48th finisher of 56 starters

More on the day's races to come, under separate post.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Claremont Speed Limits on the Rise?

In a move which contradicts all the effort and expense the city of Claremont has invested in becoming more bicycle and pedestrian friendly over the past number of years, speed limits on various city streets are expected to be raised by five miles per hour.

A 5mph increase in the speed limit along these streets will not help a driver get anywhere faster. They will still have to stop at the same stop signs, at the same traffic lights. All it means is that they can move faster for short stretches between stops. No one benefits in any way. So why do it? The 85th Percentile Mandate. In the not-too-distant past the state of California decided that it was in the best position to determine speeds on local streets. Every few years speeds are checked, with speed limits required to be revised in order to bring them as close as possible to the 85th percentile speed, or the speed limit at which 85 percent of the traffic is traveling at, or below. You might remember last year the speed limit along Arrow Highway was raised over the objections of local residents and city officials for the same reason.

It now appears as though the city is going to be forced to raise the limits on twelve additional sections of streets within the city limits in order to comply with the state requirement. Those streets, or sections of streets are:

* American Avenue between Indian Hill and Mills Avenue - 25 mph revised to 30 mph
* College Avenue between Arrow Highway and First Street - 25 mph revised to 30 mph
* Mountain Ave between San Jose and Arrow Highway - 25 mph to 30 mph
* Mountain Ave between Foothill and Baseline - 30 mph to 35 mph
* Mountain Ave between Baseline and Thompson Creek - 30 mph to 35 mph
* Mt. Baldy Road between Padua and the eastern city limit - 45 mph to 50 mph
* Pomello Drive between Mills and Padua - 30 mph to 35 mph
* Radcliffe Drive between Indian Hill and Mills - 25 mph to 30 mph
* San Jose Avenue between College and Mills - 25 mph to 30 mph
* Scottsbluff Drive between Mills and Lassen - 25 mph to 30 mph
* Scripps Drive between Indian Hill and Mountain - 25 mph to 30 mph
* Scripps Drive between Mountain and Towne - 25 mph to 30 mph

I travel along one or more of these virtually every day, so lets take a look at some of them:

1. College Ave between Arrow and 1st passes by an elementary school and a park housing the city's little league fields; there is one lane of motor vehicle traffic, a bicycle traffic lane, and curbside parking in each direction. Other than the school, the street is lined by residences.
2. Mountain Avenue - there are no less than three schools along this street. Additionally students of the high school, a preschool, and the school at OLA will cross, or travel along Mountain to get to their destinations. Other than the schools, the street is entirely residential.
3. Mt. Baldy Road - might as well put out some checkered flags and call it a raceway, that is how it is treated now anyway. People who live along it, check both ways twice before crossing, drivers will be moving fast.
4. Pomello Drive between Mills and Padua - another residential street which has no doubt in my mind seen an increase in fast traffic due to the popularity of the wilderness park, with non-residents cutting across to the parks entrance via Pomello.
5. Radcliffe Drive - heavily used by students of the high school and an elementary school; also passes a city park where AYSO holds games and practices. Another residential street more than frequently used as a bypass between Indian Hill and Mills. I have never really understood that last bit, rather than taking Baseline where the limit is 45mph, drivers will instead drive on Radcliffe at 10mph, or more, than the posted limit.
6. Scottsbluff - like Radcliffe, another faux shortcut along a residential street, this time between Monte Vista and Mills. A much used school access route. This one perplexes me more than the others. The segment of street in question is exactly 2/10 of a mile in length. Why the speed limit on a residential street that short would need to be raised is just beyond me.
7. Scripps Drive is very similar to Radcliffe as well, an access route to two schools, and the Hughes Community Center.

I find it difficult to understand that, while much of the rest of the developed world is actively seeking to lower speed limits, to make communities more livable and safe for residents, we continue to fail in this regard and instead, continue to cater to the culture of speed. Here is a graphic from a Federal Walkability document to consider:

Deaths and injuries increase dramatically with increases of 10mph. You say, well the limits are only being raised by 5mph. But typically, drivers will exceed the posted limit by 5mph, so if you raise an existing speed by 5mph, drivers will tack on another 5mph and you effectively have a 10mph increase.

After all the work the city has done, all the improvements to make biking, and walking, safer and more accommodating, this just hits like a punch to the gut. It is a mockery of the hard work of city staff and volunteers, and the efforts of residents to make our community more safe and livable for all.

While the city may have little recourse at this time, like the previous increase along Arrow Highway, the City's hands are tied by the State requirement, you can make make your voice heard, let your representatives know of your disapproval. On June 28 at 7:00pm in the city hall Council Chamber, the Traffic and Transportation Commission will be holding their next meeting, and will provide an opportunity for anyone concerned with these developments to express their opinions. Nothing will change unless people stand up and make themselves heard.

A big thanks to Larry Scheetz (Claremont Senior Bicycle Group, Cycle Claremont Steering Committee, Claremont Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee) for forwarding the information. Any opinions expressed here, beyond the facts, are entirely my own.

Follow-up to this story is at this link.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Psycho-lists Get Lectured...

regroup in Covina

Between the long weekend upstate, and not feeling enthused to ride much since getting back, I really needed a good group ride today to get back into the groove. The Friday morning Psycho-lists filled in nicely. More than 20 pairs of wheels were spinning in the group, many familiar faces, and some new ones too. We took a fairly standard round-about route to Classic Coffee in Glendora. The Psycho-list rides have really grown since I began to join in on them last year, and I think a lot of that has to do with the mix. It leans toward being a social ride with just enough elements of a training ride to keep it interesting. There are regroups and the mid-point coffee and danish stop, but when the road turns up (and sometimes down) the race is on. Mark, Dean, Phil, Greg, there are plenty of people to compel me to chase, or indeed, try to get the jump.

centerline, Bonelli Park

Normally, a Friday route will skirt around Bonelli Park, but today we deviated from that and rode a loop through the park. In doing so, we attracted the attention of one of the park's Sheriff deputies. Whether it was the opportunity to speak to a large number of cyclists all at one time, or some other reason, which I am fairly certain had nothing to do with my rolling a right turn stop sign in front of him (Doh, and I used to be so observant), he did stop us enmasse for a little lecture. It wasn't a combative, you-darn-cyclists lecture. It was more an informative lecture about excessive speed down the big hill, and stopping, lecture. If I remember, the Sheriffs began citing riders last year during the Bud's Ride on Wednesday evenings, and now with summer group riding in full swing, this was probably just a little community interaction - getting the word out, warning. And now I am passing the warning on in turn.

group was all spread out cruising through Bonelli

heading up Cannon along the route of the San Dimas Stage Race -
another center line photo op, followed by the inevitable chase of Mark
before the KOM

Anyway, after a week of very little riding, this was just what I needed. My endurance seemed to be mostly MIA, but I picked my battles and pushed it when I could, attacking all but one hill at 90% to 100% effort. Then sitting in. It is a social ride after all.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

From the Library: Rough Ride...

Earley, Kelly, Roche. Round out that list with Paul Kimmage and you have the four most recognizable Irish names in world cycling during the era of the 1980s to mid-1990s. The first three everyone knows for their accomplishments in the saddle. Kimmage, though Irish National Road Race Champion in 1981, and a valued domestique during his years in the pro peloton, is perhaps best known for his cycling activities which came after his retirement from the professional peloton in 1989, specifically his writings on the use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs in the sport.

By examining the use of drugs by his peers, Kimmage as they say, "spat in the soup" and was widely greeted with the ire and enmity of many he had once called friends. If that controversy, or the expose on drug use amongst cyclists is what you are looking for when you pick up this book, you will find it and won't be disappointed. As for me, I was looking for more, and found more. There is plenty on Kimmage, biographically speaking, including daily journals from his three Tours de France and one Giro d'Italia. The relationships between riders, between riders and management/staff, the first-hand glimpse of the Irish racing scene during the 1970s and 1980s, and the experiences of a neo-pro are all fascinating to me.

For the 1998 edition of the book, Kimmage wrote a chapter in which he discusses the suicide of former teammate Thierry Claverolet. For me, it is the most poignant testimony of the book's 312 pages; "last summer I returned to Vizille for the second time since he died... his trophies and jerseys were gone from the walls. The paint with his name had finally faded on the Laffrey. Regrets? I had a few." The 2007 edition of the book brings the story up to Floyd Landis' now disgraced Tour de France ride of 2006, but falls short of the now infamous encounter with Lance Armstrong preceding the 2009 Tour of California.

All told, the book provides an interesting and informative glimpse into a period of great turmoil in the sport of cycling, a period from which shock waves are still being felt. Rather than becoming dated by the passage of time, the book is as relevant today as it ever was. A worthy read.

Kimmage, Paul   Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel of a Pro Cyclist   London: Yellow Jersey Press, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Memorable Tour de France Moments: 1995...

Would that this one were different. The 1995 Tour de France will be remembered as much for what was lost, as for what was won. While descending the Col de Portet d'Aspet in the Pyrenees during the 15th stage, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, Fabio Casartelli crashed, striking his head against a block wall along the roadway. He died during the flight to hospital.

Casartelli Monument on the Colde Portet d'Aspet

Casartelli was racing with the Motorola team, which also included Lance Armstrong. The next day, stage 16, the peloton completed what was essentially a neutralized race, with the Motorola team crossing the finish line together a short distance ahead of the other teams in honor of their teammate. Armstrong then went on to win the 18th stage outright, crossing the line while pointing to the sky, and dedicating the win to Casartelli.

Three spectators have been killed during the Tour de France since that time, though Casartelli's death was the last rider tragedy during the race.

Favorite moment, no. Memorable moment, yes.

Love the Sight of a Group Ride in the Morning...

I'm in the process of rebuilding an old beater of a mountain bike for a friend who would like to start commuting over along the coast. I needed to pick up a few things, cable and housing, over at Incycle, and incorporated that into a quick morning ride. I threw the steeps of bloody Esperanza into the mix to add a little interest, and then headed on over to San Dimas. As I waited for the light at Foothill and SD Canyon Road, a group of about six or seven riders led by a couple SC Velo and Incycle riders came down and through the intersection. Giving a smile and a wave to this lone rider wearing the same colors, it was one of those simple moments that stand out when you are on a bike.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Upcoming: All Summer Long @ Encino Velodrome...

Why wait for Friday, Wednesday nights can be fun too. Just head out to the Encino Velodrome, where Ride The Black Line has organized another race series to benefit the track. You might even win at the raffle like I did last year; although, ahem, I never received my prize from that nights shop sponsor, ahem, I won't hold it against them and will find myself sitting in those rickety bleachers again this year.
Turn out and have some fun midweek.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The 2012 Nevada City Bicycle Classic...

A small break early on during the Men's pro/1/2 race starting the climb
along Commercial Street

What a day - what a race!
I say that every year, whether I am there or not.
Lucky me, this was one of those eyewitness years.

Alright, so lets get this thing going. If you have never been to Nevada City, it is summer vacation now, so make your plans soon. The town is one of those old gold rush towns with historic buildings, colorful gardens, friendly people, all in a beautiful setting. Everywhere you look there is something to take a photo of. Every time I go up there I find myself determined to move. If you are interested in some of the non-racing scenes, this first album might be for you; click to view random scenes from around town.

bikes on display in Nevada City, California

The Juniors (14/15 and 16/17) were the first racers to take the course, for the John Miller Junior Grand Prix, a 45 minute race which, really, was quite exciting to watch. There was a lot of action taking place at the head of the race. The Ritte juniors showed up in force and rode a tactically brilliant race, launching one of their strong riders (Skyler Taylor) off the front, and then completely taking command of the chase, effectively smothering all attempts to bring their man back into the fold. I was up near the top of the course Taylor hard gone clear; a Monster Media/SC Velo rider tried to get some help chasing, but when he looked back there were only Ritte jerseys, and the race was done. At the end it was not just 1st, but 2nd (Tobon Ortenblad) and 3rd (Matt Schaup) for the Ritte guys as well. Here is a photo from the Junior race, plus link to the rest.

How many Ritte riders can you spot amongst the leaders in the Juniors race? At this point, I think there were five.

Following the Juniors came the Masters 35+ and 45+ in a combined field, scored separately. This race had a 2:00 start so you know the heat was on. On this course, attrition played a big factor throughout all the day's races, and no less so for the Masters. Capitalizing on the tough conditions was Chris Phipps of the Iron Data/Thirsty Bear Masters Team, who rode clear of everyone else to cruise down the finish for a nice solo win in the 35+ race. Coming across behind him were Kyle Dixon (Velo Reno) in 2nd, and Andres Gill (Michael David Winery) in 3rd. The 45+ race was won by Dirk Himley (Echelon/Charity of Choice), with Robert Pasco (Safeway) coming across in 2nd, and Kevin Klein (HDR Racing) in 3rd. Click for all photos from the Master's race.

the eventual Masters 35+ victor, Christopher Phipps,
at a somewhat earlier point during the race

the neutral feed on the backside of the course was a happening place

Following the Masters came one of the premier events of the day, the UPS Store Women's Pro/1/2/3/4 race. Yes, all categories combined. Two well-known teams, Metromint and Now and Novartis for MS Society, were represented by a number of racers. Tibco, Vanderkitten, and many local and regional teams rounded out the field. Katerina Nash was the sole representative of the Luna Chix Team. After the heat and hills had done their worst to shred the field, only two riders remained at the front, Nash and Flavia Oliveira of the Kovarus/Wells Fargo Team. Nash proved just a little faster to the line as both women threw their bikes in a tight finish. Rounding out the podium was Amy Thornquist of the Stevens Team. Of the finish Nash had this to say: “I tried to shake her off, maybe three, four times up the hill. She was strong, always on my wheel. Then I let her go ahead on the second half of the last uphill. [I] rested up a little bit on the top and then attacked on the very last section before you drop into the finish.”  The win is Katerina's third consecutive at Nevada City. Incidentally, just the day before the NC Classic, Nash was busy winning the Ute Valley Pro XTC mountain bike race in Colorado. That is a full weekend. Link to all photos from the Women's Pro/1/2/3/4 race.

Katerina Nash on the start line

Molly Van Houweling, of Metromint

tricky light and shadow on the back of the course

Sandwiched in between the women's and the men's pro races was the Charlie Allert Senior 3/4 Men's race. It was also break time for me as I sat on a shaded cafe patio with the family. We could see the race go by, but they were moving with so much speed that taking photos was almost pointless; in other words I don't have as many photos from the 3/4 race. But there are some, click to see them.

Cat 3/4 field early in the race, still all together

The Men's Pro/1/2 race finished up the day, and did not disappoint, capping off a full afternoon of hard, fast action. Among the top teams represented were California Giant/Specialized, Kenda/5-Hour Energy, the Wonderful Pistachios and Team Clif Bar. The Livestrong/Bontrager Development Team had a rider in the thick of things, as did Full Circle Cycling, a Claremont-area based pro team. The latter turned out to be Kirk Carlsen; it is always fun to find people from home at distant races, it gives you someone to cheer for. The first half of the race was marked by numerous break attempts, but it wasn't until about the half-way point that one pulled away for good. This was the duo of Nate English (Kenda/5 Hour Energy) and Stephen Leece (California Giant/ Specialized). The two continued to pull away, building a gap of about two and a half minutes with five laps to go. At the end English and Leece caught a group of racers containing Leece's teammate Chris Stastny who helped to set Leece up for the sprint win. English took second, and Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro Strava) rounded out the top three spots on the podium. James Oram (Bontrager Livestrong) beat out Carlsen for fourth in an amazingly fast sprint. Click for all photos of the Men's Pro/1/2 race.

James Oram and Kirk Carlsen speed down Broad Street to the finish in a near 50mph blur

A lot of you reading this are likely to be familiar with the Nevada City Bicycle Classic, but some may not be. The Classic is the second oldest bike race in the nation, this year celebrating its 52nd running. Some years the race will attract many of the top names in the sport - Greg Lemond, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer have all won here in the past. Many American racers have used the NC Classic as a stepping stone in their career, gaining national recognition, while others have been well established before taking their wins here. I did a post about the race on my old blog last year. There are a couple factors that continue to bring racers back to this event year after year. First is the great community support; this is a home-grown race with the town and residents pulling together to put on a first-class event. The finish street will be filled with spectators, balconies, porches and stoops along the main commercial street occupied to capacity. Along the residential streets in the backside of the course, families will set up in their front yards or along the street, cheering the racers each lap, ringing cowbells, selling cold lemonade to weary passersby.

The second factor making this race special is the course. This is not your flat four corner criterium. It is a challenging course in all sense of the word. Starting and finishing in the heart of downtown Nevada City the racers shoot down Broad Street before going into two tight and fast left turns at the bottom of the street. From there they start heading up along Commercial Street, before racing along through a residential neighborhood on the backside of the course - York, North Pine, Cottage, and Main Streets all tilt upward and challenge the racers with varying degrees of steepness. It is very difficult to find any kind of rhythm along this part of the course. In fact this is not a rhythm race - you must continually rise out of the saddle to respond to attacks, or simply keep from falling behind. Near the top of Main racers reach the neutral feed where they can take on more water. One family turns on the garden hose so riders can pass through a cool spray to help hold off the 90º heat. A left turn at the top takes racers onto East Broad, slightly rolling terrain which transitions into the wickedly fast descent along Broad Street and back to the finish line. Lap after lap it can be a brutal challenge which takes its toll. Attrition is the name of the game, and it does not take long for the fields to become fragmented. The strongest will win the day.

One photo to leave you with:
This ain't cyclocross, but you might find a beer hand up anyway (last lap).
Only at the Nevada City Bicycle Classic

Check Norcal Cycling News for additional account of the Womens and Mens pro races.


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