Thursday, January 31, 2013

Velo course: Up and Down in Sawpit Canyon...

Let that post title up there be your guide. Lets get this straight right away - if you are not into climbing, this may not be the ride for you. Along the 5.39 miles between the residential neighborhood just outside the park and White Saddle you will gain nearly 3,000 feet in elevation. The biggest jumps come at the beginning and end of that stretch, with the steepest section being the slog up to the top of Sawpit Dam. I was determined to check the grade readings as near to continuously as I could, and as if the pain in my legs were not proof enough, that there are some seriously ferocious pitches. At the easy end, those readings showed 8 to 9 percent. At the worst they were 19 to 22 percent. At one point I saw 31%, but I figured that was one of those fluke readings I get on occasion and discounted it outright.

spillway of Sawpit Dam

I have done this ride, or various derivations, maybe four or five times in the past, the last time being at least that many years ago. The passing of time never did add a sugar coating to my  memory of it, so I knew what was in store. Once you get past the dam, you can kind of settle into a nice rhythm for a distance as you ride along the south side of the canyon. Grades settle down to 4 and 6 percent. The canyon walls and many trees keep this section nice and cool, even in the heat of summer. A little further along than the half way point (to White Saddle) things change - the trail switches to the north wall of the canyon, there are fewer trees and more sun, and the gradient stiffens up again. Six, 8, 10 percent - those kind of numbers will stay with you the rest of the way up. The road surface also deteriorates a little, but that is not really saying much - it is still pretty good given the location. 

road split at Trask

pretty typical of the conditions

now that is what i call slippery

big views of the Los Angeles basin - the smog layer distinct but thin

i am not sure how White Saddle got its name, but i think it is fairly obvious

At White Saddle you have two options: You can turn right onto the Van Tassel Truck Trail, which will ultimately take you back down to the city far below (and leaving you to figure out how to get back to the start point). The other option is to go left onto the Sawpit Truck Trail and keep climbing for another 3.1 miles to reach the Rincon - Red Box Road (RRB Road). The RRB Road sits high up above the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, and after additional miles, will take you either to Rincon Station or Cogswell Dam, both of which feature into the Velo course: West Fork Extra. It also, as its name suggests, will take you all the way to Red Box and Mt. Wilson. Yes, you are correct; that would be a long ride. 

In the past, on two occasions, I have opted to go right and soon after, a left onto Silver Fish Road. The fact that this route goes past some place named Stone Cabin Flat, and ultimately comes out in San Gabriel Canyon, has long intrigued me. Unfortunately the road becomes progressively worse, with fallen trees and wash outs creating obstacles. It ultimately narrows to a single track trail before virtually disappearing into a thicket of ceanothus with inch long thorns. It is frustrating because you can see the cut of the trail on the distant slopes, but you can not get to it without looking like you were on the loosing end of a rumble against a gang of porcupines. This link will take you to a ride report from the first time (2009) I rode along the Silver Fish, and posted at STR.

Anyway, I tried that way twice, so this time out I was going left. At White Saddle there were signs warning of construction work taking place along the new transmission lines going up and over the mountains. I could hear heavy machinery rumbling along in the distance somewhere and I began to have doubts I would be able to make my destination. I passed a couple work crews on the upslope side of the road, and was passed once by a pickup. No one said I shouldn't be there (though there were plenty of signs warning all to check in with the on-site supervisor before proceeding). All these signs were facing up or down slope, rather than facing someone moving along the roadway, so I figured as long as I kept to the road I would be good. Eventually, and a little more than a mile short of my destination, I came around a turn and looked across this little side canyon to where a big old Cat was grading away at the roadway. I knew there was another big ol' digger rumbling up the road behind me (but going much slower); though I might have been able to draw the attention of the driver in the grader to get around him (somehow - he had to have been road edge to road edge in that thing), I figured work would be even busier coming back down and opted to turn around at that point. A little disappointing, but no real worries, it was still a good day out. Anytime you can get that much climbing in such a short distance is a good day.

Silver Fish Canyon down below in the foreground, Mt. Baldy in the distance. can you spot the cut of Silver Fish Trail? it is just about dead center

bike and bike shadow

transmission tower - how the heck to they string that wire in places like this

unfolding the topo - old school wayfinding, a good skill to know up here

This edition of the Velo course starts at Monrovia Canyon Park, where there is a five dollar parking fee. Most people seem to park just outside the park and walk or ride in. If you decide to park in the Park, bring exact change. I did not this most recent visit, so ended having to park further away. The route starts out paved as far as Trask Boy Scout Camp (above Sawpit Dam) before turning to dirt. From Canyon Park to White Saddle it is 4.8 miles, and to Rincon-Red Box Road another 3.1 miles. The route is literally all up, then all down. The Park is popular with bikers, hikers, walkers and trail runners, so can be quite busy. Foot traffic tends to peter out the further along you go, and once past White Saddle you may see few, or no one else. Being on dirt this is ostensibly a mountain bike ride, but I dare say, since it is a dirt road, it could also be done on a cross bike.

Monrovia Canyon Park to White Saddle

White Saddle to Rincon-Red Box Road

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grimy Phil...

How long does a bike have to sit around, unused, collecting dust, for it to settle this thickly? 


When your swift hair is quiet in death,
And through the lips corruption thrust
Has stilled the labour of my breath -
When we are dust, when we are dust!

Not dead, not undesirous yet,
Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
We'll ride the air, and shine and flit,
Around the places where we died,

And dance as dust before the sun,
And light of foot, and unconfined,
Hurry from road to road, and run
About the errands of the wind.


a portion of Dust, by Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915

Sometimes, bikes are like bodies; they can reach a point of no return. Age and wear, if not checked, will take take their toll; a general, and gradual deterioration set in. Fortunately most bikes, even those forgotten ones, untouched for years, can be rehabilitated, repaired, cleaned up. They can once again dance as dust before the sun, on road and trail, and city street.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Start the Pro Season: TdSL / TDU

First, the Tour de San Luis: Though early in the season, some of the racers whose names you would expect to see at the top of stage and g.c. lists were indeed there - Mark Cavendish, Sven Tuft, and Alberto Contador each packed a stage victory into their departing luggage following their weeklong stay in Argentina. In addition Tejay Van Garderen climbed to the second step of the g.c. podium. At the same time South American racers, particularly those from the Argentinian San Luis Todos Santos team, made the most of their opportunity to showcase their abilities against some of the best riders of the European peloton. Among the local racers who found success during the Tour were Alex Diniz (Brazil) of Funvic Brasilinvest, won stage three, was third across the line on stage 6, and finished third on General Classification. Also picking up a stage win (stage 5) was Emmanuel Guevara, also of the San Luis Somos Todos team. At the top of the local riders list though, must surely be Daniel Ricardo Diaz, who came second on two stages, but more significantly climbed atop the podium to claim the General Classification crown.

photo via Tour website

Meanwhile, across the Pacific in Australia, where the Tour Down Under was taking place, the victories were being claimed by an even greater number of proven racers. Andre Greipel snagged three stages wins, Simon Gerrans and Geraint Thomas acquired one each, and Tom-Jelte Slagter confirmed that the talk surrounding some impressive rides last year was not idle, by taking a stage win, and the overall title.

I won't try to fool you into believing that any of this portends what will transpire as the season progresses. To claim the ability to predict what will happen six months down the road based upon results of the first two big races of the year seems foolhardy - at the least I have never possessed the ability to read the future, even with a little fore-knowledge packed away. Instead, take these results for their face value - certain riders are clearly on track, and will likely follow along a designed path which, they hope, will lead to continued success as the season unfolds. Much can happen in the coming weeks and months that can derail any plans of these early season victors, while others riding slightly off the pace, will continue along their own planned paths which they hope will lead to later successes. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 Full Circle Cycling Lines Up...

I have written about the extent of bike racing in the Claremont area here, and at the Claremont Cyclist, in the past; numerous prominent teams are located here or nearby, and it is common to see their team vehicles or riders on the local roads. One of those has been / is Full Circle Cycling. The elite-level racing team Full Circle Cycling, have kicked off their 2013 racing season, as well as releasing their roster to supporters on their Facebook page. Some of the riders are returning from last year, others are new: Brandon Trafton (USA), Chuck Hutcheson (USA), Shawn D'Aurelio (USA), Marcel deLisser (USA), Daniel Clifford (Ireland), Mike Rudling (UK), Dion Smith (NZ), Patrick Caro (USA), Mike Fosselman (Director Sportif).

Twenty-five year old Daniel Clifford will be racing his first year outside of his home country where he has had a number of high placed finishes since 2009. These include winning Stage 4 of the 2011 Suir Valley 3 Day Race, 3rd on Stage 1 of the 2012 Ras Mumhan, and 3rd on Stage 3 of the 2012 Paddy Flanagan Memorial Race. Clifford also raced in the prestigious An Post Ras last year where he finished a respectable 63rd (145 finishers), and 13th in the County Riders Classification.

Mike Rudling has spent most of his young racing career competing in the United Kingdom where, like Clifford, he acquired a tally of high place finishes including a Stage 1 Time Trial win at the Roy Ludford Memorial - Tour of the Milbury's. 

Dion Smith is another of Full Circle's new young riders, coming onto the team after competing last year with New Zealand's, Pure Black Racing team. Since 2010 Smith has raked in numerous top ten finishes during races in both his home country, as well as in Canada. These have included two 2nds and a 4th place finish, as well as 2nd overall in the Coupe des Nations Abitibi (Juniors) in Canada, and 1st on Stage 1 of The 2012 Hub - EMC2 Bikes Cycle Tour in New Zealand.

These three riders from abroad will add a new and exciting international flavor to the squad, and though young still, contribute their own unique experiences of racing around the world. Though I don't believe a team schedule has been released yet, watch for, and cheer on, some of the Full Circle Cycling riders competing during races in the southland, and in bigger races in the western states. Beside the team's Facebook page, you can also follow their progress via the team website.

Monday Blues: From the Land of the Sky Blue Waters...

The fact that I am familiar with that jingle (From the Land...), and that Hamm's ceased to be an independent brewer in 1968, may date me but, when I stopped into the Woodinville Bicycles shop last month, there was this lone cap hanging from a hook above the cash register. It was a carrot if ever there was one. Naturally I added it to the collection. Brim down it has got the Hamm's Beer bear riding along with a brew in hand - flip the brim up and you have the after effects of a crash. I'm just not sure if it is a conscientious statement about the consequences of drinking and riding, or of inattention. What do you say?

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Weekending C & V: Huret Rear Derailleur...

I have lately found myself taking some photos of bicycle components, some like this Huret rear derailleur are vintage, while others you are perfectly liable to see on virtually any bike sold out of a shop today. Just as stand-alone objects, I think they are mechanically sculptural. But, of course, they are much more. From a historical perspective they can show the evolution of the activity of bicycling, how changes in design reveal a progression of characteristics such as complexity and simplicity, performance and function, materials. They can reveal which ideas and developments faded into history, and which "caught on", were adopted by the industry and have continued with little change, or have been modified over time.

Up to 1980 Huret was an independent French company producing bicycle components (and most notably derailleurs) such as this rear derailleur. I wish I could provide a sure start date for the company, but am yet to find a decent history of their early years. I do know that they were producing components at least as early as the 1940s. According to Sheldon Brown, Huret's best known model was the Allvit, which was the first inexpensive parallelogram-type derailleur. If you owned a Schwinn Varsity in the 1970s it likely came with an Allvit. Another popular model was the Jubilee, which I believe, is what is shown in the photos here. Again, according to Brown, the Jubilee is the lightest rear derailleur model ever produced, and thus has become highly sought after by collectors. I am not positive of the date of the model shown, though it resembles Huret catalog illustrations from 1973 and 1978, and surely dates to that period. Both catalogs note that the derailleur body is formed of forged light alloy (4.12oz), and that the jockey pulleys use steel ball bearings for smooth function. If you look closely you will notice that only one pulley wheel is toothed, the other smooth. This was typical, and standard at the time.

In 1980 the German company Fichtel & Sachs bought a controlling interest in Huret which gave rise to Sachs-Huret. General belief seems to be that Huret up to this point had been suffering from a decline in design quality, and that the merger provided some relief. Even so, Sachs-Huret was bought by the large German conglomerate, Mannesmann, in 1987. By 1991 the Huret name had been dropped in favor of the simple Sachs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rain Trike...

Nothing seems to keep the owner of this Torker from getting around. It is a rare day that I don't see it parked in the Village when I pass through. As you can see they were out and about in this mornings rain.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I See Bicycles...

I spy them in garages as I glide past. The unridden. They lean against side walls, against drywall panels. They lean against racks full of other accumulated things. Sometimes they are hanging from above, from hooks or ropes. Sometimes there is stuff piled near by, against them, and I know without looking that their wheels are flat and lifeless; they have not been ridden in a long, long time. If they had feelings, were alive, the warmth of the sun, a cooling breeze would be tantalizingly close, yet beyond practical reach. They collect dust, and are expert at it, but that is not their intended purpose. So many bikes in so many garages.

What are their stories? Were they bought with the best of intentions? Or on a whim? I should see some of these bikes on the streets around town. Maybe I do see some, just don't recognize them in passing. Maybe some of them are those I see locked up to the newish racks around town. Maybe. Every so often I do recognize one and say, ah I know that bike; but the occasions are infrequent. It would be quite something If the number of bikes I see on the street approached the number of garages I see with bikes in them. But those street-savvy bikes are, by my informal means of comparison, a small minority compared to those shut-ins locked away in garages. Don't let them become stigmatized as one of the unridden. I see bikes alright, but not necessarily where I would like to see them. Instead of useless trophies to good intentions, put them to use, bring out your bikes. Dust them off, fill their tires, lube their chains, bring them into the light; it is good for them, it is good for you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Different Way...

(photo: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen)

I have hinted, and written at somewhat more length, about some of the attractions of cycling - the adventure, the competition, the simplicity, the camaraderie. Those sort of reasons. I have to admit, for me, there is another reason - one I rarely mention, or have spoken of. That reason is the simple fact that it is different. It may not rank up there as high as such reasons as adventure, fun, health, convenience, or any others I can't come up with off the top of my head, but it is there on the list, and has been for some time. I have long been aware of its lurking presence. Its existence has always been confined to the shadows and other hidden areas of the psyche, and while it is a sort of "look at me" reason, it should not be confused with the egotistical, attention-seeking "look at ME."

Occasionally, attention of a more personal nature might come my way, as when, years ago, I rode up to a local Wiennerschnitzel (any place with a walk-up window has a distinct advantage in the eyes of a cyclist) where a group of girls were waiting. To the embarrassment of the others, one, a little more bold, informed me that I had nice legs. Hmm, maybe there is more to this different activity than I give credit. In reality though, things like that have always been far less than the norm and anyway, as I said, that is not the sort of different I am referring to. That different is, of course, the clear (clr) effect of being seen getting around by non-motorized means, encouraging by example in other words. In a city were 9 of 10 people believe cars are a necessity, getting around by bicycle, even part of the time, is indeed different. Perhaps it is just age speaking, but in the grand scheme of things it turns out that "look at me" different is the more satisfying. Of course if someone feels the need to compliment some portion of my anatomy, the "look at ME" different would not feel offended.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cloudless Sunday...

 Well, we seem to have hit one of those bumps in the middle of winter, where the weather is uncomfortably perfect, and a morning ride to Seal Beach is mandatory. Contrary to what you might think after looking at the photos below, the San Gabriel River Trail was as busy as I have ever seen it, and bike parking at the River's End Cafe (and at the pier) was at a premium. 

I tried to find a good W.B. Yeats poem about the sea, but he seemed to mostly write about the mountains, lakes, rivers and streams. To an Isle in the Water will have to do:

Shy one, shy one,
Shy one of my heart,
She moves in the firelight
Pensively apart.
She carries in the dishes,
And lays them in a row.
To an isle in the water
With her would I go.
She carries in the candles,
And lights the curtained room
Shy in the doorway
And shy in the gloom;
And shy as a rabbit,
Helpful and shy.
To an isle in the water
With her would I fly.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tour de San Luis, Ready to Roll...

In three days time (Monday, the 21st) the peloton will roll out of the city of San Luis in Argentina, kicking off the week-long Tour de San Luis. In only its seventh running, the race, the first stop of the UCI's Americas Tour, has steadily grown in importance. Not only is it an early season testing ground of rider fitness and team preparation for the coming European campaign, but it has also become a significant competition in its own right. The race gives Pro-Continental teams from both north and south America, as well as smaller domestic Continental level teams, the opportunity to compete against the larger World Tour Teams, many of whom now make the race an annual stop on their schedule.

Past General Classification champions have included Vincenzo Nibali (2010) and Levi Leipheimer (2012). Among this years World Tour Team competitors will be Peter Sagan, home-favorite Lucas Haedo, and Ted King of Team Cannondale, Mark Cavendish and Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Vladimir Karpets from Movistar, Michael Albasisni and Svein Tuft of Orica GreenEdge, Tejay van Garderen and Thor Hushovd from BMC, Vincenzo Nibali and Fredrik Kessiakoff of Astana, Jurgen Van den Broeck from Lotto-Belisol, Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Petacchi representing Lampre-Merida, Alberto Contador and Nicki Sorensen for Team Saxo-Tinkoff, and Jean-Christophe Peraud of AG2R La Mondiale. Pro Continental Teams will be represented by Katusha, Androni Giocatolli, Rural Housing (Spain), Fantini Vini, Team Netapp-Endura, UnitedHealthCare, CCC Polsat POLKO WICE (Poland), and CSF INOX Valvole Bardiani. The US-based UnitedHealthCare team will be well represented by Robert Forster, Jake Keough, Alessandro Bazzana, Marc de Maar, Lucas Euser, John Murphy, Philip Deignan, and Jeff Louder, a squad strong enough to factor into each of the daily stages. Among the Continental Teams competing iss the US-based Jamis-Hagens Berman; they will be represented by Argentine-native J.J. Haedo, and Ben Jacques-Maynes, and should not be overlooked.

With two stages over 170 km in length, and the shortest at 155 km, plus a 19 km time trial, three Category 1 assents, and enough flatter sprint finishes to attract Mark Cavendish, I expect there will be plenty of action. And, lest you be lulled into thinking that the big guys have things wrapped up before the racing even starts, lets not forget that in 2011 Chilean, Marco Arriagada, racing as an amateur, took the overall victory.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Re: Lance and the "Everyone Else Was Doing it" Argument...

Where ever I turn, what ever I read, even now, after all this time, I continue to choke on the "everyone else was doing it" argument as a means of easing Armstrong off the hook. I read one, just yesterday - a comment in a post about the upcoming coming out party. Everyone else was taking drugs, so the only way to compete was to make things equal, to do it himself, was the point this commenter wanted to make. I have to admit, I briefly bought into the idea of that argument, believing the mentality was so entrenched in the sport, that in order to play the game you had to, you know, "play the game." But when you apply that same way of thinking to other areas of life, you begin to realize just how utterly ridiculous it really is. Wall Street guy: "well, everyone else steals and commits fraud; if I want my piece of the pie, I have to as well." Or how about the politician: "well, if I don't out-lie my opponent, I will never get elected." And it goes on and on like that in a sad, circular fashion; each attempting to out-lie, out-cheat the next guy in order to reach the top. The top of what though? Well, the heap of course. And what a stinking mass it turns out to be. Cloak them in whatever justification you want, but lying, stealing, cheating, are the same no matter who they apply to.

You know, I think the saddest part of this entire affair (and if you are completely disgusted with Lance you may not agree) is the way he cheated himself. I am sure this sounds like someones mom but, he will never have the satisfaction of knowing what he would have done, what he could have accomplished by racing clean. My twenty and four year list of palmares is pretty sparse, but it is what I could manage competing fair and square. Armstrong will live out his life without knowing.

On the other hand, it was his choice. His mind, if troubled by doubts and second guessing, the unresolvable "what if" questions are his doing. So maybe it is everyone else who have lost the most - those who wanted to believe in him. What do you think? I am not talking about the many companies that profited by promoting the Armstrong the Conqueror image; they made their money and that is their bottom line. Sure, it didn't last forever, nor probably for as long as they would have liked, but nothing does. I am talking about all the others, those who invested with no expectation of returns. They just wanted to share, in whatever small way, in Armstrong's victories, believe in his accomplishments.

I guess tonight is the night when all will supposedly be revealed. Like many, I will not be watching; it all reeks of showmanship, not sincere confession. I will read the salient points somewhere else, some place where the flowing sympathy tears won't be a distraction. The two things I will be looking for - will Armstrong really admit to the use of PED's, will he admit fault in his choice; and second, will he provide evidence of a cover-up within the international cycling organization, a point that has been speculated upon for some time? Just how many "everyone else's" were doing it behind the scenes?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goodbye Dad...

I learned many things under your watch, including how to ride a bike. Like most, I suspect, it didn't take long before I rode out of view, testing the scope of what was possible, how far I could power myself. Those first tentative wheel revolutions have led to tens of thousands of miles over the years since that first, and helped to open a world of possibility and adventure. For that I am grateful.

Richard Wagner (1932-2013)

In the end that is the best a parent can do - set us on a good path, the kind that will lead us where ever we are willing to go; offer advice, help when needed, or asked, but ultimately letting us find our own way in the world. So, for all the math questions, motor problems, giving up weekends (and sometimes weeks) for backpacking and canoeing trips with the scouts, breaking up countless fights with the brother, instilling an appreciation for a job well done, providing for our needs (and often wants), surprising us (such as the time you jumped on my bike to chase down the neighborhood troublemaker), stringing lights on the house each Christmas, setting out the flag on holidays, and all the other countless little things that we never appreciated until much later. No one outside the family will know, or remember your own adventures - the hand-built cabin in the Rockies, going a month (yow) without a proper shower during the Korean War, the sometimes mysterious work (to me anyway) you did with Lockheed, all these things that set an example, gave us something to strive for. 
 When my own son was born I, in many ways, learned to view the world from a different perspective - the view from the eyes of a child, a view filled with fun, hope, adventure. I hope I was able to give you some of that when I was the child and your life was filled with the concerns of an adult. So, here's to you dad, and the life that you lived, and the lives that you gave your family.

Thanks for reading folks. I will return to matters of cycling shortly.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Blues: Schwinn Legacy...

I am not sure that applying the name Legacy to a simple cruiser is something that I would do.
On the other hand they are popular and inexpensive. Were not the Ford Model T, and the Volkswagen Beetle, each in their day, going to make the automobile accessible to the masses - the cruiser is kind of the bicycle equivalent which, in its way I suppose, makes it legacy worthy. Yes?

Or no?

When I think of the word legacy I think of greatness, of something outstanding, something worthy of being held in esteem, exemplary. Maybe the Schwinn approach to the word Legacy is from a different angle than my own. Perhaps legacy in this case has to do with quantity. As cyclists we tend to obsess about numbers - miles, speed, elevation, steps on a podium, we search for ways to encourage more people to choose bicycle travel in their daily lives. So, just maybe, Schwinn was looking at sheer numbers when naming this bike, that getting more bikes to the people, equates to more people on bikes, and is therefore a fitting legacy.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The 2013 Ontario Series Grand Prix...

Chris DeMarchi leads the Pro/1/2/3 field through the
start/finish on one of the early laps of the race

Well, with a first-race-of-the-morning temperature of 26º, the 2013 Southern California road race season got under way with a rather frigid Ontario Series Grand Prix. The venerable Ralph Elliott took up his familiar place in the MGE announcing and officiating booth and was keen to rechristen todays contest "the Icicle Criterium". By spreading rumors of water freezing in bottles during the Cat 5 race, he reminded all those who came later in the day just how cold it was in the early morning hours. Also there for another year was series organizer, Ray Moreno; I had worn my old Chevrolet/LA Sheriff windbreaker to help deal with the gusting breeze. Ray, who also raced with that team, noticed it and came over to talk for a little bit. He has been organizing these races for a long time - seventeen years, is it now? 

Even though it is only mid-January, I didn't notice any lack of willingness on the part of the racers to raise the speeds to something approaching mid-season intensity. Seemed like a  few of the local teams were missing, but between the MRI's, the UCC's, the OTR's, PAA's, MM's, SMMC's, CSULB's, UCSB's (yay), and maybe even a BBI or two, there were a whole lot of initials flying around. So, while the fields looked a little smaller for this first race, they were no less competitive because of it.

everyone stretching to view the approaching first race of the year

breakaway group in the Cat 4/5 race

Go Gauchos!

early evening reflection

The 35+ race has long been one of the most exciting to watch (or race in) on any given day, and today was no exception. Today's race shaped up to be a contest between Chris DeMarchi and the MRI team, and the team of Surf City Cyclery; various riders from each team traded efforts at the front, with other teams filling in when they could. In the end though, most people watching from the side were putting their money on Surf City's Charon Smith. Smith, who had a terrific 2012 didn't disappoint, blasting clear of the bunch well before the line to take a nice sprint victory to start the new year. First race of the year is in the books, and it only gets faster from this point forward. Besides the few photos here, you can check another fifty by clicking this link; they are a mixture of Cat 3, Masters 35+, Cat 4/5, and the final race of the day, Pro/1/2/3.

DeMarchi cornering under the watchful eye of Smith

two more take their turn at the front

short lead

upping the pace

no better way to start the year Mr. Smith

So, like a sunrise that follows too soon on the heels of a late night, a new season of local races is upon us. It used to be that at some point in late summer, I might see the season perched above me like a vulture on a tree branch - so many races done, so little to show. You know, a kind of wake up call - hey, you're running out of time; if you are going to do something, do it now. Well, that sucker is up on that branch already, and this time he is saying, hey, when are you going to get yourself ready? I used to pride myself on good winter preparation; I would train well through the cold months and be ready for those earliest races of the new season. This year, though, the holidays saw me spend more time off the bike than normal; and now, with dad in the hospital, and no one sure if he is going to make it out, my early season preparation is pretty much non-existent. Thankfully the year is long.

centerline going away


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