Saturday, March 30, 2013

GMR Friday: Greenhorn...

Greenhorn. In the parlance of the North American mountain men of 200 years ago, the term greenhorn referred to someone new to the mountains, maybe (though not necessarily) young and untried against the wilderness. Yesterday morning was shaping up to be a quiet one on the road. Other than a couple groups of long-boarders slaloming downhill I was beginning to feel lonesome. Then as I climbed closer to the saddle I caught sight of a trio up the road, shifted into pursuit mode, and began the process of reeling them in. Catch them I did, exchanged pleasantries, and then went on ahead. Well, a few minutes later, one of the riders, who by the way was wearing an awesome Above Category jersey (something like the ones pictured here - different colors), came up beside me and, like the proud dad I am sure he was, said that he was riding with his daughter, who was tackling GMR for her first time.

almost caught

Now if that story isn't worthy of a GMR Friday post, I don't know what is. For a dad, that is a memory you never forget. Anyway, we only briefly talked, and then he fell back to rejoin his daughter, while I continued on at my pace. Well as the minutes went by I became convinced that this would be my story for the day, but I wanted a better photo than the one I took from way behind them. A photo capturing them coming up the road in other words, and I hoped that they would make it all the way up. I actually stopped at one point (just before the short descent near the top) so I could look back down the road to make sure they were on their way. They were. At the TOM (Top of Monroe) I settled down on the stone wall to wait, reached into my jersey's possibles pocket*, found some Gu Chomps and waited. And waited. The third rider, who I had assumed was with them came up and went past, but there was no sign of the father/daughter pair. Darn, so close, but they must have turned around. I descended with some moderate speed and caught up to them once again, at the very bottom of the climb, but the moment was done. The memory of the accomplishment wasn't mine anyway, though it was pretty cool to have played this little part in it. Slainte.

* a possibles bag, in mountain man lingo, referred to a leather bag or pouch in which various accoutrements necessary to survival were kept safe and secure. What we keep in our jersey pockets might not be quite as important, but the significance is much the same.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Swiss at the Ronde van Vlaanderen...

The Ronde van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders if you prefer the English, is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary this weekend. Between its inception in 1913 and 1949, when the great Italian Fiorenzo Magni, took the first of his three consecutive wins, the race was almost exclusively a Belgian affair. That "almost" came in 1923, when Swiss rider Heiri Suter took the win. That the race was dominated by Belgian riders during its earliest editions is not especially surprising; it is a typical pattern for most, if not all, of the races we now know as "the classics." Even so, the run of victories by local racers was also fueled by the Ronde's place on the calendar - in those early years it was run on the same day as Milan-San Remo, which attracted most of the best riders from other countries, particularly France and Italy.

Heiri Suter, as seen at cyclingarchives

Now, back to the Swiss racer, Suter. The same year he became the needle in the haystack as the lone foreign victor over a 36 year span, he also was victorious at a little race known as Paris-Roubaix, the first person to do the double in the same year. His victories were not flukes; Suter tallied fifty-eight professional wins during his career. Among these were the Grand Prix Wolber (twice), Swiss road championship (5-times), Zuri-Metzgete (6-times), two time champion of Paris-Tours, and one time victor at Bordeaux-Paris. A not unenviable palmares for any era, I would say.

Ninety years later, another Swiss rider is amongst the clear favorites for victory in this years race, Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara won in 2010 and has been riding strongly thus far in the early season. One week ago he took the victory at the E3 Harelbeke along the cold, hard roads and hills of the Flanders region. No racer has won the Ronde more than three times, and only one 3-time victor is active today - Tom Boonen. Boonen has twice visited hospital this year for infections and crashed heavily at Ghent-Wevelgem on March 24. As a result he may not be at full strength for the Ronde; make no doubt though, he remains one of the danger men in the race. A third notable for the race win this year is, Peter Sagan, who has been perhaps, the most consistently strong of the pelotons favorites thus far. Weather conditions may play a determining role in the 2013 Ronde, and there is a whole slew of others capable of winning in the best tradition of the yellow lion flag.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Bud's Ride: No Useful Draft...

It seemed like it took longer for gobs of riders to drop off the back of the bunch last night. The pace seemed a bit more manageable for everyone the first time up along the golf course, and then up and over the hump in Bonelli. Zoom down, and over the park-side rollers, then for some reason a goodly number of folks turned off at the shortcut across the dam. Only a couple guys decided to wait at the top of the first rise on Puddingstone, everyone else kept pedaling, knowing that the pack would sniff up their rear wheels soon enough. And they did, sooner that I expected; shift up, boom, boom, boom, maybe three times to get up to the speed of the rapidly passing train. Unlike two weeks ago, I just could not accelerate with the same ease this time, and anyway gaps were opening, people falling away, while those up front pushed on.

There was a time when I would purposely ride at the back during some training rides, reasoning that, other than riding on the front the entire time, doing so provided the best workout - closing all those gaps that would ultimately open. I need to rethink that strategy these days, and this time, there was no way I was going to regain the group. Neither would any of the others being dropped; some of us got together over the next lap, but it wasn't working. Plenty of every man for himself, and not enough cooperation for the common good going on. My shadow was willing to work with me though; he was always there setting pace. Dude provides no useful draft though.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Madness of Laughter...

Between the competition, the landscapes through which the races passed, the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat, there is much to remember from this year's San Dimas Stage Race. As I mentioned in my recap of the stage one time trial, these moments are not limited to visual ones; just listening in the moment to what was being said provides an additional layer to the narrative as well.

you really can find anything on the webz. if only he were wearing lycra though.

It is not uncommon to hear the sound of joking laughter on our local group rides, nor even on those more serious ones that mimic actual race conditions. Beyond the confines of the staging area and start line, however, this sort of laughter is limited to rare occasions. The heat of competition does not normally leave much room for levity. Therefore it was kind of shocking, not to mention amusing, when a lone racer labored past me along the more quiet back part of the road race course, fearlessly belching out this long string of hah, hah, hah's. His fading mock of mad laughter receding down along the road and into the distance, will remain one of the more memorable moments from the day. AH, HAH, HAH, Hah, Hah, hah, hah, hah, ha. 

This laugh was the type that you might expect would be followed by the quick appearance of  two or more burly men in long white coats, sedative in hand. I don't know how far this racer had to go - one lap, two, or even more. Nor am I aware of how long he had been alone, his link to the relative sanity of the peloton snapped like Liggett's proverbial rubber band. It takes a certain character to be dropped, and to carry on - adrift from the anonymity of the group. Every set of eyes, and in this case ears, alongside the road, sees you, hears you, even those who pretend not to. Some of those roadside watchers may offer encouragement, a shout of "go, you can do it," when what you really need are a fresh pair of legs. Others may politely look away, eyes down, up, or to some imaginary event in the distance, but make no mistake those eyes did see you, those ears did note the passing whir of your wheels.

Of course, I am not really sure that time or distance even matter. The exact moment when a racer finds himself adrift from the sanctuary of the peloton, off the back (otb) with only the shock of suddenly being alone and exposed as company, is just as damning (or more so) as the fifteenth minute solo, or the next thirty. Over all that time, though (and the more of it that passes the worse it may be) provides fertile ground for the madness to root and grow. All those spectators who see you, and especially those who pretend not to, and their cursed thoughts, are fertilizer for the madness. Honestly, it is a little surprising that we don't hear mad laughter more often at races.

If you were that day's mad laugher, not to worry, your secret is safe. AH, HAH, HAH, Hah, hah, hah, hah, ha. Actually, I don't even recall which group of categories were racing the course at the time, although the earliest groups out that day are safe from my accusations, and so, there is no chance of notifying the local hospitals anyway. I do admit that it would be interesting to know what brought the laughter on. Was it the simple fact of being dropped, of paying the entry fee only to finish outside the time limit, or something else that I can only wonder about. Cheers, and keep it inside.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Blues: Red Dots Cycling...

After a hectic three days, I thought I would take a day off from the blog, but then I noticed an email that I wanted to address straight away. So the question that I faced last night, once I had wrapped up this year's San Dimas Stage Race coverage, was how to help out a self-starter, passionate cyclist, and fellow-cycling blogger raise some funds for business upgrades, yet at the same time keep to my Monday Blues schedule? The answer was easy, of course; simply feature one of his true blue products.

Many of you may know of Richard for his Cycling Art Blog, or for his small company, Red Dots Cycling, which produces unique cycling caps and recycled inner tube products for the cycling community. Well, Red Dots has started a campaign to upgrade some of their production equipment to provide even better service and production ability. You can check out the campaign on indiegogo, read the info, watch the short video, and contribute to the endeavor as you see fit. As little as $10.00 can help this small cycling company, and its two partners (Richard and Carolle), to grow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 San Dimas Stage Race, Stage 3: Reign of Champions...

Jamis - Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home fastman, Juan Jose Haedo took a rapid sprint finish ahead of Jelly Belly p/b Kenda rider, Charles Huff, at the end of the day's premier race. The men's pro/1 race saw a healthy break develop early on, but the sprinter's teams would only allow them so much gap before it was time to shut them down. With three laps, and then two laps to go, Francesco Mancebo and 5-Hour Energy teammate, Max Jenkins took control at the front of the bunch. Then with just one more lap to race, it was all Jamis - Hagens Berman at the front, including the Green (Sprint) Jersey wearer, Luis Amaran, who had the peloton lined out for Haedo to make his run to the line.

this fuzzy image of the men's pro/1 finish was the best i could manage. darn it.

congratulations, or something else?

racing along the streets of San Dimas

a trio of Get Crackin' teammates at the front of the Cat 2 race

Seth Britton (Cat 5) one of two triple jersey winners (there is an
additional photo of his winning road race ride if you click here)

Cale Reeder (Masters 45+) the second jersey hat trick winner

is that experience or what? - a perfect v-formation during the masters 45+/55+ race

Amber Neben

Mara Abbott

Rudolph Napolitano

Michael Johnson

Kayle Leo Grande singing a victory song. not really, but it looks like it, and he did win (35+)

camera shy. ha, ha, ha, no. Greg Leibert (Masters 45+) 2-time champion at SDSR (but not quite this year), and [?] (not really sure who he gave the 3rd place bouquet to)

A selection of 103 more photos are at this link.

Some results:

Cat 5, Stage 3
1) Seth Britton (unatt), 2) Samuel Britton (unatt), 3) Mike McCluney (SC Velo)
Cat 5, GC
1) Seth Britton, 2) Alexander Romanenko (Rokform/Rock 'N Road), 3) David Aldrich (unatt)

Cat 4, Stage 3
1) Greg Erwin (OTR), 2) Nick Steel (Serious Cycling), 3) Trevor Kresser (Catalyst Racing)
Cat 4, GC
1) Soichi Takahashi (Team Shimano), 2) Derek Unland (SRAM Factory), 3) Trevor Kresser

Cat 3, Stage 3
1) Kenten Harris (Team Velocity), 2) Chris Nesbitt (Spy Giant), 3) Marcus Cannon (SoCalCycling)
Cat 3, GC
1) William Thomas (TRU Cycling), 2) Andrew Tight (Ritte), 3) Scott Lundy (Serious Cycling)

Cat 2, Stage 3
1) Ian Moore (Stage 17-Cylance), 2) Alex Yale (Therapeutic Assoc), 3) Erick Sobey (Spy Giant)
Cat 2, GC
1) Efren Flores (Get Crackin), 2) Keith Wong (VuMedi), 3) Chris Mackay (Competetive Cyclist)

Masters 55+, Stage 3
1) Kal Szkalak (UC Cyclery/JW Flooring), 2) Daniel Swietlik (OTR), 3) William Ralph (Rokform/Rock N' Road)
Masters 55+, GC
1) Daniel Swietlik, 2) Kevin Susco (Marc Pro-Strava), 3) William Ralph

Masters 45+, Stage 3
1) Benny Parks (Jessup), 2) Thurlow Rogers (Breakaway from Cancer), 3) Bart Clifford (MRI)
Masters 45+, GC
1) Cale Reeder (Hammer Nutrition), 2) Jeff Konsmo (Big Orange), 3) Greg Leibert (Big Orange)
Masters 45+, Sprint
1) Cale Reeder, 2) Benny Parks (Jessup Auto Plaza), 3) Thurlow Rogers
Masters 45+, KOM
1) Cale Reeder, 2) Greg Leibert, 3) Jeff Konsmo

Masters 35+, Stage 3
1) Kayle Leo Grande (MRI Endurance), 2) Chris DeMarchi (MRI), 3) Michael Easter (Time - Velo Pasadena)
Masters 35+, GC
1) Michael Easter, 2) Gary Douville (MRI Endurance), 3) Rudolph Napolitano (Time - Velo Pasadena)
Masters 35+, Sprint
1) Michael Easter, 2) Gary Douville, 3) Kayle Leo Grande
Masters 35+ KOM
1) Adam Livingstone (SKLZ-Swami's), 2) Rudolph Napolitano, 3) Gary Douville

Women Pro/1/2/3, Stage 3
1) Gillian Carleton (Specialized-Lululemon), 2) Brianna Walle (Optum), 3) Loren Rowney (Specialized-Lululemon)
Women Pro/1/2/3, GC
1)  Mara Abbott (ExergyTWENTY16), 2) Amber Neben (The Dare to Be Project), 3) Brianna Walle
Women Pro/1/2/3, U24
1) Tayler Wiles (Specialized-Lululemon), 2) Leah Kirchmann (Optum), 3) Addy Albershardt (The Dare to Be Project)
Women Pro/1/2/3, Sprint
1) Brianna Walle, 2) Kathryn Donovan (NOW and Novartis), 3) Leah Kirchmann
Women Pro/1/2/3, QOM
1) Lex Albrecht (NOW and Novartis), 2) Courteney Lowe (Optum), 3) Mara Abbott

Men Pro/1, Stage 3
1) Juan Jose Haedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman), 2) Charles Huff (Jelly Belly), 3) Bobby Lea (Team SmartStop - Mountain Khakis)
Men Pro/1, GC
1) Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman), 2) Matthew Cooke (Champion Systems), 3) Carter Jones (Bissell Pro Cycling)
Men Pro/1, U24
1) Carter Jones, 2) Dion Smith (Full Circle Cycling), 3) Luis Lemus Davila (Jelly Belly)
Men Pro/1, Sprint Champion
1) Luis Amaran, 2) Juan Jose Haedo, 3) Dion Smith
Men Pro/1, KOM
1) Janier Acevedo, 2) Luis Amaran, 3) Matthew Cooke

One final note to end: Thanks to the race organizers, volunteers, and host club, Southern California Velo for putting together a terrific race once again. Year after year, the San Dimas Stage Race seems to compare very favorably with any other three-day race. The effort shows.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 San Dimas Stage Race, Stage 2: Down and Out...

Race Leader, Phil Gaimon, in good company while surrounded by his
teammates on the hilly portion of the course

That's out as in unconscious. About half way through the men's pro/cat 1 race, Yellow Jersey wearer, Phil Gaimon went down hard along the finish straight. He was apparently briefly knocked out, and was a little confused when he did come to. As a result he was taken away to hospital. It was a hard day all around for Gaimon's Bissell Team, as two of the leader's teammates who stayed by his side after the crash were, I believe, due to be disqualified and out of the race as well. Needless to say, my best wishes to Phil and his Bissell team.

unfortunately, Gaimon's day would end early at the side of the road

When the men's pro race came down to the finale, it was a clean sweep for the Jamis - Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home Team, with Luis Amaran and Ruben Companioni taking 1st and 2nd after riding away from a long breakaway of five riders, and J.J. Haedo finishing 3rd, ahead of the charging field. The dramatics during the day meant that Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) has moved into the Yellow Jersey, 9 seconds up on Matthew Cooke (Champion Systems), and 26 seconds ahead of Carter Jones (Bissell). Dion Smith (Full Circle) leads the U24 competition by 3 seconds from Luis Davila (Jelly Belly), and 20 seconds over Ruben Companioni. Janier Acevedo has secured the KOM competition. With 45 points, Amaran leads the Sprint competition ahead of Dion Smith, Francesco Mancebo and Cody O'Reilly, each with 20 points.

Amaran (76) and Companioni (80) on their way to the line

Juan Jose Haedo clear of the field for 3rd

The women's pro/1/2/3 race suffered a similar mishap. The crash ripped apart the field and bloodied both the Polka Dot Jersey, Tayler Wiles, and the Yellow Jersey, Mara Abbott. Unlike the men's race though, both women recovered to finish the stage in the top ten, with Abbott retaining her hold on the race lead. Brianna Walle (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the day, ahead of Amber Neben (The Dare to Be Project) and Joanne Kiesanowski (Team Tibco). On GC, Abbott leads by 9 seconds over Neben, and 32 seconds over Walle. Tayler Wiles leads the U24 competition, ahead of Addy Albershardt (the Dare to Be Project) and Kristabe Doebel-Hickok (SPY-Giant). Besides winning the day, Walle also heads the Sprint competition with 35 points, ahead of Kathryn Donovan (NOW and Novartis) with 30 points, and Alexis Ryan (NOW and Novartis) with 25 points. Lex Albrecht (NOW and Novartis) and Courteney Lowe (Optum) both have 30 points in the QOM competition, while Brianna Walle and Mara Abbott both have 25 points.

Blood at elbow and knee, Mara Abbott takes on fresh water in the feed zone

with all three jersey-wearers close behind, Brianna Walle
celebrates victory in the stage 2 road race

One of the other highly competitive categories is the Masters 35+. The day's road race was won by Michael Easter (TIME - Velo Pasadena), ahead of Gary Douville (MRI Endurance Elite Masters) and Frederick Bottger (Rokform / Rock 'N Road). As a result, Easter leads the GC by 8 seconds ahead of Douville, and is a comfortable 2:31 ahead of the leader after stage 1, Rudolph Napolitano. The battle for that 3rd podium spot is tight as several riders including Chris McDonald, Craig Nunes, Derek Brauch and Matthew Carinio are all within a few seconds of one another heading into the deciding circuit race in downtown San Dimas. Those same top three riders - Easter, Douville and Napolitano also are the top three in the Sprint competition. Adam Livingstone has secured the KOM, with 30 points, ahead of Napolitano with 25 points, and Douville  and McDonald, each with 20 points.

A few more photos are below, and a select 96 photos can be seen by clicking this link.

Jrs. 17/18 victor, Ansel Dickey

fun before the race

Cat 4's along Fairplex Drive

i don't believe there was a neutral feed, so i nominate this ExergyTWENTY16 sognieur
for the all around good guy award for helping Heather Nielson with a severe leg cramp

NOW and Novartis for MS rider Kathryn Donovan was in a solo break for at least two laps before finishing 32nd

Team SmartStop - Mountain Khakis warm up in the hills

everyone knows Charon Smith for his sprinting ability. not so much climbing though, so when he topped the KOM for the final time in the 35+ race his fist clenching exclamation said it all - "I made it to tomorrow!"

led by Full Circle Cycling's [Dion Smith],a break in the
pro field tops the little rise after crossing the dam

Cat 2's, Lee Peters (201) and Erick Sobey (243), racing through Bonelli Park

a buddy once said to me, that if you aren't exhausted after a race, you didn't do enough

Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 San Dimas Stage Race, Stage 1: Battle on the Mountain...

As in years past, stage one of the San Dimas Stage Race (SDSR) was a 4.2 mile individual time trail up Glendora Mountain Road (GMR). While last years race was cold and threatening rain, this years race was cold without the threat, or at least that is how it started; it warmed up nicely for the later races. That either works for you, or it doesn't.

a rider for Serious Cycling finds a unique place to warm up

From a spectating standpoint, time trials, even those that head up mountain roads, are not the most exciting to watch. You know, you have a solo rider racing past every thirty seconds or so; if you are lucky, or have positioned yourself at a good spot, one might rise out of the saddle for a little more effort. That, at least, makes a more interesting photo. Or maybe someone makes face; that is almost as good. The point is, that while the racers are giving it their all, the action is, well, lacking. There is really not even much of a story. It is like, here comes a racer, there he goes; here comes the next racer, there he goes. However this does not mean that there is a lack of interesting things happening - if you focus and pay attention as racers are coming back from the finish you can sometimes pick up bits of their conversations. They talk about the course, other racers, maybe themselves, stuff from today, stuff from other days. Here is a sampling of some of what I heard today:

"I was shaking so badly I couldn't hold my line."

"A little cold I like, not like last years road race. Man, that was wet."

"Just sprint up to him, catch him. Screw with his head."

"Like seriously, yesterday I couldn't even get on the bike."

The past couple years I have made the effort to get up the mountain, by bike or by foot, and attempt to get a photo of each and every rider that came by. While I did get a goodly number of those again this year, I also spent more time (more than half to be exact) down around the start. It seems to me that in a time trial, the start and finish are where the stories are to be told. While the story may be made out along the course, it is told during the periods before and after. If you choose to look through the photos (a selection of 118 are here) you will no doubt notice this. 

Until then, some results: 

Masters 55+
1) Kevin Susco (Marc Pro - Strava) 18:17.13
2) Daniel Swietlik (OTR Racing) 18:17.85
3) William Ralph (Rokform/Rock N'Road) 18:41.78

Masters 45+
1) Cale Reeder (Hammer Nutrition) 16:17.57
2) Jeff Konsmo (Big Orange Cycling) 16:34.48
3) Greg Leibert (Big Orange Cycling) 16:55.01

Masters 35+
1) Rudolph Napolitano (Time-Velo Pasadena) 16:21.32
2) Chris McDonald (MRI Endurance Elite Masters) 16:21.86
3) Craig Nunes ( 16:23.91

Cat 3
1) William Thomas (TRU Cycling / Jax Bicycles) 16:26.79
2) Andrew Tight (Ritte Racing) 16:27.97
3) Scott Lundy (Serious Cycling) 16:34.46

Cat 4
1) Soichi Takahashi (Team Shimano) 17:47.80
2) Derek Unland (SRAM Factory Team) 17:50.21
3) Max Capener (unatt) 17:57.59

Cat 5
1) Seth Britton (unatt) 17:12.27
2) David Aldrich (unatt) 18:32.97
3) Jesse Arian ( 18:54.23

Jr. 17-18
1) William Barta (Boise Young Rider Development Team) 15:29.26
2) Diego Binatena (SKLZ - Swamis Development Elite Team) 16:12.65
3) Henry Nelson (Tieni Duro) 16:59.87

Jr. 15-16
1) Gage Hecht (Team Specialized Racing) 15:58.91
2) Nicholas Castellano (Team Specialized Racing) 16:57.56
3) Jack Maddux (Team  Specialized Racing) 17:04.22

Cat 2
1) Efren Flores (Get Crackin) 15:51.12
2) Keith Wong (VuMedi p/b Lombardi Sports) 16:00.92
3) Nathanial Davis (Sabino Cycles Racing) 16:08.44

Women Pro/1/2/3
1) Mara Abbott (ExergyTWENTY16) 16:42.33
2) Amber Neben (Dare to be Project) 16:59.81
3) Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) 17:15.59

Men Pro/1
1) Phil Gaimon (Bissell Pro Cycling) 14:03.09
2) Janier Acevedo (Jamis Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home) 14:19.65
3) Matthew Cooke (Champion System p/b Stan's No Tubes) 14:25.51

as the countdown moves to one, this could almost be a "caption this" photo

Rudolph Napolitano, fastest in the 35+ race

lined up at the start

Amber Neben, 2008 UCI World Time Trial Champion

they went that-a-way

an Irish National Road Race Champion is here, guess who

Chazmichael Morales finds a little shade


who was i taking a photo of?

2004 Spanish Road Race Champion, Francesco Mancebo

laughs all around, once the racing is done

Alright, that does it for stage 1. As usual I took far more than the 118 photos mentioned above; if there is something you are looking for, I can look if you give me a name, race #, category, and team. Tomorrow is the road race around Bonelli Park with plenty of opportunity for some action photos. See you out there.


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