Friday, May 31, 2013

Peek-a-Boo, Randomly Seen While Riding This Morning...

This is a tiny little building in the Village, right next to the Jax bike shop. The restoration / refurbishing work looks to be nearly finished and I am looking forward to the grand opening. Last I read, the soon-to-be-open business was supposed to be a kind of custom taco joint; I wonder if it still is? Anyway, though the building is small, it has a fantastic patio area in the back, shaded by some big trees. Take a peek over the fence and you will notice an old amusement park ride rocket ship, suspended airborne, above the picnic tables - looks like it will be a fun place for a quick bite to eat. Update: Just as I wrote this I find an article in the Claremont  Courier so, Petiscos is set to open on June 3rd. See you there.

All lined up, but no where to go. A little too much peek a-boo perhaps, I didn't notice any takers lined up for these not-normally porta-potties.

Friday Feedbag and Quotable Links...

The first two quotes today date back a couple weeks, but there is some interesting stuff in linked stories if you didn't see them earlier.

First up, a look at a new walking American Revolution - "This calls for a close look at how people are either encouraged or discouraged from walking to work, schools, shops, parks and other destinations." 

Next, a story of how Vietnam is hoping to combat the problems associated with "car culture" by investing in transit in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City: "Once people get into a car, it's hard to get them out."

"The words 'bicycle,' and 'pedestrian' do not appear anywhere in the 2013 traffic study document." 
How can you possibly justify a traffic study in this day, especially one at a university campus (California Polytechnic University, Pomona), that does not take into account the requirements of bicyclists and pedestrians. Right out of the gate, any such document must be flawed. Even if you were only concerned with the movements of motor vehicles, any such movement is necessarily going to involve interactions with bicyclists and pedestrians. I will admit that I have not had the opportunity to read the document in question, nor even a link to where it might be available. On the other had I don't have any reason to not believe the cut and dry statement presented by the reporter in the article linked to above. The additional fact that Biking In LA's Ted Rogers also wrote about this yesterday, and went as far as contacting University officials, suggests the missing data is grossly real. This is not what I would ever have imagined following in the wake of the death of a student on a campus roadway.

Following the memorial gathering of family, friends, students, faculty and others concerned with campus safety, held in memory of Ivan Aguilar who was hit and killed by the driver of a car, I suggested that a true memorial would be real change, making conditions safer for all. Further, I suggested that this change would only come about if the campus community kept up the pressure, to not let university officials simply shrug the incident off as a tragic accident and maintain the status quo. All too often "laying low" until things quiet down proves to be an effective strategy. I won't imply that there is an active strategy of laying low (if you can be active while laying low), but If the Cal Poly Pomona community wants change they must continue to make themselves heard, they must impress upon university officials that their safety while traveling to, from, and around campus needs to be considered part and parcel with the university experience.

Meanwhile as bicycle use surges across the country, some vocal few continue along the same tired path of failing to see the bigger picture, leaving advocates no option but to drill salient facts through thick skulls: "Ron Burke ... sees 'little bike people' as a compliment, noting how little space we take up on the roadway, how little wear and tear we cause, and how little our facilities cost within the grand scheme of transportation spending."

Finally, "... cycling is booming across the United States, with the biggest gains coming from young people, women, and people of color getting on bikes."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

From the Library: Mountain Bike! Southern California...

Of the various guidebooks in the library, this one has received the most attention. I guess since the trails it contains are more local that would make it a given. However there is more to it. If I hear, or read, about a trail from some other source, I will often seek out information on the route in this book as confirmation, second opinion. I consider the ride descriptions and other relevant trail information to be invaluable, even after twelve years on the shelf.

The book lists 101 trails spread around the southern state area, from San Diego north to Santa Barbara and the Central Coast, across to Sequoia National Forest, the Eastern Sierra and Owens Valley. The term "classic trails" in the subtitle is no misnomer - if your mountain biking experience has been spread over years, you will no doubt have heard about most of these trails, probably ridden a goodly number of them.

Valuable for riders looking to expand their trail repertoire beyond the hyper-local dirt, for those with a "bucket list" of rides they want to check off, and for non-locals in state with limited time to ride who want assistance seeking out that iconic Southern California trail.

Story, David, Laurie Leman, and Chris Leman   Mountain Bike! Southern California: A Guide to the Classic Trails   Birmingham, AL: Menasha Ridge Press, 2001

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From the Library: Mountain Biking South Lake Tahoe's Best Trails...

Doesn't everyone have a dream of opening the front door any day of the week, and immediately riding off into some of the most fantastically scenic country this side of paradise? Sure you do. This book won't quite get you to that point, but it will help you sort through the abundance of trail options when you do get there. The trail descriptions are on the minimal side, and the photographs of bikes and riders doing their thing together are clearly dated but, I count something like 64 separate routes from which to select, and that's not bad at all.

Keep in mind that many of these are actually outside the Tahoe Basin, some as far away as Markleeville, Georgetown, and Highway 88 to the south. Since most of us will never be able to ride any of these trails from our front doors, guidebooks such as this can help us maximize our riding time during those all too brief periodic summer forays.

Bonser, Carol and R. W. Miskimins   Mountain Biking South Lake Tahoe's Best Trails   Anacortes, WA: Fine Edge Productions LLC, 2001

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chris Contreras, Rest In Peace...

Word is beginning to circulate that there was a tragic crash during today's CBR Memorial Day Criterium at Dominguez Hills. Velo Pasadena racer, Chris Contreras, passed away at hospital as a result of injuries suffered after hitting a light standard at full speed during the Pro race. When I hear more, I will let you know as appropriate. In the meantime I wish to express my condolences to Chris's family, friends, and teammates.

Christopher (Cono) Contreras with Nelson Vails and Nick Contreras (via Facebook)

I didn't know Christopher Contreras (aka Christopher Cono on Facebook), other than as one of the many who might flash past as I stood along the curb of some nondescript industrial park and attempted to take photos. I didn't know him as one of the competitors lined up next to me on the start line of some local small city downtown. But I did know Chris as a member of our relatively small Southern California racing community; or better yet, as one well-known racer said, one of our "racing family." This fact alone speaks of a certain level of passion for the activity - to step outside the bounds of comfort and toe the line against some of the regions', the states', the nations' best racers, with the very real spectre of failure, that you just will not match up, requires a heightened level of passion.

Chris Contreras, from what I hear and read, went beyond this by delving into the realm of race promotion and organizing. He was the face behind the popular Fortune 700 fixed-gear road races over the past couple years. I attended one of these at the Rose Bowl and blogged about it at the Claremont Cyclist. This fixed-gear road racing stuff was a new concept to me, but I could clearly see the thrill and excitement resonate through the gathered competitors and spectators, only now realizing that it was through the time-consuming efforts of Mr. Contreras that this outlet was made available - clear evidence of his heightened level of passion.

It is not a far leap to imagine that this passion was carried into his relationships with family and friends, to life in general. I am sure much more will be said and written about Christopher Contreras over the next number of days, and weeks; they will help those of us who did not know Chris on a personal level to understand who he was and what his life meant to those people who did know him. Feel free to leave your remembrances, however small you think they may be, here or at one of the many other places where Mr. Contreras is being remembered.

*** Just So You Know: Proceeds from the June 9 CBR race, the Kool & Fit Criterium at Costa Mesa, will be donated to the Contreras family. ***

*** Join the Thursday Rose Bowl Ride (30 May), look for the Velo Pasadena tent and buy a memorial teeshirt for a minimum $20.00 donation. Proceeds will go to the Contreras family. ***

*** an additional way to contribute has been established at the Chris Cono Memorial Fundraiser, at gofundme. ***

Some remembrances of Chris can be found at:
Kryxtanicole's Blog
Wolfpack Hustle

Monday Blues: Americana...

Memorial Day today in the United States. The day we honor and remember those who paid the ultimate price to defeat tyranny and preserve freedom for certain people at home and around the world. Memorial Day also marks the start of the summer holiday season - Americana, in all its white picket fence, flag waving cow glory will be well in evidence over the next month and a half, or so. This handsomely decorated house in the neighboring city of La Verne, says 'Americana' and 'summer holiday' as well as anything around here I suppose. The only thing better would be an old farm bike hitched up next to that cow. And the handprints - well, they just bring it all back around to the Monday Blues. Celebrate. Remember. Think. Hope.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

2013 Giro d'Italia Recap: Kellyisms, and a Contest...

Why not recap through the words of Sean Kelly. As a commentator and analyst for Eurosport,  Kelly, a veteran of twenty Grand Tours, brings a lifetime of race knowledge, so his insight given over the course of the race are especially revealing, in many ways. The short snippets of wit and wisdom are far from a complete picture of Kelly's commentary, they may not even be the best from any given day, but they are almost always good, with just the right mixture of humor and seriousness adding color to each stage.

The contest: Six of the quotes / paragraphs below contain missing elements (like a fill-in-the-blank question). The first person who can correctly fill in those blanks will win one of these nifty leather saddle bags. With a little research some of them may be do-able, others you will probably have to guess at. You have until Friday, 6:00pm local (Pacific Standard) time to get your answers in, either as a comment, or email. At that time the contest ends, and I will fill in the blanks for you. Good luck.

"Thirty seconds might have been a slightly erroneous number", as Ryder Hesjedal attacked before Stage 3's final climb, with the live footage showing him gaining a few seconds, clearly not the thirty seconds being reported. Even so, the stage clearly revealed a Ryder who was determined to defend his championship of the previous year. Unfortunately things would begin to slowly unravel for Hesjedal, and a week later he would withdraw from the race due to illness.

On the 4th Stage Sylvain Georges was shown talking into his radio during the final climb of the day. Georges was riding solo off the front at the time with a 0:45 advantage over his pursuers and Kelly, in jest, speculated that he was asking his team car, "Can I stop". Sylvain would be reeled in and finish in 84th place, 7:26 down on stage winner Enrico Battaglin. A few days later, Georges would be removed from the race, following a positive test for a banned substance.

"The BMC are controlling well on the rear at the moment", as the moto camera captures Taylor Phinney covering his face in mock embarrassment during Stage 6.

During the daily race coverage fans were able to text questions to Kelly for his response. One of these asked if he had ever needed to dismount and walk up a hill. Kelly answered, "Yes ... the Tour of Flanders ... I was in the race thirteen toimes [times, with Kelly's Irish brogue], and made it ... I think four." That more than anything reveals how brutal those Flemish bergs can be - succeeding without walking at least once on only four of thirteen attempts.

During a wet, slick Stage 7, Emanuele Sella slid out in a corner with about 25 km to the finish. With a bit of Irish humor, Kelly speculated that the slippery road may have been the mischievous play of "a drunk fairie". Sella would finish the stage in 34th.

Later during the 7th Stage, and while racing through the same town where the drunk fairie took down Sella, Arnault Jeannesson, slid out on a straight stretch of road. Even though this happens more than we may like to admit, it is always a bit surprising - "how did he manage that. On a dead straight section, down he goes." Jeannesson would pick himself up and finish in 8th on the stage, 1:07 behind winner Adam Hansen.

"Such a light-weight", speaking of Domenico Pozzovivo as he took up the chase of Rigoberto Uran on the slopes of Altopiano del Montasio, during Stage 10. Uran held on to win the stage, while Pozzovivo crossed the line in 7th, 0:31 down.

"He's going to have difficulty getting on to the wheel here", as Patrick Gretsch desperately attempts to grab the wheels of Ramunas Navardauskas and Daniel Oss, after the two had raced past him and opened a gap. Gretsch had shot away from a twenty rider break while descending from the category 2 Sella Ciampigotto. Ultimately Navardauskas and Oss bridged to Gretsch who managed to latch on for about five km before cracking. Navaardauskas and Oss finished the stage in 1st and 2nd, while Gretsch managed to eke out a respectable 17th, 4:20 behind.

"... the only one who didn't take a fall, so he's pressing his luck a little bit here", as Bert de Backer leads a break through the rain, with 33 km to go to the finish of Stage 12 at Treviso. Mark Cavendish pulled a third win out of his bag of tricks on yet another wet stage. de Backer was one of five riders who left the comfort of the peloton 9 km into the race, and held a gap of varying advantage until the final kilometer, when the sprinter's teams rounded them up. De Backer crossed under the finish banner in 31st spot - not bad considering the all-day effort.

During a discussion about the difficulty of organizing a chase in wet conditions while Bert de Backer and Co were racing through the rain on Stage 12, Kelly said "you don't know what their [other riders around you] qualities are like on the descents".

During Stage 15, on the slopes of the Col du Telegraphe, Sergio Luis Henao was one of a number of solo riders who attempted to break from the bunch in pursuit of a break away further up the road. When Henao moved clear, Kelly responded that "he could be the danger man [who] could really push on." On this day, though, it was for naught as Henao reached to snowy stage finish on the Col du Galibier in 29th spot, 2:04 behind stage victor, Giovanni Visconti. Just two days earlier, Henao's team leader, Bradley Wiggins, withdrew from the race, seeming to give Henao and compatriot, Rigoberto Uran, a little more lead to contest for stage wins.

A little further along into Stage 15, Kelly was more than a little surprised by the lack of initiative being taken by challengers sitting in the Maglia Rosa group. Clearly, he believed someone should have gone on the attack in an attempt to put race leader, Vincenzo Nibali under pressure, "when you get to four and a half kilometers, it's time to do something". But no, the main contenders still in the race (remember both Hesjedal and Wiggins had withdrawn by now) were content to mark the Pink Jersey wearer on this day. And snow began to fall in the Alps, on the Galibier.

During Stage 16, Kelly's colleague in the booth, noticed that the number on the back of Ramunas Navardauskas was flapping in the wind as he attacked off the front of the large breakaway group. The camera then switched to the rear of the group, at which point Kelly noted that Stefano Pirazzi could be seen "flapping on the rear", referencing that this was the familiar spot for the rider, noted more for his climbing ability than for his ability to go fast on the flats.

Soon after, and on the final climb of the stage, the category 3 Andrate, the camera catches Stefano Pirazzi blasting clear of the break, Kelly does right by Stefano, saying "... these sudden accelerations ... thats where he puts everybody in trouble, on these climbs". Returning to Navardauskas, there are questions in the booth as to why he did not do more attacking on the flats leading up to the Andrate; Kelly reasons that "it has just been so aggressive ... everybody's been softened up, as they say". And thus, no one is really in any condition to make that kind of an effort.

During the 17th Stage, thoughts turned to strategizing for the following day's individual mountain time trial, causing Kelly to remark "consistent all the way through, that's what you've got to be in the time trial".

The final climb of Stage 17, the category 3 Crosara, had the potential to prove decisive to the day's action. As the peloton approached the climb and its narrow roadway, Kelly noted "that was the reason there were a lot of elbows, a lot of pushing". As if fate were proving the point, the camera soon finds one rider running out of road, "and we see Igor Martinez having difficulty staying on the road", as he finds himself crowded off the pavement and into the dirt verge.

Vladimir Karpets has had some strong stage race showings in his career, and it is not unusual to see him battling for placings on any given day. So, when Kelly commented "is he still in the race?" as Karpets approached the line at the finish of the Stage 18 time trial, the implication was that the rider has not been as visible as normally expected. His finishing time, 3:02 slower than the stage winning time of Vincenzo Nibali, was good enough for 32nd on the day.

Stomachs can be fickle things. Sometimes what a rider puts in, when combined with a hard race effort, does not make for a good mix. As Fabio Andres Duarte charged to the line at the end of Stage 18, and left a little extra on the road, Kelly casually noted that it "... was the drink he had earlier, coming back up". Duarte's effort brought him the 13th fastest time.

After snow cancelled the mountainous Stage 19, which would have taken the riders over the Stelvio and Gavia Passes, there was one more opportunity for the challengers to knock Vincenzo Nibali from the throne - Stage 20, which had to be modified as well, due to the extreme weather conditions. For the second time in this Giro a stage finished in the snow; for the second time in this Giro Vincenzo Nibali proved to be the strongest when it counted most. "... the conditions are terrible, as you can see. It's like Paris-Nice in the beginning of March." No more sure confirmation could have been scripted for Nibali's mastery over the rest of the field in this year's Giro than the snow-obscured image of the Maglia Rosa, fist raised in victory, and no other rider in sight.

The Giro is over, done, and in the books now, but I am still trying to figure out what to make of this years race. I don't mean to take anything from the win of Vincenzo Nibali, he rode a good race, and it was an emphatic victory and, while certain individual stages had some edge to them, some suspense and drama, I thought the race overall was rather blah. The challenge against Nibali just didn't really materialize, especially after the withdrawl of Hesjedal and Wiggins early on. The weather seemed to be as big a story as the racing itself, and the continued spectre of positive tests for banned substances (Georges and Danilo DiLuca), certainly did not add any credibility. It is a shame really, I do believe Nibali is a worthy champion, it's just that once he got hold of the Maglia Rosa, he and the Astana team seemed perfectly able to control the race and any potential danger moves. Long live the Giro, but where's Tommy Voeckler when needed?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gianni Bugno, and How To Wear a Cycling Cap...

Barely a day goes by that I don't have a cycling cap perched atop my head at some point during the wakeful hours.
This little clip with three greats from the recent past - Gianni Bugno, Davide Bramati, Brian Holm - have some fun explaining the proper way to wear one of our iconic little hats.

Bugno, as the senior member of the group, wears his in the more traditional manner - perched up high. Holm pulls it down tighter, Belgian-style, in his words. Bramati, meanwhile, adjusts his somewhere in between. Their opinion of the Cavendish-style is essentially unanimous - a little mock jab at the peloton's current fast man. 

Sometimes it is the Little Things...

As more often than not they tend to do, my ride home two days ago took me through the Claremont Village. As I slowed for an intersection I noticed a woman walking along the sidewalk from the opposite direction. Nothing unusual there, the Village tends to be full of pedestrians at all times of the day. She was dressed in a bright pink teeshirt with a big peace-sign on the front, and had a bright red flower held to her nose, enjoying the natural perfume as she walked along. Colorfully eye-catching, but still, not unduly unusual. Just before we passed each other she gave me a subtle thumbs up, almost like a little secret code between us, a kindred affirmation of our mobility choices - the pedestrian and the cyclist. 

she looked something like this, from MeanStinks on Facebook

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From the Library: Metal Cowboy...

This is the second of cyclist / author Kurmaskie's to be found on the shelves of the library, though the first I read. This, like Riding Outside the Lines, is a collection of adventures and explorations during the travels of a touring cyclist. There are a couple familiar quotes at the head of this book which, I think, sum up a goodly portion of the rationale behind bike touring, and an equal measure of the spirit of this book: "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything" which is followed up with "It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best." Sometimes it is not what you see, but what you don't miss, that makes the journey interesting.

Kurmaskie, Joe   Metal Cowboy: Tales from the Road Less Pedaled   New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

State Highway 39: Flutter...

It wends up from the ragged edge of the city, this black ribbon of asphalt, into the heart of the mountains. Rising from river bottom, across chaparral slopes, through stands of sycamore and alder, touching into communities of pines and cedars, and grasping at barren, rocky peaks just beyond reach. To travel along this road is to be participant in an act of theater, manipulated by light and shadow. To ride this road is an act of defiance and endeavor. To ride this road is to challenge what passes as normal, to disavow convenience and comfort. 

To ride this road requires a focus on determination. Determination. Tenacity. A butterfly passed me today; momentarily, it was caught in that eddy of air that is created, during brief perfect moments, between my outstretched arms and body hunched over this bike. It was the shortest fraction of time. And then, seeming to benefit from some unseen force of resolve, it was propelled forward and away. White-spotted wings fluttering with a grace my legs, at this moment, seemed incapable of matching. Determination. Tenacity.

And then focus returned to the road, determination to my legs. I know this road, its curves and switchbacks, its rises and falls, its distant views and those up close. This road is familiar to me; I have sweated every inch of its upward climb, shouted away fear at its rapid descents. Its curves shelter old memories as much as they incubate future potential. The challenge of this road is inseparable from a life worth living.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Upcoming: The Jenna Ride...

I can't begin to put a number to how many times the cycling community has stepped up for one of our own. So, in that spirit, and even if you can't make the ride, maybe consider a donation. You can find additional information on the event Facebook page.

From the Library: Bicycling America's National Parks, Utah and Colorado...

Say what? Bicycling in the National Parks? Indeed, and why not? After all, the National Parks were created, in part, to preserve some of the most spectacular scenery in the States, the kind of scenery you want to take your time viewing. Touring them by bike, therefore, must surely beat speeding through in a motor vehicle. Keep in mind that most of the routes you will find available to bikes in our National Parks are along existing roadways, both paved and dirt, but it is not impossible to find rare single track to transport you away from the overcrowded beaten paths as well.

This guidebook includes a selection of routes appropriate for road or mountain bike, and tells you which in bold letters at the head of each section. Each ride also gives starting points, length, surface conditions, difficulty rating, best time to ride info, scenic/cultural highlights, and special considerations. If you have ever visited a National Park you have no doubt  noticed roads have generally been built to minimize impacts; in other words they are not very wide, and normally lacking in shoulders. This can make riding in some of the Parks more nerve-wracking than others, especially when you consider that the Parks are visited by 285 million people annually. 

As noted in the book's forward, "drive to the Grand Canyon on any summer weekend, and you and six thousand other drivers will spend much of your time competing for the two thousand parking spaces. You have better odds at the local mall." Traveling a Park's roads by bike will allow you to avoid much of the congestion you thought you had left in the city. Though mid-day traffic may be an unfortunate given, even with all these people it is possible to find the solitude of a quiet road; in the past I have written about early morning rides through Kings Canyon (and yes, I know it is outside the scope of this particular book) with nary another soul to disturb the hum of my two wheels. Often, it is all in the timing of the ride. Many National Parks, including some in this book, have been making strides to make the slow biking experience more enjoyable, through the construction of off-roadway paths, limiting motor vehicle access, and even opening dirt roads for extended travel and exploration opportunities. Rides along everything from main roads to paved paths, from dirt roads to rare single track are found in the pages of this book.

Recommended for anyone looking for a different experience of the National Parks located in Colorado and Utah.

Alley, Sarah Bennett   Bicycling America's National Parks. Utah and Colorado: The Best Road and Trail Rides from Canyonlands to Rocky Mountain National Park   Woodstock, VT: Backcountry Guides, 2000

Monday, May 20, 2013

Claremont Hills Wilderness Park Survey...

Some readers here may remember a call for volunteer census takers for a count / survey at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park late last year. The survey was conducted for the purpose of gathering information on current park usage, and as a means of planning for potential future needs. Alta Planning + Design is conducting a follow-up survey to that first one, and is once again seeking volunteers to help with the count. This second survey will be held on consecutive days, Saturday June 8 and Sunday the 9th. See the flyer for times, contacts, and other relevant information.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

2013 Ontario Mid Season Criterium...

Burning up the road during the Mid Season Criterium, or being burnt by the road, during the Mid Season Criterium? There was enough of each to go around out in Ontario for this fourteenth annual race presented by Pacific Sunset Velo, and either way, both seemed to be taken seriously. Lets start with, and get the crashes out of the way. Apparently there were a few during the morning races (hearsay); I only saw one (then heard rumor of a second) during the afternoon races. Long-time Southern California racing fixture, Evan Teske who won the Masters 50+ race, was among the riders who took a tumble in the morning during the 45+ race. Unfortunately I was told that he was taken by ambulance to the hospital; hopefully things prove to be not too serious.

I only arrived in time for the afternoon races, beginning with the Masters 30+ 4/5, and only the last handful of laps from that one. Of the races that I watched from beginning to end, three of them included significant solo breakaways, two of which ended in victory. The 30+ race also had a solo attack within the last five laps, but it did not gain nearly enough gap to be successful; the result was a bunch sprint won by Scott Clark (Long Beach Cyclery), ahead of Pedro Slonsky (SC Velo), and Israel Tapia (WIN-Team Racing). The Masters 40+ 1/2/3/4 lined up next. A five rider break, became four, then finally three - two Spy-Giant Team riders and one from the MRI Endurance Elite Masters Team. You would not be faulted for predicting victory for one of the Spy riders, but that single MRI rider, Chris DeMarchi, proved too strong, taking the win in a one-up sprint over Gregg Medinilla. Brent Garrigus took third.

The Cat 3 race saw another small group get away, but attrition and a determined chase by the peloton ended the gambit. The bunch sprint was claimed by Jeremy Ayers (Rock Sports Racing), ahead of Michael Cleveland (CA Pools / Primal) and Josh Ruiz (SC Velo). Most aggressive award to Quint Berkemeier (Colorado Mesa University) who was especially active at the front, and in the break, throughout the race. 

The Masters 35+ race is typically one of the more competitive fields; if it seemed to lack the normal fireworks show, blame it on Jamie Paolinetti (MRI Endurance Elite Masters) who soloed for lap after lap at the end of the race, to take a big win. Give some credit also to the rest of the MRI team, who did everything a team should do to control the field and neutralize all attacks. The tactical game frustrated more than a few riders from other teams. Behind Paolinetti came Aaron Wimberley (Team Helen's) and Michael Herdman (Rokform / Rock N' Road).

A combined Cat 4/5 race was the penultimate one on the day, and as the photo above shows, there was some misfortune for at least one rider. A close sprint at the end was won by Jose Reyes (SC Velo) ahead of teammate Leo Reyes and Henry Szczypiorski Jr. (Cast A Shadow).

The Pro/1/2/3 race lined up in its usual spot at the end of the day. The race was highly competitive, not to mention entertaining. Attacks were continually being launched off the front, chased down, and then countered. Finally, a powerful group of five, or was it six, riders managed to build a significant gap. It was ultimately for not though, as the pressure of the pace caused one and then another rider to be shed from the small group until only one remained. That one was Aurelien Passeron of Full Circle Cycling; the French rider who at one time raced with the UCI Pro team, Saunier Duval - Scott, and has a palmares with several significant European wins, showed his power by staying away almost to the end. When the peloton finally did reel Passeron back into the fold, a gutsy (not to mention impressive) counter attack by lone MRI rider, Hunter Grove, resulted in a popular solo victory as he managed to hold off the chasers over the course of the final laps. It was a stand on the curb and yell nervous encouragement those last couple laps, as I seemed to find myself in the midst of a crowd of MRI supporters and the gap, which once seemed secure, shrank precipitously on the final lap. An U23 racer taking the race to the veteran pros, and a worthy grande finale to an exciting day of racing. ps. if you click on the link below there are a couple photos of Mr. Grove, just not the best, his supporters kept crowding the road and getting in the way of the shots.

i have my doubt that helmet hair like this will ever catch on

well matched around turn one

Chris DeMarchi finishes off the Masters 40+ race

the throw wins it for Jeremy Ayers in the Cat 3 race

Rock Sport teammates round the first turn

Jamie Paolinetti tucked in, going solo

the snaking line of the pro/1/2/3 field

Aurelien Passeron eyes the attack of his teammate

Rigoberto Meza of Coates Cyclery

Passeron leads around turn one

A selection of another 96 photos is here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

GMR Friday: Into the Clouds...

Glendora Mountain Road doesn't rise all that high, but this morning some clouds were hanging low in the sky. Low enough that it did not take long for moisture to start collecting on the glasses; I took them off, then put them back on a couple times, before giving up on that battle after deciding I could see better without them. There were a couple other riders at the Top of Monroe - they quickly dropped back down, while I hung around a little longer. It was quiet up there, and all the more so because of the cloud cover. The entirety of the world was close at hand, there was no distance, no horizon. Dark shapes prowled the edges of vision, murky and unfamiliar.

But that was the apex of the ride, the prelude is always the ride through the foothill communities - there was Corey and volunteers in the Coates van, marking the route of tomorrows Plain Wrap Ride II (which, by the way, you can still register for at the low price by stopping in at the Coates shop, or in the morning before the event for a little extra). Then there were the three Full Circle Cycle team riders who I chased down, then dropped when they pulled over as the pressure mounted. I never saw them after that; good thing they chose a different route today, it would have been really embarrassing for them struggling along behind me up GMR.

All right, maybe that last bit didn't quite play out as described.
Enjoy your weekend rides, where ever they take you.

From the Library: Dog In A Hat...

"... you see a dog in a hat when a normal situation changes, when something looks out of place." A Dog In A Hat is a first of the two part story relating the triumphs and travails of American racer Joe Parkin as he attempts to first, break into, and second establish his position in the European professional peloton, during the 1980s and 1990s. The book not only documents the experiences of Parkin while attempting to find his way in the sport, but it is also a telling expose of an era, a time win which the use of performance enhancing drugs were beginning to reach dangerous and arrogant levels not previously seen. Don't mis-construe this to mean that drugs occupy the spotlight in this book. They are there, but more significant, I think, are the challenges faced by the young rider learning the ropes. I reviewed Parkin's second book, Come and Gone, previously.

Parkin, Joe   A Dog In A Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium   Boulder, CO: Velo Press, 2008

Thursday, May 16, 2013

One for Jens...

About 5 kilometers from the finish, on a slight rise in the road, a familiar face suddenly bolted along the right side and clear of his fifteen other breakaway comrades. In pure Voigtian style, with a show of strength and burst of speed, the man with the most age and experience in the race, kicked away from the rouleurs, the sprinters and their lead-out men, even the race favorites to prove he still has what it takes to play the game. Just in case anyone had any doubts. In his wake, the pure sprinters had to settle for best-of-the-rest placings - Farrar, Hushovd, Sagan, Matthews, in that order. Barely past the line, Jens Voigt moved to the left-side barriers to lean against them, just long enough for the sprint to blow through, and then he casually dismounted and slumped to the ground in visible exhaustion.

Afterwards Voigt said that he thought he was a little stronger than the others in the break, but knew he would not be able to out-sprint them. He said to himself, "now or never, now or never; everybody's hurting now." So it was that he took his chance right where he needed to go, at the finale of the fifth stage of the Amgen Tour of California into Avila Beach, and built a gap that proved insurmountable for those left behind. Did he have to tell his legs to shut up, of do they just know by now?

From the Library: Bobke II...

Bob Roll has been around the world of cycling for long enough to have picked up a thing or two (thousand) worth sharing. First as a racer with teams like 7-Eleven, Motorola, and Z, then behind the microphone as a commentator, his knack for stringing words together is almost as legendary as the hard-work ethic he earned and exhibited while on the bike.

With chapter titles like "The Day the Big Men Cried", "Lost in the Jemez", and "Living in a Lactic-acid Crippling Haze", (among others) it is a sure bet there are bound to be some entertaining reminiscences of life and adventure in the pro peloton. For a fan of the sport, or of the Bobke style.

Roll, Bob   Bobke II   Boulder, CO: Velo Press, 2003

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

From the Library: Riding Outside the Lines...

I have said before that one of the reasons I ride is for the adventure. That out of the way, and in comparison to the adventures of author Joe Kurmaskie, my own would seem to be border on the point of extreme boredom. I have a couple of Kurmaskie's books, and between the kilt-wearing cowboys and girl bagpipers, there is more than enough to keep me entertained while giving some thought to my own, quiet-by-comparison adventures. Read this one for the laughs.

Kurmaskie, Joe   Riding Outside the Lines: International Incidents and Other Misadventures with the Metal Cowboy   New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2003

Upcoming: Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia 2013...

I read that this year's long route from Pasadena will head east to Claremont, ride through the Claremont Colleges, before returning to the Queen City. If you are thinking about it, don't delay, the price increase is three days away, and the Gran Fondo only a couple weeks.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tour of California, Stage Three: Sagan to the Fore...

You have to like these routes that weave around through the local countryside, as they give more than just a single opportunity to experience the race. That is what today's race did - up and down the canyon roads - then finished with a bunch sprint in the middle of the city of Santa Clarita. Parking near the team buses at the finish line, I had a nice leisurely ride over to the feed zone near the bottom of Lake Hughes Road, where I staked out a spot to watch (and photo) the riders as they took on nourishment before the long climb. Once the teams had mussettes and fresh water bottles ready and sorted out, there was a lot of waiting around before the four man break - Andy Schleck, Lieuwe Westra, Chad Beyer, Gavin Mannion - followed along shortly afterward by the mass of the peloton in hot pursuit. It is an interesting little dance that takes place as riders maneuver to take the hand ups of water and food, jettison old bottles and get back to the race. And like that it was over, everyone gone, bottles picked up as souvenirs, and time to ride back to the finish, check out the lifestyle festival and hang out in the shade until the race returned to town.

It was good to see the riders looking more human-like today, and less like withered zombies. As the final results show, the sprinters were clearly refreshed, and liking the somewhat cooler temps. Sagan, Matthews, Farrar - 1, 2, 3 across the line, followed closely by Meersman, Van Poppel, and Hushovd. I especially liked seeing Thor in there for 6th; my son's favorite rider, he just did not look like he was enjoying the Southern California heat those first two days (not that anyone really did). Tomorrow should see a fantastic finish in Santa Barbara, and I would not be surprised to see the same group of riders contesting at the line again. And who knows, this time maybe mighty Thor will strike down hard with his hammer, to win at the line. I have photos to sort through, and will have them up shortly for your viewing pleasure. When the photos do show up here, just a little context, I was at about 350 meters to the line. Besides the photos below, another 66 are here.

Lieuwe Westra and Andy Schleck through the feed zone

the front of the peloton take their musettes

Kristijan Koren

Jens Voigt

meanwhile back at the festival everyone was having fun with Peter Sagan

winding it up at 400m out

Baden Cooke leads out teammate Michael Matthews, with Thor Hushovd at third in line. at this point (350m out) Sagan was another five riders back with one teammate right ahead of him

Marc de Maar

Philip Deignan


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