Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Blues: Dam Delay

Delay. What do you do when your race is set to start and you find that it has been delayed? Stopped cold. Not for five or ten minutes mind you, but for up to one and one-half hours. Do you lay down in the shade for a while - take a nap, hoping that someone will wake you out of a peaceful slumber, dreams of victory? Do you find a nice flat stretch of road upon which to spin the apprehension out of your legs? Or do you do that on the trainer back at Team HQ? Maybe you just sit / stand around and talk talk with your teammates, of fellow competitors.

Needless to say, ninety minutes is a long time to wait after you have completed your pre-race warm up, stretched the muscles, loosened the joints, and prepared yourself mentally for the conflict to come.

In the wake of a few tremblers that jolted the region leading up to, and over the weekend, the discovery of a suspicious looking trickle from the dam prompted a delay before the mid-morning road races during the San Dimas Stage Race on Saturday. As a result, the Masters 35+, Cat 4, and the Women were forced to find something to occupy their time. As did I and, well I suppose nearly everyone else. I found something to do by examining some of the up-close sights of where I was ensconced. Once I exhausted that supply, I took in a short ride, adding to my miles for the day.

In the end, the up to ninety minutes turned into a single hour. Algae growing along the trickle provided evidence that, whatever leakage was taking place it had been going on for a while, and did not foretell an imminent failure. The race which crosses the dam each lap was back on.

fresh, young cactus pad

rusty old cactus pad

occupying time another way

weathered sycamore

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 San Dimas Stage Race, Stage Three

Monster Media riders control the front of the Masters 35+ race
for teammate and Yellow Jersey wearer, Phil Tinstman.

Bill Harris (BBI-SIC) leads the Masters 45+ race on his way to victory in the days race

Christopher Wyman (Pacific Premier Bank) charges up the finish straight during the Cat 3 race

Diego Binatena (SKLZ-Swamis Development Elite Team) wearing the Climbers Polka Dot Jersey leads the Cat 2 race around the third turn

Kit Recca (Horizon Organic / Einstein Brothers) charges up the homestretch during the Pro/1 race

Wearing the Yellow Jersey of race leader, Karol Ann Canuel (Specialized/Lululemon) races out of the saddle to defend her lead

No sugar-coating it, the Flickr link will not be up until Monday night at the earliest, Tuesday more likely. On top of that I am too tired to think of anything to write, so I am just going to leave you with the list of the 2014 General Classification Champions, congratulations to all. My thanks to the SDSR organization, SC Velo, all the volunteers, sponsors, and the of San Dimas - every year proves to be an entertaining and action packed three days.

Well then Monday night it is - 116 select photos are in the Stage Three Flickr set. Hope you like them, SDSR is such a great race to photograph. As you will see I really got into taking the panning shots as racers came around one turn or another.

Women Pro/1/2/3:
1st Karol Ann Canuel
2nd Tayler Wiles (Specialized / Lululemon)
3rd Amber Neben (FCS / Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)
4th Leah Kirchmann (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
5th Flavia Oliveira (Firefighters Uppsala CK)

Men Pro/1:
1st Clement Chevrier (Bissell Development Team)
2nd Coulton Hartrich (unattached)
3rd Daniel Eaton (Canyon Bicycles / Shimano)
4th Luis Amaran (Jamis Hagen Berman)
5th Serghei Tevetkov (Jelly Belly Cycling)

Masters 35+:
1st Philip Tinstman (Monster Media Racing Elite Masters)
2nd Tony Brady (Incycle Racing p/b Full Circle)
3rd Brandon Gritters (Team Rokform)
4th Marco Arocha (Team Rokform)
5th Chris McDonald (Monster Media Racing Elite Masters)

Cat 4:
1st Brian Washburn (TRU Cycling - Jax Bicycles)
2nd Jerry Rios
3rd Dean Hall (Team Baghouse / Rock n Road)
4th Eamon O'Reilly (SKLZ - Swami's Cycling Team)
5th Matthew Gevrikyan (Time / Velo Pasadena)

Cat 3:
1st Gage Hecht (NCCF / Team Specialized Juniors)
2nd William Thomas (TRU Cycling / Jax Bicycles)
3rd Ben Duncan (El Grupo Youth Cycling Club)
4th Chad Cheverier (Big Orange Cycling)
5th Alex Wild (Bear Development)

Cat 2:
1st Efren Flores (LUX Development Team)
2nd Diego Binatena (SKLZ - Swamis Development Elite Team)
3rd William Elliott (NCCH / p/b DEC Express)
4th Ian London (Primal / Audi Denver)
5th Sam Cerruti (Family Cycling Center)

Juniors 17-18:
1st David Lombardo (Hincapie Development Team)
2nd Eric Oien (Monster Media Junior Development Team)
3rd Andres Morales (MRI Endurance Elite Juniors)
4th Seth Veenbaas (Monster Media Junior Development Team)
5th Brian Stack (SPY Giant Ride p/b MRI Endurance)

Cat 5:
1st Danikel  Johnson (Team Rokform)
2nd Gabriel Estrada (Rock Sports Racing)
3rd James Walker 
4th Nik Bales (CrankBenders)
5th Jake Legge (LUX Development Team)

Masters 45+:
1st Jeff Konsmo (Hot Wheels Factory Team)
2nd Pasco Robert (Safeway / Pure Red)
3rd Greg Leibert (Big Orange Cycling)
4th Steve Klasna (Breakaway from Cancer)
5th Joseph Sulse (Bonk Breaker Cycling)

Masters 55+:
1st Kevin Susco (Marc Pro / Strava)
2nd Daniel Swietlik (OTR Racing)
3rd Gary Shuey (Swamis)
4th Richard Mull (Velo Club LaGrange)
5th Owen Thomas (Action Sports)

Juniors 15-16:
1st Christopher Blevins (Specialized NCCF)
2nd Daniel Willett (Monster Media Junior Development Team)
3rd Matteo Jorgenson (Boise Young Rider Development)
4th Grant McElroy (NCCF / Team Specialized Juniors)
5th Richard Holec 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 San Dimas Stage Race, Stage Two Road Race

these two ladies win top honors today. they were at a quiet section of the course, away from the maddening crowd at the start/finish, and cheered on everyone with their bells and yells. chapeau!

Fub that road race was brutal. What is fub? An inside joke the family will know, and I am sure everyone else can correctly guess. Let me tell you a hard and depressing truth: I rode more today than I did all week. I rode more today than I did all last week, and yes, I rode more today than I did the entire week before that one! That little bit of riding/training that I managed over a span of three weeks did not bode well for today.

Funny thing is, my legs managed to hold up fine. I am not sure if it was due to the intervention of some devine diety, or the fact that they were well rested, but they performed as well as I could have expected. Neither the KOM climb up Canon, nor the feed zone climb of Puddingstone could sap them of strength, cause them to fail in their mission. And while I did let the speed of descending get into my head, it was nothing new, something I have gradually worked to shut out. Unfortunately it was just enough, all it took, and I was unable to keep my gap on the bunch, a gap that I had worked so hard to establish on the preceding gradual climb. Safely down, and into the rollers along the backside of the course, little groups would pass by, twos and threes, sometimes single racers in their own private battles.

The real problem today was breathing. Mine was agonizingly constricted, like someone had bound my chest with rawhide which not only gradually tightened, but kept me from filling my lungs and prevented me from taking in enough O2.

At one point, I guess the pros were on their ninth or tenth lap, and I had pulled over just past the KOM gasping and panting like some mechanical engine that was sure to explode if forced to go another ten feet. Spectators stared at me in horror mixed with concern, unsure if they should rush over, or call an ambulance. Fortunately a group of Pro/1 racers were hot on the heels of my new shoes, and their appearance took peoples' focus away from myself. By this point in the race, I was not the only one in free fall, and one of the riders from that bunch charging after me, was also forced to stop for a moment directly across the road from where I was. As he rested his elbows on his bars and hung his head low, I could see what he was going through, hell I could feel what he was going through. There were a few wary moments during which I was sure he was going to lose his lunch but he seemed to get that urge under control. My eyes were transfixed, and probably glazed over with something bordering exhaustion too. Realizing where he was, and that after another hundred or so feet of relative flat road, he would get to descend with another mile and a half to the finish line, he resumed to finish the lap. And another three, or four, laps to go. 

His courage and determination was all the encouragement I needed to continue in my own pursuit. As I reached the point of descent I failed to recognize whoever it was at the true top of Canon (not the KOM) who shouted encouragements to me, but it was appreciated. Another lap to go, another climb and ensuing circuit of Via Verde, but now I was thirsty and beginning to overheat. Thank goodness the snack bar in Bonelli was open - I quickly downed a Gatorade and got back to the road.

In the end there were no upraised arms for me, though I did get to see some other people raise theirs.

the Queen of the Mountain, Karol Ann Canuel (Specialized - Lululemon), pulled away from the bunch with two, or was it three, laps to go and gradually extended her lead...

while the announcers debated whether she (Canuel) would hold on, and whether her chasers were actually putting enough into the chase, they missed the victory of Yellow Jersey wearer, Philip Tinstman (Monster Media Racing Elite Masters) in the Masters 35+ race. when the did finally realize what they had just missed, they miss-identified the winner as Charon Smith - clearly not, and there's the proof.

Bryan Salazar (OTR Racing) gets into a celebratory mood after winning the Cat 4 road race

a good crowd at the races

a fine display of some serious tuck by Jacob Keough (5Hr Energy p/b Kenda) headed down Via Verde

and yes indeed, Karol Ann Canuel did hold on for victory

Did I mention I wasn't racing, I probably should have done that right off. Other than that little fact everything else up above is accurate. Oh, and that constriction of my breathing - not to worry, it was just a overly tight strap of my messenger bag which got tighter as the day wore on. I have just a ton of photos to sort through, so not sure they will be up tonight. When they are ready, though, the link will be right here.

The Flickr link to the set of a select 126 photos is ready. That number may go up over the next few days, depending on how enthusiastic I feel.

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 San Dimas Stage Race: Stage One Time Trial

And for that, Luke Ollett, Cat 2 ( / Craig Shelly) earns the coveted Top o' the Story spot. Cheers

The stage one time trial of the 2014 San Dimas Stage Race (SDSR) - the usual sprint up Glendora Mountain Road. Do you ride it to win, or do you ride it to conserve energy for the next two stages? Do you go all out from the release, or wait for some point in the middle of the climb? Clearly there was a great variety of riding, but was it due to necessity or strategy? Only the racers themselves will know for sure.

Isaac Guerra Marin, Cat 2 (San Diego Bicycle Club / Emerald Textiles)

Joshua Leibowitz, Cat 2 (Michelob Ultra / Big Shark Racing)

I think the Cat 2's are the most neglected group in the peloton. Every weekend, for nine months of the year, each of the other categories get their own races - the Fives sure, the Fours of course, (and sometimes two), the Threes naturally. But the Two's? They get lumped in with the Pro's and One's, who are virtual pros anyway, just at a lower wage scale. This is one of the things I like about SDSR and a few other races. They give the Two's a chance to compete on a level field. Anyway, if you take the jump to the Flickr set you will notice a lot of Two's, and you will know why.

And speaking of the Cat 2's, Efren Flores of the LUX Development Team set the fastest time for the group at 15:21. Diego Binatena (SKLZ-Swamis Development Elite Team) came 2nd at 18 seconds back, Andrews Biscardi (VuMedi Elite Cycling Team) was 3rd at 43 seconds. Of the eighty-six Cat 2's in the race, only six stand within a minute of the leader. Does that mean the field of contenders has been severely limited? Heck no, the stage two road race has a way of turning things upside down.

As for the Women, last year's second place finisher, Amber Neben (FCS/Zngine p/b Mr. Restore) grabbed the honors today with a time of 17:20. Tayler Wiles came 2nd at six seconds, and Karol Ann Canuel had the third fastest time at 17 seconds more than Neben.

Among the Juniors 17-18, David Lombardo (Hincapie Development Team) and Eric Oien (Monster Media Junior Development Team) both finished with the same time - 16:46. Sath Veenbaas (Monster Media) finished 3rd at thirty-seven seconds. The Junior 15-16 race was won by Christopher Blevins (Team Specialized) in a time of 16:13. In 2nd is Daniel Willett (Monster Media Junior Development Team) at eleven seconds, while Matteo Jorgenson came 3rd at eighteen seconds.

James Oram (Bissell Development Team) set the best time in the Pro/1 race with a time of 14:46. That was one second faster than Gregory Brenes (Jamis Hagens Berman), and ten seconds faster than William Barta (Boise Young Rider Development Squad). Nineteen riders are within a minute of the leader. 

Beside the Cat 2's, and even though I had some work to attend in the morning, the Flickr set also contains a few photos from the Women, the Masters 55+, Juniors 15-16 and 17-18, and a few of the Pro/1 competitors. There are a select one hundred five in this set and, as usual considerably more if you don't see what you are looking for.

There are going to be a good couple days of competition still to come this weekend.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2013 Seasons in the Sun: Reminder 1.1

Copies are still for sale, in person, at the races, through the mail. This weekend is the San Dimas Stage Race, and I expect to be there all three days, taking photos, searching for stories. I will have a few books with me on Saturday, but no set up. Sunday I should have the whole display - table, little flags, to try and attract your attention, sign, flags, whatever. The wife actually does the selling, as I roam the course, but I do stop by regularly just in case anyone wants to talk. The inaugural year yearbook, still only $15.00. Hope to see you there and then.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cycling Claremont: The Wilderness Park Dilemma

Last night was the first in a series of community meetings intended to compile input concerning the future direction of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. If you have ever read of community meetings concerning bike access on streets, you know they can become quite heated. Perhaps this is a different situation, but in the end, and unless something happened after my departure, there were no angry words cast about, no mud was slung from one side of the room to the other, let alone from front to back.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how effective the various mobilization efforts turned out to be. All the local bike shops, cycling clubs, and many individuals, posted announcements on Facebook and websites. Word of mouth probably played a roll as well. A look around the parking lot revealed many cars and trucks with mountain bikes on racks; at least that many again were leaned against the walls of Taylor Hall. I got the impression most of the two wheeled crowd were there for muscle in case things got ugly, but others rose from their seats to use a portion of their allotted three minute speaking time. Included were both Cory of Coates Cyclery, and Jonathan of Jax Claremont - they both spoke of the investment of local small business owners as stakeholders in whatever happens with the Wilderness Park. They were correct, it is an aspect that is often overlooked, and not just for bike shops. Consider the Euro Cafe, and other restaurants, whose numbers are bolstered by cyclists on a daily basis following their rides across the hills. As is finally being recognized the economics of cycling are substantial and far-reaching.

No one began a sentence with the words "those damned mountain bikers", though one self-professed equestrian did lodge a complaint of speeding cyclists, spooked steeds, fallen riders, and horses running wild through the streets of north Claremont. In all my years of riding the canyon trails, I have never had an unpleasant encounter with an equestrian, so she may have very well been a lone grumpy aberration. Most remarks that did concern mountain bikers revolved around courtesy, a need to share the existing fire road "trails." There was a balance in the remarks though, for each one about a need for more courtesy from the mtb crowd, there was one about pedestrians walking six abreast, dog owners irresponsibly using extend-leashes, runners not paying attention, or hikers throwing garbage to the trailside.

If such a thing as consensus concerning user conflicts could be gleaned from the meeting, I would have to say it was that education is key. 

The greatest number of remarks had to do with sheer numbers - the 300,000 visitors per annum (2011) noted by the consulting firm has likely increased over the past three years. Straight mathematics says that is 822 visitors per day. Of course that number is actually much greater on the weekends, and  somewhat less mid-week. That is a staggering number to me, and represents a severe overburden on a park the size of the CHWP, not to mention the infrastructure of a city the size of Claremont. Speeding, impatient drivers on adjacent access streets are direct results. More than one person mentioned a need to limit access across the board, for all users.

I used to ride the Wilderness Park up to four days a week. After work I would head up there for a lap or two. There might be a couple handfuls of people up there, but no more than that. It has been a few years since last I did that, it is just not a pleasant place to ride anymore. Too crowded. I was not really surprised to hear that other long-time users no longer visit either.

Last night, was just a first meeting in the planning process. Two more community meetings are scheduled - July 21 and October 20. In addition Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings are also open. Information about the Master plan, about meetings, etc will be posted via the City of Claremont website.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Blues: Trash

San Gabriel River. San Gabriel River Trail. Trash. Garbage. Basura. Detritus. Abfall. Rifiuti. Refuse. Waste. Debris. Litter. The language doesn't matter, it is all the same, and no good in any one. Why would an otherwise 'intelligent' species foul its own home? The one home. The very place that provides life. I ride away, miles pass behind, but the trash stays with me.

I ride a bike (in case you did not know), and as I ride I observe, I witness. When I ride, the things I observe, the events I witness are often ones most people do not get to see. Quite frankly, some of the things I observe, many people would not even wish to see. These things might make them uncomfortable. The rides I take frequently travel along, or through, fringe areas of this urban miasma. Things, and people, collect in these fringe areas. Like the trash shown in the photo above. Or, worse yet, like the homeless. Apparently various encampments have been rousted over the past few weeks along the SGRT, the occupants dislodged, hovels demolished, belongings removed, the sites scrubbed clean. These people have no where else to go, no where to turn. And so they sit, beside the bike path, individuals, families, and great collections of meagre possessions. A man consoled a woman, while she wept beside their piles of clothes and, what most of us would call trash. It was all they had. A younger woman, their daughter perhaps watched forlorn as I passed. 

I ride my bike, and as I ride I witness. Sometimes those things are not pleasant. Often they are depressing. Discomfort brings change. These are things that should be seen by more.

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.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Ontario Spring Classic GP: The Race Goes On

"The race goes on, race goes on
Cadence keeps pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de, la de da de…"
(with all due apologies to Sonny Bono)

What happens in that gap of time when the bunch races through the start / finish and disappears around the first turn, coming back into view some time later after rounding the final turn. Is there an agreement to soft-pedal, or does the race go on. Ask anyone who has ever been dropped along the backside, away from the prying, accusing eyes of spectators, and they will tell you the race goes on.

When the race disappears from view, there is still plenty going on around the finish line too. Thinking. Thinking about the last race, thinking about the next race, thinking about next weekends race. There is talk of team tactics. There is laughing, and gossiping, eating, and smooching. Basically everything you might expect. Then the race comes into view; attention turns to the action at hand. For as long as the racers are in view, anyway. And so the cyclical course of focus continues, lap after lap, for the duration of the race.

Sometimes when the race flashes by, someone will yell out "you've got to move up, you gotta move up." No, wait, that was from a movie. Well, any way there often are shouted words of advice, or encouragement, especially during the Junior races. Sometimes you have to wonder how much of the talk they actually hear. There was this one race, not long ago, at which someone shouted my name each time I went by. Damned if I know who it was, but I heard it. I was off the back, and it was easy to hear.

Anyway, before this post gets any more weird, lets just get on to the Flickr link - only a select seventy-four are in this one, though there are more on the computer if you don't see what you were looking for. Photos are from the Juniors today, Men 13-14, Women 15-18, Men 17-18, as well as the Masters 50/55+, Cat 4, and some Masters 45+.

Ooops, didn't quite get that one but, can you guess who won the 50+ race?

Jr. Men 17-18 - 1st Ivan Venter, 2nd Chazmichael Morales (Team Rokform), 3rd Efren Flores (LUX/Specialized by Cynergy)

Jr. Men 13-14 - 1st Weston Giem (Major Motion Cycling Club), 2nd Erick Tapia (Bahati Foundation / Win Team Racing), 3rd Eduardo Cruz (Major Motion Cycling Club)

Jr. Women 15-18 - 1st Hannah Swan (Strive Racing), 2nd Rachel Cross (Incycle Racing p/b Full Circle), 3rd Rachel Swan (Strive Racing)

Masters 55+ - 1st Bradley Jones (BBI-SIC Cycling), 2nd David Fetah (Pinnaclife Racing Team), 3rd Jim Williamson

Masters 50+ - 1st Craig Miller (BBI-SIC Cycling), 2nd Marvin Hall (SOS Foundation/Trek), 3rd Bradley Jones (BBI-SIC Cycling)

Cat 4 - 1st Bernard Labansat (PAA-Remax), 2nd Davy Alfaro (S2C/Primal), 3rd Stephen LaCasse (Southern California Velo)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

2014 SCNCA Elite District Road Race Championships: The Lonely Road

with the finish line beckoning atop the still distant wall, a back-marker
in the women's race solos home along the lonely road

The lonely road. Sounds like an old-time country-western song, certainly it has been the theme of many over the years. I can't help but think that Wichita Lineman was playing through the minds of many racers at some point today during the Southern California / Nevada Cycling Association Elite District Road Race Championships (SCNCA). Then again maybe it was the Beatles' Long and Winding Road. Either way, one or both, are probably enough clue to serve as background to the days' action. The Chuck Pontius Memorial Castaic Lake Road Race, this year, served as the course for the district Championships for Category 1-4 racers and, as the terrain in at least a couple of the photos here show, it was a course designed to offer up a full helping of challenge.

Most riders, maybe all, knew the best way to survive was to keep to the group or, barring that, to find the company of at least one other set of wheels and hold on for dear life. Sometimes the lonely road has other plans though as plenty of riders found out, found themselves caught out alone on the lonely road. Out on that road the wind blows a mournful tune, it mocks and belittles the efforts of mortal humans. Those who choose to race bikes, though, are not so frail of mind that they easily succumb to simple taunts. Some may resort to self-conversing, not through delirium, but as a means of coping, or rising to the challenge. The lonely road may undulate without mercy, it may be torturous in its winding path, it may be painfully long. But, it does have an end. Good job to all those who rose to the challenge along the lonely road today. 

The race's Flickr set contains 109 select photos, almost all from the Pro/1/2, Cat 3, Men 35+, and Men 45+ races. As usual I took far more than are in the set, if you are looking for something in particular, let me know.

the character of the lonely road - head down and a long way to go


not sure how things worked out for this guy, but he put in quite an acceleration on this hill

i knew there must be a reason that i have not seen him at a crit yet this year - saving it for the road races. the winner of the 45+ (1-4) race would emerge, after another lap, from this breakaway group - the man with the rainbow striped sleeves. Thurlow Rogers.

the first rider from the Pro/1/2 race to come past me was #33 - he was flying, and had a nice gap on the next two racers who, by the way, were both teammates. the question is, did he hold on?

Upcoming: CHWP Master Plan Meeting

Rumors abound as things like this approach - chatter about banning bikes, being foremost. Whether there is any basis to such a narrow-minded vision remains to be seen but, since master plans set the stage for the future, this is important enough that the meeting should not be ignored, or taken for granted. If you spend any time on two wheels in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, either riding the loop, or connecting between Marshall Canyon and Potato Mountain, I encourage you to attend this meeting. I will be there. It is in your interest to be there as well - you know, to make sure nothing dumb is proposed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Championship Time

Sometimes cycling can seem like an odd sport, even to someone on the inside. Take the idea of championships for instance. Think of any other sport - go ahead, I will give you a minute (if you are like me and consider cycling to be the one true sport, it may take a moment to recall any other). Now, when does that sport hold its championship? You probably answered that by muttering "at the end of the season." It makes perfect sense that way. Individuals, teams, compete over the course of any number of months - wins and losses determine who is most qualified to challenge at the end of the season for "the championship."

It now being mid-March, a time when many racers across the country are beginning their season of competition, we in Southern California, will be holding our district - Southern California-Nevada Cycling Association (SCNCA) Elite level road race championships. This weekend. Riders who compete in the straight up categories - Cat 1-4 (sorry, no Cat 5 championship), both men and women, will be racing for the coveted jerseys and titles given out to the victors.

Because it comes so early in the season, there is no system to determine who is, or is not, qualified to compete. Register before the field is full, and you are in. Bassackward? Perhaps. Might it just be another race on the calendar? Sure, except you get a special jersey, and to call yourself District Champion (no small feat, by the way). Winning the "Districts" does not qualify you to race in the National Championships later in the summer, though it may cement in your head a belief that you can indeed compete there on equal terms. 

Though the sport of cycling is based upon the idea of a "racing season", the season is little more than a collection of individual events, each having little, or no, bearing on a season ending championship. To outsiders, those who may be more familiar with a more traditional season which builds to a climactic championship, it must seem confusing. Maybe even non-sensical.

To make matters worse, for those outside looking in, cycling is heavily into specialization - road, mountain, track, cyclocross - each of which (other than cyclocross) are further subdivided by discipline. Take road for instance, you have your pure road racers, criterium specialists, and time trialists, you've got climbers, sprinters, and some vague category of all-rounders. All this categorization makes it difficult to define a "best" and thus, each discipline gets its own championship. This weekend, on a lonely road out by Lake Castaic, it is the roadies' turn - there is some distance, there is some climbing, the sprinters will, by and large, be absent; the time-trialists will have their day, some other day. 

The champions will get their jersey to hang on a wall, they will get a story to tell, years from now, to grandkids on their knees but, by next weekend at the latest, their thoughts will turn to the remaining six months of the season. To all competing, good luck, and race like you mean it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to Wear A Cycling Cap: Stephen Roche

This weeks lesson - you wear them perched atop the head, like a crown. Riders of two and three decades ago certainly knew how to wear them, with flair, with style. Stephen Roche was among those kings of the road from that era - the 1970s, 80s, and into the 90s may have been a high point of the cycling cap in terms of numbers, and the classic any-slight-breeze-will-blow-it-off look. Roche had it down, I wonder if he still does?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Monday Blues: The Brackett Field Search Light is Gone

Wait, you say it is not Monday. I forgot, so a day late will have to do.

Yes, that search light, and its tower, atop the rocky knoll overlooking Brackett Airfield is no more. When I rode over to Bonelli this past Friday afternoon a crane and work crew were busy at work dismantling the tower, the lamp already having been removed. I don't know what the lights history was, can't find anything on it around the web but, if nothing else, it was a distinct landmark in the area. I always imagined it a relic from war years, but could never confirm that. I guess it is all irrelevant, now that it is gone; people who never saw it up there will never know it even existed. I do wonder what the reason was - did someone buy it, was there danger of collapse, has it been moved to a museum? It looked a lot like the one at nearby Cable Airfield which still stands; maybe they are a kind of generic small airfield search light, now obsolete.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 US Cup at Bonelli Park, Day 2: Pain and Suffering

Flash back a year to a weekend in March 2013 when the US Cup series made a stop here at Bonelli Park. My post title then made reference to smiles and shamrocks. This year took a turn for pain and suffering.  She uttered those two words in a comment to me as she rode past while climbing along the backside of the course. I wasn't qualified to do anything more than give a little laugh in commiseration; though I had ridden up to the same point overlooking the reservoir's cool waters, I didn't do it while racing, I only did it once, not multiple times, and I certainly did not do it with an injured wrist. Funny thing is I did not even notice that last until it came time to upload photos, being hypnotized instead by the steamers waving at one end of her handlebars.

Other than the pros, who were to race short track in the afternoon, the category 2 and 3 racers competed along the same course that Katerina Nash and Geoff Kabush won on yesterday. So, while today's Cat 2 women did not do as many laps, that wrist had to have taken quite a pounding. I am sure she felt every jolt, especially on the descents - that she had made it this far was reason enough to have head held high.

I completely forgot to snap photos of the result postings today, so other than one photo below, I have no more idea than you who won what, who placed where, and won't know until they are officially posted at the US Cup website. As usual you can jump to the Flickr set for a selection of ninety-three photos from the day's Cat 2 race, including men, women, masters, juniors, the single speeders, and one of the tandems. Keep in mind, also, that those ninety-three are a fraction of what I took; if you are interested in seeing what I might have of you, or someone you know, send me an email and I will check. Until the next race, ride on.

Rider #633, Jason Denny, Cat 2 Men 25-29

Brian Carlson on his way to winning the Cat 2 Men 30-34

i couldn't imagine any scenario in which someone would willingly race this course on a singlespeed. i was glad to see a group of racers prove me wrong. and then there were the tandems - ouch.


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