Redlands Prologue 2011

Holy fecal matter that was fornicating hard.

Word for the day: blown

This is one nasty prologue. I forgot how much this hurt last year. It starts out on a false flat, turns a corner and gets steep for a minute before a short decent, more false flat, and about 4.5 minutes of all out suffering up a short series of three 10-15% climbs. At some point on those final climbs you’re bound to blow up. I was blown right at the top of the first hill as it flattened out. There were another 3 minutes of blowing up to do though, so by the time I came across the finish line I was so blown I was no longer taking in air. My lungs had just given up at that point. Their agonizing pleas for oxygen had been ignored for too long at that point, so they just decided to call it a day and shut down.

Last week we raced somewhere in the range of 60 degree, overcast weather. Not too hot and not too cold. Today was 90 degrees, with a wind that didn’t cool you at all. I think the wind must have been around 95 degrees, if it’s possible for wind to be hotter than the air temperature.

The nasty, so cal smog burned my lungs and throat with such vileness that I needed a drink of water within minutes of heading down the start ramp.

I’d done a bunch of v02 intervals on the TT course over the past couple weeks. Whenever I’d ride down in Redlands during the time I spent living up at Big Bear, I’d do the steep section of the TT course at least once. So I knew how to pace it: you start out as hard as you can and pray you don’t blow up before you’re half way up.

I got passed by my following 30-second man, Sergio Hernandez of Jelly Belly, on the false flat section before the climb starts, which I had been expecting (and actually hoping for). My goal was to keep at threshold for the first 3/4ths of the race and save everything for the climb. If I didn’t get passed before the climb I figured it meant that I went too hard on that first section. This prologue is all about saving it for the climb. I think. Maybe not, since last year (and probably this year too) I sucked.

I caught Sergio mid way up the first steep pitch and kept on stomping the pedals past him as my breathing grew more and more ragged. I took a quick glance back a short while later and it appeared that he had blown the F up, just like I was currently doing. I forced myself to shift up as the road briefly flattened out, teeth chomping down on the insides of me cheeks (something I do when I’m in a lot of pain, which only makes for more pain later). I caught my 1 minute man on the next pitch and was slowly making progress on my leading 30-second man (Paul Thomas of Rideclean) but I didn’t have enough to make much progress on him during the final sprint up the last pitch. I finished the effort, unclipped and spent a good minute bent over my bars trying to breath in the hot, smoggy air. I spat and saw red. I had chewed two massive holes in my cheeks without realizing it. Now I’ll be dealing with giant sores in my mouth for a week.

I don’t know what my time was, but I know it isn’t that fast. I’m hoping I at least beat my last year placing of 85th. I rode down the hill and spun easy with the team as we discussed precisely where each one of us blew up on the climb. I believe the general consensus was “everywhere” and “all over the place,” much like last night with…(you can finish this mom joke yourself).

Not a bad day though. Got to race a bike, sit in a cold pool in the sun afterwards, and eat a lot of cereal and sardines. For a Kennett, it doesn’t get too much better than this.

Updated: results are in. I done did 70th place out of 205. Meh.

San Dimas and team camp

Quick mind-teaser to get you in the mood: if you had to lose a row of teeth, would you choose the bottom row or the top?  Stipulation: if you choose to lose the bottom row, you’re forced to eat a pound of peanut brittle a day.  Now?  Still choose the bottom row?  OK.  Stipulation #2: you also have to have braces on your remaining top row of teeth for two years.  Now you’ve chosen to just lose the top row.  In that case…Stipulation #1 for the top row: you have to tie two four-inch pieces of floss around your two upper front teeth and attach heavy washers to the floss and let it dangle on your chin all day long, every day.  Back to the bottom row, eh?  OK enough of that for now.

Next up: Team camp in rainy Agoura Hills.

Team camp did not go well for me.  I ended up getting sick right after the Madera stage race a few weeks ago.  I’ve been preaching about my increased immune system to anyone that will listen, lately.  And it seems that all my bragging caught up with me.  No amount of fruit could save me, and I’ve been sick for about 10 days, with yesterday being the first that I didn’t feel any symptoms.

My small cold was small beans though, considering that my new teammate, Cody, has the Plague.  Yeah, the PLAGUE.  I’m not sure if it’s the black one or not, but still, it sounds pretty serious.  The son of the host family we stayed with had Staff infection, and Lang had the flu.  So a lot of us came into the team training camp last week extremely contagious.  I was unable to pass any significant amount of my sickness to anyone, but I did spread around cheer and good humor.  Not really.  I was pretty gloomy and slept between 11 and 14 hours a day.  On the bright side, there were three jars of Nutella and peanut butter.

Everyone packed up Thursday afternoon and Spencer and I crammed into his small yellow hatchback with my altitude tent, three bikes, 20 wheels, all of our other belongings, and 5 bags of moldy groceries, and drove on down to San Dimas for the three-day stage race that I’d been dreaming of for four months.  Four months of intervals, thinking about stage 1 of San Dimas: the 3.8 mile uphill time trial on Glendora Mountain (the lower slopes of the queen stage of the Tour of California this year).

Stage 1: I sucked.  I really sucked.  I rode extremely mediocre.  I averaged 403 watts for a time of 14:56, which put me in at 97th place out of 160.  I’d been dreaming of a top 15, hoping for top 20, and expected a top 40.  So 97th was quite a let down.  I went faster than last year, but that’s not saying much.  If I had ridden at my top end and still placed 97th I wouldn’t have been so upset with my time, but that wattage is something I’ve seen at the very last interval of a 3×15′ set.  I didn’t let it get to me too much, and shrugged off my crappy performance due to being sick.  Whatever, there was tomorrow to think about anyways.

Stage 2 (84-mile circuit race from hell!): I made sure to attack right away and waste a fair amount of energy off the front by myself during the first couple miles.  Then I was promptly swept up.  I attacked again a while later on the KOM climb on that first lap, but it was a half-hearted attack and I didn’t get a good gap, so I sat up, expecting someone else to counter but no one did.  Turns out I should have gone full bore here since the couple riders that had been dangling off the front turned into the day-long breakaway that I desperately wanted to be a part of.

This circuit race is pretty awesome.  Pot holes, road furniture, a short, steep climb, a bit of cross wind, lots of contact and crashing, and 12 laps with well over 100 turns make for a lot of time spent in zones 5 and 6.  It’s basically a Kermess.  Positioning is important in a race like this, and something Spencer told me before the start got me thinking in the right mindset for the first time in my life: the extra energy you spend positioning yourself is worth it.  I spent more time in the wind than usual, and took more risks than I have in the past to get to the front.  As a result, I was up near the front whenever it mattered.  I followed attacks and made the front group every time up the KOM climb, usually in the top 20.  It was the first NRC-level race other than Univest last September where I felt like I was actually a living part of the race, not just dead pack filler.

I avoided all the crashes, including one that occurred on my own wheel after someone behind me cross-wheeled my rear as I came out of a sharp corner.  The sound of the pile-up directly behind me, though horrifying, was in some respects, music to my ears because it behind meant less people in the pack I had to deal with.  Yeah, it’s a brutal sport.  You have to be a bit sadistic to succeed.

I was feeling good on the final lap.  My Hostes apple and cherry pies and full flask of maple syrup had kept me fueled properly, and I had plenty of energy at the end to spend a little extra time in the wind trying to position Chris Parish for the final sprint up the KOM climb.  From the top of the climb there’s a short, twisty decent that leads into a 1500 meter flat, tail wind drag to the finish, so positioning before and during the climb is crucial for keeping contact with the front group.  I crushed my legs on the flat, technical section coming into the climb and quickly died part way up it, deciding to momentarily sit behind a couple guys that had blown up when I should have immediately gone around.  One moment of mental weakness is all it takes, and before I knew it there was a big gap to close up ahead.  I came around the soft-pedalers and gave it one final huge effort and closed the gap, but there was another gap to the front group up ahead at that point.  My group, which became the third group, went as hard as we could and came within one second from making contact with the larger 2nd group, which contained most of the GC guys.  I came in 31st, 15 seconds down from the winner and just a few bike lengths off the group that Chris finished in.  He finished 21st, moving up to 11th GC and top amateur by quite a bit.  Ian came in next, followed shortly by Spencer, and then later, Dan.  Cody and Lang didn’t finish, unfortunately, and Phil went down hard in a crash and didn’t finish either, despite racing strongly all day long.  Spencer and I went home and ate a few dozen bowls of cereal.

Stage3: A 90-minute crit.  I needed revenge.  Last year I think I was the only one to get time cut in this crit, just missing out on the 45-minute half-way point.  I lined up close to the front and followed a move by a Jamis rider up the hill on the first lap, came around him and took a monster pull for 3/4 of a lap, he came around again for another 20 seconds, then we got swarmed by the pack and I didn’t see the front end of the race for another 30 minutes.  Attack after attack got brought back and I kept waiting for the right moment to move up and give it another shot.  The time never seemed to come, so I just moved up anyways and followed an attack 0f a Jelly Belly rider.  He was quickly reeled in by Kenda, who had been protecting Ben Day’s 1st GC position for the past two days.  I found myself in the Kenda train coming out of a corner and knew Day was on my wheel.  I always get a bit nervous when the GC leader is on my wheel, which happened a few times the day before.  One wrong nervous movement and BAM!!!  You just knocked the big shot to the ground and you’ll likely never find yourself on a pro team.  Maybe that’s not completely accurate, but that’s always what I worry about.  Anyways, the Jelly Belly rider in front of me swerved a bit and I reacted, swerving and nearly chopping Day’s front wheel.  He swore and yelled at us and I decided it was a good time to go ahead and attack before he got a good look at my face, so I went again and got off the front by myself.  Or maybe with one other guy who didn’t pull, I can’t remember.  Anyways it didn’t stick.

With 6 to go I was sitting near the front, but still too far back so I moved up.  A few laps later a big crash went down in corner one with me right in the middle.  I jammed on my breaks and went skidding and smashing into some guys in front of me.  I bulldozed my way through and knocked at least one guy down but kept myself upright.  I sprinted past the carniage and kept working on moving up during the final few laps.  I lost a bit of my motivation with about 1.2 laps to go and should have done a big chop on the downhill corner when the RealCyclist train went.  I had a prefect opportunity to do it, but hesitated just one second and my shot was gone.  There was no good opportunity to move up in the last lap and I came in 35th on the day, which moved me to 42nd on final GC.  All of my teammates got stuck behind the crash, including Chris, but fortunately they got the  same time as my group, which got slightly gapped in the sprint again.  We’re eagerly awaiting the prize money split, which for Chris’ 11 GC, is a whole $112 split eight ways.  Sweet.  I can’t imagine a job where you suffer more for less money.  Except slavery and maybe taste testing at a pickle factory.  Assuming you hate pickles.

After the race we had a nice dinner with one of the host families.  Topics of discussion included the use of the phrase “I’m gonna stuff my Trojan in your Beaver,” which pertained to College football rivalries.  I don’t know how we got on that subject, but it was nice not having to put too much of a sensor on my mouth for one night.

All in all, it was a good week of racing for me considering I was just getting over a cold.  I was hoping for quite a bit better, but that’s what tomorrow is for.

Lining up before the road race:

Podium Insight RR

First attack:

Coming through the start/finish

Starting to suffer on the KOM climb:

Not really suffering too much right here.  Just wait.

That’s Phil on the ground suffering there.  He’s OK, but you should see the dent in the pavement!  JK.

Chris, not suffering at all apparently:

Spencer starting to suffer on the KOM climb.

Dan is just about to start suffering at the base of the KOM climb:

Ian taking a deep breath getting ready to suffer.  As you can see, this race had some good suffering going on in it.  We need more races like this.  Enough with the BS flat crits and stupid easy road races.  Kermess style is where it’s at.

Me really suffering at the finish:

Podium Insight Crit

Taking an unsuccessful flyer during the crit:

Possibly more pictures to come from the race and team camp by expert pro photographer Chris Wingfield.  If he ever gets around to it.

That’s all for now.  I’m currently in a new host house in Redlands with a bed and a room to myself for the first time in 6 weeks!!!  And a full walk-in pantry of food to raid!

Another Post about Solving the World’s Problems

Here’s a hypothetical for you.  Say you’re forcibly placed in a small room containing only a chair and small metal desk.  The un-named, masked captors that plucked you from your bed in the middle of the night, now force you to sit in the chair.  While the two firm hands on your shoulders assure you stay seated, you look in front of you at the table, now realizing that there are two buttons on the table.  Your captors tell you that you have a choice.  You can press the button on the left and one person will die.  You don’t know this person and they aren’t a president or an “important” member of any society that will suffer greatly from their death.  Basically, they have as much importance in the world as you, which is not much.  Continuing with the guards’ explanation: you can also choose to press the button on the right.  This button will instantly kill you.  Button on the left: some random person in the world instantly dies.  Button on the right: you instantly die.  I’ve asked a number of people which button they would chose, and surprisingly (to me anyways) more people have said they’d chose the button on the right, which would kill themselves.  This is surprising to me, and likely not a very realistic statistic, because I can think of very few cases where someone will give up, let alone risk, their life for a stranger.  I guess it’s happening in Japan with the Nuclear power plant workers staying back in the crumbling power plant attempting to prevent the meltdown.  But aside from that, how often do you see someone in your own life risk injury to lend a hand?

Yesterday I was outside the hostel unloading some bikes or something from one of the cars when I looked down the street where a car crash had just occurred, moments before I stepped outside.  I hurried down the sidewalk to the intersection where the two cars were steaming and smoking.  One driver had ran a red light and smashed into the front corner of the other car.  Both drivers appeared fine as they stepped out of their wrecked cars.  It wasn’t that bad of a crash.  One man was hysterical, repeatedly saying, “My wife’s gonna KILL me man!” as he wept, holding his head in his hands as he paced around.  He seemed drunk to me, but I guess it was just shock.  The other guy, probably in his early 20’s, got out of his car and immediately began arguing with some spectators that had witnessed the crash.  He was in shock too possibly, repeating the same things over and over.  I can’t remember what he was saying exactly, but basically it went like this, “I’m a brand new driver.  I just got my license last week.  This is a brand new car.  The light was green.  It’s not my fault, I’m a brand new driver!”  It was obviously his fault.  He had run the light.  And I felt like clocking him in the face to shut him up.  Amazingly, it was a full five minutes after the crash by the time the young guy remembered to ask if the other guy was alright.

All I could think about was how this idiot would have killed me or one of my teammates had we been on a bike at the intersection when he ran the light.  And as I lay dead on the pavement, he would have been saying the exact same thing, “It wasn’t my fault, man!  I just got my license, the light was green!”

I get passed too closely by way too many ass holes to think the world is a nice place.  Every day that I don’t get nailed by some uncaring person is a good day.  Unfortunately, in my opinion the jerks of the world DO outnumber the good people.  I don’t believe a few bad apples ruin an apple pie.  If there were two bad apples in an apple pie, yes, parts of the pie would taste like shit.  But most of it would still be an apple pie, which tastes amazing!  I’d eat the whole thing even if beforehand I knew two of the apples were rotten, just because I like pie that much!  If the number of good people outweighed the bad, the world wouldn’t have as many problems as it does.

This brings me to my conclusion.  What button would I push?  I’d push the button on the left of course.  Self preservation.  I’d press it even if it meant two people would be killed to save me.  Three even.  Four.  Sounds pretty disgusting, huh?  Well we press that button every single time we wake up in the morning.  Everyone living in a developed country, especially the United States, presses it every day.  I have no idea how many people have to die every year to allow me to live the way I do, but I know that it’s a lot.  Millions die from starvation, war, and disease so I can use oil to drive to bike races and afterwards eat my fill of bananas that cost me 69 cents a pound (which I still think is a rip off and proclaim so every time I go shopping).  We kill strangers for their resources, and while it may not be as direct as pressing a button, it’s still genocide.  Genocide of the third world.

While I may not be willing to shoot myself in the head for a stranger, I am willing to risk my life in an attempt to save them if need be.  I think a lot of people might do this, provided they had a little bit of courage.  But risking your life is not the same thing as giving up your life, especially when the life you’re saving is in another country, far away, faceless and nameless to you.

So what do we do?  I don’t expect anyone to kill themselves in order to save me.  That would be an absurd and un-ask-able deed for anyone to do, stranger or not.  Obviously more compassion is needed in the world.  But then again how do you feel compassion for some idiot in a Hummer thundering down the road passing you at 65 mph with one foot of space between your head and his side mirror?  I’m not sure how to end this post since I myself don’t seem to contribute much to the improvement of the world or the increase in compassion amongst my fellow (stranger) human beings.  But there’s one easy thing we can ask ourselves when making both big and small decisions as we go about our day to day.  To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “There’s only one rule on this earth.  God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”  I would change this a little and insert the word “try” and “in most circumstances,” to that second sentence because let’s face it: if someone bar-checks me and tries to take my wheel coming into the final 500 meters, you can bet I won’t be spewing kindness out either end.

Madera Stage Race Crit Photos

I found these here: http://bikealps.smugmug.com/Other

The cameraman must have liked me for some reason and I spent a bit of time off the front, so there’s quite a few pictures of me from the crit on Saturday.  I seem to have my tongue hanging out for the majority of them.  It’s a good look I think.

I got things going early on in the race.  This one didn’t stick.

This didn’t stick either.

Or this.

But this did.

“Kennett eat too many beans at Burrito King the night before.  Kennett so, so sorry Specialized rider.”

Lang and these other guys got up to me late in the race and we all stuck it to the end, with peleton’s the ravenous jowls just barely missing us on the final drag to the finish.

No sprint photos for some reason, Lang and I took 3rd and 4th, with Dan safely defending his GC spot in the pack.

Thanks for the pictures bikealps!

Madera Stage Race

To start things off, I’d like to thank the Hampton Inn for allowing me to gorge on a large, delicious, and more importantly, free, continental breakfast yesterday morning before the road race.  Let’s not get distracted by any unimportant details about the previous three stages of the race, how I got to the race (which is always a stupid, boring, waste of time to put in a blog but for some reason everyone always includes it in their race report).  No, screw all that.  I just want to talk about the breakfast.

I awoke from a sleepless night Sunday morning at the wee hour of 5:45, which was actually 4:45 since it was daylight savings.  The hotel room was dark and dank and smelled of sardines and sweat.  My teammates, Lang and Dan, and I got our bikes and bags down to the car without conversation so to not wake Rhae, Lang’s girlfriend who was leading the GC for the women’s race.  But the conversation was muted for another reason as well.  We were anxiously anticipating a glorious feast.  We had six simple words on our minds, and nothing else: “Hampton Inn all you can eat.”  At least, this is all I was thinking about, I can’t speak for Lang and Dan, though thinking of anything else would have been pure blasphemy, in my mind.  The previous morning I had eaten a pretty sizeable breakfast at our own hotel’s continental breakfast.  But our cheap-ass hotel only served the bare minimum.  Cereal, bagels, some small apples and oranges, and muffins.  Pure sugar basically.  Kennett cannot survive on sugar alone.  Kennettron requires meat for big races.

So at the unreasonable hour of 6 AM, we got in the car for the short drive over to Allan’s hotel: the Hampton.  There, we were greeted by Alan himself at the door, who snuck us inside and lead us to the bustling breakfast room, that was crowded with bike racers readying their glycogen stores for the 85-mile road race, stage 4 of the Madera stage race.

I bulldozed my way through the crowd with saliva dripping down my chin and an animalistic snarl on my lip, fire in my eyes.  This was Kennett’s food!  No one else shall share in the bounty!  In a blaze, I had loaded my breakfast platter with more food than a full-grown anaconda could swallow, and I hurridly brought it back to our table for round #1.  There would be three or four rounds.  Here’s what I ate: two egg and cheese omelets, toast, two sections of waffle with honey and peanut butter, seven sausages, one or two overflowing bowls of honey nut Cheerios with TWO percent milk, a bowl of instant oats and fruit, and three cups of coffee.  Right before we left to head out for the unruly early morning race (which started at 8 for some reason), I packed a large post-race lunch that included fruit, a water, a granola bar, bagel and cream cheese, a pastry, peanut butter for some bananas, honey, and a muffin.  If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have gotten another bag and packed a second lunch (a post-post race lunch), but the high dose of caffeine and sugar I had just ingested had flooded my brain with crazed-sugar-induced thoughts.  I was riding a cocaine-like high, muscles twitching like a horse ridding itself of flies, fists clenching and unclenching in agitation, my dilated pupils the size and hue of large chunks of black coal.  I stepped out into the early morning darkness and could see blue sky up above where everyone else saw a black sky filled with stars.  This is when you know you’re properly fueled.  I was ready to race.

Everything else:

Stage 1 was a 10 mile, hilly time trial on a super cool road out in the woodlands of Central California.  I couldn’t get my legs to go fast enough while turning a big gear, so I ended up 17th.  If only they could have turned that same gear at a higher cadence…

Stage 2 was another 10 mile time trial.  This time flat and on a somewhat windy, tree-less rectangular course.  The road surface was terrible, like the first time trial, with big potholes and bumps.  My groinal region has seen better days.  Also of note: I was stung by a bee during the time trial but didn’t notice until a few hours afterwards.  I guess the pain from pedaling outweighed the bee’s stinger, which was still stuck in my forearm that afternoon.  The strange thing was that I had no swelling at all that day, but the next day after the road race, and the day after even, my forearm grew by two pant-sizes.  I finished a sloppy 44th in this time trial.  My excuse was that my legs were tired and weak.

Stage 3 was a crit.  I decided to go on the attack for a change, as I usually prefer to sit in and wait for the sprint in most races.  I had nothing to lose, GC-wise, since I was out of the top 10, or likely out of the top 25 even.  And Dan was sitting 2nd GC, so covering moves and eating up time bonuses would make good use of me.  I got things going with a bunch of fruitless attacks and breakaways for the first 40 minutes of the race.  Then I decided to take a little rest, which meant that the winning breakaway could finally get going and be on its merry way without me.  And this is what happened.  Almost.  I immediately went back to the front when I saw the gap opening up, with a large number of guys in what looked to me like the winning move.  I pulled for a bit, then some other guys pulled and it came back.  Another move went.  It came back.  Then another and another.  This kept happening, with me being super smart and realizing that none of these attempts were going to work until the field finally sat up after bringing one of them back.  So I waited for that moment.  The field sat up at last when one of these moves had been brought back, and no one else tried to go.  The front end bubbled up and I came screaming by on the outside.  I spent a little over two laps off the front before five guys bridged to me, including Lang.  Seven laps later we came to the finishing straight and Lang led me out for 3rd, having to close down a large gap when the guy in front of him took the final corner poorly.  I started my sprint way too late though, missing out on 2nd by half a foot due to my miss-timed burst at the end.  Oh well.

Stage 4 was the road race.  The circuit included a lot of flat, wind, a horrible pave section of pot-holed road that had sections literally as bad as riding cobbles, followed by five or six somewhat steep rollers right before the finish.  Lang and I got on the lead moto’s wheel during the neutral roll out, waiting to attack at the gun.  We heard the race would be un-neutralized at the first turn.  We came upon the turn and Lang almost went the wrong direction, which meant I would get to attack first.  It ended up being the only attack, since I got away clean.  Two other guys bridged up to me shortly afterwards and we had the day’s break right there.  Pretty simple start to the day.

Dan was sitting 2nd GC still, and the third place guy, Logan of Ride Clean, was in the break with me, so I was sure Cal Giant wouldn’t let us get much of a lead.  And they didn’t.  They kept us at about 1:30 the whole day until the fourth of five laps.  By then, my two breakmates were starting to crack a bit.  Logan had been taking the strongest pulls, with me conserving quite a bit since my legs had been feeling pretty bad all week, and also since I didn’t want to put Dan’s GC position in serious jeopardy by helping Logan get too big of a lead.  But that didn’t matter, since at the end of the pave section, the gap was down to just 10 seconds or so.  I attacked them, got away, and grew my lead over the peleton while I hammered over the rollers.  Two new guys bridged up to me and we had a new 3-man break.  I helped drive it for the first half of the last lap, until I found out that Lang was in a four-man move behind us, just 45 seconds.  I used this as an excuse to sit on for the final few kilometers.  I was running drastically low on energy at this point anyways, since I’d been off the front the whole day and hadn’t brought enough food.  Stupid mistake.  My large breakfast had all been burnt away and I had sucked the last few drops of maple syrup out of my flask.  I was really wishing I’d eaten just a bit more for breakfast or had brought a second apple pie for race food.  Not bringing enough food is hands down the stupidest way to lose a race.  I got beaten in the sprint and took a close 2nd.  Again, I came around too late in the sprint, just like in the crit.  Though this time it was more my legs that got beaten, not my tactics.  I was pretty upset about the 2nd place after being out there in the wind for the entire race, but I can’t complain too much.  I got to have fun in the sun (all day long, since it was Sunday).  And that’s what counts.  Ha.  Ha.  Yeah right.

Unknowingly, I helped one of the guys in the break leap into 2nd GC since we had over two minutes on the peleton at the end, which put Dan back to 3rd GC.  Before the race, we’d discussed our tactics for the day and we’d only taken note of the top five or six on GC that we thought were within striking distance to Dan’s 2nd, and this guy had been further back on GC.  Dumb mistake on all our parts.  I moved up to 9th GC, and Lang moved into 7th.  Not a bad showing for our first stage race of the year.  A few tactical errors kept us from getting a stage win and 2nd on GC, but otherwise it was a good weekend.

Lang after the crit.  Time to go eat Mexican food across the street from out hotel at Burrito King.

I’m not sure what’s going on here.  I told them to look buff but that didn’t really happen.

We nabbed a full bag of Scooters from the free food cupboard at the hostel before we left for the race on Wednesday.  If we could get them to sponsor our team, I’m confident we’d increase the number of podiums for the year by 10 times or more.

Nothing better than Nutela on banana.  Unless you also add almond butter.

Just two guys…having a good time, having a good time.

If I had only eaten this last bit of waffle during breakfast instead of saving it for after the race…

…I would be smiling here from winning the road race instead of scowling over 2nd.

Dan.

Sponsor-approved photo.  Lang loves hammer bars for all occasions, training, racing, a mid-morning snack, and even at the office.  Hammer bars provide you with a scientifically-proven blend of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that fuel you all day long.

I podiumed in two stages and took 9th overall and all I got was five bucks and this stupid T-shirt…

…boo yeah!  That five bucks bought me an incredibly delicious chili verde burrito!  And the shirt turned out to be the perfect napkin.  And yes, I used ALL those hot sauces.

The long, round-a-bout drive home took Dan and I through five or six diverse bioms.  Here we are appreciating the calming hills of the happy California cows commercials.

After climbing up several thousand feet, we came upon the lowland mountain biom, which featured tens of thousands, if not tens of billions of environmentally-unfriendly windmills.  These wind turbines divert the earth’s natural wind direction, causing massive climate change world-wide, which is single-handily responsible for killing the polar bears.

Our destination.  We drove WAY out of the way for this.  Was it worth it?

Yes.  The chocolate dinner from the bulk section was definitely worth it.  We both ate so much directly from the bins, though, that by the time I got started on my bag of chocolate nuts, I was feeling pretty ill.  In fact, I woke up later that night back up at Big Bear with a stomach ache that kept me rolling around in pain for an hour.  Still worth it.

‘Not gonna happen today’ ride

With all these huge rides I’ve been writing about lately, you might get the impression that these are the only kinds of rides I do.  And that would be an inaccurate impression, so I’ll let you in on a more recent ride I did which should bring light to the other side of the story.

This Tuesday I was scheduled to do another hard day of intervals, this time on my time trial bike, so I took a car ride down the mountain with Spencer into Mentone (at our usual parking spot next to the orange/avocado stand and Circle K).  I was in no mood to go stock up on oranges today, and I had no need since my 25lb bag is still heavy.  Turns out I only eat about 12 pounds of oranges a week.  I’d be inclined to eat more if they didn’t have a peal.  If oranges were like apples and didn’t require any prepping before eating, I’d probably eat twice or thrice as much.  But back on topic:

I was in no mood to ride either.  This is a rare occurrence, especially when I’ve had all of the previous night to look forward to a hard day.  On rest days, sure, a lot of the time I don’t feel like kitting up just to go spin for an hour.  Those are my least favourite kinds of rides since they’re slow, boring, and I’m tired.  And that’s exactly what this ride turned into.  I said adios to Spencer, who went on his own ride, and I went the other direction, off to find a good hill to do some repeats on.  We planned on meeting back at his car in four hours.

I made it almost five minute before I stopped, unclipped and sat on my top tube letting out prolonged sighs and groans.  I really, really didn’t want to ride today.  I wasn’t just tired, I was unmotivated and tired, which is the worst combination.  I ate two bananas, got back on the bike and turned towards the car, which was almost still in view.  Problem was, I was locked out and I had four hours to kill.  I decided I’d do a lap of the Redlands Sunset loop and TT course on my time trial bike with a few short hard efforts up the steep sections to see how the shifting was holing up on my bike, and then, as a reward, I’d ride down to Costco for a frozen yogurt and pizza.  And that’s exactly what I did.  I rode the race courses and made my way over to Costco, where I sat in the sun at a table outside and ate a frozen yogurt and slice of pizza, which was only $2 and was the size of three pieces of normal-sized pizza.  I finished it, thought about getting more pizza, but held off when an obese man in an electric wheel chair passed by carrying a pizza box or two on his stomach.  So instead, I went inside and got some apples and a bag of whey protein, which was the main reason I went to Costco.  You can’t find cheaper whey protein than at Costco.  And if you can, you should tell me about it.  ($32 for 6lbs).

I mounted the apples and whey on my TT bars and wandered around downtown San Bernardino until I found a park with some thick grass.  I walked my bike to the center of the park, which was deserted except for an idling ambulance in the parking lot, and laid down for an hour’s nap in the sun.  When I got up, the ambulance was still there, engine on, just wasting gas while the driver took a nap, like me.

And that was basically my ride.  I had to ride back to Spencer’s car, which took 45 minutes, with the apples and whey protein balanced on my TT bars.  The apples falling out at of the ripped trash bag I had bundled everything up in.  Of course everything had to spill out at the busiest intersection, apples rolling everywhere with me stumbling over my bike and almost falling over trying to pick them up.  That right there was the hardest part of the ride.  No intervals, no huge mountains, no hammering along in the dark after seven hours of riding.  Just fumbling around in an intersection with about 100 cars waiting for me to pick up my now bruised and dented apples and get out of the way.  Some days you just don’t have it.  This was one of those days.

If I don’t make it, at least it won’t be from lack of effort.

This ride puts my other ride to shame.

After driving down from Big Bear, Spencer and Karol-Ann and I parted ways, with me doing my own ride.  I planned on riding up highway 330, which is closed to traffic due to a landslide taking out a huge section of road earlier this fall.  I’ve been hearing rumors that you can ride up it for a peaceful, car-less 10 miles or so until you reach highway 18.  From there I would ride the rest of the way back up to Big Bear, about another 15 miles of climbing with some flat and descending sections too.  Nothing too bad.  Here’s what that ride would have looked like:

I also had 3×12 minute intervals to do, which was the most important part of the day.  These weren’t just any old 12′ threshold intervals, no sir.  They were a combination of zones 4, 5, and even 6!  These bad boys hurt your legs reeeaaal good.

Of course, from the way I said “planned” earlier, you can tell that things did not go as I planned.  I rode over to highway 330, looked for cops, and quickly jumped over the cement barricade blocking the onramp.  I had a whole freeway to myself, though I was pretty worried about someone calling the cops on me, so the serene feeling I had been hoping for from the lack of traffic wasn’t present.  Instead I constantly looked over my shoulder, waiting for a cement truck to come screaming by, blaring its horn at me or a cop to come stop me mid-interval (there’s no way I would have stopped mid-interval, so a slow-motion police chase would have ensued.  Anyways, I rode up as quietly and inconspicuously as I could.  I thought mouse-like thoughts, and either averted my eyes hoping to be invisible, or waved friendlily at the few construction vehicles that passed in the other lane going down the mountain.  If I couldn’t be invisible, I’d at least look friendly so maybe they wouldn’t call the cops.

Unfortunately, I was stopped before I even got to the land slide area, where there’s a little lip of pavement left that I heard on the internet and also from word of mouth that you might be able to skirt by on.  There was no chance of this, since there were way too many construction workers up there.

On another note, here’s some pictures of the snow melt down in Redlands from the mountain up above.

You can’t tell from the pictures, but these rapids are all at least 60 feet high.

And now for the highway 330 pictures:

Easily hop-able barricade.

Extreme caution as in “we’re sorry if a speeding truck hits you.”

If you look closely you can see a back-hoe on the hill.  I think this is where the landslide is.  There’s a helicopter up above for some reason, most likely for ambiance to give everything a feeling of legitimacy.

And legitimacy is exactly what was needed too.  These are the guys that told me I couldn’t go any farther.  So I took some pictures of them.  The guy standing up scrambled to put his vest and helmet on and pleaded with me to delete the pictures of him where he wasn’t wearing either.  In his angst, he forgot to put his boots on.

Here’s what the damage supposedly looks like.  There’s obviously plenty of room on the left to get by on a bike.

Anyways, I turned around and did my intervals on the lower slopes.  They were hard.  Listen to these three songs while you look at the picture of agony on my face, and you can get an idea of what the intervals were like (you know they hurt because I took this picture about 15 minutes after I was finished).

Dragula

Bodies

Other

You might be wondering how I tote all my extra warm clothes and food around.  After all, it was 70 degrees down in the valley and just above freezing up above on the mountain (in the evening).  So here’s the answer: a tote bag!  These shoe bags are completely kick butt.  Thanks to Ryan Gielow, I’m now the proud owner of not one, not two, but THREE of these Shimano shoe bags.  My goal is to have one for every day of the week.  (Note: sandwich placement is not optimal, especially after a sweaty three hours in the saddle).

From there I got off the desolate highway 330 and began heading back to highway 38, which was my alternative route.  There was no backing out and getting a ride up the mountain, since Spencer had driven to LA for the night.  If I was going to get home to my precious stock pile of bananas and watermelon, there’d be another 50 miles of climbing to do.  But before I got there somehow I managed to get lost while riding through a neighborhood and ended up on dead end col-d-sac.  I saw a little path next to an orange orchard so I went down it to see if it lead out to another street, since I didn’t want to ride up the steep-ass hill I had just gone down.  Instead of an outlet I found this:

And you know what that means:

Skatecpark practice

It was fun for a few laps, but it didn’t quite compare with last year’s Tucson recovery rides.

Afterwards, I found my way back to highway 38 and located a Circle K (just had to look in any direction; they’re on every block) and loaded up.  Snickers, bag of gummy worms and of course, an apple pie.

The rest of the ride was pretty similar to last time, except I rode for about 2 hours in the dark this time.  Here’s the route:

Note the elevation gain down at the right hand corner.  I felt like I was climbing forever, especially since it was pitch black out and I couldn’t see a thing except for the stars and the reflectors on the road.  There was very little traffic during the last hour of climbing, and the flashing of my front strobe light (which Spencer loaned me just in case highway 330 didn’t work) kept me in a rave-like trance.  Despite the cold mountain air and snow on the sides of the road, I stayed warm.  After all, I’d eaten about 3,000 calories of almost pure sugar at that point.  But with just a little bit of climbing to go, the apple pie in my backpack began calling to me.  It had been smashed in my bag, and its gooey, sweet, sweet inards had been released from the delicate flakey crust, coating the inside of the package and making it super sticky to eat.  I devoured it, eyes closed in the dark night, and licked the package and my gloves clean of the apple filling goodness in such bliss, two shooting stars up above stopped to gaze in awe.  Dear Lord of the packaged pie, please give me the strength to continue to ride hard and ride long, for my human body does not poses the greatness which the task at hand demands.  Please, oh Heavenly Apple Pie Father, bless upon me the courage to climb these last 1,400 feet and then firmly grip the brakes during my half hour descent into town, so that I may live to ride another day.  The pie prayer saved me once again and gave me super-human strength to climb the last little bit of the mountain and ride home without even the slightest inkling of a bonk.  Without the pie, though, the last hour of the ride would have been slightly miserable, since all I had left at that point was a small package of sour gummy bears.  Sour gummy bears, though delicious, can never take the place of a Hostess Apple Pie.  In fact, the pie was so fulfilling, I didn’t even need those damn gummy bears.  I got home at 8:10 PM after six hours and forty-five minutes of riding, having burned 5,700 kilojouls.  I downed a big fruit smoothie while I sat in an ice bath, then made a huge bowl of oats and cooked fruit to take in the bath (this time a hot bath).  There’s no better way to end a ride like this than soaking in a hot bath with a huge bowl of oatmeal.  Except, maybe if that oatmeal was cheese cake or pizza instead of oats and fruit.  Or if the bath water was chocolate creme instead of water.  But that’s only for the pros (so I’ve heard), us amateurs have to be happy with regular old bath water and oatmeal.

Goodbye, sun.  Hello, getting run over by a car in the dark.  And hello, unavoidable since they’re now un-see-able, patches of slush and gravel.

Getting into Big Bear at last.  I tried to get a picture of the ski slopes, but it wouldn’t show up on camera.  It took all my remaining will power to refrain from stopping at one of the hundreds of thousands of fast food restaurants I had to pass to get home to the hostel.

It’s a much larger bowl of food than it appears on camera. I swear.

Ingredients:

3/4 cups of oat bran
1 apple
2 bananas
1 pear
1 handful of grapes
1/2 cup of raisins
1 dollop of fake maple syrup
cinnamon