Saturday, June 30, 2007

Manhattan Beach GP live online

If you have any interest in watching tomorrow's MBGP, you can supposedly tune in to watch it here:

I can't speak for what the quality of the feed might be like. The category 4 race starts bright an early at 7am, so if you want to watch it live you'll have get up and at 'em early.

I just checked out the site and it's a little confusing, but it looks like you will need to click on the iBN World Cycling Channel link at the bottom of the page. The race is supposed to be provided in recorded form for a while. So if you'd like to check out some road racing, check it out.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

San Pedro GP (Tour de Ghetto) - 20ish

Yikes! I've never been up to the Long Beach / San Pedro area before. It could just be that I didn't get introduced to the nicer areas of town, but based upon my one trip up to San Pedro I wouldn't recommend that anyone put it on their list of must visit attractions.

When I signed up for this race I was assuming that it would be a pretty flat course. The course itself was right down near the waterfront, which in southern California often means pretty flat land. When I was checking out the race flyer a couple days prior to the race, I noticed a little note on it that suggested the course had less than 100 feet of climbing. While 100 feet doesn't sound like a lot, for a less than 1 mile crit, it's reasonably substantial. The course was pretty much uphill the entire way. There was a short, steep downhill at the end of the back stretch, other than that, it was a one to two percent incline the rest of the way.

Because the race was right on the edge of downtown San Pedro, there wasn't too much free parking available. When I arrived I drove around the side of the course where the flyer had suggested to park, there however weren't really any free or flat spots (I need a flat spot so that I can warm up on my rollers). When I finally found a fairly flat spot, it was in a pretty rough looking area. My car was pretty much the only one that looked like it had been built in the last 10 or 15 years. As I got my bike assembled and prepared to ride down to the registration booth, some dude stopped me and told me that he just got an injection down at the psychiatric hospital and was wondering if I had a couple bucks so that he could buy something to "take the edge off". On my way back to the car I realized that I was parked next to a psychiatric hospital that in turn was surrounded by group homes and pretty low end housing. So I moved my car to a better spot and got down to the business of warming up.

As for the race, it was 45 minutes of really tough work. It always amazes me how effortlessly all the little toothpick climbers can ascend hills. This day was no exception. For me, each lap was an exercise in trying to stay as close to the front as possible. I'd start the lap near the front of the pack, slowly fall back as we climbed, and then pass as many people as I could on the descent and tight corner that followed. On the last lap, the climbers really turned it on. By the time we were to the top of the hill, I was at the back of the pack. From there on out all I could do was focus myself on trying to get past as many people as possible before the finish.

In the end I didn't end up doing as well as I would have liked to, but I did get a chance to get a race under my belt prior to next week's Manhattan Beach GP. I find it's especially important to race the week before a big race. Racing is the best way to get yourself ready for the power surges and accelerations that happen in big races.

One last note. In all the time I've spent participating in sports in my life (hockey, volleyball, track, etc.), cycling is on an entirely different plane when it comes to people who make excuses for their failures. After each race ends, no one lost because they weren't good enough, it's; "If I only had my good bike", "my coach isn't giving me the right workouts", "my teammates won't lead me out like I want", "I didn't get enough sleep last night", etc., etc. This last race, as we completed a warm down lap, there was a guy with a real classic:

Buffoon: "Man, my job is really interfering with my racing season. It's affecting my racing"
Cyclist beside him: "Where do you work?"
Buffoon: "I work at Starbucks"

When I heard that one I nearly fell off my bike, I was laughing so hard.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ready to Get Back Into Racing

If you follow this blog you will have noticed that it's been a little while since I've been out racing. The past 3 weeks and the next 5 are all part of my second build phase of the season. As I work my way through building my fitness back up towards another peak I'll again be participating in more and more races, eventually trying to get some better results as I hit my next peak/race phase.

For those not aware I have set my training plan up based upon Joe Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible (I highly recommend this book if you entertain any thoughts of taking your cycling more seriously). The basic phases of the season are:

Prep - unstructured exercise focussed on basic fitness (a couple weeks)
Base - focussed on building an aerobic base (12 weeks)
Build - focussed on beginning to build force, speed and anaerobic endurance (8 weeks)
Peak - focussed on power, anaerobic endurance and lots of recovery (4 weeks)
Race - get 'er done! (2 or 3 weeks)

After going through all these phases once already, my second build toward a peak began at the build phase. Having just completed my race phase and a week off I really found that I had lost some of my aerobic endurance; however, some long endurance rides over the past few weeks have begun to bring things back to where I am really feeling good.

This weekend I'll be up in San Pedro (Long Beach area) for a race. Next weekend is the Manhattan Beach GP, which is a key race in our team's season. We'll be pulling out all the stops to try to get one of our guys on the podium. So things are starting to heat up again.

Now that I again have the internet at home, look for lots of posts regarding future races and results.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Long Beach Crit - Don't Ask

Sorry I haven't been more on the ball with the blog posts of late.

Memorial Day I did indeed head up to Long Beach. There's not too much to say about the race. The course was very flat, four corners, and I found the pace to be pretty easy. For the most part I hung in the top 15 to 20 with little effort and waited for things to develop.

With 3 laps to go I was feeling pretty strong and riding on the front. As we crossed the line the announcer rang for a prime. Typically when the bell goes the people who care about the prime tend to make a move for the front. Because I was already on the front I was pretty oblivious to what was going on behind me. I just kept on with working at my pace. Coming into turn four I was still on the front and feeling really strong. For some stupid reason decided that I would try to jump the field coming out of turn 4 and sprint for the prime. I got a good jump, but unfortunately didn't have enough in my legs to win the prime.

At that point I was pretty much shot. I tucked into the pack to try and catch my breath, but found that I wasn't able to recover fast enough to respond to the surges that were now going on in front of me. With half a lap to go there was a small crash that I was able to avoid, but by that point I was so far back that I knew my day was done. Lesson learned, with less than 5 laps to go in a race don't get tempted by the primes, stick to keeping it steady and trying to stay near the front.

With the race done I had a couple hours of driving ahead of me. During that time I began to reflect on how things were going and where I was at with my cycling. The bottom line is that I was starting to feel like cycling was becoming more of a job than a hobby/passion. I had been doing lots of anaerobic/power training, which is painful to do (every cell in your body is screaming out in pain when you're doing these workouts), I was feeling tired, and really wasn't enjoying myself. So I resolved to take a week off from cycling and not even think about riding my bike.

Two weeks later I'm really enjoying things again. I've been working hard on my aerobic endurance, which is something I really enjoy. Getting out on some three to four hour rides; sweating my way up the hills; and seeing the country-side is what I really enjoy about cycling. Two and a half weeks from now our team will be trying to pull off a result at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. I hope to be in good form for that race, such that I can help one of my teammates get to the front and bring home the win.