Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Elite NCNCA District (State) Track Championships, 6/25-6/26/2016

By Dennis Pedersen

Elites are 18 and over riders, Category 3 and better. I'm getting old, but I don't feel it yet, so I'm willing to compete with youngsters!

This year the NCVA's board decided to separate the NCNCA District Championship mass-start races from the sprints and timed events. So this weekend the track at Hellyer Park Velodrome was less crowded and we had time to properly conduct qualifying, and adequate warm-up and cool-down breaks. It was hot, from 89 to 93 degrees at least, dry, and somewhat windy.

Saturday: Match Sprints

We had a nice turnout, with 20 men and 8 women. I used my 96-inch gears (50x14 teeth), a bit taller than I used to, in my flying 200 m run: 38.2 mph max, for 12.04 seconds. While a good time for me, it wasn't quite a PR, as the wind kept most times a bit slow. I'm not sure exactly where I qualified, but roughly in the middle. I decided to see how the 96" gears would feel in the races too; these would be 2 laps only. 

In the first heat I was matched against Mark Andersen: We drew numbers and I started at the top of the track, with my coach, Jeff Solt, holding me. I stayed up-track as we started, almost even with him, but had to feint a bit on the back straight to maintain that position as I didn't want to lead him out. In turn 4 I felt we were going too slow, as he qualified faster than me (it's easier to pass at low speeds), so I seized the lead with a hard effort. Fortunately I was then able to "float" into turn 1, and when I looked back I saw he was only a bit up-track, with only a small gap… that meant he wouldn't be able to rush past me as easily. On the back straight he tried to pass, but I was able to maintain the lead. Into turn 3 he moved behind me, but in spite of my best efforts he managed to barely pass me at the line, hitting a relatively modest 36.4 mph max.

In the second heat we were 3-up; I was matched against Ray Gildea, and Tom. I again started at the top, and I moved down-track fairly soon, as Ray pushed the pace. Tom drafted him, thus allowing me to box Tom in by riding slightly behind and next to Ray. In turn 3 Tom sensed his predicament, backed off and went up-track to launch an attack. I saw the gap back to him was rather large, though, and I didn't hesitate attacking first. Ray, though, reacted very quickly and held me off, on his hip, through turns 1 and 2. But on the back straight I had enough power to pass him for the win (37.2 mph max).

Next I raced Ethan Boyes, the top qualifier: Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me. I once again started up-track, and he tried to force me down track, but a ground squirrel distracted him, and I jumped below and around him, back up to the rail. Yes, that really happened. I then dropped below him out of turn 4, but he had no trouble passing me on the back straight for the win. Speeds were moving up too: 38.2 mph.

I was out of the medals, but 5th through 8th had to be decided in a 4-up: Me, Lee Povey, Brian Moore, Mark Andersen lined up. I wanted to follow my coach, Jeff Solt's, advice to disrupt any attempts at teamwork (they're all on PCC). I did that by not attacking early, but slowed so I'd be mixed in with them. I then let Brian lead us out, while I boxed in Lee, and Mark stayed behind/above me. Lee wanted out, and I obliged, and when he attacked I was able to follow him (barely) around Brian. I'm not sure why, but Lee and I opened up a gap the others couldn't close (maybe because we hit 39.3 mph!), but while I gained a bit on Lee at the finish, I lost by almost a bike length. That was fast and fun, especially since they had all qualified faster than me! So, I ended up in 6th place out of 20, which I was happy with.

Sunday: Time Trials

In Elite-level racing my favored event, 500 m time-trial, doesn't exist. Instead they ride a full kilometer ("kilo"), which I'd only done twice before in competition. I signed up anyway, just for training. The real contenders use aerobars, but I simply used my regular drop-bars. I held back a bit at the standing start, compared with my 500 m starts, to save a little for the last lap or so. Even so, there's a reason kilos are nicknamed "killers!" With legs and lungs on fire, I maxed at 35.3 mph, finishing in 1:15.30 (37.24 split time). This kilo was a PR for me, actually, so it was motivating! I was 7th out of 10.

Next were the team sprints. I signed up with my teammates for Master Nationals (coming in August, in Indianapolis), Ray Gildea and Brian Moore. Each rider leads for one lap before pulling off, and only the third rider's time counts (my time, as man #3) In the standing start Ray is very hard to keep up with, but Brian did great, and I slotted in behind him. After Ray pulled off, Brian accelerated a bit, almost opening a gap back to me, but I held on and when Brian pulled off I jumped a bit too and felt like I had decent power to the finish line. We hit 36.3 mph max, finishing in 1:11.41. That was quite good, and could perhaps be a winning time at Master Nationals, but was only enough for 4th place here. We all agreed this was great prep for us!

While I didn't place in any event this year, I was quite happy with my racing, as was Jeff. Masters Track States are July 16 and 17th, and Masters Track Nationals are August 9th through 14th; I feel ready!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ADA Tour de Cure, 6/12/2016

By Dennis Pedersen

I first rode in the American Diabetes Association's fund-raising ride in 2006, making this my 10th ride! Yes, I was really determined to continue this tradition and do my little bit to help fight diabetes, a disease that affects 9.3% of the U.S. population.

This year I have helped raise $861.00 thanks to the generous people who donated on my behalf. Many of them have been donating every year I have attended... thank you all so much! The ADA is a well-regarded charity, donating about 70% of their funds to fight diabetes (as rated by the BBB's Give.orgCharity Navigator, and others).

Greg Lemond and Fast Freddie
at the 6:15 AM start, with
the ADA's Karen Zimmerman
and Richard Alejandro.
This year, though, I rode on the West Marine team, since I quit HP last year. But I wasn't able to get enough momentum going, and West Marine is a much smaller company, so the team ended up consisting of just me. Even so, West Marine is growing and I plan on growing the team too. It'll take a bit of extra effort, but it's worth it. And a number of my new co-workers at West Marine donated (it's not too late to donate)!

On the morning of the ride I woke up at 4:30 AM, and was on the road by 5:00 for the 6:15 start time of the 120k route (75 miles). We started from the HP headquarters in Palo Alto, like usual, after breakfast supplied by Hobbee's and other sponsors. The weather promised to be perfect, with clear skies and moderate temperatures.

This year we had a special guest: Greg Lemond, the only American to ever officially win the Tour de France (3 times: 1986, '89, and '90), join us on the ride! I have a ton of respect for Greg, given his history of fighting for clean racing, unlike so many of his successors. He was joined by "Fast" Freddie Rodriguez who has joined the ride the last several years now.

The legendary Greg Lemond!
I said "Hi" to a few friends at the start, and moved to the start line so I could join Greg when we started the ride. I got to take a few photos of Greg and the rest of us as we rode along on the first section of the route, on Junipero Serra Blvd. to Alpine Rd. He doesn't ride much anymore, but was clearly comfortable on the bike, and we all gave him proper respect.

Our route was the same as last year's, and our first big climb was up Kings Mtn Rd. In the past I went all-out on these climbs as training, but I now only train for very short sprint races, including lots of weight training, so I took it as easy as I could on these steep hills. In fact, my 37-minute time up Kings Mtn was about 10 minutes slower than previous years! But I felt fine and enjoyed a brief stop at the rest station set up on Skyline Blvd. at the top of the climb, manned by volunteers from the Kiwanis Club.

Pescadero landscape.
After the rolling section on Skyline we turned right (by Alice's Restaurant) and onto the very fast descent down Highway 84 (I hit 47 mph), through La Honda, and down to Pescadero Rd. A climb up Haskins Hill let me warm up a bit, then we descended the rest of the way into the historic town of Pescadero. There was another rest station, and I had another small snack. It was a bit cool, but quite nice for riding.

We then rode along gorgeous Stage Rd., by cute farms with goats, cattle, horses, and pigs. My legs were feeling tighter than they ever did in previous years, thanks to my limited miles of riding this year: easily a third of typical years in the past. So I was wondering how I'd fare on the biggest climb of the day: Tunitas Creek Rd.

Beautiful Stage Rd.
I skipped the next rest station, by the Bike Hut at the base of Tunitas Creek Rd. I felt OK, and cautiously started up the steep climb that followed, through the incredibly beautiful redwood forest that lines the creek and the tiny road. Again, the perfect weather helped, and while my legs did feel rather tight, I never cramped. At the top of this long climb (41 minutes for me this year, vs. 32 minutes last year!) was the last rest station, the same one as our first one, just in reverse so to speak. I grabbed a bit of food, refilled my water bottles for the third time, and set off.

The Kings Mtn. descent is super fast, and luckily I had no scary flats this time. The weather was heating up into the 80s, but it was still nice as we rode along Portola Rd., and back to HP in Palo Alto. That section is far more crowded than the rest, as we combine the riders who are taking the shorter routes. My ride ended up being about 81 miles, all told (which is more like 130k), with over 7,500 feet of climbing. I was a bit sore, but really not too bad.

I almost skipped lunch, but I decided to stay, and hung out with some of my good friends from the old HP team; not all of them are still with HP either, but it was great seeing them.

The next day I was rather tired, but I plan on doing this again next year, and I hope you will all join me for the "ride!" Thanks again!

Monday, June 13, 2016

NorCal Masters Districts Time Trial 60-64 Group, June 12, 2016

LOYALTON, CALIFORNIA, June 12, 2016 - Spokesman teammates Bob Montague and yours truly, Jim Langley made the long haul up to the mountains to race the 40K (25 mile) race of truth known as the Districts Time Trial Championships. Up for grabs was a NorCal State Championships Title and the winner's jersey to go along with it.

The Loyalton course was a switch from the traditional racecourse just a few miles away in Sattley. We drove up the day before to survey it. It's pretty much dead flat the whole way. It starts with a 5.4 mile straightaway with one 90-degree left turn at the end of that, followed by a route that turns a few more times before hitting the turnaround at 12.5 miles. The pavement wasn't bad but definitely not the smooth tarmac you dream of having for an hour in the pain locker.

I found it a little windy going out and got knocked off my line by the gusts several times. Since Montague comes right behind Langley alphabetically, Bob started 30 second behind me. Behind us both was National Champ Gary Painter, who passed Bob and I before we reaching halfway. He was on pace to ride a sub 52 40K, which is remarkable for a 60-year-old, and we believe may have set a new national record. (Full results have not been posted yet.)

I had a good ride finishing in 57:50, which was enough for 3rd and the bronze (Gary is from Indiana so he couldn't claim a podium spot even though he won the race handily). Bob was right behind me in about an hour. Paul Gossi won the jersey and Roland Freund nabbed the silver. The results photo shows the exact results and times.

Jim Gentes who raced in the 54-59s took the photo of us afterward on the right. Notice the Spokesman Cervelos!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

PCC Sprint Clinic, Hellyer Park, 6/3/2016

By Dennis Pedersen

These match sprint events are a lot of fun and great practice. This is one of the events I'll probably enter at the Master Track National Championships in August, so I do want to get some good training in for these.

Unlike my recent sprints event we did get to do flying 200 meter runs for "seeding." I selected 50x14 teeth gears (96"). My 37.4 mph max during warmup was a sign of good things to come! My timed run felt superb too, and even before I knew the results I was tempted to go home on this high note. But of course I didn't. And when I set a new personal record it was worth it: 11.94 seconds (5.94/6.00 splits), at 38.8 mph max! My first run in the 11s, and a real milestone in a sport where we struggle to cut 1/10ths off.

I changed to a lower gearing for the actual racing: 49x14 teeth gears (94.6"). As we usually do here, for the first round I was matched against a rider of similar qualifying time. Just 2 laps, though, not the full 3 we sometimes get.

In the first round I raced against Brian Moore (who, coincidentally, will be my team sprint teammate at Nationals): I started from the back, stayed high on the banking throughout the first lap until turn 4, attacked, passed Brian,  backed off a bit, went fast again into turn 3, and won. (37.4 mph max.)

Second round against Chris Gaitos: Similar to above, I stayed high and passed Chris out of turn 4, but Chris was able to catch me in turn 4 and just pass me at the line for a close win. (37.6 mph max.)

Third round against Brian and Luis: I started in middle position, Luis took the pole, Brian jumped under me to follow him. I dropped down next to Brian and boxed him in, forcing him to back off and go around me out of turn 4. I followed Brian's attack over Luis, thus boxing Luis in, then I went around Brian and dropped into the sprinters lane in turn 3 for the win. (36.3 mph max.)

So, this event was truly a morale booster for me leading into the busy summer schedule of State (district) Elite, Masters, and National Championships. I look forward to it!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Masters National Road Race 60-64

By Bob Montague 

Arrived in Winston. Picked the bikes up at Ken's Bike Shop.

Everything made it, but one ding on the TT bike. Julie and I are staying at Downton Abby, I mean Graylyn Hotel and Conference Center. 55 acres of beautifully maintained grounds and a transformed former mansion.

Our first 2 1/2 days we filled with registration, checking out Winston, pre riding the road course and eating! We also hiked Pilot Mtn.

I lost a lot of weight in getting ready for this event, and my fitness has improved. That said, neither is where it should be for an event of this stature. My recovery from last year's crashes has, in reality, taken much longer than I anticipated. But, North Carolina is my home state. My father was born and raised in Winston. I am 60 this year. I had been targeting this year's nationals for probably 5 years. I didn't want to miss this.

Road race day was not too hot, but spring time in North Carolina is far warmer and more humid than Northern California. We were scheduled to go 55 miles over 3 18.3 mile laps on a rolling course. Attacks began, pretty much immediately, and continued throughout this race. The course pretty much alternated between rolling up and rolling down. Every time it rolled up there was a surge. Almost immediately, northern California rider, Rob Anderson, got a gap on the field. Though the pace of the pack continued to surge, it was inconsistent and he was able to extend his advantage. By the end of our first lap, he was mostly out of sight. The pack continued the chase at a harder pace. About halfway into the second lap, Anderson was brought back by the pack. Attacks continued, but no other breaks would be established. For my part, I began to have cramps in the second lap. Still, I managed to stay with the group into the third lap. The attacks continued and my legs had a definite jello feel to them. I finished the last of my water and energy gel and found myself gapped off the back from having done so. I had to chase hard for about 5 minutes to get back on, and from there, I couldn't recover. One of the harder sections actually ran through the feed zone, and our last time through it, I got dropped. I didn't have anything left to chase back on. I kept going as hard as I was able for the 5 - 6 miles that remained, and I ended up pulling 3 others to the finish. All 3 were able to sprint around me to the line. I finished 46th out of, I think, 54. Given my fitness going in, I wasn't unhappy at all with my result.