Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chuck Pontius Memorial Criterium 2012...

In the blink of an eye, races can go from ho-hum to chaos, can't they?

one of five crashes in the Cat 3 race

Fortunately, my day in the Masters 50+ race was far less dramatic. Okaaay, but was it successful? I managed to cross the line in 50th spot out of 63 or 68 starters, or something like that. Certainly nothing to brag about, but I am still going to consider it an accomplishment, another step along the comeback trail. Right now you are probably thinking - that just sounds ridiculous. Normally I would agree, but: Second race of the year (first was a dnf), and second race in the past ten years, if you recall the story. I was never pressed during the race, but at the same time never put much effort into it for fear that I would blow up if I did. Well, now that I know I can do it again, it is time to move onto the next step, actually doing some work. Needless to say there are no photos from the 50+ race - I guess I need an assistant now. A break went clear early on, five riders, and they stayed clear for the duration. Ralph was constantly admonishing us to move or we would suffer the indignity of being lapped, but we never were. At the finish David Prechtl took top honors, with Stephen Gregorios in 2nd and Malcolm Hill 3rd.

The Women's Cat 3/4 race took off after the 50+ race. It seemed like the ladies raced pretty steady which set up a field sprint with the victor taking the win by about a bike length. The two categories raced together, but were scored separately: For the Cat 3s it was Lisa Brinton (Team Dude Girl/Cycles Brixton) ahead of Charity Chia (Santa Clarita Velo), and Emily Georgeson (Helens/Cannondale). For the Cat 4s, it was Shelby Walter (Velo Club LaGrange) reaching the line before Jennifer Gill (PAA/Remax) and Sarah Brodsky (Team Dude Girl/Cycles Brixton). A couple photos are below, more here.

In addition to the photos below, more Masters 40+ cat 3/4 photos are here.

Mark Planellas (SC Velo) leads the field through the start/finish late in the race

Next up, the Masters 45+ Cat 1-4. All the big guns were out for this race and, though there were numerous break attempts, nothing held so it was all together for the finish. The BBI/Schroeder Iron and Breakaway from Cancer teams have been primary protagonists in the 45+ races so far this year, and this race was more of the same, with Craig Miller of BBI reaching the line ahead of Richard Meeker. John Slover rounded out the top three. More of the 45+ race (beside the two below) are here.

I only stuck around for one more race this weekend, and that was the Category 3's. You never know what you'll get with the Cat 3s - mostly fast and competitive, there also tend to be a fair number of crashes. A couple below, with more photos from the 3s here. None of the carnage during the race could prevent Eric Anderson (OTR Racing) from taking the win ahead of David Perez (Bike Palace), and Daniel Gay (Get Crackin' / MS Society).

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Revolutionary Velo Fraction

who are they? what is their ideology?
cool patch - thanks to the wife for picking it up (in San  Diego last weekend)
feels like i should be posting this on May Day

Friday, April 27, 2012

New Team, New Look...

SC Velo

I will be riding with a new team out on the road this year (recent change). Since I have not been able to get any new kit yet, I did the next best thing - found someone willing to part with last years version so I could at least look the part in time for Sunday's race. What goes around comes around - I did the same for a new member to a team I was with years ago.

Track Class @ Encino Velodrome...

No time to think about it - the intro is tomorrow, followed by a six week course on Wednesdays, beginning May 2.

Friday Quotable Links...

1. "... throngs of fans gathered at Madison Square Garden to watch cyclists pedal for days in competitions punctuated by terrific crashes." - $40,000,000 donated to help revive the athletic spectacle that is bicycle track racing in New York. Any cyclists in the I.E. with that kind of money? We could use a velodrome too.

2. Talking about the Figueroa corridor between the campus of USC and downtown Los Angeles, a brief look at the off-again, on-again plan to "... make the corridor an ideal location to reprogram streets as a public hub." After more than sixty years of single modal planning, the all-or-nothing planning favoring the automobile, it is heartening to see the Los Angeles is finally beginning to see that it just does not, and never can, work and is taking serious looks at multi-modal complete streets for answers to transportation problems.

3. "... because he's Philippe Gilbert ... he could wear a bucket on his head and I'd still have a man-crush on him."

4. "The next best thing to this custom ride would be actually riding a bike to work." They are serious too. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Dirt: Marshall Canyon Immersion...

I really felt like mountain biking today. I really felt like doing so last week as well, but put it off for some reason or another. I am talking about a really strong pull to get up into the canyons. It wasn't until I got back home that I realized why. I had not been on a fat-tyred bike since the 2nd of February. And, while the skinny-tyred rides are filling, that is still a long, long gap.

i have no idea where this washed down from, nor that the
stream carried enough water to wash a stunt like that along its course

my rig did all the modeling today

Anyway, as the post title suggests, I rode over to Marshall Canyon and immersed myself in its shady depths. For the entire length of trail along the canyon bottom I passed only three walkers and two dogs. With the hillsides and tree canopy enclosing all it was easy to loose yourself in the surroundings, melt into the trail, disappear into a beam of sunlight, transform while splashing through a stream and flow away. For those moments the world was elsewhere and it didn't matter, I became part of these woods. There was a heavy humidity in the air preceding an approaching storm, and as I rose out of the canyon and the deep wood a few drops of rain fell. I think our senses can become inured to life in a city; we shut some things out to keep from being overwhelmed. Those few drops were all it took for the senses to come into full play. The tactile feel of trail surfaces, vivid colors, play of light and shadow, muted sounds of silence, and primordial scents.

i never tire of views of the oak canopy

a rare, and endangered, Felt Tree. did you know the branches only bear fruit just
before they die. funny, this particular ripe one looked oddly like my own bike

yeah, pretty now. just wait till those thorns and needles dry out

again, i never tire of those tortured, reaching branches

At this point let me just say, I realized something today - the smell of fresh is nothing like what comes out of a washer or clothes dryer; no matter how much conviction fabric softener companies put into their ads to convince us otherwise. There is no comparison. 

Alas most good things eventually come to an end. When I made it up to the heavily populated portion of the route, the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, I fell victim of that old cyclists trap of only recognizing people when they are on their bike. A trail runner was heading towards me and it was only after she said hello that I realized it was a fellow Psycho-list rider. We had passed each other by the time I finally managed to stutter out a hello in return. It was a take-it-easy kind of ride until I turned out at the top of Mills. At that point I fulfilled an urge to run with some speed, so I quickly swung off and through the Thompson Creek Trail gate and onto the short, rocky trail I unimaginatively call Powerline. Two months off the dirt was enough that I required some re-familiarization time with the Felt early in the ride. It all came together on Powerline though, and I was able to kick through it at full speed. Felt good (pun intended).

most of the stunts in this area seemed to be gone, but a few remnants remained

weathered planks

a final view over Claremont and the Pomona Valley. clouds above, some low hanging fog, Santa Ana's in the distance, and the reason I call that short section of road above Cobal Canyon, Little Sedona

Ding, ding, ding, here comes the Ice Cream Bike...

at the April cicLAvia. This was almost the last photo I took that day, and didn't quite comprehend what I was seeing until they rode past. Yes, they have managed to hook up a manual ice cream maker on the back of that tricycle, and it was cranking away as they rode along. I imagine the ice chest filled with cold goodness of different flavors, shared out at various stops along the route. As much as I listened for the sound of the ice cream truck making its rounds of the neighborhood streets when I was a kid, I imagine this ice cream to be oh-so much sweeter. By bike, naturally. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Captain Mellow's Mobile Observations: Sweat...

Sweat, that salty tasting fluid that coats our arms and legs, drips from our noses, chins, and brows, from hands gripping bars, that pretty much soaks into whatever we happen to be wearing when the temperature rises. Before the weather decided to make and abrupt U-turn around here yesterday, there were some good solid days in which to contemplate sweat. It is that time of year - we can comfortably cruise along in 70º weather and then all of a sudden hit a +90º spike that has our bodies scrambling to adjust. Last Friday was just such a day, and for Captain Mellow climbing up GMR, it was the first real big sweat day of the year.

With sweat dripping from all those places mentioned above, the Captain's thoughts turned to those sodium-laced drops and a certain potentially insignificant conundrum he spends energy-wasting attention on each and every year. The question isn't whether he sweats, that is obvious by the salt stains on his cycling cap tucked into his helmet, and the spattered drops on his top tube. No, the question he returns to each season is whether there is a steady and rhythmic  drip ... drip ... drip from the end of his chiney-chin chin, or whether it falls in a more sporadic way.

This is weighty stuff, and he spends a portion of each hot ride thinking about it. But, a certain catch-22 confounds what would seem to be an easy answer. You see, there is no way the Captain can see the dripping, to determine whether it falls in a steady pattern, or a more irregular one without looking down. But, when Captain Mellow looks down, essentially tucking his chin to his chest, the very action compresses his sweat-soaked chin strap against the bottom of his chin, or neck - he is not sure where the one ends and the other begins. That compression, of course, releases all that moisture to run down his chin in a torrent or series of drips. Think of a sponge - it can be full of water, but might not drip until squeezed; same with a chin strap. What is a person to do - you can't study the dripping without looking down, but looking down changes the equation.

You can help Captain Mellow with this problem. The next time you find yourself on a group ride with him, or if he catches you out on the road somewhere, riding solo, ride along beside him and observe just what sort of dripping is taking place. If he doesn't look at you like you're strange and ask "what're you looking at", he will probably thank you for the assist.

Another thing the good Captain has noticed, is that his sweat tends to be more cloudy, full of minerals, early in the year and then after a while, clears up. He attributes this to his body becoming more efficient as it acclimates over the course of the warmer months. In his USA Cycling coaching manual (Introduction to Coaching Cyclists) he read that about 95% of acclimatization occurs within the first 14 days of heat exposure, and wonders if after about 14 days his sweat would be more clear. Of course this time of year, it is difficult, if not impossible to find 14 consecutive days of hot weather, so he will probably have to wait another month or two to test that theory.

Good riding, and when the heat is on, drink your water.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Day at the San Diego Velodrome Bike Swap...

not your typical day on the track

It had been a while since I was last at a good bike swap, and since we have some friends (used to live in Claremont, now live in SD) who volunteer at the San Diego swap, it was time to take the trip on down to the border for one of the big ones at the velodrome. The chance to scoop up some prime pickings drew out many folks looking for deals. There were plenty to be had. A lot of nice older steel frames, and complete bikes; some new carbon fiber ones scattered around as well. Road, track, mountain, commuter, wheels, tires, kit, all kinds of spare parts and components. Darn close to a treasure trove for people like me.

a small portion of the big show. Jim of Recycling Jerseys
sure gets around to these events

spotted the Basso right off. i walked out without it,
but got the seller's number just in case

wide selection of goods

noticed several people testing out the Lemond

frames and bikes were moving

tires and wheels were a huge draw

we convinced one young staff member to
take a chance on the $5.00 mystery box

there goes another bike

pretty nice commuter bike. both my son and i checked it out earlier

one for Dale - Claremont Bike Swap?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cycle Claremont on Earth Day...

exhibiting perfection in synchronized signaling,
a group of Cycle Claremont riders approaching a turn.

As noted previously, Cycle Claremont moved the monthly ride for April up a day, in order to correspond with the Earth Day Festival here in town. No one really knew if this would mean more people or fewer would show up. Saturday, of course, is also Little League and AYSO this time of year, which might mean fewer families. On the other hand, perhaps it being Earth Day, people might be encouraged to ride rather than drive. As it was the competition between events, meant fewer riders for the Cycle Claremont group. It did not mean that people weren't riding; there was a good healthy stream of families, students and others entering and leaving the Village all day (at least for the morning and early afternoon when I was there). All those riders seemed to make a good impression - I overheard one family say "there sure are a lot of bikers out today!" Anyway after the ride we had breakfast in the Village, sat and listened to some music, checked out the many information booths, listened to some speeches, including an inspirational one by Andrew Shelley who, though afflicted with Muscular Distrophy, had the drive to set out on an around the world backpacking adventure (from his wheelchair), an endeavor documented in the film "Beyond the Chair".

gathering for the pre-ride safety talk.

many people arrived and departed from the Earth Day festival in the Village by bike...

in fact so many that all the bike racks seemed to be in use.

Claremont Voodoo Society on stage.

Larry and Joan gave a little talk on active transportation in Claremont.

Cory was manning the Coates tents in his usual helpful manner.

Cycle Claremont should be back to its regular Sunday ride in May. Check in at the web page here or Facebook page here to be sure not to miss out on any updates and other relevant information. Cycle Claremont is a community organized ride in which everyone is welcome, no matter ability or experience. It is especially appropriate for families with young children and novices, as an easy going opportunity to ride with and learn from more experienced riders.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Quetzal en la noche...

I don't know if it was the first real heat of the year, or the fact that I have not been climbing much lately, but that climb up GMR this morning was more of a struggle than it should have been. So, I was grateful to be able to cruise down to the lawn at Scripps College in the evening for a concert by the East LA Chicano rock band, Quetzal. I've long been a fan of the sound, and their energy, and mixture of tradition and rock is hard to beat.

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