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Thursday, June 21, 2007

[/BEGIN 'me-me doll']

oh, what the hell ... i'm inspired by the hard-ass racing up in MinnahsOda. might as well talk some smack.
- - -

I love that crit over in Folsom. They have a great location and a course that gives ample opportunity for big wind up attacks or knuckle-drag field sprints ... whichever play you prefer.

In the 35's ... it was a good bit of fun with the regulars. I've got to tip my hat to the SN boys ... they worked set-up and reg all day, then tossed on the chamois real quick to get in the mix. Those fellas always throw down, too. Good to see.

The field stretched out pretty much from the get-go. CVC's Bosch hit the most vicious break of the day but it got yoinked back in by a flurry of accelerations. EMC's Oliveri put in some huge twists that were ringing out the field something ugly.

A little after halfway through the crit, it ended up being the ever-attacking Tim Granshaw of StanleyMorgan, CVC's pocket-rocket Eric Easterling, and us Safeway hoodlums, Jeffe n' me, off the front. With EMC, SierraNevadaSpecialized, Pacific Coast, and a ton of ones and twos missing ... our break had to keep the gas on to establish enough gap to dink around with for the win. Clif's Forrest Koenig and the big MerrilLynch rider, Juarez, were the last to almost make it across ... but luckily they didn't, because those two would have made the race much harder for us to win.

So, there was some very titillating tactics involved in this geezer break at Folsom. Both Granshaw and Easterling had big sprinters back in the field (Clark and Bosch). With 2 out of 4 in the break, the majority of the work had to be done by us BagBoys - we didn't mind. Easterling had a hard bridge to get across to the break as it formed and was immediately on the defensive about working in it. Granshaw is a guy who will ALWAYS ride hard. Always.

So, we settled into a strange little rotation. With Jeff in the break, my job became easy - work my ass off. So, I took up the boulders on my shoulders and made sure we got enough of a gap to work our magic later in the race. Jeff rolled through with strong pulls, but definitely held a few matches back for when the fireworks really began. Granshaw pulled very hard in the move, perhaps too hard considering the advantage we had in the break. But, Granshaw is about as hardman as it gets and you can't keep him from bleeding ... he loves it too much. Easterling was playing it for keeps. He began with sitting on completely - but, all it took was one signal and then he knew he had to at least roll through, even if not actually pulling.

After a pull, I slotted to the back of the group. Easterling opened up space for me to assume 3rd wheel in the rotation and I just let the gap open up - Jeff and Granshaw began to roll away from us. Easterling reacted instantly, jumping around me to take 3rd wheel. He knew that I would be happy to separate our break with Jeff and Granshaw fighting it out for the win. So, he had to choose, roll through with minimal work in the break - or fight the gaps for the rest of the race if he sat on.

No words, no yelling, no "f*ing pull" blah blah blah.

Just a safe signal, a bit of non-verbal "Eric ... sorry, but you can't just sit." And he responded, of course - because he is a total class rider - and he rolled through the rotation, doing the minimal amount of work, but still working. So now, we all knew our jobs ~ me? I was the workhorse and set-up man. Jeff was the sprinter protected. Easterling was the danger rider because of his superior sprint and tactical ability. Granshaw was the opportunist strongman who could play the wild-card as me and Jeff focused on Easterling.

The final couple laps were slower as jockeying began. Of course they all knew i would attack. So, it was a matter of doing my best to sneak it in. I pulled off from my turn at the front with about 1.5 laps to go. Granshaw was next and he kept the pace up for a handful of seconds, then also came off the front. Easterling was next in rotation and pulled around Granshaw to the outside, just rolling through and looking back to make sure nothing untoward was going on. Jeff was on his wheel and i opened up just the slightest gap behind Jeff to prepare myself. As Easterling's head rotated forward again, I hit it.

Swoosh, around Jeff and it was off to the races. A glance under the arm after 5 pedastrokes saw the predictable - Easterling was in chase with Jeff tucked snugly on his wheel. Granshaw had been caught out of the acceleration and was back a few bike lengths. poor bugger.

So, this was the race.

Easterling was fighting an uphill battle, but gawdamn was he going down swinging. My effort was like a leadout ... 110% into the pedals. It didn't matter if I exploded, because Jeff was sitting pretty in Easterling's draft (minimal as that is) - ready to counter for the win. 5, 6 bike lengths was all I had on Easterling. Looking back, i could see he was at full effort as well. What courage!

Shake and Bake

You know it ... that "American Flyers" scene were Costner and that dumpling kid are zig-zagging all over the road like dorks. It is rarely, RARELY a good idea to do this. And, i can't tell you how pissed i get when guys do it at the front of the pack. It's one of the stupider and more dangerous things you can do ... and ineffectual.

But, when you are 3 riders on open, clear roads ... it's time to shake and bake, baby. There was no more than a 20 feet separating Easterling from my rear wheel. At 35mph, there is a measurable draft even at that distance. But mostly, it's psychological. If Easterling could feel that rubber band to my wheel, he would put it in his teeth and clamp down.

so i stretched that fukker with everything i had ... gently arcing from one side of the road to the other, never giving him a clear bead on my wheel ... full steam for the both of us.

but, i had Jeff. and eventually, second after agonizingly long second that Easterling didn't make contact with me ... Jeff became an ominous pull on his pedalstroke. And the milli-moment that Eric's attention strayed from my wheel to Jeff's presence behind him ... SNAP ... the rubber band was gone. Evaporated.


With Jeff and I going top two steps in the masters crit and with Nevada City the next day for me and track racing for him ... we weren't all that interested in punching ourselves in the sack for another hour in the prosey event ... but, what'chya gonna do?

A few laps into the race and it's a 5 rider group off the front. BPG's Uthman Ray riding smooth and strong, MetroMinty Max Heines in one his first P1/2 breaks, big powerful John Carlson from Kovarus Squadra, me, and a very fresh and frisky youngster named Rand Miller.

The move finalized after a lot of attrition. It was a smaller field with a lot of guys looking to notch a win while some of the big-hitters were up in Reno for the Nez crits. Ray, Max and Carlson initiated the move, with Miller jumping across when the gap was about 5 or 6 seconds. CVC's Vince Owens was aching to get across and I was happy to go with him.

Vince is one of the big talents for the coming years. He is ALL heart. The guy knows nothing but full-gas. I love how he rides. But, he's also a bit of a hammerhead sometimes and lacks that smattering of patience that often is the difference between winning and losing. The gap got up to about 15 seconds and it was do-or-die time for those of us in the pack who wanted to get across to it. Owens put in a huge acceleration, but from the front of the fast dwindling pack and had them all on his wheel. If he would have just faded back a few riders and trusted that he could get across ... he would have been able to launch out solo. But, he panicked a bit and just punched it.

So, i had to capitalize on it. I accelerated hard from behind him and put in a full-steam lap to make it across to the break. That's racing.

We rolled along with Miller taking the biggest pulls. It was readily apparent that this little buggar was going to be the prize fighter today ... so, i dutifully hated him. With 10 or 12 laps to go, we could have easily lapped the remaining field - but i really didn't want to do that. It's true, I had Jeff and Mike Ma in the pack who could have led me out ... but honestly, I just didn't want to deal with a field sprint. I guess i was lazy.

We feathered the gap at 8-10 seconds for about 6 laps. It was kind of funny. I was hoping that the ref's would sprint the field at 1 to go, so we could have a clean shot at the line. I knew that once our group started the fireworks - we'd likely run into the back of the remaining pack. ah well.

At 3 to go, Uthman Ray attacked hard after i came off the front. SHYNOLA!

But, he had Miller and Max right on his wheel. I took the wheel of the Kovarus rider, but we had a few bike lengths gap to the lead three. This was ugly. I jumped around Carlson and clawed it oh, so slowly up to the leaders again, right as we started 2 to go. Carlson made it across, as well, and i was impressed with his toughness.

2 to go saw a bit of chicken played out from us in the break, but Uthman was the first to blink and he jumped from the front to close the gap to the pack. He had 2 very good horses in Sergei B and Randy Bramblett to help him in the sprint - so he really wanted to find the pack and get their assistance. Our break latched on to the pack right at the start of the final lap and i think the guys who profited the most from it were Kovarus.

Carlson ran straight up the pack and found his teammates. I think Jan started it, but JD Bergmann definitely finished it. Just a great lead out by JD. It went hot into the final corner, but the inevitable swarm began a few meters past it. I jumped hard around Uthman and shot out of the pack decently ... but, fatigue and that 'not-so-fresh' feeling in the chamois caught up with me about 30 meters from the line and Miller stormed past to win it easily.

I was pleased ... he did the most work in the break and is a cute little youngster, ta'boot ~ so good on him for the win. It was a bit of knacker-ville for me after the race, so Sabine shuttled me over to the showers and then took me out for a serious packing in of chinese food and top-shelf's.

yay for bike racing.

[/END 'me-me doll']


jdub-sama said...

Can I just say that I learn so f-ing much about bike racing by reading your blog. I just wish I had the horsepower and guts to actually put all this knowledge into play.

nosajpalnud said...

Your kinda day with a little bit of wind. I love these write ups - amazing how many details you remember after being on the rivet and after several days have gone by.

Thanks to your team and all the others that showed up - especially with a big race up the hill on the same day.

This weekend, we've got a lil more technical stuff comin' - YEAH!

Anonymous said...

was that all in one breath?!?!?

Sing boy, sing!

I woulda kicked your ass though :)

kidding of course!

X Bunny said...

very fun to watch

you guys make it look so easy and so hard at the same time

Chico Cyclist said...

As usual, I am in total awe of you guys.

pedro said...

olaf, I have SIMILAR tales from the Glendale race down south...perhaps it's time for my first blog post...

Kirkpatrick MacMillan said...

I wanna hear more about the announcing! That guy was Awrsesome ;)

Instead of "those who can't, coach" we now have "those who can't, announce."

dr-nitro said...

I'm just taking notes, so when the time is right, I'll smack ya. That's right, smack talk.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry mike. Ph.D.'s are better at thinking about things than actually doing them.... ;-)

dr-nitro said...

Oh, that's sum smack talk. But I can't disagree.

I'll say this, though, prior to my strange journey into academia, 13 years in the kitchen producing, and some pretty good years on the bike going through the ranks.

And now, my legs are about to get one of the perks, summer off. Brain and legs will connect. Oh yes, they will connect.

Anonymous said...

What about those who do both exceptionally well? If you can believe it, Hernando can actually announce BETTER than he can ride his bike, he's the best race commentator you will ever hear! Ligget, step aside bitch! You should write reports for every race you're in, and announce at every race I'm in!

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

ok, i can't help myself.

yeah the crit was great, we rode it well, blah blah blah blah blah...

but as for this announcing thing: no one, and I mean NO ONE, sees more of what goes on in a race and evalutes what is going on better than hernando.


he gets so excited about it all, his voice (already suspiciously high pitched) goes into the upper octaves--and just stays there. no inflection whatsoever. just one constant squeek.

plus, he doesn't cuss enough if he doesn't get fed beers....

Hooptie said...

Classic heckle!

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

but it's all true!

oh, and bring us some sam'iches for tomorrow nite, jeffe.


dr-nitro said...

When's that Hell yeah racing start? Might have to drop in and heckle ya, seeing that I'm getting sucked into doing way too many crits this weekend, and will be probably driving through there sometime tomorrow evening/night.

Hooptie said...

Nothing is better than opening up gaps on guys who are sitting on...if there is one thing I do well, it's opening up gaps.

You racing double duty this weekend Hernando? Big skrilla on the better save somthing!

banks said...

There's so much more here than a story about you. ("/BEGIN 'me-me doll']")

People who don't know crud about bike racing can read this and go "Whoa, so that's what's goin' on."

There's huge value in that to all No. Cal/NV racers.