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Archive for April, 2008

Let me start by saying that I am not overly fond of participating in criterium racing.  In reality, I do not believe that I have the personality to be very successful at it.  Specifically, I am not a very “pushy” person, and am not particularly excited about the possibility of crashing onto the asphalt at 30 mph.  Cyclocross, on the other hand, is completely different.  While there is a strong possibility of crashing, it is usually because of your own actions, and generally happens on the dirt or sand. I recently learned that cyclocross starts do not count towards upgrading out of Cat 5 purgatory.  I have only done 7, now 8, crits, while I have 9 cyclocross races under my belt.  I figured that the combination of the two would surely allow me to finally get out category 5 racing, I was wrong.  Why is this important?  Because Cat 5 crit racers are generally incapable of holding their line through a turn, and then act surprised when you mention, “hold your line”. 

I participated in my first crit of the season today, the Chuck Pontius Memorial Criterium in Valencia (Santa Clarita), CA.  I know I am starting late, but remember, I don’t like crits.  I woke up at 5:45 for my 8:15 race, had breakfast, and got onto the computer to see when registration was going to open.  I was surprised to see that my 8:15 race was now a 7:30 race.  It’s now 6:30.  Needless to say, I get my stuff into the car, jam over to the race, get my number and have just enough time to warm up.  The field was full, and it looked like we had some juniors added to the mix.  As with all Cat 5 crits, things started off at almost full speed, with what appeared to be one of the juniors pulling at the front for a lot of the race.  The kid really had a solid motor.  Not overly fast, but able to pull on the front for days.  Anyway, on the second lap I pulled up to the front group of riders, surprising one guy from Helen’s (I might have leaned into him a little) who reminded me about the fact that “whoa, we’ve got 40 minutes left, we don’t want to crash”.  No kidding, I hadn’t thought of that.  I explained that he shouldn’t worry, “I’m not going down”.  As soon as I said those words I knew I was going down at some point, I had just cursed myself.  During our 40-minute race, twice guys that were either trying to crash me (I clearly let them know where I was, and they turned right into me), or have no ability to hold their line throughout a turn squeezed me into the curb.  I’ll go with the latter.  With 3 to go, I could not get up to the spot I wanted.  The funny thing is that I actually felt pretty good, never feeling the pain until the final 500 meters (which leads me to believe that my problems are mental).  I kept working at it, but didn’t have enough left to make it happen.  I ended up finishing 26th, and was happy that I did not crash.   I have come to realize that those last 5 laps go quick.  At five to go I really have to move up and hold my position.  My problem is that in an effort to avoid the yo-yo effect early in the race, I end up using more energy keeping a position at the front.  I really need to try to maintain a moderate position early, and then move up late.  Who knows?

To the Santa Clarita Velo rider that came up to me after the race, I’m sorry but I have no clue who you are.   I probably could have introduced myself, but you seemed so sure that you knew who I was that I didn’t want to offend.  You looked kind of familiar, but I had no idea.  Hell, you may have thought I was someone else.  Anyway, you were a very cool guy, and it was good to hear that you saw me getting squeezed during the race, as it also happened to you.  I’m glad I wasn’t imagining it, or overreacting.  Overall it was a fairly successful race.  Two more to go and I can finally upgrade.  I guess that is what happens when you only ride 3-4 crits a year.  

Here is a crash from a later race:

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Doh!

Oh man, there is an evil part of me that loves it when this happens.  Especially when a guy I am a fan of wins it.  Today at the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, my friend Tom Boonen fresh off of his Roubaix win, started his celebration a bit too early.  He obviously wasn’t counting on Mark Cavendish blowing by him in the last few meters.  It was very reminiscent of Zabel’s early celebration at Milan-San Remo in 2004.  Although Zabel’s pose was much more entertaining.  

On a separate note, I thought it was pretty cool to see McEwen and Cavendish on the podium together.  It’s kind of like seeing past and present versions of the same guy.  Time will tell if Cav is up to the challenge, he definitely has a similar style to McEwen, let’s hope he gets the results too!

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Here is my one sided view of the 2008 version of Paris-Roubaix:

Hincapie and his teammate Roger Hammond position themselves in the lead group

Things look, good Hincapie and Hammond appear to be driving the pace and seem to be as comfortable as possible

Hincapie flats @ 56k to go

The lead group senses this misfortune and drills it

36k to go gap is 1:35 (turn out the lights)

Cancellara and Ballan let Boonen into the velodrome with them, bad idea (turn out the lights)

Boonen wins, Hincapie finishes 5+ minutes back in 9th

Am I crazy, or would it make sense to use some sealant like the kind available from Tufo and others  for a race like Roubaix?  I know about extra weight and so forth, but I think it is obvious that a flat at the wrong time makes weight and the other issues irrelevant.  

12 months and counting………

 

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Paris-Roubaix is my favorite single day race by far, it is truly the Queen of the Classics.  If you know anything at all about Roubaix, you understand my excitement.  The temperature on Sunday should be in the 40s with a 60% chance of rain, which should make for some exciting racing.  The odds of George Hincapie winning according to Unibet.com are 11-1.  I have realized that being a Hincapie fan is kind of like being a Notre Dame fan lately.  You keep hoping for the big result, but it doesn’t seem to pan out (with some notable exceptions).  Considering that I am a fan of both Hincapie and the Irish, it has not been easy (poor me).  I will keep my expectations low and just hope that George finishes, and does not suffer any serious injuries.  Anything more will be a bonus.  With that being said, I think Boonen wants to make a statement on Sunday so it is going to be a long day on the saddle.  I personally don’t think he was happy with Devolder at Flanders, although I could be wrong.  No matter what happens, Sunday will provide some great racing.  Go Hincapie!

Here are some images from Graham Watson to bring the beauty and pain of Paris-Roubaix to you:   

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Garmin Edge 305

In an attempt at following a more focused training plan this year, I decided to purchase the Garmin Edge 305 with cadence and heart rate functions.  I had stopped using a heart rate monitor a few years back, when the batteries died.  It was frankly a hassle to try to replace them, so the unit has been sitting around since then.  The Garmin seemed like just the right device to give me all the data, minus power, that my tiny brain might need to get me some better results this year.  I have to say that the device, while a little heavy, has so far lived up to my expectations.  It seems to be very accurate, was easy to set up, and the software provides a nice way to look at data.  The only real changes I would make are the following:

  1. The dust cap for the usb port on the unit is incredibly difficult for me to get seated.  I’m sure I am the only moron that has this problem, but it gives me fits.
  2. A cumulative mileage/odometer function.  
I had one problem with the unit.  When I would leave it turned off overnight, the battery would be dead or almost dead the next morning.  This seemed unreasonable to me, so I contacted Garmin support via email.  While I was waiting for over a week to get a response, I checked out the Motion Based forums to see if someone else had the same issue.  They did, and suggested that turning the unit off-on, and then off again would completely shut it down.  It did and now things are great.  However I have to share Garmin’s response with you:

Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

 

You would be correct in your assumption regarding the battery life. I would recommend that you leave the unit on the charger when it is not in use.

 

If you should have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

With Best Regards,

 

Shawn V

Product Support Specialist

2nd Shift Outdoor/Fitness Team

Garmin International

913-397-8200

800-800-1020

913-397-8282 (fax) Att: Shawn V

Am I being unreasonable, or is that possibly the worst attempt at a solution ever?  I would normally be mad about something like that, but I actually find it comical.  Anyway, no thanks to product support, I am really enjoying the product.  Hopefully I don’t have any other issues. :0

 

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Hincapie Roubaix

For anyone that knows me, or that has read this blog at one time or another, it is no secret that I am a Hincapie homer.  For him to win Flanders or Roubaix would be a high point for me as a cycling fan, yes I know that I am a loser.  With that being said, I really think that George Hincapie has a chance this Sunday at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.  I have been surprised so far to see that I am pretty much the only one that feels this way.  With the exception of Cycling News, the articles that I have read so far do not even include Hincapie in the list of possible winners.  What is up with that?  He had good form in California and just finished 9th at De Panne.  Not to mention the fact that he has a solid team backing him up including Roger Hammond and Bernard Eisel, either one of which could get a good result as well.  I guess we’ll see on Sunday.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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