by Fast Eddie
Yorba Linda, California
Last Saturday, Paul L, Ryan M, Danny D, along with Susan and I, spent the morning at Lake Los Angeles.
Our purpose in visiting was wrapped up in the fact that Lake Los Angeles is the current site of the Southern California/Nevada USAC State Time Trial Championships. We all wanted to give the race course a look.
The 23.5 mile time trial course is composed of four roads which form an 18.5 mile rectangle, with riders also doing the first 6 mile leg a second time.
Imagine the great time we all had riding around a picturesque place like Lake Los Angeles. Doesn't that just sound great? Riding around a lake in LA LA land?
Well, unfortunately, Lake Los Angeles is like Grape-Nuts, it is neither.
So guys, what if you were to say to your wife, "Let's get up at 3:00 am on Sunday, leave the house at 3:45, then after a one and a half hour drive, use a port-a-potty, get on the stationary trainers for an hour in the cold and dark, then just as the sun starts to rise, get on the tandem, leave the start line, and ride as hard as we possibly can for 20 kilometers?"
That's how we started on Sunday, except... it was her idea! You see, about a year ago, without any fanfare or announcement, Susan started riding. At first I didn't even know it as she began to incorporate spin classes at the gym into her regular workouts. Soon she began coming home and asking me questions about cycling, and then it came out... she had decided to enter into the realm of athletics.
Basically Susan is a cheerleader. That is her personality and back in school days, that is what she was. Then as our kids grew up, all of them entered into some form of athletics. One day she found herself as the only person in the family that had not participated in athletics. Now I know that cheerleading is considered by many to be an athletic endeavor, and I am not ignoring that, but it is not an athletic contest in the purest sense of the term.
There is no question that cheerleading requires athleticism, but that is not the kind of athletics she was talking about. So, with her cheerleader resume notwithstanding, she announced to me that she wanted to become an athlete, and that is why she wanted to ride.
It was then that I broke the news to her. To be an athlete, one must compete. Spin classes are spin classes, training rides are training rides (even though I used to be confused on that point), fun rides are fun rides, and races are races. In short, the only athletic contest listed here is a race.
Much to my surprise, she said, "OK, I'll race!"
Wow! She has been around me and my racing friends for long enough to know what that statement meant. Training, sacrifice, focus, suffering, and the act of racing itself are part of the equation. She simply said, "I'll race...so what is the plan?"
So we talked about her options. First of all she has a road bike and we have a road tandem, so she decided that the event would be on the road rather than the velodrome or mountain biking. She also eliminated mass start racing (i.e. road races and crits) from consideration as being a proverbial "bridge too far" at this time in her life.
That left time trials. So we talked about individual time trials, team time trials, and tandem time trials.
It was decided that the best way to go was the tandem time trial, since we had a tandem available and it was something we could do together. So the training began. She increased her weekly rides at the gym and also started to ride her road bike on the trainer in the garage with me on weekday mornings.
Then we set the date, Valentine's Day plus 3. February 17, 2013 at the Fiesta Island Time Trial would be her debut as a bike racer, and an athlete. Our start time was 7:08 am.
We got up at 3 am, left soon after that, arrived at Fiesta Island in the dark, used the port-a-potty, rode the trainers, and were now at the start line.
Ralph Elliott, the famed bike race announcer, introduced us on the loudspeaker, gave his complements to Canyon Velo for a job well done at the Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium, and then we were off at 25 mph. We held that for quite a bit of the first lap, then reality set in and we settled into 23 to 24 mph over the remaining laps. We passed a few of the juniors who were ahead of us and were passed by one or two very fast single TT bikes.
We gave a very strong effort and crossed the finish line with a solid time of 31:55. Susan was now officially a bike racer and an athlete! She also came home with the gold medal for 1st place in the Tandem class at the Fiesta Island Time Trial.
We had a great time and are now planning to give the Piru TT a shot soon.
Finally, if you haven't heard, Canyon Velo picked up a number of podiums this weekend. In addition to our placement, David S. took 2nd place at the Peninsula Hill Climb Time Trial on Saturday, and Ryan M. and Justin C. went 2nd and 3rd overall at the Laguna Niguel Triathlon on Sunday.
Nice job Canyon Velo!
Canyon Velo made a difference at the Stagecoach 100 Mile Time Trial on Saturday, January 12, 2013. The Canyon Velo 50+ team ("Pastor" Bob B, Paul L, Ryan M, & me - Ed K) won the 50+ age group 4-man Team Time Trial (TTT) in an age group course record time of 4:59:30.
The Canyon Velo 40+ team (Justin B, Justin C, Danny D, & George T) finished on the podium in the 40+ 4-man TTT with 3rd place in a competitive field with a fine time of 5:13:38.
CV member Dr. Bill L rode with three other riders from OC on a 60+ team that captured first place in the 60+ 4-man TTT division with a time of 6:05:34, and CV member Henry M took 5th place in the large field that raced the 45+ Individual Time Trial (ITT) with time of 5:41:00.
The 100 mile time trial is very different from the more usual 20K (12.5 mile) and 40k (25 mile) time trials. In the 40K, for example, you just go as fast as you can for one hour. It is brutal, but is over soon. The 100 mile time trial is an entirely different animal. When talking about this race, Paul L says, "It's a Long Way to Tipperary". One has to respect the distance. It is a five hour plus effort. Because of that, you have to pace yourself, and in the TTT, each member of the team needs to do his part, and most importantly, each member must communicate with the team.
For those who aren't familiar with the Stagecoach Time Trial, it is run on the same day and on the same course as the Stagecoach Century ride in the desert of Imperial and San Diego Counties. It is a simple out and back course starting at the tiny settlement of Ocotillo in Imperial County and riding north on local "highway" S2 for 50 miles to a place just over the ridge from Julian, CA, and then back to Ocotillo. Ocotillo is at 500 feet above sea level and the high point of the course is at about 2700 feet. There are two stop signs on the entire route, both are at essentially the same place, one heading north and one heading south. The total climbing for the TT is 4,685 ft, with about 3,100 ft in the first 50 miles, and 1,600 ft on the return trip. Most of the way out is a false flat climb of 1-2%, except for three very obvious desert pass climbs with 5-9% grades. The way back is down the false flats, with a few smaller short climbs and one long steep grade at about the 87 mile mark. The pavement is not bad for a road that is "off the beaten path."
To compare Stagecoach to other well known century type rides, if you consider the "Solvang Century" as average, then the "Tour of Palm Springs" would be easy, and "Breathless Agony" would be very difficult. When compared to this lineup, the Stagecoach route is considered moderately difficult.
What can make Stagecoach a particular challenge is the weather in January. In some years, like the last time we rode it, the weather can be very nice. This year, however, was like riding in Antarctica. The race result sheet states that it was around 30 degrees at the start and 55 degrees at the finish (which is later in the day as some riders take 8 hours to finish). For us it was about 40 degrees for most of the ride.
For the Canyon Velo 50+ team ("Pastor" Bob, Paul, Ryan, & me) the race was as difficult as it was successful. It was truly a team effort. All four of us worked together very well as a team. From the initial organization, to the travel arrangements, to riding the race, we worked in sync with one another. We stayed in our rotation the entire time, never coming out of it, and never having someone sit on. We did vary the length and power of the pulls to address needs as they came up, but we did so by design through effective communication with each other.
As I said, during the race we communicated exceptionally well with one another. There were some significant issues with the cold. We all had trouble eating enough because of the temps. I had a real hard time for the first 45 miles because of the cold. It took me a long time to get the circulation going in my legs. Consequently, I spent the first 45 miles in serious pain. My legs were aching as if they were in an ice bath, but my heart rate was super low because I wasn't able to put down full power. It was a very strange experience.
In order to help with my leg pain issues, even though we stayed in our rotation, Ryan took a number of long pulls early, which cost him later. At about the 45 mile mark, and after a long climb, my legs finally started warming up and feeling better and I was able to contribute at full strength, which helped Ryan, because he began to experience some lingering fatigue because of his work to help me earlier.
Pastor Bob was very consistent the entire ride, providing strong even pulls all day long, and Paul was super strong the entire day. Over the last 40 miles Paul was a beast, taking incredibly long and hard pulls.
When we got to the last climb, we were a bit spread out, but we decided to finish with all four, and it paid off, because we all took good hard pulls over the last 11 miles to the finish. I think it was this decision that allowed us to come in at under 5 hours.
After the race we met up with the guys from the Canyon Velo 40+ team (Justin & Justin , Danny, & George) and had some laughs and took photos. We saw Henry out on the course, but did not see him at the finish. We did not see Dr. Bill either.
All in all, it was a successful day for Canyon Velo. Mission accomplished!
Strange things happen to one's mind during a time trial, particularly when it's raining. Many thoughts come and go, like "Why am I here?" for example. Below is one of the musings of a waterlogged bike racer from today's race (to the tune of "Singin' in the Rain"):
We're racin' in the rain
Just racin' in the rain,
What a glorious feelin'
We're racin' again.
We're laughing at the pain
With pressure on the chain,
The monitor's on the heart
And we're ready to start.
Let the other riders chase
While we're setting the pace,
Come on while the spray
Shoots all over the place.
We're flying cross the line
With the podium on our minds,
just racin', racin' in the rain
We're racin' and placin' in the rain...
Today at the Piru TT, Canyon Velo was well represented in the race and on the podium. In rainy conditions, Paul L rode a super ride to take 1st place in the 45+ category. New member Bill L took the top step in the 65+. I also rode well enough to grab 2nd in the 55+. Three CV riders and three podium places. Nice... and wet.
It has been really fun racing time trials for the past few years. I like the challenge of the time trial. There is no one else except me against the clock. I also like the ambiance of the time trial, which is very different than mass start races. Time trials have such a positive atmosphere. I also like the camaraderie which exists with teammates who are all focused on the same goals. Since I've been time trialing, I have had the opportunity to race with some great teammates. There have been several, but Paul L, Hans J, Carl M, Tom E, and "Pastor" Bob B have been the main ones. It has been a pleasure to race with each one.
Last Sunday, as I crossed the finish line at the Piru ITT, I couldn't help but thinking about racing with Hans over the past few years. As many of you know, Hans moved this week to his new home in Oregon and we probably won't have the chance to ride with Hans that often. So, I thought I would take a few lines to share some good times I've had with Hans as a way of saying thanks.