Monday, July 13, 2009

Yakima Canyon State TT

I am not sure if waking up at 5am to drive 3 hours to suffer for an hour to turn around and drive another 3 hours makes much sense but, nevertheless, that's what I did on Sunday. It figures that the first year I decide to race the ITT it is held across the mountains instead of Tenino, where it usually is, and which is about 15 min from where I now live. Oh well, so it goes. In addition to having to drive 3 hours, I also had to overcome a stomach bug I joyfully acquired just after Matava that had me feeling quite illin' last week. Though it didn't help my preparation it fortunately settled down enough for me to give it a go.

Going into the race I felt totally unprepared. Most of the TT's I have done have been 10-25k and this was 40k (appx. 25 miles). I was hoping to finish in the 56 min range but was not really sure what a good time would be on this course (nor did anyone else since it was the first time it was used in competition). I had two primary concerns-- going out too hard and going out too slow. I was hoping to get a practice 40k in on Monday but the "bug" nixed that. I finally just convinced myself that I would know how hard to go in the moment, ya, right!

So, 5:00am Sunday and off to Yakima Canyon near Ellensburg. Simply put, it was a sufferfest. Everyone I talked with after the race said something like, "that totally friggin' sucked." I could not have said it better myself, matter of fact, I did say something like that only not so PC. The course was not super hilly, though it did have one significant hill about 1k from the turn-around, it was one of those "suck the life out of your legs" kinds of hills. Even though it was not too hilly, it was seldom if-ever flat. There was what seemed like a constant 1-3% grade that fluctuated regularly. Once you felt like you got a good rhythm going there was a grade change. Oh, and if the hill/false-flat combo left any life in your legs the gusting headwind, changing to crosswind and back to headwind on the way back sucked out whatever life was left. Oh what fun! At least it was the same for us all!!!

I had two significant problem during the race. First, my concern for going out too hard won out and I actually did the opposite, I went too easy. If I had it to do again I would have gone harder. I guess I was thinking I would play it conservative and be sure to have something left in the tank after the turn-around (which was probably the right way to play it) but knowing what I know now I believe would have been better off going out harder. The second problem was, well, my "body-saddle" interface. During the race my legs felt great but at about 28k the position on the TT bike left my "crotchal" region hurting so bad I could nary find a spot that could bear enough weight to get a decent pedal stroke going. Yowza, that hurt like, well, a burning crotch.

Both of these problems point to one thing-- I simply needed more time on my TT bike to prepare for a 40k TT. 25k-- no problem, 40k-- problem. I needed both some experience of going at race pace for 40k to see what I could maintain AND, maybe even more importantly, to get my, ahem, "saddle area" accustomed to 40k worth of time-trial-position friction.

When it was all said and done my time, while it was not what I hoped for, it was really not too bad-- 58:18.3 Actually, my time would have been good to give me a bronze medal in the Cat 3 as well as the Masters A but in the apparently "stacked" Masters B it only netted me a 6th place.

In the race for the BARR competition (the only reason I even made the drive) I earned 32pts and I am just 30pts out of first with the ever important Omnium coming up this weekend.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Joe Matava Crit

Saturday was a great day of family racing. Kat, Noah and myself all raced leaving only Luka out of competition-- no 9 month old category. The day got off to an early start since I had agreed to support teammate Michael Black in the masters A/B race which was scheduled for 8:40am, So, kids packed and out the door at about 6:30. I went into the A/B race without nearly as much of a warm-up as I would have liked but...

Both Garage and BRI were well represented. Cucina had good representation as well including, myself, Larry B., Trevor H., Andy J., Michael Black, Chris A.?, (anyone I am missing??). The attacks were furious and intended more to soften the legs of the competition than actually result in a successful breakaway. That means of course, Garage and BRI were the teams primary attacking. Rididng for Blackness meant I was one of the guys in the role of chasing breaks and that I did. The toughest chase came with about 4 to go. I don't remember who we were chasing, I think a couple BRI guys, but a few of us Cucinas worked our tails off reeling the thing back in. Feeling somewhat hammered after the catch I settled back into the mix for a lap and moved my way back up at corner 4 and found Blackness, who had moved up front again coming into the last lap. Somewhere along the way he and Larry got on my wheel. Coming into corner 3 we were 9-10-11 and I went ouside thinking I could pick us up a number of spots only to have the door closed as a rider bocked the outside line. I certainly should have moved up sooner. Into the sprint finish every position remained the same. myself- 9th Blackness- 10th and Larry B. 11th. Being this was only my 2nd crit of the year I do have to admit my crit instincts are feeling a bit rusty.

After I raced it was Kat's turn. This was just her sond race since Luka was born 9 months ago. She had an absoulute blast but was pulled about halfway through the race. Her real focus at this point is just to get some intensity in as she is ramping up for her first season of racing 'cross! My wife is amazing BTW!

After some tentativeness I decided to register for the Men's 3 race. I was a bit hesitant because there were a number of crashes in the A/B race and I am really focused on the Master's B BARR this year and with the State TT coming up this weekend I didn't want to jeapordize my real goals. Nonetheless, I could not resist. About 20 min before the race I saw a couple Cucinas, Chris M. and Matt H. and they were both turned away at registration because the race had filled up (only 60 riders for a Cat 3 race??). Anyway, they were #2 and #3 on the wait list. After talking with a couple other teammates who had already raced we decided to give up our spots so that they could race. In the end however, the head official decided not to allow it so unfortunately Chris and Matt were relegated to the cheering section.

The race itself was about exactly the same pace as the A/B race. The same tactics were also at hand. The only real noticeable difference was the A/B race was much smoother. I will admit that my legs did not feel as peppy as they did in the A/B race but they were okay. To make a long story short, I primarily hung in the group and did VERY little chasing. My race basically came to an end when there was a crash on corner #4 with 4 laps to go. A number of teammates went down, I was basically the first row of people to avoid going down but was hung-up enough to put an end to my chances. I chased with a teammate for a couple laps but got back on just in time for the pace to quicken for the last lap. I was toast so just cruised the last lap. As far as I know everyone made it through the crash with just some road-rash.

Noah's race was next. He is 3 almost 4 by the way. He was very ready to go! While helping him to the finish he made sure to tell me he did not need me to run with him any more. I obliged, kinda, running primarily on the sidewalk. He was focused and spinning his little legs as fast as they would go, made a solo half-lap smiling to a cheering crowd that was already lining up for the upcoming parade. He proudly received his ribbon and rode over to his mommy and brother with shouts of excitement.

Overall, it was a great day!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Master State RR

Road Race
The B's race was 68 miles consisting of 3 full laps + 7 miles (the +7 included the climb) netting a total elevation gain of appx. 4500 ft. If I thought the crit was hot the road race was hotter (85-88 degrees) and featured a lovely headwind on the climb, turning to a cross-wind on the upper-prairie. Maybe I am just a bit too masochistic but even with the wind and heat this was one of the best courses I have ever raced.

The race got off to a shaky start. Just after the first trip up the hill there was a crash that took down about 5 riders. I was just beginning to chase an attack when it happened so I was a rider or two in front of it but once I bridged I told the 3 others what was up and we all slowed the pace-- it was just too early for a bunch of riders day to be over. After a mile or two everyone was back together and the attacks began again. All the early attacks were caught until once again, Andy Luhn attacked with 2+ laps to go. The already small starting field (24 riders I think) was split significantly the second time up the climb and continued to dwindle. It was not too long before there were only about 12 of us + Luhn off the front. I knew from the crit that Luhn was a great descender and I tried my best to organize a chase group several times, but to no avail. I only got mumbles of “there is 35 miles to go, he cannot stay away.“ Ya, right. The one real chance I thought we did have started with 1 ½ laps to go and ended when one of the chasers flatted (Greg Turpen From Chinook Cycling- I think). The more time that went by the less anyone wanted to chase, myself included. After the 3rd time up the climb I was beginning to cramp, but just on the climb.

On the last lap just before the left turn onto the cross-wind prairie section, Max Coleman from L’ Ecole attacked and got a descent gap. We picked up the pace a bit and started coming upon some Masters A riders as well as some 4/5’s and/or Juniors and I thought we had caught Coleman. I later found out we hadn’t. The last time up the climb was brutal. I had to pace myself and try and stay in touch with the main pack which at this point consisted of 5 riders with 4 or so riders totally blowing up on this last trip up. I basically pushed myself to the edge of cramping and lost about 10-15 seconds on the group. At the top of the climb I was able to push it hard and chase up to Keiichi Otani from Hagens who also lost a bit of time to the lead group. Once I caught him I jumped on his wheel for a couple seconds and pulled around him. I was expecting the lead group to see us catching back on and make and aggressive move to try and keep us off the back. I was right but after only one such attempt they slowed and I hollered for Keiichi to take a pull. I don’t remember if he did (all I remember is him letting out a scream of pain), but if he did it was short lived and I worked my living tail off to get us back on. We finally bridged and were all back together (all 7 of us).

The next 5 miles to the finish were pretty darn slow. There were just two real attacks, one at about 2k and the other at about 1k that were both countered as quickly as they happened. So, there it was, a sprint finish for what I thought was 2nd. Greg Turpen, who had chased back on after flatting much earlier in the race made a move at about 250m and I jumped on his wheel. I am not sure but either David or Aliaster was on my right I believe Keiichi was on his wheel. I came around Turpan with about 50m to go and, needing another gear, spun as fast as I could but just got nipped by Keiichi (yah, the guy I pulled back to the group) and I finished 2nd in the sprint.

My initial thought was I go third overall but soon found out we had not caught Coleman so another 4th place finish. No regrets though, I left everything I had on the course. At least Keiichi is a cool guy and was very thankful after the race for getting him back to the group. Keiichi, you owe me :)

Fortunately, concerning the BAAR hunt the 3 riders finishing in front of me were not the same 3 from the crit so I was actually able to make up a small amount of ground for the overall BARR race. The WSBA site is a bit messed up since the don’t have the Circuit race points allotted correctly but with the adjustments I am currently in 3rd 6 points out of 2nd and 58 points out of 1st with the TT, Omnium, TTT and HCTT left.

Blessings, ~Cole

Masters State Crit

This weekend in Spokane was a blast. Some of the best racing of the year on some of the best courses I have ever raced. I will post my RR report later today but here is a brief report on the crit.


The crit was in beautiful downtown Cheney. It was a pretty darn technical 8 corner, 1 mile loop that included a 3 block gradual climb that came after corner #1. The race started off at a decent pace. I honestly don't remember whole lot besides trying to come up with some sort of a plan since my only knowledge of the course was 1 warm-up lap just before the race start. I could tell that position at the top of the hill was extremely important. Once a person was at the top much of the rest of the course was either flat or downhill and included 7 corners. Pretty early on Andy Luhn from BRI attacked and stayed away solo for much of the race. We often pulled within 15 seconds of him but he would always make time up on the corners and downhill and it seemed he might stay away. With 3 to go I decided to punch it and bridge up. It was just in time since we finally caught him on the last trip up the hill. I had settled into the pack just before the start of the last lap but must admit was not thinking well at this point. Most of us had the same idea of position at the top of the hill but 6 of us created a bit of a gap on the rest of the Field. That is were my preconceived plan ended and I was not aggressive enough-- a HUGE mistake! I felt really good at the top of the hill and should have jumped right then! I waited and got on the wheel of Alistair Leigh who was on the wheel of David Hecht (both from IJM). It "seemed" like a good idea until Lynn Pilant attacked on corner 6-- the steepest downhill section just 2 corners from the finish. While Pilant's move was a very well timed and took us all off guard, it was a sketchy move that nearly took out David Hecht and in-turn started an accordion effect that decided the finishing order. The 4 of us were close at the end but each just held their position-- Pilant, Hecht, Leigh and me.

I have to admit I was frustrated for a few, ahem, minutes after the race. Not with the sketchy move (that's just crit racin') but with my failure to be aggressive enough on the last lap. I should have made my move and made the others match. I had the legs but was simply not aggressive enough. In the end 4th still earns me good BARR points. Did I mention it was like 86 degrees?

RR report to come this afternoon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Boston Harbor

Sunday was the Master's State Championship circuit race, simply known as Boston Harbor. Fortunately for me, BH is in Olympia so it is a short 25 min drive- nice. The weather was beautiful-70's and sunny. Cucina was fairly well represented. There were 7 or 8 of us in Masters A/B race-- all of us B's.

The race began at a fairly low pace with a pointless surge or two from time-to-time. It was really on the second lap that things picked-up and the attacks started. I was riding toward the front to be sure to keep an eye out. I chased several attacks I was hoping would stick but to no avail. These failed attempts went on for about 2 laps until, of course, I don't chase and wouldn't you know it, it actually begins to stick. Good news was teammate Andy James was in it. The peloton was aquiver with the normal chatter, "you guys got anyone in the break?" and lots of waiting for someone else to chase. At one point the very hard-working Michael Black (A.K.A., Blackness) came up to me and asked me if I wanted to get up there to them. I said yes and he began pulling me up. Problem was we were not in a ideal location for an attack so we were pulling the peloton up with us so, having a man in the break, we relented.

About another half-lap we saw that our lone Cucina in the break was falling off the back and likely was going to get reeled-in, which he unfortunately did- great effort though Andy. Problem was no one seemed to want to chase save one huge exception- again, Blackness. We had the escapees within our sights for the last 2 laps but, save Blackness, no one would commit to chasing from any team for long enough. With two to go there was one, unfortunately sort-lived concerted effort. Just after the finishing stretch a number of guys punched it, including fellow Cucinas Larry Boyer and Bill Zimmerman, but only lasted about 3 miles and fizzled. On the last lap, I just worked to maintain my position toward the front and watched for another attack. It came right away, again after the finishing stretch when a rider, (huge track guy- don't remember his name), came on me left and I jumped on his wheel. A number of other guys did the same. The pace quickened until the same spot as the lap before. I settled in and saw the same teammates. The pace stayed higher than previous laps but we still were unable to reel in the break-away and everyone knew it once we came within about 2 miles of the finish-stretch. The pace slowed and the jockeying for bunch-sprint position began. As we approached E. Bay road, yet once again, Blackness punched it to string us out coming to the small hill just before the final turn and the 1k sign. It was a thing of beauty. Blackness was able to stay on the front well into the turn after which I got in about 4th position. Several riders came up on my left and once I saw one of the wheels I know would have a strong finish I moved left. Another group of 2 riders came up on our right and we moved behind them. By the time I could see the 200m sign I was 4 or 5th wheel. Brian E. from Garage came up on me left and I thought about getting his wheel until he slowed right beside me. I thought for sure he was setting me up to be blocked in and passed by his teammates on my left. At about the 150m mark pretty much the entire leading group jumped, Brian and I included. I had a small opening to my left so I took it and passed a couple riders. I think I was 3rd or 4th in the pack sprint but first among the B's. There were 4 riders ih break, 2 A's and 2 B's, so I ended up taking 3rd. I am uncertain where others finished but I know LB, BZ, Blackness had good placings.

All in all I would love to have been in the break but sometimes that's just racing. 3rd is not too shabby. 50 BARR points with hopefully more in the weeks to come.

Thanks Cucinas for your willingness to support me and Blackness-Dude, you really know how to be where you need to be-- not to mention your an animal out there and the new Quattro Assi is HOT.

Blessings, ~Cole

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This will certainly be my most controversial post to date and I publish it with some apprehension. Please take what I am about to say as some general thoughts not conclusions and please chime in with any thoughts of your own.

As many of you know, Tom Boonen (ProTour rider for Quickstep- 3 time Paris Roubaix winner, TDF Green Jersey winner '07 and World Champion '05 to name a few) has tested positive for cocaine on 3 separate occasions-- all three out-of-competition. Even though cocaine is not on UCI or WADA's list of out-of-competition banned drugs (although it is banned in-competition), the first landed Tom an exclusion from the '08 TDF based on UCI Art. 12.1.005 stating a ban can be levied for a cyclist "harm[ing] the image, reputation or interests of cycling or the UCI." The most recent positive came just days after his third Paris Roubaix win. The fate of this year's TDF for Tom is, at the very least, uncertain (depending on where you get your cycling news).

What I am pondering is, while a ban for Tom's positive for cocaine is undoubtedly within the bounds of UCI Art. 12.1.005, is it fair that Boonen be banned from competition for testing positive for cocaine based on article 12.1.005? (BTW, I know, I know, life is not fair!)

Two particular considerations make me question the former and potential current ban's fairness.

1) If a cyclist is to be banned for non-banned drug use based on Art. 12.1.005 fairness would require that the same penalty be applied for every other equal or greater crime. The question is would a non-drug but equally serious offense bring about the same level of penalty or is there such a stigma attached to the word "drug" within cycling that it wages a penalty more extreme than even more serious non-drug related crime?

2) Fairness would require that every rider must be penalized the same regardless of fame or success. If this were a less famous (or maybe infamous at this point) rider would it bring about the same reaction or is Boonen only "harming the image of cycling" because he is so successful and thus, in the media limelight? Certainly a relatively unknown cyclist would not harm the sport for an equal offense. I guess with this it comes down to whether or not cycling should hold its greatest stars to higher standards.

Part of me feels that Tom should have the book thrown at him. Another part says no, just because you can does not mean you should. I know if I'm honest with myself (which I am from time-to-time) and apply "letter of the law" to my life I fall vastly short, maybe not with drug use, but plenty of other places. Does that mean I should get off the hook for my shortcomings? No, and I don't think Tom should have this all go away either. But I do think he needs to be treated fairly and cycling needs to pursue what is in cyclist's best interest alongside or even before that of the best interests of the sport (cycling's best interests vs. the cyclist's best interests should likely be a post all of its own). BTW, for those of you that do not already know I am a certified relapse prevention/drug treatment counselor.

So, what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pacific Raceways- 6/16/09

Last night's PR race was sketchier than a evening art class at your local community college. There was actually a moment I had considered pulling out of the race, something I have only ever done before for injury. Part of the reason was it was a point-per-lap flat race. Basically that means the first two across the finish line each lap, save the first, get 2 and 1 points, additional points for prime laps and the standard fare for the final lap. What you end up with are people jockeying for position every lap like it is a pack sprint finish-- likely the most dangerous part of bike racing. However, this was not the only problem. There is some paving work being done at PR and the west-most corner, corner #1 is pretty tight. If you stay low you run the risk of getting pinched into the lower barrier and if you go wide you run the risk of being pushed into the upper barrier. Nonetheless, the race did go down with no crashes, at least none that I was aware of. Oh and one other thing, we were entirely too many "neutrals" last night. First, we went neutral for the 1-2-3's to pass. Then we caught the 4-5's and they went neutral. Then we re-passed the 1-2-3's only to be re-passed by them once again. Finally we went really neutral and let them get nearly a third-a-lap gap before really going again. It was this passing, re-passing chaos that made me decide to nearly call it a night. It seems that a large part of the problem is the shortened course due to the paving work.

If memory serves there were 5 of us Cucina Frescas in the open Masters race. Erik Olson and I spent most of the night pulling on the front, with pretty much ever other CF coming up from time-to-time. Since I have missed the last 3 races and have slipped from 3rd in the overall to 6th?? so all I was really looking to do was get in a break, chase down breaks and/or start a break. To some degree I accomplished all those goals save the making a break stick. There were a couple of good opportunities but with little cooperation from other riders (and/or knowledge of how to race) they all fizzled. One such was with myself, Erik Olson and an unattached rider. Basically, Erik and I came together after the finish line chaos and Erik took a long pull, I followed, then the unattached guy. However the next time through after Erik's pull the unattached guy shot in behind Erik, pushing me to the left. I hollered, "what the heck are you doing"(or some verbiage thereabout) then to make matters worse, when Erik pulled to the right the unattached guy did not pull through. We were hosed, backed off, noted the guy to avoid, and settled back into the group.

Martin from IJM attacked later that with another teammate and after foolishly waiting a lap for someone else to chase them down I spent a lap-and-a-half chasing them down pretty much solo. I was fine with that but not real happy with a couple teams that hadn't a clue how to chase a break down. Basically, they would follow my wheel, then try to shoot past me akin to a sprint then fizzle 50m later only to settle back onto my wheel. Now, I can see this if your a IJM rider but that was not the case. I dunno what the world they were thinking. Why not put that effort into a concerted pursuit? I must have happened 5, maybe 6 time last night. Crazy, almost comical.

Probably the best chance of making one stick came with two to go. A couple CF riders came up along side me and said to be sure to watch for Martin to go after the last prime. I was figuring he was going to try his usual escape. I saw him go after the sprint and got on his wheel. I was going to ride it until he noticed I was there. He noticed me just before the first turn and I moved up to take a pull. By this time a couple more CF joined the attack. This was actually the end of it all. Once Martin noticed it was 3 CF's and one his desire to work hard diminished greatly on his next pull and we were caught. In hindsight would it have been better for the other CF's to hang back and block??? Dunno, and it does not really matter. That's just a crap-shoot. 3-on-1 in a break seems pretty good but it is worth noting that Marting is clearly a savvy rider and knows where his best chances are and his team's best chances are and a 3-on-1 break is not that great for either.

I settled into the pack for the last lap and tried to maintain between 4th and 8th position. I ended up in a good position #'s wise coming into the last 250m but not a good spot geographically speaking. I was 5th wheel when a large group came up on our left. I moved to the right as my only option and started to get pinched over against the barrier. I held on until the group started to drift to the left, as they usually do after the corner, but it was just 15m or so too late and I ended up 3rd or 4th in the sprint. I'm happy with that in spite of the effort I put out the entire night.

Oh, ya, next time to PR Kat is racing! Woo-hoo.

Blessings, ~Cole