Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Tuesday Night Races

I raced at the Velodrome on Tuesday night. It was a fairly successful evening. We didn't get much of a warm-up, as the juniors were on the track right up to race time, then they gave us an 8 lap motor pace. It was cold out, so that didn't really get the blood flowing like I might have hoped.
Anyway, first race was a 4 lap scratch. I lost track of laps, thought we only had one and a half left, and took off. Well, we had two and a half, so when I crossed the line thinking it was over and I had destroyed the field they were ringing a bell signaling one lap to go. Yuck. So I tried to hold off the pack for another full lap and failed. One guy blew past me in turn 3, and another barely got me right at the line. I came in 3rd by a few inches.
The second race was an unknown distance race, which I hate. But I played this one pretty well. I found a nice spot to attack, and a fast guy went with me. I pulled for a lap, then he took a lap in the lead, then the bell rang. So I couldn't be in a better spot! One lap to go, just me and another guy way out in front, I have his wheel, and he's already done a full lap pull. But I failed. I couldn't get around him. I didn't really time my slingshot move very well, and ended up just trying to power past him, but that dude was strong and had a nice finishing kick. He held me off by a wheel. So second place in that race.
Third and final race was a ten lap point-a-lap, with the final lap awarding 3, 2, and 1 points to the first three riders. After a few laps I found my self down low, with people seeming to be a little tired. On the back stretch I decided to just go for it, and see what I could come up with. I sprinted away from the pack and took the lap, and the next one. Another guy had my wheel, and I let him pull the next lap. Then I took a pull, but on the back side we got stormed past by the field. I ended up crossing the finish line half a lap behind everyone else, but my two points were enough to tie up third place.
So, for the night, I garnered two thirds and a second place finish. Not too bad, but I'd have liked another win. Next week. . .

Going Fast, Bluegrass, Down Townies and More Bluegrass

I'm not so good at this Blogging thing. I always neglect it. Anyway. . .
Since my last entry things have been busy. Last weekend was a pretty great time. Started Saturday morning with a long and FAST ride with the San Diego Bicycle Club. We averaged over 19mph for the first 35 miles! That is hauling in my book. I thought I would vomit more than once, as I haven't done any distance riding in months. I was so slow from Solana Beach to La Jolla (up Torrey Pines) that my final stats for 48 miles had me at just over 18mph. My quads were cramping, I was so wiped.
I spent all afternoon/evening on Saturday at the Adams Ave. Roots Festival, which was really a good time. Some of the bands were lousy, some were awesome, food was good, and beer was cold. The best performance came from Chris Hillman, Herb Pederson, and Bernie Leadon.
Sunday morning, bright and early, I met up with the Down Townies ride out of Velo Cult bike shop in South Park. This was the first time I was able to go on this regular Sunday morning ride, and it was pretty nice. Nice, leisurely pace through quiet neighborhoods, around Balboa GC, into Normal Heights, and finally to Cafe Calabria on 30th in North Park. Then back over to the Roots Festival.
Sunday at the festival was not nearly as much fun. It seemed much "cheaper." The bands weren't as good, and the atmosphere was not as cool. My boy Dave bought us all Luchador masks, and he spent the entire day in a bright pink one.
As we were leaving, I put mine on also. Some cops started harassing us as we were getting ready to go. They obviously thought we were some punk kids they could push around. We were on the street on a closed off section (port-a-potties were blocking traffic from one end, and a beer garden was blocking the other). They started yelling "get off the street" at us. So we get on the side walk, and they start staying "go home." I asked if we were breaking any laws, and if not, would they mind leaving us alone. Of course, being power mongering cops, they didn't like that response a lot. Had I not been drinking (not that I was drunk, but who wants to risk anything) I would have been much more confrontational, taken badge numbers, and the like. I hate when stupid cops give policemen a bad name by acting like total donkeys.
Anyway, that was the weekend.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Racing Season has Begun

Last Tuesday night was the start of the track racing season at the San Diego Velodrome ( And, crazy as it sounds, I won the frist race! I raced in the "C" group, the slowest of the three classifications, but as I hadn't done any training all winter other than commuting I didn't think I stood a chance.
The first race after the warmup was an 8 lap scratch race. Last season I made the mistake, almost every race, of trying to lead out and race from the front. I'm not Prefontaine, so this didn't work well for me. I was constantly getting passed by several riders on the last lap. So this year I decided I was going to hang back, almost chronically. My goal is just never finish last (which happened several times last year, after leading for several laps). I feel that if I race to never finish last, then I'll have a much better chance of being in a good position to win in that last lap. My sprint is pretty solid, so I'm going to try and rely on that aspect of my abilities to win for me, rather than endurance and high sustained speed.
Well, the new strategy worked very well right off the bat. I hung out at the bottom of the track for most of the race while others jostled for position up top. Then, with about a lap and a half left, I saw a fast guy start to lead out. I was in the perfect position to jump on his wheel, which I did. He did a great lead out, we seperated from the pack, then, with about 200 meters left, I passed him and took it the rest of the way.
All in all, a pretty great way to start the season. Now I have to follow it up with more victories, and maybe an advancement to the "B" group. The problem is that I don't really do much training, so getting faster is gonna be tough. I intend to ramp up the efforts, but whatever.
I don't plan on racing tonight, the second week, because I am exhausted. I worked until 1 am last night. And I'll be out of town next week, so no racing then either. So my next chance to dominate will be the 28th of April. I hope the other guys don't get in shape between now and then!

Talky, talky, talky

I just posted all of this on a forum I frequent, I'll repost here becuase its a blowhard rant, and I'm a blowhard.

This is a bit long winded. . .It seems to me that private business is the driving force behind nearly every major change in our culture. It would be really great to see private businesses realize the benefits of embracing cycling, and promote it. Henry’s Market (on Park Blvd, near El Cajon, University Heights) is less than a mile from my house. Whenever I need to pick something up I ride over there and get it. It takes me less time to hop on my bike, ride over, and lock up then it would to drive and have to find parking.Henry’s is always crowded. You always have to wait for a register. And the vast majority of people shopping there are picking up one, or maybe two, bags of groceries. It isn’t the kind of place where housewife’s shop for families of seven. The parking lot is always full, to the point where there are cars driving around looking for spots to park. Yet the bike rack is almost always empty. There maybe a beach cruiser or two locked to the elementary school-style rack. I don’t get it. Of all the businesses in San Diego, I would think that Henry’s would/should attract the kind of people who would be very open to cycling as a real means of transport. All of its customers are choosing to spend more on groceries that are fresh, local, and organic. Yet they all drive their cars a few blocks to buy these groceries. I don’t know the exact details, but I can’t imagine that a very large percentage of Henry’s sales come from people who live more than 3 miles away. These people live close to the store. The weather is perfect. They are health and earth minded people. But they drive to the market.So what can be done to change this? I think that Henry’s could do a lot! They could start by putting in much better bike racks. They could offer a discount to customers who ride bicycles (they already give a five cent discount for people who bring their own bags). This has been a long and probably boring rant. I guess my point is, or my question is, how do we get businesses like Henry’s to realize that promoting cycling is in their best interest? Are there some other business that might be open to this kind of “intervention”? To really change things we need big businesses not directly associated with cycling to start beating the drum.
Another thought just came to me. Think back 4 or 5 years. How many people brought their own sacks to the grocery store? I think very few. Then what happened? Did the government make laws against plastic bags? (they did in a few places, but not here). The grocery stores started promoting re-usable bags. They sold them right by the register (made it convenient). They offered discounts for users (incentivized). And environmental organizations raised the issue and promoted re-useable bags as an environmentally responsible behavior (social pressure). Now how many people re-use bags? Lots more, right? I don’t have real numbers, but there has been a significant change. Now there is discussion of legislation banning plastic sacks. Legislation follows social action in most cases. How can we apply this model to the use of bicycles?