Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race

A.W. collected some great pictures of the past weekend's 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race.  And before you ask, we don't know the whole story on F.J.'s face-crash, but we hear he's okay.  Hopefully more details later.
I'm going fast, right?


This is hard work.
I'm not afraid - I just look like it.
Beautiful kit - thanks for noticing!

No, that isn't a strawberry goo I spilled.

Are they still looking for extras in that Zombie show?

On your left, on your left!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bike Racers are Amazing

Two videos that show, in different ways, the skills that set apart top-level bike racers from most bike riders.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Enumclaw Stage Race Report

The following is from Jed Barden, a relatively recent Spokane transplant that has jumped right into the River City Red Cycling team, about his own efforts and those of teammate Richie Frahm.  Take it away, Jed:

There is so much that goes into getting to the start line of a stage race.  Travel, gear, lodging, food.  It's been about two years since I've done a stage race, and I am reminded the logistics compared to a one-day race are much more complex.  Since I am hoping to have my act together for Baker City in June, I needed an early season stage race under my belt. 

However, my motivation last week was dropping.  Not only was this a B training race for me, the weekend weather forecast in Enumclaw looked bad--70% chance of showers.  My main concern was the eight-corner crit, which is dicey even when dry.   But I grew up in Seattle and I haven't lived in Spokane long enough to turn into a water weenie.  And as our director sportif said last week, HTFU.   

But more ominous signs.  Getting ready to leave Friday I suffered not one, but two inner tube blowouts--while loading the car.  Apparently I did not get the inner tubes inside the beads properly the night before when I was changing tires.  This has never happened to me before, and just nuts that it happened twice in the span of about 20 minutes.  This unfortunately delayed my departure; plans for luxurious lodging were replaced by the tent and sleeping bag I threw in the car at the last minute. 

After a long nap outside of Vantage, I rolled into Enumclaw late, about 2:30am, and set up my tent in the county park near the TT start line.  I had just grabbed my sleeping bag from my car and was walking to my tent when suddenly a flashlight shines on me and I hear, "it's the police!"  The officer wanted to know what I was doing.  I told him I was going to sleep.  He asked why.  I said because it was late and I was tired.  He asked where I was from.  I said I just drove over from Spokane.  Across the pass?  Uh huh.  He then commented about weirdos in this part of the park.  By this point in the conversation he noticed my cycling cap and Gorge Roubaix t-shirt. He asked if I was there for the bike race.  Yes.  (An answer that now had me slotted as a cool guy, as opposed to a weirdo.  Although, most "normal" people I talk to about driving all night to race a bike in the rain think I'm a weirdo, but I digress).  The officer then kindly pointed me in the direction of a campground about a hundred yards away, and wished me good luck in the race.  So I upgraded to the campground.  The Enumclaw police hugely support this race and it was nice that they were there to greet me, even in the middle of the night!     

Meanwhile, Richie was sound asleep in a hotel about fifty yards away. 

Time Trial
57 riders had signed up for cat 3.  Good strong competition with many teams from BC, Canada.  Race rules called for mass start bikes with no aero equipment.  At the start the guy behind me was complaining there was no start ramp.  I asked where he had done a TT with a start ramp.  "Nationals."  Ok. 

Despite the gloomy weather predictions, there was no rain and conditions for the TT were perfect.  I finished about a minute down from the leader, around 30th.  Richie had a good TT and was sitting about 15th (:40 down).  

The TT start was 10am.  Our Crit start was 8pm.  I have never had that long of a break between same day events.  Instead of hanging out in Enumclaw I drove to Seattle to visit my sister.  The sun was out and it was a beautiful day there.  When I drove back to Enumclaw, the sky began to cloud up.  When I crossed the city limits the pavement went from dry to wet.  Awesome.  Richie had been watching the earlier crits and tells me it is just carnage.  The main problem being the white and yellow lines all over the course.  Fortunately the clouds clear, the sun peaks out, and the course mostly dries up by our race. 

We all line up to start, Richie and I in the second and third rows respectively.  Starting position in this crit is critical.  With the figure-eight configuration there are only a couple spots where it is possible to move up.  If you are in the back you are working harder than the guys in the front--the accordion effect in action.  The official asks how many juniors are in the race.  About 15 riders raise their hands.  Audible groans from other riders.  Juniors have a reputation for being strong but sketchy.

After the start I am in the back third and Richie is in the front third.  Being in the back I am working super hard out of the corners.  After moving my way up to about 15th position, my rear tire goes flat.  I almost slide out in the next corner before I can get clear of the field.  I swap wheels, get my free lap, and get back in with about 20 minutes to go.  Fueled by adrenaline I work up to about 20th before running out of gas and drop to the back.  I thought I was going to get popped but there were enough wheels to follow to stay on.  With eight laps to go a crash in one of the many corners takes out 4-5 guys in front of me.  I avoid the bikes and bodies and sprint back to the pack. 

Sitting about 45th with 5 to go, I was resigned to a pack finish time.  I could see Richie further up looking good.  With 1 to go the pace predictably picks up.  About halfway through the lap, a nasty crash in one of the corners.  Unfortunately Richie is caught up in it, with about six others.  Richie's right side and kit are cut up and I guide him to the finish line.  When the EMT in the medical tent tells Richie to get his elbow cleaned up at the ER, he looks off with a steely gaze and mutters something about character. 

I get a pack time but Richie drops about 3 minutes on GC.  Scoring effup there but rumor was the time keepers were boozing that night. 

Road Race
This was the day it was really supposed to rain, but the skies were bright and almost sunny at midday for our 1pm start.  While Richie cruises around the campground working out the soreness, I am still wrestling with my damn inner tubes.  The course is five laps, 72 miles, with a 500 foot climb each lap up Mud Mountain.  After the start, the pace is leisurely except for a fair amount of twitchiness.  We hit the first climb and the pace is still easy.  No fireworks yet. 

On the second lap, bad luck strikes Richie again as he flats.  Sam Maples also flats (he flatted in the crit too).  To compound Richie's bad luck, he is given a junior wheel with a 25 tire.  A tire that does not fit into his S5.  After riding on the tire and burning his frame for half a lap, he heads back to the team van to switch bikes.  Richie goes back out onto the course but is significantly behind and DNFs. 

The second lap is also when the sky darkens and it starts raining, hard.  Everyone is completely soaked as we hit the base of the climb on lap 2.  The pace at the front lifts but I try to stay at a comfortable tempo knowing that most of race is still in front of me.  At the top there is a long false flat plateau.  There I can see that the peloton has split into three groups; I am in the third and largest group.  I sit at the back of this group knowing (hoping?) others will work to catch the front groups.  We catch the second group on the long descent down highway 410.  It takes our now main pack another 4-5 miles to catch the front group of about 10 riders on the flat section. 

The third time up the climb, the race lights up.  As the climb starts my positioning is bad and I am towards the back.  This is a stair step climb with portions you can draft.  I was caught up in a slower group but did not want to push wind.  When we hit the sustained climbing section I threw down wattage but could not catch the lead group of about 20 riders.  Regrouping with a few stragglers, we started pacelining to catch back on.  A couple guys were ready to throw in the towel.  Screw that, there was a lot of racing left.  In our group of about 7-8, four of us work to pull back the front group over about 10 miles.  We finally caught them about two miles before the climb.  Nice, but there would soon be a price to pay for my efforts.   

Fourth time up the climb, the pace is reasonable but I was at the limit.  I manage to hang until the very top where I get unhitched.  Argh!  There is one other dropped guy who I chase with, and the lead group dangles in front.  But with only two us, both fried, we were not going to catch back on.  I spot a couple other riders approaching from behind and we sit up and wait for them.  We ride the fifth lap together, through an increasing drizzle.  I was essentially bonked after the last climb and just dragged myself to the finish line.  Fortunately Richie was there was some drinks. 

About a third of the field DNFed the road race.

22nd overall in GC, plus some good training and lessons learned.  The most important lesson is how critical positioning is.  I wasted a lot of energy because of poor position, both in the crit and in the road race.  Also, I need to learn how to change a dang tire.   

Monday, May 12, 2014

On Tap - Craft Beer Week Edition

This is Craft Beer Week.  To celebrate, lots of places are featuring hand-crafted beer and special events.  Check out your favorite watering hole to see what they are doing and please consider stopping in to any of these places and thanking them for supporting great, local beer this week and every week.

Northern Quest Casino
Jackson’s Sports Bar (Yakima)
MacKenzie River Pizza (downtown)
Ripples – Red Lion on the River
The Lantern Tap House
The Onion Downtown
Webster’s Ranch House Saloon
Total Wine & More (North & Valley)
Bardenay Restaurant (CdA)
Denny’s (Geiger)
Famous Ed’s
Fire Artisan Pizza (CdA)
JJ’s Grill
Fire Artisan Pizza (downtown)
Left Bank Wine Bar
Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
The Beer Shoppe (Yakima)
Steelhead Bar and Grille
Sunset Mart (Pullman)
The Italian Kitchen
Seasons of Coeur d’Alene
Rocket Market

The Growler Guys (Richland)
Jackson’s Sports Bar (Yakima)
Nyne Restaurant and Bar
Stubblefields (Pullman)
The Lantern Tap House
The Onion (North)
Pacific Avenue Pizza
Total Wine & More (North & Valley)
Lilac Lanes
Garland Avenue Drinkery
The Shop
Fox and Bear Public House (Richland)
Morty’s Tap and Grille

The Moscow Alehouse
Chair’s Public House
Mid Columbia (Kennewick)
The Basement (Cheney)
Fedora Pub and Grill (CdA)
The Growler Guys (Richland)
MacKenzie River Pizza (Downtown)
Manito Tap House
McKay’s Tap House (Richland)
Paper Street Alehouse (Kennewick)
Red Monkey (Walla Walla)
Twigs Bistro (Wandermere)
Fox and Bear Public House (Richland)
No-Li Brewing
Waddell’s Neighborhood Pub
Ramada Inn at the Airport
Red Robin (Valley)
Screaming Yak
Adelos Take-N-Bake Pizza
Fieldhouse Pizza Pub
Bricks & Barley (Sandpoint)

Fox and Bear Public House (Richland)
Rocket Natural Market
Uncle Sam’s Saloon (Kennewick)
Vintage Vine’s
Bennedito’s Pizza
South Perry Pizza
The Lantern Tap House
Fire Artisan Pizza (Kennewick)
The Flying Goat
The Growler Guys (Richland)
The Hop Shop
Waddell’s Brewpub and Grill
Pacific Avenue Pizza
Red Robin (Valley)
Bag O’ Nails Pub
Butcher Bar
Fox and Bear Public House (Richland)
Greenbrair Foods
The Black Diamond
Two Seven Public House
Zentropa Pizzeria

MacKenzie River Pizza (Downtown, 57th, and Nevada)
Window’s – Red Lion at the Park
Saranac Public House
The Moscow Alehouse
Total Wine & More (North & Valley)
Wolf Lodge Inn (Idaho)
Chan’s Dragon Inn
Pacific Avenue Pizza
Birch Barley (CdA)
The Growler Guys (Richland)
Mid Columbia (Kennewick)
Bill’s Place (Yakima)
Capone’s (CdA)
My Office Bar and Grill (Pullman)
Rooster’s Landing
The Screaming Yak
The Lantern Tap House
Zany’s Hollywood Grill
A-1 Smokeshop
Java on Sherman
JJ’s Bar and Grill

The Growler Guys (Richland)
Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops
The Lantern Tap House
The Boiler room
Brix Elevage (Ellensburg)
Hogan’s (Clarkston)
Somewhere Bar and Grill
Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
Italia Trattoria
Total Wine & More (Valley & North)
Linnie Thai Cuisine
Neato Burrito

The Black Diamond
The Lantern Tap House
Adelos Take-N-Bake Pizza

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Monday Team Ride

I have been asked to provide a report of Monday’s Ride.  When I was asked I pointed out that not every ride deserves a report, that some rides are just rides.  But then I was told I was wrong, dead wrong, as I had forgotten the one thing that JM’s obsession with Rapha was supposed to have taught me – that every time you get on a bike – it’s epic.  Of course, it’s more epic if you are wearing Rapha clothing and sporting a beard that would put lumberjacks and Portland baristas to shame, but still, it’s epic.  Every g-d time.  So here is my ride report.

Team Ride – Monday Bloody Monday

Monday started out as just like any other ordinary Monday.  Wake up, scratch my ass, regret my weekend.  A story as old as time itself.

I rolled over, picked up my phone and checked my Facebook astrology chart.  A 1-star day.  Just my fuckin’ luck.  Then I checked AM’s Instagram account.  Another picture of a cat doing something cute.  Doesn’t that guy ever get tired of taking those pictures?  After that, a weather check.  Damn.  Rain, thunderstorms, more rain.  It was time to check the Rules – yup, they were the same as they had always been.  Rule 5, Rule 9 - HTFU and any ride in bad weather, blah, blah blah.  I guess it was time to throw the bike in the car and prepare for my 5 pm meeting with destiny.

The day wore on, I tried to hydrate and prepare myself.  I checked the sky warily.  Sure enough, the one time that hottie TV weather girl is right this century – dark clouds roll in, rain follows.  Throw in some wind and a threat of thunderstorms and you have the perfect recipe for a shit ride.  The day lurched forward like Martin Sheen making his way up the river to meet Marlon Brando, except this time I was the fat, crazy one waiting at the end.  And sure enough, the end came.  It was finally 5 pm – time to thrown on the bibshorts, tape my knuckles and roll out to meet the team at Bike Hub.  Of course, I say “team” but what a rag-tag group of lovable ragamuffins – all with rap sheets as long as their arms and the only heart of gold was the one TC was rumored to have cut out of a hooker in Reno after a bad spill in the Flatlands Downhill Gravity Challenge in ’99. 

Yeah, the hardcore part of the gang was there – BH, PO'N, AM, TC & JB – but to our surprise, the bad weather wasn’t.  For some reason the weather had finally decided to give us a break, unlike every dame we ever met.  The sun came out, the clouds parted and all of sudden, there was reason for one more bit of false hope in this stinking place we call Earth.  Also, another surprise showed up, a young rider, AL, who spends his day on the pedals transporting foot-long sandwiches where ever white people need hoagies.  And one last surprise, JM, one of his several children in tow, not ready to ride a bike, but just looking to score a beer in the false expectation that he wasn’t surrounded by hard men fully aware of our obligation to ride come hell or high water.  We told JM to sod off and we rolled away from the curb.

And then, we rode our bikes. 

It was really a nice time.  We talked and rode along a reasonable pace and had a very lovely time.  Then afterwards we had a beer.  It was really a nice way to end the day.  You should all come join us next week!

Ta ta for now!