Thursday, August 18, 2011

Craiglist Ad

I just couldn't resist. Made me laugh. Hope you laugh too!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Race Report: OBRA Criterium Championships

©Matthew Lasala
Photo By: Matthew Lasala
So the OBRA crit championships were this last Saturday in Bend, Or.

It was a beautiful day and a really great course through a residential area in the southwestern side of Bend. I'm not exactly sure how they got all the people in the neighborhood to sign off on the idea of having the race through their streets given they couldn't park there the entire day. But I'm very glad that they did. It was a really fun course. Very tight corners set on a slight hillside made a  lot of technical skill a prerequisite to do well (Or balls of steel.). There was a hill on the backside of the course up part of a roundabout back up on to the finishing straight which made things pretty tough.

My race wasn't until about 2:30 in the afternoon (Which I love. Although it does suck up an entire day.) so I didn't leave Salem until about 10 am. If figured that would give me plenty of leeway in case of traffic or pit stops and what not.

The drive over was nice. I got to listen to a couple podcasts and some music to set my mind straight and get in the groove.

I arrived with about an hour and half to spare. So I got ready. Dropped off my pit wheels, signed in and watched the remainder of the juniors race along with some of the women's race.

Then I went to work starting to warm up. I've found it best for me to be running pretty hot from the very beginning in a crit or I struggle a good portion of the race just trying to meet the accelerations out of the corners and up the hills. So I did five minutes of fairly hard effort along with some thirty second jumps to try and get the legs to wake up. Then I spun until about 10 minutes to start.

As I rolled up to the line I was kind of surprised at how few jerseys I recognised. I guess between the Twilight Crit (In Portland, not the one in Eugene.) the night before. Along with the 3 hour drive it keeps a lot of the valley guys away. Which is to bad. The race was run flawlessly and it was a lot of fun. Meh. I guess most Valley folk are a fickle bunch. Although I think the 3 hour drive mark is about as far as I would go for a day trip to a race. Any farther than that and I would be to tired from driving to really put out a good effort.


When the whistle blew it was balls to the wall for about 4 or 5 laps. I got  a good hole shot but lost several places in the first few corners. As we were flying around several things became very apparent.

First that the elevation does effect things in a couple ways. You can go a couple miles an hour faster. I was seeing speeds about two miles an hour faster pretty consistently.  It also made me start seeing stars a bit quicker than normal. Which wasn't to bad. But trying to make a break stick or chasing something down would prove to be "interesting".

Another was after a long (ish) straight away at the bottom of the course we would make a right hand turn to an uphill portion of a round about. And going from this downhill to an uphill with a tight corner made for some of the quickest transitions of speed I've ever done. Like from 30 mph to 15 mph within a stretch of 50 feet. I was smelling burnt rubber and in my oxygen derived state it took me a while to realize it was brake pads melting. That's a first for me.

And probably the most supposing thing. Although not entirely unexpected. Was that guys were racing pretty cutthroat. Most every 4/5 race I've ever been in if you told some one you were on their left coming into a corner they will give you the space as a curtiousy. Not so much here. You had to fight for wheels.  I don't know if it was an east side thing. Or perhaps given my run in with people earlier this year in Bend maybe I am developing a reputation. I don't know... But there were several times I would let a guy know that I was either side of them and come the next corner they were chopping me on principal alone. So I learned real quick that I was going to have to be a little more assertive with myself.

We when round and round. And with every lap the grenading brakes at the bottom of the course and then fighting back on to the wheel in front of me up the hill was a testing fight.  I was hoping that I could get towards the front before the end so that I could take a clear line through the final corners. I knew that was the only way I was going to be able to contend.

I'd love to say that that's exactly what happened. Unfortunately that wasn't  the case.

With one lap to go I was on the inside about half way through the pack and I was just waiting for the inevitable.

 And it happened....

 I heard that terrible sound of metal and carbon sliding across the street. Luckily it was behind me. But it's one of those givens in lower category racing (Although I was hearing later it was pretty bad this go around in the upper categories too.). Guys get excited, their brains are in oxygen debt and aren't thinking clearly. And guys always seem to think they can pedal through those final turns. But on this course there was no way that was going to work. The last three corners on that track were all off camber. Add that to speed and the lean that guys are putting on their bikes and it's an equation for disaster. Luckily it appeared afterward that no one was seriously hurt. But it definitely took half a dozen or so people out of the race. But that's just the way it is sometimes...

As we made the final corner into the finishing straight I was shocked to see guys easing up. And they didn't appear to be out of gas. I can understand not wanting to contest the sprint for safety reasons if you're not in contention. But I've always been of the opinion to finish as strong as you can. Maybe not sprinting for 30th place or anything. But still. Just seemed like an odd thing to do.

As I rolled over the finish line I really had no idea where I was at in the placings. It was a jumbled up mess of bikes and bodies. I honestly thought I was pretty far back. But was pleasantly surprised with an 8th place!

 I'll take it. Considering my condition (The utter lack of a sprint that I have had the last month or so.)  and constant hill repeats from an almost stand still for 45 minutes I feel pretty good about it.

This coming weekend My love and I are riding with two other couples up the Aufderheid​e‏ highway between the Mckenzie Bridge and Oakridge. I'm really looking forward to it. The ride is suppose to be roughly 70 miles each way and it's a two day trip. The weather is going to be great (Although hot.). And I'm excited for a change of scenery. Until then....

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Questions About Helmets

This is an email conversation that I had with my friend Cynde (Happy Birthday Cynde!(Now a day late because I procrastinate to much.)) when Jim Henry's accident happened a couple of months ago. I hesitated posting it at the time because I didn't want to seem insensitive about the circumstances of the crash. As well as pouring salt on any one's wounds. Hopefully you guys don't feel that way if I post it now. I still felt like they are good questions to ask.

Helmets can be a pretty polarizing subject for people. There are some who feel everyone should have to wear them when on a bicycle no matter what. And there are others who feel like it should be their own personal decision.

I'm certainly not going to tell a person weather or not they should wear a helmet. Except for my own under age family members. Which for our older boys it can be quite the challenge convincing them they need to wear one. That whole teenage invincibility thing... 

Helmet's are something that I never put that much thought into when I was their age either. (This is way back in the day. When men were men and still at work...)

 I mean I'm "just riding a bike" what could possibly go wrong!? If I was going to race or do something really rad! Or possibly even gnarly. Then I would wear one. But that was it...

Now that I'm older and have accumulated a vast (Okay medium.) array of knowledge in between my ears I'd be really pissed with myself if I lost all that because I wasn't wearing a helmet that could probably save most of it.

I recently read a statistic that said that 9 out of 10 cycling fatalities involved a person that wasn't wearing a helmet. But, like I mention in the email question helmets are not a 100% guarantee. But really, what in this life is? Ultimately you just never know. All that you can do is minimize your risk and enjoy your life while your here.

So all that being said wear a helmet and here is the email conversation....

I do not know the details of the bike crash and figure you do (editors note; Jim Henry's crash). Does my helmet give me a false sense of security? Always know that there is a risk of going down and getting some major injures but a head injury was something that the helmet is suppose to protect us from.

Our helmets make us safer then if we didn't have anything. But they are designed to protect us from a glancing blow. Not a straight hard impact. So think about sliding along the pavement vs smacking square into a car. It's not to say it won't help in a situation like that. It's just not designed to do so.

As far as Jim's situation. I believe he fell on his non-arm side. And since he didn't have a arm and shoulder to help suck up the impact he just smacked his head square on the road. This is all hearsay of course because I wasn't there. But from the accounts I heard. That's what sounds like happened.

You ride long enough its just a matter of when, not if you will get into an accident. But thank God things like Jim's case are very rare.

So to answer your question. Real safety on a bike is an illusion. But things like a helmet, good bike handling skills and as funny as it sounds knowing how to fall correctly can all improve your chances dramatically.

I hope that helps.

Really, you have time to think about how to fall? Knock on wood, I have managed to stay upright. Would like to believe riding slower and not as close has aided in my track record.

Some times you do have that split second to react. Other times you never see it coming. If you do see it coming, balling up and rolling makes a big difference. Its when you put your arms straight out that you get broken collar bones and things like that.

And not to put the fear in you. But a lot of slow speed crashes where you smack down vs skidding. Are the ones where people can get hurt pretty good. My friend Aaron broke his hip going 14mph. And he was in his late 20s at the time in awesome shape. He hit it just right and the impact of his falling body from three feet (Estimate) was enough.

But like I said before. Most of these things are pretty rare. It's usually just bangs, bruises, and broken equipment. I mean a bunch of people went down in Jim's crash. And all but him walked away. You just never know.

Climbing is much the same way, thousands go up and down safely. Then a rock breaks loose, and someone dies. It's all about calculated risk. I'll try and remember to "ball up". Thanks.

Rubber side down and foam lid up everybody,

Big E

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Salem Short Track XC Race Report

Last night I got a chance to race the second in the Salem Short Track XC Series put on by Buy Local Cycling team at the Oregon State Fairgrounds.

I wasn't really sure I was going to be able to because of family commitments. But as luck would have it I was able to break away for an hour or so and race.

It was a nice change of pace. Lately I've been getting burned out on criteriums. Even though I really enjoy crits it was nice to do a hard solo effort in the dirt.

The course incorporates the BMX track, dirt track (For cars or motorcycles I assume), the dirt jumps (The little ones.) and the surrounding areas. All relatively flat with the technical sections being the jumps and BMX track. And man do I suck at those parts! I understand the concept of pumping over jumps and whoops (A bunch of little jumps close together.). But I could not get the hang of it. I would be going fast enough that I while I was pushing my front wheel down the backside of the jump the rear end of my bike would be bouncing over the top like a bucking bronco.

I did the Cat 3 race with my cyclocross bike. Which I had just got done putting back together just before I ran off to race. So the whole race I was hoping and praying that it wasn't going to fall apart. Which it didn't. Thank God.

When we rowed up for the start there were quite a few people (20-25 I'm guessing.) Of all shapes and sizes. I didn't get to the front row but was on the outside in the second row so I wasn't to worried about the start. When the whistle blew I was amazed at the slow(ish) start. I came around the first corner fourth or fifth wheel as we all slotted in for the first narrow technical section. Little did I know that that's the way the standings were going to stay pretty much the whole race. Had I realized that's the way it would work out I would have been more aggressive. Meh. Live and learn...

As the race continued it became pretty evident that the sorting out had occurred already and we were just pacing around at about the same distance from one another. I would gain a little on the guy ahead of me on the straight aways and he would resurrect the gap on the technical sections (Did I mention I sucked at those parts?). I had one fellow on my tail for a good portion of the race (Hey Spencer!) and somewhere in the middle of the race he passed me on the BMX track but as soon as we were back on a straight I passed him back. And he just waited there. Unfortunately I knew exactly what he was doing... And like clock work. The second to last lap he passed me on the track again. Only this time I didn't have enough poop to get by him on the straights. Kudos to him. I just didn't have it in me.

So I ended up 4-6th place. Not sure yet because results haven't been posted. But I am happy regardless. It was fun and different. And it gave me a real whiff of cross. Which I'm getting more excited for with every passing day.

Tomorrow I'm going to post an email conversation I had with a friend about helmets. Until then,

Rubber side down,

Big E  

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Blackberry Bramble

Much like J here, I also had wood. I had a gigantic pile of wood for the Blackberry Bramble. Don't believe me? Just look here....

See, I told you.

Not only that. But this is seriously Noti wood. I know, because I stopped by the Noti Pub and asked them. 

The Blackberry is a ride that we have ridden for the past several years (4-5?). And it's always enjoyable.

This year we had a rag tag bunch from the Scott's group that came down for the festivities.

Here are part of them. I was trying to get a picture of all of their jerseys. But instead it turned out more like they were perplexed by the sight of the dike at the reservoir (How's all that water stay in there?).

Those of us who had them wore our Pacific Source kits (You know, because we rock like that.). I was surprised how many questions and comments we got about them. It wouldn't have surprised me to see some people from Kiezer Permanente or Blue Cross hop out of the bushes and want to rumble like in Westside Story.


But alas it didn't happen.

But what did happen was a lovely ride with a bunch of lovely people.

I really like the roads out west of Eugene. Very picturesque country scenery and very good (Except on one climb.) road surface.

The drivers were even kind for the most part. Happily waiting for us to roll through. One of the classic ironies of cycling is that if you stop and wait at a stop sign for a car.  9 out of 10 times they will wave you through. But if you roll (Slowly) through a stop sign before they get to the intersection they get pissed! It's weird, but true.

We managed to keep the group together for the whole ride. Which for us, is quite the feat.

In fact I have but one regret. At the first stop there was the most rare of rare sightings. It was like seeing a snow leopard in the wild. It was the "Uber Fred". Picture in your mind... Heavy set man, t-shirt under his salt crusted bib shorts (I don't think he had washed them.) male pantie lines clearly visible, industrial sized fanny pack, visor on his helmet, with optional rearview mirror and a serious extension on the stem of his bike. He was truly breath taking.

I unfortunately think he felt my presence and scurried away before I could snap a photo. So I only have eye witness reports from two of our group and my own fond memories to tied me over in the hunt for such elusive creatures. Sigh.... Oh well. I can only keep up the search. And perhaps next time get lucky enough to get a picture.

Anyway, we had a great time. Followed by great beer at the Ninkasi Brewery. I can honestly say that Ninkasi is only one of three breweries that I have ever liked every beer that I've tried from them (HUB and Pelican are the others. If you were curious....).

Unfortunately they didn't have any food at the brewery. So after much debate we found some good food as well.

The word for the day.


Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Bucket Load Of Meh

Sorry I haven't written in a few days. For the most part I haven't written because I didn't have anything to write about.

Both the races that I talked about doing this weekend got 86'ed because of work.  It's amazing to me how quickly a weekend with no real plans can go from that, to chock-a-block full of work.

I ended up having to help erect (Huh huh huh, I said erect...) an AM radio antenna (Don't ask.) on Saturday and the Ol' Team Van decided that it no longer wanted to hold it's coolant Saturday night so J and I replaced the radiator on Sunday. And when I say "I". I mean that I watched J do it and handed him parts and tools without getting in the way. But sometimes that's just the way it goes.

Last night I went down to the Twilight Crit in Eugene by myself (Guess Adam watched me drive away wanting to go. Oops. Sorry Adam.)

It was not the best of races for me. The same thing keeps happening. I feel okay. Not great, but  okay.

I don't have a very hard time closing the gaps or keeping my place in the group. But I can't seem to sprint to save my life. I guess I've just been doing to much lactic threshold (Didn't know I knew such technical terms did ya...) work and not enough sprint work.  I talked to Omer and things will be changed in my training to give me some of that. I hope it comes around in time for the OBRA Crit Championships.

That's one of the other big races of the year for me. It's being held in Bend this year. And the course looks awesome!

I'm hoping the altitude doesn't effect me to much. It didn't seem to when I did the Bend Don't Break race there a couple of months ago. But then again a crit is a whole different kind of effort. So I guess we shall see.

Maybe I should sleep up on a cave like a bear on top of a mountain. You know, for altitude training... What!? It could work...

Until then I've got The Black Berry Bramble this Sunday. Which I'm looking forward to. It's always a nice route and I enjoy the company of friends.

I am either going to go do the Salem Short Track XC  race on Monday. Or the Twilight Crit on Tuesday again. I'm not sure which.  If I was a serious stud I'd do both. But quite frankly I'm not real sure I am a stud so...

 I'm either under trained or over tired. I can't really tell to be honest with you. I have a pretty physical job. And it's physicalness has been quite high lately. So I'm leaning to the over tired side. But I could be talked out of that too. I know. I'm wishy-washy.

Hopefully some form starts coming around soon. I would like to give it one last big show before cross season starts. It's funny. I'm already starting to salivate about cross. I guess I'm getting in the mood for a change of scenery.

Until next time....

Rubber side down,

Big E