Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sea Otter XC part 2

Previously on Sea Otter part 1:
I had seen Boone chasing me and taken off like a scared bunny.

I passed the two guys I was working with and put as much time into my chasers as possible, catching my wife Brooke in the process.
The last section of the course was rolling single and double-track opening onto fireroad and I knew Alex was back there so I pushed hard, sprinting over all the rollers and passing when I had the chance.
About a minute after I hit the last LONG (after 2.5 hours racing) fireroad climb out of the valley and over the hill onto Laguna Seca I heard Alex yelling "I'm coming for you Lyle!!!!!!!!!!!!" and turned around to see the familiar Fisher blue of Boone, charging up the hill after me.
At that point, for us, there were only two people in the race. Him and me.
It was honestly the most exhausting, drag-race of a finish ever, with us drilling it for the line at warp, no, PAST warp speed. We may have hit PLAID:

Yep, plaid.
So there we were, racing each other for the line and I think it gave us the extra motivation that we needed because I kept seeing friends that had passed me early on (a nearly 3 hour race is pretty long!). Chris Brown, Romolo, Jason Siegle (YESSSS, sorry Jason but after the ass-kicking that you handed me at Fontana I was particularly happy to reel you in), finally it was one last all-out effort to make a last pass before the last singletrack, fast (but not to fast) as I could through the twistiness, a quick "Hi Cheryl!!!!" (and thanks for the pass) as I saw one of my teammates about to podium in her race, up the funky, gravelly, sketchy, loose, steep right hand turn and out onto the track where I semi-coasted for the line.
I kept looking back all the way down the track, completely relieved that I had enough of a gap that I didn't have to ride hard any more.
At the line I had my timing chip cut off and 45 seconds later Boone came in with only one guy separating us.
Then he and I and Cheryl cooled down together and Brooke and I went back to the hotel with the rest of our family to shower and check out.
We considered having lunch at this phoking place, just because the name was so phoking sweet:
We went back to the venue instead though, I had a beer or 2 with Team Bearclaw, we watched the end of the Pro race (nice job Sammy! 1st in ST and 2nd in XC. If they'd had an omnium you'd have crushed it.), said "hi" to friends (including the Bravo Condoms bulldog, the sweetest and possibly only condom spokesdog to ever ride a quad at Sea Otter), took care of some business and got the heck out of Dodge.
The drive back was scenic because we chose to head down along the coast, even though it adds a bit of time.
We stopped at Taco Temple, possibly the best restaurant in the universe.
We arrived home. We did not unpack. We slept.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sea Otter XC part 1

Lyle-Sea Otter
There were a lot of guys at Sea Otter (as usual) but I barely had time to look around before we were off!
The race course starts (also as usual) on the Laguna Seca race track.
I occasionally glimpsed Alex, John McKeen or Jason as we made our way around the track to the climb up and onto the dirt.
Unfortunately John and Jason were forced to abandon the race due to John's previous injuries falling out of a plane and Jason's STDs.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, up the hill off the track and onto the dirt: so I elbowed my way (literally) into a decent position during the drag race to the dirt and was close enough to the front to avoid the bottleneck effect of seventy-some racers all trying to be the first person through 2 tight switchbacks.
After that it was all-out up several rolling fireroad climbs and descents where I could see Blake Harlan (having a good race and on his way to a top 10 finish) but could not catch him.

blakeotter.jpg, originally uploaded by blake.harlan.
As we all entered the singletrack it was pretty much 70 racers, wheel to wheel! It was a hell of a train.
The trail was fast and loose and after going into a corner a bit hot and digging in my front wheel I lost about 6 spots in the blink of an eye. After I realized that waiting for an opening was not an option unless I was willing to wait while 50 or more riders passed I just jumped in, remounting 'cross style. Sorry whoever I cut off, LOL. That was my only dab in the race though and from then on I held my own in the singletrack and descents, even making several passes on an extremely sandy (think "beach") descent where a few riders were so confused they were barely moving.
I fell in with other racers here and there but ended up slowly dropping people as I steadily moved up through the race.
Things were sort of kicked into gear about halfway through the second lap when I looked over my shoulder as we dropped into a rolling singletrack section and saw Alex Boone and a group of about 15 others about twenty or thirty seconds behind.
Nothing lights a fire under you like seeing your own teammate catching you!....

Stay tuned next time for the exciting conclusion to my Sea Otter XC race.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sea Otter ST.

For once it was actually a DRY Sea Otter, and the Short Track course was dry and fast, although it was rough enough for most of the course that I was wishing I had a full suspension rig between my legs!
Sam Schultz actually WON his ST shortly after I placed 10 in mine.
I had a nice warmup that included stopping to share a bit of John McKeen's beer. This was possibly the highlight of my Sea Otter Short Track experience.
But I digress...
The race started. I went fast up the inside. Jason Lowetz was there, and he went fast too. Note the Team Bearclaw custom paintjob?
Right off the line the course headed uphill and then took a sharp right and went back down.
Jason and I were in pretty ok positions and for the first half of the first lap it looked like we might win the race.
^^^^^This is a picture of me, being chased by a lot of people on bikes.
Unfortunately, as we headed into the second half of the first lap things unraveled.
It started with the guy in front of Jason bobbling on a tiny, off-camber hill section and due to an unforseeable chain of events, ended with Jason suffering from possible multiple STD's and almost getting pulled.
When the hill-bobble occurred I was behind Jason and had time to slow up for a sec, change direction slightly and take a line to the inside left of the clusterf*ck exploding in front of me, but exploding DIRECTLY in front of Jason.
Podium: Matt Googe had a good ride and got to stand on the wood.
After that, the group splintered until there were about 3 guys off the front, then a chase group, then another small group and then me, towing a teammate from Utah and being chased by a whole bunch of bike racers.
It stayed like that for a bit and then I dropped Utah, tried (unsuccessfully) to catch the group ahead of me, tried (successfully) not to get passed and finished the race in 10th place.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Turns out it was 10th.

Tenth place in Short Track and 15th in XC.
At the race they posted my XC placing as 14th but someone must've protested because the online results say 15th. At least I am still top 15, LOL.
I will post a race report as soon as I get some pics up, but basically I was heckled into the top 15 by Alex Boone who was charging up the last climb about 45 seconds behind me yelling "I'm coming for you Lyle!".
Between him chasing and me running like a scared little bee-yotch I think we passed about 10 people in the last 10 minutes of racing.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sea Otter Short Track.

The course was rough but dry. I finished somewhere between 8th and 10th? Tired now and going to take a shower.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Call to, legs?

Racers and Chasers. Vail Lake. May 10th. Be there.

IMG_5965 r and c

This weekend I drove out to Vail Lake for one of the Racers and Chasers series races and I realized what MTB is missing!
Racers and Chasers is a local series that caters to the RACERS. The course was typical So-Cal, dry with some sand, rolling and fast and despite the heat that day and the fact that there was a last minute course re-routing due to high winds it was fun, well marked and challenging, with lots of serpentine singletrack and a several short, steep climbs.

IMG_6016 r and c

The thing that makes this race so cool though is that it is run more like a local 'cross or road race that is put on by racers, for racers.
The entry fees are rediculously fair at only 20 bucks each on the day of! Maybe less if you register online?

IMG_5955 r and c

For elite racers there is full payback (don't quote me on that, but there is DEFINITELY prize money paid out...). Try finding THAT at one of So-Cal's typical races, races that are put on for profit by large promoters.
I am still trying to figure out why I'm paying 91 bucks for Sea Otter XC and 75 for Short Track???? WTF. I know for a fact that I won't see a dollar of that money ever again, even if I win both races.
Add to that the gas, parking(?) fees, hotel or campsite fees and you've got yourself a pretty f'ing expensive weekend!
I am now officially looking forward to doing the next Racers and Chasers event on May 10th, where I won't have to drive as far, the racing is just as fun and some of the money makes it's way back to the riders who deserve it.

IMG_9978 r and c

So to recap: Just as much fun, cheaper, win some gas money(if you have good legs that day), BBQ (I know, I forgot to mention that I am planning on BBQing at the lake after), ANNNNNDDDDDD... May 10th. BE THERE.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Energy Legs. I need them.

Yes, I want to be uncomfortably energetic.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

By request:

Team stuff is here:

This is some new stuff mixed with some old. The cranks are not team issue though, they are just in my house because they are broken and I'm going to take them to Sea Beaver in the hopes that Crank Bro's will be there.

More stuff:


More stuff:


Of course I recognize that this is possibly the most anti-climactic post in history, a messy bunch of boxes of $#!T in my living room but apparently it was promised to the masses of Cycling Life readers (all six, hi Mom) by my other (better) half, so here it is.




Again, I apologize for the anti-climactic nature of this post. It was not my intention. Rest assured that here at Cycling Life blogging headquarters we always aim to climax.

Monday, April 07, 2008

AZ NORBA... omnium? stage-race?


We started out to the race on Wednesday by driving to Sedona, where John, Mary, Brooke and I ended up at the Comfort Inn. It was the cheapest place we could find, but it turned out have super comfy beds and included breakfast!

After breakfast the four of us met up with Mike and Alexandra, and we all kitted up.


By the time we started riding though, my tummy was rumbling and the pizza place I'd seen in town was calling me back.

It all worked out though because after just a few minutes of riding we realized 2 things: This was going to be a much harder ride than the easy hour of spinning that my training plan called for, and that this was going to be a much harder ride than would be fun for Mary, who had only done MTB a handful of times (even though she is crazy enough to run, bike and swim for 8 hours or something!)

Needless to say, I was stoked. After a few minutes of bargaining with my wife, it was decided that we would get pizza!
The pizza place was great, and we had soup and salad too. While we ate and drank ginger ale we watched the lizards that were crawling on the patio wall, until it started to rain and we moved inside and sat at the bar.

After lunch Brooke and Mary and I had a great ride and found a really neat trail called the Templeton Trail.









We all met up a couple of hours later and went to the grocery store where we got dinner fixin's, then went back to Mike and Alexandra's cabin where we all cooked, ate, and hung out.




John and Mary stayed in one of the rooms at the cabin that night, but Brooke and I set out on our own adventure!

After we left, we drove down the road looking for a nice place to camp and ended up in a really nice spot next to a river:


...and under a flowering plum (?) tree.
The ground was flat and soft.




The next morning our truck wouldn't start (yikes) no matter what we did. It sounded like the starter motor had a sticky solenoid.
It had hesitated earlier in the trip, but nothing like the complete refusal to start that it was doing now.
We figured that maybe it would turn over once it warmed up, so we left the sun beating on the hood and rode our bikes up the road to the cabin for coffee on the balcony overlooking the river.

Several cups of coffee later we rode back to the car, felt the hood (nice and warm) and it started right up.

We packed and headed to Fountain Hills, but because of traffic on the way we didn't get to check into our hotel OR preride the course as planned.
We had to go straight to the venue, get our numbers and ride to the start, AANNNNNDDDDDDD...... wait. In hindsight, we could've pre-ridden after all, oh well.

And that's how the racing started.

The Super-D was really just a TT. It was all out for 16 minutes if you were Geoff Kabush or 18 and a half minutes if you were me.

That put me in 24th-ish place, about 30 seconds behind the stage winner (I think, if you want precision try

The next day I watched a friend race in the Expert Short Track (Go Wes!!!) and then we pre-rode the XC course, I drank some water and narrowly missed out on a call-up for ST. They called up the top 20.

I started as hard as I could and I think I was around 30th of 50-60 riders. The first turn everything kind of bunched up and I could be wrong (correct me if I am Papo) but I think my teammate Papo kind of got "pinched" on the wrong side of the turn and ended up having to fight his way through the back of the field.


Meanwhile, I was yo-yoing around in the middle. I couldn't quite catch up to a Rock Lobster racer but I trailed behind him until a Content Works rider caught me. I figured I'd suck his wheel but when I looked back I saw that he was pulling 2 other riders!


I figured I had better suck it up and attack then because there was only 1 1/2 laps to go.




It was a long gradual uphill (about 300 meters?) and then a hairpin 180 and around 50 meters to the start/finish. I just drilled it all the way to the top, sprinted around the turn and down past the start/finish line, and when I looked back I had a good sized gap. Yay!


After that there was a slightly winding descent for a minute, through the sand, and then sharp left into a run-up (or if you had a clear line and were feeling brave, a steep hill to impress spectators by riding.)

When I got to the sharp left section I leaned a bit to make the turn and my bike sort of flop-wobbled in a mostly straight but kinda leftish direction, telling my oxygen deprived brain that my front tire was a LOT mushier then it had been earlier in the race. Shit.

I lost about half of my gap to the 3 chasers with my incredibly awkward dismount and redirection of bike (and body) toward the runup and the other half of the gap was lost while I rode gingerly up the hill to the final turn, trying not to put any weight on the front wheel and not to turn unless I REALLY had to. The 3 chasers all passed me.


I made the last turn in slow motion, praying that I had time to get to the line before ANOTHER rider passed me. As soon as I had my bike pointed at the finish line I gave it all I had and nobody else caught me... although I'm pretty sure that if he had seen my flat tire he would've had all the incentive he needed to pass me.

Anyway, I think I got 25th place and since I got so lucky with my tire and was able to finish with only 3 riders passing me I really can't complain.

When I got back to the hotel I looked at my HRM file and figured that I was overtrained: my HR for the race was under 170!

The next day we raced at 8 and since there was only call-up for the top 20, Papo and I had to crawl our way up from the back.

I got lucky with my start because I was all the way over on the right side when someone stepped out of their pedal or something (?) and there was a huge cluster-f--k in the middle of the pack.

Anyway, it slowed down a lot of the group and helped me get up toward the front without my having to work too much for it.

It was a particular advantage on this course because there was NO place to pass for the next 9.5 miles.

My first lap was pretty strong but I started to fade at the end of it, with my back feeling really tight.

Towards the end of the 2nd lap a certain friend of mine from Ohio caught up to me and towed me for a bit until we caught another rider. I started to feel a bit better then, and I decided that it was now or never so I took him up on his offer to pass.

As we went into a turn, he went high and I went low. It got a little exciting then because with the speed of the turn, the centrifical (?) force pushed me up and out on the berm, and with a cloud of sand flying up I narrowly missed taking us both out!

I yelled something to him about getting "RAD" and he yelled something back about "lucky" and "would've punched you in the head".

I figured he was glued to my wheel but I tried to drop him anyway, and I caught a break (I think) when I went to pass the next semi-pro in line and the guy blew straight through a right hand turn, letting me pass but (I think) getting back on the trail in front of my buddy/nemesis.

After that it was just a drag race for the next 5-7 miles, with us both passing at least 5 or 6 semi-pro's and a handful of other racers before him finishing just one rider behind me.

I barely had time to open my Gatorade before Papo came rolling in with a semi-mangled rear derailleur due to some tool rear-ending him out on the course.

I'm guessing he had to put his single-speed skillz to work since he couldn't get onto the big end of his cassette?

I didn't flat though and I don't think Papo did either. After my triple flat last year I carried 3 tubes and a handful of CO2.

There were plenty of things to flat on though, and several of them ended up in my leg. You can see one glinting in the sun. I didn't notice until after the race though.


Then we went for an easy spin up the road with some other racers to cool down our legs and that's all she wrote.