Archive for October, 2007

Here’s the finish line photo of me and Dave Diviney.

Finish line

Last week, Candi Murray provided a few marker lap times from the Ranier race:

A 1st     A 14th    A+ 1st    A+ 13th   B+ 1st    B+ 26th

0:07:01   0:08:04   0:08:01   0:08:52   0:08:57   0:10:07
0:07:07   0:08:09   0:08:14   0:08:41   0:08:54   0:09:51
0:07:29   0:08:21   0:08:10   0:09:01   0:09:00   0:09:46
0:07:13   0:08:13   0:08:14   0:09:03   0:08:45   0:09:44
0:07:28   0:08:20   0:08:21   0:09:12
0:07:32   0:08:24   0:08:30   0:09:11
0:07:40   0:08:28   0:08:28   0:09:08

0:07:43   0:51:30   0:57:59   0:57:58   1:03:08
                    0:32:39   0:35:37   0:35:36   0:39:28

What you see are some lap times computed from the time stamp on the finish line camera. That means the first lap is not included in the table. For a rough estimate for how long each of the representative riders were on the course, add the first lap time to the totals. A few points:

  • The two 35+B racers clocked their fastest times on the bell lap while none of the A racers did (open or masters). What’s this mean? I think that the extra three or four laps leaves less in the tank for the bell.
  • The 35+B winner was one second faster through the four timed laps than the 13th placed 35+A finisher. However, this includes the B+ rider’s bell lap kicker. I think that the 13th placed A+ rider is going to finish 30 or more seconds ahead of the B+ winner if they went head to head on this course for a 60 minute race.
  • I wasn’t at this race so I don’t know whether course conditions deteriorated between 11am and 2pm (respective start times). If so, the B+ times might look better than they are in relation to the A+ times.
  • The two representative A racers put in their slowest laps for the bell.

Here are some more numbers from Ranier. They are from the C and B fields.

Winner C   20th C   Winner B   20th B

0:09:10   0:09:53   0:08:16   0:09:08
0:09:33   0:09:45   0:08:17   0:09:06
0:09:26   0:09:58   0:08:32   0:09:25
0:09:23   0:09:40   0:08:37   0:08:44

0:37:32   0:39:16   0:33:42   0:36:23

What this shows is that the 20th placed B racer is still faster than the C winner. I’d say that these two fields are pretty well separated. Sure, there’s going to be overlap once you get down to perhaps 30th place in the Bs. But I’d say that it’s reasonable that the winner of a category would sit somewhere in the middle of the next one up.

Another interesting note is that the B winner is pretty fast — almost two minutes faster than the 13th placed A+ rider but a minute slower than the A+ winner and 14th placed A racer. This, of course, doesn’t take into account whether the course ran slower later in the day.

I got a few sets of lap times from the Clatsop County Fairgrounds race. One set is the top five and 14th placed riders in the 35+A field and the other is the top five and 15th placed riders in the 35+B field. My conclusions? There is a big jump from B to A, whether you’re talking masters or not.

The 35+B field did 6 laps and the 35+As did 8 laps (well, two finished on the lead lap and did 9) in a slightly shortened race. First, let’s take a look at the 35+A times:

Lap 1      Lap 2      Lap 3      Lap 4      Lap 5      Lap 6      Lap 7      Lap 8       Total
05:56.00   05:49.00   05:48.00   05:53.00   05:50.00   05:59.00   05:45.00   05:54.00      46:54.00
05:45.00   05:51.00   05:23.00   06:00.00   06:17.00   05:57.00   05:54.00   05:52.00      46:59.00
05:54.00   05:55.00   05:59.00   05:55.00   05:57.00   05:57.00   06:03.00   06:05.00      47:45.00
05:53.00   05:58.00   05:47.00   06:10.00   05:59.00   06:04.00   06:03.00   05:59.00      47:53.00
05:55.00   06:03.00   06:04.00   06:00.00   06:01.00   06:03.00   05:57.00   05:53.00      47:56.00
06:00.00   06:08.00   06:11.00   06:04.00   06:05.00   06:11.00   06:13.00   06:00.00      48:52.00

The top couple guys (Cramer and Bannink) were way off the front of the A+ race. Check out Bannink’s third lap — 5:23, holy cow, but it looks like he paid for the next lap. Those two guys finished on the lead lap and gapped third by almost a minute. The gap from third to fifth was only eleven seconds and only a minute and seven seconds back to me at 14th place. That means twelve guys smooshed into 67 seconds — perhaps five seconds between each of them.

Now, lets look at the 35+B times:

Lap 1     Lap 2     Lap 3     Lap 4     Lap 5     Lap 6        Total

06:34.1   06:23.9   06:32.2   06:44.5   06:43.3   05:45.0      38:43.0
06:06.7   06:44.8   06:47.0   06:50.5   06:42.5   05:39.2      38:50.7
06:17.8   06:32.0   06:44.4   06:53.9   06:43.4   06:39.4      39:50.9
06:29.2   06:37.8   06:46.6   06:43.8   06:50.8   06:40.7      40:08.9
06:18.6   06:41.0   06:52.6   06:48.8   06:49.9   07:08.1      40:39.0
06:46.2   06:44.8   07:08.5   07:03.3   06:52.0   06:55.2      41:30.0

The top two B+ guys are pretty close then the times start spreading out in a hurry. However, there are a eleven racers bunched between fifth place at40:39 and 41:30. Again, guys are only separated by 5 second, plus or minus. But it gets a bit more interesting if you add my time for the first six laps into the B+ mix:

Lap 1      Lap 2      Lap 3      Lap 4      Lap 5      Lap 6         Total

00:06.00   00:06.08   00:06.11   00:06.04   00:06.05   00:06.11      00:36.39
00:06.34   00:06.24   00:06.32   00:06.44   00:06.43   00:05.45      00:38.43
00:06.07   00:06.45   00:06.47   00:06.51   00:06.43   00:05.39      00:38.51
00:06.18   00:06.32   00:06.44   00:06.54   00:06.43   00:06.39      00:39.51
00:06.29   00:06.38   00:06.47   00:06.44   00:06.51   00:06.41      00:40.09
00:06.19   00:06.41   00:06.53   00:06.49   00:06.50   00:07.08      00:40.39
00:06.46   00:06.45   00:07.09   00:07.03   00:06.52   00:06.55      00:41.30

I’m a little more than two minutes faster than they are over six laps. Extend that out a couple more laps, and that deficit is probably closer to three minutes. I’m not trying to make myself look fast. I’m just pointing out that when the B+ dudes upgrade to A+, they are going to be in for some psychological damage. It’s hard going from the front to the middle or even further back.

Johnny V, Stevie B, and Scotty B, get ready for some hurt. It’s just a matter of time till you’re in the faster masters and you need to understand that it’s going to be hard. However, congratulations on getting fast. You’ll learn a lot about racing and have the morning free to mow the lawn.

First, do yourself a favor and head on over here to check out a ton of great photos Bob Libby took of the races. You will get an excellent flavor of the festive atmosphere. Here’s one of my favorite:


Okay, now here are some of me.

I really like my expression on this next one.

You can’t really see it but I’ve got a bag of blood on my back and a bunch of fake testosterone patches all over my exposed skin. The tape on my left arm holds the tubing that runs to my blood bag. I had a couple of guys on the course yelling “Go, doper!” and “Go, Lance!” and fans would warn other racers not to get beaten by a doper. By the way, the bottle of fake blood from party city is outstanding. It looks and flows like the real thing.

Cross Crusade race #4
October 28, 2007
Astoria, Oregon
35+ A category

The weather was sunny and mild and lots of people turned out in costume. As usual, the Halloween race feature lots of raucous behavior, wild costumes, and beer handups. It also included a lap of silence for Brett Jarolimek at noon. I tried to make it to Astoria in time to ride the lap but bad directions put me fifteen minutes late. I was in time to watch but not to ride. It was a fine tribute and Jon Maus has a nice piece over on bikeportland.org.

The venue was the Clatsop County Fairgrounds in Astoria, OR. My “Up to speed” post was timely since the course favored riders who could get up to speed quickly out of the transitions. There were ten 180s, the bulk of which were contained in a section of the course that wound through four side-by-side animal barns. There were a couple of hills, some pavement, some gravel, some soft soil, some grass, lots of turns, and very little mud. The course also weaved through the indoor show ring which had one good line through the soft sandy dirt. There was but a single dismount per lap and it was through the six pack barriers up a short incline that dumped onto the finishing pavement. The question was whether to immediately mount and slog it up the hill or continue running up to the pavement. I tried it both ways and decided I liked the immediate remount best.

The start was sketchy. We had 50 yards (maybe) of pavement then a wide 180 lefty on grass and into the show barn. There were callups for the As and the 35+As as well. They didn’t call up our field until after the As were on their way and then the chief judge didn’t send us off until a minute after we completed the callups. I expected the As to start riding into us in no time but only five A racers lapped me.

Back to the start — I wanted to get a good start but wasn’t aggressive enough in the scrum rushing to line up behind the callups and ended up in the second and a half row (good as third row). I tried to stay ride hard at the start but the first turn meant that some gaps crushed down in a hurry. I was happy that everyone stayed rubber side down. Through the first few laps I picked off a handful of guys but found a place around fifteenth that I couldn’t seem to get out of.

I stayed sharp through the middle laps and moved up to as high as 11th, passing John Wilson, Ed French, and John Bravard (really fast guy) who had some mechanical difficulty. Eventually, I lost the battle with Ed French and John Bravard found his groove and flew by me and I sat in 13th. Ed and Dave Diviney were just up the road, perhaps 10-15 seconds, and tantalizingly close. John Wilson was just behind, hanging too close for comfort. At some point, I heard four to go. Somewhere on that lap I figured “Well, I’ve had a pretty good race. Time to call it a day.” I can’t say how long it took to banish that thought from my brain but I know that I wasn’t giving 100% for a little while. Eventually I managed to get it back together.

Coming into the bell, I was looking to protect my position since I had some time on John W. and couldn’t see anyone behind him. About halfway into the lap when I was at the bottom of the “big” hill, I saw Dave Diviney and Ed French at the top. I figured I might as well give it a go and see if I could chase them down. With perhaps a minute to go, I was close enough to Dave that I knew that I had a shot to get him. I was right on his wheel going into the barriers and coming out of them we were almost abreast. He had the inside line and I was making very slow headway. We ran, neck and neck, all the way to the finish where he beat me by perhaps a wheel.

It’s pretty rare that I’m racing head to head with someone right to the line and that effort left me in a spot I haven’t frequently visited. It was all I could do to stand and take in air. I congratulated Dave on the effort but I couldn’t talk to him because it was all I could do to just lean on my bike.

I took 13th out of 36 finishers and I wasn’t too far out of the top ten. I think if I can figure out my breathing thing I have a shot to crack it.

Lap times were pretty consistent for me. All were between 6:00 and 6:10.

Tomorrow is the Halloween edition of the Cross Crusade. This year the race will be at a brand new venue — the Astoria Fairgrounds. I don’t know what the course is going to look like but I know that everyone will be in for a great time.

One of the big questions is whether to don a costume or not. I encourage everyone to step back from the abyss of seriousness, use a little creativity, and race in costume tomorrow. I know that there are a bunch of people who do take racing very seriously and think that a costume might hold them back. A bunch more folks just don’t have the time or inclination to dress up. That’s okay. We’re a big tent kind of crowd around here and the most important thing is that you come out, race, and leave with a smile on your face.

I’ve got my costume designed and I’ll get everything together this evening. I’m giving out no spoilers so you’ll have to wait for tomorrow (or the pictures on Monday) to see what I did. One thing I won’t be doing is cross dressing (pun intended?). It seems like about half of the guys that show up in “costume” are just dressing in their girlfriend’s (or wife’s?) clothing. News flash — it’s not really that daring, it’s not terribly original, and most of you guys look a fright!

The weather is going to be clear and fairly warm which is bad news for the heavier weight costumes. There are going to be a bunch of hot racers way over dressed for conditions. This is one race where swimsuit model might have been a wise costume choice.

Even though Astoria is a pretty long haul for a Crusade race (I know most of the rest of the country is going to have a cow when I say how far a drive it is), I think that the one hour and forty-five minute drive is a very small price for a great day of racing and fun.

Hope to see you out there!

I’ve been otherwise detained much of this week so I’ve been slacking with the posts. So I’ll get back on board with some discussion of a post Simon Burney wrote over on his Cross Advice blog. He writes about a friend of his racing his first season of cross over here in Portland, OR. His friend is pretty fit but not able to hang with the leaders of the pack and wonders why. Simon suggests that he’s not getting on the pedals hard enough after the transitions (planks, runs, corners, general slowing, etc.).

This year I’ve found a few guys at work who cross and we’ve headed out to a park right next to our buildings at lunch for some cross practice. Mostly we’ve been doing laps around a short course that takes perhaps a minute and forty-five seconds to negotiate. It’s got loads of turns and three dismounts. Two of the dismounts are contrived just to shoulder the bike and then there are a set of barriers. That translates into lots of places that require effort to get back up to speed.

Kevin, one of the regulars for the weekly session, is one of the faster A racers. Usually the drill is that Kevin starts out at a “reasonable” pace then starts dialing it up until I can’t hang. I’ll then cut the course to get ahead of him so he has to pass me and I have added incentive to stay in front, then chase hard when he passes me. Today we did a fun alternative where three of us did staggered starts — slowest off first. One of those heats produced a very exciting series of passes when we all came together at the same time.

Since there are so many transitions on this course, there’s not much room to wind it up. A determined rider can hold off pursuers by digging hard out of the transitions and getting to the next one even a whisker earlier than the chasers. This head to head riding on a twisty course has really raised my appreciation for the significant benefit of getting up to speed as fast as possible after a transition.

Fitness plays a part in a racer’s ability to hammer out of the transitions but there is a big mental aspect too. Suppose you are following someone and they get a little gap out of a corner. What should you do? The obvious answer is to shut down the gap ASAP. But that takes a brief hard effort that can be mentally taxing in the middle of a race. When you’re already hurting, taking it up a notch seems like more than you can handle. The reality is that a brief hard effort can pay dividends over the next section because it’s lots easier to stick to a wheel than try to pace 20 feet back — way easier mentally and a tad easier physically.

Getting back to those hot laps I was talking about … Kevin is way faster than I am. He’s going to be putting a minute into me every lap in a race. However, when we’re out in the park, I can hang for a bit if I will myself to make those short hard efforts to get back to his wheel since he’ll have to slow to set up the next transition in a moment. And sometimes I can keep him at bay for a turn or so if I dig deep coming out of the transitions.

If you have the opportunity, get out once a week with a friend or five and do some sets of hot laps. Set up a short course with lots of transitions. Focus on sprinting out of the corners. Don’t ride outside your technical abilities and wash out all over the place. Stay solid on the corners and relax through the dismounts. Focus all your energy on jumping hard every time you get past the slow bit. If you find yourself losing that focus, take a break and try it again.

I guarantee it’s going to make you faster.

First let me express my deepest sympathy for Brett’s friends and family. My heart goes out to you all.

For Immediate Release: October 24, 2007
Contact: T. Kenji Sugahara, Assistant Director, Oregon Bicycle Racing Association
Phone: 503-302-4935

Oregon Bicycle Racing Association releases statement on death of cyclist

OBRA Releases Statement on Brett Jarolimek

Portland, Oregon – On Monday afternoon, Oct. 22, at about 12:30 PM, the cycling community lost one of its most charismatic and talented members. Brett Jarolimek was a gifted cyclist who loved racing and excelled at the technically challenging sport of cyclocross. Brett, a graduate of the Pacific Northwest College of Art, was an artist, and worked with artists as a framer. He was an employee of the Bike Gallery and previously worked at Art Media. In his brief time in Portland, Brett established a wide and diverse network of friends and acquaintances. He epitomized the youthful, creative, active and generous transplants that Portland is attracting from all over the country. He will be greatly missed by all of us.

The cycling community, mourning the second of two deaths to occur in two weeks, implores drivers to share the streets with safety and civility.  Because of the extreme disparity between weight, power and the level of protection that exists between motor vehicles and bikes, it is imperative that both motorists and cyclists be fully aware of each other’s presence and operate their vehicles in an appropriate and defensive manner. That said, in the case of a collision, regardless of intent, negligence or fault, it is most often that the cyclist is hurt or even loses their life.

The cycling community asks that cities and counties across Oregon do all they can do to make streets safe for cyclists and pedestrians. Not only should proper areas be delineated when possible, but the streets themselves should be properly maintained.  Laws should be re-written or clarified to recognize the needs of cyclists and pedestrians in properly shared street spaces, and laws protecting the rights of cyclists and pedestrians need to be enforced.  Foremost is the need to educate motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about proper behavior, the laws, safety and civility.

brett

I never met Bret, but he was well know in the local cycling community and an avid cross racer. He’s been competing in the single speed category for at least a couple years now and he scored a personal best 3rd place this past Sunday in Ranier, OR. The next day, Monday, October 22 2007, he died under the wheels of a garbage truck — victim of the right hook.

Brett’s story resonates with me for a couple of reasons. The first is that we both shared a passion for racing cyclocross. It’s always hard to hear about a person in their prime being struck down, especially someone who we can identify with — someone who shares common goals and ambitions. He was killed while riding his bike — something I do quite a bit of myself. I commute by bike and also ride to train. Every now and again, I think about how fragile I am out there on my bike with all those cars and trucks whizzing by. Also, another cyclist was killed only a week or so prior to this in similar circumstances.

I can’t condemn the drivers in either of these cases and I know that they were devastated about the results of their actions in both cases. So let’s all be extra careful out there. Life is a wonderful gift. While we shouldn’t live in fear of the horrors that may befall us, we need to be vigilant about protecting the gift.

There are some great posts out there regarding Brett and the circumstances of his accident:

I didn’t race this weekend even though there was a race a mere hour from my door. A combination of factors prevented me from going and from what I hear, I missed a good one. I hear the course was one of the best in years and the weather was pretty good. The two inches of rain we got during the week softened things up but race day was dry.

Jon Maus over at bikeportland.org has a nice writeup of the day.

I’m back next week for the Astoria race. I’m looking forward to another great new course.