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Who am I and why am I doing this?

I decided to start this endeavor to try and have my genius recognized and properly remunerated since it does not seem that I will be having a career in comedy due to me neither being funny nor having an act.

Except for some stretches in the late 1990s, I have been a cyclist since the late 1980s. The name of this blog is a bit of a joke since “racers” mock “coffee riders” and I now embrace who I am. Although I rode a lot, I was at-best a mediocre Category 3 racer. I am probably being overly generous to myself if I say I was mediocre. I lacked talent as well as the ability to adequately disregard to prospects of serious bodily injury generally required to race.

I accept who I am as a cyclist and am much better for it. While I have never been a good racer, I have a track record of one marriage and zero divorces. Even better, I enjoy spending time with my wife and dogs such that letting too much of my life revolve around riding in circles around industrial parks in the greater Los Angeles area to be unappealing.

One of my last races was the 2010 St. Valentine’s Massacre Criterium in Brea. My wife actually came up with me (voluntarily, I might add) and afterwards, we went to a 24 Hour fitness, showered and changed, then went out to dinner at a Persian restaurant in Irvine before buying some rose ice cream at the market next door and brought it home in a bag of ice so it wouldn’t melt too badly. The most significant event of the day was neither the race nor the dinner, but the decision as to what the dog’s name would be even though we were just starting the process of moving forward to having our own baby.

It was at some point in the following month after we had adopted our first dog that I found myself at the Murrieta Criterium. My biggest accomplishment of the day was not crashing after a close call. While never good at the racing part of racing, I was generally good about not crashing and not getting hurt. I realized even more that day that racing was no longer fun and that it was not important for any sense of identity. More so, I found myself looking forward to being home so I could spend time with the dog, who was very much a puppy at the time.

Although now a coffee rider, which I would generally just define as someone who is a recreational rider (regardless of the speed) whose cycling life revolves not around racing, but rather riding with friends and hanging out at coffee shops. Post-Covid, this is a bit different, but I work to find enjoyment where I can. I am still very much a bike dork and love bikes, so I am going to write about bikes and bike stuff. In this regard, I am going to focus on what interests me and there are plenty of other people writing about the mass market stuff. What interests me the most are the bikes by small builders and others that are part of cycling history and that generally are not popped out of molds in Chinese and Taiwanese factories.

The picture of me in the gold luchador mask of from the Breakfast Burrito Ride (“BBR”) prior to the 2019 Belgian Waffle Ride. Eliel Cycling did a run of fuschia kits and called it the Fushciador. I thought it would be fun to do the BBR ride in a Luchador mask and it seemed like gold would just take it over the top. If you are going to be silly, you need to go all the way. If you disagree, please consult Will Ferrell (the actor, not my cousin) about what can happen to you when saying “yes” to crazy ideas.

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I did not ride today, but these are highlights of the dogs’ say. We did get to run into cycling people on our walk. I did spend some time contemplating a 2021 bike project since I want to focus on positive things.

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Bikes and work do mix

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All rainbows and unicorns.

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Social distancing before it was cool.

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Two of my favorite bikes for a coffee ride.

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A 2006 Race Report

This could end up being my most abbreviate race report, especially since there was a slightly bigger race concluding today than the LA Wings Criterium.  Apparently, there was also some French race concluding today.

As noted, today was the LA Wings Criterium, sanctioned through CBR on the Long Beach course, which circles what feels like the last piece of untouched land in the area.  Indeed, Rick Schulze commented that raced on the same course twenty years ago.  I told Rick that if I had the money, I would buy the property just so I could have my own criterium course.  If I could do that, I’d more likely get a course here because I think I would much rather ride in circles here than in Long Beach, even though Snoop Dogg ain’t from Encinitas.

On the way up through Pendleton, I got sprinkled on a little bit.  I wasn’t quite sure what to think about that, other than to hope that it wasn’t raining in Long Beach.  I arrived to overcast conditions for the 30+ 3/4 race.  It was actually cooler there than here and indeed quite a respite from the weather we’ve had here, which could properly be described as yucky and even more so since some people think you don’t need air conditioning in Encinitas. 

Rick and I were the sole Swami’s for the 30+ 3/4 race.  In addition to it being relatively cool and overcast, there seemed to be almost no wind at all.  It seemed relatively easy as these things go, even though the average speed was right around 26.  At around five to go, it was on so to speak.  In the end, I got stuck on the other side of the pack from the Vegas Velo train and alas, could not get into a decent sprinting position in the last lap. 

Not terribly long after the 3/4 race finished, it started raining, albeit lightly.  I think everyone was in a bit of shock since you really don’t expect to get rained on in Los Angles in July.  Fortunately, it was a relatively light and warm rain.  I was just hoping it would stop before my next race because I didn’t bring booties and more important, don’t like riding in the rain.  Racing in the rain is actually better than riding in the rain.  I’m not sure why but it just is.

Luckily, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted somewhat and the road dried before the 30+ 1/2/3 race.  It did not start well.  A Taylor Made guy, known as Turtle, attacked from the start line and that really, really hurt, especially since the wind had picked up.  Indeed, the weather had changed a lot since the earlier race.  Now it was hot and windy.  The early part of the race was really hard with lots of attacks.  A break with Jose eventually got away.  Since there really wasn’t much I could do to block, I just tried to sit relatively near the front, but far enough back that I could sit on somebody else’s wheel, even during an acceleration.  For a while after Jose’s break got away, things were fairly decent in the pack except for the fact that guys were weaving all over the road when they moved up so that no one could draft them in the cross wind. 

After the break got fairly well established, Thurlow (who won the time trial and road race at nationals and finished second behind his teammate in the criterium) decided it was time to chase.  He attacked in the gutter approaching a corner, which wasn’t particularly safe.  The guys really didn’t want him to get away.  I thought that I might get dropped in the chase.  Not surprisingly, Thurlow got away.  Even after Thurlow got away, it wasn’t easy because it was like an interval session in the pack except for the fact that the hard parts were irregular and you couldn’t just stop when it got too hard unless you didn’t mind getting dropped..

I did some riding at the front, including closing down some gaps at speeds over 30mph as it appeared the field would split.  It reinforced my need to be careful in these hard races, because it’s so hard to get back one after going hard.

Towards the end, we got lapped by the break even though we still averaged around 26mph or so.  That set in motion a somewhat crazy final few laps as a lot of guys jumped on the break.  In the end, I was just glad to finish, having completely emptied two bottles during the 60-minute race.

Not being completely battered, I decided that since I was already there and wanted to be tired enough to not feel like I was missing out on too much by not being able to ride tomorrow, I would also do the 3s race.  Fortunately, there was not too much time in between the races to reconsider even though I was thinking more about a nap than racing. 

The 3s race seemed quite easy in comparison to the previous race.  I just sat in the back and discovered that I felt a lot better than I thought I did.  Although it got fast at times, it wasn’t crazy fast or for really extended periods of time.  Unfortunately, I discovered that I had no kick at all towards the end and could do nothing towards the end.  The funny thing was that it also averaged 26.

At the end of the day, I had right around 150 minutes at 26mph plus time spent on warm up laps, recovery laps and cruising around.  I think I did 77 miles today.  If only there had been a 1/2/3 race instead of a Pro/1/2, then I could have done another 90 minutes if I could have finished.

I apologize for the brevity of this report, however I am tired and struggling to stay awake.  I’ve heard that some people sleep late and rest on weekends.  I don’t quite understand.

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2005 Ontario Criterium Race Report

This is my penultimate race report for 2005. 

Since neither I, Joel, nor Chris did one for Manhattan Beach two weeks ago, I’ll include a MBGP race report here in abbreviated form just to be complete.  In summary, it was hard and crazy.  Chris got ninth and all three of us kept all of our skin.  There were a lot of crashes and the average speed was over 26 in spite of a hill which was never taken at full speed and corners through which we went at under 10mph.  In addition, the field was full or very close to it, so it consisted of about 120 riders.  I don’t know how many of you checked out the pictures from Cyclingnews.com, but the crazy single rider crash happened right before the 3s race and I saw it live.  I’m pretty sure the rider was fine, but I’m sure he would have rather been photographed for leading out the sprint rather than kissing the asphalt.

Today’s race was the final installment of the Ontario Criterium series.  I had fair warning of the weather when a Labor Power guy mentioned to Joel and me that the weather was going to be hot.  Of course that lead me to check the weather report when I left, enabling me to see that the forecast was 100+.  Even if I hadn’t checked, I could tell it was going to be a scorcher as it was even warm in Encinitas. 

When I arrived in Ontario, it was indeed hot.  It felt good to arrive since racing was the safest thing I did today.  The drive was scary although I may be more sensitive than usual to all the a-holes on the road because of the events of last weekend.  I was nearly sideswiped by some jackass weaving through traffic at 90+ mph.  I guess that scare was indeed enough to make a criterium feel like nothing.

I mentioned it was hot.  I found out how hot after the 3s race.  105 degrees in the shade and 110 in the sun.  It may have actually been a little hotter during the race since I’m not sure how recently the measurements had been taken.  Needless to say, once it’s that hot, a few degrees doesn’t matter so much.  I drank an entire water bottle right before the start and packed two on my bike.

The field was relatively small, which was probably a combination of there not being much interest in racing by the end of August and not much interest in racing when it’s really hot.  The racing started off not very fast, but not very slow either.  Just sitting in didn’t take much effort, which allowed me to cruise along.  A break got away early in the race.  I saw it go and thought it was just too early.  Plus, breaks rarely work in 3s races because the guys are generally not committed enough to staying away.  Here, the break worked because there was no interest in catching them.  The break went off within the first twenty minutes of the race.  I know that only because I remember finishing off my first water bottle after 21 minutes and they were already away at that time.  I finished off the second bottle later in the race.

In spite of Hi-Tech having what seemed to be 5 or 6 guys, they really didn’t do anything to chase down the break, which was never really all that far ahead.  The Hi-Tech guys never massed to the front and would seemingly have one guy either try to do a solo bridge and then blow up and come back or have someone do a monster pull with the same result.  There were some other teams there that had a couple of guys but none of them did much either.  The field simply didn’t have enough momentum to chase. 

As the laps were counting down, I had to keep thinking “patience Grasshopper” to myself.  I felt good and really wanted to do something, but was well-aware that I just don’t have the legs to ride away by myself.  I bided my time until the last lap (2k to go) was starting.  A group of guys surged on the left and another on the right.  This seemed to be the moment when we’d start racing.  Although I didn’t have time to jump onto either of these very small groups from the outset, I quickly managed to bridge up after the first corner.  By that time, there were a couple of us off the front.  As we had a gap, we kept the speed up.  In spite of us going fairly well, the field started closing a bit, as they decided to make a race of it as well.  I did my best to keep the speed up, but since I was aware of how close the field was, I made sure to keep enough energy to jump on in case we couldn’t hold it.  At one point, it really seemed like we were going to get caught, but it turned out a couple of guys were making their way up to us.  On the back stretch of the course, my heart rate was at 195, which was higher than I hit in my lab test last week, meaning that was as hard as I could go without going completely anaerobic. 

As we were approaching the chicane, some of the chasers came by us.  It was kind of a mess for a few moments, but I found myself on the front, knowing that everybody who wasn’t already ahead of me was breathing down my neck.  While the field was still coming up, there were a number of guys still off with me.  Coming out of the last corner I gave it everything.  The distance was too far for a full sprint, but it was an all-out effort.  I don’t know how fast I was going, although I know I hit 34+ at some point, but for how long I have no idea.  A couple of guys passed me before the finish, including some who caught up from the pack.  I didn’t mind so much being passed by guys who’d jumped off the front, but it was annoying getting passed by the a few guys sprinting off the field.  At the end, I finished in 12th, but did get to do an all-out effort and saw a heart rate of 203 when I crossed the line.

I did another half-lap to try and catch my breath and come back to change my jersey and water bottles for the masters race.  I finished another water bottle when I got to the pit.  I waited as long as I could before going to the start line.  Even after standing under a tent for several minutes, my heart rate was still 156.  You might not have thought about this, but combining a 100% effort with 100+ degree weather really raises your heart rate.  That’s one to grow on J

I think I dropped out on the third lap of the masters race.  I was dead.  My heart rate was in the 180s just sitting in.  I was done.  I don’t know how many people actually started, but under 20 finished and even then, it was all split apart.  Needless to say, I didn’t stick around to try doing the 1/2/3 race.  Tony Cruz was there, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have won anyway.

My next (and really final since the TTT is a separate category of event) and final event for the year is the Giro di San Francisco next Monday.  Maybe watching 2/3 or more of the field DNF the day before in the Grand Prix will somehow inspire me to ride better than the pros.

That’s all folks.

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Another Race Report from Way Back

I was waiting for Joel to send out his race report before I did my own so he could blow his own horn, even though I think heʼs reached the point at which nothing but a win will do and Iʼm sure there will be a few of those by the end of the season.

I arrived at Indio in time to see 4/5 race before I really needed to get ready for my own.  In the lineup for Swamiʼs was Rick, Andy, Troy and Mark.  The race was pretty fast and the field was shredded by the end. 

My first race was the 3s.  Like Joel said, there were a lot of drainage dips.  I hit them so hard that my bars came loose, even though they hadnʼt doing Del Mar twice, which is itself a pretty bumpy course.  Once the bars came loose, I had move the bars back about once a lap, which was pretty scary since my bike started to wobble whenever I had to push them back up.  Since I was having a safety-related mechanical issue (though not a mishap which allows a free lap), I stayed in the back even though I didnʼt feel too bad.  The race started out pretty fast, but was manageable and mellowed out a bit towards the end. 

After the 3s race, I made sure to really clamp down my bars before hanging out for a while in the time before the 2/3 race.  As Joel said, it started out fast.  While I started out well, I drifted backwards.  While the heat may have been a factor, it was really more the motor than overheating.  My heart rate averaged 180 beats a minute for the race.  It was a pretty bad race in terms of the accordion effect.  While I did my best to maintain speed through the corners, it often slowed to a crawl followed by the sprint.  By about 30 minutes into the race, I was dying and was really uncertain about whether I could finish.  I had to tell myself that I just needed to make it through one more lap each time through.  By the time we hit five to go, I was sure I could finish, but started cramping.  When we came through with 3 to go, the cramping went from something manageable to my being completely unable to pedal.  I coasted up to the neutral support so I could at least watch the finish from the shade.  Although it was disappointing not to be able to finish because I had made it so far, I did make it about 20 minutes past the point at which the pain became excruciating.  Even before cramping, I was on the edge, especially getting caught behind a crash with 5 to go.  While I was already hurting, I had to really turn on the gas just to get back onto the field.  I knew there were a bunch of people behind me, but that I couldnʼt count on anyone else to drag me back up.

Other than being reminded that Iʼm not very good, the real highlights of the day were watching the main events, the Pro/1/2 mens and womenʼs races.  Jenny and Crystal were flying the Swamiʼs colors in the womenʼs race, which in spite of lots of primes, came down to a sprint.  Laura Van Gilder won the sprint by a bike length and it looked pretty easy for her.  Of course, she also won a mens 1/2/3 race a couple of years ago in New Jersey and took Sundayʼs race in Ojai for her 250th career win, so maybe it was easy for her.

The mens race was quite a spectacle.  Although Iʼve seen some big time races in person, itʼs easy to forget what itʼs like to see 150 riders single file (there were 153 starters and a much fewer finishers).  I couldnʼt really tell exactly how fast it was other than wicked.  All the primes, including several $500 (and $250 for second place) kept the pace moving.  Not a single break got any daylight, with the closest one being Thurlow Rogers, Karl Bordine (28th place) and I think a Sierra Nevada rider.  Marc Yap was in there, so he could better describe how fast it was. 


It came down to a sprint, with Toyota-United in control and Ivan Dominguez (who also won in Ojai) taking the win.  It was a pretty clean win, but it did look like he got pushed a bit harder than Van Gilder did in the womenʼs race.  Watching guys who are way better than I am getting blown off the back was a schadenfreude experience.

I followed Indio was Fiesta Island on Sunday morning.  Waking up at 4:45 was another of those moments when I wondered why I do this to myself.  Fortunately, that feeling dissipated after a while.  While it wasnʼt too cold, it was foggy, which doesnʼt mix well with a visor thatʼs essentially a Darth Vader mask.  I had not idea what to expect when I got rolling because I normally do an easy ride the day before instead of a double race day.  Within a few seconds of starting, I could see my power data was not registering.  Although it was annoying not to have that data, I was primarily watching speed, distance, time and heart rate (the better Iʼm riding on Fiesta Island, the higher my heart rate). 

One of the great things about doing a time trial (other than finishing) is that when youʼre riding any better than poorly, all other thoughts are erased from your mind.  I am quite certain that I thought about absolutely nothing other than the ride between the start and finish.  My thought were limited to forcing myself to maintain the effort in spite of the pain, holding it, and trying to get through traffic without crashing.  In the first two laps, I went through a lot of people, most of whom were going fairly slowly, so I think that may have cost a tiny bit of time.  Unfortunately, I had not rabbit to chase so I had to be completely concentrated on the effort.  It was a good effort and I think that unless I had my rabbit, I really couldnʼt have gone harder.  When I tried to pick up the speed at the end, there wasnʼt really anything left to put out. 

In the end, I surprised myself.  Given that my last good effort on Fiesta Island was in May 2005, I was just hoping to get 29:00, which itself would have been my third best time.  Instead, I finished in 28:25, which was a mere 16 seconds off my best time, which itself was set with a disc and with Susan Cooper to chase around the course.  Matt did 28:17 and Steve 28:19.  Considering both of them are a lot stronger than I am, it was a great result.  Sumi also rode well (and I should remember her time but I donʼt) and John Welch did around 31:27 in his first time trial ever.

Afterwards, my legs felt as though I could potentially do the CBR race in Dominguez Hills, instead having breakfast and coming back for the results (as opposed to an additional 3 hours in a car) seemed like a better idea.  John and I went to Perryʼs Breakfast House on Pacific Highway (itʼs great if you want a breakfast the will keep you uninterested in food for the next 12 hours) and returned to find out that I had taken 3rd in the 30-39 age group and that Shawn Olin had once again broken this course record, taking it down to 24:36 and knocking 30 seconds off his old record of earlier this year.