Monday, January 26, 2009

First weekend racing for the ADOBO Velo Racing Team

January 24-25,2009

First weekend racing for the ADOBO Velo Racing Team is now in our history books. It was very competitive and everyone had a great time. Saturday was an Omnium at ADT Event Center where I raced Master's 45+ Division in the morning and Wilson Blas in the Cat 3 Division later in the afternoon. Then Sunday was Criterium racing in Long Beach for Deo Asuncion, Al Villamil, Ike Carbajal, and Wilson Blas.

Saturday early morning… I thought I arrived early to get settled in but was surprised to see the parking lot almost full and the rear access to the track blocked! Found out that the main infield was being used for junior volleyball competition and the games started before I arrived at 7:15am. Race registration didn't start till 7:30 and the track will not open until 8 o'clock! By not being able to drive to the rear entrance and unload all my gear, this meant I just have to park the van and haul all my gear down! At least the track was still closed that it gave me a shorter trek to the infield from the front entrance but in 2 trips. No worries, this ordeal was still manageable. My races were Miss N'Out, then a 30-lap Points Race, and lastly a 20-lap Scratch Race. The way I thought of the first race the day before played out as planned as I hate to fight for position at the back each lap as there were 15 other tracksters competing. So here we are finally in the race, I treated the neutral lap to position myself to take the lead when race starts, and it worked! I paced the group for 10 laps as the others were trying to intimidate me to go faster and being the Good Samaritan to protect my back. Well, that really meant "burn yourself out so we can out-sprint you later" kind'a deal! I'm glad I sticked to my plan but I totally forgot to keep track of the riders left as the laps go by. Down to 4, they overtook me and were sprinting side by side which left me no room to move up! That meant I got eliminated the next lap. It was ok with me since those 3 were respectable Cat 2 competitors and not to mention my best Miss N'Out finish ever! The next race was the 30-lap Points Race with 5, 3, 2, and 1 points given every 10 laps for the top 4. This time I concentrated on positioning to sprint for the first bell lap and just get a respectable finish when this race is over.The first 10 laps were tight and we were getting mixed until it was down to 21 laps for the first bell. I was trapped inside behind the lead but for some mindless reason, this dude in front of me moved to this right with half a lap to go, like a teammate but not! That created a surprise opening for me and blocked everyone else! What a given opportunity! Needles to say, I took the first bell lap with about 5 bike lengths of sprinting before climbing up the banking to rejoin the group! That's 5 points in the bag! The pace slowed down and we were all packed again. This time someone broke away with a few more laps before the bell and I just sat in conserving and just finishing strong. I lost count of how many were in front and how many were behind me. When the results were posted, I stayed 4th overall withone more race to go. This time I was tired and in pain! At least there was enough time to rest between races that I did easy spins on rollers and sipped on Gatorade. Got back to the track for the 20-lap scratch race, the last race and I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do! As the race went on, I later found myself taking the turn to pull the group with loner breaking away the lap prior. With 15 laps to go and 14 riders behind me, I made my calculation if it's better to catch the breakaway while he is still about a third of a lap away, or might end up at the back and miss my chance to move up when the paceline gets broken thinking 15 laps will get brutal really quick. I wasn't sure if I made the right decision but I went for the break with just one rider following me. 12 riders stayed intact. We caught the loner the next lap and continued on with the breakaway taking short half-lap pulls. We managed to create a half lap lead but we were eventually caught with 2 laps to go! Bummer! As I was weakening, I poured all my strength to the finish knowing that the pain will be over in less than a minute and as even if some riders were passing me till the end. Not sure how I placed but I still got kudos from the officials, friends, and the people who knew me. Overall, I dropped from 4th place to 5th out of 14 others. Not too pleased about it but was really thrilled having the chance to cause havoc and dominate the field. The nicest thing about this event was with all the moves I did, i.e. pacing the group during the MissN'Out, sprinting for the first bell-lap during the Points Race, and the time I was on a break-away on the Scratch Race, it made the announcer mention "ADOBO Velo" a few times. I actually think it was about 20 times but I might be exaggerating. It really felt we made a statement and as it was another beginning for the club. I also knew that there's got to be a Pinoy in the crowd watching their daughters at the volleyball games that also watched me race. I think we got the word out a bit just by that. Thanks to Egay, Arnold, Dennis, El,and Gil for the words of encouragement. This made me feel that we are all together on our new quest!

Later that afternoon, it was Wilson's turn to compete. Unfortunately, I left for home for a nightout with the family. Wilson was registered to race the tough Category 1/2/3 Division but the Category 3 was later separated because of the large number of competitors and there were 5 of them. Thanks to our friend Gil for letting him try his disk wheel. I was not able to get enough details of his Omnium today (Sunday) because he was also racing 2 Criterium races. What an animal! He thinks he finished 3rd overall as we will just wait until the results gets posted online. He had some bruises too! That meant he was involved in a crash. With his outstanding finish, I'm also thinking that the announcer also mentioned our club a few times! That's a whole day for him to say ADOBO Velo! Congratulations Wilson!

Today, was another day for the ADOBO Velo Racing Team: This time itwas Criterium Racing! The cast: Dwight 'Ike' Carbajal racing Masters 40+ Cat 1/2/3 and the Masters 50+ Crits. Astig Wilson Blas racing 30+ Cat 3/4 and 30+ Cat 1,2,3 Crits. Astig Deograves Asuncion and Al Villamil raced Category 3. Egay, Agimat, Lanier, Jeffrey, Lito, and Albert where there to see them race. Our friends Gil and Henry were there too! Ike was not able to finish his 2nd race because of a flat. Wilson, Deo, and Al duked it out and finished with the peloton. There was a moment that made the day when the Cat 3 race started, Deo was pacing the pack for 2 laps while Al was at the back. We had the WHOLE peloton in check! After that, it was time for serious business. Awesome job by our competitors!

Next on the schedule:
Jan 30 - Training Race at ADT Velodrome
Feb 7 - LAVRA Omnium Series at ADT Velodrome
Feb 8 - another CBR Crit but at Dominguez Hills


Friday, January 16, 2009

12 Hours Training Ride

There were four of us, Rosalie, Mandy, Manny and myself. It was a cold early morning when we all arrived at Encanto Park. I was looking forward to this day all week but as I unloaded my bike from the truck I knew that feeling of excitement was not going to last. Excited about getting to try out my new American Classic 420s with Michelin Pro Race 3 tires and my new Assos bib shorts, but nervous about what this 12 hour ride we are about to venture on will do to my body. My mind was eager but my 50 year old body was saying, ‘you know you’ll bonk, it’s just a matter of when’.
We rolled out of Encanto at around 0630. It was still dark and our headlights were on. Along the trail our lights reflected against the eyes of two coyotes that crossed the trail in front of us. They too are regulars on the trail. I always see them in the mornings that I ride the trail. Mandy asked if I had names for them. I pondered about this for a minute but they will remain nameless for now.
The sun started to come up as we trekked up Azusa canyon. Even at that time there was already some traffic going up Hwy 39. It appears the conditions were right for off-roading as I noticed several lifted 4x4 trucks pass us along the highway. Half way up it started to get warm and we decided to shed some of our layered clothing. It appears it was going to be a warm day. Hopefully the wind remains calm the rest of the day. We continued on to East Fork then turned around to meet more Adobos at Encanto.

Francis, Pete, Ricky, Felix, Louie and Jessie were waiting for us when we got back to the park. Of course, we are again lucky and appreciative to have our dedicated SAG, videographer and photographer, Juliet Agrezor accompany us on this Adobo venture. I was looking /hoping for a long flat ride back and forth to the beach, but with a support vehicle, this was not to be the case. It was going to be a long day in the mountains. The route was Encanto to Sierra Madre to GMR to East Fork, up Hwy 39 towards Crystal Lake. We proceeded on to Sierra Madre at a relaxed pace except for Jessie who was doing his accordion pace, repeatedly gapping the group then stopping to take videos/photos as we pass by. As usual, the group stayed together until the base of GMR where we took a short break. This is where I typically strategize what my pace would be climbing GMR. I’ve been having lower back problems lately and with 9 hours of riding to go, this was going to be a slower pace than usual for me. I watched the faster riders slowly pull away from me as we continued up GMR. Felix was ahead of me and I kept pace with him, keeping him in sight for half the climb. Kuya Ricky and Francis were just right behind me. Francis switched gears and started to climb at a faster pace quickly gapping Ricky and I. Knowing there was no way we were going to keep up, Kuya Ricky and I had our own cat and mouse game the rest of the way up. After a refueling stop at the top of GMR, it was a quick descend down Little GMR to Camp Williams for a quick bathroom break and then on to East Fork.
We regrouped at the junction of Hwy 39 and East Fork, and then continued on towards Crystal Lake. Francis was pacing Ricky and I on the climb and giving advice on what to do and expect on the Death Valley double century. Plenty of good information was being shared. We got to the first gate, which was closed to automobiles, so no SAG support from here on.
Ricky and Jessie rode back to Encanto while the rest of us continued on to the second gate. We had a short regroup then the long descend back to Encanto. We had Subway lunch at the park courtesy of Pete and kuya Ricky. I had not been eating anything but Gu the whole ride so I devoured almost a whole footlong sandwich in no time. Manny had a whole vegetarian sandwich, which I think was just a loaf of bread and some tomatoes.
After lunch we said goodbye to the rest of the group and Rosalie, Manny and I continued with our ride. We tried to talk Ricky into joining us but to no avail. Collectively, we decided we had enough climbing that day and the next 5 hours will be mostly flat. We headed down the trail to Santa Fe dam then crossed over to the SGRT. We kept an easy 17-18 mph pace all the way to the golf course where we witnessed some home boy getting arrested and put in the back of the cop car while his friend on another car watched the whole thing go down. We realized that SGRT may not exactly be the safest place to be riding a bike after dark so we decided to head back while we still had daylight and do the rest of our ride up Sierra Madre. The Subway sandwiches we had for lunch were starting to take effect as we all felt re-energized. I’ve been drafting behind someone pretty much the whole day and so decided to take my turn up front a bit. Next thing I know we were back at the dam. Made a mental note to myself – Subway sandwiches work better than Gu.
I’ve ridden on the dam countless of times before but mostly in the morning. Our late afternoon ride brings a whole different experience. It was a clear day and we can see the radio towers up Mt Wilson and the snow capped Mt Baldy to the north. To the west, we watched the sun slowly set right above PV, blanketing the horizon with an orange hue. One by one the city lights came on, providing yet a different picture of the landscape. We decided to keep riding up on the dam and just enjoy the changing scenery. It felt like we could keep riding forever.
Once the sun had fully set, the temperature dropped considerably. We stopped for a few minutes to put our arm warmers and vests back on, and to check and adjust our lights. Again, a feeling of ambivalence came over me, excited about doing my first night ride but weary of the dangers that come with it. I’ve read about bikers getting mugged on the trail during daytime. Nighttime provides even more of an opportunity for the criminal element to inflict their hurt on unsuspecting riders. The two coyotes we saw earlier had no interest in us then. I know they’ll again be out by the trail. This is, after all, their home. What will be their disposition this time?
We continued on down the trail only as fast as what our headlights would allow. It was barely six o’clock so we had over 30 minutes more to go. We figure we could ride the trail until it ends at Hwy 39. It was dark and hard to see the bike path even with our lights. Rosalie had the brightest light so she led the way for us. We passed a lone jogger. I thought to myself, not a smart idea buddy. We had just passed the bridge that crosses the river over to Encanto when Rosalie yelled ‘watch out’. An old bike with no wheels was standing on its seat and handlebars right in the middle of the trail, obviously left there to cause a crash and inflict injury. We stopped. I looked around for anything else suspicious. Manny moved to bike off the trail we decided to hightail it out of there. We rode some more around Encanto park and got back to our cars by 6:15. Not quite 12 hours but close enough.
Dinner was at the Green Onion where Francis joined us prior to heading to work. We reminisced about the days ride and planned future training rides. All in all, I felt this was a very good training ride. The expressions on my comrades’ faces during dinner pretty much confirmed this.