It seems customary in the world of race reports to provide a look back at the completed year remembering the challenges overcome and reliving and enjoying the spoils of victory. You’ll find no such tales of conquest here, however. For me, if nothing else, 2011 was yet another baby-step in what I hope to be a long series of improvements biking, running and living.
Because January is the end of ‘cross season, perhaps I should consider going into a fiscal year for this Year in Review business. Indeed, 2011 began at the end. By the time ‘Cross Fever rolled around, albeit a more relaxed racing experience than the Prestige Series, I was tired. I raced probably more out of peer persuasion than anything else, because Isa and Dave wanted to race. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun, especially trying out the new course at Mt. San Antonio College, where Isa’s grandpa came to watch her for the first time. Unfortunately, my bike was also at it’s end, or at least the end of it’s bottom bracket after the wet and muddy conditions in Bend and in Woodland Hills. So I started running regularly in January. Which led me to sign up for my first ever 5K run.
February was a busy month off the bike. I worked a lot of overtime to help with my mountain bike purchase, gained more than just a little weight and went to the Sagebrush Safari just to watch. That was probably the most fun. I took tons of pictures and video and gave the play-by-play as Dave Williams, Ben Jones and Alex Ter-Vrugt all raced to podium finishes. There was lots to report, too, first with the big delay as they modified the course because there was too much snow, then with all the confusion at the start of the Expert races, then the good showing by Celo with all three of them making the podium.
Now, with the benefit of retrospect, (not that I didn’t know it at the time) I don’t think I’ll let my weight go the way I did because 10 months later…I’m still a clydesdale!
I started racing again in March after taking the month of February off, and it proved to be a very busy time, still. Isa was doing a great job as the backstop for her softball team; I must admit, she impressed me. She had some good teammates and a great pitcher and that really motivated her to improve.
All my extra work paid off, literally, and I was able to buy a mountain bike. That had to be the highlight of my year, it’s hard to top the purchase of a new bike, no doubt. I raced a couple of times at the El Do Twilight races before jumping in helmet first into the mountain bike racing. I learned a lot from my friends who are seasoned mountain bike racers, like fellow Celo Dave Williams, Chris Bautista (formerly of SC Velo), Alejandro Medina of Team Velocity, and Steve Herrera of The Cyclery Bike Shop. Bonelli was my first mountain bike race and were it not for a few mistakes on the downhills, I probably would have finished in the top 10. I ended up 11th at Bonelli and I was ok with it. I also raced Southridge where CX phenom Miguel Sutter helped me to a 4th place finish.
We also had fun participating in the first ever Celo Pacific Kids’ Ride. Mark Campaigne made that happen and we all met at his house to ride down to the Grand Deli for the club meeting and some breakfast before riding back. I was riding with the kids for a while and then found myself with Claire and Clare, leaving Dave Williams and Geoff Albert to lead the kids to the Deli.
April proved to be the busiest month on the schedule and the same will probably be true for the 2012 season, as well. I had decided a few months earlier to enter the Seal Beach 5K Run only to give my running a purpose, that is to have something for which to train. I didn’t know what to expect going into that run, except that all my runner friends kept telling me that people tend to run 5Ks very fast. I ended up in 8th place in my age group, which was ok with me. It seemed like many of the 10K people weren’t far behind me when I finished, so maybe 10K’s are run at a very fast pace. The next day was the US Cup race at Sycamore canyon, where I crashed twice in the first two laps in the same place, but where I felt like I was really racing, trying to catch someone and not get caught for a possible win. I finished in third making it a very good weekend.
In all that riding and running leading up to April I was able to drop a few pounds and figured out that I couldn’t really count my weight loss by less than two pounds. I seemed to fluctuate ± 2 lbs. every time and so I figured out that I had to look at my weight over a longer period of time, instead of day-to-day.
The Sea Otter Classic came along a few weeks later and although I had a pretty crappy road race, I had a good mountain bike race. Claire and Isa, my parents and even my nephew were all there and we had a good old time. Everyone got to ride bikes and I thought I had a chance at getting on the podium at the XC race, but was only good enough for a top ten finish.
I consistently mention Claire in my race reports and Facebook and Twitter posts, but never really have the opportunity to explain how instrumental she is in everything that happens on and off the bike for both Isa and for me. I won’t bore you anymore with details, but let me just say that nothing that happened in 2011 would have been possible without her. She doesn’t ever really take time to relax and enjoy herself and it seems sometimes that she has to be forced to stop and chill. So every year we get dressed up and go to the prom . . . I know, a couple of oldies hanging out with today’s youth trying to relive the glory years of yore . . . we have fun and it’s a date more than anything. The 2011 prom was at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. We stopped at the Yard House and she discovered her favorite beer: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout; and I discovered I could get Black Butte Porter from the Deschuttes Brewery in Bend, Oregon here in SoCal – a couple of memorable discoveries in 2011.
I also discovered in May that you can lose a race on the downhill section while I was racing in the Big Bear Shootout. It was the first time I was leading a race and had a decent chance of winning, but I was my own worst enemy and lost the race in the last descent, finished in 4th.
The highlight of the month was not a 4th place finish, however, or racing well enough to have the race lead slip away from my fingertips. No, the highlight was seeing that Claire enjoyed mountain biking so much up at Sea Otter, that she decided to buy herself a mountain bike. We went on lots of rides and she and Isa both love their bikes.
After a good April on the bike and not so good a May, I looked to the race at Santa Ynez for some redemption. The course would have been good for me with very little technical descents and some good easy climbing. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t cooperate and colluded with the promoters to destroy my derailleur. Oh well, DNF and minus one derailleur for me. Tried again in Big Bear, but with double points at stake and too little fitness for the climbs and too few skills on the descents, I lost the podium in the overall series.
July is always a busy month for me, with lots of birthdays around me. After seeing my momma have so much fun on the bike at Sea Otter, we got her a nice little cruiser for her birthday. Nothing fancy, just two wheels with a few gears on a good looking bike. I spent very few hours on the bike in July; most of my hours typically come from my commutes to work in the summer, but Cal Trans took away a lane during construction which kept me driving.
I did some fun stuff with Geoff and Dave on the mountain bike, Geoff even got to ride a 29er inner tube on his 26″ wheels, and it was a fun ride listening to him say things like “It feels like I can just roll over stuff easier.”
My dad got a bike for his birthday, too. Another simple yet cool looking cruiser with gears on it and he loved it! He was like a little kid on his bike. It’s amazing how a bike will bring a smile to your face. We also started racing ‘cross in September and I brought some OK fitness into the season, only to see it slip away from race to race.
SCPS #2 Pacifica ‘Crossfest Master Men B 35+
My brother finally got himself a sweet Phat 29er Cruiser which he named Jobu from the movie “Major Leagues.” Another bike and another smile.
Spooky ‘Cross UCI Women
Dirt Club ‘Cross Isa Singing the Bells
Another great highlight was seeing Isa perform with the high school band at the Warren football game. They played the national anthem in the pre game and between downs in the stands to get the crowd going. Lynwood HS didn’t bring any fans.
Isa with the High School Band
SCPS #10 Long Beach Masters 35+B
I got some birthday love from my work family. It didn’t help with the calorie counting but boy was it fun!
And Isa, never seizing to amaze us, got herself another scholarship for excellent academic achievement. She’s got a good group of friends who are athletic and artistically talented in different ways, involved and who want to make a difference. She is really making us proud!
SCPS #14 CXLA
Santa ‘Cross was fun because it brought us back to Griffith Park, but more so because I got to see my good friend Gerry and his better half, Lorena, whom I haven’t seen in a really long time.
I had put in some good workouts leading into the last race of 2011, hoping to improve a little and I think I did, although I may have overdone it a bit. I had lots of fun, though. I wanted to try to ride 500 miles between Santa ‘Cross and ‘Cross into 2012 and even wagered Dave Lawson a six pack of respectable beer to see who would ride the most miles. I did lots of fun mountain bike rides, working on my skills going down the tricky descents at Turnbull Canyon. I almost crashed into Tinker Juarez going up Rattle Snake and even got out there with Chris Bautista, who looks ready to step onto some podiums in the upcoming season, and with Stevo Herrera, owner/operator of the Cyclery Bike Shop in La Mirada.
Unfortunately, Santa brought me a cold along with every thing else so I missed out on Christmas Day events and family visits and spent three days in bed and off the bike. I lost my wager with Dave (not as a result of being sick, I’m sure, but it didn’t help) and only put in about half the miles I planned on riding before the next race.
I was pretty sore when I got to the race but felt good once I got out on the course. I stuck onto the wheel attached to the back of people’s bikes who were leaving me behind in previous races, and then flatted. I ended up DFL with 2 stops in the pit. We had a good time in the Southern California winter. Isa raced attached to her bike at the pedals for the first time ever and Scott Reeves made the Celo kit look good – it’s great to have him on the team.
I’d much rather look forward than look back: “the race is in front of you” I always tell Isa, but this being a place where I report on races, it is intrinsically a look back. And a look back is valuable, especially when I look way back to 2010 and see how much faster and stronger I am on the bike; and how much my handling skills have improved, not to mention my confidence. I’ve learned a lot in the last year and added to what I learned in the previous one. I look back to help me see forward, I guess. I really wish I had better stories of glory for you to read.
If it’s stories of near death experiences and overcoming enemies like the Black Death Foot that you seek, visit Justin and Allison Mann’s sites to learn how they triumphed over such things, among others, all on two wheels and with a smile. Or for stories of superhuman athletic feats on foot, two wheels, and in the water, see James and Beth Walsh’s 2011 reviews.