Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Aaaaaaand It's OVER!

Sunset Loop looming
viscous vile bear of a race
hang on for dear life


I swing the axe, once
once is plenty, then patience
and much suffering

how many laps? twelve?
don't kid me like that, ok? 
what? you're serious?

Oh Christ this is hard! 
grip slipping, all becomes quiet
I'm alone, at last. 

fight this futile fight
I'd prefer to die standing
thank you very much

chase 'til they pull you
chase 'til you pop, fall over blind
but goddamit, chase!

thank you referee
my angle of pain -- mercy
is shown with a "pull"

driving north, rain starts
leaving california: "why?"
though wet, it's still home 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jumbled Post Because I Can't Sleep

I guess I'm nervous about tomorrow's stage, so I can't sleep. I'm going to throw up some pictures from the today, and then try to go back to bed.


First we have this cute little scene from the kitchen in our host house this morning:


Yes, that's two, count'em TWO Roombas. Our hosts have a lot of floor space, so two robotic vacuum cleaners are much me effective than one. I find it slightly unsettling, but also extremely awesome that we, as a culture, have gotten accustomed to little disc shaped robots who mill around our houses in search of stray crumbs, awesome because I love robots, and unsettling because the two robots eventually found eachother:

And then they decided to chase Lang around the kitchen:
Now getting chased by a cute little Roomba isn't that scary, but look at what's coming to a military near you: 


Now as I've said before, I'm a firmly believe that robots (or cyborgs) will one day rule the world, but when I turned on my computer this morning I really didn't expect to see what our soon-to-be conquerers are going to look like! Just imagine that thing with a machine gun mounted on it -- or worse yet, the torso of Arnold Schwarzenneger holding a machine gun! Snakes alive that'd be a scary robot!


Now then, enough about robots, more about racing! Things went ok. I had a fine race, but all in all, I think this year's version of the Redlands crit was fairly easy: the Fly V boys set hard tempo for an hour and fifteen minutes, and then UHC went really really fucking fast the last six laps. You can read all about it at the usual sources. I remember a few spectacular crashes [one in particular stands out: as we're entering a corner, some guy started turning, but the guy behind him wasn't ready and sort of T-boned the turning rider's rear wheel. This spun the first guy about 30 degrees to the left, but didn't knock him down -- he stayed upright but retained his momentum, only now he was pointed in a near-perpendicular direction to the rest of the racers. He flew across the entire road, from curb to curb, cutting off like ten guys (almost myself included), before high-siding it pretty hard. That's all I saw, although I heard plenty of resulting carnage], lots of single-file riding, and as mentioned before, a very fast finish. 

There were lots of flats and blowouts today. We've been avoiding most of the punctures because we're all on our brand new Vittoria's, but even our Vittoria's aren't good enough to stop this: 

Here's Soren (our only rider who didn't lose time today), and Joe, investigating the cause of the flat: 

 


And finally, here's some more of the guys chilling out post-race:



Ok, I think I'm ready to give sleep another try. Tomorrow should be a real Slobberknocker.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

So The Real Racing Has Begun

Krogg have pictures for you. Krogg think you like:
Here Krogg's DAMN SEXY time trial bike. Please note new wheels -- Krogg thrilled with these wheels. These strong wheels -- they don't go boom! 

Next picture is Soren. Him our new Danish team captain. Soren very good racer -- strong, sure, but mostly him SMART. Soren have giant racer brain -- us Hagens Berman team need to learn to race like Soren. This Soren: 



Here us on training ride. This bridge seem questionable to Krogg.



Here is team on way to race. Everybody clean, and not tired. 



Here me after race. This one tired, dirty caveman. 105 miles make cavemen very tired.


Tired dirty caveman legs:

Results posted here. Krogg have nice day -- him finish in front group, and even try to make a go for the finish! Wowzers Krogg bad sprinter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What is Pretty?

So I'm pretty fit right now -- for me that is. And I'm pretty pleased with my effort today. All in all, I think things went pretty much as planned: I didn't blow up, I didn't have a mechanical problem, and I didn't have anything left in the tank at the end. Pretty good. Well I guess there are just a lot of pretty strong guys out there, because a pretty good effort from me when I'm pretty fit is only good for 61st place, over a minute down on the winner.

Ouch.

Pretty ouch.

Climbing the Canyons

I'm a little nervous, and I've still got three hours before my Redlands TT start, so I thought I'd channel some of that energy into a blog post. Now, for your reading pleasure, I've gathered some of the crazy things you're likely to see while climbing one of the gorgeous canyons found around the LA area on a busy weekend.

Let me begin by sharing that I've gotten a pretty good taste of the local canyons around here. We climbed up and over many of the canyons over towards Agoura Hills and Malibu, and most of the following photos were snapped over in San Dimas on the Glendora Canyon Road. These canyons are all really pretty, they have tons of curvy switchbacks, and on the weekends they're downright packed with various thrill-seekers.

Road Bikers
Average Skill: 5.5
Average Speed: 34 mph (note: all average speeds are for the descent only)
Hazard Factor: 4
Friendliness: 8

Naturally there are plenty of spandex-clad roadies lugging their bodies and bikes up these canyon climbs. Most everyone was friendly -- responding to a wave with a wave, unless both hands were needed to steer around a turn. While some of the roadies I saw appeared decidedly less confident than others, the fact that every bike I saw was equipped with two (presumably) working brakes took their Hazard Factor way down. Not a single fixie in the mix to ruin our score.


Downhill Skateboarders
Average Skill: 7.5
Average Speed: 22 mph
Hazard Factor: 7.5
Friendliness: 6.5

We saw a car full of these guys unloading at the top of the hill, about to hop on their long-boards and surf the asphalt wave all the way down. While downhill skateboarders aren't the fastest guys on the slopes of the mountain, they put up a good argument for being the most dangerous. They've got no brakes, and their only way of slowing down is to swerve violently back and forth across the road, carving like a snowboarder. On the bright side, I don't think there are many total beginners who drop Glendora Canyon, so the average skill rating is pretty high for these guys.


Soap Box Derby Racers
Average Skill: 4
Average Speed: 31 mph
Hazard Factor: 3
Friendliness: 10!








Talk about awesome! These guys lug their gigantic, rickety, soap box derby racers up the hill and race them down. With no engines, big disc brakes, and obviously stoned drivers, the soap box derby guys were pretty low on the hazard meter, but got really high marks for friendliness.



The Scooter Gang
Average Skill: 4
Average Speed: 17 (yes, that's for the descent)
Hazard Factor: 5
Friendliness: 5

We rounded one bend, and couldn't believe our eyes: probably fifty dudes, all riding sub-50 cc Honda scooter, traveling down the hill in a big swarm. Some of these scooters (and their riders) were priceless, and I wish I'd been a quicker shot with my camera. Imagine lots of silly 'mods' on theses bikes, things like ape-hanger handlebars, extra headlights, chrome fenders, and milk-crates loosely attached to the rear-racks. As for the riders, it was a total hodge-podge: every type of helmet under the sun (was that a football helmet I saw?), lots of old-style goggles, and a few shirtless dudes. The only unifying characteristics of the group appeared to be teeny-tiny wheels, and lawn-mower engines.


Crotch Rockets
Average Skill: 5.5
Average Speed: 75mph
Hazard Factor: 9
Friendliness: 3

So I cautiously put a skill factor of 5.5 up there, but remember that's an average. Some of these guys clearly knew what they were doing, and had skill factors of 8 or 9. These guys were decked out in all the customary armor, and knew how to handle their machines: letting off the gas before hitting the turn, taking a smooth, steady, fast line all the way through the corner. On the other end of the spectrum, we'd get passed by some guys who seemed like total amateurs, guys who just got their motorcycle license this year, and their first bike is a 1200cc Kawasaki. Usually wearing jeans and a tee-shirt (and sometimes with a terrified girlfriend clinging to the back seat), you'll see these guys hitting the brakes and adjusting their line through the turn, looking more like they're riding a bucking bronco than a motorcycle. My danger detectors were going off like crazy whenever I'd be in the washout path of the motorcycle on a blind turn. Crash all you want Crotch Rocket Guys, just don't take me out with you please. While they seemed perfectly friendly off their bikes (they would usually wave back), the way these guys rode by us (fast, often, and close), knocked their friendliness factor down a notch.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Redlands is About to "Drop"

HOT SHIT REDLANDS HERE WE COME!!!! THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE BIGGEST, OR THE LONGEST, OR THE STEEPEST RACE I'VE EVER DONE,  BUT YIKES WARREN -- THIS IS A BIG ONE.

I'VE WANTED TO DO THIS RACE SINCE I BEFORE I KNEW HOW TO ADJUST A REAR DERAILER, AND DOGGONIT, NOW THAT I'M HERE, AND NOW THAT I'VE PRE-RODE THEM COURSES, I'M STARTIN' TO GET SCARED!

This thing's got HILLS! And it's got WIND! And it's got 199 other guys from 25 teams who will eat me alive if I let them!

But I ain't gunna let them. I ain't! Cuz I know something they don't know: I AM FULLY PROFICIENT IN BAS RUTTEN'S LETHAL STREET FIGHTING SELF-DEFENSE SYSTEM AND I WILL KICK A LIL' ASS IF NECESSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





There are numerous ways to follow what's going in in the race. For race reports, or if you Twitter or Tweet, you can expect excellent coverage from Lyne over at PodiumInsight. Follow the races live on Twitter with @podium_live. Also, I've heard whispers of this race being webcast on Universal Sports. I'm not sure if there's any truth to this -- if any of my blog readers knows the scoop, please comment!

Good night, good luck, and thank goodness healthcare passed -- at least I didn't spend all that time workin' the phone banks for nothing!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wheels Keep on Spinnin'

Lots of fun stuff to cover here, so I'll jump right in there [note: I didn't intend for this to happen, but these are basically in reverse chronological order].


First off, our new wheels came! Thank you Santa, you didn't come a moment too soon. I'm really excited to get tires on these babies and take them out on the road. Begin drooling..........now: 





Second, I'm currently back in Agoura Hills (we had to come back to pick up the wheels). I got in a killer training ride today. Here I am at the top of Yerba Buena Canyon.


Third, here's a picture of Ivan Dominguez. In this picture he's dressed in his Sutter Home kit, signing a magazine with a picture of him on the cover wearing his Sutter Home kit. Not only is this very cool (signing a magazine with a picture of yourself on the cover), but the fact that he looks exactly like he does in the picture is doubly satisfying. 



Talk about cool! Here's a flower with a bee in it!


And here's the start of the crit yesterday. Notice: I am on the sidelines taking pictures, not suited up ready to race. Boo. 



A photograph of photographers.

My teammate Sean. GO SEAN!

And finally, here's a nice one of our hosts in San Dimas, Joe and Roxanne, and the team at the wonderful post-race BBQ they threw for us. Thanks guys!



Oh, and one more -- here's a sweet action shot from Saturday's race. Betcha can't find me...




Saturday, March 20, 2010

SDSR #2: In Which Things Things Become Decidedly Less Cool.

Krogg have mechanical. Motherfucker. Wheel problem end Krogg's race. Krogg change wheel but have to chase. Caveman chase good, but never make it back to field, and merciless 5% time cut end Krogg's day. Krogg suddenly feel tricked! Krogg in San Dimas, home of Bill and Ted, but this not Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure -- this Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey! OH NO! Aside from feeling very tired, Krogg mostly feel like he wasted his time today: spend all this time training, travel all this way, prepare so much -- all to have stage race come to unnecessary and premature end due to mechanical problem. Bogus indeed. 


On better note, Krogg pleased to see teammates have good race. Soren finish in front group. Spencer in 2nd group. Good rides for these cavemen. 


San Dimas Stage 1!!!

Well, as to be expected, it was hard. Just under 4 miles straight uphill. Ouch! You can spy the results here, and catch a great write-up (as usual) over at PodiumInsight (as well as a nice photo of me -- thanks Lynne!) I threw up a 14:20, good enough for 48th place, 1:27 behind the winner. How on earth Ben Day went up that thing SO much faster than me is a good question, but maybe the answer lies in the fact that I outweigh him by ~35 pounds. I blew-up during the final mile of the race, and sure, I would have loved to have done better, but I'm at least happy I sprinted that last little bit at the end -- look at how tight it was around me:


48  johnson, sam  Hagens Berman LLP Cyclng Team 
14:21.54 @ 1:27.75
49  stewart, scott     Team Type 1             
14:21.58 @ 1:27.79
50  FRATTINI, DAVIDE   Team Type 1             
14:21.80     @    1:28.01


If I'd sprinted just three-tenths of a second less hard, I wouldn't have cracked the top 50. Also, mad props to Mara Abbott for resetting the women's record up this hill (for the third time in a row!!!). Mara posted a whopping 14:31 -- a time that would have put her 62nd place in the pro men. Holy shit Mara, nice work.

Now we're gearing up for what should be an extremely "fun" (read: ball-bustingly hard) circuit race. Re-pinning numbers, filling bottles, pumping tires. We pre-rode the course yesterday, and it is awesome; it's got high winds, tight corners, rough roads, and two gnarly climbs all packed into a seven-mile circuit. It's not so bad -- unless you're doing it 12 times in a row. Stay tuned!

Impressive Californian Gates and Entryways











A Few More Pics From Agoura Hills...



These are just too nice not to share. First, a little post-ride time in the sun. More like this please:


Next, some yummy dinner: BBQ chicken, tabouli, salad, and stuffed bell peppers! Yum! As you can see, Lang and Sean approve:


Next, this might be on my short list of best breakfasts of the year: oatmeal loaded with fruit and nuts, a bagel with cream cheese, red onions and lox, a glass of OJ, and a nice frothy cappuccino.

Here we are on our final ride in Agoura Hills. Joe hates it when I post pictures of him next to larger riders, making him look like he's 3 feet tall. So here's a picture of Joe riding next to Big Jim. Oops.



Finally, I don't think I full captured the amazing pool that our hosts are almost finished building. This thing will make the cover of magazines, mark my words. It's an infinity pool (one where the water is allowed to fall over the edge of the pool, making a perfect, uninterrupted interface between the background and the water), so imagine this thing with water in it, and gorgeous reflections on its surface.


Oh yeah, and did I mention there's a hot tub?
Lastly, here's a view of the pool from below, with the house and pool room in the background:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HB Team Camp Day #2


Here we go: day two of the HB team camp in Agoura Hills, CA. Our director Joe Holmes made a phone call, and we met up with our riding partner for the day: Ivan Dominguez. 


Ivan Dominguez, when climbing up the steepest part of the climb: "no more questions please."

More PCH.

Another beautiful day!



We stopped for coffee in Malabu. Apparently we saw somebody named Johnny Drama from something called Entourage there. Ivan was really excited by this. "Look -- there goes Johnny Drama from Entourage," Ivan says.


Ivan is a big twitter user. He tweeted roughly 700 times on todays ride. Ivan was full of wisdom: "cycling isn't just about racing bikes."


Papadominguez: @HBCycling you guys are totally dropping me right now! 

Joe Holmes also tweeted non-stop: 
HBCycling: @papadominguez don't worry Ivan, we'll wait for you at the top. 

Ivan took a picture for us at the top of the climb. Joe Holmes: "we don't want a picture with you in it Ivan." Ivan Dominguez: "it's ok, google my name -- I think you'll find a few."