• dance, monkey … dance

    by  • February 27, 2008 • race coverage • 24 Comments

    nobloodway.jpgFor many years i dodged the Snelling/Merced Crit weekend in the NorCal holster. I don’t know what it was about that weekend … maybe i just needed a break from the week-by-week traveling down to that mecca of early spring american bike racing that is The Central Valley. Maybe it was the just the name … “snelling” … i mean, if there were ever a course that better conjured up sounds and smells of riding teeth down on cow shit sprayed roads … well, i’ve never heard it.

    Or, maybe i just knew something secret …

    – – –

    Anywho ~

    Of course i arrived in “downtown senling” about 15 minutes before the start of the race. Well, maybe i had a few more minutes than that … certainly enough to go hassle some people with the camera and grab a few hands in hey-hey.

    lustygood.jpgI’ve done this race the past 2 years with the geezers, one winning it with jeffe and one where i got across the line first. But, this year i needed some miles and didn’t really want to get up at 3am to drive over to make the real race … so, lined up with the proseys to get in some training miles.

    It’s true that the CalGiant Starberries showed up with a full armada of mayhem. They are the 800pound gorillas of NorCal and all the benefits and drags that accompany such status. Are they the strongest men’s non-pro budgeted team in the US?

    likely. and, like i’ve said many times … California Strawberries and Big AnthonyG are THE finest supporters of American cycling right now. Hands down.

    Now, that doesn’t mean i won’t heckle them fukkers every week, though. Like keith driller-miller, winner of the SanLuis Downtown Crit last year and overall CalGiant hardman. He usually looks all snooty and too-cool for skoool, but actually he’s an intelligent sort with a very quick wit and when he smiles … well, you realize he’s just a guy like you … well, almost.

    And then there’s the other Giants like JohntheHunt, BRIGGS, D’OlympiCopeland, US-youngin’ Champ MaxJenks, SReaney, jMattees, and of course Andrew JackMaynard … all are exceptional bike riders, even if they all look dorky as hell in spandex.

    dorks.jpgi mean … folks ~ take a vid at that roster … talk about Team Anti-Cheesecake

    well, they actually have beefed up their man-meat ratio this year. CalGiant recruited the hot-packages Tyler Dimples and Ken-doll Hansen. Holee sheeet, talk about a serious upgrade in sexy-peals. And with Ozzie O starting to actually eat sandwhiches now and … get a butt … those three might be able to shake off the nerd-stick that seemed to wack the rest of their squad with extreme prejudice.

    – – –

    Anyway, enough of the bio-blahblah … back to the Snelling Road Race Report of Retardation.

    So, one of the problems with having a powerful squad like CalGiant is that so much of the race responsibility gets piled on your shoulders … and we know how narrow cycling shoulders can be.

    logo_day_99.jpgAs all the boys lined up for the start, i was dicking around at the back talking shit with a few of the pro women starting right behind us. I saw the HighRoad chickas doing their uber-alles gig as they prep theyselves for what will be some MONSTER racing these next few weeks. I cannot wait to see that Womens’ Merco Crit this weekend. Even though it’s not NRC this year – the Merco weekend is a big target for a lot of women because it’s part of the newly formed Highway 99 Series AND is a perfect lead-in to the big-money and big-prestige Sequoia Cycling Classic.

    Oh yeah, the Sequoia Classic … that’s going to be a weekend to remember (And i’ll be covering it in-depth for the site, yo. So get ready to be inner-viewed, racers and volunteers – yeah, that means you pro-ho.).

    Other femmes fatale seen were the PROMAN’s big E-Zell (who has just been called up by the National Team to race in Europe, by the way. What is PROMAN now the US National farm team? … jeesus, what a great program.) She’ll be joining that young east-coast stallion, Megan Guarnier as they travel to Europe to do an event with the US Natz team and then hook up with a French regional squad to get a bit more taste of eurotrash bike racing.

    good luck, chickas.

    leadwomen.jpgSo anyway, back to the racing … but, let’s continue in this womanly stream of consciousness – The High Road women guttered the race from the gun … just like the CalGiant boys would do in the men’s side of the action. It was a very, very large women’s field that took the start, but by the end of lap 1 … it was absolute carnage on the roadways. The field was shattered into small grouplets of riders pushing through the wind with whatever reserves of pedaling willpower remained in their legs and hearts.

    With a lap to go in the Women’s race, I was stuck on the side of the road changing a flat … and might i mention – it was the LONGEST flat change in the history of the multi-verse … what a fuktard i am. Anyway, as I was dinking around with tirelevers and mini-pumps, the lead group of women rumbled through the newly paved, but still quite bumpy, last few k’s of the Smelling loop.

    High Road’s Anderson (i’m pretty sure) was in the move and helping out young MeganC with some rear derailleur issues. As they shot past, I heard Megan thanking Anderson and a return from her of no worries, and off their little pack went. Awesome.

    In the end, the HighRoad rider would power away and solo in with some serious winning style. What an athlete. Behind, it would be her teammate Fahlin taking second in front of one of the biggest prospects in women’s cycling right now, Rushlee Buchanon of Tibco. TIBCO’s Brooke Miller is the unquestionable leader on that squad – but, i’m a fan of their program because they are working hard on adding depth and firepower to their roster. Great to see.

    Olivia Dillon of Touchstone put in a massive bit of improvement this winter and it is really showing with her form right now. She was 4th in the hardwoman’s race, with MeganC of PROMAN rounding out the top-5, almost beating some prosey boys to the line in a sprint. Right on, you little brawler.

    – – –

    leadless.jpgSpeaking of Prosey boys, like I said – CalGiant had their armada in full-effect and shattered the field from moment-one. When i saw the blue lined up across the road after the neutral dropped, with that little wolverine Wohlberg tucked in sideways on a wheel … i knew the day was over. For me, having a grand total of 70 minutes on the bike that week, i gratefully opted out of the warfare up front, and just rode comfortably behind, waiting to snatch up all the shards and get a group willing to put in some chasing miles.

    Well, after a lap – our group swelled and dropped in size per the perils and gyrations of the course and the knock-down, drag-outs that took place in the winds. Good times. In our group were such such notables as Andres the Gil … one of the hardest mo’fos i have ever met. This guy will ride full-gas until his balls fall off. He’s core to the core, baby. We also had a couple of MetroMint riders who were fukkal strong. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get them from blowing out the group by pushing harder on the pedals than everyone else thought appropriate. But i definitely put a note-to-self stickit on my forehead … “if there are Mintys in the race, they are gawdamn strong”.

    which leads me to my mini-rant about the young bucks in our region. Snelling is a good example of some of the weaknesses our region has in its racing at the p1/2 level. On the first lap, when all went ape-shit and the pack splintered ~ a TON of riders straight-up took themselves out of the race by their decisions to go at it solo and not “team-up” with other DROPPED riders.

    snydershoots.jpgWhen you’re behind a lead group of 40+ riders … it isn’t a break – you are dropped. And the only way to get back to that lead group is through organization with your fellow dropped dawgs. And for that first lap, there was NO cooperation in the chasers. It was kind of laughable to see small group after small group gutter themselves … for no reason.

    Ah well, it takes time to learn how to properly eschelon, i guess.

    but the real commentary is how it seems that our region’s pro1/2 fields are so used to … knifing each other (for lack of a better descriptor), that they forget to put those fukking weapons away when you NEED those guys with you.

    So, lesson i’d like some of our prosey riders to look into is this notion that cooperation is often times quite beneficial to all involved. AND, keep those knives ready guys … because you’ll need them when it is appropriate to use them. Like, at the finish of a race … not in the first 20 miles of one … when you’re dropped from the lead eschelon.

    And it is worth noting that the group we rode with (from lap 1!) ended up being in the top 15-20 finishers … so, think about that.

    Patience, cooperation, taking out the knives when needed.

    – – –

    animal.jpgAnywho ~ at the start of the final lap, US Crit Champ Danny Holloway hit out on a HUGE attack with what looked to be Andy JM on his wheel. Wohlberg jumped the pack to give chase – but you could tell that the move was likely to come back. Apparently it did and there was some serious jockeying in the final lap that saw Symmetric’s Wohlberg crush away solo for yet another NorCal win for the crazed-canuck. He was definitely the benefactor of a bit of in-fighting between CalGiant’s Hansen and Holloway – as the two sprinters focused on beating each other up, giving just enough opening for both Wohlberg AND that new phenom from Davis, Taylor Kuphaldt to slip away for the top-2 spots. What an engine that Davis rider is ~ watch him, folks.

    Great race – but, i’m out of time and this is about as much dancing this monkey can do in one morning.

    ~lates,
    m

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    24 Responses to dance, monkey … dance

    1. Kevin
      February 27, 2008 at

      Bike racers are fairly hopeless when it comes to riding in the wind. I’ve seen that kind of stupidity at Snelling in the pro race since around 1990. I pulled out to start a second echelon once at Snelling and the guy behind me, instead of thanking me, looked at me like I was retarded and assumed my old place in the gutter. Morons.

      The only time I saw a second echelon work properly was at Bisbee one year and only after about five guys had tried to blast across the gap alone and failed.

      I grew up in Sac Town doing Tues-Thurs River Rides in cross winds. Bay Area people (and I am one now these last 11 years) by and large just don’t have a clue how to ride in a cross wind.

      I sometimes feel like the Don Quixote of echelon riding…

    2. February 27, 2008 at

      tilting at windmills be glorious work, kev

    3. Switters
      February 27, 2008 at

      I was in the lead group till a broken wheel took me out of the race at the end of the first lap. I will say though that was one of the funnest races I have done in a long time. I’m really glad Cal Giant stepped up and took the initiative like that. great practice for NRC races.

    4. February 27, 2008 at

      yeah, it’s always fun being the crusher and not the crushee ;)

      … and nice ride in the Merced crit, too.

      HWY 99 series for you, Switt? or you gonna have to ship off for some elsewhere’s RockRacing?

    5. February 27, 2008 at

      oh, speaking of RR ~ i loved how Cipo went public to pressure Ball’s into giving him more control of the squadra.

      Cipo cracks me the fukup.


      oh, and quick comment to commenters, i read EVERY comment and really appreciate them. Some, of course, are far better than the posts they’ve commented upon. but, that’s to be expected.
      .
      but, wanted to send out a note that i often don’t comment on my posts just as a time saving mechanism. if i can ever pull in some $ for the site, i’ll cut a few hours from the real job and be more consistent in talkin’ via the comments.
      .
      thanks again,
      ~m

    6. Switters
      February 27, 2008 at

      Part of the 99 series anyways. Skipping out on Central Valley. We have enough good crit riders on the team.

      Should have come to Merced Crit. Nother good sufferfest in the rain.

    7. Anonymous
      February 27, 2008 at

      Monkey Dance Good….. :)

      Blowing out the cobwebs!

    8. February 27, 2008 at

      nah, i’ll never do Merced Crit again after seeing S.Oliver get face-planted into that wall.
      .
      it’s a dangerous course … unnecessarily so, in my opinion. but, i’m prolly just getting old and bitchy.

    9. February 27, 2008 at

      UPDATE:
      read over on Joel Robertson’s site that Brian Bucholtz went down at the merced crit and he hadn’t heard any updates.
      .
      if anyone can fill in on how BigBucholtz is doing, it’d be appreciated.

      what a blow to our region if that boy can’t be up there breaking legs. thanks for any newz.
      ~m

    10. todd
      February 27, 2008 at

      saturday was fun….till I crashed! I agree we cali riders need some help with echelons. Most get the idea, but don’t realize once they pull off, they can’t slide immediately back. Thats how I was crashed. However, most are appreciative if you calmly instruct them rather than call them dumb-fucks. The shit hit the fan so fast in that race it was silly. Hope there are more like it!

    11. ddt
      February 27, 2008 at

      Sorry to hear about the early-season (well, any) crashes. Here’s another hoper for speedy recoveries.

      That said: Damn, Kuphaldt. Wasn’t he a cat 3 junior a year ago? And he’s an incredibly nice and generous kid. Hope he stays sheltered from the cougars.

    12. clm
      February 27, 2008 at

      (by their decisions to go at it solo and not “team-up” with other DROPPED riders.)

      Hey–the same thing happened in the women’s 4 race! Our group of three tried to pick up a couple solo riders, but they preferred to stay solo. Yeah, OK.

    13. February 27, 2008 at

      I’ve heard about your crazy pack leadership antics. For the first time I laid witness to your comedy.
      I was one of the fellas in that unorganized group which became the groupetto. You certainly made a good time of it. If it wasn’t for your consistent chatter and praise to the other groups as we passed them by, (“high ladies, you’re lookin’ good keep up the good work” hey Dan keep it up you’re catching ‘em”) it was the screaming and yelling at the Giant Strawberries as they joined our contingent of steady chasers.

      Thanks for the good times. BTW as soon as you flatted out our group started acting stupid again.

      2005: I used to be a master of the groupetto, but it has been many years since I’ve been forced to ride in a bona fide, terminally dropped group. It’s strange to be back. Riding in the groupetto requires a different mentality and skill set. — Bradley McGee

    14. ddt
      February 27, 2008 at

      Oh, I’ve seen similar silliness in other fields. The best was at one year of Leesville. The field had split on the big climb, but I had the leaders in sight after that. Caught up to a few stragglers and tried to get them going a wee bit faster to close the gap. They compained! So I asked if anyone else wanted to try to bridge and tried for it. Three guys sat on my wheel, as though they were covering an attack. And then sat up when I pulled off. Huh? This went on for quite a while… .

    15. February 27, 2008 at

      What was with taking pics from inside sputnik? Shudda been out there enjoying the wind with the rest of us dumbasses.

      I commented on my blog thang the other day about how no one wanted to play the cooperate game after getting blown off the back. Dang shame. I might have decided to finish all the circuits if I had some company to suffer with.

    16. February 27, 2008 at

      Last year at Snelling was the same – nobody knowing how to echelon. I rode up on the sheltered side of the pack with hardly any effort… Of course, by then, the winning move was already 1/2 a mile up the road… Chased like a demon with another guy for 2 laps, two more bridged up, but we still couldn’t catch the leaders.

    17. February 27, 2008 at

      glad i could add some … charm?… to the race, JTref. i never pass up a chance to heckle them Strawberries. I believe the interaction went something like this:
      .
      Hunt and Mattis coming back to our group …
      .
      me:
      “CalGiant SUCKS! Screw you guys for dropping us! You blow like the Hoovers …”
      .
      Hunt (smiling ‘cuz he knows i’m a wank):
      “hey, they’re right up there! you guys can catch them”
      .
      me:
      “whaaa? get your sorry mugs up there and pull us back, you strawberry covered asses!”
      .
      Hunt:
      “did i mention i’m older than you?”
      .
      me:
      “shut up, pretty boy”


      a few miles of rolling go by and we see two more CalGiant’s on the side of the road with flats…
      .
      me (faking sincerity):
      “nooooo! not you guys, too? oh, i’m soooo sorry!”
      .
      JonEropkin:
      “welp, now there’s only 9 left up front”
      .
      JMattis:
      “bwwaaahahahahaaaa…”
      .
      me:
      “you shut up, too – fancy pants.”

      (only partially fictionalized)
      – – – –
      .
      but, to be serious for a moment – i thought our “chase group” worked pretty well for a couple laps there. we kept that dwindling lead group in sight and got in some decent miles of pedaling. good group, fun time.
      .
      see you at the next one, Tref.
      m

    18. Pro-Ho
      February 27, 2008 at

      hellyea, bring on the views of the feable mind of Pro-Ho!

      I can’t divulge many things “on the record” but the 99 series is going to be insane…ladies as the main event in Visalia? Fresno throwing down with a one-day slugfest with that 180 crit?

      see you at Merco….where the party on the 99 begins. Oh, stop by and see me for the cowbell madness.

    19. February 27, 2008 at

      Awesome race report. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Kim anderson would help someone fix their derailleur and then ride away to win. She’s super nice, but SUPER strong…i am reminded of this every time I show up for the early morning Lake Casitas rides and see her there. I’m dying up those climbs, and she’s just spinning along chatting with everyone!

    20. tdibb
      February 27, 2008 at

      Come on up to Davis on just about any day of the week and you’ll get some echelon practice. Even in the front group at Snelling there were some shenanagans, sending people into the dirt every so often (myself included). All around good fun. Id like every race to be like that.

    21. Dr X
      February 27, 2008 at

      Great reportage! I know why the flat change took so long – ya kept on hecklin the passers-by! You made it onto a few of our team’s race reports. Sample:

      ‘Some VOS guy on the side of the of road yelled out ‘Yeah, suffer like a dog!’

      Me, I gots my first echelon in-race experience – of course ended up in 4some chasing, but at least we worked together as best we could (and Mike gave us road-side props!). Ok, it’s a race season!

    22. FWS
      February 27, 2008 at

      Hey M…
      Ditto to what tdibb said…
      If you live in Davis… What wind!
      Our life is in the wind! :)
      Ditto about Taylor K… He’s
      one to watch! That kid is
      amazin…

    23. emily
      February 28, 2008 at

      1. that was one of my top 3 worst days on the bike.
      2.i inexplicably would do it again, over and over.
      3. kim anderson is the bar for nice.

    24. February 28, 2008 at

      Well, I am ashamed of my own performance at Snailling – not easy to admit.

      Hey, King Kev, I hope it wasn’t me, although I don’t remember it being, maybe because I was cross-eyed and boggle-eyed for much of the race.

      See you all at Merco.

      Robert

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