First of all, I’d like to apologize for neglecting this post so long.
I’m still waiting for my professional blogging career to become lucrative, so in the meantime I have been working a little desk-job on the side to supplement my income. Unfortunately, this past workweek was like a two-man breakaway with Eric Wohlberg, and I have been suffering to stay on his metaphorical wheel in a crosswind of deadlines and presentations. At some points during the week, I felt like this guy:
From Ed Matthews Flickr page. Notice how he’s balanced ever-so-gently on his knuckles alone. I don’t think you could stage a better crash photo.
Admittedly, that was a terrible segue into my discussion of the last weeks’ racing, but I’m just gonna roll with it.
Let’s get on with the smack-talk.
The Benicia Criterium was a rather unremarkable race last year, but the organizers stepped their game up this time around. The course was moved a few blocks west into Downtown Benicia, where racers were greeted by a technical, undulating Figure-8 of Death. The fast, downhill bottom corner was punctuated by ridges of broken pavement, a drainage ditch a-la-watsonville, and a nice dusty gravel patch for those who decided they’d had enough of the heat:
From HCPhotography. I love how he collected curb, telephone pole, and caution sign in one fell swoop. The Trifecta!
Ok, enough with the crash photos.
Not to be outdone by Lance Armstrong’s Nevada City campaign, Floyd Landis showed up at the P/1/2 event with his OUCH posse consisting of Roman Kilun, John Murphy, and Bobby Lea. In addition, Chad Gerlach (Amore & Vita), Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefits), a whole slew of fast locals, and a 110 degree heat wave showed up, turning this 60 minute criterium into an epic deathmarch.
An early breakaway of 12 went up the road, including Murphy, Kilun, Zwizanski, and Gerlach, as well as a smattering of crazy breakaway whores from Webcor, Calgiant, DBC, etc.
Then, like a professional Phoenix rising from the ashes of amateurism, the winning move of 5 riders emerged from this break, roughly 45 minutes into the event. Gerlach, Murphy, Kilun, Zwizanski and Colin Samaan rocketed out of the group and lapped the wilting remnants of the field.
Meanwhile, a chase group including Floyd Landis and Mike Sayers lurked behind, swelling in size as riders shelled from the lead group desperately clung to their draft. In the end, Murphy won the race, with Gerlach and Samaan close behind.
Colin Samaan may not be a household name yet, but let me tell you, that kid is on the rise. I’ve only seen him racing about 5 times this season, but he’s got wicked fitness and a keen sense for where to put his bicycle. This was a great result for the guy, and it certainly won’t be his last. [Note: That’s cheating, because I already saw him win the Cat 2/3 Davis crit this weekend]
The following day, the W1/2/3 race at Burlingame was nothing less than a TIBCO massacre, highlighted by a redemptive solo victory for Alison Starnes.
Photo by Paul Doran. (Don’t look into Starnes’ eyes…she’ll eat your soul.)
It was definitely one of the most exciting W1/2/3 races I have seen in a while, with attackers Shelley Olds (Proman) and Katy Keenan (Webcor Bridge Team) daring to defy the TIBCO juggernaut.
In a very Samaan-like manner, Keenan (who, at least according to results of late, is still a Cat 3) could be seen surrounded by seasoned professionals, laying down vicious attacks throughout the race, including a particularly violent effort with two laps to go. If I was a female bike racer, I’d keep my eye on Katy. She’s pretty easy to spot–with that vibrant red hair and green kit, she’s like a wheeled Christmas decoration.
The Tour de France is on, but I really only have one thing to say: what in God’s name is going on here?
It seems that Lance is attempting to deter future bike theft by having his bike decorated with complete and utter nonsense. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lance’s special Livestrong Edition “Bedazzler” Madone 10.6.2.1. Rumor has it that it will be 52% Rhinestone by weight.
Sadly, I must check out of this joint for now. I’ll try and digitally scrawl a few sentences about this past weekend’s insanity when I get the time. Leesville, Davis, Oakland, and San Luis Obispo all hosted races, so there’s plenty of storytelling ahead.
Until then, I will leave you with this clipping from Cyclingnews’ coverage of the Tour. You gotta have some serious literary cajones to write an opening sentence like this:
I have never, EVER heard anyone describe bike racing in terms of slaughtering heifers. I hope I never hear it again.
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