Tuesday, June 23, 2009


On Father's day we went to Nevada City for the Nevada City Classic. By now you probably know that Lance showed up, and won, and that the crowds were thick and wild. I went there because Alistair raced in the Junior race -the first event of the day- and because this race was deemed important by the powers that be, who will ultimately decide if he can go to Europe for training. We did see Lance but only for a few laps as we decided to get out of town before everyone else tried to do so.

On Saturday, Alistair rode the Mount Diablo Hill Climb and, although he beat last year's time, he did not win. He was second to Torrey Phillip, 54'' back. I rode up the hill and got a bit of a workout, but we turned around at the midpoint because Alistair wanted to be fresh for the next day.

We ended up spending more time in the parking lot waiting for the results of the Junior Point Series. Waiting for results, and protesting wrong results seems to be a favorite activity of cyclists all over California. Until race officials decide to enter the 21st century and use timing chips, this activity is likely to continue. At Nevada we stood around for three hours before officials figured out that they had given the win to a lapped rider. Go figure! Seven of them, a ton of high speed camera equipment, and they can't tell you who won and who got lapped.

On Sunday I rested, if you can call 6 hours driving to and from NC "rest." Yesterday I rode 99 miles -to Livermore and back in 6 hours. It was my first long ride for the season. I really needed some distance in preparation for Lake Placid. Overall it went very well and I am not too sore either.

Coming back to Nevada City, what is most apparent when watching amateurs versus pros, especially top pros like Lance, Levi, Horner, Ben Jacques-Mayne (and whoever the other guy was), is how skilled those pros are. That is really apparent on a technical course like NC, and more so if you just witnessed several groups of amateurs riding the same circuit only a few hours earlier.

Most obvious was how much speed the top pros carried through the descent and technical turns at the bottom of the hill. These guys cut a perfect line each and every time, and each and every time, the not-so-perfect have to pedal their hearts out to keep up.

Going that close to the hay and that fast through the turns, it was predictable after just a few laps that Armstrong and company would lap all others easily (even if they went up at the same speed on the climb). They did climb a bit faster too, but their biggest advantage was how fast they rode the rest of the course, and how little energy they wasted on the insignificant parts.

If you have ever ridden a criterium you will know you easily you wear out when you have to try to sprint out of every corner to recover distance you lost because your line was suboptimal. On a course with seven highly technical corners and a moderately long climb, that quickly adds up. No wonder some competitors thought Lance flew up the climbs like a rocket. I am not saying he does not climb fast -he does-, but while their legs were turning to jello at the bottom turns, Lance's (and Levi's) stayed fresh as can be. That left them with ample power to scale that 100 foot climb 40 odd times.

Today I ran 7.5 miles in the hills. Felt good, I even "caught" a cyclist.

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