2011 Ontario Grand Prix

Ontario Grand Prix – 2011

After 25 years of racing a bicycle I finally got something for free. My friend Mario Cortes has started a new team sponsored by a Columbian clothing company called Suarez and was kind enough to ask me to ride for it. I received two kits a skin suit, three pairs of socks, arm warmers, knee warmers, gloves, vest and a cool jacket! This would be my first race with the new kit. Unfortunately, it’s mostly white. If I had any brains, I would have stayed home. I woke up to pouring rain and wind gusts of 30-35 mph. Today was also the LA marathon. I figured if they could run in the cold, windy rain for hours then I could race too. I loaded up the van and Mufasa and drove 83 miles to the race. It took much longer than I anticipated and by the time I got my number on, I only had a few minutes to ride around to warm up. At 52 degrees, with those cold winds and raining, there was really no way to warm up.

Masters 45+

I did the 45+ race first. Small pack of about 35 guys. Luckily for us, it stopped raining. The course has six corners with a little chicane before the 200 meter sprint to the start/finish. I went for a prime but couldn’t get up to the first two guys. I went for the next one, but didn’t get that either. However, I turned around and there was no one there! Five of us were away. It turns out Steve Strickler who rides for Amgen was with us, so his other three teammates were blocking. It was hard for a few laps. With only five of us and no real pack, it was hard to stay out of the wind. Steve and one other rider turned the screws a little tighter and dropped the three of us. I was so pissed. The pack caught us with five laps to go. With three to go the called another prime for a pair of tires so I went hard for that one and won it. With two laps to go, it started to pour. Great…. I got in a decent position, but lost some ground in the chicane and got 10th in the field or 13th place overall. Steve and the other guy stayed away for first and second. If I could’ve only stayed with them………

I went back to the van, took Mufasa for a little run and then back to dry off. My legs didn’t feel that great. Maybe it was the cold or maybe it was the lack of warm-up. I had about 45 minutes before the Cat 3 race and it was getting windier and windier. Twenty minutes prior to the race I dragged my butt out of the van and spun on my trainer for ten minutes. It was cold and windy at the start but not raining.

Cat 3

This pack was even smaller. Maybe only 25 racers. On the second lap into the race it started to pour. The wind was bad. There was no real pack; everyone was in a straight line trying to avoid the win. I went for a prime and thought I had it, when at the last second, some guy came out of nowhere and beat me. Bummer… It kept raining but everyone was riding safe. I think sometimes it’s almost safer to ride in the rain. People are more cautious. I went for the next prime and the same guy got it. He was definitely stronger. As we went through the first corner and into the head wind, there was a surge. I had just finished going for that second prime and didn’t have it to go with the first eight guys. I figured I would jump on the rest of the pack except one problem….. There wasn’t any pack. The race had broken apart but I was in front and didn’t know it. Three guys went buy and I jumped on them. Two of them dropped me so I waited for the next three guys and got on them. That’s how it went for a while. We dropped two of them which left one small dude and me. He and I worked for the rest of the race. I could see the lead eight or nine guys a ways up and two other guys in between us. I beat him in the sprint for 12th. Only 13 of us finished. At least I wasn’t last. I had enough and just wanted to get home. The rain was so bad, the 101 freeway was shutdown. I had to take two other freeways which took miles out of the way. Now all I have to do is my macroeconomics final….. So much fun

Callville Classic

The Callville Classic is a three day stage race in at the Callville Marina situated on Lake Mead, Nevada, which is the largest resevoir in the United States. Along with the beautiful scenery you can stay on a house boat in the marina or camp nearby. Since all the races start and finish at the Marina you can basically, race, eat and sleep. I was too late to secure a house boat so I’m camping in my van. This wasn’t just a cycling trip. It was actually a business trip. I had a contact who owned seven gyms in Las Vegas so I was going to visit all seven to try and drum up some business for my personal trainer certification company. Unfortunately for me, we had the coldest storm in over ten years hitting us on the same weekend.
I arrived on Thursday night around 10pm and my friend met me at his gym to give me a key. His gym, like all businesses in Las Vegas is open 24 hours. After washing up and taking my dog Mufasa for his walk we settled in the van to sleep. Not an easy thing to do when there are 60 mph winds and the temperature is in the 30’s. The wind howled and rocked the van all night. Mufasa as usual was hogging the sleeping bag and I couldn’t get comfortable. We were having the coldest storm in the last eleven years! Not a great time to decide to camp in your van.

Imagine this, I’m in a cargo van with two bikes, three sets of wheels, a wind trainer, clothes, cooler, Mufasa’s bed, a 90lb dog, briefcase and my lap top so there isn’t much room. We made it through the night and got up at 6:30am. I took Mufasa for his walk then went to the gym to foam roll and stretch for a half an hour.

We were still getting gusts of wind of 45-50mph as we headed out to the course. It was only 51 degrees too. I hate wind. I would rather have hills, cold or even rain.

Got my number; it was 333 which is my friend Kim’s lucky number. Too bad she wasn’t racing…..I warmed up for 1:15:00 and did my three leg-openers. Basically, most of the tissues in our bodies have elastic properties. It takes a bit to get the lungs, arteries and veins to stretch, so each opener is progressively harder. On the first effort, my heart rate will only go to about 144 bpm but it feels like 170. The second opener is at about 155 bpm and the third is over 164. This way, everything stretches out and then you spin to flush the lactate out of your legs.

It was a 4.1 one mile time trial; well actually a hill climb. It was rollers with a 7.8% kicker at the end. I’m in the start house and with 15 seconds to go I look down at my chain and it’s about to fall off! How does this stuff happen? I go to fix it and as the official says “ten seconds” the guy holding me intercedes to help and basically causes it to drop off. Great…. As the official says “5, 4,3,2,1 go” I get the chain back on and attempt to get clipped back in. I lost a few seconds but not too bad. The course was ridiculously windy. In one spot I thought I was going to get blown over. I had started my stop watch before I got my chain on and stopped after the finish line. I had a time of 9:59. However, when I went to view the official time results they had me at 10:24…..It didn’t matter anyway. Even at 9:59 I was like40th place. I ended up 53rd out of 60 something. Pitiful… It supposed to be really cold and maybe rain tomorrow. Yikes!

Hopefully the road race will go better tomorrow…

Road Race

Its 47 degrees and pouring rain. The winds have calmed a bit, but not the best conditions to start a 73 mile road race.

The pace was fairly tough up the first hill, but I was in the front so I didn’t come unhooked. For about an hour and a half, the rain just kept coming down as we raced through the undulating hills. There was no flat ground. At the turn-around we were hit with a vicious crosswind. If you weren’t drafting a wheel in front of you, you’d probably get dropped. We passed the right turn to the finish but had to keep going to add the additional 35 miles to make up the entire distance. The pack had whittled down to about 25 riders. I was still there. At an hour and thirty seven minutes I got dropped on a long uphill; but I wasn’t too far off. It was now about 40 degrees. Another racer came from behind and we started to work together. We just couldn’t get there. The pack in front was moving to quick. I felt okay at the turn-around, but then I started to bonk really bad. Another racer came from behind and helped me onto his wheel. I was able to stay with him as we caught another racer. The three of us worked together, but I was starting to get dizzy and eventually was holding them back. They went off without me and now it was just survival. I could barely keep my eyes open as it started to hail! Great. I just focused on turning the pedals but I couldn’t feel my fingers any longer. Two small packs of racers from my race passed me. I hadn’t realized how far ahead we had been. I was a zombie. Luckily, a racer came up from behind and asked me if I was okay. I said “Do you have any food?” He said he had a GU. I asked if he needed it and he said “I’m okay.” The GU revitalized me for a while and finally the sun came out. I could see he couldn’t use his fingers either. We both were shifting with the palms of our hands. After about six or eight miles, the GU ran out and I was starting to get really dizzy again. The kid who had given me the GU went on and I tried to stay awake and kept it together to make it to the finish. I stopped two feet over the line and asked if anyone had any food. An official handed me a chicken sandwich which I could barely hold. He also gave me a Hansen’s soda but I couldn’t open it. Finally, I opened it with my teeth and then headed out for another four miles to my van. When I got there, I couldn’t unsnap my helmet. I had to slide it off my head. I didn’t have the dexterity to turn the key in my van. My whole body was shivering. I got the van going with my palms and then started to disrobe. I couldn’t get the zippers down on my booties so I just left them on. Eventually, I was able to push the zippers down far enough to slip my cleats off. I then lied down on my stretch mat and covered up with all my blankets shivering for the next twenty minutes. I went from the lead pack to last place. I haven’t sufferd like that in a long time. What was I thinking?


I awoke to rain again. I took a walk down to the start finish and voila, there were snow caps on all the mountains. There was a slight wind but the rain had stopped. Luckily for me, my race wasn’t until 10:55. I got packed up and drove my van from the campsite to the start/finish. It was turning out to be a beautiful day. I immediately starting drinking Cytomax. I must have drunk three water bottles before I even got my gear on to warm-up. I tried to do some leg-openers but I just didn’t have the energy. I figured I would take my chances.

The crit was .7 of a mile. It had a chicane to the left and then right, a slight uphill climb to a right turn to another chicane, back down the hill to slight S-turn into a long sweeping (Nascar style) right turn. Most of the course was lined with fences which had metal bases that stuck out into the course. In spite of the day before, the race was fast. We were doing laps in 1:40. I got close to the front a bunch of times but never made to the first position. My legs didn’t have that snap. With three to go I was in the top 15 and a big crash happened on my left. Whew….. missed that one. The good thing was it eliminated everyone on that side and everyone behind it. I kept fighting for position and just didn’t have the speed. Some guy’s tire blew out in the last corner which sounded like a gunshot! I sprinted past a few guys and finished with the same time as the leaders. I can’t wait to take a shower. I haven’t had one in three days!