2015 Summer National Senior Games

Posted: February 24, 2016 in Bicycle Racing

tl;dr: Men 55-59: 40 Km Road Race: 13th; 20 Km Road Race 8th; 10 Km TT: 9th; 5 Km TT: 9th — One podium photo for 8th place:


Long story: I have never flown with so much stuff. After a friendly cab driver with a very decrepit yellow van brought us to Long Beach airport, I negotiated with the former US Airways, now American Airlines, agent at the check-in counter. She eventually agreed (wink-wink) that I didn’t have two bikes and we saved a few bucks.

After a very uncomfortable, 1-hour flight to Phoenix on a regional jet, my back was a disaster. It didn’t get better during our 3-hour layover or our red-eye into Minneapolis. However, our luck changed when we arrived at the hotel at 7:00a (on July 2nd) and they had a room available for a very early check-in. We had some breakfast and slept until about noon. Sleeping helped my back a lot.

This started my “rest” week. We arrived in Minneapolis almost a week before my races because Nina qualified for the 10 Km and 5 Km running road races. Her races were on Saturday, July 4th, and Monday, July 6th. My first race was on Wednesday, July 8th. I’ll spare you the details of my rest week except to say that I pre-rode the road race course quite a bit before race day.

One point about my race preparation is my training during the prior months was pretty sporadic due to an unusual amount of business travel — travel for a week, every-other-week, from February through May. My friend (and professional coach), Kurt, provided me a training outline from that helped me achieve a level of fitness far greater than I would have managed through my normal self-coaching.

My minimum goal for the games: get on the podium (eighth or better) at least once. Finishing 3rd or higher in one of my races was my stretch goal.

No cycling trip is complete without some kind of technical snafu. I purchased a mini floor pump (Lezyne) prior to the trip but I ordered the one without the built-in pressure gauge by mistake. In addition, I stripped the hex head on one of the clamp bolts on my stem while reassembling my road bike. I spent an afternoon driving around Minneapolis to three different bike shops to procure a replacement bolt and a presta valve pressure gauge.

Men 55-59 40 Km Road Race

The entire road race circuit was on the Minnesota State Fair grounds. Nina and I were surprised at the extent of the roads and permanent buildings on the grounds. (Note: Nina’s races were on mostly the same course.) The organizers made a late change to the circuit reducing the number of corners to 14 (from 18) for a 5 Km lap which made me feel better given the diverse quality of the field. There was a series of corners at one end of the circuit that had manhole covers and asphalt patches through the preferred line. My plan was to lead the race through that section on lap 1 just to make sure that I didn’t get caught in something stupid when people raced through there for the first time.

With no trainer, I warmed up on some roads that paralleled the start-finish straight. A number of others were doing the same. However, since I didn’t have the secret decoder ring for identifying which numbers were for which race, I couldn’t determine which racers were in my age group.

The weather was better than I expected, warm but not too humid. I watched the end of the Men 60-64 race which this guy won by a big margin after riding away from the peloton early in the race. A very impressive effort. The field sprint was remarkably sane and entertaining with 2nd place changing hands three times in the last 200 meters.

For my race, there were 27 racers on the line and the field quality looked surprisingly good. No one had knee-high, white athletic socks and there were just a couple of rear view mirrors hanging off of helmets. I quickly spotted a tall lean guy in a Discovery team skinsuit. Despite the wannabee-Lance-look, this guy looked very strong and he had a pro looking saddle to handlebar drop. Figured that I better mark him.

We started and we started fast, but not insanely-SoCal fast. What I didn’t see was that one guy went from the gun and he had two teammates in the race. Guess I was too busy watching the Discovery guy. I executed my plan to lead the pack through the tricky corners and then I settled in for the rest of the lap on the wheel of my marked man.

Laps 2-4 saw me covering the Discovery guy and attacking once or twice myself. The pace wasn’t slow but it wasn’t very fast. As we were finishing lap 4, I went with an attack and heard the announcer say something like, “With four laps to go, the field needs to get serious about catching the solo break.”

Solo break?!?!?!

My race went from being strategic to tactical. I spent the next two laps driving the field with Discovery guy and someone riding for a Connecticut-based team. The course doubled back on itself for a fairly long stretch. Somehow I never saw the solo break during the first half of the race but I could see we were catching him once I knew to look for him.

After taking a longish pull leading into the longest uphill drag on the circuit, I was about two-thirds of the way back in the pack when Discovery guy attacked. I tried to get up to him but I couldn’t do it. According to Nina, we would have caught the solo break but when Discovery guy caught him, they ended up working together and Discovery guy took the win.

With all the work I did, I had nothing for the field sprint for 3rd and finished towards the back of the remaining pack to take 13th place.

Men 55-59 20 Km Road Race

This race was the day after the 40 Km race. My legs still felt good and the weather was similar to the previous day. The atmosphere was a bit more tense since everyone saw how people performed in the 40 Km race. Interestingly, the guy who went solo from the gun the day before, did the same exact thing in this race. This time I saw him go and I was prepared to work to keep him from getting a big gap as he previously did. Fortunately a couple of other guys, including the Discovery guy, wanted to keep him in sight so he didn’t gain much ground on the first lap and he looked like he was burying himself doing it.

On the second lap, one guy was doing a decent pull and we were single file. I was fifth in line. I could see that the he wanted off the front on a section of the course where we doubled back so we couldn’t cross the center line (there were relatively closely spaced cones on the yellow line). The lead guy was next to the pylons and everyone right behind him wouldn’t come around. I decided to pull out of line and attack on the opposite side of the road. Just as I was coming up to the lead guy, a couple of the guys behind him got tangled up and as I glanced over my shoulder, I saw at least four guys headed for the pavement.

I pushed hard through the next section of the course and as we came back past the crash site, a number of guys were picking themselves off the ground. Unfortunately, the remaining pack was right on my wheel. We finished lap two and very early on lap three, we caught the solo break.

I really thought we were going to have a big field sprint so I was hanging in the back half of the field. We were on the uphill section when Discovery guy attacked hard. I jumped too but I was too far back to catch the train that was on his wheel. Five guys total had a gap and I and two other guys were working to catch them. When we got the bell they still had a gap and one of the guys who was working with me went hard. I tried to get his wheel but failed again and now I was in no-man’s land. He caught the break and I was by myself. I thought maybe I can hold off the pack for 7th — ha!

Group 2 caught me on the back side of the course. My next series of thoughts were rest and try to get at least second in the sprint. One of my mental problems is because I have such a lack of confidence in my sprint, I end up sprinting way too early. This time I kept thinking wait, don’t lead this thing out. I waited and waited and then the sprint started on the false flat to the line. I was third as we got rolling and I was sprinting as hard as I have in years. I passed the guy in front of me but not the guy leading it out. No big problem because it was enough for 8th — last spot on the Senior Games extended podium. Minimum goal achieved. In case you were wondering, Discovery guy took second.

Men 55-59 10 Km Time Trial

There was a “rest day” between the 20 Km road race and the 10 Km time trial. I and most everyone else went to the TT course on the rest day to check it out as well as checking out the parking area and warm up route which was south of the TT course. The designated parking area was about 3/4 of a mile from the start while a local school with a relatively small parking lot was adjacent to the start. The school parking lot was paved while the designated parking lot was dirt and gravel — hmm. I went to the warm up route first and found that after about 1-1/2 miles, the road turned into a dirt road. WFT? If you turned left instead of going straight on to the dirt, you stayed on a paved road that provided reasonable warm up without much traffic.

The TT course was OK, out-and-back, a little bumpy in places with some rolling hills. My biggest concern was that we were told the course would be open to traffic and there was no shoulder.

All of the races were run eldest to youngest age groups with all of the women’s races first. Even with a relatively early arrival, we had to park in the dirt parking lot as the school was completely full — actually somewhat over full with people parking on the grass. I’m sure the locals loved that.

Race day was hot and humid. Definitely not SoCal weather. Had a decent warm up and was completely soaked. I was drinking throughout trying to stay reasonably hydrated without over hydrating. I arrived at the staging area and was happy to see that the course was basically closed. Local police were guarding the barricade and, I guess, select residents got police escorts as necessary.

When I arrived in the staging area, I heard the officials calling for some guy named Bickell. I yelled, “He’s not here.” Don’t know if they heard me. (Please forgive the inside joke.)

My 30 second man was missing too so I had a one minute gap to the guy ahead of me who was on a standard road bike. 5-4-3-2-1 and I was off, unfortunately in more ways than one. Heat, humidity, nerves, or all three? My heart rate was too high for my power output. Push for power or stay within my heart rate zone? Don’t over-think this. Someone passed me and I finally passed my minute guy. It took more time to pass him than than I originally envisioned. After the turnaround, someone else passed me and I was having trouble focusing on going hard. Things were not going well.

Another friend, Rich, talks about no-chain rides. Rides that are fast but feel effortless. This was a rusty chain race. I was over a minute slower than my target time which put me in ninth — just off the extended podium. Ugh!

Men 55-59 5 Km Time Trial

A bunch of guys decided to skip this event. The day before as I was somewhat dejectedly packing up, I overheard some guys, who had done the road races and finished poorly in the 10 Km TT field, say that they were going to head home a day early, not that their departure would help my placing in the race.

This time the weather was cloudy, hot, and humid. Once again I had a good sweat going during warm up.

I figured that for a 5 km TT, blocking my helmet vent with the optional blocker plate would help me more with time than hurt me with heat. I also wore the helmet visor over my glasses. Figured that I would go for broke.

Break is about what I did. Again, I couldn’t generate quite enough power and speed. I was 9th again. What was most aggravating was that the guy who finished behind me during the 10 Km TT, beat me in this race.


I felt better about my performance a few days after the racing ended. Given my work travel, some personal issues, and general lack of training, I performed about as well as I could have realistically expected.

As for Nina, she too did worse than she expected but she made the podium for both of her races with 6th and 4th place finishes.



It’s been over 10 years since I’ve done this ride. The last time I did it, I saw a big crash on the “rollers” leading into Laguna Beach. It’s a crazy ride where hundreds of riders start and well over 100 riders stay together from Long Beach to Dana Point.

I stayed away from the ride for over a decade, after doing it about half a dozen times because of the danger and the “outlaw” nature of the ride. With so many riders, the group often blocks all southbound lanes of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Even though the pace is regularly 30+MPH, the speed limit is often 55-60 MPH on this stretch of road. People eventually let cars pass but not before engendering angst from New Year’s morning drivers. Also, in the past, red lights were something to run, whether the light was red for the lead riders or not.

Fortunately, I heard that in recent years and definitely this year, if the lead riders encountered a red light, they stopped. Given that bit of added sanity, I decided to give it a try again.

The weather has been cold for Southern California the past few weeks but this morning was a bit warmer with a temperature of 46°F at the start where I estimate 350-400 riders headed out precisely at 7:55a. The roll out is a 1/4 mile (from the meeting place to PCH). Then the pace hits 25-30+ MPH and stays there.

I’m sure some of this is psychological but most of my angst is reasonably well founded as there are a lot of riders who really don’t have sufficient skills for a group ride at this pace. I stayed near the back of the lead group trying to keep away from sketchy riders and closing gaps as people were falling off the back starting within the first two miles.

There were a couple of times where I was caught in groups that did fall off the back but I was able to get back into the lead group of 150-200 riders until we reached the south end of Corona Del Mar. PCH gradually climbs for about 1/4 mile and that was enough to crack some riders. There was a small gap to the main group and I was going to try to close it again, but a stoplight turned red and the people just in front of me stopped (appropriately).

While stopped, I saw a crash just a couple of hundred yards ahead. When the light changed I rolled past the crash slowly to (1) see if any friends were in it (none were) and (2) see if anyone was badly hurt and needed help (everyone was standing). I rode the remaining 4 miles to my predetermined turnaround essentially without help.

I had arranged to meet some clubmates and friends in Laguna Beach to ride back home at a more leisurely pace. Overall, it was a good morning and despite witnessing a crash and some very erratic riding, I will probably do this ride much sooner than later.

Below are the detailed statistics from my segment of the “big ride” starting when we hit PCH to where I stopped to turn around:

Intensity Factor™ (IF): 1.00
Training Stress Score™ (TSS): 98.9
TRIMP: 118.9
Moving time: 00:59:31
Avg. speed: 23.6 mph
Avg. heart rate: 142 bpm
Avg. power: 187 W
Normalized Power™ (NP): 212 W
VI: 1.13
Avg. power (including zeroes): 177 W
AEPF: 143.5 N

Basically race-level numbers.

Ended up with 52 miles for the day. The ride home with clubmates and friends ended up being harder than I expected.

My Complete Bicycle History (Updated)

Posted: December 28, 2015 in Bicycling

Once again, I am inspired by a thread on an online cycling forum. I am taking my original post and updating it with my latest bicycle information and I am adding all of the other bikes that I’ve owned (that I can remember) since beginning of my racing “career.” (Note that I bought the bike during the model year listed unless otherwise noted. Also, unless otherwise noted, bikes are road bikes. Last, bikes in bold are in my current inventory.)

  • 1970 Magneet (unknown model): My first 10-speed bike. I got it because it had Campagnolo derailleurs on it. Never mind that they were Campagnolo Valentino derailleurs. It also had the ubiquitous (for that era) Weinmann center-pull brakes. I also repainted the bike a metallic purple when the original paint sort of fell off. I actually “competed” in my first race on this bike. Not sure what I did with this bike.
  • 1974 Lambert Pro: One of the finest British racing bikes ever built (not). Started out with plastic Simplex rear derailleur, ended up with a Shimano Crane. Eventually put it out of my misery by cracking the head tube. I weighed about 120 lbs soaking wet at the time. Someone wanted to buy it from me after a friend of my father welded(!) the head tube. I sold it to him.
  • 1975 Bianchi Specialissima: Purchased in June 1976 and I still have the frame and a couple of original parts on it after a complete restoration using period incorrect Campagnolo Super Record components circa 1984. It was originally all Campy Nuovo Record. This is probably the bike that I rode the most — more than 40K miles. Museum piece in my house.
  • 1980 Medici Pro Strada: Truly the one bike that I wish I never sold. It was essentially a Masi Gran Criterium as it was built by former Masi builder Gian Simonetti. I put a mix of Shimano and Sun Tour parts on it. It did have a Campy seat clamp bolt on it. This was my first racing-only bike. I sold the complete bike but I don’t remember how I advertised it or who bought it.
  • 1982(?) Benotto (model???) track bike: My first track bike was made-in-Mexico and had straight gauge, steel tubing. I got it so that I could train at the newly constructed, 7-Eleven Olympic Veldrome (built for the 1984 Summer Olympics). The fork had quick-release chrome plating and by the time I sold the frame the fork had almost no chrome plating left on it. Overall, it was a nice track bike and served me well. Sold the frame and fork around 2006 at a swap meet and it’s probably a brakeless road fixie now.
  • 1984(?) Basso (something-or-other): This was a straight gauge Columbus frame that I built using most of the parts off of the 1975 Bianchi. I built it as a training bike as the Bianchi had seen better days by then. I got it pretty cheap as I was a bike shop employee at the time (don’t ask). Eventually the sold the bike after getting the frame powder-coated when the quick release Italian paint job gave up the ghost.
  • 1984 Cannondale SM-500 Mountain Bike: Got sucked into the mountain bike craze and this was another employee purchase. The bike was a dark metallic green and it interestingly had a 26″ front wheel (standard for that era) and a 24″(!) rear wheel. I could climb trails that would cause others to dab but it was scary descending on it. Sold it to a co-worker who, as I was told, rode it all the time all around the South Bay.
  • 1985 Vitus 979: Built it with a combination of Sun Tour and Galli parts as a race rig.  It was a noodle but I weighed less than 130 lbs. back then so it was bearable for racing. This was also another employee purchase and I ended up selling the frame and fork to a friend.
  • 1985 Olmo (I-can’t-remember): Built it with the same combination of parts as the Vitus used it as a training bike. It was a Columbus SL frame and many will argue that it was a better bike than the Vitus. I won’t argue that point. I also got this with a bike shop employee discount. It replaced the Basso. It also had a wild, 3-color, fade paint job. I think I sold the frame and fork through the Pennysaver.
  • 1986 Shogun Kazé: TT funny bike that I eventually rebuilt using most of the parts off of the Vitus. This was my first TT-specific bike. It’s still sitting in my garage waiting for another rebuild. Did a few sub 1hr 1 min TTs on it but I could never quite get under 1 hr.
  • 1987 Fisher Procaliber: Bought this as lightly used frame. It had one of those under-the-chainstays rear brake. It descended much better than the Cannondale but it didn’t climb as well. Given my inability to descend fast, it probably was a bad change for me. Eventually I converted the bike into city bike duty and I towed my kids in a trailer behind this bike for untold miles. Finally sold it to a colleague’s daughter around 2007.
  • 1988 Serotta Colorado: This was the best steel frame that I have ever owned. Built it with a combination of Shimano Dura Ace and Shimano Santé components. It was my first bike with index shifting and I used the Santé derailleurs because my local wrench said that they would work well with the plethora of Sun Tour freewheels that I had (and still have) at the time. He was right. I eventually rebuilt the bike with 2005 Campy Record-8 components — my first bike with ergo shifting. This replaced the Vitus. Cracked the down tube in 2000 and sent it to Serotta for a repair evaluation. Never got it back from them as the repair cost was too high.
  • 1990 Stowe Triad: I originally built the bike with mostly the same parts that I originally had on the Serotta Colorado. I rebuilt it with circa 2005 Campagnolo Chorus-10 components in 2013 and then disassembled it a year later to build a road bike for my wife. I have a funny story about Robert Stowe but I’ll save it for another time. This bike replaced the Olmo as my training bike. Rode it a few times after rebuilding it and the mystique of steel road bikes was lost on me after riding carbon frames for over a decade. Steel may be real but it doesn’t ride better than carbon. Sold it at the end of 2015 to a clubmate who wants to build up a classic steel road bike.
  • 1997 Bianchi Megatube Ti: This was the original Megatube Ti with the large “aero” fabricated and welded down tube. It was my 40th birthday present from my wife. I built it with 1996 Campy Record-8 components. This bike became my “race” bike (I wasn’t racing much at the time) and my Serotta moved to the training bike role. More history on this frame below.
  • 2000 Bianchi XL EV2 Al: I bought this frame when I cracked the down tube on the Serotta. I put most of the components from the Serotta on this frame and it became my race bike while the 1997 Bianchi migrated to training bike status. This was when I started racing more seriously again as my kids were starting to get older. Sold the complete bike to a friend.
  • 2001 Bianchi XL Ti: I got this frame in 2002 as a warranty replacement for the 1997 Bianchi Megatube Ti (which developed crack on the seat tube right at the weld for the front derailleur hanger). Put the parts on it from that bike and it was my training bike for a few years. I put Record-10 on it in 2003. Sold the frame on ebay.
  • 2002 Look KG381i: I got this on clearance in 2003 and built it with 2003 Record-10. This and the subsequent Look KG481SL had the best stock geometry fit of any bike I’ve owned. It replaced the 2000 Bianchi XL EV2 Al s my race bike. You’ll see the fate of this frame further down this post.
  • 2000 Quattro Assi Team 2000: I bought this in 2002 as a cheap TT frame (< $500) to replace the Shogun. Built it piece by piece by looking for sales on Chorus-10 parts. This is the worst riding bike that I’ve ever owned, hands down. Sold the frame at a swap meet.
  • 2005 Look KG481SL: I did a double swap on components when I built this bike. The low mileage parts on the Look KG381i went on this bike and the higher mileage parts from the Bianchi XL Ti went on the other KG381i. I really liked this bike. Sold the complete bike to someone through an online cycling forum.
  • 2005 Bianchi Milano 120 (120th Anniversary Edition): Decided that I wanted a town bike and liked the one that my wife had. Got this one on closeout as a year-old model. It’s a fun bike that is easy to ride. Changed out the bars, saddle, and seatpost but otherwise, it’s pretty much stock. Always get compliments about the bike (not me).
  • 2006 Bianchi Pista Concept: Built this using most of the parts from my Benotto track bike. Eventually replaced everything on it — not that there’s muck to replace on a track bike. Put over 7,000 miles on it. All of those miles were training and racing on an indoor, 250 meter, velodrome. Thought the frame was cracking in 2013. Turns out it wasn’t. Then it developed a real crack on the seat clamp. It’s currently built with a variety of leftover track components and wheels and it’s waiting in my garage while I decide what I should try to do with it.
  • 2006 Look 565: I got this frame in 2007 as a warranty replacement for the KG381i (which developed corrosion issues at the tube to lug interface). I ended up with the wrong size but rode it about 2,500 miles in about six months as my training bike before I sold it to a friend. It rode pretty well but it really shined on descents.
  • 2007 Bianchi D2 Crono Carbon: I got a deal on this frame from my LBS that I couldn’t refuse. OK, I could have refused it but I was lusting after this frame from the first time that I saw it and I hated the Quattro Assi. I built it with almost all of the parts from the Quattro Assi. I only changed bars and wheels when I first built it. Who said you can’t buy a sub 1 hr, 40K TT? Currently the frame and fork are taking up space in my garage. Make me an offer.
  • 2007 Serotta Attack: I got this as my 50th birthday present to myself. Built it with 2006 Record-10. I raced on it at the end of 2007 and for all of 2008. I love how this bike rides. It’s the best bike I’ve ever owned and my first custom geometry frame. Towards the end of 2008 I started getting paranoid about racing on this bike. I have never worried about crashing a bike before and I didn’t like racing with that thought in the back of my head so I sold the KG481SL (which had rotated to training bike status). In August 2015, I was racing on this bike, as usual, in a Tuesday evening race and I crashed on it. After the crash and because the frame has over 26K miles, I decided to temporarily retire it. I have plans to get it repainted and then rebuild it.
  • 2009 Cervélo R3: At the end of 2008, I bought to be my race rig and bought a 2008 Campagnolo Record-10 group. I liked this bike well enough but its race speed handling didn’t inspire me — probably because it had a slightly funky front end geometry. Really didn’t do the weight weenie thing when I built it but it came in at 14.6 lbs with heavy Look delta pedals. Sold the frame and fork to a friend.
  • 2007 Bianchi Roger: Only used bike I’ve ever bought. Found it on craigslist in 2009. It is my rain bike and single-speed training bike. Eventually replaced everything on it except the brakes and wheels and added fenders. (Not too much to change though since it’s a single-speed.) My clubmates like riding behind me when I ride it in the rain because it has full fenders so there’s little road spray. Haven’t ridden it too much in the past year since we have had drought conditions for the past two winters.
  • 2010 Lapierre Xelius FDJ: Put the components from Cervélo on this frame. Raced on it for a year. It was an OK race bike but it didn’t stir my soul. Sold the frame and fork to a friend who bought it for his nephew.
  • 2010 Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod: Got this pretty cheap in 2011 as it was a leftover team bike for a local club. Found a NOS Campagnolo Record-10 group for this build. Liked it a lot and raced on it for two seasons. Ended up selling the frame and fork to a friend who easily outsprints me while riding it.
  • 2011 Stop Proletariat: The frame is billed as a single-speed mountain bike. I bought it because I wanted to build a single-speed commuter bike with disc brakes and belt drive. I like the bike a lot though much of how I use it overlaps with the Bianchi Milano.
  • 2012 Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod: Got another end of season deal on this frame and fork. Built it for the 2013 season with the Record-10 parts off of the SuperSix Hi-Mod and I like it even more than that bike. Eventually put an SRM power meter on it so now I can see my pitiful watts during races. Raced on it for three full seasons but now it’s my training bike after retiring the Serotta Attack.
  • 2012 Specialized Shiv: After the 2012 USAC National Road Championships in Bend, OR, I got an itch to get a Shiv. Found this bike on ebay as a built but never ridden deal (wrong size). Moved the derailleurs and saddle from the Bianchi D2 Crono Carbon on to the Shiv “module.” It looks great but I’m not any faster on it. Surprise, surprise.
  • 2013 Bianchi Super Pista: Bought this when I thought my Bianchi Pista Concept had a crack in the frame. I didn’t build it until 2014 because I never had the time or inspiration to do so. I was thinking about selling it when I discovered a real crack in the Pista Concept. Interestingly, the geometry and build tolerances are so close to the old bike that I was able to swap parts without having to make any major adjustments. It rides the same as the old bike. We’ll see if I can go any faster on it.
  • 2016 Fuji SL 1.1: My current race team sponsor, West River Cycles, arranged a deal for us to get “team” bikes from Fuji for a great price. Since I wanted to retire the Serotta Attack the timing for getting this frame was perfect. Over the years, I was interested in Fuji’s top end road bikes but their geometry wasn’t right for me. Fortunately, the SL 1.1 looks like it will work well. Building it with most of the parts off of the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod.

From Zombie to Green

Posted: August 21, 2015 in Green, Dream Home

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. We’ve had a lot of changes in our lives — some really good and some really bad. I’m going to focus on the good and to that end, I am modifying this blog site to include our Green, Dream Home. Stay tuned for more and check out our page, Cleave & Nina’s Green, Dream Home, to see how it’s going.

My favorite mid-week bicycle race, the El Dorado Park Twilight Race Series, has a new name, Park2Park Race Series, and some significant changes. Some of it falls into the category of “what’s old is new.” Starting from the top, I knew that the race organizers, BIKEable Communities, were going back to racing every Tuesday evening from March through August. (Full disclosure: I am on the Board of Directors for BIKEable Communities, a non-profit bicycle advocacy organization, but I am not involved with planning, promoting, or organizing the series.) Last year the races at El Dorado Park were every other Tuesday, March through June, and then every week in July and August with a somewhat contrived arrangement of having a separate points series. I am okay with what happened last year as the organizers were figuring things out after a somewhat hostile takeover of the series from the former promoter. (I was less happy about that.)

The first race of the series always starts earlier in the evening — really late afternoon — because Daylight Savings doesn’t kick in until the second Saturday of March. Despite the early start time, I was able to get to the race relatively early. It was a good thing because the lines(!) were long. They were long because of a pretty good turnout of racers and because of a big, new feature: timing chips! I won’t get into the details, but the last line was for the organizers to attached the timing chip to your fork with zip ties. Also, prices were on the high side for a mid-week race. With one-time fees for permanent numbers and a 2-year timing chip “lease,” I ended up shelling out $50. Subsequent weeks will be a maximum of $15 but I hope that price will go down for a club discount. Because of the lines, the 4:45p start time turned into 5:00p. A 1-hour race with sunset at 5:50p meant that the end of the race would be in less than ideal lighting as the park doesn’t have street lights.

The race breakdown was also back to “normal” with Pro/1/2/3, Masters 40+ (instead of 35+), and Category 4/5. I don’t have the official numbers, but the turnout looked almost as good as in the old days — a far cry from the recent paltry fields that were partly due to the less than amicable transition between promoters.

I had five teammates in the field though only one was in reasonable racing shape. I had been off my bike for eight days after doing a 3-day stage race and then coming down with a mild case of bronchitis. I figured that I’d be very conservative until I figured out how I felt. The other Long Beach club had at least 10 racers and two other clubs had about that many so my team was definitely at a disadvantage. Fortunately, it’s JUST a mid-week training race.

The race started reasonably but the pace soon picked up as there were regular attacks and chases. No one got away and the first and second primes didn’t cause any breaks or splits as can happen at times. I was drifting around from near the front of the pack to the back. The pack had its usual “I want to be near the front but not at the front” majority which made for a few close calls, but everyone stayed upright. After the second prime I felt pretty reasonable so after my teammate attacked and got reeled back into the fold, I counter-attacked. No one came with me so I settled into a pace just to see how I felt. I got caught and had no trouble getting back into the pack. So far, so good.

Just after we got the two-to-go sign, I tried another attack. Again, I got a gap but still no one else was interested. This time I worked a little harder to get back into the pack near the front and when we got the bell I was in a good position. Unfortunately, a lot of people who weren’t in a good position were trying to get into one. Also I watched three teammates almost take each other out. The lead teammate brake-checked the second for unknown reasons and a third teammate almost hit both of them. At that point with all of the argy-bargy going on for the glory of winning the first mid-week race of the year and the quickly fading light, I figured skin was the better part of valor and I slowly filtered to back and off the back. Fortunately, everyone stayed upright and I was happy to roll in after the pack.

The promoters have also added some time trials to the series so there is a lot of racing available between the two venues (El Dorado Park in Long Beach and the Great Park in Irvine). I may go back to my mantra of racing is the best training after doing a bit less racing last year.

Another Vote for Habits

Posted: February 5, 2014 in lean
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IndustryWeek has many articles about lean but this week’s commentary, Lessons From the Road: Building Behaviors Bedrock of Lean Success, by James Flinchbaugh, provided good support for my hypothesis that changing behaviors and habits trumps using methods and tools. Mr. Flinchbaugh writes:

“I have never seen an organization fail because they didn’t have the right improvement tools. I have seen many organizations fail because they didn’t have the right behaviors.”

You can do hundreds of lean (and other continuous improvement) workshops but if your organization does not change its daily behaviors, you’ll keep doing big, expensive lean workshops. The key is to have people learn and see enough in a lean workshop to then start doing lean behaviors which become lean habits. Your organizational culture changes when these lean habits are the normal way to do business.

I have rarely seen this in person but when I’ve seen “everyday” employees naturally doing and saying lean things, I know that the organization’s culture will have a hard time backsliding to the good old days.

That Didn’t Last Long

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Bicycle Racing

My bicycle racing training was great in December and the beginning of January. Then I got the flu and the bottom fell out. On February 2, 2014, I am still feeling some ill effects but I am optimistic about getting things back on track quickly. I have to get back on track quickly because my first race of 2014 is on February 9th, the Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium. Additionally, one of my target races of the year is the Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Phoenix, AZ, on February 21-23. The best laid plans…