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The Paul Mach Blog - May 2009

Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Heidi Swift

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Monday, May 25, 2009 - Race Reports
Hi Mom!! They don't call it the Mt. Hamilton Classic for nothing. The race goes up and over Mt. Hamilton and finished with a hard 40 miles into Livermore. The list of winners includes all the big names and Bissell showed up with 3 of them, me, Ben Jacques-Maynes and Eric Wohlberg.

The race started with a bunch of early attacking. I watched as Ben and Andy followed moves and when they came back I figured it was my turn. What seemed like a good idea at the time turned into a 45 minute suffer fest. After much pain I crested the climb about 40 seconds ahead of the field, taking the KOM.

Jackson Stewart (the cyclist, not Miley's brother) caught me on the decent and I just sat on his wheel. I felt bad, but Jackson is pretty high on my list of people not to go to the line with. In fact, that list is pretty long and includes just about everybody. Plus, Ben and Andy were in the field.

After it came back together we rode steady for a few miles before the attacking started again. There were a few good moves that I thought would stick, but they all came back. I took a solo flier with about 5k to go. I didn't know I was so close to the finish, I just figured I should counter whatever had just come back.

When I hit the bottom of the decent I realized there were only about 3k left and I had a gap that could go either way. Here is a transcript of my inner dialog during the last 3k.
  • 3k - Damn it, it's a good gap, this is going to hurt
  • 2k - You can do this, dig deep, dig deep
  • 1.8k - Oh God, too deep, too deep.
  • 1.75k - He he, girls tell me that all the time
  • 1k - Maybe if I make an intense face, it will ease the pain
  • 500m - Where is that f***in' finish line?
  • 150m - It hasn't been 500m yet?
  • 30m - Crap, someone is passing me
  • 10m - Oh good, it was just Andy
So I finished 2nd, Andy won and Ben was 4th in the sprint. I was very happy with the race. I raced smart with my teammates and got the KOM.

Saturday, May 23, 2009 - Race Reports
Call now and we'll throw in some free coffee.

$1.33 a minute, that's how much it cost me to ride the Calavares Road ITT today. But as I learned in Vegas a while back, don't expect much unless you're paying at least a dollar a minute, and it held true again today.

The course was out and back with some rollers and a climb at the end, very different from dead flat Putah Creek. I had a pretty good day and won with a 21:02. That got me some coffee and a gift certificate to Cyclepath. Tyler Dibble, after talking smack about the new, finished second. Karma's a bitch, huh Tyler?

Afterwords, the wife and I headed into San Jose for some food and then went shopping at Anthropologie. I reminded my wife that I didn't get any prize money today but she responded with a quick, "I have a full time job." I never have a response to that one so I just mumbled something about saving for our future and went to go sit with the other men.

Tomorrow holds the Classic Mt. Hamilton Road Race. Should be good, unless the burrito I just ate starts looking for an exit somewhere on the climb.

Friday, May 22, 2009 - Tech
Over the past year cycling websites like Podium Insight and Velonews have gone through major face lifts. Even Cyclingnews tried to get in on it with bigger and more centrally placed ads. Now I too am getting on the different is better bandwagon with the new and improved 2.0.

So what's different? Well, obviously a simpler and more traditional layout. This should please all the readers that think if it doesn't look like a blogger site than it looks weird.

Also, the site should be faster. Recent research by Microsoft was shown that if the pages takes just a half second longer to load, people get frustrated. The old site, well sometimes it was really slow so I rewrote the whole back end to fix some issues. Hopefully it works.

The most important change is the black background. You see, my wife prefers sites with black backgrounds and I prefer white backgrounds. This is our compromise and I think it saved our marriage.

As always, let me know if you see any weirdness.

Monday, May 18, 2009 - Race Reports
Winnings!! On weekends without races I typically head out to the local Saturday group ride. While I've done the ride a hundred times, last Saturday was special, I came ever so close to cracking Doug. 4 years of attacking and trying to ride him off my wheel and I finally got a, "That's it for me, thanks for the workout."

Unfortunately my excitement was a little short lived because as he crested Cantalow he said something like, "I decided to back down. I wanted to save something for the flats on the way back." Oh well, maybe next time.

After the ride the wife and I headed up to Tahoe for the rest of the weekend. It was good to get away with the wife after many weekends without her.

On Sunday we headed over the hill for the Kingsbury Hill Climb. It was a super low key event with only about 30 people total. This particular hill went from about 4800ft to 7300ft. I felt great till I saw the 6000ft sign, at 7000ft I was about to pass out and at the finish I was ready to tip over.

I set the men's record at 32:59 and fellow Davis resident Kelly McDonald set the women's record. Mike Buckley was there too. But my image of this former Race Ride regular was tarnished when he couldn't get the average power off his SRM and started pressing random buttons.

Team Bissell actually claimed two wins on Sunday, Kirk O'Bee won the Kelly Cup in Baltimore. His win was a little more prestigious and he got a pretty sweet trophy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - General
Yesterday News 10 did a piece on our little National Championship. I had no idea I'd be the only one talking. Clicking the image will take you to the News 10 video page.
News 10 National Championship When I tried embedding the video it would start playing automatically. As much as I'd love to hear my voice every time I visited the site, I'm guessing my readers wouldn't.

Sunday, May 10, 2009 - Race Reports
Out of nowhere we somehow pulled it off and won both team time trials and the overall today. Go UC Davis!!

The weather at the course was cold and rainy. That must have played to our advantage because both of our teams rode really well. We won by 1:25 and women won by 1:20.

A little bit from the inside of the men's race. It was cold but we rode really smooth. I think we have about the same talent as last year but we executed it way better this time. Plus, Will hung in there till the end which was a big help on the last 5 miles of head wind.

We finished the race cold. But that happy feeling of finally having a good day warmed us right up. Not really, we spent a half hour in the car shivering.

I'm embarrassed to admit that us men contributed only about a third to this national championship. That's about a third of what we thought we'd contribute. So way to go ladies! But just to throw it out there, you couldn't have done it without us.

The team is flying home tonight. I'm tired and miss the wife, it's been a long two weeks.

Saturday, May 9, 2009 - Race Reports
Thus, I will never be either. As for Phil, he was too sick to race today and the plan was to sub Will in for the crit. Unfortunately, since we didn't decide that till this morning we were out of luck. That left only 3 of us in the race.

The crit went as expected for me. I kept my position pretty well and put in some digs but as soon as I'd get off the front I'd be toast and get brought back. The course was really wide open so people would shoot up the side and close stuff down.

The finish sucked and I got shelled during the last lap. Overall, I think my crit racing is improving, but I still need a lot of work on the end game.

As a team, the women did well and we kind of sucked up it. Our team is now 4th and within reach of 2nd. Lees-McRae pretty much has the win wrapped up.

The banquet this year was pretty good. They had a live twitter feed up on the screen that displayed tweets with #fccf and #cycling in them. As you can imagine made multiple appearances.

However, the best ones were from Cody Tapley. "getting ready for prom,Go Aggies!!!#fccf" and "starts at 6 but already dressed for pics.#fccf" Classic, brought back so many memories, most of which I'd like to forget.

Anyway, Dave Towle handled the awards at a good pace. We didn't have anyone up there this year, but that will change with the TTT tomorrow. The event starts at 8am and we roll just after 9.

Friday, May 8, 2009 - Race Reports
We arrived at the road race course to news that the women did really well (10, 13, 14). That put a lot of pressure on us. The race had a hard first 15 miles, then 4 flat 10 mile loops and finished with a decently hilly last 10 miles.

We expected things to break up during the climbs at the beginning but the field was too fresh and the right moves never happened. We arrived at the loops with about 50 guys.

Then the attacking began, but I was having trouble getting away. I was talking to Kiel Reijnen (Jelly Belly) a bunch and we were both a little frustrated with the racing. Every time one of us would go up the road the pack was all over us.

Whatever, I turned to trying to help Adam and Phil get up there. The highlight was when I launched Adam up to a 10 man group, unfortunately it came back. The move finally went at the end of the 3rd lap and we had Adam in it.

The problem was I thought the break was a lot smaller than it was. A lot of people were bridging up and I wasn't keeping track. But I didn't find that out till the finish.

In the chase I attacked on the first climb on the way back and stayed away till the finish. That upped the ego a little bit, but overall I wasn't too excited about the result.

Adam was 8th out of the break, I was 19th and Nils, Phil and Will were 28, 29, 31. Not great but it did put us into second in the Team Omnium. That basically means we have to ride the Crit hard tomorrow.

Did anyone watch the race at How was it? I heard made the coverage.

Thursday, May 7, 2009 - General
It's been busy here in Fort Collins. Well, the first part of the week was chill, but now that the team is here there is lots to do.

Tuesday, I just chilled out with Sheldon. Wednesday I prerode the course and met up with the team. Today, we prerode the TTT course and got all the bikes ready for the weekend. Man do I miss Jono and all his help.

Anyway, tomorrow is the road race and they are supposed to have it online at The women's race is at 8am and we are at 11am Mountain Time, so 7 and 10 Pacific Time.

Sounds like the BISSELL team is doing awesome at Joe Martin. Ben won with 4 BISSELL guys in the top 10.

Monday, May 4, 2009 - General
No real dramas getting from Silver City to Denver today, just a really tight connection in Albuquerque.

Here in Fort Collins I'm staying with Tory and Jennifer, two local cyclists who offered to put me up till the rest of the UC Davis hit squad gets in town. Very cool. They just recently moved into this house and have 2 dogs :/

Over the last 24 hours I've had some time to reflect on Gila and it was a pretty cool, freakin' hard race with some of the best American racers of all time.

But for me personally it was a big learning experience. I did a lot of stupid stuff and learned a lot about racing with/for a team. Hopefully next time I'll be that much smarter and that much better.

Now check out this excerpt from an article in today's New York Times. It's about Lance getting second on Sunday.

"We really focused on trying to get him the win today, not really because he needs it, but more like a statement," Bruyneel said.

The statement turned out to be that he is not yet Lance Armstrong.

Ouch, that has got to hurt.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 - Race Reports
Crazy, Crazy, Crazy 105 miles, 4 and a half hours, 9,131 feet of climbing and 70 miles in the break. This course profile doesn't do the route justice. It may took flat in places, but it's always rolling.

The race started with a bunch of attacking and Ben and I managed to get in the break of 11. It was hard riding but we'd get a head start on the climbing.

We rolled it over the first hill and through the valley and into the first real climb. We went into it 3 minutes ahead of the field and crested the top about 2:30 back. The course goes up and over "The Monster," then turns around and comes right back.

On the way back is when the action happened. At the start we dropped half the break almost immediately. About half way up we got caught by Levi, Lance and Horner.

I tried to stay with whatever group was coming by but they were all riding pretty hard. Over the top I was in the second group with Ben and Tom. But going into the last climb everything blew apart.

The BMC car yelled, "Good job Burke" as they drove by and I got into another chase group as the last big climb leveled out. But it never really levels off and I was exploding. I was struggling to stay on and I finally popped right before the decent. I was caught by 4 guys at the bottom and rolled in with them.

I finished 17th, moved to 16th on the GC, and Bissell won the Team GC. They calculate the Team GC by taking the top 3 riders each day, so today I helped out. You need 4 riders to qualify so Mellow Johnny's and BMC didn't.

Tomorrow I'm off to Fort Collins to race Collegiate Nationals next weekend.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 - Race Reports
The crit wasn't till 3:15 in the afternoon so most of the day was spent waiting. A little ride to loosen up the legs and then a nap.

But at 3:15 it was on. It was crazy, just what you'd expect from a 160 person field. You'd be near the front, then it'd bunch up in the head wind and you'd get swarmed. In no time you'd be 40 wheels back as it went single file over the top of the climb.

The big drama happened with 1.5 laps to go. There was a crash in turn 2 that held up the field, including me. Got past it and was chasing with Levi. In turn 4 he told me, "Watch out, I don't have a feel for this bike." I didn't know what he was talking about so I let him lead the turn. Turns out he was on Horner's bike because he rolled a tire avoiding the crash.

But then it gets crazier. A guy slides out in that turn right in front of Levi. He barely avoids it. I was a little further back so I went around no problem. Then we spent the last lap chasing. Actually I spent the last lap getting blown off of Levi's wheel. What an honor.

I think they are giving everyone who was together with 2 to go the same time, so no problems there. For more info, Velonews has an article on the race.

Tomorrow's stage is INSANE. But now I better get back to watching The Wedding Crashers on TV. Peace.

Friday, May 1, 2009 - Race Reports
Up hill, down Hill Today the Tour of the Gila featured a 16 mile hilly TT. After the results from the first day I was a little worried that Chris Horner would start behind me. But GC changed a bit after yesterday's stage and I was safe.

Had another one of those "Burke" moments at the course. I saw Chris Baldwin while rolling around and he gave me that "I think you're Burke" look. Then he wished me luck. Ah, good times.

Anyway, Tom, Ben, Jeremy and Burke were all rockin' 58 tooth front chain rings and I can see why they'd need it. I was spun out on the final decent. On the way back I caught my 30 second man at the top of the hill but then he repassed me on the way down. I felt pretty good during the ride overall. I don't know where I placed.

We do know that Tom was second to Levi and ahead of Lance. That's some pretty good riding. They've been pretty good about posting results on the Tour of the Gila website so they should be up soon.

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