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Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Musa Zaid


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March 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010 - Race Reports
The Sunset Loop Circuit Race is considered one of the hardest days of racing in the US. And that is just what was in store for the last stage of The Redlands Bicycle Classic.

We did 12 laps on this very technical, up the climb, down the climb course, for a total of 94 miles. It had 50 mph descents, a ton of crazy turns and a decent climb to sting the legs.

Andy got in the early break and since he was the highest placed GC guy Bissell was happy with just letting it role away to the finish.

Most of the race was pretty steady. On the last 3 laps guys started attacking and groups of 10 or 12 would break off the front. But since all the GC guys would make the split, no one had motivation to ride and it would come back together.

At the end, the real threat was Andy's break. He needed just 30 seconds to take the win. There was a furious chase and they reached the "time cut line" 18 seconds ahead of the next group.

GC time was taken before entering the crit course for some finishing circuits. We did 4 loops of that to decide stage placing.

Ben gave a furious fight for bonus seconds but still ended up second. But we’re still happy since we ended up with 4 guys in the top 10 and the Team GC.

Andy's 18 seconds jumped him up to 8th on GC and moved me down to 10th. I know that's the wrong direction to be moving but I'm still very happy with the result.

After the race I got a ride in Eric's '65 Mustang. I considered this quite the honor since he spent most mornings wiping it down wearing shorts and his sleeveless Giordana base layer. And that is something only Eric can pull off.


Saturday, March 27, 2010 - Race Reports
The race got done a little late today so I'm trying to multi-task. Thus, I'm writing this blog while Lani runs her skilled hands over my toned musc.....

Um yeah... my wife reads this blog so I should probably skip that and get to the point. Stage 2 of Redlands was a downtown criterium. 90 minutes, 9 corners, and it was off the hook.

Everything was pretty typical with the corners and the sketchy-ness and the freaking out. With 8 laps to go guys were dive bombing me from both sides. I thought, "Yes, get ahead of me and do your crazy stuff up there."

Two turns later there was a big crash. I managed to be the last one to squeeze by on the inside. Ben hit a guy and ran off his bike. People got free laps and the race came back together for the finish, mostly.

And now what you've been reading for, that little secret I promised. Here it is:

If you are next to me with 5 laps to go in an NRC crit you are not going to win so just chill out and roll it in.

I don't consider myself a crit master, but I'm pretty sure the above statement is true.

As for the Urban Dictionary words, I was too tired last night and didn't feel like forcing it on my last post.

I mean, this blog is meant to be physically safe, politically balanced, and racially accessible so it's not always easy to find a word. I hope we can come to an understandment on that. Okay, good talk.


Friday, March 26, 2010 - Race Reports
Today I didn't feel like cooking anything for dinner. So I mentioned the word "Thai" and the Jacques-Maynes brothers could think of nothing else. Then it was their idea to go out.

Yeah, that's right, I'm sharing a host house with the Jacques-Maynes. Host housing is pretty cool, it sure beats staying in a hotel. If you play it right you can come back year after year and get to know the family really well. Ben has stayed here for over 5 years.

Anyway, stage 1 of The Redlands Bicycle Classic was a 105 mile road race out in Beaumont. Basically, I covered a few moves, got a few KOM points, and just sat around in the pack as Rob Britton slaved away in the break. He did pick up the points jersey for his efforts.

The winning move happened the last time up the climb, about 5 miles from the finish. Ben, earning his paycheck, bridged to it on the decent to make it 3 guys.

They held off the field and Ben finished second. Poor guy, that's his first road race loss of the year. Now he's 2 for 3.

I finished in the pack. Since Luis Amaran was in the break and finished 3rd, he bumped me down to 9th on the GC, but I'm still only 19 seconds back.

The GC is pretty tight. Ben played it perfectly and slotted into second. But there are 4 other guys within 6 seconds of the lead.

Tomorrow we have the morning off and the crit in downtown Redlands starts at 4:30. If you're looking for updates I suggest following PodiumInsight on Twitter. And if you want to turn on the fire hose, check out podium_live.


Thursday, March 25, 2010 - Race Reports
Most of the Bissell Team has been chillin' here in Redlands for the last few days. We basically did a little bit of riding and a lot of relaxing.

But this afternoon, "I think I'll take a nap," quickly changed to "One Kilometer to go? I'm going to puke."

And that pretty much sums up The Redlands Bicycle Classic prologue. It was a 3.1 mile course with an average start. But the last kilometer was "Are you F-ing me?" steep. Seriously, "Who's idea was this?" steep.

This being my first time at Redlands I didn't really know how it would feel at race pace. But since it was only supposed to be 10 minutes, I went out hard and hoped for the best. And the best hurt like hell. I was out of the saddle, mashing my easiest gear, for what seemed like forever.

In any case, I gave it everything on that climb and finished 8th, about 20 seconds behind the winner. But it gets better, Bissell went 5, 6, 8 and 13 with Ben, Jeremy, me, and Andy, respectively.

They tell me this race is long from over. So, on to the road race tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - Interviews
The Hang over A pro team travels with a handful of staff that take care of all the details. Ben Oliver is the mechanic and equipment guy. He's up all night cleaning bikes and up most of the day in the team car.

On a recent van ride I had a chance to ask him some questions about his very important job.

PaulMach.com: So Ben, what made you want to be a mechanic?

Ben Oliver: When I was 15 I was watching a bike race, probably the Tour, and some dude was hanging out of a car fixing a bike. I realized that was actually a job you can have and it sparked the flame.

PM.C: Have you had a chance to "feed that fire?"

Ben Oliver: Yeah, I almost got fined about $1100 for hanging out of a car at Philly one year. I guess there is a rule that you have to keep half your body in the car and I must have been pushing it.

PM.C: Other than hanging out of a car, what else is in your job description?

BO: I pretty much do anything that has to do with equipment. I make sure we have enough of it, I make sure it works right and I make sure it gets to the races. But the real work is dealing with the director.

PM.C: You're at almost every race, how much time do you spend on the road?

BO: In 2008 I had one weekend at home between January and August. It's not that crazy anymore, but I did put 62000 miles on the van last year.

PM.C: Every rider has needs, but who on the team is the most needy?

BO: That's a delicate question.

PM.C: Okay, then who's the second most needy?

BO: Cool, now I can kill two questions with one last name.

PM.C: Nice. What are some of the weird things riders ask you to do?

BO: Nothing really stands out, but every rider is OCD about something. What I always find dumb is the copycat stuff. You do something for one rider, another sees it and they want it too.

PM.C: From someone who's spent a lot of time in the team car, what do you think about the radio ban?

BO: It might make the racing more interesting but stuff like getting water bottles and wheel changes will be a lot harder. We'll have to see how all that works out.

And that is Ben Oliver. Team Bissell is lucky to have him. You'll learn why when you're cleaning your own bike after a rainy stage or trying to fix it up after a crash.


Sunday, March 21, 2010 - Race Reports
We started the day with more staff than riders, but as I went to sign in for the crit, I noticed that David Williams' name wasn't crossed out.

A quick call and we had one more for stage 3 of The San Dimas Stage Race, even if one of them had done a 4 hour ride earlier.

Stage 3 was a 90 minute crit in downtown San Dimas. I started it in third on the GC. There were a bunch of time bonuses on the line so nothing was certain.

The race was just as crazy as it always is, but history was not to repeat itself and I stayed in third. Bingo Bango!

So what did happen to Rob and Andy? Basically, they got really sick and had it coming from both ends. Rob even claims he lost 7 pounds. How does he know that? Well, because Andy brought a scale down with him.


Saturday, March 20, 2010 - Race Reports
It was a hot and nasty day for the road race at The San Dimas Stage Race.

The short report is that I tried to get in a couple of moves early but nothing worked and I ended up paying for it on the last few laps.

The best move was about 4 laps in, but I dropped back to give Adam Switters a chance. He didn’t disappoint and came home with my KOM jersey for his efforts.

In the end I moved down to 3rd on the GC due to time bonuses. I saw it happening right in front of me, but there was nothing I could do about it.

We’re down to only 3 guys for the crit tomorrow. I’ve had issues there in the past and on paper it looks like the time bonuses could be a problem. But we’ll all have to wait and see how it plays out.


Friday, March 19, 2010 - Race Reports
It wasn't long after we arrived in San Dimas that things started to go pear shaped. I'm talking about nothing other than the Sandra Bullock, Jesse James scandal. I'm so sorry Sandra. And after you thanked him at the Oscars?!?!?!

So yeah, I rode down with the trailer on Wednesday and have been hanging out here in San Dimas ever since. It hasn't been that bad and I'm now recommending everyone spend a few days surrounded by strip malls, just to gain perspective.

As for the race, the first stage of The San Dimas Stage Race was today's 3.8 mile uphill time trial. I've done well here in years past, so I always have high expectations.

I had two goals going into the race. The first was to finish with nothing in the tank and the second was to break 13 minutes. I did both and finished 2nd with a 12:58, 5 seconds behind Ben Day, who won the race last year.

We haven't talked about the plan for tomorrow's road race, but knowing Eric, it'll involve all our hands on the deck as well as some carpet bombing.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - Interviews
Today we have something special, an interview with Ian Boswell of Bissell Pro Cycling. He's a 19 year old stand out and first year pro from Bend, Oregon, now living in Chico, CA.

PaulMach.com: Thanks for sitting down with me Ian. But lets get right into it, when did you start reading PaulMach.com?

Ian Boswell: After the Paskenta Century in February. Am I the first one to be interviewed on the site?

PM.C: No, we actually did a two part interview with Paul Mach himself last year (Part 1, Part 2). But I'll be asking the questions. When did you start riding bikes?

IB: I did some BMX, but it started with the kids race at Cascade when I was 11.

PM.C: Isn't that a little old for a "kid's race."

IB: Not really, I mean, a win is a win.

PM.C: Okay... so you're headed off to Europe in a few days, when did you start racing over there?

IB: I did 3 weeks with the national team when I was 16. The next year I did a youth exchange to Belgium for school. I raced a bit while I was there. Last year I raced the spring in Europe too.

PM.C: How does that work with school?

IB: I graduated a semester early so that helped. But teachers are usually pretty supportive if it's for the national team.

PM.C: Now for something more interesting, are you heading into Europe single or are you doing the long distance thing?

IB: No, I'm single.

PM.C: Have you been looking then?

IB: Yeah, I'm on the prowl.

PM.C: Does being on Team Bissell help with that?

IB: Sure, now that I have business cards. I've been scattering them all over the park in Chico.

PM.C: Any success?

IB: So far no responses, but I'm keeping my phone on vibrate.

PM.C: Okay, so when you're not riding and not looking for a date, how do you spend your time?

IB: I like cooking. I'm always in the kitchen trying something new. it's fun.

PM.C: And you can't find a date? I'm sure this interview won't hurt. One final question, what are your goals for the season?

IB: I just want to learn from the older riders. You know, about stuff like blogging, tweeting and taxes.

PM.C: Alright, thanks Ian and good luck at those European races.

So to recrap: we have a young, single, professional athlete who has traveled the world and loves to cook. What's not to like?


Monday, March 15, 2010 - Tech
Today I've added a new feature to the blog. It answers that question I know you're always asking, "Where is Paul Mach?" Now, just a quick hop to PaulMach.com and you've got your answer in the nav bar on the right.

At first I wanted this feature to show my exact location. I figured it'd be cool for people to find me and get autographs.

Later I realized that might be a bit much. I don't want to make it too easy for people find out where I live. "Cough" Chris "Cough."

How does it work? It's automagical.

Well, not really. First, satellites over 12,500 miles away help my phone find its location. That information is then sent to my local cell tower before being transfered through a "series of tubes" to PaulMach.com. On the server a script asks Google to convert the lat/lng coordinates into a street address, part of which is displayed to you.

Pretty simple, and it all happens in about half a second. The technology took decades and billions to develop and now, finally, it's being used for something you care about.


Sunday, March 14, 2010 - Race Reports
The Madera Stage Race ended today with some serious drama. It was an 80 mile, 5 lap, road race. But first, let me share with you the GC going into the day:
  1. Ben Jacques-Maynes
  2. Paul Mach at 32 seconds
  3. Rob Britton at 1:30
  4. Jesse Moore at 1:48
The race started off with the typical attacking for the first lap. At the start of the second, Ben and Jesse got off the front with 4 others. A chase organized but it wasn't sustainable and the gap kept growing. As it climbed past 1:30, Rob and I started to worry.

So lets recap. We're just vibing in the pack while our leader is off the front, riding us out of the GC. We strategized a bit and came up with a plan to attack over the rollers with 2 laps to go.

That worked, and now Rob, Jim Wingert and I were on a direct flight to Suffer City. The gap wasn't coming down that fast and it took a while for Ben to learn we were chasing. Once he did, he attacked and soloed to the win.

Meanwhile, after an hour of chasing and a half lap to go, we finally caught what was left of the break, Jesse and some Yahoo. Jim and I attacked and finished a little bit ahead of the rest. The finish order was Ben, Paul, Jim, Jesse, Rob.

In the end the GC was unchanged, but man did Ben and Jesse make us work for it.


Saturday, March 13, 2010 - Race Reports, Tech
Ben was all business before today's time trial, and for good reason. I mean, there was a lot on the line after yesterday. Long story short, he smoked it, set a course record at 20:39 and beat me by about 40 seconds. Well played Ben, well played.

Day two of Madera features two stages. After the flat, 10 mile TT in the morning, there is a crit in the afternoon.

So after a bit of lunch we suited up again for the crit and man was it cray cray, cross wind all over the place. Ben and Rob spent most of the race off the front in a 4 man break, I hung out fighting the wind in the pack.

Overall, Rob managed to get some time bonuses to solidify 3rd on GC, Ben and I are still first and second, respectively.

Now for a little reward for those of you that have read this far. It's a little graph of the time gap between me and Ben during Friday's TT. Pretty interesting.


Friday, March 12, 2010 - Race Reports
The Bissell team is continuing their central valley tour with the Madera Stage Race this weekend in, wait for it... Madera.

This morning we drove a bit out of town for stage 1, the Ben Hur Time Trial. It featured 6 miles of rolling followed by 4 miles of climb. Bissell pwned it, I won, 4 seconds ahead of Ben JM, Rob Britton was third and Ian Boswell was 5th.

It was nice to finally get a win after a number of near misses but you know Ben must've been upset. To top it off his fortune cookie at dinner said, "Failure teaches success." Ouch, now he's going to be extra focused tomorrow.

The rest of the race features a flat 10 mile TT tomorrow morning followed by a criterium in the afternoon. Then there's a road race Sunday morning.

For those of you looking for results, you can find them here.


Sunday, March 7, 2010 - Race Reports
Off the front. It was another one of those flat, straight, 120 mile days at the Merco Foothills Road Race. You know, long, fast and did I say flat?

It was also the first team road race of the season which made it the first without radios. So what's the verdict? Well, it was different and I kind of liked it. But I'll reserve final judgement 'till we do some bigger events.

As for the race, the attacks started right off the gun. A number of small groups got off the first lap but they all came back. The winning break of 13 went with about 3.5 laps (80 miles) to go. All the major teams were represented so we quickly got a gap that hovered around 2 minutes for the rest of the race. Me and Ben were there for Bissell.

About 70 miles later the group started angsting for some action. The attacks started but we made it through the rollers intact. I tried a few moves in the last few kilometers but nothing worked. However, I like to think that those, plus my super leadout, softened the field so Ben could take the win. I finished 8th.

The picture above is by Wil Matthews. The one below is also his and features both of the princesses in my life, Sara and the Pinarello. It was taken at the Marin County Triathlon and is currently number 9 in this gallery.
The two women in my life


Saturday, March 6, 2010 - Race Reports
Oh so niceEvery year I pick a special weekend in early March to spend in Merced. It just happens to always coincide with the Merco Cycling Classic.

To spice it up a bit this year I decided to head down on the romantic 702 San Joaquin. Luckily my Pinarello race bike was already down in Merced so I just packed my backpack full of high quality italian made Giordana spandex and was on my way.

I arrived just in time for a spin with the guys. We headed out on the TTT course from the day before. A course that the Bissell guys deep cleaned.

As for the crit, well, lets see. It was the same old attack, attack, chase, crash, block, chase, attack, hang on. If you need more, read the report soon to be found at PodiumInsight.com or something.

Tomorrow we'll have to cowboy up because 125 miles with a bunch of Giant Yahoos who are full of Energy, United, and looking to Clean Up will surely lead to hard racing.

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