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Winter season 2018/2019

December 16, 2018 to Easter mondat April 17, 2019



The following booking conditions apply: Minimum lenght of stay: 3 night. Arrival and departure: daily
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UCSC

Joel

Unlike most crits, this one started really slow. It was probably due to the combination of it being most peoples first crit of the year coupled with the two crashes in the Ds. People just wanted to feel out the course first. Cal Poly tried to take advantage of the slow pace by sending a guy off the front and blocking with the remaining 3 teammates. The field collectively agreed that it was way too early and nobody bothered to come around Cal Poly to chase. A few laps later the guy had blown himself up and got caught during the prime lap. Cal Poly kept trying it with different guys but got the same result each time. With 3 laps to go I started making my way toward the front. The Davis rider I had worked with at the road race yesterday let me in, putting me in 4th position with 3 laps to go. However it meant nothing as the front slowed and the rest of the pack swarmed us. On the last lap, I found myself stuck on the inside. I wanted an outside line but it was crowded with riders. Before the final turn, Davis launched an early attack from the middle of the pack (good move, nobody at the front saw it coming). This got the rest of the moves going and I followed a move up the inside because it was the only place I could go. We didn’t get in front of the pack before the corner so we got pinched hard and I ended up losing most of my speed. I got 11th, which is really disappointing because I still had a huge sprint left in my legs. I should have worked harder to find a way to the outside line so that I could contest the sprint.

UCLA

Chris_Johnson_2nd_UCLA

Matea – Women’s C

Nerves. Climbing is really not my thing, but at least I could feel my fingers and toes this time around.  Thank God for the pleasant weather.  As I edged up to the starting line, my anxiety was calmed as the girls joked about making this a coffee ride and my dad struggled to use the camera to shoot a photo of me before we took off.  My goals this race were the same as the last race: finish and not crash.

Alright, let’s start this.  We begin with a false climb and I am already in my lower gears and feeling it in my legs so I pull back and let five riders including Elisa and Gretchen (beasts!) ahead of me.  I’m in sixth place, that isn’t too bad, I think.  Aileen and I draft each other briefly, but I break away and fall into a steady pace.  I see that Santa Barbara girl and Blue Girl are working together to draft each other just ahead of me so I plug forward and catch up.  Blue Girl leaves and I commiserate with Santa Barbara about how much we hate climbs.  The descent is approaching so I take this as my chance to play catch up to the front group.  Descents don’t win races, but speeding through safely would help me out for sure.  I get into my drops, my chin inches away from my bars, passing Blue Girl and two men’s riders before finishing the descent.  I had to slow down significantly to make it through the right turn at the bottom.  Note to self: practice cornering.  I’m on a semi flat road now and Chris Campagnoni passes by, offering words of encouragement, so I pick up the pace and keep going.

I’ve ridden half of the climb and I’m finally back at the starting line and it seems I’ve made friends with a Men’s B from Santa Clara.  He’s given me company and words of wisdom about climbing on the way up after hearing me yell at myself to keep going (oops, that’s embarassing).  Cramps in both calves, ankle pain (I should’ve taped it), and a weird case of the chills: this second lap was all hell and all pain.  The descent went the same as the first, I passed a few racers in other categories and enjoyed the wind whipping by.  The final climb was back breaking and I had to refrain from getting off and walking.  Finally, I see the finish line and I can hear the encouragement from everyone on the team.  Time to get out of the saddle and “sprint” to the finish.

I was alone for most of this race so it felt more mental than strategic at most points but I guess that just means you need to train your mind as much as your body.  This race was incredibly rewarding and it taught me a lot about my limits and how far I can push myself.  Not to mention, fourth place felt pretty good.

 

Daniel – Men’s A

The UCLA road race is one of the hardest road races of the season with a challenging climbing course at elevation.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hang in with the main group for long so I had to work early on before I got dropped.  For the first half of the first lap, the pace was mellow and chatty with Ben S setting a moderate tempo on the front to make everybody happy.  I decided to go to the front on the descent and flat section since I knew that was where I could ride in front and do a little bit of good for our main contenders.  Just like last year, coming up the climb to the start finish there was a big attack and the group immediately strung out with a massive head wind going up the climb, and people started to go into the red very quickly.  I knew my time with the group was short so I did everything I could to stay in contact.  I wound up getting dropped near the crest of the finishing climb, but managed to claw my way back on during the slight lull before the next climb.  After recovering for about 10 seconds on the back of the group, I immediately went to the front as Chris, Ben R, Drew and Sam had all made the split to the front group and I needed to do something useful before I was permanently dropped.  I was able to sit on the front and set the tempo for several minutes and wound up bringing back a couple riders who were off the front before the climb started and the attacks flew by me.  I knew my job was done so I finished the second lap with several other dropped riders before pulling off at the end of the lap.  There wasn’t anything else I could really do to help and I wanted to save my lungs and legs for the next day in the criteriums, so I called it a day.  We finished with 3 riders in the top 10, including Chris finishing 2nd, so overall, it went pretty well.  I’m happy that I’ll never have to ride that course again.

SLO

Michael

The most obvious challenge of the SLO crit this year was the rain. It’s a very technical course already, but with so much crosswalk paint, the rain made it especially difficult and dangerous. In the D’s race, there was a crash almost during every lap, including our own Ryan Fanant, though he was able to recover and still place fourth. There were far fewer crashes when Chris Lee and I were riding in the C’s, though the course was slightly less wet and I was riding as carefully as possible.

I felt pretty good for the first half of the race. I kept near the front of the group and was able to maintain a fast pace despite slowing way down for the corners, but before long I three or four riders passed me and then the main field was in front of me and gradually pulling away and I just couldn’t keep up.

I’m already not as good at crits as I am at road races, but I wasn’t able to warm up enough before the race and I think I didn’t eat right the night before. We had gone to a Korean BBQ place in LA and had this all you can eat buffet that was basically meat and nothing else. Ryan and Chris didn’t seem to be too affected by it, maybe I’m too old to be fueled by meat before a race anymore.

During the second half of the race I just tried to keep up the fastest pace I could but I was riding by myself for most of it, the field ended up getting pretty spread out and I finished 9th. Definitely not nearly what I had been hoping for, but I think the most important thing is that I have to improve my knowledge of the right things to eat before a race and to spend enough time on the rollers or trainer before racing.

Andrew

SLO is far, but thanks to the piloting abilities of Skinny Ben and generosity of Chris C (and family) it wasn’t too painful to get up there. Sarno made sure I didn’t get to sleep until 11:30 Friday night. My number one priority was to get the jersey and then wear said jersey in the race. Mission accomplished at the start line. It looked like rain for most of the day, but I think it stayed dry for our entire race. We rode it well, and as a team. Daniel Z put in some work early, and everyone scored points for UCSD. Towards the end, myself, Skinny Ben, and Chris Spy were left in a group of maybe 7 or 8. We took turns attacking and making the other teams chase us down. Right as Chris came back from a move, I laid down the power and jumped away. 3 people that appeared to be doing nothing but marking me the whole race followed.

I didn’t do very much work in the break, since I had 2 teammates in the field. There wasn’t any good mind games this time, I just pulled through pretty soft and not for very long. I figured it’d be a race for the last corner, but I didn’t do a very good job of setting myself up for that scenario. Two out of the 4 guys in the break went super hard for that last corner and one ended up crashing pretty bad while another one barely saved it and settled for 3rd. I just took a tighter line and came in second.
As much as I wanted to win, I didn’t want it bad enough to crash other people out and I think the right thing to do is to race sensibly. Everyone should keep in mind that they’ll basically be racing the same people week in, week out, and that bike racers gossip more than teenage girls so word will get around.
ARiders_SLO

Boulevard

Aileen – Women’s C

As my first race I did not know what to expect: waking up at 4:30am, numb toes and finger tips, and how physically and mentally unprepared I was. The race starts and my heart begins to beat uncontrollably. I’m such a nervous wreck. Surprisingly the race starts off really slow going down the descents. So slow that one of the girls on another team asked me what “Chucky Butt Bakery” was and we actually had a decent conversation. After that I decide that I need to be in the front. Matea is right next to me and thinks the same. We end up next to each other and we start a pace line with just the three of us to pick up the speed on the flat. As the pace line stops on the descent, I end up being the person in the front pulling the group which I was trying to avoid. The girls are keeping the pack tight so it is difficult to actually fall back and get behind someone. As we approach the short, steep hill before the train track I drop to my little ring thinking that gear would be enough. I was wrong. Although I’m first or second to get up the hill, I output too much power and by the time I’m descending again I’m out of breath – my first mistake.

Now for the so-call “flat” part of Boulevard. I hadn’t recovered completely so this is when I started to get dropped. Matea catches up from behind me and helps me with her draft. I ride on her draft for a little while but it’s not enough because my legs are burning out and I’m falling behind even more. I knew I shouldn’t have done Torrey Pine repeats couple days before Bouvelard. At last! I’m alone… Two things are motivating me now:  teammates’ voices in my head telling me to spin, spin, spin and the thought of them pushing me. I still see the ladies in front of me which was a good sign. Finally, the descent right before the climb. Still out of breath I don’t dare to give myself a rest. I hear Rachel from behind me going fast down the descent and I hop on her back wheel. THANK GOD. I finally recover right before the climb and I take off. Not knowing my limit, I didn’t want to push myself too hard like I did before the train track so I decide to play it safe – my second mistake. I should have at least pushed myself harder even if it was a little bit more.  I try to catch up to Matea but the distance between us never gets shorter or longer. As the race is coming to an end, I wasn’t sure where the finish line was and then not knowing, I cross it – third mistake. I didn’t even sprint. Sorry, Coach Pat.

Although this is my first race, I was quite disappointed in myself but I did finish 10th out of 15 and about 18 minutes faster than the first time I rode Boulevard.

Andrew – Men’s A

Oh Boulevard, you are always cold. This time you were colder than last year. I showed up with far less training, a couple extra kg, and way more teammates than last year so I wasn’t sure what to expect. On the start line we had 5-10 more than last year as well. The race started and we actually started out going relatively quickly. I stayed near the front and could see someone in a yellow jacket just killing it on the flat/downhill. Turns out that was Sam (thanks buddy) who shall be renamed “He who only rides in the wind”. So we’re going downhill pretty quick and a couple of our guys (James and Ben R aka skinny Ben – no offense Sarno) get off the front. So that was fun watching the field go after them. At this point Ben was still wearing his jacket, which made him look like he wasn’t on UCSD. I think I attacked on the downhill once just for fun, but it usually doesn’t work and this time wasn’t any different. Still it’s important to place a lot of small bets during the course of a race. It was pretty tame until we hit the climb the first time, and people decided to go even harder in the feed zone which was pretty annoying, even though I didn’t plan on taking a feed the first lap anyway. So at the end of the first lap, we had a break of 9 and were well represented, with myself, Chris Johnson, and skinny Ben making it into the move. 3/9 is solid representation so we all rotated through and started working to distance the field.
I’m not sure how it happened, but during the descent on Lap 2 a group of 5-7 riders came back to us. I suspect they used the cars that were piling up behind us or something, because we were working on the downhill and had all the strong riders with us. Oh well. Once they bridged up the cooperation stopped. 9 was already pushing it and 14 was way too many for people to all work together. We started attacking again, and I made a little move before the railroad tracks. To my surprise, 4 riders went clear of the field and came up to me, and I hitched onto the back of them. The field at this point let us go (or rather, everyone in the break had a lot of teammates in the field so our collective teammates probably frustrated everyone else into just giving up). Through the feed zone the second time I tried to make peace with the skinny guys in the group by trying to get them a feed so they wouldn’t try and drop me until the last lap. I didn’t get them a bottle but I think it worked anyway.
Not much happened until the third and final time up the climb. The tiny USC guy attacked with baja kid in tow after we took the final right. I was already going pretty hard and knew I couldn’t sustain their pace, so I dropped back and rode my own pace. If you’re not the best climber, and there’s still a lot of climb left, it pays to be smart and not panic. I was OK with getting third, but as I rode my own pace I slowly brought them back. I made contact before the little descent and rode cooperatively to try and get a 3 up sprint, which I felt confident in winning. In the end, we did come to the line as a group but due to my poor positioning/some sketchy line taking/some mistiming on my part, I ended up 2nd instead of 1st. All in all it was really unexpected, given my current fitness and that I was riding to set up one of my teammates.
I think we did really well, and if there’s a leaders jersey this year then our team has it. We scored some serious points by taking 2nd, 5th, and 6th. If the As team keeps showing up to races we should have no problem making it to nationals.
CatA_SprintFinish_Andrew

Micheal – Men’s C

I felt really good at the start of the race, despite the cold. I had warmed on the rollers and felt like the cold wasn’t going to bother me. I was wrong, but my fingers only hurt for the first half. Since most of the first half of the race is generally downhill, it’s fast and you don’t really work that hard, so it’s easy to get cold. I noticed I was braking a lot on the downhills since I was drafting off riders in front of me and kept drifting onto their wheel. I don’t want to brake during a race, but also didn’t want to pull out ahead on a downhill early in the race. One of my bad habits from last year I have been telling myself to avoid is getting in front of the field and pulling too much. I’m not very good at pacing myself when I feel good, so I have a tendency to burn myself out too fast.

About halfway through the race, about at the train tracks, the field lengthened a little bit and I tried to stay near the front. As we started to head uphill, I was keeping my eyes open for a breakaway. This is my first race in the C’s and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As we were going up a hill at one point, there was a rider from Santa Barbara named Dominik leading, Drew Ceccato was behind him, and I was behind Drew. I noticed a gap opening behind the lead rider, so after a few seconds I pulled around Drew and caught up to Dominik. I was working hard at this point and I knew if he got away I wouldn’t be able to catch him.
There never was an attack. It was just me and this other guy out front for the rest of the race, but he never attacked, he just rode steadily, and gradually drifted away from the rest of the field, with me huffing and puffing on his wheel. At the end of the first long descent, I looked back and saw we had a significant lead, so I pulled around him and told him to get on my wheel so we could work together to increase the lead. I did this in Davis last year at Conference Championships and beat the entire field by several minutes. This time, I pulled for about 20 seconds and realized I was almost completely spent. I slowed down pretty quick and then Dominik was leading again.
As we turned onto the long climb to the finish, I knew it was going to be all I could do to keep up with him, but I felt like I could do it as long as he didn’t attack, and he never did. Never even stood up on the pedals. I, on the other hand, was trying everything I could think of. Standing up, sitting down, leaning forward, backward, side to side, controlling my breathing, talking to myself, singing, praying, everything. I guess it worked because Dominik never got away from me, and I even pulled again briefly, but he was out front again before too long, and then just before the finish line a gap opened in front of me that I just couldn’t close, and he beat me by about 50 feet or so.
I feel good about getting second place. It was a little disappointing that I wasn’t able to reach down and get that last push to overtake him at the end, but I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t think I made any major mistakes, he was just a stronger rider than I was, he didn’t even seem to be in much of a hurry. We introduced ourselves about a quarter of a mile from the finish line. Turns out we grew up in the same area near San Francisco.
I definitely want to get better at just picking a fast, steady pace that I can maintain throughout the race. I have improved my ability to switch from standing to sitting to improve my climbing ability, but in this race I felt like it hindered me somehow. Or maybe Dominik is just freakishly good at hills. He had that race completely under control, rode right through it like we weren’t even there. I think I’ll try that next time.

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