Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

LOTOJA - Long Ride Two Man Relay

LOTOJA is quirky little compound noun standing for "Logan To Jackson" among cycling afficionados nationwide and local residents of northeastern Utah and western Wyoming in the United States.

It is also the name given to the much revered and longest distance USCF sanctioned cycling event in the United States, held each September over the course of 206 miles (331km) starting in Logan, Utah and finishing Jackson, Wyoming. (link)
This past Saturday, September 11th, 2010, Ranch West Coast represented the team in a two-man relay with a close family friend and renowned real estate empresario, whom for the purpose of this blog, we will affectionately refer to as RiderMaverick. RiderTurbo represented the Ranch cycling with RiderMaverick over the 5 section course including two mountain stages. Turbo kicked off things early at 7:40am amid chilly fall temperatures, launching off the start and riding in 4 hours 18 minutes the first two sections consisting of 34 mile gradual uphill from Logan to Preston and 47 mile mountain section from Preston to Montpelier over Strawberry Pass including 3000ft of vertical climb ending at Feed Zone 3 (FZ3).

Turbo ran the Cervelo RS with triple drivetrain and Zipp 202s with a powertap SL+to keep things light, snappy and dialed on the numbers. Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem, Gel and Endurolytes formed Turbo's new, all-liquid nutrition protocol thankfully adopted for all long endurance events.
After a circus act transition consisiting of an unprepared RiderMaverick that cost the team a precious 10 minutes of downtime, Maverick powered an unbelievably fast section 3 from Montpelier to Afton , FZ3-FZ5, including the timed section crowning the King of the Mountains over the Salt River Pass. Disparagingly, the timing apparatus used by race organizers malfunctioned thus not collecting times or providing even a cursory retrograde emotional reward for Maverick's hard effort climb.

After significant traffic jams around the Afton transition area FZ5 in Maverick's new white Jeep Rubicon with snazzy zip down top, Maverick handed over the timing chip baton and Turbo jumped on and dropped sledge, riding the 34 mile section 4 from Afton to Alpine FZ5-FZ6 in one hour 24 minutes with help from a fast and furious peloton that included one rider who hit the pavement hard at 40 km/h after making contact with Turbo's rear wheel. With visions of RiderCrespo's recent little mishap, Turbo thanked the cycling gods and the caring hands at Vittoria rubber tire company for keeping him upright.
After a smooth T3, Maverick punched out a blistering section 5, FZ6-Finish, giving a total chip time of 10h 46 minutes and a pre-dusk finish at the base of the dramatic Grand Teton mountain peaks.

Full-body therapeutic massages, a steak, sweet potato and red wine dinner followed by videos of the Vancouver olympics at Maverick's magnificent Jackson pad polished off a super event where Ranch colors flew high. Pregnant Ridermama expressed envy and interest in riding the relay next year after adding another calf to the stable at Ranch West Coast.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cote d'Azur

This being Paris in August.  Nobody is here so I decided to take a quick flight down to Nice for a couple of days of welcome back to the bike.  It's been a little while since I've been riding regularly so I figured I needed a good dose of 10% grade climbs and 35degree heat to remember how much I love the sport.
So Fri night I hop on a plane and arrive in Villefranche sur Mer around 9:30pm.  I open my bike bag when I get to the hotel and see my brake handle snapped off at the top and dangling there rendering the bike inoperable.  Needless to say I was disappointed.  So i went out for a bite to eat and to determine my options.
In the end I took a yellow pages and I called around the next morning to see who was open and if anyone had a super record brake they could sell me.  The earliest of the 3 bike shops within an hour was opening at 8:30 so I drove the 45 minutes to Menton and found this tiny bike shop with two tattooed guys sitting out front smoking butts and drinking coffee.
The owner (less tattooed guy) took a look and said, sorry, you are out of luck.  We don't have those and that brake is finished.  The other mechanic more tattooed guy said, when i pulled a small broken piece out of my pocket that I had saved - oh, hang on, I may be able to jerry rig this temporarily.
Well, in the end he did.  He made a homemade patch and screwed it all together so it worked!  So newly re energized I scampered back to the hotel, changed and hit the road.  The idea being 3 hours of see how I feel as I am riding.
on the decent from La Turbie to menton
So I left Villefranche and climbed up to Eze Village.  Once there I climbed up to La Turbie and then decided to descend all the way into Menton.  Well, once in Menton the options are to turn around and climb back up to La Turbie or go over the Col de La Madone named famous after Lance would test himself there.  I was feeling ok so I hung a left at the turnoff and up I went.  And up, and up and up.  Luckily when I was in La Turbie I had refilled my bidons and had water. I climbed that bastard in 35 degree heat and I realized I had to ration my water about halfway through.  I made it though and as I rolled over the top I had that great feeling of accomplishment through suffering. 

A look back on the climb up Col de La Madone
So  descent into La Turbie and a descent back home to Villefranche sur Mer and my 3 hours and 1400 meters of climbing was complete.  Now to the beach and some lunch.
Sat night ended around midnight after a dinner among acquaintances at a Ranch style Asian restaurant in La Turbie.  5 euro starters, 10 euro mains.  Was tasty.
Sunday morning, legs a bit stiff, a bit heavy but I was going.  I stayed the night in Monte Carlo so left from there and decided I would climb back up to La Turbie then decide where to go.  I took a road I hadn't taken before and as I was climbing I began to think, well, this feels like about a 10% grade, and I haven't eaten yet, and I hope it flattens out a couple degrees.  Nope - extended 10% grades for way too far.  I made it after an hour to La Turbie.  Hungry?  Yes.  Hot? - yes.  OK, a quick iced tea, pain au chocolat and now off to Pielle.  So I climbed back up to the base of the backside of Madone, had a look around and descended back to Monte Carlo.  2 Hours, 700 meters ascent.  Good enough.  A bit of beach, some lunch and at the Airport for the flight back in the evening.  Overall a great weekend to re find myself and the importance of taking care of the body and soul.
oh - and this one is a view from the studio i stayed in in Monte Carlo. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Riding Weekend in Como

So I was chatting to NoShow today (by the way we are the only losers left in the RCL IB) and we decided that we all need a proper riding weekend in September. We both agreed that Lake Como is probably the easiest destination, great riding, easy logistic and stunning climbs. We could all go and climb the Ghisallo and ride around Lake Como. The place is stunning and the climbs are awesome. So if you are in just reply to this post and we will start organising...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Only Way is Up: Le Chable - Mauvoisin 2010

Wednesday, July 21…Rider Sharkbite finds a reference to the 40th annual Martigny to Mauvoisin cycle race on the Verbier website. A few emails later, the organisers are teed up to anticipate some Ranch presence on the weekend with Riders Howe and Lone Wolf on board, plus Howe’s visiting guest Richard (part-time resident of the nearby Grimentz valley). The French emails with the organisers establish that the Ranch should opt for the “classe populaire” category, starting from Le Chable at the base of Verbier. Apparently the Martigny start is for registered Swiss riders only, and is composed of elite and semi-pro riders (“whose times are about 1hr 15”…”tres, tres rapide”..that's "smmmokin' quick" to you and me.)
The Val de Bagnes, looking downhill towards Martigny

Flag of the Val de Bagnes…we like this spirit! Timeless image of a couple of medieval homies taking a load off in the hot tub. Equally applicable today, as a depiction of Lone Wolf and Howe discussing pro’s and con’s of alpine property ownership (in each case with the 70's rock star hair they wish they had) .

6.50 am Sunday July 25…The boys bundle up warm and descend from Verb to Le Chable. After the initial challenge of not being able to locate the pre-race registration point, they discover it in a café in the centre of the village. A good turn out of 70 or more riders are on hand. The team leave their backpacks and warm gear behind, pin their race numbers on, then get out and warm up the legs.

8am. Altitude 821m. Riders on their way. The boys check into the peleton for a nice opening drag up the gentle slopes of the valley floor. They know what lies ahead: 2 solid climbing sections, with a couple of short flatter sections after each, followed by a final third climb up to the Hotel de Mauvoisin (including switchbacks carved through vertical rock walls). The moment the first steeps begin, a pack of extra-hardcore locals are up out of the saddle and speed off. The Ranch drives on as riders string out.

9.05 to 9.20am. Altitude 1841m. The boys have all reached the finish and earned their reward: post-race coffees in the Hotel building to warm up. Various stories emerge...

Lone Wolf, just in from Colorado, was dogged by a weenie on his wheel for kilometres on end who then takes off when the finish line nears. The Lone Wolf would turn back and give him looks…but the dude would not share the load. He actually apologises to Lone Wolf afterwards. Lone Wolf’s civil but curt reply: “C’est dommage”—it’s sad.

Rider Sharkbite: nice even climb. Delayed by a downhill post-bus meeting three uphill cars in the middle of one-lane Lourtier, so he and others had to stop and wait. But that’s community racing. A hard grind all the way, trading the pace with a couple of locals over the final 5 kms. One of whom pulls beside and pats him on the back as they crank on through the final switchbacks. Ranch = Respect.

Rider Howe: nothing stops the Howe...

But why is this guy towing his kid 15 seconds ahead of Rider Howe? (In fact, better question, why is this guy towing a kid up 1km of vertical?)

Because Rider Howe got a fargin’ big ol’ flat in Fionnay and cranked it up the final 3km on a 100% flat rear tire. (The actual Howe-quote accompanying this image is prohibited by Blogspot content guidelines.) Respect.

Richard checks in shortly after the Howe-machine. His Grimentz rides now put to good use in his first ever racing event. Primo.

After some truly excellent post-race coffees in the warmth of the Inn building, the boys watch the Elite riders start arriving from Martigny from their later 9am start. These boys can crank. Around 38km and 1400m of vertical in 1hr 17 mins by the winner.

They’re all semi-pro or pro and on some pretty sweet rides. Juniors and Femmes in the mix too, with the fastest Junior arriving within about 2 mins of the fastest Elite guy. One of a bunch of juniors from some place called the World Cycling academy. Evidently a Swiss-based training academy for truly speedster grommets from all kinds of countries.

The boys absorb the scene.

Winning elite dude brings it home.

Last but not least, the boys trade in their free meal ticket for a plate of pasta. Or the alternative meal choice of a platter of cheeses and cured meats known locally as an assiette Valaisaine. But what’s this…

Maybe that explains why these locals are so fast!

Activities continue through the day, including a 4km pursuit climb race for the top finishers after lunchtime. The boys enjoy the sun and check out the demo by stunt bike guys hopping around on a parked car and various piled fork lift pallets. Crazy stuff. We could see pretty quick why these stunt bikes had no saddles.

Next comes a little post-race VIP race event, on classic swiss bikes from the 50’s. Due to an organisational oversight, Ranch members were not invited to participate.

11.30 and the sun is shining. The team head home, enjoying a well-earned and stimulating descent to Le Chable and a ride up the telecabine to Verb. (Another shout out to CWA and the Swiss ski lift manufacturing industry. We love you.)

Overall a superb bike race that has been going strong for 40 years. Fantastic community event and slickly-organised race (except for that bus traffic jam thing), with locals all along the route cheering every rider as they pass. Most of the valley's residents are farmers. They know cows. They know sheep. And now they know the Ranch.
View of the east side of the valley, above the finish line. Nice dusting of fresh snow visible at cloud level.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crespo Update

So I'm off work this week and today myself, Tracey and Sofia paid visit to Crespo Snr, Jnr (Benjamin) and Lucilla (the rest of the family was at Eurodisney). Crespo was in great form... I was really pleased to see him well, he looks 10 years younger.....

I seem to be spending more time at home these days surfing the web and waiting for Sofia to go to sleep. So I wanted to flag a website which has some great pics on an old Legnano plus some links to a Cinelli website for Cali .... RoryMasini

That's it.. good luck to everyone....

By the way, I've made some changes to the Blog, please feel free to change/comment/go back to the way it was.........

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Giro d'Tuscano - Ranch Report

Ranch photo montage of last week's Giro d'Tuscany, where Ranch West Coast jetted on Alitalia from L.A. to Rome, and RiderTurbo and RiderMama fired off 50-60km's per day through the Italian countryside on a self-guided bike tour, followed nightly by copius amounts of homemade pasta, ricotta gnocchi, pecorino cheese,Tuscan red wine, fruity olive oils, and brightly coloured gelatos.

The ride challenged Ranchers with hot, steamy weather, rolling hills and steep climbs, including passage through the scenic countryside dotted with ancient vineyards and visits in Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino and Siena, punctuated by the grand-finale, knock-out wedding extravaganza of RiderTurbo's charismatic business partner at La Polverosa on the coast near Monte Argentario. Cicloposse organized the route, provided maps and bicycles and transported luggage between hotels nightly. The Ranch provided inspiration, perspiration and smiles.