Saturday, May 23, 2009

Turnbull takes Road Race title at the line; Van Uden outsprints break group

(The complete Cycling Action Rehearsal Road Race photo gallery is now posted online HERE).

RAINIER -- Therapeutic Associates Inc's Lisa Turnbull outlasted the field up the finishing climb at the Senior Women's OBRA Road Race Championship Saturday to take the win in a close charge to the line.

Turnbull adds an OBRA championship jersey to the Oregon Cup Leader's jersey she currently wears. She won the sprint from a select group that paired itself down to 16 riders over three laps of the 16-mile course that will be used again next Saturday to decide another handful of champions.

The group was temporarily slowed by a confused fawn in the road ahead that had slipped on the asphalt while trying decide if it wanted to cross or turn around. Other than that, the leaders plowed ahead unimpeded, shedding remnants of the starting field in their wake. But the group seemed to hold steady at 16 for the last half of the race.

“It seemed like less of a selection than usual,” Turnbull said.

The group approaching the finish line at the Rainier schools complex was more than twice the size of the lead group that contested last Sunday’s Silverton Road Race finale, where Turnbull finished third behind Sue Butler (MonaVie-Cannondale) and Teri Sheasby (Bend Bike & Sport).

Turnbull took advantage of having several teammates with her in the lead group this time.

“I had a teammate working hard up front, so I got to sit near the front,” She said. “And then in the end I sat on whoever had legs until they got tired, and then I went on my own.”

Lindsay Kandra (Hammer Velo) finished second overall and won the Women's Cat. 3 Championship, which was scored separately. Tina Brubaker finished third overall and second in the Senior Women's Championship, followed closely by a group that contained Washington rider Patricia Bailey (Wines of Washington), Lindsay Fox (Team Oregon), Beth Burns (Veloce/Felt) and Stepahnie Chase (Veloforma).

Turnbull was happy with the result, but she still wouldn’t mind a rematch.

“We don’t get to rehearse,” she said, noting that the Senior Men get two chances at the course. “Next year I hope they consider adding two races for the women.”

Van Uden Serves Up Rehearsal Win

Roman Van Uden, who rode to the race from his home in Vancouver with his Land Rover-ORBEA teammates, also rode his way into the break and then out-rode that group up the final 200 meters to take the win in the five-lap, 80-mile men's race. Junior racer Wes Stein (Hammer/CMG Racing) added a lot of power to the breakaway and finished second ahead of Team Oregon's Kennett Peterson in third.

A group of 11 formed eight miles into the race and eventually whittled itself down to eight as it built a lead that hovered around a minute-and-a-half before surging to four minutes in the final laps. Most of the top teams had at least one rider in the break; Paul Bourcier (Hutch’s), Dave Zimbelman (ZteaM), Todd Gallaher (Counterbalance), Brandon Dyer (Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8), Mark Blackwelder (Gentle Lovers).

Peterson said he was a little surprised the leaders got away so easily.

“Roman (van Uden) attacked and Wes (Stein) followed,” he said. “We didn’t really go that hard, and all of the sudden we had 11, 12 guys up the road. It was a really slow breakaway; felt like a bunch of people had noodle legs. It was kind of frustrating, but we stayed away.”

Van Uden shared that assessment.

“The bunch really didn’t react at all, so we got away with a good gap,” he said. “I set it up by rolling to the front just for one of the hills and attacked. The road’s skinny enough that if three guys sitting up front don’t go anywhere, then you can get a bit of a gap and go away with it.”

The leaders played a bit of cat and mouse on the last lap, but as the group approached the final kilometers intact, the uphill pitch at the bitter end dissuaded any long-lived solo fliers, setting up Van Uden’s powerful finishing kick.

“One of the older guys sort of tried to go with about a kilometer to go, which is a bit too early," he said. “But it gave me a good lead out and I got the position I wanted.”

Van Uden bided his time near the front but not quite on it until the time was right to strike.

“I was pretty tired by the end,” he said. “And I knew the uphill finish was going to be tough, so I waited as late as I could -- until about the 200 meter mark. I was following the young Hammer kid and I just came around him with about 75 meters to go. And it hurt.”

Blackwelder crossed the line fourth, ahead of Dyer, Bourcier, Zimbelman and Gallaher. Van Uden's Land Rover-ORBEA teammate Jim Camut and Nike Northley finished ninth and tenth.

Rehearsal Road Race/OBRA RR Championships
May 23, Rainier, Ore.

Senior Women Championship
1. Lisa Turnbull (Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8)
2. Tina Brubaker (Veloforma)
3. Patricia Bailey (TRIA/Wines of Washington)
4. Lindsay Fox (Team Oregon)
5. Shari White (Team Castelli)
Women Cat. 3
1. Lindsay Kandra (Hammer Velo)
2. Beth Burns (Veloce/Felt)
3. Stephanie Chase (Veloforma)
Women Cat. 4
1. Anna Vaughn (Hammer Velo)
2. Kira Crawford (Ironclad Performance Wear)
3. Lisa Reeve
1. Jim Fischer/Heather Paris (Pacific Power Blue Sky)
2. Allen Kraft/Ronny Brigham (North River Racing)
3. Ivan Meadors/Mike Adams (Finnegans Toys/Discover Chiropractic)
Juniors 10-12
1. Grant McElroy (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
2. Sam Rosenberg (Hutch's)
3. Hannah McDade (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
Juniors 13-14
1. Maris Eryn (ASC Racing)
2. John Sullivan (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
3. Walker Prettyman (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
Men Cat. 5
1. Jeff Curtes (Twin Six)
2. John Eckert (One Cup Cafe)
3. Andrew Buswell
Men. Cat. 4
1. Jeff Ballantine (Portland Velo)
2. Adam Edgerton (Team Oregon)
3. Phelan Kostur (Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team)
Men Cat. 3
1. Brandon Fisher (Team S&M)
2. Kent Heli (Southtown Velo)
3. Jeff DeWolf (Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8)
Men Pro/1/2
1. Roman van Uden (Land Rover-ORBEA)
2. Wes Stein (Hammer/CMG Racing)
3. Kennett Peterson (Team Oregon)
4. Mark Blackwelder (Gentle Lovers)
5. Brandon Dyer (Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday night Alpenrose pursuit results

Senior women
1. Fisk, Andrea (Velo Bella) 4:39.96
Women Cat 3
1. Graham, Fiona (Specialized) 4:51.06
Masters Women
1. Windus, Debra (Finnegan's Toys) 3:26.67
2. Thiele, Barbara (Team Rose City) 3:29.13
Junior Men
1. Prettyman, Joe (Beaverton Bicycle Club) 2:44.13
Men Category 5
1. Hanson, Jake (Word-RCB) 4:21.48
2. Condron, Kevin (Gentle Lovers) 4:25.50
3. Manning, Mike (Three Rivers Racing) 4:29.11
Men Category 4
1. Taylor, Sam (Finnegan's Toys) 4:18.95
2. Boquiren, Joe (Portland Velo) 4:23.64
3. Birman, Alex (Beaverton Bicycle Club) 4:33.82
Men Category 3
1. Mensher, Dan (Gentle Lovers) 4:02.54
2. Bergquist, Curtis (Meg's Maniacs) 4:17.39
3. Nicoletti, Sam (Gentle Lovers) 4:20.17
Masters Men 40+
1. Magilner, Mark Half Fast Velo 4:15.48
2. Provencher, Darell (Team Rose City) 4:18.80
3. Standish, Jeff (Therapeutic Associates) 4:22.43
Masters Men 50+
1. Burney, Robert MAC 2:54.47
2. Thiele, Jim (Team Rose City) 2:56.61
3. Meinhardt, Gary (Bike Central) 3:00.66
Masters Men 60+
1. Magnus, Ron (Fred Meyer) 3:05.81
Senior Men
1. Harrison, Aaron (Beaverton Bicycle Club) 3:54.89
2. Beardsley, Steven (Gentle Lovers) 3:57.78
3. Oliphant, David (Therapeutic Associates) 4:15.12
2km Overall
1. Prettyman, Joe (Beaverton Bicycle Club) 2:44.13
2. Burney, Robert (MAC) 2:54.47
3. Thiele, Jim (Team Rose City) 2:56.61
4. Meinhardt, Gary (Bike Central) 3:00.66
5. Truesdale, Steve (Half Fast Velo) 3:03.55
3km overall
1. Harrison, Aaron (Beaverton Bicycle Club) 3:54.89
2. Beardsley, Steven (Gentle Lovers) 3:57.78
3. Mensher, Dan (Gentle Lovers) 4:02.54
4. Oliphant, David (Therapeutic Associates) 4:15.12
5. Dumortier, Jerome (Beaverton Bicycle Club) 4:15.36

Cycling tweet of the week

From Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney), May 20, the day he won the 4.2km prologue of the Fleche du Sud stage race in Luxembourg:
"Gotta dedicate my win tonight to good family friend Steve Larsen and his family. So sad. Rest in Peace buddy, thinking of you and your fam..."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Racing, goodwill meet up over Memorial Day weekend

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend will offer the Oregon racing community a chance to test its power on and off the bike.

Saturday's Rehearsal Road Race will give people a chance to try out their legs on the same 16-mile Rainier loop used for the May 30 OBRA Road Race Championships. The course offers a long climb and corresponding descent, plus a short uphill finish at the Rainier school complex.

But the biggest test of the Oregon peloton's power will be Sunday with two opportunities to lend a helping hand to the community.

The Ironclad Performance Wear Cycling Team's Heavy Cans Ride will collect canned food for The Oregon Food Bank. And the Land Rover-ORBEA UCI Contintental Men's Cycling Team is throwing its Laurelwood Brewery Block Party and Fun Ride to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation's cancer fight.

The Heavy Cans ride will start at the Vera Katz statue under the Hawthorne Bridge at 1 p.m. Registration is from 12-1 at that location. Participants will gather canned food from six pre-determined grocers on a route that will be announced at the start. Every entrant who collects at least one can from each stop is eligible to win a host of cool prizes ponied up by the event sponsors.

Winners in two categories, "bags" and "trailers," will be decided by total weight gathered at the stops and will be awarded special custom homemade underpants. There will be a post-ride party at Roots Brewing Co. at 1520 SE 7th with awards at 6 p.m.

Land Rover-ORBEA's block party and fun ride also combines bikes and charity, this time to fight cancer.

The team is partnering with Laurelwood Brewery to present a fun afternoon of bikes, BBQ and award-winning beer all while raising funds to help the Lance Armstrong Foundation fight cancer.

The $20 event starts at noon in the Laurelwood Brewery & Public House parking lot on Sandy Boulevard. Bring the bike and a helmet, and get ready to work up an appetite.

All 10 members of the UCI Continental Men's Cycling Team will be on hand to participate in the ride, meet everyone, shake hands, sign autographs, flex their quads and enjoy the festivities. Team Manager Norrene Godfrey said this will be the first time all the team's riders -- who hail from New Zealand, Canada, Oregon, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado and California -- will be in Oregon.

The day kicks off with a scenic 20-mile ride that will offer a bit of challenging terrain but reward participants with some of the best viewpoints of the city. Stick around after the ride for BBQ, beer, live music, a bike expo and more in the Laurelwood Brewery parking lot. All proceeds will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support cancer prevention and survivorship.

John Ohnstad, LIVESTRONG Challenge Region 8 Mentor, will be on hand to answer any questions about the Lance Armstrong Foundation and how people can get involved with the Seattle LIVESTRONG Challenge.

If you're not up for the ride, you can support the effort by paying $10 for the BBQ, a beer, live music and the expo.

Rathe Report: Peace Race the second time around

(Oregon junior racers Jacob Rathe, Austin Arguello and Ian Boswell have been in Europe competing with the USA Cycling Junior National Team. They recently finished the Peace Race in the Czech Republic against members of other junior national teams. Rathe, who finished sixth on Stage Four, sent Cycling Action this report).

By Jacob Rathe

Stage 1: Bringing Back Memories

Usually things are easier the second time … usually. I did this race last year. Mostly I remember it as blurry visions of suffering, a car’s windshield and the insides of my eyelids. But as the year progressed, I gained much more experience and somehow tricked myself into thinking the difficulty I had in the Peace Race last year was mostly due to my inexperience.

It didn’t take long to falsify that thought; about 500 meters, to be exact. The race rolled out of the town we were staying in for the whole race, Litomerice. It started slightly downhill on cobbles, through a roundabout, and then the first set of big rollers heading out of town. That was when memories proved accurate.

We had three loops to do. It started out rolling, but mostly went up, then up and up. Eight km later we crested the top and had a somewhat chill downhill and rolling section, until the next time around.

I wasn’t having a great day. The first lap I thought I would be dropped. I felt a little less bad on the second lap. The third time up the climb wasn’t looking good, though the legs were starting to come around. I started in a bad position -- very bad. I remember coming to the bottom of the last 800 meter pitch of the climb. There were 20 riders in a line in front of me with a gap to the peloton. The front was a loooong ways away…Somehow I crested the top in contact with the main group.

The peloton was all together until about 10 km to go when four riders got away. They weren’t far up the road, so I tried to bridge and ended up bringing the whole group within five seconds of break. But nobody felt like finishing it off so the break crept away again and ended up staying away, 23 seconds up on the field.

U.S. riders finished decently in the group. Ryan Eastman finished 20th, Austin Arguello, 22nd and me 25th. An Austrian won the stage and is in the Yellow Jersey.

Stage 2: Tempoless

Last year stage two was the only “easy” day of the race. It was mostly flat with a 1.5 km hill, and a 1km finishing climb. This year we had 18 km that was supposed to be flat, but it turned out to have a few climbs. Then we had the biggest climb of the whole race: 10 km at an 8% average grade that required 28 minutes of climbing. I had another bad day -- very unusual. I my legs haven’t popped open after that ear infection.

The climb really was awful. It never let up, and people kept passing me. The field blew apart into a million pieces, but eventually came together into two big groups. I was in the second group of about 60, not quite the “grupetto,” but pretty close. We finished six minutes back, ending my GC hopes.

Ian and Charlie finished in the lead group. Everybody else with me…Including the yellow jersey.

Stage 3: A+B

Last night I realized how hard this race really is. We have two stages today and two more monster stages this weekend. In the 12km time trial, Charlie, Ian, and Andrew hit it hard, Tinkles, Ryan and I “soft pedaled” it.

Nobody was really happy with their result. Andrew finished 22nd, Charlie 33rd and Ian 50th. The times were faster than last year, under what I remember to be pretty similar conditions. The winning time was faster last year, but there were many more times under 15 minutes this year.

Austin and I soft pedaled, coming in 114th, and 115th, respectively. I beat him by one second; we must ride together too much. Surprisingly, our average speed was about 41 kph, which used to be a good time trial for me.

The afternoon stage was uneventful: five circuits around a town with a few short climbs. I was a good day for me to take advantage of a tired peloton. Last year they raced it pretty hard. But, this year, Stage 2 was much harder, and Stage 4 is also harder than last year. So today most racers were content with a group sprint. I ended up in a few short-lived breaks but nothing substantial. My legs showed up today; I could actually move up on the climbs, and the burn almost felt good in my legs.

The finish was good for me. The last 400 meters were slightly uphill, but it was also somewhat technical. Since no team had an amazing sprinter (they don’t come to this race), the last couple kilometers were very unorganized. I was in good position, but I got swarmed when we turned onto a big road at a slow pace.

I ended up finishing 17th on the stage -- a good benchmark top 20 but not quite satisfying.

The German who destroyed the TT this morning also won the field sprint and is in yellow.

Stage 4: Stage from Hell

I think this is the hardest course in Junior cycling. This is the stage where you find out if you have done anything wrong. Everything you do the first three stages, with regards to fueling, hydration, rest, and where you ride in the peloton, will decide your fate. Everything you do wrong will come back and slap you.

We had about 1,000 meters until the first climb. Five kilometers. Up. First two kilometers’ average grade: 13%. Entire climb: 10%. Driving to the start you can see the mountain range, a big dark wall of mountain. After the climb it doesn’t go down, but continues to roll forever. They’re not small rollers, either; big ones that are exposed to the wind.

I made it up the first climb without much trouble. The rolling hills weren’t too bad for the next 30 km, until we had a screaming descent back down to the valley floor, with a lot of turns at 80-95 kph. Then came the next climb, only four kilometers this time. I sort of made it up in the lead group; the field split and only a 10 second gap was left to close down on top of the windy ridge. Only 10 seconds…

I was relieved to be there after the two climbs of the day. But the worst was yet to come. I remember this section to be very difficult last year, but that was when I got caught at the back, in the gutter. This year was no different. An echelon was up front, a small cluster of riders, then a long single file line in the gutter. We went up and down these big rollers, about 200 vertical feet of climbing for what really was forever. There was no rest, even on the downhill where you had to spin fast into the crosswind. All I remember is riding in the gutter, pretty much in the grass, and flipping the 100% effort switch to “on.”

A break was up the road, and six Russians (who had a guy in second place), were riding on the front. The Germans had only the yellow jersey left in the front group.

In the midst of pain and fatigue, I realized how amazing this race, and sport, really is. I would look up occasionally and could see far below to the valley and the dark mountains beyond. I’d watch the long line of colorful jerseys hammering through the small, twisty, country roads. This is more interesting than math class…

There were still four U.S. riders in the front group when we bombed back down to the valley floor. We saw 25k to go and thought we were home free. I was still slightly concerned about a short uphill I saw in the last 10k. But our elevation profile hasn’t been completely accurate. There have been climbs in the profile that never show up, while there have been many more climbs in the race that weren’t in the profile. I was optimistic.

But it came eight km from the finish. It was three km long, and steep. This is the time when the front group dismantles, and you hear grunts and moans. Again, somehow I clawed myself up and over the top in the lead group.
Four, three, two…kilometers to go. The break was caught long ago, a Nations Cup stage was up for grabs.

This was my biggest regret of this race: With 1,500 meters to go, the Jr. Paris-Roubaix winner from Belgium attacked, and I followed and bridge up to him. He sat up when I catch him. With one k to go I looked back, expecting to see the pack in a single file line. No. I stood up to re-accelerate but there was nothing left, and 1,000 meters seemed like an eternity to stay away. I waited, and all five seconds that I waited I was pissed that I hadn’t kept going. I jumped back into the front and found my way to the line for a sixth-place finish.

One of my goals for this race was to get a top-10 in a stage. But, if you can get sixth, then you can get third, or second …or first. Hindsight is 20/20.

Stage 5: The ‘Champs Elysee’

Although this is the “Tour de France of the East” or the “Junior Tour de France,” the final stage doesn’t have the same feel. In the Tour de France, the riders casually ride to the finishing circuits on the Champs Elysee in Paris, then start racing. I wouldn’t have minded something like that, but instead we had four loops through Litomerice and the surrounding hills. Only eight substantial climbs. Two climbs per lap and almost 6,000 feet of climbing separated me from the final finish line.

The climbs weren’t too bad. One was short and steep: 3k with 15 percent wall. The other was 4.5k with gradients between 5 and 10 percent.

A long story short, first lap: ughhh, maybe I won’t finish. Lap 2: I may as well. Lap 3: wait…one more lap after this?! Lap 4: 2 more climbs to go!

I rode the race boring…now that I think of it, I didn’t really do anything. Just hanging on, which wasn’t much of an issue until the last climb. I was confident I could get a top five on the stage if it came down to a field sprint or with a few riders off.

The last time up the climb was the only time it really took everything. But when I crested the climb, the wide open plains sprawled out in front of me, dark clouds loomed on the right, and a bright partly cloudy sky on the left. The long line of riders swooped down the steep, smooth, twisty decent. This really is the most amazing junior race on the planet.

It came down to the wire. Not for me, but it was fun to watch. In the flat last 5k, the race leader was on the front trying to bring back the break of five riders, including a Russian who was third on GC. The German and his teammate hammering on the front at 55 kph brought back memories from my April trip at Ster van Zuid-Limburg.

The finish didn’t come together. I got caught behind a crash with 500 meters to go. Ten riders gapped off the front and I caught back up to them at the finish line for 21st place.

The race was over. Five days before I had feared the climbs, the cobbles, the wind, the descents, the finishing sprints and the pain. But now that it is over it just seems like a bad dream…or maybe a good one.

Last week U.S. Development Team graduate Tejay Van Gardener, of the Rabobank Continental team, said that his biggest regret as a junior was not doing the Peace Race. I replied, “I think mine is doing it twice.” Surely I was wrong.

Interesting: the race finished in Terezin, I think the third deadliest concentration camp during WWII. Maybe a little weird also....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Diary of a novice rider: Am I made for racing?

By Katy Pranian

(Novice rider Katy Pranian competed in her first-ever bicycle race May 11 at Portland International Raceway as part of the Masters' and Women's Monday night series. She sent Cycling Action this recollection of the experience).

I knew there were many reasons why I quit smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using other drugs, but I never once thought that taking up bike racing at age 35 would have been one.

Last summer I switched from a mid '80s TREK 1000 that was too small for me -- and was equipped with downtube shifters and toe-clip pedals -- to a lightly used but very nice 2003 Litespeed Hyperion with full Ultegra and Miche 502 clipless pedals. Gone also were the Adidas running shoes, replaced by proper cycling shoes and cleats.

Since I made that switch and started riding with other avid cyclists and racers, I've been told things like, "Katy, you really are a fast rider ... you have nice downhill form ... you corner really well ... you really should start racing!"

So after a year of encouragement from my good friend Zan, a former Ironman finisher and now my constant riding companion, I finally joined Sorella Forte, Zan’s team, and entered my first race at PIR.

I had done several organized rides, like the Harvest Century and Monster Cookie and had been taught to draft and "chase down that wheel" and a handful of other really valuable tips from other women riders. The thought of racing started to seem less and less like a crazy idea and more like something entirely plausible, so I started talking about it with other Sorella riders on the Saturday morning RCB social rides. People kept telling me to go on out there and give it a shot, so I did. By the time Monday rolled around, however, I was questioning my sanity.

"I don’t even care about winning," I told myself as the race day approached. "Why am I doing this? I am not even really that competitive, honestly I think I will just race this one race. Folks will see that I am not really made for racing and then they will stop telling me those things."

All day long I was spinning in my head about it and couldn’t concentrate on anything. I kept imagining horrible crashes and being afraid of getting hurt, afraid of my bike getting wrecked, afraid of getting dropped, afraid of not being fast enough and afraid of my own fear.

We got there early for the women’s clinic. I signed up and joined in the clinic as they were talking about the pack and drafting and hand signals and not crossing wheels. We rode around the track together as the coaches watched us and gave us random tips. After the clinic, however, I was 10 times more confused and nervous than when I had showed up, as nothing the coaches had said made any sense to me. Suddenly, it was 6:20 p.m., Novice Women’s start time. Without knowing exactly what I was doing, I quickly positioned myself at the front and the whistle blew. Here we go!

I was immediately out in the front, and as the race got going, so did my nerves. My mouth was dry, my heart was racing and my breathing seemed out of control. Still, I hung in there and I actually managed to stay out in front and take the lead the first three times around. I had to work hard talking my breathing down, telling myself that I really needed to relax and take it easy. Once I was able to calm my breathing down, I focused on really seeing the whole course, trying my best to watch every rider in front of me, "not just the wheel in front of you" as they had told me. Being part of Sorella Forte made all the difference, because several times during the race, a team member would tell me, "Katy, get out of the wind, get back in here" or, "Go Katy, grab that wheel!"

Right before the last lap, one of the clinic coaches, who was riding with us during the race, came up behind me and put her hand on my back and kept it there as we were riding.

"I can see you are a very strong rider," she told me, "but you are wasting energy that should be saved for the end." I can’t remember what else she told me, but her hand was surprisingly comforting on my back, and her message was encouraging.

Things seemed to tighten up as the end of the race neared, and around the very last lap, right towards the end, I could tell folks were about to start going for it. I was looking for a hole and I found one. I made it through to the left of the pack and so did a few of my teammates and friends. Jen Ulrich was screaming at me to go, just screaming, "Katy GO! You can do it, GO!" If it weren’t for her screaming at me, I don’t know if I could have pushed it like I did at the end. And one thing I am kicking myself for now is that I forgot to stand up to sprint.

I placed 6th, Jen placed 5th and our friend Melissa took 3rd. The race was SUCH a rush, and I can’t believe I did so well, even if I did waste a bunch of energy at the beginning, starting "off like a rabbit" that no one wanted to chase, as they told me. I also had no idea that I would have it in me to want to win so badly. I was so spun out all week long from placing 6th, that it was all I could think about to do even better next time.

I still have a lot to learn, like working as a team, pulling my teammates and saving my energy and learning to really stand up and go for it at the end. I’m coming up on two years off of being a smoker for 14 years, I just raced in Silverton Sunday, and I can’t wait for my next race at PIR.

Oh, and did I mention that I love being a Sorella Forte!? Thanks Zan, Jen, MJ, Shari and Anne. You women are amazing!

(Race photos courtesy of Tim Schallberger).

Bend's Steve Larsen dies during running workout

(UPDATE, Wednesday, 3 p.m. - is reporting that Steve Larsen did not die of a heart attack but had been suffering from serious breathing problems for the past several weeks).

The tight-knit Oregon peloton was hit with some terrible news this morning as word spread that two-time national NORBA champion Steve Larsen died Tuesday during a running workout. reported that Larsen collapsed of an apparent heart attack while working out at a track in Bend, where he lived.

Larsen (pictured, in green, at the Bear Springs Trap XC race April 26) began road racing in the 1980s and was on the U.S. National Team and Motorola with Lance Armstrong in the early 1990s, racing the Giro and other legendary European events. He switched to mountain biking and won the NORBA National Cross-Country title in 1998 and 2000. Larsen also competed in triathlons, finishing 9th in Hawaii's Ironman in 2001, his first year in the discipline. As an "ex-pro," Larsen was often seen at the front of Oregon mountain bike races, which he continued to compete in just for fun.

Larsen, 39, was married and has five children with his wife Carrie.

As word of his death spread, Larsen's many friends in the Oregon peloton remembered a man who had earned a reputation as an all-around-good guy who always had a smile and was generous with his time, especially with junior and novice racers.

On a personal note: I only met Steve Larsen once, at a 'cross race in Salem in '95 or '96. I was using an old road bike with bar-end shifters and road brakes. I quickly tore off my rear derailleur on a branch and headed back to the parking lot. Larsen was there getting ready for the elite race and seemed more interested in what had happened to my old pieced-together bike than he did in getting ready for his own race. I never forgot that -- how a true champion carries himself on and off the bike. A very sad day indeed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coker picks off blustery PIR Tuesday night win

After hovering near the top podium spots in nearly every Tuesday night race so far this spring, Aaron Coker (HP Chiropractic/Hammer Nutrition) finally ascended to the top rung at a dry-but-windy edition of the weekly series.

The Men's Pro/1/2/3 field covered nearly 31 miles in just under 70 minutes for an average speed of more than 26 mph. The clockwise course sent riders headlong into a stiff wind for the length of PIR's exposed, extended straightaway.

The Land Rover-ORBEA riders were out and at the front as usual in their blazing yellow kits, although they may have been laying off the high-end efforts after their exploits in Silverton Sunday afternoon.

A crash in the first few laps of the race knocked the group out of rhythm momentarily, but the wind more than anything else seemed to dampen efforts to get away and make it stick. The bunch was in no mood to fool around, quickly reeling in the few serious breakaway attempts.

At the end of the night, Coker topped PIR ironman Christian Tresser, a perennial Tuesday night podium placer who also finished second in the Masters 1/2/3 race Monday night and leads the Masters May series overall. Hammer/CMG Racing's Marcel deLisser was third, ahead of Portland Bicycle Studio's Molly Cameron and Therapeutic Associates' David Root.

PIR Tuesday Night Series, May 19

Cat. 4/5 - 31 finishers
1. Trask, Andrew (Team cthulu) 15
2. Weber, Johannes F.B. (Ironclad Performance Wear) 15
3. McDade, Stephen (Beaverton Bicycle Club) 12
4. Reagan, Edward
5. Anderson, Steven (Fred Meyers) 7
Cat. 3/4 - 48 finishers
1. Condron, Kevin (Gentle Lovers) 20
2. Leritz, Aaron (Team S&M) 13
3. N/A number on wrong side
4. Monnig, David (Ironclad Performance Wear) 10
5. Osolin, Christopher (Mopha) 9
Cat. Pro/1/2/3
1. Coker, Aaron (HPChiro/Hammer Nutrition) 18
2. Tresser, Christian (Cyclepath Racing) 14
3. DeLisser, Marcel (Hammer/CMG Racing Team) 12
4. Cameron, Molly (Portland Bicycle Studio) 10
5. Root, David (Therapeutic Assoc.) 8

Kandra continues PIR spree; Steger takes first Monday night win

UPDATE, Tuesday, 3:45 p.m. - The complete Cycling Action photo gallery for all of the May 18 races is now posted online HERE.

Hammer Velo's Lindsay Kandra continued her good form at week three of the River City Bicycles Monday Night Series, which continues at Portland International Raceway each week through August.

Already tied for the May series lead after taking third in week one's weather-dominated event and first last week, Kandra stomped her way to another win, solidifying her edge in a tight overall race with Beth Burns (Veloce/Felt), who finished second to Kandra again Monday.

Sorella Forte's Anne Linton, who was third overall based on her week-two performance, finished third in the race, solidifying her position in the monthly overall contest. Nissy Cobb finished the night in fourth.

In the Masters Men 1/2/3 race, Nike's Mark Steger took his first Monday night win of the season in front of series strongmen Christian Tresser (Cyclepath Racing), Shannon Skerritt (Vanilla Bicycles) and Guinness Cycling Team's Benjamin Miller and John Mitchem. Ironclad Performance Wear rider Jeff Harwood, injured earlier this season in a PIR Tuesday night crash, was sixth on the night.

Steger's win marks his first points for May's overall race and should improve his position in that contest considerably. ZteaM's David Hopper, who came into the night leading the May series with 22 points, finished 14th.

Tresser's second-place finish Monday should give him the series lead, with Skerritt not far behind.

PIR Monday Night Series, May 18

Novice Women - 20 finishers
1. Reeve, Lisa 15
2. Zilka, Maria 12
3. Stenhouse, Yvonne ( 10
4. Graham, Lisa 8
5. Mishoe, Michelle (Specialized River City Bicycles) 7
6. Cate, Melissa (Cycology Mobile Bike Repair) 6

Novice Men - 23 finishers
1. Fitzgerald, Jamie 15
2. Stewart, Donovan (Portland Velo) 12
3. Shedd, Tom 10
4. Spillman, Erik 8
5. Long, Paul 7
Masters Men Cat. 4/5 - 36 finishers
1. Martin, Joe 21
2. Rosenfeld, Jake 13
3. Crocker, Robert 13
4. Aldersebaes, Dave 9
5. N/A
Women - 25 finishers
1. Kandra, Lindsay (Hammer Velo) 15
2. Burns, Beth 15 (Veloce/Felt)
3. Linton, Anne (Sorella Forte) 10
4. Cobb, Nissy 8
5. VanValkenburg, Heather (Land Rover-ORBEA) 7
Masters Men Cat. 1/2/3 - 58 finishers
1. Steger, Mark (Nike) 18
2. Tresser, Christian (Cyclepath Racing) 16
3. Skerritt, Shannon (Vanilla Bicycles) 16
4. Miller, Benjamin (Guinness Cycling Team) 15
5. Mitchem, John (Guinness Cycling Team) 7

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Butler wins Silverton Road Race; Camut delivers for Land Rover-ORBEA

UPDATE, Monday, 5 p.m. -- The Complete Silverton Road race photo gallery is now posted online HERE.

SILVERTON -- Sue Butler (MonaVie-Cannondale) proved to be Oregon's fastest in the dirt and on the road the past two weeks by following her May 16 win on the mountain bike at the Chainbreaker XC in Bend with a win at the Silverton Road Race Sunday.

Butler took the final sprint from a select handful of riders in the Women's Pro/1/2/3 event after attacks, the heat and the course itself whittled the lead group to nine by the second of three 17.5-mile laps.

"We kept pushing the pace and pushing the pace," Butler said. "Alice Pennington likes to be off road driving the pace, too, so there were about four of us that kept working to go faster and faster. People kept popping off and pretty soon I think there there were nine of us. I didn't realize there were that many because I only saw about four or five."

The select group of nine continued to push the pace at the front for about one and a half laps and approached the final climb to the finish pretty much intact.

Pennington was the first to jump at the bottom of the steep short pitch leading up to the finish. Teri Sheasby (BBNS) followed her wheel, with Butler, Lisa Turnbull (Therapeutic Associates) and Lindsay Fox (Team Oregon) in tow.

Sheasby got enough of a gap to hold off all but one of the charging group behind her, with Butler grabbing the win right at the line. Turnbull finished third ahead of Pennington and Fox.

Sheasby attributed her finish to a little bit of luck.

"The three stronger riders kind of led it out," She said of the finale. "I saw an opening and went. At first I thought they're going to pass me any minute, and they didn't. But as we were approaching the line Sue snuck up on me. She had a little more than I did."

Indeed, Butler saved just enough gas in the tank to notch her second win in as many weeks and her first-ever road race win.

"For the first time in my life I actually did the sprint right," Butler said. "I didn't go out first."

Land Rover-ORBEA Returns With A Vengeance

Portland's UCI Continental team returned to town after racing with the best in the country -- and the world -- at the Gila and Joe Martin stages races and quickly put a stranglehold on the Men's Pro/1/2 race, taking the top four spots. Land Rover-ORBEA's Roman van Uden, Evan Elken, and eventual winner Jim Camut broke away early in the first lap with last year's winner, Bend mountain biker Chris Sheppard (Santa Cruz/Shimano/WTB/Fox).

Sheppard, who won the Pro Men's race at the Chainbrealer XC said he came to town for some high intensity training, and he got it courtesy of the yellow-clad Land Rover-ORBEA trio he escaped with.

"It was just good to go out with the ORBEA guys," Sheppard said. "We swapped workload the whole time, and that's all I wanted to do. I wanted a good workout and they're really good at what they do."

The group steadily built a lead of more than three minutes as the first chase pack continued to shed groups small and large. The leaders stayed intact until last-lap attacks started. It didn't take long for the three Land Rover riders to break the outnumbered Sheppard. Camut said it took a one-two-punch from himself and Van Uden.

"Roman had a little gap on a hill," he said, "and it forced Chris Sheppard to chase. So he put in an effort to go and that brought Roman back. I saw that as an opportunity to go, so I accelerated, opened up a little bit of gap and just kept going."

Sheppard was more matter of fact in his explanation.

"They put the wood to me with six miles to go and that was it," Sheppard said. "Evan dragged me along for a few k, and then I was just done. That was it."

With teammates Camut and Van Uden up the road, Elken still had to reach deep to hang onto his third-place finish.

"I was riding with Chris Sheppard, third and fourth on the road," Elken said. "And all of the sudden we see a chase group coming. So I had to ride my tail off to get to the finish for third."

Sheppard couldn't match Elken's increased tempo and slipped back to the chasers.

"He was probably feeling a little tired," Elken said. "I said to him 'We gotta go faster,' and I started pedaling harder. He just put his hand up and said 'I'll pass,' pretty much."

Camut crossed the line first followed by Van Uden about 45 seconds later. Elken held on for third, and his teammate Aaron Tuckerman beat Cyclepath's John Browning and Veloce/Felt's Eric Sheagley in the sprint for fourth.

Portland's pro team will be in town for a couple weeks of training for the the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship in Philly. The team will race the Rehearsal Road Race May 23 in Rainier, then they'll be in Portland Sunday for the Laurelwood Brewery Block Party and Fun Ride. The team will also be in town for the OBRA championships May 30.

RACE NOTES: Bend's Ryan Trebon (Kona), who is still recovering from knee and back injuries suffered in the pro cross country race at Sea Otter, also made the trip down for the Silverton race and finished in the pack.